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It Is
a Tie

rpdmar98.gif (34749 bytes)A few hours before the announcement of which samba school was the new champion of Rio's Carnaval, Dona Amélia, composer Chico Buarque's mom, called the president of Escola de Samba Mangueira, Elmo José dos Santos, to let him know that she was praying for Mangueira's victory. Dona Amélia wasn't acting out of pure selfless generosity. Mangueira had chosen her son to be the theme of their presentation and their samba enredo (plot). The prayers of the dedicated mother worked. rpdmr98b.gif (35081 bytes)

After an 11-year fast—poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade was the theme of the last victory in 1987— Rio's most traditional escola de samba won first prize with a perfect score of 270 (getting a maximum score from each member of the 45-judge panel). The fact that the prize was shared with Beija-Flor—it has been 15 years since Beija-Flor won first place for the last time—which also got 270 points, didn't make the mangueirenses less happy.

rpdmr98a.gif (33510 bytes)The results brought a few surprises though. Mangueira had appeared as a favorite since its glorious parading on Monday at Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí, but people didn't care that much about Beija-Flor's show. Much of the public and pundits were betting that the final result would be a toss-up between Mangueira and Viradouro, led by legendary carnavalesco Joãozinho 30.

Viradouro ended up in fourth place. "If the item people was worth anything we would have won for the second year in a row," commented a resigned Joãozinho. Many experts considered the decision unfair and credited it to the inexperience of the judges, all of them novices in the job.

No Shirt
No Sex

Using Carnaval—the five-day revelry party in which everything is allowed and flesh sins are de rigueur—as a launching pad, the Brazilian Health Ministry started a new campaign to place a condom in every bed, with plans to distribute a total of 250 million rubbers till the end of the year. The government wants to make the camisinha (little shirt, as the condom is popularly known in Brazil) an item of the basic pack of goods offered to the poor.

Some private companies have joined the bandwagon including camisinhas for men and women, together with foodstuff, in the free packages. Young soldiers are already getting their quota of four condoms a week. Next will be the inmates, even those who don't get female visitors.

Ten million camisinhas were handed out during the four days of Carnaval, up from the 2.5 million that were distributed last year. In Salvador, state of Bahia, Bloco da Camisinha, a group created three years ago with help from Harvard University, was in charge of distributing 500,000 condoms. All 250 million camisinhas are coming from overseas. The initial 50 million were purchased from the British company London International Group at a cost of 4 cents per unit.

In its TV campaign the Health Ministry was more direct this year. In 1997, a controversial spot had a character who spoke directly to Bráulio, a personification of the penis. "In the pre-tests, we noticed the positive impact of a direct approach without metaphors," said Pedro Chequer, national coordinator for the program Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS.

The government has spent $3 million in the initial Carnaval campaign starring musical sensation singer Ivete Sangalo, whose Banda Eva has become a national phenomenon in the last few months. Sings she: "Nesse carnaval, eu sou a sua Eva/Pra rolar a emoção/Só se for de camisinha/Sem camisinha, não tem Carnaval" (This Carnaval I am your Eve/To roll the emotion/Only with a condom/Without a condom there is no Carnaval).

In the TV spot, which began airing one week before Carnaval, a couple is shown dancing and having some heavy petting rocked by the sound of Banda Eva. "Let's get out" suggests the young man to his partner. "Have you got a camisinha?," she asks. Moments of tension. The music stops and there is total silence while the youngster, anxious, digs in his pockets in search of a condom. Happy ending: the camisinha is found, the party restarts and the couple departs for racier adventures. In a parallel effort, the 17 million tourists who annually visit Brazil will be the target of a campaign about syphilis. "Travel with security. Always wear a condom," says a poster showing a suitcase wrapped up in plastic.

Brazil has more than one million reasons to stress the need for condoms. Every year one million teen-age girls get pregnant and 120,000 people are diagnosed with AIDS. Besides, it `s believed that 500,000 others are HIV positive without knowing it. The largest number of pregnant teens is in the Midwest where there are 182 pregnancies per 1000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19. The national average is 128 cases per one thousand in that same age group.

