What do I mean by that title? I mean it's a bit silly to show something and then explain what it is. Some people love slideshows where the host talks for nine minutes about each slide. Sure, sometimes that can be awesome. "This picture of us riding donkeys down to the Colorado River is kind of hilarious because, I swear to god, these donkeys were screwing with our heads, and they knew they were. We'd get to a bend on this totally hairy switchback path where there was like a five-thousand foot drop, my donkey would stop, ease on over to the very edge, sort of sway over the abyss, then suddenly like lose his grip and start to topple, rocks and dirt free-falling for three minutes, then at the last possible instant this god damn burro, I'm not making this up, somehow regains his traction and we continue our descent down the path unscathed, over and over! I kid you not, this happened fourteen times!"
On the other hand, it is possible for a photograph of a pear to stand alone. I know this is a philosophical thing about art: do you have to understand the context of a Manet or a Cezanne or a Mondrian, or can you decide whether you like it or not based on what you're seeing today on the wall there?
Casa Rosada. I think it's like our White House. Okay, let me get right into the burro story. The deal is, I went down to the Peru station on the metro A-line because I wanted to get some video of those cool wooden turn-of-the-century (19th) subway cars. Was going to go for a ride, put something on youtube. But I ended up totally bummed because the train that pulled into the station was more like a Disneyland monorail thing than anything [insert name of famous mid-20th-c Argentinian person, e.g. "Eva Perón"] might have ridden on [conclude with a balancing clause including the googled name of some famous 19th-c Argentine after whom a major metro hub station is named and whose bones I have fondled in Recoleta Cemetery, e.g. "let alone Carlos Enrique Pellegrini."]
So, seeing as how I'd blown 90 centavos on the ride down here, I had to do something. So I walked. Looking around, I had those age-old super-duper-cliché thoughts of anyone who's ever walked in Buenos Aires with a digital camera in their back pocket: "Damn, this place is so faded. But it must have really been something back in the days of Carlos Enrique Pellegrini." Followed by, "Wow, talk about your juxtapositions! Every single block, it's endless repetition of 'cool old Paris-like building from 1889 juxtaposed against Stalinist Architectural University Doctoral Student's Thesis Blueprint monstrosity from 1961.' (Yes, I googled Stalin and I know that he died in 1953).
Well, I just can't help it. These are the things that nail you right in the eye here.
Buildings from three different epochs reflected in the windows of a 4th epoch.
I thought my dad would dig that graffiti. He often tells me that we are all one, there is only one consciousness, there is no division betwixt us all. Then he rolls down the window, gives the finger to the guy he just cut off in traffic and screams things at him that have the letters f and u in them.
"Four kinds of stuff, maybe five, plus wetness."
The famous Twin Palaces of Retiro.
I was intrigued by that plant growing up there.
The corniness of this made me laugh much like the "tango" dancers on Calle Florida do, but heck for all I know this corner might have been the very spot Gardel himself belted out his first canción. So I should wipe that smirk right off my face.
Sunday street fair in San Telmo. You wouldn't believe the quantity and variety of mate gourds you can choose from here. Seriously, thousands.
A pretty wall.
A street sink.
Faucets dating back to the Roman Invasion.
I can't say it. Okay, I'll say it. "Juxtapositions."
Your typical Art Deco Wang.
This is kind of cool, and you see it around town a lot. You've got a missing building and a space there that is typically now a pay parking lot. But up on the upper floors, you've got the paint from the rooms that used to be there. And it's usually these pastel combos. I gotta wonder when those walls were painted. It feels like 40 to 60 years ago, something.
The following shot is a close-up of the molding from the one above.
More of the same, about three miles from the other one.
Hitler? Proust? Julio?
Some street that makes me think of "The French Connection." Okay, maybe Buenos Aires was once the Paris of The South after all, much as Beirut was once the Paris of the Middle East, Saigon the Paris of Indochina, Abidjan the Paris of Africa, and Paris the Paris of France!
Juxtapositions! Old and new, baby. Old and new.