Archive for ‘wanderlust’

December 13th, 2016

Argentina Comicon Bombon.

The taxi pulls away from the straight lines of the city as it approaches the riverside, newly-built spirals of asphalt leading it towards a cluster of squat concrete buildings festooned in pennants and printed plastic banners. A stoplight on red curbs our progress, but not my sense that the event to come will suck. In fact, it’s strengthened by a flock of what look like misplaced midwestern soccer moms crossing the road wearing batman t-shirts and hugging giant buckets of popcorn. They swivel to look purposefully at nothing, shoveling in the pochoclo with plump hands terminating in meticulous and retina-burning manicures.

“I guess this must be it.”

And it was, even if it was less of an “it” than anything else ever managed to be. But before we go in I suppose it’d only be fair to hand out a little context; there’s not all that much to go around outside the temples of half-assery and sleepy congregations that make up this city. You see, everyone in Buenos Aires is an artist. They know it just as they know they’re proud, and hungry, and worthy (of what? well, what’ve you got, and what do the neighbors have? that + 1, hoy es el dia!). It’s not limited to the young, to the female, to the left, to the anything. Are there artists in Miami and/or Italy1? Yes? Does saying you’re an artist cost money? No? Dale, entonces somos artistas. This being something of a worldwide delusion (although perhaps not quite to the degree), you’ll be familiar with the artifacts of the fallout: unbelievably shitty murals everywhere, idem rinkydink “workshops” selling objectionable curios with reeeally long “titles”, and a service industry rife with workers who don’t think they should have to be there.

Directory

So many instances of sameness, your knees’ll buckle and you’ll spend the rest of the day sitting on the floor in stupefaction.

Then there are results like the Argentina Comicon, which shed …it’s really an abuse of the term to call it “light”, but we’ll push ourselves sickeningly through; a sad little light is thrown on the mechanism at play among the “artists”. They’re only charged, in their minds, with convincing each other of their artistness. They’ve no need nor any desire to convince themselves, or to show the rest of the world who they are and what they’ve got. We know this, because their Comicon did not involve any artists. I don’t mean they had some panel whatever which was fulla film people or something and how dare they. I mean literally the entire2 space had exactly zero instances of artists showing their work, attempting to sell it, talking to interested people, or otherwise participating. One room, let’s call it the Popcorn Nexus, was where the local theatre conglomerate sold their butter flavoring buckets o’ chum and you could sign up with your DNI3 to fuck with some promo-pushing gadget brought by Disney/local cable company/Sauron for thirty seconds. The other room, which I hereby dub Shuffle & Blow –no wait, that sounds like it could’ve been fun. Let’s see…the Maze of Farts and Purchases. If you were there with me you’d be nodding your head now, I assure you. This room was nothing but tables arranged in completely disorganized rows and cul-de-sacs, naturally placed so closely together they created constant peoplejams, naturally all selling the same 5 – 10 things. You could buy: graphic novels, booklets of hentai, figurines, tshirts, or fucking katanas. No graphic novelists, no hentai inkers, no figurine painters, no tshirt designers, no katana…fuck, I’d've taken a fucking tasselknotter at that point. No artists, no “artists”. Shop clerks with their shop stuff. Five to ten varieties, please ensure you stop to gawk and mill at every.single.table nevertheless.

Popcorn Nexus

Deep within the Popcorn Nexus.

But soft! What light through yonder fartmaze breaks! There was an outdoor area, a doublespoken cordoned-off parkinglot, selling weenies and more popcorn, with a coupla carnival rides for kids, disco blasting. And sure, something like 1.5% of the attendance was “doing cosplay”. Most of it was bought, I suspect, at the pre-comicon-con, where you purchase generic blue cotton overalls and “luigi hats” while having your esophagus mechanically widened to accept the Second and Third Comings of the Popcorn.

The great outdoors.

The patio de gastronomia was so fuckin’ opulent and luxurious I wager that truck was selling straight-up pork sausages.

“And they get away with it; if a kid from San Diego, one from Germany, a Brit, and an Argentine get together at some point and the San Diegan says ‘I went to Comicon this summer’, and the German and Brit chip in, ‘Oh, me too!’, and then the Argentine joins ‘em, ‘So did I! It was great!’ they don’t turn on him and feed the guy his beer bottle.”

