justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ch. 1

I'm listening to Juelz Santana right now. I used to casually listen to Juelz, now I only listen to him in cases of emergency.

And this qualifies as an emergency.

I have signed myself up for a two-month backpacking journey through Argentina. I have never backpacked before. I've never traveled alone before and I'm not even sure I have enough money or balls to keep me on the road for two months. However I told enough people that I was doing it, I no longer have a place to stay in Buenos Aires and I declared my plan to the world on this very blog. The final factor perhaps being the most trivial and important since I would never want to look like a pussy to whoever reads the blog.

Fortunately I have Juelz' mind-numbing music pumping into my ears. Trying to pick an example of his lyrical prowess, or lack there of, is liking trying to pick your favorite Michael Jordan highlight. However the verse I heard just before the bus left the station is pretty solid, "I worship the great prophet, the great Muhammad Omar Atta, for his courage behind the wheel of the plane, reminds me of when I was dealing the caine."

A verse which barely rhymes, doesn't follow any rhythm, unneccessarily alludes to cocaine and praises one of the September 11 hijackers. Perfectly dumb enough to distract me from the sitauation at hand and prevent me from completely losing my mind.

Juelz has helped me out countless ways in my life. Just knowing that I live in a world where 18-year-old rappers can come up, declare themselves part of the Taliban less than a week after 9/11, endlessly name drop Curt Cobain for no other reason than the fact that it rhymes with cocaine and continue to produce media with not even a hint of intelligence give me the sensation that I can do anything in life.

When I first came to Buenos Aires three months ago my travel companion at the time was losing her mind over leaving her family and boyfriend. As she sat there in bed clinching a teddy-bear her boyfriend had given her and sobbing to herself looking to me for some words that would make everything better, all I had to say was, "Don't you have some type of Juelz Santana in your life?"

She probably didn't understand what I was talking about. It also doesn't helpt that I am not explaining what I meant by that until this blog that I am writing six months after the fact, but at least I tried.

In addition to Juelz I to alleviate my worries I just met Thiago, a Brazilian, who has lived in Sahuarita, a small town 30 minutes away from where I attended university. Thiago is a young border patrol agent who entertains me with wild stories for the first hour of the 16-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, home of the Iguazu waterfalls.

The only other person I had met from the truck-stop town of Sahuarita was Jeffrey Zarga, who was the kid who didn't drink or smoke in my dormitory hall freshman year, he was also the kid who could give you a pornstar look-alike for every girl he ever met. It was nice to finally meet a more normal person from Sahuarita.

The first movie they show on the bus is "Shooter," in which Mark Walhberg plays a sniper named Bob Lee Swagger. I am certain that had this movie been bigger, Gilbert Arenas would have stolen the moniker for himself. I declare that should I arrive at the pshycopathic traveling state where I feel I need to make up a new life story, I am chosing Robert Swagger as my alias.

I daze out halfway through the movie and beging thinking about how many of the jokes I made before coming to Argentina have become true. I did end up dropping out. I am begining to go on a solo excursion. And if I stayed in Buenos Aires any longer I would have tried my luck on establishing a drug cartel (no doubt named after Paul McPherson) just out of sheer boredom.

Before I left I asked my friends and family for some radical ideas that I could put into action while traveling on my own for two months, such as taking up Zen, not using time, etc. The best contribution by far came from my Buenos Aires roommate Tom, who made me a sock puppet and instructed me to only talk through the sock the entire time while I made a sockumentary. He also said it could serve as a mastabatory device should I get lonely on the road.

Right now I am using the sock as a camera case, but I got high hope for the both of us on our travels.

In due time

I'll write a little back story to the picture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

¨Make sure it´s not wack¨

I am about two weeks into my travels.

Some places have been very nice.

Some places have been very lame.

The only reason of this post is to let you know there will not be any more posts until late December or early January when I drop a string of posts that will make up a book of my travels.

In the mean time I´m going to keep traveling, keep exploring and continue to heed Dame Dash´s advice as I document my journey.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Begining tonight I leave on my epic journey through Argentina.

Honestly I am pretty fucking nervous, but hopefully everything will work out.

If I do die, three half-written WPM posts will automatically publish randomly in 2009. Then hopefully other bloggers can sample my blogs in some Pac-esque like manner.

While I am gone I will miss three key dates. The two-year anniversary of WPM, which is some time in November, the leak of The Blueprint 3 (please do not e-mail me anything about this album until I get back), and most importantly, the epic December 11 match-up of Brandon Jennings versus Ricky Rubio (please e-mail me every related article and video you kind find about the game).

I have no idea how often I wil update the blog, time will tell.

In the mean time I guess all we can do is hope Paul McPherson starts a blog called "Where´s Justin Adler?"


Above, in an effort to relate everything back to rap music in one way or another, there's the king of ARG.

Below, some funky art studio.

I like this picture because I didn't even know somebody took it. Note: Laura doesn't normally dress like this, it was part of some weird family room photo shoot that was going on.

This is a photo of me dancing after I found out I graduated.

Here's the twin towers of Palermo.

A train, some trash and some clouds.

I hate the way the bitch in the purple sweater killed this photo. I supposed I could have waited 30 seconds for her to cross the street and get out of the photo, but instead I will just forever hate her. This door was my landmark to get off the bus. It's near the 93-stop two blocks from my house. Seeing as how this is two blocks from my house, I suppose I could go retake the picture, but instead I'll just continue hate that random woman.

A dope frame shop near my place. When I was taking these pictures the employee was playing a very polyphonic cell phone version of Usher's "Yeah." That made me happy.

This is Ateneo, what I've been told is the biggest bookstore in South America. I don't believe it. It was still pretty cool and quite relaxing to just listen to Sinatra and read some books.

So relaxing that the guy next to me fell asleep for 45 minutes.

I like this building.

