Archive for the 'brazil' Category

Wish I Was Here

Tuesday February 20, 2007

Can’t get out of the habit of watching Rio’s Carnival live on TV just before I go to bed at night. In case you don’t know much about Rio, the current Governor of California made a helpful travelogue several years ago. This makes even me squirm.

Warning: the following clip shows pretty explicit scenes of white men dancing.

Foreign Minister and She Knows It

Monday February 19, 2007

It’s probably not a good idea for me to watch Fashion TV’s live coverage of the Rio Carnival. It just causes me to feel sorry for myself, horny (they wear hardly any clothes, although far too much plastic for my tastes) and to call people who I shouldn’t who don’t answer anyway coz they’re too busy enjoying themselves at the Carnival.

This woman is officially the fittest Foreign Minister on the planet. Country? Yep, Colombia. Being Foreign Minister is Colombia must be pretty shitty. I’d hate it coz I’d be overseas all the time trying to convince people there’s more to the country than kidnapping and drug trafficking when you’d much rather be at home <licks lips> looking after Colombianas.

Media consumed recently:

Estudando o Pagode from Tom Zé.  Ace.  This guy is really old but you couldn’t tell from this CD, a really nice mix of contemporary and traditional Brazilian music

Hard Candy.  Over-rated.  I think if you make any half-competent film with a ‘challenging’ subject matter (teenage girl turns tables on pedo) you’ll get positive critical reviews.   But beyond the challenging subject matter, this film is pretty hackneyed.  For a really challenging, but well-made film, see Todd Solondz’s Happiness.

Best of the Jackson 5.  Really.  For probably the most striking vocal performance ever in pop music, listen to ‘I Want You Back’ from an 11 year old Michael Jackson.   Such pain, agony and torment from, worth saying it again, an eleven year old.

I Knew Her When Her Breath Used to Stink

Monday February 12, 2007

My last night in Rio was spent again with N in a samba club I´ve been to before and still can´t remember the name of.  Whilst there, I saw this girl I knew from my very first trip to Brazil 2 years ago.  She is a lovely Brazilian-Lebanese smoothie and as tasty as it sounds, only a little bit nuts.  So nuts, in fact, that she qualified as one of only two stalkers I´ve had in my life (the other one was Arabic too funnily enough).  The last time she spoke she was housekeeping in France and then Italy after her father died in a car accident in Rio 18 months ago. 

Anyway, when I saw her the other night she looked quite simply stunning.  She´d lost weight (and she was never fat) and just looked brilliant…..a definite 9 and I wouldn´t be surprised if she was modelling now.  Unfortunately she was with some rich looking Italian guy, probably her husband, so I couldn´t be overly forward in approaching her, plus I was with N, so I thought I´d just position myself near her and wait for us to bump into each other.  After about, erm, say, 2 hours of this I finally gave-up.  I couldn´t remember her name anyway, plus I remember that her breath was a bit stinky.  She looked so much better now, I´d be suprised if her shit stank.

I´m writing this from an internet cafe in Madrid airport, my Madrid-London flight delayed by an hour.  I´m in such a foul mood.  I get these post holiday depressions that I wonder if it´s worth going on holiday in the first place.  If you factor in the pre-departure and post-arrival stress at work, plus the cost, it probably isn´t.

Cidade de Deus. Busted.

Sunday February 11, 2007

Going back to the UK, via Spain, tomorrow. Normally at about this time in my vacation I start to plan the next visit to Brazil and this time is no different….8th April.

I was waiting for a friend at a bar the other day, a bit pished, and started talking to these two girls in the way that you do in this part of the world. They asked me where I was from and I began My Usual Routine. My Usual Routine is the most deplorable, cynical and yet highly-effective tactic ever deployed by a man in trying to sleep with a woman. It’s deplorable and cynical because I say the same thing everytime. I do this because a) it’s very effective…actually incredible effective and b) I don’t know how to say very many words in Portuguese. It goes a little something like this: (written in a very weird mix of Spanish and Portuguese, coz I don’t really know how to write Portuguese)

Her: de donde eres? Americano? (where are you from?  America?)

