Monday, June 30, 2008

Busy Sunday

1. Sunday service at Shiloh Baptist Church on 131st St in Harlem. We heard a rousing sermon about o-ppor-tu-ni-tay, heard the good young people's choir and enjoyed the leisurely pace of the proceedings and the enthusiastic raptures of some of the congregants. Then...
2. Fried Chicken at Charles' Southern Kitchen. Amen.
3. Caught the second half of the European Cup final between Germany and Spain. Tried to get into La Nacional on 14th St but it was worse than a steam bath in there. So we watched the game in air conditioned luxury at the Irish bar down the block. Everybody was rooting for Spain.
As I said yesterday, the good thing about the Germans is that no one likes them. Spain won, playing spiritedly and youthfully, 1-0. An amazing goal by Torres, who runs like he's the Energizer Bunny, like he's on crack. The Spanish team members seem on average 10 years younger than their European counterparts and they play accordingly. They are tireless and they have a great goalie, Casillas.
Good for them. Although I must say this soccer fever is a bit too much. It's only a game, señores.
3. Gay Pride Parade happening as soccer game was happening as Florent's last day celebration was happening. In NYC there is room for that and more, which is why I love this town to bits.
We didn't go to Florent because after Gospel, Chicken and Soccer, we were engentadas; that is, overtaxed with humanity.
Took a nap and then watched Pascale Ferran's lovely version of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley, all spring meadows and earthy sex.
Saw the fireworks for Gay Pride reflected on the windows of the building in front of us.
Who knew Sundays could be so eventful?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Eliasson cascades in NYC

Photo by the New York Times.

They look very beautiful at night.

Film withdrawal symptoms

I think I'm cranky because I haven't been to the movies in almost three weeks.

$600 Bush dollars

I just got my "economic stimulus" little check from the federal government. Until yesterday's horrendous slide of the stock market, I was thinking of donating them in full to Obama's campaign.
I was thinking of donating this evil money to whatever would hurt Bush and the Republicans the most.
You are welcome to contribute ideas.
Until yesterday's beginning of a love fest between Hil and Barack, I was thinking of giving the money to him, so he can be our President. I just don't want him to use the money to pay back her debt. What is that about? How dare they talk about unity NOW? Why didn't they think about freaking unity when they were tearing each other to shreds (or rather one of them was trying to tear the other one to shreds). How soon they forget! Assholes.
Now I'm wondering if I should not hold on to it for when the shit really hits the fan, which promises to be rather soon.
Perhaps the Republicans knew they were destroying the economy all along and they knew that the best way for us not to use that money against them is to just crush the economy of this country, so we hold on to the $600 to buy groceries. As if this is going to help us out of the shithole they've sunk us in. Motherfuckers.
As you can see, I'm upset.

Let the love fest begin

How long did we think it would take until the two Democratic Presidential candidates would start air kissing each other? I'm surprised it took this long. It's named politics, and it reeks.
Why does anybody who is not Hillary Clinton have to pay Hillary Clinton's campaign debt?
Why does Barack Obama feel the need to donate funds to pay for her mismanaged campaign?
You want to bet who is going to be his VP?
Guácala, as we say in Spanish.

Robert Mugabe is a criminal

And he should be judged for crimes against humanity in an international court.
Or someone should put him out of the misery he has unleashed in his country. Problem is, if that happens, his army of thugs will continue terrorizing the population.
I was looking for the photo that appeared on the cover of the NYT in which a baby's legs had been broken by Mugabe loyalists who were looking for his father, a supporter of the other side.
A baby's legs.
What can be done?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Look out for the hail of bullets...