I like this graffiti.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Parents 4.0

Wednesday started out a little rough. My date for the night sent me a Skype message to let me know she was flaking out on me and I was still to much of a pussy to ask out my roommate Laura.

Somehow over three months of living with Laura I have fallen in love with her. There are a few million amazing things about her and it has also became my new goal in life to gain as many national citizenships as possible through marriage. I feel the exchange of a United States and Colombia legal citizenship would greatly benefit both our lives.

Back to Wednesday, which was an odd day in that it actually had a plan attached with the day. I had a lunch set up with Wayne and Susan, my newest set of parents.

I met Wayne and Susan a month ago at a South American Explorers Club soiree. The South American Explorers Club is a club ran by ex-Pats who decided that living in the Bay Area or Boulder, Colorado just wasn't hippie enough for them. Once a month they have a wine and sangria soiree to try to get new members.

After my friend Dan and I were five glasses of wine deep, we decided maybe we should branch out and start talking to other people and that is how I met Wayne and Susan.

We exchanged contact information, agreed to get together later on and all I remember was they said something about buying me a beer.

Although I feared hanging out with two 50-year-olds would be awkward, it ended up being a great time and it almost felt like I was hanging out with a much more liberal version of my own parents. We met again the day after I graduated and they ended up buying me a nice lunch as a graduation gift.

A couple more weeks passed and I got an e-mail from them proposing a free lunch for some basic Spanish lessons.

I met them Wednesday afternoon and we ended up hanging out all day. They bought me a great lunch, complete with beer and dessert, and then I invited them over to my place so they could try mate for their first time. Afterward I showed off Palermo Hollywood and ended up hanging out at their place for a few hours.

We discussed how fucked up the world is and they got behind my plan to move to Canada, mainly to take advantage of their socialized health care. I then realized that my biggest problem would be obtaining citizenship and the legal right to work.

Then it just popped in my head. My friend Spencer is a Canadian citizen. I could quickly throw together a sham gay marriage and be in Toronto in no time. Wayne and Susan thought this was genius.

Five minutes later I realized I could even marry one of Spencer's sisters and it would have the same effect and be less gay. Or I could marry Spencer's 900-year-old grandma and I could be a Canadian citizen with a very funny story to tell.

"She's been married like five times, she probably wouldn't even notice," Spencer said after I proposed to him and/or his sisters via Skype.

Aside from teaching me a ton on life there is a lot of other cool shit about Wayne and Susan. Wayne has the great story of having some 1 in a billion eye disease that may or may not make him blind in a few years, hence their exploration of the world while he can still see it (I'm not sure that actually qualifies as "cool shit.") Plus he has taught me a ton on global economics.

I hate to say this is my favorite thing about Susan, but she actually knows who Karrine "Superhead" Steffans is and she's read "Confessions of a Video Vixen."

I naturally bring up Superhead any time Bill Maher's name comes into conversation, because their (now expired) relationship still baffles me to this day and Superhead went to my high school.

They also both attended last year's Burning Man Festival.

Wayne and Susan are the newest set on my list of parents, which includes my bio-parents, step parents, Gail and Jay Rochlin (a UA journalism professor who let me house-sit/ live with his wife and him in the summer of 2007), and now Wayne and Susan.

Despite the fact that I often engage in activities that I don't think any eight of my parents would be proud of, I like to think that having four sets of parents will help me stay on some of what of a right track, even if the track weaves through remote regions of Argentina.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had high expectations before I ever saw Kevin Durant play a game of basketball. My friends had talked of him as some athletic freak. I'd read a few Bill Simmons' columns, where Bill would pen 700 words jerking off to Durant. Then I actually saw him play when Texas played Gonzaga in the U.S. Airways Center. He looked terrible as his forced terrible shots and looked like he had no idea how to run an offense. I'm sure Kevin Durant is a very good player, but I'll always think he sucks.

I had high expectations before I ever read a book by Ernest Hemingway. My friend talked of him as some literary god. I'd read a few other articles, where some blogger would pen 700 words jerking off to Hemingway. Then I actually read Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." It was terrible, it never went any where and it looked like Hemingway had no idea how to write an entertaining story. I'm sure Ernest Hemingway is a very good writer, but I'll always think he sucks.


I'll never forget walking around in tide pools when I was younger. With all the waves crashing and jagged rocks there was a certain element of danger, but there was still so much more that was fascinating. I wouldn't touch most of the sea creatures, because they looked scary and I didn't want to disturb them. But I always touched the sea anemones because I liked to watch them quickly close up around my finger. The fact that they are oblivious to so much going around them and they still survive because food just happens to fall into them will forever amaze me.

I'll never forget walking around in the subway when I was in Buenos Aires. With all the pick-pocketers and shady people there was a certain element of danger, but there was still so much more that was fascinating. I wouldn't touch most of the homeless people, because they looked scary and I didn't want to disturb them. But I always gave a coin to the blind homeless people because I liked to watch their empty palm quickly close up around the coin. The fact that they are oblivious to so much going around them and they still surive because money for food just happens to fall into their hands will forever amaze me.


I constantly alludes to cocaine with my Colombian friend. She always gets upset and tells me that I am not funny. It's a problem for her country, especially the youth, that she's not proud of at all. She explained that not many people in her country actually use cocaine and those who do, are looked down upon. She is embarrassed that her country produces and exports a drug which hurts so many people worldwide. I know a lot of people who still chose to use cocaine and are part of the problem.

My Colombian friend constantly alludes to shows on MTV. I always get upset and tell her that she is not funny. It's a problem for my country, especially the youth, that I'm not proud of at all. I explained that not many people in my country actually watch "The Hills" and those who do, are looked down upon. I am embarrassed that my country produces and exports such stupidty which dumbs down so many people worldwide. She and her friends still chose to watch every episode of "The Hills" and be a part of the problem.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Sorry for the lack of blogs as of late, I've just been too busy enjoying my last week in Buenos Aires.

