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Brazilians have been chosen once again as the world champions of sex. The latest title was given by an unsuspected source: the Penguim’s Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior. The data were compiled by British doctor Judith Mckay, a member of the Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, who says that Brazilians won because “they seem to have a better sense of humor and the ability to amuse themselves while having sex.”

According to the study, Brazilians, besides being more tolerant with their partner’s infidelity, have a larger number of sexual partners, have sex more frequently and spend more time in preliminaries when in bed. Brazilians spend an average of 30 minutes doing it. By comparison, Thais don’t spend more than 10 minutes in the act and Italians despite their fame, take an average of 14 minutes to make love. McKay’s work has also found that Brazil has at least 600,000 prostitutes who are younger than 18. And surprise: 44% of Brazilian women admit that they fake their orgasm just to please or to impress their male partner.

Many Brazilian experts do not agree with the rosier side of the results attributing them more to the national habit of lying and flaunting about sexual prowess than to facts. In an interview with weekly news magazine Isto É, which dedicated a recent cover story to the theme “Is the Brazilian Good in Bed?”, sexologist Moacir Costa took exception to the British study: “We have to take into consideration the fact that it’s common to lie a lot when the matter is sex even when responding to a researcher. I believe Brazilians are always telling to a friend what they do in bed. It is their way to assert themselves in the group. And this is male phenomenon. Women may even broach the subject, but in general they don’t gloat over this.”

A national study conducted at São Paulo’s Hospital das Clínicas showed that 75 percent of women being treated in the so-called Sexuality Project had problems reaching orgasm. From this total 30 percent have the sexual desire but are not able to get to the “Big O,” another 35 percent don’t feel any desire, and 10 percent are not able to get excited despite feeling the sexual desire. According to data from Sociedade Brasileira de Sexualidade Humana (Brazilian Society of Human Sexuality), 35 percent of Brazilian male suffer from some sexual dysfunction.

For Nelson Vittielo, president of Sociedade Brasileira de Sexualidade Humana (Brazilian Society of Human Sexuality), Brazilian sexuality is still in pre-historic times with men and women victims of macho prejudices: “Women still have the obligation of seducing men as a proof of their femininity while men are supposed to know it all.”

To the question “Are you good in bed” that Isto É asked in its website, 81.4 percent answered that they were. And what is it “to be good in bed?” the inquiry continued. For 35.5 percent it is to dedicate plenty of time to foreplay, for another 31.4 percent is to follow the rhythm of the partner, 19.3 percent stress the importance of accepting the other’s fantasies, while 8.9 percent think the most important is to have intercourse slowly, 4.1 percent believe having sex several times is the ticket to be considered good in bed. Only 0.7 answered that having several sexual partners is the ultimate word in good sex.

Relic Old, Too Old

She arguably was the oldest woman in the world. The Guinness Book of Records, however, refused to list 129 year-old Maria do Carmo Jerônimo because she could present only a baptism certificate, not a birth certificate, to prove her age. And she did not have the required document for being too old, having being born as a slave six months before the Lei do Ventre Livre (Free Womb Law), legislation from 1870, which assured freedom to all children born of slave parents.

According to the church paper, Maria do Carmo was born on March 5, 1871. She died June 14 following several strokes that kept her in bed for the last two years. Since 1942, when she was hired as maid and babysitter by renowned writer Bernardo Guimarães—he is the author of Escrava Isaura (Slave Isaura) among other books—Jerônimo has lived with the Guimarães’s family. She helped raise the family’s 12 kids in the small town of Itajubá, state of Minas Gerais, where she died.

Maria do Carmo was at Itajubá’s Santa Casa de Misericórdia, the hospital where she had been taken at the beginning of the year when heavy rains destroyed the furniture at the Guimarães’s home, including the former slave’s wheelchair, bed, and much of her mementos including pictures of her with famous people. It was Bernardete Guimarães, who was taking care of Maria do Carmo in recent years.

One of these notables was Pope John Paul II, who met her in Rio in 1998. Three years earlier, when celebrating her 124th birthday, she had been invited by then Rio’s mayor, César Maia, to visit the city and see the sea up close. Seeing the ocean was one of her dreams and she was thrilled with her Rio trip. She walked barefoot into the sea and even tasted the salty water and approved of it. But she didn’t like the taste of the water-filled green coconuts sold at the kiosks by the beach.

