More than a half million Barcelonans, many carrying a single long-stemmed rose, filled the streets this afternoon for a peace rally in the aftermath of the senseless terrorist attack on Las Ramblas. There were people of all kinds–Catalans, tourists, recent immigrants, even a large number of Muslims.
The above short video will give you some flavor of the event.
Some of the signs:
“We are not afraid”
“No, to Islamophobia”
“Your wars, our dead”
“Felipe [the King], if you want peace, don’t traffic in weapons”
The idea is to have the Muslim world together with us (as just about all already are) in this battle against extremism:
The sign that is being dismantled said, “Spain against terrorism…Thanks, Your Majesty! [the King]” and was accompanied by a number of Spanish national flags being waved about on tall poles. The message sounds good, except that it was really pissing off the local Catalans and the police siphoned them away from the main march and had them disband as they were being bombarded by jeers, whistles, and shouts from the home crowd. Why? Well, these protesters were Madrid loyalists (Spanish flags) and, from the Catalan point-of-view, Madrid is essentially in bed with the terrorists and the root cause of the various terrorist attacks in Spain due to Madrid’s support of the Iraq wars and ongoing international arms sales. Then, of course, there is the Catalan tendency to dislike all that is Madrid and anything related to the Bourbon royal dynasty (see especially the Siege of Barcelona, 1713-1714):
Red Cross and police vehicles were soon decorated with roses in thanks for their service during and immediately after the attacks:
Much of the crowd continued on past the Plaça de Catalunya and visited the various memorials along Las Ramblas:
Muslim marchers rest in front of the Las Ramblas Burger King after the rally. The messages: “Love wins over hate”, “We want peace”, “Barcelona embraces peace”, “We want peace…end terrorism”:
Yes, it is yet another inhumane and disgraceful act of inhuman cowardice. This time, on one of the world’s most famous and beloved pedestrian walkways, the Las Ramblas (or La Rambla) corridor in Barcelona, Spain.
I absolutely don’t want to take away from the weight of the tragedy in Catalunya, but in the past few months, as a reminder, the world has seen…
This is just an abbreviated list. There were a number of other attacks throughout the world during this period.
The main point is this: ALL of these attacks are horrible tragedies, leaving behind a bloody trail of mangled human bodies–physical and psychological trauma, lost limbs, brain damage, excruciatingly painful burns, and destroyed lives. Perhaps because these events are somewhat rarer in Europe and the United States, it is the attacks in the west, which seem to garner the bulk of the sympathy and publicity in our U.S. and European news media.
And three other points:
Terrorism committed by “Islamic extremists”–who aren’t really “Islamic” at all, by the way–is not the only kind of terrorism there is. Consider the killing of nine black parishioners by a white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. I’d say that fits the definition of terrorism.
The vast, vast majority of Muslims aggressively condemn terrorist attacks committed in the name of their religion. Those in the west who criticize Islam, rather than separating out specific criminal deviants for vilification, risk alienating portions of the Islamic population. The world would be a better place with Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, all working together against the scourge of terrorism. (Actually, maybe the world would be better off without any of these religions–with the possible exception of Buddhism–but that is a topic for another day.)
Finally, it sure wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask ourselves just why individuals turn to terrorism. What are the economic and political factors driving such an extreme decision? Remove these factors and you remove the raison d’etre of terrorism. This requires clinical study, not simplistic emotional reactions.
