Friday, November 21, 2008

Spain - Day Four

The Amazing and Elegant Gran Via

You know the drill by now - alarm, shower, breakfast and taxi. The difference this particular morning (Wednesday) was the terribly shitty weather! All week long we had great weather - but the day Madrid decided to be temperamental - she did it with grand style. To begin with, it was cold - probably about 40 degrees (4 to 5 degrees Celsius) and WINDY! Thousands and thousands of umbrellas were blown inside out and destroyed, it was hailing and just generally shitty. It got a bit better later in the day, but this was the one stain on an otherwise perfect week of weather.

And, once again, I forgot to get a receipt from my Taxi. And, the taxi had a bit of a time finding the address - but he finally felt that we were in the right row of numbers and we pulled over. I arrived early and hung out outside of Eugenio's building. An older woman popped out of the building and I decided to make SURE that I was at the right address. Of course, I asked her, in perfect Spanish if this was the case and she immediately responded "Oh, you are English?!" No, I responded "From the States" - "Oh, she said, I lived in Seattle for 10 years" - "Was my Spanish that bad?" I queried. Oh, no, not at all, but I knew you were either American or British, I'm originally from Germany." "Fantastic, I said, I know it well." "Of course, I love Madrid, but I really wish I was back in Seattle..." - - - And, so it went like this for about five minutes. Lovely woman, but it's always disheartening when people respond to you in English when you're doing well with the host language... I had a cigarette while waiting in the downpour (always the stylish gentlemen, I had my umbrella) and Anita and Carlos came along a few minutes later. Very happy to see them, we moved into the lobby of Eugenio's building.

A few Ad Mats for Eugenio's Classic of the Genre, Horror Express (1973)

Some very accomplished poster art on the various one sheets and quads

A moment later, Eugenio Martin (83 years young) answered the door. How impressive a man he is. He's 83, looks 73, and acts 63. Incredible. We sat down and started the interview - Eugenio was a charming, gracious, and incredibly informative interview - having worked across multiple genres (especially the horror film and the spaghetti western) and having worked in and out of the Spanish film industry (and on many international co-productions), his life's work and cumulative experiences made for brilliant conversation. He has directed many major talents during his career including James Mason, Lee Van Cleef, Christopher Lee, Telly Savales, Peter Cushing, Gina Lollobrigida, Carroll Baker, Clint Walker, Judy Geeson, Michael Craig, Chuck Connors, among many others. He's a very modest man, when I told him that his legendary "Horror Express" was the centerpiece of many cherished memories (especially on one late-night occasion with my brother and grandfather) he thanked me - but I pushed a bit further to explain that mine was merely one story where there were many, many, many more (that particular filmed aired every month or two for the majority of the 1970s!) - he became very modest. I said, trust me, you've made an impact on many lives - at 83 years old, I would have been ashamed not to verbalize that.

(Left to Right) - Carlos Aguilar, Yours Truly, Eugenio Martin

Circulo de Bellas Artes

After our time with Eugenio it was of course time for lunch. The weather was still horrible and to top it off - the taxi ride was interminable. It seems there was some demonstrating in the center of Madrid (around the Gran Via area) by the police force, who, apparently, were very upset over wages, pensions, etc. It sounded like a soccer match - the chanting was incredibly loud and they were like a half mile away. At any rate, this demonstration was having a tremendous effect on Traffic and we just sort of sat for a long time. Carlos really wanted to take me for a great paella that day, but luck was not favoring us. His idea was to go to The Ciculo de Bellas Artes instead. I loved this place. Here's a nice summary from Frommers:

This former members-only club is now open to the general public, and if you dine out here, you may still get the feeling you're crashing a private party (a time-honored tradition in Madrid, incidentally). With its 1920s-style ceilings, chandeliers, artistic statues, and soaring pillars, the cafe lies in an arts center. Locals don't even know the place by its formal name, having nicknamed it la pecera, or aquarium. The food and drink are served in a palatial hall. At lunchtime join politicians and bankers from the nearby parliament or the Banco de España to enjoy a variety of pork, beef, fresh fish, and chicken dishes -- the menu is rotated daily

It was a lovely place and we were very happy to be indoors as the weather was still miserable. Not to mention we had a severely cute Andalucian waitress who took the pic of Carlos and I... Ahem, anyways... The food was great, the place was bustling with activity. Anita had to go teach her classes and Carlos and I stayed for quite some time enjoying a great after lunch hot chocolate which suited the weather perfectly.

