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The Malandro’s Goodbye

The Malandro's 
Goodbye

Atypical for a bohemian, Moreira da Silva hardly ever drank
and went to bed early. The musician used to boast about his habit of
drinking eggnog in the morning and milk before going to sleep.
He was, however, an assumed womanizer.
By Alessandra Dalevi

The samba de breque—samba in which the singer stops and improvises some
rap-like music—is orphan. Its creator, Antônio Moreira da Silva, also known as Kid
Morengueira, died at age 98, on June 6, at Rio’s Hospital dos Servidores do Estado (State
Public Servants Hospital). He had endured a long disease and had been taken to the
hospital May 15. Moreira da Silva, who was from Tijuca, in Rio, died in the city he loved
where he spent all his life and where he earned the fame of being a legitimate malandro
(street-smart individual).

To those who called him malandro he used to say: "I’d rather have people
thinking I am stupid. Those who want to be too smart get all tangled up." But he
himself cultivated the malandro character during all his life wearing a special
outfit that included a white linen suit with a kerchief or a flower on the lapel, an
orange silk shirt, white shoes with toe caps and a Panama hat. Atypical for a bohemian and
malandro, he hardly ever drank and went to bed early. Moreira da Silva used to
boast about his habit of drinking eggnog in the morning and milk before going to sleep. He
was, however, an assumed womanizer.

In 1985, this son of a trombone player from the Military Police band told an
interviewer about his interest in young girls. He was already 83, but continued to go out
with young and pretty women who also seemed to like him. "I don’t take my eyes from
women," he declared. And talked about a 19-year-old girl he was dating: "I am
drinking catuaba liquor (an alleged aphrodisiac) to be able to deal with this
brunette with juriti’s (a bird) breast."

He recorded more than 100 albums. Morengueira started his musical career with
"Arrasta Sandália" (Drag Your Sandal) in 1931. But it was "Jogo
Proibido," recorded five year later, that would make him noticed. Despite his
popularity and success achieved mainly through radio, the musician made only enough money
to survive. He lived most of his life in a modest house in the poor neighborhood of
Estácio and only recently had moved to a small apartment in Catumbi. "I moved
there," he joked, "so I can walk by myself to the cemetery when I die."

What he left was a $30,000 debt in the Panamericano hospital, a debt friends like
musicians Beth Carvalho, Elza Soares, and Paulinho da Viola decided to pay by organizing a
show at Canecão, a prestigious location for music in Rio. It was Moreira da Silva himself
who asked for the show saying he wouldn’t like to leave this bill to his relatives to pay.

Some people thought he was putting them on when he told about his date of birth: April
Fool’s Day. In fact, he was born on April 1st, 1902. Among several odd jobs he had,
Morengueira worked for a sock factory and also as a taxi and ambulance driver. Among
Morengueira’s most popular songs are "Acertei no Milhar," "Morengueira
Contra 007," and "O Rei do Gatilho," all good-humored stories, the latest
two making fun of Hollywood and the Wild West. In 1995, he released the CD "Os Três
Malandros," a parody to the Three Tenors—Placido Domingo, José Carreras and
Luciano Pavarotti —in partnership with Bezerra da Silva and Dicró.

One day before Morengueira’s passing, Brazil had lost another sambista, and malandro
symbol. It was João Nogueira, who died at age 58 from a heart attack, on June 5. He was
the author of such musical pearls as "Um Ser de Luz," "Súplica" and
"Minha Missão." Nogueira, a married man with two children, wouldn’t heed his
doctors who had advised him to stay away from alcohol. He never stopped his all-night
parties always accompanied by his beer mug. He was getting ready to record a new CD with
seven new songs among the 14 tunes selected for the album. It would have been his 19th
disc.

Na Subida no Morro

Moreira da Silva

Voce mesmo sabe
que eu já fui um malandro malvado
somente estou regenerado.
Cheio de malícia
dei trabalho à polícia
pra cachorro (…)

Mas nunca abusei de uma mulher
que fosse de um amigo.
Agora me zanguei consigo
Hoje venho animado
a lhe deixar todo cortado.
Vou dar-lhe um castigo
meto-lhe o aço no abdomen
e tiro fora o seu umbigo

Going Up the Hill

You know very well
that I’ve been a mean street-smart guy
Even though I changed.
Full of malice
I gave a very hard time
to the police (…)

But I never abused a woman
who belonged to a friend.
Now I’m mad at you
Today I’m ready
to cut you all up.
I will punish you
I’ll stick the steel in the abdomen
and I’ll pull out your bellybutton

 

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