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

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.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Final Answer

This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.

It's not how I envisioned it 12 years ago when I saw Allen Iverson declare he was leaving school early for the NBA.

Over the last decade my goal changed from wanting to be Allen Iverson to wanting to be the guy sitting on the other side of the table with the notepad on his lap and the recorder in his hand.

Then I decided that I didn't want to become a sports reporter, but there was still a huge part of me that wanted to be Iverson.

Unfortunately I was not blessed with the a lightning-quick first step or any athletic ability for that matter, but I'm still trying to emulate Iverson.

So just like Iverson, I'm dropping out of school.

OK, so maybe it's nothing like Iverson, since I'm announcing my declaration to leave school on my personal blog and Iverson announced his in a press conference that ran on ESPN. There's also that whole thing about Iverson having guaranteed millions waiting for him and me having nothing but the promise of an empty bank account.

Additionally I plan on returning to class in January, unlike Iverson who probably couldn't tell you where a classroom is on the Georgetown campus.

Abandoning the A.I. analogy, after a ton deliberation I decided to temporarily drop out of school for a number of reasons.

I have honestly put so much energy and thought to dropping out that at one point I considered staying in school just because it was the easier route.

As I've mentioned before school here is hardly stressful or overwhelming, in fact it's so unstressful and boring that every minute I sit in class my soul dies a little bit knowing I am wasting precious time in South America.

I can't pin-point the exact time it hit me, but I think while I was sitting in my family room watching my Guatemalan roommate sing along to Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten," I realized I should stop going to school, get out and feel the South America rain on my skin.

I figured I wouldn't even be losing much if I did drop out, the only downside would be switching from a Spanish Literature major to a Spanish minor and having to pay back my father a couple grand in tuition money, which is now essentially wasted. Although I did get to meet some great people in the school and I still plan on going to Birds, so in retrospect it was not entirely wasted.

I also figured that if I left school I could get my mother out of the rough ghetto and make enough money to afford the special care for my sister's seizures, no wait that's Allen Iverson again.

My biggest hold-up was ensuring that I would still be eligible for my scholarship should I not receive any credits this semester.

I've never called a 1-900 number before, but I can't imagine a phone sex operator saying anything more filthy and gratifying than what my scholarship adviser told me.

"We actually have no way of seeing what you are doing down there, we don't check to see what you did when you come back," she said. "As long as you come back in the Spring and sign up for 12 credits, you'll have your scholarship."

With that I was basically free to go, but I still spoke with 900 other people to make sure I wasn't overlooking something that would come back to bite me.

Technically I'm still in school and still on track to receive credits down here, so if you have a good reason for me to stay in school please lay it on me. And because of my current mindset a "good reason" needs to be something along the lines of, "My friend just graduated UA with a journalism and Spanish degree and is now making six figures, mainly because of his Spanish literature degree."

The tentative plan now is to leave Buenos Aires in the end of October and begin backpacking South America, which ties into reason 215 I'm dropping out: to be like Che Guevara. In 1948 Che took a year off from studying at the University of Buenos Aires to travel South America by motorcycle.

During his journey found the inspiration to fight and die for the cause of the poor and dreamed of uniting Latin America, all of which he chronicled in The Motorcycle Diaries. I'm just hoping to find Paul McPherson and do a halfway decent job of blogging the experience.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Food & no liquor

When I came down here I thought I'd be living in a homestay and have some Argentine parents who would cook me dinner every night, but that didn't come to fruition so instead I've been learning to cook.

I honestly can't remember what I normally cooked myself in Tucson, but I think my culinary repertoire consisted of rice, some times rice with chicken and if I wanted to spoil myself I'd cook a steak.

When I tried pulling that same shit here I was laughed at by my roommates, who always cook themselves meals that I would consider extremely elaborate, and by extremely elaborate I mean more than rice-and-chicken variations.

When I first moved in I made myself some rice and my roomate looked at me and said, "You know Justin we're not in a third-world country, you can eat more than rice."

Then the next day I made some pasta and my great Dutch friend (who has since moved out) said, "Justin! You eat so fucking unhealthy," as she not only was making fun of my shit culinary skills, but my propensity to say "fuck" as well.

When I first got here I was also eating steak five to six nights a week just because it was so cheap, but now I've kinda figured out how to make some decent dishes.

I still have little-to-no cooking skills, but I've figured out that if I combine everything I know how to cook into one meal it turns out half-way decent.

My current favorite meal consists of rice, sautéed and seasoned steak, mushrooms and fried eggs. This is obviously nothing more than me combining my normal breakfast with dinner and leaving out the Frosted Flakes part, but the meal is pretty solid.

Here is a picture of my dish from a couple weeks ago, before I realized I could combine it with my breakfast.

