Atahualpa Yupanqui and “El Arriero”

Pre-Cordillera Sunburst. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Pre-Cordillera Sunburst. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Atahualpa Yupanqui (“ahtah-WALL-pah   you-Pan-key”) was arguably the most important figure in the history of Argentine folklore music. You might think of this genre as Argentine “country music” but is more than that, being a form of yearning poetry when at its finest. On oral tradition, it has its original roots in indigenous and afro-hispanic colonial times, thereafter being filtered through the trials and tragedies of the gaucho experience.

I’m not completely sure why, but it was this late-afternoon cloud and sunburst over the pre-Cordillera above Mendoza that made me think of him and his music…his simple but lyrical refrains so very much tied to the expansive and often harsh landscape of the Argentine desert and pampas.

Atahualpa was of an earlier generation (b.1908 – d.1992), so he might best be considered a sort of “founding father” of this música folclórica argentina–much like Bill Monroe is considered by many to be the patriarch for bluegrass in the U.S. of A.

To animate my cloud-landscape photograph above, here is one Atahualpa example, along with my attempted translation of the essence (not the literal meaning) of the lyrics, and a music video:

El arriero (The gaucho)

En las arenas bailan los remolinos, (In the dry sands the dust devils dance,)
El sol juega en el brillo del pedregal, (The hot sun plays in the shimmer of the rocky ground,)
Y prendido a la magia de los caminos, (And bewitched by the magic of the trails,)
El arriero va, el arriero va. (The gaucho rides, the gaucho rides.)

Es bandera de niebla su poncho al viento, (His poncho is a ghost banner in the wind,)
Lo saludan las flautas del pajonal, (The waving grasses of the prairie greet him,)
Y apurando a la tropa por esos cerros, (And hurrying his herd through the hills,)
El arriero va, el arriero va. (The gaucho rides, the gaucho rides.)

Las penas y las vaquitas, (His sorrows and the little cows,)
Se van por la misma senda, (They travel the same path,)
Las penas y las vaquitas, (His sorrows and the little cows,)
Se van por la misma senda, (They travel the same path,)
Las penas son de nosotros, (The sorrows are for him,)
Las vaquitas son ajenas, (The cows are for others,)
Las penas son de nosotros, (The sorrows are for him,)
Las vaquitas son ajenas… (The cows are for others…)

[NOTE: An “arriero” is often translated as a mule driver or drover, but I think “gaucho” works better in this context and it also hits the ears of the English speaker nicely, thus imbuing the song with the necessary Argentine flavor. This is just one of several liberties I have taken in the translation to try to communicate the spirit of the poem/song rather than a literal, but necessarily cumbersome, translation. Can you find my other major deviations from the purely literal?]

Also, what I have in bold print is a clear example of the author’s socialist tendencies and seems to be an obvious criticism of the political system of the time (1940s). Indeed, the words are still relevant today with extreme inequality in wealth distribution evident in many of the world’s countries, including our own.]

And, finally, the music video so you can hear Don Ata’s guitar and voice:

Ghost Women Appear Again

Three more for the portfolio, all from old, weathered and torn posters hanging on obscure walls…

 

“Disappearing USA Woman Haunted by Her Two Exs”:

Ghost Women, #29. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Ghost Women, #29. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

“Torn From A Good Father”:

Ghost Women, #30. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Ghost Women, #30. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

“The Scarlet Letters Of Our Times”:

Ghost Women, #31. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Ghost Women, #31. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

Talca Bottling Plant – Lines, Textures, Shapes, Forms

Talca, #3. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #3. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Today, Valentine’s Day, we were treated to a tour of the Talca “embotelladora”, or bottling plant, in Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina.

¡Gracias, Anna Clara!

Talca (Oeste Embotelladora, S.A.) takes great pride in producing a “national” product. That is, an Argentine company, with Argentine owners and employees, making soda from Argentine ingredients, all for an Argentine market. (Unlike the giant multi-nationals like Pepsi and Coke.) 

It is quite an operation–and what a wonderful place to discover black and white industrial/abstract compositions!

One of the too cool vehicles belonging to the owner, the “Panda truck”:

Talca, #1. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #1. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Soda pop has just gotta have gas:

Talca, #5. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #5. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Un “charco artístico“:

Talca, #8. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #8. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Stacks and stacks and stacks:

Talca, #9. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #9. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Bottles and bottles and bottles:

Talca, #12. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #12. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

I liked this particular abstract, formed by towers of plastic-wrapped packing material and the anti-hailstone fabric above:

Talca, #13. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #13. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

The Talca brand…in this region, only Coca Cola gives it much competition:

Talca, #14. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #14. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Another of my favorite images from this day. It definitely has that industrial look:

Talca, #15. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #15. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

For more images from the “Talca Tour”, please… CLICK HERE!

Crossing the Cordillera Once Again

“Aquí me pongo a cantar (Here I begin to sing)

Al compás de la vigüela; (To the rhythm of the guitar;)

Que el hombre que lo desvela (For a man who cannot sleep)

Una pena estraordinaria, (Because of an extraordinary sorrow,)

Como la ave solitaria (Like the solitary bird)

Con el cantar se consuela.” (Finds solace in his song.)

José Hernández, (El Gaucho Martín Fierro, 1872)

 

We are back in Mendoza, Argentina for a visit–and a daughter’s wedding!

¡He vuelto a mi “pago”!

