Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Giovanni | Recoleta, Buenos Aires - 2009

Snapped this photo while working for Terra on a project I pitched on street fashion, a la Sartorialist. This guy was awesome.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Emiliano | Córdoba, Argentina - 2009

Finding ourselves with some extra travel time, we decided to get out of Buenos Aires and head for Argentina's interior. After a 10(ish)-hour bus ride, we eventually wound up in Córdoba, where we met all sorts of interesting people and formed a mult-national army of jubliance. But more on that later.

For now, here's a photo of Emiliano, a high school student who asked us if we'd let him take our pictures outside the Iglesia Catedral for an art project he was doing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gotan Project: Una musica brutal

Just discovered Gotan Project, a multicultural trio of musicians (an Argentine, a Frenchman and a Swiss) based in Paris. Probably best known for their first album, La Revancha del Tango, their interpretation of tango music captures – for me at least – a part of what it feels like to walk the streets of Buenos Aires.

Really, all of the tracks are sensational, but the song I can't stop listening to: "Una musica brutal"

Here it is, dubbed over a clip from "Take the Lead" with Antonio Banderas.

Descubrimos vos y yo
en el triste carnaval
una musica brutal
melodias de dolor

Despertamos vos y yo
y en el lento divagar
una musica brutal
encendio nuestra pasion

Dame tu calor,
bebete mi amor

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On the stairs

I passed the accordion player today while I was galloping up the stairs in the Subte in an attempt to do some damage control on my tardiness to class. He looked pretty serene in the midst of the bustle.

Monday, July 20, 2009

La reserva ecológica

From the ecological reserve in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We've all become accordion men

The elderly man totters onto the subway lugging a suitcase and an old accordion that looks like it might have seen service in Evita's day. He plops the flimsy luggage down, sits on it and unceremoniously begins to play. He eeks out wheezy, rushed versions of well known classical pieces, his knees opening and closing to accommodate the Slinky-like movements of the floppy instrument.

"Quien quiere; quien puede," he says, requesting donations rather unobtrusively for a street performer. ("Whoever wants; whoever can.")

The long wisps of his comb-over begin to come loose as his head lolls over accordion, his grimy fingers mechanically manipulating the blackened keys. After a few hasty numbers, he rises.

"Disculpen las molestias. Muy amable." ("Pardon the bother. Very kind.") And with that, he passes the hat and makes his way to the next car after receiving only a few scant donations.

It struck me that these days journalists are a little like these subway performers, catering to a semi-captive audience, practicing our skills for free (on the Internet) and hoping that someone will kick some money our way. And the audience enjoys it. It enriches the travel experience, but money's tight right now. You're good and all, but sorry.

When we get up and go, they'll miss us for a little while, but they'll get along. And besides, there will always be some of us entering the subway car, offering something for nothing, because perhaps our art – our writing and interviewing – is less for them and more to satisfy our own needs and feelings of responsibility.

Yet I'll add this bit, almost like a coda, which I read in the comments of a column about humanity in journalism:

"We do it to help people, to share information, to give people knowledge. To break people’s hearts and open them again, open them up to new things, new ideas." -- Amy Segreti

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Subte kids

Child labor. It's a tough thing to capture. But that's what Periodismo Social wanted this week. I'm not exactly sure how to explain all the jitters and hangups that accompany an assignment like this, but the tension was especially palpable on this one. I guess it's something I've been feeling a lot lately. When I'm back home, I'm in control, able to calculate risk. Here, I'm back on my heels, forced to take a more reactionary, observational approach. And that's not always conducive to creating the necessary avenues to a good photo.

But, there I was nonetheless, so I sank into the greasy underground to spend some time on the Subte (short for subterraneo) in timid hopes of making some pictures of the kids that sell sticker books and other small baubles. They wend their way through between those standing to place their products in the laps of those sitting. Once they've distributed to the whole car, they work their way back, recovering their merchandise and collecting a few pesos from those that decided to buy. For most, it's something to be ignored.

One of the oddest things about the squadron of children, teenagers and disabled adults pacing the aisles of the cars is that there seems to be a sort of class hierarchy, even within that form of work. Some are shabby, dirt under their fingernails, wiping runny noses. Others are actually well dressed – clean jumpers; crisp, dark jeans; name-brand trainers.

Two children stood out in particular. I noticed an older man with a guitar on his back holding a little boy's hand as they made their way to a different station. They were carrying on, greeting the other vendors they met on their way through station and having a good time. I wonder if they were related. The boy was dragging a stool with him, and there was a spring in his step that contradicted the difficult circumstances implied by his faded clothes and grimy skin. Everything seemed fun and happy as he bounced along, even rakish, until he passed an overflowing trashcan, reached up and grabbed a discarded juicebox. He put the straw to his lips, sucking the few drops that remained. Then he tossed it to the ground, stomped it flat, and they continued on their way.

The other was a quiet little girl, sitting unobtrusively on the seat the end of one of the cars. She had a stack of sticker books and bobby pins with her – more than she could carry by herself, – ready for individual sale. Her jeans had glittery butterfly patterns on them, and her Chucks had neon mismatched laces. She had highlights in her hair. Yet she was by herself. Her clothing was nice, so why was she alone on the subway, trying to scrounge a few pesos here and there from pitying customers?

I wish I knew more about the intricate culture of subway vending.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

American abroad

Yesterday was my third Independence Day spent outside the United States (and my fourth spent rather unconventionally), and I have to say that being abroad really makes you appreciate home. This year, I celebrated with American military marches, free hot dogs, free beer, and a bar-full of fellow countrymen.

A short list of things I love about America this year:

  • Fast cars and freedom
  • Free water and refills in restaurants
  • The U.S. Field Artillery March (as it did in France, this came in especially handy for celebrating)
  • Kitsch American-flag attire
  • Fantastic television (can anyone say Mad Men and Band of Brothers? The list goes on.)
  • Poop-free sidewalks
  • Shouting, "The Yanks are coming! The Yanks are coming!"

Seriously, though, freedom is precious. The freedom to think, say and act according to your beliefs is the greatest success of the American experiment. Sure, it's not perfect, and we certainly make plenty of mistakes, but America is a great country. Happy birthday, baby.

Also, I thought this was an interesting blog by Nicholas Kristof.

And to all my fellow Americans who also are abroad, this is my gift to you: