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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bicifestación en Valencia

Bicifestación is a mix of bici—short for bicicleta—or bicycle and manifestación which means protest.  I would estimate that there were about 2,000 of us today for a ride through Valencia beginning at the Palau de la Música. The purpose was to raise awareness of a need for a bike path on two major boulevards in Valencia, both of which I avoid like the plague because they are too dangerous for cyclists. Two of my bikes are in need of some repairs so I made the ride on Valenbisí.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie Night

In an attempt to save money—I want another computer and a trip to Paris soon—I’m staying in tonight and watching a couple of movies. I’m about an hour into The Tourist which is just about as big of a piece of shit as you get with big budget movies. Of course it has a totally comic book villain. Why does Hollywood insist on doing that? As I have said over and over again, the principal in Ferris Buhler’s Day Off is more menacing than most of the stupid twats in these movies. To show how evil they are they should have the villain smash a puppy with a coal shovel. Now that would be menacing.

The movie is certainly beautiful; I guess that’s what a budget of tens of millions of dollars can buy (I suppose the script wasn’t in the purchase price). Seeing beautiful landscapes, even more beautiful cities, and a thoroughly modernistic high-speed train I can only wonder what right-wing assholes think about Europe. According to them Europe is some sort of socialist shithole. I didn’t mean to go off on a leftist tangent but this movie totally sucks. I’m not even listening to it most of the time as I have my headphones in the TV and I take them out when I tend to the focaccia I’m making…more on the focaccia later after I find out how it turns out.

OK, the final appraisal is that the movie was completely awful. I’ve felt more tension during a commercial for athlete’s foot medicine.  The focaccia was great.  I fast-forwarded through the movie so I think I will go out tonight after all.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Puente de la Exposición

The Exposition Bridge was designed by local boy Santiago Calatrava. It spans over Turia Gardens and the metro station of Alameda.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Arab Revolution and Television

I know that American military leaders are too stupid and too myopic to read and digest this NYT’s piece about the revolt in Tunisia and the role played by America’s fabricated nemesis, Al Jazeera.

The protests rocking the Arab world this week have one thread uniting them: Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel whose aggressive coverage has helped propel insurgent emotions from one capital to the next.

Think of the Tunisian revolt as sort of the reverse domino effect that our moronic generals warned about during the cold war to justify unsustainable levels of defense spending.  Think of how many ba-fucking-zillions of tax dollars have been spent to topple Saddam Hussien and the Taliban leaving in their wake a mess that will haunt America for decades to come. Now consider how the Tunisian dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was forced out of the country with a couple of grainy cell phone videos uploaded on Facebook and then rebroadcast on Al Jazeera. Now we have a similar situation in Egypt. Saudi Arabia should be next on the list.

Instead, our military elite insist that there is a military solution to all of our security and diplomacy problems around the globe. Forget about the fact that invading a sovereign nation and fighting a guerrilla war against the population has never been a great idea unless you are willing to go all the way, and by that I mean genocide (and that’s a fucking terrible idea). To me it seems that America’s military leaders have taken on a similar papal infallibility quality.  American politicians—and certainly not ordinary citizens—are not allowed to question our generals.

The protests in Tunisia were not spurred by Islamic fundamentalism. I think the Arab world is dying for an infusion of liberal ideas and those won’t be offered by Islam. If we think that our idea of humanity in the West is worth exporting the time is ripe to start that process. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I’ve been quite aware for a number of years that there is sometimes a huge difference between my definition of liberal and that of other self-professed liberals. I saw a few minutes of the new TV series Portlandia which is a tiresomely endless mocking of the politically correct, free Tibet version of liberals. In my experience in Seattle, Portland’s bigger sibling to the north, real liberal politics rarely entered into the discussion with most of the tattooed hippies who obsess about things like whether or not a chicken was free range.  Most of the yoga-instructor vegans I met in Seattle didn’t know the first thing about economic policy and had no interest in learning. Portalndia sends up this crowd and I’m sure American conservatives love every second of it.

The thing is, the cities that are chock full of these kinds of people, cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Madison, Boulder, et cetera are the best places to live in America.  I would take a room full of hippies over one moronic teabagger any day of the week. The truth is this: any place worth living in the United States is heavily populated by liberals. Seattle decided long ago to side-step the national conservative agenda and go its own way building good public transportation and providing excellent public housing.  Give me a city that aggressively fights suburban sprawl to any place that lets builders do whatever the hell they want.

For the most part, European liberalism begins where American liberalism hits it zenith. Valencia is more progressive than Portland but without the hippies leading the fight. Here it is just expected of people to demand things like health care, public transportation, bike paths, gay rights, and clean air. There is practically no controversy over any of these things except the occasional editorial from a Catholic bishop from time to time warning of the downfall of society because people stopped going to churches filled with pedophiles years ago. The church would love to return to those halcyon days of the Franco regime when people were practically forced at gunpoint to attend church. If the Catholic Church has led the way on anything even remotely beneficial to mankind I’d love to hear about it.

