Art, architecture, history, travel

Leaving Madrid for Rome 1974 part 3

NBC Nightly News open, 1972-1975.

NBC Nightly News open, 1972-1975. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7/1  Monday Madrid

Went to the Prado.  I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been sick, I really felt miserable.  At least I saw all the famous paintings.  I was so thrilled when I saw the Albrecht Duerer.   I had seen pictures of that painting so many times, it was coincidence almost to see the real thing when I wasn’t looking for it.  The three most famous Spanish artists are El Greco, Velasquez and Goya.  They are all controversial but Goya is probably the most, because he painted portraits.  Making people as he saw them not as they saw themselves.  He could have been killed by one of  the members of the royal family out of anger.  Also saw his picture of the nude and unnude (clothed) duchess of Alba.  Las Meninas is the painting Velasquez painted while waiting to paint a portrait.  Instead of painting the portrait he painted the whole room and the people in it as they prepare the princess for her portrait.  Since Velasquez painted it in a mirror the painting (a  huge one) is in a room by itself with a mirror in the corner to allow the viewer to see the scene as it was.  Looking in the mirror is also said to make the portrait appear to be 3d.   After leaving the Prado I took pictures and then got on the bus, but since I rode it too far I missed lunch.  In the afternoon I went back to the Plaza Major by myself and had a ball asking for directions, since I don’t speak Spanish.  I really had fun walking around the old city taking pictures.  After dinner we had another party with more success, except I ended up having my toenails painted.

7/2 Tuesday Madrid

This morning Mike, Bob and I went to the Royal Nunnery.  We had a tour in Spanish but fortunately Mike could translate the important things and ask questions.  The nunnery was constructed in 1713.  Many people are buried there,  Margaret of Austria, Maria of Austria, Crazy Juana, sister of Catherine of Aragon  and wife of Philip the Handsome.  There are also beautiful portraits and jewels.  There are robes form the 16th and 17th century made from gold thread that are still used.  Saw the Portrait of daughter of Felipe II,  Also a genuine Bosch.  By regulation only 33 nuns may live there but only 24 are there now.

After lunch we went to the Royal Palace.  I couldn’t believe the size of the rooms, fantastic.  The decorations were stupendous,  no one lives there now but every year on October 1, Franco sits on the throne for a ceremony.  Phillip V ordered the palace in 1764 but Charles III was the first king to live there.  There are 2,800 rooms but we only saw fifty.  Charles IV  collected clocks, while he was king there was a clock in every room.  Some of the clocks were fantastically ornate,  and had very complicated mechanisms.  St. Felix is buried in the palace.  He died when he was 17. The Frescoes in the throne room are by Tiepolo. The palace is strange, though.  There are no halls, one room leads into the next. The death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco during the first season of Saturday Night Live in 1975 served as the source of one of the first catch phrases from SNL to enter the general lexicon.

Franco lingered near death for weeks before dying. On slow news days, United States network television newscasters sometimes noted that Franco was still alive, or not yet dead. The imminent death of Franco was a headline story on the NBC news for a number of weeks prior to his death on November 20. After Franco’s death, Chevy Chase, reader of the news on Saturday Night Live’s comedic news segment Weekend Update, announced the dictator’s death and read a quotation from Richard Nixon: “General Franco was a loyal friend and ally of the United States. He earned worldwide respect for Spain through firmness and fairness.”[1]; as an ironic counterpoint to this, a picture was displayed behind Chase, showing Franco standing alongside Adolf Hitler, both of them giving the “Nazi salute”, a photo similar to this one: [2].

From that point on, Chase made it clear that SNL would get the last laugh at Franco’s expense. “This breaking news just in”, Chase would announce– “Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is still dead!” The top story of the news segment for several weeks running was that Generalísimo (sic))Francisco Franco was still dead. Chase would repeat the story at the end of the news segment, aided by Garrett Morris, “head of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing”, whose “aid” in repeating the story involved cupping his hands around his mouth and shouting the headline. The line was also a perceived slap at then-NBC Nightly News main anchor John Chancellor, who due to his background as a foreign correspondent, felt the network should weigh its news more heavily toward world events, keeping Franco’s deathwatch at the top of the headlines. Chancellor reportedly was miffed at both Chase and SNL over the running gag.

After the palace we left for Rome.  From the plane I could see a beautiful sunset.  I left David’s camera on the plane, but fortunately I got it back.

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