05 April 2009

Some Differences between the EEUU and Argentina #6

102. You can buy school uniforms + mattresses at the local supermarket

103. At the last-minute section of most American supermarkets, there are a million types of candy, chips, soft drinks (hello national obesity epidemic!) + lots of other useless shit that probably belongs on TV, like stitching kits + magnets. In our local Coto, there are coolers and coolers of breath mints, soda + Quilmes (beer)

104. Sometimes, if you run early enough in the morning at Lagos de Palermo, you can see kids standing around their cars, barely even talking, as if they stop being cool if they're no longer touching the car. In America, kids sit on the hood, using the roof as a coaster for their drinks, blasting music from their souped up car stereos

105. Both Americans and Argentines are sensitive to cultural criticism, and yet they both dish it out to other countries at will. I find most Americans + Argentines that have lived outside of their own countries to be much more objective + honest than those that don't get out much

106. Malls in Buenos Aires are, for the most part, beautiful + surreal. In the States, they're generally depressing, sterile or overwhelming

107. Argentines don't know how to multi-task. If you're waiting in line to talk to a customer service representative, she will give each and every person individualized attention, which can take awhile. In the US, that same customer service representative would acknowledge you, tell you how long it was going to be, and then go back to the person she's helping. Americans are always doing more than one thing at once, which can be more effective of course, but also a lot more stressful, and a lot less meaningful socially + psychologically

108. The concept of right of way is absolutely clear in most cases in the US (yellow lights are a bit iffy). In Argentina, everything is debatable, which leads to chaos, and requires spontaneous intelligence. Ironically, however, I think there are a lot more car accidents in America

109. There is no such thing as false advertising either in Argentina. LB + I have sat down at a cafe, ordered our food at one price, and then we were charged a different price. And when I asked to see a menu, that menu had different prices in it. Only some of the menus had been updated

110. Inflation seems totally random here. One day, an owner wakes up and decides to increases prices 30%

111. Some of the fattest people I've seen in my entire life are from America, and then Argentina, in that order (I'm not talking about the pretty yogurt-for-lunch porteñas or starfucking LA girls, either)

112. It seems like any liquid can be substituted for a meal in Buenos Aires. I've seen people of every socio-economic background drink a cortado for breakfast, or lunch, or a snack (with a few symbolic cookies on the side). Ditto with yogurt, wine, mineral water, tea or licuado

113. I have some doubts about quality control in certain foods in Argentina. LB + I have found worms, bugs + moths in our polenta, squash, pasta + chimichurri spices. In America, I doubt the quality control is better, but fuck, it looks better. At least you don't see the rat feces (though that grosses me out more)

114. In Chicago, it cools down at night, even in the summer, which is a nice respite. On the other hand, I've never used my air-conditioning as much as I do here

115. There is an avoidance of blame in Argentina that pisses me off. For those of you that haven't read my earlier entries, when Aide, our cleaning lady (who I like very much, as I've pointed out numerous times) drops my electric razor, instead of telling me, or apologizing, or even acknowledging that it even happened, she will just place it next to the sink for me to discover days later, by which time, I have no idea what happened until I backtrack. The same thing happened with my DS Lite: nothing, she just put it back in place and acted as if nothing had happened. And just last week, I went into our bathroom after she'd cleaned, and the toiletpaper had clearly fallen in the toilet. And yet, there it was, all gross + wilted, now hanging from the dispenser as it was completely normal. There are countless other examples I won't elaborate: a girl getting raped inside the stairwell of a Recolate apartment in the middle of the afternoon (her neighbors, too afraid to do anything), women getting mugged in broad daylight in a colectivo while passengers do nothing. If Americans are obsessed with personal responsibility to the point where they always have to blame someone for something, then I'd argue that Argentines have the opposite problem. Both are too extreme for my taste, but each culture has its own cultural mythologies that affect the way that people accept personal culpability

116. You can tell which Argentines have received vaccinations because they have little scars on their arms. In America, you're always wondering which person is the quiet carrier of eradicated diseases like polio + leprosy

117. Chicagoans + Porteños actually have very similar diets: lots of meat, cheese, potatoes + cigarettes. On the other hand, in Chicago beer is the proletariat drink of choice. In Argentina, even Marxists drink good red wine. It's not considered elitist

117. Normal, middle-class Porteños drink bottled water, have maids, get their groceries delivered and their clothes washed. In America, only the upper class does that

118. Argentines have a thousand stereotypes about Americans. Americans, on the other hand, don't really have any stereotypes about Argentines. I'm not even sure they know where Buenos Aires is most of the time, moreover, have a developed point of view about them. Even the few Americans that do know anything about Argentines assume everyone here is beautiful, well-dressed, passionate, obsessed with tango + bife, and I find that stereotype to be mostly wrong. Well, except for the bife part

