Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Please Catalans, learn English

In my next posting, once again I will try to convince all Catalans about the importance of learning languages, especially English.
Today, I just want to illustrate it with a couple of examples. I will leave the politics for the weekend.

Uploaded by sAdCiTy

Uploaded by Nonoche

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Emperor's New Clothes

I just arrived in Shenyang (China), a city not too far from the North Korean border, but I continue to think of the Catalonia politics.
As some of you know, there is a new party in Catalonia called “Ciudadanos the Cataluña”. It is an anti-nationalistic party that is trying to attract those people from the center left that do not want to play the nationalistic game in Catalonia.
I think that every party has the right to exist. The voters will decide whether or not they become an anecdote (I think they will).
Personally, I do not agree with most of their premises and I do not like their tone in general, f.i. one of their keynote speakers said, with very obscene words, that he could not care less about the Catalan nation (a rough translation to English would be: “the Catalan nation makes my dick sweat”) and I think that they are promoting anti-Catalan sentiments, but let’s wait to the next elections and see what happens.

There are, however, two things they say that I agree with (remember I am a non-orthodox Catalan nationalist):

  • A push for bilingual education (I am actually for trilingual)
  • And that most of the Catalan politicians are crooks (remember the 3%, the revolutionary tax letters sent by ERC, the corrupt business practices by Duran Lleida, La Caixa writing off the Catalan Socialist Party loans, etc), but, to be frank, the Spanish politicians are not much better. This is not an excuse, it is a regrettable fact.

The presidential campaign will start momentarily and the new party has presented its new ad campaign where its presidential candidate, Albert Rivera, appears totally naked. I think it is a bold move, that ERC or the PSC will not be able to match (can you imagine Carod or Montilla in a similar fashion?).

However I would like to give you a piece of advice, if you meet Albert Rivera, do not shake hands with him, just in case he has the same reaction to the Catalan nation as his keynote speaker.

Finally I will say that no one in Barcelona will be surprised to see a naked person on the billboards. It is quite normal to go naked on the streets of Barcelona, either voluntarily or involuntarily. It has the advantage that no one can pick your pocket, what is a very important premise in Barcelona, otherwise ask the prime minister of Bosnia who was robbed last week on the streets of the Catalan capital (… and he thought the problem was the Serbs!). It is also a good method to avoid suicide bikers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Valencia, California

I was this week in Valencia, California, a nice little city in the outskirts of L.A. It's all brand new construction, but it has a bright fake-adobe looking downtown with the typical malls and restaurants.

One of the locals told me: 'I think you also have a Valencia in Spain', as though the Mediterranean city stole the name from the Californian town. I told him, "yes, but it has around 2000 years more history than this village'.

Talking about Valencia, the original Valencia, it is sad to see the animosity of a sizeable group of Valencians towards Catalonia due to, in my modest opinion, two reasons:

  • The influence of the large group of Spanish nationalists who live in Valencia, mostly around the capital, Castilian speaking and Popular Party (right wing) voters.
  • The stupidity of some Catalan politicians who clumsily want to impose the notion of Catalan imperialism to Valencians and citizens of the Balearic islands (and whatever enclave where 2 or more people speak a dialect of the Catalan language). If I were Valencian, I would hate it too!!!

I have to admit that Valencia has produced outstanding achievements:

  1. One of the best books in history, Tirant lo Blanc, was written in Valencian (the way Valencians call Catalan) in the 14th century. I will write some more about this book in the future.
  2. Valencia got immediately the status of kingdom, while Catalonia always remained as a county or principality.
  3. Our brightest king, James I (Jaume I) spent most of his adult life in Valencia and died there.
  4. Valencians (as Catalans) were barred from going to America till the 18th century. However, as soon as they went there, they organized an uprising against Spain and declared independence. I am referring to Josep Martí;, who led the Cuban independence. Catalans, however, went another route and made money selling alcohol (Bacardí) and Tobacco (Partagàs).
  5. Even the concept of Catalan Countries (Països Catalans) was developed by a Valencian (Joan Fuster).

When driving that evening my rental car, a Mustang convertible, from Valencia CA to Malibu (where I would stay overnight), I was thinking that I really like the idea of a confederate country formed by Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. In a previous article, I tried to find a compromise, acceptable by all parties, but, as Habibi pointed out, the compromise was too painful for Catalonia, since Barcelona would lose the status of capital. The warm breeze from the valley caressing my skin while driving, inspired me and I came up with a slight variation that may allow me to strike a deal:

A Clicktalan from Valeària.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I also have Catalan blood (Jo tambe tinc sang catalana)

According to the 19/1996 law that defines the relationship between the Catalan government (Generalitat) and the members of the Catalan community overseas, Catalonia recognizes the "Catalanity" of members of the Catalan community overseas, independently from their current passport. The Catalan nationality (as per today, just wishful thinking) is also applicable to spouses and descendants. If you read the law, you will realize that it is absolutely lousy, but at least, it will allow me to introduce two people that fall in this category.

The first one is Shakira. Years ago, when I found out that her family name was Ripoll (as many of you know, the mother's maiden name is a part of the official name of Spaniards, Portuguese and most of Latinamerican nationals), I got very curious about her ancestry. The enigma was solved when she visited Barcelona last June. There she said in Catalan (jo també tinc sang calalana, I also have Catalan blood), declared that her family name was Ripoll (beautifully pronounced, unlike the Madrilians), a family name that is more Catalan than bread with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt. And if you do not believe me, check the videoclip by yourself. And please do not boycott her. As Osgood said in "Some like it hot", 'well, nobody is perfect'.
The second person I want to bring to your attention that also falls in this category is Raymond Domenech, the French national soccer team coach. He is the son of Catalans who fled Spain during the Spanish Civil war.
Many in Catalonia rejoiced when the French team defeated the Spanish one in the Germany soccer World championship. Prior to the match, Raymond had declared: "I am not Spanish, I am a Catalan", what is factually correct, since he has, most probably, a French passport.

Personally, I could not care less about soccer. And if asked to choose between France and Spain, I would definitely choose Spain. I would however, gladly accept a Catalan passport, what is, once again,wishful thinking.
Anyway, we, Ripoll, Domenech, Llorens (Shakira, Raymond, Ian) can proudly exclaim, I also have Catalan blood (Jo també tinc sang catalana), even though I have to confess that I do not like tomato.