Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meats & Plaques

This is on the curb next to the Pasteur station, 1.5 blocks from mi casa. You generally wouldn't notice it or stand there. There are a lot of these around town.

Not a lot of google hits for Eva Esther Nuñez. If she was a "militante popular," I reckon she might have been a bad-ass lefty bomber, maybe a bit more bad-ass than the kind that were running around blowing shit up in California back in the early seventies. I reckon they probably drugged her up and chucked her from a plane over the Río de la Plata.

I also reckon I had a damn fine lunch en casa today/hoy:

If I were to say that that yellow bottle contains a "mustard-like substance," I would be doing a grave injustice to the meaning of "-like." Still, washed down with my new favorite beer, Argentine Corona con Limon, this was a happy-making lunch.

Monday, January 28, 2008

....Meanwhile, Further Down The Rabbit Hole

There's this certain tango-teaching couple. They've got about 200 popular videos on youtube, from their seminars and classes all over the world.

I've been watching their youtube videos for a year, ooing and ahing at all the cool ideas they demonstrate and trying them out at home.

So I go into my class this morning at DNI, Tango 2/3 (beginner-intermediate), and the man is sitting on the floor. For me this was like, you come home, sit down to chill, and Mark Walberg brings you a brewskie from the kitchen.

I think, "Must have just taught a class, now he's bailing." But no, he was putting on his shoes for the class. The same class I was about to take.

No doubt that kind of occurrence is the most normal thing in the world around here. Kind of tripped me out a little, though.

Later one of the young talented attractive teachers said something in Spanish--er, Castellano--to a woman student in the class, addressing her by name. I then realized she was the wife of the famous tango youtube star. I hadn't recognized her at first with the pulled-back-for-class hair. So the two masters were there taking Tango 2/3 with me.

Funny thing was, I think I lead my gal into his gal about three times, or the other way, I don't know. This is not something I normally do, but there were boleos happening, which I don't typically lead in small crowded places. He looked at me and smiled either apologetically or "Moron," I don't know. Seeing his bright smiling face a couple feet away in ultra-high resolution, he looks much younger, fresher, more vivid than he does at 320x240 pixels on youtube, but he also has that tired vibe that I often feel but don't see in all the 20- and 30-somethings in these classes.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Amarcord know: the Fellini movie.

Up to that point every movie that sort of blew my mind did it in the loss of innocence way. Bonny and Clyde. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Summer of '42. Bad Company. Last Picture Show. A Man Called Horse. Little Big Man. Last Tango in Paris. The Godfather. The Exorcist. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Those are what movies were to me. Generations before, you had your Cary Grant. After, you had your Star Wars. But I had Bad Company.

Then one day in 1973 I saw Fellini's Amarcord, and the sun shone over the world and said, "Here is your life."

That movie erased everything before it and defined a lot of things within me.

So now I am in Buenos Aires in a downtown milonga watching the people whirl and swirl by as if they were auditioning for the major roll of their lives, one in some movie called Amarcord or something equally silly and absurd. And I'm just inches away from it, thinking, "Holy cow, this is ridiculous! How did I stumble onto this set?"

Anyway, here's a few snapshots from today. That guitarist sang in English and was really good. That last one is at the Obelisk, in the middle of Avenue 9 de julio


So many interesting little moments happen in subways in big cities, don't they. I guess it's because all these strangers are isolated in that moment and place, together, for at least a few minutes.

Yesterday on the B-line, about 100F temps, the only breathable "air" exhaust fumes seeping down from the streets above, I happen to be in the subway car with this dude playing guitar and harmonica, with one of them Bob Dylan-style harmonica brace thingies. I had seen this same dude go by in a train earlier in the day, when I was waiting for one in the opposite direction.

He started playing this Piazzolla jam, "Cellos" or one of those. I'm kind of over the fact that there's more tango-themed things going on here than in Santa Barbara, but eventually I realized that this guy was just killing that song, WAILING away on the harmonica and guitar like the lives of his wife and daughter depended on it, and I started thinking, Holy shiz, I never realized how good this song is. And this guy is crazy! Is anyone else noticing how awesome this performance is, or are all these city-dwellers just too jaded for this kind of thing?

You know, everyone just sitting there, melting, staring impassively into nothingness as the guy busts out this masterpiece performance.

Finishes the song.

The whole subway car erupts in applause!

He looks around. Seems kind of surprised. Smiles and nods.


Lately the question of what's "third world" vs. "first world" has come up in a couple conversations, both here in BA and in Costa Rica, where I talked about it with my dad and a young genius lawyer who knew all the legal definitions. I still felt kind of vague about whether a place like Argentina is 1st or 3rd, especially since I don't have any charts of the various per capita yields and infant mortality rates handy.

But then I started thinking about this 7-year-old girl going up and down the subway car begging for coins.

Call me simple or sentimental, but I guess for me that answered the question.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dos Dias Mas

Tomorrow afternoon I catch a plane from my cozy Central American hideout and fly to Lima, Peru. From there, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I will arrive in time to find a bar with the Chargers-Patriots game.

Right now, out the window, a long line of Honolulu-like silvery clouds is hanging on the edge of a green volcano. It is beautiful, and reminds me of how spectacular the dawn scene was flying into San Salvador several days ago. That arrival made taking the red-eye flight totally worth it.