Not So Wild

Those who think Brazilians carry samba and Carnaval in their genes might be in for a surprise. According to a new study released by Ipesp (Instituto de Pesquisas Sociais, Políticas e Econômicas—Institute of Social, Political and Economic Research), 44% of Brazilians couldn't care less about Carnaval and 17% hate it with a passion. Those who enjoy the revelries are a mere 37%. Not more than 9% dance the four days the party lasts though, with another 20% playing one or two days. A total of 66% wait anxiously for Carnaval so they can flee from it all and rest.

Older and

Ex-slave diminutive Maria do Carmo Gerônimo, 126, considered to be the world's oldest person, is back home in Itajubá, state of Minas Gerais, and doing well after a period at the Instituto do Coração, in São Paulo, where she was treated after a stroke, which left her partially paralyzed. Doctors, who were impressed with the general state of her lungs, kidney and heart, say that she still might live for a long time. According to the last census, Brazil has 13,865 people over the age of 100. This is a jump of 40% when compared to 1960 numbers.

Song Bird

Born on May 23, 1908 (some experts say it was in 1902), in São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Sílvio Antônio Narciso de Figueiredo Caldas could never make good on his repeated promises of abandoning music. Afflicted with heart problems he died on February 2. He was living in Atibaia, in the interior of São Paulo, with his wife Miriam, 50, son Roberto, 21, daughter Camila, 20, and grandson Vinícius, 2.

For the last 30 years Sílvio Caldas' constant farewell concerts became a running gag in the Brazilian entertainment world. His weepy goodbye shows were so many that even his most faithful fans lost track of them. Friends, still lulled by his soothing music, still don't believe that he has left for good. Said Nelson Rodrigues, another idol of his generation: "The people want him to always come back. And that 200 years from now he will come again for another farewell show."

At age six, Caldas was already singing at Casa dos Bigodinhos (House of the Little Moustaches), a club in Minas Gerais state. Soon after he joined the Família Ideal, a Carnaval band. From this time came the nickname Rouxinol (Nightingale). He would get several other epithets during his seven-decade career, including : O Caboclinho Querido (The Dear Little Peasant), A Voz Morena que a Cidade Adora (The Brunet Voice that the City Adores), and O Seresteiro das Multidões (The Crowds' Serenader).

The singer was not ashamed of calling himself illiterate. Caldas abandoned school very early. At age 9 he was already an apprentice car mechanic, a métier in which he became an expert, moving in 1924 to São Paulo where he made a living fixing cars. He had plenty of odd jobs that would make him garimpeiro (gold prospector), milkman, truck driver, cook, and restaurant owner.

In 1927 when he went for a test as a singer for Radio Mayrink Veiga, in Rio de Janeiro, he met tango crooner Antonio Gomez, better known as Milonguita, a singer who would greatly influence Caldas's singing technique. According to music researcher Mário Leônidas Casanova, Caldas's first recording—"Alô, Meu Bem" (Hello, My Darling) by Carlos de Almeida and "Amoroso" (Filled With Love) by the singer in partnership with Quincas Freire, happened on February 19, 1930. Both tunes were sambas.

He would record 500 others songs. "I was born singing," he used to say. Accustomed to being adulated the singer became very despondent when the country turned to other idols all but forgetting him. He moved in 1965 to his Atibaia ranch, which he called exile.

The singer appeared also in movies like Humberto Mauro's Favela dos Meus Amores'' (My Beloved Favela) from 1935, Luís de Barros's Carioca Maravilhosa (Marvelous Rio Girl) from 1936, and José Carlos Burle's Luz dos Meus Olhos (Light of My Eyes) from 1947. Endowed with a deep, husky voice, Caldas became famous for the romantic ballads he sang. He also recorded duets with Carmen Miranda and Elizeth Cardoso.

