Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boris and Thor

Boris and Thor

Pablo y yo (redux)

neruda - odas elementales

How can you not love a book that contains the magnificent "Oda a las papas fritas"?

Ode to French fries

Maybe it's the stage of life at which I find myself, but the concrete imagery of the poems in this slim volume, odes to the cosas cotidianas de la vida, finds far more resonance with me than do the abstract profundities of e.g. "Veinte poemas del amor y una cancion desesperada".

There are odes to bread, to broken things, to wine, the onion, the tomato, to books, to copper, to the birds of Chile, roughly fifty odes in all. Despite, or perhaps because of, the concreteness of their imagery, these are poems that soar.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Decisions, decisions ....

Decisions, decisions

The white? Or the red?

May have to try a little of each, for the patio picnic with Paddy, who arrived from DC this morning.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Lugones family

My friend Paddy arrives tomorrow for a 10-day visit. Before I left we searched for a decent hotel not too far from my apartment and settled on Rooney's boutique hotel (warning: link leads to a page with slightly annoying music).

One of the hotel's claims to fame is that it is the former residence of 'well-known Argentine author Leopold Lugones'.

A cursory google search leads to the Wikipedia entry on Lugones, which makes it clear that he led a fairly tortured existence, culminating in his death by suicide after ingesting a draught of cyanide and whisky. (This took place at an entirely different hotel in another part of town).

A contributing factor may have been the realization that Leopold's only son, Polo Lugones, was a nasty piece of work indeed, whose main claim to fame was that, during his tenure as chief of police during the dictatorship of Uriburu in the 1930s, he introduced the electric cattle prod as a method of torture.

In an ironic twist of fate, one of the "beneficiaries" of Polo's innovation was his own daughter (i.e. Leopold's granddaughter) whose anarchist views caused her to run afoul of the military dictatorship during the 1970s, at whose hands she eventually perished.

A grim reminder, if any were needed, of Argentina's uniquely violent history.


In case anyone thinks I'm dry-blogging from 19th Street, here is a picture of B.A's most famous landmark:

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Apparently there are stores that specialize in artistic ferrets:

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Who knew?

El Profesor

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This is Ciro (aka 'Xerxes'). One of the best Spanish teachers I've ever had, and certainly among the most charming.

For a selection of shots of Ciro in action, see:

El profesor

Classes with Ciro are another reason I love Buenos Aires so much.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


This entry in the OBG series presumably speaks for itself:

OBG - buenos aires update

In fairness, I should say that Buenos Aires has much more to offer. We will return to our ongoing investigation in due course.

Lear Redux

Tonight I went to see a production of "Rey Lear" at one of the theatres on the Avenida Corrientes, the Buenos Aires equivalent of Broadway. It was an extraordinarily powerful performance (I'd say I understood about 90%, if only because of my previous familiarity with this particular play).

Interestingly, it caused me to revise my previous view of the play - its overall message actually seemed far more hopeful, not nearly as nihilistic as I had previously thought. I'd been arguing this point with a number of friends on goodreads over the past months, so I need to acknowledge for the record that I now believe that their view is a more correct interpretation of the play.

It still remains one of my all time favorite plays.

Griping about la gripe

Though the threat has yet to materialize, the topic of swine flu is never far from the headlines. There was a summit of American heads of state in Bariloche this past weekend, and the main headline that resulted had to do with the fact that one of the fearless leaders came down with the flu as a result. Though everyone should know better, the press here still insist on referring to it as 'la gripe porcina'.

At the school there is a proliferation of placards instructing us on how to wash our hands properly:

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With or without gel, it's clearly a much more complicated sequence of operations than one had previously realized.

I regret to report that I have already been told by at least two people who should know better that they intend to avoid contracting the flu by eliminating pork consumption.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

God, how I love Buenos Aires

You have no idea how much. Really.
It's such a joy to be here.


Obligatory virtual tour

I am staying in an apartment located at the intersection of Avenida Callao and Calle Lavalle. An address which, when pronounced in the local accent, involves enough shushing and sputtering to make a speaker of "pure" Castilian shudder.

The apartment is very elegant, and the location couldn't be more central. What passes for 'art' in the kitchen might raise a few eyebrows stateside, however:

non-PC kitchen art

Feel free to take the complete virtual tour by clicking


Ongoing tally of Borges pieces covered in class so far this visit: 1.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back on the pampas again!

Actually, that's not strictly true, as Buenos Aires is not exactly pampas country. But you will excuse a little poetic licence due to my exhilaration at being back in B.A.

Where the weather has been very weird thus far. But more of this anon.

Let's just say that I am overjoyed to be back, and that I probably learned more in today's classes than during my entire stay in Santiago.

For now, it's good night. I will keep you posted. I promise.