Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Goodbye, Buenos Aires -

We're leaving here in about 20 minutes. A depressing fact, that. I want to thank Buenos Aires for introducing me to a few things: the awesome cartoons of Ricardo "Liniers" Siri, now officially my favorite cartoonist. Alfajors, two little cookies with dulce de leche stuck in between them. For the buses, which are one of the best examples of folk art in motion I have ever seen. For (and pardon me for art geeking out a moment) a color palette that will inform my work for the better. I'm going to miss so much, my boxing class, the little yellow cat at the kiosko on our block, double espressos at the bookstore-cafe, the habit of giving a little candy in lieu of change if the cashier doesn't have a 5 centavo piece. Goodbye for now, Buenos Aires, and thank you for everything. God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll be back before you know it.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Owls for sale! I'm a crappy liar! plus - Ekeko!!

Observe the little man! His name is Ekeko, and he is a good-luck god from South America. What he likes is to be draped in little presents, money and grains and suchlike, and in return he will bestow upon you good luck and prosperity. Also, he likes for you to light him a cigarette, but to put it out before it gets halfway down. Only likes the first half of a smoke, does Ekeko. I have found my religion.

John found Ekeko in Montevideo, where we attended a giant street fair that sold books, records, crafts, fruit, puppies (AAAAAGH), kittens, chickens, and, naturally, owls. I didn't get too many animal photos, as I was getting the stinkeye for taking pictures. Don't ask me why I didn't buy the owl. I am a fool.

Also, a skinny street kid of about 12 asked us for money - after a few polite demurrals on our part, he gave up and just yelled, "faaaaahhhhk yoooooou, fat americans!" I kind of have to give him that one.

Back in BA, we learned from Graham and Rosie (John's friends from England, who lived in China for more than a year) that the Chinese translation of Britney Spears' "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman" is "I have bled, but not yet been penetrated." I do not need to tell you how much that pleases me to know.

Later, we all wnt to this fancy-pants hotel to drink at their bar and try to scam some pool use. Everything was fine 'til I decided I was cold and wet from swimming and needed a towel, and hey, no one had said anything to us about not being allowed to swim there, so I asked the pool receptionist. "Of course," she said, "what's your room number?" And here we learn that I cannot be trusted in any situation that requires the least amount of subterfuge, 'cause I just froze, like a deer in headlights. "Um, Rosie... what's our room number?" "Um... 7... 18?" she said. I looked at the by-now suspicious receptionist and said "it's, um... I don't know how to say it in Spanish...." please note that up till then we had been speaking English. The lady handed me a note pad and told me to write down my last name, which god knows why, but I did, and then she asked, "are you... staying in this hotel?" I let that hang in the air for a good 30 seconds before going "ermmm... nnnnno." "It will be 80 pesos for the use of the pool." I am God's own idiot.

Also, I managed to have a converstation in mangled Spanish with the nice guys at this bookstore/cafe I like to go to - when I told them I was from Brooklyn, they were all excited and said "Ah! like Paul Auster!" and asked what writers I liked. Whereupon every single book I'd ever read flew out of my head and I sat there with full duh-face on. Apparently I can't even tell the truth without blanking and now these nice men think I'm some idiot who doesn't even read. I should have said, "US Weekly, that's my favorite author. What's it to you, smartypants?" Nice work, fat american.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hopped up on penguins

My staying power is close to nil, I'll be the first to admit it. Poor neglected blog, remember the first few days, when I couldn't keep away from you? Now look.

Anyway, we did some shit that I haven't told you about yet. Thing one: We went to Ushuia. That's at the very tippy bottom of South America, where it is freezing balls out all the time. And what do they have in Ushuia? Penguins!!! Well, technically not IN Ushuia, we took a boat to an island where we were permitted to walk among the penguins, though not to touch or bother them in any way (assuming that staring, cooing, and incessant picture snapping does not constitute "bothering"). Did you know this about penguins? The man penguin has to make a house for the lady penguins, and if he makes a crappy house no lady penguin will be his wife for the summer. We were shown an example of a crappy house - really just a weak little hole scratched halfheartedly in the ground next to a bush. I imagine the builder to have been around the corner at the penguin bar, wearing a wife beater and grumbling about how he doesn't need those bitches anyway, who wants to sit on an egg for 6 weeks? I wish I'd had a tiny Chevette on blocks to put outside his doorway.

Also, we stumbled upon the Ushuia graveyard, which is like a ramshackle version of the fancy cemetaries on BA, with a New Orleans feel to it on account of all the little shrines to the dead. I envy the guy whose job it is to sit in the little guard hutch all day - I bet he gets a shit ton of reading done, there among the dead at the bottom of the earth. Also, the sun went down at like 11pm.
We took a ski lift up to the foot of a glacier, but did not climb it (not enough time, plus converse one-stars are not the mountaineer's choice of footwear). First time I've been on a ski lift. Can't say I like it. Not one bit. John promised not to rock the chair. I told him it hadn't occured to me he would, thanks, but if he did, I would have to murdalize him. It was worth it for the view and the hot cocoa, though.
Because I can only post a few photos per entry, I am going to devote this post to Ushuia and start a new post for the other stuff. Next up: Montevideo, and good luck gods.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Tragic Events of 9-11, etc.

