Ed at age 23 joined his good friend, John Fox, 29, a graduate student in painting at UCLA, with the intention of living together in Madrid for the year.
September 1960, Ed arrived in Madrid. I had spent six weeks in Granada getting started on my Spanish where I befriended Antonio Garcia y Pestana, a young veterinary scientist from Madrid doing military service in Granada. As soon as we were introduced to Antonio’s family we were adopted by these wonderful people. Kind and humble, the old father was a postal inspector.
In our new status as family we were expected to join in the Sunday “comida” for the whole year. The whole family would gather at the long table, about fifteen of us, aunts, uncles, and kids. After eating all afternoon we would go into the next room to listen to Cuban and Spanish music, all kinds, popular and classical, Rodrigo’s great Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar. Ed loved the music after dinner. He brought his guitar to Spain and these sessions inspired him to keep playing.
Some of Antonio’s friends helped us secure a bare-walled-no-furniture-six-room-flat that gave us plenty of room to paint with each a pad to sleep on. Discovering the huge and fascinating Madrid flea market made it a snap to furnish the place. We liked to wander into the alleys near the flea-market to hear the haunting fiery street flamenco of the gypsies. But we only spent a couple of months in this apartment as it turned out our friends got us a good deal on a party house. They provided everything, wine, women, music and even small “red light bulbs” for atmosphere. Fun for awhile but after a couple of months we moved again.
Ed had met an old Italian painter who told of having a studio fifty years earlier in a decrepit 17th century long-out-of-favor palace. We checked it out in old central Madrid on Calle de la Luna, amid streets so narrow that you couldn’t step back to see it was a “palace”. We rented a huge room from the old church polychromer who was in charge of the place. He restored carvings, icons and statues and showed us a secret room full of really old broken sculptures. He ended up teaching us gold leafing techniques, gilding, mixing pigments, and showing us where to buy esoteric art supplies. He gave us a tour of the palace which was full of poets, painters and sculptors from all over the map. It took a whole city block, had a mammoth courtyard, huge staircase, very high ceilings, monster walls and no electricity. To gain entry we used an old six inch key to open a door within another door that must have been twenty feet high. We had to carry a bit of a candle in the pocket for finding our way down the long corridors. Day or night we passed people in the halls carrying candles. Directly below in a cobbled plaza was our night table for reading, writing, socializing and sometimes over indulging in vino rojo corriente ($.07 per bottle refill. Note one whole year in Spain in 1960-61, all expenses, cost me $1,000.00).
I was called Juan Zorro over there. Ed and I figured it would be the only time in our lives when we would live in a palace so we might as well make up some cards. I had mine printed with “Juan Zorro y Lee”; my mothers name is Lee. Ed had cards printed up too: “Eduardo Leonardo Carrillo y Leree” with the name and address of our palace studio. During the year before we left for address of our palace studio. During the year before we left for Spain we had shared a huge studio loft with Chas Garabedian and Herbie Hazelton in L.A. So we had already been living together that way. We got along very well. It was all easy as far as that goes.
Both of us were interested in pure Spanish language. Our friends recommended Castillano, “el mas puro”. For the purest Spanish go to Valladolid about 60 km from
madrid. So one Sunday afternoon Ed, Antonio and I took girlfriends up there to check out these ancient towns with old churches. We were having such a great time we missed the train back to Madrid. Well, it was the rarest evening because we had to walk to another town that had a railroad line with a milk train that ran all night. I remember walking through a vast forest the had strange and unusually shaped trees which had no foliage until about forty or fifty feet in the air. There we were walking and fondling for hours among these long poles with moonlight streaming through. It was gorgeous. Finally we found this little tavern that was open all night for people waiting for the train. We got on the milk train which creeped along making every stop on the way back, it took all night to go 60 km. Suddenly around dawn before coming into Madrid I was awakened by the “Guardia de Sevilla” with their muskets and three cornered hats. they were Franco’s special police, part of the military. They took our passports, looked us over and talked about us traveling on a milk-train in the middle of the night and with women! We were the first wave of young Americans coming over to Europe in the 60’s and there were a lot of things they were not used to. My beard, for instance. Beards were very uncommon in Franco’s Spain. I was beginning to let mine grow at that time and that was really different. Wherever I went people called out, “Oya, Fidel Castro!”
