Thursday, November 19, 2009

The "Special American"

The last few days have been rather slow (compared to the ridiculous pace we set upon arrival).

Yesterday Kaitlin and I ventured out to the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, but everyone just says, MALBA. Right now the MALBA is featuring an Andy Warhol collection entitled, "Mr. America" - which I find strange considering the sentiment out there that people from the USA should not refer to themselves as "Americans" due to the fact that there are many nations and two continents consisting of "Americans." Still, I have heard no plausible alternative - though when people ask where I am from, I just say, "The States" or "Estados Unidos."

Anyway, I much enjoyed the MALBA - in particular, I found Fabian Burgos to be quite accessible. Of course there were some other artists that stretched the boundaries a bit more - which I quite enjoyed {insert artists}. Of course, it being modern art, I felt there were also some rather repetitious pieces with little substance..but they did "look cool."

The evening consisted of what was supposed to be a "dub" show at this venue "La Cigale" on Ave. Cordoba. The first group "La Golden Acapulco" was pretty rad - bonafide dub. The next group (not even sure of their name) sounded more like a ska-punk band (and not a good one) rather than dub.

What I really wanted to take a moment to talk about is something that happened this a result of yesterday.

Yesterday was a big day for world football. The last five spots for the World Cup were being played for between France-Ireland, Portugal-Bosnia, Russia-Slovenia, Greece-Ukraine, and Uruguay-Costa Rica. Suffice it to say, much of yesterday was spent watching these matches with a crowd of fans from all over the world (Australia, Spain, Scotland, Morocco, England, Israel, etc...).
Over the course of the day, I had some opportunities to talk about football and ultimately the USA. The specifics of the conversations are not too important, but it is safe to say most were surprised that my knowledge of the modern game rivaled their own and that my political sentiments did not lie completely to the left or right.
This morning, I asked the Spainard and Israeli who have family in Uruguay for their advice about where to go and what to do once we get there. They gave me some pointers on Punta del Diablo and what to do in Montevideo and I shared with them what I knew of the cemetery in Recoleta and the markets of San Telmo. Eventually they left, never having exchanged names or much personal information, but as he was walking out the door the Israeli said, "Bye, special American."

It really struck me, for many reasons. Staying in the hostel, we have been surrounded by such incredible diversity. An Irish Scottsman with Italian heritage. A Jewish Spainard of Uruguayan decent. And so on..

I wonder why that guy chose to say "special" - because of my soccer knowledge, because I recognized they spoke Hebrew and could say good-bye in their language, was it something about me that is truly special compared to my fellow Americans (United Staters!) or was it something about him..
My experiences in football here have led me to believe that we(humans) are less and less and one thing in particular, aside from just that - human. Cultural constructions can be overcome..language, recreation, cuisine, they are easily maliable. The hardest thing to bend and change is our mind - but I feel it happening everyday - in myself and in those I meet.

I am less and less self-conscious about how I am being perceived and more and more excited to just be with people. If anything, I hope this is what my Israeli friend took from his experience with me. That he goes home and takes a second glance at someone he has a preconceived notion about. That he allows himself to be pleasantly surprised.

1 comment:

  1. And this Jack, is why everyone needs to get out of their "comfort zone" more. More is learned off the map, than from it. Travel well.