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    June 13, 2008

    Ipanema, My Home

    Ipanema Sunset - Hotel Room

    This is an Ipanema sunset. It's redder than it was when I was growing up. We all know pollution causes spetacular sunsets. In back of the Dois Irmãos (Two Bros.) is the Pedra da Gávea, which was in a book of weirdo theories, "Were the Gods Astronauts?" Pedra da Gávea is about 2,400 feet high. My school friends and I climbed up there five times, between 1975-1981. Even from up there you can hear the city roar; more so today, I believe, as the city has developed beyond Dois Irmãos.

    When I was growing up in Rio, Ipanema was a partyhood, especially in the late sixties and early seventies. There were no locks to keep doors shut. I remember reading about Tom Jobim's house, which was always filled with musicians and Vinicius de Moraes, the poet-diplomat, and a young Edu Lobo arriving there, just like that to see what gives. Vinicius asked him for a song for the lyrics of Canto Triste. Click for video with subtitles. Edu said he had one. He didn't, but wrote one in a flash.

    Vinicius was uncertain about the song; "It's too sad." In the end it went on to win in festivals. Edu Lobo is a fenomenal artist, and I wouldn't kick him out on a rainy night, either.

    After bossa, there were the "hippie" days of Ipanema. Girls stopped shaving armpits. The bikinis were small, some took off their bikini tops. I used to feel very uncomfortable to see hair sprouting out of the bikini bottoms as if a new Amazon forest was growing everywhere I looked. Some Brazilan chicks can be really hairy. Those were the days of what we called "The Pier." That was a segment of the beach where a structure was being built to dump human waste a few miles away from the sand. In other words, we were bathing in a huge Atlantic of cacadoodoo. That was hip, so we did it. At the same time the late sixties and 1970 brought a change in clothing, hippie wannabes, and drugs, they were the option for a youth who were not fighting the military in the jungle.

    We were happy Brazil won for the third time and kept the Jules Rimet World Cup. Nobody really knew about the people who disappeared in the wetlands of the Araguaia River. This was known many years later, when we could protest quite moderately. By then, innocence was lost, Ipanema was still fundamental, holding free concerts on the beach, and a new era would begin.

    We would walk from Arpoador to Leblon, and back. We were indefatigable.

    You may ask if I miss being young like that? No, I don't. I miss walking long distances, but I think I will be able to do it again. If I can walk only a little, I must be content with that. A friend wrote me on Daddy's passing, "We have our memories left." I don't think he was the greatest; I knew he was dying when I left Brazil in 1986, after my summer visit. I miss both my parents, especially hearing their voices. Oh, well, this post is becoming a tear-jerker. Just go here, where things are jollier. You know there are many spices to life. With you, Samba da Benção, click for lyrics in English, by Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes. See you in a few!

    June 09, 2008

    Saint John's in the Brazilian Northeast

    Saint John's festivities used to be a lame combo of corn on the cob, bonfires, hilbilly costumes, not anymore, it seems. In the northeast of Brazil, in the land of Luiz Gonzaga, the revered icon of northeastern music, the real thing, driving the masses to madness is a combo of electronic music and forró plus very sassy lyrics. So I got one of the for you. Its very suggestive name is "Sit (on it) It's  Mint ." Northeasteners do have a way with words.
    here is the link to a video. There is an official dance, of sorts, in which girls gyrate and seem to be sitting down and up, dressed in short skirts and bras. Check it out. Click! And join the mad crowd singing, "Senta que é de menta." I must thank a Brazilan blogger, Mr. Manson, for the tip and O Globo for the news and lyrics.

    On a kewl-er note, another blog has a great link to a band that reminds me a lot of Os Mutantes. They are from São Paulo and this is their website, where you can download their music or buy the album.
    http://www.expressomonofonico.mus.br/ Click and check it out. If I didn't have to listen to Steve (Jobs) I'd be listening to them all day long.

    Do you enjoy the photo? Check out Gabizou2009 in my anarchic_universe Flickr group. He is so much better than me!


    March 12, 2008

    Why Are Brazilians So Gung-Ho for Obama?

    The nefarious influence of the USA media; it's true, it's true! and the prejudice against older women has made Hillary the object of contempt. Brazilians like them young.