Madrileños LOVE their hot chocolate

Should've talked more with the lovely Andalucian girl who took this pic!

Another gift for me - I lost track after awhile. There were many!

This book above is particularly important as it catalogs, or rather. provides an anthology of nearly every Spanish horror film produced in the 20th and 21st centuries and commentaries on them. I was confused by the exclusion of a few films, like for example, A Bell From Hell (La Campana del Infernio 1973). I realized later when I read more carefully that this was an inventory and history of the Spanish FANTASTIC canon of films. Films that were not fantastic (in the literary sense of the word, see Todorov) were not included. As A Bell From Hell has no supernatural elements it was not included. This book (which is impossible to find!!) was another in the long list of tremendous gifts from two good friends. Thanks you two!

I know that Carlos and Anita are going to laugh that I am including this - but, a running joke between us concerned a cologne/after shave that I love and had not been able to get here in the States. The bottle that I once had ran out about 20 years ago (my Grandfather had brought me a bottle back from Spain in the 70s). This scent has the distinguished honor of being Frank Sinatra's favorite cologne - he wore it daily. Of course, my logic is that if I wear it, then the modern equivalent of Ava Gardner will sniff me out... I am speaking of the legendary Agua Lavanda! Carlos wasn't a huge fan of it, but didn't mind it either - he wore it after shaving when he was in the military. I, on the other hand, love Agua Lavanda, and I'm not a Huge cologne guy - I definitely own a lot of different fragrances, but just put enough on so that only the person who should be smelling it - is actually smelling it. AND, I have worn this a few times since being home and have been told by two very lovely women (after hugging them) that it was amazing, "wow, you smell goooood" "what are you wearing?!" - proof's in the pudding amigo Carlos!

I also picked up another scent from Spain that I loved - Royale Ambree. It's very different from Agua Lavanda which has strong base notes and very light lavender mid-notes that linger. Ambree has a strong citrus note, a lot like 4711. I love it - I'm a big fan of having a GOOD after-shave that interlaces with your own natural scent. Why? Mostly, because, the girls that I have known like it too. So. That's good enough for me. These two have served me well in the past, and God willing, will continue to do so in the future. Okay, enough on after-shave - but ya know - it was a big part of the day. Day four ladies and gentlemen - all about the after-shave... Okay, not so much, but I'm glad I was able to find these - even if the lovely saleswoman was thinking that I was a Grandpa in my tastes (which she didn't). Hey, I always go with the classics. There's a reason they're classics. Agua Lavanda launched in 1940! Now, that's some legs for a cologne.

Carlos and I also stopped into the Objetos de Arte Toledano store from the previous post where I picked up a few items (mostly art prints). We parted late in the afternoon and I had a few phone messages waiting for me when I returned to the hotel. A former student, now close friend, and lovely young lady had been working in Paris for CNN and we had talked about her taking a train into Madrid - unfortunately she called on Antonio's shift. She spoke no Spanish, Antonio no English. Stalemate. She said she would call back. The other message was from my friend Pedro who is like a brother (we had lived together years ago and our families go back 60 plus years). Pedro lives north of Madrid in Bilbao (pictured) which is a home away from home for me. We had hoped to get together that week, but activities and business kept me in Madrid and he could just not break away. His message said that he would phone later too.

Typical square in Bilbao

I would have loved to get up to Bilbao. Pedro's family is my extended family and I had not seen his wife Nuria in ten years (no to mention their 4 year old daughter Paula). Plus there are sooo many special places in the Basque Country, San Sebastian, Fuenterrabia, Pamplona, and so on. At around 10 o'clock Pedro called and we talked 90 minutes or more about all sorts of things. His English is still VERY good and he was flabbergasted that my Spanish was so serviceable. We lived together when we were 18/19 years old - back then it was pretty awful. The funny thing is that I haven't practiced one bit since then!! We said adios and spoke a few days later. Either I am going back to Spain in the next year or two OR Pedro and his family are coming here for a decent visit - we've decided this much at least.

It was about midnight when Pedro and I finished up our lengthy conversation. I watched some television, relaxed on the balcony, went down and talked with my friend Jose at the desk for an hour and finally went to bed around 3. As usual, sleep didn't kick in until an hour later. Day 5 was moments away. Thanks for dropping in and checking out my trip, much appreciated dear visitor.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spain - Day Three

Plaza De Espana


Day three in Madrid began exactly as day two save for one small difference - I was set to interview a man whom I admired greatly just after breakfast. This is definitely a good way to start a day! So, once again, an early wake up call, shower, breakfast, and then a taxi over to Jorge's lovely home.

