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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Calling Page Six...

Would you believe it....I'm still in Buenos Aires.

I cannot escape, I don't want to escape, I never want to leave.
But, alas, tomorrow I head off to Punta del Este in Uruguay to log some quality beach time. My friend Tony from Santiago (yes, the one I spilled margaritas all over in the poetry-reading-Chilean bar) decided to take pity on my traveling ass and hook me up with some beachfront property he owns in Punta. So, yeah kids, I'm checking myself into Apartment 011 (not sure why they need the 0 in front of the 11, but....) in some fabulous complex in Punta. Gratis....thanks to Tony (and Bruno, who put it all together with the Spanish email to the housekeeper to make up the apartment, Uh-huh...). I can't complain. But, that'll be my next adventure. For now, I'm still in BA.

And, very ill. For those of you who know me well, you know I'm a victim of a nasty spell of bronchitis every now and again. So, hi. Now. Couldn't have been worse timing, I've got a hack cough to rival an old bum in a Plaza with emphysema. But you'd think I just got back the annual physical of an Olympic gymnast. Slowed me down, no way. Put a damper on my smile, nah. Left me shackled to a hotel bed with meals of Halls, Vitamin C, Echinacea and OJ. Don't even think about it. I've been out, EVERY DAY, EVERY NIGHT. BA just does that to you.... Bronchitis? What's that you say?

So, since we last left off, I was pursued by a Brit from Calgary (what a blend, huh...I'm in freaking South America and get pursued by a Brit from Calgary!?!?!) with a penchant for sweet young thangs who eat a lot of carne (no pun...), and then, as if my illness couldn't get any worse, it rained. A LOT. On Sunday. After a lunch at Bar Uriarte in Palermo Soho where I learned that scrambled eggs (huevos revueltos) and sunnyside-up eggs (huevos estrelladas) are two different things and almost vomited when they brought me runny, eyes-wide open, drippy sunnyside ups, I took the opportunity to stop shopping (for just one little, itsy-bitsy moment) and take in some culture. I checked into MALBA. The modern art museum of Latin America. Pretty amazing stuff. I actually haven't seen such cutting-edge, modern art like this in a while, and I like to think myself pretty knowledgeable about the modern art scene. The two featured exhibits are worth mention. The first was by an artist named Fabian Marcaccio, who did an outdoor mural of a 1973 (pretty sure...) uprising at the airport when a former Argentinian president was returning from exile, turning into one of the bloodiest riots in Argentinian history. It's the length of a city block and he uses photographs of the actual incident, but blurs them with both lens and, then, paint on top of the photographs, to create an almost photographic orgy of colors, mixing violence, politics and life and sex. It's not pretty, it's intense, but it's absolutely riveting. The other was an exhibit that is going to be hard to describe, but I'm going to try. Two artists, created a sensory exhibit that is insanely weird, but effective. One, Heli Oiticaca, took iconic images associated with pop culture (Marilyn Monroe, Yoko Ono, Jimmy Hendrix) and lines famous images or album covers of their silhouettes in cocaine. And photgraphs a series of various stages of the usage, from completely coke-covered images to just a few lines left. Ok....I get the comment. Then, enter Neville D'Almeida, years later. Takes these photographs and creates unlit ROOMS, that projects huge, massive replicas of these photographs on the walls and ceilings of these darkened rooms, where you have to take off your shoes to enter. When you enter, your feet sink into either plastic covered sand, water mattresses, ball chambers, just something sensory under your feet, with music BLARING around you and pillows to sink into and chill on. And, YOU SWEAR, you are on the drugs in the images of Heli Oiticaca. It was almost unsettling how fucked up you feel, like out of your mind. And, I guess that's why I'm writing about this surreal experience at the MALBA, because regardless of liking or not liking works in provoking a visceral reaction.

Onto Bar Six in Palermo for an "early" dinner at 9ish, because I was invited to a dinner party from friends from Bariloche who have a friend who lives here. They were cooking a lamb feast. All of the restaurants here are very similar, they're very lofty spaces, industrial in their exposed concrete walls and silver ventilating systems lining the ceilings. Each has an upstairs with 4-5 tables overlooking the downstairs action, the difference is the decor, but all have a similar feel. After dinner, headed to the lamb party in Belgrano (another younger, up-and-coming neighborhood) where I met the Bariloche friends Josh (Aussie, been traveling for 2 years), Olly (Brit, traveling since summer and much much younger). They were staying at the apt of a friend, Noel, who lives here now from Ireland who wants to open a bar/restaurant here. The other two girls at dinner were from Chile, they were 20. I felt like I birthed them by C-Section. Dinner, though, was amazing. I learned a) I liked lamb, b) men can cook, and, c) I REALLY WAS OLD (and really sick) and had to go home when they decided to go to Club Pasha at 4:30 AM to start the night ... While Pasha is world-renowned for clubbing, and international DJS, I felt I could pass w/o regret. I lived the days of Limelight, I lived the Roxy, I need nothing more to feel club-satisfied in this lifetime.

I woke up the next day and, shocker, felt worse. But, onward ho! Today was Opera Day! I had purchased tickets to Teatro Colon, for a rendition of Cappricio (German, with Spanish subtitles) a few days earlier and couldn't wait. The only opera I've ever seen was in Mrs. Cleary's "extracurricular activities" class with Marisa called Die Fledermaus (she died like the day after, Sass!!) and it sucked. But, this one...what a completely fulfilling experience. I was all nervous I wasn't going to make it there b/c my Sodowickian waiter at Olsen in Palermo for brunch was like, filing his taxes after I asked him for the check. Hello, I have OPERA TICKETS, Sodowick! So, in the cab, I'm freaking out that I'm not going to make the Opera in time. I was all dressed up and having a NY heart-attack, trying to keep my South American cool, but having bronchial palpitations all the while. When I got there, all anxiety vanished though, because, excuse the cliche, I WAS Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, only with cotton on my bodice and plastic beads around my neck.

