Tuesday, January 20, 2015

visualization of the theory of everything

To my friends and those teaching about culture (-al subjectivity). I'd like to share a visual message with you. I referred to this diagram at least one dozen times today in my film class. The nodes can represent people, texts, feelings, cities, cultural production processes, family, friends, histories, stereotypes, social movements, stars, bees, anythings. It's a visualization of the theory of Everything, or, Benjamin's constellation, D&G's assemblages and rhizomes. (What else?) I wish there was a way to add two aspects: 3-dimensionality and mobility. But we can imagine them...
From "A Special Message For You Hand-Delivered To You From The Universe", by the ingenious Yumi Sakugawa, 2012.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

the pedagogical myth, cell phones, and Rancière

It seems that Rancière's collaborative and horizontal approach to teaching (see blurb below) presupposes that both parties (learners/teachers) are at least partially willing to give, learn, and contribute just for the sake of doing so. but how would this approach apply when one of the parties will only give/learn/contribute under immediate coercion (a punishment, a threat to lower one's grade or to force one to repay/retake a course...etc.)?  Doesn't that immediate-capitalist-exchange mentality in the classroom (I-only-give-to-you-to-receive-for-me) automatically create separation and hierarchy? If one group won't put their cell phones down unless an authority figure threatens him/her, doesn't that resistance to learning perpetuate automatons and keep the wheel of severe social problems spinning? And/Or is it just an example cultural differences -- everyone has a right to their differences and it's our collective interest to try to learn together by incorporating the majority's culture including the younger generation's cell phone culture? 
But now I'm back to where I started. "Collective interest". Collective in a pedagogical setting presupposes a will from more than one party. 

(Rancière's text was published in 1991, before the iphone.)

"In the meritocracy those who know (or those who have the opportunity to set the standards of knowing) considered as experts have needed those who don't know and the ignorant in reproducing and legitimating their own privileged expert positions. These structural processes of legitimation belong to what Rancière describes as the pedagogical myth. The pedagogical myth divides the world into two by supposing a socially constructed division of power, as well as a lower and higher intelligence. As Rancière (1991, 7) points out: 

[The pedagogical myth] says that there is an inferior intelligence and a superior one. The former registers perceptions by change, retains them, interprets and repeats them empirically, within the closed circle of habit and need. This is the intelligence of the young child and the common man. The superior intelligence knows things by reason, proceeds by method, from the simple to the complex, from the part to the whole. It is this intelligence that allows the master to transmit his knowledge by adapting it to the intellectual capacities of the student and allows him to verify that the students has satisfactorily understood what he learned." 
 Ref. http://eepat.net/doku.php?id=jacques_ranciere_on_radical_equality_and_adult_education

Friday, January 02, 2015

Friday, December 19, 2014

"The 15-M movement positioned itself against intermediaries, be it political, media, or cultural. It directly attacks the idea that someone has to do things for me. This is a paradigm shift in the relationship between citizen and governments, unions, media outlets..."
- Javier Toret

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

One thousand and one questions

one of my life's highlights occurred last night. my 10 year old nephew, kind of a shy guy, was sitting on the couch in front of the tv. unexpectedly he turned away from the tv and began asking me questions. a couple questions turned into some 150 questions, one after another after another. about the Isreal-Palestine conflict, about college dorms, about college apartments, about the roman empire, about soccer (I know nothing about soccer)... each question made me smile inside. it had been many years since I had experienced the joy of being around uninhibited curiosity, I had forgotten how good it felt. (at the same time, I was slightly saddened too because it had been many months since I had had time for a long conversation.) of course I asked him some questions too, and reminded him that my answers are merely opinions. I wanted to sit there and talk until he had no questions left for the time being. after about 2 hours he ended the conversation as abruptly as he had started it. he stood up and said, "ok, good night” and went up to bed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

3 more hstoric stablishments closing down in Barcelona

Three more emblematic "mom-n-pop" stores that have formed part of Barcelona's everyday fabric since the 19th century are closing down because the owners of the properties have increased their rent prices to capitalize on mass tourism. Previously, historic establishments had been protected from dramatic rent increases by a law (Ley Boyer), but the law expired this year. In spite of locals' demand to renew the law, the government refused. No respect for history, community, or democracy. That's how neoliberalism (our current economic system) has been working. (But it doesn't have to be that way.)
"Some of the tourists who enjoyed shopping in stores like these told me [the shop-owner], "In our countries we don't have stores like this anymore."


