August 31, 2006

crawlin' to the USA

A few lingering thoughts about Argentina, from which I returned a few days ago:

(1) The toothpaste sure is weird. The most promising variety I found at a corner store in Rosario was Red Berry flavor- some kind of cherry/strawberry/raspberry concoction. But my high hopes were quickly dashed. In addition to tasting horrible, its deep red hue left me wondering whether my gums have been bleeding more, less, or just as much.

(2) The music in Argentina was surprisingly tolerable. Predictably, radio was dominated by indistinguisable Spanish gibberish (great drinking game: drink every time someone says "corazón"). But the bars played a comforting mix of old and new American pop, by which I mean Nirvana and Gnarls Barkley, pretty much all the time. And TV, for whatever reason, demonstrated an admirable respect for semi-obscure rock. Certain channels would play music videos in between their regular broadcasts, and I caught songs by Belle and Sebastian ("Step Into My Office, Baby") and The Flaming Lips ("The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"). Another Lips song ("It Overtakes Me/...") featured prominently in a commercial for stain remover.

That said, I suppose it's possible these songs were only selected because they appeal to young, wannabe hipster Gringos, for whom traveling entails sitting around watching TV as much as it does visiting museums, monuments, and mountain ranges. Dammit.

3) Now that I'm back, you can look forward to fewer tedious travelogues and more old-fashioned self-deprecation. I suck!

August 25, 2006


It was very hot for this time of year. After lunch I went down to the lake, in the valley south of town. But the lake was too cold for a swim and the sun too hot for a nap, so I walked back to the hotel.

I asked the man at the desk for some beer, and took it out back to sit in the shade by the pool. A grey cat pushed against my leg as I filled my glass. I scratched my beard and read some of the paperback I had with me.

At length the beer was warm and the light too soft to read. I put my book down and looked out to the west. The brown hills shone orange under the falling red sun.

August 22, 2006

why is it so cold in here?

Ok, so a few days ago I described how I had written a drunken version of the pool-playing story, but I was unable to view the draft at an internet café because it was too obscene, so I had to rewrite the whole thing the next day. I finally managed to find a café that lets me view my own damn blog, and I just read, for the first time, the draft that I saved that night. I hope we agree that this version is much better:
When you´re in a foreign country and you´re me, the appeal of returning before closing time to your dingy, waterless hostel and paying $1.50 for a liter-sized nightcap is far more powerful than that of sticking around an actual bar and trying to interact with actual Argentinians. Fuck if you know why this is the case.

Anyway at least your hostel has cheap beer and free pool. But then when you suggest a game of pool with your buddy before casually slipping into the bathroom in hopes that he´ll break the goddamn game before you return, not only has he not broken the goddamn game but he says, as you return, that it´s your turn to break the goddamn game.

So, fuck it all, the only three people watching are the bartender and some eastern european couple who strike you as far too old to be patronizing a youth hostel, so you go ahead and break, even though you´re famously unable to move more than 4 of the fucking balls when you break. But so this time, I guess there was too much Malbec at dinner because you actually whiff the goddamned rack entirely, and then when your opponent charitably tells you to have another go at it, you only manage to hit the fucking cue ball hard enough to manipulate the usual 4 god damned shit fucking fucking fucking fucking balls and nothing else. Then, as your partner chalks his cue and you look at the ground in quiet shame, only then do you notice that your fly has been undone the whole time.

Buenos Aires, it strikes you, is only as sexy as you make it.

August 20, 2006


Everyone knows foreign translations of American movie titles are hilarious. Here are two recent discoveries:

(1) The Naked Gun, as I serendipitously learned this afternoon, translates to ¿Y Dónde Está La Policía?

(2) And best of all, Brokeback Mountain translates ominously to El Secreto En La Montaña. Secreto, of course, means secret. But it also bears a sublime resemblance to the verb secretar, meaning to secrete.

August 18, 2006


Ha, the Argentine Net Nanny just blocked me from reading Pitchfork´s review of the new Andrew W.K. single. I´m taking this to mean he´s still delivering the goods.


(1) Seth Stevenson at Slate has belatedly weighed in on the Hummer commercial I complained about a few weeks ago. Most interesting is the info near the end, about re-editing the ad to replace the old tagline ¨Restore your manhood¨with the current ¨Restore the balance¨. To all you Hummer fans who have loyally stood behind my boycott, I suppose it´s okay to go buy one now.

(2) Thanks to a certain Quilt Enthusiast for notifying me of the Slate piece.