    And Hillary was never a simpática woman. Who, of older voters, doesn't remember Hillary's comment, "I'm not the type of woman who will stand by her man." or something like that. I like Hillary and lament the bashing of her well-constructed image. I will continue this tomorrow.  Thanks.

    Below, my African-American son, with Mommy, 2004.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OASouvpoS9U  Click.

    December 13, 2007

    Don't Blame Your Reduplication on Me

    Reduplication is a device found in all languages, seemingly, in which there is a repetition of a syllable. I learned about this with Doug Pulleyblank, my phonology professor at USC in 1986, whose passion for reduplication took him to Africa, so I hear. And there went my friend Uschi, for the same purpose. So, I learned that the future is formed in Tagalog, one of the languages in the Philipines, by repeating the first syllable. Thus, "sulat" means write and susulat means will write.

    Brazilians are quite xenophobic. A study somewhere in the links of this blog shows this.; The Native-Brazilians live far and isolated. Brazilians adopt the term bizarre for anything they feel is alien to their culture.

    So, the Tagalog example was considered bizarre. A little bit of research showed that it's present in English, as in willy-nilly, flegma-shmegma, hokey-pokey, Freaky Deaky; English must be a civilized language although its spelling is bizarre to me. However, had we changed our spelling, how many works in English would have become out of our reach today?

    I found a great video of a Portuguese band playing Noel Rosa's "Gago Apaixonado." Theirs is a great chorinho played wtih Portuguese instruments, sung with a Portuguese from Portugal accent.

    A gago  is a stutterer. Get ahold of your favorite Brazilianist and have him/her check out the lyrics for you.

    November 04, 2007

    Bye Bye Brasil - A Tribute to Anisio Medeiros

    Anisio Medeiros was my professor at Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, FAU-UFRJ.  He taught at the Escola de Belas Artes, too. A set designer, costume designer, art director and architect from Piauí, a state ridiculed before Acre took its place as motif of scorn, Anisio was a genius ahead of his time. And because I loved all films in which he worked, and heard viva voce his stories on how the set was designed (or improvised) or how the costumes were created from scratch, I dedicate this gathering of souvenirs to him.
    Bye Bye Brasil has been released here, with subtitles, not bad of a subtitling job, on DVD. Read the NY Times review by Vincent Canby at a click on Bye Bye Brasil above. The film is by Cacá Diegues, who belonged to Cinema Novo and made a cool transition to a Tropicalist æsthetic code in Bye Bye Brasil. Caravana Rolidei is a poor circus on wheels trio, then a quintet. The Rolidei is a phonetic version of Holiday. They seek towns where TV (Globo) hasn't arrived yet, the hypnotic power of a TV set worshiped up in the main square of little towns.

    The æsthetic motif of the costumes is great. A hairdo that twinkles with Xmas lights, the clothes of the poor, of the Native-Brazilians, all of it is political in a subtle way, sending us to the days when the Redeemer(coup d'état 64-85) built pharaonic roads, gold was found in the Amazon, but I am moving to the set design. Oh, well. The choices of places in Brazil is perfect: the riverbank town, the palm trees by the ocean, the burned and had Amazon (in 1980!) and Brasília, the destination of poor migrants straight into favelas.

    I don't want to spoil the film for you. All I want you to know is this is genius if you are interested in Brazil or Brasil.  Cacá Diegues bittersweet good-bye to a Brasil that becomes a Brazil and a Caravana Rolidei that becomes a Caravana Rolidey, with a y, letter inexistent in Portuguese, sum up the Tropicalist message: we devour the foreign products but spit out something different, the message of cultural cannibalism that knows no boundaries. Click here for a great article on this film.

    None of what you see in this film and in so many other ones would have been possible without Anisio Medeiros. I was a poor draftsperson with a pencil. He made me the model for our B&W classes. Scorning the Oiticica which follows anyone in the Oiticica family, he would announce to all,

    "We can't start the class without Tina Harris."

