C gets a salad delivered to our table on the roof of the Hotel Axel. It is delivered by one of the interchangeably gorgeous staff. I think the surest way to have a breakdown would be to try to manage this staff. The waiters squabble with the bartenders (who have to consult a booklet in order to make a Manhattan, which in this case included a glaced cherry, hence the albeit delicious scum on the surface). Whenever the managing queens are out of sight, the staff produce cell phones and duck into utility rooms. But we are definitely not complaining about this place and will stay here again when we return. It will be interesting to see whether or not the chip in the rim of the glass in the photo is indicative of a lack of attention to detail while the owner opens up a chain of Axels starting with the next one in Buenos Aires later this year, or if it is just incidental. Truth to tell, this is the second chipped glass I was served. All the same, what you want from a gay luxe hotel is exactly what they deliver: a happy international group of gay travelers who meet and socialize at the Hotel spa and make plans for dinner and bar later in the evening. This was great fun, with a room/bathroom/balcony that were delightful.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Just when you think there could not be another one of these in the city, you turn a corner and find one even more fabulous than the rest. To have the eye constantly filled with this sort of exuberantly elegant lineage, alters the mind in a good way. There is no inclination to litter or to deface. No need to campaign against those sorts of antisocial behavior which seem to be disarmed by the simple assertion of the fantastic in public view.
we spent a good amount of time speculating about how they got these fantastic finishes on the buildings of Barcelona. We decide that over the painted rough concrete base, one sets in place a thick (half inch?) stencil which is in-filled with a layer of plaster. This layer is painted (in this case, blue) before the stencil is removed.
The de rigeur shot of candy heaps at the local mercado/food bazaar. I could have done the fish, or the skinned rabbits...
Getting food in Barcelona, as in Madrid, has been an adventure, and not always successful. There are a zillion storefronted cafes and restaurants and bakeries. Their metal curtains are raised or lowered at various hours of the day so that whenever we left the hotel, it was as if the selection had been shuffled. ("They're heading down D'Aribou. Quick! Shut down the pastry shops and open the ham/cheese sandwich places.") We were almost never able to get back to the same place twice. The one exception was a wonderful little restaurant run by a charmer named Alex who made a superb fried camembert entree, and perfect gnocchi Putanesca. The name of the place is Sazzerac. It is in the heart of the Gayxample ( on Carre Conseil de Cent). The music was also great there. Vintage disco, George Benson, and the wallpaper was flocked with gold glitter ovals.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Madrid, despite being conjoined by common currency to the rest of Europe, retains its passport in the arresting detention of the faces of its men to whom we have happily surrendered our credentials.
We are walking in the deep shadows that drape the swerving angustine streets of the gay Chueca neighborhood, where sunlight sifts down through the filigreed wrought iron balconies and the brilliant red geraniums of the top floors of the old apartamentos.
Local men fill our eyes with their fallenangel-beards held in fastitious check by third-day clipping. They toss us only the mildest brand of urban defense with their onyx koala-eyes while stepping across our path at a stone curb, or darting in and out of shops, always pausing long enough to inventory our appearance.
These men are narrow and lithe, with little butts, seemingly the product of selective breeding geared to allow for their stuffing into snug and hipless jeans. Pampered little butts that seem to converse in whispers among themselves or with the precious little dogs always at heel just below them, while their owners make equally subdued but forward-facing bavard through frequent cigarettes and stops to inspect the myriad racks of flash gear spilling out of shop windows.
Mostly, they inspect us, the Americans, the ones whose style they are maniacally working to copy. In fact, we have never been in the midst of a gay tribe so overwhelmingly curious about a particular culture, and so rabidly (and so needlessly) seeking self-Chelseafication. I want a soap box at the corner of Hortaleza and Perez Galdos from which I might exhort them to rest, to let their hair grow and to trust the deep saturations of lime, ochre, and bleu–de-travail slashed with blinding white that are the colors of their natural inclination. There would I also cheer their fondness for metalized leather footwear and their wearing of boldly striped euro-team sport shirts.
I am granted some exemption from their relentless study because they assume I am Spanish and are genuinely surprised when I speak in transaction with them like a returned Sabrina. C, on the other hand, is turning heads in this town, as the only natural blonde in attendance. What months mark the influx of Germans or Dutch? Obviously not Mayo.