We went to go see Oliver Stone's World Trade Center in a rather awesome cheap-seats downtown (7 pesos for 2 movies! They were pairing WTC with, uh, the Inferno or some kind of devil movie, which is somewhat hilarious, though possibly not as good as my United 93/Stick It double feature idea). Outside: typical semi-sleazy movie house vibe (John said he thought it was a, quote, "peeler joint", unquote). Inside: delightfully spooky, cavernous, kinda sticky old theaters that looked like they should be showing aging vaudville stars and fat burlesque dancers, not Serious Films about Tragedies. We could hear the click-click-click of the projector, which showed the movie in that fucked-up ratio that lets you see the boom microphone all the time. Next time, I'm getting pictures. Of the theater, not of boom microphones.

In other news, John and I spent the day on the bikes going to flea markets. I bought the kind of junk I usually buy, old magazines, old photos, old old stuff, and John, though it will shock you, bought records. Poor John is relying on me to translate for him in his quest for good Argentinean vinyl, but I swear I'm just making things worse. Ususally goes like this: "Spanish spanish spanish spanish I had that record yesterday but I sold it spanish spanish spanish explain it to him." And then some record dude and John looking at me expectantly while I go "uhhhhh..." Also at the flea market: a VHS porno entitled "10,000 Anal Maniacs." BWAH!!! I hope, I hope, somewhere out there Natalie Merchant isn't taking that too seriously. According to the box (snort) it's about a music critic who gets More Than he Bargains for when he interviews the members of an all-girl rock band who are also nymphomaniacs. Sadly, none of them were pale things in cardigans with dark sloe eyes.

Also, summer gym hours mean boxing only twice a week for me. Which means I really ought to go jogging. Which means I'm gonna spend a lot of time carping about how it's too hooooot to jog or it's raining or some bullshit, and then saying fuck it and getting some empanadas instead. Slow news week, kids.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


If what you were really hoping for, in your heart of hearts, was 23 seconds of John shooting a firecracker off Megan and Adam's balcony on New Year's, I have just the thing:

Earlier in the evening John sort of hilariously set off a firecracker shitstorm by lighting a little one and tossing it by mistake into the small pile of other firecrackers we had set set out on the terrace. It lit the fuse on the giant kaboom-style one we had and yeah, it went kaboom all right. Lucky for us, our entire stock of ordnance did not go off at once, which would have been deafening and I guess, you know, dangerous, and probably would have left a big burn mark on the terrace.

All in all an extremely pleasant New Year's. I hope y'all had a pleasant one as well, despite living in fire-cracker free cities.

Hoo man, know what my computer hates? Running PhotoShop in hot weather. I hear you buddy, but we've got to eat. Stop burning my wrist.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hot Cars and Jesus

So, yesterday we went here: - a place so ridiculous, so over the top and insane, that it doesn't even bear mocking. What's the fun, when the target's that big? A simple list of the facts will suffice: It is a religious theme park, sans rides. It features a light show and anamatronic mannequin performance of Jesus' birth backed by poorly edited snippets of Faure's Requiem. Its employees have to dress up in period garb. It is full of papier-mache (or terracotta? or something?) life-size dioramas of bible scenes, plus figures of folks like Gandhi and Martin Luther, just for kicks. Most of these statues feature a sort of simpering leer as their expression. There are snack shops, where one can purchase historically and geographically accurate foods suck as hummus, baba ganoush, and, uh, empanadas. And popcorn. Also, one of these snack shops is a bar. Oh, and every 20 minutes a GIANT FUCKING JESUS STATUE rises from one of the "mountains" to the strains of "aleluia", turns around, closes its eyes, tips its head back, and sinks down again. Yep.

It's like this, from my proud home state of CT, if it had never been abandoned:

I also wanted to post a picture of the bossest of all boss cars I have seen here. This monster sits on the corner of Costa Rica and Gurruchaga, and does not seem to move. I have never seen such an enormous back seat. I can imagine no use for a back seat such as this that is not unholy in the extreme.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Argentina switches tactics, deploys adorable toddler girls in the plot to kill me with cuteness

So I was sitting at the coffee shop I've adopted, diligently studying my Spanish, when this itty bitty girl, maybe 2 years old, toddled up to me clutching a Pooh bear. She said hi, smiled, and handed me her bear. I immediately suffered a heart attack and had to be revived with those zap machines like on ER. I admired her bear for a moment, and gave it back, upon which she wandered over to the guy next to me, gave him the bear, and jumped up and down. So. Unbelievably. Cute. One thing I've noticed is that children here are much more friendly and fearless than their North American counterparts - maybe they don't get "never ever talk to strangers" drilled into their heads from day one? Maybe they don't get lessons in shouting "this man is not my father!!"? Maybe they're just cooler? There seems to be more of a tendancy to admire kids and babies on the street, so maybe they just feel that it's their right to be as adorable as possible. I don't know, but I like it. Anyway, I wish I'd had my camera. The cuteness of the kid trumped any creepiness involved in taking pictures of someone else's kid.

Also, I was bullied in the nicest possible way into purchasing a leather bracelet I'll never wear by a fellow walking around selling them - after I politely declined he said he was going to make me a present, a good luck trinket, and whipped out this litte cross with a scroll thing out of wire right there, after which I would have felt like the worst Scrooge not dropping a couple bucks on a leather good. He also fashioned me a pair of wire earrings on the spot, which I do like and will wear, so I guess we both won out in the end. I'm an easy mark anyway you cut it, but I'm a fan of good-luck charms made of wire - I once gave a panhandler in New York a couple cigarettes 'cause I didn't have any change, and he gave me in return a tiny bicycle made of copper. "It's good luck" he said, "and good for the blood." Good enough for me - tiny bicycle! for the blood! wheee!