Mojito Odyssey – Part One: The Muse

Sing, Muse, sing, though of late I must say your singing has left a lot to be desired; as much, indeed, as if a diabetic amputee, having wished upon a shooting star, were to be presented with a tricycle and a stick of candy floss. Your voice once inspired entire generations and in time even came to define them. Far from the exilarating, hill-top libations of pre-Yore, these days, and only on a good one, your vocal chords seem limited to pyrrhically championing the anti-beauties of the gutter, and in a detached monotone, too, too forensic, and with so much cap-doffing the monocled men in Monaco are convinced you suffer from OCD; your sylvestrian retreats and ocean-riding feckers you exchanged for a proliferation of scantily-sketched voices masquerading as characters, for technological gimmicks dressed up as actuality, for collar-grabbing melodrama disguised as punk writing. Muse, you miss the gym, you need time on a marplatense beach with Apollo Creed; too long, too slow has the honey dripped for you, O Muse; when was the last time you knocked off someone’s hat, and meant it? You disgust us, Muse, you’re as useless as a Frenchman.

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Sing, Muse, sing, though of late I must say your singing has left a lot to be desired; as much, indeed, as if a diabetic amputee, having wished upon a shooting star, were to be presented with a tricycle and a stick of candy floss. Your voice once inspired entire generations and in time even came to define them. Far from the exhilarating, hill-top libations of pre-Yore, these days, and only on a good one, your vocal chords seem limited to pyrrhically championing the anti-beauties of the gutter, and in a detached monotone, too, too forensic, and with so much cap-doffing the monocled men in Monaco are convinced you suffer from OCD. Your sylvestrian retreats and ocean-riding feckers you exchanged for a proliferation of scantily-sketched voices masquerading as characters, for technological gimmicks dressed up as actuality, for collar-grabbing melodrama disguised as punk writing. Muse, you miss the gym, you need time on a marplatense beach with Apollo Creed; too long, too slow has the honey dripped for you, O Muse; when was the last time you knocked off someone’s hat, and meant it? You disgust us, Muse, you’re as useless as a Frenchman.


Sing, Muse, sing of things you know to be true – but no feelings, please. We’ve had quite enough of those. Now mere sediment on the ocean floor of emotion, hardened by Time’s basilisk stare, then drilled, extracted and pumped like so much gloop to hasten the sale of bracelets and smileys and bolster support for our boys abroad. No, tell of things you know, things of substance, not of faces, feelings, failure or folly, of things that couldn’t even hold a candle to your cunning, pigeon-killing eternal flame there behind the Custom House.

  • Like, er, vegetables?
  • Está bien…
  • Very well, but beforehand I warn you my singing voice was purloined some time ago by that pesky Robert Fitzgerald, my sap dried up by endless petitions from prissy pretenders, phony, perfidious, praetorian reprobates who felt their voice was worthy of eternity but invoked me rather than doing the work, leaving me with this priestly murmur.
The collapse of the Quendisphere? Caused as a result of us defending the sovereinty of Sufforia against the Red Tide! Countless wars of agression perpetrated by Communists? Avoided thanks to the name of The Pact being used as a deterrent!

“The Almighty has promised to resolve the matter, fortunately. A new wing of Hell is to open under the Heaven-Hell Bipartisan Pact, signed in Croke Park a year or so ago. ‘Tis destined for all those presumptuous enough to commit their worthless warblings to anything other than bare rock faces. The Muse is not a credit that can be drawn on infinitely, like some Paddy postal clerk who tries his hand at being a property mogul in Pakistan. No, indeed, inspiration’s running thinner on the ground than the same homesick lad’s drool when faced with an ad for Country Spring. Hence the deluded enthronement of derivative postmodernism.

“Hell, for this project we’ve even had to rob some old ideas from Dante, from our prime: there will be special shoe-shaped quarters, for example, for those who think a mere quill is enough to stay Time’s Black Boot. Shakespeare is currently in a holding pen being repeatedly being forced to watch videos of a world of blind men on respirators unable to either breathe or see; while a whole range of strategic fires and viruses have been prepared for those word-churners still in the game. The Almighty has determined that bare rock faces, exposed to the elements, are the only fair and just way to record one’s thoughts.”

  • Están medio jodidos, che.

“We beg to differ. If art does not strive to change society and novelty doesn’t bring happiness, why should anyone be permitted to achieve immortality through their work? Tis most selfish, tis most blind, tis to impoverish the imagination of those who come after, tis to wear out this poor old Muse. Have I not rights too? If you summon me, must I not speak? And I would rather not speak banalities.

