This muchacho is legit. Not the gringo who thinks he's still in Korea, flashing a double Asian peace sign like its going out of style. No, the gringo is far less legit, as proven by the fact that he is a bona fide member of myspace: http://www.myspace.com/47273434
. And I am going to stop talking
about myself in the third person starting now. Tony is who I am talking about, the Porteno on the right. He is one fantastic throw back to the seventies, easily the coolest decade in human history, and without a shred of doubt my favorite. Notice the blown dry hair-do, which may or may not have required curlers, putting chumps like Tony Danza and the Bee-gees collectively to shame. He is also sporting a tightly cropped and dashing mustache, which compliments the open button shirt revealing sparse chest hair. This all leads up to my favorite attribute, which is the Santa Claus like
portrusion of abdominal fat which is accented well by the shirt. I think after the age of 40, guts are simply fashionable. Yeah they tend to take years off your life, and prevent you from seeing certain parts of your body, but you only live once, and I am saying that one life to live needs to be one of excess. I don't know what kind of shoes he was wearing, but I can assure you he has worn them to either walk a tight rope in a circus or shoot a rocket launcher at livestock.
I came to Tony because I wanted my hair cut. I sat in his chair, he put the zebra rug on me, and then took a long drag of his cigarette. He looked at me and asked what I wanted, exhaling the smoke into my
face. I uttered a few words of Spanish which were cut off when he uppercut the back of my head saying "entiendo." He broke out the shears, ate the butt of his Marlboro red cancer stick, and proceeded to give me the finest fo-hawk trim of my life. This guy was a real professional, truly the most skilled hair stylist I have ever encountered. I tried to make conversation with him, but not only was he a man of few words, he was in a deep trance of concentration. In the presence of such coolness, I grew awkward and anxious in the silence. I broke it with saying something like "I like scones with raspberry jelly...do you?" He paused for about 5 minutes, reached over to the table where he had an ice cold can of PBR, opened the refreshing beverage and proceeded to pound the contents in their entirety. Half of said contents ended up soiling his shirt around the midsection, but not a drop found its way into his gleaming mustache. When finished, he threw the can at his artificial caged parrot named Daryl...which he stood watching, waiting for some kind of response. I don't know how much time went by, but I will estimate another 5 minutes, and then he let out a bone chilling laugh exactly like the Predator did in the movie of the same name when impersonating the laugh of one of the platoon members. At that point I knew it was time to leave, so I got out of the chair, handed the man his rug back along with a fist full of pesos and made for the door. I shot one last look back over my shoulder to behold this mans excellence, gave him the double guns hand signal, to which he returned an obscene gesture. What a rascal. Tony, you now have a lifelong (73 days of his remaining) customer. Adios muchacho.
I feel the overwhelming need to update and disperse information, I just do not know where to start. Looming....the desire for a steady source of pesos is stronger, however I must remain patient and play my cards right on that one. So it was a basic and ordinary Wednesday night last week (as basic and ordinary as cooking spaghetti with my Spanish speaking roommate can be). After getting over the initial shock of hearing that I "sampled" carne de perro, Linda invited me to a weekly gathering of dancers in a formal club just a few cuadras
or blocks down the street. The reason for this informal gathering of hip shakers was a mutual interest to hone, practice and develop the provocative dance of passion and seduction, more commonly known as the Tango. After paying the 15 peso lesson charge, I found an enormous ball room waiting for me to disgrace the national dance, and a sizable crowd of middle age types there to take witness of my Tango sacrilege. As always, I was very much in violation of the dress code, but no one seemed to care. Amongst all
the collared shirts, slacks, shiny shoes, my overly tight baby GAP t-shirt and jeans stood out like a white person in a BET studio audience. I also had my "vans on, but they looked like sneakers," -The Pack. Even with said wardrobe abomination I still had to fight the chicas off with a stick....not really. I basically had to battle this 60 year old Argentine over the one Japanese instructor due to the odd numbered amount of people in the beginners circle, and that bastard was both crafty and charming. After purchasing a little $2 cognac, I loosened up, shared the lovely instructor, and actually learned a good portion of the dance. To my instructor I am sure I still felt like the Tin man to dance with, but everybodys got to start somewhere.
The asado: An Argentine tradition, rich in every families history and a national custom. It is a barbecue to the eyes of a North American, but here it is much more. Coals are setup and lit at the base of the parilla, pronounced pareesha, which is the name of the actual grill. I think George Foreman stole his million dollar fat canceling cooking device from Argentina, as it incorporates the same angled grill that collects the fat as it runs off. Once the coals are glowing with a likeness to molten rock, they are broken up and spread across the entire base of the pareesha, becoming a 1" thick layer of completely uniform heat. This ensures all of the meat is cooked at the same, slow, salivating rate. Oh, and the meat of Argentina? Its the stuff of legends.
