31 July 2008

Literary Skiers

Nick Adams came up past George, big back and blond head still faintly snowy, then his skis started slipping at the edge and he swooped down, hissing in the crystalline powder snow and seeming to float up and drop down as he went up and down the billowing khuds. He held to his left and at the end, as he rushed toward the fence, keeping his knees locked tight together and turning his body like tightening a screw brought his skis sharply around to the right in a smother of snow and slowed into a loss of speed parallel to the hillside and the wire fence.

He looked up the hill. George was coming down in telemark position, kneeling; one leg forward and bent, the other trailing; his sticks hanging like some insect's thin legs, kicking up puffs of snow as they touched the surface and finally the whole kneeling, trailing figure coming around in a beautiful right curve, crouching, the legs shot forward and back, the body leaning out against the swing, the sticks accenting the curve like points of light, all in a wild cloud of snow.

"I was afraid to Christy," George said, "the snow was too deep. You made a beauty."

"I can't telemark with my leg," Nick said.

Nick held down the top strand of the wire fence with his ski and George slid over. Nick followed him down to the road. They thrust bent-kneed along the road into a pine forest. The road became polished ice, stained orange and the tobacco yellow from the teams hauling logs. The skiers kept to the stretch of snow along the side. The road dipped sharply to a stream and then ran straight up-hill. Through the woods they could see a long, low-eaved, weather-beaten building. Through the trees it was a faded yellow. Closer the window frames were painted green. The paint was peeling. Nick knocked his clamps loose with one of his ski sticks and kicked off the skis.

"We might as well carry them up here," he said.

He climbed the steep road with the skis on his shoulder, kicking his heel nails into the icy footing. He heard George breathing and kicking in his heels just behind him. They stacked the skis against the side of the inn and slapped the snow off each other's trousers, stamped their boots clean, and went in.

--Ernest Hemingway, from Cross-Country Snow, 1925

29 July 2008

Back From Bariloche

Bariloche: great views, plenty of sleep, good meals, a few nice trail runs through the trees, and even a little road trip. Not much snow. I was hopeful but have learned to lower expectations. Still, I would have been better off leaving the twenty kilos of ski gear at home.

Not only is the snowpack a tad thin but we also rolled into town smack in the middle of winter break. That means that not only were two spoiled gringos looking for snow but also a bazillion Brazilians and their once-a-year chance to play with something cold and refreshing (caipirinhas notwithstanding). But the missus and I haven't skied a full day together since the terremotito was born so we were willing to try to plow our way through the crowds in search of that hidden high-alpine shot that we could take laps on for the day. We tried. We still haven't skied a full day together.

The grass is never, ever greener on the other side of the fence. The bunny slope:

Mid-mountain madness and the ascent into the clouds:

It cleared out a bit at the top but the flat light and road hazards kept the action slow and cautious and trepid:

With only the top half of the resort open and, for some reason, only about half the available top chairs running it meant that all the ski schools, all the snowboarders, all the beginners--roughly equivilant, I figure, to the total population of Chile--jammed onto a select few runs. Wendy quit after the first run. I followed.

Back at the bottom we threw back a bottle of cheap white wine and some fried meat thingys and in vain I decided to try to hack out the rest of an afternoon. What started off as soft morning snow was blown into a thick sun-baked crust by afternoon. I took one and a half more runs and decided to call it quits for good. Then I spent the next hour and a half (just slightly longer than the actual time spent on snow) waiting for tram back down the mountain.

Probably a great place to ski when there is enough snow to ski and the Brazilians have retreated back to the beaches. We focused the rest of the trip on grilled meat, road trips, swimming, and reading which, in reality, are really the only ingredients necessary for a pleasant vacation.


The trip to the old hippie town of El Bolsón was especially nice and offered us an hour and a half of perfectly uncrowded (common) and perfectly pothole free (uncommon) highway driving through the Patagonian Andes. We toured the open handicrafts fair, inhaled secondhand pot smoke, were greeted by a frothing pero de calle, and wished we were twenty-one again so that we could pull a bender at the Green Fairy Absinthe Bar and internet cafe.

Then we sat down for probably our best meal of the trip at restaurant Jauja. Now, in the US, restaurants that double and triple themselves as ice cream shops and chocolate shops are typically the kind of restaurants that spell country with a 'k' and I'm always a bit suspicious. Jauja proved the exception. Rose hip (mosqueta) oils and jellies are common in Chile and Argentina but this is the first time we've had a sopa de mosqueta, or rose hip soup. And it was fantastic. As was my rabbit and Bodegas Weinert tempranillo and espresso and ice cream and chocolate. A cool collection of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling, too.

After a quick spin on the merry-go-round (two for one rides!) and a duck into the Dumbo store for supplies it was back on the road and back to staring at big lakes and big, rocky mountains.

The rest of the week pretty much followed the same pattern minus the road trip and with the addition of a giant plate of grilled meat from the famous parilla house El Boliche de Alberto. I like to live by the multi-functional creed that if you can't ski you might as well eat meat (picture to follow). That and the view from the balcony were the constant pleasures.

Visit the Radar Bros. website! Buy their music!

(If you can't see a small, blue square and triangle that resembles a play button, go here and follow directions. Installing this will allow you to read and listen to music at the same time--like a real live multitasker!)

18 July 2008

Bariloche Bound


Headed to Bariloche, Argentina with La Familia Hatcher. Hoping for snow rather than cold, freezing rain. If not, there is always grilled meat.

For viewing and reading pleasures:

A couple ex-pats Living In Patagonia.
San Carlos de Bariloche according to Wikipedia.
The "Official" website of Bariloche (with a freaking telemark skier on the front page!).
Loads of wintertime images from the mountains.
Cerro Catedral resort website.
Year-round tourist information.

Chau for now.

14 July 2008

Happy Birthday Woody!

I am certainly not a Woody Guthrie scholar nor do I intend to summarize his well-documented life. Outside of simply listening to his music my only other real experience with him was during my brief stint as a volunteer in the Smithsonian Folkways Records archives. On my first day, the archivist and all-around super-cool Jeff Place (himself the next best thing to a national archive of musical knowledge) took me into the vaults and pulled out some hand-written lyric sheets signed by Mr. Guthrie himself. I was smitten.

At this point, though, it's probably best just to celebrate his life and his music. He sang about it all. From children's songs to cowboy songs; traditional songs and songs he penned himself. He sang about the plights of the working class and the struggles of immigrants. He sang protest music of the labor unions and he sang pro-war songs in support of World War Two. And he was probably one of the few Americans whose career wasn't destroyed by his association with the Communist Party.

A variation of the traditional tune known also as "Blowin' Down This Road," "Ain't Gonna Be Treated This Way," "Lonesome Road Blues," and "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad."

A couple classic and traditional cowboy songs. Though Woody never worked as a professional cowboy, his birthplace of Okemah, Oklahoma, years spent in the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa, and many years traveling throughout the Western states brought him in direct contact with those who knew the music best.

Woody helped perpetuate the American Robin Hood, folk hero status of the bank robber and fellow Oklahoman, Charles Arthur Floyd.

A Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston original from 1944.

A couple cover versions. The first is a protest song about the 1948 deaths of twenty-eight illegal immigrants from Mexico. As they were being deported back to Mexico the airplane they were flying in crashed near Los Gatos Canyon in California. Guthrie resented that the newspaper and radio coverage referred to the victims only as deportees and, thus, dehumanized them. In 1969, the Byrds released their version on the album Ballad of Easy Rider.

Next is the great Maddox Brothers & Rose version of "Philadelphia Lawyer," recorded sometime in the late 1940s; a song steeped in folklore on many levels. The title itself refers to a Colonial American lawyer and his victory in defense of the free press. The term has since become part of the never-ending cycle of lawyer jokes that refers to a clever attorneys who might sometimes find themselves a bit overextend or out of their boundaries. This is certainly the case here.

