Friday, June 24, 2011


Will be leaving Cordoba tonight, and I will miss it. This is a really lovely city, just the right size with lots of trees, great people and dozens of cafes I've really enjoyed writing in: KGB, Brulatty, Creambury, Clasico, Panino, Il Gatto, Butterfly, Quixote...the list goes on.. this is my kind of town, I just circulate from one to the next and then do it all over again and write for about 2 hours in each.

My building this time excellent apartment, quiet and well located...2 blocks from the university, a lovely campus sort of like Stanford's...lots of trees and grass

Argentina's next football star may emerge from this very field!

more of the weird Germanic architecture that pops up now and again...I think it's more Swiss, from Swiss Germans and Italians, but it's just very noticeable and a little odd. This is a water tower and it sure don't look like what I'm used to in Iowa or Fresno.

A residential street near Cordoba's massive Sarmiento Park which the university bleeds into. This area is kind of like the panhandle in SF. Cordoba is a very liveable city and reminds me of California with all its trees and easy accessibility to nearby mountains and lakes--and excellent weather (it's been raining every day in BsAs, but we're bathed in sunshine here). Buenos Aires is certainly the big happening city, but I've talked to lots of people here who feel Cordoba is the more liveable city and I think I'd agree. There's everything you need here, it's much smaller and mellower, and it's right in the center of the country, so it's accessible to every other interesting place. It's definitely underrated---there are very few language schools here as many travelers skip it. I'm really glad I came back here, have been here 3 times now and I never get tired of it or bored. Have met wonderful people here as well who I'll miss a lot:

Viviana returning to Butterfly with the chicken steaks for the Lomito de Pollo. This woman has singled-handedly destroyed my vegetarian credentials with her incredible sandwiches. But never fear, once back in the states where the chicken and meat are inferior, I'll return to tofu!

Hector, Viviana's cousin who is working with her for a month on his school break. He's a budding filmmaker, and as a 20-yr-old has won awards and had things on TV and everything. A wunderkind, he dreams of going to LA, and the way he's going I think we'll see him there.

Fede's roommate, Alexis, from Tucuman---note that rasta tail running down his back!
And of course, one of my new best friends and just a great person on every level,  the inimitable Fede:

At the modeling agency where he works. (Note to Christian: how about that little girl's t-shirt, eh?)

Palo Borracho!! Of course, I won't be leaving these behind and look forward to seeing more of them on the boulevards of Buenos Aires