...coming your way, courtesy of the SCOTUS. We won't have to wait long to hear about children murdered accidentally while playing at home and all other sorts of scary mayhem.
Owning guns is not a freedom nor a right. Law abiding citizens don't need guns. The police and the army need guns to fight crime. But arms makers are going to make a killing, and stupid Americans will keep the gun somewhere where it could hurt someone. Chances are it's not going to be a criminal.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Leopard Ladies

Being a neophyte at this Cannes thing, of course my attention was directed at the mother-daughter tandem team of whores who prowled the Gutter Bar and the festival at all hours of the day and night, wearing an ensemble of leopard print lingerie which they did not change out of for 10 days in a row.
So many questions to ask about these two dames:
1. Did they have several similar outfits or did they indeed use the same sweaty clothes for the duration?
2. What exactly is the role of the mother? For those of you who have never seen these two, they are aesthetically challenged, to say the least. The daughter must be in her late forties and as whores go, I assume she could potentially pass muster if you are either very drunk or very desperate or both. Yet the mother looks like a hardened munchkin and there is just no way to imagine any kind of menage of any sort with her in the picture. Unless, of course, you are the king of kink and you get off by just thinking of the possibility of a mother watching her own daughter prostitute herself for your pleasure. This is France, the place that gave the world, among other things, the Marquis de Sade, so it is not farfetched.
Some Venezuelan guys we met were so flummoxed by the pair that they thought the city of Cannes paid them to stroll around in their ratty garments. But why would the city of Cannes, a retirement community of wealthy people where a beer costs 17 bucks, want to promote sideshow freak whores for the benefit of tourism is beyond me.
There were many other working ladies parked in cars or at the Gutter Bar, who looked of a slightly different caliber, but the Leopard ladies rule. The night of the award ceremony the daughter was taking video of everybody coming down the red carpet. Then they hoofed their way towards the Martinez with the rest of us, the mother slapping her cheap platform slippers on the sidewalk with considerable effort.
Our friend Bob told us he had heard that the third generation is making her debut soon.
Can't wait.

2 Grand Prix for the price of one

It's a tie. Two pieces that could not be more different from each other.
My favorite, the Gorilla spot for Milka from Juan Cabral, is a beautiful piece of advertising. I don't even know why I like it so much. The first time I saw it, I was exhilarated by the surprise of it, the weirdness of it, the rightness of it. At following viewings it grows more endearing, because you wait for his moment with the drumming gorilla. It is just delightful. As it promises, it is sheer joy, but it an unexpected, fresh way. It works in many levels because the song is cheesy (the kind of cheesy we might once have liked, though we wouldn't admit it in public), because what is a gorilla doing with a drum set, because it is iconic and ineffable and cool as hell. I love it.
The Halo campaign seems to me to appeal only to male geeks, which are legion. It is undoubtedly a beautiful commercial, with a wondrous use of music, but it's for a video game, for crying out loud.
There is something that deeply bothers me about the fact that the advertising cloaks the product in a mantle of righteousness that I find appalling. IT'S A VIOLENT VIDEO GAME. I think jurors were swayed by the wow factor, by the intricacy of the production. I don't hate the commercial, but I hate that it won.
If I had my druthers, I would have strongly considered the HBO campaign (TV only), instead. It is a brilliant idea, magnificently executed. It is the living, breathing embodiment of the brand. Seen on the big screen at the awards ceremony, it gave me goosebumps.

Friday, June 20, 2008

For everything else there is Mastercard

Registration at the Cannes Lions: way too many euros.
Beer at the Carlton: 10 euro
Bad Crepe outside the Gutter bar with a crepe guy who thinks he is a clown: 5 euro
Hamburger at the Carlton: 31 euro
Bottle of water at the Martinez: 8 euro
Taxi to the hotel 5 minutes away: 20 euro

Being at Cannes for the 2008 Lions: Pricey.

In The Gutter

Mes enfants! I am suffering of blogger's withdrawal but contrary to my assumptions, it has been virtually impossible to blog from Cannes. Not for lack of technology but for the simple reason of party interference. So many parties, so little time.
I have much to tell you, but first let me rant, brag and kvetch a little.
The taxi situation requires a lengthy and vehement rant, if not an outright revolution. Basically, you can't flag 'em and there aren't that many. They disappear after 3 am and we've had to hoof it all the way to our exclusive accomodations after leaving the dregs of humanity at the Gutter Bar at the witching hour, of which I promise to tell more later. The drivers charge whatever they see fit according to some inscrutable logic devised by Richelieu 3 centuries ago, when cabs had horses. And I may be the only person who thinks Cannes is a hellhole for the rich.
Anyway. Allow me to brag: not that I have anything shortlisted or anything. It's more that I am emerging victorious of this endurance contest that is the party life in this festival. I have a brilliant strategy: a compulsory nap sometime in the evening, drinking anything made with grapes and nothing else. So far, no hangovers and no benders either. I'm very proud.
Plus, it's kind of interesting to observe the zombified revelers after a full day of drinking. It's like being stuck in a George A Romero movie.
It's a hard life, all this parties you HAVE to go to. Pool parties, beach parties, drinks at the Carlton, gutter bar to end the night...
All in the name of sound business.
As my clients say: I'm loving it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The good life in Cannes