(3) Internet cafes in Argentina enforce a pretty strict anti-obscenity policy on their computers. The night that I played pool with my fly undone, I stumbled into a café and wrote a much longer and drunker version of the event, but decided against posting it until I could read it in the harsh, sober light of morning. The next day, I went back to the computer to read the entry, which Blogger had allowed me to save as a draft. Unfortunately, my initial version of the story was so profane that Net Nanny wouldn´t let me view the page.

I´ve moved from Buenos Aires to Rosario now, and the restrictions are even greater. In this smaller city (birthplace of Che Guevara), I´m no longer allowed to view my blog at all. Upon entering the address, I am met with the following message: ¨The webpage you are visiting maybe contain Adult contents. This page will be closed.¨

So this is what it feels like to be a smut peddler. At any rate, if there are any typos or bad links or anything, I probably won´t be able to fix them for a while. Blame the Catholic Church, if you must.

August 17, 2006

dispatches from argentina

(1) Argentina is famous for its beef. The Pampas region of central AR is vast enough for hordes of cattle to roam freely and eat natural grass. The result is meat that is healthier, more tender, and insanely delicious.

Weird, then, that the country known for its world-class beef is so nonchalant about preparing it. Order a steak in a restaurant, and the waiter won´t ask you how you want it cooked. If you fail to ask for rare (jugoso), the default temperature is medium-well. When you eat at a buffet (tenedor libre) and thus have no control over how your food is cooked, you find yourself sawing through tough, brown pieces of the finest beef you´ll ever throw down the hatch.

Strikes me as ###### up, is all.

(2) Surprisingly, the most embarrassing thing to happen to me- so far- did not involve a word of my astonishingly stilted Spanish. Upon returning one night to our Buenos Aires hostel, Sam and I decided to roll up to the rooftop bar and play a game of pool before going to bed. As Sam ordered beer, I racked the balls, then saundered to the bathroom in hopes that Sam would break. Being a noodle-armed choirboy, I´m famously unable to break a ####### rack so that more than 4 goddamned balls actually go anywhere. Anyway, Sam was still lingering at the bar when I returned, and he told me to break while he waited for his change.

I surveyed the scene: there were only two people at the bar, an Eastern European couple old enough for their appearance at a youth hostel to arouse suspicion, if not outright contempt, in some of their fellow boarders. So #### these guys if they laugh at me. I casually place the cue ball on the table, bend over, and prepare for the worst.

Which happens. In a misguided effort to get more power behind my shot, I straighten my back as I shoot, which pulls the cue up just enough to scrape the top of the ball, sending it a total of perhaps 3 feet, in a trajectory safely to the right of the triangle of balls waiting patiently across the table.

Sam, charitably, suggests that I try again. Focusing with all my might, I manage to fire the cue ball straight into the rack, successfully spraying the usual 4 balls weakly around the table, leaving the other 11 as stationary as a no-legged dog.

Nursing my last milliliter of dignity (there are no ounces in Argentina), I casually look down to grab my beer. Upon doing so, I notice that my fly has been wide open throughout the entire sad episode.

August 13, 2006

Seriously, guys

Who wants to pick me up at Dulles International Airport on Friday, August 25 at 6:45 am?
Not me
Free polls from

August 12, 2006


The sweater is from a small town in Argentina, at the base of the Andes mountains. I bought it for you a few weeks ago, on my birthday. That I bought you something on my own birthday when I consistently forget your own- I hope you don´t find this fact too perturbing.

I chose the sweater for its authenticity- made by artisans, from local wool. It´s warm, I know, because I had to wear it a few times in the mountains. I hope being worn by a pallid american lawyer doesn´t smear its authenticity in your eyes. Ideally, I´d have negotiated for the sweater from a roadside stand, but, in truth, it was in a regular store on a street corner, with dressing rooms, pushy saleswomen, and a "se acepta visa" sign on the door.

I remember that time in college, when you said in front of all those people that you didn´t much like The Beatles. I was shocked that you´d say something like that, in front of all your friends. But later I came to appreciate that about you; your comfort with your opinions, in your skin. Please tell me you´re sleeping well.

I read the book you gave me, and would like to talk to you about it. Shades of Hemingway, really? I enjoyed the book, but failed to see any similarities...

At last, however, one request: please don´t let Jeremy wear the sweater. I assume it won´t fit him, so perhaps this is a non-issue. Nevertheless, I´m wan to think of that rat bastard besmirching such an innocent thing.