Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last Call from Argentina

good photos by Aaron Firestein,

I'm writing this to you from California, where I've stopped over before heading home to New York City. This is my last blog about Buenos Aires.

When I talk about the past three years I'm smiling and earnest, I'm in love with the city and its people and it is so hard to leave it behind. I hope I've been able to spread some of its magic, and that visiting the land of steak and tango is on your list.

29 of you visited me during the 3 years I lived in San Telmo and I loved getting to share your good times along with my own.

I already miss the language, the people, the steak and the cobblestone streets. I miss the sound of the city, the kisses hello and goodbye, the calm way people interact. There was a safety in Buenos Aires, like the strangers around me took care of me. They did it, I believe, by being content in a way. The people on the subway trains and in cafes were less lonely, anxious, or angry than any city crowd I've ever encountered. They taught me how to cope with, comfort, and contain myself while the city satisfied nostalgic cravings with its trove of vintage treasures.

For me, Buenos Aires is nurturing, stylish and wise. It is a long lost love, time traveling to paint the town.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Retro Garage

It's my last weekend in Buenos Aires and tonight I went to see one of my favorite bands here, garage comics Los Peyotes. They mix Peruvian chicha and Rosario-area cumbia with 60s dirty rock. Songs include hooks like "cure my scar" and "smoking is bad for you, you're going to die." Both of which sound cooler in Spanish. They played a party at Niceto, Nave Jungla, that was this notorious 90s weekly, famous for its midget acts. Freak show is the theme, tonight there was a taxodermy special with thematic movie bits and a strip show by an 80-yr-old exhibitionist.

But the real freak show for me was being in a club with people my age. For the first time in years, I looked around and wasn't older than the crowd. The music was old, some of the men had gray hair, and the drunks were not attractive in any way. Since it was a party that peaked over a decade ago, a lot of the crowd was older than me. The friends I went with are older, cool Argentine girlfriends who handle themselves youthfully. One invited her brother along and this brother showed up in a middle-aged man's body.

Basically, I was in a sort of time culture shock most of the night. I looked around and thought, am I that old? I don't feel like I am. And maybe I'm not quite, but I am close. It was an eye opener. I think I continue to see myself like the people in their late-twenties that I'm usually surrounded by. And that isn't an accurate picture.

Being here for the past three years, I've been out of context in an unnatural habitat for myself. It's been free and light and fun-loving riding my chrome cruiser around and reviewing restaurants and music. I was spoiled, even when I was working all the time. The past year was a struggle with school and work but I had the luxury of being away from the pressures I would normally face. Going back scares me, but I'm glad to get back into real time and stop pretending. Or that's how it feels. Looking at the wrinkles around me tonight was a shock and I'm awed. Time passes and has its effect, I can't hide out in Buenos Aires and think I've somehow stopped the clock.

I will miss them all, the young friends from England, the U.S. and France and the Argentines who have nurtured my heart. I will miss this city with its dysfunction and chaos and grace.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monkeys and Dolphins, Brazil

Pipa is a little surf town in Northeastern Brazil, about an hour from Natal. I stayed with friends at their house and met some interesting characters pictured here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brazil Beckons

Brazil is a powerful force. There can be no more attractive beach idea than that of Northern Brazil, land of legendary music and white sand, where beautiful brown people dance in the sun, shaking impressive tushes all over the place.

That's the idea anyway. These photos are of Buzios, a beach peninsula an hour + outside of Rio de Janeiro. I was there a year ago during carnaval with an Argentine friend who had never been on a plane. I spent too much of my time working online in the hotel but I did get to see what's here for a couple of days and it was beautiful.

I wanted to post these then but it was winter, there was a major recession, and it just didn't seem right. But now it's spring in the Northern Hemisphere and here it's autumn. I've just had surgery to remove what threatened to take away any baby-making possibilities for the future. It was scary, my middle hurts, and Brazil is going to make it all better. If anything can, that tushy shaking dream sounds like a safe bet, right?

On the north coast of Brazil, between Natal and Salvador, near Recife, there's a beach town famous for surfing where dolphins swim right up to you. I'd heard of Pipa before Toni told me that's where she and her Brazilian-Italian husband would be for the month of April. They spent this year riding a BMW motorcycle from New York City down to Antarctica and back up to Pipa. They've gone penguin.

"You should come, there's plenty of room," she said. So I am. I'm leaving and going to a town full of Italians on a white sand beach in Brazil. To look for monkeys and dolphins.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Of Cats and Women

You know you're starting to do alright on the job when you have no time to enjoy what a few months ago was big news. And what is now regular biz. March brought new freelance work, visits from old friends, and a trip to Brazil on the horizon.

Lately I've fallen into a few time traps. You know how there's the thing you have to get taken care of that eats up your week? My February consisted mostly of:
  1. immigration appointments
  2. hospital/ health insurance admin negotiation
  3. planning my sister's bachelorette party, minus me
  4. plane tickets and cat transport
Lucky I had friends in town to distract me from the bureacracy.

When I got back here from Italy, I pursued a job at the newspaper, the Buenos Aires Herald, where I used to work. I interviewed and was offered an editorial spot. But it'd require a more permanent resident status. I put up a good fight at immigration.

But it's time to go. The same feeling that led me to settle down here in Buenos Aires 3 years ago, is taking me back to NYC, to an apartment and job in Brooklyn. Can I get a, ye-uh!? I am not complaining. But leaving is a very strange idea at the moment. As they say here, I've become Argentinesado. San Telmo meanderings, friends, bands, boys and habits. I'm not a travel journalist, I'm a resident of San T. But only for 2 more months I guess.

This last month brought a visit from an old friend who lives in San Francisco and another from Zaheda from New York. There were waist-high floods from the storms that hit Peru, and there were blackouts, though no destruction like in Chile.

I started work on a project at the Center for Small to Medium-Sized Business in Argentina, la Fundacion Observatorio PyME, comparing similar small companies here, in California, and in Germany. I'm doing a polo article for Ralph Lauren magazine and some music and fashion entries for the upcoming Encyclopedia of Latin Music.

Kasha got some visits from neighbor cats with aggressive territory marking. We live in a maze of an apartment building with all sorts of cat hiding places. She walks the maze looking for adversaries.

Molly from SF made friends with a new local each night out in Buenos Aires. On one of our nights out, I made a new Argentine friend who plays guitar with me out in the square. And he is so easy on the eyes. Summer.

End of summer is always a nostalgic time. For Kasha and myself, it's time to get ready for a big change. Back to life in English, with less Argentine beef.