Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Trapped in Retiro

Well, I've been a little slow on blogging, mostly because I haven't been doing anything! Or not of interest to this blog anyway. I'm writing and reading a lot as usual....[book cover for my novel Faun which will come out in October]:
... but since I screwed up my leg, I've been unable to do much else...can't walk more than a few blocks and I'm going stir-crazy. Here's what went down:  frustrated by the expense and crowds at pools, I decided to take up running as I'm living right near the reserva, a large natural area created by landfill in the 1970s adjacent to downtown (not a great idea and I'm not sure why as the promenade that ran along where it now sits was beautiful)

I lasted about two weeks before I pulled a muscle royally and am now unable to even take long walks, which I rely on for my sanity. We call them "cuadrones," which is my pidgin Spanish for many blocks (cuadras). For those of you who know Spanish, this is a riff on the common use of adding '-on' for something very large....e.g. a pansa (belly) becomes a 'panson' when very large. Mi pierna es un disastrON

So I iced it, which got the inflammation down, and now I'm using heat and massage (thanks to Ezequiel who continues to be beyond saintly in all things). Yes, I will be 50 in two weeks and I'm feeling it. I have never, not once, been laid up like this for a muscle, and I've lived a fairly athletic life.

So I'm trying to embrace the downtown neighborhood, since I can't venture any further afield.

This is the best place downtown, a classic hole in the wall. Too bad I don't like meat. It's basically a walk-in parilla where local working guys stop in for a steak, a chorizo, a beer, etc. I sit across the street and drink coffee and watch them come and go.

One can look at buildings when one can't do much else, and Buenos Aires is a city of interesting buildings for sure.

And I'm proud to announce my first Argentine reader/fan. Jimena ordered my novel Through It Came Bright Colors via kindle and we had a nice coffee and chat. She loves to read in English...good thing because my book has't been translated into Spanish (though I did run across a story of mine in an anthology in Buenos Aires' gay bookstore that was--unbeknownst to me--translated into Spanish. A nice surprise). Jimena is a nurse who really wants to live in San Francisco. After talking to her, I encouraged her as I think she'd really be a perfect fit for SF.

I also found the first really 'good' beer in Argentina as the Retiro neighborhood is full of bars--mostly expensive and upscale as it caters to an afterwork business crowd, including lots of foreign businessmen--Americans and Brits mostly. Anyway, a brewpub named Buller puts out a collection of great beers, including an India Pale Ale, of which there is no beer finer in my opinion. Below is their sampler, which is 6 mini-pints (they're like shot glasses): a stout, a couple lagers, a few ales.

The dark side of all this is that seeing all these business people just reminds me of how screwed up the world is, and again I must encourage you to read Galeano's "Las Veinas Abiertas de Latina America" (The Open Veins of Latin America). 

Foreign capital is the bane of all developing nations, contrary to what one might think (If I could impress you with nothing else, please never conflate macroenconomics with logic...macroeconomics is basically quantum physics which is how the IMF continues to get away with what it gets away with, and why the euro will die with Spain if Europe doesn't change its 'logical' rightwing course...remember Hitler...his whole spiel, as hideous as it was, was based on politically consumable logic. Yes, that means Paul Ryan.) Foreign capital basically benefits those who make the deals and the govt, which pimps its own country--I'm not being hyperbolic here--ending in nothing less than a rape of the host nation. All the profits leave which IS THE PROBLEM. But the numbers look good and everyone talks about growth while inflation and poverty soar stage left. Foreign aid, the IMF, all that, is basically the same as a 23% interest credit card and these nations go the same route as someone who falls behind on those credit cards. The problem is history really--these nations have to play catch up with already dominant economies, and it's like trying to arm wrestle with a teenager when you're 4, and they won't give you a handicap. I recommend the book because I don't want to launch into a screed on Neo-colonialism--or have I already?--which Galeano can more eloquently express than I can. Count yourself lucky you are in the US and do all you can to defeat the Republican juggernaut which WILL turn the US into a country like Argentina if it succeeds in eradicating middle class jobs, which it has been doing, successfully, for 30 years now.
In the meantime, in our current mileu, the only hedge anyone seems to have is science/math education.....which is why Asia is the only part of the developing world that stands a chance (yes, plenty of blame can be placed on Latin American govts/culture and their terrible education policy--about as bad as US schools) ... but there is some hope. Regardless of what you think of the current leftist regimes in South America, they are taking a much needed stand against business as usual....http://www.argentinaindependent.com/currentaffairs/newsfromlatinamerica/latin-america-people%E2%80%99s-summit-highlights-social-struggles/
But it will take more than this to compete with the US and Europe and I'm not sure the culture here will ever be able to do that. Argentina has just more or less nationalized their oil industry by taking 51% from a Spanish company...but no one believes they'll do a better job with it. One has to nationalize and kick butt to succeed economically. Interesting to note, Cuba was doing that but once the US blackballed it, it had to rely on the USSR and we know how that went. But it's the reason South Americans still idealize the Cuban revolution. 
OK, I was trying to gracefully segue here....education:  I like how the school kids here where 'guardas de polvo' (thats like dust guard or chalk guard). They all look like little doctors, walking the streets in their little coats. The younger kids have cuter ones, more colorful, etc. 

I'm heading to Montevideo for my birthday, even if I have to go on crutches...stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. milk in a bag! that's had us stumped for weeks.

    the ypf thing has been fascinating. absolutely fascinating and we watched a documentary of the 2001 financial collapse and its roots which, of course, led in part to the sale of ypf originally and menem's time in office.

    great post.

    crazy-ass city.