Untold Tales of Hollywood #41

I’ll try to be chronological with most of my entries in this series, but sometimes my memory pops up something belonging to a past entry. So, that means you’re going to be getting a few out-of-sequence tales…

This tale relates back to Conan the Barbarian, when I was living in Madrid.

It was the 4th of July, and I wanted to have an old fashioned Independence Day celebration in my Madrid apartment.

I scoured to grocery stores with hot dogs on my mind. I found some likely sausages but no hot dog buns. I finally found some hot dog buns. They weren’t called that in Spain, of course. Did you ever see the wonderful art house film, Bread and Chocolate? The title of that film is a Spanish treat. It’s sold as a hot dog bun with thin bars of chocolate inside of it, making a sort of chocolate sandwich. I bought the buns but when making the hot dogs I of course did not include the chocolate. I somehow found mustard and pickle relish, too.

I was all set for making hot dogs. Now, fireworks.

I was surprised to discover how incredibly easy it was to purchase fireworks in Madrid. They’re sold year round — not just on holidays. I bought a bunch.

I lived in a very tall apartment building that faced another equally tall apartment building. They were both joined on their edges by another apartment building. From above, this would look like a big “U” — but without the curves….a squared-off “U”. If you walked on the ground towards the center of the buildings, you found yourself inside a gigantic vertical cul-de-sac.

Across from the apartment building streets was a large military building left over from Franco’s domination. It still housed lots of troops — still pro-Franco, I assumed. Very serious guys.

I invited some friends over for my 4th of July celebration. After we finished our hot dog dinner, I revealed the fireworks. It was night. I grabbed a large firecracker, lit it, and threw it off my balcony.

Ka-BOOM! The explosion amplified and seriously echoed due to the confined space of the surrounding apartments. Instantly, hundreds of lights went on in the buildings’ windows. I kept my apartment dark to avoid identification as the fireworks culprit. I heard Ron Cobb’s wife Robin say, “What was that?” (their apartment was directly below mine). The firecracker had exploded as it passed their window.

I (not too loudly) shouted, “Happy 4th of July!” to Ron and Robin.

Then, I tossed another lit firecracker.

Ka-BOOM! More lights went on. I then heard Ron’s voice.

“My eyes…I can’t see…!”

Had I blinded our production designer? Robin’s laughter clued me to the truth.

One more mischievous “Ka-BOOM!”, more lights went on and the streets suddenly filled with soldiers and military vehicles from the military complex. I could tell that a house-to-house (apartment-to-apartment, actually) search was beginning. After about half an hour, there was suddenly a loud banging on my door. We remained silent. More banging. Then, the authorities moved on.

I’ll never forget that 4th of July.

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