Mon, 26 Mar 2007

No more TV3 in the Valencian Country: another example of PP's democracy

Tomorrow at 9 in the morning some officers from the Valencian regional Government will drive up to the mountains of the Bartolo, Serra Perentxissa, Montdúver and Carrasqueta to power off the set of antennas which have broadcasted the signal of TV3, the Catalan public television, during the last 20 years for the entire Valencian territory. These news have been responded with protests from most of the Valencian cultural collectives. You can sign a petition, or send an e-mail, which will be swiftly ignored by the people in charge.

Behind the official reasoning for this attack to our freedom of choice -the broadcast is illegal- there is a set of good reasons for the usual suspects, the Valencian Partido Popular to do this. The biggest one is that two months before the local and regional elections, the right-wing are doing their math and it may not be working out too well for them. They need to scrape as many votes as they can, and an easy granary is attracting the extreme right-wing, which is a bit active but fragmented in the region, and mostly in the city of València. This social group is greatly virulent against anything which sounds like “Catalan”, especially the people known as “blaveros”, who claim our culture and language has no common root and has nothing to do with the culture and language from the North. Fortunately, the ISO 639 standard and the entire scientific community agree that they are nuts.

But back to my rant. So, how can the PP try to get a handful of votes from the right-wing? Easy, start an anti-TV3 show on the media and start scalating it until the final act -tomorrow-, where milions of citizens are deprived of one of the best channels available in our TV sets. This will surely be sold as a major victory against the “Catalan invasion” or as the end of an "alegal situation", although there are like 30 other channels in the same situation in the city of València, and the PP-controlled Canal 9 channel is broadcasted in the Balear Islands (also controled by PP) in the same legal situation.

In a time when watching Middle-East or American channels is trivial using a satellite set, some people think the best thing they can do is to end a service paid and provided for free by Acció Cultural del País Valencià, an important cultural entity, during the last 20 years, ending the right to choose one of the only channels with all the programs in our language for milions of Valencians. Their right to do it is also challenged in court, but there is no doubt that tomorrow they'll go ahead and shut it off.

We could have a reasonable government who would maybe want to accept the Catalan TV and radio channels in our territory, if the Catalan government would also accept our (crappy) channels in theirs, but they refuse this as well, because they now “feel insulted”. All in all, I had enough of PP long ago, and am hoping I am not the only one. In less than a month, Valencians will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Batalla d'Almansa on the 25th of April of 1707, although we seem to be fighting a new battle now in 2007.

The Batalla d'Almansa meant the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in Spain, but also the start of tough times for our culture, language, and people, when Felipe V abolished the Valencian furs. But this story can make a blog post of its own next month.

Quan el mal ve d'Almansa, a tots alcança...

Wed, 07 Mar 2007

Calçotada and lunar eclipse in Picamoixons

Last weekend I had great fun during my first calçotada with my friends in Picamoixons, very near Valls in Tarragona. While it's already a tradition for my friends, this was the first time I went there, after having missed many other opportunities probably due to my overcommitment to triathlon training a few years ago.

So on Friday we drove up North to Catalunya, and arrived quite late to Frago's house in the center of Valls, where we slept in two packed rooms and the terrace after getting some beers in Dune. Early next morning we met Frago's friends and bought the necessary vegetables and wine for our great lunch, and soon after we were in the middle of some olive field outside Picamoixons, where we prepared a big fire and the calçots.

A calçot is a special type of onion which grows in the area, which ends up being very long and thin. After cutting part of the green leaves, they are cooked over the flames, which carbonises the first few layers of the onion, but leaves the inner part ready for consumption. After this, you just need to pull from the inner leaves to get rid of the burnt stuff and eat the rest with a delicious and typical sauce for calçots. So far, so good.

What if your group of friends has extended the tradition, allowing for extra fun bits? In our calçotades, after you've peeled the calçot, you keep the carbonised stuff. It's valuable ammo, which will soon be thrown at others' faces. Trying to remain clean is futile, you soon are covered by sauce and black stuff all over your head and clothes. This was real fun!

After eating part of the group went up a mountain to visit an arab tower, which helped me not to get totally drunk before the night. When it got dark, we were all back to our positions around the fire, chatting and listening to varied music, while we waited for the lunar eclipse.

The eclipse was impressive, seen from the country side, with absolutely no luminic contamination. My friend Jordi carefully prepared his camera to do a good photograph series of the event, and the results were impressive. When the eclipse was about to be full, it was great to see a miriad of stars appear in the sky, previously hidden by the perfect full moonlight. We were just too lucky that the weather fixed up just on time to have a completely clear sky.

The lunar eclipse, as seen from the Catalan countryside. Pics by Jordi Jover.

Many were quite tired by 3 or so, so we started setting up tents and went to sleep by 4. Sunday was a slow day, dedicated to cleaning up our stuff and eating leftovers cooked on a new fire. We were back in València at 8PM or so and even after showering and cleaning my hair with shampoo, my head still smelled like smoke. Actually, I think it might still smell a tiny bit today.

In short, a lovely weekend, which I hope to repeat next year. Too bad the lunar eclipse bit will be missing for quite a few more years. :)