Archive for the 'Social Issues' Category

Boy George

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Giorgio Armani infront of one of his flagship storesEach year, over two million people buy an item of clothing or an accessory in one of the more than 2,000 Armani outlets in countries all over the world, generating revenues in excess of $700 million. This is the profile of a company that has enjoyed continued growth since it was established in 1975 and still shows no signs of slowing down. Loyal to a philosophy of design that has produced his trademark style of simple yet refined elegance, Giorgio Armani has not only weathered the vicissitudes of time, he has thrived on them. The secret of this remarkable success is the clean design that gives his creations a timeless quality, which transcends fashions and fads—the surest mark of a master.

As a young man, Giorgio Armani gave up his medical studies when he realised that he had a greater affinity for design. After several detours, he found his true vocation in the hectic and exciting world of the Milan fashion industry, where his first notable design, now almost 35 years ago, was a button for a jacket by Nino Cerruti, his erstwhile employer. Displaying a unique personal touch at a very early stage in his career, Armani plunged wholeheartedly into the unknown, breaking new ground and shirking no challenge in the process. (more…)

Cerveza sin, por favor – The Future of NABLABs

Monday, March 21st, 2011

No- and low-alcohol beers have been gaining some traction of late in several markets but there’s one country where NABLABs have been embraced by consumers like no other. Michel Cruz reports from Spain on the rise of low alcohol refreshment.

Page 1 NABLABs article in Brewers Guardian magazineIn many ways the Spanish beer market is much like that of the rest of Europe. After years of rapid growth the current economic climate has seen production drop somewhat, with on-trade sales falling and consumer focus turning to economy brands available through off-trade channels. Where the country clearly stands out, though is the fact that Non-Alcoholic Beers and Low-Alcohol Beers (NABLAB) are consumed at around three to four times the average European rate. We wondered why.

Since their mainstream introduction in the 1980s non-alcohol and low-alcohol beers have not exactly taken the industry by storm. Most beer drinkers still prefer the taste of alcohol in their lager and continue to overwhelmingly consume ‘conventional’ beer types in spite of the pressures of anti-drink driving campaigns. Many seem prepared to single out a ‘designated driver’ for abstention rather than opting for the range of alcohol-free products that are available. While the taste of early NABLABs is cited as one of the reasons, others point to the fact that changing longstanding consumer habits in such traditional beer markets as Germany, Belgium and the UK is a hard and lengthy process. (more…)

The Green Fairy flutters its wings again

Friday, February 4th, 2011

A cocktail glass with absintheAbsinthe, the drink forever associated with bohemian Paris and its catalogue of late 19th century artists, poets and dangerous-living bons vivants, is at the heart of a fascinating revival.

It was a time of mystery and experimentation with Paris at its very heart. Sherlock Holmes was pursuing his imaginary nemesis Moriarty through the streets of East London just as Inspector Juve stalked the alleyways near the Place Pigale in search of the equally imagined but nonetheless formidable Fantomas. In nearby streets the poets, artists and would-be revolutionaries of the day met to plot, set the world to rights or simply to get drunk together. (more…)

The Maoist Experiment Lives on

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Is revolution dead, confined to the annals of history? Just when you thought that die-hard Communist states like Cuba and North Korea are isolated relics to a past which is already beginning to seem distant, and that the future holds no prospect for the kind of liberal humanitarian ideals that blossomed in the 1960’s and 1970’s, a place like Marinaleda pops up out of nowhere. Located among the gentle undulations of the endless olive groves of southern Spain, this little village is a unique example of a Maoist commune that has not only survived, but continues to flourish.

Sanchez Gordillo, the force behind the Marinaleda project

Up until twenty years ago, Marinaleda was a typical sleepy Andalusian village, where nothing much happened and the poverty-stricken population carved a meagre existence out of seasonal work, picking olives on the vast estates of the landed gentry much as their folk had done for generation upon generation. It all changed when Sánchez Gordillo, a former schoolteacher, was elected mayor in 1980. As founder of the SOC (Sindicato de Obreros del Campo) this young radical intellectual had gained a reputation as a champion for the rights of the jornaleros, the land labourers who had neither land nor fixed employment, and when he succeeded in mobilising the support of the local socialists, Maoists and anarchists, Sánchez became a powerful voice for reform in this forgotten corner of Andalucía. (more…)

The ethnic diversity of Andalucía

Monday, July 6th, 2009

In a sea of faces, Andalusians provide a fascinating diversity of looks and origins that bear living testimony to the region’s turbulent past as a much-invaded corner of Europe. Since the earliest times, conquerors, refugees, soldiers, mercenaries, merchants and adventurers have been adding to the rich and diverse mix of ingredients from which the Andalusians have been moulded.

The concept of racial purity, even if such a thing was ever desirable, has long since been discarded as unrealistic. As Europeans we live on a continent which, in spite of a broader sense of cultural identity and concept of racial affinity, consists of a myriad of nations and regions, each with their own traditions and mythology about their origins. Given this diversity within our own continent, and the fact that we border two large landmasses, it is only logical to assume that all but the most isolated and remote communities could not withstand being swept into the great tidal wave of migrations that have occurred since the earliest of times.