Me: Eu? Soi carioco (me? I’m from Rio)

Her (laughing): Carioco??? No parece Carioco (From Rio? You don’t look like you’re from Rio)

Me: Sim, Rio. Soi Carioco. De la Favela (Yep, Rio. I’m from Rio. From the Favela (the ghetto))

Her (now really laughing): La Favela? Cual Favela? (The Favela? Which Favela?)

Me (with best earnest face): El Cidade de Deus.  Sim.  Es muito perigroso (The City of God.  Yep.  It’s very dangerous)

The City of God is Rio’s most dangerous and therefore most famous Favela. Brought to international fame by the conveniently-titled and super-fantastic film ‘City of God’)

And it goes on a bit like this for about 30 minutes or until I get bored or, more frequently, they call the police. It’s funny coz here’s a man who is very obviously a middle-class, plump gringo, pretending to be from one of the toughest urban areas in the world.

Anyway….N arrives and we go eat. The next day I was walking with N again along Avenida Atlantica, the enormous beachfront street, when the two girls I was chatting with the day before see me from the other side and start shouting ‘Oi! Cidade de deus!!! Cidade de deus!’. I look at them with a puzzled face, trying to purvey a ‘who are you and why are you saying that to me?’ expression, whilst N is looking at me with a ‘are you still using that stupid line?’ expression.

Rio is obviously a dangerous city, but when I’m on vacation I try to ignore the stories of the crime here because it could paralyse you through fear. But one particular story has hit the headlines recently that I couldn’t avoid. It’s an horrific story of a car-jacking gone wrong. A family, stopped at a red light, were held-up by two gungmen and ordered to leave the car. The youngest child, 7, couldn’t get out in time and the gunmen drove away with him hanging from the back door…for 4 miles. Read the story here, but be warned it’s pretty gruesome.. It’s not a very good article but I can’t find any other articles in English on it, which is surprising coz it’s a massive story here. If you know anyone that works for the UK newspapers please pass this story on coz it’s worth covering and it seems to have stunned Brazil, comparable to the Jamie Bulger case in Britain 14 years ago.

Changing the subject: you’d be stunned at the exposure British chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey get here. Their programmes, ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’ and ‘The F Word’, get daily runs in decent slots on high profile channels. It got me thinking as to how important television can be in raising a country’s profile internationally coz if you think about it, other than the royal family and football, there’d be very little coverage of the UK in this part of the world.

In the light of Italian football’s recent crisis, here’s an interesting article on why the US, the most violent developed country in the world, doesn’t have a problem with crowd violence at sporting events.

Culture

Thursday February 8, 2007

Another night spent in N’s unairconditioned apartment in Leme, a district of Rio near Copacabana. ‘Is it dangerous here for Gringos here at night?’ I asked. ‘No. It’s dangerous for everyone’.

Which was pretty much my instinct about the place from the few times I’ve been there. I certainly stick out like a sore thumb and the taxi driver last night looked a bit concerned as he drove away watching me furiously ringing N’s doorbell screaming ‘In the name of God, open the fucking the fucking door!’ as the kids slowly started to gather round me. A bit like the ‘Thriller’ video actually.

Not much to report about last night. All we did was order expensive Japanese, get stoned and watch a crappy American film, with Portuguese subtitles. It’s one of my most annoying habits: even when the film is an English-language film, I can’t help but try and read the sub-titles, which means I have an average net comprehension rate of less than 50%.

I sometimes have guilty feelings about doing things like this when I’m on holiday, coz it’s not like I can’t watch a bad video and eat overpriced food at home. But then again, I’ve been here so many times that there isn’t actually anything to see that I haven’t seen once already and so it’s now much more about seeing friends. Plus, for too many people, travelling is about checklists: the cathedrals, the galleries, the museums, but culture isn’t found in these places. Watching a Will Smith film in a Sao Paulo shopping mall is, spending 45 minutes in traffic on a swelteringly hot day politely tolerating the MBP blasting from the taxi driver’s radio, stopping off at a service station somewhere in-between Rio and SP for some Feijoada…all of this is Brazilian culture, because it’s what Brazilians do everyday.

