day 4

July 31, 2006

We saw a kick ass tango show last night but thank god the folks were here or we would not have been able to afford it!

There ain´t much to add this time, we just happened to be at an internet cafe and wanted to let ya´ll know that we went to the San Telmo flea market yesterday, saw some street tango dancers, visited a church covered in argentine flags as mass was getting out and an italian marching band of old dudes was playing songs and getting people riled up and then had an awesome lunch in a place recommend to us by someone we met at the exhibition the other night. Less than 30 dollars for people to eat like kings and queens and well, other minor nobility. It´s like Assiyeah and I are fattening ourselves up for the winter before the folks go home and we´ll have to start eating food within our budget which is a good pebble or two above rock bottom.

After we did some shopping in which my mom bought a necklace, dad bought some spoons and assiyeah some earrings, it was good to chill out at the place for a bit before the tango show. The best part for me was the gaucho dude who had like a pirate outfit on an italian machismo while spinning these ropes around with hard balls on the end and he made a rhythm from tapping his boots and the balls hitting on the ground. He had those little bastards spinning fast and it reminded me of my black belt test and the nunchucks but that´s another story.

Today we changed some money, had a nice breakfast in the fancy mall again and then bought our tickets to Colonia, Uruguay as a day trip tomorrow before getting in a taxi to Plaza de Mayo to check out the church again and you guessed it, shop. Assiyeah bought a beanie, pop bought a couple of cds including Buena Vista Social Club (it was funny because Assiyeah and I have both had that cd for more than 4 years and my folks are totally into that music for dancing but don´t have much of it at home).

The Evita song in the tango show was filled with that kind of cheesy patriotism that you will NEVER see in Germany, including 4 dudes waving Argentine flags during the end of the song! Classic!

All right, I´m not sure when this internet connection is going to end again so I´ll let you go but I´m going to visit my 27th country tomorrow so that´s always an exciting thing. It´s funny because while some countries on that list I know pretty well like Germany and Canada, others I only saw for a day like Slovakia and now Uruguay…adios!


day 3

July 30, 2006

it´s almost 9am, the folks and girlfriend are still sleeping and so I snuck down into the lobby of the hotel to write a bit about the trip to this point…

We arrived at 7.50am and were met by maggie who had been helping me organize my photo exhibition and what was the first thing she told us? Your parents are going to come in 12 hours late! I wasn´t sure I understood her at first because I just wasn´t expecting it but we went with the flow and ended up coming into town alone with the plan of coming back out to the airport at night to get the folks.

The hotel is in a good location, we checked in but couldn´t get into our room because checkout wasn´t for 3 or more hours. My pleas to let us chill out in a dirty room just so we could relax and get our bearings was denied. So we went out walking. The first thing we saw was a small military band playing music to a stage of 50 or so dignitaries and another 50 or so stragglers like us who just happened by. The amazing thing is that we could get right up on the band, meaning we were standing just behind them, so much so that I could get a couple of nice shots with their funny military hats blocking out the morning sun that I hope turn out well.

We continued down to Florida, a big pedestrian shopping street, had a nice breakfast of coffee, orange juice, croissants under a beautiful mural in a fancy shopping mall, bought an Argentine SIM card for the cell phone and after awhile went back to the room to finally put our stuff in. a couple of hours later we were picked up and we walked to the art store to get supplies for the exhibition. They didn´t have everything we needed but promised to send it to the room later and so we left but not before me noticing how friendly the people were and how they tried to make it cheaper for me if possible. Then we ate our first LOMITO, like a thin carne asada steak with a fried egg and various sauces and what not put on liberally by my own manos. We walked back and had a couple more hours before heading out to the airport. The folks came in 13 hours later in the end but just them arriving safely made everything feel perfect.

Day two began with a good breakfast in the hotel and while Assiyeah took the folks to the shopping center again, I went over to the cafe with the exhibition and starting preparing my folks. Or rather, Maggie´s husband Juan did. I don´t know how this happened but he decided to do all of the preparations and I sat and had a coffee with milk and then a tequila with a very strange dude named Alex who spoke a brand of English and Spanish that I couldn´t understand. Unfortunately I could understand his request to have a shot at 12.15pm with him. He flirted with all of the girls there in a way you would never see in germany. A sample conversation:

Do you have a boyfriend, he asked one of the waitresses.
Yes, she said shyly.
He´s a son of a bitch, he answered.

