Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2004: The Year We Almost Changed America

Brooklyn, NY
Approximately twenty-five people filled the space in a small room to watch a storm of images from an 8MM movie camera. The footage was shot in the 70’s and fertilized the imagination of anyone who watched the projector screen. In the opening shot, a man with long hair, a mustache and in nothing but a pair of jeans tightened the screws and bolts of a farm tractor. In another shot, little girls wore dresses and bore little girl grainy smiles while they played together. In yet another shot, men and women plowed the field and planted seeds. These scenes were edited together for a documentary made by two of those little girls who eventually grew up and moved to Brooklyn.

I was invited by one of the filmmakers to attend the screening of the documentary. For now, her name is N. She whispered to me, “That’s my dad,” when the man fixing the tractor appeared. “That’s S,” she said, pointing to a blonde little girl who danced in circles. S had also grown up and was sitting on the other side of the room, whispering to three other people. S probably explained to them what N had told me. S pointed at the projector screen on the wall where the image of a blonde woman stood and smiled into the camera.

These girls were the daughters of parents who had founded a commune somewhere back West in America. The parents were fraught by the society that bred them into a turbulent era of America. These were 60’s kids who were filled with ideas and revolution in the style of Gandhi’s protests of the 1920’s as well as the words of Thoreau and Whitman. “To hell with America,” they said and off they went to establish a new America, which they would propagate with seeds for a better world with soul mates they found on the way. Hundreds of other Americans did the same in the late 60’s and 70’s. N and S was part of these parent's hope and extension of their ideals.

The people who attended the screening had begun to shift in their seats. This was old Dumbo party days when anyone who stepped a foot in that district expected a good time. N and S had organized a few events at that space before to raise money for their film. I tagged along with a friend of mine to one of these events and that’s how I met N and S. I offered to work the door that first night and collect the money for entrance. They didn’t know me from anyone else, however they trusted me enough to safeguard donations for their documentary.

This was early in 2004 – the year that I felt that change was the closest it had come since the 60’s. Protests were a weekly ritual. If you didn’t go, you didn’t care. The people of New York were excited at the possibility getting rid of Bush and ending the war. Parties, exclusively for revelers, became fundraisers for organizations who wanted to fight the administration. Billionaires for Bush, a satiric group of individuals who acted like conservative Americans, performed all over the city, calling New Yorkers to vote for Bush and support the rich Americans. This confused many of our city's citizens. Were they for Bush or against him? That was the inside joke.

Another group called Green Dragon (named after the tavern that the Sons of Liberty routinely met at in Boston) dressed as the Sons of Liberty and paddled a boat across the Hudson River during the Republican National Convention. We always became excited whenever someone we knew was reported in the media. It was common for a group of people who were just hanging out to protest at impulse. People gathered and thought of creative ways to protest. Pirate radio stations, independent media, documentaries flourished as the turn for a new media became necessary to spread the rumor of pending change.

Friends of mine were under surveillance by the city government. Sometimes the police would be present at protest destinations before the protesters. This became more prevalent as the date of the RNC came closer. C.L.A.W or Corporate Lawyers Against the War even showed up. There was another group of protesters that served as the legal team for the demonstrations to ensure that the rights of the people were respected. They were distinguished by their orange vests and were usually found walking alongside the marchers and negotiating with the NYPD.
People of all colors, races, age groups, veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam turned out to protest against the war and Bush’s administration. I had the same smile on my faces as hundreds others when I saw the size of the masses that had gathered. People wanted change and the gap of the 60’s and 2004 had dwindled to only a handful of years between because the age of change is always young.

I once witnessed hundreds of people gather in Washington Square where a march had ended. Police in riot gear had begun to surround the demonstrators and warned them to move and if they didn’t, they would be arrested. People shouted that they were on public property, which was answered by the deployment of more vans to put people in if they misbehaved. Unaware to the police, hundreds more protesters continued to march into Washington Square. The entrances were blocked by the police and the dissenters were forced to surround them. The protesters in the park, who were nervous before, felt empowered and charged at the NYPD. Rocks, bottles and anything else that could be thrown were hurled at the police. There was more shouting. More screaming. “This is our city! This is our city!” The cops had no choice but to disperse and allow the people to stay.

The documentary ultimately ended with the conclusion of the commune. N’s parent’s moved around the country in the 80’s and eventually divorced. I don’t know if N and S ever distributed their documentary or if it was ever finished. I lost touch with them about six months after the original screening. Regardless of the reflection of 2004 in the mirror of the 60's, the war continues and Bush is still in office.

I read once that time is not a linear entity. It is a flat realm that can be accessed through the archive of memory and although the world is currently chaotic, the change we hope for is always coming.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sexdrenalin and Rockets Red Glare

Burst open the bright blue sky with neon lights
As scared soldiers scurry beneath you skirt
Bring in the dirty money
Bring in the dirty freedom
America, America, America.
You shining disco ball of sexual repression and fever.

When you were born,
Your ragged mango flavored sex was nothing but a sore spot.
Sore, sore, sore.
Every single sperm feeding off of your citrus juices.

My love, my clean burning fire
America, America, America
You freak.
You degenerate.
You liar.

America, I've seen you in the bathrooms doing blow
Screaming, "Dying rebel! The bloody rim!"
America, I've heard you squeal from the bedrooms of lovers
Who broke from you.
Who said they were gay.
Who said they were straight.

I've heard the bulldog dildos shoving into squeemish vaginas.
I've seen the barking of little girls in dungeons across the country.
America, you drove me wild
All those nights, asking, "Why, why, why?"
That's the nature of you.

You are the green-bellied fiend.
You are the anti-love machine.
You are the cure for love.
Your solution for extreme emotions is blissful complacency.
This is your gift to the world.
You great shepherd.
Tend to your flock.

The rebels want to stuff a stick of dynamite into your twat
Boom boom boom
The jazz drummer kicks the bass drum.
Shooting machine gun fire.
Drum sticks for weapons.
Weapons for instruments.
And your great song is a tale of war.
And your war is my tale of sorrow.
And your war is your war against me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

One Sight For Man. One Giant Bar Leap For Mankind: DAY 4 of 10

A new day in Barcelona. Why do we have to grow old? Why do we have to die? With so much to see and live, why does it have to ever end?

We sat outside waiting for the waitress to return with the menus so that we could eat breakfast. Pigeons gathered around the tables looking for crumbs. The Cathedral of Barcelona stood in the background casting it's large shadow over us. I could see the old Roman wall that the builders of the cathedral set the foundation on. It was warm enough to take off our coats. There was a lot of people walking around for a Monday morning.

The waitress returned and handed us the menus. Coffee was in order as well as a bocadillo, a Spanish sandwich that is distinguished by a loaf of bread cut crosswise instead of the traditional American sandwich, which instead requires slices of bread.

The pigeons got too close for Joe's comfort. He picked up a chair to, I guess, swing at them. The Spaniards looked horrified by his aggressive reaction while the rest of our group yelled for him to put it down. He placed the chair back on the ground and walked away to wait for us to finish.

