justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Merce Merce Me

It's a rainy day in Barcelona, which is a good excuse to post all my pictures from last weekend's Merce festival. Apparently it's not a good enough excuse for me to think of anything entertaining to write about the festival. 

This 3D mapping wasn't as good as the show we saw in February (which was a repeat of 2011 Merce), but it was still mind-blowing. We saw the Sagrada Familia 3D mapping, which was impressive mainly because they had giant cranes holding and moving the projector, but . Here's a video of the Sagrada Familia show and full video of the Sant Jaume show. 

Here's some castelleros: 

And some more correfoc photos:

I'm not actually hitting this girl. I swear.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Haircuts & Gangsta Baby Tees

I wrote a post on the blog of my favorite alt-monthly Barcelona newspaper, BCN mes. Check it out if you want a very quick read - or if you want to know what 3 euros will fetch you in Barcelona's grimiest barrio. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Q & A

Question: Let's say I'm too lazy to walk to my garbage can and/or I find it more gangsta to carelessly throw a small piece of trash out of my fifth floor window. That's OK because it will burn up in the earth's atmosphere before it hits the ground. Right? 

Answer: (as I experienced the other day) Holy shit. What the hell was that?! Can I still see out of my right eye? I really don't think so. What type of asshole would throw a tiny piece of plastic from his balcony? How did this piece even manage to land between my glasses and eyeball. OK my vision is starting to come back. I guess the earth's atmosphere doesn't disintegrate stuff at this level. So I think the answer to my initial question is, No... Unless that nearly blinding piece of plastic came from the fourth floor or lower, then I'll never know. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Best. Photo. Studio. Ever.

Yesterday I was stopped in my tracks by the photo above, which was in a studio's storefront window. I spent a solid 3 minutes staring at it, as well as other almost-as-amazing productions in the shop. After a good night's sleep (that was not spent thinking about those two little boys or their micro-family), I've decided these are my top five favorite things about the photo:

5. The skeleton shirt on the kid on the left.
4. The negative image of the flowers in the upper left hand corner.
3. Both kids looking in opposite directions. It's like a two-man version of being cross-eyed.
2. The fact that both kids survived (and danced through) a lightning tornado (see picture below).
1. The out-of-the-box thinking required to come up with the concept of shrinking down a different family photo and balancing it on the kid's knee. Bravo. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dead Turtles & Airports

How many dead pet turtles does it take for the Catalan government to put up a sign instructing people to stop abandoning turtles in the park?

At least twenty. 

That’s what I’m guessing based off some elementary reducing and deducing of the sign’s fact that says: “95% of the turtles abandoned in the park end up dead.”

After that sobering fact the sign concludes: “Don’t abandon turtles, think before you buy them.”

...Unless you're a lucky 5 percenter who buys an invincible turtle. 


In July the New York Times wrote about Castellon’s ghost airport. The entire article is fascinating, but in short it profiles the completion of a $375,000 statue honoring the project’s founder Carlos Fabra. He’s the same man who was the “driving force” behind he airport project which cost $183 million and has still not had a single flight. Also the same man who, "was placed under judicial investigation this year in connection with several cases of corruption and tax evasion."

The entire project was a microcosm of the incredibly wasteful spending that landed Spain in its recession. Oh and the guy who built the statue, Juan Ripollés, "is saying that he was forced to spend $155,000 of his own money and 'empty the pockets of my children' to complete a work that, he said, ended up costing about $600,000."

In a hilarious follow-up yesterday, Barcelona’s La Vanguardia reports that in two months time, the statue is covered in rust. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Correfoc-ing Without Ninny

Last night I attended my second fire run. 

There was only one correfoc team participating, as opposed to billion that came out for Gracia's festival. This meant there wasn’t as many chances to dance around with the fire runners and wonder if the fun actually outweighs the pain as any square-centimeter of exposed skin is repeatedly singed by hundreds of flickering firework embers. 