Anyway, I had to leave before the photos were finished because we were scheduled to go on a city tour so we took a taxi back. The tour started an hour later and was bigger meaning more people than I had originally been told but it was a good time. We passed through all the most important neighborhoods and saw a good range of stuff. By the time we were let out by a handicraft fair, we had no energy for shopping but needed to eat so what did we do? We tried to find a reccommended restaurant to eat in but of course it was not open at 6pm. It didn´t open until 7.30pm so we chose another that had some metal saddles outside and some nice cuts of meat that I hoped hadn´t come from whatever was originally under that saddle. We got 3 cuts of meat, rib eye, sirloin and loin, big chunks of meat and each was 11bucks or less. Fantastic.

Back at the room, we had an hour before going to the exhibition. The cafe where it was located was an interesting place to say the least. Under the subtitle of Joker Traveller´s Cafe, the photos looked good on the reddish walls. A total of 13 people were there, including myself but we had a nice time. We were 6 Americans, a German, 2 Canadians, 3 Argentinians, and a South African. We got to try some nice wines and some good conversation. I hope to meet up with some of the folks again while here. The funny thing is our taxi cost 17pesos (less than 6 dollars) going to the exhibition but only 7 pesos (2 bucks and change) going back. The first guy had been nice, even could speak a bit of English because his wife was an interpreter, including for the CIA he said, but somehow it costs more than twice the price of the other taxis, taxis because I had also taken one earlier in the day to get back for the tour. How did that happen? The answer? South America somehow…Maybe in America or Europe(south and eastern europe not included) might drive you around to make the bill larger but I think here the machine was tampered with. The dude also had a police like siren that he used to get people out of his way while he invented a variety of lines on the 10-minute trip.

We got home at 1.30am and somehow I was up at 8.30 this morning. By the way, it´s cold as hell here, probably close to freezing last night on the way home. Poor Assiyeah, she had said she´s ready for a change when we were leaving Germany and it´s 100 degree weather and already she´s unsure how she will survive this cold for 2 months. I guess I´ve got my work cut out for me.

All right, well I guess this is a pretty good first entry and I just want to get it entered on the site before there´s a power outtage or I lose all of it so much love, peace and smiles, and I hope to hear from some of ya´ll soon!


In 22 hours

July 26, 2006

In 22 hours we’ll be on a plane from Basel, Switzerland to Paris, France. We’re going to have a 3+ hour layout in Paris and then we’re on the way to Buenos Aires, the beginning of an 8-week trip that has been in the planning since March of last year. It was an idea and it became my main goal. Now it’s time. There are things on my “list of things to do before I go to South America” that I won’t get a chance to do. I won’t get a chance to officially register my change of address with the proper authorities. I won’t be able to change our phone bill to a cheaper tarif, or even if my lufthansa/united miles from a trip in april have been accepted and who knows what else I’ve forgotten.

I’m so freakin’ exhausted from the past week, getting ready to leave, moving, finishing grading tests and everything, seriously, it’s been too much and I would definitely plan the timing of things differently but hey, just like life, you only get one time around. There will never be another first trip to south america. There are going to be so many firsts. Like this. This is going to be my first “last post” before south america. How ’bout dat?

I’ll try and keep ya’ll updated as much as possible, there is going to be a great whirl of energy around us, I hope you enjoy it.



July 24, 2006

Our dining table is in the middle of our bedroom. We have some backpacks, an extra mattress, some boxes, a vaccuum, a fan and some other crap strewn about. The weekend was an asskicker in the nicest possible terms, 3 days of off and on moving and then 8 hours yesterday painting and we’re not finished yet!!! oy vey!

I went to work for a few hours today, did a bit of organzing and packing for the trip and then sent some emails. I thought I could update the ole blog while I was online and soon we’re going to make some dinner and then try and paint two ceilings if possible and then I hope to never ever paint anything ever again! It’s not likely but a guy can hope, right?

