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  • Thursday, December 31

    Ramblas Cowboy Wishes You a Happy 2010!

    Ramblas Cowboy, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    On behalf of the Ramblas Cowboy, that famous human statue in the renown Barcelona street, we want to wish you all a Happy 2010. He is not my acquaintance, but I am sure he can back me up in this one cause judging by the warm smile he always wears he must be a great guy. I woke up today thinking on catching up his figure against Christmas lights. It came out different but in the end I am happy I walked down to Las Ramblas and enjoyed the good mood everyone was sharing by the end of 2009. All the best!

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    Sunday, December 27

    L'Auca del Senyor Esteve, Tile Work at Carrer Petritxol, Barcelona

    L'Auca del Senyor Esteve, Tile Work at Carrer Petritxol, Barcelona [enlarge]

    This tile work depicts L'Auca del Senyor Esteve based upon a novel by Santiago Rusiñol i Prats (1861-1931) published in 1907 and set on stage in 1917. 27 drawings by Ramon Casas and 27 rodolins or verses by Gabriel Alomar illustrate the original story narrated by Rusiñol which is about a young heir called Ramonet, a modernist artist born in a traditional petite bourgeois family of La Ribera quarter in Barcelona. The father, Mr. Esteve was the founder of a small shop called La Puntual in 1830 and his common sense, his pragmatism, his perseverance directly opposes the new ideas, the fresh artistic air of his son. A conflict between the artist that exists thanks to his father's money and strivings or in other words, the historic role of traditional Catalan bourgeoisie as the springboard for new artists of modernisme. But what is an auca anyway? An auca is a story told by a set of images in one single sheet of paper in numbers evenly divided by 4, generally 24 or 48, and some short text under each illustration (xylography, lithography and later photoengraving techniques were used). It might recall comics in a way but much more rigid in structure. Images are conditioned by the metrics or the rhyme of the text always below and out of the illustration. Auca is an old variant of oca, meaning goose, an animal quite frequent in this sort of artwork. Everything started with cards depicting animals and natural elements, like the Sun and the Moon that were used to play the game by the same name or for divination in many cases for money. Once this activity was forbidden the animation developed into art. The text also evolved into two-line rhymed rodolins in XIX.

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    Friday, December 25

    Crucifixion on Decayed Wall, Barcelona

    Crucifixion on Decayed Wall, Barcelona [enlarge]

    Crucified for defending the poor, the sick, the hungry, his image prevails in the memory of mankind. He was just a man victim of his own ideas, a revolutionary that renounced to the flesh in the name of his faith to become an eternal soul, an immortal message embedded in every heart. You may believe in the miracle or not, you may skip all that was written later on, but the fact is someone was killed that day apparently for nothing but for everyone at the same time and the account of such deeds still endures the pass of time cause that human existence is not what matters anymore but the act as such, his sacrifice for the love of others. It is true that there is some sort of flame in you, something that makes you feel right when you defend the poor, the sick, the hungry whether you are a believer or an atheist. You can call it humanity or religiousness. I cannot give you an explanation but I am glad there is something after all, if not, life would be totally meaningless. On this Christmas day I leave you with this graffiti of a crucifix on a decayed wall in hope you remember those who need your help. Nice holidays my friends.

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    Thursday, December 24

    We Cagatios, the Whole Log Family Together Wish you a Merry Christmas!

    Cagatios at Santa Llucia market, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    Hello my friends, we don't have snow, we haven't seen Santa Claus yet but we are all here awake, waiting for the magic moments to arrive. The whole family of Catalan cagatiós (yes, they call us pooping logs cause we also bring gifts when kids hit us with a rod) wish all our friends and their families a Merry Christmas.

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    Wednesday, December 23

    Cogwheels: Industrial Reminiscence of Catalonia's Past

    Cogwheel in sculpture by Antoni Clave, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    Cogwheels that evoke the times of industrial revolution in Europe, times of textile factories in Catalonia, of heavy machinery, of steam and rising unions, of a powerful bourgeoisie interested in new technologies, in productivity, in capitalism and also in the latest artistic trends, as a way to rebel against the heavy yoke of aristocracy and monarchy.

    This cogwheel is part of a bigger sculpture placed in Parc de la Ciutadella in 1998 to celebrate the centennial year of the Universal Exhibition in the city. It is a modern sculptoric work by Spanish painter, sculptor, stage and costume designer Antoni Clavé (1913 –2005).