  1. Miami is to Buenos Aires what Barcelona is to Romania, which in turn is something akin to what a statue is to a pigeon. It’s the mutually-agreed upon congregation spot away from the rookery, the somehow-logical destination for donating some of your filth and strutting around atop it so the other animals can see your swank. Alternatively, everyone being “Italian”, it’s right and good to do or be something if the thing is celebrated there. Which is how Buenos Aires ended up thinking it has great pizza despite its actual culinary preferences resulting in a sort of oil sponge decorated with julienned nonsense. []
  2. Two rooms, 2,000m2 between them, by the way. []
  3. Social security number, basically. []
April 28th, 2016

2016 BAIBF, a drudgery

The Buenos Aires Book Fair went on my list of things to check out the other day because…well, by now “what’s the worst that could happen” is a sort of sport. That’s the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, mind you, because people like it when things are called International (why they stopped short of Intergalactic I have no idea, marketer prolly wasn’t rockstaring outside the envelope). I get there at 20:00, weaving through the usual web of socks-napkins-and-power-adapters for sale, strewn around the ground on sheets, past the guy with $500 worth of microphone, guitar, and music stand and $0.02 of talent as he drolls out the doldrums and eyes passersby suspiciously. There’s a security retinue consisting of some old dudes in matching plastic manning a row of portable turnstiles equipped with barcode scanners they don’t know how to use. I buy a ticket (hey mister it’s not a book FREE! it’s a book FAIR!), three bucks with a two dollar coupon for buying books. They close at 22:00, but I figure I’ll be done with it in ten minutes.

The venue’s called “La Rural”, despite being somewhere approximating the middle of the middlest part of the city, and the building I enter’s as big and stylistically barren as any other convention center. What strikes me as I walk through is how very few books there are, and how each “booth”, more like a slightly raised platform perfect for tripping over on the way up or adrenaline-joltingly stumbling off on the way down, has some banner or other with “Gobierno de” and any given province silkscreenscribbled on it. I marvel a few hundred paces at having paid anything at all to attend this apparent Bored Bureaucrat Con 2016 as I observe the people manning these booths, all sitting, all behind big white plastic tables, all while pantallas gigantes de LCD! pan in and out of vaguely nonurban landscapes from wherever it is they’re advertising behind them. At the Tucuman booth, one of those guys with hair that’s long enough to not be short but short enough that nobody can call him a fag starts haranguing me about how they publish books by writers from Tucuman, because, you see, he’s from Tucuman, well actually he’s from Spain, but up north, in Tucuman? They publish books! By writers! Look, these are some examples. It occurs to me the raised platforms are there not to prevent a speedy escape, as I had originally thought, but because these folks likely think they’re really cool.

It’s at about this time the evening’s coffees and cognacs catch up with me, so I start searching for the restrooms. I walk nearly the entire perimeter of the building, about the size of two football fields, and discover at the last corner an exit different from my entry point, with a slow but steady stream of people carrying bags coming towards me, on some path through the darkness. I head out and find a series of fabric-covered tunnels a few hundred feet ahead, where the human ant trail is focused, so I follow against them, and after a good fifteen minute walk find the tunnel lets out into another, larger, room, which is naturally where the actual book fair is! Mind you, this isn’t pointed out anywhere. The sourness of old hot dogs and charred coffee is strong here though, mingling with the overabundant, fake apple-scented disinfectant/carpet shampoo, so I imagine I must’ve simply missed the local sirens’ smell.

I haven’t been to any sort of convention for roughly a decade, but still, the place seems odd. While it’s a far sight better than the lame governmental foyer, it nevertheless comes across as a sort of swap meet for the middle-aged, ho-hum fare peppered liberally with the pseudomedieval teen fantasy du jour stuff –but it’s the same ho-hum, middle-aged people buying it. They’ve adopted the insane slightly raised platforms from the first room, though many of these booths also have plastic walls in what must’ve been some attempt to further direct the flow of the herds (to what end, I’ve no idea, though I suspect it might’ve had something to do with the “food court” at the back). Also: extra-strength halogen spotlights that change colors every 2-3 seconds beaming over pretty much any available shelf, making the reading of titles something of a visual traffic jam. Helping this effect take on a true evil is the fact that Argentines shelve their books upside down, ostensibly as part of their turn-of-the-century compact with Beezlebub. So instead of struggling to read 8pt titles at knee-level in constantly changing light by leaning right and going top-to-bottom, one had to lean to the left and read bottom-to-top, which in theory shouldn’t be too upsetting but in practice feels about on par with swallowing one’s nose. Oh, and each booth has its own mediocre desktop computer “sound system”, so there are ~400 different songs playing softly at once. Pentru decor1.

