Dante A. Linyera

Real name: Rímoli, Francisco Bautista
Nicknames: Carlos Onofre Alvear, Rayenil y Arnaldo Demos
Lyricista, poet and composer
(10 August 1903 - 15 July 1938)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

hort was the life of this stubborn bohemian whose biggest sin was living in a hurry and carelessly. On one occasion he thought over repentance but he continued with no change on his way.

«Damn it! When I recall I was just fourteen when I started with this easy life I feel like killing myself like fools do, but later I smoke a cigarette while saying:
That’s it. What can I do?»

In the same poem, his beautiful “Autobiografía rasposa”, he tells us that he was son of a Calabrian, that he was born in Buenos Aires in a large tenement house located on 1543 Independencia Street and that he soon became an orphan. He as well worked at a tavern when he was a kid: «Yo soy el cantinerito del viejo barrio’e Solís». He is alluding to the local placed on the corner of Solís and Garay for many years.

If at age fourteen he was on his own in life, it was logical that he would look for a way of expressing what his experiences were teaching to him. He found it in journalism. First in the morning paper La Argentina, which then tried to vie with La Prensa and La Nación. He was 16. Later came El Telégrafo and also La Montaña, a mythical paper founded by Leopoldo Lugones and José Ingenieros. And soon thereafter, El Alma Que Canta, that early songbook founded by Vicente Bucchieri in 1921. There, through his notes and uneven poems he managed to freely express his pain when he witnessed so many unjust situations on the city streets.

By then he had already lost forever his true name. His ironic idea was stronger: Dante A. Linyera, without omitting the letter A which does not belong to the first letter of his second name, it alludes to Dante Alighieri. That was his intention.

He wrote theater plays for several groups. Only one of them was staged: Mambrú se fue a la guerra. He wrote lyrics for several tens of tangos, but that was not his means of expression, maybe the measure and the tempo that the song requires was uncomfortable for him.

He founded, among others, a magazine for children: El Purrete. Also, in collaboration, the soccer magazine La Cancha that lasted until the late fifties. But his most important creation was La Canción Moderna, which later with the cinema boom became the successful Radiolandia, now in the hands of the publisher Julio Korn. The first number was released in March 1928.

According to a brief article published in the La Razón newspaper on August 6, 1963 a group of his friends met to remember him on the 25th anniversary of his death. It took place at that cheap tavern mentioned in his poem. Someone said that all night long Linyera used to write the whole magazine issue on a large marble table which still was there. Among the people present were María Josefa Charila, who had been his wife and wrote with the nom de plume Susy Paz and also the poet Nicolás Olivari, who said: «I still recall his air of sad pensive boy and his long walks along Corrientes street. He was an anguished singer of the Buenos Aires things, a man darkened by the sufferings of the poor. And I still remember his failing leg, his defective walking which seemed to confirm that he was a poet of the «mala pata» (literally: bad leg but meaning bad luck)». Here Olivari alludes to his own book La musa de la mala pata as well as to the physical handicap that Linyera had since his birth.

He was admirer of Last Reason, nom de plume used by Máximo Teodoro Sáenz, an Uruguayan journalist specialized in horse races and creator of numerous depictions of Buenos Aires which were frequently published in different newspapers.

He was fourteen when he came to know the writer and poet Álvaro Yunque (Arístides Gandolfi Herrero). The latter said about Linyera: «He touched my heart. He was small, agile, restless, insolent and intelligent. You have something in your head —I told him— but your lines are full of mistakes. Did you ever study? No, he answered me. And added: Then if you studied, why don't you teach me? As was customary with many of the young of that time, from his anarchist point of view he fought for the dispossessed, and he himself was one of them».

He even wrote serious poems, he delved into romantic poetry. As an example we include these two lines of a poem: «Hermano amor, que inconfesable cosa / se torna el hombre que en tu red se envuelve» (Brother love, what unspeakable thing man becomes when wraps himself up with your net). As if he were embarrassed he signed them with different noms de plume. Sometimes he was Arnaldo Demos, other times, Carlos Onofre de Alvear y Rayenil.

