MADRID SPAIN: Back! Back in the U.S. on the east coast where I forced myself to stay up almost 24 hours straight and go to bed at 12 midnight NYC time. Big mistake. Now I’m up before the sun at 5AM or 1PM Spain/France time, so that is like sleeping in, except the math doesn’t add up to anywhere near 8 hours baby Rob likes to get. The older I get the more sleep I crave. The uglier, the more beauty sleep required to just look in the mirror.

I’ve calculated that I will have unpacked at least 8 different times on this journey. I haven’t worn clean underwear in days. Though I’ve tried to watch my budget by taking trains, metros and buses instead of taxis and using AIRBNB most of the time instead of hotels, I’ve spent quiet a bit of money.

Traveling is not as glamorous as you may thing sometimes, but totally worth it. And regardless of whether I ever return to France or Spain again (I certainly plan too, quickly, but you never know in this world, what surprises, good or bad, lurk around the corner), I will never think of those places the same. I am forever changed, as I always am after each journey, regardless of the destination.

Punk music invisible in downtown Madrid?

And lest your opinion of me be forever changed, that crack about the dirty underwear? Just kidding and  making sure you were paying attention. Though I will admit there may have been a rare time I’ve gone a day or two without (commando I believe is the term) perhaps, because laundry did not get done. OK, we may need to rename this post TMI (Too Much Information… that’s English language slang amigos).

Lets get to the nitty gritty (also slang for the “real” stuff).

MADRID

I was visiting Madrid, Spain for a grand total of 15 hours. Hardly time to get my pea sized brain wrapped around anything, much less the punk scene there. But I will say I packed a lot into my little bit of time there.

I hooked up with an old school chum I hadn’t seen since college and that my friends was a long time ago. His name is Hassan (yes, he is of Lebanese descent), he now lives in Dubai and he has relations in Madrid. He saw I was in town via Facebook and we got together and had some great food, good beer and rehashed some old times, but mostly talked world politics, travel and culture our now mutual interest.

It’s funny, when Hassan last knew me I hadn’t owned a passport and had never even been on a plane and had probably traveled to a grand total of 6 or 7 states, all in the general vicinity of Tennessee. I don’t remember ever being at a loss for words with Hassan in college, but we seemed to have plenty to speak of on this go around.Travel gives a person lots to talk about and certainly changes their world view.  Hassan showed up wearing a Ramones shirt so music was also on the conversational agenda.

But before I met Hassan, I had fired up the camera and walked around downtown Madrid, poking around, seeing if I could get a sense of the city in the few waking hours I had. Not sure if I succeeded but I did meet a young punk rocker, Kevin from Boston, Mass (USA), just hanging out on a street corner.

Madrid protesters… but not into punk

Kevin was unmistakably GBH Style punk with combat boots and a black leather jacket with punk band buttons from bands like Discharge and a few others. He was cool and has been living in Spain for a while, while his girlfriend studies in Madrid.

He had just returned from Barcelona where he said the punk scene was much bigger than Madrid. This surprised me but what do I know?  I was in Barcelona in 2007 and met some psychobilly chaps who were quiet cool but all in all, I dig Madrid more than Barcelona as a travel destination. Kevin did say that Psychobilly was big in Madrid and gave me some names of some local bands to check out my next time in.

Next up I saw a group of 5 of the oddest, weirdest looking  punks I think I’ve ever seen. They were impossible to miss. One of the old guys (probably 50 something, looked 60 something) was bald but had a long white ony tail and a confederate flag sewn into the back of his black leather jacket with Lynard Skynard patches all over and tight black jeans and boots. At first, I thought he was a redneck biker from the U.S.

One other guy looked like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and he talked a bit like him too. Most of the girls were younger but none of them were interested in speaking to me much about the punk scene. They were drunk, smoking and having a good time and I was some American tourist ruining it.

Jack Sparrow dude was indeed British, very, very British and the others seemed Spanish and I still never got the skinny on the literally very, very skinny Mr. Lynard Skynard. Maybe I should have told him I grew up in Southern Tennessee, just a few miles north and very near “Sweet Home Alabama”. To this day, I still don’t find Alabama so sweet.

I got the brush off and was too chicken to get photos of this motley crew.  Damned zoom lens was at home too. But if I had, oh man, it would have been one for the ages.

I’ve never seen such a picturesque crew that just by the look of them, would inspire all kinds of fear, loathing and disgust from the masses walking by. For good or for bad, right or wrong (and we all know it’s wrong) they are the generic but colorful image that springs up in most people’s mind when they hear the words “punk music”.

Mariachi punk? Nah, but anyone can jump on stage & sing

And finally, as if to prove to you that I uncover all angles when I visit a new place, Madrid is full of protests, especially now. I ran into these young students who apparently were protesting Spain’s efforts to privatize education. But alas, they were not punk at all. Their music of choice, the dreaded “E” word, “Electronica” which has been the rage in Europe for at least 25-30 years now and has finally cursed the states. They told me most lovers of punk resided in the barrios outside of the city and that sounds pretty true to form in many places, where the downtown area is actually the nice area. As in most cities, there were Hip Hop wannabee thugs roaming the streets trying to look tough but coming off like cartoon copycats as always.

SIDE NOTE: In NYC I forgot about how many of these poor tasteless clowns exist, but in NYC you will listen to Hip Hop whether you like it or not. At least in Europe I have a choice to turn away. Alas a post for another day.

So not much to tell you about punk music in Madrid other than, of course, it’s there. And I really dug Madrid. So never fear, if things work out, I’ll for sure be back in Madrid and other parts of Spain to give a better report.

Rebel A**holes of Paris

Now in the meantime, I had promised you a bit more music from the Paris Punk show I attended. I, being a man of my word, have delivered.

Below, please find a little clip we took from the band “Rebel A**holes”. Enjoy!

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