Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Open Mausoleum with visible Coffins in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, ArgentinaI thought this would make a boo-tiful image to accommodate Halloween. If that day had the same importance in Argentina as it has in North America, the cemetery in Recolata would be a great place to find plenty of really good scares. I guess this is what Halloween is all about -- celebrating the fear and the darkness, right? Well, in Argentina Halloween is neither a tradition, nor is it very popular. It is considered a gringo thing. But wait, Halloween's popularity is constantly growing and I think it will find its way to Argentina by the backdoor. Thus you will definitely find some parties and events tonight in Buenos Aires.
Anyway, Happy Halloween (if you celebrate it)!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bridge Pier Graffito

Sometimes graffiti look good sometimes they don't. Sometimes graffiti convey social or political messages, sometimes not. I'm not sure what category this graffito falls under. I guess it's the fun category. And yes, graffito is the singular form of graffiti. The name El Rechifle (the Boo) is probably not connected to the graffito but refers to an identically named Murga group in Palermo. Murga is a carnival hilarity which is very popular in Argentina. The artist can probably be identified by the capital A in the circle on the right. I don't have a clue who (s)he is, though.
What do you see in this graffito?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Indigenous Protests in Chaco – Because of Food!

Poor and Homeless Woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina
On Tuesday there was a serious incident in the city of Juan José Castelli in the province of Chaco. Protesters led by the organization MIJD (Movimiento Independiente de Jubilados y Desocupados -- Independent Movement of Retirees and Unemployees) were looting a governmental warehouse where food and clothes are stored. It was a political protest to draw attention to the desperate situation in Chaco. This province is one of the poorest regions in Argentina located in the north of the country. Several native tribes call this region their home. Especially indigenous people are facing a terrible plight in Chaco, many people have died of hunger in the past years and many more are suffering from malnutrition and poverty-related diseases such as tuberculosis and dengue. But the worst part is that their plight receives very little attention from Argentine authorities and national media. Thus it is probably no accident that many Argentines are not aware of a substantial aboriginal community being pushed to the edges of society.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

O is for Once

Cupola of a Building in Once Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires has officially 48 community districts. Many of them are further subdivided into sub-barrios whose names often reflect famous buildings in these subzones. Once is one of these rather unoffical neighborhoods. It is basically a part of the Balvanera barrio but hardly anyone uses this denomination. Once's namesake is the massive Once de Septiembre train station. The Spanish word once means "eleven". The train station was named after Buenos Aires' rebellion against the Federal government on September 11, 1852. So don't get confused, it has nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorists attacks in the US.

Enjoy even more ABC Wednesday posts from around the world! Click here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Colectivo Orientation Sign at Estación Constitución

Public Bus Overview Sign at Estación Constitición in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Orientation is everything, especially when it comes to find the right spot to catch a colectivo in Buenos Aires. If you have made experience with the public transport system, in particular with the buses, you know what I'm talking about. Often it's very hard to figure out which bus to take for a certain destination, and more importantly, to find the right bus stop. If you ever happen to be clueless at the bus terminal on Constitution Plaza, this orientation sign in front of the train station comes to the rescue. All you now need to know is the number of the colectivo line and the direction you are heading. Simple, isn't it?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cartoneros in Buenos Aires

Cartonero, Waste Hauler Collecting Cardboard in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A cartonero (lit. cardboard picker) is someone who digs through the trash to collect anything that may be of value. Basically, they are sorting through the garbage set out at the curb, mostly in search for cardboard and other useful remains. The cartoneros work within certain territories in the various neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Sadly, there are thousands of them out on the streets, many are children. The number of cartoneros has rapidly increased during the last economic crash in 2001. For many people in Argentina, that is the only way to make a living.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Photo Shooting Under the Crane

