Monday, 26 July 2010


When I was to Vienna last year I paid a visit to the famous Hundertwasserhaus. Thought the building is absolutely amazing, I didn't investigate more about it or his creators. I didn't know that this was not an isolated, brilliant work of some freak architects, but one more chapter in the impressive career of an Austrian genius that was completely unknown to me, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

I didn't become aware of this great master until last week, when reading information about Darmstadt I came across with this incredible spiral building and decided to google a bit more.

When in Vienna I also could enjoy just by chance of another of his works (I just happened to hop off at the right U-Bahn station), but back at home never thought again about it and did not even bother to investigate the connection between this building and the Hundertwasserhaus, connection that is more than obvious as all the creations of this man seem to have some very distinctive characteristics: rejection of straigh lines, organic forms, environmentalism, dream like general effect...
I'm rather on his side when confronting functional, rationalist architecture, that I also consider sterile and alienating... cold, predictible buildings for unclever, obedient people...

All in all, an incredible artist that has remained rather under the radar, especially when compared to similar (not that impressive to my like) artists like Gaudi.
From the pictures I would say one of his most impressive works was his last one, this building in Magdeburg (I love those grass roofs).

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


I was in Prague some months ago, but I've been a bit too lazy to write about it, and it's not cause I have no things to tell, just the contrary, such an extraordinary city deserves one million posts.

I had already been there some years ago and I'd been looking forward to going back ever since. This my second visit absolutely lived up to my high expectations. My two favorite architectonic styles (Gothic and Art Noveau) are everywhere in the city, and then you have all those incredibly beautiful buildings of late XIX, early XX. You still can breathe some slight reminiscences of the Soviet times (which sure locals would prefer to forget, but for foreigners are, at least, exotic).

There are tons of sites in the net devoted to this incredible city and I don't think it's worth to repeat here what is already in many other places, so I'll just write about some maybe not so known jewels of this city.

  • Nusle Bridge My love for this place might be influenced by the fact that in my first time in Prague one friend of mine took me a picture walking along it that is one of my all times favorite ones. The views of the neighbourhood spreading below the bridge (the five stories buildings with those nice sloping roofs and the park to the east) are amazing, and I also quite like the silhouette of the high rise hotel on the Vysehrad side. It's also nice to have a look from the neighbourhood below.

  • St.Michael Ukrainian church in Petrin Hill. This beautiful wooden orthodox church was transferred to Prague from Ukraine in 1929. It's located in the Southern part of Petrin Hill, in the upper part of Kinski garden. I could not find any signal, and it took me a while to find it, but strolling along the trails of this beautiful park is nice in itself. Don't expect something exceptional, it's a small, closed (at least when I visited it) building, but for someone that has never been to Ukraine but has it in his list of places to go... it's pretty interesting.

  • Zizkov. Maybe this district is not so "alternative" (whatever that means) as I had read on the net, and the high concentration of pubs is not that appealing for a not too partying person like me... but I rather liked the atmosphere in the area. Some old rundown buildings beside others that after restoration look almost equally beatiful, narrow streets poorly iluminated, good amounts of graffiti, much of it with left-anarchist message, a couple of beautiful neogothic churches, music shows posters... in a certain way it reminds me of Berlin, which of course is terribly positive. I absolutely recommend sitting down on a bench in the TV Tower Square looking North, with that freak TV Tower on the right, on the left that beautiful odd building with two towers, and in the middle, the remains of the Jewish cemetery and a nursery with some pandas painted on the wall.

  • Olsany cemetery. This place is breathtaking. It's hard to explain, but all those family tombs with pictures, drawings, and loved objects of the deceased had such an effect on me that I had to leave when I was just in the middle of my visit. There's also a small Russian chapel surruonded by an orthodox cemetery (check the last paragraph in this article).

  • Sure the Prague Castle is one of the top tourist attractions and is in every new visitor's list. What many people don't know is that (same as happens with the also incredibly beautiful Budapest Castle) the castle is open till midnight. That means that you can climb up there after dinner and enjoy this fantastic space almost entirely for yourself. It's not just the feeling of hearing your own steps while strolling around history, but the splendid vision of darkness embracing the whole place.
    I recommend to start the night excursion to the Castle crossing from Stare Mesto to Mala Strana through Manesuv Most. Just when you reach the left margin, turn left and walk along a path by the river. There are some benches slightly illuminated by the nearby street lamps where I could almost see Kafka sitting there, reflecting and coughing his life out prisoner of that damn tuberculosis.
    One more delicious detail of the "Castle experience" are the wide, green, Art Noveau street lamps (with 4 female figures) in the park-square just opposite the main entrance.

  • You can't consider your stay in Prague complete without visiting one of the panelák neighbourhoods. I think most of the surroundings of Prague are filled with these constructions (I read somewhere that 2/3 of the population live there). Maybe it's exotic for people in more wealthy countries where this kind of constructions are associated with housing states and dodgy areas, but where I live there are several areas just like that, and same as in Czech republic, they are not slums. So this was not nothing out of the ordinary for me.
    Anyway, I just headed to one of the easiest to reach, Háje, at the end of Metro line C. It's an abrupt contrast (similar to the one you get in London when in just a few minutes of public transport you move from Whitechapel to Canary Dwarf) that in 15 minutes of underground travel you change the incredible historic buidings built to praise God and the higher classes for these Soviet era constructions built to praise the equality of the proletarian masses.
    Not much too see, just stroll around for a few minutes, take some pics and back to downtown.

