Monday, May 24, 2010

While I am waiting another THREE GODDAMN HOURS for Lost to download over this horrendously slow internet connection, I will tell you a story.

Yesterday was a rather boring and gray day and I figured I would spend it in bed, catching up on my missed episodes of Grey's Anatomy. Which is a show that I have come to dislike for its soap opera-esque plot and character development [if you could call it character development]. But I've been watching it for six years and am not willing to just walk away from all those hours I've invested in these fictional people. In the middle of streaming an episode, our lovely friend and restaurant manager, Morris, told us all he was going to open Cilantro's just for us, and make us coffee.

So six of us and Morris headed downstairs, turned on the lights, and pulled down some chairs. Right then, the sky exploded and dumped rain all over the city. Morris made us coffee and we all sat and drank and listened to the rain and Peruvian folk music [not to be confused with Peruvian flute bands]. It was incredibly peaceful and the perfect thing to do on a rainy Sunday.

Morris then offered to cook us all dinner. Which required that two of us go to the store, in the pouring rain, and get the ingredients. So Paula and I volunteered. And ventured outside in our pants and tank tops, running on the slippery Argentinian sidewalks [they use some strange tile type material to pave their sidewalks here] to Coto. It was the most hilariously awesome experience. Until we had to run back home, this time carrying bags of food. It was the most fun I've had since I arrived here and I was wet for several hours.

We ate upstairs, like a tiny family, from Israel and the U.S. and Colombia and Chile and England and Switzerland. Not a single person from the same place as another person at the table.

I ended up finishing the night with the remaining episodes in the Grey's Anatomy season. Which was maybe not the best idea given that it was a shooting, shot almost documentary style, and freaked me out more than any episode of television or movie ever has. And I thought, well at least I can watch LOST first thing tomorrow morning...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

One of my favorite things about my trip to BsAs has been my morning [which is really 1 in the afternoon] ritual. I wake up, shower, and go downstairs to Cilantro's for breakfast. I get one of three things for breakfast: yogurt bowl with granola and fruit, omelet with salsa with toast and jam and cream cheese, or croissants and toast with jam and cream cheese. All are served with fresh squeezed orange juice and café con leche. I sit at one of two tables, depending on which is taken. And I take out my book, which has been either Blindness or Americana. I say hi to my wonderful breakfast waitress who loves me, and I read while I wait for my food. Once my food arrives, I put my book away and take out my phone. Check my email and other applications and then open the New York Times and read all the articles in my tiny iPhone version of the paper while I eat. Then I pay my 20 pesos [$5.19], and start my day. I am always excited to go to sleep because I am always excited to wake up for breakfast. Except Saturdays. Cause Cilantro's is closed Sunday until 7pm. In which case I eat an entire box of honey something cereal with my hands that I buy at Coto.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don DeLillo, I am sorry for saying I don't want to read Americana. Of course I want to read Americana. Every sentence has been so unbearably astute I can hardly breathe.

Buenos Aires, why don't you sell any good books in English?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two albums and a novel:

1. Blindness, José Saramago
I don’t know how Saramago managed to write such a horrifyingly disgusting book that is so beautiful. I guess that’s why he wins the Nobel prize. But all I can really say is, this book was amazing enough to make me call into question my undying devotion to contemporary American literature. After I finished his novel, I thought about Don DeLillo and Bret Easton Ellis and the authors whose work I am so frequently defending to those peers and critics who refuse to see their merit, and I thought, my god I don’t want to read one of those books after this. And yet I have begun to read Americana. But only because I cannot find a single English copy of Seeing anywhere in this city.

2. Dear The National, why is High Violet so depressing? And what happened to your lyrics like “I can hear the sound of your laugh through the wall” and “this river’s full of lost sharks?” I am by no means attempting to provide any kind of review for this album. Just explaining my reaction to an album I’ve been anticipating for almost two years. Don’t get me wrong. I think this album is amazing, is totally beautiful, but don’t go out there in interviews and tell music writers that this is your best album yet. I hate when bands do that. Because it makes me lose faith in their ability to judge their own music. But then I’m thinking while walking “home” up Anchorena last Wednesday, this is your best album. I’m still struggling with that opinion though, especially because there are no songs as crazy as “Abel” or as breathtaking as “Ada” on High Violet. But I did get that full to the brim heart ready to explode with tears and laughter feeling when I listened to “Terrible Love” for the first time. And “all the very best of us string ourselves up for love” definitely competes with your older lyrics. But they’re about all the lyrics that do on this album. Dear The National, I’m sorry this doesn’t make any sense and that some of my sentences in this giant paragraph very obviously do not like each other. But you won’t read this. And anyway, this isn’t my Best Paragraph.

