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Web Log Archive

Postings 146 to 150

Log #150. Waiting For A Train

Barcelona welcomed its first 220mph bullet train from Madrid yesterday. It arrived eight minutes early. Well, actually, it arrived six months late due to delays in the construction of the final couple of kilometres at the Barcelona end. Six months of works that have been recorded gleefully by Madrid based media outlets taking great delight in showing the suffering of Catalonian commuters whose local trains were disrupted during this period. It has also been pointed out (regularly) that the capital's end of the project was completed on time.

The journey equates to approx 315 miles, which is roughly the distance from London to Newcastle and the AVE train covers this distance in two and three-quarter hours.

Most Madrileños would seem to have preferred an AVE line to Valencia, a city which is considered the ‘Playa de Madrid’ (Madrid's Beach), and missed out Barcelona, a city which they regard as some sort of terrible mistake wrought on Spain by a cruel and unfeeling God. The feeling is, apparently, mutual.

Log #149. Tribunal Graffiti

More spray artwork, this time on a permananent kiosk in Tribunal in the Malasaña part of town.
Graffiti in Tribunal, Madrid.

Log #148. Top Ten TV Shows In Spain

ABC newspaper has a regular weekly feature listing the top ten most popular TV shows using audience data from GECA / Sofres. Last week the no. 1 prog was 'Escenas de matrimonio', which can loosely be translated as Short Stories of Marriage. It's a sitcom on the Telecinco channel cut into short comedic 'sketches', showing the lives of 3 married couples of different generations who all live in the same building. It garners an average audience of over 4 million and was an instant 'hit' when first shown in 2007, but has also incurred the wrath of lefty-liberal progressives such as La Federación de Mujeres Progresistas who claim it shows women in demeaning and stereotypical roles. In other words, it shows contented housewives who worry about making a nice supper for their hubbies. Disgraceful!

Second most popular show was 'Los Hombres de Paco', a long-running comedy series (over 60 episodes now) about Inspector Paco and his policemen colleagues. Paco is a sensitive soul, but down on his luck and who spends most of his time dealing with the various women in his life (wife, daughter, mother) rather than solving cases, while the rest of his crew are equally hopeless. Some of the soundtrack is provided by pop-punk band Pignoise who are from Madrid.

The Third most popular TV programme in Spain at the moment is 'House', the US medical drama featuring our own Hugh Laurie, and 4th was Los Serrano, which I have blogged about earlier.

Here's the full top ten with average audience numbers.



Viewers (000)

Escenas de matrimonio



Los hombres de Paco

Antena 3





Los Serrano



Al pie de la letra

Antena 3


House (repeat)



Los Simpson

Antena 3





Yo soy Bea






Log #147. The Lavapiés Olympics

Detail from Lavapies Olympics poster, using classic 1970s icon imagery. A rather creative advertising campaign has been started by some residents of Lavapiés barrio, in south-central Madrid. Posters have started appearing around the neighbourhood featuring a variety of 16 new 'Olympic Sports' that are considered especially suitable for Lavapiés. These include 'purse lifting', 'synchronised eviction', 'urban fencing', 'freestyle peeing' (my personal favourite), the 'stolen goods relay race' and "dog mess obstacle course'.

The poster idea is objecting to the fact that the municipal authorities are making lavish plans for an Olympics in Madrid while supposedly 'ignoring' this 'deprived' area, a contention so demonstrably false it simply proves that no matter how much honest tax payers money you spend, socialists will never be happy.

The campaign is the brain-child of two graphic designers called Andrés and Iván. Their strapline is: "The Madrid 2016 Olympic committee has already chosen its logo. Now you can choose the top sporting activity in Lavapiés. Participate, choose and vote. It's better to laugh than to cry."

Ballot boxes have been placed in local pharmacies and bread shops and they've also started their own blog, El C.O.L. (Comité Olímpico de Lavapiés), where more than a thousand people have already expressed their preferences.

"We don't want to give a bad image of Lavapiés - just to draw attention to its problems... Problems (that) have been building up here because of continued neglect by the municipality," said Andrés. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the city council, Pedro Calvo, has responded darkly that the campaign has "certain political interests" behind it." Not 'arf.

Lavapiés is considered one of the more castizo barrios in town, a term that implies 'pure-blooded'. It's broadly equivalent to what was London's East-End and the cheeky-chappy cockneys, although in London's case all the cockneys left years ago and now live in Essex or the Spanish costas. Whilst the barrio retains its indigenous Madrileño population it is also a centre of immigration. When you step out of the metro station you are confronted by an eclectic mix of Africans, Turks, Chinese, South Americans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and dirty-thieving pikey Gippos, - plus mohawks, shaved heads, tattoos and dreadlocks. So, in other words it's Hackney. You'll also probably smell hash joints since in Lavapies dope is accepted as a social norm and people openly smoke in bars and on the street. Don't go there wearing jewellery because you'll come back denuded. Do go there for street culture, alternative bars, real flamenco and genuine curry or kebabs.

Log #146. Calendar Cops

Madrid's finest put their backs(ides) into the job One of the hottest selling 2008 wall calendars over the last month has been one featuring these chaps pictured right.

They are all members of the local police in San Sebastián de los Reyes, a suburb in the north of the city, and it was their idea as a stunt to raise money for the Association of Parents of Mentally Handicapped Children (APADIS).

The images were taken by Venezuelan fashion and celebrity photographer, Rubén Dario, and feature twelve "suggestive" photos of various officers, plus a front and back cover.

Originally only on sale through San Sebastián de los Reyes town council, demand went through-the-roof when they were featured on national TV.

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