119. Argentines are much more loyal to their friends than Americans are, and they spend a lot more time hanging out with eachother. Many Americans don't see their best friends more than once a week, sometimes only a few times a month. Also, once an American starts getting serious with someone he's dating, s/he tends to disappear

120. I don't think Argentines believe there is a real difference between Chinese + Japanese culture. I've heard many Argentines basically say they're all the same. In America, Americans, at least in urban environments, are very aware of the differences between the two cultures, but few could actually tell you what those differences are, apart from Sweet'n'Sour Chicken v. Sushi

121. In America, there are too many sports: we've got professional football, soccer, baseball, hockey, bowling, archery, fingerskating, then we've got woman's soccer, basketball, field hockey, then amateur football, AA and AAA baseball, amateur basketball, track and field, gymnastics, volleyball, beach volleyball, arena football, arena soccer, badminton, diving, synchronized swimming, swimming, curling, tennis, fencing, handball, stickball, squash, raquetball, and that's not even including all of the college sports we have, thousands and thousands of colleges, each one with their own mascots, athletic conferences, and specialties. . . the list just goes on forever. In Argentina, the good thing (and for some people, the most monotonous part) is that you've got soccer + basketball. You know where to focus your energy. You better like soccer or basketball, or else you're fucked. . .

122. In America, I don't get stared at when I talk. I might get stared at for wearing a shirt that's too tight, or having expensive taste in jeans, or because I have lots of tattoos, or because I'm wearing shades that someone admires (I don't know why, but I get tons of compliments on them), but I never get stared at for opening my mouth. But alas, everytime I open my mouth here, I get started at, and it doesn't matter whether I'm speaking in English or Spanish

123. Even though Americans don't know shit about Argentina, the instant I say the words "Buenos Aires," they always start to croon. To them, it's a magical word, a paternoster, that opens up a whole new, exciting + sophisticated reality to them. When I tell Argentines that LB + I are from Chicago, they also get really excited, but I don't get the feeling they really know anything about it either, besides the Chicago Bulls, and possibly Obama. It makes me think: what are they getting excited about? Is it Al Capone?

124. I have yet to meet a single Argentine that wishes John McCain had won the presidential election, but I can think of ten American states off the top of my head where that would be true (e.g. Utah, Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Alaska, Louisiana, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Wyoming)

125. PhD programs don't mean the same thing to Argentines that they do to Americans. When you tell an American that you've been accepted to a PhD program, they're impressed because it's so hard to get accepted into a doctoral program and you have to be really qualified. There is a certain amount of prestige--and assumed intelligence--when you're a PhD candidate; even more so for graduates. When I told LB's uncle that I got into USC's doctoral program for literature + creative writing, he gave me the same look he would have if I'd told him I like Doritos. There was a total disconnect

126. Argentines completely embrace their sexuality while Americans box it into a corner, saving it for special ocassions (like the nightclub, the movie theater, the bedroom, that romantic night on the town)

127. At red lights, sometimes clowns (or little kids, half-dressed up as clowns) will juggle things in the air. In America, you get a Vietnam vet in a wheelchair without legs holding up a cardboard sign that says I'm hungry + God Bless You. Personally, I prefer the clowns

128. Getting letters in Argentina is a joke. For normal letters, LB + I get our mail from the old woman who stands in front of our door and makes comments to us about how we don't walk Zoe enough. Whenever she gets around to it, you know, at her own leisure, she'll give us a letter now and then. When you see how small--not to mention, shallow--the buzon (mailbox) is, it's a miracle there's not more mail fraud

129. Movies + shows on Argentine TV aren't as explicit as Spanish TV (they show porn at night), but it's still amazing how uncensored everything is. People swear openly; there's tons of nudity; shows that are censored in America, aren't censored here (like Rock of Love 2 and The Girls Next Door). There's even this weird show called "Nake Wild On" on the E! channel, full of tits and ass. The funny thing is, when the swearing is in another language, it's like it doesn't count

130. Argentines appreciate the value of a good conversation, regardless of class or education; in America, a good conversation depends on number of factors: class, education, personality type, and the willigness to put aside work (and often, family) for a few hours. This doesn't happen as often as it should in America, and part of it is the low value we place on words + communication. Argentines, being tanos + galiegos, latinos and South Americans, express everything, even to a fault. Americans keep too much inside. We are suspicious of rhetoric, and tend to distrust eloquence + lyricism as phony, bombastic, self-ingratiating; we see words often as the opposite of reality, and that is where we are completely wrong


Fernanda Ibañez said...

i'm a fan of this list of differences xD
1) did u find bugs in your polenta? thats so strange

2) i'm argentine! i got my little scar in my arm

3) asians are all the same for argentines even when they say "soy coreano" we always reply "esta bien chino, comes rata?"