All the Hits

For almost 20 years, starting at the beginning of the '30s till the end of the '40s, Caldas kept his songs on the hit parades. In 1935 he had "Minha Palhoça" (My Thatched Hut) by J. Cascata and "O Telefone do Amor" (The Love Telephone) by Benedito Lacerda and Jorge Faraj. In 1936, there were "Um Caboclo Abandonado" (An Abandoned Peasant), "Madrugada" (Dawn) both by Benedito Lacerda and Herivelto Martins and "O Nome Dela Não Digo" (Her Name I Won't Say) by Sílvio Caldas and Orestes Barbosa.

In 1937 he brought "Saudade Dela" (Missing Her) by Ataulfo Alves, "Arranha-céu" (Skyscraper) and "Chão de Estrelas" (Floor of Stars), both by Sílvio Caldas and Orestes Barbosa. 1938 was the year of "Professora" (Schoolmistress) by Benedito Lacerda and Jorge Faraj, "Sorria da Minha Dor" (Smile at My Pain) by Paulo Medeiros, and "Suburbana" (Suburban Lady) by Sílvio Caldas and Orestes Barbosa.

In 1939 he had, "Da Cor do Pecado" (Color of Sin) by Bororó, "Deusa da Minha Rua" (My Street's Goddess) by Newton Teixeira and Jorge Faraj and in 1940, "Mulher" (Woman) by Custódio Mesquita and Sadi Cabral and "Preto Velho" (Black Old Man) by Custódio Mesquita and Jorge Faraj.

Hits from 1941 were "Caixinha de Música" (Little Music Box) by Custódio Mesquita, "O Pião" (The Top) by Custódio Mesquita and Sadi Cabral). In 1942 we had "Duas Janelas" (Two Windows) by Wilson Batista and Jorge Faraj), in 1943, "Meus 20 Anos" (My 20 Years) by Wilson Batista and Sílvio Caldas, "Promessa" (Promise) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui, "Modinha" (Modinha Tune) by Jaime Ovale and Manuel Bandeira.

In 1944 Caldas brought "Como os Rios Correm para o Mar" (How Rivers Run to the Sea) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui and "Valsa do Meu Subúrbio" (My Suburb's Waltz) by Custódio Mesquita and Evaldo Rui.

A heavy drinker all his life, it seems fit that Caldas met his greatest partner, Orestes Barbosa, in a bar. Caldas had an operatic voice. During the '30s and '40s he was part of the quartet of the great crooners of the time, which also included the King of Voice, Francisco Alves; the Singer of the Crowds, Orlando Silva; and Carlos Galhardo. As a composer he was partner of Cartola, Wilson Batista, Billy Blanco and Ary Barroso.

What was the secret of his vitality? "I disobey all the rules recommended to those who are 50 and older. I talk too much, I drink too much, I sleep too little, I work too hard, and smoke like a desperate man," he once said.

Nothing was left from the fortune he amassed during his golden years. Caldas died poor. He was getting a $700 monthly check as pension, but royalties from his songs had dwindled so that in a recent month he got a ridiculous $5 check as his share. His only possession, the modest ranch in Atibaia in which he lived, was on the brink of foreclosure. Caixa Econômica Federal had threatened many times to auction the property in order to collect on a $150,000 debt.

It is not for his honesty that Brazil's serenaders will be remembered. He is known to have bought songs which then he appropriated as being his own. Even "Chão de Estrelas" (Floor of Stars), his most memorable work, in partnership with Orestes Barbosa wasn't really his, according to some experts.

As a singer though his talent is undisputed. He recorded the best of Ary Barroso, including "Faceira," "Inquietação", "Maria," "Morena Boneca de Ouro", "Quando Eu Penso na Bahia" with Carmen Miranda, "Por Causa Dessa Cabrocha", "Rancho Fundo," and "Tu."

For the last 18 years he hadn't recorded anything and he used to complain that the studios didn't want him anymore. "All they want are songs that last two to three years, but I am here for eternity," he said in a 1996 interview with Folha de São Paulo.


