Saturday, June 20, 2009

one outta three

TRIUMPH! After spending waaay too much time working on it and an extremely generous and close read from an IFSA tutor (!!), I have finally finished my UBA paper. Clocking in a 18 pages single spaced pages of text with 60-something footnotes and six pages of bibliography it's easily one of the longest papers I've ever written -- and it's in Spanish. For a bit of trivia: it's the only serious paper I have ever written without using a library book. (JSTOR, ftw.) Pasted below is a sample of the articles that I used, but only the ones that a) came with the course packet or b) I planned to use so much that I deemed worthy to print.

For the past week or so they have been my only friends. (Am I joking? Not sure.) Now I am pretty worried about the oral presentation on the paper. Reading/writing and talking in front of the whole class on topics you're thinking about in English -- different ballgames.

Now that I've finished this paper and passed my film class, what remains?
- UCA Lit paper on The Politicization of Pablo Neruda in Spain (due Tuesday, barely started)
- IFSA music paper (almost done!, topic too geeky to announce)
- IFSA presentation Thursday (not especially worried)
- UBA presentation Friday (ugh at least I have the week to prepare)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's been a while. I apologize. Lots and lots of updates! But first: I was inspired to write because I was re-reading some older posts and feeling fairly humiliated and thinking adding some new content might take some of the shame away. If I said something especially stupid, I am sorry. I tend to do that.

Life for the past few weeks has been really excellent. I hear it's always this way -- that it's only at the very end when you start to feel like your normal self and understand what it is that you don't want to lose when you leave.

Here is a quick run down in LINKED photos.

Mom and Dad came to visit. I showed them around the city and we took a side trip to beautiful Colonia and Montevideo, Uruguay. They made my friends an awesome brunch. Mostly, though, it was great not really doing anything with them. I miss them.

The week after that Danielle came to visit. It was really amazing having her here, much more than I think we both had anticipated, and an incredible capstone to our getting close again phase.

First, it meant that we were able to do things that we were insanely stoked on that no one else would be able to appreciate. Case in point: Krishna Veggie Lunch dinner -- and our waiter who knew Shelter.

Second, she is much cooler and more fun than I am. I'm still not sure when the tables switched and I became the shy one of the two of us... In any event, everyone loved having her as much as I did. It was, as we've been saying, MUCHO BUENO.

Third, everyone loving her so much meant that I got to hang out with everyone much more than usual. MUCHO MUCHO BUENO. Trips (paseando and to La Plata) ensued, especially those in search of vegan eats. She was sent-off by an unfortunate early arrival of my unhappy host mother -- a snippet "SHEEEEILLLAAAA! se van a tener que retirar! y espero que no me falte nada!!" -- after some uncharacteristically bad cooking on my part. At least the company was wonderful.

After Danielle left, hangouts continued at Danie's super fun bday party. I laughed a lot, even more than usual. Here is why.

This weekend Natalie, Jasmine, and I saw Juana Molina at a touristy city event. On Satuday it was Shipwreck and Have Heart (videos from the show linked) in BA. It was pretty epic. Plus Pat opened their set with "this song goes out to the only person in this room who has been with us from the beginning" before breaking into the Intro and Lionheart. While that was pretty awesome, just getting to talk with him is really what made my week. ...that and hearing JD's Boston accent. It made me miss Meffid! (Disclaimer: I apologize that this blog has recently turned into a forum for my fandom. Consider it wrapped up as of now.)

In other news:

1. A week ago from yesterday I booked my flight home. I leave BA July 3 and will be home with plenty of time for fireworks!

2. I was sick last week, got better, and now I think I might be coming down with something again. That's a big problem considering that I am WAY BEHIND on schoolwork and can't seem to finish -- or, more to the point, ever take a genuine interest in -- this monografia for UBA and thus be able to start working on other things. Uh oh.

3. I walked past Hooters tonight on the way home from UCA and they were playing Boys Don't Cry. What?

On a final note, I was marking the end of my stay by the date of the Have Heart show as it seemed like a logical point in the distance from long ago. That I am leaving soon when I feel like I am just starting to feel totally comfortable being myself has just begun to sink in and it's a big bummer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

no words

We all met at Axel's tattoo parlor and went 22 strong to Gerli for the show last night on the same city bus and train to the province. I thought that was absurd but I didn't know what was coming... Afterwards about half of the kids from the show piled in to the same post-show Line 37 bus back to the city. There are no words.  Imagine a literally completely full city bus -- no two people were more than three inches apart from one another -- filled with stage-dive high hardcore kids screaming and laughing. 