The first half of yesterday was spent working. On Tuesday night I got increeeedbibly drunk (but not in an interesting way, hence no post), therefore Wednesday I decided to atone for my sins by working a few hours. I brought my laptop with me this time, so I just bring it to a local, very well air-conditioned, net cafe and quite happily worked away until I felt sufficiently atoned. This is the first-time, btw, that I’ve actually written the word atoned. I was so pleased with myself that I both used it correctly and spelt it correctly that I thought I’d use it twice in the same sentence. I hope you don’t mind.

I have a friend who claims he’s used the word ‘contemporaneous’, in his words ‘dozens of times’. Why I waste my time with ‘friends’ like these who are seemingly quite content to lie through their teeth to me, I just don’t know. I also have a friend who’s into Jigsaws. Having reached the conclusion that I need to get some new friends, fast, I’ve made a quick list of people, or the kinds of people, I’d like to know:

  • that woman in the hot pants who just walked by me
  • a drug dealer, who’s also a nice guy
  • a really hot and homesick Brazilian girl living in London. She’d be terribly sad because she misses her family and her ‘people’ ever so much. She’d love to get to know some English people, but she finds them ‘very cold’.
  • one famous person. Preferably a woman, and obviously gorgeous. Someone who all my male friends would agree is ‘really hot’. Not too famous coz if she was too famous, say like Nicole Kidman, I couldn’t delude myself that there was a possibility of sleeping with her. But someone like, erm….say….Kirsty Gallagher would be nice.
  • any of the female Big Brother Brasil contestants
  • a professional footballer.  We’d have done a couple of business verntures together, so he trusted me enough to speak his mind about the current football scene.

All quite possible I think.

Nobs

Tuesday February 6, 2007

Back in Rio for the last few days of the trip.

I’ve just settled-in after a 6 hour coach journey from Sao Paulo.  In general Sao Paulo isn’t that interesting, it’s too modern, industrial, expensive and spread-out to be anything special for a tourist.  The only thing that can make it worthwhile is if you have a host as good as O was.  She was just fab in showing me round a city that is pretty difficult to get to grips with for a tourist.

Sunday we went to a very expensive Churrascaria on Ave Paulista, SP’s main drag if it has one.  Churrascaria’s are great, but from my experience the meat they serve is always the same: excellent, so you should generally find the cheapest one that you feel comfortable in coz anything more expensive will be a waste of money.

After the meal a first for me, Brazilian country and western, called Sertanejo.  Again, an interminable drive somewhere in a taxi, to a place with a familiar C & W feel, half-empty, but all of those inside dancing something a bit like how a Brazilian might dance to C&W, a peculiar combination that in the end looks a bit like salsa.  The Spanish speaking countries in South America have a thing about how the Brazilians can’t dance salsa, I can’t tell the difference.

The story about the missing Miss Brazil has been hitting the news over here in the past few days.  She was awarded the crown after the original Miss Brazil had to give it up because she participated in Brazil’s version of Big Brother called, wait for it, ‘Big Brother’, so she was already kinda famous in that ‘oh yeah, i remember her’ kinda way.   Consensus: she’s a garota de programa.

If ever you take a long road journey at night you’ll be stunned by how many love motels there are.  In the hour before arriving in SP last Friday there must have been, literally, 100.  My favourite name: ‘Nobs’.

Her Edgy Gringo Friend

Sunday February 4, 2007

Still in Sao Paulo,  went out last night with O.  Although a native Paulista, she lives miles out of town and has only recently returned to the city so doesn´t have a clue where is good to go.  Not knowing this, I let her choose, so we spent 30 minutes in a cab going to a remote area of SP only to find two over-crowded bars, with what looked like at least a 30 minute queue populated by 16 year olds.  So we ended up taking another 30 minute cab ride back to Jardim, which is where I´d originally suggested we go.  Moral of the story: be strong, take control…be a man.

Even though we´d finally arrived in a somewhat-acceptable drinking establishment, it was still far from desirable…it was ´All Blacks´ in Jardim Paulista, an affluent and therefore uninteresting district of central Sao Paulo.  All Blacks as you probably can tell is an English themed pub, that had a live band playing horrendous soft-rock covers.  They covered them well, but if you cover an horrendous song well, it´s still an horrendous soft-rock cover.

