Monday, January 16, 2012

Chile Journal II: Santiago

Photo by Hallie Cohen
It’s a man’s world at the Café Haiti where slinkily dressed women serve cappuccinos and espressos to a male only crowd. It’s also a man’s world to an army of stray dogs which wander the streets (an estimated 1,000,000—it’s a buyer’s market when it comes to dogs who are almost unctuous in their search for attention). It’s also a 60’s world in this city where there are as many couples making out in public as there are stray dogs--young couples who are not comfortable at home in this still conservative society on the verge of change. The Clinic is the satiric magazine which is Chile’s version of Le Canard enchaine and in the café named after the journal, Let’s Spend the Night Together plays on the sound system, while on the walls Chile’s political elite are pilloried and half naked women appear on the menu. John F. Kennedy is quoted on a street billboard, “Esos Que Hacen La Revulucion Pacifica Impossible, Haran La RevolucionViolenta Inevitable,” those who find pacifist revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable. This is a city where Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton still command huge fees to play for sell out crowds. The neighborhood called Lasstaria is reminiscent of Paris with its bookstalls, avant-garde and movie art house theaters while in the background the Andes hang like a mirage.  The fact that everyone smokes and that lomo de lo pobre, fried eggs on top of meat nestled in a bed of French fries, is still a popular dish are both evidence that awareness of cardi-pulmonary matters is inversely proportional to rising political consciousness in a society recently riven by student demonstrations. At the GAM, the art museum named for the famed Chilean poetess Gabriela Mistral, a lesbian couple pay homage to Marina Abramovic, locked behind glass in motionless embrace in the middle of an installation of haystacks. 

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