And here's the first WPM recipe:
-- A bunch of white rice
-- 2-3 fried eggs
-- A lot of steak, I cut it up into small pieces and only cook it for about 90 seconds (it's became a hobby of mine to see how raw I can eat the steak down here).
-- A decent ammount of mushrooms which you sauté with the steak, but sauté them for longer, in whatever kind of cooking oil you can steal from your roommates
-- Salt, if you want it authentic Justin Adler style, add gratuitous amounts of salt to every part of the recipe and then add some soy sauce at the end for good measure.
-- For some reason it just taste better if you prepare it while listening to R. Kelly, for this platter I was feeling particularly inspired, so I bumped "The World's Greatest."

Here's more food-related notes:

-- I generally eat dinner around 8:00 because I find that my "salty steak rice delight" goes great with the 8:00 episode of "House." Then usually my roommates will cook food up later so I'll get down on their dinner, which is always better than mine, two hours after I just ate my own dinner. I'm not sure how I lived the first 21 years of my life with only one dinner.

-- Because my friend Matt is just the trillest kid ever, he decided to buy two cow brains becuase he'd never eaten cow brain before and Buenos Aires is as good a place as any to begin eatting brain.

After watching Argentina tie Paragauy in the World Cup qualifiers, a couple friends and myself went over to Matt's place to dig in on some cow brain.

He let them sit in water all day to make removing the membrane easier, so I helped Matt peel the membrane off for a while until I got bored and decided to be lazy and hang out with my friends in the family room

We then played Gin Rummy in the family room and listened to Luther Vandross, while Matt prepared and fried the cow brains.

Finally Matt brought out a platter of fried cow brains and we all sat there, listening to Matt sing along to every line from "Welcome to Jamrock" while eating cow brains for the first time.

Verdict: pretty decent, nothing great, very weird texture, good with soy sauce.

-- I've somewhat adjusted to Buenos Aires social time, but it's still consistently amazes me. Last week my house dad/landlord, Jorge, invited all the guys in the house out for dinner. We didn't end up leaving our house until 10:00. Then we finished our dinner at 12:30, to which the 65-year-old Jorge proposed we go out for some drinks. We eventually returned home at 2 a.m. on a Monday night.

-- I always thought the movie "Super-Size Me" was retarded because if you eat anything everyday of the week you'll probably die. That being said I'm waiting to O.D./enter the Guinness Book of World Records for eating Frosted Flakes every day.

I am a serial cereal eater, who lives with a French guy named Cyril, which has nothing to do with the story other than the fact that I wanted to use the same sound three times over. Unfortunately the only American cereals sold in Buenos Aires are Frosted Flakes and Fruity Loops and Justin Adler doesn't do Fruity Loops.

Therefore I start and some times finish every day with a bowl of Frosted Flakes and the last day I can remember not eating a bowl was when I was in Rosario almost a month ago.

Kelloggs, if you're reading this, hit me up with a sponsorship and by sponsorship I don't mean more "Kung-Fu Panda" stickers, I've already collected all six, thank you very much.

-- This has nothing to do with food, but to all my friends/loyal readers in Tucson, here's a huge heads up:

The National Public Radio program Talk of the Nation Science Friday will be on campus Sept. 19

The National Public Radio program Talk of the Nation Science Friday will be on campus Sept. 19. The program will focus on the Mars lander, and will be broadcast live from the UA Phoenix Science Operations Center from 11 to 1 p.m.

Guests will include Peter Smith, principal investigator of NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission and the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Integrative Science from the University of Arizona. Students interested in science journalism or radio-news careers may be interested in being in the audience.

If so, please leave your name with April or Heidi in the journalism department's main office (Marshall Building, third floor). Seats are very limited, so please sign up only if you are sure you can attend. Please sign up as soon as possible. No reservations can be taken after noon Friday, Sept. 12.

I can honestly say that seeing Neal Conan host a live Talk of the Nation at UA was 9,000,000 times better than seeing Kanye West perform his Glow in the Dark Show. If you're in Tucson, go to this event.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Just some thoughts and stories

-- Whenever I'm strolling through the city I always see things that would make nice gifts for my friends and family. I'll often see a unique item and think about how happy it would make someone else, because that's just the kind of guy I am.

However there is so much trill shit here, that I'm not sure who to give what, then one day while thinking about people besides myself, it hit me. Why not just buy a collection of trill items and have all my kinfolk play a game of Yankee Swap/White Elephant for the gifts.

The idea is still in the beta stage, but I'm thinking it could be a grand time as everyone I'm close with will get the chance to Yankee Swap for a gifts ranging from Boca jerseys, Maradona posters and hand-crafted mate gourds to shit like a grain of salt that says "BsAs." Keep in mind that the whole write-your-name-on-a-grain-of-salt phenomena doesn't exist in Buenos Aires, so if you end of with that gift you're really get shafted with a bootleg BsAs grain of rice.

