The Airplane Test


25 August - 7 September 2015


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Two straight wins against Crucero and Argentinos, deserved but demanding. On Wednesday CASLA has a Copa Argentina away match against the always complicated Atlético Rafaela. And things are increasingly getting bad for the Clásico on September 6 at the Bombonera. They have called Mas for the FIFA matches, and rumor has it that Tata could also take Buffarini for the National Team if Zabaleta doesn't recover for the friendly matches on the 4th and 8th of that month. Never mind. We are going to beat our son in his pitch with whoever we have ready to play.

What are your thoughts on the subject of Tinelli maneuvering to become head of AFA? If somebody had suggested this two or three years ago, I don't think it would have been taken seriously by anybody. Now it's almost a fact that the San Lorenzo vice president and tremendously popular TV presenter is going to take the reins of Argentine soccer. It's an impressive leap. I read in an interview that he said he has always been a friend and admirer of the deceased boss of the national game and that he had spent nice moments at the Grondona´s family home. That surprised me. From my point of view, Humberto Grondona was a terrible mafioso who did enough damage during his long reign, including to San Lorenzo, with his refereeing tricks and his "fixed" championships. On the other hand, it could be that he's been a model host during his private dinners. What do I know. I don't know him personally and I'm sorry if I offended his family with what I said. In any case, I wish Marcelo a lot of luck. He'd better win, because I'm sure that he will be less corrupt than those that have controlled AFA up 'til now and maybe he'll be able to get results with the national team as good as those he's helped bring about in Boedo along with our president, Matías Lammens.


Hello Viggo,

As in the beautiful poem by Wallace Stevens, it's Sunday morning. I've just finished having breakfast in the park with Rita, something that I love. It's as if there was a time for my family and a time where I'm always alone with Rita, in a parallel life. I witnessed this scene: a couple with a little boy were eating on the sidewalk; they were having breakfast. At one point the mother - they were young - got up and said to the father "I'm going to the square with the child." She grabbed him, took a bag with toys and crossed over to the square. The father said to the child: "Behave yourself, daddy will be there in a while." And he got ready to read the newspapers in peace and have his coffee. A perfect moment. But it didn't last. After a while, who knows why - I wasn't listening - the woman came back with the child, she said something to him and the three of them left for the square. I experienced this many times with my family at the beginning of parenthood. You think you have a moment of suspension, to read and meditate, but right away, in an untimely manner, your wife returns with the child crying in her arms and puts an end to everything. Now Guada is telling me to stop writing and go out quickly to buy ravioli because a friend of hers is coming to lunch. She tells me that the pasta place closes in an hour. Since I'm leaving in two hours to see CASLA against Banfield, I'm doing what she tells me. I don't want anything to get between me and the match where we have to reconfirm our top position. Boca won last night in the Bosque. We have to overcome not only Boca, our misfortunes - the injured Pipi - but also Tévez-mania. Tévez speaks as if he were Bertrand Russell; he's a marvel. And he plays well. I like him. We have to win today. I'll write to you after the match. I'm leaving to go buy ravioli.

Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens

Good morning, Cuervo.

The victory against Crema was the fruit of good teamwork and the perseverance of a champion. Careful, because the last match of the First League tournament will be against that team at home. It could be a decisive encounter for the championship. I'm very happy with the victory; I want San Lorenzo to win the Copa Argentina. Tough, the match against Taladro was very tough. Luckily Torrico saved us from certain defeat once more. And he did it with his heart broken after the loss of a child. We are with you, Cóndor. Thanks for your courage and your humility.

Yesterday's score was a shame, since it would have been great to go to the Bombonera [tr. note: Boca's stadium] next weekend with the same number of points as Boca. But we are two points from the top. I have confidence in the team and believe that we are going to take back the top position.

I loved the morning in the park that you painted, the situation of your family and that of the family that you were watching. That thing of wanting something - a few moments of quiet in which to think, or whatever - and not always getting it, or having to postpone it a little - is something more or less healthy, it seems to me. The incomplete or frustrated desire helps us dream. You mentioned Bertrand Russell. He spoke about that. I think he wrote that not having some of the things we desire is an indispensable condition for happiness.


There's an engineering for writing poems that's called something like the airplane test, which is, when a plane is painted, it has to be done with pinpoint accuracy. Otherwise, once in the air, it could go down. The same thing happens when a poem is written. You have to be very light and malleable. As for Tinelli, it seems to me that it's a double positive move for CASLA, first of all because if he goes to AFA, he leaves the club and that's very good since now Matías Lammens has the real power. Before the Cuervos knew him he was only a virtual power, but now we know what kind of leader he is and we know that beyond being Tinelli´s lifesaver, Lammens is a real Olympic crawl swimmer. It's a great joy to wake up every morning knowing he is our president. Taladro [tr. note: "The Drill," Club Atlético Banfield] was that; they drilled us because we always lacked the "10" who places the unexpected ball, the deep pass, the change of tempo. The double nine is not good: you have two for a function that must be met by one. Although he hasn't been playing well at the Bombonera, Barrientos has to play from the beginning.

The President
The President

Yes, Pipi is really missed! I hope he goes back to playing before the end of the season. But CASLA has a team to become champions, even without our great marshal.

I'm on a plane again, about thirty-five thousand feet above a desert. I look out of the window next to the passenger who accompanies me in this row. I look at the profile of this woman of about forty-five, a redhead with many freckles, with her gaze lost on the horizon beyond the wing of the plane. On my right, I have a brunette girl of about six, reading a little book about princesses with many drawings of a very good-looking blonde who wears a silver crown with rubies. The princess has very large breasts. They attract my attention in such a book because they seem disproportionate to me, each one bigger than the princess´ head, almost bursting her skin-tight light blue dress. Maybe this is not that important, but I wonder whether the little girl thinks that when she's an adult she'll need to have enormous boobs in order to be happy. The princess has a white horse with a very long tail and mane. The eyes of the princess are of a clear blue, like an idyllic tropical sea on a postcard. I look at my hands, typing these words, and have a sip of wine from my plastic cup. You look out the window of an airplane and see the rounded horizon, the passing clouds, the sun moving, and then look at the people who are pondering and measuring the state of their lives or maybe, unconsciously, the distance between the present and their deaths. If you enter the bathroom in an airplane and look in the mirror, you can feel quite isolated, accompanied only by the muffled sound of the engines, but strangely focused on the reality of your body and its deterioration. When I look at this little girl with her book about princesses, I recall flights in my childhood. I think that somehow we are all educated during our upbringing, in whatever way, by what is dealt to us, and I think that we are hardly aware [of it] and we accommodate ourselves to life, and death is already upon us. My old man is going downhill mentally, and that's why I am flying again, to be with him, to help him deal with his collapse.

I imagine that pilots must go through some disturbing moments in their cabins. At least some of them. Seeing the world from above all the time, seeing night and day go by the landscapes they fly over, earning a salary for transporting people and suitcases, animals, medicines and other things from one place to another. Those captains of jet planes that continuously wound and heal the sky with their adventures, they experience a little - or a lot - the love of Neruda's sailors who kiss and leave. They fly abandoning the earth and human beings, abandoning their earthly existence, perhaps suddenly acutely aware of how fleeting life is, how routine and absurd it is to be constantly on the move. Jason Reitman's movie, with George Clooney, In the Air had something of that. Rather it had the potential to explore the brevity of our lives, how precarious it is to be there, so high, at the mercy of external storms and the storms you might have in your mind. Another one, Peter Weir's Fearless (1993) with Jeff Bridges completely achieved that. It's a terrifying and beautiful film. That story by Cortazar, from, I think, All Fires the Fire, where the guy looks at the same island from the window of the plane where he works, also explores in an interesting way the strange dislocation caused by flying high up, tracing the same invisible line between a terrestrial region and another.

Across the aisle, there's a girl of about 20 or 21 who has four gadgets working at the same time. On her folding table, she has a sort of small screen showing films she keeps changing every ten minutes. They are good films: the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski (1998), Miloš Forman's Loves of a Blonde (1965), Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and others. While she's listening and half watching these bits of film, she's texting with a phone she has in her left hand. On another type of phone that's leaning on the movie screen, she's watching and responding to pictures of animals. Deer, bears, horses. And she has another little screen on her lap with a book she seems to be reading slowly, a sentence every two or three minutes. I think it's a novel. Impressive. The things she's trying to devour in this more than two hour trip. After a while she drops her beer on the floor and later her bag of peanuts. It seems she doesn't notice. When leaving for the bathroom, she stumbles over the cord of one of her gadgets, knocking it to the floor and falling on the arm of the seat of the child on my left. When she walks down the aisle towards the bathroom, I notice that she has also a French film I know, The Women on the 6th Floor, running on the screen of her seat. It´s about some Spanish women who worked as maids and cooks in Paris during the Sixties. What this passenger is doing, trying to consume so much information at once, is it an admirable effort to try to experience as much as possible, learn as much as possible during her limited life in this world? Or is it a sign of desperation, a way to avoid everything that has to do with her present, with her moment on the planet? I don't know. I understand her. I too get involved in everything, I sleep very little, I try to take advantage of every minute I have.

