Wednesday, February 15, 2012

La lucha lamentable

I know I've already written a lot on here about fascism and its lingering shadow in Spain, and I don't want to give the impression that everyone walking around Valladolid is throwing up Nazi salutes and perusing well-worn copies of Mein Kampf (which, unlike in English, is actually translated in Spain as Mi lucha, which makes it sound more legitimate). However, like I mentioned earlier I have seen far more open support of ultra right-wing ideology here in just under five months than I have in my entire life in the United States. It comes in the form of graffiti, wheat-pasted posters and stickers in public places, skinheads openly flaunting their beliefs on their sleeves, literally in the form of Nazi and quasi-Falangist armbands. The numbers "88", for "Heil Hitler" are graffiti'd in ubiquitous locations around town. It is truly revolting.
However, I saw something yesterday that disturbed me. On my way home from work, I walked past some kids horsing around on a park bench. They looked to be about 15 or 16 years old at most. There were two girls and one boy, and the girls were dressed like normal, coquettish Spanish teenagers, with the practically-compulsory black leggings and khaki colored skirts, with their hair done nicely. In short, they looked good, they looked respectable, they looked cute, like normal teenage girls. But the boy who was with them had his head shaved and was wearing a black leather jacket, and looked decidedly tougher than the girls, like he was from a different corner of society. But here they were, joking around and laughing, as any classmates do who have just been released from the stifling Bastille of high school for the day. The boy was looking at the girls in a way that suggested that he was trying to impress them, as any 16 year old boy would in front of two attractive female friends, and the girls in turn looked impressed by these buzz-cut renegade, tall and Doc Marten'ed, making those typical, manly Spanish gesticulations with his hands, as if he was telling them a story which he could barely believe himself.
As I got closer to the group, I saw that all over the boy's leather jacket were patches. At first I couldn't read them, but I thought they would inevitably bear the names of various punk and metal bands, which would be absolutely normal for kids anywhere, and especially in Spain (they like to bang their heads here, so to speak). But as I got within distance to read the patches, I saw that instead of Rancid and Iron Maiden logos, there were nothing but "88"s, swastikas, pictures of Hitler, and white power symbols. I was stunned, dumbfounded. I stopped walking, standing only a few feet away from them on the sidewalk, and I watched them interact, playing around and laughing like normal teenagers, oblivious to me standing there, mouth agape.
The worst part about it was not so much that the young boy was wearing the jacket. Like I said, it wouldn't have been the first time I'd seen something like that. But what really shocked me, what really made me feel sick, was that there were people all around us who did not act as if there was anything wrong. This was on one of the main streets in Valladolid and there were dozens of people around. And these two girls, ostensibly normal and mainstream as could be (if there is such a thing based on appearances) that apparently saw no problem with the views of intolerance that their friend was, quite literally, wearing on his sleeve.

And I stood there and stared.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ir al puto grano

            Let’s just ir al grano here. (That’s Iberispeak for “get to the point”. For a more colorful option, you could also say ir al puto grano. I think you can figure it out.)
            I don’t have a good excuse for not updating my blog more often. I could tell you that I’m going to try to do it more often from here on out, but trying is something district courts do, not employees of the Spanish Ministerio de EduaciĆ³n. I wish, like many defense attorneys in the aforementioned district courts, I could provide you with some piece of exculpatory evidence that would absolve me of my tardiness and vagrancy, but I have none. This glove does indeed fit, and it fits like…a glove. So there will be no sensational acquittals for your dear reporter.
            Like many others (I hope) I sometimes suffer not from writer’s block, but its exact converse. Writer’s overwhelmment. (That is now a word.) I have too many things to write about. My life is too fucking interesting to even handle. Or rather, my brain has too many narrative threads at all times to permit any one of them the privilege of being physically committed to Word processing. They are all too important. It’s like “Sophie’s Choice”, but with less child sacrifice.
            What, then, do I choose to write about? There are too many Sophies to choose from. People tell me I should just “tell my friends and family about my experiences, because no one else will read your stupid blog, asshole”. And then I reply, “That’s not true. Even they don’t read it, and I’m not an asshole – I’m more of an arrogant bastard.”   
            Do I talk about standing at the foot of El Cid’s tomb inside the totally-majestic-and-sweet-cathedral of the ancient city of Burgos? Or do I write about getting my picture tweeted by one of Spain’s most illustrious and lauded hip-hop MCs, as an estadounidense holding a ticket to his Valladolid show? Or do I write about throwing my first Spanish snowball (bola de nieve)?
            The question is, then, in what am I going to verbally self-indulge next? I could tell you that details are coming soon, but details are something crooked auto-body shops do, not English teachers in Spain.