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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Stop the Presses!

Andrew Hamilton Is Reading

in Barcelona

About April 4:

I went in a bar near the Sagrada Familia at night before dinner and there was a newspaper on a split rod hanging on a hook under the bar, a Barcelona paper called Lavanguardia. I grabbed one of those tiny hard tissues out of the napkin box and wrote down what was in it:

Along with six or seven pages of news reports on the G-20, a feature on Obama's equipe, with a graphic representation showing silhouettes of about eleven Michelle attendants, twenty or so attack dogs, around eighty Secret Service agents, Air Force One and two F-16's, the presidential limousine, a Marine Corps One helicopter and a backup chopper, and a Nimitz-class carrier off-shore with 91 combat-ready aircraft. This was like a graphic you'd see in Time Magazine, only in a daily paper and better, more informative, more honest, and cutting closer to the bone.

In another story there was a map of London with the various demonstrations and police clashes shown in red, and some notable landmarks in gray, including the London School of Economics, the Bank of England, Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace.

Up front there was a top-quality action photo of Obama giving the terrorist hand-shake to a Jamaican bobby as he went into a meeting.

Between that front section and the reams of stuff about G-20 in the economics section you could find ten or so signed opinion columns and lots of apparently straight news reporting, a detailed obituary of the guy who created the Mr. Magoo cartoon character, recycled Fred Basset and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips along with a French strip that looks like Tintin but I'm not very familiar with that and it's hard to tell in Spanish, a two-page spread on the recent activities of Salman Rushdie, a story about an open-air piano concert on Las Ramblas that seems to have involved simulated sexual intercourse by a couple of actors on top of the piano, two pages on ski conditions in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. and a story on the greening of New York City with a picture of Central Park and environs superimposed on a map of Barcelona purportedly showing how there is more green space in New York than the entire area of Barcelona.

I probably understand less than half of the Spanish, and less of the Catalan, but it seems that the news stories in Lavanguardia are comprehensive.... I used to think that Le Monde was in a class by itself, the best newspaper anywhere, but this Barcelona rag seems to be in the same league, at least as far as the ground covered and if you don't get all harsh about the international section. Catalonia has gone up twenty points in my book. even though I went down to the sea park development this morning and it seems like a step backward. If they want to build acres of last century's failing commercial real-estate, why not build it in the hills back of town, and leave the Mediterranean alone? Thousands of Barcelona pre-teens apparently would contest my opinion on this.