Congress has been discussing whether elected officials should hire
their own relatives. A congressman explained why he hired his own mother: "She put me
on this world, and I only hire people I can trust who could I trust more than
By Brazzil Magazine
In an explicit challenge to the Catholic Church and
groups of Salvador (Bahia state) residents, the Bahia Carnaval extended into Ash Wednesday
this year with a crowd of 10,000 people following the lead of singer-composer Carlinhos
Brown through the streets of Barra and Ondina neighborhoods. The week before, archbishop
Dom Geraldo Magella Agnelo had made an appeal that the Church’s day of penance was
respected and Emtursa, Bahia’s tourism authority, had schedule the Carnaval
celebration to end on Tuesday night. However, all of this didn’t dissuade Brown and
thousands of revelers to extend the party, which started at 10 AM and continued for close
to three hours. "The Church need to be uplifting and not something lethargic that
takes you down," stated the musician.
For Álvaro Reis, president of Associação de Moradores da Barra
(Barra’s Association of Residents), the revelry was in violation of an agreement between
the association, the trios elétricos, and City Hall. Brown, the leader of the
group Timbalada, says that the party that he invented is already a Salvador tradition,
even though it only has three years. Now there are people threatening to go to the courts
to prohibit the party happening again next year.
Fabiana Andrade, 22, the belle who used to date soccer star
Ronaldinho, seemed to be all over during the Carnaval. With naked breasts and very little
else hiding his privies Fabiana was showing it all in three different escolas de samba,
two of which became champions: Imperatriz and Império Serrano. She was candid about what
was hers, and what had been approved by the hand of a surgeon: "I added some silicone
to my breast four months ago, my the buns are real and my own."
Fabiana is living proof that Brazilian male interests are
shifting from the old buttock fixation to the anatomic part favored by their American
counterparts. The Carnaval parades in Brazil were a mirror of that, with scores of women
parading bare breasted. The issue apparently is so momentous that weekly news magazine Isto
É dedicated its cover story to the subject matter. "With or Without Silicone –
the New National Preference" it proclaimed on a recent cover over a picture of a
According to the magazine, exhibiting their bare boobies is a way
for women to show their power, the same way feminists 40 years burned their bras in
protest against male dominance. Women want to feel desirable, sensual, pretty, wrote the
magazine, adding: "In this Carnaval, the squalid and anorexic model was forever
retired. Women invest in exuberance and fill the streets with cleavages and toplessness.
The fashion now is bountiful breasts, be they silicone prostheses or not."
Brazilians seemed engaged in a new game this past
Carnaval: guessing who had or who had not had a silicone implant. It wasn’t that many
seemed interested in hiding it anyway. One of the hottest ticket in town, TV presenter
Joana Prado, better known as Feiticeira (Witch) praised the work of her surgeon after São
Paulo’s daily, Jornal da Tarde, published that her left implant had ended up under
her arm while rehearsing the samba at escola de samba Salgueiro. "How these people
make up foolish stuff. I’ve never had any problem with my prostheses. The surgery went
smoothly and it was a big boost to my ego."
The preference battle between breasts and buns seems to be
placing younger men against the older generation. Some celebrities have joined the fray to
guarantee that the buttocks remain the main object of desire. For renowned cartoonist
Ziraldo this invasion of boobies is just a fad. Writer Ruy Castro declared "I am for bunda
(buns) and I won’t change my mind."
Talking to Isto É psychologist Jacob Pinheiro Goldberg
said American males prefer larger breasts due to the matriarchal model of the US, while in
Brazil this change of tastes has more to do with a female movement to grab power.
"Buns were exploited to the limit," Golberg explained. "But TV presenter
Tiazinha was the apex and the beginning of the end for beauty standard. The Brazilian man
always had this need of self-assertion, a fixation on the buttocks, as if he wanted to
possess a woman without watching her in the eyes. Today, on TV, while the cameras insist
on focusing on the derrieres, the dancers wish most of all to show their breasts. It’s the
power between male and female that is changing in Brazil. The woman shows her breasts to
win her space. Breasts are object of desire, instrument of pleasure, and the image of the
A proof that buns are still hot is the summer hit song Melô da
Popozuda (The Big Butt Girl Song). The refrain: "Vai popozuda/Levanta a sua
bunda/Oh! Raimunda" ("Go, big-butt girl/Raise your ass/Oh! Raimunda).
The Olinda (state of Recife) Carnaval continues to grow in
popularity. There were 1.5 million revelers in town this year, double the size of last
year’s crowd. There, Carnaval continued unabated passed midnight of Ash Wednesday. One of
the main attractions was the Bacalhau do Batata bloco (Carnaval group), which was
created 28 years ago by Isaías Ferreira da Silva, a waiter better known as Batata. The
idea is to unite all the professionals like himself who have to work during the days of
Carnaval and cannot join the fun. As in other years, Carnaval in the Olinda-Recife
metropolitan area had is tragic component. There were 30 murders during the four days of
partying and 15 people killed in traffic. By comparison, last year there were 36 homicides
and 37 in 1998.