“The Almighty being a stickler for freedom, however, refuses to deny you humans the ability to write or create in any way. In his infinite wisdom he has but declared that henceforth bare rock faces will be the only holy way to record said creations. Thus time will have its say in their diffusion, their duration, thus that great stumbling block to creation, originality, will be removed, or at least refreshed occasionally as the rain literally washes the slates clean.

“Those who commit their work to any other medium will go to hell.”

So proclaimed the rather verbose bus driver as we approached the train station in Buenos Aires, which is like Gotham City but without Batman. Utter madness, insanity and strife; a horde of jokers and evil-doers going unpunished; the masses almost constantly on the board of rioting, of going mental whether it be an attack from the glib Mr. Ice or the collapse of the banks; a penguin running for mayor or rolling power outages, flocks of penguins with explosives strapped to their backs or hooligans dishing out justice to each other on the General Paz (the greatest misnomer since Dolphin’s Barn – yep, still bitter after forking out ten bills for a tour of ‘Flipper’s Ancestors’ Home’); the Riddler taunting people in the interminable queues; Cat Woman using some kind of projector device to appear on almost every corner of the city at once; and a heavily made-up Joker tossing about in the Pink Palace. Neither a black nor a white knight could ever resolve the constant parade of misery that files through Constitución and Retiro; and only the delightful tinge of boludoísmo keeps this Rocinante andante.

So let us move away from the sticky fondue of that is Baires and drift down to more sufferable climes; let us move to the seaside, to Mar del Plata, where the porteños go to breathe, a fine place, indeed, and here’s a fact not many people know: it’s the final resting place of Spiderman.

On a coastal corner in Mardel’s extensive grid, in the centre of the city, at nightfall on a deserted street, opposite one of the city’s many abandoned mansions (too exquisite to knock down but too expensive now to maintain, unless taken over by some business or greasy-palmed union), all is still, now would be the time for some thought if you were so inclined, but as things stand you merely light a cigarette and try to rectify your posture. The air is cool, cooler than a bed of iceberg lettuce garnished with Eskimo salad cream. And we wait.

I

Sing, Muse, sing, though of late I must say your singing has left a lot to be desired; as much, indeed, as if a diabetic amputee, having wished upon a shooting star, were to be presented with a tricycle and a stick of candy floss. Your voice once inspired entire generations and in time even came to define them. Far from the exilarating, hill-top libations of pre-Yore, these days, and only on a good one, your vocal chords seem limited to pyrrhically championing the anti-beauties of the gutter, and in a detached monotone, too, too forensic, and with so much cap-doffing the monocled men in Monaco are convinced you suffer from OCD ………..; your sylvestrian retreats and ocean-riding feckers you exchanged for a proliferation of scantily-sketched voices masquerading as characters, for technological gimmicks dressed up as actuality, for collar-grabbing melodrama disguised as punk writing. Muse, you miss the gym, you need time on a marplatense beach with Apollo Creed; too long, too slow has the honey dripped for you, O Muse; when was the last time you knocked off someone’s hat, and meant it? You disgust us, Muse, you’re as useless as a Frenchman, as debonair as a Devon heir with little devotion and fewer hair.

Sing, Muse, sing of things you know to be true – but no feelings, please. We’ve had quite enough of those. Now mere sediment on the ocean floor of emotion, hardened by Time’s basilisk stare, then drilled, extracted and pumped like so much gloop to hasten the sale of bracelets and smileys and bolster support for our boys abroad. No, tell of things you know, things of substance, not of faces, feelings, failure or folly, of things that couldn’t even hold a candle to your cunning, pigeon-killing eternal flame there behind the Custom’s House.

  • Like, er, vegetables?

  • Está bien…

  • Very well, but beforehand I warn you my singing voice was purloined some time ago by that pesky Robert Fitzgerald, my sap dried up by endless petitions from prissy pretenders, phony, perfidious, praetorian reprobates who felt their voice was worthy of eternity but invoked me rather than doing the work, leaving me with this priestly murmur.

