Thursday, December 16, 2010

ArtTraveler discovers an old Madrid overrun with cultural diversity

 I decided to live in Madrid in late 1967 and 1968 during the apex of the Vietnam War.

I was waiting word from my draft board on a hearing date for my  I-0 status  conscientious objector, and also slightly curious if I passed my second year at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN.

I was a most an unattentive and defaulting student since I worked as a reporter/editor for the St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press and often covered events during classes.

It was a perfect time for limbo with the fullness of Spanish lust for life, despite we lived under the fascist regime of the vindictive Generalisimo Franco.

What's marvelous about the Spanish  ambiente is much like Flemenco, little changes in the cultural heart of the people.

I'm talking about fiestas, drinking oyster bar hopping, hitting the streets at 11 p.m. and nearly passing out at five p.m, staggering to bed, ready to start work the nextday at about 10 a.m. and expect to work until about 9 p.m. And then......

Catch a shower, meet your mates and restart the cycle.

But I saw life as a tourist. Franco reportedly stopped executing his Spanish Civil War foes in 1964, about the same time a guerrilla war was nearing its end episodically in the mountains of Andalusia, only a few kilometers from my village, Canillas de Albaida.

I was 23. I lived in a cheap pension with a Mexican bullfighter. Life couldn't be better until I ran out of money. Tune in next post to find out how a Yank and an Irishman get drunk and end up working together.

 I took these photos you see of modern day Madrid two years ago. These graffiti artists put allot of effort and talent into their works and it adds richness to each of Madrid's many neighborhoods, much like the barrios of San Francisco.

I had a very difficult choice: My mother wrote me while in Madrid informing me my draft board wanted my body for a date certain hearing on my CO petition and, although she found it hard to believe, I had passed my second year of the four-year William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN.

To pass, you need a cumulative 71.0 grade point average; my score for my rather dismal second year: 71.09. 

Once I decided why I wanted to become a lawyer, I ended up second in my senior class (for that year only).

I returned to face my draft board, prepared ultimately to refuse induction and likely go to prison and forfeit any future as law student or lawyer.

My South St. Paul draft board approved my application and I worked two years of so-called alternative service in the social welfare sector.

Rock on and practice peace. And please check out ArtTraveler's videos:

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)


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