Picnic, a stylish, recently opened café stands out against Plaza de Mayo’s centuries-old architectural backdrop. The décor is playful and modern: wallpaper with tiny bicycles, an armchair upholstered using a world map, and colorful yet minimalist paintings pinned from clotheslines. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow sunshine to flood in as patrons wait in the smoothly moving queue during lunch rush hour. The menu boasts an impressive variety of woks, sandwiches, salads, and quiches, all made using fresh, organic ingredients and served in brightly colored ceramic flatware. The drink selection ranges from wheatgrass shots and fruit smoothies to herbal infused teas and orange juice. With the melodies of Bon Iver and Devendra Banhart playing from the speakers, Picnic provides its customers with both creative and gastronomic nourishment.
Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thornton uses a fine tip silver pen to outline the dark cloud that hovered over Argentina for seven years during the Dirty War. He emphasizes the importance of an open mind and a hungry heart during seemingly hopeless times. Although his plot involves the mystical - the main character discovers prophetic abilities - there’s never a moment when the events feel out of the realm of possibility. This may be due to the very real and sordid historical basis of the novel, as well as to the narrator’s grounded sensibilities and reader-like point of view. Thornton’s beautifully woven story produces a transcendent dialogue between imagination and reality, one that will speak even to you, squinty-eyed cynic.
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La Bomba del Tiempo takes place every Monday at the Konex Cultural Center in Abasto. It’s a bass thumping, sweat dripping concert slash dance party. Baile!
Ah, the lovely streets of Buenos Aires: paved with cobblestone and lined by fruit bodegas and floristas. Cafes, wooden benches, and greenery surround open plazas, and people wander in admiration, faces tilted toward the sun. What so many oblivious pedestrians don’t realize is that if they aren’t careful, they will be snatched out of their South American reverie and into a fresh, steaming pile of dog shit. Stinky droppings of all shapes, consistencies, and sizes fester on the pavement until a clueless passerby collects some with his shoe. It’s a grave problem endemic to Buenos Aires.
After just a few hours of walking through the streets, it becomes clear that all those pre-arrival warnings to “Stay alert!” and “Keep your guard up,” should be geared less toward pickpockets and more toward canine excrement. From what I understand, a law exists requiring dog-owners to pick up after their pooches, but enforcement is nil.
One contributing factor may be the popularity of the paseador de perro (dog walker). He can be seen walking through Buenos Aires with roughly fifteen dogs at a time. Porteños regularly hire dog walkers and the resulting scenario is pictured below.
How could we possibly expect one paseador de perro to track the bowels of this many dogs and to follow behind, a broom and bag in hand? This outrageous ratio of human to dog makes it impossible to keep the city feces-free. While this citywide obstacle offends most people to no end, it’s also a source of hilarity.