This coming Tuesday is opening night of the Justin Adler versus Argentina two-month showdown.

I'll expand more on the match-up later, but right now I need your help coming up with some radical ideas for my excursion.

I met this guy the other day who already raised the bar by taking a 50-hour cargo boat ride from Iguazu to Paraguay just so he could try to find the only Hezbollah/Al-Queda training ground in the western hemisphere. The rest of his story is pretty nuts as it included the line, "Would you feel better or worse about yourself if you were buying weed from a mother in front of her two children?"

He also just graduated NYU Law and is only here to enjoy the last free time he'll have before he starts working 80-hour weeks.

Keep in mind I'm rolling on a very limited budget and I will be staying Argentina/Chile the entire time because I don't have the money to buy visas to all the other countries.

My tentative ideas:

-- Completely abandon the concept of time. No cell phones. No watches. If I need to catch a bus, I can just buy the ticket then and there and take it to my next destination.

-- I am going to remove myself from all news media. Instead of waking up every day and reading a few newspapers, I plan on practicing Zen and meditating to start every day.

-- Try to completely remove myself from all familiar elements and only eat food I have never ate before and try to forget the English language.

Please shoot me any more ideas you have by Tuesday morning as I will have limited to no internet access after that.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mezcla de mierda

Here's a bunch of random notes I've been hanging on to for the past two weeks...

-- Since I have been in Buenos Aires I've latched on to the study abroad program that Matt and Erasmo belong to. I feel like that kid who is not really in the frat, but somehow is at every party.

A couple weeks ago I finally met their cultural coordinator Valentina, who may have one of the greatest jobs in the world. Her job consists of finding interesting activities in the city and getting all the kids to come along, which seems simple enough, until you realize she invites all her friends which always throws off the plans.

She told her program to meet her at the planetarium. She ended up showing up an hour late and all we eventually didn't make it to the planetarium because we lost track of time while sitting in a circle in the park playing guitar and drinking mate.

Valentina is also ridiculously cute and when I first met her she was wearing a Calgary Flames t-shirt. I'm a huge sucker for girls wearing obscure sports apparrel and I think now is the time in the blog when I should present my list of the three hottest girls I have seen in real life.

3. The girl who once came into my former employer Blue Point wearing a
Miikka Kiprusoff jersey.

2. Valentina in her Calgary Flames t-shirt.

1. The nutso cute blonde girl in my freshman TRAD 101 class who wore a Marquis Daniels Nike swingman shirt.

Total words exchanged with all three girls: less than 20.

-- Last time I went to my Art through Science and technology course, the teacher brought up 9/11 being a conspiracy. Still nobody said anything, which kept his record intact of six straight weeks of no class participation.

-- I've been adjusting my "Fast & Furious" quotes to my surroundings. Now I normally say, "I live my life a quarter-kilometer at a time."

-- My roommates were watching some MTV award show and I almost lost my mind. I began ranting about how MTV was destroying America's youth and how all their celebrities are famous for no reason. Then as I was entering the third minute of my rant and discussing how MTV is worse for children than hardcore pornography, T.I. came on the screen.

I then told everyone to be quiet so I could pay attention to T.I.

T.I. talked for two minutes and from my count said four proper English words. The rest of the time he was mumbling southern swang about his stuntastic red velvet coat.

Then I left the room because I didn't have the necessary energy to argue that T.I. was better than anyone else on MTV.

-- I'd like to see the New York Times online reader patterns and find out if I'm the only one who read Thomas Friedman's newest op-ed, then read the full review of T.I.'s last concert.

-- I have no idea what the picture at the top of the post has to do with anything, but I love it.

-- Here's when I realized that maybe I'm getting into this retirement thing too much:

My brother: "Do you work out a lot?"

Me: "No, but I do a lot of walking."

-- I'll keep him anonymous, but one of my friends once said "Everything every man does on Facebook is just an attempt to get laid."

My Facebook religious views read: "Sonny Vaccaro," which I meant to be a subtle diss at UA basketball fans, a complex statement on my thoughts on religion and an even more complex attempt at getting laid.

I can probably count on one hand the number of my Facebook friends who know who Sonny is, but somehow, some way this transpired.

1 new friend request -- from Lila Iglesias (Argentina networkd) -- no friends in common -- little on her info -- I still accept -- I compose message:


como me conoces? Estoy muy curiouso.



I receive message:

Hola! No te conozco, puse Sonny Vaccaro y apareciste! Entonces te agregué




I reply:


Esto es muy loco, estas una afficionada de Sonny Vacaro.

Como conoces Sonny Vaccaro? Ahora tengo mucho curiosidad porque nadie conoce Sonny Vaccaro.




Cómo que nadie lo conoce?? Si es un genio!!


(I call my friend Dustin to confirm this isn't an elaborate hoax)


Estamos hablando sobre el mismo Sonny Vaccaro de EeUu quien trabaja en el mundo de basket? Estas una gran affcionada de basket? Como conoces Sonny Vaccaro, este es re, re loco.


Sisí, mi papá mira mucho basket, entonces desde que soy chiquita miro con él! Él es un fanático y me está convirtiendo, jajaa
¿Estás viviendo en Argentina?


After a few more conversations, I learn she lives in some small town outside of Buenos Aires, maybe I'll run into her on my Argentine travels. I figure best case scenario: we talk about basketball, fornicate, maybe get married and get Sonny as the best man.

Worst case scenario: It's Dustin's most amazing prank ever and I don't live this down until I die.

-- Speaking of Sonny... I'll leave you with these two articles so you can remind yourself yet again that Brandon Jennings is infinitely cooler than you will ever be.