Here is a selection of images from the Las Ramblas tragedy, with my occasional commentary, made early in the morning of August 25, eight days after the fact…
Before dawn, a city worker stops to contemplate one of the larger memorials. As the candles slowly burn out or are blown out by the breeze, only the candles along the edge are easily relit or replaced:
One of at least 20 smaller memorials, some specifically for individuals who died in the attack:
People from many countries have written their supportive messages on the tree trunks and the walkway tiles. One common phrase that you see everywhere is “No tenim por”, or “We are not afraid” in the Catalan language:
One of the victims, 40-year-old Silvina Pereyra Cabrera and originally from Argentina (or Colombia?), had lived in Barcelona for ten years and worked in the famous market, La Boqueria:
As I was photographing, I ran into this young guy who was relighting as many of the candles as he could. Speaking in Spanish, he made the point that terrorism occurs all over the world and victims in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria deserve just as much sympathy as victims in Europe. We are all human, we all have families, and we all suffer, he said. I neglected to ask, but I would suspect he is an immigrant from (perhaps) Morocco:
Others stopped to relight candles as well:
At the intersection with Carrer de l’Hospital (Hospital Street), near La Boqueria, you’ll find the largest memorial, a vast field of flowers, posters, notes, letters, stuffed animals, candles, and other personal items. I believe this is about where the criminal asshole’s vehicle finally came to a stop:
Three-year-old Xavi Martinez was the youngest victim of the attack:
Mickey and Minnie:
I found an American flag in the memorial closest to Plaça de Catalunya, perhaps intended for Jared Tucker, a 42-year-old American construction worker who was killed here. The police in the background are the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalunya’s provincial police. Passersby and crowds often spontaneously break into applause when the Mossos appear, such is the people’s appreciation for their rapid reaction to the attack:
“Muslims against terrorism”, in a field of compassion:
Yes, “almmond” with two “m’s”. That is the trademark name of this healthy food restaurant, soon to open its doors in Barcelona. In Spanish, it will be “ALMMENDRA”, as in the above sample stock image of mine.
My assigned role was to create photographs of the food providers and the food products–photos which might possibly be used either in a photo book for the owner, or as large prints on the walls–or not used at all, depending on the final decision. (See the October 9, 2015 blog post, “Portrait of a Master Baker”, for images of one of the providers.)
For me, though, regardless of the outcome, the project was quite an education in many areas…in lighting in general, in the use of light boxes in particular, in food selection and arrangement (oh, attention to detail!), how to add steam to hot tea in Photoshop, and so on.
In short, I was quite uncomfortable throughout the whole journey…not my cup o’ tea, so to speak.
I consoled myself a bit by thinking that at least the product shots were like little mini-landscapes. And I also had plenty of help–my significant other and the restaurant owner herself designed the basic food setups and arrangements.
The computer backside of the project was also very time consuming what with the processing and formatting of a portfolio of 100+ selected images of the several hundred we shot. Yes, it only begins with the snap of the shutter. At least half of the work is in the post-processing.
Whether my images actually end up being used remains to be seen but, still, it was fun and I am likely a better photographer for it.
This is something I notice whenever I travel away from my home country: the foreign food has flavor. Zest! Punch!
When I eat, it is as if someone turned on the colors inside my mouth.
If there is one thing we do really well in the United States it is to produce vast quantities of relatively cheap food. Unfortunately, this food has been bred and/or packaged for ease of transport (large country, factory farms in California), durability (we are all too busy to shop but once a week) and appearance (better sales) and not necessarily for taste.
Quantity and convenience has taken precedence over quality.
I am not sure the average U.S. citizen, if not a frequent traveler, understands just how much our taste buds have been dumbed down (or, the other extreme, blasted into insensitivity by excessive artificial spice and flavoring).
Whether it is the Netherlands or Norway, Barcelona or Bilbao, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, or Timbuktu, you’ll notice that the coffee, the grains, the cheeses, the meats, the fruits, berries and vegetables (even the lettuce!) all have a little extra, subtle-but-punchy, earthly flavor. Color for the sensitive tongue, you might say.
Does anyone really remember what a tomato is supposed to taste like? Blackberries? A melon? Grass-fed beef?
I guess the good news is we are slowly figuring this out in the U.S. of A. Thus the growing trend to produce and buy local from small farms, many of them organic.
It is located on Montjuic, in the city of Barcelona, in what was once a stone quarry. In fact, the stone to build the famous Santa María del Mar church came from this same quarry way back in the 14th century. The tunnel was a late 20th century addition built to access the area which now also includes a very pro rugby pitch and an indoor climbing gym, Climbat.
–It is pretty much all bouldering or sport climbing on very short (4 to 15 meters) routes. The low traverses are very popular and probably where you will start.
–You’ll likely find climbers here at just about any hour and any day of the week. You may even run into a possible climbing partner for a run out to one of the many nearby local crags.
–Being a tunnel, you can hang out and climb here even in inclement weather.
–They say there are some 80-90 possible climbs in and just outside of the tunnel, from 5a (5.7) to as hard as you like. You’ll find the route names and ratings in the little yellow squares here and there–if they haven’t been eroded beyond recognition. From the yellow box, climb straight up to the apex of the curved roof, then lower off the anchors.