I had a magnificent Marmite de Pecheur, fish stew, which I thought was Bouillabaise, but apparently in this restaurant if you want B. you need to order it 24 hours in advance. (!)
My fish stew was loaded with the most tender, fresh mussels, delicious fresh fish, French crawfish a delicate pink and huge jumbo shrimp, heads and all. It came with a rouille so good you could eat it by the spoonful, chunks of toasted bread and raw garlic. 
This and a glass of white wine.  Doesn't take that much to make me happy.
Then sipping free Champagne courtesy of Canadian Gary until 3 am last night.
Ah, the good life.
Pictures coming when I'm good and ready.
Alors, a la plage!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Travel Stereotypes...

...sometimes just happen to be true.
Greetings from Cannes, mon cheres, where yours truly is attending the 2008 Cannes Lions and basking in the Mediterranean retirement community charms (lots of overly tanned old people) of this intermittently quaint little town in the Cote d' Azur.
In any case, getting here was a slightly drawn out affair, as we traveled with frequent flyer miles through Milan and then we took a bus to Milano Centrale, a Mussolinian monument to modernity, from there a lovely and rather lengthy train ride to Nice, and another inter-city rail voyage to Cannes and then an interminable wait for le taxi to the hotel. And here we are.
But back to the stereotypes. A first class Italian ticket reminds you of the days of neorealist cinema. Which means this is perhaps the only European country that doesn't give a shit about being au courant with the trains. The first class train was a rickety let down, but as our chatty fellow passenger said: "Prima Classe a L' Italiana". Which is, seats covered in grime, an old, old train, but plenty of diverting company. To wit: La Mamma who is traveling to Ventimiglia (last town on the Italy-France border) and behaves as if she has not ever taken a train ride in her life or she's going to outer Mongolia. She is dead worried about who will help her with her luggage, but more importantly, how will she know where to get off the train. Plenty of assurances from all that the station name is prominently displayed and that one of the conductors will let her know five minutes before, does not cause any less consternation (as the PA system doesn't work or it does but they do not bother announcing the stations or they do so through a random logic that nobody can fathom). She spends the entire 5 hours fretting. Her son, suo carisimo figlio, who looks exactly like that old cartoon of the baby who smokes a cigar, has seen her to the train and she has sweetly needled him for as long as possible as to where to put her tiny but apparently extremely heavy suitcase. She has stood next to the window looking at her son looking at her departing for half an hour. Neither of them thinks to just say goodbye and call it a day.
Later, not to be outdone, our chatty travel companion also proudly announces that his mother (and he is a young sapling of about 30 plus if not more) is coming to pick him up at the station in Ligure. And she does.
So we have seen with our own eyes the Italian mamma-figlio devotion. It's all true.
I fall into a heavy slumber and when I wake up, the three Italian strangers who sit in my compartment, Mamma, Chatty Guy and another Signora, are having the most amazing conversation. Through my faulty knowledge of Italian I understand they are talking about Signora's son in law who has changed dramatically since he married her daughter: he now drinks and does drugs and is a major cattivo (bad guy). The daughter has appealed to the judge and they have a 3.5 year old daughter who says things that the chatty fellow passenger thinks are too sophisticated for a bambina her age and I wonder in amazement how come that three people who do not know themselves from Adam end up having a most personal conversation about a most thorny issue. The mamma and the chatty guy wish the woman who has spilled the beans buona fortuna. And then, after talking about mothers, I kid you not, for a little while, they segueway quite abruptly yet effortlessly into the second Italian national obsession: food.
Chatty guy starts explaining (it seems from the blue, but I guess it has a logical followthrough), that he loves seafood, and he makes this fish with delicately minced tomatoes and pepperoncini (gives entire recipe) but he doesn't care much for pizza and doesn't eat pasta because (mimics bloating stomach) and has never been too fond of crustaceans; and la Mamma tells him she makes fresh pasta with pommodori and this is the best thing ever and she makes risotto a la milanese, and they talk about regional delicacies and fresh pork meat and it goes on for hours. They are oblivious to the fact that they are torturing me.
If you saw this in a movie about Italians in Italy, you would think the filmmakers are stereotyping the characters.

