Els Masturbadors Mongòlics Brought Punk to Fascist Spain
Barcelona’s Masturbadors Mongòlics are Spanish punk’s lost boys. The band were together for just a year, right around the time that democracy was making its first baby steps on the Iberian Peninsula after the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. The foursome liked alcohol, they liked amphetamines and they liked getting in fights; they only lasted a year and you can count their gigs on one hand, but the legacy of their antics still reverberates today.
When Franco died in 1975, Spain was sent into a state of commotion. After four decades of the dictator’s iron rod making its way into every sphere of Spanish life, it was hardly surprising that, with freedom came huge social, political, and cultural upheavals. Many people had been slightly brainwashed by his regime and the dictatorship still had a bit of bite—five political dissidents were executed in 1975, two ETA militants and three from the antifascist group FRAP—but everyone knew it was on its last legs.
This allowed for the emergence of a nascent counterculture: a belated, disoriented version of what had happened in England and America during the previous decade—prog-rock, hippies, Mao’s “little red book”, Robert Crumb, weed and, if you were lucky, LSD. It probably felt progressive to the Spanish, but it showed Spain for exactly what it was during the mid-70s: a country at least a decade behind the rest of Western Europe.
Spanish Squats in Andalusia
Faced with the harshest cuts to public services in the history of Spanish democracy, workers in Andalusia are going through an undeniably shitty time. Unemployment in the southern autonomous region is around 36 percent—much higher than the national average of about 26—and the labor reforms that allowed corporations to fire huge swaths of the workforce without severance pay only made things worse. The victims of this climate of economic gloom have struck back by occupying abandoned homes, as thecorralas have done, or staging mass protests and strikes a la the Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores (Andalucian Workers Union).
Inspired by the communitarian village of Marinaleda, whose revolutionary bearded mayor is also the president of the SAT—and its sister organization the Sindicato Obreros de Campo (Farm Workers Union)—have been expanding their operations across the region over the last couple years. This includes highly publicized “raids” on supermarkets in places like Seville, Malaga, and Cordoba.
Watch Episode 4 of VICE on HBO Now, for Free
Our Emmy-nominated HBO show recently wrapped up its first season, and complaint numero uno that we got throughout its run was: “I reaaaalllyyy want to watch your show, but I don’t have HBO.” Well, your cries have been heard. Yesterday we released the first episode on VICE.com, and today, right here on the page you’re on right now, we’re airing the fourth episode. Next Monday and Tuesday we’ll release episodes nine and ten, respectively.
In epsiode four of VICE, Thomas Morton investigates China’s dating customs, where old-fashioned courtship has been replaced by lucrative matchmaking businesses, and Shane Smith travels to Greece and Spain to see how the youth are responding to Europe’s crippling financial crisis.
Barcelona’s Ideological Shoplifting Movement
The world’s economy is still fucked. And ever since the West went into an economic meltdown in 2008, anticonsumerist sentiment has been steadily on the rise—presumably because you kinda have to eschew materialism when you’ve got the spending power of a Dickensian chimney sweep. But while proletariats in the US have largely settled for memories of Zuccotti Park and organizing “buy-nothing days,” the Catalan civil disobedience movement Yomango has been getting out there, actively raging against consumerism since 2002. How? Through a campaign of ideological shoplifting.
Spawned in Barcelona by your usual black-bloc types and those hash-smoking crusties you see hanging around Thompkins Square with dogs on ropes, Yomango is Spanish slang for “I steal,” as well as a pun on local clothing company, MANGO. Falling somewhere between social experiment and sixth-form political statement, the movement’s members claim that what they’re doing is raging against the machine.
Yomango practitioners pillage multinational franchises for five-finger discounts and turn their stolen winnings into feasts. These feasts are kind of like countercultural Christmas dinners, with those taking part sharing shoplifting tactics (which, handily, are also now available as instructional YouTube videos), exchanging loot, and discussing ways of turning throwaway junk into DIY thieving accessories. If you’re not using an alarm-detector-resistant handbag, or a jacket with “magic” pockets that disappears swiped goods, you’re not shoplifting like these pros.
