David Austin (1935-2005), a star cartoonist of "The Spectator"
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Coldplay: "un buen rollo" ..
and a near-mystical experience ..
- Coldplay too? But how did he managed?!!! The tickets were sold out six months ago! .. I can hear the admiring tone blended with skepticism in the question put by the Honourable Reader. How did this blogger of yours pulled this one?
Well it was a bit of a challenge I had thrown, half-joking, to MissRikyel, a week ago, while sipping an honest Moët. As she works in the underworld of fashion and glossy magazines I assumed she could be my last desperate card. (As a matter of fact I was entertaining at home at the same time a Young Turk of the Esperanza Aguirre Brigade, embedded in the strategic Consejeria de Cultura of the Comunidad, who told me even he could not help me. "Gallardon has kids you know" - was his cryptic comment, referring to the Mayor of Madrid. )
By yesterday lunch time, the very same day of the concert, and with no news, I had lost hearth and decided to honour, in any case, an invitation I had received from the formidable Byzantine-Levantine figure who heads the Lebanon diplomatic mission in this town. The National Day of Lebanon is a glamorous affair and I had therefore chosen the heavy dress-artillery (Canalli pin-stripe suit, Hacket "prince Charles"-pattern shirt, Turnbull & Asser woven silk tie, that sort of stuff) .
As I was entering the courtesy line my phone rings. The TeddyBear, in a short-breath voice, announces she was on her way to the Palacio de Deportes to meet a Manager of musical events who has decided, after refusing countless similar requests "from very high up", to deliver us two tickets for the in-one-hour's-time concert. That was it. No fuss.. and no expense too. And that's how I found myself slightly overdressed on a rock& roll concert, a VIP area free-beer in my hand, roaring and clapping at Chris Martin's antics.
I had almost forgotten the near-mystical experience of sharing with another ten thousand people the good vibes of non-aggressive rock music. And the rallied masses are of course always tantalizing view for a professional of political analysis. When Mr Martin was particularly inspired and the audience was red-hot and delirious I said to my neighbour: "Only in a political meeting in the middle of a revolution can a speaker get this kind of feedback". TeddyBear replied "Yes, but here you have a buen rollo.." (translatable as "everybody is enjoying themselves like innocent unproblematic happy adolescents"). Point taken. It wouldn't be the right description for what were the feelings of the Russian popular classes in the Finland Train Station of Petrograd, wouldn't it?
Two highlights of the concert:
- the chanting from ten thousand voices of the final words of "Trouble", so much in the right tone and mood that Chris Martin couldn't help himself and let out a heartfelt "Joder!, gracias" (which the Spaniard crowd obviously loved).
- the tender and loving stare from beloved Gwyneth to his beloved Chris. "Joder!" I feel like saying it myself. How can one ever compete with the adulating masses worshiping the very object of your love interest? Drieu La Rochelle used to say that women love in a man something that sparkles. A worshiped lead singer of a world-class rock band is sparkling all over, thank you very much..
(For obvious reasons this post is dedicated to Miss Matilde with all the daddy love from this blogger of yours)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
darwinian-theorized biological diversity
Whenever I'm in a new town I like to identify the local taxidermist connection. Normally one should try to visit first the Natural History Museums; then the smaller zoological departments; and then, hopefully, ending up in some slightly weird cave chock-a-block full of stuffed animals.
I discovered recently the small but rich collection of stuffed animals owned by Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Monte, at the campus of the University of Madrid.
the 'Museo de Zoologia'
Ms. SierraDelPilar, a post-doc student whose pet investigative subject is freshwater fishes, showed me around. Told me wonderful things about the richness of the Iberian fauna, and some curious stories too. Apparently the immense man-made craters produced by motorway-building constitute, when filled by rain water, a very attractive habitat for long-legged birds with a nostalgia for lagoons.
a B-movie, live from the calle...
the end of an affair..