There also wasn’t a dude walking around with a 2-liter bottle of a mysterious flammable liquid that he would gulp, then spit in the air to form massive fire bombs. 

There also were no floats covered in an obscene amount of fireworks that would somehow sneak up behind you, then detonate with enough decibels to keep your ears ringing for a solid 24 hours. 

And tragically, there was no sparkling Ninny (RIP, Rest In Phoenix). 

But this run took place 100 yards from my front door and aside from a date with an icecream sandwich, I had nothing else going on at 11 pm last night. 

The performers known as the Diables de Casc Antic put on a solid show that also doubled as a recruiting performance.

How can I join these guys? Do they have practice runs? How knowledgeable are they about fireworks? How does one join a correfoc team? Exactly how fun is it to wear cheesy 1980s-neon-green-shades, go up to two homeless guys and spray them with sparks? So many questions.

Also on Saturday night Sarah and I attended the kiddie-run-fire-run. Turns out they give any kid old enough to hold a pitchfork (Sarah’s expert eye estimates there were 4-year-olds) the exact same fireworks they give adults. 

The little tike in action.
The tike-ito prepping on the left. 
Grown adults.
Sarah shielding herself and ruining my picture.
Correfoc supernova.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Correfoc-ing With Ninny

A while back my friend told me that during Barcelona’s Merce festival people run down the streets with massive sparklers while non fire-covered-pedestrians try to tackle the fire runners. 

My friend greatly exaggerates a lot, but I figured that even if 30% of that was true, I should try to convince some of my friends to come out here because in the United States we’re deprived of parades of fire. 

Unfortunately there’s no Bolt Bus that goes from NYC to Barcelona. Plus most my friends have real jobs and/or lives. 

Fortunately my brother Ninny barely has either, so he was able to come kick it in Barcelona for a month and a half. Yet somehow he booked his ticket so that he would tragically leave just before Merce. 

I was upset for him, for me, and for Xavier Trias. But then I learned that the neighborhood of Gracia would be having their own correfoc (fire run) while Ninny was here. 

So we checked the schedule. Fire run for kids at 8 pm. Adult fire run at 9. (I’m kinda pissed that I missed the kiddie fire run just because I wanted to see what a kiddie fire run involves. 

But the adult firerun was more insane than I could have imagined, even if the rules prohibited the tackling of fire runners. 

Good news is that my neighborhood is hosting a fire run this weekend and then next week, we’ll have another for Merce. 

I’ll let the picture describe the rest. 

I don't always fire run, but when I do, I wear a Brimley bandanna.
They don't play around.
This is Diddy in a Hype Williams video. It's also how I felt when people would spit fire bombs in the air. 
This is how I actually looked (me crouching in the left corner).
A sparkling Ninny.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

AI, Watermelons & Toothpaste


My brother and I recently went to Naples, Italy. It was hot. The city was gross. The pizza was amazing. Here's an even quicker photo summary of my trip. 

I didn't really enjoy Pompeii, but it was worth it just to see this guy wear a goofy Iverson jersey. 

I don't like watermelons, but I imagine this little girl dislikes them more than me. 

One night we came back to the apartment we were renting and there was a lanky African dressed in only his boxer briefs eating pasta at the dining room table. Apparently he lived in one of the bedrooms that we weren't renting. 

We introduced ourselves to Ali through a mixture of English, Italian, and Spanish that didn't work at all. He was extremely kind and really anxious to talk to us, so he raced over to his laptop and spent a solid 2 minutes typing something into Google Translator. Then he showed me the translated result and the question was "How are you?"

I gave him a thumbs up and told him "good."

Before we departed, Ali requested to be my Facebook friend and of course I accepted. When I got home I checked out his page and saw this picture with a caption in French that roughly translates to: "Shit's hard, man." 

Indeed, it is. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Barcelona Barons

A few weeks ago I was pretty wiped out by a fever. My head felt like it was full of lava and when I tried to leave my house I felt like I was going to pass out. 

