Numero Ocho! Tres veces! Number eight on the list of destinations I made it to goes to the beautifully wonderful city of Barcelona! Legitimately, my favorite city on the planet, I was there three times this past year.
My April visit signifies my first time over an ocean in three years; my whole mentality jumps off the chart just getting the plane. Getting layovered > getting laid. Shit feels kind good though. Better is what I’m saying. Off the continent coming up, thank you. My mind wanders to the flight I’m boarding from Atlanta to Barcelona, because I’m sitting here right now. Being present in the present. Like right now right next. With an eight and a half hour flight in front of me. Hoping no one is in the seat next to me. Gimme some space. By any means necessary. I’m the El Hajj Malik Shabazz of this space-on-an-aircraft shit. That’s Malcolm X for anyone who’s never seen a Spike Lee joint. A moment ago I’m talking to the gate attendant. Laverne. She looks identically like a Laverne. Any hoo. Definitely not a Shirley. I don’t know why. Dunno. Maybe TV. Movies. I mean, she could conceivably star in Orange Is The New Black here in the dirty bird. Black is the new black. Hot Lanta. ATL. ATLIens. Yes, we done come a long way like them slim-ass cigarettes. That’s Virginia, but Andre3000 said it so I meant it. Whatever, thats none of my business here and we just gon’ continue and I’m happy as fuck because 1) I’m talking about Barcelona here and 2) Laverne confirms my seconds-ago, Delta app-induced (they don’t pay me) seat change with a simply-put “you’re a lucky man”. Southern charm is charming, eh? I’ll take it. And if you’re paying close attention at home you we just time travelled our faces off. I got places to go.
One cross continental flight later and my man is selling five euro agua in the Catalunya Plaza. I’m under cover of rain and it smells of piss. Barcelona is sophisticatedly elegant and beautiful, like it’s women. And language. Aesthetic. Design. All of it. Cosmopolitan yet unbridled. Historic yet modern. Dirty yet delightful. BCN resides on the same street inside my cerebral cortex as La Habana and NOLA. Locations I could live in. Homeskillets. No frying pan. No fire. Straight skillet steez.
The world is my oyster and I didn’t even order them. El Ramblero en la Boqueria de Barcelona on Holy Saturday. I mean holy shit. I’ve never seen any sort of food and drink service more busy and yet more smoothly run by the workers. Yay Unions. Or even Cooperatives. I’m at the counter, nomming a seafood platter – one person style. Squeezed inches between various people of various languages and this shit is delicious. And clearly no one is “the manager” as American customer after customer doesn’t seem to get it. This is hectic. For them. I’m on vacation. Vacated. Holiday. Fourth of July for the world bitch. They get paid well. Maybe I should tip. Maybe I shouldn’t. I wonder if they’re so good at what they’re doing because they’re paid well. OR. Are they paid well because they’re good at what they’re doing. America will never know. I will though. It’s called a worldview and I’m overcome with gratitude for having one. So my gratuity overfloweth. Gratuitous overflowicus. Muchas gracias motherfucker.
I hit the cathedral to at least acknowledge the Catholic guilt likely built into my DNA. Thanks a lot grandma. I feel bad for saying that…. it’s and endless cycle. Infinite plazas equals amaze balls. Damn I gotta piss. If this were Eastern European the church would offer a pissing place. Nah for real. Amsterdam. Brussels. Prague. At least the reformist religious fervor gives me a chance to let nature fall. Walden. Or Somethin. Oh look, a Starbucks. I’m entitled because capitalism ruins Monday for everyone. I breeze upstairs, following some Beckies. I think that’s the plural of Becky. Score. There’s a baño line five deep for the people who sit down. The most over-25-looking-one, her name is probably Cecelia. She’s all pointing and like, “the mens room is open” in American English. I’m all, “well lucky me”. Pissing whilst standing for nearly the next five minutes; the urinal separated by a door from a perfectly usable sit-down toilet straight up gives me all sort of of feminist revolutionaries ideas and emotions. I forget them before I write them down. The yooooshhzzz.
