This blog will be dedicated to the beautiful passions of life: Food, Film, Football (Barça), Philosophy, Literature, Art and Humanity.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Edinburgh - a few years ago.

Edinburgh is strange, first in the pub it is almost full of Spanish people, in all ways it is them who put colour into this city. The beautiful and stylish people of town.

It is the night of the firework. The romantic occasion of all Romantics in this very much Romantic town. I walk around trying to find out the best place to be, noticing that everyone is out, even the September chill.

Spot an old lady walking with a camping chair. She is all on her own. Obviously used to the night of the firework. I quickly realise that she is the one with the hottest spot on the Meadows. The field where the southern and western part of the city watch the firework. She slumps down with here thermos of hot chocolate I imagine, although judging by the Scottish behaviour I have seen so far it could well be vodka.
She also has a blanket which is very wise. The firework start late, surprisingly and go on for a very long time, they seem badly in love with firework here in Edinburgh it feels like it is on every week or almost every day. This one is supposedly the one, well apart from New Years Eve, where they go mad snogging as well.

So one after one, or slowly with a build up a lot of crashes and sperm like firework. It is beautiful I was touched. Smiled deeply on the inside and hearing all these Scots or tourist or British or whatever go ooooo iiiii oooooooooooooooo.
Funny this collective orgasmatic sound. Then clapping and more applauding. On and on it went for about 40 minutes. Quite impressive, walking home you meet all these drunken people roaming the street and the clash between extreme sophistication and hooliganism hits you. It is a weird town indeed.

All this on the night Beckham became Roy Beckham for real.

The Streets of Reykjavik, Iceland

I walked through midtown on a day like any other. It was not the first time, but it felt like the first time. These desolated streets.
A few thoughts came into my mind along the walk, some of them very clear, some of them looser. Some time passed, the clear thoughts became clear and vice versa.
Now I am split between if they had any importance or not. I can just recall the feeling of the start of civilization.

I know it won’t change neither humanity nor society.
I know that it might be of no importance to anyone.
I know that it left my heart feeling quite warm, on a sunny clear snow fallen Sunday.

Remembering that I started to recall old times, well before I was born. Long gong time, before my eyes.
Somehow the essence of Icelandic life, came into a clearer state.
The time before the preconceived ideas of civilization. Anarchy at its full force. Like free style in Jazz. Each man building its house, each house meeting the need of those inside. A window put where it needs to be put or just where it would look good. No imitation of the next door neighbour. It makes me wonder, if it was the time of ultra competitive individual style or the time of non jealousy. A surprise on each corner, not knowing where you would find each element. Most of the colours painted in bright colours, contrasting with the snow, following the path of t he mountain across the bay. Remember the warning sign of the winter is always there first. The warning of previous times.
I long for the time when need was met with an action and not with an idealistic existence, dreaming of a certain purpose.

Seen Today

I saw two freaks today.
First there was just a dwarf.
Or second I saw the other freak first.
She really made an impression.
At the Festival (not too sure if it has any connotation but these people were walking around in white with a book in their hands. Probably a bit like in the bible. Or Religious meaning to it.
As you can see I am not very religious.

But here we go; she was wearing all white, first I noticed that, then in her face she had white powder covered only partly. She had a huge scarf around her also white and a bag.
All of these things would have been enough and this is probably why she was doing all this effort. I noticed this last in her face she had huge huge Warts or round outgoing things. It kind of was a bit shocking and it was so beautiful to see how she covered it all up behind this whole outfit.
It was really really moving.
She moved in an extremely slow pace as well.

The old Woman and the other Forgotten Ones

An Immigrant left with no other options, but the jobs that have been left out in the Society. The Forgotten Jobs, for the Forgotten Ones.

The Old Woman, very old, ninety-five years old and obviously coming to terms with the last sigh. She seems quite alive, aware of what goes on around her.

Here I am night after night, working as a guardian angel. The old woman or The Grandmother as I call her, is supposed to sleep at night, at times she calls out Gelatina, which is my part of the job, to giver her a bright pink Jelly. My only duty actually. At times I wonder if it could be Morphine. After all the business of medicine seems to be a relaxed affair here in Spain.

