2013 28/02

Is the “English Gentleman” dead?

A friend was visiting Barcelona a while back. We met for breakfast and put the world to rights as we always do. He suggested he might like to write something for my blog. I had no idea what to expect. This is what he wrote.

Is the “English Gentleman” dead?

The English Gentleman book cover

The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal by Philip Mason

Ask a Barcelona barman or a Tottenham policeman and the answer is probably, “Yes.”

However it is interesting for me to notice that the concept is never translated. Whether in a Russian or Japanese conversation the words are always English. Was it a peculiar concept? Did people want to find it in Englishmen they met? In my travels, particularly to more isolated communities – like the peoples of Eastern Europe before the Wall came down – I think that they did.

Perhaps, with the advent of cheap travel, the hooligans now travel with the gentlemen or perhaps the gentlemen no longer exist!

In the 18th and early 19th century the English elite were fairly dissolute and were thought by many to be showing a bad example. Dr Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby school from 1828 to 1842, is credited with devising and encouraging the concept of the gentleman. It is a suit of many styles, fashioned to individual taste, but always of the same cloth. The gentleman was an enigma but you recognised him when you met him. Essentially he did things because he knew that they were right, not because they brought him personal advantage. Read the rest of this article…

2012 19/11

Spain’s Secret Conflict: A Documentary

image from Spain’s Secret Conflict

Spain’s Secret Conflict

The documentary, Spain’s Secret Conflict, was made back in 2009 yet recently was the first time I’d seen it. It’s one of the most concise explanations of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain that I’ve seen. Even if it’s not so secret a conflict any longer.

Gary Gibson’s 40 minute documentary starts during the Independence Poll in Arenys de Munt in September 2009. The first poll of it’s kind in Catalonia, this symbolic poll went ahead despite being banned by Madrid and picketed by the far right-wing Falange.

As Gibson says at the end of the documentary…

“Through these polls the Catalans are sending a clear message to Spain: for 300 years we have had to listen to you and do what you tell us. Now this is what we have to say.”

I wouldn’t say this is a completely one-sided documentary (though it is clearly pro-Catalan). There are personalities interviewed from both sides including: Read the rest of this article…

2012 09/11

Would an independent Catalonia be economically feasible?

CatDem logoThree reports have been commissioned by the CatDem Foundation to answer the question, “Would an independent Catalonia be economically feasible?”. Now of course, considering who the reports were commissioned by you don’t need me to tell you the conclusion. But all 3 make for interesting reading. They’re not particularly long, 11, 7 and 14 pages respectively. But they give some insight into the fiscal implications of an independent Catalan state.

From the CatDem press release…

As part of a general reflection about the “National Transition” that Catalonia is going through, the CatDem Foundation has put together three reports that analyse the economic feasibility of an independent Catalonia. These documents closely analyse all the possible consequences to the Catalan economy if it were to become an independent State. The reports focus on three different areas. Read the rest of this article…

2012 01/10

Tom Chant: Wild & Wonderful in BCN Episode 2

The fascinating Wild & Wonderful in Barcelona series continues with a documentary on long-term Barcelona resident Tom Chant.

From the website…

Wild and Wonderful Episode 2: English experimental and free jazz musician Tom Chant.
A long-term resident in Barcelona Tom is currently active groups including the Cinematic Orchestra, the Eddie Prévost Trio, Sucette – a computer music duo with Ben Drew, Marseille Figs – a country, pop, free-jazz racket and the London Improvisers Orchestra and Barcelona based IED8 and Banda de Improvisadores de Barcelona (BIB). Tom bought his first soprano saxophone in 1995. His first recordings from this period were with the Sycophants, on the Ninja Tune and Lo Recordings record labels. In 1997 Tom began recording with Jason Swinscoe, founder of The Cinematic Orchestra.

Tom Chant: Wild & Wonderful in BCN Episode 2

Wild & Wonderful in BCN links

2012 07/09

The National Day of Catalonia (La Diada Nacional de Catalunya)

National Day of Catalonia

La Diada Nacional de Catalunya (Source)

The National Day of Catalonia or La Diada Nacional de Catalunya on 11th September each year was first celebrated in 1886. The 11th September is a historic date in the Catalan calendar. The day, simple known as La Diada, commemorates the 14 month Siege of Barcelona, and when on the 11th September 1714, Catalan troops were forced to surrender to the Castilian forces of France and Philip V of Spain towards the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. It was unfortunately all pretty much downhill from there for the next 250 years. All institutions of Catalonia were destroyed and they became part of the Spanish kingdom.

Many Catalans have been battling this repression ever since. Most recently from the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco. The National Day of Catalonia was reinstated after 94 years in 1980, five years after Franco’s death in 1975. Catalonia today is at least an autonomous community. Though this is still far from acceptable for many. Read the rest of this article…

2012 03/09

Midnight in Barcelona

Midnight in Barcelona

Midnight in Barcelona

Katrine shares her love of Barcelona at midnight.

When I first moved to Barcelona, I was living in a flat in the center of the city. After a year, I moved to Gràcia.

I am not the biggest fan of the night bus, always preferring to walk home, to let my mind wander and gaze at the city in the cool night air. I became fascinated with the nighttime colors and shadows, tumbling over cobblestone, through doorways and windows.

Many things catch the eye when meandering through a city, depending on the angle and the time of day, the light and the shadows do many dances, draping over various shapes and leaning towards opposite directions in increasing and decreasing lengths.

Midnight in Barcelona

Midnight in Barcelona

What is it about line and shadow when it hits that late time at night?

I am caught gazing at beautiful balconies, wires that play between windows, shadows tumbling over cobblestone streets, in and out of doorways with a perfect glow of warmth. The light turns to a warm hue and shadows draw your attention to cracked walls leaning long across the street.There is a quiet and a beauty that I absolutely treasure meandering through the streets at midnight in Barcelona.

Katrine is a freelance graphic designer, currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She is the founder of and writer for Urban Artcade, a site containing interviews with international and local artists. Currently, she is curating an exhibit called Las Calles Hablan which focuses on the politics and story of street art in Barcelona. The exhibit will be showing at Mutuo Centro de Arte on 25th October 2012.

Urban Artcade: www.urbanartcade.com
Mapping Barcelona Public Art: www.mbpa.es
Kickstarter – Las Calles Hablanhttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1857535961/barcelona-street-art-exhibit-las-calles-hablan

2012 31/08

Wild and Wonderful in BCN

Wild and Wonderful in BCN

Wonderful people doing wild things, (or wild people doing wonderful things) in Barcelona

I’ve been keeping an eye on this video documentary project for a few weeks now. The first episode launches online at midnight tonight, so Saturday September 1st 2012.

From the website…

Wild and Wonderful is a series of short films celebrating the eccentricity of an eclectic mix of residents in Barcelona and all the wonderful things they do. The series will produce a monthly 5 minute short film about artistic and eccentric activities from an eclectic bunch of people all around Barcelona.

Sounds interesting right? Read the rest of this article…

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