Friday, August 31, 2012

Bulletins From BA #04

Bulletins From BA #04
31 August 2012

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

Photo Update Alert:
"BA Buildings (1)"

So, last week we are walking home after a lovely brunch with colleagues in the 29th floor apartment of Anne’s boss. Great view, interesting people, excellent chow… all in all, a delightful morning. Naturalmente, it could not last. A large bird, we suspect an opportunistic pigeon, was waiting in the trees. I won’t subject you to a detailed description; suffice it to say that the fowl’s accuracy was unerring and the payload copious. But in the city, where pigeons and people must coexist, this sort of thing will happen.

So, this past Saturday, Anne and I were walking along Avenida del Libertador and decided to stop and take a photo of a statue of Evita Duarte Peron. As we approached, we became aware that we had been splattered yet again with a noxious substance. Naturalmente, I suspected fowl play. (Sorry, but it had to be said.) Fortuitously, a couple behind us was Johnny-on-the-spot offering to help us clean up the gunk. And, if possible, rob us blind.

Here’s the official State Department description: “A common scam is to spray mustard or a similar substance on the tourist from a distance. A pickpocket will then approach the tourist offering to help clean the stain, and while doing so, he or an accomplice robs the victim.” Now, A.J. and I are not a couple of rubes. We’ve made our way through two tours overseas and pay close attention to security briefings. So, we held on to our stuff and walked away. It was a disconcerting experience, but only a hassle, not a tragedy.

[Sidebar: The perpetrators were subsequently apprehended by sharp-eyed members of the Policía Federal Argentina (A.P.F.) and our accounts taken by a young, solicitous, and muy guapo (handsome) policeman named Dominguez. What became of the perps, I cannot say. But Anne and I returned to our apartment, changed clothes, and resolutely sallied forth once more.]

Our destination was El Ateneo Grand Splendid, possibly the most beautiful librería (bookstore) on the planet. Espléndido, indeed. (I’ve posted a few photoz that only begin to it justice.) If you ever come to Buenos Aires, this place should be in your Top 10… maybe Top 5. I plan to return and perhaps, if I learn to read español well enough, purchase a text on la historia del tango.

[Sidebar: At El Ateneo, I acquired a double CD set of orchestral tango music by Osvaldo Pugilese y Su Orquesta. Maestro Pugliese (1905-1995) did not fool around: Grand piano, multiple bandoneons, and acres of strings. Wondrous music, and muy dramático even by Argentine standards.]

Speaking of music, we recently attended a concert, co-sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Office, featuring four pianists - three Americans and one Argentine. The concert was held at the Fortabat Museum, which houses the private art collection of María Amalia Sara Lacroze Reyes Oribe de Fortabat Pourtale, aka Amalita Fortabat (1921-2012), former patron of the arts and richest woman in Argentina. The museum is located on Dique (Dock) 4 in the Puerto Madero area, a huge landscape of reclaimed waterfront that inevitably warrants further investigation.

Capsule Concert Review: The speeches seemed to go on and on, and the seats absolutamente aspirado (sucked), but the musicians presented a varied, entertaining, and extremely well accomplished programme. And, during el intervalo (intermission), we took the opportunity to view some of la colección de arte, which is truly maravillosa. Señora Fortabat did not fool around.



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