Monday, September 24, 2012

Bulletins From BA #05

Bulletins From BA #05
24 September 2012

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

Photo Update Alert:
“BA-Statuary 1” "BA-Aguas Corriente”

Well, it’s just been crazy busy around here since the last posting, although I’m pleased to report that much has been accomplished in several areas.

Domestic – A.J. and I finally received our ridiculously large shipment (131 boxes) from the States; so for three days, we did basically nothing but unpack, arrange/store stuff, and break down boxes for collection by the cartoneros. These are the folks (sometimes entire families) who pick out recyclables and haul them away on large pushcarts. I must say, we did a pretty good job arranging this shipment. There was definitely more “Oh, I’m so glad to see that.” than “What the hell were we thinking?”

Employment – I have applied for a position as “Rover Secretary” at the Embassy; basically the same gig I had in South Africa where I worked in the Temp Pool. I had to reapply for a Top Secret Squirrel Security Clearance, so if you get a call from the Feds, don’t panic. Just tell them what a hard-working, law-abiding, all-purpose American I am. You know it’s true.

Tourism – We have seen much more of Buenos Aires, including arguably the most beautiful building in town, that being El Palacio de las Aguas Corriente (The Palace of Flowing Waters); or, less highfalutinly, the water works. Completed in 1894, the palace still functions as a pumping station and houses water company offices, as well as a small museum. Featuring, I might add, an excellent display of toilets.

We also took a bus tour organized by the CLO (Community Liaison Office), spending several hours shlepping from one tourist highlight to the next. It was fun, and gave us a better feel for the topografía de la ciudad and a preview of places we might want to visit again.

Culture – Anne and I had the great good fortune of scoring tickets to a musical event entitled “Troilo Compositor,” a tribute to Anibal Troilo, the extraordinary bandoneonist, director de orquesta y… compositor. The program took place at Teatro Maipo, a charming place in el distrito de los teatros, with, as is the accepted custom in Buenos Aires, seats designed by Torquemada. Not just uncomfortable, mind you. Agonizing.

[Sidebar and Rant: This is one of the most sophisticated cities in the world - “La París de Sudamérica” - and a magnet for performing artists. In my opinion, forcing audiences to endure truly horrible seating is disrespectful, not just to paying customers, but also to performers. It’s difficult to focus attention on the stage when you are in pain. Custom, my ass.]
The concierto was, thankfully, magnificence itself. Thirteen músicos virtuosos, the youngest of whom is my age (65), each played a Troilo composition on Troilo’s actual bandoneon. (The bandoneon is an accordion-like instrument that is the instrumental soul of tango.) Fourteen players were scheduled to appear, but one maestro had passed away only days before the show. His performance on a previous concert video was shown, however, and brought the house down.
I have heard the bandoneon live on a few occasions, but this was an altogether different experience. These men brought literally centuries of experience, emotion, and musical intelligence to the stage. The porteños in the audience, many of the same older generation as the músicos (musicians), listened deeply and responded with fervent respect and enthusiasm.
For my part, I came away with a profound appreciation for the bandoneon and the music of Anibal Troilo. Not that I have any inclination to seriously take up the instrument; it’s a bit late in the game for that. But I was inspired to absorb as much of the essence of the evening’s music as possible and incorporate it into my own playing. And to keep playing until the end. Música es vida.