Gray clouds had begun to roll in. We finished our breakfast, gathered our belongings and left. Mike, Gus and I were low on funds so we went to different banks to withdraw money for the day's activities. Our only goal was to go on one of the bus tours that are offered in Barcelona. These double decker buses are an excellent way to become acquainted with the sections of the city that was outside of Las Ramblas.

We walked along the walls of the cathedral and into a huge plaza - the same as the one we were in the day before. The center of attraction of this plaza was the cathedral. On the opposite side of it were stores and restaurants. One of the walls above a store displayed a large Picasso mural, which is easily recognizable due to pre-historic inspired style that he often employed.

The cathedral was in the process of renovation and a huge red sign covered the front of it exposing only the steeple. Miguel didn't want to go inside so he waited for us on the steps while the rest of us entered. The inside was exactly what I always imagined it to look like. We had the option to purchase one of the red candles and place it on a set of shelves with tens of candles placed on top. The reddish glow casted an eerie hue on the gray stone.

Joe and I entered a smaller section of the cathedral containing an altar, several benches and a tomb on the ground. The inscription on the tomb read that the body was interned somewhere around 1080. An effigy of the Virgin Mary stood behind the altar. It was a magnificint view. I said to Joe that this is how you convert people to Catholicism. I was so astounded that I wanted to pray but then I realized that this was a worship of art, of man's craftsmanship and his interpretation of faith. Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous view.

Christ... 1080?!?!? Those were Holy Roman Empire days. The Empire that King Charlemagne, better known as Charles the Great, forged. The country of Spain was known as Hispana back then. The Aztecs were just beginning their reign in Mezzo America, unaware of the perilous future that awaited them. Cortez and his band of conquistadors... That was no time near the conquest of Latin America.

Anyway, we all seperated around this time. I walked around and gawked at everything I saw. The large metal pipes where I was able to hear a soft solemn tune. In the center of the cathedral was a section where the choir once sat. The acoustics of this building were made so that God could hear every one sing. What must have it been like when there were hundreds of medieval attendees. People standing against the walls. The silence and then the thunder of the choir and the roar of the organ as people must have weeped at the miracle of faith that I imagined would have swelled in their hearts.

I read once that mass was based on a Roman rite reserved for the emperor. When Constantine converted to Christianity, people were allowed to participate in this ritual that eventually became the basis for the Church of Jesus Christ. I can't imagine another religion in the Western world that must have been as successful at conversion as Christianity and when you stand in one of these cathedrals, it really isn't difficult to surmise an explanation - an easy one.

I continued walking around the building and exited into a garden where there was a pond with a couple of swans swimming in it. The swans's black and white feathers, the gray stones and green leaves from small trees amalgamated to paint the modest color of worship while the artwork contained inside the cathedral rose like a becon for any celestial being to locate with ease - if one does exist.

It was probably time to go. I exited feeling an inner peace. I was thoughtful of the world of Barcelona. The patron saint of the city lay beneath the altar and I envied her for the bones that aged deep in the heart of beauty. I'm an idealist. I respond to miracles with sentiment and heartfelt wonder.

Miguel, Joe and Mike were on the steps. We sat there waiting for Gus to come out. I looked about the plaza, the church tower. I couldn't believe that I was actually there and recalling it now, it is still difficult to imagine. Gus left the cathedral and told us that there were steps that led to the roof. He took some beautiful pictures of it which, wouldn't matter for reasons that will be explained in a later blog.

We walked through a cobble stoned street. There was a crew of workers installing Christmas decorations above the street. There was a small gallery that had sign that read, "Dali". Joe and I walked through the passageway where some of his installations and sculptures sat. Dali is one of my very favorite painters and yet I was unimpressed because of my experience at the cathedral and yet, here was a man who sculpted and painted with his faith in God guiding his hands. His madness creasing the clay into these surreal shapes. The truth of reality displayed once more. It was 15 euros to get inside. Joe and I were convinced that we would go to Figueras in the coming days to visit the Dali museum, which we never happened as you will later learn.

The Placa de Catalunya wasn't far. This is where one of the bus stops was for the tour bus. We crossed into it and were suprised by the hundreds of pigeons that had gathered there. A woman selling snacks threw some bread crumbs on the ground, which captured the attention of those pigeons. They flew in front of our faces in the direction of the woman.

We walked toward a bar called Jules Verne. It was an Irish bar with cherry oak wood floors and walls. Miguel didn't want to go inside. The rest of us ordered our beers and walked up to the second floor to enjoy them and relax. Miguel eventually relented and joined us.

After this short breather, we left. As I walked out, I looked back to the table where we sat. I thought about the sentimental ache that I would feel the next time I return sometime in the distant future, perhaps when I'm an old man and think of the fun of that day. The bond that the five of us shared, which was growing thicker every day. It was good to see Gus in Barcelona with me. We had planned this trip 10 years before and talked about it loosely througout the years. It was a silly place to be sentimental in about feelings I'll have in the future but that's what I was thinking.
The bus pulled into the stop at Placa Catalunya and the five of us got in and walked to the upper deck. The deck was mostly empty. We sat down and plugged in the headphones that were given to us with our tickets as the bus drove away.

We saw Gaudi's famous apartment building, the The bus began to drive up the road that led to summit of Mont Juic. The name of the mountain translates to Mountain of the Jews. I never did find out why but my imagination dug through the possibilities when I considered the Spanish Inquisition and the oppressoin and murder of thousands of Jews. I didn't want to know why because the reason may have tainted the feeling that I had about Spain. In the back of my mind, though, lurked this dark era of Spanish historytrain station and some other beautiful monuments. I barely paid attention to the audio guide. Miguel and Joe used the opportunity to close their eyes for a bit and rest while Mike, Gus and I made jokes and laughed.
As the bus drove higher up the mountain, we noticed a small village to the left of us. We instantly exited the bus at the stop on the opposite side of the street. The village was high enough that we were able to view almost all of Barcelona from the side of the mountain. As beautiful as the city was below, the dreariness of it stood out from that height. I assume that it was due to the Gothic, Romantic and Post-Romantic style of the city's architecture. The modern buildings, like many we saw in other cities of Spain, conformed to Barcelona's original appearance; looking only like updated versions of the buildings.

It turns out that the village, Poble Espanyol, wasn't so old. Once you pass through the gate, we realized that the buildings fairly new, although the architecture looked like that of Andulusian villages in the South. This was Epcot Center but in Spain. According to the flyer that we received, the village was built for Barcelona's 1929 International Exhibition. It is home to many restaurants and shops. In spite of this, one can tell that this was built for beauty. The white-washed buildings neatly lined along the small streets.
Gus and Miguel were hungry and walked into a restaurant to eat while Joe, Mike and I walked into Placa Mayor. Joe wanted some pictures taken of him so he walked to a pavilion to pose while Mike took pictures of him. I decided to venture on my own. I walked down the small streets. They were mostly empty. Some of the shops were open with only one employee inside each store.

