Thursday, March 18, 2010

There's no way I'm Bohemian enough for this city

Having cultivated in the last few years a decidedly edgy urban look for myself, I realized as soon as I landed in this city that I was walking in a fashion-foreign land... If there is one word that sums up the trends mobilized in the streets of Buenos Aires, the word is bohemian. Bleach-blonde streak-chunks in one's hair, super dark grey skinny jeans, a wardrobe confined largely to black, greaser leather jacket, and way-too-many piercings translates to Ugly Duckling, Odd Man Out, Ostracized From Society in the hippie-chic naturally beautiful and above all bohemian world of Buenos Aires fashion. Pretty much the only accessory on me that would count toward rendering this California suburbanite "acceptable" is my toe ring. Edgy is not cool. Being super beautiful while wearing no makeup is cool, and I think that's cool. Probably the best way to describe the difference in fashion vibe here as compared with the United States, at least in the womens department, is to showcase footwear. I've provided examples:

And I'm not joking when I say this is ALL people wear here. If any womens shoe defers from the bohemian-chic sandal program, it is for this fashion gem right here:

That's right, Nike makes a SPLIT TOE sneaker. And it is ACTUALLY POPULAR in parts of this world. It is called the "Air Rift" and apparently, it is excellent walking gear. But it does look like you're wearing Ninja Turtle feet, or a camel toe, or a cow patty. Either way, it causes uncomfortable images and comparisons to emerge from the collective unconscious. But I guess that doesn't bother them here.

Really, I'm just jealous of Argentine beauty... Anyone who can do what they do they way they do it with their hair and clothes and shit can pull off Ninja Turtle feet, too...


Irish Liquor is Very Expensive Here

Happy San Patrick's Día! What is up, and who could have guessed that Argentines love to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day just as much as us immigrant-y Americans. Not a single Irish person existed on the streets besides perhaps a sixteenth of one here and there floating about within our group, but man, can those Argentines wear green, drink Quilmes, and have a very Argentine St. Patrick's Day or what. They close off an entire matrix of streets in the Retiro area and don't allow cars or outside beverages. Then, because drinking in public is NOT a crime (fuck yeah!), hoards gather in the strip between the bar-walk, centered around the Irish pub McKinney's. Street vendors secretly sell beer out of black plastic trash bags at horrifying prices (10 pesos??? whatttt that's like $4.... wahhhhhhhat are we whining about again? Oh ya, now that we've been living here two weeks we are spoiled by how far the dollar goes) and Argentine crazies climb lampposts and do strip teases on them. Also, when men realize that you are speaking English with your friends, they kangaroo-hop up to you with whatever English phrase they have stored in their brains (and it's surprising some of the random words they know. Among the awesome-est: "Americans, crazy!" "Beautiful!" "I have need" "What the fuck!") and the scene inevitably goes something like this:

Argentine man: "Ohhhhh hellllo Americans"
Gina, trying not to allow him into our friend circle: "Hola, como estás..."
Argentine man: "Ohhhohoho! Muy bién, American Lady! Helllooo"
Gina and friends: (laugh.)
Argentine man: "You! Have! Biiiiiig tits! Hahaha"
Gina: "What the fuck"

So that was funny. You know how those scenes go, you always replay them in your head the next day like, "Oh man, if a guy ever does that to me again, I'm gonna put on my hardest face and not say anything and then just... Imma just... Just gonna PUNCH him ya, so hard, and then when he's on the ground be like, 'Have some reSPECT'" But no matter what, the next time it happens, you just squish your face up like "ew" and kind of lightly push his body away and hope he stops harassing you. Dammit. When will Kung-fu Gina ever take over my body and do the things I wish I could make it do.