Apparently they have the happiest cows down here in the world, due to wide open expanses of grass lands where they live their lives completely free to do whatever they want or go where ever one of their 6 stomachs wants to take them. All up until its time to have an asado of course. This cow happiness is believed, however barbarically, to make their meat taste better. With Hernan the grillmaster (friend of Spanish Linda), another Argentine friend whose name escapes me, my
two Polish roommates Tonya and Alex, and myself, we sat down not just to an amazing feast, but to partake in the Argentine culture together, while sharing bits and pieces of our own. At a table that featured conversations in Spanish, Polish, and English, I am pretty sure I consumed a good 2 kg of meat, almost 5 lbs. On a Sunday night, we ate, talked and drank our ways into Monday morning, and it was good. Needless to say, I paid my compliments to the chef many times over. Here it is not uncommon to stay up or stay out well into the morning (light) for adults and youngins alike.
Bussing: I always come away with stories from riding public transportation. I found my first bus ride coming out of the airport, having been in Argentina for 15 minutes. I refused to take the overpriced taxis and shuttles, and after looking around and consulting a few locals, I located
the one bus stop about a 100 yards off. The 80F sun was already draining me as I stood under its beating glare, sweat soaking into my tourista clothing. The bus came, I boarded with about 15 others, all my luggage in hand, and in a flustered delivery of mangled Spanish, I explained that I only had big bills, and not the 80 centavos in change required...in frustration or pity, he just waved me on for free. The 2 hour ride into the city is one that I still vividly remember, being able to see Portenos
(people living in Buenos Aires) for the first time.
Literally just last night, after spending time with some friends in Plaza Serrano, I ended up catching a bus home at 6am. Heading home in the company of people on their morning commutes...interesting, I dont know if I feel guilty or proud. After riding for roughly 5 minutes or so, the smooth gyrations and gentle bumps lulled me to sleep for the rest of my ride. Fairly dangerous and potentially shitty, I had no control. Not as bad as falling asleep on a train in Korea, where you could literally wake up on the other side of the country, but a nuisance non the less. I dont know how, but after missing my stop after just a few blocks, I woke up, jumped up, pressed the button that would signal my stop, and got off. I have been lucky thus far in my Argentine adventure, and to make this thing a success, I will need some more before it is over. Ciao amigos, hasta pronto.
Welcome to the Jungle
Reasons why my life is hilarious/in shambles right now:
#1. I awoke to a wonderfully sunny morning with an empty bag of cookies in my bed, and crumbs from those cookies adorning my shirt and sheets. Awesome. A bag of cookies (with names like “chocolinas, and panchitas” on the packaging is at least a little safer and healthier than awaking to
some other things in your bed. I don't need to
name anything, but I enjoy lists....a lot so here it goes: head of a thoroughbred stallion, a business woman (or man for that sake), a rabid raccoon, or Oprah are just a few things. Viva America.
#2. Went to check a room in beautiful San Telmo yesterday, and briefly had my fortune read. I met Paula, a nice woman of a slightly mischievous persuasion as I stepped out of the elevator on the fourth floor. She proceeded to show me the space which was nice but not a suit for me. After showing the space, she invited me to sit and chat in mixed Spanish and English. We chatted about the normal stuff, yet our conversation took a turn towards more titillating topics when she asked me when my birthday was:
me: “uhhh, December.....porque?”
Paula: starting to giggle.... “because I am witch”
me: “Una bruja? What the hell are you talking about?” through exasperated laughter.
Puala: “no, no, I read fortunes”
me: “Ahh, okay....read my palm then.”
I showed her my left palm, and after a few seconds of searching, she let out a blood curdling shriek and tore out of the room waving her arms frantically in the air. Just kidding. I asked her if there was big money and pretty ladies in my future and she didn't know. Some kind of fortune teller. However, it was the most entertaining house visits I have made though. Pure craziness.
#3. My heart skips a beat every time I hear a noise outside my current apartment for fear that the Argentine owners will barge in and find me, little Joey the American kicking it in their property rent free, getting my krunk on to some Young Jock or David Bowie, in various degrees of clothing liberation. My roommate is out doing the travel thing for the weekend and has left me alone in charge of the place. Can you imagine the scene of the non-English speaking owners coming in to see me with my lack of clothing, eating cereal/yogurt, watching some Spanish subtitled jeopardy?
#4. While I am making light of situation #3, it is serious. My most hospitable and downright trendy roommate went out on a limb to take me in for a bit, but I was well aware of the need to locate my own housing. This is what I did as of yesterday, 300 emails and 5 house checks later. I am actually set to move in like 3 hours. I am paying a little more than I wanted to, but the room is big, and has a picturesque terrace graced by shadows and sun beams through the lofty branches of an old elm tree. The interesting thing to note is that I will be sharing the rest of the house with Linda, the charming and sweet non
English speaking owner of the house who is late 30ish in age. Readers of these pages, please give me some movie ideas that would involve myself interacting with Spanish Linda. I am thinking footage of me cooking with her, or playing tennis with her, or doing pilates with her would be completely priceless and worth a thousand laughs. I truly hope those dreams come to fruition. This honestly has the feel of a reality tv show, and as you can see, I still have way too much free time. Dopalicious.
This transmission must end, I must pack my shit up, and Spanish Linda must accept the fact that her life is about to be turned upside down.