The only qualifications for the Buenos Aires Yankee Swap gift exchange extravaganza are that (a) I have communicated with you since I've been down here and (b) you have g-mail. And to accommodate my friends all over the world (I see you Eric Gobright) I'm thinking of hosting the extravaganza in a neutral setting like Portland (for obvious reasons) or Ed's house in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

-- Last Sunday while I was strolling through the San Telmo Market with my friends, some lady who heard us speaking English asked us if we were backpacking through South America. We told her we were actually studying here and then tried to force more small talk with us.

After telling us she was a flight attendant who was on 24-hour layover, she told me she was from Scottsdale, Arizona. I shrugged and told her that I'm also from Scottsdale and then she lost her mind.

She told me she lived in Gainey Ranch (a particularly lame part of Scottsdale) and then she suggested we take a picture together.

She busted out her camera and hugged me as I made the smile you make after you've been annoyed for the last 90 seconds by some stupid bitch flight attendant who happens to be from the your hometown, which you really don't like to begin with.

Then she asked everyone within a five-foot perimeter for a pen, because she was steadfast on sending the picture to my parents. After she bothered six people, I stopped humoring her and told her it was OK and I could just remember the moment.

She finally got her hands on a pen and I gave her my e-mail address because I told her my parents don't have e-mail addresses (which is partially true).

She then blabbered to me some more and brought up her husband, who she twice referred to as "Mr. Wonderful." Then after annoying me for another couple of minutes, the woman, who appeared to be 55-years-old, gasped, looked me straight in the eyes and asked, "Oh my God! Do you know where there is good graffiti in this city because I love taking pictures of graffiti?!"

I firmly and promptly crushed her and let her know there was a museum with a South American graffiti exhibit, that featured the most amazing graffiti I had ever seen, but the exhibit ended a week ago.

Finally I freed myself from her clutches, looked at my friends and then broke my streak of not using excessive profanity as all I could manage to say was, "Wow. What a stupid cunt."

-- Few of you will actually believe this, but yes I'm actually trying to reduce the amount of profanity I use.

-- I finally figured out how "House" is created. They just steal ideas from "South Park," the other day on "House" a girl pooped out of her mouth; there was a whole episode of "South Park" about this. Then tonight the show opened with a kid being strangely abducted and left on his front lawn in his pajamas with his ass bleeding, blatantly ripping the episode where Cartman is anally probed by aliens.

-- The other day I met this cool Chilean girl who had about 9 million tattoos, she had multiple neck tattoos (although none as dope as "Ra Boogie" or "Black Jesus") and she had "SOXR LIFE" tatted across her knuckles. This was the one tattoo I asked about, which stems from my love for "WHIT EBOY," and she told me she didn't want "SOUR LIFE" because she didn't want people judging her from that particular tattoo.

If it weren't for the excessive tattoos and my knowledge of her abortion history I probably would have gotten down simply for the fact that she started the night by playing "Da Rockwilda" and then phased into a De La Soul and Blackstar medley.

-- I kick myself everyday for not going to the show advertised at the top of this post. Gertrudis and Perrovaca translates into Gertrudis and Dogcow and JESUS FUCKING CHRIST I just watched their YouTube, why didn't I go to this?!

-- I'm pretty used to manifestaciones these days. As I walk up the subte exit and hear the drum banging I now just hope for some excitement and am usually disappointed. It's gotta be a pretty big let down when your manifestacion only warrants nine riot police officers.

Here if the riot police tumbler I spoke of in a previous post.

-- I was quite proud of my Spanish skills the other day. I figure any schmohawk can ask, "Dónde está el baño?" But it takes some real skills to bullshit the hostess of a nice restaurant and tell her your looking for friends, then use the bathroom and pull the ol' fake conversation on the cellphone trick as you walk past her on your way out.

--Now it's time for other peoples' stories...

These are my two good friends here Matt and Erasmo.

They both live together in a homestay with a mother who runs one of the larger breast milk cartels in Buenos Aires. They tell me that every Saturday morning there are six to ten women sitting in their family room pumping their breasts for milk.

They also told me their refrigerator has a whole shelf full of breast milk. I constantly suggest we have a party and sneak all the breast milk as if it were our parents' liquor cabinet in high school.

Plus I want to become a oenophile of South American breast milk to the point where I can decipher a woman's age and ethnicity from one sip.

--- Recently Matt, who I would describe as the chillest kid ever, if I used the word "chill," got robbed three times in one week.

The first time someone stole his $130-peso binoculars out of his backpack, which sucks because now he has to buy new binoculars for Birds.

The second time someone tried to rob him by coming up to him and saying, "Tengo un machete dame su plata (I have a machete, give me your money)." Matt acted like he didn't speak any Spanish and refused to give the guy anything. The best part of the story is that the robber didn't realize machete is the same word in Spanish and English.

