Friday, March 31, 2006

Save Bar Britanico or Immanent Death?

Perhaps the coolest bar in Buenos Aires for more unusual reasons than not, this 'not friendly enough for tourists' historic establishment has lost its lease and might be over as of tomorrow.

From the grey cat that sleeps on the divider between the front and back portions to the four classic waiters in their white coats and with their stories, three of them over 70 years of age. From Manolo taking belches from a small clear bottle from behind the counter to Toni, the 'sub editor' of the Buenos Aires Herald, passed out at whatever table he ended up at, Bar Britanico will be sadly missed.

Someone named Claire wrote this great piece with links to the article in the Herald by Toni.

Good night, and good luck, and we hope that somehow, some way Bar Britanico, my favorite bar in all of Buenos Aires, will stay alive.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Boca Jrs. Futbol

So I finally made it to my first futbol game in Argentina, the second professional soccer game in my life; the first being between Rawstock and Leipzig in Eastern Germany about 12 years ago. That one ended in a huge riot between fans with German riot police toppling them with water canons from armoured plated crowd control assault vehicles.

This game, Boca vs. Quilmes game played last Sunday at Boca Jrs. Stadium was, another cultural experience, to say the least. Arriving late with Edd, Marina, and Julia and Peter (ironically, a German couple), we found what appeared to be a decent spot in the popular section right out front. Across from us were groups of young boys climbing up the barb-wired fence to get a better view.

Little did we know that we were sitting directly beneath the opposing fans, also held back from another razor wire fence high above. But that didn't stop some of them from climbing over the high fence, risking their lives so they could then torture us perched safely from above. First, there was just spitting, nothing too serious. I think I caught a couple partial luggies, no harm no foul. Then, a 10lbs. bag of water came hurling down, missing me by inches and slammed into the guy in front of us, nearly knocking him to the ground, drenching his head and back. Overly paranoid at this point, I had no idea what to expect next. Suddenly there is a huge surge from the packed crowd, like at a concert when you feel yourself getting pushed along and you just go with it. I look up and see an uncircumcised youth, swinging his penis wildly back and forth, freely urinating on about 2,000 fans below.

After that we took shelter underneath the overhang with what turned out to be the unofficial Gringo section but what else can I say? I guess that's what the Brits mean when they say, 'taking the piss out on someone'.

Introducing... Ethan!

Most of you have met my new roommate, fellow photographer and good friend Ethan Salwen but for those of you that haven't, Ethan has been more than instrumental in areas including Digital Workflow (thanks for bringing down at least 15 different books on DWF and Photoshop CS2 including Fraser's latest), photo-mule, bringing down countless excess baggage of photo equipment and an all-around excellent source of photo information, not to mention being a great friend and mentor.

Don't worry, I don't think the US Military will be leaving Iraq anytime soon, so I think you'll still get a chance to make it over there. Your pal Goyo.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Behind the Scenes of BA Fashion

Hair and makeup are essential to any fashion shoot.

And there's a lot of boredom involved... a lot of waiting.

The final touches before shooting for Italian clothing designer Miss Sixty.

And RTG - Ret To Go!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The End of the Line

When I returned the rental car back in Buenos Aires they told me that I had driven 3,600 kilometers (2,232 miles) in five days. Really? This was a problem because the rental agreement only allowed for 1,500 kms. But I was able to renegotiate the contract down to half of the original rate with double the free kilometers and then pay the diference for the extra kms. Dan and I both agree that the trip was epic, tremendous, a bit insane, but totally worth it. Dan's Stateside email simply said, "Your driving would make Neil Cassidy and Che proud."

The most powerful aspect of the road trip was my reconnection with Che Guevara. I had abondoned him after finding him back in college, when I took a course entititled "Guerilla Warfare," taught by Tom Davies, who along with Brian Loveman had translated Che's book by the same name into English. It was Tom and Che that inspired me to go to Central America to experience guerilla warfare first hand at age 22. During my third trip to Central America in less than two years, in El Salvador, amidst a twelve year bloody civil war that left more than 100,000 civilans dead, I shed my idealist revolutionary fervor. I had seen first hand that war was not the way, even though I still belive that people who are oppressed must stand up and fight against their oppressors. I realized that before I could help others and tell their stories, I had to take care of myself. So I took a cush job shooting fluffy travel videos around the world and never looked back. Now, after visisting Che's childhood home, my interest in Che'a idea about revolution and a how we make a better world have been reignited.

Che was killed by Mario Teràn, a Bolivian soldier, on October 9, 1967 in La Higuera, Bolivia. According to Teràn's confession, Teràn entered the school room where Che was being held captive. Tied up and sitting on the floor, Che looked up at the soldier and slowly said, "I know you are here to kill me." Trembeling, Teràn looked down at the floor. "Calm down, and aim well," Che told Teràn. "You are going to kill a man."

Teràn took one step back, closed his eyes and fired his automatic weapon, destroying Che's legs. Che began to contort and fell over, blood gushing from his body. Teràn regained his composure and fired again, this time blasting Che in the arm, the shoulder, and finally the heart. Ernesto 'Che' Guevara was dead.

Today on the streets of Buenos Aires it feels like you can't walk one block with out being reminded of Che, the most famous Argentine ever. Within an hour I'll see a pregnant woman with a red Che T-shirt, a stencil on a wall that portrays Che as a woman, some young punk with a Che tatoo on his upper arm, and a pack of young teenage girls walking by giggling, "Che boluda...!" He remains entrenched in the national psyche of Argentina. A fallen hero, a God, a revolutionary, a man, but an Argentine through and through. An Argentine that stood up against oppression and said, "BASTA!" - Enough!

* From Pacho O'Donnell's 'Che - La Vida Por Un Mundo Mejor'
or 'Che - A Life for a Better World'

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On the Road Again

San Luis, Argentina

Checked into a hotel in Mendoza and finally took a solid three hour super power nap. Flipping through the channels after awakening I catch a piece of news from BA saying that the US military is going to attack Iran if some agreement can't be reached over their nuke program. Great. Then I get caught up in some bad b-movie with Charlie Sheen (although the credits say Charles) where he gets firefighter of the year and then proceeds to terrorize this idyllic American family next door.

That night I decided to follow the example of my new boss and eat well for a change asking around Mendoza for the best meal in town. All fingers pointed to Estancia La Florencia and I thoroughly enjoyed the cream of asparaguss soup, simple salad with lettuce, tomato and egg and then the grilled salmon from Chile with whole potatoes. A bottle of Quilmes cerveza and a glass of Cabernet to complement the meal and the grand total was a mere $43 pesos ($15 USD). And that's as good as it gets.
One of many 'Difunta Correa' shrines alongside Argentina's highways, protecting travellers on their journeys.

Finally got on the road this morning at 9:00AM after getting lost for about an hour leaving the city of Mendoza. And after two hours of solid driving I get stopped and busted... for not driving with my headlights on. So the cop tells me that its a $55 peso fine and I tell him I don't have it. "No, no... not now. You can pay later when you get to Buenos Aires," he says. "Isn't there some way we could make an exception this time? I honestly thought I had to drive with my lights on only in the parts where it says 'turn your lights on'." I reply. Basically he asked me how much I could offer for the exception and I told him $20 pesos. He accepted and then we went through the official 'bribe' protocol (thanks for schoolin' me on that one Dan). He hands me back my license and I fold the bill and put it behind my license and hand it back to him. He slips the bill from behind my license and pockets it and then hands the license back to me, advising me not to forget to turn my lights on after refueling.

