Thursday, September 22, 2011

Random thoughts on my life here in Buenos Aires (Dr. Joel Horowitz)

Everything takes place much later here. I have two dinner invitations coming up and both start at nine in the evening. I went to a talk the other night, which started at seven in the evening, and then everyone, including me, went home to eat dinner. I have been eating dinner at between 8:30 and 9:00, which is relatively early. How people do it, I am not quite sure, as I got an e-mail this morning from one of my friends at whose house I am going to arrive at 9, dated 5:30 in the morning.
The number of people who have dogs is very large. A great side feature is the dog walkers. These are people who get hired to walk dogs. Sometimes they have about ten dogs of all different sizes and breeds and they seem to get along quite well. The other morning I passed two dog walkers who seemed to be going somewhere together and it was a real sight to see the twenty or so animals peacefully trotting down the sidewalk. The large number of dogs does mean that one does have to watch carefully where one walks, as people are not necessarily good about picking up after their pets.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greetings from the far South (Dr. Joel Horowitz)

Argentina is a changing country. When I was here in the mid-1970s, the military was not only repressive, killing some 30,000 people, but was decidedly socially conservative as well. Certainly one of its targets was people who were different. Argentine has fairly recently passed a law legalizing gay marriage. One day this week the newspapers had a story about a captain and a coronel who had gotten married (both male). The military spokesman said something about obeying the laws of the land and made it appear to be no big deal and it was not.
One way in which the country has not changed is that it is still a country of book stores. There are numerous small book stores around and this afternoon (Saturday)I went to a giant one which had been converted from a large movie theater with a ceiling mural and boxes etc. It is full of books and had a fair number of CDs. I, of course, spent too much money but money on books is rarely wasted. By the way the music that was being played was the Beatles which added a certain air of incongruity. I do remember the place from when it showed movies and it was magnificent but given the economics of movies it was probably doomed. Most of the old theaters have closed and been replaced by multiplexes in other parts of the city.
One place in which the poverty in the country can be seen is on the formerly elegant shopping street of Florida. It is now mostly a tourist trap and far from elegant, though there are expensive stores. It is a walking street (no cars permitted) where the inhabitants of Buenos Aires used to walk to be seen. Clearly that is no longer the case. The middle of the street is full of venders selling all sorts of trinkets from blankets laid out on the pavement. This is a clear sign of true poverty.
The large number of small stores, while very nice, is also a sign of lack of wealth. For example the large number of places selling fruits and vegetables in my neighborhood has to mean that the profit margin is thin. Yet there is a wonderful sense of pride involved. Today I was in what has become my store (the owner seems already to recognize me but perhaps it is my accent), and I asked for some pears, the son told me that they were not yet ripe and would the day after tomorrow be okay. It was.

History News Letter 14 Sept. 2011


YEAR 17, NO. 1 14 SEPTEMBER 2011


Billboard advertisement for St. Bonaventure’s College, ca 1949.

On behalf of the Department of History, I wish to welcome everyone back to campus for a new academic year. This electronic newsletter is distributed periodically through the semester. It goes to all History majors, students in my classes, various faculty, administrators, alumni, and other friends of the university.

Monday, September 12, 2011

History at the movies (Dr. Karen Robbins)

Last Friday, my husband and I wound up going, unplanned, to see the new movie "Contagion." It is fairly clinical, and shows the audience how science (and society) might respond to a new major epidemic, but there were interesting references back to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 as well as smallpox. It serves as a reminder that, no matter how technologically advanced we become, we remain at the mercy of things we cannot see. Still, our only way of fighting these things is through reason - and luck.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blogging from Argentina (Dr. Joel Horowitz)

I left Olean on Thursday September 1 and arrived the next morning in Buenos Aires after changing planes in Atlanta. All flights to Buenos Aires seem to go over night which is not fun unless you have the rare ability to be able to sleep soundly on airplanes. I lack that ability.
The apartment which I am renting is in a newly fashionable sector of the city which is absolutely bustling. I am living on what the Argentines say is the sixth floor but which we call the seventh (they along with most European countries do not count the ground floor). It is a highly modern apartment. I have internet connection and a microwave etc. Unlike most US cities the ground floors of many buildings have stores—ranging from food stores of many types to all sorts of different stores. One can eat unbelievably well in Argentina as great pasta, fruits, vegetables and meats are easily available. Within a couple of block radius of where I live, there are several small supermarkets (some of which are part of international chains) as well as many individual stores. Most interesting are the self-service stores, as they are called, which are owned by Chinese immigrants and sell everything except fruits and vegetables. Frequently these are sold in the front of the store by Bolivian immigrants and are a separate business. How exactly that works I am not sure.


The fall 2011 semester is underway. Maddalena Marinari is new to the history faculty this semester. Her specialization is Italian-American history and immigration. In addition to our regular course offerings she will be adding new courses in these areas. We're delighted to have her join our community.