Chão de Estrelas

Sílvio Caldas and
Orestes Barbosa

Minha vida era um palco iluminado
E eu vivia vestido de dourado
Palhaço das perdidas ilusões
Cheio dos guizos falsos da alegria
Andei cantando minha fantasia
Entre as palmas febris dos corações

Meu barracão lá no morro do Salgueiro
Tinha o cantar alegre de um viveiro
Foste a sonoridade que acabou
E hoje, quando do Sol a claridade
Forra o meu barracão, sinto saudade
Da mulher, pomba-rola que voou

Nossas roupas comuns dependuradas
Na corda qual bandeiras agitadas
Pareciam um estranho festival
Festa dos nossos trapos coloridos
A mostrar que nos morros mal vestidos
É sempre feriado nacional.

A porta do barraco era sem trinco
Mas a lua furando nosso zinco
Salpicava de estrelas nosso chão
E tu pisavas nos astros distraída
Sem saber que a ventura desta vida
É a cabrocha, o luar e o violão


Floor of Stars

Sílvio Caldas and
Orestes Barbosa

My life was a lighted-up stage
And I lived dressed in gold
A clown of lost illusions
Full of joy's false rattles
I've been singing my fantasy
Among hearts' feverish palms

My shack up on the Salgueiro hill
Had the joyful singing of a aviary
You were the sonority that ended
And today, when the sunlight
Lines my shack, I miss
The woman, turtle-dove who has flown

Our common clothes hung
On the line as waving flags
Seemed like an odd festival
Feast of our colored rags
Showing that on the ill-dressed hills
It's always national holiday

The shack's door had no latch
But the moon piercing our zinc
Sprinkled our floor with stars
And you absentmindedly stepped on the stars
Without knowing that happiness in this life
Is a mulatto girl, the moon and a guitar

The Fifth,
a Charm

In 1995 when he was nominated for a Grammy in World Music for his album Angelus, Brazilian composer and singer, Milton Nascimento, was competing against the Gipsy Kings among others. He lost. The flamenco loving French band was again the one to beat in the latest version of the Oscar of the music industry. It was Milton's turn this time.

The Rio born, but Minas Gerais raised singer-composer won with Nascimento, a CD released in 1997. The other singers nominated in the category were Cesaria Evora from Cabo Verde, Nigerian Babatunde Olatunji, and Ali Akbar Khan born in Bangladesh. Brazilian Banda Mantiqueira was also running in the Latin jazz category. American trumpetist Roy Hargrove was the winner though.

For Milton it was a very special victory coming at a moment in which he has been recuperating from serious health problems. At the end of last year he was forced to cancel several concerts in the U.S.. Due to his dramatic loss of weight the Brazilian press rumored that the singer-composer had AIDS, which made Nascimento hurt and angry. His doctor in the United States declared though that he was suffering from an acute case of diabetes.

It was the fifth time Milton was nominated for a Grammy and the first one he snubbed it, ignoring the New York ceremony and choosing instead to go partying with friends in the Salvador (state of Bahia) Carnaval. With this victory Nascimento joined, among others, João Gilberto, who with Stan Getz won in 1964 for The Girl from Ipanema as best album. That same year the Grammy for best record went to Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto also for "The Girl from Ipanema." In 1973, Eumir Deodato with his version of Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zaratustra" was considered best pop instrumental interpreter. Roberto Carlos was chosen in 1988 as best Latin pop singer and Sérgio Mendes was the winner of the world music best record in 1993 for Brasileiro. In 1996, Tom Jobim won a posthumous prize for Antônio Brasileiro in the Latin jazz category.

Brazil has won a total of 12 Grammys so far. Laurindo de Almeida alone—he is a São Paulo musician who moved to the U.S. in 1947—has won five of the awards, starting in 1960, when he got it twice for Conversations With the Guitar (best instrumental classic music) and for The Spanish Guitars of Laurindo de Almeida (instrumental solo). In 1961, with Discantus, he shared the prize of best contemporary jazz composition with Igor Stravinsky. Three years later, Guitar from Ipanema would give him a Grammy as the best jazz performer.