In other news, we were planning on having Irish liquor night in lieu of the holidayyyy but Bailey's is like $20 US here, soooo def ended up having Irish knock-off liquor night for $8 US! Hoorayyy for creativity and being broke! In the end, BOLS brand boasting "de año 1575" "Licor de Café" tasted fine to me. Huzzah!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Totally Irrelevant Post

I just want to take a moment to say that I have a serious history crush on Young Mutton-Chops Shirtless Physically Fit Teddy Roosevelt (see photo below and believe).

Hellllllls yeahhhhh

In other news

I dyed my hair black.

BITCHES!!! bahhhhh

I realize that's totally cliché, like I'm an American studying abroad in a foreign country for the first time, want a big change, so, like, AWWWIMMA DYE MAH HAIR! But seriously, eat my powder, because now I can wear colorful lipstick like I never could before and WHAT. Also, Danielle made me do it.

HOLYYY SHEEEEIT I almost just died over here

Hooray for being a big dumb ass. See, the great and healthy United States of America runs all their electricity on a 125 volt system, because it is fucking SAFER in case someone fucking gets ELECTROCUTED, but here in this, the technically third world country of my people, sacrifices in safety mean a more efficient system, run at 250 volts. Jesus Chr%^&*st. Like, twice what we run in the US, that's right.

So I had forgotten (though I neh-behr thought it possible) my Tia Lita's unremitting cuidados to “Neh-behr, NEH-behr to not wearing” shoes when you’re plugging/unplugging something because you’re gonna fry your ass off. It’s so hot and humid out here that I was BUCK in my room drying my hair, with the fan on to boot because without it you sweat so much your hair never dries anyway. I unplugged the hair dryer and I swear to god I had the quickest weirdest creepiest black-out of a millisecond ever. I blacked in and my hairbrush was on the floor… don’t remember dropping it. There was a general odd haze over my vision... The head-high was like I'd just puffed out eighteen cigarettes at once... Ugh and the creepiest part was for a good fifteen minutes my finger through my hand and my arm a ways stung like I’d fried my veins up in there like Percy done to Delacroix’s eye-balls in The Green Mile. I swear my heart was beating kind of funky…

And I still think the veins on my left arm are looking a little bluer than the ones on my right.

And my hair stands up all day long like some Alfalfa from The Rascals shit.

Just kidding, some of those sentences are lies. But really, watch the fuck out for foreign electricity systems. That is no joke, man. Jesus.

Que interesante: Cumbio

Oh haaaaay In Spanish class we read a cultural piece describing a rising adolescent fad similar to US blogging, or in Spanish, fotologing. The jovenes who engage in fotologing, los floggers for short, pay homage to the spear-head of their urban cult style, Cumbio, a seventeen-year-old Argentine star made famous by her fotolog site. That's right, people, is a bigger social web than Facebook or MySpace. What the hell??? Read the New York Times article here:

In Argentina, a Camera and a Blog Make a Star

What a crazy interesting random ass movement in Argentina! Tiiiiiight

Check out her fotolog phe-nom at:

Don't worry, you don't have to know Spanish to check out the site, unlike "blogging" here in the states fotologing pretty much only involves posting pictures, the goal being to get the most comments and followers. Sooooo ya what the heck! If you want to check out a totally random other-world pop culture phenomenon, check out Cumbio. Top image is the photo cover for her autobiography ...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

brief note on scars

...Impressive, everyone here has a crazy-ass scar on their body. There are lots of left-shoulder round and seriously epic vaccination scars, extreme machete chop arm scars, someone-beat-me-over-the-head-with-a-shovel-but-then-I-probably-killed-them-afterward forehead scars, I-put-my-hand-too-close-to-a-vagrant-dog-and-it-ripped-a-hole-in-me scars, any kind of scar you can think of, and so what I'm trying to say is everyone here looks way more badass than me, and it's very intimidating.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mmmmmm Body Ooze.