I walked to the back where a tall structure stood overlooking the mountain. The sun was setting and the warm colors had begun to gather on the horizon, slowly shedding onto the Catalonian landscape. I found myself completely alone and enjoying every minute of it. After a while of walking and absorbing the scenery, I headed back in the direction of Plaza Mayor.

Miguel, Gus and Mike were walking toward me. I asked where Joe was but no one knew. We had built up an appetite and decided on dinner. A small restaurant was open near the entrance. We took our seats outside while Gus called his girlfriend. The waiter gave us the menus. He explained that there were only three paella dishes available.

Joe called and wanted to meet up with us. There was a misunderstanding of where we were but he eventually located the restaurant. The food arrived and it was disappointing. Lackluster paella accompanied with sangria that was too sweet. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves and the view. Gus returned from his phone call. Joe grabbed one of the crawfish that was on my plate and shoved it into his mouth, gritting his teeth onto the shell. There wasn't much meat inside anyway.

It was time to go back to the hostel and change so we walked over to the bus stop. It was getting pretty cold out by this time. The bus finally came. We loaded on. Gus, Mike and I went on top while Joe and Miguel stayed in the lower deck. The bus went along the mountain's road. We passed by the Miro museum, the Olympic stadium and headed back down the mountain.

We were back near the port where we went the first night. This was the foot of Las Ramblas where a tall statue of Christopher Columbus stood. I was getting energy back as the electronic vibrations of a live city flushed through my system draining my weariness. Night time again and the thirst for the party was strong.

I believe we went found the train station, went home, changed and came back out but I'm not sure. I remember protesting the idea of going back but... I can't be sure. Either way, we were to meet Eva and Nudia again for some dinner and drinks.

Drinky, drinky, drinky and food, food, food. The girls met up with us and we walked to Placa Reial. We went to a bar that was on the corner of the plaza. They told us the lower floor was closed. I excused myself and went to the bathroom but when I came out, no one from my party was around. I exited and walked around the block. I called Gus and Joe - no answer. Finally, I got through to Gus and the bartender decided to open up the basement for us to eat and drink in.
Down I went. Deep down into the archaic structure where this bar inhabited. Every one was there, drinking, laughing. They ordered some food. I didn't order any food because I ate something before I arrived. Hunger stops for no one and I never resist the temptation to eat some food especially in Spain where everything was tasty.

Eva and Nudia were warming up to us and I could tell that they were enjoying our company. We talked about music and Spain. Got to know each other. Gus had issues ordering his drink. He requested his usual Baccardi and Coke but when said this, the waiter looked at him as if he had spoken Martian. "Baccardi and Coke," Gus repeated but nothing registered.
The waiter said that they don't have it and offered two types of rum that they carried. "That's the one!!!" Gus exclaimed over and over.
The waiter said, "Oooh, Ba-kah-dee!"
"Yes, yes, that one," said Gus. In Spain, they don't have Bacardi. They have Ba-kah-dee. Whatever...
Joe had trouble too. They don't have vodka either. They have vahd-kah. Let's see them try to get away with that in the States.
Damn exhaustion had begun to rear its nasty cuerpo and possess my body. I was tired. No rest but it was like I said the entire trip: You have to rely on your 7th wind. I hadn't even had my second, which means I had six more to go through. I knew I'd be all right. I ordered my vahd-kah and Red Bull.

Mike said something about "pollo", which means "chicken" in Spanish. Eva and I laughed because what he actually said was "bollo," which means "pussy."

"Si. Me Gusta bollo," Mike said. Bollo this and bollo that. Eva would look at me and roll her eyes and laugh. No matter how many times we corrected him, it was still all about bollo, bollo, bollo. One could hear a Freudian slip but you couldn't be too sure.
Gus went upstairs and never returned. He called Joe and told him that he had to go back. "Not feeling well," he said. Back to the hostel, he went.
After dinner, we walked down the street where Soul was. The place we had gone to the night before. A man came out of a bar and yelled to Mike.
He said to Mike, "Hey, I remember you from the bar crawl." Mike had no idea who this guy was. He continued, "You were the guy who was making out with every one." ' It was funny that this guy remembered him. He could have said anything to entice into the bar but this was his method. Mike was flabbergasted. He really had no clue who this guy was. Regardless, the guy was spot on. Mikey, Mikey, Mike....
Past that bar, past Soul, past another street. Destination compute - the Grungy Bar. Entrance - Euros for drinks. Good company. Broken Spanish. Communication indeed. Nevermind language barriers. Round of shots and drinks for all.
This new bar was excellent. Good music and it was grungy, like I said before - just like New York. Home Sweet Home. A guy sitting next to me barked at the waitress for some drinks. When she didn't hear him, he leaned over the bar and poured himself more beer from the draft. The bartender had black hair and a piercing on her lip. I started talking to the guy. He was Argentinian from the city of Buenos Aires. He grew up in the Cantabria region of Spain. I pointed out the great wines that the region is known for. He wanted to practice his English and I wanted to practice my Spanish. We had a good conversation. He would ask me a question in English and I would respond in Spanish. Good times.

Joe and I talked about Spain and how great of a time we were having. Eva and Nudia had brought a friend along named Danny. He spoke fluent English. The guy was top shelf. Real decent dude. Joe really dug him because Danny was very much into hard core music. I talked with Eva for a bit about things that I can't remember. Nudia really opened up and became a really fun person to hang out with.

I asked one of the other bartenders for another drink. I gave him a twenty. I waited, waited and waited but no change for me. I was furious because we had received only bad service everywhere we went and now we were robbed and I had it with all of them. I yelled to him, "Criminales! Criminales!" I looked at my Argentinian friend and asked him, "How do you say, "you're all criminals"?" and he said, "usted es todos los criminales." So I yelled, "usted es todos los criminales!"
Nudia was upset and she sternly told the guy to give me back the money. The bartender continued with his lie that he gave me back my change. He said that Joe took it, which I denied before Joe said anything. The bartender must have been pretty nervous over these angry Americans. He saw what we did in Iraq and who knows what we'd do to this establishment. He responded by giving us all shots and a round of drinks. In the end, it was worth it regardless how dishonest this fucker was.

After we were lathered properly with liquor and other spirits, it was time to go. Miguel was going to get his way and so Jamboree here we come. The club wasn't so far. It was back on the corner of Placa Reial, next door to Kabul (the hostel). We missed Gus but we knew that the man needed to rest off his ailment.
The entrance to Jamboree was ten euros. Eva talked the guy into giving us a discount but I still somehow paid the ten euros. We had to walk downstairs for the main action. The speakers filled the room with the sounds of breakbeats from Hip Hop tunes. The place reminded Mike and I of Pianos, a bar on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side of New York. A place I once loved and have become annoyed with.

Joe and I were impressed at how they were able to manage a sound system that actually sounded good given the acoustics down there. Old bricks and arcs everywhere but somehow they set up the speakers just right to get the most of this otherwise difficult setup.
I hung out there for about 45 minutes. Mike and I became bored with the place. I was going to leave but Joe said to take Mike along because he was tired and also wanted to go back to the hostel.