Slip of
the Mouse

With more than one million copies a week and a 30-year history backing it up, Veja is without any contest the most respected, cited, and mimicked newsmagazine in Brazil. The high-visibility position has also made the publication a tad haughty and an easy target for the rest of the national media, since from the top of its excellence the magazine often times is also known for thumbing its nose at publications not belonging to Abril, its publisher.

Veja's most common peccadillo has been to unceremoniously appropriate itself of foreign and domestic copyrighted material without attribution of the source. Such cases however can sometimes be tricky due to the nature of the media, which survives on recycling and regurgitating old news and information.

More recently though, the holier-than-thou publication has shown at once sloppiness and lack of ethics by publishing a picture that was digitally altered. The magazine didn't warn readers about the alteration, which in this instance wasn't really necessary. The graphic artist who made the mutilation in the picture excised the head and the body of someone on the photo, but forgot to also erase his legs, which are well too visible under the table.

The sloppiness was a too-tasty plate for the rest of the media to pass up. Society columnist Richard Boechat from Rio's daily O Globo was laser-like precise and stinging in his irony suggesting that the magazine take a crash course at the KGB, the infamous USSR's intelligence agency expert on altering images and history.

The computer-altered photo, which showed the filmmaking Barreto family, appeared on page 90 of the February 18, 1998 issue, illustrating a cover story on the Oscar nomination of a Brazilian movie. The film by Bruno Barreto is called O Que É Isso, Companheiro? (What't That, Pal?) and it was released as Four Days in September in the U.S.. Isto É, the other Brazilian newsweekly, with about 1/3 of Veja's circulation, didn't miss its chance for a bite at the top dog and even interviewed experts in press ethics, who taught what a serious publication should do in such cases. Isto É found a cleverly naughty title for its article: "O Que É Isso, Companheiros?" (What's That, Pals?).


This year promises to be a better one for Centro Projeto Axé, an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) that cares for street children in Salvador, state of Bahia, and became the inspiration for similar projects in such places as Angola, Cabo Verde, Italy and Mozambique. Despite the respect it inspires and the fact that the project has already taken more than 4,000 youngster off the streets funds have been drying out and at the end of 1997, Axé had decided to close its doors.

Things are looking a lot brighter since the work pointed out as a model by Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund) was discovered by American Sandie Poitier Johnson, the principal at Thurgood Marshall Academy in New York. "One of the things that most impressed us," Johnson told weekly newsmagazine Isto É about the experience she and other educators had in Salvador last December, "was the way Axé works with the children with African cultural elements in music, capoeira (a dance-cum-martial-art activity), ballet, and even fashion."

Another visitor, black leader Pastor Calvin Butts from the Abissinia Baptist Church, wanted to know how the project was able to maintain the children serene and happy. "It is the pedagogy of the desire," responded Italian educator Cesare de La Rocca, the president of Projeto Axé. "Children are stimulated to always wish for more. They were the ones who suggested and created the ballet group and the fashion atelier." New York will have a taste of this fashion in October when models sporting clothes made by Modaxé will present shows with the help of some notable Baiano (from Bahia) singers Carlinhos Brown, Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethânia. Some Harlem children are also going to Salvador to teach English and at the same time learn capoeira, percussion and dance. All these programs should cost $2 million in the long run. The American McCall Foundation has dropped $50,000 in the bucket to jumpstart the partnership.

of Wrath

There is a growing movement in the U.S. to bar the entrance of Brazilian orange juice in the country. The reason presented for such a boycott is the use of child labor in the picking of oranges in Brazil. Though apparently a case of orange industry workers grown sour about the cheaper Brazilian fruit, slave-like child work in Brazil is something vastly documented. Last December, Pharis Harvey, executive director of ILRF (International Labor Rights Fund) observed in loco how children are used in the orange groves. Now he is threatening: "Unless the abuses stop, new American laws will prevent the import of orange juice from Brazil."

A U.S. Labor Department study in 1995 showed that 15% of the 70,0000 workers in orange groves in the area of Tabatinga, state of São Paulo, were 13 years old or younger. Most had dropped out from school and their salaries were $3 for 14 hours of work.


