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Vertical Prose


March 25th, 2006

first day in Santiago de Compostela, Saturday @ 11:57 pm

because i shut the shade on that one window last night
our room is black
and we sleep long

i got out of bed around 9
and Leo was still snoring..

i pissed
then fell back asleep.

when we both got up
we pawed through the food bag we had been carrying around

moldy bread
moldy cheese

we sorted through the good bread we had
all the jam, nutella, cheese

managed to make a good breakfast for ourselves
and got ourselves together to go out about noon.

it was raining.
apparently it rains for two days here
one day of reprieve
then back on

rainy
like Ireland

Galicia.

we walked down the steps out of our hotel
town the road
huge paving stones
huge
so beautiful
like we were walking on the walls of a cathedral
i am confused to see cars driving
as if cars shouldn't be allowed to drive on such beautiful huge stones
how'd they get so smooth?
for such long distances
all the curves
up and down hills?

it's flat, though, on the walk to the cathedral
a minute walk to the huge square
it's raining lightly
and there's a sign up telling us we have to walk around the side of the building because the front door is locked for mass

we walked up anyway
look at the statues
the moss on the stones

then went back down
and around the corner
another square
large steps up
and two beggars sitting there
one inside the door
one outside
with puppy eyes
little begging plates
on their knees.

striking me as odd...
like they were acting or something
as if they weren't real
... many of the homeless people in europe feel that way to me
like it's a show
not that they're doing anything entertaining
but it's a ritual..

like in prague
apparently the mafia made all the beggars lay on their knees with their heads on the ground and their hands out
apparently
but that's the way they all were

and here
inside
the beggar kneels on cardboard
his little scallop shell held out
puppy dog eyes

i look at the cold dirty girl outside
in her very fancy parka
want to say " nice coat "
but just walk by
giving them eye contact and a nod...

inside...
the place is packed
i'm knocked off base
something seems so strange..

this place is huge..
the Altar...
the altar is the largest i have ever seen in my life
it seems like something i've seen in a magazine
... from India or something
all gold
a huge litter being held by angels that look exactly like dakinis
the million manifestations of St James
all done in cold and stones and paints
we wander back to an opening in the middle aisle
and sit

the Pilgrim mass is going on
the old priest is clearing his throat and speaking about something
... his spanish is very guttural
the parish members doing the readings are dressed so nice
i get that terrible feeling i always get in church while a mass is happening..

i like churches when they are inert
but when they come alive
when mass is happening
i get angry
i feel oppressed, like there's not enough air
dirty almost
certainly like i don't belong and am not welcome
and like i'm being swindled...
(but i feel that way in most spiritual circuses... )

my mood drops down quickly
so i get up and leave Leo there to enjoy mass
not wanting to spew psychic pollution everywhere
i go outside as quickly as i can.

i walk around in the gentle rain
wash me
cool me off

now the whole city seems like a stage
like it's all a fucking gyp...

i mope around in the rain
find an internet cafe
and ask the prices
€1.50 an hour... no hook-up or WiFi
hmmm

back into the cathedral
the anger is still there
mass is still happening
i walk around the back to the other side
everyone is staring at something
a dancing bear
i don't know what the fuck
but i look
and it's the thurible
the huge censer hanging from a thick docking rope
there are a group of men in special burgundy robes pulling on part of the rope
to cause the censer to swing all the way into both arms of the transept
(swinging in a 50 metre arc, leo just told me)

good show, old chap
i make a movie with my camera
... i don't smell the incense, though...

and when it's all over
i find a very small chapel off to the side

it's empty
and says "silence"
so i go in there and sit

very little decoration
no gold
just Mary holding baby J and a sprig of something
i rest there...
til it starts filling with tourists.

Leo later tells me that was the chapel for foreign pilgrims... and the Basque.
the outsiders, yeah
here i am.

when i walk out of the chapel
i see the mass must be over
the place is swarming
i go back to where i left Leo and he's sitting there
all happy
i take his place on the bench
and he walks around a bit to see the back of the church
then we walk together into the crypt
then up to the St James statue

this is what the pilgrims want to do
to touch St James (gold clad idol)'s shoulder and make a wish
or receive blessings or something
and i'm just not in the mood

i close my eyes
put myself aside
and ask for blessings for my mother's walk.. should she choose to walk the long road here...

then kinda rush out of there
and meet up with Leo again...

we walk out
the rain rain rain
across the small square
to have a cup of tea
we sit and drink
refilling the little pots
hot weak tea

chatting about stuff
i don't want to bring Leo down
but i tell him a bit of how i'm feeling
we don't dwell on it
but just sitting there is unpleasant for me
terrible back ground music
all in spanish
but
terrible
i put on my ipod
and listen to some brainiac
that makes me feel better.