Stopped at an intersection today in Philadelphia, I spotted these confetti style flag banner things blowing in the wind at a car dealership on the corner of Chestnut and 48th and I immediately had a flashback of being a kid staring out the backseat window of our brown station-wagon at the same exact scene, but in Detroit, MI, on one of those wide "mile roads", where the car dealerships were streamed with these flag banner things (do they have a name?). They haven´t changed in 30 years.

Monday, October 06, 2014

acrobatic ikebana

ikebana - flower art
or original acrobatics + domestic design
artist Yuji Ueno said
“nature defying gravity = life”
from today in the spectacular Sawyer library, Williams College

Friday, September 12, 2014

windows that don't open

the windows in the buildings that house big box and multinational stores never open. (Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds, Panera, malls...) when these companies appropriate historic buildings (which have windows), they replace the original windows with ones that don't open. the artificial climatization in the big box/multinational buildings can feel very uncomfortable, usually stuffy or overly drying. a chemical, plastic, perfume, air freshners, or burnt coffee or paninis smell swirls aimlessly. there is no fresh air or connection with nature or anything natural. the windows don't open because the company authorities don't want legal trouble which could amount to a relatively small economic loss, i.e. an employee or customer throwing her/himself or her/his boss from a window.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Nana Visits the City by Lauren Castillo

Narratives for children are so preachy, aren't they? This one is preachy too, but I think the narrative and illustrations are uplifting. A young boy or girl, who dislikes the city, goes to NY to visit his/her Nana. s/he says the city is scary, dirty, noisy. s/he can't sleep. one night Nana knits him a red cape and says ... (I can't remember now), but the girl/boy feels brave in the red cape and it enables him/her to overcome his/her fears and to see the city--the city as social differences--in a new and empathetic light.
...Now, if the anti-city girl/boy at the beginning of the story is a metaphor for planetary suburbia, neoliberal urbanism, gated communities...etc., then what would the transformative red cape symbolize...? I've got to find this red cape!

Friday, September 05, 2014

short intro to the innovative politics currently stirring in Spain "Fighting the New Fascism"

For those teaching or interested in contemporary culture of Spain, here is a useful, short intro in English to the innovative political practices that are emerging. I like that it includes the historical and international connections with Latin America and Europe. These could be carried over to the US as well.

A couple passages dense with ideas:

"What do you do when representative democracy has ceased to be representative, but when its institutions are still there, controlling the banks, the political parties, the media, international relations, the world of money, the universities? What we learned from Latin America is that there is only one way to break through the gridlock of dysfunctional institutions: appealing directly to the people. We needed tools that would allow Spaniards to organize their discontent and turn it into political energy."

"The neoliberal model has been so successful because it has convinced us that there is no alternative. And it has been able to do so because we have delegated politics to the politicians."

"The neoliberal model has worked very hard to wipe out history and turn it into a kind of decaffeinated theme park. It has prevented us from connecting with the historical anger and frustration that anticipated our current anger and frustration."


Monday, September 01, 2014

I was a pigeon

and it was great!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

to be there

"While it is true that people leave home for a rational reason, in many situations the real reason for choosing public space is simply to be there..."
J. Gehl, 1966

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Iniciativas ciudadanas - pdf

Impresionante. La memoria completa sobre las iniciativas e intervenciones ciudadanas, virtuales y físicas, para el empoderamiento urbano. En pdf, publicada por VIC y La Casa Encendida. Se enfoca mayormente en las intervenciones en Madrid en los últimos años. Con fines democráticos, podría servir como prototipo para participación ciudadana en cualquier ciudad.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

bubble come together

In the middle of a severely segregated city (economically and racially)--NEWARK, NJ--one can find Intrinsic Cafe, a bubble tea shop, that is working its unifying magic across social differences. I've come across this bubble-come-together phenomenon in many cities. 
Gov't officials and college cafeteria administrators should re-think their intercultural programs.
Future academic paper "Deconstructing Neo-landscapes and Post-transcendence in a Bubble Tea Society."


