Monday, May 30, 2016

Bansky in Rome: War, Capitalism & Liberty

Rome's Palazzo Cipolla hosts Guerra, Capitalismo & Libertà, the largest exhibition ever dedicated to the elusive British street artist Banksy, whose identity remains unknown.

On loan from private collections around the world, the 150 works on display feature the most celebrated motifs by the artist and political activist from Bristol, including his famous rat series.

As the title suggests, the exhibition focuses on themes central to Banksy’s work: war, capitalism and liberty.

Over the years Banksy has gained notoriety and acclaim in equal measure for his stencil graffiti paintings which provide a subversive and satirical commentary on modern-day society. From 24 May-4 September 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Travel like a local


Picture this: a charming Frenchwoman named Charlotte is taking a Spaniard named Carlos and an Italian named Luca out for a drive in her antique Citröen. She is showing them around her native city of Paris and taking them to her favorite spots, many of which are off the beaten tourist track.

Contrast this with the traditional scene of tourists clambering out of a huge bus and following a guide carrying an umbrella over his/her head. The trendy traveller no longer waits in long queues at the Parthenon in Athens, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome, but looks for alternative experiences that go beyond the postcard.

Hence, an increasing number of tourists are turning to locals for advice, rather than the pages of a travel guide or excursions organized by travel companies. Aside from seeking a genuine experience, some travelers aim to practice what they call responsible and caring tourism by following the recommendations of local inhabitants on how to best spend their stay --and to do so in appreciation of local traditions. A number of websites are following up on this trend with routes designed to make sure that visitors get to see the sites from a more local perspective. Some websites, for example, offer inside tips to get the best coffee in town, or on the most convenient way to travel if the public transport system isn't working, or on things and places that can be enjoyed for free. These websites provide long lists of recommended cafés, restaurants and entertainment spots, while their lists of excursions are sometimes so diverse that considerable time is needed to find the most suitable one for each traveller.

Aside from traditional walking tours, some local tourist guides also offer to provide tours of their city on roller skates, by bicycle or even while jogging. Of course, many of these excursions incorporate the usual aspects -including architecture, nature, food, photography and shopping-- but with an interesting twist, with the option of taking a traditional cooking class or going out on alternative nightlife or artistic photo tours. One might also choose to have dinner with a local family and try out the area's traditional foods while spending a leisurely evening learning about the host's native city.

One way to select an appropriate excursion is to read about the tour providers and find one who shares the same interests as you. Therefore, before this trend goes viral and is replaced by a new one, go out for a novel experience rather than a bargain package deal!

Here are a few websites worth checking out:
Elina Ruka is a writer and photographer from Riga, Latvia

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Homophobia in Spanish Football

Jesús Tomillero at the Real Balompédica Linense stadium in La Línea (Cádiz).
Jesús Tomillero doesn't like soccer, yet he has been on a pitch for over a decade, a whistle always hanging around his neck. This 21-year-old from La Línea de la Concepción, in the Andalusian province of Cádiz, was the only registered referee in Spanish soccer who had publicly admitted to being gay. And “was” is the right tense, because Tomillero has just announced he is quitting. He can no longer deal with all the taunts and insults he has been getting since his sexual orientation became known. 

“I can’t take it any more. I was scared going into the matches, and that’s not right,” he says. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now, but I can’t keep doing this.”

The last straw was the second-division juvenile game that he refereed last Saturday. Back in the stands, one fan began yelling out abuse such as: “Aren’t you ashamed of blowing the whistle on that, you fucking fag?” or “They’re going to score that goal up your ass, you faggot!”

“You go into shock at times like that,” explains Tomillero. “You have trouble believing your ears. It’s a shame that these things should happen in the 21st century. And the worst part is not the insults themselves, but hearing everyone else laugh.”

“I started to get interested after going to my younger brother’s soccer practice. I started out refereeing friendly matches, and little by little I trained and started to love what I was doing,” he recalls. “Being a referee is my life, it’s in my blood, on my skin.”A waiter and member of the Popular Party’s youth group, Nuevas Generaciones, Tomillero got involved in the world of soccer almost by chance. And he shows off a leg tattoo depicting two cards and a whistle.