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    Monday, December 21

    Bolets or Mushrooms You Can Buy at La Boqueria, Barcelona

    Bolets or Mushrooms at La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain  [enlarge]

    I don't have the slightest idea about mushrooms so I am going to dare give names to these three species. According to pictures, the first ones on the left could be some variant of Tricholoma, in the middle and most attractive to the eye, Cantharellus tubaeformis or Cantharellus infundibuliformis aka Rossinyol in Catalonia and finally what seems to be Agaricus bisporus. But then again don't follow my word on this so as to go and collect some in the wild holding my image cause your life might be at risk. The photograph was taken last September at La Boqueria market. If there are boletaires (bolet is Catalan for mushroom and boletaire those who know about bolets) in the audience please help me with this one. To make the experience much more interesting why don't you check this mushroom images on a Cooliris wall (you need a Cooliris plugin) I have it as a Chrome extension but you can find it also for Firefox, IE or Safari here. This is just a recommendation of course for you to have fun with media. And while you are at it, how about more than 7000 mushroom recipes to browse for fresh ideas and maybe add that final touch to your Christmas table?.

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    Sunday, December 20

    Sailing Boats Coming Out of Moll de Xaloc, Barcelona

    Sailing Boats, Moll de Xaloc, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    A group of sailboats coming out of Moll de Xaloc right in front of Hotel Arts and Torre Mapfre in Barcelona. What seems to be a class or an organized tour of some kind is towed by a zodiac towards open seas. In the distance the beautiful silhouette of Hotel W Barcelona also known as Hotel Vela (sail) by Ricardo Bofill.

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    Thursday, December 17

    Barcelona Predators: Seagulls - Strange Animal Behavior?

    Seagull holding dead pigeon - Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    Food, speaking on global terms and not western world standards, is scarce, and this is valid for animals as well that urged by that innate code mother nature gave them tend to change their behavior and even their habitat pushed by this irrational human vicious conduct of throwing stones into our own fragile roof. It is well known that we are happily helping degrade our planet, "nobody lives forever so f*** the future" many think, therefore creatures of the earth find it hard to survive in such a mess. Who has not heard of thinner than ever polar bears coming into towns for food, birds not migrating when or where they are supposed to, insignificant fish captures due to drastic changes in ocean temperatures as a result of global warming of the planet caused by men. I remember those times, when a seagull used to be near the shore feeding on fish or crabs and carrying their prey to their nests in nearby hills. In Barcelona it has become rather common to see these noisy, cunning and robust birds nesting on the roof of our buildings, claiming their territory against pigeons and smaller species and in some cases attacking children in school backyards to steal away a sandwich. Seagulls are carnivores and sometimes scavenge a little so it is not strange that they kill a small sick bird or take profit from their decaying corpse. The ackward thing to me is to find it in the middle of the Ciutadella park surrounded by people, holding an animal so big as an adult pigeon and looking at me so defiantly in the most pure Hitchcock-The Birds style. Times are achanging my friend and for the bad.

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    Tuesday, December 15

    Passeig de Lluis Companys - Barcelona: Dragon Face on Cast Iron Planter

     [enlarge]

    Along Passeig de Lluis Companys, called Saló de Sant Joan in times of the Barcelona Universal Exhibition of 1888, there are these fabulous cast iron planters adorned with mythological beasts, menacing dragon faces watching passersby from each side of the urn. In fact, they look like gargoyles draining the water from the plant. Both these wrought iron urns on the balustrades and the fabulous gas lamps with benches by Pere Falques, must have been a wonderful attraction back in XIX. You should know that this promenade, that starts with the Arc de Triomf and ends at the Rius i Taulet monument in honor to the city mayor who was responsible for the embelishment of the "antechamber" to the event venues in the Parc de la Ciutadella, was in a way the red carpet, the vestibule to the first buildings of the famous exhibition. That previous surrounding area was kind of deserted as many of the buildings were about to be built like the Palace of Justice 1888-1910, walking down on the left, about half way of the road. On a picture I will post soon I will abound on the history of Passeig de Lluis Companys and the sculptoric elements that remain. For the moment enjoy the company of this horrendous animal basking in the morning sun or better yet, watch the exact planter on Google street view mode below and don't forget to surround the whole walk to see both the Ciutadella park and the Arc de Triomphe.


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    Sunday, December 13

    Casa Enric Laplana or Casa Mundó, Passeig de Sant Joan 6, Barcelona

    Casa Enric Laplana or Casa Mundó, Passeig de Sant Joan 6 [enlarge]