    I remembered him due to my cybertroubles with passwords and nicknames. He would tap the floor with one foot, impatiently, while I finally arrived, late as usual, holding a cigarette, ready for my modeling time. The best souvenirs I have of Anisio Medeiros are of his sharing with us how he designed scenes improvising, as in Macunaíma, where foam was modeled to look like meats in a gigantic black bean casserole. Others are catty gossip which dies with him and us, his fave students. Finally, I did learn a lot of tricks in color techniques, from the precise names of colors to how to obtain them. Watercolor is about transparency, pastels are about several layers over each one of them. It is impossible to replicate our color sessions. I cannot fathom students sitting under a freeway in a dangerous area of downtown in order to capture how luminous a poor area can look. Or on the streets of downtown Rio anywhere nowadays.

    I take my hat off to Anisio Medeiros, thank my schoolmate who refreshed some memories of him this morning and encourage you to watch this and all other films he participated in. A fine art director, genius in improvising, with peculiarities that make him a star in an era of constellation of architects teaching at FAU-UFRJ, Anisio Medeiros, wherever he is, for my friend remembered him today, too, will be tapping his shoe for a long wait, I hope,
    waiting for Tina Harris, some day, some time. Just a taste of Bye Bye Brazil for you.

    October 10, 2007

    For a Brazilian to Blog in English - What gives?

    There is a growing number of bloggers in Brazil who wish to blog in English.  I was born in NYC. When I was five we moved to Rio de Janeiro.  I remember the ice skates I never got, the lard used in Brazilian cooking, and the scabs  I had from food allergies.
    I remember refusing to speak English till the Beatles came along. "There's no comparison to George Harrison."Kiss Your Favorite Beatle."  A rock celeb declared on VH1 Classics we Beatlemaniacs smelled of pee. I guess some of us come full circle.Kiss_your_favorite_beatle

    In 1957 Rio de Janeiro was capital of the country.  I was a loner then, I am a loner now.
    It's a good idea to have a blog in English as it was a great idea to blog in Portuguese, my tongue from 1957 to 1985, after getting updates on new words and ways of saying things the 2005 way.

    My great grand uncle, José Oiticica, was an anarchist, and a grammarian.  The names of blogs Anarchic_Universe and Universo Anárquico are a tribute to his genius.
    I would like to think we embrace all creeds without slaughter.  Soon robotic missions will venture further.
    I'd like to see that.
    "'Something,' the best song by Lennon and Macca."-- Sinatra

    October 01, 2007

    Os Mutantes - Geriatric Rock ? That's Me!

    I'm 55.  Rita Lee will be 60 on December 31.  Arnaldo Baptista turned 59 in July.  Sérgio is 55. We are part of what Rita herself called geriatric rock. Os Mutantes, the rock bridge along history.
    A friend who belongs to the Dylan generation boasted she took care of her body. True. and? uhn-hun? So?

    Mine is the contrary of an herbalife© infomercial.  I was so  cutie pie thin.  I'd like to believe I'm still a cutie pie.  A big round oatmeal smart cookie.
    We have had our contretemps. Arnaldo Baptista's presence on stage is no short than a miracle. Rita Lee herself talks about her inner demons.  I flipped and got committed to an asylum. No lobotomy; just electric shock treatment. Seven treatments and woke up. Sid Barret wasn't  so lucky.

    We are scarred but saved by the music we dig and make. Loki.  Rock exorcises us. (I'm gonna run and TM this before the evangelicals co-opt it.)

    What about our siblings and family?  Misporah05 Arnaldosergio

    Continue reading "Os Mutantes - Geriatric Rock ? That's Me!" »

    September 24, 2007

    What's Los Angeles Like? It's Like São Paulo

    Pensaba que era linda pero se ve muy fea.
    It's that Narcissus finds ugly what isn't his reflection
    (Caetano Veloso - Sampa)