Friday, June 27, 2014

Guanyem/Ganamos Barcelona


Han empezado a organizarse --> potencial a raiz de la ciudad/anía

Imaginados una Barcelona menos turística y más INCLUSIVA.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Forn de Teatre Pa' Tothom - Raval

On June 13, 2014 teenagers in the neighborhood theatre group "Forn De Teatre Pa'tothom" presented an in-situ skit at the #FemPlaça event about police harassment of immigrants in the Raval, Barcelona.

(In Spanish and a little bit of Catalan.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

#FemPlaça #HagamosPlaza #Let'sMaketheSquare

here I document a very special event called #FemPlaça #HagamosPlaza #LetsMaketheSquare. the event is special, or rare, for many reasons. here are a couple:

1) it took place in the Plaza Salvador Seguí in the historic Raval neighborhood of Barcelona--Barcelona's most socially diverse neighborhood where many lower-income immigrants and elders live, where prostitutes work, and where police are always watching like hawks. over the last 3 decades the neighborhood has suffered much abuse, speculation, and gentrification. the local gov’t has allowed real estate and construction companies, architects, (multi)national investors to demolish around half of the neighborhood's historic buildings (most dating from the 18th century), their inhabitants and businesses are displaced. why? in order to create apartments, hotels, and shops for tourists. large neighborhood associations have tried to stop this bestial force, but they have been ignored, bullied, and in some cases received death threats. there’s been no stop, no limit, to the destructive tourist speculation. most tourists don’t know about this.

2) public space in Barcelona and most global cities has become extremely regulated, monitored, privatized -- video cameras, controlling urban furniture, police force are ubiquitous and usually inconspicuous.  nowadays, before one can carry out harmless activities (such as singing, dancing, resting, meeting in a large group…) in public, the local gov't must give their stamp of approval (because they want to ensure a smooth image and space for the tourist industry). #FemPlaça #HacerPlaza #MakingtheSquare comes from the idea that humans should be able to "be" comfortably in the public space (that they pay for with their taxes) without asking for permission and without being bombarded by an atmosphere that pressures you to spend your money or look at a restaurant menu.  at #FemPlaza #HagamosPlaza #LetsMaketheSquare spontaneity played it’s part in enabling all sorts of creative activities (i.e. at one point the kids decided they wanted to paint, later a theatre group appeared and did a skit…).

3) given this surveillance situation, public space in Barcelona (and most global cities) is increasingly “zoned" spatially and segregated socially. us humans (and our spatial needs and desires) come in many ethnic, economic, linguistic, gender, ideological colors…etc. but global downtowns are now surrounded by a new mural, and murals within murals, and in the residential zone they say if you can’t afford $2000/month in rent—stay out! and if the food zone they say: if you can’t pay $20 for a sandwich, stay out! now take a good look at these photos. you’ll see that many different type of activities were occurring simultaneously at #FemPlaça #HacerPlaza #MakingtheSquare (sitting, chatting, singing, eating, drawing, playing…). also, the event encouraged human differences to come together.  usually cultural events are organized by a specific institution (a university, the government, a church…), a corporation or bank, or an identity group or club to bring together similar-minded humans. ("separation perfected" Debord called contemporary life.)  #FemPlaça #HacerPlaza #MakingtheSquare wanted to advocate public space as an inclusive space so, for this event, anyone could organize activities and participate, regardless of their personal situation. this seems so obvious and normal, right? yet when residents passed by they were like cats checking out a new space--they slowed down, stayed to one side and raised their eyebrows. their first instinct was that: a private event was occurring. we had to make an effort to let strangers know that: hey, this might sound crazy, but this is actually, really, public! you are welcome here! come and enjoy your public space, have some food and drink or chalk or whatever you like!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Plaza Rubió i Lluch

How many different activities can you spot?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Esta es una plaza, Dr. Forquet 24, Madrid