Mike and I left Miguel who was dancing with Eva and Joe who was doing his whiteboy dance (his words and not mine) while holding a drink.
We took a cab back to the hostel. When we walked in, Gus was awake. Mike and I sang him a song and possibly awoke every one else in the hostel that was sleeping. Goodnight for now. Joe and Miguel would later wake us up when they returned. They stumbled about the room and talked loudly. I didn't mind. I was glad to see them.

According to Joe, this is what happened while we slept. In Joe's words:

"I continued to get my drunken dance on, while Miguel got down with "The Miggy Dance" which he moved onto some girl's ass within about 10 minutes. I couldn't see her face, so I relocated...and upon seeing her, wondered if Miguel had seen her face either. Her and her friend were from Long Island City. Ridiculous. her friend was a black girl, about 8 feet tall, and even more unattractive. I started to pass out at some the bar while Miggy Smalls ordered some other drinks, he had mercy, and "allowed" us to leave...but we couldn't go back to the hostel until we ate.
We hunted down food, unsuccessfully for a while, until we found some convenience store...that oddly, also sold samosas. Miggy never had samosas before...they were damned good. We tried to get into a cab, but the guy wouldn't let us in with food. Mr. Hyde [Miguel] didn't say a word, but kicked the front passenger side door in disgust as the guy rolled the window back up. We moved to the next cab, who took us home, while we ate Miggy's grapes (which he bought with the samosas...) and listened to the Ghostbusters Themesong and other crazy tunes while the cabbie asked us "whether NYC is really like they show it on the TV" as we drove back to the hostel.
that's it."

Monday, December 3, 2007

This is Spain! DAY 3 OF 10

Just so that we're clear, let me say that Spain wasn't all debauchery. This is day 3 and I tried to sleep through a semi-decent hangover.

Joe woke us up and said, "I'll be in the city. Call me later." Off he went down the chutes and ladders of Barcelona's superb transit system. Where he would pop up? I had no clue. Either way, his exit was my call to arise. I had a whole city to see.

It did us no good to try and wake up Miguel as the man was near death and in a drunken coma. The poor bastard really overdid it the night before with the boozing and he needed some time to sleep it off. I left him my cell phone on a piece paper that contained the numbers for Joe's and Gus's cell phones. Mike, Gus and I departed for the Sagrada Familia - a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi, the famed Spanish architect.

We found our way to the exit for Sagrada Familia with ease. It was almost impossible to get lost down that labrynth of tunnels. I saw the cathedral for the first time and it was just like it looked in the pictures - construction cranes and all. The beauty of it was overpowering. One can see the newer section, which was much cleaner than the older one, which looked old and weathered like much of the Gothic district. I prefer the dirtier side because it gives the building authenticity and stoicism and yet it is so unique with its design. The boys and I needed food first and so we found our way to KFC. Yes, that KFC. The one with the fried chicken and Colonel Sanders.

I sat down with my food, took a bite and was squirted in the eye by some unknown burning liquid. The worst chicken sandwich of my life. But that is where it ends with the American junkfood and thank God.

Back on the street, the crowds were filling along Las Ramblas and looking at the goods that were provided by several street vendors. It was like a flew market back here in the States. The sky was a deep blue and without any clouds. I stood back and admired the Sagrada Familia standing there amongst all of these buildings. It is true today as it was hundreds of years ago that the tallest building in the city was a cathedral.

The closer we got to the building the more beautiful it became as I was able to admire the intricate artwork festooned on the fascade. I clicked away like a madman with my camera.

It was five euros to get in. I would have paid thirty if they would have asked. A huge crucifix greeted us at the entrance and there, in all of His glory and piety was Jesus Christ with the biggest set of balls I've ever seen. They were so big that Gus mentioned that it would be a good idea to take a picture of them. When I showed the picture to Mike, he exclaimed, "Jesus! I thought that was his head." They were huge. I said that it was fitting for Jesus to have a huge set like those. If He's the son of God then he better be packing an elephant trunk to show the world that he means business.

Once inside, I realized that there was no way that this building would be finished by 2010 as it was mentioned in the book I had carried with me. Construction began in 1882 and was followed by a series of changes by its architect who had tried to perfect its design. Unfortunately, Antoni Gaudi was killed in 1926 in some strange accient. A tram ran him over and he died in pauper's hospital three days later. His friends wanted to move him into a more proper hospital but he said that he wanted to die amongst the poor where he belongs. In 1938, anarchists destroyed his last blueprint, forever erasing Gaudi's final master plan. [I later learned that the new projection date of completion is estimated to be 2026.]

As of today, the stairs are incomplete and no seats anywhere. Huge arcs led to where I imagined the altar will eventually be. Even in this primordial interior, one can imagine the beauty of the final design.

What is it about the Meditarranean, the jamon, the beauty of the Sierra Nevada or the Pyranees or the open plains of Spain that produced such wonderous artists such as Gaudi, Miro, Dali, Picasso or even Garcia-Lorca? What I think it is that these men understood life. If one would consider for a moment the complex and surreal evolution of our species, it may not be so difficult to understand how this art became what it has become. Giving birth, dying, murder, conquering the seas, religion... all of this is in the work of such artists. From Gaudi's ocean inspired cathedral with its barnacle looking decorations to Dali's Perception of Time. It's all there.

I stood inside the belly of this artist's imagination admiring with a blank mind of things I may never understand. The detail. The crafstmanship... What an impressive resume one must have to just etch the designs into the stone.

There was an elevator that takes people all the way to the top but the line was too long. We don't do lines and this wouldn't be an exception. We'd eventually find an even more amazing view later on during the trip.

Joe called and wanted to meet with us. We told him to meet us at the cathedral and tried our best to describe the location but it was useless.

"I'm at the cathedral," Joe said.

"Can you see the artwork on the streets?" Gus asked.

"I'm on the steps," Joe replied.

Well, we figured the steps of this cathedral but when we walked out we realized that there was no steps for this one. Joe was at a different location.
We agreed on a place to meet, which was where we Gus and Joe had departed from the night before. It was an easy train ride there. We found Joe sitting at Las Ramblas with a smile on his face and listening to his iPod. Just relaxing as if he was a native.

Joe was hungry and required food in a hurry so we went to the equivelant of a TGIFridays with Spanish food. We sat down and he ordered some pasta while we enjoyed some sangria. I had begun to feel worried about the state of Miguel. Was he dead? We tried calling him but no answer. Either way, it was time to move on.

No matter where we walked, we usually ended up in the same place. Temple was to the right of us, again and we continued up the street and into the plaza from the night before. The memory Joe riding on Mike's back and toppling over and the Internationals jumping on them returned as I looked upon these official buildings.

A group of clowns were trying to gain entrance into one of the buildings but the security guard just looked at them and smiled. They were crying and drying their eyes. I could tell that they were performing a satire. Their camoflaged clothing and military style marching that they performed indicated a silly and yet effective form of protest. I wasn't sure if this was about the Catalonian state being oppressed by the government of Spain or if it was just a coincidence. The clowns threw flowers on the ground and when they realized that they would not be granted entrance, they about faced and marched toward the other building but once there, they were rejected as well. Instead, they joined the guard and stood at the entrance not allowing anyone in - including cats as they said. I disregarded my fear of clowns and saw this as a clever performance.