O has lost loads of weight since the last time I saw her and she was slim then.  Now she´s skinny and because of this looks like a teenager (she´s 25).  Meaning: a) I get lots of dubious looks and b) she gets hit on a lot.  An example of the latter being when she went to the bar to get drinks, only 2 feet away from me, and was hit upon by this gross middle-aged brazilian (I´m a gross middle-aged gringo, which is an entiiiiiirely different thing).  ´I´m with my boyfriend´ she says, pointing at me and so we shake hands, but he continues to talk with her.  She repeats it, and I reinforced it with a ´But you don´t care do you?´, in English, looking straight at his eyes, giving a gangsta performance that De Niro would be proud of, to which he replied ´No I dont ´.  Which was a good move on his part coz it caused me to cack my pants, grab O and scurry to a different area of the bar as far away as possible from him.

Then onto Love Story.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I´d had my second doubts about going here with her, now I was onto to my eighth and ninth.  At about 2ish she brought it up and, delicately, I shared my reservations with her ´There´s loads of hookers and trannies there, I dont think you´ll like it´.  But she insisted, so we went and I´m glad we did coz it was ace, as it always is.   Surprisingly, and I dont know why it´s suprising but it is, there are loads of male hookers there too.  And trannies.  Male hookers and trannies.  Should bring in a couple o more hits.  They´re all muscly and beefed up, a bit like me but a tad less-lardy.  A stupid question: are male hookers usually gay?  Coz there were loads making out with girls last night.  I suppose you shouldn´t necessarily have to be gay in that profession, but it´s gotta make life easier hasn´t it?

I forgot how much Brazilian Funk they play there.  Not having been to Brazil for over a year, Brazilian-Funk/Thrash metal mash-ups seem to be all the rage these days.  Quite good.  Can´t sing along to it though.  It´s only a matter of time before there´s a crossover Brazilian Funk artist in Europe or the US, or at least a crossover single. 

And when the girls dance to Funk…oh my god….´Why are you crying?´she asked when the first track came on…´I dunno, something in my eye´.

So we finished at the requisite obscene hour of 6am, went back to the hotel, happy that I´d officially pulled-off the title of O´s Edgy Gringo Friend.

Sao Paulo

Saturday February 3, 2007

I am now in Sao Paulo.   I arrived at 2.30 this morning by bus (!), slightly mis-planning, as you probably can tell, the journey and arriving 5 hours later than I expected.  This meant I didn´t meet O last night as I was supposed to and it also meant my hotel reservation was now invalid as it expired at 10pm.  I called them to tell them I´d be late but they weren´t having any of it, even though I was happy to give them my credit card over the phone.  Eventually they referred me to another hotel

I´m now staying at Hotel San Gabriel in Rua Augusta.  Rua Augusta is like what Times Square used to be…a very peculiar mix of transvestite hookers, regular cinemas, sex shops, supermarkets and 5-star hotels with an audience of johns and families.  It´s only a matter of time before they clean this place to oblivion, so central as it is in San Paulo, but for now, for me, it has just the right mix of sleaze and character with a just-about-tolerable level of danger.

We´re supposed to be going to a club called Love Story tonight.  I´m not sure this is a good idea.  I´ve been a few times, but O hasn´t and I´m worried it´s a bit too street for her.  You see, out of the two of us, it´s only me that has experienced Stevenage High Street on a Saturday night.

Love Story is where the Sao Paulo´s finest sex workers go after work.  They go to sit back, relax and wipe the semen from their palms as they contemplate another hard night´s work at the office.  It doesn´t open til 3´, there´s barely anyone there til 5, and I´ve never actually left before 7.  For most it´s  probably a bit too edgy, and if I wasn´t extremely pished and with a friend each time I´ve been, it would be for me.  As I write this I´convinced this is not a place I should go with O.  I don´t know what I´m doing coming up with plans anyway, she´s the one that lives here.

Prediction: if we go to Love Story tonight, for one reason or another, we won´t be going to Florianopolis tomorrow.

Brasiiiiil. Instincts. Very, Very Drunk

Saturday February 3, 2007

In Brazil.