When in 1933 his book Semos hermanos was released he exclaimed before a group of friends: «I'm sorry, I won't do it again!». That was his only work formally published. The dedication says: «To my dog, because I haven't got one».

It is worthwhile to name another lunfardo poet, Carlos de la Púa aka El Malevo Muñoz, also writer of a sole work: La crencha engrasada. Why do we mention him? Because both them have been the most important creators in their genre. But in life they behaved differently. Linyera lived in starvation, he never had a cent in his pocket and he stuck faithful to his ideology up to his final madness. De La Púa had no difficult times, he strove for a fortune which he finally reached and before his death —totally conscious— he, always an atheist, called for a priest, just in case.

The poet Enrique Dizeo, another great friend of his, describes him accurately in his poem: Retrato, biographical portrait of the poet Dante A. Linyera, my old pal. He as well writes about himself, as we already said, in the lines of his Autobiografía Rasposa.

Some phrases said by Dante A. Linyera:
«I'm neither Christian nor Jew, nor do I believe but in human pain.»
«All noble struggles are sterile. And doubly sterile in case of being fought by a loner.»
«Work, that old pimp of existence.»
«Truth always turns out less valuable than good alibis.»
«To live without boredom is enough to be a complaisant mediocre.»
«You have two possibilities: to be happy by force or to know reality.»

In the summer of 1993, during a chat with Eduardo Moreno he told me: «At a time I used to meet him very often at the later famous café on San Juan and Boedo. One day when we were leaving Pugliese's place he invited me to dine at a cheap place. Please write a lyric for this, he told me. It turned out that he had brought a musical piece. I don't know if it was his. In fact he didn't know to write music but maybe somebody would have given it to him. Later I learnt it was Elvino Vardaro's. He had problems with a woman, I don't know. Finally I wrote the lyrics and I used some lunfardo terms which was not customary for me. The title was "Y a mí qué me importa". It was the first sheetmusic published by Julio Korn.

«His short life was like a novel. He was an exceptional person, with few words and a great inspiration. By that time he lived in a room so small that it was difficult for him to be inside. It was the time of El Alma Que Canta and Bucchieri, its owner. He had a local where books were sold in front of the printing house where the magazine was printed. The La República daily paper was also printed there. Nearby, on a thoroughfare, there was a shack where he rented a room for ten pesos. Bucchieri used to ask me to get him out of bed. So I went, called, but I couldn't get in because of lack of space. There was only one bed and the place around it was full of books, simple editions everywhere. In order to get in or out he had to cross over the bed. He always arrived drunk, busied himself with the books and at eight in the morning he was completely asleep. "The number has to be finished, you have to write.", I told him. As he liked me he finally came with me. He was the soul of the magazine and at that time he appeared as its director. There was no number released if something of his was not included. Bucchieri loved him and tried to help him anyhow. But one day Linyera got angry and quit to join Korn. He suggested the latter to release La Canción Moderna and Korn, a clever fellow, agreed. He owned a little printing machine in a doorway on Corrientes Street, a few meters from the Teatro Nacional.

«Later he met an anodyne woman. She was engaged in certain poetry and in strange things, she cheated him in such a way —precisely he who did not pay attention to anyone— that led him to believe that she loved him. They married. They went to live in a house on 337 Entre Ríos Street. It lasted a month, one day she ran away with a circus. Imagine how strange that Susy Paz was. When she came back he didn't want to see her again. But he loved her. Time later she drove a pianist half-crazy. He was a friend of mine, Mario Rafaelli. She died in 1981. She was quite heavy and probably nuts. But she was not the reason for the final madness of Linyera. His madness was originated by his bad life, a consequence of a syphilis never cured, besides he had tuberculosis. His death was awful: in a ward, alone. Bucchieri and I used to go to visit him but they did not allow us to see him.

«He was in a superior level, the master of lunfardo poem. Unbeatable. An exceptional guy. He was born for this, he came to accomplish his assigned mission.»