“I’ve been very happy these last few years, even this last year,” he says with pride, hoping that his example will help educate younger kids. But the fact is that the Saturday episode has been a recurring nightmare for the last 18 months. “Ever since I admitted that I was homosexual, every day has been worse than the one before. I’ve been insulted often on the pitch, even by six- and seven-year-old children.”

In March, Tomillero filed a complaint over another verbal aggression by a Peña Madridista kit manager. The Cádiz Competition Committee suspended the man for nine games and made him pay a €30 fine.

“I have received support from other referees, friends, relatives and people I don’t know at all,” he says, grateful at all the messages of support on the social media.
Even acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias have sent him notes. “Good afternoon, Jesús. Our opinion on this is clear: we condemn all types of violence or discrimination. You have our support. Be strong and keep your spirits up. Affectionately,” wrote Rajoy. “Keep your spirit up, Jesús. I trust that sports authorities will not allow these things to happen again,” wrote Iglesias. El País in English, by Susana Urra.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Sadiq Khan's victory as the mayor of the world's greatest city is not only a testimony of London's success in accommodating and celebrating diversity, but will definitely give a boost in Muslim morale and determination to work for the common good with civic participation.
However angry the extremists on both sides may be now, this has given a clear message around the world that anyone with ability and ambition has a place in Britain's public sphere.
In this period of optimism it is vital that citizens, Londoners and beyond wage a war against our common enemies that keep on dividing us: ignorance, prejudice, intolerance and fear.

“Creo que puede ayudar a ofrecer una narrativa alternativa al radicalismo”, opina Muhammad Abdul Bari, de 62 años, responsable de la ONG Muslim Aid y expresidente de la mezquita del Este de Londres. “Desde los ataques del 7 de julio de 2005, no hay día en que en la prensa no se retrate negativamente a los musulmanes. La elección de Khan dará confianza a los musulmanes para acceder a la vida pública. Indirectamente, puede ayudar a combatir la radicalización, ya que contribuye a que las comunidades musulmanas tengan confianza en que hay un futuro para ellos en este país. Que pueden tener éxito si tienen talento, que la vida pública está ahí también para ellos. Ese mensaje puede contribuir a marginar a las minorías extremistas. Y a la vez, la sociedad verá que los musulmanes no responden al estereotipo con el que a menudo se les retrata. Es un mensaje de Londres a todo el mundo”.
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is an educationalist, author and parenting consultant.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mulberry Street, NYC, 1900

This wonderful and richly-detailed photo depicts Mulberry Street, one of the great arteries of ethnic and cultural life in Manhattan at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. This picture was taken in 1900. As you can see, there was a tremendous amount going on here. The street is full of market stands, most selling fresh produce, but if you look closely you can also see cobblers selling what look like button-top shoes, furniture movers, a sidewalk café, and a sign for something called “Banco Malzone,” which was probably a small local bank that specialized in making short-term loans to Italian-Americans in the neighborhood. This neighborhood of this era has been depicted in countless movies taking place in New York City, including The Godfather, Part IIOnce Upon A Time in America and Avalon.
The geography of New York's Little Italy is interesting. Mulberry Street was one of the five streets that came together at an unusual intersection in Lower Manhattan–the other streets were Orange, Cross, Worth and Little Water–that became known as the Five Points. Located only a few blocks south of the location shown here, the Five Points was the most notorious slum in New York, and possibly the entire world, from the early 19th to early 20th centuries. This period (1900) would have been toward the end of the Five Points’s notoriety, and it’s doubtful that many of the generally honest and law-abiding citizens of Little Italy would ever have ventured down there. But Manhattan was less a city in 1900 than an uneasy confederation of independent neighborhoods; many worlds were contained on these streets.
This was not taken as a color photo, but was a chromolithograph (or “Photocrom”), which was a high-resolution black and white picture artifically colorized.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Pipas_short film

This hilarious Spanish short film with English subtitules about education (or rather, the lack of it) will have you in stitches. Written and directed by Manuela Moreno, it was nominated for a Goya Award for best fiction short film in 2014. It was awarded Best Script and Best Director at the Jameson Notodofilmfest.