 

Just out of the airport in Santiago, we take a southerly heading, with the Cordillera on our left, to gain altitude before crossing:

El Cordillera, #1. Santiago de Chile, 2017
El Cordillera, #1. Santiago de Chile, 2017

 

That obvious valley leads your eye north to a large glacier that hangs off of the south side of the 6,570-meter (21,560′) Volcán Tupungato. If you are tired of the 14er crowds in Colorado, this is the place you need to be–myriad 6,000-meter peaks, many of which you can basically walk up (maybe with ax and crampons, and after a long, long approach!) and with nary a single ascent each season. Tupungato, though, is more popular and probably gets climbed by maybe a half-dozen parties each year, and usually from the Chilean side.

In this photo, Chile is to the left and Argentina is to the right and we are looking north:

La Cordillera, #3. Chile-Argentina, 2017
La Cordillera, #3. Chile-Argentina, 2017

 

Here, we are headed north and are on final approach to Mendoza’s airport. This is the view out the left window toward the Cordillera de los Andes we just crossed, now covered by clouds. The taller buildings (seismic-proof, they say) are in the center of town and that highway in the foreground would eventually get you to Buenos Aires after some 13 hours of eastbound driving (about 650 miles).

I have often thought that Tucson, Arizona and Mendoza have a lot in common–similar population, similar climate and temperatures, and both located at the foot of arid mountains–although the mountains above Mendoza are WAY yuuuge in comparison to Tucson’s puny-ante Mt. Lemmon:

Mendoza Centro. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Mendoza Centro. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

For many more posts about, and photos of, Aconcagua, Mendoza, and the Cordillera, just type “Andes” or “Mendoza” into my site’s SEARCH box. Have fun!

In Search of the Very Best Lens

Madonna Altar in the Alley. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Madonna Altar in the Alley. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

How many of you have used results from Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) charts to pick a new lens?

Come on. Fess up. We ALL have, right?

The big question is: Does any of that really matter?

The answer: It depends…and it doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it might.

[For example…in the case of the above street image it is the content, rather than sharpness, that is key to its success (or lack thereof), so MTF charts are irreverently irrelevant. In fact, the photo is an iPhone shot–top quality lens there, eh!?]

For a really great, informative, and fun-to-peruse article on this very topic, I refer you enthusiastically to Things You Didn’t Want to Know About Zoom Lenses by the lens expert Roger Cicala of the fairly famous Lensrentals.com website.

Miles From Nowhere

Mile 13 on Navajo Land. Monument Valley, Utah, 2017
Mile 13 on Navajo Land. Monument Valley, Utah, 2017

 

“Miles from nowhere…I think I’ll take my time…

Miles from nowhere, not a soul in sight…

Oh yeah, but it’s alright…”  

Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam)

Back in the day, this classic tune (1970 release) was way overused as musical accompaniment to our hiking and climbing slide shows.

Overused or not, I still like it.

I would argue, though, that when you are in a place like the one above that you are not at all “miles from nowhere”. No, not at all. In fact, in these places, you are exactly in the middle of everything that is truly important in this world.

I would even add that if you ever happen to find yourself at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 42nd Street in New York City, then you truly are “miles from nowhere”.

 

Cisco, Utah (Reprise)

I have visited this unusual spot several times over the years. (See previous posts, HERE and HERE, for example.)

Unfortunately, dickheads with no moral compass (not unlike our fine President) have taken to vandalizing the place, spraying ever more graffiti around and hauling off pieces of the town for scrap (like the gas pumps at the old gas station, for example–gone).

If you visit, as it implores in one of the images below: “Take nothing but pictures. Be respectful for fuck’s sake.”

Some key points:

  1. Yes, the final scene of the cult film Vanishing Point was filmed here, as well as at least one scene in the classic film Thelma and Louise. I have been told Don’t Come Knocking also used Cisco as a set. So, bow down low here and pay homage to Kowalski et al.
  2. Yes, there ARE people living here.
  3. They are armed.
  4. They have dogs (and cats).

Just be friendly and respectful and you’ll be fine. Be a dick and you might get shot.

And be especially nice to the friendly tail-less cat and Cairo (KAY-row), the dog.

Perhaps, someday, parts of this town will be preserved and even restored for posterity. (Progress in this direction has started already as it looks like the old mail room HAS been fixed up and painted! Eileen’s doing?)

In the following photo essay I was working with mid-day winter light. This is usually not ideal, but the clouds were acceptable and, when intending to convert to black and white, this kind of light can still work. I also felt like the contrails added to the mood of the place–overflights miles away, high above, and ignorant of and oblivious to the trials and defibrillations of this obscure virtual ghost town.

[Added NOTE: I just found an excellent five-minute YouTube video (thanks, “speeta”!) that alternates back and forth between actual 1971 movie footage and those exact same locations in Cisco as they appeared in June of 2015. To view it, go to this link:  Vanishing Point Location Cisco, Utah.]

 

Here is the main altar to Kowalski, the tragic protagonist of the film, Vanishing Point. Is that him nailed to the wall by the door? Someone has added “The Directive” over the past year. Just what does that mean? This is what remains of Ethel’s Cafe and Shell Station. At about 3:30 in speeta’s video mentioned above, you can see what the cafe and Shell station looked like in the 1971 film. In one scene, two bulldozer’s are brought in to stop Kowalski in his Dodge Challenger and were parked on the road within a hundred yards of here (not the same place as the final, fiery, scene):

Cisco, #2. Somewhere in Utah, 2017
Cisco, #2. Somewhere in Utah, 2017

 

Another gas station with its once hopeful mural, now a bit more run down and missing the old gas pumps which used to be on the left as well as out in front to the right:

Cisco, #5. Somewhere in Utah, 2017
Cisco, #5. Somewhere in Utah, 2017

 

Please, follow the very explicit instructions:

Cisco, #7. Somewhere in Utah, 2017
Cisco, #7. Somewhere in Utah, 2017

 

For 15 or so more images of Cisco… Click HERE!