"God save me!" quoth the priest, with a loud voice, "is Tirante the White there? Give me him here, neighbour; for I make account I have found in him a treasure of delight, and a mine of entertainment. Here we have Don Kyrieleison of Montalvan, a valorous knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan, and the knight Fonseca, and the combat in which the valiant Tirante fought with the mastiff, and the smart conceits of the damsel Plazerdemivida, with the amours and artifices of the widow Reposada; and madam the empress in love with her squire Hypolito. Verily, gossip, in its way, it is the best book in the world..."-Don Quixote de la Mancha, Part I, Chapter 6 [more inside]
The Guardian ran a series of articles looking at the state of high-speed rail travel today. France intends to double its length of track over the next decade, and China is planning a massive rail-building programme, including a high-speed line which will halve the travel time between Beijing and Shanghai to 4 hours. In Germany, domestic air travel is rapidly going extinct, and Spain's network has made day trips between Madrid and Barcelona a possibility. The USA, which has long neglected its rail network, is planning up to 10 high-speed lines. Meanwhile, Britain's only high-speed line goes to France, but there is talk of a 250mph line from London to Birmingham and beyond, possibly by the early 2020s. Meanwhile, the CEO of France's rail operator, SNCF, weighs in on what the UK should do.
Go to Spain, breathe, get high Scientists have recently discovered that there is a small amount of cocaine and LSD in the air of the Spanish cities Madrid and Barcelona.
Most Spaniards over 35 remember exactly where they were in the evening of February 23, 1981, best remembered as "23-F". It was the day of the last big stress test of Spain's then young democracy, when a group of conspirators tried to seize power by force. When armed policemen assaulted Parliament, and started shooting their machineguns to intimidate the lawmakers, on the benches, only three very different men refused to take cover. [more inside]
What is a Spaniard?: Forcibly Crossing the Cross, the Crescent, and the Star
"The conversions came at the end of one of the most successful Jewish periods in human history... Their success led them to call their land Sepharad, a name from the book of Obadiah that implied that Spanish Jews were the successors to the Jews of Israel. This world ended in 1391."
"At the appointed time, those children who were not presented voluntarily were seized by the officials and forced to the font.... In many cases, parents smothered their offspring in their farewell embrace. In others, they threw them into wells in order to save them from the disgrace of apostasy, and then killed themselves. Sometimes, even old men were dragged to the churches and forcibly baptized by over-zealous fanatics,... In all other cases, the unwilling neophytes, some mere babies, were distributed throughout the country, as far as possible from home, to be brought up in Christian surroundings."[more inside]
Don Quixote - or a superhero? Judge Baltasar Garzón has launched a criminal investigation into the fate of tens of thousands of people who vanished during the country's civil war and General Francisco Franco' s dictatorship. This is upsetting some people. The Spanish Civil War left an estimated half a million people dead. [more inside]
The O'Donnell clan claims descendancy (like, dare I say, a significant part of the Irish population), from Niall of the Nine Hostages, legendary High King of Ireland. The O'Donnell clan ruled over the kingdom of Tyrconnell, in modern-day County Donegal, well into the modern age. However, after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Rory O'Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, fled Ireland together with Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, in the Flight of the Earls. [more inside]
Video report about the newly constructed "Urban Air Trees" in Madrid, Spain. These unique structures are designed to both affect the surrounding environment and act as a social centers. Using live plants and photovoltaic cells the Air Tree produces a substantial amount of oxygen and energy. Designed by Urban Ecosystems.
Living on the Edge Welcome to Ronda, a beautiful city in southern Spain which is split in two by el Tajo gorge. As a result, certain buildings have been perched on the edge of the gorge’s vertical walls, enormous cliffs bridged by the 200 year old Peunte Neuvo. [more inside]
In March 1944, Nazi Germany occupied its ally Hungary and immediately began preparing the extermination of Hungary's Jews. A small band of diplomats from neutral countries and the Red Cross put their lives at risk to try to smuggle as many Jews as possible out of Hungary from under Adolf Eichmann's nose. While Raoul Wallenberg remains the best known of these "Righteous among the Nations", there's no doubt that the most intriguing character was Giorgio "Jorge" Perlasca. [more inside]
German newspaper Der Spiegel decided to take a look at Europe's oddest folk traditions and festivals. Perhaps you can have a metaphorical hard-on for the phallus festival of Tyrnavos, Greece. Maybe you're hungry for how a small Belgian town celebrates the practice of swallowing live fish. Or, alternately, you can look down on those bizarre practices... while chasing a giant wheel of cheese down a hill. [more inside]
Among European countries, Spain has been hit particularly badly by the global credit crisis. Miguel Marina, a recently unemployed real estate agent (what else?) has been one of its victims. Unable to keep up with his mortgage payments or to find a buyer for his home, he has found an original solution: he's raffling his apartment at 5€ a ticket. [more inside]
It's the story that has Britain in uproar*: Cliff Richard and General Franco: the 1968 Eurovision mystery. Did General Franco scupper the judging? Exhibit A: Cliff's UK entry, Congratulations. Exhibit 2: Spain's winning entry by Massiel, La la la. For added measure, exhibit iv: here's Cliff's 1973 entry, which believe it or not also did not win, Power to all our Friends (though Cliff's spectacular moves should not sway your opinion on the controversy* in any way). [*not really].
