Holiday in Spain

Posted: March 31, 2019 in Body Count, it's the humanity, Music nobody listens to, Shovels, Uncategorized

Not one of you asked for this, which is why I am putting this out.  LOL.  You guys are all masochists, I am sure.

So, we went to Spain.  This was, as you might expect, very cool.  But I have a history, you know, or maybe you don’t and here you go, whether you want or not.

In college, I was in a studio that had restricted admission, that was involved with the area that was the Olympic Village, and we had one of the architects from the master planning firm drop in for visits.  But I was admitted based on my prior studio work.   I spent much time researching the city and its architecture, and of course I fell in love with the city and with Antonio Gaudi.  Because of course, I have affinity for insane people.

We flew into Madrid.  Lovely city.  and then we went all over the country, and spent much time on a bus, but…. Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Seville, Cordoba.  Every one special in their own way.  But here; I needed to go to Barcelona, because that was where that old project was centered.  And I finally got there, like 25 years after. And we saw Cathedrals, FFS, cathedral after cathedral.  I am so tired of Cathedrals, I know all of this from my Architectural History classes, and I am so tired of thinking that the Church has done nothing  but steal from their people for thousands of years….

And here;  this is the kind of modern intervention I love in the midst of historic cities.  Because, yes, cities are built over time and reflect the new stuff every time, and this is alarming until the next generation, who just say this is part of the city.  But this:

 

Is lovely and exciting example of modern intervention in the midst of an historic city., and this is the kind of thing I love.  The only complaint I have on this is that throughout Spain, all the paving is wonderfully textured and complex and tough to walk on, and this was depressingly plain.  I think there was a lost opportunity here, to make the plaza below a well woven part of the city…

Barcelona is a real, for fucking real city.  Hundreds of taxis, and most people use motorcycles and scooters at best.  Also, they have actual transit.  And after much great times across Spain, we ended up in Barcelona.  Where I wanted to be.  Where I wanted to SEE.  Being in this city was lovely in every way.  But here is where I have to get all architect about this.  SO bail if you would like.

Antonio Gaudi was a lunatic who connected with a patron.  He was aggressive and shitty, and his fame largely came after he died.  Which happened because he was driven over by a tram driver.  Gaudi loved to stop traffic so he could look at his work and he would walk into the street to stop traffic so he could look at his work, and come on, but tram drivers must have hated him. So one ran him over.  And because he dressed like a tramp, he was ignored until someone took him to the hospital for the indigent, where, after a couple of days, someone recognized him just in time for him to die.  Which is the health care the Republicans think we should have available.

So I loved what I found about the city.  The rules about the expansion.  And after being here, the way those expansion  regulations have been incorporated into daily life.  The 8 sided blocks.  The sidewalk cafe culture.  We had sangria and nachos while staring at Sagrada Familia and feeding the pigeons: IMG_2875

Here is where I am going to tell you to go ahead and skim the rest, because I will be getting into the weeds and lots of feels….

Because I have been feeling, since my Adventures in Modern Medicine, that I seem to have lost the ability to feel strongly, for art or music or snuggly animals.  And as great as it was, coming soon after my heart attack, the Mekons show in Mineral Point, I have to count.  I have seen so many great musicians and enjoyed them, but they haven’t made my brain triggers go nutty nut nutters.

And based on that college history, I needed to see Gaudi buildings.  And we did.  But first, we walked around the Cathedral, and as I went around, I was feeling disappointed.  And as the guide talked about how there were a series of dudes who directed the construction based on their own ideas – because Gaudi designed by models and fudging and yelling at people on site.  And the 4 or 5 or 6 people running the show since, nobody really knows what he meant.  But you can see it.  Well, I can see it, you may or may not….

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I was tremendously amused by the fact that they already have to start cleaning the stone of the first efforts, while the remainder is still under construction.  I love that the existing stone  will not only be different from the new stone being used, but that cleaning the older stone will never make them look the same.

But here is what I saw, almost immediately upon walking up.  It is completely obvious that the newer parts of the cathedral are being done by someone else.  You can see that the bronze model of the whole mess is completely different from what is being built.  And I felt, that from the outside, that the lack of a supervising loud person has resulted in something that does not cohere.  My wife agrees, and FFS that is rare….

So here is the thing.  First, I walked up and saw the building and I hated that obviously the subsequent  architects could not resist to put their own stamp on it.  And as I walked around, I started to question the designs of Gaudi.  I found a lot of it to be silly and frumpery.  I became a bit harsh.  I became a bit tough.  I was no longer enthralled, this was not the masterwork it was extolled as, it was kind of a mess.

So the next day, we went to Parc Guell.  Which was completely amazing and a lovely work, in so many ways.  designed with two or three levels, it is a tour-de-force of design for landscape and the integration with the built environment.  It was a chance for Gaudi to party as a designer, and make all kinds of crazy that was still functional and would be a part of the life of the kinds of rich people who paid him for work.

It was all kinds of lovely, and a great ability to recover from my initial response to the Sagrada Familia…

Because then we went back down to the cathedral for an interior tour.  And that was a 4:30 afternoon, on a bright day, which is important.  We were there a bit early so we found a cerveseria, and got some sangrias and nachos, and looked at this:

IMG_2875

So, then we went to our scheduled entry of the church, and the first thing I noticed is that the bronze model of the church is much more complete and coherent than the current state of the exterior building, as I have been saying up above.  Architects love to fuck with shit; Gaudi took the basic floor plan of this church from a gothic architect, and turned it into this massive eruption of personal design.  The eastern apse is representative of the birth of Christ, and the western apse is representative of the Passion;  the southern portion is the eventual entry, which is scheduled for completion on or about 2026 (I am skeptical) which hilariously, requires the demolition of buildings that were built across the street in full knowledge that they would be time-limited, but they kind of thought it would take forever….

And then we went into the church.

It must be understood that Gaudi went beyond any Gothic design or engineering, by using Catenary arches to provide freestanding columns and arches that do not need subsequent support, and then there were more opportunities for colored glass and lighting from above.  He used innovative techniques to design the arches, which all work together to be a complete structure that works together.  And then he had glass artists that provided blues and greens on the birth side, and oranges and reds on the passion side.

I wandered the apse, and I had the audio thing but I paid little attention.  I was looking and seeing and absorbing.  I took some weird vertical panoramas which came out kind of nice:

The spaces within this building were astonishing, and I walked into people because I couldn’t stop looking up.  But the time we were there, we had the opportunity to see the afternoon sun casting through the red and orange windows and making the whole place sing with color.  And I felt joy.

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When we left the church through the passion entrance, which is much more severe and modern in sculpture, but they have a GOOD DOG:

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And a couple of nights after getting back, we saw the Musical Box, a tribute band for early Genesis; which they did not play the song Visions of Angels, if they had I would have likely burst into tears thinking back to the feelings I had in this building.

And so here.  All the feels I ever have.  This church and the previous Calatrava buildings, they brought it back, near as I can tell.  A buddy and I saw the Genesis tribute band the other night, and it swept me up.  FFS, I was walking over a bridge toward my office, listening to the new Mekons album and it brought tears to my eyes. Something- SOMETHING – has been repaired, somewhere.  Was it Gaudi?  Was it Spain?  Was it something else?  Dunno.  Should I care?  It feels good to feel something that has been missing….

 

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Comments
  1. Ed Keegan says:

    Good to know that you’re feeling architecture again. Spain will do that to you…

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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