Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nationalist Kitsch but it sounds so good.....

And since we're on a Manolo Escobar thing, I grew up listening to this song, the Sevillana below admonishing the young woman not to don miniskirts to the bullfights was unknown to me until a Spanish friend sent it to me. Since the World Cup allows academentia suffering nerds who regard themselves as enlightened fellow travelers to give free reign to outre nationalist sentiments, I post it here. Of course the song is highly problematic given its Franco-era vintage. But it takes me back to happy times in the 1970s and early 1980s, when I was a young girl and thus ignorant of all of this evil and injustice.

The video is priceless Spain is Different fun in the sun charming anachronism holiday hotels typical Spanish.

Speaking of nationalism, I went to my first ever sports bar to watch Spain vs. Germany. When I walked in , the server thought I was crazy when I enthusiastically comment on how I could face a huge plasma TV no matter where I was sitting! Apparently, this is customary in American sports bars. Well, fuck. God Bless America then. The bar was a freaking plasma TV panopticon.

As I was in a German neighborhood, I thought I would be the only española there but I was relieved to see a table of other Spaniards. Until the National Anthem came on and we rose. Then they followed it with a rousing ARRIBA España. I almost ran out of the bar. Suddenly I had a traumatic flashback to Franco's NO-DO propaganda newsreels and I was watching mass rallies with fascists giving the raised arm salute. But no, I was in New York City. Of course when I lived there I knew about fascist hooligans who perpetrated horrific racist attacks but I had never been next to people of that ilk. But in my recent marathon of World Cup viewership, I had walked past South African restaurants in my beautifully integrated global neighborhood, had brunch at a Nigerian restaurant and cheered for Mexico in a (regular) bar surrounded with people from all over the world. Thus, this dark side of futbol/football/or soccer has distant since I came to the sport from watching it in family members' living rooms and now as an um adult surrounded by other Europeans or sophisticated American academentia suffering artsy progressives. (irony, insert eyeroll & smile here)

The other irony is that while we Spaniards (or mixed White/colonial/authentic others like me) are cheering for "our" team, most of the players are actually Catalans and/or play for Futbol Club Barcelona. This team has a long complicated history that includes political connotations related to it as a symbol of Catalan Nationalism. During the Franco regime, which criminalized expressions of this area's unique culture and language, not to mention suppressed all traces of its political autonomy, expressions of support for this club were a covert way to express Catalanist sentiment. So it's hilarious to watch the facha assholes in the red and yellow club shirts cheering for the people they would customarily despise as deracinated arrogant Catalanes. As this World Cup is being played, the Spanish Supreme Court declared unconstitutional aspects of an Estatut (statute governing the region of Catalonia) voted on by a majority, most notably, the use of the word "Nation" to describe the area in the preamble. Today, over one million demonstrated in favor of the current wording, many waving the traditional flag indicating support for a separate Catalan nation. If you read the papers in the area you will find that they use a peculiar language to indicate this chasm: they refer to "el govern central" and to the Spanish state, as a kind of separate entity from Catalunya. In the rest of the country you just say Spain. (actually, I don't know what they say in the Basque Country, probably similar for those who support greater autonomy and obviously for the many up there who want to completely sever all ties and be an independent nation)

Classic Spanish Machismo

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why is the Governor Talking to a puppet?

Puerto Ricans were wondering when they would hear from Governor Fortuño after the heinous acts of police brutality that took place at the Capitol. After almost 24 hours, he finally emerged to answer questions. His first public appearance was perfectly appropriate, the opening of a Sam's Club, what could be better for a pro-American, Republican, Neo-Liberalism emulator than that? There and at another protocolary event, he refused reporters' questions. So where did he choose to address what some are calling a "constitutional crisis"? At one of the highest rated TV shows on the Island's main TV station, WAPA TV, called SUPER X-CLUSIVO.

A talk show hosted by our Island version of Waylon and Madam, LaComay and Hector Travieso (the latter's surname means "naughty" you can't make this stuff up). Here, LaComay, a puppet character invented by entertainer Kobbo Santarrosa, dishes the dirt on the latest news. She often signals a big scoop by saying, well, shouting, "PUEBLO DE PUERTO RICO, TENGO BOCHINCHE!!!!" Bochinche means gossip. Luridly made up a bit like a middle aged lady with dyed hair, lots of makeup, high heels and flashy clothes by Mr. Santarrosa, who is the voice of LaComay, the travestied personality often interviews people in the news, with the jocular Travieso as bochinche wingman, the EdMcMahon to her Johnny Carson, as it were.

