Sunday, January 25, 2009

el presidente y madrid

so, i was on telemadrid, the main news channel in madrid. also, i ditched a conference on urbanism in madrid so that i could watch the inauguration. NYU threatened some sort of punishment for ditching the conference, but i havent heard anything from them. i'll just say i got lost on the way to class (seriously, it might work. i am like in the special ed spanish class that plays hot potato, hangman, and memory search all day). the inauguration was like the only day when i could say, "soy estadounidense!" and madrilenos would be stoked about it.. hopefully things get better.
it was a pretty fun time. the guy who worked the camera shared his cheetos with us, and becky told him he was "the sacred bread of life" in spanish. that is really funny if you consider how neither becky nor i really speak spanish... we are like robots that regurgitate what our other friends tell us. 
an exciting night in madrid.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


dinner doesn't come cheap here... but 10 euro between two folks ain't bad.
Greg, the new roommate, and I baked a whole chicken and cooked up some onion/peppers rice last night.
the interesting part is that our friends becky, celeste, and linsey all came over to eat and hang out with us... and once they were done, we wanted to make sure they got home safe.

linsey ended up on a bus going the wrong direction, and was on it for about as far as you can go.
we walked celeste past 7 transvestites down the road... big intimidating ones with major male features.
i think becky made it home alright, but then again her phone is out of credit.

getting home is never easy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

skitch. canadians?

oh yeah, i promised a story in another post. this the quest for the chateau d'if.

the chateau d'if is a fortress set upon a small island in the mediterranean. the weather is clear, the ferry is quick from the marseille harbor and the view stuns. how did it get to look so dark and gloomy in the count of monte cristo?
eric and i bought a bottle of vin de rouge (red wine), and were kicking our feet over the water of the marseille harbor. the crowd attracted beside the pier is what drew us. they were tourists, clearly, and we didn't want to miss out on our right to tourism. so hey, why not hop a boat to the chateau d'if for only 7 euro? improvisation oiled the gears, and i ditched an empty bottle of wine. any of you guys remember my water bottle from nashville? one of those reusable, re-ethical, resave-world-able type of bottle? well, it was our new wine skin.
we elbowed to a front seat in the ferry, perched and content, and drank wine. well, it just so happened that we missed the port for the chateau d'if.
we got off on the next island, found some random deserted ruins on a mountain, and watched the sun over the mediterranean.
we hopped the 7 o'clock ferry back to the harbor, chagrinned for having missed the chateau. you hear so many stories of escape, or at least attempted escape... and all we wanted to do was get inside.
no worries... i was pretty content once we arrived at the harbor. the wine was not the cause of my smile (though it undoubtedly helped). The harbor was filled with hundred of palestinians chanting, yelling, and standing on cars. i slipped my bandana on, and eric flipped his hat backwards.
i gathered from the little french i knew, and mostly from eric's perfect proficiency, that the palestinians were denouncing france, the USA, the UK, and germany for doing nothing about the hundreds of palestinians being killed by israelis. i mentioned to eric,"good thing we are canadian, right?" it was an old joke, but i thought it fit the moment. eric, with a grin, replied, "yeah... oh! did you hear that? i guess they also got canada on their list." 

i mean, who has got a problem with canadians? apparently the palestinian flag kid who is hanging, yelling, and pointing from the top of a lamp post (that is 25 feet up) does...


it's about time this got movin'

