Una Encuesta

The UT Study Abroad office asked me to fill out a survey about my experiences studying abroad. Here are my responses to their short answer questions.

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He Oído Que Chupan En Vivo

If someone would have told my thirteen-year-old, pop-punk lovin’ self that in the year 2012 I would be seeing NOFX live in Buenos Aires, I don’t know how I would have reacted. I’d probably have been relieved to find out that whole Y2K thing was a load of bunk, confused about why Buenos Aires, and thinking something like, “Cool… but won’t they suck by then?” But sitting in a giant stadium — sitting because I was both horribly sick and too old to think getting kicked in the face by a crowd surfer sounded fun — watching NOFX play tried and true classics like “Linoleum,” “Murder the Government,” and “Stickin’ In My Eye,” I felt an unexpected unity between my past and present selves. It’s a unification between then-and-now that NOFX seems to have mastered fairly well themselves.

In 7th grade, I received a copy of NOFX’s cheekily titled live record, I Heard They Suck Live!! a a birthday present. Though that CD and I parted ways long ago, last night memories of listening to that album on an old Diskman as I walked my paper route flooded back. The false starts, the self-deprecating stage banter, and the snot-punk anthems are still the same as ever, though the band’s certainly added a few more hits to the set list since 1995. But it’s probably that “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality that’s allowed NOFX to stay afloat for nearly 30 years in a genre that’s prime demographic is puberty-addled teenagers. Not that they’ve stagnated or resigned themselves to being one-trick ponies. They’ve just put in their 10,000 hours of playing, writing, and performing punk, and at this point they’ve got it down to a science.

Fat Mike, clad in plaid board shorts with a floppy green mohawk, introduced or apologized for each song with a self-aware sensibility that never hinted at bitterness. “Alright, these next three songs will be good. We’re just going to play three songs you guy want to hear,” he’d say introducing a string of hits from White Trash, Two Heebs, and a Bean, or when introducing a newer song, “Well, none of you have heard this song and it’s… it’s alright. I like it. Maybe you won’t but whatever, we’ll play a song you like after that.” Unlike their pop-punk peers of the nineties, NOFX has avoided selling out under the guise of artistic aspirations (Green Day), devolving into obnoxiousness for its own sake (The Offspring), or beating the underground angle to death (any punk band that never made it but secretly wanted to).

On I Heard They Suck Live!! NOFX stuck a little memo in the liner notes to the majors that had been courting them, proclaiming, “We’ve been doing fine all these years without you so leave us alone!” It’s that self-confidence that I think makes NOFX unique in a world of Warped Tour-wannabes and pop punk clones. Because let’s face it, when your bread and butter is a set of power chords noted glue-sniffers like the Ramones could master, it’s not long before you find yourself beating back imitators. But at this point, NOFX has proven not only their staying power but their global appeal. I doubt there are many punk bands in the world that could fill stadiums in South America, not only without the help of MTV, but having actually refused the network permission to play their videos.

Which makes it interesting that this concert, like the last time they visited Argentina, was filmed for their Backstage Passport series on Fuse. In the 15 plus years since NOFX put out I Heard They Suck Live!! and my middle school self fell in love with them, they’ve grown in success and popularity, but have artfully avoided that commercial success pitfall of overexposure and achieved popularity on their own terms. So I’d be happy to report back to that younger, more angst driven self that NOFX didn’t sell out, even though he’ll probably think I have for shaving off my mohawk.

BONUS: Worst punk backpack I’ve seen since I was in high school and I had “CHARLES B.” written on my backpack in Sharpie since I ran out of space writing “CHARLES BRONSON” (they’re a punk band, you nerds). This kid not only had Blink 182 in big white-out letters, he also had done up the Pennywise symbol (who are pretty much the worst) and had buttons for Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Haha, what a tool. Also, check the homemade white-out ska strap. And he didn’t even cover up the giant REEBOK. This kid is like one-stop shopping for lame punk fashion.