Photo Shooting at the docks of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The old discarded cranes at the Puerto Madero docks are not only eye catchy but also a popular photo point for all sorts of people. The other day I watched this young Argentine lady lying on the crossbar of the crane foot. She was posing like a pro and was been filmed and photographed by a little group. Don't think I have seen her before but judging from the ease of her performance she could be a model or singer.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crumbling Stairs in La Boca

Crumbling Stairs in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
These concrete stairs are certainly crumbling for years. One wrong step and you could end up at the doctor's or in the hospital. Sadly, it is no unusual sight in Buenos Aires to see sidewalks in such a poor condition. Indeed, the city has recently invested some effort in patching and repairing those break-a-leg pavements but obviously not in La Boca. It seems some neighborhoods warrant higher priority than others for fixes. You better watch your step and look where you're going!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Calm before the Tourist Storm

Empty Beach in Punta del Este, Ready for the Tourist Storm, Uruguay
The beaches around Punta del Este are still secluded and empty. But soon enough, visitors from all over South America will head to the exclusive Uruguayan resort at the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say that those tourists are mostly upper and upper middle class people because Punta del Este is a first world village devoted to celebrating money. It is the hotbed of Brazilian and Argentine high society, or those who fancy themselves as such. The locals call them chetos, which is just another word for the rich, the snobs and their like. Let's see if they come as numerous as last year.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Unearthing Literary Gems in El Ateneo Bookstore

Book Shelves in El Ateneo Bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina
What is it that makes browsing a bookstore such a great pleasure? What makes it so different from downloading a pdf or ordering a book online? I guess it is the notion of discovery and the physical presence of books. Their feel, smell and disposition can be highly addictive. The bookstore El Ateneo has additionally an atmosphere that enhances these sensations. Its extraordinary history is still present all around. Hard to believe that El Ateneo, this adorable bookstore, ranked only second under the world's top bookshops according to a list published by The Guardian in January 2008.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

N is for Niceto Club

Niceto Club 69 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Niceto Club is a popular nightlife spot for locals and visitors alike. The great thing about this location is it reinvents itself with different theme nights every week. The weekend starts on Thursday with Club 69 and the probably most international crowd. Before midnight you can enjoy aspiring local bands and live acts and afterwards the DJs start to play dance music. Around 2:30am there's a performance on stage for an hour or two. Remember, Buenos Aires is a late city, these parties rarely get going before 2:00am-3:00am. You find the club at Niceto Vega 5510 at the corner Humboldt in Palermo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Buenos Aires before Sunset

Buenos Aires Cityscape View with UADE Building in the Center just before the Sunset
This picture was taken in the evening just before the sun set. This time of the day has the most intense light for photography. The backlighting from the sun made the city look absolutely atmospheric. Maybe you remember the last cityscape view where Buenos Aires appeared almost white. This time the city makes a more grayish and kinda dirty impression, almost a bit smoggy. In the center of the picture you see the UADE building, the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa. This educational institution ranks among the top five of Argentina's universities.

Monday, October 19, 2009

La Boca Bomberos

Mack CF 650 Fire Truck of the La Boca Fire Department in Buenos Aires, Argentina
What do you think is the biggest threat to an urban environment now and then? Yes, it is fire! Many ancient and modern cities fell victim to its disruptive forces. Luckily, there are fire fighters always on standby and ready to help. How important they are could be seen in downtown Buenos Aires today when two fire incidents were reported, one in a restaurant in Montserrat and another on Avenida Madero where a truck caught fire. Fortunately, in both cases, no persons were harmed.
The fire truck in the picture, a Mack CF 650 from 1973, belongs to the fire brigade of La Boca. You will find the fire department in Avenida Brandson 567.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Showdown in Montevideo

