07/22/2014 08:16 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Barcelona Journal 1: Paris Was Yesterday


The New Yorker writer Janet Flanner (aka "Genet") published a collection of her pieces with the title "Paris Was Yesterday." Yes, Paris has had its day in court and now the center of Europe may very well be Barcelona. Bofinger is the quintessential Paris bistro, but if you are looking for the kind of 19th century redoubt whose social seating structure might have appeared in a Balzac novel, you might want to order a platter of raw fish specialties at Botafumeiro on the Passieg de Gracia. Or if you are looking for a Brat in Barcelona cross the street and hit Barcelona's version of Papaya King. Just such a proximity of the high and low might define the kind of cosmopolitanism Barcelona radiates. Walking down the Passieg de Gracia you hear crowds at the Palau Robert cheering a four women group called Las Migas and a few blocks further down you pass Gaudi's Casa Batllo, with its ornate cut glass and rock façade, which now houses a club and the Casa Fuster, one of the grandest of the grand old hotels of Barcelona whose façade exemplifies art nouveau style. And yes, there are palm trees in Barcelona and little inauspicious, not squares but triangles wedged into streets, where from a municipal bench you can hear the din of music and conversation. Barcelona cafes are not Les Deux Magots or La Coupole, which is to say they're not the stuff of legend so much as the place where life is being lived.

Photo of Janet Flanner (c. 1920) by Berenice Abbott

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}