Argentine folk music at La Casona del Molino

The singer gestures with his hands, telling some story that requires giving directions within his anecdote. His eyes have a slight haze over them–what some would call ojos tristes, which doesn’t necessarily mean sad eyes, but rather eyes of a drunk person.

He’s been sipping multiple glasses of wine throughout his performance. His guitarist, meanwhile, has been drinking water the whole time. Regardless of the beverages, they play for several hours. The crowded room sings back at them Argentine folk songs word for word. Both the guitarist and singer belt their songs in warm tonal voices.

Eventually, an older man joins them up front for several songs. He immediately receives recognition from the crowd. It’s La Casona del Molino, where local musicians band together, bringing their instruments for impromptu folk-jam sing-along sessions throughout the night, lasting early into the morning.


Live from Thelonious Jazz Club, Part II

Here is the second video from my evening at Thelonious Jazz Club. To see the background info on this video, please read about and watch the first video here.

The musicians are:
Julio Laks, piano
Agustin Moya, saxophone
Milton Russel, bass
Cristóbal Massis, drums

Shot with Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon D3100. Audio recorded with Marantz PMD620. Recorded on May 5, 2012. Edited in Final Cut Pro 7 on May 6, 2012. Produced by Nathan Frandino

Parque San Martín in Mendoza, Argentina

Mi Visita al Parque San Martín en Mendoza

In 1812, Gen. José de San Martín arrived in Buenos Aires, where he began one of the biggest liberation campaigns against the conquistadors from Spain. His campaign eventually took him to present-day Mendoza, where he started the Army of the Andes. From there, he crossed the Andes and helped liberate Chile alongside Gen. Bernardo O’Higgins. San Martín was elected as supreme director of Chile, but he declined the nomination and O’Higgins took the spot.

One of Mendoza’s pristine parks is Parque San Martín. On top of the Cerro de la Gloria, a monument sits in honor of San Martín, overlooking the fertile city and capital of Argentina’s wine country. This vast park is filled with gravel bike paths, tree-lined roads, beautiful green landscapes and more. One could easily spend the entire day just getting lost in its vast acreage or sitting in its rose garden or wandering near its many fountains.

Anyway, I don’t really spend much time reading about these parks. I just go to enjoy them without necessarily trying to learn about all the history and what not (although the history is cool. Just saying). Instead, I shot and produced this short video! Enjoy!

Paso Los Libertadores snow in the Andes

Paso Los Libertadores

Paso Los Libertadores snow in the Andes

Paso Los Libertadores snow in the Andes (Photo by Nathan Frandino)

I finally made my way across the Andes Mountains into Argentina this past week and it was incredible. The views change from desertlike brush and vegetation to snow-capped peaks to red and orange clay rocks scattered along cliffs. The trip was absolutely beautiful. Just serenity.

Solo vives una vez

My meal at La Florencia in Mendoza was one of the greatest meals I have had in most recent memory.

The night began when I asked Connie at Mendoza Backpackers Hostel where I could go to get something good, but cheap and preferably carne y Malbec. She sent me to La Florencia.

As I walked down Sarmiento, I came to a hard stop when I noticed the slabs of meat being thrown onto the parrilla in the window in front of the sidewalk. I salivated immediately. Oh my god, I thought to myself. It was heaven. Bife de chorizo, morcilla, asado de tira and more. I could not have been more happier.

When I asked a man who turned out to be the grillmaster to explain all the meats to me, he passed me along to who would be my server, Leo. Leo and I chatted for a good 15-20 minutes before I realized that this was the restaurant I was searching for.

After realizing this was La Florencia, I was seated outside. I was the only one in the outdoor section, but that didn’t matter to me. After much deliberation, I chose a Santa Julia Reserva. The bottle of Malbec was a special offer so I decided to try it out and it was not bad at all. It was one of my reasons for going there after all.

I started with the capresse, an empanada of mozzarella, tomato and basil. I also tried Mendoza’s famous Pastelitos Mendocinos, an empanada made with egg yolk and meat. Both melted in my mouth as I bit into them.

From the moment I took a bite of the bife de chorizo (sirloin strip steak), I began repeatedly saying out loud to myself, “Oh my god.” The slab of meat was cooked just to the right temperature. I had carefully explained to Leonardo, my server, that in the U.S. we have five levels of temperatures whereas in Argentina they have three. I was a bit worried at first because I certainly don’t like my steak bloody as hell, but I don’t like it burnt to a crisp either (and medium is often too done).

The papas fritas provencales were excellent. French fries with parsley and garlic. Just too good. To me, potatoes (in this case in the form of french fries) are the perfect match for steak. Not only fries, but also Malbec.

