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New Year's Revolutions

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

It’s hard to tell which Americanisms will get adopted in foreign lands and I suppose it’s even more difficult to predict just how these foreign trends will morph as they become fixed in the host culture. Unfortunately, these days it seems that my old neighbor to the south is exporting less Thomas Jefferson and more baggy pants and Miley Cirus. Even things that don’t necessarily originate in the good 'ol US of A often get rebranded in Hollywood and are exported via the latest blockbuster. A perfect example is Santa. The popular myth that Coca Cola turned the monk from Turkey red still holds fast with many but the influence the Americans have had on the figure the Dutch call Sinterklaas can’t be denied. Spanish cabalgatas de reyes (xmas parades) are far from being under threat but the fat man’s presence here in Spain grows every year. I’m always amazed at how easily Santa and the semi-autochthonous Reyes Magos coexist together in the minds of the great majority of Spanish children, but I suppose when you are getting presents from two sources, why ask questions? One holiday tradition that is particularly popular in the Anglo-Saxon world and that hasn’t really taken root here in Spain is the insistence on making New Year’s resolutions every year and then shouting them out to everyone who will listen. I guess I have seen some of the Spanish press taking AP lines and adapting them to the local market but they never really venture deeper than quitting smoking and improving your English. Reflection, while seemingly unpopular amongst the political class here, isn’t a bad thing and at times it can help when trying gain a clearer perspective on things to come...when bread and circuses no longer cut it. A new year lay ahead of us after more than half a decade of very hard times. There’s talk of brotes verdes (green shoots) but on the streets where I live and work, I only see the rain that continues to fall in Extremdura. It’s time to ask questions, and not about the provenance of Balthazar and crew nor whether Saint Nicolas is a CIA plot. Tough questions that uncover answers to why we’ve fallen so far need to be asked and a little more investigation into the who. Here’s to hoping the new year brings to Spain a little more Greenwald and Woodward and a little less American Idol.


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