The cabbie had a bit of a tough time locating the address (not sure why, it wasn't far away or too secluded) but Carlos reported the same thing from his taxi driver too. When I arrived, Carlos and Anita were waiting just outside for me. I hopped out of the cab (forgetting to get a receipt - which I did at least a dozen times, not good for an expense report) and the three of us headed up to Jorge's home.

Jorge met us at the door where I was introduced to him and his wife. After a few moments of conversation between Carlos, Anita and Jorge who were catching up on various current affairs, we sat down in a well lit corner (amongst Jorge's thousands of books) for the interview. I began by telling him of my admiration for his work and especially for the film that has brought him the most international acclaim, The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974). If you are not familiar with this film and you consider yourself something of a zombie aficionado then you must get a hold of this film. It is a true masterpiece of the genre.

Ray Lovelocke in:
No Profanar el Sueno de los Muertos (The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue)

Me and Jorge Grau - a great guy and a wonderful interview

My interview with Jorge went perfect. Anita Haas had generously (on several occasions) lent her translation skills - my Spanish is good enough to get the gist of conversations, but one small word can completely change the meaning of a sentence or group of sentences. In the case of Jorge, her skills were definitely needed as Jorge spoke little to no English and my Spanish was reliable enough to follow his answers but not in total comprehension. Carlos, of course, was indispensable (the running joke was to be careful with my compliments, I had already called him a genius, a saint, nearing God-like proportions, and Anita was telling me that his head was growing measurably with my compliments).

After our visit with Jorge, the three of us went to their friend Jesus' DVD store. Unfortunately, Jesus was waiting for a shipment of many of the titles I was on the market for. It was still a lot of fun and I was able to buy several movies that I needed for my dissertation which are not readily available in the States. Anita had asked if I had a suggestion for something that her English students would both enjoy and learn from (as we're both educators). After a brief moment, my knee-jerk reaction (with Halloween rapidly approaching) was Walt Disney's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." I was very pleased to hear a few days later that my suggestion was a big success with her classes (well, how can you go wrong with Bing Crosby and Washington Irving?).

Jesus and I bonded over our love of Natalie Wood

Jesus had a great selection of titles - one in particular is below!

One item that I was THRILLED to find in Delocio Negocio was Max Ophüls' sublime masterpiece and 7 hanky tear-jerker "Letter From an Unknown Woman" 1948. It is criminal that one of the great masterworks of the 20th century is so hard to obtain. The dvd was multi-region and loaded up in the university dvd players when I returned home. I adore this film - it is the quintessential romantic film, bittersweet, tragic and heartbreaking. I am anxious to show this film to classes - I always wanted to screen it for the history of film courses, but alas, it was extremely hard to come by. So, in addition to a few titles that Jesus had in stock that I needed - this hidden treasure made the visit to the store all the more special.

Next up? Lunch of course. Nearby was a place that Carlos and Anita were very fond of - La Taberna Andaluza la Flamenca or "La Flamenca" on calle Alvarez. The meal was fantastic, really incredible.

A Modest Entrance - Great Pleasures Inside

An Andalucian Flamenca keeps you company while you dine - we sat underneath her.

The Spanish Saint of European Horor, The Toronto Majesty of Terror and The Chocolate Cake that I can still taste in my mind...

Lunch was, like all the lunches in Madrid, incredible. We three said adios until later and I headed home, but not before snapping a pic of this lovely fresco outside of the Tavern.


After relaxing in the hotel for a little bit - chilling out with a good Spanish soap opera, a few ciggies on the balcony - I got restless and it was time for a gran paseo. On the way back from this long walk I stopped to take some photos of a great shoppe across from the Prado. It is quite famous in that area - it's called "Objetos de Arte Toledano" and I bought a few things in there a few days later. My only regret was NOT buying one of the Templar rings that they had for sale. Nevertheless, I've found some similar ones on ebay and Christmas is coming up... Overall, my favorite shoppe for gifts and Medieval items. Just look at the facade of this place!

Very life-like

A Museum of Medieval Templars? I'm ON IT!

"I dub thee... Blind Templar # 4 in Tombs of the Blind Dead"

Loved this place. A Templar ring is mine come Decemeber.

Back to the hotel - relaxed for a bit and then I felt I should get to a computer and prepare for my interview with Eugenio Martin which was scheduled for the next morning. It was incredible to be interviewing another director whom I held in such high regard and had contributed so much to the canon of Spanish cinema. My friend Antonio at the hotel desk gave me loose directions to an Internet Cafe that was supposedly nearby on Atocha. And so about 7 o'clock I felt I was up for an excursion - sure enough I found it - didn't take too long. Let's see if I can bring it up on Google.

