Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 6: 6/10/11...Shnoz America

        So I've been studying Argentinian women...purely scientifically, of course...and it suddenly occurred to me what is lacking in most of the women in Savannah and other southern places I've lived. And that is...a relatively large nose. There is a large Italian undercurrent gurgling below the surface here in Buenos Aires due to a large migration at some point in the past. Thus ample nostrils abound. Some Roman Imperial genetic response in my brain stem has fired up some neurons that were atrophying in the presence of supposedly cute Anglo Saxon button noses. Perhaps it is a necessity for me that a woman should, like me, have a significant amount of peripheral vision obstructed by her own nasal structure. I must study this phenomenon further. Perhaps government funding is to be had.

          Anyway, in place of a breakfast buffet at this hotel, they have women (with noses of approvable size) pouring on the pastries and toast. I'm at the point where breakfast is pretty much my only real meal of the day. So much for my year's worth of dieting. Their names are Daniela and Laura. There are others, but I see them only rarely because of my schedule. They are so incredibly AWESOME!

         It was a pretty busy day. I spent the morning plotting the places I want to visit while I'm here - something I could have done before I left if not for WORK. tchuh. For today I chose the Fortabat Museum of Art. It's a place created by a Ms. Fortabat, a super rich Porteno (local term for a BA citizen). The host here described her partially by stretching her face with her hands. She's one of those women who's hired an army of surgeons to stab at Father Time with their solid gold scalpels.

         I have very little knowledge of South American or Argentinian history, but from what I understand there's a pattern of the wealthy elite being represented by authoritarian right-wing regimes who (possibly with Uncle Sam a-hootin' and a-hollerin' on the sidelines) staged coups whenever the riff-raff started waving red flags. So, in my admittedly ignorant mind, I wonder about someone who's been rich for decades in Argentina. Who knows - I could be completely wrong. But I've seen movies.

         On to the museum. Well, usually I'm pretty charitable about things like this, but this was not my favorite art museum. First of all, there were a couple too many commissioned portraits of Ms. Fortabat and her yunguns - even one by Andy Warhol. Isn't having your name on the side of the building sufficient?

         But more importantly, the bulk of the art was hmm. A lot of it was derivative. Most of the time I was like "Wow! Is that a Pic-- No, it's a Pedro SomeJuan." "Is that a Van G-- No, it's a Hector Nuevoheardof." Not to say that fame equals quality, but it felt like bait and switch. By looking at the dates, it seemed like all the art styles were about 15 years behind the originals.

       The thing is, this is a sort of patriotic art museum, showcasing primarily Argentinian artists. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm sure there are plenty of great artists in Argentinian history, but are there enough to fill a museum without scraping the bottom of the barrel? I've seen this exact same thing in Canada a few times. I guess there's a value in seeing art through the lens of the place you're in, but I had to start looking at it specifically that way after a while: I'm looking through the paintings to see something about Argentina rather than appreciating the paintings for themselves. Maybe that's something.

      HowEVer, there were a few things that made the whole visit totally worthwhile. First, a couple of Dali sketches that were enjoyably weird. Then a Rodin sculpture. A Turner, a Chagall (who I really like). But best of all a very famous painting by Brueghel! He's one of my favorite artists, and I recently read a book about him that had this painting in it. It might even have been on the cover. This was a big one, too. Ya gotta love a big Brueghel. The bigger the Brueghel the better. Just that one painting made it all worth the trip.

        Post-museum I walked along the waterfront that's getting gentrified, complete with Starbucks, Hooters, and TGIFridays. I was glad to have time to check off another of my points of interest - one of them olde-timey boats. This was a famous ship that was mostly used for training and visits, but it was still cool. Everything was in Spanish, but I could still look down the gun barrels and torpedoes and go "pyeewwshhh". They had a picture of president Taft visiting on deck. I was able to make out the Spanish enough to read how they rolled all the ship's cannon to the opposite side in his honor.

      Well, time to attend to my dehydration from Ms. Fortabat's stingy lack of water fountains. Maybe that's how she got rich - hoarding potable water from the masses. Bitch.

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