Teatro Colon is one of the foremost opera houses in the world. It rivals La Scala, and while I've never been to La Scala in Italy, I was wholly impressed by where I was. Sometimes solo travel works in your favor, b/c I was able to snag one seat in a right side box right above the stage. (See, Pretty Woman analogy applies, box and all!) As I was escorted to my seat my a white gloved usher, holding my arm, and all, I felt like the most fabulous girl on earth. The lights, the ornate gold intricacy of the theater, the red carpets, the painted ceilings, the orchestra right beneath my balcony playing the overture, the intensity of the song, the arias of the divas, the music, the words... What a phenomenal experience! I am, an opera convert. Possibly the setting helped, but lord, what a night!

And, it had only just begun. Heather from Santiago (not sure I blogged about her yet), had arrived in BA today. She was my angel in Santiago, when all I needed was girltalk. We found each other in the Hotel Orly late one long, Chilean night and became friends. She, on a 1 month vacation with all her older family (lots of wheelchairs involved in her entourage) and me, needing a FEMALE companion every now and again (for the record, not MANY women do what I'm if you need me to tell you this tidbit). She was my godsend, I was her godsend. So, after her cruise around the tip of Chile, she emailed for dinner plans. SURE! Why not? Believe it or not, I really have pretty much forgotten the definition of planning ahead. Don't get me wrong, when I arrive into a city, I know the restaurants, bars, beaches, barrios (neighborhoods), etc....I've read up (on the crossing to the next place, I KNOW?!?!!?) But it's ON THE DAY that my plans happen, and 90% of the time, I wind up with solid plans - go figure. Yes, yes...very un-Marie. Yes, yes...I'm usually booked until the next leap year, but, here it's just uncessary (to further clarify - Cherilyn started making plans for while I'm home over Xmas, and it was no big deal, really. Daddy's here this day, Mommy wants to do this, how about this... and I SWEAR I almost had a heart attack. And I love her for it, it's just so not part of my frame of reference here. I know NOTHING about tomorrow. What of it? Very funny to notice on myself).

So, Heather and I went to Sucre, another of the moment establishment, that, if I may say so myself, was an excellent selection. Atmosphere, low lights, crowd, menu....Black sleek tables - communal and individual - leather beds on entry lounge, bar stocked with colored bottles to the ceiling, catwalk across the top to the bathrooms. Bellisima.... After a debaucle getting "vodka and jugo de pina" recognized as something other than Chinese, we noticed Fergie, Dutchess of York, stumbling along to the table next to us. Yes, red hair, divorced from Andrew, has a kid named BEATRICE, Fergie. Heather, from Portland, almost fell off her chair. Me, well...Fergie's been on my mind. In Bariloche, at the Estancia where I spent the day riding, there was a "Wall of Fame" with signed photos from famous people and the lone celeb on the wall was Fergie from York. Odd, that's who they chose to headline their wall. Not a cowboy like Jack Palance, or a hottie who's been seen on a horse, Brad Pitt/Antonio Banderas, etc..., or even a soccer star from Britain like David Beckham. Fergie. From York. Now, at the table next to us, communal, Fergie is the belle of the ball. Doing tequila shots, then throwing her hands up in the air, and screaming "Wa-Hoo" like she's done a whirlwind tour on a mechanical bull and survived. I mean.... So, when Fergie, was ambling without direction around the restaurant, in a shearling coat (it's 80 degrees here in BA!!!) and smudged mascara, I saw my opening.

Me: "Um, Sarah....excuse me."
Sarah, Fergie, Dutchess of York (falling ever so slightly onto me, British accent kicking): "Yes, Hallo..."
Me: "I'm sorry to bother you, but I just HAVE to ask you a quick question."
Sarah: "Yes, sure..."
Me: "Were you just in Bariloche, because I came from an Estancia, and you're on the wall, like the only picture on the wall and so, you've been on my mind, and you're here (Sarah, Fergie, Dutchess of York now takes my hand) and so, I was wondering, have you come from Bariloche, are we...dare I say, following each other?"
Sarah: "Oh, no no... I didn't just come from there (wobble, wobble), but I know what you mean, the place, and no I really haven't BEEN there, but....I know I'm on the wall and (wobble, wobble) ... you are?"
Me: Marie Elena, this is my friend Heather. (Still holding hands)
Sarah: "Very well, it's a pleasure to meet you, very much. But I will say, (wobble, wobble, lose balance, regains) it's a VERY VERY GOOD thing that you're thinking about me." And stumbles back into the abyss called WASTEDNESS.

I mean.....Do I know my 'hot spots' or what? I should call Page Six. Now. Paging Richard Johnson. Fergie's in BA, WASTED OFF HER ASS. I have more, I do...Good stuff from the past two night/days. But it's 3:30 AM+, and I SWORE tonight was going to be my early night, and it didn't turn out that way b/c after dinner I got suckered into drinks with a cute Buenos Aires guy who as I was walking out of the restaurant and he was walking IN with Americans (I knew b/c I overheard the "Dude, you wouldn't believe....") and we were doing the look-at-each-other-look-away-look-back-look-away thing... Then, he came to GET ME out of the cab I was getting into for my early night (at 1 AM) and so, I caved and had a drink with him and his two friends (girl-guy) from San Diego, and now I have to pack and go to sleep for 1 hour and did I mention....I have goddamn bronchitis.

Until Punta....Ciao, Ciao!