How to Make Tolerable

El País sent an offer around to suscribers with free accounts this weekend. 6 months digital subscription for €6. This is a great offer but, given the state of their website and app, not quite good enough. Even with a premium subscription, the ads they serve make the reading experience intolerable.

Luckily, we don’t have to tolerate it. I use iOS and Safari for browsing the web. I installed Firefox Focus, went to Settings -> Safari -> General -> Content Blockers (Extensions on the iPad), and enabled Firefox Focus as a Content Blocker. Now, instead of ads, I have lots of white space.

It’s very empowering as a consumer to have to tools like this. Whatever OS and browser you use there are probably dozens of options. I have begrudgingly availed of the offer and can now read Babelia unhindered.

P.S. This should also remove the ads that serves on blogs in their free tier, like this one.


Paco at 69

Paco de Lucía would be 69 years old today.

Instituto Andaluz del Flamenco has an ‘exhibit’ at the Google Cultural Institute entitled Memories of Paco. Well worth a look. Apparently the maestro was, in his own words, a frustrated singer. Below, towards the end of the track, you can hear his voice.

In 2015, the guitarist received the digital treatment from El País to accompany the release of Entre 20 Aguas, a tribute CD published on the first anniversary of his death.

Vicente Amigo – My Best Of

Vicente Amigo is set to release a new album. Having enjoyed a recent concert of his, I’m looking forward to hearing it.

In anticipation, and as a means of contextualizing, I thought I’d go over his back catalog and pick out some favorites. Remarkably, most of Amigo’s work is on YouTube, neatly organised into albums, allowing me to share my picks as a YouTube playlist.

This was a rather irreverent exercise. I’m not sure how comfortable I would be doing it with, say, Paco de Lucía. This surely says something about the esteem in which I hold Amigo. It’s true that, with each listening, I’m either drawn in or pushed away. Through it all however, I can’t really ever get enough of his music.

For whatever reason, I didn’t include anything from Tauromagia by Manolo Sanlucar or Canto, Amgio’s collaboration with El Pele. Both of which are probably important in understanding Amigo.

Nuestras Señoras


La Macanita was grouped together with Esperanza Fernández and Marina Heredia in an episode of Nuestro Flamenco this week. The format was somewhat like a corrida de toros as José María rotated through the artists and it made for great listening. Nonetheless, grouping singers like this just because they’re women makes little sense. Any one of them is deserving of our singular attention and no man has ever shared airtime on Nuestro Flamenco because he is a man.

Great episode though.

Vicente Amigo

Spaniards use a lot of hyperbole. This can be funny when they speak English. In a recent press conference Fernando Torres said that he and his team mates at Atlético Madrid would die for each other. This conjured up images in my mind of pristine footballers rushing out onto no man’s land to aid their injured comrades only to find out that their comrades are faking it. The conclusion of this scene would satisfy anyone who values sportsmanship.

Spaniards are also very romantic. However, in this case, the passion that they can convey leaves the joke on us. A couple of months ago Vicente Amigo performed at the Long Center in Austin and I had the privilege of being there. His first words in English were “I am going to give you my heart.” It really hit the spot with the audience. They audibly sat in his palm. Words that would usually come across as treacle seemed perfectly endearing.

Flamenco itself has similar powers. Some Anglo-Saxon music critic (I can’t remember who) noticed this. Having been to a show in New York they wrote something to the effect that the gestures of the singer would normally be considered nothing more than affectation. In the context of flamenco however, they augment the raw emotion of the sound and give the performance an air of importance.

Amigo’s concert was abound with importance. You should’ve been there too.