Gus, Joe, Mike and I decided to traverse down a street that we had not yet been on. A smoothie stand had set up shop and I saw it as an opportunity to catch up on my very much needed vitamins. My strawberry smoothie was refreshing. I walked after the boys who were turning onto another street.

Joe had gone to mass that morning at this beautiful cathedral. He said that many people told him, "No, no, no" throughout the day and a few of the "nos" was at the cathedral. He walked in and they told him to quietly walk to the front but he went to far and almost ended up at the altar. So they told him, "No, no, no" and he found a seat. He took a couple of pictures and they told him, "No, no, no." The cathedral was in view from that little street and we walked toward it but instead of being in front of the building, we were in some other plaza. A couple sat on the steps of some great gray building of gothic architecture. It was just the two of them and I marvelled at the simplicity of the view.

There was an entrance to another building with huge arcs that we had to walk through. Inside, was an elegant fountain in a small man made pond. There were religious symbols everywhere. Some new. Some old. I walked up the steps and saw another floor that had the entrance locked. That place was really fucking old whatever it was. We walked out of that building and saw the corner of the cathedral. There was a man playing a bass guitar in a jamband style. I saw two girls sitting on some steps drinking wine. The four of sat down on some other steps and took it all in.

The acoustics in this small plaza were amazing and every one seemed to great a sweet contrast to the old gray buildings. I could hear the reverberations of footsteps going from this way and that. It was peaceful.

It was time to go and see how Miguel was doing. We called again but no answer. I was really worried. We passed in front of the cathedral that Joe was in earlier. He explained to us the dance that he saw take place in front of it. Tens of people gathered to watch, according to him but now it was mostly empty besides the passer-bys such as ourselves.

We found the train station and down we went back to Badalona. All the way to Badalona.

Went back to the hostel and if you’d believe it, Miguel was still alive. He wore his patented blue pea coat and black Fidel cap. He looked up at us, smiled and handed back my phone.

“You slept the whole fucking day,” I yelled to him. The poor bastard slept away day 2 of Barcelona but he still had time to redeem himself.

All we did for the next couple of hours was relax, listen to music and walk the facility. I went outside and heard the familiar sound of squeaking of sneakers and a thumping thing on a court. The building next to ours was some kind of rec center. I stood on top of a platform and peered through one of the windows and saw men wearing basketball uniforms shooting hoops. All the way out there in Catalonia were men playing this very American sport. There were very few people in the stands and I thought to myself that this is what the stands must look like during a soccer match between grade D teams in America.

After the needed session of relaxation, it was time to disappear into the city once more. Joe’s uncle had been dating a Spanish woman for some time and mentioned to Joe about meeting up with her niece to get some real Barcelona experience. Not like that. We needed some locals to show us the real thing. Miguel spoke with her earlier and told her something in Spanish that literally translated to, “Every one has to clean themselves before going out,” but in that context of Spanish it really meant more like cleaning a cat than cleaning human bodies.

Miguel and Joe left before to meet up with Eva and her friend Nudia somewhere in Las Ramblas. Gus, Mike and I met up with them just a few moments later at some bar right off the street. The girls took us to a tapas bar. We had to stand in the hallway while all the wait staff and customer walked through us. I was tired and didn’t have the stamina to put up with this.

We finally received our orders – patatas bravas, jamon and something else that was pretty tatsty but the customers kept trudging in and out. Passing through us as if we were polluted air. I saw a fat couple about to enter the restaurant. Joe heard me say, “Oh Jesus Christ.” At risk to sound like a jerk, I have to admit that there really was no place else for me to go if they were going to pass through that hall. It was either I leave the restaurant or they didn’t enter, which is exactly what happened. They left.

The waiter teased us a few times with a table that was supposedly empty and each time disappointing us while we held plates of food in the air. Finally a table had become available. It was all ready three plates of tapas too late but it was better than nothing. Miguel and I ordered a liter of sangria for ourselves. I had to squeeze a seat at the end of the table between another table, which sat two girls about our age. I had to say, “excuse me” too many times just to sit.

I could sense that Eva and Nudia felt awkward. They had never met us before and I’m sure they felt that it was their duty to entertain us for the night. I speak very broken Spanish and Joe doesn’t speak a lick and Mike’s was very formal and often confused certain words but otherwise did very well. Gus and Miguel had no trouble. I also wasn’t sure what to think of them at first though they seemed nice enough.

I asked the girls next to our table if they could take a picture of us. We began talking with them. Their names were K and A and were from Canada. K was a DJ and A was a graphic designer. They wanted to meet with us later and have a drink. It was their first night in Barcelona.

Eva and Nudia had to work the next day and so they left our company. The boys and I had no desire to be there any longer and so we left too. We walked the streets and ended up on Plaza Reial. Right there on the corner was the hostel we originally wanted called Kabul and it was right next to fucking Jamboree. Unbelievable. It really did exist. We decided to stay in Barcelona an extra night and we all agreed to stay in Kabul. So, instead of leaving on Tuesday from Barcelona, we would leave on Wednesday.

I received a text from an unknown number. Turned out that it was from K. They wanted to meet up with us for a drink. We told them where to go. “Meet us by the fountain at the Plaza Reial.

The Plaza was also a beautiful sight but I had read that this is where trouble goes when it’s no longer safe to continue its activity on Las Ramblas. Fortunately there was people everywhere as well as a pair of police cars on temporary patrol of that area.

We decided earlier that no one could say, “You’ve been jamoned!” except for Mike because no one else could make it sound funny. If any of us besides Mike said it then we had to buy a round for every one else. Man, I couldn’t stop saying it before then and I needed my fix. I begged Mike over and over, “Please say it, man. Please fucking say it or I will explode.”

Mike said, “What do you guys think? Should I say it?” Of course every one said no but I had it. I said, “Ok, I’m about to buy all of you a drink. You’ve been jamoned!” And away went forty euros at the next bar, which was called Soul. Expensive drinks but damned good service and the music wasn’t bad either. Latin and American Jazz. There was a huge projector screen with interviews and performances with Jazz greats. I even saw Dizzy Gillespie's face appear on it.

I wanted to get a pack of cigarettes but the machine was between the doorway of the bar. I walked in between and took the opportunity to call Malena and see how she was doing. I put some money in the machine but nothing happened. The bouncer walked in from outside and pressed a button, which released my cigarettes. I thanked him and walked outside to better hear Malena. She was feeling sad and I wanted to comfort her. After we finished talking, I walked back inside when the bartender yelled over to me from the doorway and pointed to the bouncer who had my wallet in his hands. I fucking forgot my wallet on top of the cigarette machine. All of the stories I heard about pickpocketers and thieves lurking in the barrens of Spain and there was this good man who had considered the quality of my trip. I gave him a few euros after he refused a drink. He deserved it.

