Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year

it is hotter than hell today. heat index 101 degrees. i'm trying to be stoic about having no air conditioning, i still don't believe in it, but i'm sad that I can't go to coney island or rockaway beach or jump in the river at pine point or dundee park or crescent beach or anything. this city really needs a beach.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bronx mansion

I love this story. I love the picture of this beautiful, creepy piece of history sitting in the middle of an ordinary neighborhood. It reminds me of some of the glorious, dilapidated houses I admired in Brooklyn when I lived in Bed-Stuy, and it reminds me of Buenos Aires too. You can't look at a place like this without wanting to know its story.

It makes me happy that someone has enough money to buy this place and enough sense to respect the house and its history.

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Mar de las Pampas

This weekend we had a few days off for the holiday so we took our first trip to the Atlantic coast south of BsAs. Although Buenos Aires is technically a port city, it doesn't have the kind of relationship with its water that most port cities do. It's not a city built around the water; I only catch a glimpse of the river every few weeks and I miss the water. I miss boats and tides and seashore! So I was looking forward to exploring the Atlantic coast relatively near the city. The biggest beach city is Mar del Plata, but we wanted less city, more nature, so we looked a little to the north of there, and went for a cabin in Mar de las Pampas, a few miles south of Villa Gessell. I would've loved to camp, but we weren't sure how to secure a camground reservation and don't have a tent yet.

The towns of Villa Gessell, Mar de las Pampas, Las Gaviotas and Mar Azul are all in a line along the sandy Atlantic beach. They were just sand dunes, still drifting, until enterprising developers bought the dunes and planted pine forests to stabilize them, with the idea of creating peaceful little towns in harmony with nature. Between the nineteen-thirties and the sixties they developed into picturesque little vacation towns and became famous hippie towns in the sixties and seventies.

Now Villa Gessell, the biggest, is a city of high-rise tower blocks looming over the beach, while Mar de las Pampas is a posh little vacation town with a kinda Hamptons feeling (complete with little wooden shopping malls and a Havana store, the Argentinian version of Starbucks). Mar de las Pampas is touted as a "slow village," with unpaved roads and 30km/hour speed limit to encourage walking, but we found an awful lot of cars and not a whole lot of walkers. There are also a lot of kids on four-wheelers zipping around the beach and town, which was noticeably un-peaceful. Las Gaviotas and Mar Azul are smaller and seem less overdone, a bit less posh and commercial, a bit more nature. Beyond Mar Azul is just sand dunes and forest.

The combination of wide beaches, pine forests, sand beach roads and posh cabins reminded me of Fire Island. Sitting by the water, looking towards the empty end of the beach, it looked amazingly like any beach in Maine.
Anyway, we had a nice weekend, both went swimming a bit (the water was a bit warmer than Maine! but there was a stiff breeze all the time), took long beach walks and cooked tasty dinners in our little cabin. We found some camp-grounds right next to the beach in Mar Azul, so I like to imagine that we might come back again with a tent, as I could have enjoyed the beach quite as well without the Kountry Kute cabin and the posh restaurants.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

aerobics and political philosophy

can't vouch for this, as I haven't tried it out yet, but it sounds good. This is at a really great gallery/bookstore near my house! click the picture to link to their website.

"La filosofía política en el gimnasio", por Diego Melero
¡clase grupal anaeróbica + rutinas aeróbicas con elongación + filosofía política: todo en una misma clase - mix de gimnasia y charlas filosóficas: autores a tratar: Platón (La República), Aristóteles (Moral a Nicómaco), Maquiavelo, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Montesquieu, Tocqueville y Marx!
¿No lo podés creer? ¡CREELO! (No es una broma)
todos los miércoles a las 18
$ 40.- el mes y $12 la clase!
Acuña de Figueroa 900 y Guardia Vieja, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"Political Philosophy at the Gym", by Diego Melero
¡group class + aerobic routines with stretching + political philosophy: all in the same class - a mix of exercise y philosophical discussion: authors covered: Plato (The Republic), Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics), Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Montesquieu, Tocqueville and Marx!
¿Can't believe it? BELIEVE! (This is not a joke)
every wednesday at 6 PM
$ 40 pesos a month or $12 pesos per class!
Acuña de Figueroa 900 y Guardia Vieja, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Handmade 2.0, New York Times Magazine

it's a (long) article about and "the new craft movement." it's always weird to see something familiar summarized for the masses and enlarged to New York Times proportions.
Here is the article.
"Meanwhile there is also the more salient matter of how to make a rewarding, meaningful and satisfying living without having to give up on those ideals. The women who have led the craft movement don’t want to work for the Man. But many are also motivated by having reached adulthood at a time when the Man is slashing benefits, reneging on pensions, laying people off and, if hiring, is looking for customer-service reps and baristas. This is not a utopian alt-youth framework; it’s a very real-world, alt-grown-up framework."

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Thursday, December 13, 2007


Tuesday found me with a paralyzing, stabbing pain in my gut and a 101° fever. After some deliberation (and really against my better instincts) I was persuaded to hobble two blocks to the emergency room (because it was 9 PM by that time) to see a doctor. I've been fortunate enough to have very little experience with hospitals and emergency rooms. This made it a bit scarier though, because my Spanish is not great at the best of times, and it's harder to understand people in an unfamiliar, noisy environment, through a mental fog of pain and fever. We waited a miserable hour and a half in the waiting room before I got to see a doctor, who said that I would need to have a lot of tests to see if I had appendicitis or some other horrible thing.
They didn't let Mike come in with me because it was crowded. I had to lie down in a room with five or six beds while doctors poked and prodded my tummy and asked me when and how much it hurt. Then I got an IV, which really freaked me out for some reason. I've never had an IV before. Then I stared at the dead bugs inside the light fixture for an hour or two. There was a computer in the corner playing "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (by Simply Red) on one-song repeat. At first I couldn't tell when it began or ended, and I wondered if my sense of time was so warped that I was imagining hours passing within the length of this one song.