However the night before my friend, Betrand, told me he wanted to paint a stencil of Michael Jordan playing baseball on my neighbor's roof. And when you're a guy who has seen about 80% of Exit Through the Gift Shop and your French-born graffiti-happy friend asks you if he can paint Jordan swinging at a grenade, you don't let a little fever get in your way. 

You also don't question why he's swinging at a grenade. 

That's why I spent that night hopping across roofs, helping him hold a stencil, while he painted up MJ. 

I'd say my performance was really similar to Jordan's famed flu game, except I didn't score 38 points in an NBA finals game, I just leaped across a few roofs to help a Frenchman put up a stencil of MJ in a spot that can maybe be seen by 12 people in all of Barcelona. 

The very fact that Betrand aka MAIN (except the the A is upside in his official tags) made a Birmingham-Barons-era MJ stencil was a bit odd to me as Betrand's normal stencils consist of the Monopoly guy shooting lasers from his eyes to destroy nearby objects. Now our neighbor's roof has one of those too.

Also Betrand is not a baseball or basketball fan and his knowledge of the NBA is minimal. Oui Oui to Tony Parker and Joakim Noah, no to Boris Diaw and Mickael Pietrus (or any basketball-playing Pietrus). 

To answer Gould's question, I'm not sure he takes requests, but I'll fly him out to Phoenix to whip up a stencil of Boris Diaw in a Suns uni doing something street-arty... like eating an atomic bomb. 

Also here's my international street art debut (the shitty WPM, not the scary looking cat).


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Part 20: San Sebastian

After our first round of pintxos, we took a little break to watch the sun set over San Sebastian’s second bay. Actually Sarah watched the sun set and I tried to inconspicuously peek behind Sarah at the relatively cute lesbian girls who were making out. 

It got me thinking that the same way a pre American Civil Rights Movement generation was deprived of the privilege of watching Lebron-James bowl through defenders and throw down a frightening-yet-beautiful dunk. I’ve been deprived of witnessing other relatively cute lesbians make out by society’s bias against homosexuality. 

And the fact that that thought made sense to me in San Sebastian is a testament to the city’s spell-binding beauty and cuisine that leaves you incapable of forming rational ideas.

Other things that hopefully make more sense

• We stayed in the apartment of a guy who was from Bahia Blanca (the Argentine city that lead me to Paul McPherson), which gave me the feeling I never needed of the trip coming full circle with my last continent-transversing excursion. 

• Our last night in San Sebastian, we stared at the city from the end of the bay, while a guy fished in moonlight behind us. 

Once he caught one I ran over to be a silly tourist and take a picture of the fish's flailing body. Then he covered it with a small white cloth and said “golpe de muerte” death blow and karate chopped it to death. I thought that was a pretty solid ending to the trip. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Part 19: Bilbao

Bilbao played host to two of the strangest sequences of my life:

Rushing for the Blues:
6:45 Show up in Bilbao, our airbnb host invited us to a Blues festival that night in a old fisherman’s village just outside Bilbao. This sounded good, so we accepted. He told us we’d have to leave by 8:00 to get tickets. We needed to hit the market before it closed and wash the waterfall off us, but this still seemed do-able.

6:50 We discuss how we’re getting to the concert venue. Initially I thought our host, Imanol would drive us. Then we went over the plans once more and realized that Imanol wanted us to drive him because he planned on drinking heavily that night. I ignored how bizarre this plan was and told him that our car only has two seats and wouldn’t be able fit him and his wife and that I too might enjoy an adult beverage on the evening.

6:55 He speed walks us to the market. Once inside he says, “Tell me what you want and I’ll run and show you where it is, we don’t have any time to waste.” Sarah and I buy a frozen pizza to quickly eat before the show.

7:15 We’re back home. I’m wondering why Imanol didn’t bother to tell us that his oven was broken as I’m watching a frozen pizza dethaw in the microwave.