So when I read the breaking new blog in El Nuevo Dia and saw in passing a reference to the Governor's appearance on Super X-Clusivo, I was shocked, but not altogether surprised, given the show's high ratings. Perhaps Fortuño thought this would be a softball interview with the stuffed demagogue. But he was wrong. With her screaming staccato delivery, LaComay asked her own and other questions submitted by viewers, and at one point ambushed him with a cut away to awaiting real journalist Rafael Lenin Lopez. (his real name, this just gets better and better). The handsome Lenin (as he is called) slammed the Governor with smart questions and rebutted his contradictions and evasions. A truly satisfying piece of television. When I posted the links (see below) on Twitter, one of my tweeps asked: "Why is he talking to a puppet?"

For more on LaComay (who also has a Facebook page) see here:

Constitutional Crisis In Puerto Rico

I have been horrified watching TV and seeing reports in print and video on the internet. The pro-statehood party is controlled by people who are akin to the extreme hard-line faction of the GOP. They have instituted disastrous measures on the Island but their recent acts have led to what the head of the Islands Colegio de Abogados called a "constitutional crisis." Why did he say this? For starters, he was alluding to the increasing loss of civil rights, including forbidding citizens and the press access to Congress.
On the 30th, a peaceful group of University students, members of Todo Puerto Rico (unaffiliated citizens, church officials, union members, students), and others engaged in non-violent civil disobedience attempting to enter the Congress, they were violently attacked by riot police. Many women were wounded, as well as others among them journalists. Inside, the majority PNP Congress voted to institute an $800 extra fee for University students, in flagrant violation of the agreements that ended the 60 day strike at all 11 campuses, among other damaging initiatives such as eradicating environmental protections, privatizations, etc. Sadly but not surprising is the complete lack of US Mainland coverage. (instead if you google PR you find thousands of articles on some baseball game that took place on the same day, I guess you could call us the "invisible Colony")
See links to more information, and an announcement of a protest in New York City, below.

Local Puerto Rican Leaders to Condemn Brutal Repression, Acts of Violence By the
Puerto Rican Government Against its Own People

On Friday, July 2, 2010 at 4 pm in front of the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs
Office, (135 West 50th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues) members of the
National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, Red de Apoyo a los Trabajadores
yTrabajadoras en Puerto Rico, New York City Council Member Melissa Mark
Viverito, and representatives of other local Puerto Rican and Latino
organizations, will gather to condemn the latest brutal attacks on innocent
civilians by the government of Puerto Rico.

The violence broke out at the Puerto Rican Capitol building when some local
university students, workers and other members of the public attempted to enter
the legislature Wednesday afternoon. Authorities had closed access to the
general public after groups announced plans for a protest against budget cuts
and other policies of Gov. Luis Fortuño. Police used pepper spray and brutally
clubbed demonstrators with batons and shields.

Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Office
135 West 50th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues

TIME & DATE: Friday, July 2, 2010 at 4 pm


FOR MORE INFORMATION GO HERE: (Main PR paper, photos, news, blogging live, and lots of video)

National Protest 18 July, and the reasons for calling for it:

Strike at University of Puerto Rico:

Press censorship:

For video go here: (lots of other videos on YouTube) (Main PR TV station, lots of videos; and see below for meeting of citizens to call for national protest 18 july)


More from the revolting socialite Carmen Lomana, who I have written about before (look under her name, or in the HOLA label). After doing Spain's equivalent of Dancing with the Stars (the latter take with a massive grain of salt), she has a new show where the trains people in "proper" etiquette. She compares it to "My Fair Lady." With her classic condescension, she adds that she would never wear a chandal (track suit) or flip flops. I just wish HOLA! had let us see a bit more of her palatial home, in which she claims to have, instead of closets, a room each for couture clothes grouped according to designer. From the bits I see, the furnishings are on par with a typical 5 star Spanish hotel in a provincial city.