–Most of the longer routes just outside the tunnel are on the artificial Disney-like cement that was used to cap and control the unstable natural rock beneath. Here, you will find glued-on and bolted gym holds as well as holds chipped directly into the concrete.
–With the passage of many, many feet over the decades, you’ll often find the holds polished down to a virtual verglas state–especially the foot holds on the low traverses along the 50-meter length of the tunnel. You will be using a lot more hand, finger and upper body than would normally be necessary otherwise.
–The “onda” is very grunge-urban with plenty of graffiti, the light noise of the passing traffic above, and the soundtrack beat from the odd portable boom box.
–For a completely different experience, try the Climbat climbing gym just a few hundred yards away on the same road.
Well, in just over two minutes, in this amazing “Flow-Mo” video by Rob Whitworth Photography (soundtrack by Slava Pogorelsky), you can visit just about every significant landmark in that Mediterranean metropolis. Click below for a wonderful experience of sound, color, and movement:
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the City of Barcelona contacted Rob and Slava to license the video for PR purposes. Good work. For a few technical details on how that Barcelona video was made, see THIS PetaPixel article.
Rob and others have done this Flow-Mo work for a number of locations. Here are a few more links in case you want to “Flow-Mo” jus’ a bit mo’.
For three hundred years, many Catalans have been waiting and hoping for this day (9N, or the 9th of November). Today, they are going to the polls to answer two simple, but highly charged, questions:
1) Do you want Catalonia to be a State? Yes or No
In the case of the affirmative…
2) Do you want this State to be independent? Yes or No
For those unfamiliar with Catalan history, a little Googling will show you that Catalonia has had a very long history.
One of the first European Parliaments, the Corts Generals, was established in Catalonia in 1283. An independent spirit, representative government, economic ingenuity, and stubbornness, are all common Catalan historical threads that are deeply rooted. In fact, from the 12th to the 15th centuries, the Catalan empire, allied with Aragon, eventually spread across the Mediterranean as far as Greece.
The Catalans have their own language, literature, and arts–and, today, a population of some 7.5 million (about the same as Switzerland). It is indeed a separate culture quite different from the “Spanish culture” advertised to the world under Franco’s regime–an artificial cultural view of Spain many today still might hold (you know, bullfights and flamenco…that sort of thing).
It was in 1714, when Catalonia cast their lot with the losing coalition in the War of the Spanish Succession, that they finally lost their independence and came under the control of the Bourbon Crown, which is still the symbolic ruling royal family of Spain today.
This vote brings up some interesting questions. To wit:
–Should culturally identifiable regions within a modern political State be allowed self-determination?
–Another way of saying it: What should take precedence…the will and political architecture of the unifying State, or the political aspirations of the people of certain regions of that State?
–What percent of the Catalan population will vote and will the vote be truly representative of all Catalans? (A high turn out is key to legitimacy.)
–Madrid considers the vote illegal, so if the Catalans overwhelmingly vote “Sí” in large numbers for independence, what will be the next steps from Madrid and from Barcelona?
–How much support from the European Union and the rest of the world does Catalonia have for independence?
–What will be the reaction of other sections of Spain with desires for independence, especially the Basque Country and Galicia.
All in all, an interesting situation. By this evening, we should know the outcome of the vote. After that, Catalonia and Madrid will both be pushing on into unknown political territory…or not.
POSTSCRIPT (after the vote)…The Results (rounded):
An overwhelming expression of the will of the people? Perhaps. It could also very well be that the results are skewed as the most likely voters were those who enthusiastically support independence. Estimates of eligible voter participation range from 36-41%, which is unfortunate. Had, say, 60-80% of the electorate participated, with the above results, it would have been an even stronger statement for independence. What is the opinion of those who did not vote? What would be the result in a full-up, legal, max participation (or even obligatory) referendum? Those are the questions.
It will be interesting to see the next steps by the Catalan and Spanish leaders. Madrid will likely simply stall, refuse to make any changes, and hope it all goes away. The Catalans will surely step up the pressure.
2016 Black & White Magazine, Spotlight Award Winner! (Issue: June, 2017, #121)
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