Monday, June 25, 2007

mauricio macri

Mauricio Macri
Buenos Aires just voted for a new governor and the winner is Mauricio Macri, who is currently president of the city's famous Boca football club and represents Buenos Aires in the Lower House of the Argentine Congress. Yesterday was a run-off election between Macri (who won with 60%) and Daniel Filmus, who currently serves as Secretary of Education, Science and Technology, and had the backing of President Kirchner. Voting here is mandatory for every citizen. Some have said that because of mandatory voting, lots of people go to the polls without knowing anything of the candidates, and just pick whatever name they've heard of, so this system tilts the results towards any celebrity such as Macri. I don't know a lot of facts about the candidates but I'm slowly gathering facts from reading newspaper articles in spanish, and meanwhile I've heard plenty of opinions and hearsay, which I will repeat here in lieu of substantiated facts. Everyone I've talked to says that Macri is a bad choice for a number of reasons. He's the son of a wealthy, powerful businessman, Franco Macri, and most of his business experience comes from working for his rich daddy's companies. His popularity and name recognition are generally attributed to his association with the popular Boca team, not his position as a public servant or any past interest in public welfare. During his current term of public service, he has allegedly missed 280 out of 320 voting sessions. So, vamos a ver. We will wait and see how this turns out, and meanwhile I will try to learn more facts!

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Friday, June 22, 2007


old tree
Originally uploaded by elizajanecurtis

this is awesome. it's at the Museo de Bellas Artes, in the pre-columbian room. I'm sorry I can't remember any more info about it.

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Juana Molina, Nuevos Aires

we went to see Juana Molina as part of the Nuevos Aires folk festival at La Trastienda in San Telmo. It was a crazy journey trying to get there (see taxistas post below) but it was fun and the mystery opening guest was awesome!! Later research revealed that (I think) he was TheFormado, an amazing one-man-band with laptops, accordion, trumpet, keyboard, and maybe some other stuff too.

Juana Molina also did a beautiful set but the video i took came out super awful. At the end she played "Salvese Quien Pueden" and it was very nice.


paro de taxistas

Originally uploaded by elizajanecurtis
we tried to take a taxi to the Juana Molina show on Friday night and ended up in a crazy huge traffic jam approaching Avenida 9 de Julio. After a half-hour sitting around listening to honking horns, we gave up and walked to the show. When we reached the Obelisco we saw that the cause of the kilombo was like 100 taxis parked in the middle of the intersection, spilling down 9 de Julio and Corrientes!
Protests and strikes are really common here. For instance, there have been two subway strikes recently, when all the subways are shut down and everyone has to take the bus or drive or walk. Other days, when the Subte employees want to send a message to the corporation, but they don't want to ruin everyone's day by stopping service, they will just open the turnstiles and everyone rides for free.
This particular strike (en castellano, huelga o paro) was related to a problem with gas supply. Most taxis here run on a type of natural gas (GNC), which is the same stuff used for heating homes. Buenos Aires has been suffering a record-breaking cold spell so GNC supplies are running low and eventually the government told the gas companies to stop selling GNC to gas stations and reserve it for heating homes and businesses. Other cars run on regular gasoline, but taxis use GNC, which is cheaper. One by one, all the GNC gas stations dried up and shut down and so the Taxistas couldn't work, and expressed their anger by parking all their taxis in the middle of the city's biggest intersection! I read that other taxis were parked blocking the entrances and exits to the highways as well. It's interesting to try and imagine this scenario in New York, I'm pretty sure it could never happen. In part, that's great because it was a huge pain in the ass, but in part it's sad because I feel that individual people in the USA just don't have the same sense of solidarity and the same willingness to group together and make visible statements in this way.

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Monday, June 18, 2007


this is my favorite ad here which is always on the TV and always playing on the TVs in the subway stations while you wait for the train. I am not sick of it yet because it's kind of awesome. The old guy loves to rock out because his arthritis doesn't hurt!

it's an ad for arthritis medicine and I am told the tagline translates "Anyone is a tough guy, when he has what it takes."