Once again fulfilling a most amazing stereotype, some of my family in Argentina is buried in an old all-Italian cemetery in Córdoba in a 4 X 4 wall plot with 16 slots for coffins. The section is labeled "Flia. Pensso" after my great great relative (uncle? grandpa? ex-roomate's cousin's father? Seriously, who fuckin even knows at this point) José ‘Pepe’ Pensso, and we went to visit my Nona Elisa there in the graveyard... Came across some very interesting grave sites. The VIP families like to place their loved ones in coffins made of wood, inside small-roomed upright tombs super antique style. But wooden coffins, my Tio Alberto explained to us, means that every few years when the body has decayed enough, existing relatives must pay to re-coffin the person. Like, buy a new coffin, scoop out their beloved's remains, pop them into the new one, and put it back on the shelf. This brings up so many logistical problems... Do they line the coffins so that the body ooze doesn't drip out onto the floor? How much money does it take to find someone who is willing to do that job for you? How do they hide the smell of the rotting bodies everywhere?

This last question is super key... Because half the tomb-rooms have open windows or only curtains covering small slots in the walls... So my dad and I kept sticking our noses in the windows to see if we could smell anything... Touché, my Italian paisans... I do not know how you work your magic, but you successfully mask our race's natural death odors. Or maybe the Italians really are as superior as we believe ourselves to be... Just watch Jersey Shore. You'll know.

Guess you can't see so well in this shot, but up close and in person that bottom coffin is sagggggggin... time to change Aunt Oozy-Face-Juices. It's like something straight out of Faulkner. Yum.

Existe el "changing of the guard"?

Took the subte out to Plaza de Mayo, al microcentro, the very center of Buenos Aires, where all the business people run around all day in and out of their very business-y offices. I felt like I was in the way most of the time, and I'm sure we were... I thought maybe they would be mad that my parents and I were smoking in the majestic and famous Plaza, but no importa I guess. My mom kept goin on about seeing the "changing of the guard," so we posted up under a tree so that she could get out her tour book and read to us about what we were seeing. With her little glorified fanny-pack with extra useful pockets that says "California Institute of Technology" written all black and white and bold down the front of it... and sunglasses... hahaha yes. "The changing of the guard is an Argentine tradition at the historic Casa Rosada which takes place each hour, on the hour..."

More like every once in a while when they feel like it. And usually they don't feel like walking so you don't even really see it happen. Apparently the changing of the guards only really happens at one o' clock on certain days (and they're usually late, no surprise there), which we were lucky enough to actually witness, but when we did witness it and it was a bunch of guys hopping into a van to carpool about 40 meters away to the Cathedral, then sauntering about and onto their lunch break, we were kind of like, "Oh. Well fuck that," and pretty anticlimactically lit some more cigarettes. Done and done.

My pops and me, posing in front of the Cathedral where you can see the van on the right pulling up. And so we successfully captured the majestic "changing of the guards" on camera...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pinche

Feliz cumpleaños a ti, feliz cumpleaños a ti, feliz cumpleaños a

JAYYYYYNENNEYYYYJAYNEJAYNEJAYNEJAYNEYYYJAYNEEEEEEEE Jayne is now 22 years old and has no birthday to ever look forward to againnnnnnnn

, feliz cumpleaños a ti

Hope you enjoyed mah birthday song… here’s to drinkin’ with bow-legged women. Cheers to Jayne.

Also, hooray for Chinese markets existing all over the world!

How cool is it that today I met a bunch of Asian kids speaking better Spanish than me. Awesome.

No really though, there is a Chinatown here on Juramento Street and all the restaurants are called things like, "El Dragon Rojo (The Red Dragon)" and "La Gran Muralla China (The Great Wall of China)." How awesome that I am now translating one culture into another's language and then ordering food off of the menu. I didn't really know what Chop Suey was before I came to this place, and now I have to figure out how to order it in Spanish. That is seriously beautiful. It is also beautiful knowing that I do not have to go without Chinese food for 4 months. Discoveries!

No Pones el Windex in your Mouth!

