Monday, September 22, 2008

Sketches of Spain

Ten thousand people on the street at midnight. Street culture: tapas, raciones, jamon Serrano. Madrid once again. I pay 10 euros and watch a Mestizo barkeep build me a sangria. Recipe: Start with an empty cognac glass; add two tablespoons of sugar; then three fingers of Rioja wine; stir wildly in circles; add a finger of lemonade soda and another of orange soda; splash of Lemoncello or a white liqueur I can't make out; splash of cognac; handful of ice cubes; level off with more Rioja. The tint must match the wine-red sandstone of old cathedrals. Onward to the Museo Chilocote Bar, where Orson Welles and Salvador Dali hung out with Sinatra. Dali, in fact, grew up with the poet Garcia Lorca. Then Lorca went on to explain passion to us in whirling flamenco poetics... he was shot and thrown into a common ditch. Poetry is a hard way to go. Ask Leonard Cohen. Ate Paella at La Barraca on Reina Street, watching Japanese tourists take photos of lobster pies. Another meal at Casa Botin where the echoes of muleteer's carts rattle through the brick caverns. Can't forget the paella at La Barraca. I've learned to make it myself, you know. It's an exercise in alchemy and luck. It involves the exorcism of the Spanish soil; a ration of the right herbs and rice and saffron, a good white Rioja and deep song, conte hondo, wailing off the hi-fi player. Maybe the voice of "Aguates," the singing blacksmith who gargles with the kerosene of lost love. But you too can build your own paella! Go to and order up a paella pan, rice and some "pembrella" herbs. They usually throw in a recipe sheet. Impress your wife or girlfriend. Grandmother; husband; lover. Wail! Listen to "Camaron de la Isla," the flamenco junkie, who sings like a raw nerve inside the heart. Read Lorca's poem on the death of Sanchez Mejias when you've finished. "At exactly five in the afternoon!" Then walk backwards down the Gran Via in a dream and remember all the hookers from Ghana and the Chinese men who sell warm beer from cardboard boxes and Watusi's hawking bootleg Madonna DVDS. The Caterwauling white nights of Madrid. Sketches of Spain.


Saddle Tramp said...

Live your life as Art . . .
then your Art becomes you.

TR , you most cetainly do!


Just tuned into Lou Reed's New York Shuffle with co host Hal Willner out on the edge of avant garde ( not my usual territory ) along with everything else thrown in for good measure.

Via: Medicine Bow, Wyoming where Owen Wister sits in front of the fire place in his still extant cabin. Medicine Bow is also where Trampas met his bullet determined fate in " The Virginian ". Remember:

" When you say that, SMILE . . . "

Good medical advice!

Warning regarding " Down The Tracks . . . "
There are a few tedious side shows to endure;
such as a folk / vixen / model and a foppish elegantly presented gentleman to name a few. Probably nothing new in here for the intiated or insider. However, as in any mining endeavor you must remove the overburden and tailings to get to the gems and there are a few in there. No Rosetta Stone of course. How can you explain the universe in 95 minutes. I am just thankful that TR is leaving such good notes behind on the trail he travels. Keeps me going.

Texorama said...

If you would be willing to issue the Tom Russell Cookbook (include whiskey toast, please), I would be willing to buy it.

Badsign said...

Mr. Russell, I'm afraid you didn't drink sangria. Sangria is made with red wine, lemon soda, sugar, peach slices, lemon slices, and a lot of ice cubes. If you put cinnamon, you get drunk very fast! I make sangria with my own lemons and oranges. La Barraca is a good place for paella. Next time go to Casa Lucio and taste the delicious "huevos rotos". You'll come back! And there are a lot of fine spanish wines: Rueda, Toro, Penedes, Albarino, Somontano (my favorite). Thanks for writing about my hometown, and if you want to eat wonderful migas, next time phone or e-mail me. It will be a pleasure to invite you.
Jose Ramon (Madrid, Spain)

Saddle Tramp said...

It all sounds good to me . . . all versions. Between TR and Jose I've got to get to Madrid . . .

Luis Bunuel was in the neighborhood as well. For exquisite torture try his film " That Obscure Object of Desire. " No happy ending.I bought the Criterion Collection's version. The supplements alone are worth the price in my opinion.

" Lamenting the death . . . "

-ST Somewhere out there with Buffalo Bill and
Teddy Blue.