Random Thoughts #5: Ben Lerner, Ayuso and the end of the Estado de Alarma

May 8, 2021

Hey everyone!

Fun times here in Spain.

I’m writing this on Saturday May 8, which is officially the last day of the Estado de Alarma.

More about that in a bit.

I don’t have too much to say today, but I thought I’d do some random thoughts.


Ben Lerner – Leaving the Atocha Station

I’ve always fantasized about writing a book about life in Madrid.

And of course, I could knock something out in a couple of months, make it approximately book-length, and self-publish it on Amazon.

But would it be any good?

That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of boquerones en vinagre, as they say.

Contemplating the issue, I came across a book called Leaving the Atocha Station by a guy named Ben Lerner.

Lerner moved to Madrid on a poetry fellowship just a year or two before I did, so our experience of Spain at the turn of the 21st century overlaps quite a bit.

Of course, he’s way deeper than me, and much more neurotic. And he’s got all the appropriate connections in the literary world… Reviewed by Paul Auster, interviewed in the New Yorker, all that.

Alonso Martinez, Madrid.

In the book, he basically goes around town drinking wine, worrying about the war in Iraq, popping prescription meds and sleeping with his Spanish teacher… pretty straightforward stuff, I guess.

I’ve written some of my life story on here as well, if you want to check that out.

But as a poet, of course, he brings some philosophical musings into it that are far beyond the sort of thing you’ll see here on the Chorizo Chronicles. He’s a bit nuts, or at least his literary persona is.

I’m not quite finished with the book yet, but I guess it’s not bad…

I’ll probably write an update later.

Moving on…

Ayuso kicks ass in the regional elections

I guess nobody’s surprised that Isabel Díaz Ayuso kicked ass in the recent Madrid elections.

What surprised me is that she won basically every neighborhood of Madrid, every small town, practically every street. Check the map on El País, it’s wild.

As I mentioned in my previous article, the old right-left spectrum doesn’t do much for me.

In fact, I don’t even know what the “issues” are supposed to be anymore.

The left has a lot of performative scolding, plus some vague promises about a better society someday, and the right has… some other vague promises? I can barely imagine caring.

It seems, in fact, like the main issue this time has been that Ayuso wanted people to be free to live their lives, Covid or no Covid.

And the fact that she won so handily would suggest that that’s what people actually want. Participation was through the roof as well, so you can’t even make the excuse that only “the right” came out to vote.

old ladies in madrid
Life going on in Madrid, a couple of weeks ago.

I guess vague promises just aren’t paying anybody’s rent, and people want to move on.

In other news, our beloved Pablo Iglesias has also announced his retirement from politics, as a result of coming in a stellar fifth place in the same election.

¡Adiós, Pablito!

See you up in your million-dollar house in the suburbs, you scourge of the upper classes, you!

And finally…

The end of the Estado de Alarma… ¡por fin!

As I said at the beginning of this article, the Estado de Alarma ends tonight at midnight.

Of course, there’ll still be restrictions.

But this time they’ll be fought out in the courts, rather than passed down by decree.

I’m looking forward to it.

Every bar and restaurant in Barcelona’s been closed at 5PM for the last several months, and it’s a fucking drag. The insane and arbitrary restrictions are exhausting. But it looks like we’re almost done.

Will the police still make it a point to disperse healthy young people who are exercising in public?

Will the useless maskholes still yell at everyone who hasn’t yet blocked them on social media to “just stay home”?


This past year, we’ve all had a lot of time to think. We’ve all had plenty of opportunities to learn about ourselves, as well. It’s been pretty intense.

And I guess, among other things, we’ve all found out: Am I the kind of person who blindly accepts authority? Do I follow every stupid law, or do I think for myself?

How much freedom will I joyfully give up, just because it’s suddenly the popular thing to do?

Do I cower at home until things blow over? Or do I try to live my life despite everything?

I hope you learned something, and I hope you feel good about what you learned.

‘Cause I don’t feel good about what I’ve discovered about society in general this year. Mass hysteria is a real thing – and if people are willing to give up this much freedom for a virus that most people recover from in a matter of days, well, I hope I never have to see what happens when we have something bigger to deal with.

Food for thought, anyway.

Keep it real, y’all.

Mr Chorizo.

P.S. I’ve got some other random thoughts here. Check it out. Or since we’re here, my article on Spanish Stereotypes, or some great international restaurants in Barcelona you can try now that they’ll be open for dinner again. Have fun!

P.P.S. Update, June 2023: Ayuso just kicked ass in another election. She’s still very popular. And Podemos gets less and less relevant all the time. More about that here: Municipal and regional elections, 2023. Enjoy!

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. I think there was probably a lot of tactical voting going on in Madrid. The news were predicting the PP having to get into bed with VOX in order to govern and most left-wingers despise VOX a lot more than they like PSOE or Podemos. I can imagine a lot of people metaphorically holding their nose (under their facemask) while voting for the PP for the first time in their lives.

    1. I don’t know, sounds possible. That’s a really high turnout, though, and usually that sort of thing benefits the left. Anyway, thanks for reading!

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