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Un Montón de Cosas

Primero

There is a dude in Argentina named Hiram Walker. Ole’ HW seems like an amicable guy – hell, he’s only 20 pesos ($4-5) for a real sized bottle – but that motherfucker is a treacherous piece of shit. You turn your back on him for one second, you accidentally drink half a bottle, and Hiram Walker will screw you. He will make you black out and send you home, teetering and tottering like a baby that sucks at walking. He will prevent you from hanging out with your friends or even seeing the show you paid 50 pesos for. Then the next day you’ll wake up with his gnarly boner digging into your back and you’ll be like, “Ugh dude, no. Not now. I’m hungover and it’s your fault.” You’ll be down 50 pesos, you’ll feel like an idiot for falling for Hiram’s clever ploy (twice), and the only decent memories you’ll retain from the night are the part where you watched some Argentines play soccer and then got an impromptu street art tour from your friend Harrison who is studying Buenos Aires street art for his geography class.

Segundo

After shaking off the shame of Hiram Walker having his way with me, I went to a bookstore and got some writing done. Then I found out that awesome girlfriend had gotten me on the list for Of Montreal because she knows one of the dudes, so I went to that. On the bus over there, I noticed that the Argentine dude sitting across from me was also rocking blue pants, a pearl snap shirt, bedhead, and face scruff and cleverly deduced that we were likely going to the same destination. His name was Fernando and we became show buddies, but then he wandered off towards the end and I don’t know what happened to him.

Of Montreal was awesome but also embarrassingly stupid at the same time. I only know the one record, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, so I’m far from a super-fan but I do like their music and I dug all the songs they played that I already knew. But their stage show is just… it’s ridiculous. It’s like they gave two stoned guys $400 and told them to go to the dollar store and get “crazy stuff.” If The Flaming Lips sunk to the point where they were opening up for puppet shows, this is what their stage show would look like. No real theme or coherence, just dudes in “green man” suits (but not green) randomly waving around balloons and capes and bits of fabric they dumpstered from Hobby Lobby. Look at this cool pig mask! Oh wait, let’s stand on these chairs for a second. That will be trippy, right?

Also, Kevin Barnes is the most hilarious rock idol I’ve ever seen. He’s the nerdy drama kid from high school that got successful, yet never stopped being the nerdy drama kid. He looks like he tried to give himself a Skrillex haircut but gave up halfway through and if there are any girls who swoon over him and put up Of Montreal Tiger Beat pin-up posters in their bedrooms, I don’t get it. But he does write awesome songs and I had fun so thanks Lynn for the hook up!

Tercero

This week also marked my final days of classes and the departure of all the other UT students. As far as the classes went, it was nice having structure and receiving four hours of instruction in Spanish every day was certainly beneficial. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t do all my homework or give the classes anywhere near 100%. But I’m in fucking Buenos Aires and I think it would be kind of a waste to spend all my evenings indoors reading and doing homework when I could be, you know, having memorable adventures and making Argentine amigos. So while I hope I didn’t fail my classes, because that would be dumb, I’m glad that I took the small amount of “study” I wanted and spent the rest of my energy on just being abroad. And now it’s like I’m arriving again for the first time since I have a new place (more on this some other day) and don’t have to trek across town every morning to go to class.

Cuarto

Now, as far as the other UT students go, studying abroad has been both an incredible and incredibly surreal experience. One of the main reasons I moved from Portland to Austin was a desire for more diversity. Not diversity in the purely ethnic sense, but a broader array of cultures, scenes, subcultures, and perspectives. In Portland, everyone was more or less on my team. By attending UT and moving to Austin, I had hoped that I could get to know people from different backgrounds than my own that nonetheless were awesome people I could become friends with. But until now, I haven’t really met anyone in my UT classes, cool or otherwise. The classes just aren’t structured in a way that ever allows me to connect to people on a social level or get to know anyone better.

This study abroad trip has been a godsend in that regard. Out of the group of 40 odd students in this program, I’ve gotten to know about half of them. Not extremely well, since I tended to strike out on my own rather than spend my free time with large groups of UT students, but through classes and the IFSA activities I’ve gotten to know these kids better than anyone else I’ve had classes with in Austin. And while most of them are part of social circles considerably different than my own – spoiled rich girls, super Christian nerds, frat bros, people that have never taken acid etc. – it’s been absolutely amazing getting a less superficial understanding of who they are and their world view.

That being said, I fucking hated all the times I was forced to do something with the entire group. Being shepherded around like a teenager on a high school field trip pisses me off to no end and dealing with an unruly mob of screaming, immature, idiotic American college students makes me want to bury my head in the sand and rage vomit. So for those reasons, I skipped 98% of the official IFSA activities, didn’t go on any of the pub crawls, didn’t join the official Facebook group, or do any of the bonding activities my peers were engaging in. I made a few good friends from the program, but I also kept to myself quite a bit and tried to find locals to hang out with. So on Tuesday when we had our final farewell dinner with IFSA, while everyone else was taking pictures together and promising to hang out when they got back to the States, I just sat there feeling uncomfortable.