The Guardian Angel is always there, when this little voice calls out Gelatina Gelatina.

Being in the hospital all this time has made me appreciate the cleanliness and the clinical atmosphere of the hospital. Always been in fear of over cleanliness, but here somehow it seems quite beautiful, all this effort for their last moments to come.

The Goodbye of the Ancient ones.

Next to The Grandmother is an old women, not as old as my Lady, but still old enough. She says little, the only interaction I had of her, was when she kept pressing the alarm, saying something I just could not comprehend.

The other lady next to the Grandmother is younger, with a patch over her eye, she seems to be able to move, still not walking about. Nothing I have asked her about, she seems nice. Very difficult to understand, from Andalusia and with a harsh accent. She keeps talking to me and it is impossible to understand even just a single word. I Just smile and say si si or Gracias, when I think it is appropriate.
She keeps calling me Nena – girl.
The old Woman and the other Forgotten Ones
The sentence strongest in my mind, which made me lighten up was: girl girl, you can turn the light on, turn the light on, girl girl it does not disturb me at all. You have to study you have to study. Girl girl it does not annoy me, turn it on.
Surprising to hear when you are in the middle of your thirty year crises, makes you feel good and in tune with life. Forgetting for a moment all lost times.

It has been so strange to be left there, within all these Old people, some at the very end of this life’s cycle. Sitting there in the dark, wondering at times if you can hear the breathing. The Grandmother is so tiny tiny, in the middle of me staying there she seemed to have a lot of strength. Pressing the alarm again and again, moving around, foot stuck out of the bed, sheets up and down, never sleeping, all movements. It made me feel quite stressed and at no grips with what to do, she took my hand and held it tightly. If you are not religious this is a moment when you start to believe. The Believe suddenly comes into the Forgotten Ones and stays forever. I could not understand a word she said, she speaks Catalan, I was only prepared for Gelatina Gelatina. She had such a quiet voice, so tiny, so helpless. It made me have tears in my eyes each time I hade her hand squeaking me tightly and whispering words out. It was a moment of extreme intimacy, of extreme trust. Strange moment to be with a stranger you have not met at other moments.
Later in the week she got quieter again, not moving as much. Sleeping through the whole night. It was strange, I thought that she probably was exhausted after having worked so hard those nights.

The very next night it was all as the nights before, Grandmother was hardly moving and in the early morning she died in my arms. A stranger dying in my arms. It felt very emotional, this extreme feeling of intimacy, of pure trust. The purest moment coming to terms with life.
It has brought out moments of thoughts, many thoughts, the existentialism of life. So tiny so very tiny.

The Power Of The Word

There are profound differences in how the press operate in the Spanish capital and the Catalan one. While in Madrid they have suffered from soon three years of empty trophy rooms, where the uncertainty of the future project is well known in Barcelona there is a project which should be trusted and has given a league title, Spanish super cup and it is up to the Catalan team to loose the title, as well as being alive in the Champions league.

It is interesting to see how the press operates in both cities and the influence they have.

A few weeks ago Madrid were trashed in Zaragoza in the semi-finals of the cup (the only realistic target Madrid had) 6-1. As soon as the game ended there was a ghost who had reawaken the spirit of the team (The spirit of Juanito), Casillas was the first to mention it, but soon after the whole of Spain was dependent on the spirit of the former Madrid player Juanito. It is well probable the marketing director of Real Madrid, José Antionio Sánchez had lucidly inspired Casillas of the spirit, but the marketing was in process. The next day no one remembered the game, the headlines ran of Juanito's spirit and the resurrection with it.
It was almost like the whole Spanish nation (apart from the Catalans and the Basques) had been hypnotised. The poor Zaragoza players knew other forces had taken off their responsibility. If the spirit came back, there was little to do.
Something that would have been impossible in Catalunya, were scepticism and pessimism is deeply enrooted in the souls of the Catalans. The game was won
4-0, one goal away from getting into the finals. A result that had been impossible became almost possible.
In Catalunya the sneered at the Goebbels like propaganda that they had installed, but some also showed an admiration of the power of the press and believing in the miracle. Believing in a Spiritual Ghost.

