City in a Valley Surrounded by Mountains… Press?

Attempt 2: Rewriting is really hard, but I’ll do what I can.

So even though CVSMP doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it as my old newspaper, it seems I’ve found a place that I like to get my journalism on.

This week is a weird one in the course of the semester because our two schools, La Chile and La Católica, take wildly different schedules. La Católica, in its infinite wisdom and never-ending charity, has given its snotty, bratty, spoiled students almost two weeks off before the start of class. My stupid university, La Chile, has scheduled we, the downtrodden, to the most travel-unfriendly schedule imaginable: brief orientations held every other day in Santiago. But I’m not bitter.

So as several of my lamer friends have headed to Peru to visit Machu Picchu, I have to be in town tomorrow afternoon for the beginning of orientation. So, may as well figure out something to do in town.

We’re technically supposed to start our internships in a couple of weeks, but I got so interested in the Santiago Times that I decided Damn the Torpedos!, and found the number for the office. I called, awkwardly telling the voice on the other end that I was interested in interning with them, but didn’t know what to do. “Come on over!” said the voice, and proceeded to give me directions nuanced and simple enough to find my way through a city I don’t know yet.

A quick shower and shave later, and I was ready to go. I found the office easily and, stopping inside, they directed me to an Italian restaurant a block away, where I would surely find “Steve.”

I found Steve, the voice on the phone, in the small Italian restaurant and, quickly recognizing each other as the only two Gringos within earshot, he rose and shook my hand. I ordered a café cortado and joined him as he finished his ravioli.

Steve, the publisher of the Santiago Times, is an American from Arkansas, I believe he mentioned, though he hasn’t been back in years and has no plans to. Despite what he described as almost zero “formal” journalism training, Steve spent the last 20-something years in Chile as a freelance writer, getting most of his income writing about the fruit industry. He founded the Santiago Times over 20 years ago more as a hobby than a business, and spends the majority of his time on a farm an hour outside of Santiago with his (Chilean) media naranja (one of my favorite Spanish sayings, literally “half orange,” used like “my better half” in English) and son.

We chatted about Santiago, politics, Bachelet, and briefly about my interest and experience in journalism, and he invited me to come check out the facilities. I accepted.

The Santiago Times is a part of the Chilean Information Project (CHIP), Steve’s burgeoning media empire, which includes Santiago Radio, Revolver Magazine (I actually really love this name, as “revolver” is a word in both English and Spanish) and La Bicicelta Verde, a travel company that offers bike tours through Santiago. All basically share the same office space, about four small rooms in all.

The Santiago Times is an online-only, subscription-only English-language newspaper with a small staff and smaller budget. While Steve takes no money from the paper, there are only a few full-time paid staffers, primarily because of the ST’s consistent ability to attract new, bushy-eyed interns from around the world to come and work for memories and to get to know the city (because there “is no better way than journalism,” Steve said.) We walked into the main room for the Santiago Times, where there were four interns working, hailing from the UK, Germany, Canada and… somewhere else. Steve has a hard time remembering names and places, even after he has just learned them, and had the gall to call the Canadian an American, deeply offensive to both countries.

But I digress. After meeting the staff, Steve gave me a short pitch for the organization, and invited me to come in the next day for the morning staff meeting and see if it was for me.

I did, and it was, but more on that later.

The ST office is in Bellas Artes, a neighborhood just barely northeast of my apartment, and sits a block away from the Museo Bellas Artes, an art museum that I had heard was free on Sundays. Eager to check it out, and tired of waiting to find companions to do “cultural” activities, I headed inside. I have lots of pictures, though I’m avoiding them right now as I’m suffering from an especially slow connection, but let me just say that the museum was fantastic. A beautiful, old building, it is just big enough to have several different rooms and types of exhibits but small enough that you can experience it all in the course of a couple of hours. They had an exhibit from an artist named Omar Gatica, which was incredibly abstract.

To those who know me, or have been in earshot of one of my patented “abstract art is f**king weird” talks, you know that I have an odd relationship with art. The type that I typically go for is the less abstract. I have a huge amount of respect for somebody who can take a gorgeous scene and recreate it in a painting or a photograph. That’s really hard. I have less respect, or rather less initial respect, for somebody whose art I don’t understand. I fully believe that I could come to love an abstract painting if the author sat down and explained what he or she saw in it, and helped me come to a similar conclusion. Sadly, artists rarely wander the halls hoping to explain their works, so to me most of his work was (albeit incredibly pretty) over my head.

Downstairs there were several other artists, including two of my favorites from the museum, one of a mother holding a sick child and another of a tree in a park. Again, I liked these because of the emotion and beauty captured, and because the artist did a tremendous job of recreating the scene. Upstairs there were more exhibits, some of statues and more paintings and photos. One section had what seemed like a film exhibit, but the closest I could figure out was that they had taken famous paintings and made videos recreating the scene of the painting, as if to show just before and just after it was painted. It was all very confusing, and at times fairly boring, so I moved on. There was another video of a terrible actor playing Bernard O’Higgins, an early Chilean war hero and dictator, with gigantic fake mutton chops that looked like cardboard cutouts with hair taped on them. Good times.

This post is already long enough, and I should be getting to sleep so I can go to work in the morning, but remind me to tell you about:

• Day one of work

• Beef stew and a comically oversized bottle of strawberry juice

• Pool with Chileans

• Prostitution, being offered thereof.


P.S. I am not happy with the Giants now. I suppose Johnny Sanchez had a good outing, at least better than we’ve come to expect from him (except for the no-hitter, of course), but the bullpen blew it, particularly with Sergio Romo’s 4 earned runs allowed in ZERO innings. Come on, guys. We’re sooooo close.

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One Response to City in a Valley Surrounded by Mountains… Press?

  1. Caitlin says:

    Jeez, Zarch, this is awesome! Is your EAP program requiring you guys to do internships? And kudos for going out there and finding one that seems to fit you perfectly!! Awesome!

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