This is a rare space. Surrounded by tightly regulated space of very high economic value, this "plaza" doesn't cost anything to use, it can be used by any human being (regardless of how much money you have, your race, ideology, gender...etc.), anyone can take care of it, and there are no video cameras or advertisement. One can do pretty much anything they want here. 
How long will it last?
MediaLab in Madrid has provided the resources to try to legally secure this espacio autogestionado.  A group of advocates (include myself a little bit) are trying to translate/articulate the importance of the space in written legal jargon in order to gain official approval from the Ayuntamiento (gov't of Madrid) to secure the space.
A difficulty, a wonderful one, that we have had thus far in trying to conceptualize the space within the current legal structure, is that it it doesn't fit into traditional legal jargon or categories.  It's not owned by any person or group of people.  It's not a garden or a plaza, not a park or a playground; it is a mixture of these places and much more.  Those who have been informally maintaining the space don't want to define it as a definition would exclude future possibilities.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem   
and hold it up to the light   
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem   
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room   
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski   
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope   
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose   
to find out what it really means.

Friday, February 28, 2014

pedestrian space in Copenhagen

When space is designed for the multi-uses of everyone:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

August 2013, at one of Tokyo's 200 Denny's

Murakami was on to something when he placed one of his novels, Afterdark, in a Denny's in Shibuya (Tokyo)

I mean, that what he wrote really reflects an overlooked reality

...what follows is not really new, but I'll repeat……..

all these folks who come into this sparkling clean quiet place at midnight, or 1 or 2 or 3am

when most people are in bed

most come in individually and slowly, dressed nicely, occassionally a young couple comes in

with the exception of the young couples, they spread themselves out over the large restaurant

they sit in floral plastic-covered American-size booths that are divided by sheets of glass

shortly after they sit down they look at the large menu and press the plastic brown buzzer-bell


a waiter/waitress quickly runs over and bows

they all order something similar: something small and inexpensive (an orange juice, a lemonade, a green tea, a red-bean sundae…)

they consume their drink/ice cream slowly and most of them stay sitting there for hours after they've finished it, there's no hurry

some get up to use the bathroom

some put there arms on the table and fall asleep

others stare at their cell phone

the couples, sitting in front of one another with good posture, talk quietly

and there are a few like me who are writing on a their laptop, waiting for the sleepy feeling to come before walking home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Soleida Ríos

In La Havana we were lucky to meet and spend time with the Cuban poet Soleida Ríos.  Soleida seemed to me to be a generous, transparent, and spiritual person.  Her personality is light, it floats.  We talked with her for several hours over a meal and a walk down Havana's quiet Avenida de los Presidentes.  One thing she said to us that stuck in my head was: “Communism is good for me in particular because I´m terrible with money, this way I don´t have to think or worry about money.” 
We are holding guayava fruits, which were REALLY delicious.

I found this video of Soleida and her apartment in La Havana Vieja on Youtube.  I think all of us regret not having enough time to accept her invitation to experience her apartment (which you can see in this video below).

Her poems are in books and also dispersed over the internet.  Here are a couple that have been translated to English: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/rios/roto.html


Saturday, December 21, 2013

CocoRoom Winter Interior

My sister was recently at this non-profit art collective, CocoRoom, in Osaka.  I loved these two photos. 

Chilly and mesmerizing.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cultures of Anyone (and everyone)

Luis Moreno Caballud's insightful recap on Spain's current economic crisis and political resistance (15M, virtual communities...).  In English.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

"hay charcos con ranas donde había charcos con ratas. Con sólo cambiar una letra puede transformarse el mundo..."
-- Javier P. Andújar

autumn sundown play

Monday, November 04, 2013

5 questions to ask (students)

1. What do you think?

2. Why do you think that?

3. How do you know this?

4. Can you tell me more?

5. What questions do you still have?

for the complete article: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-powerful-questions-teachers-ask-students-rebecca-alber

Friday, November 01, 2013

high ed diagram

In this diagram I was trying to illustrate a massive structure--the higher education system in the “global north” or at least the United States.  (If you click on it, you can see it larger.) Of course there will be many exceptions to this structure, but I am interested in what it might look like in the general view.

