Friday, October 29, 2010

Attended an Argentine President's Wake (with a Mohawk)

It's been an odd couple of days here in Buenos Aires. Wednesday was Census Day, where basically the city shuts down and everyone is told to remain at home until they are counted by door to door census workers. Then, to flip Wednesday upside down even more, former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner, a man who some believe was running the country through his wife who is the current President, died of a heart attack at the age of 60 an hour after the census started. The whole of it made for a somewhat surreal day of government math and mourning.

One of the unique cultural events that occurs here in Argentina when a President dies is a public wake is held in their honor. Going to a presidential wake in a foreign country was not on my bucket list, and I don't take any particular interest in Argentine politics or have any special affinity for those in power here, however I figured I might as well add it to the list and check it off while I had the chance.

The wake was held at 10 a.m. Thursday morning at the government building, Casa Rosada. Knowing that the line of people wanting to pay respects would extend blocks and blocks, my friend Linda and I arrived there two hours early thoroughly covered in sunblock. Even with our early arrival there were still two blocks of people ahead of us. Visually there was much to take in. For the most part those attending wore their normal everyday clothes. All of the buildings that surrounded the plaza in front of Casa Rosada were covered with fresh graffiti canonizing the former president and bestowing his wife, the current President, with support. Banners and memorials hung everywhere, while vendors walked up and down the line selling roses and flags.

The sun-drenched line around us was mostly upbeat, often bolstered by people chanting the Peronist March in support of the fallen former Peronist Party leader. Once we passed the final police barricade and were within 50 meters of the entrance, the mood became much more somber. Flowers, police and camera crews were along each side of the line. Upon entering the building the silence grew heavy. We made our way past marble columns, grand stair cases, presidential portraits and a plethora of flower arrangements. The hall eventually opened up to an area where the coffin sat and behind stood dozens of family members and dignitaries.

Being at the front of the line was an intense moment. Not because I had an emotional attachment to any of it, or because I was standing in front of the coffin of one of the most influential people in present day Argentina, but rather because all of the people who were important to him stood behind his polished wooden box in half circle staring back at me. The mohawk and I gave them a nod and moved on down the line. Three hours after first jumping in the queue outside we were exiting the building and on our way home. All in all a pretty crazy way to start to a Thursday morning.

Photo via La Nación

Currently Listening To:
Song: The Funeral (listen)
Artist: Band of Horses (official website)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Census Day: Population Me Plus Zombies

It's 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, and it's Census Day in Argentina. What that means is everything is closed. Even supermarkets. People are supposed to stay home and get counted.

It's probably the quietest I've ever heard the city while the sun was up. The streets are dead as dead. Along my 20 block walk to the studio I half expect/hope to see caribou meandering through the streets, and zombies huddled in the shadowy recesses of vacant buildings, both the possible after effects of some kind of a post-apocalyptic plague à la I Am Legend. Census? Pfff. With five days to go before Halloween this seems like a more plausible reason for the quiet.

As my imagination and I drift further from home I conclude that I am most likely the only survivor in the city. In keeping with the plot of an overly written dime-store novel, it is no coincidence that my studio happens to be located above a bar called The Alamo, or that on Census Day the population of this metropolis has dropped to one. My daily objective has become making it to the studio, where art supplies and Molotov cocktails are fully stocked. It is there that I paint as much as I can, and then return home before the sun sets and the undead lurk the streets.

Each day around lunch I break from the brushes to broadcast this message from the roof on all AM frequencies:

It is Day 844.
I am a survivor living in Buenos Aires.
I will be at The Alamo Bar in Recoleta every day at mid-day...
...when the sun is highest in the sky.
If you are out there...
If anyone is out there...
I can provide food.
I can provide art to look at.
I can provide alcohol.
I can provide shelter.
Mi español es horrible.
If there's anybody out there...
You are not alone.

Currently Listening To:
Song: Night Terror (listen)
Artist: Laura Marling (myspace)

Monday, October 11, 2010

DANK Video 009 | Viking Umpire | Music by Portugal The Man

(having trouble viewing the above video? go here)

Stripes, a beard, and solid gold shizzatch.

Music In The Video
Satanic Satanist
Artist: Portugal. The Man
Album: Satanic Satanist
Song: Guns & Dogs

About a year ago, while spinning tunes on I came across the band Portugal. The Man, and was hooked. The song in the video is off their 2009 album The Satanic Satanist. If you haven't seen these guys play yet it probably won't be long before you get the chance. They're one of those bands out there making it happen with a steady stream of tour dates and a flow of new music. Their latest album American Ghetto, released earlier this year on Atlantic Records, is another solid addition to their already stellar discography.

The song in the video, “Guns & Dogs”, along with the rest of the Portugal The Man discography is available on iTunes here. Get latest news and goodness on Portugal. The Man at there official website here.

Click below image to enlarge.
Viking Umpire

Currently Listening To:
Song: The Dead Dog (listen)
Artist: Portugal. The Man (official website)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things That Never Get Old

On the list of Things That Never Get Old, somewhere near the top has to be "Getting a care package from Mom".

Care Package

I have only been able to visit the States twice in the last 2 and half years so getting a box in the mail from home more than makes my day. The awesomeness that traveled the distance, over 5600 miles (9100km), was a handwritten letter, my favorite gum (that I can't buy down here) and some of my crayons from when I was a little kid.

If I had to trace back my artistic roots they would most likely lead back to an old ice cream bucket full of crayons that my sisters and I shared growing up. When our green and yellow Crayola boxes wore out the bucket was what all the waxy goodness got dumped into. A seemingly never-ending supply of color always at the ready to pillage and plunder the pages of innocent coloring books. It's awesome to see and smell some of them hold a piece of "home". Thank you Mom. Your drawing for the fridge will be on its way soon.

Currently Listening To:
Song: Home (listen)
Artist: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (official website)