Friday, May 9, 2008

Things portenos like

i've noticed that, as is always, surprisingly, the case with large cities, there are a few things that everyone agrees on. according to my observations, portenos like:
  1. dogs. big dogs, small dogs, pretty dogs, ugly dogs, there are dogs everywhere. as i write this post, i can hear four different dogs talking to each other. BA dogs are rarely on leashes, but their freedom has acculturated them to city life. not being on a leash means that they are not interested in the usual things: other dogs, passing cars, my crotch. the only thing portenos like more than dogs is dog-walkers. what they don't like about dogs: picking up after them.
  2. converse all-stars. at first i thought it was just a schoolgirl thing. then i thought maybe a schoolboy thing too. now i'm convinced it's a national obsession. old people, young people, hipsters and children: everybody's wearing chuck taylor.
  3. 80s music. i know "tainted love" is popular all over the world right now (something about royalties, i suspect), but 80s tunes are out of hand here. equally popular are the resuscitations -- flock of seagulls, anyone? -- and the remixes. we heard a bewitching cover of "sweet dreams" at a parrilla in san telmo, but alas, nobody could tell us who did it.
  4. ham. everybody knows argentina is the beef capital of the world (take that, alberta!), but nobody warned me about the ubiquity of ham. they put ham in everything. i ordered a cheese quesadilla and it came with ham. i bought a bag of crackers with a picture of dainty little ham rolls, which i took to be the standard 'serving suggestion' you get on crackers, the buyer-beware that you are not buying actual watercress or gruyere cheese squares. however, i was wrong. the crackers are ham-flavoured.
  5. shopping. avenida florida is an 8-block pedestrian mall with an average density of 5 people per square metre. on florida you can buy leather jackets, bags, wallets, footwear, purses and skins made of calf, cow, sheep, lamb and carpincho. you can also buy futbol jerseys, lottery tickets, CDs, stereos, men's clothes, women's clothes, children's clothes, perfume, jewelry, flowers, magazines, ponchos, knives, silver, books, and chachkas. best of all, you can buy knock-offs: 'PRAGA' shoes, 'RALLY' boots, dura-cell batteries. most knock-offs are made in a free-trade zone of paraguay, though some -- like the batteries -- are stamped, ominously, industria argentina.
  6. the pan flute. okay, i'm lying about this one. nobody likes the pan flute. i'm actually convinced there's just one pan-flute busker who follows me around the world. as soon as i relax into a big-city groove, there he is in that awful poncho playing, without fail, the theme from titanic.

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