I live in Spain now.. well, until June 2nd, and then I don't know where i'll settle. I've got college applications for transfer that I have neglected, and now the crunch is tightening.
I live in Madrid, on the edge of three neighborhoods (barrios): Malasana, Chueca, & Chamberi. Each takes about 5 or 10 minutes to walk to. Madrid is a city of 4 million people in city center, and about an extra 4 million in the city general. 8 million in all. i think this screwed me over when i went to see jeremy enigk play the other night... it had sold out before i even arrived. as partially conciliatory, i drank an irish coffee with friends and played card games till 2 am.
Malasana: the rock and roll district of madrid. When the dictatorship of franco train wrecked, malasana was the social liberation. Everything that is experience is to be lived; like kerouac, people burn brightly like fireworks... unfortunately, like kerouac the also run out of gun powder. I don't think the barrio ever made it out of this weird cultural revolution it had in the 80's. rock and roll kids, drugs, music... it's all here. Nothing opens till midnight, and nothing closes until 10. some of the nyu kids say it feels too much like brooklyn, and that bothers them. but i think i like it.
Chueca: used to be a really run down neighborhood until some gay businessmen took things to task. Narrow streets, weird people everywhere, and bars offering everything from dragqueens, servers in whitee-tightees, punk rock holes and even the average joe bar. chueca is great. vitality.
Chamberi: it's no chueca, and it's no malasana. it is a little quieter, but still has a reputation for bars, movies, and all sorts of shopping stuff. 

everyday is hard. If i manage to understand five things on a restaurant menu i start feeling big headed... that, or i just get overwhelmed by the wealth of choices. 
cerveca = beer. chepeta = shot. kebab = delicioso
hungry? just buy kebabs from the dirty turk shop down on the corner, i do this partly because they already know me by name, and mostly because it is the cheapest thing in town.

i was on the news last night. i went to an airing of obama's inauguration, and it came about (mainly through the sharing of cheetos with a camera man) that 5 nyu kids got interviewed by the local madrid news station. i just saw myself on the tv an hour ago. i think i need to shave.

i need to tell more stories... i was in barcelona. did you know that? i drank wine with brasilenos everyday until i only wanted water or ginger ale... and i ate the penis of a suckling pig in segovia (no joke). Tomorrow i am going to get a lecture about skipping class (there was no way that "Urbanism in Madrid" was going to prevent me from watching the inauguration with hundreds of crazy americans around). of course i took an obama shot... like many people, i am not yet fully in the obama camp; just waiting to see what will happen. the guy deserves a chepeta though.

this post is too scatterbrain. email me questions and i'll address them on this blog. apologies for errors... learning spanish and living in spain is really destroying my english. i think in spanish grammar, use the simplest of words, and mimic my instructors (who don't speak much english). consequently, i am starting to sound like a foreign five year old. ouch.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Paris, Marseille, Lyon

I've been moving about in France. At present, I occupy a table with another "youth hosteller" who is remarkably similar to Chris Martin (coldplay). He has no idea that my fingers are tapping and clicking about his face. ha.
I am en route to Madrid, where I hope to be enjoying myself june.

I'll tell a story from Lyon.

Last night a prostitute paraded herself before me, clothed in little more than her sensuality. Her hands followed the contour of exposed breasts, her lips puckering forth as she walked a straight line towards me. I was fresh meat, green and untested, little more than mere bait for a very hungry shark. But I, being the man of courage that I am, acted swift and sure. Pointing to my very recent acquaintance (Eric of Iowa, from my hostel), I shrugged, muttered something that vaguely resembled a sorrowful tone... in fact, I had never sounded so sorrowful in my whole life. I was sorrow. She saw that the sap that I was, slouched towards an unaware Eric, and I, breathing the magnificent midnight air, fled.
3 minutes past I was approached by eric ho, out of breath with excitement, exclaimed, "Did you see that sexual assault attempt?!" Once again, my courage broke forth in stunning glory, "I must have just missed it... crazy." Clearly, I had just lied to Eric. However, all was forgotten in mirth, as the accompanying Australian pleaded for me to stop sexually harassing Eric. Funny.
The laughs and the smell of alchoholic streets in Vieux Lyon are a step removed from my experience in nashville. I am told that stress and discomfort are the means of evolution. Perhaps my growth will come not from homeostasis, but from the midnight cold of foreign countries, being lost without communication, and from walks hand in hand with prostitutes and mirthful acquaintances.

Next, I promise to relate a story from Paris, marseille, or the quest for the Chateau d'If.

Favorite current song:
"My Oh My" - Casy Meikle
you can youtube it and see a video of him playing.