miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2008
In my genes I have Magyar blood. Yes, one of my ancestors--my great-great-grandfather--was Hungarian. As it happens, he was an official of the Napoleonic Army that, when they invaded Spain, fell wounded right after crossing the Spanish/French border of Irún. A family of Basque farmers sheltered, took care, and cured him. He, whose last name was Gal, fell madly in love with their daughter--my great-great-grandmother--and got married. Years later, one of my great-aunts whose last names were Rodríguez Gal and was a great traveller, went to Budapest with one of her grandaughters in order to meet someone from that branch of the family. Once they were settled in the hotel, my aunt said: "I'm going to look in the phone book and the first Gal I see, I'll call" I'm afraid that her hopes went down the drain because there were as many "Gal" as there are "Rodríguez" in Spain... She gave up.
sábado, 22 de noviembre de 2008
Ben Clark, hijo de una muy buena amiga mia con quien compartí casa unos meses en los '70 en Ibiza cuando ella llegó a la isla para enseñar inglés y yo estaba separada de Fernando. Se casó con un galés y tuvieron tres hijos, el mayor Ben que escribe igual de bien en catalán, castellano e inglés. A la tierna edad de 20 años ganó un prestigioso premio de poesía (ahora mismo no me acuerdo cual pero ERA prestigioso...) nos recitó tres o cuatro de sus poesías más realistas, más románticas escritas con una técnica que el conoce muy bien.
Victor Balcells el "inédito"...por ahora... nos recitó una poesia llena de humor, de angustia vital por no acordarse de cuantos años llevaba con su chica, del pajaro que escapa de su jaula y acaba en la boca de ella... Verdaderamente, tronchante y genial. Delirio le va a publicar.
Encontré a los tres muy, muy válidos reflejando muy bien el mundo y la época que les ha tocado vivir. Les deseo muchísima suerte.
POR CIERTO SI A ALGUIEN LE INTERESA, TAMBIEN PRESENTARAN SUS LIBROS EN: MADRID, VALENCIA, CÓRDOBA Y BARCELONA. Estad al loro.
Yesterday, in the "Ibiza Journal's" Club, I attended the presentation of two books written by two up-coming, very young-- early twenties--excellent poets: "Not having been born" by Gonzalo Escarpa and "Cabotaje" by Ben Clark. Another poet, who hasn't been published yet, Victor Balcells also read one of his poems. "Delirio" has published the first two books, in the form of coasters, very ingenious. Escarpa read his poem, a saga of "Lavapies", marvellously well. The whole book, "Not having been born", is just this poem with its tragic and funny moments. He achieves a very acute insight of that Madrid neighbourhood with its colourful and multicultural characters wether they're junkies, homeless, prostitutes or simple flower-sellers and expresses his angst in a way that hits your gut. He admits belonging "to an intellectually-lacking Google generation because without her--Google IS a woman--I'm unable to write eight continuous lines (I would be fodder to my doubts and my bad memory)".
Ben Clark, whose mother is a very good friend with whom I shared a house in the 70's when she came to teach English and I was separated from Fernando. She married a Welsh-man and had three sons. The oldest is Ben who writes very well in Catalán, Spanish and English. At the tender age of twenty he won a very prestigious Poetry Award--which I cannot remember right now but IT was VERY prestigious--read three or four of his more realistic and romantic poems which technique he masters very well.
Victor Balcells, the "unpublished" (for the time being) read a poem full of humour, describing his distress at not remembering how many years he had lived with his girlfriend and a bird in a cage that escapes and ends up in his girlfriend's mouth... very hilarious and imaginative. "Delirio" is going to publish him.