    On Friday evening there was a storm with lightening and heavy rain.  I couldn't care less; it was similar to a Rio de Janeiro storm.  For a native Los Angelino it's scary, especially after having spent the summer in dry southwestern France, in the countryside.  When there is a storm everybody unplugs there. Lightening can get in and damage a TV set, for example; or the phone.
    Los Angeles gathers 164 languages, zillions of cars, infinite solitude, many little communities, from the fancy-schmancy Bel-Air to the very poor ones in central Los Angeles. There, hot-pillows motels reign for a fast shot or smoke or whatever; little churchfronts promising salvation suck more suckers; pawn shops take goods no questions asked.  Lots of basura on the sidewalks, human lives trashed or litter.  Skid Row at night looks like a sea of cardboard papers sprawled on the sidewalks with toes pointing at rats while the cardboard heaves and inhales and exhales.  This is my city, too.
    To think white flight screwed the neighborhood where U.S.C. is located.  White flight in the Bronx moved us to Rio de Janeiro.
    Back here at USC, in the Oingo Boingo, Tom Petty, Depeche Mode era, I find out I am not white enough or have the education to teach.  After my master's in linguistics at 'SC, listening to the darn marching band my son loves so much, there I go for a graduate course in education, plus emphasis on bilingual Spanish credential.
    In Brazil we say Argentinians smile when there is lightening. They are "known" as being conceited, what do I know? Brazilians feel funny being the only Portuguese speakers in South America.  Argentinians smile because they think God is taking their photos when there is lightning.  They ask for the mapa mundi of Buenos Aires in a bookstore.  Maradona scored a goal with the hand (of God.)
    In Los Angeles we can't afford to despise the Argentinos. Or Spanish, a reality prevalent in our county.  Or Jewish holidays, or Lotus Day, bla-bla-bla-bla.

    While cruising my former 'hood, near 'SC, the thoughts of Rodney King came haunt me. The discomfort of  street vendors  and  poverty, the buzz on Jena 6, was our city at risk of a riot again?

    Yom Kippur dinner at a nice restaurant.  The bourgeois dad saying he expects people he invites to be there. He nearly drools arrogance onto his beard. I am in bermudas, as usual, in my Adidas; we got cash for a bite.  The waiter is from Sandinista country, a mestizo. He can converse small talk in twenty languages, maybe.  We sit in the back facing ANA-MIA Asian chicks.  If they are sideways they fit in a vynil LP jacket.

    Little by little we loosen up. We down the excellent Los Angeles tap water. Gabriel is with the marching band, back in Santiemonica.

    Los Angeles is tough ugly shine-you-crazy-diamond land, somewhat like São Paulo city, the Paulicéia Desvairada, recklessly hallucinated São Paulo immortalized in the collection of Mário de Andrade's 1922 modern poems. São Paulo is the first or second urban sprawl in the Americas, depending on the source. How about our Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles
    de Porciúncula, the capital of "Blade Runner's" dystopia?  Some left it, I love it.  Enjoy yet another new très kewl opening sequence to  the  film, based on a Phillip K. Dick paranoid fantasy. Another.

    Continue reading "What's Los Angeles Like? It's Like São Paulo" »

    September 23, 2007

    o céu n'água

    o céu n'água
    Originally uploaded by anarchic_universe
    The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro is the potty of the world. It rains all the time there.
    The Portuguese improved life in the colony after they fled Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808.
    • They opened the ports of Brazil to friendly nations.
    • They founded the first colleges in Brazil.
    • The printing press was allowed.

    Now ask yourself why iliteracy is almost atavic in Brazil?

    September 17, 2007

    After the Storm, Samba and Futebol

    It's a productive Monday so far. Cleaning cupboards, reorganizing staples, chatting my heart away with Jeannie, time flies by. On the other end of my life, Brazil, utter silence.

    On the weekend, the ending of the National Futebol Championship gives some Brazilians a reason to celebrate and others a reason to be grouchier than before. At the beginning of this grueling championship, many fans act
    blasé; a so-what 'tude prevails especially among the US-coopted teens. But now all colors are out. I know Botafogo is fine but don't follow results.

    In the briefly republic of Rio Grande do Sul, our southernmost state, there are two big teams: Grêmio and Internacional. Grêmio won yesterday, with its colors, light blue , white and black stripes, flying to the sorrow of Internacional fans, the Colorado, red shirt with white details.

    I love blue. I do feel sorry for the man in the street, the poor Brazilian whose soccer team is a weekend boss, mistress and spouse. Rio Grande do Sul has a vast number of inhabitants on the Q-T today.

    It's as if Brazil got spent from mixed emotions of shame for an allegedly corrupt speaker for the Senate, drowned its shame in happiness, beer and sorrow in futebol weekend, some doing the samba; others kicking the proverbial dog. Today is quiet, of an oppresive solitude here in my Brazil.Are they comig or leaving? Clouds

    Continue reading "After the Storm, Samba and Futebol" »