For the Brazilian military, which muzzled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, smothering internal dissent with censorship, intimidation, prison, torture, and killings wasn't enough. In their delirium-like desire of emulating the U.S. as the world's sheriff, they also planned the invasion of countries. A just-release book reveals that the Médici administration (general Emílio Garrastazu Médici was president from 1969 to 1974) had plans to invade neighboring Uruguay in the event the leftist Tupac Amaru guerrillas prevented President Juan Maria Bordaberry from being inaugurated after his election.

The revelation is made in the book Militares: Confissões—Histórias Secretas do Brasil (The Military: Confessions—Brazil's Secret Stories) by journalist Hélio Contreiras. The work is a confiteor by 40 generals, colonels and other military who took part in the 1964 coup d'état. They condemn the arbitrariness of the regime and the two decades and a half it took them to step out of government.


The so-called Marvelous City has just undergone its annual test to prove its livability and has flunked miserably. In the short period of one week in February, Rio had interruptions of water and electricity, sometimes both at the same time; not-too-heavy rains showed how clogged and ill-kept the drainage systems were, which provoked floods and stranded people for hours; nobody was having extra complaints about the phone lines since telephone services have always been dreary.

In some cases blackouts lasted a whole day. Firefighters had to assume the role of spectators when on February 13 a fire broke out at Santos Dumont airport close to downtown. First they were called only after the fire had burned for hours, then they came fast and gave a sad show of inadequacy: the hydrants didn't have water, many hoses had holes on them, and Magyrus ladders didn't work. The fire that started at 2 AM was still smoldering at midday.

The same day Light, the recently privatized company in charge of electricity, opened its 800 number for complaints and it was inundated by 10,000 calls. Light blamed the blackouts on the heat that made more people than usual stay home and turn on their air conditioners.


As the infamous train robbers of the past they made the train stop by placing a barrier on the tracks. They weren't in the Wild West though, but in Brazil's most famous postcard: the Corcovado, the mountain topped by Christ the Redeemer. The whole scene seemed so improbable that some of the tourists on the tram—all foreign exchange students— thought at first that the price of the assault was included in the general admission like a thrilling Universal Tours attraction. The story made history. It was the first time in its 113 years that the minuscule Estrada de Ferro do Corcovado (Corcovado's Railway) was robbed. The students hadn't recuperated from the scare yet when their bus was broken into during the night. Again, some items were stolen, most of it equipment belonging to the bus.

Contrite and trying to buy good will, Rio's mayor Luiz Paulo Conde invited those robbed to his cabinet for a meeting and offered to pay for the $8,000 in losses of cameras and other stolen objects. After the cordial tête-à-tête Conde sent the pleased students to Porcão (Big Hog) for lunch. The restaurant is a fancy churrascaria in the upper-class neighborhood of Ipanema.

A Friendlier

Despite its natural vocation for tourism Brazil has been too slow in developing any serious strategy to lure tourists to its myriad of attractions. There is still a serious problem of lack of infrastructure and the country inability to promote itself overseas. This might change though with new plans by the government to spend $3.5 billion in tourism in the next two years in order to draw 4 million foreigners a year to the country starting in 1999. In 1997, there were 2.6 millions foreign tourists in Brazil. While tourists brought $2.2 billion to the economy last year, the idea is to have this increased to $4 billion by the end of next year. That would mean that participation of tourism in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would raise to 10%.

Francisco Dornelles, the Industry, Commerce and Tourism minister is betting that Brazil "will make lots of money with tourism". A stable currency and changes in legislation have already increased the influx of foreigners, he says. Among his plans is a price reduction of domestic air tickets. There also are special plans to develop the Northeast into the Brazilian Acapulco. More than $800 million are being invested in the region and six first-class new hotels are being built. In another front, the Inter-American Development Bank is helping to finance basic infrastructure for ecotourism projects in the Amazon and the Pantanal areas.