I found the three of them very, very valid expressing very well the world they live in and the era that they've been born in. I wish them the best of luck
BY THE WAY IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED THEY WILL ALSO PRESENT THEIR BOOKS IN: MADRID, VALENCIA, CÓRDOBA and BARCELONA. Keep an eye out.
martes, 18 de noviembre de 2008
I'm back to my student days in Paris. 1963 (I know you hadn't been born yet). The "Beaux Arts" students had their annual festival at the beginning of Spring. It was a parade of erotic figures which went by the Rue St. Germain and the Boulevard St. Michel (popularly known as Boul Mich) of the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) ending at a fountain, with all the students jumping in naked, of the Parc de Luxembourg. Coming from prudish Toronto, this really stunned me! Floats with large phalluses entering and withdrawing from a large hole...(without specifying which...), huge papier maché figures lewdly embracing eachother... A spectacle that left me utterly in awe. I don't know if this festival is still going on. Does anyone know?
jueves, 13 de noviembre de 2008
Another story of my young years in Canada. During the summers I used to work in various jobs. One summer I worked for two weeks in a boutique, in the jewelry and perfume stand. That year it was very fashionable, among Canadian women, to wear a small pearl hanging from a chain. We had those pearls for $2.00. One day a girl called asking if we had those pearls. I said yes, we had them. She asked how much they cost and I told her $2.00. Ah no, she (and a friend) wanted the $10.00 ones. The manager who heard me, made me a sign to cover the phone, and told me to tell them that, yes, we had them and that I should simply change the price. This is what I did--I couldn't help it, after all, I was just an employee--I changed the price and when they came they were as happy as larks. This made me realize the falseness of the "market" and of "fashion" in general.
martes, 11 de noviembre de 2008
This is another strange story that has happened in my life. When I was seventeen, my brother had a party at home. I was dancing to "Only You" of the Platters with one of his friends when, suddenly, I had a flash that I was going to hear that song ALL my life... Can you believe that even though I never bought the record I HEARD it all my life (at least until I was sixty)? Everywhere I lived or spent some time when I turned on the radio or a radio was on--there it was! "Only You". The first years I noticed it but didn't pay too much attention but when I reached forty and EVERY year (usually, always at the new year) I heard it, I was astonished. However, since I turned sixty I haven't heard it anymore. How odd...
viernes, 7 de noviembre de 2008
Johnnis W. es una muy querida amiga mia de Ibiza desde hace mas de 30 años. Ella es mulata americana de Ohio. Quiero transcribir aquí el e-mail que escribió a sus jóvenes sobrinos Elliot y Candice a raiz del triunfo de Obama. Es un poco largo pero creo que merece la pena que lo leais:
“ Me acosté a mi hora acostumbrada sin querer estar pendiente de la tele esperando un resultado que no me atrevía a creer podría pasar en America. Dormí inquieta, despertándome a menudo, cada vez pensando qué habría pasado. Temía que si Obama no ganaba o fuera una carrera muy ajustada pareciera un tongo (¿recordais las últimas dos elecciones, Bush ganó haciendo trampas en Florida primero (2000) y en Ohio (2004)?) que, literalmente, se desataría el infierno y ¿qué pasaría? Me levanté temprano e inmediatamente enchufé la CNN y la BBC. Cuando vi el número de votos electorales y una marca al lado del nombre de Obama es cuando me percaté que lo había logrado, que había ganado. Rompí en sollozos acordándome de repente en Martin Luther King, Emmit Till (jóven de 14 años ahorcado