The Catalans on the other hand are rarely at peace with each other; at the moment they care little of what the Madrileños think of them, as the team is showing a remarkable superiority on the pitch. However in the backlit rooms of the bars, on the terrazas and restaurants, reunions take place where discussions and criticism is made towards the directors. It is not that the directors are criticised for their mistakes (and they have made several of various degrees of seriousness) that is surprising, but the cynicism and the spikiness of it. It is almost at times that some partners of the famous entorno want the team too loose in order to throw the "regime" over. There are Laportistas and Rosellistas. And the Rosellistas want the president and his "friends and family" (in their opinion) out and have the Rosellistas in. The Rosellistas criticise Eto'o for almost everything and are quick to point out Rijkaard's mistakes with a glint on their face (both are supposedly Laporta's choices) while they defend Rosells signings (Ronaldinho and Deco for example). Rather than seeing the team as a fruit of that - teamwork - it is divided into particles depending on who's they are.
One could say that the press in Barcelona all have their agenda and perhaps one should come to the conclusion that the club will never be united with all its history and characters that form the club, while in Madrid the press is controlled by the club to all go in the same direction

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Dish of Today - Yrsalitas Salmon, Lentils & Rocket Salad

Simple, Colourful and Tasteful meal.

One salmon fillet per person
Capers (preferably in salt), quarter of a handful
Black good quality olives - half a handful
Garlic - 1 clove per person
Lemon - 1/3 per person
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven, 200 C.
2. Cut garlic and black olives in very finely.
3. Rinse the capers under cold water.
4. Squeeze the lemon.
5. Put each salmon fillet on an aluminium wrap, put the garlic, capers, black olives, lemon, black pepper on each fillet. Wrap the aluminium folder around it. Loose but neatly.
6. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Rocket Salad
Serves 4

3 bunches rocket (about 600 g)
2 firm plum tomatoes (200 g) chopped into bit-sized pieces
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 tblsp oil
salt to taste

Cut off and discard the thick bottom stalks of the rocket, then plunge the leaves in cold water and dunk a few times to loosen the grit. Lifte out of the water and dry in a salad dryer. Chop the rocket into strips, about 1 cm wide and put in a salad bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, pour iin the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt to taste. Toss lightly, taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and serve immediately.

Lebanese Lentil Salad

200 g brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
650 – 700 ml water
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 – 3 tbs lemon juice
3 – 4 olive oil
1/2 cumin

Combine lentils and water in a saucepan, add 1/2 tsp salt and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to moderate heat, cover and simmer lentils for about 35 – 45 minutes. Check the water level at intervals and if necessary add a little boiling water.
Meanwhile in a salad bowl crush the garlic with the remaining salt. Add the lentils with their reduced liquid to the garlic in the salad bowl and stir well, mashing lightly. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir again. Sprinkle with the cumin. Serve hot or warm or cold.

Rememberance of the past.

The beauty (and the beast) of the People of Catalunya

Remember the time last, year, when everything was running on a high in Catalunya. Remember the time, late last year, when hopes were high and the future was bright. Remember the time late in last season, when Barcelona were the saviours of modern football. Remember the time last year, when nothing could go wrong. After all Barça, won the title with 11 players plus the young Andrés Iniesta. Remember the time last year, when Barça were so unjustly crashed out of Champions League by Chelsea and the evil Mourinho. Remember the time when the dressing room was "una puta pinya" (harmonious and joyful, no hint of a bad spirit).

Well Remember, as nothing is the same again. What happened then?

Now a few games into the season, everything has changed. The system so fruitfully used last year is a question mark as teams have learned the key to stop Barça. There are rumours of a rift in the dressing room. The board is not the democratic board it gave itself to be. Rijkaard is now under scrutiny of every decision or the decisions he doesn't make (Cruyff makes them). The other clubs have lost all respect and are a bit resentful (to be humble) against the team and the help of the referees and the help of the express passport Lionel Messi obtained in order to play.

I will give some points to explain the world of Barcelona and hopefully you will have an insight into an extremely complicated club. Or the well chosen words Rijkaard used :" A noisy club".