Family keeps teenage pro grounded

Plotting new path to NBA, via Europe

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If you don't know

After waiting 30 minutes for the bus I realized it was never going to come. No rhyme or reason, just one of the many things in Buenos Aires that just ceases to function without any explanation.

Just like last Friday when for the first time in weeks I had to be somewhere at a certain time (bird camp at 2:00) and the subte broke down in the middle of my commute.

My intended destination on the day was the immigration office. I had been dreading the process of renewing my visa because I feared it would be just like any other official process in Buenos Aires and it would take days of jumping through bureaucratic hoops.

When I finally arrived the facility looked just like I expected. A massive building full of people from all over the world waiting in a mess of inorginazition and inefficiency.

Ten minutes after entering the building I finally figured out where I should be standing and who I should be waiting for.

I had ticket #50, they were currently serving #29 and my new Kiwi friend who had #40 had been waiting for an hour.

There were three desks with three employees designated to the visa renewal area. One woman actually helped people, the other woman only sat at her desk 20 percent of the time and the third woman sat at her computer drinking mate and doing nothing else the entire time.

I walked around the facility and every employee appeared to be doing nothing. There were groups of employees huddled in circles, there were employees smoking cigarettes directly under the "Prohibido a Fumar (No smoking)" sign.

After any one of the several hundred hopeful immigrants was helped, the corresponding attendant would take a quick mate break. I was beginning to think mate was less of a cultural tradition and more of an epidemic.

Not quite three months into my Porteño lifestyle, I was beginning to truly understand my landlord Jorge's central belief that every Argentine is heading in a different direction with little to no regard for their children's generation or the future of Argentina as a whole.

Jorge was born in Argentina and within the first three hours I met him he told me how much he loves Argentina and how his heart belongs to Argentina. He's incredibly knowledgeable on all Argentine history and is also hyper-aware of everything else going on in the world. Granted I know very few Argentines, but I can't imagine anyone wanting better for Argentina than Jorge.

Obviously Jorge's belief is highly debatable, but if we use it as fact at least for the sake of the blog, let's try to figure out why the Argentines don't share a collective belief in improving Argentina.

There are thousands of possible factors, but judging from my talks with Porteños, educated ex-Pats, Jorge and some Wikipedia research, the late 1970s Desaparencia (The Disappearing or Dirty War) is good, albeit very late place to start.

In 1976 an armed junta took over the government and began a strict policy of arresting all those who opposed their plan to completely reset the country's economic and political stance.

Random middle class students, labor organizers and intellectuals, especially those who taught social sciences were arrested and executed without any form of trial. The government officially claims only 1,500 people "disappeared," but many other sources and most Argentines believe the number to be closer to 30,000.

OK, so if my government denied killing 30,000 people and then admitted some guilt 30 years later by slapping the wrist of a few of the now 70+ year old criminals from the junta, without ever officially claiming responsibility for the 30,000 deaths, I would probably have little confidence in my government.

In 1982 the country's on-going problems included a failing economy, charges of government corruption and abandonment for all human rights. The president decided to distract the country of their woes by taking back land they claimed was theirs - The U.K.-owned the Falkland Islands.

For less than a week the country was full of nationalistic euphoria hoping the Argentines could reclaim the islands they once called Las Malvinas.

However once the U.K. realized what was going on with their land, they sent over their army, destroyed the young, under-trained Argentine army and solidified possession of their islands in the process.

The Argentines lost 2,000 lives in the short war along with any sense of nationalism. Although today Argentines still call the islands Las Malvinas, many maps still label the islands Las Malvinas and there is my favorite the Facebook petition: "I bet I can find 10,000,000 people who think the Malvinas are Argentian."

Still all that was 20 years ago, it's gotten better since then right?

From 1989 to 1999 Carlos Memem was the president, among his other notorious accomplishments, he sold almost every Argentine industry to the highest foreign bidder. Today Argentina's largest power company is the Spanish Telefonica and until a few years ago, their entire water industry was ran by a European conglomerate.

This is why many Argentines hate capitalism, because foreign capitalists bought and prosper off most industries in their country.

As for all the money made off the sale of those companies, Menem put it all in a Swedish bank account and then it all "magically" disappeared.

In November of 2001, the government realized they didn't have anything close to the necessary backing to keep the Argentine peso pegged against the U.S. dollar. Those in the government and those with the right connections then liquidated their Argentine assets in US dollars, just before the government passed a law which severely limited the withdrawals any Argentine citizen could make. Overnight the Argentine peso was separated from the USD and it dropped two-thirds in value the next day.

By July of 2002, the Argentine peso was worth one-quarter of it's former value.

After a string of quickly changing presidents, Nestor Kirchner took over and was the president until his wife, Cristina, took over in December of 2007.

I am yet to meet anyone who doesn't hate Cristina. I had one guy tell me that, "Electing Cristina was the worse thing Argentina has done to itself in decades."

Cristina decided to make up for the billions of pesos Argentina had accrued in international debt by heavily taxing Argentina's last and only thriving industry - agriculture.

In Argentina the government often fast tracks new bills or laws without any warning, one of the more bizarre examples of this came on the last week of 2007 when the government told the people that beginning on Dec. 30, 2007 the country would begin using daylight savings time.

A more extreme example came when Cristina instantly raised the agricultural export tax to 21% this past March without consulting her congress. From what I'm told many farmers rioted the streets and many markets went without produce or meat until the farmers were appeased.

Within the next couple months Cristina raised the tax to 35% and then tried to raise the tax rate to 44% all the while using a "floating retention" excuse and claiming that since it was Argentine land, the country should be able to tax as much as it needs.

However this time the government needed to vote to approve the measure. Oddly enough the entire government voted, it was a perfect tie, meaning the vice president would have to make a decision.

Fortunately the VP, Julio Cobos, voted against the tax hike and saved Argentina from what many said would have been complete chaos.

