A Bilingual Baby

A Bilingual Baby

lunes, 3 de septiembre de 2012

People Living in Barcelona: Jeremy Holland

Jeremy Holland is from Los Angeles, California. In 2002, he quit his job as an account manager for a search engine, packed his bags and came to Barcelona. Aside from a six month stint teaching English to the Spanish Navy in Cádiz, he has lived here ever since, working as a business English teacher and writing. At the end of last year, a book of his, “From Barcelona Vol. 1: The Stories Behind The City” (ISBN 1905430744) was published by an imprint of Bookshaker, Native Spain. Married under the eyes of a virgin at Santa Maria del Mar and the father of a baby girl, he's busy balancing parenthood, marketing his book and blogging at From Barcelona; he no longer sleeps siestas.

1. What’s the thing you like the most about Barcelona?
The cosmopolitan nature of the city and its beauty; the serendipity, like a finding a neighbourhood party or a random parade while wandering the streets. I call it a goldilocks city, not too big nor too small, and it definitely has its own unique character and vibe. It's full of interesting characters and the local people are genuine and transparent, I've found.

2. And the thing you like the least?
The bureaucracy which is why I avoid it almost to the point of illegality. As a friend says, “Funcionarios look for problems where there are none.” Dealing with the local service in general can be frustrating at the time, but a funny Seinfeld moment afterwards, same goes for neighbours who drill at eight on a Saturday morning and then stop at ten. I'm annoyed by the Spaniards apathy given the current economic situation and a bit bored of the politics, but that's pretty much the same with the States.

3. Do you miss anything from home?
My family and friends of course. The transient nature of Barcelona makes it difficult to maintain friendships, so you value the ones you have more, I think. I miss the local wildlife like squirrels, birds other than pigeons and seagulls, raccoons and the space of Southern California. I also crave a good deli sandwich from time to time and the ability to eat Japanese noodles cheaply.

4. Can you recommend a film in English?
I haven't seen a film in ages. Anything by David Cronenberg or John Boorman is usually worth your while. I'm a big fan of The Big Lebowski and Oh Brother by the Coens. I tend to watch more TV nowadays. It seems like a bit of a golden age again. There's The WireDexter, and Sopranos, for dramas; How I met Your Mother, Flight of the Concords for comedies to name a few.

5. Can you recommend a book in English?
“Dracula” is my all time favourite and I think Bram Stoker is underrated as a writer in general. His complete works are available on Kindle and a great buy at ten dollars. T.C. Boyle is a contemporary writer whom I aspire to be like because of his versatility and ambition. If you enjoy crime and noirs, Jim Thompson for me blows his contemporaries like Elmore Leonard away, although James Ellroy's LA trilogy describes what the city was, and in less visible ways, continues to be like. “The Painted Bird” shows the brutality of human nature while The Dice Man made me question how to live life. And, of course, there's From Barcelona Vol. 1 for anyone interested in entertaining fiction about the city.

6. Can you recommend a music band from the States?
Queens of the Stone Age used to be, but Deerhunter is probably my favourite band right now, just in time for them to breakup. There are rumours Pavement is playing this year at Primavera Sound and I'm fighting with the missus over who gets to see them if they turn out to be true. HEALTH is a noise group from LA that made a great album last year so did Animal Collective and Desolation Wilderness. I've also recently discovered Dubstep.

7. What’s your favourite spot in Barcelona?
My favourite nights out were always spent in Poble Sec. I especially liked Calle Blai in summer and Montjuic, la Tinta Roja and Plaça Sutidor. The neighbourhood festival is cutre and not advisable while on hallucinogenics, but memorable and represents the seedy side the city has always had. I like the village atmosphere of Poblenou where I live now and the relative quiet of my flat; it's a nice break from the chaos of the centre.

8. Do you do something here that you couldn’t possibly do at home?
I'm able to walk places and live without a car, which is paradise but can be dangerous, leading to those Barcelona days when time stops as sunny afternoons at the beach stretch into balmy nights in the city that turn into bright new days back at the beach, especially in summer. I didn't do that back home because I'd be endangering someone's life driving, not to mention the threat of arrest. Living here gives me the freedom to work enough to enjoy life and concentrate on writing, which is the main thing.

9. Is there anything you did back at home that you can’t possibly do now?
Hang out at a friend's house and have a barbecue.

10. Any tip for an American person wishing to settle down in Barcelona? And, any tip for a person from Barcelona wishing to settle down in the United States?
If you're coming, just remember it's about making it and you have to pay you dues. Also, never complain you can't do it because of the language. It's a foreign country after all so make an effort to study Spanish, and if you plan on staying, Catalan. You don't have to become fluent but at least competent; doors will open if you do.

If you're heading to Los Angeles, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car, be home by two am on a Saturday night and eat shiny, yet bland, fruit, but it is sunnier and warmer than Barcelona with less humidity and prettier beaches.

Thank you for the interview, Jeremy!

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