They still have newsstands in Bueno Aires.
They still like comics, too.
went to Buenos Aires on the invitation of Juan Manuel
the smart and enthusiastic organizer of the comics section
de la Palabra”, an
art, music, literature, and video extravaganza held outside of Buenos Aires in
a sprawling complex called Technopolis.
come to Technopolis to let the kids run wild on all sorts of cool apparatuses.
Hipsters come to Technopolis to dig art installations by their peers. I came to
Technopolis to be completely confused about Technopolis.
it a theme park? A civic center? A playground? As far as I could tell, the
“tech” part was low and the “opolis” part was the Buenos Aires skyline off in
Jesús Cossio from Peru, Matt Borrs and myself from the US,
and Paul Gravett
from the UK prepare to enter Technopolis.
After our escort took our photo, she asked us not to explain
to her boss what her shirt meant in English.
the installations sprinkled around the extensive Technopolis grounds was a mini
play gas station, a flashing neon-lit robot-looking thing, and a bunch of
pavilions containing multimedia presentations. There is also an airplane for
the family to clamber around in and play Flight Attendant and Disgruntled
Passenger. Next to the parked airplane is a structure so large it could hold a
fleet of such jets and have room left over for the Queen Mary. It is filled
with art exhibits and cool things for kids to play on, and a huge concert hall.
my appearance on a comics panel, tucked away in the low-rent district of the
plant, I wandered around trying to make sense of the incongruent elements at
chairs dotting an enormous pile of sand facing a concrete wall onto which
lapping waves were projected.
filled with letter cubes for kids to form naughty words.
kind of Wheel of Fortune game with giddy contestants and a host with big teeth
and a cranked-up microphone (I dared not get too close).
of “real” artifacts from the time the aliens landed in downtown Buenos Aires.
Sort of like Welle’s “War of the Worlds” broadcast, the gullible believe in the
event, while most of the populace understand the exhibit to be based on a popular comic strip from 1964.
A brief video that will shed no additional light onto the connective tissue that holds together Technopolis can be found here in the middle of the page:
government runs Technopolis and patriotic pride is an undercurrent theme.
Everything is free of charge. Families flocked.
one point I got carried away in a flow of families and rode downstream into a
dim auditorium. Bleachers could just be discerned, but the stage was aglow
with whirling neon spotlights jittering to the throbbing music. Hundreds of
seats were filled in eager anticipation. I figured that it was going to be a
concert by some teen idol. All the kids chimed in with the songs that were
blasting on the speakers.
from a pop icon love-in, the show turned out, of course, to be a history of the
Argentine fight for independence performed by dozens of dancers in oversized
cartoon costumes against an animated backdrop. I was later told that the
spectacle is based on a very popular TV show which explained the enthusiastic
sing-along by the audience. At one point the actors portrayed soldiers
valiantly struggling across the Andes in bitter wind. Suddenly the roving green
spotlights began to swing through the audience much to the delight of the crowd
as little bits of snow-like flakes descended from the catwalks. Wait…it was not
snow-like…it was real snow! Viva la Republica! Viva Technopolis!
Americans need to store water in a city, they usually build big, ugly water
towers. This magnificent structure is essentially hollow and once was an urban
reservoir. Presently vacant, one proposal has been to turn it into a very large
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Look closely: M......U......N
in the day, this was the Munich Beer Garden. Today it is a museum of comics…but you can
still get a beer if you choose to. Their collection of 19th
and early 20th
century original and printed comics pages is small but impressive. I liked their floors, too.
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we were given a tour of the Biblioteca Nacional's comics collection, which
is relatively new, but wonderfully maintained by the knowledgeable and
dedicated scholar, José
(I was told that
-Maria” is not an uncommon naming strategy for parents trying to cover
their bets. If it’s a girl, they just name her “Maria-José
”). Through his
collaborator, the affable Pablo Zweig, we saw a lot of originals and learned a
lot about Argentinean comics.
Illustrator/Cartoonist/Translator, Pablo Zweig, in front of the library.
|José-Maria Gutiérrez points to something small and |
significant to comics scholar, Paul Gravett, and publications
maestro from the Louvre, Fabrice Douar.
Juan Peron was ousted, the government razed the glorious presidential palace
and spent decades replacing it with the enormous concrete Biblioteca Nacional. This, of course, only added to the deification of Juan…well,
especially of Evita. A sculpture of the Perons now sits in a park where their
own garden may have once been located. The paint on Evita’s face is badly worn
away from many fans trying to rub into their fingertips a bit of her mojo.
mojo of Evita’s body was considered so serious that her remains were circulated
around the world for years in fear that rooting them into any ground might
cause a seismic (and political) disruption. When her body was finally properly
entombed, it was in a welded iron crate placed in the family crypt, which had
been fortified to withstand bombing.
*** *** ***
Evita's family crypt.
family tomb is modest compared to many of the other crypts in the famous
Recoleta Cemetery. But it’s a swell place to take the family on a Saturday
morning to pay your respects to the most beloved figure in the nation’s
history. Flowers were being placed on the door when I snuck in with the crowd.
A woman kissed the marble façade. An old man wiped away a tear. Evita died in
Look closely at background to see life imitating death.
is not your low rent neighborhood cemetery, like the one in Montparnasse, Paris where every
homeboy and his tante are dumped, but an upscale affair where families actively
try to out-do each other in ostentatiousness. Some of the crypts are plain,
some are memorial wedding cakes. Some are well maintained, some have imploded
by age and vandals. Every one is worth contemplation…but there are hundreds of
the things and after two hours I became numb to their virtues.
my brief visit did I cover the essentials? Did I eat the legendary Argentinean
steak? Yes, I did. Did I see a tango performance? Yes, I did. Did I get my photo taken with statues of two famously ribald and questionably funny comedians?
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