Well dammit, I couldn't get Google Street to give me a pic of the internet cafe - but it was about 20 yards to the right of this pic on Atocha. You paid about 2 bucks for the hour - cheap enough. I quickly had a seat and checked email - and for fuck-sakes, I wound up answering emails from students about assignments and such for about 15 minutes - you go 7,000 miles away and there is just NO ESCAPE from teaching. Okay, so after that, I essentially just did some more research about Eugenio Martin's career apart from the films I was familiar with in order to have a productive and efficient interview with him in the morning. I farted around for a bit - and then headed back to the hotel - stopping by for a quick beer on the way.

I didn't eat dinner that night - instead after the beer I stopped in a store and bought some snacks for the room and big ass bottle of mango juice - which was soooooo good. Once again, I just couldn't get to sleep despite being OVER tired, Madrid just wouldn't let me - it kept whispering - "no, don't sleep - enjoy as much as possible" - and I did. Somehow I found energy every morning despite only getting a few hours a night all week long. Must be some magic dust in the Madrid ether.

Eugenio Martin on day 4.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spain - Day Two

Plaza de Cibeles


These posts about my recent trip to Spain are structured around personal insights and memories - they will include silly minutiae that may bore you to tears. For this I apologize, but these entries amount to essentially a very personal project - and I would like to share it with anyone who is interested. So, continuing where I left off - when I returned from dinner and drinks with Carlos and Anita on Sunday night I had a new book in my hands. A book that was and is CRUCIAL to my dissertation. Carlos' Cine Fantastico y de Terror Espanol 1900 - 1983 (now out of print) which I quickly begain to devour - with a Spanish dictionary at my side I was pleased that I could understand just about every paragraph fully.

The first night's gift is the book on the left

I read for an hour or two and eventually faded off around 4 am. My wake up call was set for 7:30 and I hopped outta bed and into the shower. 20 minutes later I was having my standard breakfast. By the end of the week the staff knew exactly what to bring me - cafe con leche, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a kind of croissant with butter and apricot jam - simple, delicious and plenty to get me going.

First stop for the day was the Filmoteca Espanola (the Spanish Film Archive) which is an arm of the Spanish Government - Ministry of Culture. The building is a labyrinth of halls, stairs, rooms, floors - good Lord, it took me awhile to get to know this place - it was HUGE.

The Spanish Filmoteca

Damn Big Door

I met with a lovely and fantastic woman - Margarita, who had been a major critic for years and has been with the Archive for some time now. Margarita and I spoke casually for quite awhile and then the conversation turned very informative and morphed into an interview with Marga explaining, in good detail, the economic genesis of my period of inquiry as well as some of the literary traditions and aesthetic considerations. It was a lovely interview.

I finished with the Filmoteca and went back to the hotel. Carlos and I had made plans to meet for a light lunch around 2 o'clock. He chose one of his favorite (if not his favorite) restaurants for calamari (they claim to have the "Best in Madrid") which was right down the street at Atocha. The restaurant (and there's about 3 in Madrid) is called Brillante.

Brillante Claims - "The Best Calamari in Madrid" (photo: Noain)

Awesome Calamari - I agree. Great place & 2 minutes from Hotel (photo: as above)

Carlos met me in the lobby of my hotel and we strolled casually to Brillante (like 2 minutes away) where we had a delicious lunch. He also (again!) had another gift for me. Book two of his century long inquiry of the Spanish Horror Film, and like the first book, personally inscribed to me. We talked more and casually about our silver screen starlets, women that we adored, our favorite directors, movies, actors, writers, producers, you name it. Carlos has worked with and knows just about everybody in the European cinema world, not to mention that he himself is a celebrity! Carlos and I said our goodbye's and he told me to ring him that night for directions to Jorge Grau's home.

After lunch I did some excursions, stopping here and there for a drink - but I was still in the throes of jet lag and headed back to the hotel to rest for awhile. I came down for an early dinner (by Spanish standards - very early) and again was very pleased with the kitchen at my hotel. I had a plate full of chorizo, a fruit of the sea, fresh squeezed orange juice, a shit load of bread, a few glasses of Rioja, a boyseberry cake and cafe con leche (about 16 or 17.00 bucks - incredible).

