far too much writing, far too many photos

An aspect of Madrid that has not changed during my months away: the ongoing construction. It’s everywhere. I’m not sure I’ve wandered down a single street these last few days that didn’t feature construction of some sort somewhere along its length. Scaffolding stands up against facades (or in sprawling piles on nearby sidewalks, waiting to be erected), the target building often wrapped in green or blue netting to minimize the dust and falling objects landing on pedestrians. Dumpsters piled high with debris indicate work being done inside somewhere. Mounds of bags or lumber, the same. Some streets are torn up, some blocks feature sidewalks half ripped apart. But it’s literally all over the map, and has been since my arrival, mid-summer 2000. I’m told that Danny DeVito passed through Madrid at one point during the last 2-3 years and was so impressed with the sheer number of gaping cavities where the Earth had been opened up for construction projects that when he left town he commented, “I hope they find the treasure soon.”

Here at home, the construction that began across the street last January with the bulldozing of an empty lot — first the wall around it, then the two-to-three-story-high sumac trees in it, then the ground itself, dump trucks showing up on a daily basis to cart away loads of earth, leaving a huge, ever-deepening hole — has produced the skeleton of a four-story building slowly being filled in with bricks, concrete, etc. And when I say across the street, I mean right across the street. Right the hell across this narrow, one-car-wide street. So that if I leaned out my window and snapped a towel, I could just about get one of the happy manual laborers on the butt. Er, not that that’s how I pass the time — just a pithy illustration.

It’s a major change in ambience, is what I’m getting at. Where there used to be sunlight and greenery and a long wall that featured a rapidly-changing display of posters, there is now darkness, dust, stacks of supplies, all that. Not that I’m bitching. Everything changes. Chueca is a hot neighborhood, it’s only logical that empty lots large enough for a liveable structure are going to experience big transformations. I’m on the top floor of my building, the top of the new building across the way is about even with my windows. So I’ve just had a change of view, not loss of sunlight.

Why am I going on about all this? Just blabbering about a ubiquitous aspect of daily life in a rapidly-growing city. Please ignore me.

After a day and a half of rain, punctuated by thoughtful pauses for drying off, sunlight broke through a short time ago, a gray Monday a.m. giving way to lightening skies. All day yesterday, the city remained quiet — few people could be seen walking about, less Sunday traffic clogged the streets. The only major concentration of humans encountered by me were standing in front of the movie theater when I attempted to see Mystic River (which picked up stellar reviews here and is apparently packing ‘em in, both in theaters playing dubbed versions and those with original-lanuage/subtitles). After several minutes on a long, slow-moving ticket line, I bailed, deciding to do some live theater instead. Which took me to a teeny little alternative theater for a revival of a two-personshow that played elsewhere earlier in the year. A show which turned out to be a case of the marketing being far more effective than the product, the marketing consisting of posters appearing all over this neighborhood last week, vanishing as fast as they went up as people grabbed them to take home.

I went to this bugger because of the poster. A two-person show with grand (even grandiose) ambitions in a little bitty performing space. And I wanted it to be as hilarious and sharp as the poster made it out to be. Ah, well. The woman in the poster, Laura Inclán, did as great a job as she could manage with the material. A triple-threat: great dancer, good singer, great clown.

And there you have it, a fast brush with the local arts scene.

BTW, the word in Castellano for both construction work and theatrical works is obras. Mighty convenient, that.

Right. On to the week.

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