The Cure – Live at Palau Sant Jordi (26.11.2016)

“It doesn’t matter if we all die.”

-Robert Smith

The Cure in concert at Palau Sant Jordi (26.11.2016)

The Cure in concert at Palau Sant Jordi (26.11.2016)

I go way back with The Cure, all the way to 1979 when I heard my first tracks from Three Imaginary Boys on my favorite Sunday night radio show, Rodney on the Roq. My first live experience with The Cure was a few years later in 1984 when they were touring to promote The Top. I skipped classes that day and drove down to Hollywood from college in Santa Barbara to meet a friend at the Hollywood Palladium. It was a general admission show and we were determined to be at the front so we spent the whole day waiting in line with several other black-clad, black-haired fans. My friend had brought a bouquet of black spray-painted roses to give to Robert that night, which we took turns holding onto throughout the warm southern California day.

I couldn’t tell you today what songs they played that night although thanks to the magic of the internet, I can look up the set list from that show. And what a set list it was! It was short compared to more recent shows, but still a great collection of songs. What I most clearly remember about the show was that we did make it to the front row, and people were pushing and crowding us so much that the security guards would put their strong hands on our shoulders every so often to push us back from the guard rail allowing us to literally catch our breath. I also remember at the end of the evening limping out to the parking lot and realizing we were covered in bruises from the sheer crush of the crowd – it was an incredible night!

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Montserrat + Wine Tasting

Fog envelopes the mountains below Montserrat

Fog envelopes the mountains below Montserrat

Because we planned an extended stay in Barcelona, we were afforded some extra time to schedule a couple of day trips while still having time to hit all of our must-see sights in the city. I contemplated a wide variety of options and finally narrowed down the places to visit, deciding on doing small group tours instead of traveling on our own. What this allowed us was to cover more ground in a single day than we could do if we were on a train or a bus, and also gave us a larger overview and some history we might otherwise have missed out on. After exhaustively researching companies, we settled on Spanish Trails. All the tours they offer are small groups with eight people maximum, and that seemed much more civilized than a huge tour bus. As it turned out, since we were visiting in the off-season both of our tours ended up being private tours, and both times they were led by the awesome Alex Ferreiro, who was so personable and fun it felt like we were hanging out with a good friend. Alex is a Barcelona native so we had the opportunity to get to know her and ask about life in Barcelona beyond the script of a tour. Of course, that’s one of the benefits of the small tour: it leaves some room for improvisation.

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Gaudi + Sagrada Familia (Photos)

More photos from our trip to the Sagrada Familia.

(Click on a pic to embiggen and view the full gallery. You can also view these photos on our Flickr Photostream.)

Gaudi + La Pedrera (Casa Mila) (Photos)

More photos from our trip to La Pedrera (Casa Mila).

(Click on a pic to embiggen and view the full gallery. You can also view these photos on our Flickr Photostream.)

Gaudi + Casa Batlló (Photos)

More photos from our trip to Casa Batlló.

(Click on a pic to embiggen and view the full gallery. You can also view these photos on our Flickr Photostream.)

Barcelona + Gaudi

The creation continues incessantly through the media of man. But man does not create…he discovers.

-Antoni Gaudi

At the altar

At the altar

Antoni Gaudi’s creations are unlike anything else in this world, and ninety years since his death architects and engineers are still scratching their heads at their genius and standing in awe of their exquisite beauty. Being an architect, I guarantee that if I were to try to design anything remotely similar in today’s world, I’d be told it can’t be done. Of course, that’s not true. Anything can be done with the right budget, creative team, and perhaps most importantly, the right patron – but the suggestion would be considered over-the-top and, well, just not practical. But as you walk through Gaudi’s built environments, you discover they are, in fact, practical. They have served, and continue to serve, as spaces to live, to work, to play, and to worship for decades. They are sculptural and fanciful with new discoveries around every corner, but they are also functional and purposeful. In short, they are some of the most wonderful examples of habitable art in the world.

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My Hovercraft is Full of Eels

El meu aerolliscador està ple d’anguiles.

 

Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

“That’s the most awesome thing I’ve heard in a long time,” he remarked as The Cure was playing over the bar’s stereo. “It’s going to be amazing!”

Three-plus years on from our last trip to Barcelona, I’d been pining for an excuse to return, and when The Cure announced European dates that included a night in the Catalan capital I purchased a ridiculously expensive pair of tickets before telling Kim where we’d be come late November. It had been over two years since our last proper holiday – at least, something more than a long weekend out of town, or time taken off to deal with dead and dying family. Properly getting away, and properly enjoying ourselves in a way that involved passports and foreign languages, was long overdue.

So when a Cure song crept out over the bar stereo, it was with great pleasure that I told my friend, “I’m taking my sweetie to see The Cure… in Barcelona!”

“Awesome” was what was playing in the back of my head when, early in the morning hours on our last full day in the city, I awoke to see Kim, ashen gray and sweating profusely, stumbling weakly down the hallway from our hotel bathroom. “Amazing” was what queued up next in my internal monologue as I tried to catch her as she collapsed next to the bed, holding her as I watched the nightstand get jostled by the commotion, in turn shaking the lamp on it, which, in an act of solidarity with everything else in motion that moment, decided to fall over onto Kim’s glasses, breaking them squarely down the middle.

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Global March for Critically Endangered Animals (We Should All Give a Shit About)

A few of the many wonderful people who turned out for the Global March for Critically Endangered Animals (We Should All Give a Shit About)

A few of the many wonderful people who turned out for the Global March for Critically Endangered Animals (We Should All Give a Shit About)

September 24th marked Seattle’s third annual Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – expanded this year to include Lions in the title. And, let’s be honest here, there are plenty of other critically endangered animals also deserving of space on the marquee. So instead of calling it the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Tigers, Bears, Pangolins, Sharks, Manta Rays, and All Other Deserving Creatures Big and Small, I’d like to put forward that it simply be named the Global March for Critically Endangered Animals (We Should All Give a Shit About).

Titles aside, turnout was its largest yet and the stellar success due in no small part to the hard work of the organizers, backed this year by Emerald City Pet Rescue. Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle was blocked to traffic and, flanked by a police escort and led by Chaotic Noise Marching Corps, several hundred activists, conservationists, concerned citizens, children, lions, and dogs marched from Seattle Center to Westlake Plaza – singing, chanting, waving signs, and engaging the multitude of curious onlookers. One couldn’t ask for better weather on this early autumn day, nor a more jubilant and enthusiastic crowd.

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Victoria Highland Games

153rd Victoria Highland Games

Whether or not Scottish Highland bagpipes were banned as weapons of war following the Battle of Culloden in 1747 is open to debate (they were previously banned in 1560 after the Reformation). What is certain is that hearing the sound of several hundred pipers and drummers playing in unison is an intensely powerful experience, and one that I’ve no doubt has struck fear into the hearts of many an enemy combatant over the centuries.

I say that because an unexpected surprise while visiting Victoria was stumbling across the Victoria Highland Games and bearing witness to that singularly unique and moving experience.

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Victoria, B.C. + Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

An extended weekend, a new camera lens, and a desire to put some relative distance between ourselves and Seattle provided all the excuse we needed to pay a long overdue trip to Victoria, and specifically the Butchart Gardens, nestled just outside the city on Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula. It’s embarrassing to admit we’d never visited, and with the capital of British Columbia a relatively short ferry ride away on the Victoria Clipper, we were short on excuses and long on desire to finally add this stamp to our travel passports.

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