7:20 Imanol tells me that he will make us dinner and we’ll share, he then asks if Americans are normally stingy with food and makes a crumpled up gross face calling Americans stingy. I tell him we’re not and we like sharing. He makes this weird face at me two more times. I’m not sure why.

7:30 Sarah and I are ready for a night of Basque Blues. Imanol is still a ways away from being done with dinner. He’s sweating profusely as he runs around the tiny kitchen. Sarah thinks he’s on cocaine. I think he’s just crazy.

7:50 Imanol’s wife, Maria, comes home from working her second job as Imanol in unemployed. She’s a firey Columbian who immediately changes Imanol’s smooth blues to meringue.

8:10 Maria sets the table. The placemats are mini holographic posters depicting disjointed scenes of wildlife. My placemat changes from vibrant tropical toucans to wild deer running in a field. Sarah’s is an elephant in the African safari that changes into a bottlenose dolphin.

8:15 We all squeeze around a small table in an insanely small kitchen. Imanol shows off a his bottle of olive oil for the sixth time and he speaks of his salad as if he were Da Vinci showing off the Mona Lisa.

8:30 Sarah and I are baffled as to what happened to the crazy sense of rush. Maria recommends dessert and Imanol begins to cut pineapple. Maria brings our a large black portfolio from their bedroom. She then asks Sarah what her name is and says, “Justin, Sarah look at what else I do.”

Then she reveals charcoal-drawn portraits of little boys and girls, and a 1950s American actress that Sarah and I had never heard of. After flipping through six or seven, she thumbs to one of a dark-skinned, curly-haired boy. “This one is my son,” she says introducing him for the first time.

8:45 There’s a knock at the door. Imanol says it’s Ruben, Gloria’s son. The teenage Ruben enters and we throw him holas through the wall. He never responds and he’s gone. I’m left to wonder what is going on as I stare into my toucan/deer eyes.

I feel like we're in The Room where characters walk in and out with any context or explanation.

8:55 We all leave for the metro station to head to the jazz show.

8:57 Imanol stops at a toy store window to point out the model cars he’s fond of.

9:10 On the train Imanol talks to us as if we represent all of America. He asks why all Americans are fat, despite the fact that Sarah and I are both thin and he has a massive gut.
He says he was grateful that Americans saved Europe from the Germans in WWII, but he didn’t like our involvement in Vietnam. 

He says he can read English easily, but he has much trouble speaking it. He asks me why English is pronounced so much different than it’s spelled. I tell him I’m not sure. 

9:50 The 10-minute train ride Imanol promised turned out to be closer to 40 minutes. We walk over to the jazz show which is about halfway over. 

Tickets are still available. At this point Imanol says he’s doesn’t really feel like going any more and mentions that he already went the past two nights.

Halftime Break to Talk About Bilbao:

The Guggenheim is cool, but in terms of cool modern structures I saw on the Iberican Peninsula, I’d throw it at third behind Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias and the Casa da Musica.

Their river is gross.

Their old town (Casco Viejo) is nothing special.

Sequence Two (these time are even looser than the other one)

4:50 Sarah and I sit outside a bar on a busy Casco Viejo street sipping some vino and munching on a pintxo.

4:55 Everyone at our bar stares at a drunk woman at the neighboring bar who is laying on the ground under a table near a dog. Above the table are two guys. One wears a Kelly green polo, the other has a shaved head, reflective aviators and a tight-fitting grey polo with the collar popped. (I'm pretty sure this is the standard issue European outfit given to homosexuals once they've come out of the closet.) Also above the table is a normal-looking dude and a punk-rock-styled girl, who is floor-girl's friend.

4:56 I suggest to Sarah that she might be blowing the dog. Sarah says they’re making out.

4:57 You can clearly see dogs mouth and eyes. I think I’m right.

4:58 The woman takes her shirt and bra off

4:58:10 The dog is humping something…For a long time. Everyone on the street is watching.

4:58:30 I snap a couple pics.
Bestiality in Bilbao