Besides the question of where we're going to get water from this summer, everybody's talking about the Barça again. TV3 and La Vanguardia are both reporting that Pep Guardiola will replace Frank Rijkaard next season as Barça's coach. It's about time, really; Rikjaard had a great run, including two Leagues and a Champions, and Barça is still alive in this year's Champions, though Valencia eliminated them from the Spanish Cup and they're about dead in the League. But it's obviously time for a total housecleaning, and a new coach with a new system is a necessary part of that.
It's difficult for Americans to understand how big Barça is in this city. If you put together all the love and attention that Boston gives to its Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics, it still wouldn't approach the emotional commitment that Barça fans have to their team.
One important factor: FC Barcelona is owned by its 100,000 club members, who are ordinary Catalan citizens, and not by some millionaire from somewhere else, so fans feel like the team is their own property, which it is. All club members get a vote for club president, and club elections are fought just as hard as the ones for real political office.
Current Barça president Joan Laporta gets as much press coverage as Catalan premier Montilla and a lot more than Barcelona mayor Hereu. Whenever Laporta says something dumb, like the time he declared the "Catalan Republic of Barça," it makes the national news.
Another factor is that Barça is identified with a particular political perspective, Catalan nationalism (sometimes verging on Catalunacy) mixed with agin-the-gummint-in Madrid sentiment.
Oh, yeah, the other rumor is that Milan has proposed an Adriano-Ronaldinho trade. The problem is that Barça does not either need or want Adriano, another head case who gets hurt a lot.
Zap slammed the door, and this time it looks to be permanent, on the Segre-Llobregat aqueduct, meaning we're going to have to look for water somewhere else. The hotels and other tourist establishments are kicking up a fuss, since if we get to the point of actually cutting off the water a day or two a week, it's going to look just awful, totally Third World. They're already mad because they can't fill up their swimming pools.
It seems to me like the best solution is an aqueduct from the Rhone in France, the closest source of lots of fresh water. Yes, it will be expensive and the French will charge us out the ass and it will take several years to build. So what? Barcelona is like LA, more people live here than there's enough water to support, and importing water is a basic necessity. Some illustrious politicians should have actually gotten around to doing it several years ago, instead of just dicking around and chatting about it: it's not like importing Rhone water is precisely a new idea.
We've got another NIMBY-ecologist problem with infrastructure: the high-tension connection over the Pyrenees to the French electrical grid. The usual gang of Luddites have managed to delay this necessary connection for years; it would likely have prevented last summer's Great Barcelona Blackout. They're having demos and the like and protesting away as usual.
Big news from Bucharest and the NATO summit: Croatia and, get this, Albania are going to be admitted, while Macedonia, Ukraine, and Georgia will receive cooperation but not become members. Who'd have predicted that Enver Hoxha's hellhole would join NATO just two decades later? The Greeks want to keep Macedonia out; I vote we admit Macedonia and kick the Greeks out. NATO also gave full approval to American anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, and France will rejoin NATO's command structure as well as send 800 troops to Afghanistan. Fulsome congratulations to Nicolas Sarkozy.
La Vanguardia's take is, get this, that this is "bad news for Bush" because Ukraine and Georgia didn't get invitations to join. Huh? It sounds like the Americans got everything else they wanted.
Remember after the election when the PSOE claimed that Bush and Zapatero would hold a meeting at Bucharest, in which Bush would presumably throw himself at Zap's feet while ululating "Mea maxima culpa"? Yeah, right. Bush bumped into Zap in the hallway and said, "Hola, hola, felicitaciones," and walked off. The PSOE is at the point of "not ruling out the possibility" of a conversation between the two.
Wacky conspiracy theory of the week: The Competition Commission is accusing several food producers' associations of colluding to raise food prices. The thing is that food prices are up about the same amount in every country in the world, because of the high prices of petroleum and grain. Besides, the food-processing business is so fragmented and semi-localized that it would be virtually impossible to get so many independent producers to conspire against the consumers.