Writing matters

Just an update on some writing things involving some expats that have a home in Buenos Aires….

Peter Robertson & I have released the latest issue of The International Literary Quarterly. Lots of good poetry, stories, & essays in this issue.

Maya Frost is on a tour of the U.S. to promote her book “The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education“. Follow Maya’s blog for updates from the road. I’m enjoying her video interviews with her editor, agent, & others.

A huge congrats out to Ellen Bryson for signing with the highly respected Henry Holt & Co to publish her debut novel Hungry next year. We’re very excited about that.

I’m sure there are a lot of others out there writing and publishing, but those are just a few I know personally. If anyone knows other expats in Argentina that are publishing, please leave comments and links.

Argentine politics everywhere

Mid-term elections are coming up quickly & if you live here then you can’t escape the media blitz by all the politicians.

Even today when I went to my RSS reader and opened up the San Francisco-based literary blog Conversational Reading I came across an unexpected feed ad for Margarita Stolbizer.

stobizer ad

Obviously a targeted combination of georeferencing and Google’s algorithm detecting that Conversational Reading does on occasion mention Argentine literature and, every now & then, include some Spanish-language excerpts, though not at all on this particular posting. Now, I’m wondering which Argentine political ad I will see next in my feed reader.

Farewell to Alfonsín

This afternoon Ceci & I met up with Robert to stake out a spot on Av Callao to watch the funeral procession of former President Raul Alfonsín .

After the procession many in the crowd flowed onto Av Callao to follow the coffin to Recoleta Cemetery, but we decided to take a side street and come up to the cemetery via calle Junín where we found the mounted honor guard lined up outside the cemetery walls.

We assumed that there was nothing else to see but we wandered up toward the cemetery anyway. Then we got swept into the surging crowd as an entourage surrounding Alfonsín’s son moved towards the entrance of the cemetery. Then Ceci & I got separated from Robert. Never saw him again.

The police were pushing through trying to form a passage so that the coffin could make it to the cemetery. At this point I just held up the camera and turned on the recording mode as the flag-draped coffin moved by. Actually, for quite a while, the coffin just sat there. Not a very good video but definitely a typical Buenos Aires in-the-crowd moment. I love that! But, I later learned that while I was recording this video someone in that very packed crowd stole my wallet. Fortunately, I never carry much money or anything valuable in my wallet, so the theft doesn’t bother me too much.

Perhaps the person with the best vantage point of the funeral was this dude in the crane.

Plaza de Mayo, 1898

Not a very good quality photograph but shows a festive Plaza de Mayo for Christmas 1898.

Carnaval, Buenos Aires

Argentina on priority watch list for copyright piracy

Argentina is on the 2009 priority watch list of the International Intellectual Property Alliance. Sounds ominous sharing the list with China, Pakistan, and Russia. But, oh, wait, there’s also Canada….Canada?!

The Alliance produced a 7-page report on the woes of intellectual property protection in Argentina (PDF).

Of course, if you live in Buenos Aires then it comes as no surprise. We’ve all seen the guys hawking music compilations on the bus. (And I’ve been tempted to buy the best of Sandro.) And there’s all sorts of software and movies for sale on the streets.

As a former academic librarian I was astounded when I first saw the flagrant copyright violations in the copyshops surrounding universities. But, then again, educators here don’t seem to have much choice with the inefficient libraries and the mere lack of most scholarly publications for purchase (or even in print) in Argentina.

The country report on Argentina’s copyright violations indicate that around 600 million songs per year are illegally downloaded within Argentina in comparison to an estimated 150 million songs legally purchased.

The report cites Feria La Salada as “the most notorious street location” with its 50,000 visitors a day. And, wouldn’t you know it, like any good retail operation theses days La Salada even has its own web site (which oddly is not cited in the report).

The report calls for many more regulations and stiffer penalties, stating “the average criminal piracy case takes two to fours years to reach a verdict in the first instance, and that
usually results in no jail time or jail time is suspended because the judges do not consider intellectual property crimes as serious offenses.” That’s probably true. But when I see people marching around about inseguridad I’m sure a lot more is on their mind than intellectual property theft.

Buenos Aires photos, 1870-1880

Till the end of the month (March 1, 2009) there’s a little photo exhibition at Centro Cultural Recoleta that is worth viewing. Featured are photos of the city between 1870-1880.

Many of the photos were taken by Christiano Junior. You can view some of his works in the Wikimedia Commons, which includes some of the photos in the current exhibition.

Not included in this exhibition, but typical of Christiano Junior’s works is this studio photo of a paperboy in Buenos Aires:

Another flood photo for a rainy day

A companion to last week’s photo.

Bringing Borges back from the dead

A proposal before the Argentine congress aims to bring the remains of Jorge Luis Borges from his burial place in Geneva to Argentina where the writer would be interred in the family vault in Recoleta Cemetery. It sounds crazy to me, but the proposal is backed by the head of the Argentine Society of Writers.

An irony behind the proposed law to repatriate the body of Borges is that the legislation is presented by a Peronist lawmaker. Borges was intensely anti-Peronist. And the proposal seems to defy the wishes of Borges.

It’s well documented that Borges chose to die in Geneva, a city that held significance to him from his stay there during his childhood. While as a young man Borges did write a famously romanticized poem about Recoleta Cemetery and is the quintessential Argentine writer, as a dying man in his old age he did not want his burial to be part of the circus that is Buenos Aires media.

If Borges is brought back to Argentina, then it will be the biggest reburial here since Juan Perón’s coffin traipsed through the streets of Buenos Aires in 2006 during a reburial that ended in a fiasco.

The newspaper Perfil which reported on the story (in Spanish) simply indicated that Maria Kodama, the widow of Borges, could not be located for comment.

Repatriating the remains of iconic figures in Argentine history is not uncommon, and it’s also not that uncommon in Argentina for bodies to be reburied and shifted about from one grave to another. I guess one could argue that Borges had his 20 years in Geneva, now it’s time for him to come home.

Yet, I’m also wondering if these Peronist lawmakers who presented this idea don’t have better things to do in congress, like trying to address the problems facing this country?

And here’s a photo of the family mausoleum where Borges would rest in Recoleta Cemetery. He would be not too far from the tomb of Evita Perón….a woman with the most amazing story of the traveling dead.

A flood in Buenos Aires

Okay, yesterday’s little rain shower wasn’t a flood but I’m sure all of us in Buenos Aires enjoyed the cooler weather. Reminded me of this wonderful old photo, which I think was taken in La Boca in the spring of 1910.

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