March 07, 2011

Barcelona Masculine: Some Observations

The most common image on the door of gentlemen’s bathrooms in bars and restaurants in Barcelona is of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in Godfather II. We can debate the manliness of this character, but not if he only marks the way to basic biological functions.

The nearest, and most lavish, den of iniquity to my (rather nice) hotel was called ‘Bagdad’, and offered an ‘Arabic porn show’. I deigned not to penetrate its inner sanctum.

The Olympic needle is enveloped by a feminine O, and the crucible of the Olympic flame sits atop a rather flaccid looking upright.

One of the principal city displays is the magic fountain, which gushes on a precise timetable, to the strains of Pavarotti. It’s an illuminated circle of water, fed by a lavish terraced waterfall that descends from an art museum.

At the Picasso Museum, the art is slavishly laid out in chronological order, with no mind to the apparently enormous gaps in the collection that this method reveals. And thus we get the man’s loose sketches of his arty friends alongside his cheap smut. You’ll see some gems here, but the feeling you’ll leave with will be that of Picasso’s women: the man was a stylish cad.

And finally there’s Gaudi, who was pathologically afraid of the straight line so far as I can tell. Barcelona is the best planned city in Europe, all neatly laid out in beautiful tenement blocks. But the chief attractions among these solid piles are Gaudi’s visions, giving the distinct impression that all his bricks melted in the Mediterranean sun. Twelve Euros to enter, no less; more for the premium shack.

All told, a city of the exotic and the feminine, the organic and artistic. What manliness abounds in the visible city is cast in questionable light. But I would aver that these attractions are not where people live, nor work, but are the mere attractions for the touristic gaze. In its stoic planning, the rest of the city conceals its strength in a sober anonymity.

*4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th pics are mine.

1 comment:

  1. The architectural ghastliness imposed on Barcelona is payback, one suspects, for Barcelona's intransigence during the Spanish Civil War. 'Franco's Revenge,' one might call it.


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