It’s all about the pintxos.

So I flew on an A380 from LAX. Whew! Have you been on one of these double-decker Airbuses? Considering its size, I figured it’d leave the ground inches from the end of the runway but this gigantic bird had amazing lift and then it was like flying in your living room, big and quiet with more moisture than most planes. However, I can’t give a big thumbs-up for Air France. The seats don’t lie completely flat, the remote control was cracked and they didn’t turn on the water in the bathrooms until just before take-off, the plane was moving while I was washing. It’s the little things that count. And the food was far from memorable, but the people were great, the passengers I mean. The French have such style. And they do it with minimalism. They don’t overwhelm you like Americans, never mind South Americans, just a little accent here, a way of carrying themselves there, they’re so cool.

And so was Paris. I forget it’s fall in the rest of the world. It was cloudy and in the fifties and if that was my final destination I would have been worried. But they’re having a heat wave in Bilbao, it’s in the 80s, and it’s oh-so-comfortable.

Bilbao… What do I know about it other than the Guggenheim Museum?


That’s just the kind of American I am. Turns out it’s 15km from the sea, so it’s a port. And it’s surrounded by mountains, not Rockies, but not bumps, and it was an industrial city that collapsed and was reinvigorated by the aforementioned museum. Just like a tech firm, the whole city pivoted, to services, and it worked. They tell me every other Spanish city has tried to do the same thing, but has not succeeded.

As for the Spaniards… Nobody’s fat!

You know the ugly Americans, who look like they’ve spent their lives eating Doritos on the couch watching television. I noticed it at the museum today, like one of every hundred people is overweight, if that, and none of the kids.

So there’s an old city and a new. And I’m staying in the new but it’s only a ten minute walk to the old. And the thing you do is eat pintxos. You pronounce that PINCHOS! It’s a Basque spelling. That’s a whole ‘nother thing, there’s a Basque language, it’s like a whole ‘nother country. The PR person at the museum was telling us 90% of the attendees were foreigners, I figured that meant non-Spaniards, but it turns out anybody outside the Basque region is a foreigner! So pintxos are what you’d think of as tapas, but they’re not. Pintxos are something, usually meat, fish or vegetables, atop a piece of bread. Or maybe a little sandwich too. Every bar has them. You’re worried they’ve been sitting out too long, but I was told they’re constantly replenished. And what you do is hop from pintxo bar to pintxo bar, sampling the wares. And the first night we traveled from the new city to the old and back, hitting four of these bars, eating anchovies and squid and shrimp and ham and it was all
good and fun and there’s no street food, there must be a law, everybody’s driven to the pintxos.

So I’m here for this conference entitled BIME. And what’s interesting is the link between Spain and South America. You see it’s the language, there’s a direct connection. And sure, there are the usual topics, sync and gaming and all the ways you monetize music these days, but since the repertoire is just a bit different, it’s all interesting.

And today we got a tour of the Guggenheim. Culture revitalized Bilbao. And it’s infectious. I spent half the day there. What were the highlights… Oh, this one room with nine movies of people playing the same mum song. It’s hard to describe… It was done in upstate New York. Everybody’s listening to the track on headphones and then adding their own component. A guy in the bathtub strumming an acoustic guitar, a guy on a bed playing an electric guitar, a woman bowing a cello, another woman playing an accordion, you get it. But what’s really cool is when you approach each player you hear them soloing.

You have to see it.

And that’s just the point. You have to leave your house to experience stuff, it’s inspiring. I’m thinking I could live in the museum, not to make some bad caper film, but for the inspiration. We’re all so caught up in marketing that we forget art is at the core and we have to get into a special space in order to create it. You see the abstract expressionists and the pop artists and the minimalists challenging convention, testing limits, and it illustrates the possibilities. That’s one of the problems in music, no one’s testing the limits, they want adulation and instant remuneration when the truth is artists are always ahead of the game, confounding public and critics until they ultimately accept their work. Life is about progress, when you remain stagnant you die.

And the wi-fi is touch and go. And it was amazing being in the Bilbao airport after the one in Paris. There’s a step down in infrastructure, a step down in maintenance. And despite so much English, many people do not speak English at all, it made me wonder, if I lived here for a while would my high school Spanish training come alive.

Now I am a museum guy. I can go to two a day every day. But that’s not the kind of place Bilbao is. Bilbao is more for the living. And I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who know how to do so. Everybody’s open, everybody has a story, and now I’ve got to leave you to go to a cafe by the river for cocktails.


Guggenheim Bilbao – Ragnar Kjaransson: The Visitors

Pintxo Routes

BIME Conference

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  1. Pingback by The Visitors | Azucena Micó | 2014/11/07 at 04:28:15

    […] nostra, el director de l’oficina de Londres va entrevistar en Bob Lefsetz, analista musical (mireu el seu blog!), que va deixar anar perles com “the listener always wants to listen to the best, good is […]

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  1. Pingback by The Visitors | Azucena Micó | 2014/11/07 at 04:28:15

    […] nostra, el director de l’oficina de Londres va entrevistar en Bob Lefsetz, analista musical (mireu el seu blog!), que va deixar anar perles com “the listener always wants to listen to the best, good is […]

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