And what Woody Guthrie celebration would be complete without a little dedication by Woody's most celebrated contemporary? From his 1962 self-titled first album.

And, from The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 here is a seven-minute spoken word tribute to both Woody Guthrie as well as a "valediction, a formal farewell to Bob Dylan's past" (from the liner notes).

Happy Birthday!

Support Woody's legacy at the Woody Guthrie Foundation and buy some of his music at Smithsonian Folkways. The woodcut photo was "borrowed" from the Acorn Studio & Gallery. Thanks!

(If you can't see a small, blue square and triangle that resembles a play button, go here and follow directions. Installing this will allow you to read and listen to music at the same time--like a real live multitasker!)

10 July 2008

Go Die Big City

Tinker Mason hated cities. You’d just name any city and Tinker’d hate it for ya. Now, Tinker not only hated cities, but if he got around somebody that even about liked a city, well, Tinker’d throw a rock at ‘em. And sometimes he’d hit ‘em.

Well, anyway, we all knew that something was wrong in Tinker’s head and we all figured that we ought to do something for him before he hurt somebody and we had to hang him. So, we took up this collection and since there wasn’t no psychiatrist in our part of the world we sent him to a fella named Barton Freud. Now, like I told you, Barton Freud wasn’t no psychiatrist. But he was a chiropractor that did a lot of heavy thinking. Well, sir, Barton worked on Tinker’s head for a couple years and Tinker stopped all that city hating. He was a different man. Fact is, he was so different, when he come home one night his wife shot him for a trespasser. It was a beautiful funeral. And you’d never know by the look on Tinker’s face that he’d ever been a city hater.

Go die big city, go die big town.
You gave me nothing, and that’s what I found.
I shine shoes for pennies, and I hunt easy pain,
‘Cause I know tomorrow it’s gonna rain,
My blood.

Go die big city, go die big town.
Your pool halls are crooked, your dice are all round.
Pig rags in soup lines and I roll drunks for change,
‘Cause I know tomorrow it’s gonna rain,
My blood.

None of these photos are mine but I would like to thank this, this, this, this, and this website for their unknowing contribution to my tribute. In particular, Chileno not only provided the second beautiful photo but is a cool living-in-Chile read as well.

Also, buy, buy, buy albums by the late great Lee Hazlewood. He'll help you breathe easy.

(If you can't see a small, blue square and triangle that resembles a play button, go here and follow directions. Installing this will allow you to read and listen to music at the same time--like a real live multitasker!)

02 July 2008


Hank has a brother. His name is Felipe. I've never seen Felipe though I know a lot about him. He's a bit of a travieso, or a little devil. In fact, he's a trickster. It seems this bad behavior teaches Hank how not to act.

Felipe often does things that Hank shouldn't, like hit people or throw fits. He doesn't like to share. Once, he told Hank to shut up. He can be pretty mean. Because of this he spends a lot of time in time-out. I don't know who puts him in time-out and I never know when he's let out.

Felipe is nice, too, and can say some funny things. He makes Hank laugh and we hear of Felipe's silliness through Hank. Everything we know of Felipe is through secondhand information. We trust Hank, though, and think he's telling us the truth.

Felipe sleeps on Hank's bedroom floor, right next to his bed. I don't know why he doesn't sleep with Hank. He has a second home, too. According to Hank it's a "creepy Haunted House." I don't know where the house is or if anyone else lives there. My guess is no, Felipe probably takes care of himself.

We don't exactly know how old his brother is, either. I asked Hank if Felipe was older or younger. He said younger. Then I asked how old he is and Hank showed me five fingers. Hank is four fingers old. No matter.

Not sure how long Felipe will be around. He's kind of a mysterious drifter. A loner. He's nice to have around. Hank confides in him and is able to work out some of his own mischievousness through his brother. He's certainly welcome. We'll leave it up to Hank to determine his duration. Hank knows best.

(If you can't see a small, blue square and triangle that resembles a play button, go here and follow directions. Installing this will allow you to read and listen to music at the same time--like a real live multitasker!)