4) "Even the few Americans that do know anything about Argentines assume everyone here is beautiful, well-dressed, passionate, obsessed with tango + bife, and I find that stereotype to be mostly wrong"

no, YOU are worng

we are the most beautiful people in the continent, maybe brazilians but they are not latin... they are another story
you can't compare mexicanos with us, thats for sure, we are prettier and we don't have annoying mariachis

we dress well, i know there are exceptions... but we dont wear the combo of shorts+sandals+socks that lot of american wear in florida street with that awful cowboy hat

(thats my stereotype of americans)

we are passionate, i guess i am... but in general when its the soccer mundial it's the passionate time ever

we don't listen tango all the time but we have a little melancolic guy in our heads that sings cambalache all the time

and bife its like God, no doubt....

well, i could go on but i think i wrote too much

no puedo creer que sea tan argentina jaja voy a parar con mi etnocentrismo xD


JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...


1. Yes, several times. It's kinda gross, to be honest. In America, it's just ground up more so you can't see anything lol . . .

2. See?

3. You guyz are terrible. That's pretty funny though.

4. Oh, shut up! And I'm not "worng," that sounds like a bad fungal disease! There are definitely some hot Porteñas, actually more than a few. I agree with you, but I was told that Argentina was a nation of gorgeous people, and this is bullshit. There is no such thing as a nation of beautiful people. Also, before we came here, I was a little worried that there were going a standing army of attractive Argentine guys, but you know what? I just don't see that many. I certainly don't see enough. No wonder personality matters more than male beauty, there's not enough of it to go around! Granted, I'm not looking, but I've got eyes, I'm a writer, I like to study people's faces. I have definitely seen attractive people in BsAs, but not more than anyplace else, certainly not more than New York or LA. Maybe St. Louis. . .

Also, Brazilian women ARE hot. I'm sorry, it's all that mixed blood which just makes beautiful women. And, they're as latino as Argentines are. I mean, come on! Italian blood runs thick through this country, just like Portuguese blood runs think through Brazil. It's either both or neither Fernanda!

And have you seen Venezolanas, Fernanda? Oh my god, some of the most beautiful women in the whole world are there. I don't know why, but it's true, and it's not socialism, I'm telling you. . .

So, get off your high horse! You're hot. So are some of your Argentines sisters. But you're not hotter than other countries. . . except maybe Chileans. Okay, if you're Chilean, don't be hurt by that. Maybe you're the exception to the rule. We're just talking generalizations here. . .

Also, Fernanda, that stereotype of Americans dressing like douche bags can be totally true. I'm not gonna lie. I've seen in it so many countries, that I'm not even gonna try and fight it. And everytime I see it, it depresses me. It really does. Obviously, it doesn't have to be--being a stereotype--but it totally can be true. And sometimes, it really is, so you're not going to get an argument from me for that. I agree with you, punk.

But then again, I promise you Fernanda, that I rock it when I wear it. That's all I'm gonna say.

I like your spunk though.

Still Life in South America said...

Ay--Fernanda sos tan mala!! jaja

I'm just going to sit here and wait for Chileno Anonimo to respond, all full of anger and bluster.

Devin said...

I love your blog Jackson!! I found number 127 especially interesting along with many others-I agree with 126 also -altho I wouldn't know-I just trust you! all the best to you and LB!!

Fernanda Ibañez said...

omg i got a comment from a jackass that read what i wrote here and now i know how it feels like when some anonimous talk crap about you and what they think you are... it's awful

i'm studyng journalism and that "gil" said that i was ignorant, and he can tell that i'm porteña for that...

well... you are really good replying that kind of people, i'm not and i get sad but i'll recover

snif snif


PD: I wanted to type "wrong" but my finger slipped and i wrote "worng"

you'll be a wonderful editor

Fernanda Ibañez said...

no se por que todos van al blog con mi nombre

vayan a escribir para no morir!! (se que suena medio emo) pero es el que mas actualizo jajaj

bueno, me estoy publicitando en tu muy concurrido blog xD

me cuelgo de tu fama jaja

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...

Sí, suena medio emo, pero de manera buena!

Puedes colgarte de mi fama tanto como quieras, pero no te suicídes por los boludos anónimos, un día, vas a escribir artículos sobre ellos que los fastídian. . . estoy seguro.


Smeltz said...

hola Jackson,

que tal? Wanted to stop by and alert you that I've not only used your words for a title of my latest blog post, but I quote and link you in it, too! Shit was just too funny, had to use it. You should swing by and take a look whenever you've a minute.

Also, damn South American women gettin' all the shine. They are beautiful, aren't they? It's silly for American broads to even try to compete. You tell LB I said so.


Alis said...

Jackson como me gustan las diferencias jjaja me encanta como escribis, siempre te leo.

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...


Muchas gracias + besos.


JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...


I'll tell her, and I'm about to check out your blog right now. Besos.