Nighttime in Northen Lavapiés – fotopost

5 03 2012

Mercado de Antón Martín.

Butcher outside of Mercado.

La Filmoteca.

Abandoned doorframe grunge.


Hay pan.

Street of the Three Fishes.


Triangle Room.

From my housemate’s exterior window.
This is where I live.

upheavals and (re)alignments

5 12 2011

Day-to-day currents keep shifting, and the urge to chronicle ebbs and flows, wordy moon waxing and waning in an altogether too rapidly spinning sky. I’m still here, I’m still writing. I continue to taste the new, both bitter and saccharine.

Endless nights take on fresh meaning sticky with sweat and sweetener. They’re necessarily temporal; I aim to let each remain in well-earned rest, undisturbed by introspection’s probing claws. A selection of frames: skullface and skulldress, electric Mexican advice, purple line wrong-way mornings, teenage punk-style busted lip, access denied, Robyn, huevos al plato, discarded slides/snaps, mad dancing ladytribes, cilantro judiciousness, saving face with crudités, spontaneous manifestation of lemon-yogurt cake, halfway-homelessness, somebody that I used to know, spotty mondays, disasterous cheesesteak luncheons, not seeing the Serbian, icy cobalt nails just in time for Madrid’s cold snap.

Re: “halfway-homelessness” – it’s true, I am currently nest-less. I’ve moved from Luchana. There is much appeal to community living, and there have been moments in the 10-person piso during which I’ve absolutely soared. Several of its members are now dear to me. It was an ideal, easy escape from the Palos electrical nightmare. Also, expensive – for a place clearly fraying around the edges, the rent was simply much too high to continue calling it “grunge-chic.” Selected incidents of severe fiesta also resulted in disaster, culminating in the form of pilfered dresses from the neighbor’s line. Your truly was up to no good far from the piso at the time of the Great Dress Heist, but in such an oversize batch of inquilinos, we are all somewhat to blame for the failure to cultivate more general, common-sense respect in the house.

The atmosphere of Luchana became rather tumultuous for a time, which I not too happily rode out. Whispers of a constituency amongst us moving out together buzzed in the hallways, but blah-blah ultimately undermined any joint coordination. It was when my long time NYC amiga Alex came to visit, and when the front toilet – the one I never use – began to spew water during her first shower in my place, that I began to be rather seriously miffed. The second time it happened, I declared my intentions to leave, alone if need be. And so I have.

Piso prowling in Madrid is always harrowing, full of dashed dreams and unrealized appointments. After several days of slapdash idealista journeys both north and south, I went with my gut reaction to a 5-person place near metro Antón Martín. It’s decorated by the owner/landlord with her own oversize abstract art, which surely deserves its own post somewhere down the line. There are plants in the kitchen, vines and green leaves!

Deposit paid, the only sticking point is that the room’s current resident remains until the 10th of the month. I had made Grande Plans to hit up the Lyon Festival of Lights over this week’s puente vacation days, but the French foray was cancelled on account of Parisian Love (not mine). As such, I am presently Wanderer, Forager, Squirrel. A pair of sleeping bag nights on the new couch, one snugged amidst a mountain of soft neon paraphernalia, and another in Miguel’s bed in Luchana, since he’s already gone skiing down south.

It’s okay. The instability, feeling displaced, reminds me strongly of Bangkok. I never make mention here of Thailand except in the most cursory way (som tam! Pai! sawatdee kaaaaa!); in fact, until very recently I hadn’t done any sort of writing whatsoever about my experience there.

That’s where my words have gone as of late: I here announce my latest project, a stab at painting a Bangkok picture. It’s the best story that I carry within me, I know, and I haven’t even managed to tell it to myself yet – how heavy it hangs. Give me much time. It will out itself, at times flowing silky pashmina glitterwraps, others torrential swim-walking through flooded streets, still others achingly gut-wrenching, violent, too much, overwhelming, overdone. All part of the picture. The best stories have layers.

In further BKK overlap, Madrid’s been in the throes of protest. Biweekly teachers’ strikes have led to a strangely dynamic schedule this year. The global OWS protest made its way here on October 15th; armed with cameras, Luchana ran gleefully out to join the passing throng.

