Total Badass kicked total ass at Documenta Madrid
Documenta Madrid was a hoot. A fun-as-hell hoot. If your documentary gets accepted to the fest, you should go. And be ready to party. And see good films.
I didn’t really take the time to bone up on Madrid before hopping on a plane for the fest. But I did learn a few things while there. Here are some observations: all the women in Spain look like Penelope Cruz. And the ones who don’t (including the men), look like a mix of white folk, Mexicans, Italians and Arabs. Spaniards are shorter, on average, than Americans. I’m 6’2” and taller than the average American, but way taller than the average Spaniard. And the black folk (African-Spaniards?) are not fucking around with their blackness; they are as black as night. Character-wise, the Spaniards I encountered were super-nice. They are like Canadians, if the Canadians knew how to party your balls off. Spaniards will throw down a party any time and any place. And they love to be the last man standing, drinking, or smoking. Even the women. Which reminds me, they all smoke.
Day 1 – Thursday, May 5, 2011
This part mostly sucks, but it gets better. My trip started on Thursday, May 5. Which as some Mexicans and Americans know, is Cinco de Mayo. The trip over took 21 hours… (The ellipses are to indicate the passage of time, not a lazy attempt at punctuation.) The trip took a good deal longer than planned and I blame the President.
On the flight to the edge of America, New Jersey, I sat next to fellow Austinite Steve Sanders. Steve is an actor and pal of Michael Dalmon, of Platypus Rex and APESH!T fame. He looks like Hellboy dude Ron Perlman. We had a good time shooting the shit.
The flight from Austin to Newark was delayed. The pilot made sure to let everyone know that it was the President’s fault, as Air Force One was flying around the Northeast and all planes headed that way were held up. The delay caused me to miss my connecting flight to Madrid. After the rigmarole, I ended up on a different flight through London featuring more delays and several hours added to my trip. When I finally arrived in Madrid, it was 23 hours after leaving Austin.
Day 2 – Friday, May 6, 2011
As I just said, this day started on the plane. And languished on the plane for a good deal longer. The only up-side of my delay and diversion is that I learned that British Airway’s flights give you plenty of free booze. Finally, by six in the evening, I was drunk in Madrid. Time to party!
I made it to my hotel and hustled down to the Cinema Palafox for the first of two Total Badass screenings. The decent crowd at the cinema seemed to enjoy the movie. It was pretty neat to watch the flick with Spanish subtitles. I’m already familiar with Spanish cuss words, but it was cool and weird to see the whole flick subtitled. We had no Q&A because one of the festival’s cinemas wasn’t ready for the fest and they had to squeeze in more screenings at the Palafox. I had been looking forward to an awkward and language-barrier challenged Q&A, but no dice.
After the screening, the fest folks headed down to Club Costello for after party shenanigans and booze. I made the trek with the fun-loving festival director Antonio Delgado and his pal whose name I forget. It’s on this night at Club Costello where I’d meet many of the folks I’d end up spending the weekend with: Ruth Somalo (festival translator, filmmaker and Spaniard living in NYC), Sandra Ruesga (filmmaker and programmer for the films in competition), Jean-Claude Taki (fellow filmmaker with the doc Sotchi 255 screening at the fest), and more. The booze flowed and the languages mixed. The partying had begun!
Day 3 –Saturday, May 7, 2011
There’s a Documenta Madrid meet up and lunch every day around noon and several people were praising Total Badass. Maybe because it was praise in the form of the seductive, lispy jiggle of the España Spanish language that made it so special, but it was pretty fucking sweet. The filmmakers, crew and fans took turns introducing ourselves like at a way less sober version of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. We all got a who’s who and I figured out which of these folks could speak English well enough to be my new friends. When a guy resembling Geraldo Rivera’s moustache began to talk, his Spanish sounded more familiar. It turns out he’s from Mexico and had no Spaniard’s lisp. He also spoke fluent English and had that killer ‘stache, so we ended up partying throughout the weekend. His name is Lorenzo Hagerman and he’s a great guy who has a film in the competition called 0.56%. He runs a micro-cinema in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula called La 68.
At the same lunch, I met Martin Guerra, an hombre from Peru, who now lives in Spain and once lived in the U.S. He’s a great guy as well as the hospitality liaison for the fest. It’s a fitting role for him as he’s fun and charming and speaks the sweet, sweet English. We’d end up partying and hanging out later as well. A pattern was developing.