Walking home from class today around 22:00, that is 10:00pm for all you A-murrr-icans, I came upon a family rummaging through some garbage bags full of old stuff on the side of the street. As I got a little closer I realized the little brother, who was only about 4 years old, had found a bottle of Windex and was shooting it into his mouth. Like, directly in there, just tasting the fuckin thing, with his little backpack on, just hangin out. I ran up super quick yelling, "OYE! CHICO! No pones esto en la boca!" He looked at me like I was a crazy lady who spoke only broken Spanish with an excellent accent, which is what I am, and I guess that confuses people. Especially small children who have just embarked on an enormous Windex-induced head high and need to see an emergency room immediately. The momma stood up and grabbed him away from my vicinity. Well IN AMERICA we don't let little children die of poison ingestion. Needless to say, I was embarrassed that I had made a scene. But when I got home I realized that saving a baby's life is nothing to be embarrassed about what the hell. So I wrote a blog about it. Hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


You know your Tio is badass when he brings a full cow's head, a full goat (chivo), and half-pigs out of the freezer to show you what he's gonna barbeque for dinner. I LOVE ARGENTINA There's something amazing about being totally primal sometimes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The International Subway Soundtrack

A couple of months back I visited one of my old time friends from grade school up at her college in Moraga, just a few towns away from big ol' San Francisco. It was my very first time riding the subway up in those parts and I was excited to figure out how this kick-ass system that I'd been hearing so much about worked. Haggled for a few moments with the little ticket machine and felt like an idiot a little, which invariably happens when you're trying something like that for the first time and there are every-day commuters all around you gettin all pissed off that you're stupid. So that was scary. But we felt really great about ourselves, even though we'd just popped out $9 for a 3 mile one-way ticket or something a little retarded like that, as we swam along with the rest of the veteran-rider school and reached the escalator up to the platform.

Welcome to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, Gina Caprari. Because, almost like the wafting music Disneyland plays while you're in line for the Matterhorn or something, there was a distinct soundtrack to the Walnut Creek BART platform, too. The escalator ascended, and just as all the anticipation was rising and all previous thoughts and prejudices and exhaltations about the Bay Area Rapid Transit system were sequencing through my head, the soundtrack came drifting down the escalator to us... almost magically...

"Well FUCK YOU THEN Jesus don't love you.
Jesus don't LOVE YOU. You think Jesus love you? You wrong! You damn wrong.
FUCK you. fuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyou and thank you very much, too.
Cus you said 'Fuck Jesus' so now he gon come fuck you. JESUS Don't LOVE you..."

Aaaaaand that was my first impression of the subway system in San Francisco. Reminds me of LA. It's cool, cus I felt right at home.

So what's up with subway systems havin a soundtrack then. "Fuck you fuckin Jesus" guy at San Francisco, and then the very first day I hit the Subte in Buenos Aires we get this crazy little puchero jumpin on our ass-packed (and I've never seen a more packed subway car. Like, other people's bodies stickin to my body.) car, with his headphones on, verily screeching into a business card as if that shields his fuckin voice from the rest of us and makes it okay to rape and pillage all of our senses at once. Oh ya, I'm talking a bonafide five-sense-er, baby, smell sound sight touch, most definitely touch, and he probably would taste funky, too. And I love that he traveled from his arrival spot on the train through the already heaving and dismal crowd to the absolute other end of the car, as if to spread the beautiful love which emanated from his cat-scratched voice and general person. Ah, what an allure. Makes me wanna try the subway in New York City. Who knows what talented people reside in subways there.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the Ceibo

Tia Lita informed me that this, the majestic Ceibo, is the beautiful national flower of Argentina. Hell yeah! That's bomb! Enjoy.


Quick correction to yesterday's humidity post: you actually totally DO need lotion here, to hide your peeling leper skin from staring eyes after the terrible Argentine sun has burned it off.

That is all.