The forty-five minute ride consisted of soccer chants, Diego crowd surfing a good third of the way through the bus, and repeated screams for Oso to come to the back. Oso probably earned his nickname, which translates to bear, due to his large frame. The pleas continued until he finally yelled back "I can't, I'm too wide" to the hysterical laughter of literally everyone there. 

As Dag Nasty asked, "What can I say?" 

A related aside: Pauly Ramirez deserves a gold medal in the patience Olympics for her relentless kindness. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

it's not the spectacles the pagaentry the thousands things you've got to see

For only the second day since I arrived the weather in BA is really crummy. Skies are grey, it’s been lightly drizzling all day and the high humidity is making it feel even colder than its approximately 55 degrees. The somewhat Boston-like weather got me thinking about how it’s going to be summer when I come home which reminded me of the fact that I have neglected to mention what I will be up to this summer. Whoops.

I will be interning in the External Affairs department of the Center for American Progress hopefully working on legislative outreach (aka lobbying big scary word) but probably working on email contact management.

I am super stoked to be in DC again! I put together a rundown of my favorite things after last summer but there’s still plenty I am excited about for this upcoming summer.

On the agenda:
Now that I am 21+, I am stoked to start exploring H St. NE. Can’t wait to hang out at the H St Country Club, eat jumbalaya and while taking in Farina family member bands at the Red and the Black, and you know be old enough for shows at the Rock n Roll Hotel. I couldn’t really do anything cool over there last year because I was a young’n but thanks to a birthday that is otherwise meaningless to me I can start seeing some new places.

Food I haven’t yet eaten: Ray’s Hell Burger, Dairy Godmother, all of the schwarma places in Adam’s Morgan I seem to have missed at which I hopefully can eat Old Bay fries, and DC’s apparent explosion of cupcake-mania. And old favorites like BCB, Old Ebbitt Express, Taqueria Nacionale, San Miguel’s Pupuseria, Amsterdam, and 2 Amys where I eat cheap and well. Mmm already excited for restaurant week in August!

EATING BAGELS. I just miss bagels. I asked Fedex this weekend and he told me they don’t exist here. I don’t think I have had a good New York bagel in DC but apparently Montreal style bagels are coming which is sufficient, as I anxiously await a something bagel-like to enjoy.

I can't wait for: softball by the monument, summertime in DC jamming to the Bad Brains, walking past a Democratic contrilled White House and Congress, visiting and re-visiting Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence with Adams's notes in the margins, hardcore shows at the Corpse Fortress, making fun of the line at Smith point, the summer 09 Fort Reno line up and jazz in the Sculpture Garden, outdoor movies, and just walking up and down and up and down and up and down Embassy Row (and this time getting to make fun of Joe Biden instead of Dick Cheney).


Monday, May 11, 2009

things I am learning about myself, politically speaking

On Saturday I found myself in the middle of a conversation I’d more of less had at exactly the same time a week earlier. The proximity of the two conversations, the extremity of the claims, and the ease with which they were voiced to me leads me to believe on an admittedly flimsy basis that these views are probably fairly commonplace among young people here.

First, young Argentines don’t think Barack Obama is black. Eminem, I was told in one instance, is black. Barack Obama and his million dollar Harvard education is not. I haven’t gotten the impression that middle aged Argentines feel the same, though I will own up to my my absurdly small sample that is mostly comprised of taxi drivers (how Tom Friedman of me) that distinguish the two impressions. This point is not entirely lacking intellectual merit if one considers sociological constructions of whiteness but seems to fly in the face of what I believe is an important accomplishment of the American people.

Second, I heard a certain degree of doubt that 9/11 was a terrorist attack exogenous of all motives except those of extremists, the average American belief, though I am still confused about who then is the guilty party. It’s too strange that the twin towers, so potent a symbol of American capitalism, would just fall like that – too coincidental, too structurally improbable – and it’s too coincidental that the 9/11 attacks would be used to justify an otherwise unjustifiable invasion of the sovereign state of Iraq. The second point I can hang with; the American people were repeatedly misled by false claims of ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. But the first reminds me of Holocaust deniers. Call me na├»ve but I would never dream that my government could ever play a hand in the slaughter of nearly 3,000 of its own innocent civilians. I wonder if the implausibility is diminished if you’ve grown up in a part of the world that still feels the impact of the other September 11 and a country which disappeared over 30,000 of its own citizens.

