31 January 2009

National Museum of Bellas Artes :: Museo Nacional de las Bellas Artes

(en) Recoleta was infernal by the time we finally walked inside the museum, but I have to say, I thought the permanent collection was extremely solid. There was both premiere and B-Side art, both single and series paintings by Rothko, Manet, Kandinsky, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Diego Rivera, Van Gogh, Chirico, lots of cheurb aureoles + anorexic Christ figures in the Anything-but-Modern room. My favorite painting though was this absolutely terrible--not to mention, completely unflattering--portrait of Brigitte Bardot by Jean Dubuffet. She looked like a melting, angry, badly designed cartoon character that chases after school children and smothers them with her saggy, octagenarian tetas. Anyway, Buenos Aires was more humid than a Native American Sweat, but at least the art was confusing enough to keep me cool and perplexed, which is always better than hot and bothered.

(es) Para cuando que entrara en el Museo Nacionál de las Bellas Artes, Recoleta fue infernal, pero, tengo que reconocer que la colección permanente era muy sólida. Había tanto obras de primera clase como las de segunda por Rothko, Manet, Kandinsky, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Diego Rivera, Van Gogh, Chirico, un montón de las aureolas de querubín + figuras anoréxicas de Christo en la sala de Todo-Salvo-el-Arte-Moderno. Sin embargo, mi cuadro favorito era este absolutamente espantoso--no mencionar, poco favorecedor--retrato de Brigitte Bardot por Jean Dubuffet. Se parecía a una caricatura quemadora, enojada y mal diseñada que iba atrás de los colegiales y los asfixía de sus tetas fláccidas y octogenarias. En cualquier caso, Buenos Aires era más húmeda que una sauna de Nativo de América del Norte, pero por lo menos, el arte fue bastante confuso para mantenerme fresco y perplejo, lo que es siempre mejor que caliente y molesto, claro.

20 January 2009

The Power of Symbolism

LB + I watched the presidential inauguration today on CNN. And though Aretha made me shed tears of joy, as I watched President Obama swear in, I started thinking about one simple and novel truth that keeps on blowing me away: the most powerful man in the entire world (or at least one of them) is black. In my modest thirty-four years, there has never been one time in my entire life that I could ever utter those simple, euphonious and powerful words before: the most powerful man in the world is a Kenyan-American. Black slaves once helped build the Capitol + the White House, and now a open-minded, intelligent, eloquent + inspirational black man is the leader of the free world, the newly-coronated Chief of Staff, and now one of the world's greatest symbols of hope + change in this rapidly changing world. Whatever Obama does or doesn't do with his administration on a political level, the power of that basic and revolutionary symbol transcends race + history, effectively altering the face and the destiny of America in the best way possible.

14 January 2009

Because I'm a Smartass

My friend Andy (known affectionately by me as Shaps because of his last name, Shapiro) is in town for the next couple of weeks. And it's great seeing him. But as I do with all the people I like and care about in anyway, I pulled a prank on him right after he bought his airplane ticket. This is the email I sent him on Facebook. Why, you ask? Because I'm a smartass, motherfucker, that's why. And the best part is that Shaps totally bought this specious little lie.

--You have to tell him the truth, LB told me, after Andy starting freaking out.
--No, not yet, I said, in a couple of hours I will.
She just shook her head at me.

Anyway, here is Shap's Buenos Aires Prank Email from Me:

Shaps,

So glad you're coming. here are a few things you should know before you get there just so you have an idea of what's up:

1. this will sound strange, but we live in a coop that has a policy of no clothes. so there's no clothes allowed once you get to the second level. originally we moved in because rent was reasonable and we liked the neighborhood. but we decided to stay. anyway, there's a separate "clothes-friendly" section on the first floor for guests and people making the transition. but for dinners and stuff, you'll have to go without clothes. it's strictly prohibited. i was going to tell you before but I didn't know you were going to buy a ticket so quickly.

2. Secondly, as part of the cooperative, you'll have to help with the composting and do commando work once a week. composting is a synch, as long as you bring some latex gloves and a mask. otherwise it can stink to high heaven. commando is a little more work, but it's just one day a week, every Thursday. Basically you work with the other coop shareholders (that's what we call each other), naked of course, sweeping, cleaning the kitchen on the first floor, mopping, making granola, watering the garden, cleaning the community toilets, stuff like that. Occasionally, you'll help the rest of us paint stuff, the backyard patio, the front gates, the front door. That part is clothes-optional, but you can wear whatever feels right to you since it's outside.

