Monday, June 21, 1999

Sagrada Familia/Dogs, Nougat & Pringles


I'm sitting in the airport station, gotta ticket for my destination (hmm mmm mmm). I´m going to Mallorca again, and my flight has been delayed an hour, so I figured I'd take out my frustration on you all and write some more. Yesterday afternoon I finally went to see the inside of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia. This is disgraceful, of course, because I´ve lived next to it for almost two months now. The same thing happened when I lived in DC. In eight years I never saw the Holocaust Museum. Buildings are like your friends. You figure ah hell, they´ll always be there, so you don´t bother to go see them. And then one day you call their phone number and it´s been disconnected. Oops, we were talking about buildings (but while we´re here, does anybody have Cathy K´s phone?)

So I went to see it. It´s not for nothing that this building is so closely associated with Barcelona. It´s our Eiffel Tower, our Empire Steate Building, our Watergate Hotel. And it was designed by the architect best known for his work in Barcelona, Antonio Gaudi. An eccentric and deeply spiritual man, he was given (almost) free reign to build in Barcelona by the city´s elite in the late 1800´s and early 1900´s. When you say the word "Modernismo" you have to say Gaudi in the same breath. When you come to see Barcelona, you basically come to see Gaudi´s work.

The temple really is quite amazing. One of the neat things about Barcelona is that you´re never more than 100 meters from some local monument, but nothing prepares you for this. The neighborhood isn´t much to shout about, but you walk through this fairly mundane street, turn a corner, and there it is. Unbelievably huge, it looks like someone has built the world´s most beautiful church and then somehow made it more beautiful by melting half of it. It currently consists of four (or eight, depending on how you count) towers, each tower a pair of granite taper candles extending upward over 100 feet. I was reminded of the castles we would make on the beach in North Carolina by dripping wet sand in a pile.

The exterior is covered with all kinds of, well, stuff... giant snails, fruits indigenous to Cataluña, a huge green Cyprus tree-- much of the stonework is in color. I wondered how they convinced the government to fund this, and in fact they didn´t. It´s being built entirely from private contributions.

A great thing about Spain is that they don´t have the legal concept of the "Attractive Nuisance". (Scenario: Guy A puts in a pool. Guy B´s kid drowns in Guy A´s pool while skinny-dipping and autoasphyxiating. Guy B sues Guy A, claiming that the pool was an "Attractive Nuisance". Guy B wins, and now has enough money to build his own pool, but Guy A is now so poor that he has to move to house C in Love Canal where he and his family contract diseases D, E, and F.) If this temple were in the U.S., there would be lawsuits galore. Going up in the towers you climb up a series of spiral staircases which are dark, narrow, twisty, and breathtaking. There were open balconies every 10 feet or so, which was fine, until a part of my brain said, what if I went nuts and... Jumped Over The Side!?!? Which sounds ridiculous, but I have proof: my brain is attracted to whatever it knows it can´t do. Like the times I´ve gone to a party, knowing I would see Jones and his wife. I would have a little talk beforehand with my brain: "In no uncertain terms will anyone in here mention the affair he´s having. Agreed?" And all the little voices in my head would assent, sure man, whatever. So I arrive at the party, and there are Jones and his wife. I stick out my hand, grin, and open my mouth: "So Jones, how´s the mistress, ahmm, I mean business"... and go plummeting 100 feet over the side of the tower of acceptable social behavior.

The towers were crawling with tourists from the US, Germany, and France. I kept thinking, Tower of Babel, Tower of Babel. There were walkways between the towers, some of them quite long, completely open to the sky. As I walked out on the longest one, I noticed I was making little involuntary noises with my throat like my Grandmother makes when she´s sleeping. Needless to say I didn´t hang out for long on them. But on one I realized that I could see my house. Cool. All I could think of was that stupid joke where Jesus is up on the cross and groans, "Peter, come here", and Peter tries repeatedly to get to Jesus´s side, but keeps getting turned away by the guards. Peter finally manages to claw and fight his way to Jesus´s side and, bloody and beaten, yells up, "Yes, Lord, what do you want to tell me?" And Jesus says, "Peter, Peter... I can see your house from up here."

I ended up just laying around this weekend, which gave me time to think about the really important things. Like, why do dogs age seven years in one year? What, are they shooting heroin when we aren´t looking or something? Or how about this: "Pringue" means "grease drippings" in Spanish. And yet Pringles sell, sell, sell here. I wonder what that means. And the packaging is different here. Most packages have their copy translated into the fifteen languages spoken here. Which makes for a lot less room for copy. In the States we have so much room on our packages that they have to hire a Copy Writer to fill up the space. Imagine this job: Some guy goes to college for seven years to get his B.A. in English lit, and ends up writing about "Krunchy, Chocolaty wafers filled with creamy nougat..." Here they have about enough room for one line of copy, which they probably delegate out to one of the nougat engineers: "Hey Manuel, gimme some copy... 'Real Nice Cookies'? okay, sounds great". And they translate it into fifteen languages and away we go.

Well, the notice board for my flight just changed to "Amsterdam". On the whole, I´d rather go there. But I guess I´d better go see what´s going on. I miss you all. Love, Tim

No comments:

Post a Comment

I moderate comments blog posts over 14 days old. This keeps a lot of spam away. I generally am all right about moderating. Thanks for understanding.