por el Ku Klux Klan por haber silbado a una blanca), Rosa Parks (que se negó a ceder su asiento a un blanco en un autobus) tambien en mi padre, vuestro abuelo (tan triste y frustrada que no viviera para ver ésto) y a los miles de héroes anónimos negros que murieron o fueron asesinados sin ningun miramiento ni publicidad. Me acordé de los recolectores, de los recogedores de algodón, maleteros de los Pullman, esclavos y/o simples familias trabajadoras humildes que fueron víctimas de abusos, falta de respeto y tildados y tratados mucho peor que animales. Todos estos recuerdos explotaron en mi mente. Pensé en nuestra familia, vuestra madre, abuelos, tios y tias viviendo en el profundo sur, como muchos otros, y viendo a mi padre, director de escuela y posteriormente profesor universitario tratado sin respeto y de manera discriminatoria por el más bajo trabajador blanco. Recuerdo que cuando bebíamos agua de las fuentes públicas teníamos que hacerlo en “las fuentes negras” claramente designadas porque estaban pintadas de negro al lado de las de “solo para blancos”que, por supuesto, estaban pintadas de blanco. Tambien recuerdo que cuando ibamos a un restaurante no podíamos acceder a los comedores, teníamos que ir por la parte trasera y pedir la comida a través de un ventanuco que daba a la cocina. Recuerdo qué feliz me sentí cuando fuimos a la playa (vivíamos en la frontera entre Alabama y Florida) por la primera vez y darme cuenta que estabámos asignados a la de “solamente negros” sin poder poner pie en la de los blancos. Sí, viví todo eso y en algun lado profundo de mi subconsciente nunca olvidé que viví “Jim Crow”. O sea que para mi estas elecciones eran un sueño inalcanzable. El techo de cristal es lo único que yo había conocido. Por eso lloré sorprendida, esperanzada y con una creencia renovada en la grandeza del ser humano. Parte de mi alegría con el triunfo de Obama es un sentimiento personal de toda la gente de color (o de cualquier minoría que hayan sufrido injusticias por parte de esta sociedad racista y discriminatoria). Había felicidad. Que este hombre, ético, moral, inteligente, carismático había conseguido lo casi imposible. Logró mobilizar a los jóvenes desencantados y ofrecerles la esperanza de que sí podían cambiar las cosas y que sus votos contaban. Disolvió la apatía de una generación jóven marginada por un gobierno que percibían no se interesaba por ellos ni lo que pudieran opinar, así que se refugiaban en sus Ipods y You Tube. Observando a esa muchedumbre; todos, blancos, hispánicos, asiáticos, gays, viejos, negros, bi-raciales... todos con tanta esperanza en sus miradas, me volví más emocional. El triunfo de Obama ha sobrepasado todas esas barreras estúpidas y ha conseguido que veamos con nuestros propios ojos lo que verdaderamente significaron nuestros padres fundadores. Creo que nos sentimos americanos como tiene que ser, no un país programado y concentrado en lo indefinible o miedos espurios sin darnos cuenta que el terror está dentro. Muchos, muchos aprenderán del ejemplo que ha tenido lugar hoy. Cada niño americano, cualquiera sea su color, orígen étnico o religión puede llegar a cualquier cosa...hasta la presidencia.
Este es un momento histórico pero no soy tan ingenua como para pensar que puedan ocurrir milagros (bueno uno ¡sí ha pasado!). Cada uno y todos los americanos tienen que ser responsables de sus propias vidas y tienen que trabajar juntos para intentar conseguir que este país destrozado pueda volver a levantarse tanto moralmente como económicamente. Va a llevar muchísimo trabajo y esfuerzo. Va a ser difícil. Pero se puede lograr con tiempo. Rezo por el futuro del mundo. Rezo por toda mi gente querida y por mis compatriotas y sé que lo que ha pasado es lo más positivo que ha pasado a nuestro triste, perdido y mal-dirigido país en mucho, mucho tiempo.”
