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Brazzil - Letters - May/June 2003
 

A Paraguayan View

Mr. Fitzpatrick, I have found your article "The Rise of the Brazilian Empire" - www.brazzil.com/p129may03.htm - through a recent Google search. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a topic discussed, since most Brazilians forget the imperial past of their country and the expansionist ambitions it still harbors.

I can witness what you described as the increasing presence of Brazilian settlers in the border regions with Paraguay. As a citizen of Paraguay, the issue of Brazilian-Paraguayans, "Brasiguayos", is a constant topic of worry among journalists and academicians. Many fear Paraguay's sovereignty is under threat to Brazilian cultural and political expansionism.

The situation is aggravated by Brazil's strategic interest in the Itaipu dam which provides it a vital flow of energy which it cannot rescind. Many political commentators have feared that Brazilian military intervention in Paraguay is a possibility if political unrest in Paraguay threatens the safety of the Itaipu dam.

I would also like to discuss your portrayal of the beginnings of the Triple Alliance War or the War of Paraguay, as Brazilians know it. Paraguay declared war on Brazil because of its invasion and intervention of Uruguay, in violation of the Paraguay-Uruguay self-defense treaty of 1850. Therefore Paraguay can hardly be depicted as the belligerent, because Brazil was openly attacking an ally of Paraguay.

On that note, I would like to ask you if you would know of any scholars studying the Paraguayan War. I am assisting a professor of mine at Williams in researching the Paraguayan War and any email references would be of great assistance.

Federico Sosa
Williamstown, Massachusetts

Some Blacks Won't Learn

Bravo, Mr Cristaldo!

Well done on your latest article for Brazzil magazine entitled "Afrobrazilianists: Such Arrogance!"- www.brazzil.com/p126may03.htm. These US Americans are unfortunately trying to infect Brazil with their obsession with race, a disease that has been a hallmark of US American history up till today. It's unfortunate that these people don't seem to realize that not everywhere is like the United States of America.

But I really do think it's all a matter of misunderstanding. It takes some time—years or even decades—of living amongst a people to grow to understand and appreciate how they think differently. It may take someone like this Mr. Wells decades of living in Brazil to realize that Brazilians don't think like US Americans—a thought that may have been lost to him.

My family and I were surprised at how differently Australians think from the English, since, being so closely related, we thought that their thought processes would work in the same way. This is progressively proving not to be the case, as we continue learn about how Aussie think after eleven years of living here.

But unfortunately, it seems like it'll never the be the case with these Afro-Brazilianists, since they seem determined to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the emperor is clothed. Keep up the good work! And never let this US American disease infect and debilitate Brazil!

Frank Gashumba
Australia

Laughable

I always wondered how Hitler got all of those PhD's to go along with his racist ideology. After reading Cristaldo's attack on Afro-Brazilian activists I can see clearly how a racist can still be educated but highly racist.

Cristaldo lacks credibility as shown by the many mistakes of facts in his writings. He offers opinions as if they are facts. He never says "In my opinion". All Brazilians should be ashamed of Janer Cristaldo. He would be laughed at by both white and black Americans if he were here in the US.

Brian Coff
Via Internet

Time to Have a Caipirinha

After living in Brazil for 2 years, in Copacabana, and seeing a fair amount of the rest of the country, I only wish I could live a few hours out of Rio on the coast headed to Paraty. Having said that, I can recall when the Letters to the editor on this Brazzil site were short and fun. Writers were not denigrating each other. Letters were a taste of Brazil, happy, energetic, fun, and to the point. Now when I read the letters I cannot even finish most of the them due to becoming bored with the "bashing" of each other. May I say lighten up, relax, have an Antarctica or a caipirinha, play a little bossa, dance a little samba...or go here and see some soothing tropical pictures: www.kauai-blue-lagoon.com Muitos abraços...

Joaquim
Hawaii

Lamentable

It is rather distressing to read the oversimplified, ethnocentric and misinformed notions of ethnicity, race and class revealed in the lamentable article written by Janer Cristaldo, April 2003, Brazzil. The rhetoric used in his article was disturbingly similar to French and North American 1920's eugenic discourse. And today those notions of eugenic "pseudo-science" and racist nonsense are easily refuted by serious contemporary political, social and cultural academics. The article was truly lamentable because his thoughts represent such a narrow-minded, distorted and misguided view of Brazilian political, social and ethnic history. I had to continue reading to see if the article was not an intentional twisted satire.

I find it even more disturbing, particularly as a Brazilian, to read such gross stereotypes by comparing Africans to Idi Amin Dada and Europeans to Mozart and the ramifications of this rhetoric within Brazilian racial and ethnic realms. Africa is not a country, it is a continent. The oversimplifications stated in the article reflect a pathetic attempt to reiterate outdated misinformation and sound like they came straight out of 1939, Germany.

The comments were inaccurate, absurd and highly racist, and hold absolutely no serious validity. In light of Cristaldo's muddled and illogical comments I find it hard, if not impossible to believe that Cristaldo has ever read Thomas Skidmore, Silva and Haselbalg, Carl Degler, Cardoso and Ianni, Melissa Nobles, Abdias do Nascimento and Robin Sheriff, to name a few serious Brazilian and Brazilianist scholars, that have long ago refuted all of his absurd claims.

The terms "ethnicity" and "race" have become widely misunderstood and ambiguous in the realm of world political and cultural discourse. Brazil's ethnic and "racial" components have been, and still are, confusing and perplexing to Brazilians and foreigners alike. To oversimplify and dismiss "racial" discourse particularly within Brazilian political and social thought is to merely "sweep the dirt under the rug", since "race" and social class are not mutually exclusive components of Brazilian society.

