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Monday, August 31, 2015

La Vuelta a España 2015

This is two blocks from my front door. I actually could have seen this from my balcony. The peloton goes by in the blink of an eye but traffic was screwed up for a couple hours around town. Not really much of a spectator sport but the energy was really fun.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pan con Tomate con más Tomate

This is absolutely the best thing that I have eaten all summer...and that is saying a lot. I used some great black bread I bought at Mercadona. It was so good that I had it twice yesterday. I forgot to put on the pinch of salt on both occasions which is not like me at all to forget salt. I think that I need to make it again today, this time with the salt.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August in Valencia

After the hottest July on record August wasn't bad at all. I actually slept with a sheet over me on many nights.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

That Time of the Year

 In Spain if you wake up in the morning in August and you know what day of the week it is as well as the exact date it means you’re working too hard.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Valencia: Best Place to Live

Outside Magazine recently published “The 16 Best Places to Live in America: 2015” which gives praise to hipster communities across the country where biking, skiing, kayaking, and other outdoor sports consume the free-time and extra income of locals. I would wager that all of these towns vote heavily Democrat and the overall mindset is liberal rather than conservative. Valencia, not being part of America, doesn’t qualify for the list but I thought I would scribble a little blurb in my city’s favor.

Valencia is a mix of big city sophistication (pop. 800,000), 2,000 years of history, and a cozy beach town where you can escape to the country on a bike in a couple of kilometers. My flat has neither central heat nor air yet I’m comfortable with the windows wide open from March until late November. Great public transportation in the form of underground metro, buses, and a bike-share program as well as rail connections to the rest of Spain that are second to none. Very affordable and the best part is that Valencia is in Spain!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Braquo: French in Action

A long time ago I used to watch a TV learning series called French in Action about a young boy and girl living in Pars. It was for mid-level students of the language and dealt with basic situations and presented grammar in context. Braquo is nothing like that series. The language that the cops and gangsters speak has little to do with school French. It’s like the writers have gone way out of their way to create a unique language that is nothing but slang, profanity, and guttural shortening of words. The dialogue reminds me a lot of Elmore Leonard in that it’s so ungrammatical and riddled with slang that it barely qualifies as French.

First of all, this series is a gold mine of cool French slang words beginning with the name, Braquo. What the hell is a “braquo.” On the website it says “Pris dans un engrenage mortel, ils vont être obligés de monter au braquo.” Caught in a deadly spiral they must pull off a braquo (armed robbery, heist). So “braquo” ain’t in no dictionary and was found in a French rap song.

Next there is the intro music and credits to the series which are very cool…and not too long. I loved The Wire, hated the intro music, ditto that for The Sopranos, True Detective, and a lot of other series.

The casting is top-notch and everyone looks like who they claim to be. I especially like the figure of Lemoine, a slimy little gangster tough guy. The internal affairs cop is another skeezy piece of work. Most of the actors have a distinctly un-Hollywood look to them; most would be considered too scuzzy for USA movie work.

Crazy action scenes and realistic while running at a breath-taking pace. The show basically took its style from The Shield which was more or less the same theme of bad cops running wild. Braquo has some cliffhangers guaranteed to keep you up way past your bedtime so be warned that any attempt to watch a single episode may be all but impossible.

Canards – newspapers (duck)
Gueule – mouth, mug, face
Clebs – dogs
Pot – drinks party pot de depart
Taule – slammer or digs, pad
Chiottes – shitter
Lambda – average, ordinary. T'es pas un flic lambda, Eddy.
bordel – brothel, mess
péter un plomb – go crazy
bosser – work boulot ¡Au boulot!
mômes – kids
fringues – clothes (threads)
fringuer = habiller
couilles – balls
casse-couilles – pain in the ass
tronche – face, mug
manouches – gippos
minables – wretched Ça restera l'histoire de deux flics minables
puer – stink tu pues l’alcool
trou – jail
gonzesse – broad, woman
marmot – kid, brat
marmaille – brood, gang of kids