Conservative estimates put the number of shipwrecks along the 8,500 km (4.600 miles) Brazilian coast at 1,000 since Brazil's discovery in 1500. Some experts however believe that 3,000 would be a more realistic number. Until now, by law, all the buried treasure—estimated at $80 billion to $150 billion—belongs to the Union and whoever finds it is not entitled to even a penny. This has created a situation in which all these riches lay there untouched or are pillaged by pirates, a task made easy by the lack of law enforcement by the Navy, which is in charge of protecting Brazilian seas.

Enter a new law, Project 4,285, which has the Navy's backing and it is on its final phase to be approved in Congress. The legislation has produced an odd alliance among leftists and rightists, conservatives and liberals, government and opposition, all in concert with the military. The main controversy has been the size of the share to give foreign companies participating in any joint-venture to dig theses treasures. Some propose that they should get 50% of everything found, others believe that 40% should be the maximum.

At least one famous treasure hunter has already shown interest in digging Brazil's undersea riches. He is American Robert Ballard from the Massachusetts Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the same guy who found the carcass and the treasures of the Titanic.


Bombril, a traditional fine-steel scouring pad and one of the most recognizable brand names in Brazil, is having a field season with President Clinton's misadventures. In a new TV spot created by W Brazil ad agency, the pots-and-pans best friend brings Carlinhos Moreno, 42, its spokesperson for 20 years, in a one-man show in which he interprets three of the main characters of Zipergate: Bill, Hillary, and Monica Lewinsky. While the versatile comedian changes clothes and personalities on screen the text of the ad goes: "Bombril cleans any dirt even international ones." As Hillary Carlinhos says, "your house will get real white" and concludes already transmuted into Monica: "Oh, Bill, bom Bill," In Portuguese bom means good.

Ice Cream

Flower-flavored ice cream is not a novelty in Brazil. The curiosity existed for decades but it had been restricted to some specialized ice-cream parlors and bought more as an occasional extravagance. This summer however, rose petal ice cream has caught on and has become a craze. It is being consumed as fast as it is prepared and being taken in big quantities to weddings, birthdays, and all kinds of parties. In some Rio ice-cream parlor, the rose flavor is among the three most sought after by the customers. The product uses milk and rose petals and pulp.

The Year
We Were
So Happy

Brazilians have been hit by a serious nostalgia affliction since the recent release of Feliz 1958—O Ano Que Não Devia Terminar (Happy 1958—The Year That Shouldn't End) by Joaquim Ferreira dos Santos, Editora Record, 192 pp $22.

The book written by journalist Joaquim Ferreira dos Santos, who was only eight in 1958, show why that was one heck of a year. These were, according to the book, more innocent times in which the bambolê (hoola-hoop) was king, people listened to bossa nova on the transistor radio and were interested in the Certinhas do Lalau (full-figured guitar-shaped pin-up girls chosen by irreverent Rio's journalist Sérgio Porto, better known as Stanislaw Ponte Preta). The queen of gossip was Candinha and the funniest guys on TV were called Zé Fidelis, a somewhat foul mouthed joker and Zé Bonitinho, an incorrigible don Juan interpreted by actor Jorge Loredo When called gorgeous he would say: "Gorgeous it is to see me washing my armpit while I sing "Tico-Tico no Fubá." 1958 also saw Maria Ester Bueno winning Wimbledon and Cacareco, a zoo rhinoceros from São Paulo, getting a seat at the City Council with 100,000 votes.

It was also in 1958 that Brazil won soccer's World Cup for the first time. That year, Miss Brazil—then a cared for institution—was Adalgisa Colombo. With popular civilian President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil was the country of tolerance with a growing feeling that every dream could be fulfilled.

That was the year architect Oscar Niemeyer was busy inventing Brasília, the town created in the backlands that in two years would become Brazil's futuristic capital. That was also the year that the first almost-national car was introduced: it was the DKW-Vemag, whose rate of nationalization was 78 percent. Even crimes seemed more cinematographic: 1958 saw one of the most infamous crimes of Brazilian history, the murder of Aída Curi. The 23-year-old virgin was thrown from a building's terrace at fancy Avenida Atlântica by Cássio Murilo Ferreira da Silva, 17, and Ronaldo de Souza Castro, 19, who were trying to rape her.

