Friday, June 25, 2004

Get this bit of Forum incongruency. One of the sponsors is the Damm company, makers of fine beers like Estrella. Their bottom-of-the-line beer, their Old Milwaukee or Busch, is Xibeca (shee-BECK-uh), which is sold mostly in liter bottles for about 90 cents-1 euro by supermarkets everywhere in Catalonia. It's drunk by basically two classes of people: working-class folk who prefer a liter of beer rather than a liter of vino de mesa on the dinner table, and teenagers looking to get hammered for cheap.

(Note: Xibeca is lightly alcoholic, 4.5%, and doesn't taste like much. It's actually quite similar to, say, Busch or Old Style or High Life if you get it real cold. Estrella, one grade up but basically still a proletarian beer, is 5.4%, standard for Spanish lager beers. Damm makes a prestige brand called Voll-Damm, which I used to like--it's now much too strong for my taste--that's 7.2%, and another prestige brand called A.K. Damm, which is 4.8% and is a lager made according to the German law so it has no artificial additives. I actually like A.K. Damm.)

(Ironic Note Number Two: Damm is currently running some ads that are meant to make the viewer hearken back to the good old days of the 1870s. See, the company was allegedly founded in 1876. Half the screen shows people dressed in late Victorian clothes whooping it up and drinking Damm beer, in black and white, and the other half shows people of today whooping it up wearing modern garb. The ad has a few shots of workers producing Damm beer in the good old days and today. It ends with an 1870s Damm deliveryman providing a case for a 2004 bartender; they each pull out a bottle, clink them together, and take a good ol' healthy swig. The point of the ad, of course, is to identify Damm with the good ol' days and to make the viewer think, "Hey, it was good stuff then, it's good stuff now."

Now, there are several problems with this ad. First, it shows viewers that beer has helped people party down for a very long time. This is absolutely true. It's also, however, not exactly the image we're trying to project--"Drink Estrella! Get wasted! Boogie till you barf! Party till you puke!". I was under the impression that alcohol manufacturers had this thing about, like, encouraging drinking in moderation.

And, second, the Damm company had absolutely horrible labor relations back in the old days, when the owners were old-style dictatorial exploitative robber barons and the workers were a bunch of anarchists who kept going on strike and sabotaging the works and assassinating people they didn't approve of.

Oh, yeah, third, I thought we weren't supposed to make drinking attractive to teenagers. Hell, the ads Estrella has been running for the last ten years make it look attractive to six-year-old children.

Anyway, if you save up twelve Xibeca labels, you get into the Forum for free. Good deal. Assuming each Xibeca costs you a buck, you get in for twelve euros AND you get the beer you were probably going to drink anyway. That's a lot better than the twenty-whatever euros they're charging at the gate, without even the twelve quarts of beer included.

However, should a beer company be a sponsor of a human rights love and peace multiculti whooptedo? (Or an arms manufacturer, Indra, I might add.) One would think the peaceniks would discourage drinking, on the ground that it's a wase of money that could be better spent on the drinker's family, that alcohol consumption makes many people violent and aggressive, and makes everybody stupid, and the fact that consumption of large quantities is very bad for your health.

And, especially, I love the twelve liters you have to buy (and, presumably, either drink or bestow on the homeless) to get the free entrance. Two liters is a little bit less than a six-pack, so that would make a case and a half of beer, six six-packs. I have to drink a case and a half of beer if I want to take advantage of this offer. If I want to get my wife in, too, I have to drink three cases. That can't possibly be good for me, but the Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 is actually encouraging me to drink three cases of beer! You have to love Spain.

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