I spend a while rummaging through poetry anthologies and seeing if any of the alt-y zines are interesting (not really). I eventually settle on a Kafka paperback for Spanish practice and attempt to use the coupon. Seller points out to me that it’s not to use at the fair, it’s to use at certain bookstores in the city a week after the book fair is over. I scrap it, pay, and wander around peoplewatching, noting that I’m probably the youngest female there save for the occasional hunched booth babe tapping acrylic nails against knockoff iphones. In a previously deserted corner I find a line nearly a hundred people long leading into some little black tent-like room. Probably where they’re stashing the good books. Or the exit. Or the BATHROOM!. I ask a woman with a great ass (who turns to look at me with an unfortunate face) what the line’s for? She shows me the book in her hand, which is some “real life” biography of Pearl Jam (what does that even mean?). She wants to get it signed. Oh, is the band in there? No, of course not, just the author, hahahaha. I don’t know, maybe he has a goiter or something. But I don’t know how to ask about a goiter in Spanish, and the face is even worse when she laughs, so I smile and walk on. After finding the bathrooms, I do one more lap, down a row I haven’t been in yet, finding the (inevitable?) Hare Krishna booth, which offers a nice olfactory pocket of respite from the rest of the place, but all their stuff’s in English, and I was kinda done with that at seventeen anyhow. Suddenly airport muzak comes blaring from a real live sound system somewhere in the guts of the building, making face to face conversation near impossible, and I gather it’s closing time. I watch people throw plastic tarps over the bookshelves as they prepare to leave, just like the guys at the produce markets do it (except of course for the produce market people being outside, and their tarps being tied down with rope, etc). Maybe it’s to let less of that hot dog scent seep into the pages at night.

The sock-sellers and Sr. Suspicious Fingerpickin’ are still out front when I leave, vying for the last of the day’s potential pennies. I slink into the subway station and head home, a blessed place with nothing whatsoever in common with the 2016 BAIBF.

  1. This bit of Romanian became a thing when a favorite restaurant in Timisoara tried to serve a certain gentleman his turkey schnizel cut into strips atop the potatoes. Which pieces didn’t in any sense fit together if one picked them up and attempted to reassemble a filet. Which prompted the gentleman to ask our waitress why she’d given him someone else’s uneaten bits of turkey schnitzel. She protested that no such thing had been done, and when asked why then the dish was presented thusly, she offered that it was “for decor”. She continued to mutter the phrase as we put on our coats and walked out. []
April 15th, 2016

In which a city that never sleeps burns out.

It’d seem a simple force of nature if not for the presence of so much un-naturally stamped in blue-gray columns and rows ’round the rotting monuments of this mass they’ve had the gall to call metropolis. The life, at night, is not a wave, not a pulse, there’s nothing resembling life amidst the artifice of fun strung out of tiny concrete blocks and confused bands offering grotesquely butchered tributes to the lovely people who live somewhere else. “Let’s Dance” has a bad trip on a fucking bongo drum while half its words are lost in mumbling over the emitter’s disinterest, enthusiasm miraculously rediscovered once the murder’s over and he can insist everyone clap because, please keep in mind, he’s working. We leave them a love note on a napkin and pour ourselves back into the swamp, knowing full well that’s the best show on tap that night.

Downtown beautiful buildings sit plumply in their pastry case and cast their glitter on the water; still, it’s silent except for the garbage trucks and folks who follow them, groupies of the grunts and squeaks and smells of twelve million people’s worth of junk. Their parties do not don the contemptible pretense of not starting ’til the day’s clock has run itself out, and I suspect whatever they’re drinking is superior to the club sludge. I suspect their conversation, for being mostly absent, outshines the paying sort too. There’s no circus here to run to, but pools and pools of “fuck it” with open invitations to join in. Just a toe.

The barrios they say are full of things to see. And it’s true for a week, for a glorious week in which you’d think what you’re seeing is a grand edifice that must house even greater things. And on the eighth day, you will see the light, and it will not be good. For there’s nothing inside aside from endless “todo bien?”s and incomprehensible failures, people with no idea what they’re doing or why but they’ll demand your respect (in words alone of course). Wouldn’t you like to support them? Wouldn’t you like to sit there, in the windowed cell they’ve got, and pretend with them that jack shit is just sublime?