Alan Marcus
Via Internet

Hi, Señor Cristaldo, I read your article, which I personally believe stated significantly my personal interpretation on this matter, of course, with some opposing view I must say. Please let these "scholars of racism" know the "living true" or close to real conditions of this subject in Brazil. Do not allow them to impose their distorted Americanized, negative, racist view.

Victor
Ontario, California

Brazilian Intolerance

I am shocked by this senseless murder. ("Hate Crime" - www.brazzil.com/p37jun02.htm) I have been in Brazil five times and I fell in love with it straight away. But the more I went the more scared I became observing the violence in the air day and night.

The machismo is so powerful and intimidating. If you have long hair as a man you are either a 'tarado', veado, hippy, or artist-junkie-no-good. In Nova Xavantina in Mato Grosso I was told by a rancher that men who wear shorts - I was wearing red Adidas shorts - were considered veados (gays) in Brazil and not liked.

A bus driver in Belo Horizonte refused to drive and threatened to call the police if I didn't put on trousers. If you wear rings or a necklace as a man you are hippy or veado.

Though I have many friends I resist going back. I am not tired of my life and prefer to stay in Buddhist countries where one is more tolerant for gay people.

Alann De Vuyst
www.shopart.com/devuyst

Brazilians, Go Home

Now let us Americans get this straight. Brazil says no to our request to establish some technology in or near Amazonia ("Brazil to Say 'No, Thanks' to US - www.brazzil.com/p128may03.htm ). Brazil says no! Brazil receives millions of US dollars in aid from us, and incidentally has trouble paying it back on time. Brazil seems to have a friendly way with Castro. And Colombia's FARQ. Brazil did not support U.S.A. in our war with Iraq.

Brazil press seems to have a slight anti U.S.A. sentiment. Brazil floods us with ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS with nothing more than tourist visas long expired, for the past 10 years! Americans are warned to be careful of traveling in Brazil due to being targets of thieves etc.

There's something wrong with this picture. Perhaps Americans should be taking a closer look at these realities. Incidentally, do you remind all your people here that their visas have long expired and they are in violation of American law by remaining here!

John Doe
USA

Hi John,

I like the way you are writing this information. Even a regular guy like me can understand the red tape that surrounds the green and yellow flag. Do you know if government VIP's read your material(s)? Do you work with or for them? They may be able to learn from your works.

Taxes, it seems that taxes are the key to everyone's achievements in government (raise them... cut them, the Bush's creation. ). BMW automobiles opened a factory a few years ago of all places, the state of Alabama. Why? Cheap state taxes; if any at all, labor, property, energy plus extras from the state governor.

An ex-governor ( Brizola, if I remember correctly ) of Rio had built many cement block schools, didn't have the monies (?) to finish the constructions and/or hire teachers, etc.. Tax money at work. It sure was a waste of a large amount of Cruzados again at that time. The buildings were empty for years for lack of funds.

It seems that when Brazilian officials run out of juice, they all go to France. It must be the wine and cheese parties or a good place to step on dog crap. Can it be that they want to become Europeans or just far away to be out of the present bureaucracy and learn new tricks from the French?

I heard a saying on the PBS radio about another countries government. "it's the same donkey, just a different saddle."

Caio Valladares
Via Internet

Dear Ben Googin, I read your January 2001 well written, highly informative "You're Hired" - www.brazzil.com/p35jan01.htm - and have a few questions. I hope you can answer them, being that it is over 2 years since your internet publication date.

#1. I taught high school (multi-subject, K-12 all subjects, including ESL) for 7 years, until I seized upon a once-in-a-lifetime chance in the music industry 5 years ago. Although my California Teaching Credentials just expired (no reason to renew them at $150/each since my teaching is limited to tutoring), I am a very qualified teacher. Do you suggest omitting my music industry work on my resume for teaching English in Brazil? Not mentioning my hiatus into the music industry, to obtain a teaching position?

#2. Last November, I spent 3 weeks in Brazil. November is a month full of Holidays: it was fine for tourist-type visiting, (week in the northern Pantanal, week in Manaus, Amazon, week on the beach). I was planning to return this year, for a month, a reconnaissance mission, investigating teaching job opportunities, spending most of my time in Rio, "handing out resume" and, perhaps Manaus. You mentioned job opportunities in Rio, what do you know about Manaus? I don't want to look for work where there is none.

Because of the (impending) Christmas/winter recess, would a reconnaissance visit in November 2003 be a waste of funds? Would my time and money be better spent flying down, with the intention of staying at least 3 months, in the beginning of February 2004? The last part of January 2004, when they're back from recess?

#3 As you said, "...the best way to go is simply arrive with a few resumes.. and hit the streets."

I know you mentioned "the best months are March and August"; however, to fill job vacancies, should I be "in town" the end of February/ end of July?

#4. It's 2003: how much cash should I budget to live on until I am employed? With about 3rs:$1USD, quote me in dollars, a monthly budget, living in "the city", so to speak, that I should be prepared to take with me.

#5. Can you give me addresses of SAFE places to live (Rio seems to be your 1st hand expertise). I would be living alone and have the mixed blessing of being attractive: being a 33 year old, 5'-8", 128 lb. "leggy" blond with long blond hair can be as much of an asset as a liability (when you "stand out", you attract, equally, the right and the wrong attention).