Living in West Campus for two years, there were times when I felt more foreign and out of place than I do in Buenos Aires. So I’m appreciative that I’ve finally gotten to know some of these kids who were my neighbors for two years and continue to be my classmates. But now I’m also intensely thankful that I have a social circle in Austin I’ve created myself, through hard work, pure luck, and many frustrating false starts in the early years.  I’m glad my friends are thoughtful, intelligent, funny, creative, adventurous, and generally amazing people. Because that’s a rarer quality than I realized when I started this trip. I’m glad my friends can talk about more than how much they drank last night or the different things their parents have bought them, and that when given a free night in a foreign city they would certainly chose to do something more exciting than watch shitty American sitcoms and take naps. I’m glad that I have the friends I have and I’m EXTREMELY glad that those friends are all intelligent and genuinely funny people. I’m so sick of feeling horrified at casual misogynistic remarks and being deeply embarrassed by truly pathetic, awkward attempts at jokes. I was seriously expecting some of these guys to drop an Austin Powers impression at any moment. Goddamn.
 

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Mar Del Plata/DJ Estrella

Since the first time I went to see my friend Thomas DJ ended up as a hazy, ecstatic blur of good times that only occupies about 15 minutes worth of space in my memory, I jumped at the chance to see him again when he invited me to another show. This gig was down in Mar Del Plata, Buenos Aires’ summer fun destination, and since I’d been wanting to get out of Buenos Aires anyways, the 5-hour away Mar Del Plata seemed ideal. Especially when the pot was sweetened by Thomas’ whole “come hang out in VIP and drink for free” enticement.

After some back and forth confusion about rides down there and lodging, Harrison and I decided to take the bus down on Saturday and splurge on a hotel so we could easily coordinate with Thomas. The “I’m-with-the-DJ” shtick doesn’t work quite as well when you then have to explain that you’re staying in a flea-bag hostel, sans DJ, on the other side of town. The hotel was a bit pricey, but included access to their spa which boasted THREE different types of saunas, so we decided to live it up a little. Once we arrived and checked-in, I tried to contact Thomas’ agent but I couldn’t get the number to work on my piece of shit Nokia phone. Seriously, the phones we have down here are worse than the burners drug dealers were throwing away on The Wire.

We couldn’t get the number to work, but when we told the hotel we wanted to leave a message for Thomas Penton, is was pretty apparent they knew exactly who we were talking about. They said he generally didn’t arrive until 6 p.m., and it was only 1 p.m. now, so we decided to walk around and explore Mar Del Plata. Unfortunately, it is currently winter in Argentina so what everyone promised us was a hustling and bustling vacation paradise in the summer was kind of a desolate city with lots of closed shops while we were there. But a beach is a beach no matter what season and we did see some awesome stuff. Like this ghetto trampoline playground thing.

It was 5 pesos to jump on the trampoline. This really made me feel like I was in Mexico, except in Mexico there would have been a poorly drawn, copyright infringing Shrek on the trampolines. Also, right around the corner from this broke-ass bounce castle was a sick skate park that was jammed packed with little 12-year-olds yelling, “Boludo!” at each other, which is kind of an insult and also kind of like “dude.” Standing in this skate park for 15 minutes, I heard “boludo” more times than I have on the rest of this trip combined.

We watched some of the older, better skaters shred it up for awhile and then walked through a market, but since Argentina isn’t actually much cheaper than the US, the urge to randomly buy crap I don’t need is pretty weak. I found a throwing knife that was actually a decent price, but then I thought about the hassle of bringing it back to the US and the probability of it being a total piece of shit, so I decided against it. Harrison and I walked through town until we found a parilla (like where I ate that meat platter one time), but the grill was closed so all we could get was whack-style Argentine pizza. Everyone else in the restaurant was watching the River Plata game and between Harrison somewhat understanding the announcers on the TV and me having learned about this in class the other day, we figured out what was going on.

In Buenos Aires there are two important soccer teams: Boca Juniors and River Plata. Last year, River sucked hard enough that they got demoted to the B league, which screwed up their long standing rivalry with Boca and was all around embarrassing. The game that we were watching was a final for a B league tournament, and since River not only won but scored two goals that got them enough points to move back up to the A league. Argentines are passionate about soccer and so once this happened, the city freaked the fuck out.

As we walked from the parilla back to the hotel, more and more cars went past us honking their brains out and waving River flags. Then we got to this plaza and it was a zoo. Dudes were climbing all the way to the top to hang off the statue and people were throwing these crazy fireworks that sounded a lot louder than your wimpy, American M-80s. As we cut across the park to move away from the soccer freak out, we ran into yet another horde of Argentines waving flags and banners. But these weren’t soccer fans, it was a political protest. Literally two blocks away. Insanity! And if that wasn’t wild enough, we walked another two blocks away from that protest and ran into a puppet show!

The puppets were playing “Oye Como Va” when we stumbled onto their show, but then they moved out into the crowd and began freaking out kids by climbing on them. These two girls were truly impressive puppeteers. It reminded me of John Cusack’s character in Being John Malkovich.  After we got done with the puppets (you can only watch a marionette terrify a 7-year-old for so long) we headed back to the hotel and met up with Thomas, his agent Hernan, and Hernan’s wife. Harrison, Hernan, and I chilled out in the spa, enjoying the Turkish, Finnish, and classic style saunas and then Harrison and I passed out in our room for a few hours. At 10 p.m., we all left the hotel to eat dinner at Nacho’s, the promoter of the show, friend’s house.

Nacho’s friend, Rodrigo, lives in exactly the sort of house you’d expect a well-off, Argentine electronic dance music aficionado to live in. There was a mirror disco ball Buddha statue, a recording studio with a vintage Moog, another disco ball that came out of the ceiling when you pressed a switch, incense burning in every room, and shag carpet. I was seriously waiting for someone to offer me a ‘lude and then we could all switch wives. Everyone was super nice and impressed with our Spanish since Thomas speaks almost no Spanish so we looked awesome in comparison. But Thomas is a superstar DJ and we’re not, so I guess that makes you think about priorities a bit. They ordered everyone sushi for dinner, which was a much needed change of pace from the shitty pizza/plain meat/empanada trifecta.

After dinner, we headed to the club, this giant complex called Sobremonte that occupies almost an entire block. Inside, Sobremonte is your one-stop shopping destination for Argentine night life. It’s like a food court approach to music clubs: in one room it’s reggaeton, in the next it’s gay pop music, in the next it’s progressive trance (or whatever it’s called that Thomas plays. It all sounds more or less the same to me). When we arrived, it was still early in the evening, a pathetic 1:30 a.m. and the sparse attendees in the club were mostly high school aged. But we relocated to VIP, posted up to sip our “homies with Thomas” discount Speed and vodkas, and pose in front of these disco-ice queen babes that were go-go dancing. Within an hour, the club was getting packed and people were rocking the dance floor to Nacho’s DJ set, which I guess is a style called “tech-house” which is a good warm-up for Thomas’ set. Once Thomas went on, Harrison and I went out into the poor people area, because it was more awesome, and danced with Thomas’ lady friend who had taken a 10 hour bus to attend the party and… uh, hang out, with Thomas.

Halfway through Thomas’ set, we headed to the DJ booth to hang out with him and watch the crowd. As I said, I don’t know shit about electronic music and its many sub-genres, but sometimes you can just tell when someone is good at what they do, and Thomas is a fucking awesome DJ. The way he built the crowd’s energy, let it dampen off, and then kicked it into hyperdrive, over and over, was incredible. And in addition to being a bad ass DJ, Thomas is also one of the nicest dudes I’ve met and was super awesome about letting Harrison and I hit buttons and twist knobs (on his command of course).

Even more fun than pushing buttons is pumping your fists at a throbbing mass of hundreds (probably almost 1,000) people while fog machines and lasers blow up all over the place. Standing next to Thomas and getting the crowd stoked while he dropped the beat was seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It really made me regret my decision to become a journalist instead of a superstar DJ. After Thomas, Hernan played a short set (which Thomas made fun of to me the whole time) and then it was time to head back to the hotel at an early 5:30 a.m. I was so utterly exhausted that when we piled into the cab, I was too busy trying to stay awake and figure out if the version of “Needles and Pins” on the radio was the Ramones’ one, I didn’t even noticed Thomas and his lady had gotten into a different cab until we got back to the hotel and I was like, “Hernan, where’s Thomas? Huh, what’s going on? I don’t know where I am. I need to sleep. Now.”

 

 

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Quiero Montar Mi Bicicleta

After staying out late the night before clam-jamming to the smooth vaginal rock of Liers, my first thought when my alarm went off at 8 a.m. was, “Fuck this, I’m not going.” But then I contemplated what I’d most likely spend my day doing if I opted out of the bicycle/kayak field trip I was already signed up for, and that was depressing. Getting up early to ride bikes and paddle ‘yaks sounded way better than sleeping in just so I could lie around my room, check Facebook, and read books. So I crawled out of bed, dragged myself to the bus, and made it to the rendezvous spot by 8:45 a.m.

For many years, whenever people have asked me for travel tips (okay, it’s only happened like three times) my response has always been, “Rent a bike. If you can, if it’s affordable and the city is bike friendly, rent a bike.” Even for dogged pedestrian tourists, there’s only so much you can see on foot in a day. But cruising two wheels, you get all the up close and personal experiences of hoofing it with the benefit of seeing ten times more cool stuff. Unfortunately, since 2007 I’ve been dealing with pigmented villonodular synovitis in my left knee, which is fancy doctor talk for “sometimes my knee gets fucked up if I do cool shit like walk far or ride a bike.” However, the old war wound has been pretty resilient this trip so I decided to risk injury for the reward of doing something awesome. And that gamble paid off because not only did my knee behave itself, I had a great day and managed to see a totally different side of Buenos Aires.

At this point, I’m realizing this post might be dull for many of my readers because I don’t get drunk and lost or fight a shark or sneak into an underground tunnel or anything bad ass like that. But hey guys, my mom needs to read a post now and again that doesn’t make her worry about my safety/sanity, so y’all can just deal. The next post will be about me hanging out in the DJ booth of a night club with disco-eskimo strippers, so just hang tight if pleasant bike rides and scenic kayaking trips isn’t your bag.

Right, anyways, seven other dudes from the program and myself rode some janky bikes that looked like they’d been stolen from a middle school bike rack through the San Isidro and San Fernando neighborhoods. Unlike the downtown neighborhoods where I live and go to school, these were picturesque upscale neighborhoods with beautiful houses and far fewer murderous cars and heaping piles of dog shit. We cruised for about 20 kilometers and then stopped to check out Puerto de Frutos (fruit port), which is where hella fruit used to come in until crazy Argentine economy stuff screwed that up and so now the fruit goes elsewhere and this port is used primarily for wood (Puerto de Madera).

After our picnic lunch, we got ready to kayak. Like many activities on this trip, I had to weigh the pros of having awesome photos against the con of being in a situation where my camera was liable to get lost, stolen, or dunked in a river. That means I don’t have any photos of the incredibly photogenic kayaking trip we took (just that one of the mate museum’s giant gourd) but let’s suffice it to say, it was really pretty and goddamn, now I wish I had some photos. Anyways, there is a zone in Buenos Aires called Tigre which is where we kayaked. Tigre is a big river that weaves through many deltas and tiny islands and it’s a whole area where bits of land are scattered along a river. That means the only way to get around Tigre is by boat so not only do you see canoes, kayaks, and rowboats running up and down the river, they have big long boats that serve as buses for the area. The mail comes on a boat, you take a boat to go the store, you take a boat to see your friends… there are no roads so you pretty much just boat it up everywhere. I wonder if people get pulled over for rowing under the influence?

We kayaked for an hour and once I’d explained to the kid who had claimed much kayak knowledge, and thus been assigned the rear steering position, how to actually steer a fucking kayak (turns out “much kayak knowledge” = “I’ve kayaked once at bible camp”) the sailing was pretty smooth. There were willows and other species of tree providing shade and with all the rustic docks and cabin houses, the river had a very backwoods Cajun feel to it. In a fit of anger of our retarded rudder, I told bible camp boy that I hoped we got attacked by the Argentine equivalent of crazed rednecks just because he was far and away the most likely candidate for a Deliverance-style raping, but fortunately he got better at steering and no one got raped. And two big waves did land right in his lap as we approached the dock, which was awesome because it was like God smote him for disobeying Commandment #11: Thou Shall Not Front on Thine Kayaking Skills.

The rest of the day was beautiful so I hung out in a park and listened to music and watched old Argentine men play this weird gambling card game I didn’t understand. When I got home for dinner, this is what host mom had made (see photo). It looks like extraterrestrial gastronomy, but it was actually one of the better meals she’s made so far. Those round things are potato based and the yellow goop is like, chicken, mustard, and mayonaise.

Unfortunately, she ruined the points she got for making decent food by being super cunty about how I ate a lot this night (because I’d kayaked and biked all day and the food was good) but other nights I didn’t eat as much (because dinner was hot dogs and rice or some garbage that didn’t really please my palette). Then she started giving me shit about sleeping all the time and I was like, “Wait, you give me crap about coming home at 10 a.m. so which is it? Do I never sleep or sleep too much?” I was making a joke but she just kept riding that Bitch Train to Rudesville and explained, “No, you sleep all afternoons. You never do anything. You don’t see this city. Only sleep.” This critique was coming from a lady who spent her entire day off (Wednesday was Flag Day) in her room watching TV and surfing Facebook. This is from a woman whose social life can be summed up in a word: “boats,” with the optional modifier clause: “taking pictures of.” I wanted to say something super rude like, “Oh cool, Maria Luz. Thanks for the feedback. So I was wondering, why is it you’ve never been married and seem to have no friends?” but then I decided one of us had an awesome day riding bikes and kayaking and the other was probably going to have her cats eat most of her before the neighbors noticed the smell some day, so I really shouldn’t let it bother me.

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Liers, Liers, Los Pantalones en el Fuego

Remember in the early 90s when “riot grrrl” blew up like grunge’s younger, moderately less strung out sister? Do you also remember how once it got big and corporate all those bands basically sucked? No, you disagree? You still regularly listen to your L7 and Babes in Toyland CDs? Oh well, in that case, good news! The nineties are alive in Buenos Aires.

Last Thursday, my sweet new Argentine amigos Nico and Sol invited me to come check out this bands Liers. They described it as Iggy and the Stooges rock ‘n’ roll played by a group of four crazy, half-naked chicks. There were few parts of that description that I did not immediately like so I told them I would be there, come hell or high water. Before the show, I had a private party in my shitty little bedroom consisting of microwaved empanadas, yerba mate, Doctor Who, and the last of the Jim Beam I bought at the duty free store on the boat back from Colonia. So by the time the concert was ready to kick off, I was “ampin’ like Michael,” to quote Tribe Called Quest completely out of context.

I got to the club, met up with Nico and Sol and a few other friends, and promptly discovered that Liers’ fanbase is 50% lesbian and 50% rocker dudes, so pretty much there was a lot of long hair, short hair, leather jackets, cargo pants, lip piercings, and goatees. Tight. Since Argentina doesn’t believe in opening acts, we hung out and milled about the bar until they opened up the main room and Liers started.

This might sound contradictory (because it is), but Liers were both awful and amazing. On the one hand, it was shitty pseudo-girl power butt rock pioneered by groups who are now more remembered for that time they threw a tampon at the crowd than having good songs. If this had been a band of dudes and the singer had not been an eyebrowless rock banshee in a skintight onesie (think Aeon Flux’s less hot, more methed out older sister), my overall rating would be bad. But you know what? Having a Courtney Love female-impersonator for a singer, a Brazilian model for a guitar player, and a bonafide ultra-babe for a bassist (see first photo, the person that isn’t me) makes a difference. On top of that, as their set moved past embarrassing dreck like “Kill Your Wife” and the crowd loosened up and sorta started rocking out, Liers got a lot more fun. For their encore, they even covered Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s “Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll.” And they even did a decent job!

So if you likes babes, pseudo-babes, the nineties, incoherent girl power posturing, mediocre rock and roll, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club songs, or being a lesbian, than I highly recommend you check out Liers. You can enjoy their video for “She Wants” below. Shit is so nineties you can almost hear Beavis and Butthead making fun of it.

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Noches Locas pt. 2

Friday/Viernes

After the Banda de Turistas show (see previous post) Harrison and I ended up talking to a group of porteños who initially approached us to say that Harrison looked like Ryan Gosling. This happens semi-frequently. One of the dudes and I started talking about all the Argentine post-punk/goth bands I’ve been listening to lately and we asked them (quasi-forced them) to go get a drink with us. We all went to a bar in San Telmo, a neighborhood I really want to explore more, where they had cheap baby pitchers of beer and themed music nights. The theme that Friday was….

BRITPOP!!! Hell yeah. The entire night they were playing britpop music videos on the wall (with a generous definition of the genre including Artic Monkees, Muse, Gorillaz, and more) which was awesome because I know a decent amount about britpop and thus was able to nerd out about shit like Suede (I prefer the self-titled album over Dog Man Star) and the Stone Roses (I can more or less sing along to “She Bangs the Drum”) with my new porteño pals. After feeling like a total mook the night before, it was nice to realize that I’m not actually an unbearable awkward person, I’m just not the kind of person that usually goes to dance clubs. Get me in my proper element, which is more or less drinking pitchers of beer and nerding out about something like music, and I do fine. Just fine.

The best part however was that our entire conversation was in Spanish. Well, they wanted to practice their English too at the end of the night so some of them replied in English to my Spanish questions. But that’s not the point! The point is I spoke in Spanish for OVER FOUR HOURS and didn’t feel frustrated or constrained. This made me realize what a big difference the simple act of liking your audience and sharing mutual interests and not one of you being a shitty middle aged hater makes. All of these kids were super nice and funny and loved T. Rex and so I spoke Spanish fine. Not once did we talk about boats or the numbers of photos of them that one of us had taken. It was very nice.

Saturday/Sabado

The line-up for Saturday was pretty sweet. First up was this thing called SQUAT HOUSE! I don’t know if I’m 100% correct on the concept but I think that this group finds a house or building that’s not currently in use and rents it out (I don’t think they actually squat) for a night and puts on a killer party. My awesome boss Deb had gotten me two comped press tickets for the party, which Harrison and I had to pick up from a not so friendly party lady at a very random abandoned house. Determined to do Buenos Aires the right way, we took gangster ass long naps and then met up at Harrison’s place to pregame before the party, which didn’t start until 1 a.m. with the cool kids arriving at 3 a.m. We had another party engagement later in the evening so we rolled up around 1 a.m. and were a bit underwhelmed.

Sometimes when you read about something like “Abandoned house SQUAT party with DJ set by Thieves Like Us!!!!” it sounds super duper cool but then you get there and you’re like, “Oh, this is a lot like being in a bar where someone is playing music. Or maybe it’s the radio. This is very much like a large bar.” After a couple of hours, we had to jet to get to the other party before the guest list closed.

Okay, so I’m probably going to sound like a name dropping douchebag in this part, but I don’t know anything about house music, generally care about being in VIP, or ever go to exclusive clubs, so for me this whole process was just wacky and hysterical. One of my bosses’ friends is a superstar DJ named Thomas Penton. He had invited me to come see him play at this boliche (giant club) called Pacha which holds like, a million thousand people. Harrison and I got to the club and found out that I was on the list (tight!) but Harrison wasn’t (suck!). Fortunately, I’m a good friend so I went and grabbed Thomas (whose set didn’t start until 5 a.m.!!!) who came outside and threw his weight around and got Harrison in without much difficulty. Inside, we chilled in VIP which is still an arbitrary line that divides the dance floor in half, but I guess dancing is more fun when you aren’t near poor people so that’s cool. Thomas told us not to leave VIP because he didn’t have wristbands to get us back in, but I was wasted and promptly found myself on the wrong side of the VIP fence moments later. I tried to tell the bouncers I was friends with Thomas, I tried to wave to him so he could help me, but it was useless. I was fucked. I was fucked right up until the moment where I climbed their little Berlin wall of coolness and snuck right back in. Suck my dick, elitism.

After Pacha closed down at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m. Harrison and I went to catch a bus home. There, Harrison neglected to protect me from myself and allowed me to jump on a mystery bus going who knows where while he was chatting up a lady (I may have been a bit unruly at this point. Maybe.). Mystery bus dropped me off at the intersection of Middle of Nowhere Ave and How the Fuck Do I Get Home Blvd and from there I walked in what I hoped was the right direction. After walking some distance, I gave up on hope, got sick of walking, and took matters into my own hands by hailing a cab. My friends, this is the difference between prayer and magic. Prayer is waiting for something to happen and hoping it does; magic is doing some made-up ineffective bullshit but getting exactly what you wanted to happen, and then turning around and going, “Ha! See. I did that. Me.”

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