There are no horses at the hippodrome, all they’ve got are slot machines. “The Palace” here is a beautiful old building full of tents that sell knockoffs of boring brandname clothing, littered with disused racecars and plastic booths where no one waits to “service VIP clients”. Shops along the main avenues keep their doors permalocked and post-it note plastered, please press the buzzer and wait five minutes for entry, for the sake of “seguridad”. I used to ask the keepers what they were securing themselves from. The answer invariably was that nothing really happened.

Nothing really happens here. I’ve never fallen out with a city so fast, a curious thing to me. Over the last year it’s become clearer the problem is all the pretending, which could’ve been fun in itself if it were about anything other than having fun. The only way to enjoy yourself here is to go out knowing you’re to entertain yourself, to reflect on nature, to push something until you’re completely exhausted. Nothing here will impress itself upon you, in other words. You must impress yourself upon it.

It’s hardly the worst problem to have, until you miss the old gods of your youth and can’t help yearning for someone talented –at anything that’s real– to take you somewhere routeless.

December 28th, 2014

The Christmas Day of the Dead

The Recoleta Cemetery of Buenos Aires is often lauded as one of the most beautiful resting places in the world, and though I haven’t been to all that many, I’d imagine it has a good shot at being worthy of the description. What’s perhaps more interesting than its beauty, however, is the sense one gets while walking through it that the cemetery comprises a miniature city, complete with narrow streets sporting elaborate houses about the right size for a chimpanzee…a sedentary chimp, anyway.

Even the palms and magnolia trees respect the diminutive world within the cemetery gates.

And like any city, it has its well to do neighborhoods

…and its dilapidated quarters, slowly being reclaimed by spiders and other agents of nature.



The architectural periods and persuasions are well represented, with unexpected appearances of French Gothic

…and Italian Fascist.

The townsfolk are nearly as varied, from the well-hatted

to the Hugh Heffner of the afterlife livin’ (not so) large in his bathrobe n’ booties.

Lenin himself may even be secretly buried here, ostensibly in a communist plot

(not really).

In all, a pretty way to spend Christmas day, and a better still way to feel mortal. Yet tall.

November 11th, 2014

Thinking you can infer the meaning of new words: still eviling strong

There’s a certain amount of danger involved in living in a place while you’re a little short on the language’s vocabulary. And by danger, I mean hilarity, and an occasional healthy dose of humiliation. In my early days in Romania, this most famously manifested in my asking a fish vendor if he had any sidewalk for sale, as I wanted trout and figured that “trotuar” word I’d heard a couple of times and not picked up might’ve well been a cognate. I thought his dumbfounded look might’ve gone away if I pantomimed troutness and repeated the word emphatically, but alas, the eyebrows only inched higher.

Last week, and now en español, the dangerous word was “ciego,” which I hadn’t seen nor heard before reading it in the title of a local theatre. Some guy’s name, the unexamined idea went in my head. The description promised mystery theatre at midnight, with some sort of special effects. What could go wrong?

Finery was donned, tickets were bought, and it wasn’t until my companion and I were sitting in the theatre lobby waiting for the thing to get started in that inexplicably inescapable Argentine limbo of a quarter hour stuffed between the stated start and the actual start (I suspect it has something to do with consumption or manufacture of dulce de leche though, like everything else here) that the question was raised: did I know what “ciego” means?

Because it means blind. Blind theatre. I’d never heard of such a thing. “Who figures a theatre show’s going to be for blind people?! Do you know what the odds are on that?!,” I offered jokingly under the deadpan glare of companion, who had just translated a billplay schpiel about how the whole thing would be dark, with no visual component, and we would instead “smell” and “feel” the show. We would experience things long forgotten, it boasted warned.

I love theatre, but like loving anything, this doesn’t include necessarily enjoying every potential offering in the vein. Walking out is the proper response to a performance that isn’t up to scratch1. But what if you can’t walk out without actually stopping the show? That, much moreso than the thing dubbed “entertainment,” was the real experience on offer.