I don't mind paying a little more for housing than I should to be in an "upscale" area.

Thank you for your prompt reply,

Joanne Stanulonis (née Carrillo)

Shame on John

Journalists should honor their social role in society. I have always heard that Brazilian have held a real fascination for foreigners. I refuse this stereotype because I only respect well-educated people who have devoted their lives to their subject in a responsible manner and I believe that the greatest "Country" in the world is Education and Culture. I also understand that even when a professional writes for a living, delivering a piece of writing in another country requires a person to be opened to the new and well oriented to a certain level of maturity.

Mr. Fitzpatrick's article "I will miss you, Fernando" — www.brazzil.com/p106jan03.htm   — points out how a not appropriate acquaintance toward a subject matter can generate an inconvenient and a stressed demonstration of intolerance by a supposed permanent foreign resident, as Mr. Fitzpatrick—who is said to live in São Paulo, since 1995 . As a matter of fact, the author is somebody who runs a Communication Company, that offers editorial and a translation services to Brazilian and foreign clients.

Anyway, our culture is in some aspects very similar to American and European, but it is also very different. We are a country that does not have the same level of technology or facilities that a foreign may have had; so, living here may cause frustration, when the resident candidate is not prepared for it. We are not "self- pitying people", as said, we are just not assertive nor aggressive. A national character open to negotiation and interaction is our privilege. Bad tempered, cautious, long-range stern people are not able to face, to understand or to write about Brazil, nor about Brazilians.

In addition, I would like to remark that living in another country means learning not only about being human, but mainly about being a human being. Who has authorized the author to say,: "Brazilians need... Brazilians need to change..." Why should we take the American experience as a pattern, as he has suggested? When he refers to Brazilian culture he must do it respectfully to the possibilities and limitations of our specific way of living. He must not impose on ( or demand from) us, his own values.

Even being a land of extremes, and despite the enormous social and economic difficulties, Brazilians are happy, spontaneous and live in the present time ( it's a singular vision of the world) so, standardized types go to hell when they face our style. Being a person who works for Brazilians, Mr. Fitzpatrick didn't get a balanced level of understanding about our country. It is my hope that he keeps having inconvenience and a lot of stress, since it has not been an honor to have him around.

Heloísa Prazeres
Brazil

Glad to Know You

I enjoyed reading your interview with Helio Castroneves ("Castroneves's Thrill Is Back" - www.brazzil.com/p107may03.htm  ). I have been a fan of Helio even before he won the Indy 500. He is always so cheerful and optimistic, besides being handsome. The coverage that the IRL series receives from ABC is awful. With the exception of the Indy 500, the fans are deprived of qualifying and very often the winners interviews. The more that people learn about the drivers on a personal level, the greater chance that they will become ardent race fans. Keep up the good work.

Patti Gerstenmaier
Via Internet

Your e -mail mechanism doesn't work. All that pops up is an e-mail note in contrast to other pages which expedite sending of the article to others. Thank you for the article, however ("How Brazil's Lula Is Fooling the World" - www.brazzil.com/p130may03.htm  ) It's quite illuminating. Part of the anti-Americanism in Brazil, in my opinion, is intensified by the fact that the Voice of America closed its Brazilian Service last year. Perhaps you could do a story on that.

Via Internet

Been There, Done That

Re: "How to Marry a Brazilian" - www.brazzil.com/p124may03.htm, I can attest to the fact that getting married in Brazil is a very complicated endeavor. My Brazilian wife and I have been married for close to two years now, but reading your article brought back harrowing memories.

I can't tell you how many hours I spent on the phone with the US Consulate in Rio. Actually, I hired an attorney here in the States to help me navigate through the process. You really have to keep on top of the situation and push the envelope. Normally, even after you are married it can take months for a Brazilian to get the proper visa to leave Brazil.

In my case, it took only one week after the Consulate interview. If you stay on top of things and grease the wheels, you can make it happen!!!

Boa sorte,

James R. Hoffmann
Via Internet

Varig, Good Luck

Re: "Sky Is Falling over Varig" - www.brazzil.com/p122may03.htm  Nowadays the process to keep Airlines alive is to merge with other Airline. This is not always a good solution, but we have seen this in Canada and some other countries trying to do what the good Brazilian government is doing in order to save one of the best airlines in the world. TAM and Varig will bring the solution to the problem faced by most of the companies today. They will need to restructure the routes and change their service attitude. Best of luck and may the good will of government and workers do the effects expected.

Jose A. Riveroll

Enjoyed reading John Fitzpatrick's article "For Job Seekers Brazil Is No Eldorado." - www.brazzil.com/p108may03.htm 

I would like it known that at Colina do Sol, Brazil's Finest Naturist Center, www.coninadosol.com.br  we have a Co-op that provides Naturist from Brazil, and visiting naturist from all over the world, room, board and pay for folks willing to work a minimum of 30 hours per week. The jobs are varied, and the Co-op members make the final decision as to their skill match. At the end of each season, April 30th, the profits are split among the Co-op members.

All Co-op members enjoy free access to all the amenities that regular Colina do Sol Members enjoy. The Co-op is registered with the local office of the Department of Labor.