P.S.: Mourinho's Chelsea started very badly in the British Premier League. And he, as always, shamelessly blames his players and the referees. He doesn't know how to lose. Doesn't know how to live with what he's got. Probably he won't know how to die. There I go, judging again. I too have a lot to learn.


What is Fearless about?


An airplane flying from San Francisco to Houston (the movie is based on a real United Airlines flight) crashes. Knowing that he's going to die, the character, an architect portrayed by Jeff Bridges, enters a state of calm and total acceptance. Even to the point that he helps calm some of the passengers. He sits next to a little boy who is flying alone to keep him company during the fall. He turns out to be one of the few survivors of the accident, and enters a rather liberated state of mind. He rents a car and goes on a trip, visiting an old girlfriend he hasn't seen in twenty years. She's surprised to see him so changed, so quiet. The police are looking for him. His wife and family don't understand why he hasn't called them after the accident. He can't identify with normal people. Thinks he is immune to death, has a special relationship with it. He ends up hanging out with a woman who survived the same accident, but who lost her baby, a character well played by Rosie Perez. The guy starts taking risks, crashing his car against a wall, dancing on the edge of a precipice and other things that to any more or less balanced person would seem very self-destructive. He wants to get close to the limit, to the point of death, and relive that calm, awakening that existential power he felt when the plane was falling down. I won't tell you everything that happens in the film, so you can enjoy it when you see it. You know the story by Cortazar, right? About the guy who works on an airplane and wants to go to the island he always sees while crossing the ocean? He also goes through a big change in his life.


Yes, I know the story by Cortazar, but I haven't seen that movie. I'm going to rent it. Maybe on Sunday against Boca we'll experience something similar to what happens to Jeff Bridges´ character. What's your hunch?


That we are going to win, brother. That tomorrow we are going to win.

P.S. 6/9/2015:


Eternal paternity, Cuervo!

The Bosteros will wish they were dead. I'm truly sorry for my friends who are for Boca, but that unexpected San Lorenzo feat, with Matos' goal at the last moment, almost matches the excitement of the second goal by Bergessio at the 2008 Libertadores [Cup] against River with nine Cuervos on the field. A miracle like out of the moooovieees! I'm not in favour of schadenfreude. Really, I feel the Bosteros' pain, the pain of others, but today's victory in the Bombonera, if we win the tournament, will be a day of special importance in the memory of all Ciclón supporters.

It was a tough, nervous match with a heart-stopping finale. Boca had soooo many goal opportunities, and like a thousand corners, but an amazing error by Betancur (and by Cata Díaz for not having Matos well covered) and the miracle was ready.

The Captain Cata pays for it
The Captain Cata pay...
Torrico had made that great save right before that. It's all incredible, historic! For the rest of my life, everytime I get depressed, I´m going to remember September 6th, Two Thousand Fifteen. The tactics were killing me, although I know that without those who can set up and serve the ball well ahead to the forwards, Bauza probably didn't have any other choice. Well, I don't know. Maybe I think we have to send the team to the trenches; we are not always going to have today's luck, of playing counterattack and ending up with three points. You know how little I like Patón's frequent conservative approaches. They make us depend too much on the defenders and our amazing goalkeeper. But today it worked because the truth is that we defended very well, and the Holy Cóndor [tr. note: Torrico, the goalkeeper] saved us like so many times before. Time and again Boca was about to score the winning goal, but today it wasn't to be. But careful because there's still a lot of tournament left. And I think we'll also see each other again in the Copa Argentina. It will be very hard for Boca to pick themselves up for the Clásico against the Gallinas next week, but I think, I don't know why, that the Bosteros are going to win it. Of course, San Lorenzo will have to remain calm and focus well for the Clásico against the Quemeros, and for what is left of the tournament. The championship is in our hands.

I saw the match in a bar with my old man. Feverish. I was eating the oak bar because of the amount of adrenalin I had. I had with me all the amulets I could gather. With my laptop, we linked Fútbol Para Todos to the TV in the bar. Gradually the customers joined us. "What are you watching?" "What are those teams?" "What country is this game in?" They didn't know who the teams were, nor where the game was played, but they were noticing the tension coming out of my body and the screen. At the first half, I told my father that something was missing - the dog. He gave me the key to his house and I left him sitting down with his drink and the gringos from the bar. I went flying in the car to fetch "Buddy." We were back just as the second half was starting.

Celebrating the victory with Buddy
Celebrating the vict....
© Viggo Mortensen.

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Last edited: 27 June 2016 13:28:57