I had a good time talking with my friends and our new Canadian companions. A told Joe a story about how things went a little "debauched" (her words) back in Germany. She told him that she and some friends went back to their apartment. Got fucked up and fooled around. She didn’t divulge more than that but he got the picture.

K and A seemed nice but I was feeling pretty beat from all of the walking and drinking and so it was time to call it a night and try to sleep away the trip. I hailed a cab and off I went back to Badalona.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Good Evening, Barcelona: DAY 2 OF 10

[i apologize for any structural errors. Blogger is having issues with my blog]

"The Reality of America Fades And We Awake Into The Dream That is Barcelona" - My thoughts after we got off the Metro and poured into Las Ramblas.

The night catches wind;
So this is when the story
Really begins.

Fade In:

We took a nap right after we arrived in Badalona where our hostal was. Badalona is a neighborhood just outside of Barcelona. The buildings looked modern and the streets were wide enough for cars pass through indicating that the construction here dates to at least the invention of the automobile. The metro station was just across the street on a square. The area is drab and dreary even in the daylight.

All five of us took turns taking showers in the one bathroom hostal but we did good time. I slept for an hour, which was enough for me. This is our first night in Barcelona and we were preparing to teach our bodies a lesson for feeling exhausted. It was a lesson that would continue for the whole trip.

The receptionist was a girl with dreaded hair and in her early twenties. I'm not sure where she was from but she was nice. My friends and I gathered for a picture and handed her the camera. Our first night in Spain and the healthiest we would look for the remainder of the trip.

We took the Metro and headed into the heart of the city. Miguel had been to Barcelona before and he more or less knew where to go. He told us that we'd really like the area that we were going to. Our destination was the center of Las Ramblas. The train ride was long but if you're from New York then you're used to such things.

Here's what I noticed about Barcelona's transit system. The train stations are clean. Not cleaner but clean as compared to New York in which the subways look like sewers complete with its world famous rat population. You won't find any garbage down in the Metro. There's an LED sign that tells you how much time it will take for the next train to arrive and it almost always arrives promptly. When the train stops at the destination, you press a little green button for the door to open then you get inside. The trains are also clean. The people on them don't talk. They read their newspapers or stare out of windows. But we Americans... you can hear us coming. We're loud, boisterous and silly. We made loud jokes and laughed plenty on the way to Barcelona. The Barcelenos stared at the ugly Americans. I didn't want to be that but there are some things you can't help. I was too damn excited.


While walking up the stairs, I was able to hear the sounds of the city. I could feel the cool air and see the lights shining from above. I took my first breath when we exited the station and onto Las Ramblas. Jesus Christ, the city was beautiful. There were smaller streets that ran between old buildings. There were people everywhere. Street performers. Elegant lights illuminating the artwork that was Barcelona. I stood in awe over the dream that I had for at least 10 years before. All of those fantasies of what this Spanish city must look like. Breathe like. Smell like. This was it.

A kid in his early twenties walked over to us. Barcelenos don't stand at awe over their city like we did and so we stuck out... again. The kid was blonde, had dreadlocks and spoke with an Australian accent.

The Aussie said, "15 euros for a bar crawl. You boys will really like it. You get to visit three bars and one club. You get a free beer at the first place and a shot at the other three. If you want I can take you there now. It starts at 9:30". He pointed down a street where he said the first bar was. "Temple", he said it was called.

"No thanks. We'll find it," we told him. We were still unsure but we wanted to meet Internationals like ourselves and this was the way but we had to eat first before making a decision like that.

This was the Gothic district of Barcelona or Barri Gotic. It's called this because of the style of archictecture of the buildings. I remember reading about this when I was in college. I had taken a couple of art history courses and the professor was passionate about the Gothic style. I remember seeing the pictures. Towering gray buildings. Stainglass windows. It was nice to look at then through the world of 2D but here it was presented to me. This area was also the original Barcino that the Romans had founded. It was a lot smaller back then and was reserved for war weary soldiers who wanted to make a new life for themselves. Funny how that tradition continues today when I recall the trip and fantasize about moving there and away from this achievement weary life.

One of the things I've always wanted to do was touch one of these buildings. They were erected long before Columbus went on his overseas trip. We entered one of the streets. We looked for paella, of course. I rubbed my hand against the face of one of the buildings. I wondered who else had done this and how many years have people walked down these blocks and wanted a sense of time.

During our search for food, we entered a court where people had gathered to watch a band play. The stage was in front of this old cathedral. We didn't stay long but it was nice to hear some music. I wish we could have stayed but we were hungry and we had a bar crawl to consider.

My first meal was a falafel and not paella. I went all the way to Spain to eat a really bad falafel; sauce dripped on the Barcino streets and tomatoes marked my tracks like bedcrumbs. Joe had eaten at the same place when we passed through the street earlier. Gus had eaten at the pizzaria next door. Joe said that the man who served his falafel had cut his fingernail with the same knife used to prepare the meal. He looked up at Joe, I guess to see if there would be any debate but Joey... what could he say? So this mess of a "cook" continued making the falafel. This was also Joe's first experience with the bad service we would continue to have in Barcelona.

Temple was on the same street where we got our food. It was a quick walk. We peered through the windows of the bar and noticed that it was packed in with all sorts of people. We still debated though. Fifteen euros didn't seem like a lot but it was our first night in Barcelona. Should we really commit to this or should we explore? Joe sat down across the street while Miguel, Mike, Gus and I conferred. After a short debate, it was decided: Bar crawl.

"I need you guys to step back right here," said the Englishman at the door. "It's fifteen euros, mates. You're going to have a great time, boys. You know the story all ready?"

The man procured a pad of paper and wrote something about "entrance for 5 guys" or something like that and handed it to Gus. I thought to myself, let's bail. We're not obligated here. The air gathered and made the street into a wind tunnel as it began to blow. Whatever was to go on in there would be better than what was happening outside.

The Englishman said, "Walk up those stairs and to the back. You'll see a gentleman there. Give him your money and he'll stamp your wrist. Make sure you have your money ready, ok mates?"

We hesitantly walked in. We hoped that it would be worth it.

The place was an Irish bar. First we ate falafel and then now we were going inside an Irish bar in Spain. Just like we would do in New York except we would have done this on a weekday. That's midtown talk. Nevertheless, we walked up the staircase where an Indonesian looking kid sat at a table handing out stamps taking people's money. We gave him the fifteen euros and he gave us drink tickets.

The place was packed. We stood against a column and tried to manuver our beers down our throats as people repeatedly bumped into us on their way to the back. Gus observed some seats that were unocuppied. It wasn't in the middle of everything but at least we could drink in peace.

We walked to the rear of the bar and took our seats. Those first few moments were quiet. Peaceful. I'm sure all of us were reflecting and taking it all in. The beer was decent so I kept my mouth shut. We wanted more drinks but the bar was frothing with bodies and it was impossible to order anything. Joe told me to get the attention of this waitress that we noticed serve the tables nearby. I tried to get her attention but she was talking to some people. She looked at me once and continued talking. Finally, she looked to me again and I asked if we could have some service at our table. She seemed irritated by my presence.

