The Monkey collects a few more photos from his 1997-98 residence in and 2004 visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Buenos Aires, Hora Cero.
From his balcony, El Mono watches the whirl of Avenida Callao at midnight.
Sitting in the sunshine on his balcony, the Monkey tucks into mate (pronounced mah-tay), a tea much preferred by Argentines, Brasilians, Paraguayans, and Uruguayans (it could be the official drink of Mercosur!). Bitter and earthy, the green tea is prepared in a hollowed-out gourd (also called a mate) and mixed with hot water. Mate partisans can’t go long without it, judging by the amount of people the Monkey spotted with a thermos of hot water in one hand and a mate in the other (walking, sitting, on the bus, riding bikes…).
At the Centro Cultural de la Recoleta, El Mono took a moment to pose with a sculpture of one of the great tango composers and musicians, Astor Piazzolla. Born in the Argentine seaside city of Mar del Plata, Piazzolla spent several childhood years living in New York’s East Village, where his father gave him his first bandoneon (the accordion-like instrument prevalent in tango). In 1936, his family returned to Mar del Plata, from whence young Astor moved to Buenos Aires to pursue his love of tango. Piazzolla played with several leading tango orchestras throughout the 1940s, and by the 1950s he was exploring his own variant of the form, incorporating influences from jazz to Stravinsky. Constantly modifying his sound and his orchestrations, Piazzolla pushed the boundaries of tango, becoming world-renowned for the divine, deeply emotive music he continued creating until his death in 1992. “Oblivion” is a heart-wrenching example of Piazzolla’s rare genius.
Were it not such an icon of the city, the Monkey would have left this poorly exposed shot of the Obelisk on the cutting room floor. But it’s just passable enough, so, well, here it is.
With all these fascinating places (and so many more the Monkey didn’t get to), it’s understandable why this was the only picture he had of himself in Buenos Aires from his seven-month period living there in 1997 and 1998. It might have to do with the Monkey and his photographer being a bit distracted by the local, er, scenery (the porteña, or Buenos Aires woman, can be quite an eye-catcher).
Nonetheless, perhaps inspired by the porteños’ irreverence and intellectual sensibilities, the Monkey did pose for this photo in Buenos Aires’ Recoleta Cemetery, where many Argentine elites once maintained family tombs. The crumbling state of many of the graves, including this one, parallels the “noble rot” of so many of the precious Beaux-Arts buildings in the capital, relics from a bygone era that Argentina continuously strives to reattain.
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