Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Time out from vacation photos....

I took a needed break from processing vacation pictures and went out for some live music.

Vanessa and Alex  Harris at the Pour House were preparing a fancy sit-down Cuban dinner last night.

At a reasonable cost and it was a sold out affair., overflowing the LOT restaurant.

As an added bonus, the music that night was FREE and featured the exciting local group, The Garage Cuban Band.

Lively and danceable. Congas and bongos. And a whole lotta shakin' going on. The attached video was done at the PoHo on 10-10-2010. Worth a listen.

My notes say the bassist is Ron Wiltrout, but beer was involved so that might just be a wild guess.

He kept the music going and the crowd flowing.

I went to their website and see they've been active around town.

I missed hearing them play at the Royal American - a really cool venue - and at Proof on King Street.

I see they also performed at Victor's Social Club up the Alley between the Music Hall and Rue de Jean and even at the Old Jail.

Dancers ranged from shoulders and hips slightly moving to all out Cha-Cha-Cha back and forth on the dance floor.

(The Swing Dancers of Charleston would have had a ball as they practice long hours to get the steps and movements just right when the music starts.)

Another crowd-pleaser was the guy on bongos and that ribbed oblong thing* he scrapes to create an interesting sound.

I really should have taken the time to nail down names of performers I enjoyed but - hey - I'm retired and do this just for fun.

*Playing the g├╝iro usually requires both long and short sounds, made by scraping up and down in long or short strokes.[2]

OK, I looked up the name of the hollow  "fish" that is described as a percussion instrument.

The point is, they all played well and gave us some authentic Cuban sounds.

I caught a moment with Vanessa and congratulated her on a fine ethnic evening.

Now, I should get back to editing my vacation shots. Some streets in Lisbon reminded me of what I picture as streets of Havana...but with newer cars.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep alert for a chance to see and hear the GCB.

Buenas Noches.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

OLE!...No, no, I don't think so.

My recent vacation trip to Spain included four days in the capital, Madrid.

Monday October 12 was that country's National Day. Sort of like our 4th of July with parades and fireworks.
This particular Monday, there would be a card of bullfights downtown.

Back in the 1960s, I was a staff photographer for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspapers.
Covered a lot of assignments including trips down to the Caliente Race Track in Tijuana on weekends.

I would take photos of the winner of the main race and then  quickly drive to the border to get my film back in time for the paper's Sunday deadline.
Some Sundays I would be on the sidelines for a Charger's football game and other times, I'd be in Tijuana again but this time, at the Plaza del Toros for the bullfights.

I was in my twenties, recently married and took the bull fights as just another part of my job.

As a photographer with a long lens I would try to capture the motions and details of the confrontation.

It was colorful, combining elements of graceful dance, crowd-stirring music and a true test of man versus a raging enormous animal. 
One with long and sharp horns.

First the Picador would ride out on a horse that was heavily-padded ...and blindfolded. He carried a long spear with a blade attached that was outfitted with a plate to limit the depth of the wound he would inflict.

The rider's job was to jab the bull in the shoulder muscles to weaken them so its head would be lower when facing the matador.

Other fellows , the Bandelleros were on foot, and would circle and dance around to attract the bull's attention and, when he charged, they would bravely leap over and stick colorful barbs into that same targeted neck muscle area.
Crowd-pleasing and accompanied by martial music as the saga began.

There were three matadors and they faced two bulls each. As I recall, the ring was always crowded - probably tourists - and seats were priced on whether you sat in the sun (Sol) or in the shade (Sombra). 

The object was for the matador to work as close to the deadly horns as possible while taunting the angry bull with his cape and fleet-footed movements. 

He hid a sword with his cape and, when he decided he had worked the bull into a confused and agitated state, he would plunge with the sword, behind the lowered head and pierce the animal's heart.

Ideally it would be instant death, the bull would crumple and a team of  3 horses would be brought out to drag the carcass out of the arena.
All of these memories came flooding back as I sat to watch my first bullfight in nearly 50 years.

I flinched when the bull attacked the Picador on horseback and knocked him from his saddle. His horse, not able to see what had happened, struggled to regain its footing.

I cringed each time the barbs hit bone and bounced to the ground as the Bandelleros circled the confused animal that probably had spent the morning in a peaceful pasture, eyeing the nearby cows.

I watched the first three fights and each ended with protracted stabbing with the spear, several failed attempts to pierce the heart by the matador and - finally - the ungraceful death of an animal that had been raised solely for the purpose of being killed in front of tourists drinking cervezas or rum & cokes in the shaded areas of the arena.
I left and skipped the next three deaths. I wanted to wash my hands and be somewhere else.

I found some tapas and a glass of chilled red wine.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

A long, long day......

 The hotel in Sevilla, Spain mentioned there was a "terrace" attached to my room.

Yikes. There sure was!

Arrived at night so didn't appreciate the amenity until the next day.

Several beers were in the minibar in the room (priced at about Euro 2.50).

So there was plenty of space to relax and rest up after sightseeing and a day-trip down to Gibraltar.

This walking tour of the British colony had us saunter across the distinctive airport runway that bisects the city of 30,000.

This was the Southern tip of Europe and 12 miles across the Strait from North Africa.

Actually, this was the second time I walked across an active aircraft runway.

As a Marine stationed on Vieques, an island across from the eastern side Puerto Rico, I misunderstood the announcement about hopping on a bus to "get to the other side" of the very active US Navy airbase at Roosevelt Roads.

Yep, I looked both ways and walked across (no jets landed!) and was met on the other side by angry-looking MPs.

The Base Commander fumed and mentioned I was an idiot Marine, shouted for a bit and then I was free to continue my weekend at nearby San Juan.

Here at Gibraltar, we tourists were stopped by barriers as a small private jet prepared to roar down the runway and soar away.

In the midst of the European Union, we had to break out some British Pounds for fish & chips and a beer at a cozy pub.

This is my first posting about an 18-day trip to Portugal, Gibraltar and Spain. I tend to NOT tell in advance when I am going to be away for an extended stay.

It was completed early, early this morning after a 22-hour day of traveling.

I'm still jet-lagging.

Made my first cup of coffee at home after several weeks of ordering "Cafe Americano."

Travel is fun - but tiring - and it's good to be home.

Thanks for sharing some vacation photos.

I have a LOT more!

Oh, just discovered that Google can take two (or more) of your pictures, stitch them together and create a panoramic view.

The runway I mentioned in Gibraltar was a good example of not being able to get it all in one shot.

Took two and apparently kept them pretty level.

This is so much better than showing one or the other.

Thanks Google...but, I don't remember you asking if I wanted this or even giving you permission.

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