My second trip is just weeks later, on my way back home. Its a short one. I Rambla on to La Confiteria, a cocktail bar built in 1912. Awesome spot. Hand carved wood abounds. It’s definitely got a swing of carefreeness to it, like the Catalan were way ahead of their time with the roaring twenties things. Roaring ‘12. My mind is trying to place dates on the Spanish civil war and I realize that all this woodwork survived a four-sided feud. Brains across the Bible Belt explode at the mere mention of a more-than-two-party system. I’m rambling without La Rambla to the barkeep, this hipster wearing one of those Amish style hats. He’s got the beard to boot. His name is likely Jonas or Aaron. I tell him that I’m from Buffalo Nueva Yol and our entire city was burned to the ground by the British… in 1912. Well fuck. Godamnnit, I’ve misrepresented myself and my city by one hundred years. We burned in 1812. It’s embarrassing. Jonas doesn’t care. Aaron doesn’t know. Is it the Force that surrounds us all, Master Yoda? I think this is next level jet lag, on some three years coming. Off-continent, I realize my spacetime muscle has atrophied. I’m missing entire centuries. Centuries I was never there for. Well except for those last few decade of the late 1900s. Either way I’m def out of practice with this jet setting shit. Etta Fitzgerald’s silky voice paints to room, this tequila, mezcal, agave and ginger concoction hits just right. Until some drunk Australian guy comes up. Peter. He works for some company owned by a Russian oligarch here in the harbor. He hasn’t even bought a drink. It’s been Like ten minutes after I’ve given up being nice and twenty minutes before he shuts up. Fuck. The staff ask if I’m bien. Peter is tapping my elbow as I type. Hitting my arm while he’s blabbering about some drunken accented shrimp on the barbie. Like every six words he hits me. What the fuck is going on? Is this that two-new-moons this April shit?
Visit numero tres of 2022 is actually my 6th time here. I think. I’m losing count, wondering again “Why don’t I live here?” Barcelona… the more I know you, the more I love you. Like a good woman. Arriving late after my day long layover in Belgrade, I land with the full realization that I now intend to retire here once I’m ready to stop fighting fires and start collecting pension checks. I am assigned to passport control line seven. There’s no line, I cruise right through customs and jump on the “aero bus”. I get to my apartment in Grácia, drops bags, wash ass, and head out to link with Buffalo friends. Around the corner India, Sam and Harper greet me with hugs. They’re socialists. Like me. But they’re here on work, exploring worker coop models in Spain and Italy. I’m not that socialist, just my career is. Next time you wanna demonize the S word, remember the Fire Department. The US Post Office. Public Parks and Schools. The Military (if you support the troops – and you should – then you’re partially a socialist). Socialism is a political worldview that prioritizes the social ownership of the means of production rather than ownership by private individuals or corporations. It’s more geared towards public satisfaction rather than the accumulation of profit. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about public infrastructure. Livability. Streets For People. Like here in Barcelona. Drivers in Buffalo could be so lucky to not have to deal with streets full of people. On foot. Walking. Scootering. Being people. It’s a gorgeous September day and I spend a lot of time out in the plazas. I can’t walk more than 3 minutes without another one. With benches and water features. Inviting me to loiter, hang out, LIVE. Can I? The few cars drive along at 15-20 mph. They don’t dare even beep. This fits me. We grab some drinks and chill. It’s good to see people I know and love.
The next day, I hit the train and hit the beach. The nude one. People are good looking but no one stares at each other. We’re all naked under our clothes. It’s natural. I chill. I read. I drink. I eat. I walk. I live. I could live here…. Why don’t I live here? The flight home is the hardest flight to get on…EVERRRRR. The endless stream of aero buses is right across the plaza, taking people back to the airport. I don’t wanna be one of them. I wanna time them out but it’s hardly five minutes intervals and so I stop. Billions of pigeons. Some people drop bread and get pooped on. The seagulls are the worst. One pigeon tho. A mediating pigeon of plaza Catalan. Let’s name this pigeon Pablo. Pablo is a chill cucumber. Dill dip and all. He just wants to close his eyes. He’s in zen. Watching him. I’m in a zen. It’s surreal as fuck. We go for a bit. Basically until another pigeon almost lands on Pablo’s fucking head. I’m not sure who’s more annoyed. Pablo waddles and a human pushes by. Pablo wins again. No distinction between what something is and what it signifies. Thanks for the lesson little homie. I get on the bus… and the plane. Life With Pablo will have to wait. Fuck Kanye.