It’s another warm day, probably early 90s and it has an end of the world feel to it, not because of the temperature but because of the chaos. We have stuff in our old apartment, we have stuff in our new apartment, we have stuff in both cellars, I still have about 5-8 super important things to do before we go, namely change my address at the “Address Office”, yes, that’s run by the government, get my invoices finished so I can get paid, get some money for the trip, check on the passport and plane tickets again, teach a few classes, go to a meeting, a going away party (not ours) and all that in the next 72 hours! But hey, I love it! haha

Calgon, take me away…

Remember that ad? It was so hot and intense yesterday that I painted in my boxers and a tanktop, by far the classiest I have looked in ages. I look to my left and on the balcony is an empty box, a very full heavy box, our clean clothes on the clothesline thing, a rubberband ball, a hanger, some matches, a piece of wood, some stuff to clean clothes, a National Geographic from July 1976, a Maxim magazine, our laundry basket. Wait a sec, I see one of Assiyeah’s shirts about to fly off the balcony! You can add that to the list!

Squattin & typin

July 22, 2006

well, the move is essentially over. At least until October. Then we’ll have to hoist a ton of crap (our boxes) up five flights of stairs but all we got left in our room is our mattress, some clothes, a couple of laptops and a box or two more of stuff. I finished grading the tests for the university, we are getting closer and closer. It’s hard to believe but in 5+ days we’ll be on a plane to Buenos Aires!

I’ve started writing in a new journal, don’t know if I mentioned that already or not. I finished the old but still had 10 days before the trip started and I always need a journal with me. I tell ya, I think I would have been a Renaissance man back in the day. I dig the arts, and getting creative and what you can make, and can other people groove on it or even have a reaction. With photography, writing and music, these expressions are my main outlet in life. I hardly ever play music anymore but mostly because I’m so busy doing other stuff.

The sun is coming through the window and it’s hot as hell. It should have rained today but didn’t and so now we still have stubborn humidity persisting and I just wanna slap its face and say, beat it! But then again, it’ll be cooler in Buenos Aires! In fact, a week from today I have a photo exhibition, that’s a crazy thought.

Anyway, I’m on a stool and so is the laptop, hence the name of the entry. I just wanted to let ya’ll know that I’m starting to get an idea what this blog thing is for. I might be able to portray a really nice, thick slice of life if I can take seemingly mundane experiences and weave them with larger themes thereby beefing out the niceties of my little life in the middle of Europe. My buddy Tom summed it up best earlier today after we moved some stuff. He said, “Dude, you’re probably hating life for the next 4-5 days but then you have two months off man.” You know what, I hadn’t thought of it like that until he said that. I don’t feel like I’m going to have two months off. I feel like I’m going on a two-month adventure that often will be more difficult than going to work. We’re going to be on the move every 3-4 days and we’ll be passing through 4-5 countries, some of which will have us keeping our wits about us on the lookout for pickpockets and who knows. I plan to take more than 40 rolls of pictures in 55 days. That will give me 1400 photos and I hope to get 40-50 great pictures out of it, even two different themes. I plan to do a South America exhibition next year but what if I could get another exhibition just entitled Portraits or Uyuni Salt Flats. Oh, that’s a good idea. What if I could get 25 good pictures from Uyuni, or even Cuzco. The possibilities are numerous.

“So Far Away” by Carole King is playing on my Iriver. I’ve got over 3300 songs on there now. If the songs are an average of 5 minutes then that is 16,500 minutes. That means I have 11.5 days worth of music without repeats, can you believe that? Now it’s a Rich Robinson song. Who knows what is coming next? And that is exactly what I got from Tom today? Who knows what is coming next? Nobody, but I’ve set myself up to get a damn good view of what is coming and I hope to document the hell out of it, just like this.

see ya soon!

Two concerts in Fall?

July 21, 2006

If there is one thing that is lacking in my life here in Germany, it’s good live music by “mid-sized” bands. It seems that there are either no-name bands coming through Freiburg or it is something like the Backstreet Boys two years ago. The ZMF festival was good but no good bands that got me really excited.

