Over the course of the summer, I’ve encountered a number of large, mural-sized images on the free walls of Barcelona and the even freer walls of Copenhagen. Such larger-than-life images are a departure from the original photos that inspired me to start this blog. If you have the patience to scroll back to the first posts, you’ll notice that a majority of them are smaller pieces, hidden in shady side streets, images that are sometimes no bigger than my hand. As time goes on, I find myself passing the same images, and a zero-tolerance policy instituted by the local council seems to have had a somewhat chilling effect on the appearance of newer work. One notable exception would be the walls that form the “Murs LLiures” initiative, which have become a space for some brilliant, ever-changing mural work.
However, for me there’s still something extra-special about the non-sanctioned, non-commissioned work, the one put up under cover of darkeness, or with speed and stealth in addition to artistic skill. It’s for this reason that you’ll very rarely find pictures of the work done on the metal storefront shutters, as oftentimes this work was commissioned by the shopkeeper. This is in now way meant to say that I don’t appreciate their quality, but it’s not something I’ve ever considered for this blog. One notable exception is the project which decorated the shutters of my local market.
The images you find today were all taken on different mornings, and in different parts of the city.

The skater girl is a pasteup which is on a wall that faces the large plaza in front of the MACBA, and is one of the prime skate spots not only in Barcelona, but Europe. It is generally male-dominated, though it’s possible to see an occasional young woman rolling by. I wanted to include this as a tribute to all those aspiring skater girls.

The image of Jimi Hendrix blowing a bubble (since removed) was above a rubbish container in Gràcia’s PLaça de la Revolució, the same spot where I documented an earlier sighting of Jimi. The “slight return” in the title of the post is, of course, a nod to one of my favourite Hendrix tracks.

Finally, the image of the baby, which I had originally noted down as baby cop, has an interesting connection to another previous sighting of a law enforcement officer. The same hat appears in both. And it wasnt until just this morning that it dawned on me exactly what the baby was doing with the hat. I suppose that would explain that one-of-a-kind gron of satisfaction

This year’s August getaway once again took me north, this time to Copenhagen. The cool days and downright chilly evenings were a welcome change from the haze and crowds which dominate mid-August in Barcelona and Gràcia. I was initially a bit frustrated, as the city wasn’t as easy to navigate as I thought it would be when planning on the net and google maps, but later realized that I was in a city that was made first for citizens and later for tourists. The polar opposite of the Spanish model. I’m not at all surprised that this city was recently rated one of Europe’s happiest capitals. I could feel it on the streets, and it’s not an artificial, drunken, happiness, but rather a sense of peace and tranquility. I have to qualify this by saying I only spent 5 days in the city, and stayed in the well-gentrified, hipster-happy district of Vesterbro, and the nearby meatpacking district. The meatpacking district is now widely considered the new “cool” neighborhood, if what many travel blogs say is true. While it hasn’t become the overpriced hell which is NYC’s former meatpacking, as there are still butchers and meat distributors among the hour-wait-for-brunch restaurants, it’s probably destined to a similar fate. Speaking of food, it doesn’t come cheap, but you get what you pay for, and perhaps a bit more.
The trip’s biggest disappointment, and it wasn’t even a disappointment in the letdown sense, was the free zone of Christiania Freetown. It was interesting, but felt a bit past its prime. Nonetheless, I did manage to sneak a few shots of some of the interesting murals within.

Here are some more shots from my collection of this year’s Festes de Gràcia. These come from streets whose themes included musicals, the Amazon jungle (which was this year’s winner, Verdi) and a trip to Japan thanks to Plaça Rovira i Trias. I’ve also got some shots from Perla, which continued with the musical theme, though a bit more psychadelic in nature, which was accompanied by day with a concert featuring Rumba Catalana, a form of music born in the neighborhood of Gràcia and by night concerts that were a bit more rock n roll.

As a zombie buff, I was quite pleased to stumble upon carrer Progrés, which last year won the Grand prize for their Jurassic Park-themed decorations. While they didn’t take the prize this year (it went back to habitual winners carrer Verdi), in my book this display was the clear winner. It’s certainly not to everyone’s taste, and I heard some disapproving comments as I was walking through the display, but for me it brought back memories of childhood haunted houses, one of my favorite amusement park attractions.

