Mon-Sat 5 pm-midnight (bar open until 2 am, with limited menu).
A snapshot from October 1989: A less-than-fresh-faced young American college graduate (for the sake of convenience, let's refer to him as "Sandeep"), stoned on sweet Moroccan hash, boards a commuter train just outside Madrid, Spain. The possibility of a terrorist attack and its political aftermath are the furthest thing from his mind. Instead, momentarily escaping the blinding purple haze of his own cascading thought-fugue, he fixates on a snippet of graffiti, "SEXO, DROGAS, y ROCK 'N' ROLL," scrawled along one wall of the train car.
His initial response to this universalist assertion of youthful insouciance is (quite naturally) an adolescent snigger. But then this quintessentially American slogan rendered in heartfelt Spanish triggers an almost painful moment of hyper-clarity, one that dissolves into an unexpected, albeit brief, sense of mystical oneness with all humanity.
"Despite our linguistic and cultural differences, we are the same," "Sandeep" thinks. It's not Aristotle (exactly), but it is an awesome, drug-addled moment, overpowering and nearly divine in its perfection. "Sandeep," in a paroxysm of bliss born of a sense of cross-cultural belonging, adds the slogan, "Kill Your Parents."
Fast-forward to Seattle. I am dining with my wife at Madrid 522, the elegant Spanish eatery in Belltown, where we discuss the political meaning of the recent Spanish terror attacks, and the electoral aftermath. Between thin slices of chorizo sausage (sort of like spicy pepperoni) and croquetas de queso (which my wife describes, quite accurately, as fancy mozzarella sticks), all washed down with a boldly unpretentious Spanish red that does a satisfyingly lewd flamenco dance of flavor on my tongue, I elaborate for her the connection between then and now.
"Allow me to begin at the beginning," I begin. "There were a series of terrorist bombings on commuter trains outside Madrid on March 11, which took some 200 innocent lives and cost the center-right party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar--which backed Bush's Iraq adventure despite 90 percent popular opposition in Spain--its grip on power. In the elections held four days later, Spain's Socialists won an unexpected victory by promising that they would withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops in Iraq unless power was ceded to the UN by June 30."
"So far so good," I say. "But then the American commentariat, always deferential to authority and especially credulous post-9/11, branded these developments a great setback in the so-called 'War on Terror.' The terrorists have learned they can influence the outcome of a Western election, we were informed ad nauseum, and have moreover won a victory in their effort to drive foreigners from Iraq."
(As I tell my wife this, I gesticulate grandly with my steak knife, in part because my main course, a buttery fortress of filet mignon defended by a phalanx of shrimp, has arrived, and in part because I am on my third--or is it my fourth?--glass of that insistent Spanish red. My wife, tiring at this point of my bloviating, attempts to shift the subject to why our hosts have served the shrimp complete with head, eyes, and legs, thus rendering them unappetizing, and demands to know whether I consider this a sign of sophistication or stupidity. Undeterred, I ignore her ridiculous expostulations.)
So, as I was saying: "The American commentariat are liars, fools, whining suck-ups, and benighted assholes. In truth, the Spanish, by rejecting their government's absurd propaganda, drew, like Bush the elder, a clear line in the sand. 'No more bullshit,' they said. 'We don't trust you. We want someone more credible in power.' And they voted for change."
"This," I continue, "is what will transpire with our own elections in November." Remember the deep insight of young "Sandeep." Despite our linguistic and cultural differences, we are the same. They didn't like getting fucked over by their government. Ergo, we won't like getting fucked over by our government, either. And as my wife stares moodily into black-pearl crustacean eyes, I feel the blood of the bull coursing through my veins (and his meat filling my stomach), and am consequently infused with the confidence (and showy sentiment) of the victorious toreador: "They lied and they hyped and they spun, and now they are being gored by their own monstrous creation. Mark my words: Bush is done."
"You're drunk," my wife responds churlishly.