Monthly Archives: October 2009

Should Skateboarders Grow Up?

I used to own a skateboard. I was 12. They were the all the rage at the time. Possibly it was still the 80s, I can’t remember that far back and my maths is crap, but undoubtedly Back To The Future had a lot to do with it. Anyway the point is I grew up and I put my skateboard down and I became a productive (ahem) member of society.

Imagine my surprise then when I rock up to Barcelona and find that not only is the city full of skateboarders, but half of them are older than me! Or at least in the same age bracket. 14+.

Can you really expect the world to take you seriously if you roll up to meetings (or anything for that matter) on a children’s toy? How much will it cost in laser surgery to remove those ridiculous tattoos when (or perhaps I should say if) you grow up? And before you have another go at landing that frontside board slide can I just ask you if you’re covered for dental treatment in Spain?

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Ha ha

Despite the scornful looks I dish out whenever passing MACBA however the craze for skateboarding in Barcelona is still going strong and kids come from all over the world (especially from countries with a high rate of fashion victimitis, such as US and Sweden) to mince around the city. Apparently Barcelona is ‘blessed’ with very flat roads and pavements.

Anyhow, maybe I don’t like skateboarding because I was seriously shit at it, or maybe it’s because it’s fucking dangerous and I’m a pussy, or perhaps it’s simply that everyone who does it is a knob. Whatever the reason, I’m going to continue to look down on the pathetic individuals practicing their skills on Placa Universidad (and punch anyone who sends their board flying at my ankles) – even if they are older than me.

If you have a wildly different opinion on the matter, and are sentient enough to string a sentence together, feel free to add the yang to my ying…

Pagafantas

Being as butch as a particularly butch butcher called Butch, star of his own zany comedy/Ultimate fighting show The Mighty Butch, I very rarely find myself being treated like a doormat by femmes fatales who see me ‘just as a friend’. You know the sappy type of guy who picks up all a girl’s bar bills and comes round to wipe away their tears the moment that stubbly surfer dude of a boyfriend does the dirty on them (again). Ok just occasionally it might have happened. In my young naive days, when I assumed that if I hung around a girl long enough surely she’d end up sleeping with me by accident, probably after a late night session on the Diamond White. Those embarrassingly lame moments of my youth, which I’d all but forgotten about, were brought back with crystal clarity by a muy divertido film my housemate brought back from Monkey Business Video Club (thankfully with English subtitles) last night called Pagafantas.

A Spanish yoofism, ‘pagafantas’ is a hybrid word made out of pagar (to pay) and Fanta, as in the soft drink. It is used to denote the kind of guy who lapdoggishly follows cute girls around, buying them sodas in the hope that one day their sexless relationship will develop into something more… except, as we all know, it never does (well, there was this one time in Russia, but that’s another story…). The film, Pagafantas, unsurprisingly is about one such guy called Chema, who having recently broken up with a girlfriend he’s just not that into, is desperate to work his way into the sack with any chica that will have him. Unfortunately Chema has definitely not read The Game. He hasn’t even had one IOI when he lunges in for the kill with a girl at a nightclub, prompting a defensive move, described in the film as ‘The Cobra’, followed by a hefty slap. When, still looking for love a week later, he chances upon a pretty Argentinean hairdresser called Claudia (who he unearths in a dustbin…) the scene is set for ‘a romantic comedy – without the romance’.

As our amorous hero, under the tuition of the arguably even more chumpish Uncle Jaime (who is hopelessly in love with Chema’s mother… he is not Chema’s real uncle, in case you thought this was getting incestuous), does everything to worm his way further into Claudia’s affection he succeeds only in paying for her drinks, acting as a model for her horrific hair highlighting experiments and even marrying her to prevent her from being deported. Needless to say her macho Argentine ex-boyfriend, who she is giving another chance, is there to take over consummation duties once the paperwork has been done!

The movie is well-produced, with great performances and excellent editing, and unlike most Hollywood movies of the same ilk the film never drags. Overall the joy of Pagafantas is the painful hometruths it holds up to the audience, best summed up by Chema’s mother, who brutally encapsulates the moral of the tale when she says: “As a woman, there are some men you see in a sexual way, and there are others… you don’t.” It was a bit more punchy in Spanish, and anyway I can’t be bothered to find the exact quote on the DVD, but you get the point.

SPOILER ALERT. Best of all the ending finishes on a clever dual note, with cautious cause for hope trumped by Chema’s hopelessly cautious cause. Whereas Chema’s mother seems to finally be melting under the warmth of Uncle Jaime’s affections (Christ, at her age I wouldn’t have been so fussy! No homo.), Chema proves resolutely pathetic until the end. Just as he looks like he’s going to reveal his true feelings and read Claudia her final ultimatum, he caves to her impression of him as a loyal and sexless sidekick. Waking up on board a plane to Buenos Aires, Claudia gushes to Chema that she no longer sees him as a best friend – but as a brother, and she hugs him platonically patting him on the back. The film ends there, leaving all the pagafantas of the world to contemplate their utter, and irreversible, ineptitude.

Watch a trailer of Pagafantas (in Spanish only) here.

“Smoke On!” Red Bull Air Race 2009

I have to confess that I intended to spend the afternoon watching Arsenal demolish Blackburn via the Internet, but as illegal streaming link after illegal streaming link were being taken down, and with the sun shining on a glorious October afternoon, I did what I should have done in the first place – head down to Bogatell beach for the Red Bull Air Race 2009… the last in the World Championships!

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Red Bull Air Race 2009

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Allegedly 799,999 other people had decided to do the same, but nonetheless I was able to hustle for a pretty decent spot on the sand and arrived to see the last 8 battle it down to the last leg – a final of just 4 pilots. It was pretty exciting to see these tiny planes roaring through the gates and doing spectacular loops just metres above the sparkling Med. Best of all, before each took to the track, they were introduced by the commentator with the cheesy rallying cry of ‘Smoke on!’, which kept me disproportionately entertained. As it was the final race of the series (other Red Bull Air Races took place in Budapest and Porto for eg.), not only were the podium places at stake but also the overall championship (bit like final F1 race of the season if that helps). Paul Bonhomme (British, but with a suspiciously French name! I called him Goodman throughout) was points leader going in and despite being beaten in most of the heats he clocked the fastest time in the final to win the race and the championship. Fellow Brit Nigel Lamb (good honest name) came second, and got me feeling all patriotic. Defending champion Austrian Hannes Arch(-villain) came fourth, after sneaking into the final four by the skin of his sharpened incisors. He did at least rip up one of the inflatable posts so credit for a bit of extra entertainment value.

All in all a surprisingly good day out, and the other aerial displays of fighter jets and one physics-defying helicopter display (ever watched a chopper drop out of the sky turn and turn a back flip?) were also well worth catching.

To cap a profitable afternoon I discovered a really fascinating cemetry on the way home in Poble Nou. Really weird set up, with tombs stacked in blocks on top of each other. A good photographer could get some really fascinating pics here. I meanwhile took the chance to bolster my ‘footballers in photos’ collection… expect an update soon. Here’s a pic or two of the cemetry, and a particularly sinister black cat…

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A quick update on domestic life. My housemates have provided heroics above and beyond the call of duty recently with Albert (Catalan pothead) buying a new washing machine out of his own pocket (landlord has gone AWOL) and Andrei (Romanian guy – definitely not a thief) getting it working when it seemed Big Al had bought a dud. Good joint effort guys. I bought the economy washing liquid from Lidl.