Lest I forget: on the flight to Milan, a sweet toddler sings Volare with his mother.
Volare, oo, cantare, oooo, e blu e pinto di blu...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Habeas Corpus

It was a close call, but finally the Supreme Court, by a narrow 5-4, voted to restore Habeas Corpus and respect the Constitution for a change.
The usual evil suspects that voted against the Constitution: Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas.
Bunch of pricks.

Thursday, the court turned back the most recent effort to subvert justice with a stirring defense of habeas corpus, the right of anyone being held by the government to challenge his confinement before a judge. The court ruled that the detainees being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have that cherished right, and that the process for them to challenge their confinement is inadequate. It was a very good day for people who value freedom and abhor Mr. Bush’s attempts to turn Guantánamo Bay into a constitutional-rights-free zone. The right of habeas corpus is so central to the American legal system that it has its own clause in the Constitution: it cannot be suspended except “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
Reading the comments in the NYT, one still finds the assholes who think that by suspending habeas corpus, someone is going to bomb their lawn. It is possible that some of the "enemy combatants" unlawfully imprisoned in Guantánamo are dangerous people, but it is a known fact that there have been many prisoners for whom no evidence of wrongdoing exists. Nobody, good or bad, has had their day in court. This is unacceptable in the system we live in.
And it is a slippery slope: first goes anyone who looks Arab and then but for the grace of God go you and I. Fearmongering is the best weapon of despots.
Despite of Bush's best efforts we are still a country with democratic institutions, and not something resembling the Taliban. American citizens who don't comprehend this perhaps should move to Iran or Afghanistan or any of those places where they wouldn't know an individual right if it bit them in the ass.
This is America still. But what a close call.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The trouble with virginity

To me, the demand that a woman be a virgin when she gets married is prehistoric. Nobody has a right, except the body's owner, to decide what to do with it. In human history, men have never had this particularly female problem of people meddling with their bodies, attempting to control their bodies, crusading and punishing for control of what does not belong to them. But for women this is as ancient as Adam's rib (another offensive little myth). If it's not virginity, it's abortion and if it is not that, it's the crazy demand for women's bodies to conform to someone else's fantasy that has nothing to do with actual human beauty. But the outcome is the same: it makes women feel that they have no say in the matter of their own bodies, their own selves and their own destinies. It makes us less than we are.
What appalls me is that women have been complicit with this kind of debasement for centuries. Forever. We still are. Mothers who demand to see proof of virginity after the wedding night are only doing the men's bidding and a disservice to their gender. I know I sound like Betty Friedan 30 years ago, but it needs to be repeated. Women have to be the sole designers of their own fates. And men can kiss my ass.
In the West, advances have been made, at least in the camp of virginity. In other cultures apparently not. In France they are having a mini crisis because some Muslim guy (although this is not exclusive to Muslims, it is the province of despots of all faiths) expected his bride to be a virgin and he wanted the marriage annulled her when he alleged that she was not. They went to court and the court ruled in the man's favor. The French, (liberté, fraternité, egalité, etc) hit the roof and with reason. WTF? Who is he to demand this? Does he own her? It is a cultural thing, but what an asshole. As a fellow Muslim said:

“The man is the biggest of all the donkeys,” said Abdelkibir Errami, the center’s vice president. “Even if the woman was no longer a virgin, he had no right to expose her honor. This is not what Islam teaches. It teaches forgiveness.”

I have trouble with the concept of honor too. This benighted concept in which the woman has to remain pure and chaste for the benefit of the man, otherwise she may be forever disgraced (if not stoned to death or some such grizzly retribution) is yet another form of domination and control.