As a slave, Jerônimo used to work on a sugar cane plantation as long as 18 hours a day. She was 17 when the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) freeing all slaves was signed. At that time Maria do Carmo started to work in different houses in exchange for food and lodging. The illiterate ex-slave did not receive a salary before she was 72.

Goodbye Blacklisted Bird

He started his career in the early sixties singing rock in a radio program hosted by Carlos Imperial, a talent scout who has discovered many other musical entertainers. His swing and ability to make the public sing with him made Wilson Simonal de Castro, better known as Wilson Simonal, a huge success on TV and in always packed live shows. His work spanned 37 years and 19 albums, but after being accused of being an informant for the military regime—an accusation that was never substantiated—Simonal was blacklisted by the media in the early seventies and never was able to recover from this.

He died on June 25, at age 62, from cirrhosis before his wife, Sandra Manzini Cerqueira, a lawyer and talent manager, was able to finish her work to prove the singer was never a collaborator of the military dictatorship. Recently she was able to access documents from the Justice Ministry and the presidency’s Department of Strategic Affairs showing that Simonal’s name does not show in any list of informants for the military.

He was born of a mother who washed clothes for a living, on February 28, 1938, in Água Santa, a suburb of Rio. His name was a tribute to Simonard, the doctor with a French last name, who used to help the poor woman. The official preparing the birth certificate didn’t know how to write the name and spelled Simonal.

He started singing in the late ’50s and was taken to Rio’s renowned Beco das Garrafas in 1961, where he was heard by Sérgio Mendes, Luís Carlos Mièle, and Ronaldo Bôscoli. But he would not be linked to the bossa nova. In 1962 he released the album A Nova Dimensão do Samba, a mix of samba and black American pop music. He would soon adopt a more popular approach.

The singer became a national idol using a style that became known as pilantragem (mischief) and singing tunes like “País Tropical,” “Sá Marina,” “Meu Limão Meu Limoeiro,” and “Mamãe Passou Açúcar em Mim.” The album Tem Algo Mais was released in 1963 and had an instant hit: Tito Madi’s “Balanço Zona Sul”.

“Meu Limão, Meu Limoeiro” was a Carlos Imperial adaptation of the American folk song “Lemon Tree”. As for Jorge Ben’s “País Tropical,” Simonal would not say país tropical (tropical country), but pa tropi, and patropi became a national way to refer to Brazil during a time in which people had to be very careful when referring to the country in order not to incur the ire of the military.

In 1966, the musician started hosting Show em Si Monal, a musical show on TV Record. Simonal had no political preference, but had some friends in the police when, in 1971, he found out that Rafael Vivani, his bookkeeper, was embezzling from him. Instead of taking the man to the justice he called those friends in the police to give the swindler a lesson. He was condemned and later sent to jail for having helped in the kidnapping of the employee. At the time he was cited as saying that he felt comfortable about the kidnapping because he had friends at DOPS (Departamento de Ordem Política e Social—Department of Political and Social Order), the police arm of the military regime that took over Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

The story leaked and from then on his career went into a sharp decline. He would soon be banned by recording companies, his own singing colleagues and by radio and TV. Even today the big recording stores don’t carry any titles by him. Simonal himself and others preferred to attribute his ostracism to racism. After all, he was the only black singer who was a big star in his time, drove expensive foreign cars, was always dating beautiful blonde women and sold more records than almost anybody else.

Talking about the importance of Simonal for the Brazilian music, music expert Zuza Homem de Mello declared soon after the singer’s death: “Simonal was one of the most modern singers of Brazilian music history. He certainly was one of the most representative singers during the ’60s and it was a tremendous injustice to link his name with the military dictatorship. Whatever sin he committed he paid too steep a price. There was a lack of humanity, people transformed him into a monster. There’s no certainty that he collaborated with the dictatorship, but the case was presented as if it were the truth. He suffered a lot with all these stories.”

Mello visited the singer in the hospital a week before his death: “Despite still being very hurt by this story of having his name connected to the military dictatorship he was in good spirits.”

