The Gonzo Diplomat

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Bullfighting and Correbous: Hypocrisy in Catalonia

In Rant on October 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm

This Post was originally posted in my other blog, The Gonzo Diplomat.

 

When I was a child I remember my father having a framed picture of a bull in a ring. The colours were bold, sharp reds and yellows and the bull was in full movement ready to attack.  During the summertime, my great aunt would also spend hours sat in front of the television watching bullfights while fanning her face with the grace that only elders can muster. My impression upon watching the spectacle was that of sheer disapproval, as anybody who has grown up loving animals would feel. 

Years later I read Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and observed the profound respect the author had for bullfighters and for the so called sport. “Bullfighting”, he said, “is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter´s honour”. I seemed to understand his point, I recall, but I didn´t share his admiration. 

In the city of Alicante I refused to enter the bullfighting rings and despite having made friends, particularly in Valencia, who were very fond of the sport and who went to watch the spectacle during the Fallas feasts in March, I was determined to stick to my morals. 

From conversing with these friends I have learned to respect the cultural significance of bullfighting and those who love it, but I have been unable to find the pleasure or understanding of the sport and the senseless killing of an animal. Regardless of this, the spectacle has something that appeals to many, even those who do not appear to bear the typical fanaticism of many Spaniards. Maybe it is the fact that the bull still has a chance, that everone and everything dies sooner or later, and that the beast will make sure that its life is not taken easily and is willing to fight for it. Perhaps it is for that reason too that I find it perfectly fine when I see a bullfighter leaping with a horn up his bum, the price they have to pay for sticking spikes in animals and stylishly turning to the sounds of olé

However, the banning of Bullfighting in Catalonia, which held its last event ten days ago, where José Tomás and Serafín Marín fought in Barcelona’s main arena, La Monumental, seemed to be a great win for animal lovers and those tired of being associated with the bloodthirsty sport. Maybe the fanaticism is beginning to halt, I pondered, even though it may bear the price of sacrificing some cultural heritage. 

Then I heard that the beloved feast, the Correbous, would not be illegalised, as it was symbolic for Catalonia and as Andrés Martínez, the Security Administrator for Catalonia, argued, “the animals are not tortured”.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah

Correbous, a game where bulls chill out and play:

The correbous is a festive activity, in which a bull has balls of fire attached to its horns and is set in the streets panicking. Associations like the FAACE (Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe) have asserted that during these festivals, the bull can suffer a lot of distress and is often blinded by the flames or branded by the metal bars. 

There are a few things I detest more than bullfighting , one of them being the ignorant village folk who scream and shout and shake with excitement when there is a bull running down a street, in a blind frenzy and unable even to get his revenge and make those imbeciles teasing it pay for their arrogance. 

When in 2010, Joseph Rull, a spokesman for the centre-right nationalist coalition called Convergence and Union, stated that the ban on bullfighting was not an anti-Spanish manifestation, but a decision to adapt to a new society with new values, it all seemed pretty well said, even more so when he manifested that “the suffering and death of a living being cannot be turned into a public spectacle.”

Zip-a-dee-day

It seems therefore, that either the suffering of an animal cannot be turned into a public spectacle if the beast dies in the act, but if it is just suffering and torture, then there is no problem whatsoever. 

Or maybe, just maybe, there are some political connotations to this ban, and in the end, the Catalonian government has done yet another thing I detest more than bullfighting, be hypocritical. 

If anything, Catalonia have always shown an ethical and highly moral behavior, and whilst there are rightfully demanding rights with regards to their culture and more importantly, their language, which is often mocked by Spanish centralists as being a mere dialect, the legalisation of the correbous has done little to their favour. 

In these modern times with, as Rull stated, new values, there should be no excuses for the correbous.  The Catalans, who have shown at times that they can be different to the Spaniards, can no longer blame Spanish uncultured habits for supporting a show where such little compassion is reflected.  When you see them running behind a tormented young bull, in a drunk stupor and thuggishly pulling its tail and throwing objects at it, there is no beauty, no art, no dignity or value, just cowardly retrograded traditions. And for every attempt to be separated from a Spanish country accustomed to animal brutality, where in a small town called Nalda, they used to tie chickens to a rope and try to decapitate them on horses, the Spain where, until the year 2000,  a goat used to be thrown every year from a church tower in Manganeses de la Polvorosa, Zamora, and dogs are usually treated like vermin, this event does little to show them as different to the culture they so often refute.

Meme-ories are made of this

In Rant, TV/Movies, Uncategorized on September 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Oh the wit.

So anyway, it is cloudy yet again, and whilst it is hot and humid, the clouds are spitting crappy droplets and ruining any chance of going outside and getting some decent sunshine. It is then, thus, that I turn to the Internet to waste my precious, after dinner siesta time. And what better way to do so than by playing mind numbing games on Miniclips.com, reading fake news on The Onion, listings on Cracked and searches on Gorillamask. Whilst doing this, it is very likely that you stumble across memes on these and many internet sites.

What are they?