History: A few years ago, something that each Catalan firmly remembers, the club was the hope against Fascism, the only place were Catalanisme could be expressed openly, as it would have been to difficult to arrest 100 000 people. The club had a president killed by Franco's troop and has since been the vocal point for Catalans and its struggle against Madrid. Something that has not deceased with the years of democracy, believe it or not. It is firmly rooted in its belief of the army of the Catalan Nation.

The Press/El Entorno: In Spain, the press has an immense, but an immense impact on the two big clubs, Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona. Where one could say that Florentino Pérez uses Madrid as its propaganda machine, in Barcelona it is the opposite. The press has such an influence in the club, two radio programmes broadcast, each day, yes each day, two hours of discussions on the club. Then there are two newspapers dedicated to each club and a some "tertulias", chat shows. Where influential people with an history in both clubs, voice there opinions. One of them is Johan Cruyff, who has a weekly column in La Vanguardia, where each voice, gets magnified, like it is Bin Laden himself, some are against him, others are for him. His opinions tend to get discussed for the rest of the week and well into the next week. There are also ex candidates for presidency (I am talking of Barcelona) who form part of this Entorno, who are also very very powerful. The press have it easy in turning the crowd against the club. Barcelona luckily have many home grown players, which has its advantages obviously, but also a disadvantage, where their wholly families well being is based on how well Barcelona can do. Even if the criticism might not affect its son, the performance and atmosphere in general, is likely to affect them and create a certain amount of tension.

The Directors: Laporta famously, commented that as a young boy, one dreams of playing for Barcelona, but as an adult one dream of being The President. It is a job, that is extremely difficult and very tiring, as so many want to achieve it and are in a way prepared to damage the club in order to obtain it. Laporta and his other directors, promised a change, a total change from the former regime of Nuñez and later Gaspart, who were suspected to be both corrupt and in Gaspart's case freely spend the money and in truth leave a club on the border of an economic catastrophe. One has to give Laporta the praise, for sticking with Rijkaard, change a team with a loosers mentality into winners. To make Barcelona once again a mirror for many young and old people across the world. They have also succeeded in getting the club to make money, instead of loosing money. There is some criticism from the outside, where Laporta is not fulfilling his promise of transparency. Two members have taken the club, as the accounts are kept secret and no so called carpets have been lifted.
The board is also being accused of serious lying: the members are demanding not to be taken for stupid and to have the truth explained to them on following subjects: The loan of Saviola to Sevilla (a club famously anti-Barça), the contracts of Ronaldinho, who is signed until 2010 and the club said they would get a percentage of his image rights, something that has not happened. The board were extremely critical of former boards, who signed players on long contracts, putting the hegemony and economy of the club under a possible threat, now five players signed until 2010. the contract of Rijkaard who can walk away from the club, without paying a fine (something the club tried to impose). The promise of not selling any terrain, something they did quickly in order to obtain a benefit from last year (according to critics), Messi's express passport and how that was obtained, the whole feud between Laporta and Rosell, the so called Chinese Whisper, with a supposed next to a closed deal with the Chinese government: a very strange deal, where a UK based company wanted to thank the Chinese government for contracting them on the constructions of the 2008 Olympic Games and give them a present… then last of all and perhaps the most serious: Laporta using a white line on his wife's brother, who is a director (not a board member) and his membership or not, of … the Franco Foundation. Apparently Echevarria has told Laporta he is not a member of the Franco Foundation, showing a document (signed on a Sunday) from the foundation, stating that he is a non member. The question is if he was a member upon that point and if Laporta knew of this.
A messy soup, you can see. Not only is a director (not just an employee) a member of a Foundation of a dictator that has harmed the Catalan People and Spanish people so much for 40 years, but that Laporta also lied about it.
One way or another, people are out to get them, both as a self promotion (perhaps to a presidency) or out of love for the club.

The team: The team has not been playing extremely badly, rather they seem more focused on Champions League and have started the league at slow pace, not pressurising like they did last year, when most balls were recuperated in the opposites half and the concentration was at 100 %. Perhaps something very natural after winning the first title in five years. The players are accused of being accommodated after signing long contracts, not focused and believing themselves to be the King of Mambo. That Ronaldinho has forgotten he was being sooooo loved, as he was a simple genuine person, and is not appearing even more Galactico than Beckham with his golden boots (quite vulgar, coming from Brazil). For some reason or other, they have just not stepped up a gear, perhaps starting to believe all the praise that they were given last year. Believing a match could be won, without having to step down of the bus, or maybe knowing that the season is long, with a lot of matches and that at the end of it there is a World Cup.