John's superb article completely left out all mention of Retirement Visas. Retirement Visas may be obtained by folks over 50 years of age. Except for voting privileges, holders enjoy all the rights of citizenship. To qualify, a couple must have a monthly retirement income of US$ 2,000.00. They are obtained within the retirees country of origin, and cost about US$ 200.00 to obtain. My retired 87 year old uncle built a new home on a hill with a view to die for, for a price under $US 15,000.00

At three reais per dollar, his monthly Social Security pension enables him to live as he never was able to during all the years that he worked in the USA. He cannot be employed in Brazil, but he can lend his surplus funds. With the current prime lenders rate at 26.5%, he is making a return on his investment ten times what his bank back in his home of origin in California, USA pays to investors.

Anyone, wanting to correspond in the English language with residents of Colina do Sol, should E-mail or write Colina do Sol's official English Language Speaking Club, Dois Amigos. Write: Dois Amigos Caixa 170 Taquara, RS/ Brasil CEP95600.000, or E-mail: ColinaDoSol@aol.com

Thank You! Abraços,

Fritz Louderback

Dear John, I read with keen interest your article regarding looking for employment in Brazil. I, too, followed a similar career path, but with very different results. Hopefully, my experiences will shed some needed light for your readers on this area, which seems to be one perpetually shrouded in mystery and misinformation.

To begin with, I am a naturalized American citizen, born in Brazil, who came to New York in 1959 with my parents. I was raised in the city, went to school, graduated and worked there most of my adult life. After many frustrating years in the financial sector, and certainly after the birth of my two daughters, I decided on a major lifestyle change and immigrated with my Brazilian wife and family back to the mother country.

Your excellent advice to learn Portuguese is an absolutely essential one. Let me just reiterate it: don't expect to get by on your high school Spanish. You will not make yourself understood, you will not understand the local lingo, and you will offend many Brazilians by attempting to converse in the wrong language. Luckily, I still spoke enough Portuguese to survive.

In 1996, I left NY for São Paulo, and spent the next four and a half years living and working there. Obviously, I fit into the second category of a professional who went to Brazil with no job, a spouse and two children to care for. We were luckier than most because we had my wife's family to help us during this transition period. In addition, we owned our own apartment, out of which I gave EFL lessons.

I obtained my carteira de trabalho, permanent residency and CPF without too much hassle — again, I have to say I was luckier than most immigrants, who, like the general populace, are "treated like dirt" by most Brazilian agencies and authorities.

Before my move, however, I had prepared myself for the transition by spending two years in pursuit of my teaching certificate at the New School in NY. I was taught by some of the best teachers in the country, people with master's degrees and PhD's from NYU, Columbia, Cambridge and the like. I passed my course work and was highly commended for my efforts by all of my teachers. One would think this background, along with my previous Wall Street experience, would have entitled me to what you described as "streets paved with gold" in Sao Paulo.

Not so. I must concur completely with your truthful assessment of the hazards of job hunting and living in the big abacaxi, as I like to call it. São Paulo was a ruthless and merciless environment for a novice job seeker. At the start of my teaching career, I had a few students at home, but in order to supplement my meager earnings, and to pay for my ever increasing light, phone, gas, energy, food, school and insurance bills, I had to seek some type of regular full-time employment.

I interviewed for and obtained entry into Cultura Inglesa, a well-known English language school. Imagine my surpise and dismay when I was told I would have to undergo a two-month training program (unremunerated, of course) after having completed TWO YEARS of one in NY. Besides the personal humiliation of having to prove myself all over again, and despite my teaching certificate in tow, I gamely plugged on. I even gained entry into another teacher training program at the Alumni School in Morumbi.

Unfortunately, I couldn't handle the stress and travel of "training" in two places at once, so I dropped out of Alumni and opted to teach at Cultura instead. After completing their so-called training, I waited a month and a half until Cultura sent me to teach at a local branch right in my own neighborhood. Sounds great, right? No, not really. The hourly wage at the time was a miserable R$7 an hour, with an additional R$2 for expenses. I realized to my horror I had wasted three and a half months of valuable job search time in a fruitless pursuit of permanent employment with an entity that was paying paltry starvation wages. I also learned, much to my bitter chagrin, that teachers of English were a dime a dozen in São Paulo.

I abruptly left Cultura after only two days and went looking for teaching positions in the pages of the local newspapers. As you so rightly pointed out, SP is not the U.S. (or Europe, for that matter) when it comes to finding work via the want ads. Networking with relatives, friends and acquaintances is the preferred and more results-oriented method.

Again, I lucked out, and through an ad in the Estadão newspaper, I was able to secure a teaching position with a multi-national accounting firm in downtown SP. The salary there was about R$30 an hour and I enjoyed the challenge of teaching adult learners rather than the bratty, spoiled and inattentive Cultura school kids.

When the Brazilian economy started to sputter in 1998, I lost more students than I gained, so I was forced to find additional work elsewhere. As you are well aware, an English teacher in Brazil never just "teaches." He or she must learn to adapt and find other odd jobs (called bicos) to survive. After heavy word of mouth, I was able to get some translation work for several companies, in addition to doing work for a colleague at HBO of Brazil. I got into the subtitling/dubbing sideline through her, and even urged my wife to get involved in it, as well. She took the HBO course, which led nowhere because of the recession.

In point of fact, the work was scattershot at best. Sometimes, I would get two or three films to work on, other times I would get nothing for weeks. When I did get work, I would spend many days, nights and weekends at the computer terminal, away from my family, friends and relatives, while I was involved in the transcribing process. The pay was decent enough, but I still needed to teach to pay the bills, plus I really wanted a less ephemeral and time-consuming occupation.