If you are one of those people who have yet to have sold their soul to the World Wide Web and still haven’t seen or heard of memes, then here is a simple description:

A meme is a popular term in the so called blogosphere, and refers to conversations, images or trends that end up becoming viral and spreading to other blogs, in a way that the original blog receives many visits due to it being the creator of the original meme, and other blogs feed on that popularity by enhancing and modifying the memes to keep the trend going.

Whilst it can be applied to viral marketing and promotions, as bloggers seek bigger audiences, though it could also be applied to simple cultural, humorous or even educational works that are spread from one mind, book, or even a blog to another, suffering variances, mutations and selections.

Like what?

All well from here, it even makes memes sound somewhat serious, particularly if you consider that one of the first important memes online was the Million Dollar Homepage meme, where Alex Tew, a student from Wilshere, England, decided to fund his university studies by selling pixels in 10×10 blocks at the price of one dollar a pixel. His page, which had space for one million pixels became a giant digital billboard. In 2005, it was positioned 125 in the Alexa web traffic ranking, it has decreased substantially since then, and the last 1000 pixels were sold for $38,100, bringing the final gross income tally to $1,037,100.

It isn’t all about making business though, and like all modes and fashionable trends, the popularity eventually goes down, and what was cool soon goes old. One of the first memes to be done, just for the hell of it was the Ate my balls meme, in the late nineties, where hundreds of celebrity photographs where modified with MS Paint and hung up on Geocities (oh the days), with speech bubbles making references to testicles. Remember, internet was limited then, and it was harder to get thrills.

One more in the Internet Phenomena List.

The Internet, apart from being highly useful for finding information, copying essays, searching porn and networking, is also great for wasting time looking at pointless shit and seeing it spread. Some other Internet phenomena many people have heard of include:

At this date, September 2010, the Internet is packed with memes, some of them just for fun, absurd and highly contagious. Social networks like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr have allowed memes to spread quickly and programs such as Adobe Photoshop, but even MS Paint, can make modifications very easy. For now, here are some of the memes I see the most while wasting my time, let’s see how long they last, and how long it will be before they create a meme that can finally destroy and rid the world of Justin Bieber.

Top 12 September 2010: Because most of the stuff I put here will be old shit in about..two weeks time.

1.      Lolcats: Still lasting, whilst other memes like Rick Rolling, Leeroy Jenkins, unicorn adoration, the God awesome Philosoraptor and dramatic chipmunks are losing out in popularity, you just cannot avoid stumbling into cats making pricks of themselves.

Lolcats...Fail

2.      O Rly, another perpetual meme. Originated on the Something Awful Forums, it was used to sarcastically reply to something that was dull, unoriginal or just retarded.

3.      Prancing Cera meme: A picture taken of Michael Cera jumping between two platforms in Norway was uploaded in Flickr. It wasn’t long before he had a F*uck Yeah Tumblr page flooded with modified fan made images.

http://fuckyeahprancingcera.tumblr.com/

4. Sad Keanu: A paparazzi picture of Keanu Reeves eating on his own fuelled a massive array of pictures and even videos taking the pitiful piss out of the Canadian actor.

5. Rage guy (fffuuu): A popular comic which has served as inspiration for countless memesn including Forever Alone, F*ck yeah, Okay, Y U No? And Everything went better than expected. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/rageguy-fffuuuu

6.      Cool dog: Cool Dog is a nickname given to a leashed Shiba Inu dog with an elbow bent over what looks like a doghouse roof in a “cool” posture. Get it?

7.      Leo strut: Similar to the Disaster Girl, Leonardo Di Happrio is a photoshopped exploitable that uses an image taken of DiCaprio during the filming of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”. The original image is of DiCaprio walking happily down a street but it has been edited into several scenes that usually depict a catastrophe or terrible happening, and where Di Caprio strolls as if he could have stopped the incident or helped people nearby, but instead continues throughout the scene doing his jolly strut. Source: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/leo-strut

8.      Son I am disappoint: First seen in November 2008, the pictures simly show a son doing something that disappoints his father, who replies, “I am disappoint”.

9.      Inceptions: Memes made from inception quotes and scenes, often merged with other memes. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/inception

10.      Surprised Kitty. More popular among the less sarcastic, but it is a very adorable kitty looking surprised.

11.      Bear Grylls: Pictures of Bear Grylls with captions that mock his…assholeness

12.      They asked me I could be anything I wanted…so I became a God: Famous meme from 4chan, though I kinda feel sorry for the kid

Anyway, enough with the time wasting, I think it is time to do my second favourite thing to waste time, eat. And by the time I come back there will be another hundred memes to try and get the gist out of. This stuff moves too quickly for me.

More info for meme spotting.

Further links: http://fuckyeahfunnythings.tumblr.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_phenomena

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/

www.Urbandictionary.com

http://www.failblog.org

The Last Weekend of Summer

In Rant, The Gonzo Diplomat on September 18, 2010 at 1:47 am

We were practically thrown over the barstool, sipping on some watered down Mojitos in a cocktail glass served with a straw. Around us girls walked in short skirts, and strapped vests, showing tanned and peeling shoulders over strong perfume and the clap clop of broken heels. It was the seventh time I had looked at my watch- an almost impulsive reaction- and it was also the seventh time I had remembered that the bastard had stopped sometime between 11 and 2:30 and I had no idea what time it really was.