Young Uruguayans Playing Soccer in Ciudad Vieja of Montevideo, Uruguay
Sundays are for hitting the ball with your buddies -- not just in Argentina but also in Uruguay. Last Wednesday, however, soccer attracted an even greater attention in both countries as it came to a crucial battle between their national teams: La Celeste (Uruguay) vs. La Albiceleste (Argentina). As you may be aware, it's Fifa World Cup qualifying at the moment. Soccer fans in Montevideo's Estadio Centenario got to see an exciting and nail biting match virtually until the last minute. When in the 84th minute Mario Bolatti scored the 0-1 to punch Argentina's ticket for South Africa in 2010, national team coach Diego Maradona was bubbling over with joy. What a relief! The battle was rather a bogey match for Argentina because they had last won 1975 in this stadium. Uruguay now has to go into the playoffs against Costa Rica on November, 14 and 18.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

... Motor Home after the Vandals

Graffiti on Vintage Camper Van near the National Congress Building in Buenos Aires, Argentina
If yesterday's post didn't bother you, this shouldn't either! Surprise, surprise... this is the same vehicle on the same spot just a few months later. Ui dios mio, what a difference some paint makes! As it turns out, a young French artist named Louis D’Anjou whose alias is 'GROLOU' came along and painted the rusty colectivo all over. Happy and multicolored faces are his specialty. And I don't think, you can do this in such a flawless way without the owner's permission. Still, the question remains about the 'what and why' of the van. Some of you commented on yesterday's post, such a vehicle wouldn't last long in your city, especially not in front of the Congress. Well, I would have expected the same for Buenos Aires but nobody seems to bother. Maybe that's because old, rusty cars and vans are quite common in the cityscape.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Motor Home before the Vandals...

Tagged Vintage Camper Van near the National Congress Building in Buenos Aires, Argentina
There is this mysterious vintage camper van on the Plaza de los Dos Congresos, just a stone's throw away from the Argentine National Congress. I was always curious about the "what and why" of its presence, apart from parking. Is it a form of political protest, a camper who will not leave until his/her problem is solved in Congress? Protesters are pretty common on this plaza, either as single demonstrators or in groups. But maybe the van was just left to rot and gather more rust. Anyway, it obviously has become sort of a message board with all the graffiti tags on it. If you know more about it leave me a comment. Well, not on the bus of course. (;

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate Change

After a Bushfire in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. This year's subject is climate change.

There's is absolutely no doubt that saving energy and reducing carbon footprints are a must, not a choice. However, we must not stop thinking for ourselves. The ongoing debate about global warming and climate change is highly emotive and often dominated by a doctrinaire approach. Sadly, the controversy has become a one-way ideology, a question of believe rather than a matter of facts and knowledge which makes the exchange of arguments in a public discourse almost impossible.
The history of climate change is as old as the earth itself. There are serious reasons to think of global warming as a natural process or, in other words, the periodic cycles of cooling and warming alternate over time. It is most likely that the sun has a much greater impact on our climate than mankind. In fact, the earth is not the only planet that experiences a permanent climate change. Another fact is that after World War II the earth experienced a cold period while the carbon dioxide exhaustion exploded. Why are these and many other facts and data stubbornly ignored? Moreover, why are serious scientists who submit critiques and rebuttals attacked? I think a hysteric debate won't solve anything. What is your opinion?

PS: The picture was taken in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve in Buenos Aires. The damage was a result of a bush fire in 2009. The area is already recovering. Climate change has nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

M is for Montevideo

Club de Paris, Table Dance Bar and Strip Club in Montevideo, Uruguay
I could have easily told you this building is in Buenos Aires, but it is not. It's in Montevideo, the charming Uruguayan neighbor city across the River Plate. The city is filled with beautiful architecture that is remarkably similar to that of Buenos Aires. This building caught my eyes because it was strikingly different from the others with its blue facade, the round windows, and these suspicious red logo signs. Well, as it turns out, I stepped right into the twilight zone, the 'dark side' of Montevideo. The Club de Paris is apparently a table dance bar and strip club. Yikes! Seems men have the same simple needs all over the world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet the Captain