"What do you want?" she asked.

"I'll have a Franziskaner. My friends want some drinks too if you can come by and take our requests," I told her.

She must have misunderstood what I said because she replied, "Well, I'm right here. Give me your order."

Joe walked by and sternly told her, "I'll have a vodka and club soda. No tonic." He played the part of the asshole but this was the only way this bitch would respond. She turned tail and fetched our drinks.
She returned with our drinks in surprisingly good time. Mike, Gus and Miguel made their requests. Mike began speaking Spanish to her.

The waitress looked at Mike and said, "I speak English". She was annoyed at Mike's presumption but how was he suppose to know? But Mike continued to talk sweetly with her. He mentioned something about liking the song that played over the speakers.

"That's my iPod," she said proudly.

She wasn't from Spain at all. She was from Romania and a big fan of Depeche Mode. After that, we had no problems with her.

I went to the bathroom and some girls asked me to get some toilet paper for them. Two were Australian and one was American from Boston. I walked in but there were too many people waiting in line for the toilet. They yelled at the guy pissing in the toilet to give them some toilet paper.

"In a minute, love," the Brit told them.

I said, "Well, looks like you girls are taken care of. I'll just do my business here if you don't mind."

I could hear them laughing outside the bathroom. My first interaction with Internationals was inside the men's bathroom. I walked out and asked if they needed anything else.

"Some more toilet paper? Some drinks perhaps? Would you like something to eat?" I said mockingly to the girls and their English friend.

We were alerted by the people working the bar crawl that it was time to go to the next joint. The boys and I were feeling something good from the drinks bubbling love juices from inside our gullets. I didn't realize how many people were on the bar crawl with us. People from all over the world gathering to play in the streets and bars of Barcelona bursting into the city streets with laughter and fun ringing loudly from our throats.

The next place... well, I
don't remember what the next place was called
but I do remember that it was red inside and good ol' Rock and Roll played out of the speakers and sweated down the walls. Headphones hung on hooks from the ceilings over the bars which lined the walls of either side. We entered another doorway into the main area. There was a booth to the right of us that had prepared shots for all of the bar crawlers. I looked down at the shots to pick the mightiest one but it was impossible to tell from that height. The drink needed to be in my veins in order to correctly guage its strength so I drank it and it was pretty good.

The boys and I gathered at the end of the only bar in that room and ordered some drinks. I quickly downed my vodka and tonic. The room was filling with stragglers from the crawl. I really enjoyed the music in that place. I don't remember what they played but I know that it was good.

"You guys want to see a trick?" I heard in an English accent. Gus, Miguel and I turned to the smiling Englishman with chin length dark hair. He did a lot of tricks that were really impressive but the one that I lost my shit over was when he told me to pick a coin out of the five he had in his hand. I made my pick and then he slid the coins into my palm.

"Now feel the coins," he said.

I felt the coins and replied, "All right, there's five."

He revealed a coin from his hand that looked similar to the one that I picked. He told me to open my palm and I couldn't believe that I saw four. I was flabbergasted and a bit disturbed. How the hell did he do that? I thought that the bastard made a deal with the devil for that trick. He sniffled and I said to myself, "did he make a deal with the devil for some coke?" Brilliant. My goal for the night was to find out how the hell he did that and what the deal was made for. His soul? Cocaine? I needed to know. This foreshadowed something that would happen on this trip when the five of us would lose one.

We gave him some money and he went off to another group to perform his Satanic trickery. Joe was witness to it but was unimpressed. He couldn't come up with an explanation but he tends to be more rational than me. I'm looking for miracles all of the time and rarely find them. I'll even take the devil's work.

I walked towards the front to guage the nature of this bar when I was pulled over to the side by a flock of English broads.

One of them asked, "Where are you from?"

Just like in the States, people know all they need to know about you once you say New York. I never once told anyone that I was from America while being there. I definitely said that I was an American but I tried to distinguish what part American I was. It seems that even in Europe, New York is seperate from the U.S. and the better portion of America if I may add.

I chatted for a bit with the English girls but had a hard time understanding them. They talked sloppily and all at the same time. It was like trying to listen to the three fates in a bar while holding a glass of the hard stuff in your hand. Good luck.

As we walked out to join the rest of the bar crawl on the street, Joe heard the Misfits play. I didn't recognize it at all but it was good to hear something like that being played all the way out here.
I noticed more bar crawlers than before and by this time, every one was feeling properly sloshed - including me. Mike had made a friend earlier named Sequoia de California, which must translate from Cherokee and Spanish to Sparrow of California. Real cute. Anyway, so this was Mike's new buddy and not a bad one to be friends with. She worked with the bar crawl crew and her job was to keep every one in line. Sequoia said that she'd been living in Barcelona for about 6 months and didn't speak a lick of Spanish. Perhaps she should have reconsidered her last name as it might throw people off ;-)

We thrashed through the narrow streets. Once in a while, I'd see Miguel on Joe or Gus's back racing past me like a jockey on his caballo. Miguel would slap the "caballo's" ass to go faster and faster. Every one was in a jovial mood. I stared at the sky and just listened to the laughter. The stars were up there somewhere. I couldn't see them but who needs stars when you're in Barcelona. That's New York talk.

The group gathered at a plaza and stopped. The plaza was surrounded by large and old government looking buildings that carried Catalonian, Spanish and European Union flags. Joe jumped on Mike's back but proved too much weight for Mike and he fell. Suddenly one of the English girls from before jumped on top of both of them and then another random guy jumped on all three of them. Poor Mike was crushed
but still managed to laugh off the pressure.

We walked into the third bar that looked considerably older than the first two. "Down the stairs!" someone said and we followed the voice down down down. Christ, the place was an old basement with a bar lining across the entire back wall. There were seats between the columns. I was feeling really drunk by this point and was a bit concerned about the shot I had just taken. I was going to bite the big one if I didn't slow down. I grabbed my drink and walked to a table that was underneath the staircase. Joe came by first with a huge goblet of what appeared to be vodka.

"Fuck no," I said. "You're sharing that with me. You can't drink all that by yourself." Who the hell was I to talk? I couldn't drink more than three sips from that damned thing. I wanted to watch over the boys and make sure that no one overdid it with the drinks because the last thing I wanted to do was escort someone home who couldn't handle their drink but there I was, shakey and careless sippng someone else's drink. Barthelona!
A girl with a supersoaker walked by and said, "do you want a shot?"

"Sure," I responded. She squirted the back of my throat twice with the worst vodka I'd ever had since I was unemployed and relied on cheap vodka.

"Want another?" she asked.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that's it. No more." I said before she squirt squirt into my mouth.

Gus came by with his giant goblet and I told him, "What the hell is the matter with you? You can't drink that all. Give me some," as I drank one sip but this time only one because... well, you know.

The girl went around and poisoned all of my friends with her cheap ass vodka until Miguel grabbed the gun from her and tried to squirt some into her mouth.

"No, no, no." she said. "I can't. I'm at work."

