In his story Sudden Walk Enrique Vila-Matas describes a dialogue between father and son under an umbrella walking through Caceres on any given night: Dad there are houses on this walk that talk to themselves or is it the wind that makes them talk Let’s stop to listen for a moment To which the father replies In distant times this was a jungle place. Later a place of blind windows hidden passageways and dirty courtyards.
The Paseo de Canovas is Extremadura’s access to the city within the city. This is the reason for opening the Motel Margot today the myth of the submerged city the city that exists with its back to the city that could be or could have been what is and what will be.
Two recent television series address the theme of cities in parallel that built one on top of the other Counterpart on HBO plays with the idea of parallel dimensions in a city reminiscent of Berlin before the fall of the Wall and where The game of mirrors and that Borgian way of understanding the paths that diverge build a plot that we have only been able to enjoy two seasons. The other miniseries actually can be seen on FILMING and from its original title, The City & the City has been translated to The City and the City. Based on the work by China Miéville Hugo Award for the best novel equaled with The Mechanical Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, a novel that will appear in the motel at some point don’t worry, it has a room reserved since we opened it plays with the idea of one city within another, Besźel and its twin city Ul Qoma. Placed in the same physical space the inhabitants of one and the other have grown up educated to avoid the existence of the other. An approach that refers to more prosaic realities from Jerusalem too again the Berlin Wall.
The passages, those quirky urban conduits, commercial arabesques from a bygone era, handcrafted preludes to shopping centers. The passages, in the heart of the city, refusing a life of boredom and closed hours are part of the food of José María Spinola who in the seventies portrayed the fading light that gave voice to the hoarse city of Barcelona. I discovered it late, very late, like the entrance to the submerged city. Spinola was like a native Edward Hopper. We will return to Hopper but we have already begun to sense that behind the 24/7 bars there were unknown entrances to the other cities those of the deep.
The Avenida de la Luz, immortalized by Loquillo and Trogloditas in the song that closed their EP Where were you in 77 It was an underground shopping gallery in pre-Olympic Barcelona near Plaza Cataluna next to the Generalitat railways. It has been open since the 1940s when it became the first underground gallery dedicated to commerce in all of Europe. It is the true myth of the submerged city, the one used by those who cannot live in it while others sleep. In that avenue of light, there were gambling establishments for greyhound races a churrería, an adult cinema, a knitting machine shop, and a wine store that had a doll dressed as a nature on its doorstep that continuously poured out a stream of red. At the end of the dream the avenue of light the one that ties the subsoil of a city without ties until the 90s when the decay of the place is absolutely turned into an emotional dump of a city that is preparing for the Olympics. The writer Maria Zaragoza published in 2015 a more than a forgettable book with that title where she tried to give a supernatural look of a temporary hole to that architectural and futuristic dream the Heartbreak Hotel of that Barcelona.
It is clear that for this tour of the city within the city the theme popularized by Elvis Presley is a perfect choice but if I had to choose I would choose the version of John Cale in his 1974 to live at the Rainbow Theater in London especially the part that says They have been in these lonely streets long before they who never look back inhabit this hotel made for broken hearts and the clerk at the entrance is dressed in black.
From Spinola and Sabino Mendez’s Barcelona to Emilio Carrere’s Madrid and his Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks. The capital of the kingdom in the midst of bohemia at the end of the 19th century mixes gamblers rentiers, showgirls, and officials. All of them simple ghosts in search of an excuse to continue on the earthly plane. The novel reveals the existence of a city under the city a Madrid of hunchbacks of lumpen and hallucinated scientists, of exiles from the rationalism of quixotic undermined. But the novel is also a commissioned rewrite and purely lucrative motives of another Carrere book La Calavera de Atahualpaand that furthermore it is suspected that it is not entirely written by the author, but that he hired the services of a double, faster and more gifted for literature than he was to deliver the manuscript in a timely manner. So the game of tricks and mirrors multiplies.
Carrere’s ghosts who pass through mirrors and get trapped between us are common in cities and especially in their stations. In Zaragoza with the arrival of the Expo the drilled ground makes its parallel inhabitants colonize the bus stops and intermediate train stop all those Zaragozans became ghosts and memories dragged by the centralization and rationalism of the media. transport. Who am I to ask anything It happens that my city is flooded by an absent sea a sea that the poet Julio Antonio Gomez spoke of in his book West of Lake Kivuv gorillas committed suicide in huge herds an impossible sea. But it happens that cities that lack a sea to fall flat on do not exist.
One of the last to bravely explore the Zaragoza subsoil was the journalist and writer Juan Luis Saldana. One could begin to detect clues between his first poems behind the humor there was a beach in the heart of Aragonese capital a sea visible only under the correct angle. The sand in the shoes took us to one of those shops run by Chinese a bazaar that has something of a labyrinthine food of urban legend. The film adaptation of Saldaña’s novel, Hilo musical para una piscifactoría premiered under the title Miau directed by Ignacio Estaregui. There the labyrinth under the feet of Zaragoza Cesaragusta or Salduba is controlled by the same Chinese who have colonized the surface of the Aragonese capital with their cheap warehouses and their delicious potato tortillas.
Zaragoza is not a city that stays still for a long time. Now that one has the responsibility of this motel and many others that are not relevant he discovers that his city becomes another city because the distance is also the seed of another city when one returns and the memory does not conform to reality. In 1967 Guilty for a Crime was filmed in Zaragoza, directed by José Antonio Duce. In it, the city has a false subway and a sea, also false. Fog, on the other hand, is very real and has served for years to hide the past and always leave doubt since accompanying the sunset with the emanations of an immense river one can feel mixed and part of the confusion.