This was not to be. When the HBO work eventually dried up due to the devaluation of the real and the still stagnant economy, I hooked up in 1999 with another colleague who was a full-time lawyer and EFL teacher, and started teaching mini-courses for her students. I would serve as a substitute teacher for when my colleague traveled, and was even able to teach my own courses, which I had developed based on the American legal system — I had been a certified litigation paralegal in the U.S. for several years.

While these courses were reasonably successful, the continued bleak outlook for the Brazilian economy, the rising crime and unemployment rates, and the loss of more and more of my students due to financial hardships, conspired to finally force me to face my own ever-mounting personal financial problems: we were going broke.

My decision to return to the U.S. and start afresh in Raleigh, North Carolina, was an extremely painful and heart-rending one, but one I resolutely made with my family in the hope of securing steadier employment and a more secure financial foothold than I ever had in Brazil. Our relatives offered to help us through our difficulties in Brazil, but I could no longer impose upon their generosity. Besides, I had my own children's welfare and future to think about.

Reluctantly, but with much optimism, we left Sao Paulo in January 2001 for Raleigh. Since then, I have worked for three different corporations here, some better and some worse than the ones I worked for in New York. I was even laid off last year due to downsizing (welcome to the U.S.A. reality!), but quickly found a job with a CRO (contract research organization).

Raleigh and the surrounding Research Triangle Park area is a constantly expanding and vital center, well-known for its medical, pharmaceutical, research, and university facilities. I think my family and I chose wisely. Without a doubt, my daughters will be better off, school- and career-wise, than they would ever have been in São Paulo.

In summation, I tried very hard to make a go at teaching English. But no matter how many new students I found, I would inevitably be forced into looking for new ones, or new lines of work, just to make ends meet. This was the sad, hard, and unmentioned reality of teaching in Brazil. I don't wish to discourage potential adventurers out there, but I sure wish I had someone to point these things out to me BEFORE I made my decision to return to São Paulo.

Still, it was a most remarkable learning experience, and one I heartily recommend to young, single persons with the requisite courage, patience, flexibility, and stamina for the teaching lifestyle.

As a postscript let me also emphasize the long distances involved in traveling to and from one's various teaching jobs, usually done "in-company," and the extremely precarious state of São Paulo's public transportation system. These must be taken into account at all costs.

If at all possible, avoid the city buses, especially during peak hours, which are packed and crawling with lice and other unpleasant infestations. The subway system is much safer, much cleaner, and tends to get you (more or less) to where you want to go in much less time.

There's also the inordinately long working hours you must contend with, commencing around the ungodly hour of 7 AM or so, through a working lunch somewhere around 12 noon to 2 PM (and oftentimes later), and then regular afternoon and evening classes ending at about 10 PM. In-company evening classes generally go from 6 PM to 7:30 PM, although I've heard of later starting and closing times.

Oh, and don't forget Saturday mornings and afternoons, too. You'll want to keep those hours available, as well, in addition to what's called in the trade as janelinhas or windows, in case of student cancellations or teacher illness. You'll want to use these mostly for make-up classes. It's a rather busy and lengthy work schedule to test the mettle of only the fittest teaching souls. Better pray that it doesn't rain in the midst of all this, which will tend to throw a spanner into the works (monkey wrench for you native American English speakers) and bring the heavy São Paulo traffic to an endless standstill.

Joe Lopes

Still the Same

Things haven't changed very much from 20 years ago. I remember when I arrived in Rio during the "plano cruzado " and got a job at the Hotel Nacional in São Conrado. I was paid a salário minimo. What saved me for a while was the US$ tips. Plus, I worked as a tour guide, as a RP (public relations) for Farina jewelry store at the Copacabana Palace. The Italian owner tried to rip off my commissions, and I had to leave.

While I had dollars, I was able to eat filé com fritas, but when the dollars ran out and I had to survive on the Brazilian currency it was bread and butter. Prices changed daily, transportation, and apartment were out of my reach. It is no wonder that old guys had to live with their parents. No one could afford their own place.

By remembering those days and reading your article, I best stay put and save my dollars for better days ahead. I just have to matar as saudades here in Pacific Beach, San Diego, where there is some beautiful Brazilian "ladies" to check out.

Caio Valladares
Via Internet

Impressive

I was utterly stunned reading the article about Natal, Brazil by Philip Blazdell ( Prohibition Town Blues - www.brazzil.com/p38nov00.htm). This guy must have chosen the most rare of days to be here or just didn't get it. Natal is a wonderful, lovely place to visit and I was surprised and honestly furious at the way he described it. People like him should stay home. Maybe that's why he writes this type of article, to try to convince people to spend their money elsewhere. Maybe even in his own country.

I don't think he should come back to Natal either. We definitely don't need tourists like that, and to top it off I'm sure that he must understand that laws are made to be obeyed. Election day is taken seriously especially after so many years of dictatorship. Things were closed probably because people who work are also voters. And for our lack of livelyhood tell him to shove it!

Margareth Barqueiro
Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

In Love with Jobim

Hello Liz, I just thought you might be interested to know that there's another "Brazilophile" down here in Brighton—See "On Jobim's Track" - www.brazzil.com/p108jan03.htm —who is a saxophonist, flutist (including alto and bass) and clarinetist, and who loved Jobim's music passionately for many years from around the time he first picked up a saxophone to quickly find that "one puff can be addictive" back in the early '60s, when the bossa nova first burst onto the scene.

I made my first, very long-overdue visit to Brazil for one month in late 1999, before the turn of the century - never mind the millennium! On finding that the Sao João Batista cemetery where Tom's bones were laid to rest was only about ten minutes walk from where I was staying in Botafogo, I made the first of what turned out to be several visits to pay and subsequently play homage. Jornal do Brasil (Rio's main daily) got hold of the story, and subsequently published a small piece.

