Sunday, May 13, 2007

Kansas City had a big old prostitution-slavery roundup last week and ten people were arrested in lovely suburban Johnson County for importing Chinese women to work at "massage parlors" where sex for a price was on the menu. We have these all the time in Barcelona, too, though it's not always China where the women come from; I have it on some authority that most hookers in Barcelona today are Latin Americans. There aren't many Spanish hookers, at least not anymore.

The solution, of course, is to legalize prostitution in brothels in certain designated areas far from family neighborhoods; for example, in Kansas City I'd put them down in the industrial River Bottoms and in Barcelona I'd put them in the Zona Franca. You do that and you can also run medical checks on the prostitutes, besides keeping them off the streets, charging them taxes, keeping the pimps and the Mob out of it, and cutting down tremendously on murders of prostitutes.

By the way, I read somewhere that newspapers like Catholic Catalan conservative La Vanguardia get 5-10% of their income from the prostitution classified ads they run in the quaintly titled "Relax" and "Relaciones" sections. They ought to be a little ashamed of themselves.

A quick look through today's hooker ads shows that there's a lot of supply in the market, with prices as low as €20 for a "completo," whatever that is. Several ads stress that the woman is "white" or "Spanish" or "Catalan." Several explain the perversions they are willing to perform with you, including "French," "Greek," "Thai," and "Burmese." A few stress that they are willing to kiss customers, which prostitutes apparently do not normally do. There are some ads for male prostitutes and others for transvestites, which are unusually popular in Spain for some reason. Personally, transvestites gross me out; they're a bizarre caricature of real women.

Front page banner headline today in La Vangua: Mr. Formula One extended his contract to hold car races at the Montmeló racetrack outside Barcelona until 2016. Meanwhile, Mr. Formula One also said he had been misunderstood and had not tried to blackmail Valencians into voting for the PP over Formula One racing in Valencia. they are having a big hairy Formula One race at Montmeló today and there are something like 120,000 people out there.

FC Barcelona is just about to crash and burn. Real Madrid currently holds a one-point lead with one more game than Barça, who play Betis tonight in the Camp Nou. They had better win, after the Copa del Rey debacle in Getafe. The only title still open to them is the League, and if they don't win it I think there might be a housecleaning. Gossip around here is that Barcelona's practice sessions are too soft and the players, especially Ronaldinho, are out of shape.

One thing I remember Bill James saying was that baseball teams tend to switch back and forth between "players' managers" and disciplinarians. Frank is clearly a players' coach, and it might be time to bring in a tough guy for a couple of years. It also might be time to sell Ronaldinho, who is starting to look like a diva, or Deco, or both. I hate to get on Ronaldinho, he played so well for three years and won two leagues and a Champions, but if they sell him now they'll get a top price which they can invest in three or four younger players. Also, they need to clear a spot for Giovanni dos Santos, who is going to be a first-team player next year and may be a regular in two or three years. Also, if I were Barcelona, I'd sell off all my aging foreign players--Belletti, van Bronckhorst, Sylvinho, Edmilson, Giuly--and Motta, too. Yeah, I know they re-signed a few of these guys, but I wouldn't have.

Andy Robinson claims that people in Los Angeles were "horrorized" at Queen Elizabeth's "rigidity and coldness" when Princess Diana died. Uh, Andy, some Americans do pay some attention to the British royal family, but I don't think most folks in the US were particularly horrorized. Seems to me the overemotional reaction to Diana's death occurred in exactly one country, the UK, and it's cheating to try to hang Britain's moments of embarrassment on the Americans, too.

Al Gore and his acolytes have organized one of those big old PC music festivals about global warming called Live Earth for July 7; it will be held in seven cities simultaneously. Barcelona is not one of the cities, but guess what? They're going to have their own anyway! It's being billed as a "satellite concert," though from what I can tell it has no affiliation with the main organization. Two points. 1) It's not a free concert, you'll have to pay to get in 2) The city government is kicking in taxpayers' money for this political rally and self-promotional pseudo-event. They claim they might get Bruce Springsteen and Arnold Schwarzenegger to show up, along with Zap. Zap I'll believe.

Campaign news: Looks like the PP is going to repeat in Madrid and Valencia, both in the city and regional governments. Nothing else exciting.

Remember the characteristics of working-class Spanish men we were talking about the other day--you know, machismo, chulería, not getting down off your donkey, insisting you are right no matter what the evidence is, and the national motto, "We Laugh at Death"? Here's another illustration. Of course, the best part is when the guy complains that the road signs were confusing. Not only am I in the right, but it's society's fault!

Actually, he sort of has a point: Spanish road signs really are often confusing.

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