Eventually I had to go for an x-ray, which was an exciting change of scenery. I walked over there with my little rolling IV stand, but for some reason when I saw the x-ray machine I felt dizzy and I had to sit right down on the floor. I don't know how to say "dizzy" or "light-headed" or "faint" in Spanish so I just told the nice man that I didn't feel well. He brought me a wheelchair to sit on and asked me some friendly questions which I couldn't really answer. I felt bad for wasting his time so I said "OK, I'm ready now" and stood up again, and he went off to take my x-ray. I knew I was going to faint again and I think I yelled something. Then I woke up on the floor, feeling like I'd had a long sleep with dreams. A bunch of men came in and asked me what happened, which I couldn't answer, and lifted me onto a gurney. After fainting I felt a little out of control and realized I was crying and shaking and couldn't stop and felt very lonely and stupid. I had to get my x-ray done lying down, and I couldn't stop shaking and worried the x-ray would come out blurry.
Then I went back to Simply Red room for a few more hours and stared at the ceiling again. Sometimes nurses asked me how I felt and I said "cold" but I couldn't remember the word for "blanket." Eventually I had more tests, and more waiting. Around 3 AM, Mike snuck in to see me, which made me feel a lot better. Things were quiet and the nurses let him stay with me. I felt lucid enough to take my own picture for posterity. A new nurse came in and switched the music to Guns & Roses. He asked if we minded and we said no, we chatted with him a bit about music. It's weird how I felt completely mute and helpless when it came to talking about my body and hospital things, but it was totally easy to talk about Guns & Roses.
I had to get pushed around the hospital in a wheelchair, which was another first. I learned the world for dizzy, mareada. At 9 AM, a nice English speaking doctor came in and told me that all of my tests were absolutely fine, and that sometimes you can get a pain in your gut and it's nothing serious, you just have to wait for it to go away, and that I could go home but that I needed to come right back if I felt worse, because I could still possibly have appendicitis. I didn't think that I could possibly feel any worse than I felt after a long, scary, lonely, cold night with no sleeping and no blankets.
Now I feel kind of better, and I am at home, and I am thinking about how lucky I am to have really great health insurance, and how much it sucks that in the USA there are people who can't speak English, and have no health insurance, and actually have something seriously wrong with them, and have to go through that same experience I had, and maybe the hospital doesn't have a doctor that really speaks Spanish, or whatever language they need to hear.
I spend a lot of time here thinking about the public debates on immigration going on in the US, and comparing my experience here, as a reverse immigrant, a privileged English speaker welcomed into a Spanish speaking country.

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went to see Phoenix on Sunday at La Trastienda Club in San Telmo. they were really fun. They sounded a bit more like The Strokes than I'd expected. The only thing that was disappointing was the seating arrangement. The club has little tables with chairs, and we'd (foolisly) paid a bit more to reserve ourselves a chair at a table right up front! Last time we went to a show at this club, everyone stayed in their seats, while the "standing" audience lurked around the back and sides, and it was nice to have a chair. But this show was a lot more energetic, and everyone just rushed to the front to jump around and stuff. It was funner that way, it wasn't the kind of show that people should stay in their seats for. But I felt a little silly for getting the seats. We didn't see Sofia Coppola in the audience but we thought she could've been there somewhere, because the lead singer Thomas Mars is her baby daddy, and also because her daddy Francis Ford Coppola is living in Buenos Aires these days.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I spent last week in Patagonia with Mike and his friends! it was really really amazing. I'm trying to do work right now so I will just make some notes and maybe come back later to fill in the details.
1. flew to Bariloche on Tuesday morning

2. rented a car and drove to Villa La Angostura and stayed in a little cabin in the woods.

3. wednesday morning took a ferry ride from Villa La Angostura to the end of the Quetrihué Peninsula.

4. visited the Bosque de los Arayénes, a very special forest which grows at the end of this peninsula.

5. hiked back up the peninsula, 12 km, back to Villa La Angostura. Mike and Mat and Jan jumped in a lake for an icy swim! We hiked through magical forests and met horses and cows in grassy clearings under the trees.

We got lost in the woods on a very steep mountain. We enjoyed breathtaking views from the top of the mountain.

We made it to the end of the trail, hot and tired and hungry.

6. Thursday we drove the Ruta de los Siete Lagos (that's the Route of Seven Lakes) which actually passes nine lakes and winds between the mountains

from Villa La Angostura to San Martin de los Andes. It turned out to be a rough dirt road, sometimes one lane; it was a little scary but an amazing day of picture-postcard views.

7. Friday morning we went back to Bariloche and met our cabalgata guide, Carol Jones, and four other gringos and saddled up for our two-day horseback expedition!

This was one of the most amazing experiences EVER.

Also it was one of the most painful, because apparently my butt is not made like other peoples' and I am too bony to ride a horse without excruciating pain. We rode mostly through fields, across creeks, up and down foothills, with the Andes all around us, and camped at around 1200 meters elevation. Carol served us steak from her own cows, cooked over the campfire, and it was delicious.

After the second day of riding, Carol drove us in her 1968 Land Rover over treacherous dry(ish) creek beds and dirt "roads" for at least an hour until we got back to the paved road to Bariloche. We collapsed into our hostel, took long, hot showers and slept a lot. Flew back to Buenos Aires first thing in the morning.

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