We set aside sleep deprivation acquired during the Air Iberia flight during which, despite the fact that the seats fully reclined and even had a delightful massaging feature as one of the option buttons, we were kept awake by the crew’s constant offering of aperitifs, wine, lobster ravioli, endless rolls with seasoned olive oil for the drizzling, mango chutney on mixed greens and artisanal cheeses with guava jam and delirious desserts followed by more tonged hot towels for draping over one’s face to hide the shame of having eaten well beyond desire.
We unpack our carry-ons and decide to head out into the city where we fall into a lasting appreciation for the its public spaces. Our initial meandering lasts longer than we had planned, using the sun as an indicator of need for return to the apartment, shower and night owling. That sun was still up at 9PM, and was rather still in evidence at 10PM. Can’t figure this out. Not like we’re on the equator or one of the poles.
We had read that dinner often occurs here at midnight, and that attendance at bars can be earlier or later with no need to follow a rigorous herd-driven horario. (Recall the emptiness of the Lure at 11:45 followed by its being mobbed at 12:01 followed by its sudden desertion at 1:59 when the influx and exflux repeated itself at The Spike.) We look directly across the street from the entrance to our building and see a grey sign for something called “Cruising”. Two heavy metal doors appear to be locked but give way to a couple of happily disheveled young men making wobbly egress. We cross the street and push open one of the heavy old doors. We are briefly inspected by the proprietor and motioned inside. So begins Night Numero Uno.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
C wants to move to Madrid. It's wonderful for many reasons:
a) Despite traffic in streets not designed for it, there is very little horn honking. The Smart Cars are so smart.
b)Fewer Maclarens on the sidewalks assaulting your ankles. Kids walk, run and kick balls through the pedestrians with skill.
c)The back rooms (no need for Visharas and Unicorns and Bijous)and discretionary door policies, especially the one(s) at the Eagle (long story which I might be able to assemble on the train to Barcelona tomorrow). Madrid sex is fun and easy.
d) the public spaces, cafes and parks everywhere. No need for artifically designed "playscapes" for kids. They seem to be actually using their imaginations.
e) This is a city in transition that has begun to discover itself in recent years. Construction everywhere. High energy.
f) cell phones? Not here. People on the streets are actually talking to adjacent humans.
h) Perfect weather.
i) Good coffee, bad food. Hence everyone skinny.
i) The men. Beautiful and friendly. Long long stories.Train. Tomorrow.
Friday, May 19, 2006
You will recall the gospel story Jesus told about the foolish vrigins and the wise ones? The wise ones kept their "wicks trimmed" so that when the Master arrived, even if in the middle of the night, they'd be ready, and would be brought by him into the wedding feast. The foolish ones became lazy and leisurely, shopping on 72nd street to get just the right sketch book, packing slowly while trying on various T shirts, and finally trusting the word of a taxi driver who said he could get us to JFK in an hour. Two hours later, eventhough we have arrived an hour before departure time, Delta is telling us that they have closed the flight. We have managed to get on an Iberia flight, but at extremely great cost. I cannot even say the number. In fact, I may never again be able to speak that number. The only seats available were business class. And so we are in the Iberia lounge waiting for the flight, and still, we are on stand-by. This is a picture of their open bar which, MarkofKane, did not contain bitters or cherries so I altered our Manhattans by adding Southern Comfort. (Roughing it). I'm pleased to see the number of wine glasses provided, because we may have to down several hundred drinks to recoup the outrageous price of the tickets. Nearby, is a nifty pyramid of perfect apples, each one individually wrapped in cellophane, and the whole Aztectural display spotlit from an amorphous "frozen paper" halogen pendant. We may have to chomp down several thousand of these to recoup the ticket price. Since there are only a hundred or so apples on display, I've set my sights instead on a rather fine Sol Lewitt print outside the mens' room which I'm guessing might fetch on EBAY a bit more than the price of our tickets...maybe.
News. C has just returned from the counter where he was told that the flight has been delayed an hour and a half. He's off to get a massage which is one of the standard LOUNGE amenities. That may give me enough time to cruise the Iberia Lounge Men's Room. Given my hourly rate, in order to recoup the ticket price, I'd have to do...