The third time Matt was by himself slack-lining in the park, this is Matt's new favorite pastime. Then three guys came up and joined in for a minute. Then one of the guys gained interest in Matt's ear buds which were hanging from shirt collar. Matt was reluctant at first, until the guy lifted up his shirt to reveal a gun in his waste.

Then the other two guys came up to Matt and took everything out of his pockets.

Somehow Matt remained cool the entire time and then began haggling for his stuff back, he ended up getting his wallet back after they took all four pesos out of it. Then he started to mock them as they went through his backpack.

He told me clearly pointed out how worthless everything in his backpack was to them. "This is a towel. This is a notebook. This is a book in English, you can't read that," Matt told the robbers.

In the end Matt only lost his iPod and cell phone, which he never activated any ways.

-- Matt is cool enough to the point where I respect him even though he goes to Providence and doesn't know who God Shamgod is. This is normally a mortal sin in my book. He also came to Buenos Aires without a camera and obviously has no intentions of photographing any of his trip.

--He also is anti-cell phone since he never used the one he had and he has no intentions of buying a new one. He uses the ideal concept of everyone sticking to their original plans and being where they say they are going to be. I really wish my friends back home who have a cell phone, but refuse to ever pick up calls (cough Andy and Spicker) would adopt this practice as it would cut out the frustration of calling them.

Matt recently replaced his binoculars with an monocular which he now always keeps in his front pocket and uses like a cell phone. If somebody is not where they are supposed to be at the arranged meeting time, Matt will pull out his monocular and search for them.

-- There's too much about Erasmo to recount, but he recently found some Rastas in the park and then went to their apartment where two people spent five hours dreading his hair. He is also trill enough to the point where he can pull off carrying a purse-like bag.

-- Finally this is the last blog I'm writing with FF3. I just wanted to thank Firefox, but now it's time to move on to the future.

Pictures of the quality variety

This is a collection of the nicer pictures I have taken over the last couple of weeks, as always click for full-size images.

Above and below: Puente Mujer... Check the Wikipedia of bridge architect Santiago Calatrava, the man is God.

This is the bench where I read books from time to time.

This shot was taken from the top of the Monumento Nacional de la Bandera in Rosario.

Some chuch in Rosario.

A biker/pastry seller in Rosario.

Some Rosarino graffiti.

Me, myself and I. My main boy Jonathan had the idea for and took this photo, I also have to credit him for the Palermo night sky picture that's atop this post.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pictures of the silly variety

While I was taking a nap on the Monumento Nacional a la Bandera in Rosario, Laura decided it to take a picture of her stabbing me. It's now on Facebook with the caption "Muerte al Yankee," which I find funny, but not as funny as a Colombian wearing a Juan Valdez sweatshirt.

I'm not sure how much this blog might help somebody traveling Argentina, but now I can at least recomend people a good restaurant in Rosario, Argentina to watch Florida Panthers games. I forgot the name but it's on la calle de Entre Rios somewhere.

Here is the hotel Jonathan and I stayed at in Rosario, which is right next to the Florida Panthers hockey restaurant.

There are a lot of stray dogs every where in Argentina, but this one was my favorite. Every time I saw him in Rosario I chuckled just because I like the concept of somebody putting a t-shirt on a stray dog. It was just hilarious to see a stray dog with a shirt on, I wonder if he feels superior to other strays because of his shirt or if maybe he is ostracized by the stray community because of it. I had so many questions for this dog.

This is my favorite magazine in Argentina.

This photo illustration was in a Cordoba newspaper after Phelps won his 8th gold medal. It's really just brilliant.

This sign is on every bus in the city. I understand the first three symbols, but I have no clue what the fourth means. Seats reserved for people carrying prosthetic legs? Seats reserved for people carrying odd-shaped fishing rods? If you have an idea, leave it in the comments.

Sometimes I wear silly glasses.

This picture came from a wall in a hostel in Cordoba.

This picture came from the same room.

This is a picture of the Winning Eleven club that is at the end of my street. I meant to run this story a month ago, but I walked under the sign for weeks before some kids pointed it out to me. I actually went up to the club once where they had six televisions and a bunch of PS2s to play WL. It's basically just a sick WL loft in the middle of Palermo.

This is a photo from the San Telmo market of some guy doing some weird shit to some woman. It's really not a good photo and I have no idea why I'm running it on my blog.

Every Sunday when I go to Plaza Francia to hang out with hippie in Buenos Aires I always look at the slack lines and say "I've never seen slack-lining like this before," in the same way that Sway says "I have never seen stepping like this before" in Stomp the Yard. And nobody ever gets it.

Seriously every week the slack-lining gets more intense. Last week they raised the slack line to 12-ish feet. Then after an hour of setting it up, everybody pussed out and nobody did it.