Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Madrid II - June 2012

    Madrid II - We have returned to Madrid so that I may see Zack off at the airport at 6:00 AM, and I myself, will take a flight to Marrakech, Morocco at 2:ooPM.  Marrakesh, to a boy of the 60's, is a dream.  During the Vietnam War, people escaped the draft by going to four main places: Canada; Kathmandu, Nepal; Lamu, Kenya: and Marrakech, Morocco.  But more on that later.  First, Zack and I had a couple of days in Madrid so we did the usual - museums, tapas, watching street performers, etc.
     Zack was ready to tackle the third big museum in Madrid, so we walked about town and went to see the Reina - Sofia Art Museum.   It had been closed the first time we were in Madrid.  I was willing to give the huge museums one more chance, but realistically, I was only going because betwixt the museum and our hotel... was a great place for chocolate con churros!  There... I said it.

 I began to look at the buildings as works of art, and to me, the ultimate work of art.  Here's how I see buildings as works of art:  They can't be built overnight;  It takes many people working together;  it requires people to have a shared vision and be able to communicate it to one another; and it requires originality yet conformity.


Imagine, actually erecting a building, where if you haven't done your research, people may be miserable - poor air-conditioning or water pressure, or worse, people could die.  Think about bridges that collapse or building that fall in minor earthquakes.
      In this building, someone had to put their name on the line when they were told that Schweppe's would be hanging a 100'  sign on the building, oh... and it must have lighting capabilities and did we mention that it would be 500 feet above the street that has 200,000 people per day walking under it?  I know a little bit about making decisions that affect people's lives and the pressure that goes with it.  My hat is off to the person that signed off on this project.  How many people told him that it wouldn't work.

So not only does a building have to serve a useful purpose, but it has to be pleasing to the eye as well.  Good heavens, think of the patience that an architect must have when designing and building a building.  The years of gathering permits, of hiring the right construction company that will be cheap, but competent.  The art of buying the materials:  Did you skimp on the concrete mix, use paint that will fade in five years, wood that will withstand the elements?  What about late additions?
Arch 1 - Well, here's the building you requested.
Head arch - Splendid!  It has taken years, but it looks fine!
Arch 1 - I'm glad you like it.
Head arch - I love it!  Oh and by the way, they want you to put a copper dome on the NW corner of it, so that they can have ballroom dances in it.  It will be open to the elements, so the dance floor must be weatherproof.


Egads! I haven't even spoken about the actual design.  Did anyone bother to ask the people who will be working in the building what they need?   How many outlets will you have per room?  How many restrooms and will they have hand dryers or paper towel dispensers?  Will you have single sheet toilet paper dispensers or rolls (Please no air)
Did I mention that the owners want a 60 foot Roman Centurian on top of the building?  Yeah, made of bronze and that can withstand 100 mph winds. It has to be heavy enough to not blow down on the crowd below in the plaza, but it can't sink through the floor and cause the ceiling below to sag.... and you have till Thursday to make it happen.
Oh, and the CEO would like to have an Olympic size diving pool on the roof.
Oh and ... make the building look pretty, too!

"Really?"  Where was the research, the doing of something that most can't do.  I don't like Swan Lake, but I can appreciate someone performing it.  I don't know of many people who can do those moves. But I think I know a whole school that can do this.

The Reina  was el giganto!  Four stories of art.  If you aren't sitting now, you need to be when you see this next piece of art.

    Yes, this is what it appears to be.... a friggin chair hanging on the wall.  And someone got paid to do this.
     Don't get me wrong, it's a nice chair, and the printing of the definition on the wall is outstanding.  A kindergarten teacher would be screaming orgasmically to see such penmanship, but really... in an art museum?
I can't imagine the negotiations with the museum curator.
Artist (A) - well for that amount of money, I'm thinking maybe of giving you a stool.
Curator  (C)- a stool... like a ....turd?
A - No,  a chair
C -how much for a love seat?
A - Oh!  They haven't printed that much money for a work of art of that magnitude!!
C - any cushions??

I have no pictures of Guernica by Picasso because the museum would not allow me to take a picture.  It wasn't personal.  Photography was banned.  There were two things impressive about it: one - the size.  It filled a wall that is bigger than any wall you have in your house.  two - the effect it had on the world regarding pacifism and the soon to be WWII.       That being said, I don't know how it caused such a clamor.  My guess is that the name Picasso helped quite a bit.  But the painting/drawing is a bit too abstract for me.  Shock, huh?
       Zack and I were sitting at a cafe on Plaza Mayor, which is completely surrounded by buildings which are true works of ART.... and playing cards.  He actually won!!  Partially because he has improved and partially due to him insisting that I have a San Miguel and an Amstel!  Done in by two beers.  I congratulate him for his cunning, if not shrewd tactics!
There were some unusual street performers - the first  was a guy who was blowing gigantic bubbles for little kids.  A word to his costume designer - don't dress like a Mafia hit man.  You're dealing with kids,  so, I don't know, lose the sunglasses and cigarette.  Just my thinking, but I'd run with my kids.  "Come on kids, Daddy's got diarreaha!  Let's get home quick!"

Here is a simple street performer act, though it has to be rough on the knees.  One of the job requirements must be, "must have experience catching a double header baseball game."  Not really original.  The idea is that you stand in front of it, trying to figure out  which head is the real one and while you are deep in contemplation, BOO!  He scares the Euro out of you!

But the winner for the summer street performing act is the pseudo guru.  One guru meditates while holding onto a pole with one hand, while his partner  pseudo guru holds him four feet off the ground with one hand.
  How do I know they are pseudo gurus?  A) never met a guru who smoked; B) never met a guru who had such raunchy tattoos.
    I'm sure that if I followed them after they got off work, I'd find them sleeping in the park and snockered on cheap wine.

I know it's a trick because the guy holding the stick rings a bell and then a real sleazy guy comes over with a giant black sheet and puts it over he two pseudo gurus and then you see some movement, and then the sheet comes off and they are standing.  I just cannot figure it out!  It was worth a Euro to be so perplexed.
These guys are good.  Even if there is a metal bracket that is attached to the pole and the guy on top is braced, how does the guy on the ground manage to hold him in the air for 30 minutes with one hand.
Neither is built that well.  Can only be one's magic!

One thing that I won't miss about Spain are the grumpy waiters!  I finally figured out what their problem is... they want to be matadors.  Matadors don't smile.  Waiters don't smile.  Matadors have that smug, "I am way cool" look, Waiters have that smug, "get your own food look. "

They must be grossly underpaid because getting a smile out of them is rare.
I wonder if it would make a difference if they worked for tips.

Zack and I took a metro from the airport and caught Henny Youngman's latest act.  Actually, he was great, one because he was quite a good violinist and two because he took our minds off of an accident someone had had on the metro. PHEW!!  He played, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"  which almost always makes me want to cry... and I'm not a huge Madonna fan.  The song is one of my favorites, however.  Yes, he earned a Euro!

The Museum of Ham is a chain of restaurants.  Great food.  Lousy waiters.
If you aren't a night owl in Spain, you won't be eating dinner at restaurants.  Zack and I didn't even leave the room for dinner until 10:30 on many nights.
It's amazing what a person can get use to! (Patrick Swayze - Roadhouse)

Speaking of rooms.... This is laundry day.  Anytime I get two or three days in one hotel, I do a little sink laundry.  I enjoy it.  I love that feeling of semi-clean underwear!
You want to feel rich?  Do your laundry in a Liliputian size sink without a stopper for a couple of weeks.  When you use your washing machine, you'l feel like Donald Trump!

How do they do it?!?!?!?!?