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...


Ross Horsley said...

I'm *SO* enjoying this account of your trip. It sounds like a movie buffs dream holiday... What a great way to mix business and pleasure!

Chick Young said...

Ross Ol Buddy! Good to see you. It's not a bad profession mate - maybe you should have stuck with it a bit longer? Or was academia not for you? At any rate - you're right, a good way to make business your pleasure.