This is the modern world. There have been advances in human rights for women. We are not in the dark ages anymore. I don't see what is so complicated about adhering to the laws and customs of the land you live in. If you don't wish to live in the modern world, there are plenty of countries where you can behave in the fashion you want with nobody even batting an eye.

The other day I saw a horribly disturbing XXX rated porn video, which also brings us back to the dark ages. The woman in this video was completely debased by her very own self and a bunch of men. The most disturbing aspect of it was the way they treated her, as if she had no will, no opinion, no self. She basically became a collection of orifices (and you know what, there are only three so after a while it becomes rather pointless and boring). Now, to me this comes full circle to those men who demand that their women be chaste. It is exactly the same thing, as both treat women like things that have no will of their own, no history, no self, no desires, no ideas, no inner life, no say in the matter.

I posit it is our fault. If we women allow this to continue happening, we have no one but ourselves to blame. It has to stop.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Forget Drugs

If you want the most amazing rush, the most mindblowing high ever, the latest hallucinogenic Latin American import that is cheaper, faster, more dangerous and better than ecstasy, crystal meth (not that I know) or any other drug is this:

Argentinian dulce de leche with tiny chocolate chips inside. It so good, I can't even get the picture straight. It's so good, it should be forbidden.

Chicken a la King

This does not happen in New York any longer:
In fact, has it ever happened before? Probably very rarely.

Last night we ventured out to 151st Street in Harlem to eat the magnificent, one and only fried chicken at Charles' Southern Kitchen. As we arrived, we noticed with not a little alarm that the place was closed. However, the takeout was still open. Mr. Charles himself was there and he kindly opened the dining room for us so we could eat our splendid takeout all by ourselves. While our mouths watered at the sight of the scrumptious offerings, we had a brief but acute panic attack for we did not immediately see the chicken. Yet sensing our desperation, our gracious hosts quickly guided us to the chicken, which is duly enthroned above the rest. We took our styrofoam containers laden with edible bliss and sat quietly to enjoy this blessing.
It was magical.
Fried chicken, candied yams and collard greens.
The chicken is king.

I bet the turkeys were smothered by that righteous chicken.

Impostors to the throne

Mr. Ex-Enchilada, who is in town to promote his latest book, kindly brought me a stash of Mexican Japanese peanuts and, lo and behold, they are not Nishikawa and yet they are very good.
In my crazy mind, they taste like Nishiwaka used to taste in my childhood. A bit more salty and a bit more spicy. They are not as perfect, but they do the trick. I just had a baggie with lime juice. YUUUUM.
They aim to imitate, with a Japanese-y sounding name, and a geisha too. This is one of the hottest topics of the internet, mind you, to judge from the many queries on the subject.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Adventures in Tangoland

A week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and here are some fast afterthoughts:

