Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Looking through this blog I have discovered that somehow I failed to post a story from my journal that I meant to put up long ago.

Thursday, June 21 2007

Wendy’s intern Albina is here of course. Every Thursday is “take Albina out to lunch day.”

Today we took her to Casa Lucas, another of the endless places that love Wendy. We went there last Saturday and one of the owners went by, said hello and touched her shoulder as he passed into the kitchen. We haven’t been there in six weeks and he still remembers her. That day, based on that gesture, we resolve that since we have grown a bit tired of mussel place and the only good food there is the mussels, that we need to frequent Casa Lucas some more. This is specious reasoning since we should be exploring all the places we haven’t ever eaten at in Madrid and those places are endless.

Wendy had to do an errand before lunch so Albina and I got a table and waited for her. When she got there Wendy ordered for us since she knows what I like and what she wanted Albina to try. We are trying to pack as much of the Spanish experience as we can into Albina's short time here. Soon she heads back to Boston. Lunch came in reverse order this time. Seared tuna was first, followed by the pork, then finally our chicken. And of course a bottle of wine for the three of us.

It amazes me that I have gone from eating McDonalds and pizza every chance I got, to after Marilyn passed and I started working out to eating oatmeal, fish, and wheat bread. And liking it. Now I am enjoying raw tuna with onions bathed in an apple and soy sauce.

Maybe that’s why I’ve gone from 213 to 170 pounds.

We have a delicious 45 minute meal and the waiter brings us a complimentary after lunch drink; Muscatel. Again, I am sure that it is because Wendy is so charming and always asks the waiters opinion on food, engages them in conversation and tells them how much we love this place. Today is no exception.

When we get done with lunch, Wendy and Albina head back to work and I head to El Corte Ingles for some groceries and a blue matching lounge chair to go with the one we bought the other day. I come home and write until eight pm and then it’s time to go to a concert.

That night we go see Rufus Wainwright.

If I remember correctly, this is my first concert. Sure, I’ve been to Middlebury College piano concerts and small things at the park in Middlebury, but I don’t remember ever having been to a rock concert before.

The entrance to the place reminds me of riot night in Berlin. There is a winding street that leads down to the club. There are hundreds of kids lining the street and the driveway of the club. There are vendors selling drinks with little makeshift bars set on little makeshift tables making an alleyway like a fair. There is one guy selling beer out of a grocery cart. There are about a dozen men with little grills for hot food and people just milling about drinking and eating for a hundred yards before heading into the club. For some reason this triggers some small anxiety in me.

We head inside; bypassing a long line with our pre-bought tickets and the place is amazing. A circular building with multiple levels with multiple bars around the outside and one main bar in the center and gigantic palm trees that reach all the way to the circus top roof. Standing in front of the stage, ready for a long vigil, are a couple hundred people packed tight. Wendy and I avoid that noise and make our way up to the bar on the left hand side, elevated above the crowd. Despite the fact that the bar is as large as Wendy’s entire apartment including terrace, there is never more than a dozen people in it and we have the railing and most of the place to ourselves. I get us a couple beers at 5 dollars apiece for what amounts to eight ounces of watery foam.

Rufus comes out and I expected him to look like the son of a couple of folk singers. Why wouldn’t I? That’s what he is. Having heard him on Amazon the other day to refresh my memory of what he sounded like, I was expecting a granola hippy, someone like my friend Richard Ruane.

Rufus comes out in short pants with knee high stockings.

“Hi everybody” he says in a high lispy voice. “Do you like my lederhosen? Aren’t they cute? I’m trying to be like King Phillip because he was a Hapsburg.”

Everyone laughs and he chats a bit about how nice it is to be back in Madrid and then he starts to play. And, he sounds just like his albums. His voice is beautiful and moving. Definitely not a studio only performer. His music s almost hypnotic. I feel like swaying and so does the rest of the crowd. Hundreds of kids in front of the stage sway back and forth in unison. Despite being in the middle of Spain, the crowd knows most of his lyrics and sings along with him on every song and claps and laughs at his jokes.

I lean into Wendy “I’m so fucking glad we came tonight.” And I am. A beautiful woman in my arms, an amazing singer, fantastic standing room, no one around us and two watery beers. The place is packed with people below and we have a wonderful view of the stage and everyone below us to people watch.

Below us, 6 people are passing around a joint. (Which is legal in Spain.)

He sings a couple songs and then tells us in his high lispy voice “My new video is out. It has me walking through a Victorian gym in my bathrobe. All around me muscular men are working out. And then I take off my bathrobe and I’m standing in my underwear.”

He pauses for effect.

“Well… it’s very gay.”

Everyone uproariously laughs including Wendy and I.

He sings some more, sometimes moving to the back to play the piano; sometimes he stands in the front and plays the guitar. His voice is melodious and enthralling. At one point he tells us that the next song is the one with the flamenco clapping. Everyone cheers.

“I remember how much you love that song.”

Everyone claps some more. Then one of his men comes forward and whispers in his ear informing him that no it isn’t. He apologizes. The next song he again says

“Okay, this is the one with the clapping.”

And he is again informed that it isn’t. He apologizes again.

“I don’t know what is with me tonight!”

He plays another beautiful song and then he says “What’s the Spanish word for clapping?”

The crowd roars “Palma” at him and he points to the towering palm tree in the center of the room. “Palma!”

And now it is finally, honest and for true, time for the flamenco clapping and the crowd goes ballistic. Hundreds of people start clapping and stamping there feet and singing along with the lyrics to a fast paced wonderful piece of music. The air is charged like it is the middle of a lightning storm and Wendy and I clap along with everyone else and smile and sing through the whole thing with everyone else. It is very moving and I can't believe the direction my life has taken.

Jamie Wakefield. In Madrid. Eating seared tuna. Flamenco clapping. At a concert with four hundred people.

He sings a few more songs and then starts to wind down. He leaves the stage to change into a new outfit. Wendy and I go back to people watching.

Below us, two good looking lesbians are flirting. I point them out to Wendy and we watch the drama unfolding as we wait for Rufus to come back. One of them gets more interested in taking pictures of Rufus and leaves the other standing alone as she presses through the crowd to get closer to the stage.

Poor little lesbian!

I feel so bad for her. She looks forlorn. Then the one up front turns around and motions her new friend to come up and join her. Gleefully she presses through the crowd.

Rufus comes out in a big white bathrobe. He sits down and puts on black high heels and earrings. He stands up and takes off his bathrobe to reveal a black short cut dress.

As Judy Garland, he sings “Get Happy”.

The crowd goes wild.

It was pretty gay.

Sadly, it was his last song. The crowd streams out and Wendy and I wait for them to thin quite a bit and get some more people watching in.

We watch the two lesbians leave hand in hand. Yay!

We walk home and talk about how fantastic that was. Wendy buys more Rufus for her Ipod. We listen to him all the next day and look for his video on YouTube. Reading one article, Wendy tells me that last year he closed his show by coming out naked except for a red sash on that said "Miss Madrid 2006."

I prefer the Judy Garland myself.


  1. Wow that concert sounded awesome. Since I live within driving distance of New York City and the major concert venues in New Jersey, I've had the pleasure of seeing Elton John, Weird Al Yankovic, James Taylor and Rod Stewart performing live. As you've just learned, popular music concerts are an awful lot of fun. Go see more!

  2. Jamie, what happened with your Articles at Starcity? Are you going to start them up again somewhere else?

    Benjamin Wild