Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Barcelona Journal: The Coward of the County

Barcelona, Spain
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Fifteen minutes before midnight, tearing down one of Barcelona's broad and beautiful boulevards at a good 45 to 50 miles and hour, weaving through the still thick traffic of a city that clearly does not believe in sleep -- or, if it does, it succumbs in shifts, staggered to ensure that its reputation as a place ever-alive is intact. Back seat of a black-and-yellow Barcelona taxi. Windows open. Night air fantastic and light, the most distant hint of salt and sea laced inside it.

The cabbie, driving left hand only, leaning forward into the wheel, tactile and present as though contemplating driving the cab with his chest. At every light he is forced to stop at he is all over the place looking for companions in next-door taxis to wave to, greet -- waving at the prettiest girl awaiting a light-change to green. Right hand never far from the volume control of the stereo -- an amped up stereo to understate it. Singing. Bobby and moving to the lyrics.

This is Catalonia, remember. Deep traditions. Passionate people. Passionate music. All day taxis were working the sound -- some to talk radio, some to music indigenously inflected. Spanish. Catalonian.

Kenny Rogers?

He hits the gas. Belén and I hit the back of the seat...

"He was only ten years old when his Daddy died in prison.
I looked after Tommy 'cause he was my brother's son.
I still recall the final words my Brother said to Tommy:
'Son my life is over but yours is just begun"

We zoom through the roundabout. Fountains in full glory. Cabbie in full throat.

"Sometimes you got to fight to be a man!"

A day that started with a bullet train from Madrid pulls to the hotel entrance and Kenny Rogers is restored to legend by a Caribbean cabbie in perfect english with EVERY lyric to "Coward of the County" at his lips.

Left hand at the wheel, Travis Tritt hits the stereo. The wind blows as the cab vanishes. You can't make this stuff up....

Welcome to Barcelona.

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