Madrid, Spain // jun & jul, 2002

sex is strange. sexiness is stranger still; and a city that is sexy is insane.

i went armed to the sexy spanish confusion named madrid with my usual pocketfull of snapjudgements and misperceptions. the city is beautifully tap-dance spanish and somehow touching in that conventional way that Old World European Tradition is sincere. the spanish revolution, at least in madrid, is clearly finished and they mostly seem settled in to relax, fuck, and drink. like most of europe, fortunately.

bullfights, old men, hot women, spicy chorizo, manchego, banderillo, small beer and big hormones.. the buildings seemed less spanish than i'd imagined, and the people more european than they were comfortable with. but i suppose globalization spreads like any culture. fortunately, kindness hides itself from cultural trends of this size.

the days in madrid followed an easy rhythm of siesta, party, night, morning, afternoon, siesta, party. etc. the flowing rhythm of people mixing themselves into each other and flowing back and forth from sleep to scream to sleep to scream. the sounds of the streets at night are not at all like mexico. in mexico everything is hidden and covered under ashes and dust.

in madrid, things are open and clear and polished. but because its so damn civilized spain lacks what i have considered a spanish ferocity.

i grew up in the south-western US and so i've always associated mestizos, cholos, and vatos with the spanish language. here, no (my mistake). madrid mostly reminded me how much i missed mexico and it made me wonder if sometimes i prefer the copy to the original cuz surely mexico is a copy of spain as much as the states are a copy of england.

the child emulates the adult, but the adult is always better at destroying itself. as death looms closer and we grow older we start to prepare ourselves for it, unknowingly. but whatever the case, the Capital of the Adult of the Spanish countries is certainly a man. Y quelle hombre, this city knows how to damage itself. the residents of madrid party until 6am and only go to bed at sunrise to get ready for the next night.

i wonder how spain will die. it will take a long time. its still very strong.

historically, madrid started out as a watchtower on a hill on the left shore of the manzanares river. it was constructed by muhammad 1, a muslim emir of córdoba, son of abderraman 2, while they were bracing for some christian takeovers a few sixteen hundred years back. today its still a little guarded.

the residents of madrid are concerned about things abstract and eternal. things like the position of the rain, the smell of truth, the blush of a friend, or the hours until morning.

above. the city is a lace of tangled scaffolding and demolition projects (though no one is working). even the carrión building in the gran vía, or the torres de jerez in the colón plaza seem to sit over the shattered skyline with a looming fear on their facades. the fabric of the city seems to be pale and beautiful and stretched thin by its confusion with what, exactly, the future might offer.

then amid the looming turmoil there are the things of the world that we find everywhere: commerce, faith, humor.

below. the underground world of madrid, at a (sub)surface glance, seems as profound as paris (if less celebrated by the poets, drunks, and cadavers). underground it smells lighter than paris. paris has the musty scent of mold and roots and limestone. underground madrid smells lighter, chalkier, and like clean water. a view straight down:

but back to the culture of a sexy city. the lithp of the cathtillian thpanith ith jutht thilly. after a lifetime of exposure to mexican spanish the accent hit me as a kind of sin against the language. word on the street has it that this was the result of king ferdinand's insecurity with his lisp and so he made the rest of the castillian-speaking courtesans talk like that too. the habit was infectious, apparently.

but all things have a reason. on my way back to the hotel i saw cutesy couple carrying on cuddly... so i followed them to see what they were so dressed down and hard up for.

they led me to Madrid's Gay Pride Parade.

spanish high heels and pump-daddy bears bouncing their floats through madrid. the city is insane. the spanish are insane. fags are insane. but spanish fags partying political display in madrid was, at first glance, numbing in its ease and beauty.

then, on second glance, it reminded me of the gay parade in san francisco. after having lived in san francisco (cali, usa) for nine years i found this a little sad, as there seem so many more variations that could be cooked up with the spice of spanish culture. flamenco, bullfights, and absinthe aint what i call bland or boring, really. but i suppose mimicking the SF gay parade is a start at some form of liberty. and anyway, all new cultures, like children, need a cause to fight against before they have something to fight for.

it was a gay, lovely, insane, formidable display of power and freedom (what else is the gay parade/s if not an assertion of power? this must be why its now an international formulae). in some ways it defined Gay. so Yay.

.. of course, not everyone was gay. there were the people that took it all very seriously such as the young dyke being interviewed, and the old generation being extraviewed..

in the end madrid WAS sexy in the way that new york or paris or any major urban smash is sexy. piles of people living on top of each other, parasites and patrons, ass to the mouth of the other, feeding from each other, rhythmically keeping the great machinery of a city lubricated. confusion and delerium wrapped around in a bundle of sustained frenzy.

madrid is sexy for the single reason most things are sexy; cuz its all mixed up.

the night i flew back to paris was my opening of "The Sinners Make The Saints: 13 watercolors" at the simple machine gallery.