3. There's a Spanish-only policy here. Don't worry though, you can just fake it. There are a few beginning Spanish speakers and they make out just fine with basic Spanish, but during group dinners, Coop meetings and Commando sessions, you're not allowed to speak English, so brush up on your irregular verbs now. Temporary share holders that violate the Spanish policy get kicked out. I've seen it twice now and it's not pretty. But again, don't worry about this, the intention matters more than anything else and the Coop leader, Carlos, is a nice guy.

4. Finally, there's a mandatory meeting once a week where all of the shareholders meet for conversation, tea and prayer. You get to pick the religion of your choice of course. You choose to say nothing or if you feel inspired, you can choose to tell the other people what you're feeling. In Spanish of course. This meeting, in addition to Commando + Composting, is mandatory for all guests and shareholders.

Anyway, that's it. I just wanted to give you the heads up now so you know what's up.

Can't wait to see you soon.

Peace Brother,

--j2b

12 January 2009

The Key Word is Projects! :: La Palabra Clave es Proyectos

Now that I'm done teaching English--thank god--I've been devoting my time to really enjoying my time in Buenos Aires. But because boredom sometimes replaces what used to be a flurry of activity, I've created some projects for the New Year until LB and I fly to Europe. So here we go.

1. Compose a LP. Actually, I just finished doing this last week with Garage Band and my beloved Macbook. It's sort of Electro-Pop. Imagine an orgy between Depeche Mode, Ladytron, Moby + a little bit of the National, and you've got "Songs of Love + Desperation," my first LP. Eventually, I'll post some of my songs in my musicplayer for your listening enjoyment.

2. Translation. Ironically, now that I'm not teaching, LB and I have been translating for Grecia, who works for WordIt, a respectable translation agency here in the federal capital. And I have to say, it pays so much better than teaching, and I can work in my underwear. Holla!

3. Shaps. One of my good friends from Oberlin College is coming to stay with us for a few weeks, this will definitely make time fly because Shaps is fun(ny) and interesting, we have great conversations about anything from music, girls, politics, new york, Judaism to travel and yes, college memories (e.g. like the time he threw an apple at a table of girls at Stevenson--I was so embarassed).

4. Work on 2, my second collection of short stories. I have about 2-3 stories to go before it will feel complete, and right now I'm working on this story about a hipster who falls in love with this Asian Princess name Misha Ming. One good thing about this collection is that I have one editor at Harper Collins who wants to read it once I'm done. The revisions themselves, will take months I'm sure.

5. Conjugate the day with LB. It's a blessing being here and I want us to take advantage of our life here for the simple reason that we will never be able to repeat this moment ever again. The city will be different, we'll be different, our reason for coming here next time will be different. We are living in a moment of temporal singularity, where the precise conditions of our existence here, as well as the intentions we carried with us, can never be replicated. To me, that means time is always sacred.

6. Meditation. Now that I'm done working, I finally do more yoga and meditate more. And that means I'll feel more grounded, and better equipped to deal with saying goodbye to one dream.

07 January 2009

The Year in Review 2008

The year 2008 was so good is so many ways that I want to look back at it and take it all in for a second. In the past 12 months I:

1. Tried surfing for the first time in my life in Socal with my Mom's boyfriend Ron
2. Gave my first public reading of BLANK, my first novel, at Notre Dame
3. Traveled to South America for the first time in my life
4. Spent time in Lima, Cusco + Arequipa
5. Flew over the Lines of Nasca in a small airplane
6. Walked up to Machu Picchu with LB
7. Moved from Chicago to Argentina (Buenos Aires) with LB and our Shia-Poo, Zoe
8. Applied to 2 Creative Writing PhD Programs (FSU + USC)
9. Was part of history twice by voting for Obama in the Democratic Primaries in Illinois and a second time in the General Election via absentee ballot at the US Embassy
10. Finally received (or will soon receive) copies of my prose in the South Loop Review + Stand Magazine
11. Got four short stories accepted in literary journals: the South Loop Review, the African American Review, the Connecticut Review + the Kenyon Review
12. Got a geisha tattoo on my forearm that has still not healed in BsAs--it's the water
13. Went to the Taste of Chicago for the first time in 10 years!
14. Bought tix with LB to fly to Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Geneva and Casablanca for this April
15. Took the Buquebus to Uruguay
16. Sipped my first mate (I've been addicted ever since)
17. Celebrated my one year anniversay with LB in May
18. Spent my first Christmas abroad
19. Watched the US Men's bastketball team kick ass in the Olympics
20. Danced in the streets on New Year's Day at 2 in the morning with the love of my life