In Rio, the world-famous escola de samba competition once again
gave its top prize to Imperatriz Leopoldinense, the same club that was champion last year.
The escola edged its competitor, Beija-Flor, the runner up by a mere half point,
getting 299.5 points from a possible total of 300. The choice of the best is made by a
panel of experts who give scores from 0 to 10 in several categories. Imperatriz almost had
a perfect 10 score, getting 9.5 only for mestre-sala (master of ceremony) and porta-bandeira
(standard-bearer). Imperatriz, which spent $700,000 for its paradeless than the
$850,000 from Beija Floris sponsored by bicheiro (illegal animal lottery game
chief) Luiz Pacheco Drumond, the Luizinho, who is also president of the Liga Independente
das Escolas de Samba (Samba Schools Independent League), the association that stages the
annual Carnaval parade.
The directors of Beija-Flor complained about the jurors, saying
that they should be chosen by the school themselves and not by the league’s president,
"because the jurors are friends of the League’s leaders." To which Luizinho
replied: "These protests are fallacy. Carnaval is a big surprise that is on the
Abuse of alcohol, high speed, and dangerous passing were the main
causes responsible for the 108 deaths during the four days of Carnaval on the Brazilian
federal roads, according to Federal Highway Patrol. There were also 926 people that were
injured in a total of 1471 car accidents, despite a concerted effort by 3.500 patrolmen in
Is it "everything goes" during the Carnaval days? Not
exactly. The police and the Catholic Church still have their say. Pressure from Rio’s
church hierarchy, for example, prevented the use of religious images during the escolas
de samba parade. Model Angela Bismarchi, 27, was almost arrested because he was not
wearing anything besides painting in the color and shape of the Brazilian flag. She was
parading for escola de samba Porto da Pedra, and only was spared detention
because a friend wiped out the flag’s yellow lozenge painted on her belly.
Out of Tune
Together with the French La Marseillaise, Brazil’s national anthem gets top
votes from musical experts for the excellence of its melody. While to the French it is a
"call-to-arms" battle hymn, the Brazilian anthem is a pastoral song talking
about "smiley pretty fields". What some experts are not able to explain is why
the author of such a musical jewel, Francisco Manuel da Silva (1795-1865), did not produce
other praiseworthy pieces. The answer might be that da Silva did not compose the Hino
Nacional Brasileiro, that is, he borrowed from his master, Father José Maurício
Nunes Garcia (1767-1830), a priest who excelled as a classic composer.
This controversy is not new, and accusations that the Brazilian national anthem was
plagiarized have become more frequent since 1995 when "Matinas de Nossa Senhora da
Conceição," a religious composition was sung during Juiz de Fora’s (state of Minas
Gerais) Colonial Music Festival. The audience, made up mostly of music experts, was amazed
to discover in the homage to the Virgin Mary, a good portion very similar to the national
anthem. Chronologically is quite possible that this borrowing really happened and several
experts have been trying to establish the truth. Although not dated, the
"Matinas" was written in 1821 or 1822.
In an interview with weekly newsmagazine Veja, maestro Marcelo Antunes Martins,
who will soon release the first commercial recording of "Matinas", accuses Silva
of crass plagiarism: "Soon after composing "Matinas", Nunes Garcia became
sclerotic. He was incapable of recognizing his own compositions. Francisco Manuel da Silva
took advantage of his master’s disease to copy the theme."
For maestro Sergio Dias, however, there is no case of plagiarism, but a mere homage
from a student to his master. Others say that there was only a coincidence since both
composers, Nunes Garcia and his disciple, were influenced by the Italian opera through the
companies that started going to Brazil in 1821.
The Brazilian national anthem has a colorful story that involves even Don Pedro I, the
Portuguese prince who on September, 7, 1822 declared Brazil independent from Portugal and
then became the first emperor of the new country. It was Dom Pedro, a composer himself,
who wrote the first Brazilian national anthem, a song still sung in schools now known as "Hino
da Independência" (Independence Hymn). As for the official anthem it only got
its definitive lyrics in 1922, thanks to the sometimes convoluted poetic style of Joaquim
Osório Duque Estrada (1870-1927). In one of the older versions, Ovídio Saraiva de
Carvalho e Silva made references in his text to the monarchy and to a wise reign.