I would love to know your feedback!  What do you think is missing?  What is incorrect?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hafu - mixed-race realities in Japan

A socially-important documentary about half-
Japanese humans (mainly in Tokyo). 
trailer: http://youtu.be/6j_wQQZY-OE
official website: http://hafufilm.com/en

Thursday, October 17, 2013

versión cómic de PICNIC - Fernando Arrabal, dibujada por Jaime Asensi

Interpretación visual de la obra de teatro de Arrabal.
Difícil de encontrar.  Se puede bajar AQUÍ en pdf, en color.
(Este cómic podría dialogar bien con la obra de teatro Esquadra hacia la muerte de Alonso Sastre.)
Temas: guerra, violencia, existencialismo, el absurdo, la humanidad, compañerismo, universalismo...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

today in West Chester, PA

Today for the first time in my life I picked up a hitchhiker. Maybe it was because he was dressed like my father. He looked to be around 75-80.
Slowly driving past him I remembered my sister’s 2.5-day love celebration (aka wedding, a couple weeks ago) and how, afterwards, I told myself I would try to be more generous to the realm outside my workplace. I also thought about David Sedaris’s, Roald Dahl’s and Jack Kerouac’s hitchhiking stories. (Now I wonder how could I have thought of all those things in about 10 seconds?)
I slowed down the car and parked the right side of the car on the sidewalk.
Probably he didn’t have a gun and was too weak to hurt me.
I put on my tough face, walked over to him, and asked him what was wrong?
He smelled like soap and was happy to see me.
He told me that he had a contact stuck in his eye and needed a ride to ER.
I asked him why don’t you take a taxi?
He told me because he didn’t have enough money and that the hospital was only 2 miles up the road.
I tried to remain skeptical. He pointed to his left eye. I looked at it and could see a blue lens in the upper corner.
For some reason I asked him if I could try to remove it.
He asked me if I was a nurse?
I told him no, but that I was frequently removing my own contacts.

The contact was in fact really glued to his eye, so I drove him to ER.

The end.

Moral of the story: hitchhikers always make for interesting stories.  And West Chester, PA needs better public transportation.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Monday, August 05, 2013

Don't sit here!

Public urban spaces can be used for an infinite amount of creative personal and collective activities.
A tiny wealthy minority is increasingly controlling public areas of high consumption (with surveillance cameras, police, and the design of such space...). Our taxes pay for our public space. But benches and places to sit and lay down are disappearing from public space, and instead being replaced with private outdoor café/restaurant seating and keep-out!-urban-furniture.
When we think of physical/material spaces that keep us out, we tend to think fences, gates, doors, walls...  But there are many more inconspicuous examples of these everyday barriers, and they dictate what we do, what we know, and what we experience in the city, often without us evening knowing it!
Here are some examples. If you want to sit in these places in Barcelona, you will need to bring a heavy plank of wood with you, or a chair (from 2012-13):

Browsing through old photographs from my dissertation, I came across these SITuations from 2004-2008:

From Rancière:
--> "Move along! There is nothing to see here!" The police says that there is nothing to see on a road, that there is nothing to do but move along. It asserts that the space of circulating is nothing other than the space of circulation. Politics, in contrast, consists in transforming this space of 'moving-along' into a space for the appearance of a subject: i.e., the people, the workers, the citizens: It consists in refiguring the space, of what there is to do there, what is to be seen or named therein. It is the established litigation of the perceptible… (“Ten Theses”, #8)

Thursday, August 01, 2013


"Chal-SSAK!" = “smack" in Korean. I have seen so many dark-humor chal-ssaks! in recent Korean films.  Here´s one from Kim Ki-duk´s Pieta (2012)--a tough movie to watch.

Friday, July 12, 2013

things around the Fontclara house (mini video)

Last Sunday I had the luck of spending the day at an old farmhouse in the tiny historic town of Fontclara (~ 20 inhabitants, near Gerona). I finally had some free time, so I decided to record some sounds and scenes from around the house with an SLR camera. later I put the clips together in iMovie.

Given our shrinking attention span, I tried to keep it as short as possible, it's 2 mins long. 

