Monday, January 26, 2009

year of the ox

We had to watch the inauguration from a Brazilian bar up the street, as the expat dive we had intended to go to was packed to street overflow, due to the Buffalo wings special and huge local TV crew that filled the bar to get the 'American reaction'. This was my favorite part:

And not just for the pleasure of seeing the back-end of a jackass and his last tax-payer-paid helicopter ride, but because of the over 35 degree (that’s like 100 degrees F) spread between our respective temperatures. It was almost worth missing America’s greatest moment in person for the pleasure of watching it in shorts.

On Thursday, Michael and I went down to La Boca to take pictures of brightly-colored shacks:

The next couple nights are a bit of a blur – I’ve been out dancing until 6AM, pretending not to have cancer. What’s funny is that people don’t seem to notice. They can’t even tell! Amazing.

Saturday was to be my night in (the weekends are for amateurs), but my neighbor invited me to a barbecue at his place to meet his girlfriend’s fantastic parents and brother:

I was grilled by the father about all things Czech for much of the evening, until we moved on to the topics of Basque nationalism, the Spanish monarchy, winemaking and New York in the early ‘70s (last time he was there). We laughed and bantered until 4AM. Coty (the lovely girlfriend – Constanza) said that they never stay up past 2, even on Christmas, so the evening was declared an unparalled success!

Yesterday we went from the overcrowded frying pan that is the San Telmo street fair straight into the fire of the ‘Ballio Chino’ for New Year’s:

All the restaurants, as well as the streets and sidewalks, were jam-packed, so we had pizza at a nonstop, but I did manage to find my ‘membranous milk vetch’ in a supermarket, so that’s a relief:

The year of the ox should have interesting implications in the Czech Republic, so please keep me posted. Ann comes to visit on Sunday. Can't wait.

Monday, January 19, 2009

¡che boludos!

The international rodeo championship opened with a spectacular display of ultra-nationalism (although the beer in the VIP lounge was thankfully imported):

typical of most domestic sporting events, but this time compounded with a disturbing and pointless tribute to the US border patrol (who are hiring!), which had all of the Latin American rodeo stars shaking in their cowboy boots:

I couldn’t believe my luck when I scored an exit row all to myself on the plane to Buenos Aires, until I realized that everyone else had three seats to themselves and my armrest was the only one bolted to the floor. I was also right next to a bathroom with a broken door. I did manage a little shuteye on the redeye in between flushings, slammings and the occasional butt in my face.

I arrived to a rather odd, even for here, financial crisis where a one-peso coin now has more value than a two-peso bill and candy is legal tender. Edible money, very Marie Antoinette, but it only goes one-way: not-so-strangely, you can’t pay the bus driver in bonbons.

I stayed with Keith and Michael my first night and we went to a milonga in the hood. On Wednesday, they helped me move into the adjacent apartment from where I'd lived two years ago and just three blocks away from their place:

We had an ad hoc housewarming party when my French neighbor, Julien, popped by as I was airing out the place from its former tenant. I finally got my mobile working after a one-day, one-way battle with the boldface liar of a not-so-interactive voice response system of the not-so-‘es simple’ non-folks over at mobile operator, Claro. My number here is: +54.911.6131.9074.

We went over to Sarah and Diego’s house for delicious full American breakfasts and anti-depressants at 10:30 PM on Thursday:

and then to the karaoke / cantobar at 'Loca Bohemia' that still hadn’t started by 2:30 in the AM. They don’t really get the concept here, which is a good thing, as you get a professional live band instead of the usual Muzak™ rip-off version and cheesy vacation video (no offence, Steve):

Yesterday we hit the San Telmo street fair and tomorrow, we’ll watch the inauguration with other expats at the local version of the Globe. Go Obi-Wan-Obama!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

getting outta dodge

After a lovely stay in my mother’s gatored community, Sherman picked me up at Newark ‘Liberty’ Airport and took me back to the Tims’ in Brooklyn. I successfully submitted my visa application to the Czech Consulate on New Year’s Eve and Jon and Annette came up from Baltimore for some shrimp cocktail and gherkins:

I met Patrick and George in Williamsburg for drinks, had dinner at Ru and Pamela’s in Harlem, then spent the last couple days in bad weather at an empty Yale with Tom and Pauline and am now back in Brooklyn, of all peoples and places. Tommy’s in town this weekend. We’re going to the rodeo tomorrow at the Garden – VIP suhweeet! It was all the Make-a-Wish™ people had left over from last year - well, that or a day with Barney™.

I can’t take the constant pressure from the imminent switch to digital TV and am going to Buenos Aires on Monday to watch Law and Order in peace. Maybe the land of steaks and sun isn’t the best holiday spot for someone in my condition, but I feel fine and figure I can probably save some money to boot. Ann’s coming down at the end of January. I’ll be back in Brooklyn on February 9th.

I’m sad to miss the inauguration in DC, but I think I’ve already got the gist and feel much the same way:

Today marks the anniversary of my diagnosis: one year since the morning Adlai took me for the MRI that changed my life. And although it’s been a pretty horrible year, I am eternally (however long that is) grateful, obliged and indebted to family, friends and strangers for the love and support I’ve received since this nightmare began. So thank you.