Monday, June 04, 2007

sauces of Buenos Aires

I thought i would be writing more in this blog about design and art and projects and creativity, but it turns out I am too obsessed with food. Hopefully I'll make more entries about visual things in the near future. Meanwhile, living in a foreign country has made me realize how much my life revolves around SAUCES.
There is a limited range of sauces available here. They do sell ketchup in grocery stores, but it is not reliably available in restaurants, even ones that serve hamburgers and french fries. At first, I was puzzled to see 4"x6" pocketbook-sized ketchup pouches for sale at the grocery store, but now I realize, due to the lack of ketchup in restaurants, this is for Americans and other ketchup addicts to carry around at all times in case of a french fry emergency.
Salad dressing is a bottle of vinegar or lemon juice and a bottle of olive oil and a salt-shaker. Everyone here can dress their own salads! It seems incredibly sophisticated and civilized, but I can never seem to get my oil/vinegar balance quite right and I do miss the wide variety of creamy options available back home. I saw a bottle of Newman's Own creamy ranch salad dressing at the Jumbo Almagro mega-supermarket, but it cost $18 pesos which is ridiculous because $18 could buy you at least 3 salads, complete with oil & vinegar, in a restaurant.
Salsa Golf is a gluey, bright-orange-pink creamy sauce, vaguely simlar to a mixture of ketchup plus mayonnaise, or more like a very thick Thousand Island dressing without the pickle chunks. People eat this on raw vegetables, sandwiches, fries, whatever. It's not a bad stand-in if you're really missing some ketchup, and it's got a nice tangy sweet flavor though the consistency is kind of thick and gluey. If I had to choose one sauce to be The Sauce of Buenos Aires (like the state bird or national anthem), it might be Salsa Golf. Wikipedia offers a plausible story about the origins of the sauce with Nobel Prize-winning chemist Luis Federico Leloir.
hot sauce is hard to find. Most restaurants will bring you something they call "salsa picante" if you ask for it, but it's not hot!! even at the mexican restaurant, the hot sauce was not hot at all. If you're willing to pay a high price, you can buy tabasco sauce from the import section of a big grocery store.
Chimichurri is a delicious mixture of chopped parsely, oregano, garlic, onions, peppers, oil and vinegar! It's primarily used for steaks and sandwiches or spreading on bread. It can range from soupy to thick, sweet to spicy.
Mayonnaise is everywhere! I noticed the same thing in Mexico, perhaps this common to all of Latin America? There is a huge mayonnaise section in the grocery store, they sell it in giant vats (or in big squishy foil pouches), and it is served quite generously in all kinds of circumstances. Last week I ordered an "Ensalada Gregory" which was a bowl with vegetables on one side and on the other side, a wide quivering lake of mayonnaise, at least 2 cups of it. I stirred it all together and added salt, but then it was just salty mayonnaise soup. I do like mayonnaise a lot, but not that much. Yuck.
Mustard nuff said.
Lemon Slices are served in many situations when I would expect some sort of sauce or dressing, for instance with a breaded chicken filet. It's good!
that's pretty much it. In bigger grocery stores, you can also buy Salsa Barbacoa, Salsa Ingles (that's worcestershire sauce, sort of), and Salsa Soja (soy sauce!). The sauces/spreads I miss the most are peanut butter, hummus, sweet pickle relish, real hot sauce, maple syrup, Annie's salad dressing in a bottle.

tango terror

On Thursday my friend Lili convinced me to go out to La Viruta for some tango dancing. Everyone here is obsessed with Tango! At La Viruta, for $8 pesos, they have group lessons for all levels from beginner to expert, and then after the lessons, an open milonga for everyone to dance. I don't dance very much, like back in New York I would usually wait until it's late at night and everyone is really drunk and nobody's watching, before I head onto the dance floor. The thing is that everyone loves dancing, and people always want you to dance and have fun, and everyone loves dance parties, and people feel sad if you don't join in and have fun dancing with them, and sometimes I do have lots of fun dancing if I can get over myself. I always thought about maybe taking dance lessons someday, like if I took some beginner lessons of some kind, it would help me feel less shy. So I said yes, I will go to La Viruta with Lili and take a tango lesson! But I was feeling super terrified for the entire week beforehand, and I was feeling even more terrified when I got there and joined the flock of beginner students. They taught us a few basic steps (in Spanish so I'm not exactly sure what they were saying), and then had us practice with different partners. I danced with four or five different men, and I stepped on all of their toes, and we crashed into other couples many times, and I spent the whole lesson struggling against strong urges to run and hide in the bathroom with a stiff capirinha. But I actually had fun for a few minutes, and I felt very proud of myself for doing something very scary to me. It made me think about how many things used to be really scary to me (like olives, amusement parks, riding in boats, talking to strangers, driving a car, asking someone out on a date, speaking a foreign language, etc), and most of them turned out to be really fun and awesome and made my life so much richer. This just makes me look forward to when I am an old lady and I will have tried everything under the sun and I will no longer be afraid of ANYTHING AT ALL!

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