Monthly Archives: November 2012

walking around Saturday Afternoon Buenos aires

Saturday. Went out at 16 pm, the streets empty, a great big carnivale of left wing popular movements congregate in tents at the Plaza de Mayo, men in red shirts sat at a table with microphones; the Revolucion cafe had the popular lunches as well as cocktails for tourists, wooden cut out Che Guevara heads, Disneyfication of the Latin American revolutions, I leave.(* *a philosophical whimsy-note that has nothing to do with the rest of this log-entry: Marx is a German Hegelian mind, I feel, who should have had less place in the resistance movements of continents who were alien to Germanic religion.)

Avenues of park covered with the falling violet leaves, I climb a slope of grass to get away from a police patrol car on the sidewalk like a mechanical wind up turtle that lost its way, the police are brown and very mestizo looking because like most cops they are not from the city of Buenos Aires, the famous European immigrant enclave; people of the outer territories, called the “Interior” sneeringly by the cosmopolites do not fit this image of the Argentina of Europeans in the Southern Cone.

Cumbias play from the car radio, I climb up the slope, the trees ancient with roots like komodo tails, and then down, I recognize this hill: I was here at the age of 6 or 7, the first and only summer in Buenos Aires–I had left the summer on Aruba, where it was always hot and summer, to arrive in the winter in Buenos Aires in May and meet my grandparents who then had little black lizards of cancer growing and snoring inside their sick old bodies, my grandfather the saxophone player who no longer played his instrument of wizardry that had required alcohol to enter the clear and tranquil labryrinth timelessness in which he found his music, he no longer could touch the brass, it burned and scalded his fingers though it had once brought him around the world with pay, to Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and to Aruba, to Miami and Spain, away fingers of arthritic drinker. He sold it to a young man in an Argentinean rock band on the radio, not warning of the eggs of little cancer-dragon an Arubian spidermoth had laid there.

I sat now on the hill and meditated, to remember being a 6 year old here. (When I returned from Argentina, the kindergarten teacher at the Catholic school to which a Jewish child had no alternative was altercated, upset I had ran off–instead of trying to mumble magic versions of prayers in Papiamento which I had never learned at church on Sundays, their tongues pale with the dough of the eucharist they ate like blind fish. Though I didn’t celebrate Christmas I had missed some good puppet shows. I did not know to tell her that we did not have Channukah, except at my grandmothers on my mother’s side on Aruba, who gave gifts for Channukah and loved Norman Rockwell images of Santa Claus)
Two blonde girls, clearly American tourists who came to find the young Argentine men of black suits and polished black hair and roses in their front shirts, an extinct generation, they seemed disappointed, sulking in their walk in the middle class city center.

Violets, wayfarers, fell from the trees over the hillside and on the sidewalk, on the dead potbellied dog in the street that the taxis and the cop patrolcar swerved to avoid and on the lowered white backs of the girls.

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4 cab drivers, went out attempting to catch the elusive antelope “fun”, Buenos Aires last night

CAb drivers today

Cab driver 1 who stopped for me at Teatro Colon played Wagner on the stereo. This was a good omen, I concluded, Wagner will be here within ten days
at the Colon, tonight they were sold out. I remember the history of antisemitism in Argentina and my not having been ethnically or historically on the winning side.

Cab driver 2 took me to Palermo which was too touristic, he was not particularly interesting or worth mentioning. He said something about drugs, girls, tourists.