16.58 Avenida de La Moncloa, central Madrid . Slow traffic. The anorak-protected right elbow of a driver of a vespa-like motorbike unexpectedly bumps, with full impact, into the left side mirror of my car, provoking a complete dislocation of the mechanical articulation. Vespa rushes away. Slightly stunned I half-open the door to retrieve limping mirror.. and... whammm!... a guy, in a second vespa's passenger seat, is clutching my elbow and proceeding to extract my Franck Muller watch.
16.59 Avenida de La Moncloa, central Madrid. Traffic stopped. The strap of my watch lies in my hand. The oblong solid case has gone. The roaring sound of a speeding second vespa can still be heard...
Is the Honourable Reader not thrilled that in order to bring enjoyment to Him this blogger of yours is now reporting true events which could be more adequately included in tabloid TV, in "Cops!" or "CrimeWatch" programs , or in a black and white B-movie from the glorious days? I'm sure he is.
What image kept re-entering my inner mental retina afterwards? Strangely enough a slightly chaotic street market in Beijing, around the turn of the Millennium. The face of a tough Chinese vendor of fake luxury watches. Asking me 100 US dollars for a Franck Muller replica.
I kind of enjoy imagining the disappointed faces of the vespa gang...
this blogger captures the moment two distracted but over-zealous guests
pour D.O. Priorat wine into their lady-neighbour's glass
The charming HonoraryConsul of La Moraleja and his charming Aura-Mazdian Wife had some friends in town and organized another charming dinner, this time indoors. (A tribute to the wonderful weather of the Ciudad is reflected on the extension of the outdoors dining season - from March to late October in "Good" years).
The generosity of our Host with the fourteen point five-degreed Priorat wine had evident beneficial effects on the guests' conviviality. ( The Priorat region is the trendiest D.O. of Spain, as we speak, since Mr Alvaro Palacios had the eonological skill and marketing charisma to produce "L'Ermita", "Finca Dolfi" and "Les Terrasses" - this last name to be pronounced with Catalan accent and not in French, please) .
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Read more about it at http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/20/20_contempt.html
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
"Before Sunrise" cloning...
BeforeDawn Girls (Juliet D. and Margarida V.)
Remember what Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise" did to Vienna? Well, a young company from the country of this blogger of yours has tried to do something similar to Lisbon.
As we blog, a theatrical adaptation (by Pedro Neschling) of Linklater's script is being performed in an almost seedy theatre at a non-glamorous neighbourhood of Lisbon. The main female character, our home-grown Juliet Delphy, is Ms. Margarida Vila-Nova, a pretty face of soap-operatic success.
In the current re-incarnation she is called Inês, is waiting for the Lisbon to Paris train, and she's a daughter of a diplomat ( ironic, no?). The leftwing leanings of Ms Delphy's original character are now translated into remarks against "fascism" in pre-74 Portugal (not impressed).
I recall that in the film the male character (played by Ethan Hawke) at some point suggested an idea for a TV series, where 365 people would be watched for one day each, in a one year long program.
What if every city in the world that considers itself of Vienna rank decides to adapt Linklater's script to the stage?
Well, this time it quite worked well for Lisbon.
Maybe "Lonely Planet" or "Time Out" will wish to produce something like that?
Obvious choices? Seville, Moscow, Rome, perhaps? The Honourable Reader might care to go on...
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
Friday, November 11, 2005
Comics High Literature
Last night António Lobo Antunes was in town. Carrying effortlessly his ironical and slightly presumptuous persona. I can't go into it now.( Besides the evening was just beginning. After the literary apéritif, the main course was "Hoy: El Diario de Adan Y Eva" at the the Teatro Maria Victoria and the postres (bar-hopping) were good too. )
Uncle António said that too many writers describe very serious literary influences - and in doing so plainly lying - when the main impact in fact in their creative lives might have been the adventurous comics, the glorious trash (my word not his) of youthful readership. Like Flash Gordon or Mandrake, Master Lobo-Antunes pointed it out.