Hitch-hiking was also uncommon. In the spring we walked and hitched for a couple of weeks in the south- Easter processions in Sevilla, on to Granada. We always visited the great churches and palaces, like the Alhambra. I remember the gypsies had lived in along time. They were out of town, up a hill. You went inside, they were big and beautifully painted white, lit with little gas-lamps and candle lanterns, like a nightclub for listening to music and watching the dance. We often listened to music in Madrid but I remember being in the caves was better. The best dancers were there, those really fiery dancers. We sat for hours and watched them. Ed loved the music. He always carried his guitar and gravitated to the music.
We arrived in Alicante on the coast, got in late, had sleeping bags, and said, what the heck, let’s just sleep in the old dried riverbed. We could her gypsy music and see campfires down the ravine. So we found a comfortable spot on the sandy rocky bottom and bedded down for the night. Soon we could feel these thumps on our sleeping bags and here were these big bullfrogs jumping around, bouncing off us! They were all over the place jumping on us like we were just lumps in the sand. Thumping and croaking, they kept it up all night.
The next night was another story. We sacked out on the beach in town, next to a big wall. We were lying on our backs looking up at the night sky and here we saw looking down from this wall more of these three cornered hats. “Guardia de Sevilla.” They looked down and shouted, “Que Leche!” which in Spain is part of a long exclamation of swear words that gets pretty gross, but just “que leche” was used pretty frequently in wonderment meaning “Wow, what’s going on here, unbelievable!” Again, in 1960 they were not used to gringos sleeping on the beach. Then they started speaking to us. We could both speak Spanish by then, and they finally left us alone. We were questioned many times by the by the “Guardia.” Sometimes they thought we were “Ruskies”. We always tried to leave them bewildered but smiling.
We took day trips to see amazing old edifices. Outside of Madrid is La Iglesia de San Francisco de la Florida with its inner dome with all these figures looking down on us from a balcony, painted by Goya. In another small town is El Escorial, a massive masonry palace built in the 1500’s by King Philip II. The outside is gloomy and severe, but the painting inside were fantastic. Especially this one by El Greco, ” The Burial of Count Orgaz”, where the body of the Count is in a suit of armor like a beautiful, luminous beetle. Ed loved that painting. On another trip we hitched to Toledo for more El Greco.
In Madrid we attended poetry society readings and drawing sessions at El Circulo de Bellas Artes, the famous old academy where Goya hung out. But Ed’s main focus was painting at the Prado several days a week. He was always looking at the paintings trying to figure out what made them look like that, give them that glow. He got interested in glazing techniques and studies the formulas of the old masters. To glaze is to brush on thin, almost transparent layers over colors that you already established thus influencing and changing those colors, enriching the overall tonality. Adding a warm or a cool glaze lets the underneath color come through. The work has to be dry enough otherwise you’re smearing the glazing into the paint instead of over it. Ed got really good at this. He would melt down rabbit skin glue with some beeswax and sometimes add an egg yoke or reddish earth oxide. The color green seems to have gained some magic for Eduardo in Spain. From that time glazing was a technique he used to pull his colors together.
One day Ed came back from the Prado to the studio we shared in the old palace and said,
“I met these two ladies from South Africa while I was painting today and I’m meeting them later for dinner.”
Hey that’s great, I thought. “Well, did you tell them you have a friend?”
“No, I didn’t,” he said, with a smile. “But you can meet us there, it will be more fun that way.” So he told me where to go, to this certain bodega with a wine cellar and a restaurant in the back and to be there by 6 o’clock. I was sitting at this long bar when Ed came in with the two ladies. They walked right by me, kept going and I watched them go in the back, take a table and sit down. Well, that’s strange, I thought, he saw me, and I started walking back when Ed jumped up and shouted,
“What are you doing here in Madrid?”
