May 14, 2010 | Spanish

El Diario

In which I read a newspaper.

I never thought I would write these words, but I am getting a little sick of Spanish grammar exercises. I decided I needed some variety in my language-learning life, so this afternoon I went and bought myself a copy of New York’s Spanish-language daily, El Diario

Today's Edition of El Diario

In the 20 years I have lived here, I don’t think I have read this newspaper more than once or twice. I really know nothing about it. I took it with me to Café Margot—newspaper reading and coffee drinking being highly compatible activities—and after warming up with a little work on the subjunctive (I said I was a little sick of grammar exercises, not totally sick), I began reading the paper.

It was in fact very interesting. I read, among other things, about Obama’s visit to New York and the NYPD jacket he received as a gift; about how Christina Aguilera rejects comparisons to Lady Gaga; about the Pope’s visit to Portugal, where he characterized abortion and gay marriage as being among the most insidious threats facing the world today; about an explosion in Greece’s biggest prison; and about a new ban on ethnic studies in Arizona’s schools.

Reading a foreign-language paper is useful because you encounter vocabulary that you don’t necessarily see all that much in standard textbooks, vocabulary that—by definition, since it is appearing in a daily newspaper—is very relevant to daily life. I had forgotten that White House in Spanish is Casa Blanca. I also encountered embargos hipotecarios (foreclosures). Then there was Tocar bocina si estás en contra de SB 1070 (Honk if you are against SB1070). Actually, when I ran tocar bocina through Google’s translator to doublecheck that I had understood it correctly, Google offered up “tootle,” but I’m going to stick with “honk” here.

I read in the paper that tomorrow is Super Sábado (Super Saturday) at El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue (at 104th). They are offering a day of fun for the whole family, starting at 10 a.m.

Odalisca, Manolo Valdés, 72nd Street Subway Station

While I was out and about, I was reminded that this week, in front of my neighborhood’s 72nd Street subway station, a sculpture magically appeared. It is entitled Odalisca, by Manolo Valdés, a Spanish artist.

The sculpture is quite bulky. Each time I see it, I think of two different things, both of them distinctly not odalisquish.

I feel the problem is one of incompatibility between setting and sculpture. It looks misplaced, as though it was on its way to a museum or park, but someone couldn’t carry it quite that far, so they dropped it here and ran.

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