Fruit of the Sea and a big ol' plate of Chorizo

After patting my belly and a few ciggies, it was time to walk off all that food. Un pequito paseo followed that meal (and every meal). I cherished these quality "alone" times. True, Madrid is a city of millions, but it was very quiet in many of the places that I strolled and It was always a good time for reflection. These walks also gave me ample mental time to clear any residual cobwebs and I could focus on important tasks at hand (like my interview with Jorge Grau the next morning).

Despite the millions, you can isolate yourself and your mind rather easily...

After a good and long walk I returned to my modest room to prepare questions for a man that I was very honored and excited to meet. The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (Although, I prefer its Spanish title: No Profanar El Sueno de Lost Muertos) is entirely deserving of its legendary, cult status. It delivers many highly accomplished shocks, thrills, terror, and some rather biting (no pun intended) social commentary. It is beautifully shot and composed, paced, acted, and rates (in my opinion) just under Romero's contemporary definition of the genre (Night of the Living Dead, 1968).

After coming up with a collection of softball and hardball questions for Jorge, I went on to my balcony - had a smoke, and then bedded down for the evening. Sleep wouldn't come for awhile, but I did manage to get a few hours before the 8 o'clock wake up call. I will say (although this did not happen on DAY TWO) that in honor of my great meeting with Jorge Grau, I was able to buy the original Spanish One Sheet for The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue - and was a very very happy boy for it.

Ah, The Original Spanish One Sheet - Magnifico!

DAY TWO was easy and smooooth. I was slowly getting adjusted to the time change and had been the lucky recipient of the incredible generoisty and kindness of Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas. All was well with the world...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Un Hombre Con Un Backpack de Terror" or "Diary of an Academic Engrossed in Horror Films"

Me in the Plaza Mayor (I hadn't stepped foot in there for 20 years)


I worked hard for nearly a year to secure a grant from my University. The grant was designed around conducting international research in Madrid for my doctoral dissertation. It was a bumpy road. The money was elusive, but in the end, with the help of some very good people - it materialized and I set the week for mid-October. The bulk of the research (sadly, only a week) was centered around, archival investigations and interviews regarding the Spanish horror film boom of the late 1960s and 1970s. The quality and the quantity of my research turned out to be phenomenal - especially since I only had 5 weekdays to do it!

The day came to leave (Saturday, Oct. 18) and my Mom drove me to the airport. We reminisced about our memories of Spain. We had an apartment in Las Palmas (one of Spain's Canary Islands - just off the coast of Morocco). Las Palmas is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I forever gave my Grandparents shit for selling the apartment in 1980, but so goes life...

Check in at the North Terminal in Detroit was fast and easy. The flight to Chicago - the same. I had three hours to kill in O'Hare (not one of my favorite airports due to its hectic pace and HIGH volume of travelers). The Iberia gate opened, we boarded, and departed on time. Lovely. We landed in Madrid about eight hours later - I hadn't stepped foot on Spanish soil in ten years and it felt very, very good.

Barajas is incredible

Barajas is definitely NOT the major airport I remember from the 7os. The main reason for this is because it's NOT. It's a brand new airport that truly has no rival in Europe. Some of the data regarding Barajas: Terminal 4, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers (winning team of the 2006 Stirling Prize), and TPS Engineers, (winning team of the 2006 IStructE Award for Commercial Structures) was built by Ferrovial and inaugurated on February 5, 2006. Terminal 4 is one of the world's largest airport terminals in terms of area, with 760,000 square meters (8,180,572 square feet) in separate landside and airside structures. Consisting of a main building, T4 (470,000 m²), and satellite building, T4S (290,000 m²), which are separated by approximately 2.5 km. Hong Kong International Airport still holds the title for the world's largest single terminal building (Terminal 1) at 570,000 square meter. The new Terminal 4 is meant to give passengers a stress-free start to their journey. This is managed through careful use of illumination, available by glass panes instead of walls and numerous domes in the roof which allow natural light to pass through. With the new addition, Barajas is designed to handle 70 million passengers annually. Personally, it reminds me of a Ken Adam production design from one of his many James Bond films - it is an AMAZING airport. ( data is from Wiki entry on Barajas).

I quickly found a taxi at the top of the queue and told the driver "the Hotel Mora, Paseo Del Prado." And thus began a week of intense Spanish. A word about my Spanish. It's not great, but it's not that bad either. It's actually really VERY good when I am having a conversation with myself. When I have the time (as opposed to real time) to form the sentences in my head - they are quite good. But the real time conversation is always more difficult, more fun, and challenging. I understand nearly all which is said to me and respond okay - but taking time to choose the right words is the rub. By the end of the week however, my Spanish was blossoming and had I another week or two - my Spanish tongue would have been quite a bit more cunning.