I thought, what’s he up to? And I decided to go along with it. He introduced me to these ladies.
“This is an old friend of mine. He’s the second best skier in America!” I’m standing there thinking, yeah, Ed? I guess he figured they didn’t know much about skiing. And so I said,
“Yeah, I’m here writing a book.”
“That’s wonderful! Sit Down, have dinner with us.” All evening we played this game with these ladies, spinning tales to amuse them. It ws a real night on the town. Finally after several hours we both said,
“Well, do you want to come back to our palace for a nightcap?” They couldn’t believe it, we had completely snowed them. We had both gotten so into it, they couldn’t believe it! They laughed their heads off. They were fascinated with where we lived and wanted to see the paintings.
Night life in Madrid started early. If a guy had a dater with a young lady he picked her up around five thirty and went dancing or to a show, and he had to have her back home by dinnertime around ten. Everybody was playing games with the Catholic religion, like the light bulbs in our flat to create a certain dimness. Antonio and his friends would take us to a place that would be well-lit and then when they had some girls they wanted to be more intimate with they tried to talk these gals into going to a different kind of a club that would be so dark you could hardly see across the table. I began to realize, well, these places are all set up a little differently and everybody knows the game around the Catholic Church.
Antonio loved to show us the nightlife. One evening he took us to the Casas de las Provencias. In Madrid, the capital city, each of the wine growing provinces has its own Casa, de Segovia, Casa de Valencia, Casa de Extremadura, big mansions, and they were near each other in a certain district. We were walking and allowed ourselves to be led by Antonio and his friends. Also with us was this young American architect from San Francisco that Ed had met at the Prado. He was on a mission around the world photographing the great edifices and art structures. So he went with us. At each Casa they’d only give you one glass of wine and they each had their own way of presenting it. I remember in Casa de Jara they lifted this bottle high in the air and poured it to a glass they held way down below. They explained the wine had to be aerated. So we went along with everything, to each one of theses places and I tell you, by the end of the night six of us guys were walkin’ down the street holding each other up, singing, bouncing off the walls, weaving from one side of the street to the other and howling by the light of the moon. We always took in a lot of nightlife. In Spain, like Mexico, every month there are a few saint’s days and some group is always making a fiesta with all this color and music.
Siete de Julio found us in Pamplona for the Feria de San Fermin where Ed “runs with the bulls” and goads me into doing it the next day. He had the only pair of sneakers between us, but we were about the same size so I used his. We were awakened very early by the voices of women singing. We dressed quickly and hustled out to join the runners at a little plaza. There we waited. Nobody said much. To warm us up some Spanish men kept pulling us into these tiny bars that were all around and giving us shots of something. I never knew what it was but it was strong. They offered us advice like, don’t use up all your energy running fast in the beginning, pace yourself. Police had barricaded the road and we couldn’t start until the cannon blew, so we were out there waiting, more nervous as the moments passed. Finally they released about ten cows, you could hear their bells, and the bulls came after the cows. Police moved the barricades. The cannon roared and we started to run. Side roads were blocked off with big, thick timbers so there was only one way to go, straight ahead. On balconies above, lining the streets were people singing and playing music and women throwing flowers. As I was racing along I kept swatting a man behind me who was grabbing onto my belt. I got to a curve and pressed myself to it, terrified, with huge bulls rumbling past only inches away. A few men made it into the ring. I wanted to get into the ring too because Ed had been in the day before. So I ran in after the bulls. It was 7am and the place was full of spectators. Then they released small bulls with their horns cut off and leather bound around their nubs and we all became amateur matadors for awhile. It was quite a combination, the running, the music, the drinking.
Everyone was really friendly. We met a tall Basque (6’4″)
who especially liked Ed and who took us around. The town was so crowded that the only room we could rent was a tiny hole in the wall shared by six men. We took turns sleeping in shifts around the clock. After days of continuous parties and bullfights we were exhausted and so we hitched a ride out of town in a Duex Cheveux. That night we camped in the Pyrennes. What’s great about those cars is the seats come out and you can sit on them around a campfire. We were on our way to Paris.