Immediately after the filmmaker lunch (with plenty of red wine), I took a five hour siesta. When in Spain, do as the Spaniards, right? But being an obnoxious American, I had to show them up at their own game. A two or three hour siesta? Bah!
I got a late start to this eve, but it wasn’t quite party-time, so I decided to walk half-way across the city and see some sights. I strolled up past the Prado and eye-fucked some fancy architecture and sexy statues while en route to the bar. Spain is a beautiful city. It’s filled with lots of old buildings that are covered with sculptures and other spiffy accoutrements. Even the newer buildings embrace an artistic bend in their design and construction. I am really liking it here. I timed my walk to land me at Club Costello for the after party. After arriving, I partied.
We shut down Club Costello at 3 AM (again) then headed down to a Spanish version of a heavy metal bar. The joint is called Refugees. Our little gang of Ruth, Sandra, Jean-Claude and a few others (whose names I forget) pounded more booze until 6 AM. These Spaniards like to fucking party. They party like they’re on cocaine, but they’re not on cocaine. They also sing along to all the American songs and don’t give a shit about how gay it makes them look. And they dance. So I gayed out with the locals. Stop, drop and roll-gay.
I made it back to my hotel as the sun was coming up. Never a good sign. Or always the best sign. I flicked on the TV and immediately saw dick and balls, titties and ass: porn. Spain is great! I passed the fuck out and snagged some well-earned zZzs.
Day 4 – Sunday, May 8, 2011
I met a Belgian filmmaker named Sophie Benoot at the filmmaker lunch and we hit it off pretty swell. She directed a film about the American South that I ended up watching later in the day. I really enjoyed the flick.
I saw a total of two movies today, the other being 0.56%. Both were great and both were made by some new friends. My mustachioed Mexican pal Lorenzo directed 0.56%. His flick was an in-the-moment account of the last presidential election, examining the thin margin of victory that gave the Mexican presidency to Felipe Calderon, over the liberal candidate and former mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Aside from reminding me of, and re-pissing me off about, the Bush-Gore bullshit that we Americans had to endure, it was a great doc.
I strolled into my other new friend’s movie immediately after. Sophie’s flick, Blue Meridian, is a choice little essay-doc that floats down the Mississippi River, stopping in small communities along the way to revel in the local oddballs and weirdos who dot the landscape. It was pretty sweet, beautifully shot and bizarrely engaging. Among other things I enjoyed about the movie was getting more than a giggle out of watching the Spaniards in the audience laugh and freak out over a high-stepping, ass-shaking black high-school marching band from the deep-south.
Speaking of weirdness, people keep staring at me. This happens everywhere I go: the bar, the subway, on the streets, in the restaurants. Everywhere, and a lot. Sometimes it’s sexy gals, so that’s cool (happens all the time, ahem). But it’s not exclusively sexy gals. Hell, not even exclusively gals. And when I gaze back at someone who’s eyeballing me, they don’t look away as if busted. They keep on getting a gander, soaking up the me. I’ve yet to figure out why. I’m a bit taller than most here, but is that it? There are plenty of folks with blue eyes running around Madrid, so that can’t be it, right? Maybe it’s cuz I’m so goddamn pretty that they are lured to my visage like the light spewing from the Arc of the Covenant? Or maybe they all think I’m Dr. House from that TV show? I’m certain it’s not that I’m just paranoid, as I’ve found no weed here.
Speaking of sexiness, a sexy gal approached me in the streets and said something seductive in Spanish. I replied “No hablo español.” And she asked “Qué habla?” “inglés.” I replied. “Want to fuck?” she asks. My dick plumped and tingled, as it should when a scantily clad babe inquires about succulently surrounding your cock with her hot, wet flesh. And what kind of question is that? Is there more than one answer? “Fuck yes, I want to fuck, I’m a red-blooded American.” “Twenty-five.” She replied. Euros, she meant. I thought she meant minutes, as in: let’s fuck for at least 25 minutes. Which was fine by me. Hell, why stop there? At this new realization, however, I began to barter her down to 20. That’s when she slipped up; clearly her bartering skills were not good. Or maybe it was the language barrier, but she offered to cut me a deal for 15 Euros (maybe she thought I was Dr. House?). After a bit of back and forth, I settled for a hand job behind the dumpster for five bucks. Or did I?
What I learned later is that Club Costello, the after-party venue, is in the heart of the prostitution district. Lucky me. And here I was thinking that there was this fine babe who just could not control her lust for me and coincidentally needed to borrow some cash. I was slightly less flattered to learn this.