You can't argue "gustos"

So Argentines have all these weird little sayings that they use all the time to give you advice indirectly or say something very important about life... these "dichos" often don't translate correctly or make very much sense to us out-cultured people until someone fully describes exactly what the meaning is behind them... and even then, you're usually like, "where the fuck did they make that connection." But I guess it's cool, it's just the difference between cultures and the way people's minds have grown up working and all that jazz. So here's a cute little one from Tio Alberto:

'Gustos son gustos,' dijo la vieja y se sentió en un hormiguera, y estaba contenta.

Basically the phrase is something like our "You can't argue taste" saying, but literally translated, the phrase goes:

'Taste is taste,' said the old woman and she sat upon an anthill, and she was happy.

Hahahahaha yes. So even if you are an old Argentine lady who likes gettin her ass bit, or it very well may be that there's the allusion to gettin her ass pinched here (because the Cordobese love their naughty jokes), you just can't argue "gustos."

In return, I gave Tio Alberto an American gem, which is really just a phrase my dad says all the time, I have no idea where it's from or what it's talking about but it's friggin funny and weird too:

"I see," said the blind man to the deaf horse, pissing in the wind. "It's all coming back to me now."

But this one doesn't really translate to Spanish very well either, and it doesn't even really have a deeper meaning, it's just funny. So I failed at the culture exchange in this instance, and succeeded in confusing Tio Alberto into laughter instead. Hopefully it's a better day tomorrow.

brief note on humidity

One nice thing about the constant face-wiping, ass-dripping, pants-dropping, extreme humidity I am feeling here in Buenos Aires is that body lotion and chapstick are virtually remnants of the past. Here's to one more thing I won't have to spend my low funds on. And EAT IT, ever-corporate 1984-status watchful-eye-on-the-world evil American company Victoria's Secret! In Argentina, your entire beauty line is out of business. But too bad for Burt's Bees. I actually like him.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Loro who cried Puta

So my (great) Tio Alberto has a parrot he calls Toti, he's pretty much amazing, he likes to talk a lot... Toti loves to say "Que pasa Toti?" to himself, and cry "Albeeeeeerto," and dance and whistle along to old school tango albums my tio plays on the record player next to his stoop. One day, Tia Lita explained, she came home and went over to say hello to little Toti, who at the time was still very shy and had not learned very many words yet. Tia Lita was cooing and trying to make Toti say something, and when she reached her hand out to little Toti, he suddenly cried, "PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA" over and over and over again. "AYYY Toti!" she cried. "Cochino, Toti!" And now Toti knew the word for "bitch." Amazing animals, loros. He's gonna be a charmer, I just know it.

Que pasa, Tooootiiiiii

ooooooh crap

So I made it to Buenos Aires. Except for the past week, while we've been visiting w/ various members day-in day-out of our extensive Argentine family network, I've been super-battling this raging beast of a kidney infection inside my body... most of my Argentine family subscribes to either a tough-love you'll-be-fine sort of medicina or a brujeria/naturaleza approach, which is to serve me leaves brewing in a glass, massage my back, whisper dichos to me, light candles, and pray for my dolor "please to go away"... Or tell me all week that I don't have a fever, then when their husband mentions that I feel a little calientita actually dig out that thermometer and realize that I'm burnin the freak up. So the first thing I did when I got to da big city was hobble to the nearest hospital, pee in a cup, and pay for some over-the-counter antibiotics. And shove them all up in my mouth like I hadn't eaten in eight thousand days. So I was a little lightheaded from overdosing, but it's cool cus I feel pretty much a lot better right about now... (j/k, don't worry family, I'm fine.) It's just lucky (or maybe unlucky, I can't make up my mind on this yet) that I didn't have to get that infamous Argentine shot-in-the-butt full of antibiotics right on the spot in the hospital room.

So hopefully I can say hasta la vista to this flippin enfermedad (sickness).

Please light some candles and say some prayers for my kidneys.