Cobos also saved my trip because he voted it down three weeks into my stay here and my trip would have been much different if I was dealing with a Gobierno/Campo civil war for five months. It's sad and startling that I didn't realize all this until this week.

I really wish that my Argentine university would have mandated an Argentine history course instead of a worthless Spanish grammar class.

Now that Cobos had the support of all the farmers and half the government, he had became too powerful and too much a threat to President Cristina, so she fired everyone who voted in his direction on the tax rise issue, claiming "they were not doing their jobs properly."

Some theorize that Cristina and her husband are trying to set up a dynasty in which they exchange the president title every eight years - in Argentina you can re-run for president after not being president for two terms.

It should also be noted that Cristina, of the Peronist party, won the election after buying the votes of the Madres (mothers) of Plaza de Mayo - a group of women who tried, unsuccessfully, to get the government to acknowledge the death of their children who "disappeared" during the Peronist junta of the late 1970s.

Additionally the Argentine government refuses to give funding to any small town which did not vote for the ruling party.

Currently the Argentine economic officials claim the inflation rate is only 6%, while other economist in the world estimate it's closer to 30%.

Since I have been exploring the city over the past month, I've made it my side mission to find micro examples of a broke Buenos Aires.

The autopista picture at the top of this post is one of my favorites as the two abandoned freeways have since been built around, making their completion today nearly impossible.

Below is a photo of the H line of the subte, which was completed in 2003, but because of a lack of funding and government change over has never been opened and still does not run today.

Then there is the La Biblioteca Nacional (The National Library) which took 30 years to construct. Today it is known as one of the ugliest buildings in the city as the outside looks 1950s-futuristic and the inside is decorated with antique furniture. (pic below is stolen and not mine)

As for me and my visa. After 3 and a half hours of waiting I was handed my renewed visa, which just like my last formal Argentine document had a minor typo in my information.

"Do you wanna fix this, it's not right," I asked.

"It's OK, it doesn't matter," the employee responded.

I walked out the building through the hundreds of Bolivians, Paraguayans and Peruvians trying to immigrate to Argentina and wondered what the hell could be going on in their country.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bird Camp

Seven weeks into the Universidad Catolica de Argentina school year, we had our second Aves de Suramerica class. Despite the fact that I am no longer a student, I decided to go on the weekend bird watching adventure.

The following is my diary from Bird Camp.

Viernes el 26 de Septiembre:

14:00 We all meet in front of the school. I feared it would be unbelievably tacky, but I wore my Staple pigeon tee anyways. It ends up going over well, Horacio gives me bonus points and is devastated when I told him I bought it back in the Estados Unidos.

Since it had been over a month since our last class, I quickly catch up with all my bird-watching cronies before hopping on the bus. Then my extremely paranoid fears come true as I summoned off the bus and into the student-exchange office.

I never got my student visa (because I didn't want to drop 250 pesos on something I wouldn't need) and I never officially told the UCA administration that I dropped out (they were pricks to me in the past so I figured I just would stop going to school and keep them in the dark).

After a couple minutes of waiting at the department head's desk, she finally comes out of the back room and looks quite frustrated.

She begins rapping off a million questions about what I have been doing and why I didn't get my student visa. I more or less tell her what she wants to hear and am allowed to get back on the bus.

I step out of her office, grin, quote Jay-Z to myself "I got a slick mouth, you might wanna roll with me," and get back on the bus. I'm ready to watch some birds.

-- I had no idea where we were going until 30 minutes into the ride when I find out we're going somewhere near the river delta.

-- I didn't bring my cell phone or Zune for the trip as I wanted to focus solely on nature for the weekend.

-- Our first stop is at a market, where we pick up groceries for the weekend. Here's a picture of Martin, our teacher's assistant with one of our two grocery carts. In case you're wondering what a T.A. for a 14-person birds class that meets once a month does, his responsibilities include taking care of the mate and parilla; and yes that cart has 4 boxes of chocolate milk and 8 bottles of wine.

-- We take a long, bumpy dirty road forever. There are no lights or any signs of civilization. I have no idea where we are going or where we are staying, but I have complete faith in Horacio.

-- Early into the bus ride I start singing "Summer breeze makes me feel fine," although I don't know any of the other lyrics and it is Spring. It catches on and everyone sings the song throughout the entire weekend.

Having lived in the city for two months it was actually nice to see a flat horizon again (pictured along with the flying V at the top of the page). We ended up in the town of Paranacito and we stayed in some nice lodge right on the river. The sky was perfectly clear and I don't think I've ever seen so many stars in my life.

20:00 Horacio wants to have class. I make a snarky comment to Matt about how getting out my notebook and pen reminds me of my undergrad.

21:00 A whole hour of Horacio lecturing goes by. I look at my notes, all I wrote was the day's date and a detailed drawing of Ed Cota's UNC jersey. Now that really reminds me of my undergrad.

21:15 Horacio decided everybody in the class should cook their regional food, so the two Mexicans in the class cooked fajitas for everyone. Horacio was cool with them cooking and not taking any notes during his lecture.

Over dinner I learn that Horacio is actually 41, despite looking much younger, and he has two kids, one of which is named Tobias.

23:30 We all get on the bus again to head into town as we ignore the fact that our bus driver had been drinking with us all night. No one is quite sure why we're going into town, but we hope we are going to a bar. It ends up being nothing more than a late-night cigarette run for our bus driver and T.A.

Sabado el 27 de Septiembre:

6:00 Me and the rest of the Yanks get up to start making breakfast for everyone. Horacio is in his boxers and a t-shirt cleaning the dishes from last night in the shower, because our kitchen sink does't work.

9:00 We head out to do some bird watching. Not a whole lot to note, just some pleasant strolling through the country side in some perfect weather with some great people. Good times all around.

