far too much writing, far too many photos

Man, simple health is such a rudimentary, wonderful thing.

It’s so nice to be able to walk the streets without feeling like death on two shaky feet, to be able to go into a restaurant for lunch, relaxed, breathing well.

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Last Thursday night: hooked up with a couple of friends from Spanish class to see a show. The trip from here to the theatre is a nice 10-minute walk through narrow streets. As I made my way, a guy turned into one street behind me, walking quickly, approaching me from the rear. Being an especially narrow street with narrow sidewalks, the guy couldn’t get around me until a car went by and the way was clear. As he appeared at my side, he looked over and said, “Conoces Copper?” (’Do you know Copper?’)

I glanced over, with no idea what that sentence meant. “Lo siento,” I said, “¿qué?”

“Conoces Copper?”

Still clueless, I fell back on the old ‘I’m a furriner’ thing: “Lo siento, soy americano — mi español es un poco limitado.”

He smiled, brandishing a card for me to take. I did, waiting for an explanation. “Es un club,” he said. “Soy el dueño.” (’It’s a club, I’m the owner.’) “Hay una fiesta esta noche, puedes venir si quieres.” (’There’s a party tonight, you can come if you want to.’)

“Ah, bueno,” I said, looking from the card to him, then back to the card. “Gracias.”

“De nada,” he said and took off.

As he disappeared up the street, I scanned the card: the name COPPER in large metallic-appearing letters, above that an image of a crest — drawn as if made of copper, natch — consisting of a bear’s head, seven stars in a relaxed V under it. Above the bear’s head were the words BEARS & LEATHER BAR — in English. (Bears??) The word ‘LEATHER’ was the first sign that this club might not be my kind of terrain. The other side of the card consisted of a small map of Chueca, the location of the bar highlighted, and printed above that: “Pub Copper — Fiesta Leather — Pasa Puerta.” I’d been given a door pass to a leather party.

If Madrid is the New York of Spain — and it feels more like that to me than, say, the Washington, D.C. of Spain, despite being the capital — then Chueca is the Greenwich Village of Madrid. Meaning leather parties are not so unusual in some corners of the neighborhood. To each their own. You choose what you like, let other people do the same.

I didn’t attend the leather shindig. I met my friends, went to the show, afterwards had a caña (a small glass of beer) and something to eat at a bar near the theatre. After a nice evening, I returned home with a great little story about my walk to the theater.

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This past Sunday, El País had an article on le Moulin Rouge. A topical subject, given the film of that name in movie houses right now. And interesting, as it turns out. The nightspot, it appears — a classically Parisian phenomenon — was founded and started by a Spanish impresario, José Oller Roca. And in talking about the famous personalities that passed through the club — Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, blahblahblah — attracted by various dancers and artists that appeared there, the author of the article writes:

“Before that, Sigmund Freud and the King of Belgium had passed through the modest seats of the Moulin, the two interested by the performance of Josep Pujol, a Catalán who sang — if you’ll excuse me — with his ass. Pujol had an extraordinarily dilatable anus, that could inhale and exhale air or water at will, composing strange symphonies with his peculiar wind instrument.”

Several cheap gags spring to mind here — i.e., “Smoking or non-smoking?” “Er, is Pujol performing tonight?” “Yes, he is.” “Ah, right. Non-smoking, please.” -– but I think I’ll skip ‘em.

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