So I’ve got to travel to see music. I already have been to London and Amsterdam to see the Black Crowes this Spring and now two more concerts have come up and I’ve gotta travel to get to them again…

The first is Ben Harper. He’s playing in Strasbourg about 90 minutes from Freiburg in November. The month before that but I just learned about it this morning is Ryan Adams in Cologne.

We will have come back from South America and then two weeks later I’ll be going to Cologne to see that concert. I haven’t seen Ryan adams since November 5, 2002. I’ve had tickets to see him twice since then, once in Cologne in January 2004 and once in Oakland in August 2005 but both got cancelled so I’m hoping to get a show this time around. I have the Ben Harper tickets already (well, actually, they’ve been bought but I haven’t picked them up yet) and as soon as the Ryan Adams tix go on sale, I’m going to buy 4. At least I think I can find 4 people who will go!

All right, we’ve got one day of the move finished and it was a pretty productive move, all things considered. Today will be making many small trips and dismantling the bed and tomorrow is moving the heavy stuff and then Sunday painting the apartment. I also need to grade 30 tests in this time. Fun fun fun…

It’s going to be hot as hell again today…

patriotism & animal transports

July 18, 2006

There were two different arguments in two university classes of mine today. The first class had a presentation on animal transports and somehow it blew up into if animals had feelings and whether fish are animals or not. The second class had a good 20-30 minute row (that’s British English for argument, friends) about the recent patriotism by German people and also the definition of “pride”. One student said you could only be proud of things that you yourself had done. I personally disagree but it was interesting to see many German students, most of whom six months ago would not have felt this way, arguing that it was all right to have the flag out and that it felt good. This all stemmed from a statement from the current German president that the patriotism showed that “Germany was returning to normal”. I more or less just sat there and pushed and prodded a bit but let them have at it. That is pretty easy money, I like it.

We are going to break a law tonight. Actually I’m not sure it’s a law but it feels that way. Don’t worry, this won’t be enough to get me kicked out of the country but we are nearing a breaking point. We sent in a request more than a month ago for the “Special trash” people to come and take away a sofa among other things. See, ya just can’t put that out on trash day in Germany, you’ve got to get an appointment. That’s all well and good, and it might even be the same in America but with 9 days left before our trip to South America, we don’t have time to wait for the gears of beauracracy to spin enough to come by and pick up our sofa. What happened is when I came home earlier I saw that other people had put out the “special trash” and it gave me the idea that we should just put our sofa and broken sled and old table out there with the other people’s stuff and they’d just take it. My roommate thinks that they won’t take it because it wasn’t “applied for”. Of course I scoffed at her but she’s probably right. I just have trouble believing that it can all be so convoluted but there ya have it. A day in my life. Again.

Oh, I’m not finished yet. I ate a small pizza from Walfisch, the punk restaurant below my house and watched some of the deleted scenes from Wedding Crashers while eating. I’m starving for English tv and movies, it’s funny, I can understand the German and it’s okay to watch a movie that way but it’s not enjoyable usually, I have to work too hard to get into it.

We watched a Room Raiders on MTV today (if you don’t know what that is, get a life! haha) and it was lesbian girls. And it got me thinking. MTV has done more than any other group to “okayize” homosexuality. They have these different kind of dating shows, e.g. Date My Mom, Next, Dismissed and Room Raiders and they have all had gay guys and lesbians. It’s fascinating and, most importantly, desensitizing. Now I don’t need any desensitizing, mostly because my aunt is gay and because I’m part of the generation that doesn’t care about those things as much. When I lived in LA with Amy, she always had gay friends over and so it became “okay” for me to hang with them. The point is, there are many people for whom that is/was/has not been “okay”. But now they see that “those” people are just like “us”. They have apartments and cars and jobs and smiles and personalities and, well, everything, except they like the same sex. That’s more or less the difference. Hell, there are bigger differences between some heterosexuals than there are between some heteros and homosexuals. Oh, you know what I mean. I mean that MTV has brought this into all of our homes and we’ve gotten to see some secret glimpses into the lives of lesbians and gay guys and I think that that has done more for the desensitization of possible homophobes than anything.

All right, I gotta move a sofa. Don’t tell anyone.