Cordoba's tallest building, Torre Angela...about 15 stories. No big highrises here, that seems to be for Asians, Americans and Arabs. Interesting that, huh? Certain cultures are trying to prove something? All the rabidly capitalist cultures showing off I guess. Tall buildings are so 20th century. Of course, the emphasis here is very euro and europeans have never been too big on highrises. Am noticing more and more the French influence...not ethnically, but culturally. The Argentines generally admire the French, and what with cafe life, perceived arrogance and the intellectual culture, you can see the similarities. Argentines are much friendlier in my opinion, but it's part of their identity complex I suppose. They don't seem to want to own up to their Italianness, I don't know. I guess the perception of Italian culture is not as good as the French version, though I'd disagree personally with that. It may be the disorganization/corruption/mafiosa syndrome that Italians are stereotyped for and which is a definite problem here.
I had a long conversation with a lady who was explaining what she sees as the moral deterioration of society. Juvenile deliquency is a big concern here and one reads about murders and robberies in the paper. It's interesting, they always refer to young men as 'jovenes' or youths and 'deliquencia' which is also a term referring to the young. In the states, we usually just call everyone a man or woman, without distinctions. Once you're 18, you're responsible for whatever you do. There is virtue in that certainly, but there's a humanness that's lost. Here, when I see news about violent youths, I'm reminded how out of control young men are, and that they are different than other adults, and that they are young now and hopefully will outgrow it. I appreciate the distinction. I think our insistence on ignoring a criminal's age sort of negates that very human reality that the young are different, that they need to be seen and approached as youths, as people in a certain reality. That doesn't excuse what they do, but it's just more real on some level to me.
She also talked about the govt and how she sees the Peronist left as just exacting revenge against the right. She's a leftist herself, but she believes in a rational approach to justice, not revenge. As she sees it, the excesses of the dictatorship (the right) have created a vengeful response that is just about stealing the spoils of the country for the current corrupt political leaders since the last crew did the same thing (this poor country has a long history of being exploited to the benefit of one class...a small one. Same as it ever was). What's hideous about the Peronists is that they constantly play the populist card, but the people just get poorer and poorer. She feels Menem ... the worst (he was also tortured by the right/military during distatorship) but that the Kirchners.. and are just an extension of the same thing. A case in point: Argentina is selling its beef, grain and soy to China now (in the past it sold it to US/Europe).  Forests were cleared in Salta province to make room for more soy fields. Well, the rains came, and the trees were gone, so erosion resulted, and then what followed was a huge flood that wiped out a town. The govt. rushed to the rescue, sending medicine and clothing. But they never arrived. The clothing ended up outside Buenos Aires being sold at a huge swap meet; the medicine ended up with the local politicians in Salta province who proceeded to sell it to Bolivia. The people received nothing. No investigation, no justice served. There's your peronist populism....she said there's often no medicine in hospitals and people in the villas (slums) are getting increasingly desperate...and the peronist 'leftist' govt. gets their votes. Sounds like the populists Repubs. we have back home (Palin, religious nuts like Perry and Bush, michelle bachman) who make the same claims to be 'of the people', shamelessly using emotion to rip off those people they apparently represent. Populism is a very dangerous thing and almost always misused (Hitler, Mussolini anyone?), so we should take note as it swells in our own screwed-up society. 
Speaking of demagoguery, I was recently alerted to the smear campaign a rightwing firm is trying to pull on my former employer, LAANE
Roxana Tynan outlines the situation well in this short podcast if you'd like to hear about it. Basically someone has hired a rightwing firm (they won't say who they're working for) to investigate LAANE by demanding public records from tons of hall, counties, community orgs, etc. That's fine, it's all public stuff and LAANE works clean, so there's no danger of any bad fallout. The prob is this firm won't say who hired them, but they've worked with Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman, Yes on 8. So basically it's a rightwing fishing expedition to try and discredit a very successful progressive organization. I guess it's a testament to LAANE's effectiveness (birds only pick at the best fruit, or should I say vultures?). The downside is that they will end up costing LAANE, a nonprofit, money because they'll likely plant articles and make accusations, that even if untrue, LAANE will have to respond to. Press campaigns are very expensive, especially in the US where no one bothers to find out the truth and an accusation is as good as a conviction. I feel sad for my country and a little disgusted at how immoral and unethical the right is...imagine demanding public records but refusing to admit who hired you. Cowardice? Yes. Underhanded, working behind the scenes and in secret with bad motives? Creepily like the dictatorships of South America I'm afraid. Basically the darker forces in the US used the same tactics in aiding dicatatorships here...see

On a lighter note, I took a lovely final walk through Sarmiento Park on my way to Brulatty to finish my final draft of my novel FAUN. It's done!

descending the stairway...Brulatty is in the building on right.

Looking back up  the stairs at a couple of handsome Argentines using it for a workout. It's more than their looks, it's the whole way they hold themselves and act that makes these people so attractive.

The other big contemporay art museum, which was once some rich dude's house...the Palacio Ferreyra... called Museo Evita but people don't seem to want to call it that...poor Evita, she basically tried to pry her way into the upper classes with a crowbar, but they just won't have her.
the vengeance goes on, back and forth...

Well, they don't love all their politicians, but they do love their bandera (flag)... Flag Day was Monday and it's a national holiday....

Well I'm off to the bus station......chau

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