While I think I have a more-than-acknowledged conservative streak at home, it’s pretty clear that I fall to the left of the American political spectrum. Here, however, I feel like I go to bed with Milton Friedman and William Kristol books under my pillow. When Fede cheekily asked if I identify as neoliberal I don’t think he expected the answer to be yes. I do think that after a period of protected initial growth, it is in the interest of most states to be open to free trade. That does not mean entirely lacking export diversity and focusing on soy, as is the case here. It also does not mean that I think the results of Menem’s extreme privatization campaign have been wonderful for Argentina, as the foreign-owned outright monopolies have hindered competitiveness for what used to be public goods, driving up costs for consumers while reducing both domestic jobs and domestic tax revenue. But it does mean that I think foreign direct investment, international competition, and appropriately curtailed state ownership is ideal. As polemical and probably offensive it is to say so here, I do think the American idea of the liberal democracy is the ideal form of government.

With that I will go back to my pillow-worn copy of Atlas Shrugged and Ronald Reagan's memoirs.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

100-something days

When I started this blog I said I would write about three things: Buenos Aires, politics, and music. I’ve managed to cover two of those categories extensively while outright dropping the third. It’s not that politics at home haven’t been kicking ass – they have – I just haven’t really had it in me to write about them. But since I am comfy watching Trial’s epic set from Burning Fight and getting my chomp on some Oatmeal Squares, but not particularly interested in doing actual homework, I will finally address some recent thoughts I’ve had.

One party Congress? I was pretty stoked for Specter’s switch if only as some sort of shameful vengeance for my frustration with him during the Bush SCOTUS nominee confirmation process. But contrary to my well-known partisanship, it bums me out that Republicans are such an irrelevant party. For the moment I am happy to have a basically filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (oh MN!) because it’s about time the government got some serious shit done – thank you Republican Congresses for putting off healthcare and immigration reform, exacerbating the problem of global warming by doing nothing about it, etc. – but I would generally be happier if there was a more two-sided debate occurring on the Hill. In the most Mill of thought processes, I genuinely believe that public policy is of a higher quality when both sides shape the process and (Burke) curb each others excesses. Although I strongly disagreed with the arbitrary decisions of the “Gang” of moderates, and by no means mean to hold them as the ideal, it would be good to have a well-supported intellectual challenge to the borrow-and-spend policies of the Obama administration, not Club for Growth tea parties and Michael Steele temper tantrums.

About time! One of my favorite refrains about Barack Obama is that he was the first Millennial generation candidate and the first Millennial generation president. I know he is technically too old to be a member of my generation but I strongly believe that he resonated with the youth so much this fall because his political philosophy mirrors that of my generation. Examples of this abound but I will cherry pick three particular policies which confirm my expectation.

First, I am thrilled about the Ted Kennedy Serve America Act. The law triples the size of AmeriCorps and increases available education subsidies for said volunteers, a worthy example of presidential leadership – and a stark contrast to Bush’s post 9/11 request that we “go shopping…” At the bill signing ceremony, President Obama prominently acknowledged my generation’s commitment to national service:

It’s the same spirit of service I’ve seen across this country. I’ve met countless people of all ages and walks of life who want nothing more than to do their part. I’ve seen a rising generation of young people work and volunteer and turn out in record numbers. They’re a generation that came of age amidst the horrors of 9/11 and Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an economic crisis without precedent. And yet, despite all this -- or more likely because of it -- they’ve become a generation of activists possessed with that most American of ideas, that people who love their country can change it.

On some level I know that choosing this as my first example is kind of pathetic, a bipartisan pat-yourself-on-the-back bill that is about as controversial as loving puppies, but the truth is that I see a bill like this as a true act of leadership, a demand for Americans to serve each other at a time when we’re feeling alienated, scared, and expecting our government to serve us.

Second, thank you White House for fighting the good fight for students. It’s about time that student loan reform was a political issue. The plan ends the system of middle men, terminating private student lending and makes all loans directly through the government. It also adds a bunch more money for Pell Grants and Perkins Loans. I don’t think the plan is perfect – I continue to be concerned about the insufficiency of increases to financial aid in assisting middle income families – but man is it a step up from the predatory system of student loans currently in practice. I wish everyone, or namely just my favorite Senator Bill Nelson and his Nelnet buddies in Omaha, had the sense to see how good of an idea this is.