First pic taken. After much coffee I walked right over to the Prado and waited for it to open.

I got into the taxi queue at Barajas and we drove into a very quiet, sleeping Madrid. It was about 7 am on a Sunday morning. I chatted with the cabbie - testing my Spanish - I passed for the most part. We arrived to the Paseo Del Prado and I checked into my Hotel. As is the case when you arrive early in a city - you can't check in until typically 2 pm. It was 7:30. I had about 7 hours to kill. I checked my baggage with the hotel and 3 cafe con leche's and several cigarettes later - 9 am rolled around and the Prado Museum (just across the street mind you) opened its glorious doors.

So, I spent the morning with Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Dali, Rubens, and my personal favorite Jose de Ribera. I was one tired dude though and the jet-lag was getting the best of me... After about 3 hours I stopped into the small gift shoppe in the Museum and quickly fell in love with the girl working there. In fact, I rehearsed a complex compliment in Spanish to tell her (roughly explaining to her that she was more beautiful than anything hangin in the entire building) but I chickened out in the last minute, I know, I know, but hey, I was very fucking tired... Truth be told, I was falling in love with a girl every two minutes - I couldn't help it. In Europe (especially Spain) the girls look like the just walked off of the set of a Fellini film - high heels, nylons, skirt, satin blouse, necklace, scarf, bit of make-up to accentuate the lips and eyes - JODER! Too much visual stimulation. In Detroit, girls walk around in sweats and Ugg Boots. By comparison, I was in heaven. This was one of the MAJOR reasons I was kicking and screaming all the way to the ariport a week later... Anyways, so where was I? Oh yeah, the masters - well here's one of em' for ya!

Goya (check out The Naked Maja at the Base!)

2 o'clock rolled around and I went back to my lovely little hotel and checked in. The lobby:

My room? Small? You be the judge...

Be it ever so humble...

Ah, but don't underestimate this nugget! My needs were simple, I needed a nice, clean, affordable hotel and Mora delivered beautifully. I was SO incredibly busy every day that my hotel was merely a place to go at the end of the day and essentially prepare for the next day's events and of course to take a load off and to sleep. The hotel is lovely, it has a great lil' cafe with very good food, a very friendly staff (I was hanging out with the staff at night regularly), is VERY centrally located, had a new plasma tv, a small but brand new bathroom and was only 60 Euros a night! Beat that! A hostel is only going to run slightly cheaper and I'm too damn old for a hostel these days - the Hotel Mora was perfect. Thank you Carlos for the recommendation - I will definitely stay there again next trip. Views from the balcony which is on the Paseo del Prado - to the right is Atocha railway station - yes it's that close.

Left View

Right View

Now, the trick was NOT to crash. Anyone who knows jet-lag - knows that even though you've been up for like 30 hours - you don't want to nap or you'll have trouble sleeping that night. I took a 20-30 minute power nap and then showered - grabbed some coffee downstairs and called the historian, author, critic, cinema personality, and all around fantastic caballero - Carlos Aguilar (with whom I had been corresponding for many months) I phoned his equally brilliant and super lovely wife, the Canadian author Anita Haas and the three of us set up plans to meet that night (Sunday) for drinks, food, conversation, and in retrospect, perhaps the most special night of my trip. We went to La Taberna de Conspiradores which was just around the corner - it was about 9:30 when we arrived. Carlos quickly told me he had inerviews set up with Jorge Grau and Eugenio Martin if I would like... If I would like?! Absolutely! What a great start to the week! Carlos also gave me the first of many gifts that night - more on that in the next post. We talked about many many topics and realized that we had a tremendous amount in common and it felt like we had been friends for a very long time, easily and comfortably we got to know one another - it was a very special evening (and my GOD, the food!!!!!!) How I wish I had that platter of Chorizo and other meat specialites in front of me again (what was the name of the hot one again? Jamon Potate?) and my personal favorite drink for relaxation in Spain -Patxaran.

Taberna de Conspiradores during the day

A Special First Night in Madrid - Carlos, Anita y Yo

I was OVER-TIRED when I got back to the hotel and didn't get to sleep until about 4 am - with a wake up call for 7:30 - but I didn't care. I was in Spain. A country I am always at home in. I'll post pics of yours truly at two years old in Las Palmas (back in 1972) - I am always welcomed in this country - she and I have had a long and beautiful love affair.