 For those of you that have the misfortune to be in regular contact with me, other than through this blog, you´ll have heard me talk about the bad feelings I´ve had about this trip.  Something that I can´t quite put my finger on has been bothering me about it and I´ve been feeling an undue amount of anxiety.  And I trust my instincts.  Let´s hope then, that the failure of my luggage to arrive on the same plane as me is the extent of my misfortune this trip. 

After arriving, shouting at Iberia for 15 minutes, getting a taxi and remembering that I you can´t withdraw money in Brazilian ATMs after 10pm, I settled for a quiet drink with my friend Nubia, a native carioca who always shows me quite incredible amounts of hospitality (that´s not code for anything in case you´re wondering).  It´s probably a good idea, I said to myself, after getting up at 3.30am and travelling for 16 hours via Spain, to have a tranquil first night.

I woke up at 11.30 the next morning, fully-clothed, lying atop my untouched bed, wondering what the hell happened the night before.  I was so incredibly hungover, and completely without the ability to remember a thing of what had happened the night before, that I was beginning to suspect I´d been drugged/spiked, something which is apparantly not completely unheard of in Rio and which has happened to me (in Spain) before. 

Anyway, struggling to get up, I noticed two opened, but unused, condoms on the floor.  So clearly, whatever I was doing involved at least the aspiration of getting my end away.  Familiar ground, so I now feel much happier about the situation.  Although I do have horrendous images of me at least twice during the night mustering up the energy to unwrap the condoms, and then eventually succumbing to my drunkeness. by collapsing on the bed.  At the time I had no idea who I was with but Nubia eventually filled me at lunch with a stern ´arent you embarrassed?´ expression on her face.

I wasn´t really capable of feeling any human emotion, such was the size of my hangover.  It was all I could do to stand-up and god knows how I left my hotel, my general grottiness contributed to by the fact I didn´t have a change of clothes because my luggage was somewhere over the Atlantic ocean. 

Because I´m very fond of her, I was determined to be on my best behaviour that night and go to a somewhat decent restaurant in Ipanema.  We did that, but to cut a long story short we ended up drinking til 6 with her friends in her apartment in what looked like a Favela in Leme, again waking up at 6am the two of us on a single bed that would normally be just-about a suitable size for my left leg.  The horrible heat of the Brazilian summer, and the lack of air-conditioning in her apartment, made it much worse.  So naturally I felt absolutely horrendous, but at least this time she was equally complicit.

 I´m now in Sao Paulo to meet Otavia and then off to Florianoplis for 4 days.  Will blog again very soon.

Media

Tuesday January 2, 2007

Was expecting to be out of the country over Xmas, but had to change plans at the last minute. Instead, I:

  • Went to Guanabara, a Brazilian club. Predictably, the waitresses were all Brazilian and all hot-hot-hot (‘Oi gatinha, tudo bem?’ was something I was too sober to say, but desperately wanted to).
  • Saw London to Brighton. Enjoyed it a lot. Felt like I was seeing a real film with real actors for the first-time in ages.
  • Saw Flags of Our Fathers by Clint Eastwood. It’s great that an 80-year old man still has an appetite for re-inventing genres. This isn’t quite that, but it’s at least an attempt at giving a new perspective to a well-trodden subject. My appetite for re-inventing genres was beaten out of me at the age of 8 when I suggested to my family that perhaps we shouldn’t watch The Great Escape again this Christmas and that perhaps it was time for an update of this tired old genre flick. Never again.
  • Took a friend’s child (with permission this time, I’m not making that mistake twice) to see the re-issued Wizard of Oz. Although I’ve seen WOZ several times at the cinema before (sad, I know) this was the first-time with a child. I’d like to say that this time I saw it through a childs-eye and that I re-discovered the sense of awe and amazement as I had when I saw the movie for the very first time, but truth be told I’ve never actually ever tired of this movie.  Unfortunately I was probably slightly embarrassing to the 3 year old sat next to me as he bolted for the door when I burst into ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’. He was supposed to reply ‘Which old witch?’ and then I’d say ‘The wicked witch!’ but we never quite pulled it off.

Got a business trip to Latvia next week.