Valencia is not even near the most progressive city in Europe yet it should be a model for US cities. It provides a sustainable lifestyle for its citizenry with things like great public transportation. An automobile is completely a luxury here and not at all necessary. Most of the food we eat comes from as little as one or two kilometers away. About a four minute bike ride from my front door you will run out of city and straight into agricultural land.  Suburban sprawl is almost zero. The new high-speed rail line to Madrid is predicted to increase rail traffic to five times the current rate which should save 27 lives a year from auto accidents along this corridor. How much is that worth to a society? 

The conservative model is simply to let private enterprise takes its unhindered course. Ask for an example of what kind of society they hope to build and you never get a straight answer. What conservatives seem to want is a return to the 1950's but without blacks this time. I can point you directly to what sort of place I would like America to be and it looks a lot like Valencia. Liberal hubs like Seattle and Portland aren't far behind. What's it like where you live?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chain Letter

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy with this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously so that you could be anonymous now?

I like having the anonymity or the façade of it anyway. I’m getting paid a bit to write somewhere else and I would rather not mix this blog with what I write for money and publication. I’m not so stupid that I don’t realize that in this day and age not only would no one pay me to write some of the slanderous and goofball political stuff I pen but it is also a liability.

2. Describe an incident that describes your stubborn side.

The fact that I will play chicken with a car just because I think the driver is being an asshole and someone needs to call him on it (I use the masculine here because it is almost always—if not ALWAYS—the case).  All I can say is that if I get hit and the jerk doesn’t kill me I am going to fuck him up and good. Cars should be outlawed.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Either a fat tub of guts or superman; it depends on how I treated myself the day previous.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Either beer, or white wine, of maybe sangria, or a gin and tonic if I’m dressed up (anything other than surf trunks and a football jersey is dressy in the summer for me), or maybe all of these mixed together.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

Fight crime or knit.

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?

Are you kidding me with this one? Let’s just say that there are many things I would like to accomplish and leave it at that.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class over-achiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

I was sort of the clown-bully. At least I was in high school. At university I was too busy to be anything but a broke, stressed-out, and constantly struggling student. I used to balance my checkbook down to the penny…no joke. I lived on beans and rice.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what do you see?

I went bowling for the first and only time when I was about 12 years old. I knocked all of the things down with one ball. I felt like Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic. So what I see is me hanging on the ball return with my arms outstretched screaming, “I’m the king of the world!”

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?

That’s none of your fucking business. You could read every word I have ever written here (and there are a lot of words) and you probably couldn’t find out much about me except that I ride a bike a lot.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

How about reading a book to someone over the phone? Is that one of the choices? Why can’t “burning things” be on the list?

Un Paseo en Bici

I was feeling a little cooped up yesterday so I took a Valenbisí bike out for a spin. Actually, I think I took four bikes out as I rode for about an hour and a half. You can only keep the bike for 30 minutes so I had to dock the bike and then take it out again at various stations around town.  I came across this nice deli over by the football stadium. Had I been driving a car I would have never even noticed this quaint little store as I was stopped at a light. Because I was on a bike it was easy for me to stop and take a picture.

After humping around the Jardin Reales I started to make my way home and noticed a new bakery on the corner of Joaquin Costa and Calle Conde de Altea where I bought a focaccia (1.90€). It wasn't too good but it inspired me to make focaccia at home.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to the Crisis: Year Three

A new gated community.
The city of Camden, New Jersey has laid off almost 50% of its police officers.  The city is one of the most crime-ridden in the nation so this “get the government off our back” action should play out just about how you would expect. I have a few questions of my own here. First, I’d love to know how many of those 160 laid off policemen voted Republican or support the teabaggers—talk about voting against your own interests. Then you have to remember that these guys have been trained in weaponry and police tactics. They aren’t going to find other police jobs elsewhere as most places are suffering from this same anti-government lunacy, so you have to wonder how many will find work in the criminal sector in Camden.  It’s not like there are many decent jobs to be had for America’s middle class.  Jobs that start near the bottom and go nowhere seem to be about all this economy is producing, according to labor statistics.

Ronald Reagan’s dream is finally coming to full fruition. And Grover Norquist who once said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub," should now have the honors of drowning a ceremonial baby called Camden.  This is all great news if your vision for America looks like The Road Warrior and terrible news for the rest of humanity.  Camden is also shit-canning a bunch of firemen just to add a little more spice to the volatile stew they are cooking up. 

All of this fun is the result of the rich refusing to pay more taxes. This comes at a time when the wealthiest Americans are fucking cleaning up financially while the middle class has slipped quietly into the status of working poor—if they are lucky enough to be working.  Average tax savings for the richest assholes in the country is something like $350,000. This isn’t how much they will make this year but how much they will save on taxes. I’d say we were ready for another French-style revolution, but I think we will probably have to pass through a new Dark Ages to become enlightened enough to even blame the rich for this mess. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Americans are using tax-payer money to build up security companies like Blackwater to protect them if the poor ever get wise enough to get pissed off.