Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Monet’s garden, Part II

They were ready for me in Giverny since all the flowers were on the purple end of the color spectrum. Also, they were trying to kill me since my allergies had a party all over my face with so much pollen around. Still, totally worth the trip. Next time, I’ll pack antihistamines.

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Surprise flower: one that looks like the Catalan flag!

Monet Catalan flag flower


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Barcelona primer

My top recommendation to people going to Barcelona is to visit the Palau de la Música Català since it doesn’t get enough love. Antoni Gaudí was great, but after living in BCN for a while, I actually grew to like the work of his Modernisme contemporary Lluís Domènech i Montaner better and the Palau is his most impressive work.

The downside is that it’s owned by a private foundation so the only way to see inside it is to take their tour. Despite what the website says, there isn’t an English tour guide available for all the advertised times, so I stress that you need to get there early and sign up for whatever English slot they have. If you’re a brave soul, sign up for whatever time is available as just looking at all the details (like blown glass on the bannisters) will be enough.

My favorite part, the stained glass sun ceiling.

My favorite part, the stained glass sun ceiling.

You also can’t take photos inside since the foundation owns the copyright on all images, but Rob Whitworth somehow managed to get in and included many shots in this great Barcelona video. The Palau part starts at 48 seconds in.

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Barcelona GO! from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.


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December means time for Catalan shit!

I was very happy to receive the following photo from friends of mine who now live in Maryland.

"I can't wait to shit something good!"

“I can’t wait to shit something good!” thinks the caga tió

They’ve taking the Catalan tradition of the shitting guy that I shared with them to a new country, with a new generation (they’ve got two kids). I am very pleased that my teachings have reached this far.


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Feliç diada de Sant Jordi

I usually don’t commemorate holidays here, but I’ve had this post scheduled for months just so I could share this lovely rose with you.

Genetically engineered Catalan flag rose

Genetically engineered Catalan flag rose

Sant Jordi (St. George) is the patron saint of Catalunya and every year, the whole country (region, if you’re nationalist) celebrates with an all-day party. Men traditionally give women flowers and women give men books. These activities are practically compulsory and the sidewalks and plaças are taken over completely by people selling both gifts from stands large and small. (Click for bigger images.)

Obviously, I think the men get the better end of the bargain since a book is a great gift and flowers are stinky and dead, but, when in Rome…

Over the years I was teaching in Barcelona, I got a lot of roses on Sant Jordi like the one above. It was actually kind of cute to get one from little boys since I was clearly the first non-relative to receive one. (When I got home, I’d always give them to my roommates.)

Travel watch

Mid-April is a perfect time to visit Barcelona. The weather is very good (it supposedly never rains on Sant Jordi) and people are in high spirits because the city looks beautiful all decked out in flags and ribbons and books.


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Vehicular Identity Crisis

This is a bit sillier than my usual fare but my sixth sense picked up a bumper sticker proclaiming Catalan allegiance… as well as a whole lot of other stuff.

Sybil's car?

Sybil‘s car?

Let’s take a look at what we have here:

  • The Catalan symbol, above the VW logo, is of an ass (no comment).
  • A sash with the colors of the Italian flag and “Italia” written across it.
  • A Grateful Dead sticker.
  • A newt (?).
  • A prancing bull.
  • An American flag above an Italian one, indicating some kind of unity/coalition.
  • An Airborne sticker, possibly referring to a “multi-cultural contemporary jazz group” in Connecticut.

Learn something

The prancing bull may be an allusion to Spain, though no one would claim to be both Catalan and Spanish.

Many people believe the bull, specifically the bull pictured below, to be the official symbol of Spain but it’s not. This macho bóvido was originally a billboard for a Spanish alcohol company called Osborne which is pronounced Ohz-BOAR-neh because Spanish people are ridiculous.

"Macho" is the Spanish word for "male" and came to have its meaning in English because... well look at the size of his machismo.

“Macho” is the Spanish word for “male” and came to have its meaning in English because, well, just look.