Molly Crabapple, who you may remember from her previous posts, The World of a Professional Naked Girl, and Rubber Bullets in the Streets of Madrid is now officially doing a monthly column for us that will feature original writing and illustrations on a variety of subjects. Here’s her first one. Hopefully it will help ease the pain of your first day back to work (or whatever it is you’re doing).
"You never think this will happen to you. But life changes fast."
Anna, 36, is a cleaner who has been unemployed since Spain followed Greece into the vortex of the Eurozone crisis. Once homeless, she now lives at Corrala Utopia, one of Seville’s many squatted buildings. When we spoke, she was keeping watch over half a dozen children who also live at the squat, whilst their parents were out protesting in front of a local bank, IbjerCaja, which owns the building. The squatters wanted to pay for utilities, but the bank wouldn’t let them.
Corrala itself is an ugly, boxy apartment block, in the architectural style of all building booms, humanized by a blanket of graffiti. “Stop Evictions. No Light, No Water, No Fear.” Thirty families live there. When we walked up their pitch dark stairways, It felt like climbing seven flights of unlit stairs to my own New York apartment, which a week before had had its power knocked out by Hurricane Sandy. Anna’s apartment was filled with toys, a flat-screen TV, sofas. The relics of a middle class life.
The squatters I’d known in the US had been stoned crustpunks or dedicated activists, but most of them squatted by choice. In crisis-crushed Seville, squatting was necessity. Blue collar moms in neat lace collars acted like the most hardcore radicals. Because they have no money, they could do nothing else.
The city of Seville is so broke that it hasn’t paid its civil servants for six months. Nonetheless, it spent ten thousand euros digging up the sidewalk and cutting Corrala’s water main to try and force the squatters out. Now, Anna’s kids have to make five trips a day to haul water jugs up those dark stairwells.
"Life is hard here." said Anna. "You see 10-year old kids gathering water from the fountain, like it was the 19th century. I’m ashamed for my country."
These Boobs Kill Capitalists
What with the overthrowing of the Spanish government not really happening and skulls getting cracked left, right, and center, the 25-S protests in Madrid last week turned out to be a bit of a bummer. However, there was one image that shone like a ray of karmic light through all the police brutality and debris of smashed dreams. Or actually a bunch of images, most of which were taken by pervy Spanish photographers, who may or may not have been suffering from pee-filled kettle boners.
But whatever, let’s not ruin the moment:
Through her profile on Modelmayhem, I tracked down Jill Love: model, actress, independent filmmaker, and the best publicist Spain’s anti-capitalist indignados movement could ever hope for.
VICE: Hi Jill. You’re a Catalan-born American filmmaker who lives in Santa Fe. Is that right? Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
Jill Love: I’m Catalan, I was born in Tarragona. At the age of 18, I moved to Madrid to start a new life. At the age of 26, I moved to the United States to start another new life. I’m still moving and I’m still having new adventures every day.
Clearly. Did you expect the photographers to go so wild?
Not at all. I was on my knees in front of the police, praying to Isis. My eyes were closed. When I opened them I was surrounded by many photographers. It all got a little out of control. I left once it got too crazy.
Have you been getting much attention since the protest?
Yes, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed with the situation, to be honest.
What’s the reaction been like from the rest of the 25-S protesters?
Loads of people understood that my act was one of LOVE and PEACE. Others think it’s an easy way to get attention.
Here in Spain we have these things called “siestas.” They’re awesome. We get to take a break from work in the early afternoon to take a nap or masturbate or go to the bar. It also gives us an excuse to be late with a lot of our contributions to the US office because we can be all, “Oh, sorry, we were siesta-ing hard as fuck. Must’ve lost track of the time,” and they can’t say anything because it’s like one of our cultural traditions or whatever, and if they gave us shit about it we could probably have them arrested for a hate crime.
Read the rest at Vice Magazine: JOAN FONTCUBERTA’S META-ILLUSIONS - Viceland Today