Entry to the theatre involved being lined up in brief, queued conga-lines that were led past heavy drapes into a pitch black room. Cannot-see-your-hand-an-inch-in-front-of-your-face, honest pitch black. My line progressed through the darkness what felt like fifty meters or so, stopped, and someone’s hands grasped my shoulders and pushed me down onto a chair. I heard a few other lines being brought to sit in a similar fashion while I screwed my head around in search of some sort of bearings (out of which I got nothing other than a sense that the ceiling was high), and then the show which did not show anything started.

The notion goes that they who lack a given sense are more perceptive with the faculties they do possess. This notion has not reached the Buenos Aires Theatre for the Blind. The first span (there were a total of five of these; I didn’t have much of a sense of time other than the whole thing seeming to take more than the half hour anticipated when going in –it turned out to be an hour and a half long) was composed principally of cacophany, brutal and jarring as fuck. Cessna engines grazed overhead with what sounded like a foot or so’s clearance. Marching bands entered from the right, proceeded in front of me, exeunt left.

Spans two through five included being surrounded by coffeehouse patrons excitedly spanking teacups with spoons while jets of steam tortured milk into foam and the room was painted with oil of cinnamon. Thrown in here and there: police sirens and someone by the sound of it recently impaled ass through mouth with a stake being dragged by my feet (grasping my shins desperately), a chinatown parade consisting of symbols and badly-cooked eggrolls, “rain” falling from plant misters to the face in a tumultuous storm of spray me with that shit again and I’ma show your crotch my six inch stilettos you motherfucker, and a stunted copulation between a woman who hadn’t been laid in decades and a man who interrogated mattress springs for a living, all punctuated with visits from the scalper-cessnas. There was a dialogue apparently fumbling at tying these together but the gulf between my Spanish and these folks’ sanity ne’er was cross’t.

A door was opened, light was thrown onto our unhappy little galley, the five-foot hole in the audience that’d served as a stage revealed. It was a blissful relief to see again, and to walk out of there, the warm conviction of needing to do better research washing over me. I’m fairly certain these people imagine what they offered was a night of entertainment2, but the real thing paid for here is persuasion: 1. it must suck being blind; 2. seriously, no really, look up those words you don’t know, smartass. Nature will find a way to piss on your face.
***

  1. Regardless of it supposedly being “impolite.” On the contrary, it’s beyond rude to suggest to the company that a stinkorama smells of roses by sitting through the whole thing and clapping on cue. You wanna perform? Get on stage. The audience ain’t the place. []
  2. Sure, some semblance of art could be pulled out of all this, the struggle to follow a story through unpolished means creating a change in the beholder etcetera, but I’d just as well argue the artistic merit of being hit with a bag of oranges. It could be done. This wasn’t it. []
August 27th, 2014

Some mendicants, a hill, moistened bints, and deep breaths.

I took a break from lazily depriving myself of sleep the other day (how many stories have started this way?) to visit the Mercado del Progresso, a sort of permanent farmer’s market with butchers and produce procurers of upteenth generation hawking goods canopied by what, it turns out, is a great hiding spot for cats. Truly fulfilled is the cat that is content to nap amidst that much opportunity for meat (and fish!) snatching. I left weighed down with various prizes, including a bundle of fresh lemongrass stalks a kid gave me for free on the basis of having known what it was, and was chauffered home in a fifteen minute ride with the windows down, enjoying the sweet breeze like a dog breathing backseat euphoria.

Perhaps the parceled bounty beside me played a part, or the characteristic uninhibited friendliness of the locals filled my cup a little more. I’m sure the sleeplessness had a hand in the cocktail, too, but I tell you, that breeze was a balm that could’ve cured even the crankiest and foul of moods. In fact, stepping out in Buenos Aires is often accompanied by some exclamation or other of the pleasantness of the breeze, or the quality of the air. Makes sense given the city’s name, right?

Not really. As with nearly every Spanish-monikered city, Buenos Aires’ name is rather condensed from its true, terrifyingly mouth-stuffed name. She is, in her full glory, “Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire”. Or she was, anyway, for that was but the first time she was christened. Some local folks didn’t take kindly to her conquistadorial establishment, and the whole thing failed not long after it had begun. Wave two arrived shortly after and established who’s boss, at which point it must’ve seemed painfully obvious that a city with nine words to its name is doomed, and that at least thirteen were needed for commanding the requisite quantities of respect and fear. Hence the revision to “Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María del Buen Aire”.