The Almighty has promised to resolve the matter, fortunately. A new wing of Hell is to opened under the Heaven-Hell Bipartisan Pact, signed in Croke Park a year or so ago. ‘Tis destined for all those presumptuous enough to commit their throat tickling spiels to anything other than bare rock faces. The Muse is not a credit that can be drawn on infinitely, like some Paddy postal clerk who tries his hand at being a property mogul in Pakistan. No, indeed, inspiration’s running thinner on the ground than a homsick Paddy’s drool when faced with an ad for Country Spring. Hence the deluded enthronement of derivative postmodernism. Hell, for this project we’ve even had to rob some old ideas from Dante, from our prime: there will be special shoe-shaped quarters, for example, for those who think a mere quill is enough to stay Time’s Black Boot. Shakespeare is in a holding pen repeatedly force fed his tawdry sonnets, while a whole range of strategic fires and viruses have been prepared for those word-churners still in the game. The Almighty has determined that bare rock faces, exposed to the elements, are the only fair and just way to record one’s thoughts.

  • Están medio jodidos, che.

  • We beg to differ, you asinine, assistance-seeking asswipe. If art does not strive to change society and novelty doesn’t bring happiness, why should anyone be permitted to achieve mortality through their work? Tis most selfish, tis most blind, tis to impoverish the imagination of those who come after, tis to wear out this poor old Muse. Have I not rights too? If you summon me, must I not speak? And I would rather not speak banalities.

The Almighty being a stickler for freedom, however, refuses to to deny you humans the ability to write or create in any way. In his infinite wisdom he has but declared that henceforth bare rock faces will be the only holy way to record said creations. Thus time will have its say in their diffusion, their duration, thus that great stumbling block to creation, originality, will be removed, or at least refreshed occasionally as the rain literally washes the slates clean.

Those who commit their work to any other medium will go to hell.”

Tintin, Argentina and the Land of Black Gold

Fans will be allowed to bring mobile phones, cameras and 500cl bottles of water. Yet if that water bottle is one centilitre over, not a chance, and God help you if it’s made of glass. Lighters will be banned as will belts! Are all the extra police being posted for suicide watch? They may have to be: the traditional hotdog, hamburger and empanada vendors have been banned from the stadium for the game.

“In Cutral Có, Neuquén the city of black gold, petrol, the Selección have arrived for their match against Haiti. A city of just 35,000 people, tickets have been retailing at $200 for the chance to see Maradona’s ballet. Alianza’s ground will be full, they’ve added extra seats. And the police have said that no-one carrying a thermos and maté will be allowed entry.”

So begins Olé‘s article, entitled Blue and White Gold, on the friendly between the Selección local and Haiti, a match organised to raise money for the poor Caribbean nation devastated further by an earthquake in January. This apparent contradiction of a national team consisting solely of locally-based players has been one of the projects most forcefully insisted upon by Diego. It hearkens back to an earlier age, a purer one, they would no doubt say, when Argentina could field a brilliant team featuring the idols of the teams they followed with such distinctive passion and pageantry each week. All but two of the 22 members of the 1978 World Cup winning squad was made up of players who plied their trade in the grandes equipos of Buenos Aires, such as Racing, River, Independiente and Huracán. Today, however, the situation is much changed for obvious reasons.

In pegamequemgusta’s opinion, only a sizeable chip on one’s shoulder and blind nationalism could make anyone believe that the current standard in Argieball bears any relation to that era of Argieball. Nevertheless, a couple of good performances in Primera have been known to suffice for a call-up to Diego’s squads over the last year and a half. And although those call-ups have been shown to be pretty cheap, with players discarded after barely a few minutes and others retained after shambolic performances (Dátolo made his début against Brazil, scored a screamer and never appeared again). Although Diego does seem to take these things seriously enough as auditions for the first team (Palermo, for one, has real chances of going to South Africa), it must be admitted that at this stage they are only played for cash. At least this time, the cash will go to a worthy cause.

The Haiti squad, undiminished despite the January's terrible earthquake

At least this is what the organisers are claiming as they gouge the Patagonians for seven times more than it would cost them to go see the players play in a normal league match. Bizarrely, these fans could still be paying for the novelty in six months time as a payment plan has been designed for those with limited cash flow (about 90% of the population in pegamequemegusta’s experience).

Police man the streets in expectation of a violent outburst by the irrepressible Captain Haddock

Another unusual aspect of the game is the hefty police presence. For a game, a friendly match, which the Haitian coach, Colombian Jairo Ríos, has described as “a relaxation exercise, like taking a pill”, it seems excessive to bring 380 police officers. One hundred and thirty of them will be brought in specially from Neuquén Capital. For crowd trouble? Well, they’ve clamped down on what can be brought. Fans will be allowed to bring mobile phones, cameras and 500cl bottles of water. Yet if that water bottle is one centilitre over, not a chance, and God help you if it’s made of glass. Lighters will be banned as will belts! Are all the extra police being posted for suicide watch? They may have to be: the traditional hotdog, hamburger and empanada vendors have been banned from the stadium for the game.