Lancha Colectivo, Captain of a Classic Wooden Passenger Boat in Tigre near Buenos Aires, Argentina
Meet the captain of this motorized lancha colectivo in Tigre near Buenos Aires. These classic wooden passenger boats are a popular ride for tourists and locals alike. The launches run on fixed routes through the canals and creeks of the delta. By boat is the only way to travel the huge Paraná river delta. During the trip you will have all time in the world to watch the pleasant surroundings. I just watched the captain who still seemed to enjoy the ride, even though he had probably made this tour many times before. For sure, this gentleman knows his business.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big Brother is Watching You

Street Light Hung in the Center of a Street in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Have you recently been to London? If so, you must have noticed the vast and rapidly increasing number of surveillance measures. No doubt, the UK is sleepwalking into a surveillance society right away. What a scary prospect! But WTF is this mysterious, Orwellian looking thing in many streets throughout Buenos Aires then? Is Argentina doing likewise? To me, this object does look like a CCTV camera unit, but as it turns out it's just an odd looking street light. In Buenos Aires street lights are frequently hung in the center of the street. Big brother is lighting you!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dog Plays Dead

Dog Plays Dead in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a dog city. Everywhere you go you see dogs. It seems everyone is having a dog, mostly a big one. The other day I witnessed a dog having its 15 minutes of fame. I bet this fella had a lot of fun. First he, um... she was playing and screwing around with her cuddly toy and then she suddently played dead. For minutes she lied there on her back on the sidewalk just like a dead fish. Some other people observed this little performance as well and enjoyed it. Yes, Buenos Aires is most definitely a dog city!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Typical Traffic Scene in Buenos Aires

Stuck in Traffic, Street Scene in Buenos Aires, Argentina
There's so much boisterous life in the streets of Buenos Aires -- motorized life, to be frank, that is mostly stuck in traffic. Well, the vehicle traffic here is loud, and colorful, and can be very interesting to watch if you're not in a hurry. You will see people reading the newspaper, shaving, singing, applying makeup, fiddling with the radio or even picking their noses. The guy leaning out of the car window was noticeably flirting with a woman on the sidewalk.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Old Facade in Decay in San Telmo

Facade in Decay in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina
San Telmo is the smallest but probably the most picturesque and historic part of Buenos Aires. Here you will find a large number of old buildings dating from colonial times. Some of them are in a pretty good condition while others are going to seed. The barrio was once the city's upper-class district but yellow fever had driven away most of the former denizens in 1871. Some of the old mansions can tell you stories of a time long gone just by the fading elegance of their facades. I love this old building in the picture in particular for its decaying charm and fading beauty.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mosaic Reflection on an Office Building

Distorted Mosaic Reflection on a Modern Glass Facade of an Office Building in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Modern high-tech architecture consists mainly of steel and glass. Glass is a great surface material and an ideal source for special effects like the distorted reflection in the picture. Reflection is happening when light intersects with a change in material such as air to glass. While walking through Buenos Aires, I was captivated by the effect produced by the mirror-like cladding of glass on the side of this office building. It looked like a canvas of glass panels on which a mosaic was created. This distorted mosaic is what gives these literally blank faceless facades a rather individual touch.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

L is for Laissez-faire in the Parque Centenario

Girls Playing Tag while Boys Drinking Mate in the Parque Centenario in Buenos Aires, Argentina
While the girls were playing tag around the boys, the boys were sitting calmly and coolly on the grassy ground of the park sipping their mate gourd. If you want to soak in some authentic Buenos Aires, then the Caballito neighborhood awaits your arrival. San Telmo is historic, Palermo is trendy but Caballito is authentic. There are several parks in this neighborhood for all kinds of leisure activities. The picture was taken in the Parque Centenario which is the biggest green space in this barrio. The park is perfectly fitting for a laissez-faire afternoon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Empty Billboard - No Logo Buenos Aires?

