Friday, May 29, 2009

te dejo madrid...

Madrid and I have a love-hate relationship.

The city is a rebellious ex-convent schoolgirl who grew up, got sophisticated but never forgot how to have a good time.

Beside the whole social and historical "discovery of the Americas" and killing-the-natives thing, the Spanish capital does not look favorably upon people from their former colonies. Madrid also cost me nearly 500 euros for missing a court appearance for painting a small mural on an abandoned building back in 2007. Not that I had issue with appearing in court but the court appearance was after my return flight home and I was not going to fly back to Spain to hear b.s. from a judge.

But me and the Spanish Consulate of New York are on speaking terms now.

Madrid is a relatively new city by European standards, founded in 1561 as the capital of the then greatest Empire of the world and of the Hapsburg King Felipe II. Madrid is a special place for artists and is arguably comes in second behind Paris in terms of quality European museums. There's El Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza
, with hundreds of French impressionists and old Italians masters, and the Reina Sofia Museum, with Spanish artists from the XVIII to the XX centuries, such as Picasso, Dali, Miro, Juan Gris, Santiago Rusinol, Zuloaga, Chillida, etc. (Salvador Dali donated all his better and most well known paintings to the Spanish Government). Picasso's famous painting Guernica is also in this museum and is the only painting that I can recall that has ever made me cry and this includes any painting or sculpture I have seen in Florence, the Vatican, the Louvre, or the Met in New York. This triangular area is internationally recognized as the greatest cultural concentration of art in the world.

Madrid is
ok, but I would say it lacks the grandeur of other European capitals like Paris, London, Berlin or Rome. Yesterday, I noticed that the Banco de España was closed, the main bank of Madrid in the capital city of the country was closed. It was a fitting metaphor for a country that largely squandered its riches from The Conquest. Of course, there are beautiful churches in Toledo, Salamanca and Madrid but how about the infrastructure, technology, and expertise befitting a world-class city. Spain does not have a center of finance like London or designation as a major trade hub like Frankfurt. Spain lost its Empire...and had almost nothing to show for it. A truly great country can only be measured on how it stands the test of time to posterity. And the characteristic of Spain is its role as colonizer of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, No.Amer.and Africa. It gave its heritage, culture, language, foods and religion to indigenous people; quite an amazing feat despite a bit of terror during the inquisition era.

Countless Indians and indigenous natives lost.
Territories (now countries) in Latin America served merely as means to extract resources such as gold and silver, tin and sugar to Spain, without developing the infrastructure of these cities. Undefended ports serving as capital cities (counter to geopolitical norms) to barren interiors that served as productive plantations and little else. The creation of mixed populace that served as a caste system that still devalues native customs and colored where the lightest and whitest, who are damn near 1/8th conquistador themselves, maintain cultural domination at the head of a social hierarchy left over by the Spaniards.

Remind me why do I love you again Madrid?

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