Another recurrent theme of his free-association conscience-stream lecture yesterday at the Biblioteca Nacional was (of course) Death. (From the one you witness in the African last colonial spasms of a declining Empire to the un-Godly death of a child with terminal leukemia).
Pressed upon what were his books about he said in that inimitable disdainful but simultaneously childish tone: "I keep writing the death of Mandrake".
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
Ms. Goldfrapp, live at the Divino last Friday
What was a Porsche-driven and Loewe and Etro-dressed blogger of yours doing in an almost suburban Rock venue off Ermida del Campo, the honourable Reader might ask himself in disbelief?
Allison Goldfrapp is the simple answer. Yes, I had to struggle with roadworks that turn on-bord computer GPS instructions worthless.. yes, I had to endure sub-standard solomillo in a inner-city mall .. yes, I had to queue for almost one hour to get to the ticket booth.. But some democratic inconveniences have sometimes to be experienced if one wants to keep surfing...
It's a strange day
An unexpected beneficial side-effect of the rock concert was the considerable lowering of late- morning-sickness of a pregnant concert-goer who was standing near our group. As a matter of fact the passive smoking of 2-delta-tetra-hydro-cannabinol near the stage was staggering. The anti-nausea effects of the chemical molecule of grass are well reported in clinical medicine, and I dare say that a "porro" in the vicinity can help in unsuspected ways..
With due apologies for copyright infringement...
Friday, November 04, 2005
" la giovin principiante " ..
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Desperate Diplomatic Housewives...
Dorothea von Lieven, née Beckendorff
If the Honourable Reader is not a misogynist and believes in the power accumulated by emancipated women, John Charmley's "The Princess and the Politicians" is a small gem. The main thesis of this historian-biographer of Princess Dorothea is a serious one. Grand Ladies in their early XIX century Salons who happened to be insiders of the Society circles where political leaders had their informal get-togethers were themselves political actors. Dorothea was the wife of the Russian Ambassador to Britain, Prince von Lieven. They managed to stay in London for twenty years plus, during which many crucial events for the understanding of European Nation-States relationships took place. She begun as a classical Ambassadress, that is as an hostess and a charmer, but she quickly graduated to a husband and wife act of co-analysts of European diplomatic moves, as seen from the eyes of Castlereaghs, Cannings, Greys and Palmerstons. Apparently she went to bed with most of them, and with Prince Metternich too. She ended up being a formidable political operator, mingling without shame or reserve with British internal politics, almost, at some point, a Minister-maker. The slight chance for intelligent women to exercise influence - in those times when they had no political rights, such as to vote and to be elected to Parliament - was is to play with their charm and the trump card of their sexual availability? Let's not be petty bourgeois here and read flirtations, affaires du coeur and the occasional night out of the marital bed with our puritanical tabloid-selling glasses. These are distorting lenses indeed. But what about today? Did "sex, intrigue and diplomacy" went on until modern times? Or since women can now exert raw power without intermediaries that dimension is irrelevant? What about names that spring to mind on both sides of the debate?Eleanore Roosevelt? Golda? Margarets (Trudeau andThatcher)? The Italian Mrs. Gandhi? Angie Merkel?
For students of Imperiology Charmley's book is good reading too. Fascinating to witness those last times (from the defeat of Napoleon to the crude expansionist drive of the Tsarist armies to the East and South) when British and Russian Empires were on the same side of the geopolitical fence. But if you are serious about understanding Empires you have to read different stuff.
Not really a coincidence that a descendant of Russian and British Imperialists, and a Lieven himself, has written a really incisive book on what makes Empires these enormously fascinating political animals. I can recommend Prof. Dominic Lieven's "Empire" as a kind of serious full-bodied red wine one likes to drink after the "Princess" more frivolous black-pinot bubbly stuff has put you in the right mood.
Bird Flu Blues