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First of all, I

March 14th, 2002 · No Comments

First of all, I think I may come back to Spain at some point to do nothing but drive around. The drive up the A-7 from Valencia was a straight shot of 170km/h the whole way (I have no idea what that is in mph, which made it that much more fun — that seems so fast…) with gorgeous scenery. Despite having been lived-in for so much longer, the landscape, at least along the highways, seems much less, I don’t know, processed here. The highway was this little stretch of concrete plunked down between enormous crags of pale rock jutting up from the earth, striated with blue-greys and reds. And between them, just these wide fields and orange groves, punctuated by little hilltop clusters of houses. The only downside was that the highway was full of trucks… I’d never seen such a truck-dominated road. This didn’t slow me down, because they all stayed in the right lanes. But it did make me paranoid, because I’d read reports that ETA (the Basque terrorists) had some sort of plans to disrupt the EU summit, and the last time I was in Spain a few years back, the police found three huge ETA trucks loaded with explosives headed for Madrid.

Still, enough whining. I’m staying on the Plaç¡ Catalunya, which is right on Las Ramblas, a set of main streets with a wide median for pedestrians and little kiosks to shop at, flanked by intricate networks of alleyways leading to the various Pla硳 and other funky spots. I only walked around briefly last night (I was pretty tired) but I’m already sad that I’m only going to be here for a few days. I think I could live here easily; the style is as Greenwich-Villiagey as anything I’ve seen in Europe, but more laid back, and minus the pretentiousness. I stopped into a chill little bar called FonFone, all day-glo loungey with a DJ spinning for, as far as I could tell, this one girl who was dancing like a maniac for a solid hour, while the rest of the clientele chatted sedately. Another spot I stopped into briefly, Soda, was very spartan, lots of people sitting around in circles in bucket seats while a girl in the corner spun ambient intently at a small table.

In New York, either of these places, even on a Wednesday night, would doubtless have been packed full of noisy hipsters. The vibe here, though, was utterly relaxed. Amy often observes that it’s bizarre that “going out” with friends so often means going somewhere that makes it near impossible to converse — which, one would think, is part of the point of going somewhere with people. I think she’d like Barcelona. I also, incidentally, enjoyed the fact that all of these places were still fairly lively at 2am on a Wednesday night. I think that’s one of the reasons I can’t ever live too far from a city: I’m too disorganized to schedule my recreation between 8-11 on weekends. Which, outside a metropolitan area, is what you more or less have to do.

Incidentally, egalitarianism in Europe is so ingrained that it’s become genetic. In the U.S. we have a bell-curve-like distribution of attractive, average, and fugly people. Here, it seems as though everyone starts out gorgeous, then ages catastrophically, with surprising rapidity.

I did manage to stop by one of the anti-EU/anti-globo events, and it was pretty odd. On a pleasant, temperate Wednesday evening, several hundred twenty-somethings (and a few aging leftists) from various countries, sat quietly for two hours watching an excrutiatingly boring British film, subtitled in Castillian, about the plight of the working class. It looked a bit like someone had plopped a Phish show parking lot down in the middle of a museum floor. The film, or what I caught of it, told the story of a group of blue-collar guys who got fired by their obnoxious boss, because their operation wasn’t “efficient” enough. They then take a hazardous, late night job, and one of them is hit by a train. The end.

What really puzzled me was this: all of these guys, I have to presume, have had their working-class sympathies sufficiently activated already, or they wouldn’t be there. So what purpose is served by burning several hours watching this tiresome thing?

My only guess is that it’s a sort of rite-of-passage style reinforcement of commitment. If you’re willing to toss a perfectly good evening sitting quietly on a museum floor reading subtitles, you must be really serious about your cause. A bit like the kids in the Socialism class who sit around comparing arrested-at-a-protest stories.

I’m hoping to meet up with Mariona Llatchos, a friend of Dad’s, for dinner or something later. I may or may not go see what the lefties are up to this evening– then I plan to give the nightlife a more serious go. After not sleeping, and then driving 5 hours, I wasn’t exactly in it for the long haul. There’s a club called Moog I may go check out. Until then, I figure I’ll just engage in a bit of flaneurship — which is to say, walk around and look at stuff. I never get tired of looking at Gaudí§³ Parque G켯a>, so maybe I’ll head over there and see what’s up.

Oh yeah; happy birthday to me. I’m 23 now, which, if Robert
Anton Wilson
is to be believed should be a strange year.

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