Monday, January 24, 2005


24 JAN I think

The really big ``S`´. Samba. As far as I´m concerned, the local samba scene is the deal. There are tons of blocos and smaller non-commercilized schools all over the place. Everyone in the community participates. Saturday afternoon as we left our local bloco here in Larageiras, there were two others on the streets on the way to Largo do Machado. The streets are alive with samba and it´s way cool.

Never made it to Dona Marta as Canarios had a technical rehearsal in the aterro. It was fun and the bateria was good. Hung out with the directoria before and after. This is my school here. Bambas is my bloco. We´re comfortable and know almost everyone. No need to go anywhere else. Community is what it´s all about.

Samba is like baseball in at least a couple of respects. Try explaining the infield fly rule to someone who didn´t grow up with baseball. Secondly, baseball fans tend to be very loyal. Witness the long suffering Red Sox fans who finally got past the curse of the bambino. My friend Jim who grew up in South Texas and somehow became a Tigers fan. The Portela fans are the same way. This year they hope to get past a 30 year drought set in place by some sort of macumba foul up. When you ask someone what samba school they like, they don´t say '`Portela`´. They say ``Eu so Portela``. ``I am Portela``.

Tournament of Roses, an obvious close allusion to the floats and spectacle.

New Orleans Second line; Suzano identified this as `´the samba of the US``. I tend to agree that there are similarities at least in intent and alegria. Add a few Mardi Gras indians with the elaborate costumes and you approach a samba parade.

Figure skating. the samba competition is similar to figure skating in that there are obligatory parts and moves. Abre alas, comissao de frente, carros alegoricos, baianas, bateria, ala das criancas, velha guarda and so on. Everything has to go perfectly and the samba must be emmotive or you lose points. The winners are often separated from second place by only a gnats whisker. Gnats have very small whiskers.

The only other thing I have to report is the odd phenomemon of what can only be descibed as `´lip wrestling``. You´re just walking down the street and suddenly, on the corner or sidewalk just ahead, a lip wrestling match breaks out. It´s a co-ed thing most of the time.

Today is a day of rest. Tomorrow starts a series of visits to technical rehearsals. I´ll be on the look out for funny stuff. j