eventually
we decide to walk around a bit
and head out
walking down a street with covered galleries... like in Bologna
little shops...
and there's a guy playing guitar
sitting on a chair
he has a sign that says "Jazzman"
and wears a black stocking over his face with a little fedora on
over his lips
are big cartoon "negro" lips with a chewed down cigar.

would that go over in the USA?
would this guy get the shit beat of of him?

we walk to the end of the galleries
and find a little pastry shop.
hmmmm
i buy a little tart covered with chocolate..
coated almond sliver spikes stick up
Leo gets a tiny santiago tart
and we share a meat empañada

back through the covered galleries
in the rain
to the internet cafe i found in the street up by the cathedral
we sit and write
answering our emails
40 minutes passing quickly
we leave after a full hour
and head up around the street
finding ourselves on the square just above our hotel
what are those doors?

-- just another way into the huge cathedral..

and that thing?
it's a benedictine monastery ...
that's now a school or something: we can't go in

so we walk up and around
passing something that looks like a gay bar
rainbow sign hanging off the wall
no times or other notices
... we'll come back tonight.

down the road
we come to the other side of the benedictine monastery
this time
the church part

it's open now
as a museum
small entrance fee

we go in

they're restoring the small chapels
Franciscan saints with that really cool tonsure the Franciscans wore...
the painting done so well on the statue you could see the stubble... the pattern baldness gave him a little tuft up front instead of a full ring

up at the front
three huge altars
all gold
a million saints
a close second to the one in the main cathedral here
these things are SO HUGE
the pilgrims must have brought a lot of money to this town over the years...

the one of the left has a moon in the centre of it
the one on the right, the sun.

behind the central
choir stalls
interesting
but it doesn't have the wood carving that i saw out front in the advertisement to the museum..

we walk around to the museum part of this place
what was the sacristy
filled now with votive paintings and dolls of jesus
chasubles and chalices
old stones from the older building...
and a few flights of old stone stairs going up

Leo's knees are still sore
so i tell him i will go up and tell him if anything is worth it.

the first floor (two flights up)
isn't very interesting.
some modern paintings
some books they must have made
about architecture
and painting maybe?

so i walk back out and call down to Leo
"not very interesting.. i'm going up to the next floor"

and there i find a room filled with things Leo would love
older paintings
tons of Monstrances, Chalices, Relics, crosses...

i jump behind a window shade to see the back-stage of the town
old basket ball court
cars
old buildings
the valley stretching down...

when i finish looking at all the stuff
i go back to the stairs telling Leo to come up
but he's gone.

so i go back in
and continue the exhibit

more bleeding christs..
apparently the spanish were really into his being scourged
i bet mel gibson's movie went over well here
or would have a few hundred years ago..
lots of little statues with rivulets of blood running down his body...
ugh.

next room:
more choir stalls
why are they up here?

but they are beautiful
more beautiful.
i am transfixed....

there is Anistasia
there is Agustus
there is Joseph with the child
such striking faces
beautiful beards
Anton's cowled head
so many secrets

this gives me the feeling i love about the idea of Monastery
a secret society
a place where knowledge is cultivated and imagination nurtured
turned into reality through ritual
daily
constantly

long balcony arms walk out into the church
and i look down for Leo
but see him no where...

then walk on
a room filled with their experiments
taxidermy of strange creatures
monkeys and ground things i don't even know what they are
beautiful birds
a whole collection of different humming-bird types...
a room filled with minerals
extractions
books
instruments for discerning things

wow

a man
obtained from somewhere in france
that can be taken apart into over 2000 pieces
all labeled
to learn about the body...

each room more fascinating
i wish Leo could have seen this
but...
maybe it's for me.

i walk down the stairs
use the toilet
(and almost get locked inside it)
then wander around the church..
where is Leo?

look
more altars.

ugh..

There's Leo
i tell him about my excitement
but he admits he would not want to walk up those stairs
said he almost tried
but it was just too many

so
back outside.

we walk through the gentle rain
and i'm happy at my change of heart

i am very thirsty
we decide to get a beer

but get way-layed by another church-y thing...
S. Matthew or someone
beautiful
old
dark and dusty
a funeral happening at 18:00
should we come back and see if we can find a Friedel?

i am THIRSTY!
we leave
walk down the streets
where's a bar we want to drink at

some look too fucking fancy
or too fucking heterosexual

where's a nice pub.

and there's one
right on that square (another one)

we go in
and wait a while for the server
in that while
decide to get a glass ov cider
seeing that it's on tap

he serves them in special glasses that are bent funny

sitting in the back
nice little pub
kinda a sports pub
but the tv isn't turned up loud
we sit and drink
half way through the cider
i'm feeling it
Leo wonders if there's even alcohol in it
i can feel it...