Ouviram do Ipiranga as margens plácidas
Se o penhor dessa igualdade
Ó Pátria amada,
Brasil, um sonho intenso, um raio vívido,
Deitado eternamente em
Do que a terra mais
Ó pátria amada,
Brasil, de amor eterno seja símbolo
Mas se ergues da justiça a clava forte,
Dos filhos deste solo
Brazilian National Anthem
The peaceful banks of the Ipiranga
If with strong arm we have succeeded
Oh adored Fatherland,
Brazil, a sublime dream, a vivid ray
Oh land adored
Laid out eternally in the
More flowers put forth in your fair,
Oh adored Fatherland,
May the star-scattered banner flown by you,
But if the mighty sword of justice is drawn forth,
Oh land adored
You are the gentle mother
Já podeis da pátria
Brava gente brasileira,
Os grilhões que nos forjava,
Brava gente …
Não temais ímpias falanges
Brava gente, …
Parabéns, ó Brasileiros!
Brava gente, …
You already can, children
Brave Brazilian people
The shrewd ploy of treachery
Do not fear impious phalanxes
Congratulations, oh Brazilians!
Cariocas (Rio’s residents) have never heard so much music
in the city’s bars and clubs. Singers can be found in the posh bars of Zona Sul and
Barra da Tijuca, but they are even more common in the poor suburbs and the West Zone.
Despite this overabundance of crooners the Sindicato dos Músicos do Estado do Rio (Rio
State’s Musicians Union) has denounced the practice as harmful to their profession.
The problem is that all these singers are amateurs who, for a
little less than one dollar, are able to feed video machines called videoke and
have a shot at singing to a crowd of unknowns. Videokes are an improved
"karaoke" system, in which the lyrics of a song are presented on a screen with
the syllables underlined at the precise moment they are supposed to be sung. At the end of
the performance the singer gets a score that goes from 40 to 99.
"It is a shame that professionals are being replaced by
mechanical music and amateurs voices," said Vitor Neto, the president of the
Musicians Union, in an interview with daily Jornal do Brasil. To what
singer-composer Lobão added: "It’s really a shame that the plague of videoke
is spreading over a city with a bohemian tradition as in Rio. We can understand this fever
happening in oriental countries like Japan and Korea. After all, education there is more
rigorous, and people are repressed, and need to let it out. But here? There are so many
less mediocre ways to deal with daily stress.
The owners of places with videoke are understandably
ecstatic with the success of the singing machine. At the Barril 8000 bar, in Barra da
Tijuca, for example, people make lines at the door to get a shot at exercising their
singing talent. When inside, the candidate for becoming a star, usually wait hours till
he/she gets his/her turn. Not only the anonymous have caught the fever. At Rhapsody in
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, teen-age students are at elbow-to-elbow with TV and soccer stars
at a chance for musical stardom. That’s the place where celebrities such as TV’s bad girl
Tiazinha, model Susana Werner (soccer star Ronaldinho’s ex), and hot new soap star Maria
Fernanda Cândido use to go for singing practice.
In the poor suburbs the fad has become a drain in the pockets of
the poor, and that’s where the most videoke machines end up. These people are drawn
to videoke bars with enticing signs that say, "Come feel what it is like to be
a star," "The dream to become a singer is at hand," and "Wake up the
artist who lives inside you." Like gamblers, some blue collar workers spend their
whole salary buying tokens for the machines. "Once I got so excited that I spent more
than I should. When it was time to leave I had no money left to take the bus back
home," said cleaning lady Francisca Pereira, who usually spends around $25 every time
she goes to a videoke place. There are many days that she does not make this kind
of money for a day’s work.
The American Nightmare
Joao (sic) Herbert and Djavan Arams Silva don’t know each other,
but these two youngsters, who live in the US, share a very similar story and might end up
being deported to Brazil, a country they barely know and whose language they cannot speak
or understand, even though they were born there. Herbert, who lives in Ohio and Silva,
from Massachusetts, were adopted when they were small kids by American couples. Herbert
was 7, in 1986, when he left Brazil; Silva was 10, when adopted in 1987.
In 1996, Herbert and Djavan had problems with the law. The first
one tried to sell a small amount of marijuana to an undercover police agent, the other one
resisted during a police raid. Both were sent to jail and suddenly found out that they
were not Americans as they thought, since their parents never applied for their
To complicate matters, Brazil does not want to get them back on
"humanitarian grounds". In a interview with daily Folha de São Paulo,
ambassador Maurício Cortes Costa, in charge of the Brazilian consulate in Boston, said
that Brazil recognizes the Brazilian citizenship of both, but that adoptions are
irrevocable acts: "They can’t return to Brazil because they don’t speak Portuguese
anymore and they don’t have family or friends in the country. They would have a hard time
to adapt themselves."
