Thursday, December 20, 2007

R rated shitting log

I have never been a Tió person. Even though I am fully aligned with many of the scatological Catalan traditions like the “caganer” (shitter) who occupies a privileged spot in my Nativity display, I never fell for the shitting log (Caga Tió). When I was a kid, some of my 100% Catalan friends got their presents on Christmas Eve through the log shitting methodology, but hybrids like me, were hooked to the cleaner Three Magic King tradition.

I have to give credit to the previous dictator Franco for having devised a plan to eradicate Catalonia as a nation by favoring the relocation of a massive amount of people from other regions to dilute the Catalan sentiment and convert Catalonia into a blended combination of Spanish traditions. He was quite successful in his attempts, but died too early to fully succeed and the Catalan seeds started to re-grow in the 1980s. I am not totally sure what globalization will bring to us. The vast majority of those who moved from other regions to Catalonia are now Catalans and have embraced the Catalan culture and language and their children have no ties whatsoever with the regions where their parents come from. It is unclear to me what’s going to happen with the 1 million foreign nationals who migrated to Catalonia in the last decade. I see most of them very interested in transforming Catalonia into what they thought it would be, instead of adapting to what Catalans as a people want Catalonia to be. I think that the way the Catalan government reacts to the situation with things like Catalan immersion or obligations on Catalan signage is understandable, but often backfires. Strategy is more important than tactics if we want to win the battle against homogenization.
Anyway let’s go back to the shitting log tradition. The poem below was recited by the kids who gathered around the shitting log while hitting the log with a baton. At the end of the process, the Tió would defecate all kinds of presents for the children and adults rejoicing:

Caga tió/Shitting log,
Tió de Nadal/Christmas log
No caguis arengades/Don't shit herrings
Que són salades /‘cause they are salty
Caga torrons/Shit nougat
Que son mes bons!/Which is much better

A couple of months ago, I was in a hotel in Japan watching a late night show, while drinking a glass of rice sake to try to compensate my jet lag, I saw a TV advertisement which made me long for the shitting log tradition. I am in my mid forties and my continuous trips, long haul flights, jet lags, meetings and teleconferences any time of the day and often nights, have partially eroded my stamina, what translates directly into a poor sex life. My problem is not ED, it is just exhaustion and the Japanese R rated ad seemed to address exactly my requirements. I was able to find a video clip in one of the video sharing sites (I have edited out the steamiest scenes to still have a remote chance to become a Catalonian Politician). On Christmas Eve, I will hit hard my shitting log and hope that the present will be there at the end of the night. You may want to try the same. I do not understand Japanese, but my assumption is that neither the guy nor the girl come with the piece of equipment.

Mid Age Crisis Aid

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Las Vegas in Los Monegros

It is no point being a visionary, if my Catalan audience does not want to follow me. Most probably I am already too American, too market economy oriented, too focused on the private sector, against a welfare society which penalizes hardworking people and pampers the lazy.
I am often blasted in the Catalan forums when I propose a dramatic downsizing of the government, free enterprise, reduction of the welfare benefits for those who are healthy, but simply do not want to work. I still think that the government should provide a cushion for the needy, senior citizens, children and sick people, but that's it.
But today I will not elaborate about my political views, I will do that step by step, today I want to talk to you about a missed opportunity.
When in December 2005 I was in my room at the MGM hotel in Vegas, I had a dream. I looked trough the window and I saw the flashing hotels superimposed to the desertic background. It reminded me of Los Monegros. I used to cross Los Monegros when I was a kid. We visited, from time to time, my mother's relatives who lived near Saragossa. I still remember crossing the Monegross when I was 4 or 5 in my father's olive green Seat 600. It was in August and the car was literally boiling. The temperature outside was 110 degrees and inside 120. My father stopped at the roadside, somewhere between Alfajarin and Bujaraloz. The Guardia Civil stopped shortly after. My father told them that we had a problem in the car, it was hot as hell. The police inspected the car and found the problem. I had activated the heating. There was a lever to activate the heating under the passenger seat. While playing in the rear seat, I had turned it on. In the 1960's kids did not wear safety belts, just played around without any restrictions.
I also remember that when the Americans made it to the Moon, my grandmother used to tell me that it was all a sham, that she heard that American military film crews based in Saragossa had been seen filming in the Monegros, months before the Americans landed in the Moon. I was a kid and I believed her.

I also remember that in my mother's village, they would call us catalanufos or something similar and they tried to hurt our feelings by saying that we spoke a dialect. They did not offend me (they would now), I thought they were village people and I was coming from the civilization. For a strange reason, my mother always talked to me in Catalan. Most probably because she thought that I would have more possibilities of success if I was bilingual. Almost everyone spoke only Spanish in the 1960s Hospitalet de Llobregat where I grew up.

From the MGM hotel I imagined that I was back in Los Monegros and I thought it would be a great idea to encourage Catalan businessmen (and women) to invest in Los Monegros to set up a Las-Vegas-like leisure complex. I also encouraged them to set up a bullfighting rink, since I was sure that bullfighting would be banned in Catalonia with the new Estatut. In March 2006, I published a post with my recommendations, it was called Las Vegas II.
Unfortunately, no one in Catalonia followed my advice. We could have made millions. It would been the ideal complement to Catalonia, like Vegas is to California. The reality is that a group of International investors has recently unveiled its plans to start a Las-Vegas-like leisure complex in Los Monegros, exactly as suggested by me. Since I proposed the idea two years ago in my blog and my blog was licensed under a Creative Commons Attibution, do you thing I have rights to some royalties? I will check with my lawyer.