Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
(← home page for Spain and Morocco Dispatches)
2004.03.14 : Ground Zero España

Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 09:50:42 -0800
To: dispatch@michaelfuchs.org
Subject: Ground Zero España
From: fuchs dispatch <fuchs-dispatch@michaelfuchs.org>
Reply-To: dispatch-owner@michaelfuchs.org

Madrid is draped with flags - Spanish flags, with big black
ribbons over their hearts. The workaday flags are all at
half-mast, including in the 17-century Plaza Mayor, all be-
frescoed and sad. And at the art nouveau building that
fronts the Grand Via, there is a 4-story black ribbon. It is
a very strange time to be here, but - at the risk of saying
anything good at all about the tragedy - it is an awing
(awesome, awful) thing to walk with the city in its time of

Josh and I arrived yesterday at Estacion Atocha - rolling up
past the peeled hulk of one of the bombed trains. Exiting
the station, we asked for directions, got our bearings - and
immediately came face-to-face with the spontaneous memorial
set up outside the terminal´s hulking facade: flowers,
posters, banners, hand-written notes, and miniature but
sprawling forests of candles. Later, in Puerta del Sol (one
of the main plazas), we´d find a larger memorial area - with
hundreds of people milling, pondering, paying respect. And
with a wider variety of sentiment and objects. We spotted an
English rugby jersey, inscribed with a message of
commiseration from the Brits. As Josh pointed out, them
leaving that *means* something.

The posters and banners vary, but there seems to be a clear
common theme: "No al terrorisme", "No mas muerte". The city,
the nation, seem to be rising as one to reject what happened
- one huge cry of "NO, no more." If there is, as I´ve
speculated, a war of ideas going on, then these guys are on
the front lines. The thinking, and the people, that espouse
mass murder as a tool of, well, anything, must be opposed
and defeated. All depends on it. And I, for one, am seeing
just a little too much of this stuff.

Two days ago, in Barcelona, we sat in another plaza, at
another make-shift memorial. I was literally 2 inches from a
guy who lost someone in the blasts the day before. The crowd
reaching out, literally, to comfort him was incredibly
beautiful and affecting. And but the point is that nothing is
worth that. The next day we were touristing again, but that
guy´s life will never be the same again.

Last night we toured the Museo Nacional Central de Arte
Renia Sofia. And there we did see Picasso´s Guernica -
modern art´s most powerful anti-war statement, painted by
the master during the Spanish Civil War in reaction to the
massacre at the Basque village of Guernica. But more
powerful still was when we stepped back into the huge glass
elevators that front the museum on the plaza, and could see
directly down to the memorial at the train station, where
the candles now created a warm, steady, and sanguinary glow.

And yet today . . . we strolled, sat, and lounged for hours
in the Parque Retiro, Madrid´s main, central, urban park.
And it was overflowing with people en paseo, toddlers, dogs,
drinkers, munchers. There were puppet shows (good ones); and
oceans of sunshine. We sat on the steps by the water, in the
sun, listening to the fountains, and watching boat rowers
pass by. We listened to the guitaristas and spied the lovers
lounging. Life unabridgeable rolls on. And in the presence of
death, life seemed so beautiful. We got the miracle of
another stroll in the park, and hope you go take one, too.

Abrazos y besos de Madrid,
Y vaya con dios,
Miguel y Josh

To get on or off fuchs dispatch:

  skeet     art     terrorism     travel  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

from email:

to email(s) (separate w/commas):
By subscribing to Dispatch from the Razor’s Edge, you will receive occasional alerts about new dispatches. Your address is totally safe with us. You can unsubscribe at any time. All the cool kids are doing it.