Two years ago, TV Globo came here to interview me for their prime-time Sunday evening human interest programme, "Fantastico", but alas, for some (unknown) reason(s), the interview was never broadcast. I used to have a band based here in Brighton, known as "Robinho's Orquestra Bossa Nova". There's another musician based here, who is a devotee of João Gilberto - whose every nuance he copies - and who pays no homage to Jobim whatsoever!

I have to admit that in the past year or so my passion for Jobim's music has begun to diminish somewhat, after so many years, and I think my disappointment over the interview nor being broadcast might have something to do with it (not that I sought it in the first place - they approached me). Also, my falling-out with Paulo Jobim - with whom I had spent a very convivial evening in Rio - over my (although well-intended) drawing attention to a couple of slight errors (including one actual wrong note) in an otherwise beautiful book he had produced of his father's music - which I consider deserves to be preserved and presented perfectly - may well also be a factor. Paulo should have known that I was not coming from any kind of a "smart ass" standpoint - but from one of a deep love for his father's beautiful music, which deserves to be preserved and presented perfectly.

I had previously made some corrections to some transcriptions which had been sent to me in the mid-1990s by a contact at the then publishing company in Rio (although I don't recall having received any thanks or credit for having done so.)

When I was living in Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was my dream to present "Antonio Carlos Jobim at the Sydney Opera House, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Claus Ogerman", but alas, I am not a rich man|! Then, of course, Jobim died suddenly in New York, on 8 December 1994.

Well, I could say lots more, but this seems an appropriate point at which to finish for now, pending your response.

Um abraço,

"Robinho"
Brighton, UK

Love Affair with MPB

I thought you would appreciate my response to your contributor Steven Byrd regarding his article about bossa nova and Brazilian popular music. Here it is, with some modifications and corrections:

"Your article brought back many fond memories of my own misspent youth, as I discovered the beauty, the richness, the charm and the melody of Brazilian popular vocal and jazz music.

"The first time I heard anything at all about bossa nova was in 1966, when I was in the sixth grade. My teacher at the time, who knew I was from Brazil and liked to bring his guitar to class and play it on special occasions, asked me how to pronounce the following name, which he put on the blackboard: "ASTRUD."

"Of course, I had no idea he meant Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian jazz songbird, so I simply said, "Well, as far as I know, it's pronounced ASTRUD." He then told me of the sensuous new sounds he had heard her make, which radiated from the song The Girl from Ipanema, and of the piece's composer Jobim.

"I remember that I went home that day and asked my mother about Astrud and Joe Beem (I didn't know how to spell his name), but unfortunately, she was an older generation Brazilian and was not at all familiar with the new wave of contemporary composers.

"Ten years later, as a young man on his first job assignment, I made friends with an American colleague, called Tom, who DID know about Astrud Gilberto and Jobim, and absolutely ADORED Brazilian music, to boot. He had tons of albums by Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Morais, Toquinho, Egberto Gismonti, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethania, Chico Buarque, and many others.

Even then, I couldn't tell him very much about the music or what exactly these artists were singing about (it sounded strangely foreign even to me), but I sure enjoyed the rhythms.

"When I went to live in Brazil in 1996, I met an older couple who had actually lived in Rio de Janeiro during the 1950's and knew the young Jobim, only they told me he wasn't called Tom then, but was known as Carlinhos ("Charlie"), the diminutive form of his middle name Carlos. He was a thin, gangly youth who liked to hang out on the corner with his friends, playing cards and drinking cervejinhas.

"I married a Brazilian girl in the mid-eighties, and when she moved to New York with me, she brought with her a vast collection of cassettes, records and tapes of every conceivable male and female singer, vocal group, conjunto and banda you could think of. Her favorite was Milton Nascimento, one of the godfathers of MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), who had even studied Gregorian chant at one time to improve the potency of his high notes.

"My wife had been present at Milton's live recording session of his famous album Milagre dos Peixes ("The Miracle of the Fishes") in the Teatro Municipal Opera House in Sao Paulo in the early 70's. She was also the person most responsible for enlightening me as to who Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim was and what he had composed. It was a complete and total epiphany for me.

"This started my own frenzied record-buying spree where, in a span of about two years, I had amassed an enviable collection of all sorts of Brazilian and American bossa nova - and jazz-tinged albums by the likes of Vince Guaraldi, David Benoit, Lee Ritenour, Michael Franks, Djavan, Ivan Lins, Joyce, and Toninho Horta (who had played with Milton Nascimento's band), as well as David Chesky, The Rippingtons, Don Grusin, Pat Metheny, Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, Larry Coryell, Luiz Bonfá, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim.

"With the help of my spouse, friends and relatives, I grew up learning more about our fascinating and rich musical heritage, and wish to recommend a few more pioneers of our unique and beautiful sound, namely: the throbbing tones of thirties nightclub singer Orlando Silva; the vibrant baritone voice of Nelson Gonçalves; the powerhouse pitch-perfect soprano of Angela Maria; the dramatic delivery of Brazilian diva Dalva de Oliveira; the Italian tenor squillo of Agnaldo Rayol; the Bing Crosby-style croonings of Roberto Carlos (probably Brazil's most well-known vocal export); the swinging sixties sound of Petula Clark wannabe Wanderleia; and the still popular and seemingly ageless singing star Jair Rodrigues, whose infectious 1960's Hip Hop-style song "Deixe isso pra lá" ("Leave that alone") and its rhythmic over-and-under hand gestures brought a sense of fun and wide smiles to the faces of countless Brazilian music fans.

