Thursday, January 27, 2005

last day

27 Jan 2005 Rio de Janeiro

I know you´ll all feel better knowing that your government is hard at work protecting you from Brazilian terrorists. This is the same government which, in an attempt to avoid racial profiling, is often seen strip searching little old ladies trying to get on a Southwest airlines flight to Cleveland or some other well-known terrorist hang out.

It seems that two mid-20´s Brazilian surfers complete with long hair, flip flops and surf boards landed in Miami. The word ´´bomba`´ in portuguese means ´´bomb´´ and it also means ´´pump´´. These two shady characters had a vaccum pump with them which is used to suck the resin onto the core of the board and prevent delamination. They obviously did not realize that they were dealing with a linguistically-challenged tiny minded dumb ass. When they mentioned the liguistic oddity of the word ´´bomba´´, they were immediately sent to jail where they stayed for 3 months. Finally, someone in imigration figured out how to use the dictionary and decided to deport them rather than keep them in jail any longer.
All righty then.
I went to a great small community samba school the other night. It was exactly the kind of scene that I love. Lots of kids, families and a great bateria. Unfortunately, I can´t tell you where I went. Lately, I´ve been catching some serious internet grief for giving away everyone´s favorite off-the-beaten path samba things to do in Rio. Some of the comments have been pretty nasty. It seems that some people want to keep Rio for themselves. I guess that maybe I should let go of trying to be the Rick Steve´s of community samba here.

Consider the following. Over the past two years, I´ve reported on what I thought were the coolest, non-commercial things to do. I´ve only scratched the surface but there´s still lots to choose from. In return, I´ll ask that, if you go to these places, you do so with respect. These people live here all year. They have almost nothing other than human warmth and Carnaval. If you are playing one of the bateria instruments, you may be taking it away from one of them or from a kid who´s trying to learn. Even in the blocos, rest assured that you are not going to be the baddest ass in the bateria. Everyone here can play. Most can play better than you. Trust me. Ask for permission. Move slowly. Be respectful. Samba is tribe. This is applied anthropology.

It´s better to be lucky than good. When crossing the street, be the rabbit. Don´t panic. Never go anywhere without your towel.
Fui, j

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I love this place

25 Jan

Just walking over here is a treat everyday. The place is full of life. Every block is packed with small businesses of every variety. There are hardware stores, small groceries, bakeries, bars (at least 2 per block. they also serve as lunch counters), veterinarian/pet shop, laundry, book store,news stand and so on. Not one Mc Donald´s or Walmart or Starbuck´s. Heterogeneity is the ticket.

Karma is a bitch. For years all the rich folks in the buildings around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas have been dumping raw sewage illegally. I guess they thought no one would notice. They were rewarded yesterday when four tons of dead fish floated to the surface. The good news I suppose is that the fish were really easy to catch.
There are still high hopes for Portela. Teresa Cristina is slated to sing the warm up samba and the samba enredo is going fairly well. At their rehearsal on Saturday, the harmonia got off beat from the bateria. Hopefully, they got that kink worked out. I have to say that I´m pulling for them.

One other thing you should definitely try is the cachaça called ´´Magnifica´´. It comes from Minas Gerais, is a little pricey at $R 4 rather than the usual $R 1.50 but definitely worth it. Like good tequila. Tasty.

Political reporting here is more fun than a barrel of those little wrestler monkeys. I´m guessing that you guys don´t get the same reports we get here. As far as I can tell, the news media in the US is all on board with Bush´s plan for this term calling it ´´ambitious´´. Here in the rest of the world the word ´´Hitler´´ keeps poppig up. However, there are some bright spots for the Shrub. It seems that, although 49% of the US and virutally 100% of the rest of the world hates him, the iranians, especially the students, love him. They want him to come to their countryand kill their government. You gotta love that Shrub. Poltics makes for strange bedfellows, huh?

Gotta take a lap around the beach. j

Monday, January 24, 2005

His Xuxaness

24 Jan addendum

Our old friend Xuxa has finally made his way into the society column. This is the guy who, last year, threatened to resort to using foam rubber in his drag costume for carnaval. The same guy who hurt himself trying to snap open his his chinese fan and, therefore, declared himself not gay enough to be messing around with fans.

Well, as it turns out, through this friends Thalia and Stephen, Xuxa Bob met and has become friends with Joao Bosco, one of his musical heroes. One of the blocos in Vila Isabel, Segura Para Nao Cair, is honoring João Bosco this year and , as part of the celebration there was a big party at Bosco´s house and then the folks went to the bloco parade in a chartered bus. Simone and Aldir Blanc were there as was one of the musicians who appeared on Carlos Santanas recent album. The party made it to the society page in the paper.

At this point ´´His Xuxaness´´ is insufferable. I hope that I don´t have to dar uma chulapada nele (slap him).

I read the newspaper today. Tons of funny stuff happened. More on that tomorrow. j


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

Sunday, January 23, 2005

the three s´s

23 Jan 2005

Sex, soccer and samba. I may have to break this up.

Sex is alive and well here in Rio. Sex between consenting adults is considered a healthy part of life and sensuality drips from the walls here. There are used condoms on the street all over the place and that´s probably good news. Political correctness does not seem to exist here. Little stuff send people over the edge in America.(a baseball player with a fast ball velocity higher than his IQ makes a racial slur and it becomes front page news.) These PC dumbasses would be rendered apoplectic here.

Last night st the end of Camarios,about 0330, the samba school selected the Rainha da Bateria, the Queen of the samba school. It was a jiggling wiggling spectacle. A mix of a livestock show and a beauty contest with great music. If you can get past the fact that the women were wearing almost nothing and just look at the talent they have, it is amazing. Whether you like it or not, it´s part of the culture here. I was happy for the winners (Pincess and Queen) It was a very big deal forthem.

Unforutnately, beautiful people and grinding poverty can lead to abuse. Exploitation, euphemistically referred to as `´sexual tourism`´ is getting bigger here. Apparently the europeans have discovered this fact and are chartering planes in here. Exploitation of children and adolescents is also on the rise. The paper recently had a picture of this big muscular German dude with a shaved head and one of those cute little barbed wire tattoos on his bicep. He was chatting up a couple of girls in training bras. The next picture had him kissing one of them. Nothing wrong with that sick fuck that a close encounter with a baseball bat wouldn´t fix.

If you come here to exploit these wonderful people, you´re fucked up. Period. Call me a red neck.

Anyhow, soccer, a nacional passion. Having grown up in west Texas, the very same west Texas they made the movie `´Friday Night Lights`´ about, the concept of playing a game without using yourhands is a little foreign to me. We have these hands!! We should use them. I guarantee that if my dog Meaux had thumbs, he would not be playing ball with his mouth. In fact, if he had thumbs, he wouldn´t be playing ball at all. He´d be in the frig.

Be that as it may, these Brazilians do amazing stuff with their feet, heads, knees, chests, shoulders, etc. They even play volley ball without using their hands. Everywhere you go, people are discussing soccer. They argue passionately about who is the best ``whatever``. I like the game but I can´t play it worth a flip.

And finally, SAMBA. I don´t have enough time right now to go into this but, later, I hope to explain how samba has elements of the tournament of Rose´s parade, New Orleans second line with some Mardi Gras indians, figure skating, and baseball.

Today there´s a technical rehearsal of Canarios in the Aterro do Flamengo. It´ll be our only chance to parade this year. Tonight, I hope to go up the morro of Dona Marta.

Fui, j