ll's Güell that ends Güell.
It was near the end of tourist season, so it wasn’t too crowded, but I decided to try out a few routines on the street. I transferred my stuff to some plastic bags and opened my suitcase to catch euros.
I wasn’t quite real while I performed, but I was able to get enough for lunch. I went through some simple one-woman routines like hootenanny heist, madame’s lost giraffe, and scarf muncher. I was back in reality by the time I packed up.
What is the price of buffoonery? Dirty toes. Origami bucks. Macaroni coins. Feeding with your eyes, drinking with your skin, or clothing with your eyes.
The whole temple was a giant opal, the kind that contains a pocket of water under the surface, all shimmering brilliance holding moisture. My matter is patient and content, whilst my mind is greedy and dissatisfied.
She wore her hair cropped and curly. Oddly striped shirt. Big ballooning denim pants (mom jeans on laughing gas). Cowpoke hat.
“I steal your spot?”
“Look, I’ll split my lunch with you, if you’ll split your dough.”
Her name was Llúcia Pierrot, founder of “Catalan Clowns Against Dalí.” She invited me back to stay with her and two fellow performers who were squatting in a building. Renovations had been stalled due to some historical find. It only took her friends a few tries to hoist Llúcia up to the fire escape to let us in.
Llúcia’s lunch, if you could even call it that, was Xató sauce, pita bread, Arbequina olives, and half-cooked tuna. She had gleaned it all (her words) from a market stall.
A note on Llúcia’s shirt. I thought it was horizontal clown stripes with a bar down the middle. It was actually a harness.
“I was going to head to Barceloneta, Plaja Bogatell…”
Llúcia was well-known for her rants about Dalí’s undeniable fascism and the moral failings of continental surrealism. It was boring, so I got to the part I cared about with, “OK but, what about Gaudí?”
“What about him? He was Catholic swine just like old Persistence of Memory”
Ignatz concludes, “Ignore Llúcia - Our motto is ‘Die dada and leave an exquisite corpse.’ Enough with the lectures - ask her already!”
Llúcia, “Right, so I thought, ‘Hey, let’s ask her!’”
“Ask me what?”
“To join our troupe - we’re short a clown.”
“Yeah, our mate up and left. She ditched us two, three weeks ago. No note, no nothin'."
They needed a fourth to perform with them. “They” being, Ignatz, Mamen (who I met later), and Llúcia, aka Catalan Clowns Against Dalí. The troupe was planning to cut some capers in the eco-Gothic gardens of Parc Güell. She invited me to join them the next day performing “The Wandering Mushroom.” Give it a try. It was a skit about hunting mushrooms for the king. The lodge at the entrance to the park was designed by Antoni, and it’s got this great mushroom cap dome, so I said I was down to clown with them.
Ignatz played the pig, Mamen played the simple king and then the simple farmhand, and Llúcia got me to play the part of the rambling rambunctious mushroom. Llúcia was the greedy farmer. It only took a reversal on my classic Remy face to look like one. Bright red with white spots like the Güell lodge.
I regularly put on an act of being someone I’m not entirely, so I’d say I understand the concept of god as a great dissembler. That concept is a great echo of chameleon volume, which changes depending on the acoustics of each moment. A lot of public spaces, whether they intend to or not, amplify it for me.
Farmhand: “What’s the king want this mushroom for anyway?”
Farmer: “He’s paying top euro, we ain’t asking no questions”
Farmhand: “He got a fly problem?”
Farmhand: “Is the king a shaman?”
Farmer: “This pig can’t find the damn thing.”
Farmhand: “All I’m finding are truffles. Worthless!”
All the while I am flitting and fluttering about as the mushroom personified, evading the king’s men. The Farmer and the Farmhand keep searching under stones and in tourists’ pockets, with the amanita mushroom dome above in plain view.
Farmhand: “Wait, it’s ‘white cap red dots,’ right?”
Pig: “Snuffle snuffle oink.”
Farmhand: “Maybe the pig’s sitting on it?”
Farmer: “That’s an overgrown teat, you prat!”
Farmhand: “There! Did you see that?”
Farmer: “Get it, pig!”
The king’s men and their pig dash for the mushroom, but they get wound up tight in the pig’s leash. Even though mime isn’t my thing, it felt natural being a silent mushroom in that mosaic paradise.
And about our squat. Was it condemned? Was construction stalled? Historic society? Cultural significance Hearings in the town hall. Active in the neighborhood FB group. The electricity goes in and out. Sneaking out when construction crews drop in. Foreman. Lights came on one night all sudden like.
It was a crufty place - an assemblage of trash, unused equipment, and abandoned furnishings.
I was settled into the filth, I’d had a full stomach for a week, but I kept putting off my visit to the Holy Family. I’d specifically taken detours to avoid it. I kept shaking a tiny Barcelona snowglobe I found, and the snowflakes turned to flames. You could sort of see the temple from Parc Güell, but I unsaw it and focused harder on mushrooming around.
Llúcia would usually disappear around 8 each night, so Ignatz and Mamen Hopping around kept my mind busy. In three weeks, we only had to evade the cops once. I always wanted to be this kind of idealized bohemian, but it was a lot of work.
Ignatz was making me read this book and quizzing me on it, some kind of post-theoretical mindgame to address my Gaudí problem.
We used cornstarch for setting powder. Ignatz used acrylic paint for his face.
“Let’s go tag the shit out of Walden 7.”
“Yeah fuck that whole zone, behaviorist-transcendentalist trash archtecture!”
“Chinga la fábrica! The city is our rumpus room!”
“Guys. Do you think the families living there care? Why not just break a bank window, or is that too hard?”
“No–nah! I got an idea, let’s head to l’Espanya Industrial, there’s so much furniture.”
“Yeah, sculptures, benches, public works, you know, structures with histrionic potential.”
One night, she invited me to join her for her evening stroll. The lights hung in the air like glowing jelly, my eyes were bleary, vision bordered with tracers and afterimages. It made me want to do a double-take, but then a double-take would just smear all the light together.
Without warning, Llúcia started mauling, absolutely mauling, a scooter. She took a buttplug-looking metal thing and smashed the screen, thrashed it, and clipped some wires with tiny scissors. Her final flourish was to pull out a chunky marker, blot out the QR codes, and scrawl
“That’s my 800th kill.”
Llúcia went by another name, “King Ludd.” She was fending off the invasion of scooters into the city. She was going on and on about The Tyranny of Speed, The Erosion of the Foot’s Domain.
She held a small knife in her hand, the blade barely extending. As we walked back she bent down to “tie her shoe,” stabbing the tires of every scooter along our route. Llúcia was showing off with me as her decoy when—¡MIERDA DE MIERDA PUTA DE MIERDA FUCK!
King Ludd’s blood was everywhere. Llúcia sliced her finger with that hidden knife trick.