It was in January that the Immigration and Naturalization Service
contacted the Brazilian authorities to get the necessary documents for the deportation
procedures. However, the Itamaraty (Brazilian Foreign Ministry) instructed
Brazilian diplomats in the US to not issue those documents. Arguing that an adoption
cannot simply be revoked and that the kids were taken from Brazil more than 10 years ago
by couples who promised they would treat the adoptees as their children. Brazil also
argues that no other civilized country, besides the US, requires that an adoptee be
naturalized by their parents to become a citizen of the country they are taken to.
In response to the Brazilian stance, the INS has announced that
the Brazilian-born youngsters might be indefinitely in jail until a third country accepts
them. Herbert himself is puzzled by all this: "I was born Brazilian, became American
and now they want me to turn into a Brazilian again. I have already paid for my crime and
I cannot stand this anymore. I feel like I don’t have a country, that I do not belong in
any place. I’m afraid I will become a beggar if I have to go back."
Herbert, now 22, is a first-time offender was initially sentenced
only to probation and community work. Jim Herbert, father of Joao, says that he never
naturalized his son for personal reasons. He wanted that Herbert himself would choose what
he wanted to be when he grew up. But he is not taking chances anymore, and has already
applied for citizenship for Daniel, another Brazilian boy he adopted. Jim visits his son
almost daily in jail. "He is my son, and I want him with me," he says.
As for Djavan Silva, who has been depressed for some time now,
the situation is even more complicated. The couple that adopted him abandoned him in jail
and does not want anything to do with him.
Under the title "A Foreigner at Home" the Washington
Post, on March 5, published an article about the situation of several children,
adopted by Americans who are or have already been deported to their country of origin. The
piece starts with Herbert’s story: "The Americanization of Joao Herbert began in
1987, when an 8-year-old boy from Brazil flew north to become the adopted son of a
small-town Ohio insurance salesman and hairdresser. Blessed with an ebullient spirit, he
embraced his new family, his new home, and his new world. English quickly replaced
Portuguese. Football eventually supplanted soccer. By high school, his father boasts, he
could nail a field goal from 50 yards.
"Unfortunately, by then he’d embraced some less desirable
aspects of American youth, too. Herbert fell in with the wrong crowd, partied with booze
and pot. And just two months after high school graduation in 1997, he sold 7.5 ounces of
marijuana to a police informant in his hometown of Wadsworth."
Commenting about the situation to the Post, Nancy
Morawetz, the law professor who runs the Immigrants Rights Clinic at New York University,
said: "There’s something particularly appalling about sending back someone who was
adopted. Aren’t we engaged in an amazing fiction, to say that this group of people, who
were raised in this country, who believe that they’re part of this country, that suddenly
they’re strangers?" "It totally invalidates the whole adoption experience,"
said Susan Cox, vice president of Holt International Children’s Services. "These
actions have an impact on our responsibility as the receiving country, on our integrity,
on the promises we’ve made to the sending countries."
More Men, Please
Rio has become the city of the women. The last census data show
that every passing year it grows the disparity between the number of men and women in that
city. While in 1990 there were already 314,000 more women than men in Rio, this difference
had gown another 29,000 women in 1996. The imbalance can be seen all over, and women have
been complaining about this. In some neighborhoods like Tijuca and Copacabana, for
example, there is an excess of 20,000 women.
With this disparity men more than ever are in the driver’s seat
here. "There are few men in Rio," said Camila in a interview with daily news, Jornal
do Brasil. "They are not even in the military college parties anymore. Even there
you find more girls than boys." Camila, who is 18, has been without a steady
boyfriend for two years now, the same happening with her twin sister and a friend of the
same age. If for younger women getting a boyfriend can be hard, for women past 40 this can
be an impossible task.
El Turf, Dado Bier, Ilha dos Pescadores, ATL Hall and Terraço
Rio Sul are some of places where the younger crowd go for the sport of flirting. It’s not
unusual to find two women for each man in these places. Some men even swear that there are
five women for every man in other public places like beaches, clubs and shopping malls.
For the older folks Dado Bier can also be also be a great place besides other known spots
as Arroba Point, Rock in Rio, Base, and W.
No wonder Carioca (from Rio) men are so spoiled. At least,
that’s the picture you get from listening to most of the women who repeat: "They
don’t want anything serious." Other women complain that very rarely a man is caring
and affectionate, or that most of the time they are insincere, while others are still more
drastic: "they are all either rogues or gays." There is an e-mail message making
the rounds in Rio that reads in part: "Cool men are ugly; pretty men are not cool;
pretty and cool men are gay; pretty, cool and heterosexual men are already married."
This gender-inequality is not always in favor of women. Until age
14, there are more men than women in Rio, some 13,000 more. But starting at age 15, the
gap gets bigger and bigger the older people get. From 15 to 19 there 6,000 more women
while from 40 to 44 this grows to 36,000. From 75 years of age on there are two women for
every man on the same age bracket.
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