12:00 We make it back to base camp and Horacio encourages us to swim and relax while he and Martin prepare an Argentine lunch. They set up an incredible asada, which is perhaps the best thing about Argentina, as it's a ton of meat which is heavily salted and slowly grilled.

Horacio keeps it authentic and serves us every part of the cow - kidneys, intestines, etc. - before serving massive chunks of meat.

16:00 We head back out to watch some more birds and to drop one of our bird campers, Mindy, off at the bus station, because she had to leave camp early to meet her mom at the airport.

We arrived at the bus terminal too late, so we keep trucking to some where. Then the bus pulls over and Horacio tells us all to get off the bus, except Mindy.

We all exit the bus and stand on the bank of the freeway. We're all dead from swimming, the sun, a huge lunch and the bus ride. Horacio recognizes this and comes up with a remedy to wake us up. He instructs us all to play tag.

That's right tag, so a group thirteen 20-somethings from all over the world was now running around the freeway bank playing tag. Then Horacio switched it up to freeze tag, which caused some controversy since international rules differ on the subject of a frozen person's ability to be unfrozen; and I personally couldn't remember since I have not played tag in 15 years.

After a couple rounds of tag, Horacio then made us all do some weird exercise in which four people locked together on the ground and tried to crab walk as one.

An hour later, Mindy returned to camp. She along with the rest of us assumed she was going to another bus station, but she was actually on a Fast & Furious-like chase of other buses headed to Buenos Aires.

She said the bus driver drove 110 kph the whole time as the bus' governor warned that it was exceeding the speed limit by beeping consistently. After failing to get any other buses to stop, they gave up and returned to the group.

19:45 We arrive back at our camp headquarters. Horacio tells us we are going to have class in 15 minutes. My friends and I ask the bus driver to take us into town to buy some 40s. We get a few and the bus driver gets a ton of booze for himself. I respect his brilliant idea to get blasted before he has to drive Mindy back to the bus station at 3 a.m.

20:15 We get back and Horacio doesn't mind that our 40 run delayed his lecture by 15 minutes.

23:00 After a few glasses of wine and a nice Swedish meal, we head to the docks to pass around bottles and enjoy our last night of bird camp. Horacio didn't drink with us, but Martin outlasted us all.
Domingo el 28 de Septiembre:

7:00 I wake up not knowing where I am. I hear a light rain outside, remember I am lakeside at bird camp and I peacefully drift back to sleep.

11:00 After some more bird watching we're back on the bus heading back to Buenos Aires. Horacio asks everyone how many species of birds we recorded on bird watching list. I did not keep a list because I was lazy. I lied and said I saw 42 species of birds on the weekend. The winner saw 68 and was rewarded with a mate gourd.

I had the lowest total in the class, so Horacio gave me a bottle of wine and told me drink the whole bottle before next time I go bird watching, so I can see two of every bird. I felt bad about receiving the bottle, so I gave it to the blue-haired Mexican girl, who saw 68 birds.

After getting off the bus I did my best Bob Costas impersonation and said, "
Who knows what will unfold in the next several months; but that may have been the last class Justin Adler will ever take. If that's the last class for Justin Adler how magnificent is it?"

some photos:

We played with dead animal carcasses a lot.

Here's Matt and Nick in their 2-man, 1-dead cow show.

View from our dock.

Girls on the dock.

Brits on the swingset. I learned that passing around a 40 and smoking cigs on a swingset will never get old.

Me borrowing Matt's monocular.

And finally the moment you have all been waiting for, a photo of Horacio.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More retirement musings

Note: This blog was actually written before I found out I graduated, I aplogize if it comes off as banter from an immature undergrad.

My high school algebra teacher Mr. Boyle had a poster in his classroom that said something to the effect of "In real life people don't just sit around in coffee shops all day doing nothing, they actually work."

Not I Mr. Boyle, not for the time being at least. 

I am living a life that makes Kramer's average day look productive.

I don't have a job. I don't go to school. I don't do much of anything. I just walk around the city observing silly things and taking breaks to sit in a park or grab a drink with a friend. My life is not all that incredible, but I'm sure if you compiled it right you could squeeze a 30-minutes episode of entertainment out of it.

--I try to visit a lot of museums and I try to talk to a lot of random people. The other day I went to a great art museum and afterward I talked to a kind Porteño named Gustavo for half an hour. That was a really big day.

Gustavo is an artist who works in his tiny shop all day surrounded by his hand-crafted Buddha statues of all shapes, sizes and colors. He lived in Las Vegas for four years creating statues and art for the Venetician and Wynn casinos, until a machine replaced him.

I like to think that if it came down to a John Henry-esque contest, Gustavo would easily best the machine.

-- I feel like Buenos Aires wants to get into basketball, they just don't know how. I see quite a few Porteños wearing lots of bootleg NBA gear. My favorite is the pinwheel cap which has the New York Yankees logo right next to the NBA logo. I've also seen a ton of absurdly fake NBA jerseys in sports shops; among the highlights: a Portland Sheed, KB8, Reggie Miller, a Raptors Vince Carter and somehow an Iguodala jersey made its way to Buenos Aires.

My favorite came today when I saw a handicapped person wearing an Allan Houston jersey. I like to think that guy knew what he was doing, because if you're stuck in a wheel chair there is nobody better to try to emulate than the oft-injured Allan Houston.

-- Every weekend there are tons of ferias - small open markets -around the city, which sell everything in life that you could never need. I've been to a bunch of ferias because I keep thinking that after 400 shops I'll eventually find something that could be essential to my life, but instead I just keep finding the most worthless junk ever.

Last week's Parque Lezama feria had some real heat though. One stand had a collection of 8x10-inch production stills of Leathal Weapon (I'm no expert but I'd guess Lethal Weapon 1 or 2).

Another stand had a t-shirt that had an painted picture of Tupac on it, except that it looked nothing like Tupac and more like a somebody was asked to draw a picture of a generic face.