"I'm sure I've left out a few major talents here and there, but they were all great artists whose work I still admire and listen to on many occasions. It's the most relaxing, mood inducing music I know of."

Advice to Lula

My name is Sinbad Kizirian and I live in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. and for one reason or another I am very interested with Brazil to say the least. I read this article and it said at the bottom that we could send our comments to you so here I am. I will only say at this point that Mr. Lula instead of trying to tell the rest of the world how to fight hunger should first try to implement his own project properly which in my opinion has not been done so and the next thing he should do even more important is; to get in his car or limo or helicopter as many do so I have heard and read in São Paulo if he cares as much as he says he does for the rest of the people who are poor and go to the 'gated' city of Alphaville and the surrounding neighborhoods like Barueri and Santa De Parnaeba and so on.

He should talk to those people who live in homes within gated and patrolled security communities or should I say in a 'bubble' world and who seem like don't care for the rest of the population in Brazil. This is at least the viewpoint that I got to see and understand by talking to people when I was staying as a tourist in Alphaville. Personally, I don't think that Mr. Lula will ever do that for one reason or another which I don't want to get in but have my reasons for saying so as politics is a dangerous and costly game the same all around the world. I am not even sure that he will be welcomed with open arms by those people who seem to want to be left alone and as far as possible from all the crime and such... I can go on and say much more about this but I think that I have been able to make my point clearly.

By the way, I do receive your magazine on a regular basis and I love to read all the articles and such. Continue all of you doing the great job that you are doing and good luck.

By Way of Australia

Let's not forget that the aircraft carrier 'Minas Gerais' ("Bye, Old Warrior" - www.brazzil.com/p07nov02.htm ) served in the Royal Australian Navy as 'HMAS Vengeance' for some years during the early 1950s, pending the completion of  'HMAS Melbourne' (originally intended to have been 'HMAS Majestic'.

Paul Michael Rogers
Australia, Via Internet

Not So Fast

I loved the article by Joe Lopes. ("Why I Couldn't Take Brazil" - www.brazzil.com/p112may03.htm ) Some Brazilians like to say that Canadians and Americans treat foreign like dirt and Brazilians are just perfect with everybody! Thanks.

 
Vera Rocha
Via Internet

Where's John?

I'd like to contact the author of some articles published in your magazine. I'm a German living in Brazil with special interest in poetry and the works of Mario Quintana. There can be found two articles about him on your site, written by some John Howard. But his email address isn't working anymore. If you could help me finding this Mr. Howard I would be very grateful. Thank you!

Felix Wiesjahn
felixwiesjahn@yahoo.de

The Discovery of Recife

I just read the articles on both Recife and Olinda on-line at Brazzil magazine and have decided to make them my next tourist destination. I was very impressed at the clarity that was written and I always thought that Brazil had more to offer than Rio de Janeiro. Aside from what you have already written, is there any advice you could give before booking my vacation for July?

· Do I need to learn Portuguese?

· Do I need transportation?

· What hotels would you recommend?

· Which of the two cities should I opt to stay in?

· Are traveler's checks accepted or do I need to bring cash?

Any answers to the above questions plus anything else you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

James E. Wall
Via Internet

Another Story

Dear John Fitzpatrick,

First off I'd like to say I've been living in SP for almost a year and a half. I enjoy your columns, thanks!

Re: "For Job Seekers Brazil Is No Eldorado" - www.brazzil.com/p108may03.htm. When I lost my job in IT in the States, June '01, I decided to pursue a love connection I met in Europe. A nice Brazilian girl who's a doctor, from a typical family. After traveling a bit in Nordeste and learning some português, my savings were getting tight and it was time to find a job.

I'm a computer programmer specializing in Unix/Linux and Java. Despite only having a tourist visa, and hearing no a hell of a lot, I ended up getting a job through a consultancy with EDS - a huge IT company from the States. I got paid by the hour R$28, with lots of overtime. They surely knew the legality of it , but never said anything. Once I got them through the crisis period, I was let go probably, at least in part, due to my status in Brazil.

I got married last summer. To this day I haven't received my RNE, but have my CPF and my permanency declaration. The election didn't help, but after six weeks through a consultancy I'm working for the Secretaria da Fazenda, here in SP. I'm making about $R5000 a month - considerably more than my doctor wife.

Its hard for me to say exactly why, but Java programmers with lots of experience are a hot commodity in São Paulo.

Here's a very good link showing IT jobs in Brazil: http://www.apinfo.com/ Hit vagas. In my opinion anything else is a waste of time. This site has virtually all the ads you pay for at Catho. I tried teaching English here at nights because I thought it'd be 'fun.' A very humbling experience indeed.

Cheers,

Iksrazal
Sao Paulo, Brazil

All the Rage

It's rare nowadays to read such well written advocacy journalism ("Can God Save Rio?" - www.brazzil.com/p119may03.htm ) I was transported by your prose into the intricacies of Brazilian politics. Without having to write paragraph after paragraph of background, you succeeded in conveying the essence of Brazilian politics with convincing passion and anger.

Mark Nixon
Un montréalais living in Denmark

Left is Right

Dear John Fitzpatrick,

The left-wingers are right, Lula has sold out. If the government spent a little more on social programs, perhaps 3/4 of Brazil's population wouldn't be living in poverty. It is not the Left who placed Brazil in its current predicament. The right-wing, corporate, IMF/World Bank, US ass kissing, spoiled, rotten, and obnoxious multi-billionaires are the ones who ruined Brazil.