Maybe it can transmit some good feeling.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

public, free, always
night time activities
in the plaza

Plaça del Diamant, Barcelona

Photo by Maria Van Liew.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Partial list of new ingredients the Moors gradually introduced to the West via Spain (8th-15th centuries)

            - Grains: Short-grained rice, hard wheat for bread and pasta (distinct from soft-wheat introduced by the Romans), millet, spelt and sorghum (a cereal grass)
            - Fresh and dried fruits and nuts, rhizomes and tubers: Lemons, limes,  bitter oranges for   medicinal and liturgical uses, dates (Iraq), pomegranates, apricots, peaches, bananas, honeydew melons (Egypt), watermelons (N. Africa), coconuts, figs, quince, new varieties of grapes, raisins, currants, and mangoes
            - Condiments: murrī (A thick soy sauce concoction made and fermented, rotten barley, etc. outdoors and taking several months to produce.)
            - Nuts: Almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts and chestnuts
            - Sweeteners: Sugar cane (India and Persia) and its refinement into fine white sugar, new bee varieties   
      - Herbs and Spices: Saffron, cinnamon (bark and ground from India), coriander, nutmeg and cloves (South East Asia), cumin, anise seed, pepper and ginger (India), basil, mint, jasmine, and tamarind. Importation of gum mastic, asafetida and other gums and saps as flavoring, mint, parsley cilantro and sage.
            - Vegetables and Tubers: Gourds, eggplant, artichoke, carrot, zucchini, asparagus, leeks, spinach, and new hybrids of less bitter cabbage, taro, and cucumbers
            - Beverages: Coffee, coconut milk, sharbat (A category of drinks called 'snow drinks' made with fruit juice and sugar and chilled with either snow or ice.)

--  Santich. 1995. p.25-26.; Freeman. 2007. p. 135, by James Moore

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Barcelona ♥ Pickpocket

Yesterday I posted this:

now that 70% of public and private space in the historic quarter Barcelona has been occupied by tourists, the tourists should come together to claim their right to the city. They could hang multilingual banners from their temporary apartment balconies across the historic neighborhoods that state in big letters:


(# saw another female tourist crying today)

Today my friend Eva Megias responded with a clever photo montage:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

from above
a completely different city
(looking north over the Barri Gòtic)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ens toca conference / independent inclusive art groups


Trying to make sense after a day full of inspiring talks and presentations by dozens of European independent "gestión cultural" (cultural management) organizations. That is-- non-profit organizations that work directly with local communities (everyone, regardless of identity or citizenship) in order to create art and social awareness projects. I was really amazed with many of their projects, their efforts to be INCLUSIVE, and also the collective and economic situations that enabled them to be carried out. I asked a ton of questions and found out some things--

- many of the groups are financed by a big mix of sources-- donations, municipal subsidies, the European Union/Commission, cash earned during local festivals (from selling drinks, t-shirts...etc.)
- all of the groups had to fight very hard (writing letters, holding protests...) against local gov´t and corporate powers in order to claim a space as their own (i.e. to have a cultural center)
- all the groups relied on both a physical and virtual (internet) space
- all of the groups took several years to establish themselves and flourish, projects didn´t have a quick turn-around
- about half of the the workers I met are volunteers, the other half earn a modest salary and are on renewable year-long contracts
- most of the projects, even though they prioritized getting locals involved, they were not strictly local, rather they involved workers/volunteers/networks/funding in/with other European countries. the fluidity between the European borders was pretty impressive (and maybe a new phenomenon)
- many of the paid workers studied a BA or MA degree in something related to cultural arts

Questions I still have -- does this career or these opportunities in gestión cultural exist in the US? They asked me about the US situation and I could only think of opportunities like this that are sponsored by universities, religious, or political-lobbying groups. I guessed that open groups like this may exist in some progressive urban neighborhoods i.e. on the East or West coasts...but I´d have to research it, I don´t know.

If jobs in gestión cultural exist in the US, then it would be a new direction to send our students when they ask us "what can I do with a degree in liberal arts?" (I get this question weekly.) But... I think this sector doesn´t really exist in the US. Any comments?

