Thursday, February 10, 2005

Uruguay and the L Word

I'm in Miami, business dinner lasted until 11 last night, didn't get to see my friend or sleep very well. I have two meetings here this morning, an afternoon presentation in Houston, and dinner in LA. Today, pre-recorded, comes Part 2 of my very liberal translation of Andres' impressions and thoughts following his recent visit to Uruguay. "When Argentine diva Sandra Mihanovich (on the right) and rock firecracker Celeste Carballo (to her left) declared their love in song, they chose for lyrics a poem by one of my favorite authors, Uruguay's Mario Benedetti. It runs like this... "

"If I love you it's because / you're my soul mate, accomplice, and everything / and in the street walking elbow to elbow / we're much more than just two..."

Well, it does sound more poetic in rhyming Spanish. "This song recalls my own love story with someone who had come to Buenos Aries - he adored the song and we sang it in the streets... and so, 'elbow to elbow,' I was soon swept away to New York. But, back to Uruguay. Benedetti is a keen observer of character and social mores in this sleepy little Republic, and is best known for his brilliant short stories, which, among other things, look unflinchingly at Uruguay's 'Dirty War' in the 1970s and its many 'disappeared' ones.

But for many, Benedetti will always be the author of "La Tregua (The Truce)", a memorable short novel from 1959 about a May-September romance, as chronicled by the September party, a widower with three children who has eschewed relationships for a long time. The widower's favorite son turns out to be gay, which hurts him deeply, and remains unresolved, which is observed fairly and open-mindedly by Benedetti. In 1970 La Tregua was made into an unforgetable classic of a movie (nominated for a best foreign film Oscar) by Argentine director Sergio Renan, who is also gay, and its cast is practically a 'Who's Who' of a generation of Argentine acting talent.

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