In front of me I had a charade of poor jokes and sexist comments, I tried to smile but I had cut myself shaving after a mosquito buzzed past my ear as the razor landed above my lip. Nobody could notice, but it annoyed the hell out of me. Everything around me annoyed the hell out of me. It was the last weekend of summer, and you could sense the nostalgia in the air, and the forced intentions to try to make the night special, when in fact, it had been dire.

This guy called Joe, who had refused to tell me his real name because it was “too difficult to pronounce”, he just stood there staring at the girls, the tackier the better, the kind of girls who wore yesterday’s shirt and drowned the sweat with deodorant and hairspray, his eyes widening.  Every now and then he would prod me with his finger and say, “three o´clock” or “six o´clock”, and I would discretely, or not so discretely, turn and find a busty Russian girl with sex doll lips, sipping on some fruity alcopop and pouting like there was no tomorrow. As I would turn back, he’d be nodding like some sex mad pervert at me, his thumbs up and his grin wrapped around his face like a towel. “Spectacular”, I would lie, and he would resume his bird watching notifying me that he would “keep me informed on any new arrivals”.

The other guy, Phil, he is talking non-stop about who gives a shit what. It makes me feel guilty at times, the fact that he is opening his heart and telling me his life, his insecurities and his dilemmas and that I am paying no attention to it, but then my common sense gives me a kick in the balls, and I remember that he has no heart, just a puffed up chest, full of feathers made so that he can strut around like a champ.

“So, she thinks she can tell me what to do, but in the end, she always calls me crying man. Always.  I can treat her like shit, I tell you, but she will always come back crying. That is the effect I have on women…”

The effect he has on certain types of women, I ponder, the ones who I would rather avoid. The vultures, likes the ones perched around me. These girls, they don’t look at your hair, your expression, or your sense of humour, these girls go straight for your car, your shoes, your watch. They check to see with what kind of notes you’re paying with, and what your wallet looks like. They know brands you have never even heard of, and I’m not referring to Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace or Christian Dior, they know if your watch is a Chaumet, a Cartier or a Brequet and all those names send signals down their spine and down towards their libido. They wouldn’t care if Phil was one metre sixty five, had a beer belly and tended to gel his hair back to try and hide his first bald patches. All they knew was that he drove a Jaguar and that he loved himself.

“…they adore me. Ed, you reach a stage in your life, when you have done so much and earned so much money, that you literally shit on everybody else’s life. I don’t give a fuck about these people around me, because I will always be more respected than them, I have a good life. Suzanne, she knows that, and I have her trapped because of that.”

My head wanders off again, I don’t need to hear this anymore, he just carries on and on, and even when I try to give him some feedback he halts me with his hand and says “wait, wait,” and continues spraying shit out his mouth. Every now and then, I feel a prod on my side, and a murmur of “oh my God, look at eight o’clock”.

These girls, they don’t see that Phil has a disgusting tendency of picking his ear with his little finger and smelling it. Or that his breath smells like dog fart. They just admire the confidence in his stroll, the efficiency in the way he sells himself, I mean, in a different way, he had also sold himself to me. To what extent are women this way? Are men really the superficial ones? If Phil’s words were true, is civilization doomed?

The lights flicker out in the port bar; the only lights surrounding us are on the trail to the lighthouse. Sparklers begin to ignite on the centre stage, where before an Arab dancer had tried to woo the crowd, and some dumb jock had tried to sing an Usher song, they quickly spread throughout the dance floor and near the bar. A waitress walks up to Phil and asks him if he wants to hold a sparkler, he looks in repulse and says “I don’t want to hold anything”. The waitress, she smiles at him and says “ah don’t be so grumpy”. Joe’s mouth is wide open at this time. Meanwhile John Lennon’s Give Peace a chance is boosting around us.

The music is too loud for Phil to resume his dialogue, and so I am given some peace. I look at the crowd around me, waving the sparklers to such a tune, most of whom probably don’t even know what the damn song is about, and I wonder how long left until I leave this place. How long is this limbo going to last? How long must I repent for my sins, and when will I be freed from them?

The summer sun has long faded, the sunshine is weaker and the days are starting to get shorter. True, it is only September, but I swear I have felt stronger sunshine than this in previous years. The wind is sharper, the night is jagged, how long do I think I can last without a jacket? How long until the scarf makes its return? How long until I wake up feeling new? How long do I need to give importance or be affected by people who should already be out of my life? Forgive me for I have sinned, but give me a new chance and let me get out of this shithole.

The beaches are emptier, kids don’t run around them anymore, and the people who are brave enough to swim in the water do so with the sadness of saying goodbye for another year. They play with the waves and let the water trickle through their hands. The walk out slowly and stroke the sea, and when they leave the shore, they look back. It is always sad to depart, especially when times have been great, but I refuse to look back.

The sparkles have flickered out, and I see Phil turn to carry on talking and I prepare to hold my breath. Back in limbo, will someone wake me up? And just then I feel a prod as Joe confirms to me that there is a hot go-go at eleven o’clock.

Summer...it's over, man.