Monday, August 27, 2007

Many Fleas & Elroy Jetson's Dog

 id=Yesterday being a Sunday when most things in Madrid are closed (with the notable exceptions of bars and museums), Señor GG and I decided to head out to the Rastro* flea market. With over 3500 stalls, Rastro is purported to be a) the world's largest open-air flea market b) Europe's largest open-air flea market c) Spain's largest open-air flea market d) Madrid's open-air flea market or e) all of the above. My inability to judge distance and depth notwithstanding, it is awfully big. I am told that it stretches across the barrios of La Latina, Embajadores, and Puerta de Toledo but - like the science of spatial measurement - such niceties are pretty much lost on me: all I know is that it's 15 minutes from our apartment. All that Señor GG knows is that tavernas selling cañas of beer (for less than 1 € a pop) are strategically spaced at 10 meter increments throughout the market. He has a better grasp of the science of spatial measurement than I do.

Rastro apparently earned its sobriquet (el Rastro = the trail, i.e., as in trail of blood) from the custom of dragging slaughtered animals down the street - a seemingly common practice since an abattoir as well as several tanneries stood in the area some 400 years ago. I'm so happy that my budding relationship with Spain's butchered animals is beginning to taking root.

Since the market is naturally divided among various streets, over the years these areas have become associated, either by design or haphazardly, with particular goods and wares. There was or still is the calle de los Pajáros (where parrots and other exotic birds were sold) and the calle de los Pintores (where painters were not sold but rather sold their work). You'll find areas devoted to rare and collectible books; religious statuary with various degrees of decapitation and amputation; antiques, both genuine and questionable; bits of iron and brass and wooden hardware (which, if he were alive, my father would've spent hours sifting through); movie memorabilia; clothes fallen off the back of a truck new & second-hand; magazines, many quite lurid; trading cards and stamps; enough knitted Peruvian woollens to clothe the world for a glacial, an interglacial, and possibly a second glacial period; enough Indian brass Ganesha statuettes to fill an elephant graveyard; enough Tibetan incense to make it smell less like an elephant graveyard; and a lot of crap. A whole lot of crap.

This time, Señor GG and I decided to devote our morning to the magazines and trading cards dealers because we are both secret hoarders of trading cards and keen ruthless traders. It is fair to say that we have both made killings over the years with our Operation Desert Storm cards - Saddam Hussein alone financed our villa in Ibiza). Alright - everything I just said after the word 'because' is a lie but I did buy Operation Desert Storm cards at a flea market several years ago - I've just forgetten where I put them. Bet that Saddam Hussein one is worth something now. And Chemical Ali. Damn.

In any case, we just ended up there so we decided to see who could find the cheesiest trading card. Among the football clubs, tennis players, porn stars, famous parks (Hey Javier, I have Hyde Park - I'll trade you for the Bois du Boulogne!), we found Duran Duran, Samantha Fox, Simple Minds, and The Cure. Although it was initially determined (by me) that 80's television has-been actress Lori Singer (remember Fame?) was the hands-down sure-fire winner, Señor GG overruled me with his preference for the Swedish one-hit-wonder band Europe whose only gift to the world was disbanding Final Countdown - gloriously resurrected and elevated to its zenith of kitsch by the television series Arrested Development.

I might add that I found an old frilly well-thumbed prayer card for not so much my namesake as my nickname's namesake (Knarf, I'll kill you ...) but at 12 euros, I vacillated and decided to pray to her for guidance. The patron saint of gardeners and rape victims has yet to answer my prayers (she probably has her hands full with the latter) but then again, I have yet to pray to her. Perhaps it will be there next week.

* Note: if you are of a certain age & cultural bend, you must say Rastro as if you were George Jetson's dog Astro - Raaaaaastro)



Matthew Coe said...

I wonder if Astro and Scooby Doo grew up in the same part of country.. they do seem to have similar accents.

Di Mackey said...

Did I mention, it's so very good to have you back in the blogosphere.

Jillian said...

Francis or Fiacre?

Good to have you back!

La Gatita Gringa said...

Good guess Taar, but no.

hcwinkler said...

I haven't been to the raaastro for more than 25 years but now i feel inclined to return. thank you.

Me and my camera said...

So, St. Inez was not able to help?