• The nightlife rocks. These people think daybreak is the only decent hour to go home after a night out on the town, which may very well happen on a weekday. And the beauty is that there is a wide variety of offerings for all kinds of tastes. There are lavish discos with sadistic dj's, but in general Argentinians have a pretty sophisticated and ecumenical taste in music. A stroll on the main street in San Telmo on Sunday will give you in just a couple of blocks, a fantastic Klezmer quartet, a duo doing the Stephane Grapelli-Django Reinhardt swing, a pretty powerful Reggae combo, a Brazilian batucada, and of course, Tango. Clubs have all kinds of music, but I guess for good music it is better to go to a bar. The two discos I was forced to visit at gunpoint were not my cup of tea, but they must be heavenly for people who love to have their eardrums blasted by soulless music.
• I know there are many poor people in Argentina, but it is not like Mexico or other Latin American countries where the economic differences in social strata are abysmal. In Argentina there is a solid, huge middle class. It is a country of immigrants and therefore much better integrated socially, it seems to me, than a place like Mexico, where never the twain shall meet if the white rich people can help it. So then, the instances of counterfeit money floating around freely and the disappearance of the bag (loaded with lovingly selected family presents) of a colleague of mine, under the hotel's watch (at the luggage safe room, no less) seem particularly mean-spirited. I don't believe in justifying when poor people steal, but dire hunger is more understandable than this kind of well-heeled highway robbery perpetrated by corrupt people who do have food on the table. It is loathsome.
• In Mexico, film crews are made up of working class people. Here, at least our film crew was made up of what seemed to me to be well educated, middle class kids. These kids were utterly professional, serious and hardworking. They did not seem to possess a sense of entitlement. This is interesting to me.
• I had a conversation with my client in which we agreed that upper class Mexicans are the most insufferable of all upper class people in the world. (Let's have a competition!) There may be some exceptions here and there (I know good friends of mine who are fine, fine people), but in general, the rich in Mexico are truly insufferable (compared to for instance the Venezuelans, who are as filthy rich, but much more personable). I think this comes from living in a society where the downtrodden are servile and the rich are haughty and entitled, and they do everything in their power not to resemble anything that may confuse them with the humans around them. I'm sure the Argentinian rich are a close second, or at a dead heat, though. It's just a hunch.
• Argentinians have the reputation in Latin America for being arrogant and superior. The people I met, none of them were like that. Quite the contrary: open, curious, intelligent, fun, warm. However, there are certain people in the service sector that seem to resent to have to serve (just as there are a lot of extremely gracious people). A waiter who refuses to come to your aid (when you are thirsting for a drink). Or a waiter who is too clever by half. A caterer who doesn't even pull the the saran wrap from the plates, or even gives you a plate so you can make your own sandwich. I bet it is not malicious; it is something else, an itsy bitsy thorn on the side, a tiny little pinprick of unnecessary pride.
• Once more, because of causes beyond our control, we missed eating the fabled Persicco ice cream.
This means we have to go back. I did have a dulce de leche with chocolate chips at Freddo. Great, but quite a handful of sugar after several licks.
One thing I do love about Argentinians is that they have an enormous sweet tooth and they eat sweet stuff for breakfast. I had the most wonderful homemade jams at the breakfast buffet in the hotel.
And they do these little sweet croissants called medialunas which are the reason I am starving myself today.

What next?

Read this Frank Rich editorial and read my mind.
This is what cannot happen:
Hillary and Barack are not a dream ticket. It would be the height of hypocrisy for him to choose her as running mate, and for her to accept it.
I'd be horrendously dissappointed.
As for the cluelessness of the old guard, to me, the Hillary-Barack rivalry can best be summed up by the analogy of the Microsoft vs. Apple commercials, whereby Hillary is the old, bloated, dysfunctional system and Barack is the thing of beauty that works.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I have decided to censor a picture in this blog that seems to be making the rounds in a lot of Arab countries, or presumably among people of the Muslim persuasion.
I am very curious to know if this picture, of two female samba dancers at a fancy club in Marrakech, is popular because Middle Eastern men like to look at the scantily clad women, or because somebody very fanatical is extremely offended by it.
Readers from the Arab world, if you have searched for this photo and could enlighten me on this matter, I'd be extremely grateful.
Be it far from me to want to provoke the ire of fundamentalists.

It was an evil cabdriver

May he rot in hell for all eternity. It is possible that I was not swindled, as I thought, at the Global Exchange window in the airport, but by an unscrupulous taxi driver at the very late hour of 6 am after coming out from Crobar. After I sent an email complaint, the people from the exchange place contacted me promptly and told me that they checked the serial numbers on the bills I provided and their video thereof and according to them, they don't match. They invited me to see the videos by myself. Not that I totally believe them, but then again the insidious nature of this scam is that you don't trust anything or anybody and neither do they. This set me thinking that perhaps it was a fucking cabbie. Now, most of the cabbies here are decent and some are great conversationalists. But that one was a mutt. I remember him very well and if I run across him -- fat chance -- I will have him arrested.
Now I am thoroughly confused about where and when I may have received the fake money, but one thing is certain: counterfeit money is particularly humiliating. You are stuck with trash and many people tell you to try to use it on some other unsuspecting schmuck. This is hard, 1) because at this point it is very hard to find someone unsuspecting; 2) because it feels like terrible karma. Why would I do to someone else what this asshole did to me?
Counterfeit money is nasty.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Counterfeit Argentine Pesos

A freaking fake.

