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6 Goya 6

6 May 2008

Good news everyone! We just figured out (after 7 weeks) that the school (with all it’s free wifi glory) stays open late on Tuesdays (and I think Thursdays). That means we can once again torture you with unsolicited stories of our adventures! Yay!

But I digest. Here’s the real post:

This past weekend was a 4-day marathon of public spectacles in observance of May Day (the European equivalent of Labor Day, which basically means that all the French and German tourists on the continent flock to Spain) and the 200th anniversary the events of the 2nd / 3rd of May 1808 when Napoleon stormed Madrid (for no apparent reason) and the townspeople fought back, eliciting severe retribution by French troops the next day. These are the events depicted in Goya’s famous paintings, The 2nd of May and The 3rd of May 1808 (on display at the Prado. We saw them. Next to each other in a special exhibition. They’re HUGE. And super awesome. And no photo in any art history book comes close to doing them justice).

Overall the weekend was really interesting, as there were several events held throughout town to honor the anniversary (6, actually, hence the name of the weekend, 6 Goya 6). These included a free symphony concert in front of the royal palace (nice vista; made me long for my aforementioned royal holdings); a play involving gigantic marionettes (unfortunately we overslept and missed that one); and two bizarre interpretative presentations: one about the 2nd of May held in the Plaza Mayor consisting of a north African traditional band (presumably representing Napoleon’s Mamluk troops), juxtaposed against a series of junk bands mounted on truck beds, assumed to represent the rabble of Madrid; and another in Plaza Cibeles, which seemed to reenact the retributions of the 3rd of May, through the allegorical use of a pair of star-crossed lovers who lived thru the event. At least that’s what we could gather from the visuals, which, all bizarre weirdness aside were pretty cool. In the Plaza Mayor, there was a huge wheel mounted with pre-tuned guitars which was manually rotated around a stationery pick to produce a song…interesting; in Cibeles, there was a huge metal truss from which a number of people were suspended, all dressed in the white tunic and yellow pants of the hero of Goya’s painting, who were then metaphorically shot by a series of bright lights and machine gun sounds coming from the building behind them, leading them to writhe and wriggle in mid-air. Rather impressive. Oh, and there was a 30-foot tin foil woman who had a person sitting in her chest cavity that opened up to reveal him. We never actually saw the final production of the Cibeles show as we were at the palace, but we stumbled upon the dress rehearsal the night before and it looked pretty interesting. And we figured that was enough.

As cool as all these things were, the truly impressive aspect of the weekend—and of all the Festivals we’ve experienced so far—is the amazing speed and stealth with which the Madrid Department of Fiestas sets up and tears down the sets in the hours surrounding the events. For example, the Cibeles show had a huge 3-part stage, 4 smaller stages, a full light / sound show, 2 enormous construction cranes and a highwire strung between two adjacent buildings and anchored to the street below (not to mention the Aluminum woman and the truss of dead guys). All this went up in a matter of an afternoon and was torn down by noon the next day. Ridiculous. Same thing with the Real Madrid victory party: we walked thru the Plaza at 9p, there was nothing. By 1130p, there was a stage, 6 light / sound towers, a huge PA system and a dj, along with miles of retaining fence which closed off 3 main thoroughfares. And this achieved by a culture not renowned for its vitesse. Now that’s mindbottling.

Additionally, there were a ton of people out in the streets and general joyful pandemonium throughout, though the hordes of French May Day tourists all seemed a bit skittish, and probably for good reason…probably should have done your research, Messieurs

Viva la Revolución!


8 Comments leave one →
  1. Countess of Cava permalink
    6 May 2008 7:15 pm

    One must ask…why in the name of all reason would the French come to Madrid on this of all dates???!!! Your adventures continue to entertain.

  2. Spirit of 73 permalink
    6 May 2008 8:57 pm

    Answer: to see what it smells like when people take showers.

  3. mme. hoolaha permalink
    7 May 2008 9:54 am

    Oh, monsieur, je pense que vous mai-être trop dures. Il ne faut pas oublier, tout le monde a deux pays, la France, et le leur.

  4. 8 May 2008 9:24 am

    More photos, Please!

  5. Spirit of 73 permalink
    8 May 2008 11:10 pm

    Señora hoolaha, le puedo decir con toda sinceridad, que si gabachilandia fuera mi pais, encerraría aquella nación entera con un muro, y pondría por encima un grifo de agua caliente y un frasco de jabón para así deshacernos del 85% del olor de cuerpo del mundo.

  6. conison permalink
    9 May 2008 6:51 am

    Spirit…did we not learn anything from the Sundial / Metronome incident??

  7. Spirit of 73 permalink
    9 May 2008 12:06 pm

    In all honesty… no. What was I supposed to have learned, and what part of this exchange indicated to you that I didn’t learn it?

  8. mme. hoolaha permalink
    14 May 2008 12:45 pm

    Oui, monsieur, il peut dire que le Français peut sentir aussi le mauvais que leur fromage, mais, avez-vous goûté leur fromage? Parfois nous devons tolérer des dérangements pour le plaisir des choses beaucoup plus grandes.

    Et Voila!

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