and when it's through
i get him a Chimay
-- he doesn't really know that brand
and my friend Nick (nDgo) introduced it to me back in '99
memory of friend..
i have an octoberfest double brewed thing

sometimes ya need a rich heavy beer

YUM.

at this point
i'm tipsy
and well watered

we decide to head back to the hotel instead of drinking more

stopping to buy some special galician cheese (in the shape of a Tit)
and some salami... some bottles of water... and butter... and long flat stick of bread
then see another place
get cheese cake
and shredded roasted pork
and dark bread
yeah

then back to the hotel
where we lay on the bed
and have some of the tarte de quiexo

and i ask him if he'd like to hear some of Eli's scripts

Eli sent me a script before i left from NYC
asking me what i thought of it
saying i'll hate it
and why should he bother

and it's true
i haven't read the last few scripts he's sent me
because i've never liked any of his movie scripts
though i used to enjoy his poetry and short stories
when i first met him
when i was fascinated and in love with him

so i read his most recent script
a re-working of the Famous Joe Project
stealing aspects from my life
and saying it's about him
though i don't know what he's doing with it
where he is in it
what he's meaning to achieve...

so i open the two other scripts he sent me
and choose the later to read to Leo

it's a sci-fi piece
based somehow on a jewish tale about King Solomon

maybe it's a horror story
but there is no heart in it
something terrible happens in it
but there isn't enough context to make anyone care

Leo is bored with it
and falls asleep

i try to interest him by reading him some of the Famous Joe piece
but he just isn't interested

i sit there for a while
and read the second one
the older one
his telling of the Jewish tale
which is more interesting
what he's doing with how the story is presented
-- but it's not his story

maybe he should direct other people's stories?

i loved Pinocchio Dreams...

Leo sleeps for a while
i rest

eventually
it's night
and we need to go get something to eat...
and maybe that gay bar will be open?

let's go there for a drink first
it's almost 10...

the door is open
but it's not open yet
i see them moving things around inside

we walk around
and like the looks of the restaurant next door
so go in there
get a table for two
in a room made all of stone
either wall is different
one a cobble of small stones
the other
those huge blocks
that make up the floor too

i order the local dish of Octopus
Leo gets lamb
we get a deli plate and spinach with pine nuts and raisins for starters
red wine...

the ocotopus isn't so great
kinda tastes like cat food
while the paprika they used on the potatoes is excellent
the lamb is lovely
leo gives me some bits
and midway through the meal
Leo tells me to turn around to see Friedel...

--- we've taken it into our lexicon..
"Friedel"
Deiter's boy friend in Berlin
an incredibly cute, charismatic bear
gorgeous
but untouchable
all circumstance
Dieter's boy friend, newly in love... married anyway... complex home life

so these shiny beautiful men we see along the trip that we can never have
(well mostly me)
we call them Friedel.

maybe he's the manager of the restaurant?
this guy with black jeans on
wears his belly over his belt
close cut dark hair and full beard
bright eyes
comes into the room to get some chairs

OH!
he's so fucking cute!

when we finish eating
i walk slowly past him
standing at the bar
talking to his friends... his colleagues
he looks up at me
smiles
beautiful face
his eyes
as Leo passes him
friedel pats him on the shoulder
maybe after closing time?

i walk outside and stare in through the window
oh Friedel!
his cute butt in his jeans
the curve of his belly

argh!

gay bar open?

the door is being pushed open by a group of four kids
girls and boys
talking to the manager
we're waiting our turn
is it open yet?
it's almost 11
but no
it's not open

i talk with one of the kids who reminds me of Cosimo
cute kid
he's been on drugs and hasn't slept for a few days
we talk about how similar Galician "Gallego" is to Portuguese...
but not the same.

does anyone speak "Spanish" in this country?

we walk back to the bar we drank at earlier today
for a night cap
Leo get's another wine
i get a beer, 1906 on tap
rich and heavy

the girl brings a plate of tapas
not great potato fries
little soft wieners
sections of baguette with sour soft cheese
very good
and some sautéed mushrooms with red pepper
we're not hungry at all

but eat
and drink
and talk

get another drink
more wine
and i want to try
Añejo
...
thinking it's a digestif
but it's just dark rum

that's alright.

we finish
and walk home
the internet place having closed already...

i'm getting worried:
where will i stay when Leo leaves?
i haven't really lined anything up
not having spent much time on the internet in the last month
nor the month before i left
oops...

we head back to the hotel
and leo passes out pretty quick
i get out my computer to write...

and do so
a little bit about yesterday
but then i'm so horny
thinking about Friedel
... i look through pictures and videos
and pull myself off and up
working myself to sleep.
 
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