Sunday, May 25, 2008

After the rain at Yolanda

The original idea about improving the drainage system and pavement at the access area of Placeres Hill has created an innuendo and complains about its results. First, they are replacing the old cemented or iron piping by mostly plastic piping. Second, they are replacing the older historical stone sett pavement by just more concret pavement erasing by this act the only cobblestone street still existent in this old neighbourhood. Where is the world heritage city?
The first large rainstorm of the year left over 100 mm over two days creating by runoff erosion crevasses on the bottom of the intervened area. A sandy bedding was supporting under the cobblestones and stone setts, plus more sand left by the contractors, and a weathered granodiorite at the bottom that was eroded as maicillo (quartz and feldspars grains mostly).
All these sediments were carried by the sudden runoff on the slope of the Placeres and Amalia Paz (cutout) street reaching the flat area around Yolanda keeping a flooded area almost erasing the trafick flow between Valparaiso and Viña del Mar at av España last Tuesday night.
The aftermath, over twentuy truckloads were needed to clean the area around Yolanda. Just another negligent act made by the contractors in charge of this public work. Who pays the bill.... chileans would say Moya... meaning the goverment and tax payers.
Futhermore, OREMI reported that 10 houses bordering the slopes of the Amalia Paz cutout (below) are in danger because of the negligent behaviour of the contractors and their overseers, (City Hall or SERVIU)? . Big question....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Phamie Gow in Valparaiso

The scottish harp & piano player, multi-instrumentist, singer and extraordinary composer Phamie Gow will perform a free concert next Thursday 22th, 19:30 hrs, in sala Rubén Darío, Dirección de Extensión y comunicaciones de la Universidad de Valparaíso, Errázuriz 1108, as an activity within the Creando música en mi barrio programme, developed through the Consejo Regional de la Cultura in collaboration with FIMIV.

La arpista, pianista, multi-instrumentista, cantante y extraordinaria compositora escocesa Phamie Gow ofrecerá un único concierto gratuito en Chile el próximo jueves 22, a las 19:30 horas, en la sala Rubén Darío, de la Dirección de Extensión y Comunicaciones de la Universidad de Valparaíso, Errázuriz 1108, como actividad inserta en el programa Creando música en mi barrio, que desarrolla el Consejo Regional de la cultura con colaboración de FIMIV.
More info at:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pubs at Bellavista

Pubs in Chile are rather a mix of disco and a bar. In Valpo most of these have sizes just around and below the 100 m2 to allow to have a smoking policy they prefere. If they have more than 100 m they would need to have two separate spaces for smokers and non smokers. Anyway, most local pubs are clustered around the subida Ecuador-Bellavista-Errazuriz and the Puerto neighbourhoods. In some streets such as Blanco and Ecuador, any block may have 5 or more of them.
The largest ones such as El Huevo and La Piedra Feliz may have 3 or more dancing/concert halls, restaurant plus bar. La Piedra feliz has even a small hostel on the other side of the building. Others so called pubs such bar LaTorre and many others on Brasil Av. are just noisy watering holes selling cheap beer to students.

Casa Amarilla

Casa amarilla is a music shop born as a commercial society in Santiago and Valparaiso on yellow painted shops in the 1920s. For almost a century it gathered porteño musicians and music lovers at their shop on Pedro Montt avenue. It sold guitars, mandolins, other string instruments, woodwinds, all kinds of recordings and even scores from their own printing. Regrettably, the shop at Valparaiso was outdated and didn't last to see our days... Finally, this Pedro Montt shop closed and auctioned everything it had three years ago.
A good remembrance written in Spanish a while ago recalls the time when it was the major music shop of the city. A few of us were at the closing last day when everything was sold on open auction.... We were the lucky ones to get the last and only acoustic Salvador Ibanez Calace Constellation archtop guitar n°2000 that was hanging on the wall at the owner´s office for over 50 years... It hadn't been even setup or played and now it has nicely opened up and probably it is one of the most cherished of the guitars of our collection. After the demise of the Valpo's Casa amarilla, the owners from Santiago´s Casa amarilla now called Casamarilla have set shop at Quinta St. in Viña, so the name somewhat still lives on.... but it is never the same....

The red light sailors

When large foreign navy crews arrive to Valparaiso, there is a renaissance of the almost extint red light district at the port. Cafés con piernas, a classic chilean joint, cabarets and other night life business start to bust with people around Valpo and Viña. On this opportunity, the arrival of the US carrier George Washington with more than 3400 people on board for a leave of 4 days has produced much havock around the sailor´s leisure. However, this time is quite different, there is a port area, the former red light district or barrio puerto, the core of the world heritage city that the graphic map provided to them has stamped as an off limit area, so most of the sailors are being shuttled to the "safer" pub-restaurants area at downtown Viña del Mar. Also, the sailors have a curfew since most of them have to be back on board before midnight... so strangely enough, these joints are being opened earlier since the sailors have to do night life during the day and like Cinderella, they have to rush before midnight to take the boat back to the carrier. Over a century ago, a sailor's brawl at the gates of the True blue saloon in the puerto area ended with 2 dead plus 17 wounded US sailors, and it almost drifted into a war between Chile and the US, better known as the Baltimore incident. Times has changed everything but what we wonder if this daylight nightlife has any parallel with the sailor´s nightlife of 100 years ago?.

Sea shanties Workshop

Since a few weeks ago there is a workshop class at the IPA institute, Condell 1349, every thursday at 1730 hrs. It is not like other free workshops offered there. It is a singing workshop leaded by Juan Jimenez teaching the old traditional sea songs or shanties. Most of them translated to Spanish with a few stanzas in the original language.
Perhaps only a few of the Valparaiso citizens know about this musical tradition that in many ports around the world still reminds the name of this cityport. There are many recording with some of these songs that recall the name of Valparaiso. From Sting in Mercury Falling to sea shanty choirs... we do find many examples of these songs calling Valpo by its name...
More on shanties CD releases on Valpo at:
Girls of Valparaiso
Valparaiso round the Horn
I also collected shanties I got long ago and have written some articles for local newspapers and reviews. e.g.

Sound & Recording gathering in Valpo

Ultimo Peldaño & Productora Mutante call to the 2º Encuentro de Sellos Autónomos E.S.A. 2008. This gathering is due for May 15 to 17, 19:00 to 1:00 hrs. in the Bar el Núcleo, Cochrane 510, Valparaíso.
Independent recording companies from Valparaíso, Rancagua & Santiago linked to electronic sound research will demonstrate small format projects. Tickets $1500 each day.