Third, the changes in the administration’s policy towards Cuba are a harbinger of good to come. They’re not extensive but they are at the very least an extremely meaningful act of political symbolism and, from all indications, step one in a series of new steps US-Cuba and inter-hemisphere relations. OAS leaders seemed also to think so. This definitely fits my generation's post Cold War attitude.

Hardest job in America. I definitely don’t think the administration has been doing an absolutely complaint-free perfect job. Governing, especially now, is tough stuff. To take one example, I’ve been frustrated not to see a decisive, coherent approach to Guantanamo. (Note what I am NOT saying here.) The Bush administration really cornered those who have come after, saddling the Obama administration with a furious collection of radicalized prisoners under dubious self-made constructions of laws of war. I do believe Obama’s people are stuck between a rock and a hard place – bringing the prisoners into the States means the application of due process for trials that lack enough evidence to be convincing and the impossible task of finding a place to house them in the mean time – however the administration has resolved not to leave them at Gitmo or to use secret prisons, so they have to do something with these prisoners that isn’t sending them back to Yemen. (Or, if there isn't a case to be made, the law is the law and they have to send them back to Yemen as tough as it is to swallow.) My complaint about the lack of a decisive and coherent approach reflects my frustration that administration has continued to apply this dubious definition of international laws of war rather than a more domestic definition of criminal law, thus opening possibilities such as the continuation of the prison at Gitmo, a continuation of the dubiously legal military tribunals, etc. However, it’s tough stuff. They didn’t pull these folks in so they’re left working with, and probably not enough around, the system the Bush administration gave them… in conclusion, I’m pretty glad I’m not sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office these days.

ANYWAYS, that’s just a couple of thoughts. I have plenty more, if you want to know just ask.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

this is hardcore

Trial at Burning Fight this weekend. Hat tip to Kris Mission at WMF for the photo. EPIC video of the whole set is here.

PS I know that this is supposed to be a post about Trial but I have to add something. At about 28/30 min into this video I noticed in the bottom front of my screen a kid that looked pretty familar, then I heard a voice I know: Patrick fucking Flynn. It's kind of an embarassing thing for me to be such a big fan of this dude, mostly because at this point I'd say that we're at the very least acquaintances, but it's what it is. It's not often you see the singer of what is essentially the biggest band in hardcore being as stoked and into it as the next kid. We all like to pretend that's how it goes, but it's not. Pat, on the other hand, still comes out to small shows like when he was going hard for Rival Mob at Oxfam and is apparently going all out for Trial when he could have a cushy spot wherever the hell he wanted in that place. Not to nerd out or anything but the amount of respect I have for that kid is literally limitless and I couldn't be happier for him the HH dudes for all they've accomplished. They're the hardest working band in hardcore (they're in the fucking Philippines next week and are touring officially from now until forever) and deserve everything they've been able to achieve plus much much more.

EDIT: They posted a flyer for the schedule of this out with a bang world tour: 98 shows in 104 days over 39 countries.

Oof. I get tired just reading it.

EDIT: I think I just caught another PF stage dive about 21 minutes into the incredible Bane set during my favorite of all post OG hardcore jamz: COUNT ME OUT. I don't know how to explain this but I am absolutely bugging out watching this Bane set. Seriously, like BUGGING OUT. Everytime I see them, everytime I listen to them it's the same fucking rush of emotions I felt when I heard Count Me Out for the first time and it absolutely changed my life. I listened to Holding this Moment pretty much every single day on the bus ride to school sophomore year until I switched to Give Blood, which might be only slightly edged out by The Argument by Fugazi as my most-listened album of all time. No matter how many times I hear the lyric "I'll be here tomorrow, I'll be here next year. Just like this X on the back of my hand [I'm] not going nowhere...." it will cause a wrenching, visceral reaction in me. I literally have goosebumps watching Can We Start Again right now.

I just opted not to go out tonight so I can continue to think about how I "will not let clean shaven boys that all look the same toss hand grenades into this my faith" while I keep watching Burning Fight sets.

EDIT again: Approx 28:30 into this set Aaron's speech is just dead on. No one speaks like that dude does. Chills, literally.