Alianza's Colossos, which holds 16,500 people, where la Selección local will take on Haiti on Wednesday

Pegamequemegusta was surprised upon learning that the match was being played in Patagonia. Then, in a condescending bout of big cityitis, decided it was nice for these mountain people, Sly’s peons and others crushed under the heel of the United Colours of Benetton, to be able to see real legends like Ortega and Palermo in their country’s colours in their home town. Sure it costs way more than usual, but Buenos Aires is a long, long way from Cutral Có. Plus the adventure fits in with the federalist vision propagated in the venues chosen for the Copa América 2011.

On further thought, though, pegamequemegusta wonders what powers are behind this apparently benevolent gesture. Who pulled the strings to have this game played here, of all places? Could it be a similar occasion to the utterly forgettable friendly with Belarus in 2008? Why are there so many police? If the match is to raise money for the Haitians, why is it being played in such a small venue? Is this not a vanity project for some powerful men down in oil-rich Patagonia? Dear, loyal, oh so handsome readers, this is a case for Tintin: Argentina and the Land of Black Gold.

Riquelme & the Savage Detectives Part II – Dr Colossos puts the squeeze on

“Come at the king, you best not miss.” – Omar

Two weeks ago pegamequemegusta shipped to peaceful gringo shores words on the topic of a particularly hate-filled week in Argieball. Chief in the colon-clogging digest was Riquelme’s disturbing tale about political machinations and violent intimidation of the players, principally his royal self, at Boca’s training ground. Pegamequemegusta went to some lengths to impute… ahem, wondered aloud in an treeless wood whether the whole affair had anything to do with Buenos Aires’ Head of Government, Maurico Macri, Dr Colossos to Román’s peace-loving citizenry. Even if this blog is incorrect, the events of the last two weeks seem to have strengthened our Sly Stallone-like grip on the kernel of this particular piece of popcorn.

Shortly after the press conference in which Riquelme explained his apparent snubbing of Palermo, after the latter had just become Boca’s all-time leading scorer, had nothing to do with any beef with his teammate (they’ve developed a workaround on that score). Rather, he revealed that turning his back on the others and celebrating his excellent assist alone was down to a refusal to acknowledge the Boca hooligans, La Doce, in the terrace where they had just scored:

“On Sunday I had an experience which was not in the least bit pleasant. There are things I can take and others I can’t. I think I made that very clear. [….] I think I told one of you [journalists] two or three weeks ago that there was someone behind all these goings-on. Now I’m telling you that there is definitely someone pulling the strings here, and whoever doesn’t recognise it is bloody blind or is pretending to be.”
Is Doctor Colossos responsible for Román's travails? Tune in next week to find out. Ojó.

In the days following this press conference on the 16th April, Riquelme was subpoenaed to give a statement to a grand jury to clarify his remarks and determine of any legal action was necessary. Román did not show up. They issued another summons; Román just went to training and didn’t offer any reason as to his absence, as he is wont to do. The powers that be were not amused by this behaviour so they issued another summons, saying that if he didn’t show up he may have to be brought in “by force under penalty of default”. Riquelme still refused to show up, but this time he signed a statement which his lawyer brought to the grand jury.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the fine gents down at the grand jury will feel that their authorita has been sufficiently respected and the case wound up as inconclusive for lack of corroborating evidence. However, if such is the case the real issue at the centre of all this, violent intimidation, corruption and general nastiness, will have been passed over yet again and another opportunity lost to actually make some inroads into changing the general culture of lies, violence and general bullshit. Riquelme’s own truculence and resignation will mean that what looks like a clear case of political bullying, dressed up, of course, as a fastidious, unrelenting pursuit of justice, will end up being forgotten and/or even used as yet another stick with which to beat the oft-vilified playmaker.

As I said, for someone to have this much grief everywhere he goes you have to wonder if he is not a bit of a weirdo (any blunter a point and this needle will be good for Sheffield, che). Yet this time it seems Riquelme is the injured party and hopefully some steps could be made to not only stand up to La Doce but also to take advantage at what appears to be a case of political interference in the work of the justice system in order to expose those shenanigans, too. In any case, Riquelme’s anthem is fast becoming a Paul Simon character:

It’s the same old story
Everywhere I go,
I get slandered,
Libeled,
I hear words I never heard
In the Bible
And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,
Satisfied.