It was in 1958 too that avant-garde artist Flávio de Carvalho, who advocated skirts for men in the tropics, shocked the nation by going out through the streets of downtown São Paulo wearing a skirt. That same year vaudeville star Nélia Paula was the protagonist of her own scandal becoming the first Brazilian woman to wear a bikini, choosing Copacabana beach as her stage.

The hits of the year: "Apito no Samba" (Marlene), "Cabecinha no Ombro" (Trio Nagô), "Cachito" (Nat King Cole), "Castigo" (Dolores Duran), "Chega de Saudade" (João Gilberto), "Eu Não Existo Sem Você" (Silvinha Telles), "Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis Presley), "Meu Mundo Caiu" (Maysa), "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu" (Domenico Modugno), "Serenata do Adeus"(Elizete Cardoso), "Vitrine e Escultura" (Nelson Gonçalves), and "You Are My Destiny" (Paul Anka).

That's also the year Jorge Amado released his international bestseller Gabriela Cravo e Canela (Gabriela Clove and Cinnamon). Other important books published at that time were: O Ventre (The Stomach) by Carlos Heitor Cony, O Homem ao Lado (The Man Beside) by Sérgio Porto, Maria Beata do Egito (Blessed Mary of Egypt) by Rachel de Queiroz, A Cidade Vazia (The Empty City) by Fernando Sabino, and Histórias de Desencontros (Mismatches Stories) by Lygia Fagundes Telles.

'58 Slang

Then it was cool to say:


Bagulho, canhão, facão, estrupício—offensive names to call a woman

Barnabé—public worker


Botar pra jambrar—to be a troublemaker

Broto, certinha, estouro, gostosura, pedaço, pancadão, uva—all compliments to a woman

Charlar—to show off

Da fuzarca—party animal

Dar o beiço—(lit. to give the lip) to stiff someone

É da pontinha—it's great

É de chuá—it's great

É fogo na jaca—It's a bummer

Eu quero é rosetar—I want to chase skirts

Ficar a bangu—empty handed

Ficar a neném—empty handed

Foi pro beleléu—it finished, it died


Garota do barulho—super girl

Jiló—(lit. a very bitter vegetable) gay



Me dá o meu boné—(lit. give me my hat) I am gone

Mocorongo—worthless person

No maior vai-da-valsa—by hook or by crook


Que mocotó! —what a thigh!

Roxinha—prety black girl



Close Up

rpdmr98c.gif (40715 bytes)Roberta Close, Brazil's most renowned transsexual is only 33, but she is busy putting the finishing touches on her tell-all, name-names, racy autobiography. She will be talking about her conflict of a woman trapped in a male body (she was born with a penis but not testicles) and the suffering to be accepted by society. Afraid of lawsuits, La Close for now has given up naming her Brazilian lovers. Non-Brazilians, however, are fair game.

Born Luís Roberto Gambini, Roberta revealed recently that she will be talking, for example, of her romance with American comedian Eddie Murphy, who is not making any comment. "Eddie saw me in New York and he liked my type," Close said. "He used to send me flowers and letters."

Close had a sex-change operation in London at the Charing Cross clinic. This was in 1989. Since then she has been trying to change her name on her Brazilian passport. The case went up to the Supreme Court, which last year denied her wish arguing that natural sex prevail over psychological sex.

She was able to change her name to Luíza Gambini though in Switzerland where she is living, "superhappy" according to her, with Swiss husband Roland Granacher, product manager of an airplane turbines company. Ever so proud of his wife, Granacher, in Rio with Close for the Carnaval, told Rio's magazine Manchete: "Roberta is a woman in every sense. She is beautiful, sensual, feminine, intelligent, and also a great cook. Brazil needs to grow up and stop being so old fashioned on sexual matters."

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