La Cabina (The Telephone Box) 1, 2, 3, 4 Emmy winning short Spanish film. Saw this once as a kid and I’ve never forgotten it… There's no subtitles but that doesn't really matter.
The Scots voice of the Spanish revolution [Embedded DivX video 1hr15m; also downloadable] Ethel MacDonald was a young working class Scots woman who hitch-hiked to Barcelona to do her part in the war. There she became the English-language voice of the anarchist movement as a radio station announcer. Newspapers at home dubbed her the "Scottish Scarlet Pimpernel" for her role in helping comrades escape the crackdown that followed the May Days. Her remarkable story is told in this recent drama-documentary.
Antonio de Felipe is a Spanish pop artist whose work is heavily influenced by pop culture, Hollywood, classic art and movies, animation, advertising, and simply growing up in Spain. Among the actresses he frequently depicts are Audrey Hepburn (as well as melding different sources) and Marilyn Monroe. He has also recreated some international masterpieces in pop art form. Some may be familiar with his work from the art he created for Pedro Almodóvar's film Live Flesh. Altogether, his work transcends national boundaries while still maintaining a distinct Spanish flavor. [more inside]
Frustrated with perceived inefficacy of local law enforcement and government, residents of Calle de la Montera have started posting video of criminal behaviour (mainly prostitution) on their street to YouTube. The Data Protection Agency (tasked with privacy enforcement) is not amused (in Spanish; machine translation), but the neighbourhood watch group maintains it is not breaking the law (m.t.).
Allí, ese 16 de marzo, Bush, Blair y Aznar decidieron sustituir al Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas y usurparon sus funciones para declarar por su cuenta y riesgo la guerra contra Irak.
Bush and Aznar pre-Iraq Invasion-- Transcript of their private conversations in Crawford, Feb 22, 2003: "Quedan dos semanas. En dos semanas estaremos militarmente listos. Estaremos en Bagdad a finales de marzo", le dijo a Aznar. ("2 weeks. In 2 weeks we will be ready militarily. We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March", he told Aznar.) Consider this historical documentation. Full transcript here, and audio clips in first link. [more inside]
Viñetas is a prolific blog from Spain focusing on illustration, vintage comics (sometimes wordless), advertising, humor magazines and other beautiful ephemera, curated by the editor-in-chief of a Spanish comics company. [via Journalista]
Navarre now generates more than 50% of its energy needs by wind power: a profile of the small autonomous region in northern Spain that is leading the way in renewable energy. This is one of many free access articles in this special supplement on energy issues to the journal Nature.
Spanish Civil War posters, utilizing many early modernist styles --like Art Deco, surrealism, realism, and photomontage-- to communicate with the people of Spain, many of whom were illiterate.
Chema Madoz -- photos
Spain's El Mundo newspaper has an online photo gallery of beautiful, haunting images from Holy Week celebrations around Spain. (More) 20 minutos also has a great gallery. Even for nonbelievers, the spectacle is impressive. Wikipedia explains a little about the traditions, and addresses the sartorial similarities between the procession participants and Klan members.
An Islamic History of Europe: (90 minute BBC documentary on Google video.) Rageh Omaar uncovers the hidden story of Europe's Islamic past and looks back to a golden age when European civilisation was enriched by Islamic learning. When the Moors Ruled in Europe:(102 minute BBC documentary on Google video.) A look at the Islamic past of Spain and the influence it has on the present.
Behind Iron Bars. A short comic of the Spanish Civil War. From the latest, international comics, edition of Words Without Borders.
Travelling Exhibition of Broken Toys. [flash] A whimsical distraction.
