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Jorge Luis Borges Has Bittersweet Birthday: Honored by Anti-Latino Google Doodle, Dissed by Nike Store

The 112-year-old ghost of Jorge Luis Borges has to be be feeling rather conflicted today.

On the one hand, he scored a center-stage cameo on Google's home page -- an honor the search engine/world ruler, with headquarters in whitewashed Mountain View, California, denied both Cesar Chavez and Cinco de Mayo this year. The Google spotlight promptly set off a domino effect of news stories and aggregations this a.m. ...

... fawning over both the Doodle and Borges' legacy in general. 'Twas lovely. (Though there were, of course, the naysayers. When our radio dial got stuck on some conservative AM station earlier, a roundtable of flabbergasted Republicans actually called him an "Argentinian prick." No joke.)

Then again -- Borges' ghost, if he's anything like Borges in life, could probably care less about the minority-friendliness of some unromantic source code, replicated over a billion screens. Plus, Borges, being Argentinian, is way more Euro than Latino, so he was really nothing more than a safe medium for Google.

One news item that might hit closer to home, however, dropped on the poet's birthday eve. As reported, with a local angle, by the UK Guardian:

It has been described as the most British corner of Buenos Aires, a landmark once frequented by writers such as Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges. But the grand old Cafe Richmond where until recently powerful politicians mingled with laid-back bohemians is being replaced by a Nike shop.

... Apparently to ensure it could not be returned to its former splendour even if the local government rules against the Nike shop, the Richmond was emptied of its historical interior, right down to its grandiosely comfortable Chesterfield wingback leather armchairs, in a 3am raid.

Cafe Richmond, before and after.
Cafe Richmond, before and after.

Ouch.

The cafe was No. 1 meeting place for Borges and his artist friends during the 1920s and '30s; looks like Nike Argentina may be hoping to capitalize off some of that hip history-book air. Which it apparently believes is possible with sleek metal footstools in place of wingback leather armchairs.

Uh-oh. Time for a Borges quote -- "Never look for beauty. Let beauty come to you. Those who look for beauty are mere journalists."

Quick question. What does that make aggregators?

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@simone_electra

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swilson@laweekly.com

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