Daniel Lopez Valle (Elche, 1982) is the brains?along with illustrator Cristobal Forúñez?behind one of the coolest inventions of recent times: the Blackie Books Cuaderno featuring exercises that we so much enjoy in summertime. This is its second season the textbook is released?a good tool for greasing your brain and remember what school did Marty McFly go or that fact that Cicciolina was Italian parliamentary deputy. A journalist, a sponge that likes to absorb information and a master of the Wikipedia, fondly remembers his glorious participation in TV show Saber y Ganar. His life seems as unlikely as the amount of information stored in his head. When the interview ended, Dani swore to us he was heading to see his sister shoot with a blunderbuss…
How does one end up knowing the fate of Screech from Saved by the Bell, where the Borbons come from or the lives Tom Cruise has saved?
You get there if you have, first, an endless curiosity that is closer to the eagerness with which some people eat a Big Mac at 3am than to intellectual activity. The second is to be anxious and desperate to find the answer to those curiosities when they appear. I’m happy being ignorant. I love when someone tells me about a topic I’m completely ignorant about. But the typical person who always says yes when asked if they know something in particular just because they dread being considered an ignorant really puts me off. Stop it already! You can see they’re lying and then they make others feel uncomfortable. If things were like in the United States, where they give you a present every time you buy hummus or whatever, this would be over.
The Cuaderno has a nostalgic aura for a certain generation. In your opinion, what skills should a good Cuaderno reader have? Is it necessary to have been born in a specific time?
Fortúnez Cristóbal, the marvellous illustrator of the Cuaderno, said his mother loved it. And once I caught my grandfather laughing while I was pouring over it. I sincerely believe other generations alien to that feeling of nostalgia can also enjoy it. Chesterton said one thing that I repeat a lot: “Funny is the opposite of not funny, and of nothing else “. This means that something can be funny and serious at the same time. Maybe that summarizes it all. Anyone reading the Cuaderno only needs curiosity and a desire to laugh and get lost. We’re not testing and we don’t feel superior to anyone. Instead, we want to share things through humor, excitement and play. It’s a shame, but we’re playing less and less and becoming more solemn, foolish and tacky. Dolphins aren’t; dolphins spend hours playing with balls and don’t care what others think. But I think that’s because they still don’t have opposable thumbs. If they did, they’d leave the balls and would take a pencil and the notebook. Maybe they’d do all at once. It would be ideal.
From colouring the Ecce Homo to the Festican poster. Are you the author of all the ideas or only of the most encyclopaedic?
No, I wish! Cristóbal is Galician living in Madrid and I’m an Elche-born living in Barcelona, we usually chat online along with Jan Martí and start proposing ideas, from things we come up with spontaneously to others we had found earlier. We rack our brains a lot and spent longs spells of time in silence, but we always have a very great feeling, when you realize you’ve been developing an idea and the three of us are laughing our heads off and then we realize that’s a very cool idea. But then there’re times when you’re buying cigarettes or soap of whatever and you feel inspired and have to run home before you forget the idea.
Blackie Books recommends a series of ideal places to read the Cuaderno. What would be yours?
I know it sounds cliché, but last Sunday I woke up very early and didn’t know what to do, so I went down to the beach. The heat was ok and it smelled of the sea (which, for some reason I’ll try to find out, is something that in Barcelona doesn’t happen all the time). Everything was neat, brand new, and it wasn’t crowded at all. That would be my ideal ‘place’ ideal, though the good thing about the Cuarderno is that you can anywhere, anytime that’s best for you.
You appearance at the TV quiz-show Saber y Ganar is now legendary. How do you manage to store so much information in your brain?
I don’t think it was legendary at all [laughs], but I appreciate it. When I was recording the program I coincided with José Manuel Dorado, a truly legendary Saber y Ganar contestant. That guy is an awesome machine, but you can see he knows so many things because of the passion he feels for certain things and not the other way around. The thing is that he knows so much you could say he’s passionate about everything. And he doesn’t care to show his ignorance if that’s the case. He makes as many questions he needs to. I’d like to think the same thing happens to me.
Is Jordi Hurtado (the show’s presenter) an hologram as it’s often rumored or is it Jordi himself?
Jordi Hurtado is real, he’s real! I would have liked to get picture with him holding the newspaper of that day, as they do with dictators to show they are alive, but I didn’t want bo be disrespectful because I love the program and I find him admirable. And, well, also because I forgot.
Your favourite hotspots…
I like going on solitary walks so I like any park of a certain size. I love Bar Ramon (C / Comte Borrell, 81), although I don’t usually recommend it because it’s small and I like to be able to walk in. I also like Tucco (C/Còdols, 27), a great Italo-Argentinian restaurant in the Gothic quarter I entrusted with my diet for years. I really miss it because now I live quite far from it. In Elche love Picnic, a wonderful tapas bar, or nay bar at the Martínez Valero stadium, two hours before the game starts, for example. And I also like… Gijón.
You can not stop listening to so repeat…
Two songs that always and put me in a good mood: ?Roadrunner’by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and ?Rock’n’Roll Star’ by Oasis. And ?Bring It On Home to Me’ by Sam Cooke.
Private use of motor vehicles. Ambulances, firefighting trucks and all that is okay. Everything else is terrible. It would be one of the most radical revolutions of our time. I won’t happen, I know?
You never thought you’d end up…
Making the Cuaderno. As we developed it, it grew and grew and reached a point where I thought I wouldn’t see it finished no matter I devoted a lifetime to it. I’d imagine Cristóbal dead holding a brush? But in the end, we finished it!
Being willing to enjoy and recognize and value pleasure where it exists, without prejudice or excuses or raised eyebrows.