This Reaganite, supply side, trickle down economics, "free trade" crap you are trying to peddle has been a total failure everywhere. The policies that you promote only benefit the wealthy, white, elite minority in your country and the US. The impoverished majority in Brazil should be angry with Lula and his corporate cronies.

Brazil should reject the "Washington consensus" crowd and tell IMF to get screwed. The wealthy and big business should be paying more in taxes (or paying period). This increased revenue could pay for schools, housing, health care, and food for the poor.

Paul Patterson
Via Internet

Portugal Bashing

When I first discovered Ray Vogensen's site http://www.portcult.com , I thought I'd found the worst given opinion of Portugal on the web, untill I bumped into JF's article here on brazzil.com http://www.brazzil.com/p132feb03.htm, from February 2003.

Let me start from the beginning: I always thought foreigners invariably gave wrong impressions and opinions on Portugal and the Portuguese culture. First of all, because most foreigners that I meet abroad either have a vague beach-resort-like vision of Portugal (maybe I'm being unfair - some of them can name Fado, or bacalhau though).

But I never thought that they would start moving to Portugal and inventing some sort of 'vendible' Portuguese culture, ready, packed to be economically explored and sold in every fast-rubbish shops around the world.

This is, I believe, not new, and many times in history this intelligent neglect, especially by the so called 'Anglo-saxonic countries' - in brackets, because there's so many interesting criticism to be made on this Anglo concept. Portugal has always been regarded as that extra country on the map, that seems to be, surprisingly, powerful enough to be competition, so let's just pretend it doesn't exist, or euphemistically, let's call it Africa, second-world, unimportant, clumsy, sad, etc.

The vision of  'Fado, Fátima and futebol' is extremely interesting and appealing to the general public, but what these foreigners don't seem to understand is that it's precisely this very image of Portugal that was being sold under Salazar's fascism. It was, by then, a way of justifying a substantial number of things, including many times this country's foreign policy. The idea was to let pass an image of a harmless, somewhat naive Portuguese working class, that with their hardworking bare hands had given raise to a fantastic Portuguese world where racial-equality and human rights would forever live in harmony.

This couldn't be further from the actual truth. Portuguese culture is, indeed, nothing of that. The real Portuguese culture under Salazar's regime was subversive and hidden, and, by then, too frightened to let itself be seen or shown by the rest of the world.

It's revolting to read these articles. It's like ripping the 'Gioconda' in half because you want to see the wall-painting behind it. It's sad to see two men, that I want to believe are cultured, showing such a disregard of what Portugal is about. Not like what Portugal is about can be transcribed into a sole article on brazzil.com. I wonder where's their criticism and interest on our great writers, on our architects, on our in many ways unique historical past, on our great politicians, historians, etc?

Bad critics lead many times to some more tragic, not to say, viscous things, like jealousy, and condescending behavior reveals many times the existence of an inferiority complex of some sort.

Maybe these writers are more laid back and attached to the past than most of the Portuguese they accuse of . Most Portuguese nowadays don't even listen to fado. That is for foreigners. Or like we say 'para inglês ver'.

One further comment on Ray Vogensen's site: the dictionary is laughable. I have never seen such an atrocious ill-connaissance of the Portuguese language, and it's meant to be slang Portuguese . I wonder what he has been doing in Portugal. It's true that we use different words. But don't native English speakers do the same?

I cannot stop the flow of examples that cross my mind at this very moment, to start with the accent, the pronunciation of words such as 'laboratory', or the spelling of words such as 'harbour', or 'centre' . Or even 'lorries' and 'trucks', maybe we can mention 'egg-plants' and 'aubergines', or 'courgettes' and 'zucchini'. Isn't it English all the same? I thought linguistic, syntaxic and lexical diversity was something you liked to brag about in your language. Well so it exists in Portuguese as well.

Another thing to finish this article. It's funny that while you go on about the differences between the two countries, I've been living in Paris for three months now, and amongst the best people I met, there are many Brazilians, with whom I go for dinner, chat, communicate very often, and very gladly . There are many more things in common between us that one might thought.

Above all, there is no communication problem whatsoever. We understand each other. I never needed a dictionary to understand them and nor did they.

Don't try to 'divide and conquer' my friends. It's all too easy to figure out.

Pedro Teles
Via Internet

Disrespectful John

I am a student at Newcastle University, about to take a final exam in intellectual and political thought in Brazil. I read John Fitzgerald's artical (sic) mocking the Brazilian protesters and found it very frutrating and unproffessional (sic). I cannot pretend to have the knowledge he does, but I do respect people he mocks as naïve and idealistic, and find his denunciatory remark about their accent frankly childish.

Although I am becoming increasingly aware of the need to be pragmatic, and therefore greatly respect the comment of his fellow writer about the 'rebranding' of socialism, I still believe that these idealists are necessary as the catalyst for change.

Although I respect Fitzgerald's knowledge, I do hold any credibility for his line of argument. History is useful for spotting trends and helping derive potemtail (sic) conseqences (sic), but how is it feasable to quote examples of 19th century colonisation by Brazil in defence of the West's current manipulation of the economic and political spheres.

I would be very interested in further dialogue. My exam is tomorrow(!), but want to continue this as a matter of personal interest.Many thanks

Victoria Eynon
Newcastle, UK
 









 
 
 







 



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