That Buen Aire bit, which was all the kids and their progeny could be bothered with in the end, refers to a statue of the virgin kept at a fourteenth century Mercedarian abbey on a hill in Sardinia. Supposedly the statue had taken a stroll one day and plopped itself into the Mediterranean, whereupon it quelled a mighty storm, demonstrating that perambulatory sculpture of the conspicuously unfucked might as well also possess meterological dominion over those parts of the world otherwise dangerous to honest hard-working folk predisposed to believe in peram…well, you know. It was a miracle, and so the statue was retrieved from the sea (I guess it got tired somewhere in there and needed a hand to return to shore), and placed in said abbey. Enamored sailors and zealots called her the Holy Mary of the Fair Winds, and as conquistador Pedro de Mendoza’s Boatly Religious Consultant (I don’t care for “chaplain”) won the rochambeau or whatever was used to decide who gets to pick the city’s name, the watery tart prevailed upon this great new continent.

Unrelatedly, as I was saying, this city enjoys the kind of air quality that makes breathing a noticeably pleasurable event (much like a reprieve from suffocation, but without that tricky opener). But if not bestowed by magical names or miraculous hussies backstroking for alms, to whom, to what is this pleasant air due? To a lack of people available to fuck it up, for the most part. The southern hemisphere’s low population helped along by the high ratio of water to land means there’s a lot less pollution. And though Buenos Aires itself is stacked with people and cars and whatnot, and a late-night walk offers a good look at the sheer amount of garbage a metropolis can produce on a daily basis as rummagers and trucks sort through literal land-barges of trash, the city is palpably cleaner and less congested than anywhere else I’ve lived (with an exception for a certain medieval fortress in Transylvania, but let’s be fair, eh).

Air quality isn’t too often a selling point on showcase for people looking for a new landing pad, and if anything is only trotted out as something to be struggled with for egregiously bad cities. It makes quite the difference though, even if you’re stuck in the shadow of a statue that has nothing to say about the occasional hail storm.

June 21st, 2014

Argentina and the Art of Being into It

It being whatever it is, and Argentina being a good place to be.

I’ve been to two tango shows since landing in the Southern Hemisphere. The first was at a large venue with tables and back-lit agate (a favored assemblage in these parts which casts a lovely glow on all; I quite like it). The second was a much less formal affair in a drama department-style theatre wedged into the back of a shopping mall. No agate, but a proliferation of endearingly shitty stage equipment including chintzy stenciled backdrops and a malfunctioning fog machine that gave out a little poot after every performance. The unfailing flatulence of that thing had me in stitches. I nearly burst out snorting like an unfettered donkey traipsing o’er the buttercups every time, but thankfully managed to swallow and nose-pinch myself into relative silence.

There was a little bonus-show caught two nights in a row at the intersection of two streets, performed by apparently non-busking buskers, as well. They didn’t want money, they didn’t need a flat surface for dancing, they were just doing it, the it they’d chosen. That’s been a running theme, here; the shameless delivery of interest, an open infatuation with the thing at hand. I imagine the Argentines themselves would call this la pasión, but on second thought it’s entirely possible they’re not even conscious of this, their most alluring quality.

My eyes might be called western. I grew up in California and have lived in a handful of other states, but my travels have taken me decidedly outside of that particular nest (or so I’d think). Romania, Mexico, Costa Rica, Sweden, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary…surely somewhere in there one could say my States-o-Matic Perception Unit has enjoyed a few glitches. So it’s quite the surprise when I realize my eyes have as yet unmet comparable kismet –the palpable goodness of fit between people and whatever it is they’re doing.

To wit, the least talented of the dancers in the second show (…poot) may have lacked the finesse of her peers, but her sheer enjoyment of every move, her wonderfully embodied delight at the trickiest parts, the smile that her partner couldn’t help but mirror, despite his efforts to affect the typical tango visage of drama, more than compensated for her merely competent dancing, as far as I’m concerned.

Street musicians are in on it. One kid, sitting on an upturned bucket somewhere downtown, with a series of other such buckets laid out before him, proceeds to lay out an incredibly precise series of beats and is unmistakably having a ball. People walking down my street –the theatre street–, break into song here and there without a trace of hesitancy or shyness. Pizza hawkers and confection counter workers tie up their take-out gingerly with little strings, whistling, smiling, seemingly unaware of this western-world rule that everyone hates their job.

Perhaps an army of exceptions awaits around some corner of “getting settled” or “different district”, but I daresay the positive impression is made, and will be the unblemishable first of this land.