Empty Billboard Structure on Top of a Building in Buenos Aires, Argentina
After the Brazilian city of São Paulo has created precedents in 2006 with banning all outdoor advertising, including shop fronts, the debate spilled over to Argentina. The city of Buenos Aires has considered a similar measure to reduce visual pollution and thereby making the public landscape more enjoyable. Since then BsAs is keeping an eye on outdoor advertisements especially those infracting the city's new advertising codex. In 2008 it was decided to remove 40,000 illegal signs and billboards which is roughly 60% of the total amount of advertising signs and posters. So, is this empty billboard structure at the top of the building a sign of things to come?
Would you support an outdoor advertising ban in your city?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Breakfast on a Motorbike

Breakfasting Motorbiker on a Sidewalk in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Yes, integral crash helmets are crucial for keeping your skull safe, but why in the world are so many bikers in Buenos Aires wearing it that way? Neither does it prevent your brains from becoming the topping on a street pizza nor does it help you with not looking like a total dweeb. This guy, however, was not driving -- he sat on his vehicle on the sidewalk and needed a break. Obviously he was hungry and, thus, breakfasting on his motorbike. He had this little plastic container on his lap. I guess he had bocadillos for breakfast, with meat of course. At least, that's what it looked like.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stencil Pieces and Graffiti

Stencil Pieces and Graffiti in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A main characteristic of street art is the "temporary" aspect which is naturally associated with this art form. With each new tour through the city you will discover new graffiti and stencil pieces. Wherever you come across street art today it may be painted over or sandblasted away tomorrow. This transitory nature makes street art so interesting. By the time you're done with this post, new stencils and graffiti will surely be added on some walls somewhere in Buenos Aires.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pastelitos Criollos

Pastelitos Criollos, Factura Specialty in a Pastelería in Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Argentina the word facturas is an umbrella term for all sorts of sweet pastries. In fact, facturas are extremely tasty and extremely unhealthy. There is a broad variety of different facturas ranging from the classic plain medialuna de grasa (lard croissant) to pastry filled to the bursting point with dulce de leche (milk jam). The pastelerías sell them by the dozen (docena de factures) to a fairly cheap price. They give you a basket and tongs for choosing your favorites. For Argentines their facturas are like the daily bread, they love them especially for breakfast or tea time. These ones in the picture are pastelitos criollos (traditional fried pastry).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Flying Flags of Argentina and Buenos Aires

The City Flag of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires together with the National Flag of Argentina
The Buenos Aires city flag bears the city coat of arms on a white banner. The original design of the coat of arms dates back to 1580 when it was created by the Spaniard Don Juan de Garay, the city's second founder. The city coat of arms consists of a crowned black full-fledged eagle holding the red cross of Calatrava in his right leg. At his feet are four little eaglets symbolizing the four settlements that were to be founded in the Río de la Plata colony according to an agreement between the Conquistador Juan Ortiz de Zárate and the Spanish King Philip II. Especially noteworthy are two oddities in the design. First, the eagle looks to his left whereas the default position for heraldic animals is right from the shield-bearer's point of view. Second, the eagle wears the royal crown which was a reserved symbol only for the highest nobility. Despite the alleged errors the coat of arms was finally officially approved in 1596.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Capitalism is Egoism

Capitalismo es Egoismo (Capitalism is Egoism) Written on an Advertising Light Box in the City Center of Buenos Aires, Argentina
I found this message written on one side of an advertising light box in the city center of Buenos Aires. This picture is rich in both, high contrast and expressiveness. The Scot Adam Smith (*1723 in Kirkcaldy, †1790 in Edinburgh) believed that rational self interest or egoism as the motive of our actions leads to wealth and prosperity. Thus, he is often referred to as one of the fathers of capitalism, although he never used that term himself. In fact, capitalism is the domination of capital over people, which is just confused with free market economy. Unbridled capitalism, in contrast, makes a few rich and many poor. Argentina is one of the best examples to illustrate that. Adam Smith already pointed out, "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable" (The Wealth of Nations, 1776, Book I Chapter VIII).
What are your thoughts?

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants of the City Daily Photo Community and see their interpretation of the October's theme day: Contrast.