Hands down, this was one of the best meals I have had in a while. I sat by myself and ate in excess while saying to myself ‘solo vives una vez’ (you only live once). Indeed you do. Hence my desire to eat good steak and drink fine wine–even alone.

Bife de chorizo (Photo by Nathan Frandino)

Bife de chorizo (Photo by Nathan Frandino)

Live from Thelonious Jazz Club

Back in March I went to Thelonious Jazz Club in Bellavista with my roommate, Mateo. Mateo is a musician and is back in Germany preparing for an entrance exam to a keyboard technician program (I think). He and I finally had the opportunity to hit up Thelonious and the place was awesome. Excellent music. Great atmosphere. Not too cold, not too warm. Not overpriced. There was just a 2,000 CLP ($4 USD) cover charge plus a drink. That night I met Jenn Jade Ledesna, a jazz singer from the Bronx who was scouting musicians for a series of shows to be played here in Santiago during the month of April. One of the musicians performing that night was Chilean saxophonist Agustin Moya.

I got to see Jenn play with Agustin at the Municipal Theater of Las Condes, and I decided to reach out to Agustin about a potential interview. Fast forward to Saturday, May 5. I went to Thelonious to record some video and audio from a performance.

I showed up with plenty of time in advance, which worked perfectly. I got a seat up front with time and space to set up. I had never really recorded live music before. So this was definitely a lesson in improvisation, one-man banding and live sound.

I used a friend’s Nikon D3100 to shoot video. It was fairly easy to use. I set it up on a tripod and I definitely did not frame the shot correctly. You’ll see in the video. I didn’t fix it until the end of this one particular song. I also did not know how to change the length of time that you can leave it on record (or if that is possible to begin with). The camera was only set to 10 minutes. Luckily, I made it back to my spot (I was shooting with a second camera from the floor) before the camera shut off. You’ll see though. It’s the exact same shot, which is a major no-no.

I also did not record much of the piano player, which I wish I would have done. I didn’t exactly come in with a major plan or shot list (another no-no). I came in only with the idea of getting footage of the saxophonist (assuming and hoping there will be an interview).

The audio was all synced manually. I was able to use the Nikon audio and Marantz 620PMD audio for the main sync. I used the Canon for the shorter close-up shots, which was the trickier and more time-consuming audio to sync. I did buy Plural Eyes finally, but it wasn’t available to me during the making of this particular video. Hah! I did record the next song in the set and I took more shots, if I remember correctly, so I’ll get to use Plural Eyes for the next video and hopefully it’ll come out a little better.

One of the main reasons for doing this was simply to get back into video. I haven’t touched Final Cut since being in Chile. Unfortunately, due to the job, I haven’t needed to or had the opportunity to do so. This was merely a fun exercise in trying to get back into a habit of shooting and editing. I certainly had fun and I know where I made my mistakes and where I can improve.

Shot with Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon D3100. Audio recorded with Marantz PMD620. Recorded on May 5, 2012. Edited in Final Cut Pro 7 on May 6, 2012. Produced by Nathan Frandino

They don’t say coño in Chile, nor do the cars signal

My first international bike-car experience was bound to happen sooner or later.

When I arrived to Chile in May 2011, one of the first things I did was buy a bike–a slick silver step-through frame bought at Santiago’s open air (black) market Persa Bio Bio for $50 Luka (roughly $100 U.S.). I tore up the roads all summer and since I’ve been back, I got myself a beautiful blue street bike and I’ve since returned to tearing up the roads around the city.

For the most part, I am a safe rider. I ride with lights, use hand signals, avoid biking up the wrong way on one-way streets, and try to avoid biking on sidewalks when possible.

However, Wednesday morning gave me a rude awakening. Not that I wasn’t already awake, of course. I bike to and from work everyday–from Manuel Montt down Providencia, crossing Poniente del Arz, then down Bellavista until I get to my office at Loreto.

The intersection of Bellavista and Loreto typically backs up every morning as cars try to turn onto Loreto and cross into Bellas Artes neighborhood, but that’s on the left side of the street and I ride on the right side.

As I’m pedaling down, I notice the light ahead turn green so the cars will start moving, I assume. All of a sudden I notice this orange-reddish, four-door Honda-like compact car begin turning right–without a signal–and right into me as I fly past. The car gives me a quick bump, but I avoid crashing.

I turn and yell, “Coño. Mira,” forgetting that my Dominican slang does me no good here. Coño is the equivalent to damn and can also be a stronger curse word, depending on the context. Mira for watch or look out.

I fortunately got away with just a skinned abrasion–not even a full square inch and no signs of gushing blood. Had it been worse and had I known a better way to express my anger in Chilean Spanish, I may have tried to talk to the lady. For now, I’m a lucky survivor.