So this is Christmas and what have you done? Well, if you've been to Jesus's manger, you're made of clay, and you're from Spain, you probably pooped. (Previously.)(Via.)
Barcelona Street Art. Most places consider graffiti a form of vandalism, but in Barcelona, street art is embraced. The result is a city with public walls like giant canvases of modern art.
A virtual tour of Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces and Generalife. [flash]
Ahmad Nadalian's work can be found all over the world. He is an artist that carves symbols on rocks and then leaves them at the site where they were created (sometimes burying them).
I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles, but I had joined the militia almost immediately
"I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles, but I had joined the militia almost immediately." – George Orwell, writing about the revolutionary war which started 70 years ago yesterday: July 19th, 1936. Also: Anarchism and the Spanish Civil War. The Visual Front: Posters of The Spanish Civil War. Photos from the Spanish Civil War. Films from the CNT (National Confederation of Labour), 1936-1938.
ETA declares permanent ceasefire. For more than 40 years the terrorist group ETA has been making life in Euskadi (Basque Country) and Spain a nightmare. After its political arm Batasuna dropped hints at wanting to resolve this conflict politically, rather than with bombs, ETA itself has finally come out and said the same. The majority of the Spanish population want to negotiate a peace, but not everybody. Can the terrorists be trusted?
Body, volume, style and shine with long-lasting power. Clonycavan Styling Gel, along with mummification in Irish peat, works together with your freshly disemboweled corpse to protect hair from the disruptive power of 2000 years of rigor-mortis.
This Spanish commercial for Madrid's Metro system uses a cool visual device, making the ground transparent and showing the view from the subway, like a glass bottom boat in reverse. note: link contains embedded wmv
Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, but the fight over his legacy lives on, 30 years later. Protestors from both sides demonstrated in advance of a commemoration service at Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, the grandiose monument built by political prisoners that now holds Franco's tomb. (For those who read Spanish, El Pais has more; the paper itself was created to promote the transition to democracy after Franco's death.)
Last night I didn't fall asleep until early in the morning. And I've got a long day ahead of me. So, what the hell is making me smile at seven thirty-five in the morning? (embedded quicktime)
Looks like George W Bush's Hague Invasion Act might need amending to become a Madrid Invasion Act, following a Spanish court order for the arrest of three US soldiers in response to the "Palestine Hotel" incident. [newsfilter].
An odd hurricane season becomes odder. Meet Vince, the 23rd tracked topical low, and the 21st named storm of the near record setting 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season. But, where is he? Not here. Not even way over here. No, Vince is way over here -- and is headed towards Spain. Of course, this isn't the oddest place for a tropical cyclone. There was Catarina last year, forming the first hurricane ever recorded in the South Atlantic, and never mind what, to all eyes, appears to have been a hurricane in the Mediterranean Sea.
The world's oldest family companies start with a 1,400 year old Japanese family business that has always built Buddhist temples. On the corporation side, only one of the great chartered companies survives, Canada's Hudson Bay Company, founded in 1670, and now a large retailer, though there may be much older corporations. There is even a club with an interesting web site, Les Hénokien, for companies that are over 300 years old. If companies aren't your thing, there is always the world's oldest restaurant in Spain.
Who are the Sephardim? provides a short history of Sephardic Jews. The Ladino language website has a more complete introduction to Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish language. Included are a brief descriptive grammar, stanzas from Joseph the Wise, a long Ladino poem, and a translation of The Story of Gerineldo, a folktale. There are very good primary sources at the Medieval Sourcebook, and a Yahoo Ladino discussion group. This essay about the interactions between Moorish and Jewish cultures and their collective effect on European culture seems quite good (and is in Spanish). See also this Spanish-language article about exploring Ladino. There are more good Spanish-language resources on Sephardic history here.
Spain legalizes gay marriage. Warm-climate-loving gay people rejoice! You now have warm beaches to share with your spouse. Yesterday it was Canada; which country will be tomorrow? [link to La Vanguardia article]
The shame in spain - thought provoking article about racism in la Liga.
Human Towers. An old custom of Catalan, Castellers build human towers several stories tall. Via the Cellar's IOTD. Site is in spanish, click on links with foto and video.
We Were All On That Train If any adventurous film festival directors happen to be reading, a Spanish production company called Docus Madrid has just released a fine documentary, comprising 24 short films, about the terrorist train attacks in March. The pressbook can be downloaded from the home page in MS Word, in English: otherwise, it's all in Spanish. Ticket money goes to relatives of the victims.