Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Still Standing

I've always wanted to live abroad, but after 6 months of doing it I can say that the sunshine of the dream is sometimes brighter than the sun that actually shines. The realization of the imbalance of luminosity culminates not in regret or as a complaint, but rather in the further understanding of the value of the deconstructing of one's self to the foundation. To the core. To the place we surround with walls bricked with fear and insecurities. Deconstruction is rarely, if ever, a smooth or harmonic thing. It is usually more closely related to implosion or the torrent of a raging river, or both.

As 2008 fades to memory I am thankful to have stumbled upon and crashed into some partial answers. I say 'partial' because the totality of them does not come in between the sunrise and sunset of a sole South American day. No, it turns out these answers I search for will come from night upon night spent sleeping on a single size box spring while my belle sleeps on the mattress half next to me. They are the kind of answers that come from swallowing my stubbornness and accepting the truth of how little I know about the world. They come from when pride has frozen our ability to grow and we decide (or are forced) to break our barnaclized minds free of the giant Caribbean cruise control ships named 'Comfort' and 'Easy'. They are answers that come from walking with chaos until it loses the potency of its dissonance. They come from believing heat and dust, or cold and snow, are no longer formidable adversaries. They come from when we decide second-guessing ourselves is a hindrance to living. They come from the acceptance that if everything we owned disappeared we would become more defined rather than less. The answers come from understanding that I am not what I create, nor am I what I destroy, but I always am. Like Vishnu.

When we decide to live there are repercussions. Our weaknesses stand naked and the more we try to hide them from the world around us, the less we are alive, the more the river will rage, and the more we'll look the fool.

2008 has been a crazy amazing ride. If all goes well 2009 should be more of the same. My best to all of you in the new year and be sure to keep an eye out for the orange gorilla. Take care. Take chances.


I took this photo a couple of days ago - one of the last sunsets over Buenos Aires in 2008.

Currently Reading:
demonstration signs

Currently Listening To:
the wind howling through our glassless windows

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Exploring the City on Two Wheels: Ride 1 & 2

It's been about 6 months since I've had a car. In Buenos Aires there's really no need for one. Mass transit blankets the city well. Between the subway, buses and taxis you can get anywhere you need to go, and you can do it for minimal cost. While I've been enjoying the absence of a car, and all of the responsibilities and cost that go with it, what I have been missing is my bike. After 5 months of storage I finally got a hold of it a couple of weeks ago.

Pedals have been my favorite means of transportation since the first time I biked to school by myself when I was 8 years old. That metallic red dirt bike I had back then granted me my first tastes of freedom. With it I was able to escape the boundaries of my childhood home and the cornfields that surrounded it. Its fat knobby tires allowed me to be off on my own exploring long before I ever had my driver's license and was able to embark on road trips. And best of all it didn't cost me a dime.

Sure, in the beginning I could only go a mile or two before I ran out of juice. One of the great things about being a little kid though is that you don't stay little for long. As my legs grew so did my radius of exploration. Eventually I was able to commandeer my older sister's sky blue 10-speed Peugot which meant not only could I escape my neighborhood, but I could escape the entire town if I wanted too as well. It was my choice. Out on the road my mind was left to wonder, regulated only by the headwind that confronted me or the tailwind that followed.

As time has passed a bike has not only remained a way for me to find some peace and/or escape a city, it has also been one of the greatest ways to see, hear and breathe one. Buenos Aires is a huge metropolis, by far the largest city I've ever put the wheels down in. The idea of leaving it on a bike is an endeavor in itself. So rather than trying to escape and find some exploratory peace outside the city, my first few rides thus far have focused on escaping and exploring within it. Since there's so much of it I haven't seen, it doesn't take long for me to get to somewhere I've never been.

Ride 1: To the boardwalk along the Rio de la Plata and Jorge Newbery Airport

pedestrian overpass | a thousand poles and no fish

broccoli boardwalk | solo fisherman

curved river pier | three-wheeled hydration man

Ride 2: Puerto Madero and back

look up | no gas needed

x-ray vision | next to laguna de los coipos

bad-ass old iron street sign | calatrava bridge

puerto madero boardwalk | retired shipping cranes on the port

el congresso

Currently Reading:
street names, and getting lost (on purpose)

Currently Listening To:
Song: Paint a Face
Artist: Neil Halstead

Odd Fact of the Day:
South of the equator, today is the first day of summer and longest day of the year. It is also the second time we're celebrating those things this year.
The first was in Harlem, back in June.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jimmy Danko + spray paint...

Jimmy Danko + spray paint + xacto knife + holidays + war =

On my first visit to Buenos Aires before moving here, one of the things that intrigued me most was the frequency at which the city's artistic, social and political voices were represented on the streets. I would argue that graffiti exists more as part of the culture here, rather than completely independent as it's own sub-culture. All around street lamps, over passes and construction sites are covered with political propaganda and/or advertising, while barrios like Palermo Soho and San Telmo are tagged densely by artists whose messages span the gamut.

While I've been pasting my gorilla sticker anywhere and everywhere since we got here, it's not the same as busting out a can of spray paint, and after living here 5 months I've been starting to get the itch. What finally tipped the scales was a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago my friend "DOTS". He said he would make a pact with me that if I started tagging Buenos Aires he would simultaneously start tagging in Milwaukee.


So yesterday morning, just before sunrise and with Annie as my partner in crime (photographer/lookout), I found a couple of dilapidated structures for my paint to dance on.

Currently Reading:
The Old Patagonia Express:
By Train Through the Americas
by Paul Theroux

Currently Listening To:
Song: Raising Hell
Artist: Run DMC