It was such a generic bald head that the artist could have put Sinead O'Connor, Mr. Clean or Tupac's name over the head and it wouldn't have changed a thing.

-- Finally, here's my token Human Giant video of the day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


So I graduated college today.

Three weeks have passed since I officially dropped out of school. Three weeks in which I have done nothing but explore Buenos Aires and plan my backpacking excursions.

I woke up this morning actually feeling a little down, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.

I then went about my usual routine - aimlessly walk around the city for hours, get home, kick my shoes off and check my G-mail.

And then my day, month, and year were made by my University of Arizona journalism adviser's e-mail.

"I pulled your SAPR and from all I can see you are completely finished with all of your requirements for graduation. You have 120 total units, 42 Upper Division Units, as well as all Gen Ed, Pre-major, Major and Minor courses completed. We don't even need your study abroad credit to apply to the total...you are done! If you can, run a SAPR and see for yourself."

Jesus Christ. Just a few weeks ago I dropped out of school, since then I have done nothing and now they want to give me a degree.

I didn't how to react, so I began doing the Chris Tucker dance from Rush Hour before hugging my favorite Guatemalan and Colombian.

Then I thought maybe I should check the SAPR myself. Green OKs as far as the eye could see. All requirements met.

What the hell does all this mean?

Well first and foremost I'd like to formally invite you all to my graduation party in Buenos Aires which goes from today through October 15. Then the party will move to Patagonia for two months. Feel free to bring your friends.

My second dilemma is best expressed through a P. Diddy verse from "Victory," where Diddy yells, "It's all fucked up now! What I'm a do now?! Huh?!"

The plan was to return to Tucson in January and live one last great college semester partying with my closest friends in a city I had just recently grown to love.

Now I have no clue what the hell I'm going to do.

Yesterday I spent the evening drinking with a friend from Sweden who told me Norway has a burgeoning job market. So currently I'm listening to "Norwegian Wood" (which I don't think has anything to do with Norway), Wikipedia-ing Oslo and thinking it sounds about right for me.

Of course I'd love to move to Brooklyn, there's always the great American Northwest and I've been big on Toronto since Bryan Colangelo took over the Raptors four years ago.

I obviously don't have the slightest clue of what is going to happen come January.

All I can do is pass along the advice to those of you still working on your undergrad; move to South America and drop out, the rest will work itself out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Get off of my cloud

Here's a quick rundown of my top eight cloud pictures from the last two weeks. Enjoy.

8. The photo was taken from Recoleta Cemetery, which is a large cemetery in the posh barrio of Recoleta. All of the mausoleums make New Orleans' cemeteries look like shit in comparison.

Many of the mausoleums are the size of small houses. You gotta have a ton of money and the right family connections to be buried here as it's the hip spot to lay for eternity in Buenos Aires.

There is another more massive cemetery in Buenos Aires, called El Cementerio de la Chacarita, which I refer to as the quanity over quality cemetery, as it is the size of an entire barrio. The Chacarita cemetery is equally nuts though as it goes on forever and the whole thing is three stories deep as the underground holds three stories of drawers.

If I wasn't already committed to being buried in Portland, I'd consider the Cementerio de la Chacarita just because I like to be with the common man.

7. Another photo from the Recoleta Cemetery. This is one of those photos where it actually looked better in real life as I couldn't get the green from the statue to show up in the photo. Still fairly trill though.

It took me two months of living here, but I finally got around to seeing the Floralis Generica, which is a famous touristy photo. It's a huge 23-meter tall, chrome flower that opens and closes with the sunlight.

I'm still not sure if I like the Floralis Generica over Cloud Gate in terms of my favorite chrome monstrosity.

4. Here's a shot of the construction in Puerto Madero, the richest barrio in Buenos Aires.

3. Here's the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. Kinda lame in my opinion, but the clouds are pretty.

2. This photo really just makes me happy because it reminds me of the album cover of Nas' "Stillmatic." And really whenever I'm shooting any photo I'm just hoping I get lucky and it looks like a Nas album cover.

1. This photo is just absurd and I'm amazed that my camera was even able to capture all this. This is the same uncropped photo from the top of the page. This is also the only photo that's on the blog that is a high-quality jpeg and not a bandwidth-friendly save-for-web jpeg.

Bonus unrelated link: This article is amazing and almost tricked me into wanting to be a teacher in New Orleans.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A good amount of information

-- Obviously speaking Spanish has been pretty helpful since I have been living a Spanish-speaking country. But my bilingual skills have never been as handy as they were today when I watched "Más Rápido, Más Furioso." Granted you could probably watch "2 Fast, 2 Furious" as a silent film and get the gist of what's going on, but hearing Paul Walker, Tyrese and Ludacris all dubbed over made the movie even more enjoyable, if that is possible.

-- My Colombian roommate never ceases to amaze me, today she told me she loves "Fast and Furious" and it's sequel (she's never seen Tokyo Drift, but I'll take two out of three). Then she dropped, "Me encanta Ludacris, pero me gusta DMX m
ás. (I love Ludacris, but I like DMX more)." Before proceeding to tell me that she used to have DMX shoes because she liked him that much. I confirmed that she owned a pair of Reeboks that said "DMX," but I couldn't break her heart and let her know that the "DMX" was referring to a Reebok cushioning technology and not the Ruff-Ryding rapper.

-- While I'm on the subject of non-Yanks who love DMX, I should mention my Dutch roommate Menno, who also loves X and once tested my knowledge by making me name every movie with DMX in it.

In perhaps the most embarrassing moment of my life, I was only able to name three of the nine movies in DMX's filmography. I took some of the responsibility for my ignorance, but passed off most of the blame to America's shitty public school system.