"C'mon," Miguel protested. She finally relented and reluctantly took her shot that Miguel squirted from the super soaker. Just then, her boss walked by and told her to get back to work. Miguel felt terrible.

Things almost got messy for me back in that bar. I was about two drinks overdue for a departure from there and thankfully it was time to go. So up we went through those elusive stairs. The steps moving from beneath my feet and the hand rails proving to be as slippery as snakes. It's the truth.

Through the narrow streets of the Barri Gotic we went again. I had begun singing the "Star Spangled Banner" to Joe when I saw Miguel run past us with Gus. I thought it was a fitting moment. The bar crawl had made stops that were on the way to the port and this time we were going to get right up to the Meditarranean's steps, which was kissed by the beach. It was a longer walk than before but I needed time to sweat out the alcohol in my system. I stumbled across a major street. I looked both ways before crossing but all of the lights seemed to come from everywhere.

Before we entered the next bar, I could hear "Sweet Home Alabama," sung by someone with a Spanish accent. A cover band was on a small stage ripping guitars and playing music that I loved. Mike danced with Sequoia and Gus and I walked to the terrace. We talked to a group of English girls. We were talking to anyone by this time. I wanted to know every one's story. Why were the here? What were they looking for? What's next for them? Anytime someone takes a trip like this, it changes them.

Anyway, the girls were fairly uninteresting. I went inside to grab my last drink of the night because I had had enough of the alcohol. I'd rely on pure adrenalin to keep me up through the night. I grabbed my drink and walked to the dance floor and moved around for a bit.

I don't remember where Joe or Miguel or Mike was but somehow we all gathered outside. I remember grabbing Miguel to leave. We were getting messy.

This is where things get blurry....

Ok, I do remember going to a club but the club kind of sucked. It was the last place of the tour. I don't remember where the club was but I do remember a guy constantly telling me to smoke in this small room and NOW I remember... I was in this small room smoking a cigarette when one of the English girls that I met before walked up to me.

"Do you want a [unintelligible]?" she asked.

"Say what?" I said.

"Do you want a THREESOME." she repeated.

"I'd love one but my girlfriend isn't here." I told her.

"Have you ever done anything like that before?" She asked.

I said, "Well, yeah but I'm not going to do something like that if she's not here."

She asked me, "Do you think she'd want to if she was here?" Like it would matter anyway because my girlfriend wasn't there. Yes, it's true. I was a good boy. I told her no but I did ask...

"How about my friends though? There's three that I know that would love to have some fun with you." I told her.

"No, I really want it to be with you and another girl." she said.

"Well, thanks but I can't." I told her. I wish I had something more exciting to report but I don't.

The club pretty much sucked. Gus and I pulled every one together and left the place. Miguel threw something at the bartender. We found out later it was because she threw something at him. I don't remember the whole story and don't want to make anything up. If I choose to write a book about this, I promise to come up with something good that happened there. We waited on Mike to finish making out with some girl that he was dancing with and off we went.

We left that club. Joe later said that he had to help Miguel out of there.

I remember walking up a spiral platform that exited onto the city streets and Gus pulling Mikey up from the ground floor while Joe pissed off the side. Mike told us that one of the English girls that I met earlier in the night jerked his [expletive] and told him to meet her in the bathroom, which he never did.


It was just the five of us left who walked through those cobble stoned streets; crying from laughter. Our first night and we did it big but it was not yet over.

Miguel pushed Gus into a gate that covered a storefront. Miguel fell into the gate as well. Suddenly, I heard the gate lift open and a big burly Spaniard came out and pushed Gus and yelled all sorts of things at him. We yelled back. It was amazing that this man would even confront Gus seeing that there were four other men behind him. A man with glasses peered out of the store.

Miguel came back and walked away from the confrontation, waving his hands and telling the man, "Comida, comida, comida."

The man yelled back, "NO! NO COMIDA!" It was really funny that in the heat of all of this that Miguel would tell him in Spanish, "Come on, let's get some food," and the man replied, "No! No food." And the way Miguel walked away from the situation as if he all ready assumed the man would come. Did he expect the angry burly Spaniard to say, "Ok, you got me. Let's go get some food." Jamon! (Remember that Mike's new thing was "You've been Jamoned" every time something bad happened... think blooper televison show).

I laughed all the way to Las Ramblas. Miguel had begun urging us to check out a club called Jamboree. It was an incredible place according to him. Gus and Joe were tired and decided to return to the hostal. I wanted to go with them but Miguel was very determined to find it and needed companions. I thought to myself, what the hell? I'm in Barcelona.

Miguel grabbed Joe by his coat and said, "Come on, man. Don't go. Come with us."

Joe became annoyed and told him, "Get your hands off of my coat. Seriously." Miguel let go and our group of five split. Two went home and the three went searching for Jamboree.

Miguel asked every one, "Donde esta Jamboree?" Over and over... "Donde esta Jamboree?" No one knew where this club was and I started to suspect that it didn't exist but help would come soon in the form of two young girls.

Miguel becomes Mister Hyde when he drinks. I love Mister Hyde. Miguel is great too but Mister Hyde is classic. So, Mister Hyde found these two girls, grabbed one of them and asked, "Donde esta Jamboree?"

One of them grabbed Miguel back and said, "Venga acqui." I started to think that something was awry. Miguel grabbed one of the girls and kissed her neck. She pushed him off of her and then grabbed him again and said, "Venga, venga."

Mike looked at me and said, "C'mon. It's Ok." I knew that it wasn't Ok. We had to go. It was time to leave. There was no fucking Jamboree and these girls were taking us to some dark alley to rob, rape and kill us or sell their bodies to us and when they find out that we aren't willing to pay then, "matales!" or "corta sus cabezas!" You can't tell what these Spaniards are up to. They used to do the running of the heretics and kill them afterwards.

One of the girls yelled at me, "Por que? Por que?" Por que because you're taking us somewhere we shouldn't be.

Mike and his girl started to walk further ahead from us and disappeared behind into another street. Miguel laughed while the
girl he was with continued dragging him by the arm.

"C'mon guys. We have to get the fuck out of here. Seriously. Let's go," I continued.

"Por que? Por que?" said the girl with the furrowed face while Miguel looked at me and laughed.

I was really concerned now. I couldn't see Mikey anymore and had no idea what was happening to him. Miguel grabbed his girl as she pushed him off again and said, "Venga, venga por acqui."

I saw Mike walk toward us from the street he disappeared into. He laughed and told us that we should go. Miguel asked why and Mike told him that the girls were prost

"Yeah, let's get out of here," said Mike. Jamboree. Jamboree. Jamoboree. The search was on again but I was annoyed and wanted to go back. We asked one more guy who leaned against the entrance of the Metro.

"Donde esta Jamboree?" we asked for the last time.

"Cierra a la seis en la manana," the man told us. Closes at six in the morning. It was all ready 5:30 AM and we had no idea where this place was. Time to go back.

We boarded the train and went to bed. Such is the end of the first day in Barcelona. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep but only for a few hours because there was much more to see and do the next day.