Cab driver 3 I asked him for nightclubs where they dance tango, he proudly affirmed he is a tango dancer, he is from the province of Quilmes, an older burly man with dancing shoes and
a resplendent ball of gray sleek hair, a comb hangs from his rear-view mirror. He knows an instructor instructor in Quilmes but it makes no sense to find instructors outside the major city.
I told him I just wanted to go to the boliche, the nightclubs. He asked me where I live, I live in Constitucion.
Ten cuidado en constitucion, be careful in this neighborhood where you live in Constitucion, alli te lo ponen, thieves, crackheads, Peruanos, Peruvians; transvestite brigands.
Where are you from? He asked;
Aruba I said. My father was Argentinean, my mother Russian.
Aruba! what do they speak there? A creole Portuguese, Spanish with immigrants, English tourists.
Es un paraiso! Its a paradise! he yelped. I laughed. It has nice beaches. Las chicas aca son mas lindas. The women here look better. Before the conversation gets too personal, it is always an option to switch to talking about women, comparing different nationalities of girls.
*(in Tunisia they said Moroccan are more beautiful, everywhere else in the Middle East they said Tunisia, Iranians
said Turkish women because beauty results from ethnic mixture, Azeris yelped about Persian woman with their fair skin and black hair, to be seen smoking their
elegant cigarettes on the campus garden outside the university of Baku, Zimbabweans swore by South African women as the most beatiful but also the wildest and least loyal;
on Aruba boys fought over whether it was the Venezuelan, the Colombian or Puerto Rican, my grandfather a Jew who fled the holocaust say the german
women were the most beautiful he ever saw, Russian and German boys said the Polish girls)

Cab driver 4 Gianberto, something like this, soy de origen Italiano, I am of Italian origins he said, I told him of my surname that had crawled from Naples.
he said to be careful, the neighborhood of tranvestites and robbers, drug dealers, Peruvians, mala cria, bad people about in Constitucion,
reveal no ostentation. A group of men stood by a car, one of them older, with the top of his head shaved bald while from his neck-nape extended a long thick pony cocktail braided and shining like black insect-wing. “Mala cria,” hissed Gianberto and spat out the window, the spit probably did not reach the mala cria impotent gangsters and remained on his beaten up car-door.
“Alli va unos travestis,” he pointed, some tall muscular men, black, walking with wigs, “Esta es una puta, this one is a whore,” an obese Dominicana
in her forties in tight shorts and lingerie.
“Una fea,” “An ugly one” I affirmed, without any compassion
“Vieja!” “Old!” he spat as she crossed in his headlights looking with big blue-glittery eyes of grief, brown eyes turned blue from eaten a galaxy of grief. “Ten cuidado, careful” he warned, maybe talking about HIV. I am not here for prostitutes. I have an apartment here, my grandparents had lived here when there was no danger except for the boys who assailed me and my grandmother chanting, they broke a piece of aloe from the pot and played sword with it, drew a Zorro-Z in aloe spine-juice on my little blue nylon rain coat, I hissed fighting back and kicking at them, not understanding or wanting to play the game as always, they scattered cackling, dispelled as I walked with my grandmother to buy oranges, this was during a summer I spent in Argentina with my grandparents before their deaths.

He asked me about Aruba, where does the island live from, I said tourism and only this, did not mention money laundering,
he asked me what I did in Aruba, I said I am a writer and “pintor” and that I had lived 5 years in Europe between Netherland and France, I didn’t mention a sojourn in
Tunisia, said I want to experience life here in Buenos Aires.
Que experiencia, eres muy joven. Sos muy joven! You get a lot of experience, you’re young! But he didn’t say ” sos un pibe” which counted for something.
He turned on the radio when I asked him if it was the old tangos. “te gusta, you love it?” An old recording. I paid and left, he called me Querido.
Ciao Querido! again, and waited in the car until I was inside.


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Interview: Jane Holland

LINK to Interview: Jane Holland.


 excerpt from interview  “Form-filling and
making sure your poetry
slam is ‘helping the community’ have taken
the place of long smoke-filled discussions in
pubs. That makes me sound ancient, and it’s
probably not that bad in reality. But it feels
like it sometimes. Poetry in the twenty-first
century has caught the politically correct bug,
and the ‘every individual can write a poem’
bug, and these pernicious viruses have done
absolutely nothing to improve it.”

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I am afraid of evil Romantic stereoptypes about the Artist, as well as post-Romantic stereotypes like those loosely derived from Hemingway, and about literature-writers and artists being businessmen and entrepeneurs, writing and image executives. I am afraid of the legendary pure laborers who know inspiration is a lie like the fairy and say this in interviews in magazines quoted on stone facebook.
But I am most scared of the stereoptype of misunderstood genius, isolated prophet who lives on misery and social starvation going mad and is only understood by the more evolved unborn audiences of the future
I do not write for the philosophers of the future.

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