Madrid in Crisis 6

One day I wanted to get a good laugh so I surfed around the internet for some information about financial backing for artists.  Talk of a joke.   Google came up with zero matches.  In reality I wanted to see just how bad it was for them because starving artists are just going to have to search elsewhere or get hungrier.  At least in this country of crisis.  Especially if you think you can get away with making a living being creative and talking about yourself, the way most do.  We don’t create for the sake of creativity; we create so that someone will tell what good we’ve done for humanity. We procreate with fecundity.

            So, I wanted to get a good kick out of things.  And I found my thrill.  The well is drier than a turkey sandwich three days after Thanksgiving.  Some of you may find that funny, but if you don’t, don’t worry, I understand.  You see apart for the grants from the government, which clearly isn’t swimming in it, inSpainit’s usually the banks, and in particular the savings banks, which shell out the bucks for sake of bettering the world and art.

            Now that many of these institutions have to seek bailouts to keep from taking the deep plunge all together, I can guarantee that the typical conceptual artist who sticks a TV from the 60s which shows scenes from Heidi while these large rubber tits (the kind you can get for costume parties…if you go to the kind of costumes parties I do, at least) hang from the antenna and six squashed apples lie on the floor, wand the work is called “Nuclear Mom”, is going to have to put an add in the classifieds and pray…a lot.  For sure.

           It’s tough for those banks, I tell you.  I read an article about them.  Many people expect that only the Caixa, a savings bank from Catalonia, will survive the crisis, lucky them, and will end up being the only major foundation able to get an endowment of some kind.  All the rest will have to give up their good social deeds.  And now the rest of us will have to pay our way into these places.  Just the thought of it!  The nerve.  InSpain, people don’t like to pay for these things.  Someone does.  Not us.  Health coverage, education, cable TV, nothing.  All has to be free.  And when it isn’t…here piracy flourishes.    That evening I went to the Casa Encendida, which belongs to CajaMadridsavings bank, at least for now.  This is one of the biggest banks in the country.  Originally it was a Monte de Piedad, which was a kind of charity pawn shop in that people could exchange their belongings of value for money and then retrieve later once the money was returned, the charitable part being that no interest was charged.  None whatsoever.  Of course, as a NGO perspective, that was wonderful, but the institution was often struggling to survive as the loanees, interest or not, could not return the credit.  That was when a savings bank was created as a parallel operation.  They still worked together.  One requirement of all saving banks inSpain, this may be true of theU.S.I really have no idea, is that they must allot a certain amount of their gains to social and artistic causes.  And they have been generous, I can promise you that.  The problem with CajaMadridis that it grouped together with about seven other savings banks two years ago to form Bankia, of which Caja Madrid held the largest stake.  Bania handled 38% of the mortgages in the country.  The rotting real estate credit problem hammered to conglomerate.  Instead of saving the system, it did it in and, as a result, sentSpain’s already delicate condition nearly spiraling out of control.  Earlier in 2012, everything fell apart. The President of Bankia at the time, Rodrigo Rato was reporting to investors that the bank had earned 328 million euros the year before.

         That was n0t quite true.

         It turned out that institution had actually suffered losses of up to 4.2 billion euros.

        That’s when the country requested 100 billion euros in aid to stop essentially, the bleeding.  Bankia has been partially nationalized in an attempt to restore stability.

        The museum at the Casa Encendida was doing all right.  Lots of concetual artists on display Barkly hanging on.  They’ll have to be doing something else soon.  Then I went out and up to the Lavapiés area where hundreds of people were mounting stands for the fiestas that would be starting the next day.  They were in honor of San Lorenzo.  All the cafés and bars on the Calle Argumosa were packed.  I didn’t see an empty table.

        It was sunny and hot that day.  For sure.

       I called my friend who asked me over to watch a DVD on his outdoor terrace.  My plans for the day had come to an end.  He lives near Las Ventas, so I took a Circular Bus.  There is a stop at the end of the Ronda de Atocha.  It’s right across the street from the addition to the Reina Sofía.  The buildings there are dark and sooty.  I am convinced that they are the saddest place in the entire city.  Desolate.  Forlorn.  Forgotten.  I came to the conclusion that it was would be the perfect place to commit suicide.  Not that I was planning on it for that evening.  Just a thought.  Everyone needs to a place to go.  Or at least they should.

                The bus came and I got on.