Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ArtTraveler rediscovers Hemmingway's Madrid after working there in 1968

Statute of poet, playright Federico Garcia Lorca.Photo by S. van Drake.
Nostalgia is sentimentality.

Few of us like to remember the way things were and then return to the place where our memories lodged, our laughter and perceptions  froze.

And find we recognize little.

I think that's pure and simple human nature. Above is the life-size (hence small in stature) statute of Federico Garcia Lorca, poet, playright and martyred gay intellectual, killed by fascist militia in Viznar, near Granada in August 1936, shortly after the insurrection of the generals against the fragile Spanish democratically elected republic.

When I roamed around Plaza de Santa Ana in 2007, where now his statute takes prominence with his iconic dove of peace as our universal hope, I looked for one of my old Hemmingway haunts. It was there, untouched but strangely closed.

It was the only thing that cracked my memory bank from times living and working in Madrid as a journalist in 1967-68 where, as a nomadic exile from a very fascist America embroiled in the Viet Nam War, I found refuge among friends from all over Europe.

I had hooked up with an Air Force buddy from Darmstadt, Germany. We hopped in my psychodelic 1959 VW bug. My buddy and now well-known international artist Uwe Poth and I painted it like a tiger with my Macalester College colours, 1956 Dodge blue and  bright orange.......also a good way to make sure people noticed you on the Autobahn.

We decided to head  to Madrid. My mate had a 30-day furlough and I had a few marks in my pocket after working in a film processing factory in nearby Eberstadt.

We decided to rough it as both were poor. We had a mechanic extend the front rails on each front seat so we could totally collapse the seats and create two beds. We put our kit under the car and slept off road where no one could see us.

Our diet: K rations we managed to get out the PX and French wine and cheese sustained us well. No restaurants. We drove towards Barcelona.

After a flash flood along the Med road that almost killed us (boulder the size of a small house rolled down just a few meters in front of us), we struggled (the bug's alternator got wiped out as the beetle half floated across a torrent of angry water. Then we rossed a great desert to Madrid and there did I live for some months.

Check this link out. It's an unfinished website eventually maturing into, by illustrator/painter John Barrett, senior full-time lecturer at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. Much more will coming your way on the Lorca Project.

I gave my car to my mate, who later reported he drove the masterful VW bug across the Pyrennes in a snow storm.

Other cars, Mercedes, Beemers and the like had fallen off the side of the cliff. My bug in all its Beatlemania artistry struggled on successfully and when it reached the AF base in Darmstadt, died with great dignity.

I'll continue this saga next post and attempt describing the rhythm of life, the ambiente of the Bohemian community at that time.

Rock on and practice peace. Check out ArtTraveler's videos:

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

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