Friday, June 14, 2013

primeros días, observaciones downtown Barcelona: mid-June 2013 compared with December 2011


- more Catalán flags hanging from balconies
- more young foreigners in Gracia (20-30 age group)
- more international consumption in Gracia (new Japanese shops and restaurants, lindy hop dance studio, English language 2nd hand bookstore...)
- new jamón serrano store on upper Rambla
- three new American-style diners (2 in the left Eixample, 1 in the Born)
- a gourmet cookie bakery in the Born
- vending machines that sell electronics in the metro, and in the Lesseps metro station they have installed a massive (like 12 feet by 10 feet) wall-size vending machine that sells refrigerated foods and drinks (Lesseps is the stop where tourists get off for Park Guell)
- hot dog stand on the Ramblas (near Carrefour)
- more Asian presence, both locals and tourists
- U of Barcelona campuses now boast American style paraphernalia stores
- 4 or 5 new tattoo parlors (Gothic and Gracia neighborhoods)
- more Arabic tourists (from the language I hear and the women's hiyab)
- something weird-- for over a decade I'm used to Catalan-speaking shop-owners in Barcelona to treat me coldly or to not treat me at all, but now in the touristy areas several of them, upon entering a shop, several of them have greeted me with a forced fast "hola" (perhaps there has been some tourist district customer service training or something)
- dozens of chatarreros/as, sifting through the trash bins, filling large grocery store carts (Prof. McDonough says chataerros take their chatarra to Badalona where they can cash it in)
- not as easy to distinguish locals from tourists anymore
- and (the most surprising which checks off the last requirement for Barcelona to enter the club of globalized cities) two new bubble tea joints in the tourist Gothic neighborhood (on C/ Avinyó) and in the Raval near the Ramblas (on C/ Tallers)
- as of July 18, 2013 there is now an announcement that plays in the metro, in a variety of languages, that warns tourists about pickpockets

Most point to globalization, increasingly similar cultural package offered in other global cities (homogenization), more "typical Spanish" consumption opportunities for tourists, cultural influence from US and Asia...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

tourism won't save anything

Solving "la crisis" by increasing an already excessive tourist sector?
8 million tourists a year in a neighborhood where only 104,000 locals remain.
To make room for more tourism, CiU and PP have approved of a plan to demolish 380 previously "protected" historic buildings (and their inhabitants and local communities).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

public (not sponsored by an institution) art in Barcelona
petition to engage the local government in the conversation

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Yesterday I came across this bike lot in Tokyo; it was next to a large apartment or condo complex. 

The convenient bike lot reminded me of a recent disappointment with the apartment complex where I live, in a town outside Philadelphia.  When I asked the complex owners where one parks their bikes I was told “bikes are not permitted around the building, they must be carried up to one’s own apartment.” My apartment is too small to comfortably fit a bike (and I don’t feel like carrying it up 3 flights of stairs)…luckily there is a bike rack 1/2 mile down the road in front of a college dorm that pertains to a public university, so I can legally park my bike there.

I guess it sounds naive, but I wish every town and suburb in the United States could have a convenient proportion of these bike lots.  (Car reliance is predominately a problem in the United States.)  Less driving would imply a lot of social improvements — for health and well-being, for the environment, for culture, for sustainability, for families, for saving time and money, for interacting with differences, for reducing bloody wars…etc.

This ties in with a book I just started reading called Walkable City by Jeff Speck.  Here's a passage from it (taken from David Owen's Green Metropolis) that recaps one of the main ideas thus far -- it's not one car that's harmful, rather the entire national (American) individualistic lifestyle of relying on an automobile everyday. This triggers major local and global harms (much of which we don't see because we have distanced ourselves from the harm we produce).
“The real problem with cars is not that they don’t get enough miles per gallon; it’s that they make it too easy for people to spread out, encouraging forms of development that inherently wasteful and damaging… The critical energy drain in a typical American suburb is not the Hummer in the driveway; it’s everything else the Hummer makes possible — the oversized houses and irrigated yards, the network of new feeder roads and residential streets, the costly and inefficient outward expansion of the power grid, the duplicated stores and schools, the two-hour commutes.”
There is a very positive trend, however—according to their research, the younger generation in the United States (the “millennials”) is moving into the cities, where they can use their legs, bikes, and public transport.

Update: found this wonderful bike parking structure in Kyoto: