Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quaking in Buenos Aries

I've been looking forward to posting the writing of Renee Chinquapin here.

I met Renee at our early morning Quaker meeting, and one day, after the hour's silence, we got to talking about writing. I asked to see some of hers and was immediately pulled into it.

She was kind enough to let me share it on The Red Electric. I'll publish another piece later.

No need to say more except fasten your seat belt and hang on!


By Renee Chinquapin

London, New York, Paris clubs may rock and rave all night, high on ecstasy and urban angst. On Moscow backstreets and Hollywood Boulevard, tarts may tout their tightly vinyled behinds. Rio may samba, Nairobi jujus.

And I can now say in my next day ragged bones and bleared-out eyeballs, Buenos Aires too shakes and shimmies, buzzes and tipples on through the sweet and river-breezed succulent darkling hours of summer.

Oh, yes, she does, along the broad and linden-lined boulevards, the squares of Dorrego and Recoleta, Soho and Florida, crammed with cooing couples. She lays her bets in the Palermo casino as crowded at 3 a.m. as a Costco warehouse on a sunny pre-Xmas Sunday afternoon. The mile-long Costanura riverside is jam-packed with strolling couples taking the good airs of Buenos Aires laden with the charcoal brazier smoke of all-night beef sausage churipan grilleries.

They call themselves Porteños, these denizens of Buenos Aires, for this is the port of Argentina, though the River Plata looks more like the Atlantic from Coney Island, the Mediterranean from Tel Aviv, the Amazon from Belem—wider than a prairie and grayer than a London pidgeon.

Porteños by the tens of thousands stream from their homes like the water of their wide mighty river itself, streaming out into the hyperdemocratic open air living room back yard and ice cream parlor streets 'til dawn, when Dallas and Capetown have long since rolled up their tepid sidewalks, long after Paris and Rome are snoring away, dreamwishing they were this humming, thrumming, chomping thick red steak, sipping red Mendoza wine Buenos Aires, where Porteños busily jabber with their hands, crack jokes, story, flirt, while baby Juanita's blissfully sleepytime nodded out in granny's arms at a poolside picnic table in some municipal worker's club with the glowing eye-smarting smoke pit embers of fifty parilla grills tenderizing various unnamable parts of beef and chickens cut that special Argie way into one big flat sizzling fat popping chunk of totally satisfying protein goodygoodgoodness, empty bowling pin beer bottles lined up on the table in mute testimony to yet another of ten thousand rollicking, frolicking all-nighter chowdowns cum champagne in this city that sneers at sleep, that makes do with haphazard disjointed catnapping fits and starts on subways and buses, in doctor waiting rooms, on lunchtime park benches.

Sleep at night? Not in this urban playground so eagerly making each night a night to remember, to savor on nights that never really end but rather melt into a dog-eared dawn like warp yields to woof, ebb to flood, each fly-by night as fully lived as if it be the final adios shovin'-off-to-heaven final night of all, Ms. in her low-cut high-hemmed scarlet slash-n'burn babycakes die-for dress, clacking 'long the runway sidewalk like a slow-mo sex rocket for Mr. Right beside her in his Homer Simpson smokes weed t-shirt and low-riding-see-my-ever-ready boxers and black-white All-stars padding along at her side to yet another next hipster wowser bar for more cool down backbeat rock-me-'til-my-back-don't-got-no-bone blues or ziggy zaggy jazz, oh, ain't we be down, struttin', high as that first swell timid night out on Calle Chile so many years back?

BA's a Bigtown that swirls, not just with traffic, not just with neon or gangs or druggy commerce, but with him/her couples brewed in the cauldron that was tango now a-spark with salsa, reggae, rock, grunge, whatever, 'cause if it's danced anywhere, it's danced right here in world wonderland city Buenos Aires. How many ways to highball rhythmroll stretch yesterday into tomorrow? As if the whole urban enterprise was some long, laid-out pumping creature by the ancient hoary flow-so-slow oceany riverside, each couple a cell of its living, breathing, dancing, drinking, whoopdedooing energy body, thump-thump-thumping, happy just to be alive in high-flying nighttime Buenos Aires, in that oh so sweet-tempered, we're-all-in-this-together Argie way of night life that is life at its finest, what the daily drudge is for, to kick up the hee-hee heels, clink the swilling wine glass, share that guffaw, replay that movie memory, drift like leaves on lazy pond from one cafe to bar to jukejoint, eatery to snackery, your patio my patio, mi casa tu casa todo bien todo esta nuestra casa nuestra ciudad Buenos Aires, this gotta-see-it-to-believe-it urbanation beast that nips and tucks and shouts its hallelujah tale, work into play into shopping into play into cleaning into play, big red buses dieseling down the argon-lit boulevards twenty-four/seven/twelve, this town of endless teeny ice cream empanada creampuff pastry pleasures beckoning, one vast haystack of a playground, humans at their best, clapping, snapping, giggling, yakking, punning, midnight sunning, sauntering up and down the unfenced parks and grassy squares, spilling out from cafes and restaurants like overstuffed cobbler pies, sweet and hunger-stilling, spilling out into this no-dog-barks happy-go-lucky ten-million strong funtown won't never quit, the milky way of its own atomic galaxy, southern antipode to Rome and Prague, Seville reborn but bigger, grander, softer…why ever would anyone even dream of partying is living anywhere else?

Bueno, si
. Buenos Aires.

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