Friday, June 29, 2007

Street Perfomers are getting lazy

So, it’s Friday. That means no intern today. This means we don’t have to drag ourselves out of bed at the unholy hour of nine a.m. and make ourselves presentable before she gets here at ten.

We have blown off running this week because even at eight o’clock in Madrid it is still 86 degrees out and the sun is high in the sky. Today though, we are determined to go out in the morning and get a run in. We spend 45 minutes waking up, having coffee, re-hydrating and then head out at 11:00 a.m.

We walk to our starting point and do some stretches. I point across the street to Wendy, “it must be really early the bar isn’t even packed yet.” Last time we were here it was also morning but an hour later. Every table had a beer on it and one guy was trying to sleep while his buddy kept pestering him to wake up by poking a pencil in his ear or kicking his chair.

Today, no one.

We start our run and it takes us between the palace and Plaza de Oriente. Between these two landmarks is tourist heaven so there are always a gaggle of street performers here hoping for change.

There are some excellent examples of some of Madrid’s finest here.

Some of them are fascinating, some are just annoying (too many accordian players) and some are pathetic. Some of my favorites are the “Living Statues.” These are people that dress up in a costume and then stand like mannequins until someone puts a coin in their box and then they wake up and do a little jig or wave or smile and move a bit which is your reward, and gives them a chance to switch positions. I’ve seen a bunch of these. An astronaut, a golden cowboy, a wisp of a woman who always dresses very elaborately as an angel or fairy princess with beautiful costumes and full face and hand paint.

One of the first ones I saw here was a granite lady. She was sitting on a box in the Plaza Major and was covered in brownish yellowish mud. It would be a stretch to call it gold. She looked like a rough hewn granite statue, covered in time and dust. She was so still I didn’t even realize there was a person under it all. I thought it was actually another of the hundreds of statues that dot the Madrid cityscape. When I found out she was real, I had to go back and drop a Euro into her can and she raised her sitting position a little bit, slowly raised one hand and waved side to side at me and then set the hand back down. I thought that was pretty cool.

Right up until I saw a real living statue. One that stood on one leg for thirty minutes. Eyes open, unblinking. And had gold dust all over her and a bright wand and flowing platinum robes. Then, seeing a woman sitting, on a box, with her eyes closed, didn’t seem that impressive any more, it just seemed lazy.

Not so oddly enough (knowing human nature) more of the granite, sitting statues appeared all over the city. And oddly enough, people were giving them money! Most likely, innocent people like me who didn’t know what real living statues were like.

And they kept getting lazier! They would have less earth on them. Less paint. There clothes wouldn’t look like a statues, it would look like jeans covered in dirt! They began to become objects of our scorn.

This morning took the cake though. As we run by the palace, street performers are already jockeying for the best spots. And there is already a sitting granite living statue.

I bust out laughing when I see him.

It looks like he’s taken some brown spray paint and sprayed his clothes. Then he took some dirt from the park, rubbed it on his face and hands and sat down.

I turn towards Wendy as we run, still laughing – “Did you see that guy?”
“Yeah”
“That wasn’t a statue! That was a fat guy that forgot to bathe this morning and fell asleep on a box! Are you kidding me?”

Lazy lazy lazy.

About five hundred yards ahead we pass through the Plaza Espana and start up the long hill. On the left is a moving van with two guys sitting on the tail gate about to get to work. As is typical of Spain, one of them has a 16 oz beer he is sipping.

In America, coffee, in Madrid, beer.

Nothing you want more before a hard day of moving furniture up four flights of steps than a nice can of energetic beer!

We circle the park three times and head home. When we get back to the area we stretch at I point to the bar across the street. Every table is full and people have wine, beer and Coca Cola in front of them.

It’s noon.

Just the start of another day in Madrid.

3 comments:

  1. Hey Jamie,

    Keep on keeping on man. I've always been a fan of your writing, and it seems to getting better.

    For some reason I'm fascinated about food, especially food from different areas. How is the food in Madrid?

    Have you tried playing Lord of the Rings Online, I'm having great fun.

    Talk to you later,

    John T

    ReplyDelete
  2. It looks like he’s taken some brown spray paint and sprayed his clothes. Then he took some dirt from the park, rubbed it on his face and hands and sat down.

    I turn towards Wendy as we run, still laughing – “Did you see that guy?”
    “Yeah”
    “That wasn’t a statue! That was a fat guy that forgot to bathe this morning and fell asleep on a box! Are you kidding me?”


    hmm
    I wonder what his story was? What drove him to beg for money on a park bench? Sitting still for hours in the hot sun. Did he have a job? How did he lose it? Did he have kids? Does he now? Is he there because his kids are hungry and he is out of ideas?

    Everyone has a story. some are just alot less happy then others.

    Mizu

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  3. I've often thought about writing a book called "What's your story?" In it, I would interview people like the horriblely bad living statue. See, its not just the fact that he's a street performer, its the fact he's bad at it. All he needs to do is watch someone else do it for 5 minutes and he'd be better.

    I'd like to interview the homeless, hookers, corrupt polititians and just those guys you see on the street and just want to know what the hell is up with them.

    Also, a discourse on Spanish food is in the works.

    ReplyDelete