Now I'm still more than 800 K from BA but when you drive at an average of 150 km/hr it takes a lot less than people estimate. I was hearing anywhere from 10 - 16 hours of driving from Mendoza. Tomorrow I have to be at the airport bright and early to pick up fellow photographer Ethan Salwen from NYC. Ethan and I are joining photographic forces and have a two month Digital Work Flow (DWF) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) bootcamp in the works. Wish us luck - we need it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Road Trippin´

Waking up this morning to a pitch black sky chalked full of never-ending stars at 6:00AM after a restless night of not sleeping well in the rental car in a dirt parking lot high up in the Andes mountains was nothing less than miraculous. Unconscious National Park - trailhead to the highest peak outside of the Himalayas is just a dirt road off of the highway which divides Argentina and Chile. I failed in my attempt to drive the rental car into Chile and to drop Dan at the airport in Santiago so I dropped him on top of the Andes at 10,000' above sea level and we said our goodbyes.

And what a road TRIP it has been. Now I'm in Mendoza in a cyber cafe where the owner just told me that two guys tried to steal my camera while I was sitting here staring at the screen instead of paying attention like I normally do. Damn, another close one. Got to get some sleep but its 11AM and there's now way to catch some zzz's in the car - too compact. But I don't think I'll make it too far down the road but yet I must be back in Buenos Aires by tomorrow. At the end of this 5 day extravaganza I will have driven over 1,500 miles includingscarycarry dirt roads, major mountain climbing and descending and some good times.
Photo by Dan P.

And Ramiro*, I admit to losing the bet with you that I would be able to drive the rental car into Chile gringo-style and IOU two weeks of my time unplugged even though I 'technically' did cross into Chile with the car... maybe we go somewhere on bici o en canoa?!

* - And during this whole late night bet-making process I agreed to read and then publish this part of an email from Ramiro. This is for you, amigo.

- Es Fundamental "el tiempo para uno", con lo cual hay que laburar menos.
- Esto no quiere decir hecharse y abandonar los suenos.
- Es Todo lo contrario.
- Es lucirce como especie.-

... entonces, que tal esta idea?:
- Producir en el norte y vivir y disfrutar en el sur.
Cuya evolucion seria...:
- Producir en el norte pero viviendo en el sur,
... y seguir viviendo y disfrutando en el sur.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

King David and Finding Che

The phone rings and I answer it. "What the hell are you doing in Buenos Aires?" I have no idea who is on the other end until the stern but friendly voice identifies himself as Dan, an old publisher friend from way back. "You want to have lunch with me in half an hour? I'm at the Faena Hotel," he asks. Almost broke and with plenty of time on my hands I oblidge.

The next 48 hours are a total blur... talks of wine, women and war, fireworks, Olsen, business plans on napkins, Tango and rental car mafia/wedding planners giving us the skinny on what's naught in BA. And then we hit the road.

We arrived at Che's house in Alta Gracia, a quiet suburban neighborhood thirty minutes outside of Cordoba at six o'clock in the morning after driving all night in a torrentialt rainstorm - dangerous driving, the kind of driving that takes people out. There's his motorized bicycle that he circumnavigated Argentina on, the last letter he wrote to his parents shortly before he was killed in Bolivia and some random neighborhood photos portraying him as an average upper-middle class citizen. But Che was an idealist with a big ego. Che's victory in Cuba was relatively easy and then he proceeded to loose all of his other revolutionary attempts. A sufferer of his own dogma, he was unable to see beyond the reality of his political ideas and waged a one-man war against everyone who was not on his side.

Checking into the King David hotel in Cordoba capital some 30 hours after we started our journey, I could not keep my eyes open any longer. Che would have slept in the bush outside of the capital, today we have capital and no need for BUSH - BASTA... y `Hasta la victoria siempre!'

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stencil in La Boca

La Boca is like the West Oakland of Buenos Aires and I feel right at home now. Lots has changed in the past 24 hours... and I still love Buenos Aires! Hope to see all my friends back home on International Workers Day - May 1, 2006. Love GR (BIG Cinco de Mayo party in SF, yeah?)