There are many free maps of Prague, but I think the best I've found is this one by the City Spy folks (don't know how it'll look once printed, I already had a nicely printed copy that I had grabbed in some other hostel, in some other place, in some other time.

Well, this has been a long post, hope it can be of some help to some visitor planning to spend some time in that delightful city that I've come to consider "The capital of Europe".

Friday, 16 July 2010

curse of war, curse of power

I've just watched the first 2 chapters of The Tudors, that is being broadcasted by Spanish TV. While watching it I've regretfully realized of how little I know about England's history (currently each time that I'm lucky to travel to a new place I try to read a lot about my destination's history, but first time I traveled to England I didn't have yet this good habit)

At the beginning of the first chapter there's a gathering of the king (Henry VIII)and some nobles where they discuss whether to declare war to France. This passage is absolutely repulsive, we can see a handful of privileged men frivolously deciding the future of thousands of poor devils. It's pretty unlikely that these nobles will ever get their hands bloody, get their bodies pierced by a sword, feel their stomachs revolve in the battle field or see their families cry and starve after losing their main resources provider... nevertheless, there they are, taking decisions that should not belong to them, playing with the pain of others, the sorrow of the servants for the joy of the masters...
After having convinced the others present there to lead the country ("his" people) to war, the king has some pleasant sex with his mistress, as if he had nothing else to ponder... looks like he's getting ready to fuck the whole contry...

The most disgusting of all this is that little has changed in the centuries that separate us from those days. Sure we have a feeling of freedom that 15th century lower classes didn't have, but in the end, when Bush, Putin, Ahmadinejad, Uribe... take decisions, our lives belong to them... They didn't come to power by the grace of God or the grace of their linage, but by the grace of democracy and mass media... but this changes too little for us, the 21st century servants...

Human societies continue to resemble food chains, and too many of us are little more than chickens in a factory farm...

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Fourth Kind

I don't feel like doing a long write up, so I'll mainly say that I absolutely recommend this film.

Starring Milla Jovovich and having being classified as SciFi-Horror were convincent enough reasons for me to give this film a try without previously searching anything about the film in the net.

The film has an interesting approach, mixing real footage with dramatizations to try to bring to the public eye a series of really strange happennings that took place in Alaska in 2000. Several people under psychological treatment (and the psychologist treating them and her deceased husband) are experiencing the same odd nightmares and finally end up thinking that they have been abducted by aliens.
The film manages to create a tense atmosphere, where the despair and anguish of the characters is perfectly transmitted to the spectator, I would classify this work as an "extreme film", sharing this label (but at the end of the list) in "my brain blog" with films like Martyrs, Antikörper...
When the film is over, you feel prompted to search more info about it and the real facts on which it's based...

Spoiler warning
A simple wikipedia search breaks all that magic about the real happenings, as it explains that the claims are false, following a similar strategy to The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity...
Not knowing about it made my experience with this film rather better, so hope that will be your case also.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Boycott disgusting candy

Chupa Chups is was an Asturian lollipop company founded in the late 50's. It's been very successful and since its inception has been a very important player in the economy of Piloña, the small municipality where it was born.

After economic globalization applied its demonic logic it ceased to be an Asturian company becoming a stateless company no longer rooted in the territory where it grew up. It became part of the Perfetti Van Melle group, which after having received substantial funds from Asturian disgovernment (I bet after having threatened them with closing down) for many years, have finally decided to close their factory in Asturies and move the production to Barcelona.
The loss of around 300 jobs comes as a blow to this small municipality in this land suffering a 30 years economical crisis, being one more nail in Asturies' coffin.

The only thing I/we can do is call to boycott these white hat thieves. I plan not to purchase again any of their products and would love to see how their sales in Asturies drop dramatically.

Here's a complete list of their products, shit to avoid by all means:

* Mentos mints
* Airheads fruit chews
* Frisk mints
* Fruittella chews
* Vigorsol gum
* Vivident gum
* Chlormint gum
* Happydent mint gum
* Golia gum, only sold in Spain
* Alpenliebe caramel chews
* Big Babol gum
* Meller caramel chews
* Brooklyn Chewing Gum
* Center Fresh gum in India
* Chupa Chups
* Smint

I paste below an extract (in Asturian language) of a related press release by FUSOA, an Asturian workers collective.

En Chupa Chups la solución pasa per dañar la imaxe corporativa de la empresa, llevando a cau un boicó económicu al grupu Perfetti Van Melle (Chupa Chups, Smint, Mentos…) dende yá como midía de presión contra’l pieslle de la factoría que la empresa tiéne n’Asturies.
Dende’l FUSOA tamién llanzaremos una campaña dirixía a tolos y les kioskeres d’Asturies pa que se xunan tamién a esti boicó al grupu Perfetti Van Melle, pa que dichu boicó económicu a la empresa seya mayor que los beneficios qu’algamaríen desllocalizando la fábrica d’Asturies. Sólo pasando a la resistencia activa podemos vencer y llograr que Chupa Chups siga faciéndose n’Asturies.