Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bulletins From BA #17

Bulletins From BA #17
09 octubre 2013

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

[Noted in Passing - Today is John Lennon’s 73rd birthday.]

Unbelievably, it’s been two months since the last Bulletin. I would apologize for flagrant dereliction of duty as correspondent, but I simply haven’t had much to report, certainly nothing worth your precious reading time. But in the interests of inter-hemispheric communication and not being totally forgotten (“He’s still in Buenos Aires? Really?”), here goes.

It took long enough, but Anne and I finally made it to an actual milonga, a place where normal people go to dance tango and participate in its peculiar rituals. We had guests in from the States, so we took them to El Niño Bien, a venerable milonga held weekly in a local community center and recommended to us by our friends Cherie and Ruben, who are professional tango instructors. What really sealed the deal was the fact that the event started at 7:00 PM, not midnight, as is the norm.

As you might expect, it was an older crowd that packed the place and filled the capacious dance floor. A.J. and I demurred on actually dancing (I am fearless when it comes to playing tango on the accordion, but the dance is complex and intimidates the hell out of me.) and spent an absolutely lovely evening drinking champagne, chatting in imperfect español, and watching older tangueros in suave suits dance with well turned-out ladies in fabulous shoes. It was una noche excelente.

Speaking of excellent nights, this past weekend I was invited to perform a short set as part of the celebration for the 70th Anniversary of ARICANA, the Binational Center (BNC) in Rosario, some 300km from Buenos Aires. As compensation, ARICANA agreed to pick up the tab for expenses. So, since shlepping an accordion on a bus is a burdensome proposition (at least), Anne and I contracted with Ricardo, our inestimable go-to tour operator, to hire a remise (private car) and driver (Javier), who took very good care of us. Our hotel was simple, satisfactory, and not far from the event.

The show consisted of myself, students from a local school of musical theatre (complete with tango as well as a delightfully cheesy version of “New York, New York”), and a local chorus that sang, among other things, Negro spirituals in dialect, complete with Spanish accent. (A brief pause while you consider that.)

[Critics Sidebar - The accordion player’s performance was “un gran éxito” (a great success), being described by various astute audience members as "romántico", "emocional" y "sentimental". In Argentina, these are words of high praise indeed.]

Following this epic production, the assemblage was fêted with drinks and a four-course dinner, making for an altogether wonderful soirée. It was an honor to have been included.

News Update - Some of you have inquired about the local effects of the current shutdown of the U.S. government. We are still up and running in Buenos Aires, but many Embassy functions and activities have been curtailed or strictly limited. For the moment, no one has been furloughed, but that will change, should this impasse continue. The shutdown is very bad news.

Culpability for this totally preventable debacle resides, false equivalencies aside, squarely with the GOP Congressional delegation. As a group, they covet power, but function only to impose their will, regardless of logic or consequence. Their sanctimonious disdain for governance, the job they were constitutionally elected to do, is matched only by their documentable incompetence.

Moreover, they are intellectually circumscribed and spiritually malicious. They proclaim their patriotism, but behave like terrorists holding our economy hostage, like bumptious vandals willing, indeed, eager to bring down our entire government. They bring discredit to the United States and I am profoundly embarrassed for my country.

Good luck (buena suerte) to us all.

[Noted in Passing - Today is Sean Lennon’s 38th birthday.]


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