brebis galeuses – bad apples, black sheep
coller – stick, glue, tailgait
Chier – to shit, crap
dans la même calèche
jacter = bavarder – chat,
toubib – doctor
sangloter – weep
camé – on drugs
stups - drugs
sucer, suçais – suck
balancer – to rat out, snitch J'ai l'IGS au cul. Ils veulent que je te balance.
Intox – bluff, myth . Il te le fait à l'intox
flingage – shoot-out
flinguer – shoot
pige (anné) – year
bite – cock, prick
crapule – scum, crook
cagoule – balaclava
le pognon – loot, money
la thune - money
enculé – cocksucker, asshole
enfoiré - asshole
fouiller – search
pote – pal, buddy
raclure – louse
patauger – wade, trudge  On patauge dans la semoule go nowhere fast
queue = dick
queutard = man who makes extensive use of his dick, horndog
DAB – ATM (distributeur automatique de billets)
Taper -  hit, Je vais taper un DAB avec Lemoine.
Tuyau – tip
Bagnole – car, ride, wheels
Tirelire – moneybox
Voyou- gangster, hood
Basse besogne – dirty work
Flingage - shoot-out, gunfight
Barbouze – spy, spook Gimenez a viré barbouze. Became a spy
Mijoter – simmer.stew, plot, scheme
La vache! - ¡Qué bueno! Oh, la vache, il est bon.
Amour vache – love/hate relationship
Manger de la vache – live hand-to-mouth
coup de fil – phone call
L'habit ne fait pas le moine
Branler – be up to Qu'est-ce que t'as branlé entre le massacre et maintenant?
Friche – wilderness
Becqueter – eat, nosh
Rencard – rendezvous
casse-toi – get lost, fuck off
fissa – chop-chop
oseille – money, cash
rade – corner bar

Friday, August 21, 2015

Immigrants: A Parable

I was sitting in a café the other day, as I do every day, when a young African boy asked me if I wanted to buy any of his wares—he was hawking Polo® shirts. A lot of times I will buy something small from them just because they are always polite. I once bought a round of socks for everyone in a bar from one of these merchants but a 10€ shirt was too much. I’ve noticed that you see far fewer of these ambulatory vendors in recent years. Maybe I’m wrong but I have asked other people and they all agree with this anecdotal observation. A few years ago young black African youths roamed through every bar in town selling everything from cigarette lighters to children’s toys. Perhaps the bad economy has forced them to find other ways to make money.

I was busy typing away on my netbook and hardly gave the young entrepreneur a second’s notice. Just before I started to politely wave him away I thought to ask him if he would like something to drink. I offered him a beer and he refused as he said that he was a Muslim. I always play dumb and ask them why they can’t have alcohol, as if this is the craziest thing in the world and it sort of is the craziest thing in the world. I’ve always said that if Mohammed had really wanted to help his followers he would have banned smoking.

The boy asked for an orange soda so I ordered it from the proprietress. When the Chinese woman brought it to him I handed her what I thought was sufficient change. It turned out that without my glasses I had mistaken a .20€ coin for a .50€ so I was short .30€. The woman waved away my attempt to give her the remainder when she realized that I was buying the soda for the kid.

The Chinese here in Valencia are sort of famous for their pecuniary prowess so for this woman to let the .30€ slide in this transaction was unusual. I think she just thought it was nice that I was doing this for a stranger. I have been going to this café for years and I always treat this woman with exaggerated respect and politeness. I’ve always been taught that it’s much, much easier to be decent to everyone than go through life causing friction.

Of course, there is more than enough racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in Spain to go around but I think that there isn’t the malignant cancer of racism that seethes beneath the surface in much of the United States. Immigration is a very complicated issue but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that we are talking about fellow human beings.

I'm not trying to pat myself on the back for parting with 1.20€ but I hope that it made the boy feel, if only briefly, that not everyone is against him in this strange world. It made me feel good. Do Donald Trump and his ilk feel good after they rant about the horrors of illegal immigration?