Johnnis W. is a very dear friend from Ibiza for the past thirty years. She's an “Afro-American” from Ohio. I want to transcribe the e-mail she sent to her young nephews, Elliot and Candice when Obama won the presidency. It's a bit long but I think it's worthwhile reading:
“I went to bed at my usual time, choosing not to sit in front of the TV, waiting anxiously for a result I dared not to believe could happen in America. I went to bed and slept fitfully, waking up sporadically, each time wondering what was happening. I was truly afraid that if Obama did not win, or it was a close race and seemed wonky (remember the last two elections when Bush got the presidency by cheating...first in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio 2004?) that there would be literally “hell to pay” and who knew what would happen? I got up early and immediately turned on CNN and BBC. When I saw the number of electoral votes and a lovely check by Obama's name and it dawned on me he had actually done it and won, I burst into tears thinking suddenly of Martin Luther King, Emmit Till, Rosa Parks and also of my dad (and so sad that he did not live to see this) and the thousands of UNSUNG heroes of color who died or were murdered with no praise or publicity. I thought of black share-croppers, cotton pickers, Pullman porters, slaves and just humble working families who were subjected to abuse, disrespect, and treated and called animals but treated much worse than animals. All of these thoughts were like an explosion in my mind. I thought of my family (your Mom, grandparents, aunts and uncles) living in the Deep South, like so many others and seeing my father, a school principal and later college professor, treated with disrespect and discriminatory behaviour by even the lowest white worker. I remember when drinking from public water fountains having to drink at the “colored fountains” that were clearly designated as they were painted black, sitting alongside the “white only” that were, of course, painted white. I remember when going to a restaurant people of color could not go into the eating or dining area, but instead had to go around to the back door and order your food through a window cut into the back of the restaurant kitchen. I remember my elation of us going to the beach in Florida for the first time, and suddenly be cognizant of the fact that we were limited to the “colored beach” and could not step foot on the “whites only” part. Yes, I lived that. And somewhere deep in my psyche I never forgot I lived “Jim Crow”. So for me this election was an unreachable dream. The glass ceiling had been all I ever knew. So I weeped. With awe, hope and on some level a renewal of belief in mankind. Part of my joy of Obama's winning is a personal feeling deep in the psyche of all people of color (or ANY minority culture) who have suffered at the hands of a discriminatory, racist society. There was joy that this man, this ethical, moral, intelligent, charismatic man had done the near impossible. He had mobilized YOUNG disenfranchised people into having hope and belief that they CAN make a difference and their vote counts. He dissolved the apathy of a young generation marginalized by a government that they felt did not care and was not interested in them or what they had to say, so they tuned on their Ipod or You Tube. Looking at those crowds and seeing all of those people, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, old, black, biracial...all of them with such HOPE in their eyes, I became even more emotional. Obama's win transcended all those stupid barriers and made all proud of being able to see with our own eyes, what the founders of this country really meant. I think we felt American, the way it was meant to be, not a country so programmed to concentrate on the undefined and vague fear, rather than concentrating on the terror within. Many, many will learn from the example that was made today. Every American child, whatever his colour, ethnicity or religion, can aspire to anything...even the presidency.
That is quite momentous I am not so naïve to think miracles will happen (well, one really did!). EACH and every American has to take responsibility for their own lives, and begin to work together to try and get this destroyed country (morally and financially) back on track. It will take an awful lot of hard work and effort. It will be difficult. But it can be done. In time I pray for the future of the world. I pray for America and all my loved ones and know that this is the most positive thing that has happened to this sad misguided country in a long, long time”.
miércoles, 5 de noviembre de 2008
HE WON!! Iwish him all the luck in the world and hope he survives his mandate.
SE ME OLVIDÓ INCLUIRLO ANTES PERO ESTE POST SE LO DEDICO A NUESTRO QUERIDO E INOLVIDABLE MANZA (QUE MURIÓ RECIENTEMENTE) QUE, SÉ, HUBIERA ESTADO ENCANTADO CON LA NOTICIA. ¡VA POR TI, QUERIDO AMIGO!
I FORGOT TO ADD IT AT THE BEGINNING, BUT THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO OUR BELOVED MANZA (WHO DIED RECENTLY) AND, I KNOW, WOULD HAVE BEEN THRILLED WITH THE RESULT OF THE ELECTIONS. ¡THIS IS DEDICATED TO YOU, DEAR FRIEND!
martes, 4 de noviembre de 2008
My dear ANTONIA P. gave me two Saharian bracelets in our recent get-together in Burgos. In my first excursion with our Spanish retired, a couple noticed my bracelets and said "they're Saharian". I was very surprised and I said yes, they were. As it happened they were part of the many Spanish families who host Saharian children during the summer. Yesterday, I had a tour with American visitors who came in a cruise ship. Two ladies noticed my bracelets and said how beautiful they were and asked if they were made of leather. I told them, no, they were made from old car wheels, incrusted with silver and gold paper. Since they didn't know ANYTHING about the Saharians, I explained their history, their unjust situation for the past thirty years in the desert of Algeria (hamada) due to the very unfair world politics. I think they took note.