Tuesday, December 09, 2008
El culo del mundo
Guns and Roses have a new album out, and by all accounts it's a real turkey. There is one place where it's more or less guaranteed to go down an absolute storm.
Argentina has to be the unluckiest country in the world. It's so unlucky, I can only assume it's been cursed, not unreasonably perhaps, by the spirits of the many thousands of Indians who were massacred at its foundation. You know the way in The Shining, the hotel is built on an old Indian burial ground? That's Argentina. Since then, despite an abundance of natural resources and good-looking women, the corruption of its leaders (more pronounced amongst the political class of any nation, frankly absurd in a country governed by the people Spain didn't want) has kept it more or less in the third world.
I spent 8 months there in 2003 shortly after the financial collapse, taking advantage of the favourable exchange rate to live out various unpleasant, narcissistic fantasies at a fraction of the normal price. My elation at being able to live like a 19th Century Russian aristocrat for about £30 a week soon gave way to bitterness and depression as I lapsed into chronic alcoholism, without licensing laws, or even the normal laws of economics to hinder my fall. My bad.
Anyway, one of the strange things about Argentina was that in 2003 they were still listening to Guns 'n' Roses. Not just like they had November Rain on a mixtape, between Public Enemy and Crass, and had a good old laugh realising that it's sort of hysterically sentimental and therefore fun in a deeply mad way, I mean they were playing it in high street shops and restaurants. All the time. Which means that in 2002 they had been listening to the same three and half albums over and over again for the last 11 years, much like some kind of traumatised young adult, locked in a cellar at the age of 14 with just the tapes in the pockets of their sleeveless denim jacket to entertain them for the next decade.
I did ask my friends "hey, what's with the Axl Rose fixation?" and they'd tell me that oh, Guns 'n' Roses were the first band to play Argentina after the collapse of the brutal military dictatorship that had spent the eighties hoofing intellectuals out of aeroplanes, hence the band has a special meaning for Argentines, associations of freedom and euphoria, rather than just 1/4 mile long stages and spotty metal kids bellowing at a racist in a kilt.
Men in Argentina had mullets, not Shoreditch mullets, but fully-operational mullets. I went to a barbers in Argentina and was given a mullet. Take a moment to imagine my response.
So when people talk about the brave naivety, the unironic viscerality of ads produced by Argentine creatives I always think, well, if you'd spent the first twenty five years or so of your life living in a cave, culturally speaking, you might think that Genesis were pretty hip too.