Despite the written rage displayed on several signs, the joy of the crowd was palpable. So much of Madrid came out – tens of thousands – the streets clogged with signage and green shirts and snap-happy twitterfiends,  overwrought anti-slogans given new breath lifted into the air by the multitudes.

My participation in OWS began and ended on this afternoon, but I left it with yet another view of my city, a shiny new facet. A Gran Vía of Dreams.

Madrileño Beauty

14 10 2010

Take a step away from the blackboard for just a tic. What’s that hum? That sweet buzz, that ever-present energetic undercurrent?

Oh yeah. Madrid. You are beautiful.

Vespa Fantasies/Cilantro Realizations

19 09 2010

I’m going to guess it traces back to that alluring orange beauty emblematic of imminent success on Piso Day: Em and I have been fantasizing about Vespas.

Lucky us, there is a certified Vespa Store about 10 minutes’ walk from our place. We seek it out and inquire into possibilities.

A new bike runs roughly 2000€; we’re thinking a used one could be found somewhere in Madrid at an even more dangerously affordable price.

Shopkeep José is very helpful, fueling our enthusiasm and offering further information. He recommends we visit the US Embassy to iron out the legal details; we make a note of it as a possible Monday plan.

With no further schedule for the daylight hours, Em and I engage in our most dedicated wanderings to date. Armed with vague aims of “gold heels” and “Mexican ingredients,” we head first to Plaza Angel on a vague recollection of a Latino market.

Paydirt! Black beans are quite the uncommon find in Madrid. I snap up two cans, making a wish known to the universe that I’d like to consume one of them for lunch.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this market very highly – not too much else appealed (although I am glad to know of another location for coconut milk). We recall Fausto mentioning the barrio Cuatro Caminos as being home to many Central/South American immigrants, so I call up Charleen in the belief that she lives nearby and make plans to meet at the metro.

While on the surprisingly lengthy metro journey to Cuatro Caminos, Em and I unfold my rapidly deteriorating map to note that Charleen lives nowhere near the area whatsoever, and that I have absolutely zero idea how such a thought got planted in my skull. Ah well, it’s a wandering day for everyone!

Upon our exit from the metro, sugar-encrusted roasted peanuts from a nearby stall smell far too enticing not to devour. We contentedly munch while productively awaiting Charleen’s arrival by browsing a Carrefour, hoping for shelving and instead encountering a perfect yellow robe, plus tortillas and a baguette for later eats.

Just outside the Carrefour is another entrance to the Cuatro Caminos metro station, and something draws me in for a closer look. It’s common in these areas to to see black market vendors of pirated DVDs, knockoff sunglasses, and arrays of very likely pilfered goods, none of which I’m interested in purchasing – but this man has my number.

“Emily. Emily. Look. I think he has cilantro.”
Cilantro.” [runs, not walks, up to shady seller clutching bunches of green] “Es cilantro??”
“Si. Un euro.” [begins packing massive amount into plastic bag]
“Uhh – no necesito tanto -”
“Un euro.”
“Uh. Vale.”

Yesssssss. My only regret is not snapping a quick frame of the sketchy cilantro huckster. There’s no question I’ll be back…

Charleen shows her pretty face and we begin exploring in earnest.

A foray into an Ecuadorian bakery – which are ubiquitous here, by the way – reveals a Jamaican cornmeal flour that Charleen’s been dreaming about, plus various other goodies. No real vanilla, however; Taste of America may have a run on the market.

Lunch plans come together as though divinely mandated; it is blindingly obvious that the tortillas, black beans, and cilantro in our hot little hands were meant to be together as one. A frutería near Charleen’s piso in Principe Pío provides tomatoes, onions, and garlic; a carnicería offers “queso para sandwich” by the slice. Charleen’s kitchen gets a full workout, and we devour the results, unanimously agreeing that the cilantro is the crowning focal point in the mess of burrito glee.

A full kitchen is a happy kitchen.

No Live Music Night – fotopost

19 09 2010