I feel violated. I exchanged $140 at the money exchange booth inside the Buenos Aires Airport. It turns out that they gave me some counterfeit bills! I have about $250 worthless Argentinian pesos.
This is the first time this ever happens to me. I tried to pay for a beer and a cappuccino and the waiter would not accept my bill. It turned out that all of them were just paper. One really feels like a schmuck when this happens, but it's not that I changed the money with a cabdriver. I did it at an official exchange place. If you look at the bills, indeed they are kinda funky, but it's not that easy to tell if you don't know how local money should feel to the touch. They even have a fake watermark which also gives them away.
What to do?
The police will probably think I faked them. If I ever succeed in getting through to them it will probably be more trouble than it's worth.
My feeling is get a baseball bat and bash the head in (flying shards of shattered glass included) of the c__t that gave them to me. I'm pretty sure she knew what she was doing, although she seemed the nicest. Still, she asked me if I didn't want to change 40 bucks more to get a better exchange rate.
I do not appreciate being a sucker.
Most probably, when it's my turn to fly out I will go back to that dump and raise a little hell, just to feel slightly vindicated.
With all due respect, what kind of godforsaken, piss-ant dump is this that there are so many counterfeit bills floating around?
Cabdrivers will not accept money that has a little tear, nobody ever has change and then you get swindled in official places. Not good for the P.R., okay?
One of my colleagues got his counterfeit bill from an ATM machine in a bank!
So, cautionary tale: if you still insist on coming here, make sure you take a good look at the bills even if they come from a cash machine (in which case u r fucked) or from reputable looking institutions. Do not change your money at Global Exchange in the airport. You should behave like freaking Sherlock Holmes from Scotland Yard when confronted with any paper money. Have fun!
I will keep you posted.

I love the nightlife...

I like to boogie, at the disco ahaaa oh yeah...
That's how old I am, my darlings, but not Precambrian enough to pass on the chance of a dip into the fabled Buenos Aires nightlife, which indeed starts quite late and ends much, much later.
We first had a couple of rounds of cocktails at the stuffy Faena bar, which is very beautifully and ostentatiously decorated by one Phillipe Starck and populated by an ostentatious, albeit not so beautiful, crowd.
I stayed at the Faena when it had just opened and it seemed that le tout Buenos Aires came to see and be seen. The crowd last night goes to show that faddish fickleness is not the exclusive province of New York. The crowd last night was (I'm sorry to sound like a snob, but if it's any consolation I didn't like the opening crowd either) probably the local version of the bridge and tunnel posse, but way too long in the tooth and mostly smoking cigars. It was so defensively square and middle class, it was almost heartbreaking.
So then we all went to Crobar, (circa 2 am) of which there is a hangar here too. Never been to the other ones, but this one was pretty impressive. There were oodles of supplicants (at a ratio of about 17 gentlemen per lady) at the door and at first it seemed insurmountable, but a brazen colleague of mine just went straight to the rope, like Moses on a mission. He was asked if we had a table, were on the list (club ridiculousness is a global condition) and he said: "No, we are tourists and we want to come in". The rope parted like the roiling waters of the Red Sea, to reveal of course, five and a half people inside.
Imagine saying that line to the steroid-enhanced, recently released from a maximum security prison, NY bouncers: We are tourists. Open Sesame.
You think?
Anyway, I am so old that the crowd seemed like kindergartners on a rampage to me. Lots of young, young, young bands of hipster males, to their credit, dancing by themselves, or after many more drinks that they could handle, hitting desperately hard on young, young, young girls who looked older and wiser than them.
The music was pretty good at the beginning (like in Faena, really good) and then as is usual, the later, the more crowded, the more horrible the music. Either Djs are secret sadists, like dentists, or people have no taste.
I survived by drinking my 3.5 vodka tonic of the night and the complimentary version of Red Bull they gallantly ply you with in order to ensure you keep drinking. I would have loved to know what poison it had that kept me so buoyant and alert, but it was too dark and strobey to read the label.
We made it home after 6:30 am and still left some of our more hardcore buddies behind. Today, I have a hole of sweet tangy goo where my stomach should be, I am sleep deprived, hoarse from smoking and inhaling everybody else's smoke (no mayor Bloomberg here), but not particularly hungover.
However my plan of hitting the gym and/or the pool has been scratched indefinitely.