May 15, 2015
Juan Jose Padilla is the best bullfighter in the world, right now. He is blind in one eye and is known as El Ciclón or El Pirata de Jerez. Friday afternoon he won three ears for his efforts while his contemporaries earned no honors. La Feria en Jerez wouldn’t be complete without his amazing performance.
El Pirata fights the bull from his knees and puts on a spectacular show in his home town, Jerez de la Frontera.
May 13, 2015
La Feria in Jerez is definitely worth a long form article. But I think that I am going to have to try that article at a later date. You see, right now, La Feria is in full swing. I can’t miss too many of these moments because you never know when you are going to be able to live them. The video above doesn’t due the production value of La Feria proper justice because there are so many things that go into this event besides the massive construction tour de force that took place to squeeze an entire city into a park.
Let’s start with the lighting ceremony, or rather two weeks before. Some gitanas or gypsies basically took over the tree stump hangout behind the parking lot where I live. I am not going to make some grand claim of understanding gypsy culture but these guys were basically drinking all day and playing backgammon. They weren’t even loud with it. Then on Sunday when La Feria kicked-off, they started working and shit got real. You see normal Spaniards aren’t really for all that working crap during La Feria so it was a little suspicious when the folks known for never working started to work in overdrive.
(Only New Yorkers will appreciate these analogies: La Feria is like Saint Rocco’s Feast or San Gennaro’s Feast multiplied by Las Vegas.) Incredibly gorgeous gypsy women came out of nowhere selling flowers or balloons. Gypsy men were busying themselves with charging people to park in illegal parking spaces around La Feria. Then the old gypsy ladies roved La Feria grounds like gangs pushing flowers and romero on anybody inexperienced enough to make eye contact with them. The transformation was total, complete, and mind-altering.
I had to seek refuge in a caseta operated by the Jerez de la Frontera City Hall, and guess who was on the stage? Gitanas with jobs, again. Gypsies get their music on, and if you have ever heard sevillanas then you will understand what I am talking about. Never mind how the City Hall partnered with one of the most well-known sherry makers in Spain. That isn’t important right now. After all, we are in Spain and we have to live somehow. La Feria only comes once a year so forget your woes, get on a horse, and just watch this video.
May 10, 2015
This was certainly something. Samuel and I keep it real and show you how it is about to really go down at the biggest event of the year in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Again, the thing to remember is that La Feria hasn’t officially started yet but stuff like this has been going on for at least a week…
April 22, 2015
I guess you can file this under there is more than one way that white people can rob you of your life. They want to use fancy words like the justice system and due process and miscarriages of justice and the like, but make no mistake that this is racist oppression. An all white jury sent Anthony Ray Hinton, a black man, to death row for murders despite flimsy evidence and then refused to let him go.
Whether the black people swing from trees every time or not is a non-issue when you have the justice system in your pocket. Anthony Ray Hinton was poor and black and they took over thirty years from him. Should we blame the state of Alabama? I think that cases like this illustrate that it is a problem bigger than the individual states. The United States of America has a history of racist oppression and this happened in 1985.
The video is heartbreaking but still worth a look if you can stomach it. Democracy Now and Amy Goodman do a pretty good job of showing why if you are black and poor, white people can take your life with little consequences. Stay awake. Sure Anthony Ray Hinton was eventually exonerated after serving 30 years, but it was obvious to many people that he never committed these crimes way back in 1985. White people have been coming for black lives in the United States since this country was founded and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down.
Consider the prison system, the for-profit prison system, as conspirators in modern-day lynchings. Again, go back and read Michelle Alexander’s book.
April 11, 2015
I am told that in all of Andalusia people like to party in the street. Andalusian people are festive and they don’t need much reason to throw down at a moment’s notice. Dancing in the streets is common and the Flamenco style is apparently in their blood.
My family and I were walking down the street, minding our own business, and this elderly gentleman just started playing the guitar. Another stranger started to bang out a beat on a box that he found. Two ladies that were having lunch nearby started dancing. My wife joined in but I pretty much started filming like a tourist, even though the entire scene was reminiscent of African cultures.
People all over the world aren’t really that different, I suppose. If you are ever travelling through Spain, you might want to take part. The next big party in Andalusia is La Feria in Jerez and Seville in May. The people have been warming up since March, when this video was taken. The orange blossoms are filling the air with a sweet smell and the weather is already quite warm in the South.
We are going to get with you at a later date. You have got to come to Spain!
We stay on the primrose path at Jardín Escénico, Jerez De La Frontera.
April 8, 2015
Walter Scott was a United States Coast Guard veteran gunned down by the police in North Charleston, South Carolina after a traffic stop due to a broken tail light.
By now everyone in America has seen the video of the white police officer that killed Walter Scott, and so I won’t post it again here. I would like to point out the similarities between the victim and myself, if you would permit me.
It turns out that we are both United States Coast Guard veterans. I also lived in North Charleston, South Carolina for a spell. I’ve had a busted tail light in my car, on more than one occasion -and I suspect that most people that own cars can say the same. Walter Scott and I have both had issues with child support. We are also both African-Americans -or black, if you will.
The United States of America can be a very scary place if you are black. I can totally understand why Walter Scott could have been frightened for his life especially if he had issues with child support. There are many mistakes that can be made in the family courts in America and it is not inconceivable to have a warrant issued for your arrest until you are able to get those matters straightened out. (In my case the warrant turned out to be erroneous.) Whether the child support issues were valid or not, every time a black person is confronted by a white law enforcement official in America there is a higher chance that a life can be permanently ruined than if that black person happened to be white. This is now my new Exhibit A of why I had to leave the United States of America.
The USA just isn’t safe for me anymore.
I was willing to risk it when I had a high-paying, six figure income that afforded me the luxuries and privileges that I felt insulated me from this kind of racist oppression. However, as soon as I lost that job I realized that I was too black and poor to be taking my life into my own hands just by staying in a country that has a rich history of various types of white supremacy. It wasn’t worth the risk anymore. I wanted to live to be able to raise my kids, and you just can’t do that from the grave. I can’t think of too many other countries in this world that have the same murderous track record against people that look like me -regardless if they have ever had any other trouble with the law or society. The United States of America was practically founded on racist oppression, so it was logical for me want to leave despite having every right to stay. Living is more important than money and it is hard to pursue any type of happiness when you never know if you will be confronted by police.
It doesn’t matter how respectable you are in America: if you are black, this sort of thing can happen to you. If it were not for the video of the murder submitted by some hero, we would probably be talking about Walter Scott in the same manner in which people talk about Michael Brown of Ferguson. Any way you cut it, this sort of thing happens way too often in the United States of America. I don’t have the stomach or the patience to name all of the black people that have been gunned down. I just don’t think that all of this is a coincidence anymore, also.