3. Infinite Arms, Band of Horses
I remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Funeral.” And though I will always remember exactly where I was when I first heard this new album, it’s only because I happen to be in Buenos Aires, which is not normal, and which therefore makes everything I absorb/consume/experience here memorable, even when it is not memorable in its own right. Remember “Is There a Ghost?” Common! That song was completely disarming. There is nothing disarming about Infinite Arms. It is pleasant and very enjoyable, but no where near as memorable as Band of Horses’ previous two albums. The only exception is the final track, “Neighbor,” which sounds a little Fleet Foxes-y, and is epically beautiful. And the first track might appeal to me more if I hadn’t listened to the so similar sounding “At Any Moment” by Shane Bartell so many times before.

Ok, that’s all. Take all of the above as reflections and not judgments, because I feel no where near engaged enough with what I am currently saying to have anyone take it seriously. These are just three of the things that have been occupying my time in the last week as I’ve made my way through neighborhoods and chilly nights. Still haven’t gotten around to listening to the new Black Keys or Dead Weather albums. Or LCD Soundsystem, but I'm hesitant to purchase that after Port O'Brien's emphatic [and seemingly negative] one line review of it on twitter ["LCD SOUNDSYSTEM I DONT GET IT"]. And I am still searching for the elusive English bookstore.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

1. Cilantro's. The coaster will tell you generally what I somehow cannot explain specifically.

2. Real asado, Argentinian style.
[Note: I ate pasta. I'll drink and I'll smoke here but I will not eat half of a cow anywhere.]

3. Our subte station. Agüero.

4. San Telmo.
~"Lose your addiction to Gravity"


6. Tiny secret things on the sidewalk.

7. Jardín Japonés in Palermo

8. In addition, there are numerous conversations, small moments, hours on the roof under southern hemisphere stars which, though undocumented in photos, have been the true heart of my trip. I keep them to myself because words could never do them justice. If you really want to know, ask me someday.

Tomorrow we are taking a day trip to el Tigre. And tonight I will cook my ramen noodles and drink my whiskey and spend time with these amazing people.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

1. Saturday was the giant metal flower in Recoleta and some wandering of the surrounding parks.

2. This is our Freddo. Best. Ice cream. Ever.

3. El Ateneo. The most beautiful book store I've ever seen. And read in. While drinking cafe con leche. Mmmm.

4. We went to Chinatown for dumplings. Instead, I got pollo picante flavored cup of noodles. I did NOT eat these chicken's feet. CHICKEN'S FEET!

[Time out on update because we just performed a rescue mission with Zac, the cat, who somehow got himself stuck on the glass roof and who has been crying for two hours. Rescue mission = successful]

5. 6 Peso pizza. One large cheese pizza here from this lovely "restaurant" on our corner will cost you 6 pesos. Which is approximately $1.60 in USD. You might be thinking, but if it's only 6 pesos it must be horrible!!! You would be wrong. And if you don't take my word for it, trust the two hours wait worth of people [porteños no less] sitting on the floor waiting for their order from open till close.

5 1/2. This is our street. Anchorena. It is very busy at random times and very quiet at other... random times.

6. Palermo.

Coming soon... Colonia. When I get around to going there. Also planning: a tour of la casa rosada, the modern art museum in La Boca, the Evita museum, a visit to Once, and more wandering around Palermo [in the day time].

Monday, May 3, 2010

1. First of all, I've been having breakfast at Cilantro. Because it is amazing. So amazing that I took a photo so as to attempt to provide you with evidence. And then I remembered that most photos of food don't look very appetizing. So here's the photo and you'll just have to trust me.

2. Saturday we went to Recoleta to go to the street market. It's in the park next to the famous Recoleta cemeratio. So we wandered the market. I purchased a lovely handmade shirt from this artist and some little silly items from a couple other artists.

3. Then we headed into the cemetario, which lives so completely out of the neighborhood of my expectations that it took me awhile of being there before I could connect to reality. It is a town. There's no grass. There are little buildings, all smooshed next to each other, all incredibly ornate made from all different materials. A lot of granite and marble. The buildings, they look like little houses and have doors. And you can see through the doors, into the room where you can see the coffins of the famous dead Argentinians that are entombed there. Some of the older tombs are falling apart and their doors are broken. A lot of cats live in the tombs and on the streets and they were going in and out of the broken coffins. Evita's tomb is there, is adorned with flowers always.

4. Our park on Anchorena

5. Our balcony at Reina Madre Hostel

6. I've been trying so hard to use my Spanish when I can that I'm thinking in half English half Spanish. I was accidentally translating [though often in broken Spanish] every thought I had while falling asleep last night. Sometimes it feels like my brain might collapse in on itself.

7. Went out for the first time Saturday night. A club called Podesta in Palermo. So here's my first people picture. Not that you can really see anyone, but it captures the night well.

8. Our asado [BBQ] Sunday night.

Note: the shirt I'm wearing in this picture is the one I bought at the Recoleta market on Saturday.