    Last Saturday I went for a walk down Passeig de Sant Joan to test my brand new Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens. I stopped before this building attracted by the beauty of the balconies. I did not know the name which I found later when I got home. After some research online, I learned that it is called Casa Laplana or Casa Mundó and was build by Bernardí Martorell in 1907. This Catalan architect born in 1877 belonged to a wealthy family and received a good education. Got his architecture degree in 1902. He worked for some time in the Sagrada Familia and was a friend of Gaudi's. His work is considered part of late Catalan modernism but some of his buildings have a touch of historicism. Many of his works were religious buildings like the Església de Sant Agustí in Sabadell, Convent de Valldonzella in Barcelona, Església dels Escolapis in Sabadell, Església i Convent del Santíssim Redemptor de les Oblates de Bellesguard in Barcelona or the Col·legi de les Teresianes in Tarragona. Bernardí was influenced by English neo-gothic and also had a passion for oriental art and architecture. He died in Hospital de Sant Pau in 1937 of acute myocarditis. But I leave you watching the elaborate ironwork, the orange stucco façade with serigraphed flowers mixed with the bare bricks in the upper floor. In the picture you cannot see the ceramic tile cupola on top or the stone gallery of the first floor but you can follow this link to see the full view of Casa Enric Laplana or check it on the map. The lens worked out fine by the way although I'll save it for street photography.

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    Friday, December 11

    Dragonfly: I am Watching You!

    Dragonfly on a leaf [enlarge]

    The chopper silently watched from atop, sensing every single movement of the stealthy squad approaching from the bush. They say they can only see from orange to UV but detect movements separated by 1/300th of a second and have almost 360º vision from their rack of 30000 telescopes on each side of their cabin. Darn, I've got to be invisible! Loading weapons, fire! That's it! Tango reporting to headquarters, the chopper is down, I repeat, the enemy is down. We've got the Dragonfly!!!

    This war fiction on dragonflies and their resemblance with helicopters has been possible thanks to this wonderful article: Sight and Flight.

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    Wednesday, December 9

    Still Life: Wild Partridge Showcase, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

    Wild Partridge Showcase, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    Like a painting depicting hunting trophies or a still life portraying dead animals, specially those of hares and birds, appeared before my eyes, imbued with a ghostly bluish-yellowish light, the wild game stand in La Boqueria market. From the mixture of species on display, I cropped this rack of wild partridges so you could take a good peek at the strange artistic beauty that inspired painters in the past, at that mysterious blend of nature, food, life and death evoked with traditional austerity in many Spanish bodegones where dead animals hung from a hook waiting to be skinned and free of any banquet luxury or adornment so often present in similar paintings from other countries in Baroque times. I know this is just a picture of dead wild partridges and you may not find it artistic at all but I wanted you to think about this aspect of painting and the peculiar relationship between art, men and dead animals regarded as something aesthetic.

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    Sunday, December 6

    Mammoth At Large - Park de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

    Mammoth - Park de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain  [enlarge]

    Beware of the mammoth! Yes, a mammoth is at large somewhere amidst the fountains, the promenades, the pavilions in Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona. Don't say I didn't warn you when you step on the glade and there's no one but you and the beast. Luckily I had time to fire the flash of my camera and sneaked away in the bush. You may not be that fortunate. Now being a little more serious, let me tell you that this stone mammoth was built based upon a model by sculptor Miquel Dalmau and as part of an initiative of Norbert Font i Sagué (1874-1910), writer, geologist and renown speleologist. Thanks to Norbert Font speleology was first introduced in Catalonia.

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    Friday, December 4

    Water Jug with Children, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

    Water Jug with Children, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona [enlarge]

    Sometimes a work of art is so aesthetically breathtaking that it would be a sacrilege to step away without going round to take a peek from the opposite side. This image is dedicated to all those who bother looking from another perspective for the sake of knowledge, for the sake of art. Check my first post about the Water Jug with Children for details.

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    Tuesday, December 1

    Peeling Fava Beans - Some Like it Raw

    Peeling Fava Beans [enlarge]

    One of the secret pleasures and most amusing of activities in life, at least for some Mediterranean peoples is to shell and then peel fava beans, broad beans or habas as we know them in Spanish and eat the fresh content, the seed or kernel raw, accompanied with some bread and sometimes other ingredients like cod, cheese, ham, etc. My wife loves them and refers to them as an authentic delicatessen. Bear in mind though that you may catch a disease called favism which causes anemia but only if you are genetically predisposed. Try to tell that to locals in Murcia, Andalusia and other regions of Spain! In my opinion, you need some skill to peel habas or at least I see experts pile up a good amount of shells in the time I need to utterly destroy one pod. In the image, notice the beans inside the cardboard box and a bunch of pods right in front in the plastic container. This was taken early in the morning at one of those open air veggie stalls set outside La Boqueria market. The picture is almost ruined cause there was too much light and I didn't have much time to set the camera properly and still get away with my candid. I brought it here so you could see what peeling favas looks like and learn about the tradition behind it, a tradition as old as humanity itself and only second to good old lentils but that is part of another story. To illustrate the culinary aspect of fava beans here is a list of videos either about the plant or recipes that might give you new ideas for today's meal.


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