Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Super Panchos!

There's a thunderstorm going on with big rods of lightening - serious business. It's still a perfect temperature - it never seems to deviate from 70 something here. It's been raining for most of four days. I've been sick for three. Course, I went out to stuff anyway.

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Some days are lucky and some days are a bit of a loss. People here are so averse to the US I keep considering saying I'm French, just to see how they like that. My accent is American mixed with Italy - today I got interrogated as to where I'm from by the dude at the hardware store, the butcher, the ice cream man, a bar keep, and this Israeli punk-ass in my Spanish class. Guess what? Not one was a fan of Uncle Bush.

Today was my second day of intensive Spanish. I opted for a group lesson rather than private classes that are also popular here thanks to the weak peso. I like classroom learning. Unfortunately for me, there was this Israeli male in my group. He didn't seem to realize it wasn't a private class. I switched classes for tomorrow - two days of bad Spanish, interruptions and raised voice in my earhole were bastante. We got a variety of teachers - all charming except for one awkward woman. Our homework was to write about a controversial person in the past tense. I wrote about Anna Nicole Smith. She seemed to hold me personally responsible for the fact that she didn't get the reference when everyone else knew who Anna Nicole was. She picked at me for the next hour and a half - a good reminder for me of how bad a bad teacher can be. I'll remember to be good when I'm back at work. I hope the morning class is better at that school.

My apartment is the product of some real luck - my roommate is too. The apartment is a duplex set back from the street in the best part of this city. It's a block from a small square with markets all weekend and bars and cafes open all night. There's great people watching from the sidewalk seating and street musicians, shops, and restaurants. Deisel is on one corner and a great restaurant is on the other. The menu changes daily and the dollar is worth three times its value. This is Palermo Soho - a Lower East Side/Soho/West Hollywood blend.

The apartment has high adobe ceilings and early 1900's window-doors. I'm in the enclosed loft over the kitchen that looks out on the living room through two hollow, adobe windows. The architecture here is mostly French - Paris with a hint of Latinamerica. There's a corridor that leads from the street back to a garden off our living room. The front gate stays locked and our place is often open to the outside garden with sun and breeze. Two boys live upstairs - one from Chicago the other Canadian - both dual citizens. Marcela is my roommate - she's from here, my age, works in a restaurant and studies eastern healing. She practices Reflexology and is buying a house on the beach in Uruguay for next to nothing. She's beautiful and "tranquila" and tolerates my poor excuse for local Spanish. She loves NYC.

There's a gorgeous big white dog - Japanese something - named Lobo (Spanish for wolf). He's so nice I can't believe him - no drool, no barking or jumping, just greets everyone at the door wagging his tail and is a gentle guy who hangs out at my feet. Lichi is a nutty kitten who rebounds off the garden corridor walls and leaps from the roof to the next. There's a shiny guitar here that the last tenant left. I started lessons with Gustavo who I met on Craigslist. This apt was there too - Craig is everything.

The rain is welcome - like in NYC it cleans this dirty city. Here there are families who sort through trash in the afternoons - moms in dirty tshirts throw the recyclables on the ground and point to the kids to bag it all up. There are poor girls of 9 or 10 who work on the streets selling sundries at the outdoor seating at restaurants. There's horribly suffocating deisel fumes on the major avenues. Poverty exists outside of the bubble of Palermo and the wealthier neighborhoods with doorman buildings. And there are landmines of dog poo to navigate everywhere. Salad dressing is oil and vinagar and salt. With the greatest steaks ever at $2 a slab, they can't seem to figure out salad dressing or any sauce for that matter. It is macho territory where the potential to step in poo doesn't seem to be a nuisance and plain meat, no side dishes does them just fine. And though it often looks and feels European, Argentina is third world for much of its population.

I'm often lost here. For someone who loves maps and exploring new spots, I'm frustrated by the fact that the city maps all point different directions. I mean they are laid out in a variety of ways wherein southeast is north and northwest is south or east is up and north sideways. This creative approach to mapping the urban center has me turned around all the time. I've kind of given up and just keep my retarded map with me all the time and bust it out to find out where I am.

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Friday I went out to eat steak with a group of locals - friends of an Argentine girl I met at Palermo House. They were so much fun I actually seemed to speak Spanish well and kept up with the conversation and jokes. Later one girl asked me if I like Depeche Mode. I said I didn't the first time, but now I like them all right. I explained that I'm older and she had some trouble contemplating thirty three as my age. I remembered that at twenty, it's all good times. Big up to the youth.

Saturday was a show I'd been waiting for - Los Peyotes (www.myspace.com/peyotes). They were playing somewhere called Salon Dorado. I went with Ciara(24) from LA - a cool friend I met while apt hunting.
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Daniel was the taxi driver who picked us up at Plaza Serrano. He warned us about going to places full of young guys. I told him he was pretty much wasting his breath and translated for Ciara. He said that here in Argentina there are plenty of available older guys - that everyone is divorced by their thirties. He noted that he himself has had three wives at fifty. He gave us the names of places to go with a thirty-something crowd and didn't seem to approve of the folks in front of Salon Dorrado. "Hippies!" he exclaimed. "Nah! These are good for one night only, nothing more." He was right that the 18-21 age range wasn't ideal for a long term intro. But I was sick anyway, I told him, and not on the prowl tonight. He told us to beware of the hippies and twenty-somethings with tiny brains and he drove away. I love these cabbies.

The show opened with a band doing eighties covers. There were two of the cutest girls ever up front, singing and strutting with matching outfits and great bodies and style. They made me forget that I'd heard Nancy Sinatra and The Stray Cats way too much already. The lighting was dope - so was the Pat Benetar-esque female drummer. The room was impressive - it was an old government hall. The space had gigantic ceilings, chandeliers, and ornate wall hangings describing signings of treaties. It was a faded palace and made for the perfect backdrop for an underground rock show.

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Los Peyotes were fascinating and explosive. I had a fever and I was so glad I was there anyway. Six sloppy- bodied dudes in red turtlenecks and pants with fur vests and fake sabertooth necklaces rocked and screamed. They had Ringo hair and they had massive energy. Plus their songs were good and made you have to bounce around. I sat in a chair and took it in. Somehow they reminded me of what hot dogs here are called. Super Panchos!!!

This video was on the tv in the subway station when I went to school downtown today. The dated trains have industrial fans and open windows in the tunnels. I keep expecting a piece of old pipe or a junkie or something to fly through an open window.

Tomorrow night is fixed price sushi in a rented storefront. An American girl I know went last week and is now dating the Argentine sushi chef. Maybe he has a friend. Or an uncle? She's twenty too.

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