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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