-- Thank God that I'm retired and not going to be entering the American job market any time soon. Judging from a few Argentine newspapers and a few more American papers, the American economy ain't doing so hot. I would be freaking out right now, if say I were a journalism major/Spanish minor who plans on graduating in May with no solid options lined up. Thank God I don't know anybody like that.

-- The other day while on one of my leisurely strolls, I came across a massive protest that stretched for at least eight blocks. I thought nothing of it as usual and walked through the chanting Bolivians to get to my bus stop on the other side of the street.

Then I got home and learned that hundreds of Bolivians were protesting the United States and they were going to the U.S. Embassy to protest the damn Yanquis trying to now take Bolivia's oil. Bolivia also recently kicked out their U.S. ambassador and is now siding with Hugo Chavez & Co. on the Fuck the U.S. movement.

This was all pretty nuts, because until I learned about Bolivia's hate for my people, I planned on going there to head up to Machu Picchu in Peru. Now that plan is scratched.

-- Quick TV review (sans spoilers):

---- Weeds season four finale: pretty solid, didn't like the ending scene, not as good as recent season finales, but still good. I'm still pissed at Weeds for stealing two of my ideas. Season three had Shane obsessed with Pittsburgh, which was a direct rip off of my obsession with Portland that I've had for over four years.

Second, Andy's whole good-coyote thing. I had the idea of being a non-profit, friendly coyote years ago. Ask Seth Janiga.

---- Entourage season five: Ehh. It's Entourage-y. Not great, but better than the bullshit from season four. I've now matured to the point where I realize Entourage is a terribly retarded show, but I still love it. A lot.

That being said, Greg Hendersol is a genius.

See more Paul Scheer videos at Funny or Die

-- And I would have never found the video above if it weren't for Aziz Ansari's blog, which updates often and is hilarious.

I love Aziz for all the same reasons people love small Indie bands, nobody knows who he is, I really enjoy and can connect to his work and I think mentioning that I'm a fan will somehow get me pussy.

Do yourself a favor and watch this and this, then scroll the rest of Human Giant's YouTube videos (warning: some suck) and then search for Aziz's stand-up.

-- And while I'm pushing blogs, check out Jay Rochlin's blog. Jay is a journalism professor at the University of Arizona, he's 58, has his Masters and Ph.D and is now taking an intermediate algebra class at Pima Community College; while blogging the experience.

This is why I love blogs. When I went to a community college I always wondered what the hell the 50-year-old was doing in the class, now I can figure out what the hell this 58-year-old is doing in a
class that as Jay notes, "We all should have mastered during out sophomore years in high school."

If you actually read and enjoy his blog, drop him a comment and tell him Where's P-Mac sent you.

-- I enjoy taking a blog hiatus as much as the next blogger, but Roman, come on now, update The Empire.

-- If you haven't noticed the side links, I try to follow all my friends' blogs. If I am somehow missing your blog, let me know (bullshit blogs for class don't count).

Random shit I've been meaning to post for too long now...

-- Fabian Espindola is now my favorite Argentine football player ever.

-- Train burning is now my favorite Argentine pastime.

-- Just when you think UA sports can't get any lamer... They have David Hasselhoff videos all over Deadspin and WithLeather.

-- There's nothing triller in life than the LHC. Nothing.

-- Number 8 on this list is pretty inspiring.

-- Finally, this is from forever ago, but it's just epic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


My stepsister told me how insane her life has become since she had her first child 18 days ago. I listened and tried to empathize with her sleepless nights and all the other work that comes with taking care of another human life.

Then I told her that I am exactly 180 degrees from her situation, I have zero responsibilities and it's going to stay that way for the next three months.

In one of my favorite books "The Early Bird," the author, Rodney Rothman writes his memoirs after he retired at the age of 28. I beat Rothman by 7 years.

I usually roll out of bed at 10:30, cook myself some eggs and then scroll through the front page of the five newspapers I try to keep up with. After wasting another hour or so in the sports blogosphere I remind myself I'm in Buenos Aires and I should get out and explore.

For the past week and what will probably be the next month, I wonder aimlessly through Buenos Aires looking to encounter anything I deem interesting. Every day I pick a point on the map that I have not been to, take a bus or subte there and walk around for hours.

I don't mind the walking so much because I feel it keeps me young, but after a few hours I get tired, so normally I'll find a nice park and sit on a bench to collect any thoughts that had gone uncollected during the first half of my day. I also go out of my way to meet local shop owners or artists and talk with them.

You may thinking, "Wow, that sounds rough, how did you jump into that lifestyle so quickly and effortlessly?"

To tell you the truth, I've been formally training for this for the past three years. Although I often don't give my journalism major and Spanish minor much credit, three years of specialized schooling has prepared me for is talking to random people in Spanish.

I'd tell any freshman considering journalism/Spanish studies that his options are either earning 35 grand a year and hating your life working for a newspaper or putting off any semblance of reality for as long as possible and living in South America.

I'm also in the process of trying to think of something incredibly amazing to do with my 40 days I have left in Buenos Aires until I begin traveling South America. I have a few ideas so far, but if you can think of an epic side project, please let me know.

I really have no excuse not to blog more, but here's the highlights of my last few days, which are all beginning to run together.

One day's highlights:

I walked around the Palermo/Belgrano border and saw some really dope graffiti.

Then I stumbled upon this goose, I'm not sure what kind of bird it actually is, we haven't gotten to that section in Birds yet. Even though I'm dropping out, I'm still going to Birds.

Then I got tired so I took a break in the Japanese Garden, which was quite relaxing.

One of the 8 million great things about "The Carter III" is that now whenever I see a Koi Fish, I instantly think of Juelz Santana.

I spent 10 minutes watching this mother and daughter share icecream in the garden. Should I ever have a wife and/or daughter I can only hope that they have a moment like this. And I also hope that they are being photographed and blogged about by some kid from a foreign country.