I’ve accumulated an incredible amount of material over the last few weeks, between some trips through the center of Barcelona, the Festes de Gràcia and my 5-day mini vacation to Copenhagen, which is a treasure trove of interesting street art. However, for today’s post, I’ve decided to include this tribute to actor Robin Williams which appeared some time during the festivals last week. There was another tribute which formed part of a zombie-themed street decoration which I’ll be posting in the next few days as a part of my annual Gràcia festival feature.

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A little over a year ago, I posted this image from my neighbourhood of Gràcia, with a Dalí-inspired crucifix under one of the characteristic high-voltage warning signs: an interesting juxtaposition of triangles. Last week, while cycling through the old city centre, I discovered another electrical shock warning decal, this time with the image of an indigenous child underneath. I wonder if this child, in his innocence, would know that this sign warns him to stay away and not encouraging him to peel away the metal plate and check what’s inside.

It seems that this is indeed a case where the B-side is enjoying as much popularity as its higher-profile counterpart, as I had mentioned in a previous post. In fact, when I passed by the wall this time, there were more people snapping photos of the B-side than the “official” installation. I checked the Murs LLiures website and there is now a Ciutadella Park wall listed, so it appears that this has become a part of the project. Fortunately it’s on a path which I frequently take to and from my gym, so I will be checking it as frequently as I can.

These shots are the latest evolution of the free walls project in two of the locations, the first on carrer Bolivia and the second on carrer Josep Plà, which is very near the Diagonal Mar shopping mall. Later this week, I hope to make a trip to the Tres Xemeneies near Paral·lel. As I’ve just begun my vacation period, I’m also planning to make some outings around Poble Nou to find any new developments around the neighborhood.

I want to start this post off with a confession. While the vast majority of the pictures I post on here are images I’ve stumbled upon by accident, today’s photo is the result of an initial tipoff from local Barcelona TV channel BTV, which ran an article on this piece last week. I of course wasted little time hopping on the nearest Bicing bike and, with broken bell and screeching front brake, made my way to the corner of carrer Ciutat de Granada and Almogavers. The corner was empty, and it was overcast, and dusk was just beginning–perfect conditions for a shadow-free photo.
The image shows the sister of current Spanish king, Felipe VI, Cristina de Borbon and her husband, former Olympic star and disgraced entrepreneur Iñaki Urdangarin, known together as the Duke and Duchess of Palma (Mallorca). Iñaki, the Duke, has been embroiled for the last two years in a money-laundering scandal which involves businesspeople and many high-level politicians. His wife, formerly known as the “Infanta Cristina”, or daughter of the ex-king Juan Carlos, had managed to dodge suspicion until recently. She has now been implicated in the case and will likely have to testify.
If this blogger had to make a bet on the outcome of the situation, I would say that don Iñaki will likely be sacrificed while the former royal daughter will be spared. The damage to the image of the Spanish monarchy is undeniable, however, as can be seen in this image.

Now that most music is stored, exchanged and enjoyed digitally, some of the peculiarities of the days of physical music formats are fading into obscurity. One of those is the convention of A-sides and B-sides on record singles. Back when single songs were sold on the small, 45-rpm vinyl records, record companies placed the popular, radio-friendly track on the A-side, while the instrumentals, or inferior tracks were used to fill the B-side.
On a few notable occasions, the “inferior” B-sides become more popular than their A-side counterparts. Some examples include Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday“. On a few occasions, both the A and B side became hits, as with the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” and “Day Tripper“.
Indeed, taking the extra four or five minutes to flip to the B-side, or spending the extra quarter to play the lower track on the jukebox would sometimes reveal a pleasant surprise.
The other day, when riding by the Tricentennial Installation featured a few weeks back, I noticed someone taking some pictures of the backside of the concrete wall. I decided to explore. On the B-side, I found a few tags and some murals, along with the image of an antique pistol which seems part of the “official” project. The B-side artwork is very similar to what can be found on the Mur Lliures which pepper the city.
While this B-side may not enjoy the hit status of “Ruby Tuesday” or “Ice Ice Baby” (B-side to “Play That Funky Music“), it does show the value of going a little further below (or behind) the surface.


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