Berr-heen-ya. That’s how you say Virginia in Spanish. It took me a very long tome to figure out what the hell she was saying when I asked her name. Both Virginia Candás and her friend Maria Torres are workers at the fest and we ended up partying all night at Club Costello. It was a fun and weird night of speaking very slow Spanglish to, once again, conquer the language barrier. Both Virginia and Maria were awesome.
After shutting down Costello, we gathered a gaggle of funsters and partied all night at Wurlitzer, a rock and roll club that’s open until 5AM. The beers here cost 3.5 Euros (more than five bucks). After three in the morning, they jump up to 4.5 Euros (nearly seven bones, American). A mixed drink, while pretty fucking big, will rip eight Euros from your pocket (12 fucking dollars). So, it ain’t cheap to get your drunk on around here. That doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from partying balls.
Day 5 – Monday, May 9, 2011
I slept for 11 hours. I just skipped the first part of the day and ran the night’s sleep into the siesta. I totally one-upped these Spaniards at their own game of day-sleeping.
I got all touristy today and walked around old Madrid, looked at buildings, ate tapas and chorizo. Went totally American tourist on their asses.
We unspooled our second Total Badass screening tonight. There were over a hundred people in there and they were digging it. I guess the word of mouth from the first screening spread and got folks riled up for the flick. That was nice.
Duh, but I partied at Club Costello again. I hung out with my new friends, Ruth, Sandra, Sofie, Jean-Claude, Lorenzo, Omer Oké (filmmaker) and others, whose names I forget.
Late night found us at the Wurlitzer again. The party was thinning and the Spaniards were starting to fall behind as it was only a Mexican, a Frenchman, a Belgian and an American who kept the torch going until the wee hours. Well, there was a Spaniard in our midst, but he’s originally from Peru. Martin was good to go, nonetheless.
As we stumbled out of the bar, I learned of this killer Oriental express beer-selling scheme that has a well organized groups of Asian folks (of whom there seem to be very few in Spain) slinging booze off cardboard boxes like crafty entrepreneurs or Three-card Monte hucksters. When cops are spotted, the scouts on the periphery text all the pop-up speakeasies and they simultaneously disappear like a choreographed gang of ninjas sans smoke bombs. A few minutes after the fuzz leaves they return in unison. And a street beer for a single Euro (compared to 3.5 or 4.5 Euros in a bar), ain’t a bad deal. That and the beer seems sweeter because crime is fun.
Day 6 – Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Today, I headed home. I got two hours of sleep last night. I hit the hay at 6AM and got up at 8AM to bolt for the airport. Nothing eventful happened until I hit customs in Washington D.C., where I was to switch planes.
Hey, guess what. Remember when Chad and I were arrested while on tour last summer? Remember how Chad’s forgotten bag of shwag-weed crumbs got us busted by the sniffer dog? Remember how we just couldn’t come to part with our hash and I’d stuffed the weed and hash inside a jar and crammed it into my pants and then was subsequently jailed for possession after a warrantless search of our car? Here’s the tour journal entry, in case you’ve forgotten: TOUR JOURNAL: Day 35: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Miss Marfa and Arrested
Well, in the long run on that hot summer day, Chad and I each got a ticket for possession of paraphernalia. If we weren’t ingrates who’d had their constitutional rights trampled (and $537 citations assessed), we’d be thankful that we didn’t get a felony possession charge for the hash. But do you know what all this means for my current and future travel? It means that every single time I return to the U.S. after a trip abroad, Homeland Security will search all of my possessions. They will remove every item and shake, poke and prod it. They will open every container, test the structural integrity of the baggage itself and take up to 25 minutes searching for a pipe or maybe some weed. Way to gobble our tax dollars keeping us all safe by thoroughly looking for a joint, TSA. That joint (had there been one) was surely going to blow up the airplane and kill hundreds, right? What a grievous threat I am to the security of the homeland. Our tax dollars at work. Always keeping national security a priority, TSA, searching for some fucking pot. Summon your patience the next time your find yourself in line behind a harmless weed-smoking fellow traveler, folks. You will be delayed—for your own protection.
The bookend of the trip: Every single flight I took was delayed. The first flight was the President’s fault (all planes headed to the N.E. had to be delayed or re-routed because Air Force One was flying in the area) and it was all downhill from there. The last leg of the trip was actually not delayed. That is, until we landed in Austin. We then sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half. Once again, the pilot made sure to inform us that it was the President’s fault again as he’d just finished his visit to Austin and was about to take off.
Despite the President’s fucking up my trip, I had a blast. I’d do it all over again in a flash.