The Coach: While last year, Rijkaard did not have to show his tactical geniality due to lack of first team players, this year he is being criticised of not showing enough of it. First that the best players, always played, even when they played badly. That everyone could name the first team of Barcelona blind hearted, then Ronaldinho and Deco were being rested (remember the word rested), no one seemed to belief Rijkaard, even saying Cruyff had made that decision and that the players were being punished. When Xavi was rested (the team only drew) he was resting the wrong player. Every action Rijkaard makes is being scrutinised with a magnifying glass, honestly totally unjustified, a few months ago he was being praised of being an honest man and manager, close to his players who knew when to be firm and maintain the players happy and respectful. For some reason everything is in doubt and a few months ago, most people and journalists would have taken Rijkaard anytime over Mourinho, now… yes some people are even crying for Mourinho's forgiving (that they only saw him as a translator) and hope that he will come back to show Barcelona how to win games and to be winners. Even accepting to become a team of results, grinding results, even forgiving his arrogance. Rijkaard understood completely what the crowd has always wanted (attacking football), but for some reason there seems to be a longing for a defensive style and Mourinho(even Capello would be accepted) and his arrogance is even seen as a saviour. With the slogan "Please My Admired Mourinho Forgive Us and Come Back" the most sung in the corners of Les Rambles.

Or perhaps the result of this is just boredom with the spells of International football.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Love Match

This post is by my friend Edwin Mak, a fierce Chelsea Supporter. Due to rivalry that can sometimes create open wounds I have agreed to this posting.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Walk !

One of the most beautiful walks I know of, which contains many important and varied emotions, is the one I make to the Camp Nou, in Barcelona. There are others of course, that at a certain moment had a great importance to my life and with a little pause of thought, have a big place in my heart. This one is special though as each time it is taken a new ending might take place, or rather a different anticipation takes place.
The walk starts at the Sarria Ferrocarril station were I get off to start my stroll. There have been times where a different path was taken, such as when you arrive from the center of town and you arrive by metro, after a couple of times taking that journey, Irealizedd it had none of the magic as the stroll from Sarria, so now I make sure a game is always started from that point.
You get out of the station and it is mostly downwards, the street are fairly steep and one goes cruising past a square with some luck you meet no one on the way down, as it is a moment of an introvert gasp of anticipation, of a moment where emotions will be flying high and not always into the wished direction. After a few minutes one passes a Japanese restaurant, where some very pleasant and memorable moments have taken place, without one noticing it is almost at the point of coming to Diagonal, rather than going straight onto the massive Diagonal I prefer to turn right and pass thMercedesez Benz franchise in Barcelona, perhaps one of many. It always reminds me of the great German films from the 70 and for some reason of Baader Meinhof (I know they preferred BMW - Baader Meinhof Wehicle). Cars is not something I think greatly of or even aspire of, but I do like Benz, at least the antique ones with their squares form.
Now one is by the Diagonal and crossing it the first signs of humans take place. The huge Caixa tower looms in front of you, it is an ugly building, but for a perverse reason I do like it. Shortly after you come to the kind of a roundabout which seems a meeting point for other attenders to the game. Now there is a humming silence, a quiet buzz, of adrenaline and anticipation, the excitement is perfectly taking place and the ants have started their movements in the stomach. The very last steps taken before a swift turn is made to the left and there it is in front of you. The sound now is much more concentrated and the spotlights lighting up up up before the moment has arrived.

Chelsea - Barcelona

Statistics Barça - Chelsea

These facts are statistacally proven and are a fruit of a long and exhaustive research. There are no or very little margins for any miscalculations or mis judgments of facts.

1:Face 2:Boy 3:Sexiness 4:Dress sense 5:Choice of partner 6:Music taste 7:Car/Cars 8:Coolness 9:Gay Factor 10:Sensuality 11:Name 12:Hair 13:Voice/Accent