Obituary – 100 Years of Passion

He has been called the country’s father. An intransigent nationalist and defender of democracy and still very lucid and active at age 103, journalist Alexandre José Barbosa Lima Sobrinho died in Rio on July 16 after a short stay at Casa de Saúde São José where he had been taken due to respiratory problems. He never was shy or afraid to defend what he thought

was right, so he was very vocal against the military dictatorship that started in 1964 and dragged for 21 years; he also was on the streets with the caras pintadas (painted-faces) when these students demanded the impeachment of former president Fernando Collor de Mello; and he has been fighting against privatization of state companies despite the fact that this is not a popular cause nowadays.

Until his last days, with the help of a magnifying glass, Barbosa Lima Sobrinho loved to read newspapers and books, mainly Brazilian novels. He also kept writing one article a week for Jornal do Brasil. The journalist stopped going to the ABI headquarter (Associação Brasileira de Imprensa—Brazilian Press Association) in 1999 after an accident in which he broke a leg. He did not want to use a wheelchair, telling a friend, “I will never be so old as to drag my feet.” Since 1937 he was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letters (Brazilian Academy of Letters) whose 40 associates are called immortals. “Don’t bury me in the Academy’s uniform lest the worms won’t eat me.”

He was born in Recife, capital of the state of Pernambuco, on January 22, 1897. His father was Francisco de Cintra Lima, a notary public and his mother was Joana de Jesus Barbosa Lima. From a traditional northeast family he was named after an uncle who was Pernambuco’s governor. At 13 he wrote his first article for the school paper and at 15 was writing for Recife’s A Província.

He graduated in Law from the Recife Faculdade de Direito in 1917 and soon after started working as prosecutor for the state of Pernambuco. By this time he also worked for such dailies as Diário de Pernambuco, Jornal Pequeno and Jornal do Recife, until April 1921 when he moved to Rio going to Jornal do Brasil where he started as a reporter and then became a political commentator. In 1923 he became the paper’s editor in chief and dedicated his next ten years exclusively to journalism.

On the day of his death Jornal do Brasil published his last contribution: “The middle-class exclusion.” In his last article he once again defended nationalism, a theme so dear to him all his life. At the end of the piece he asked: “Wouldn’t it be better, mainly as an obligation from the majority of those who form public opinion, that we start to react and to defend the legitimate national interests?”

In 1937, when Getúlio Vargas established the Estado Novo (New State), a dictatorship that would last eight years, he was in favor of the coup alleging he was backing his friend Agamenon Magalhães, the Labor Minister at the time. That’s a time he did not like to talk about although he justified his position by saying: “Getúlio was the president who fought the most for nationalism.” From 1948 to 1951 he was Pernambuco’s governor through the PSD, a party created by big farm owners. This didn’t prevent him from occasionally fighting the farmers.

The military decision to open three enquiries against him in 1964 to investigate his alleged involvement with the João Goulart administration (the one the 1964 military coup toppled) made Barbosa Lima Sobrinho even more determined to fight against the military dictatorship. This experience was traumatic and caused him a heart attack, the first and only one he had throughout his life.

In 1974, in a gesture filled with symbolism, since the government controlled the electoral machine at the time, Lima Sobrinho presented himself as anti-candidate vice-president together with Ulysses Guimarães who ran as candidate to the presidency.

A defender of freedom of the press he used to say, “The freedom of the press does not exist without the freedom of information, which is not a right of the journalist, but of the public. For the journalist, freedom of the press is a duty.”

He said

“I want for someone to find in any of the articles I wrote even a single word that has not been in defense of Brazil,” he declared in 1997 during the celebration of his 100th birthday.

“The Brazilian people have to wake up. How can they elect people who fight against their future?” December 27, 1996.

“In all truth, I can declare that I never had another boss that wasn’t Brazil.” January 31, 1997.

“I consider the sale of Vale do Rio Doce (a state-owned mining company) something criminal. Vale belongs to everybody and the people were not consulted.” April 30, 1997.

“I don’t appreciate tributes that much, what I really like is to fight.” January 22, 1999, commenting about his life being chosen as theme for a escola de samba parade.

“We must believe in the future and continue working so that in the next century Brazil can be a country more just with its sons and stronger economically.” January 22, 1999.

“If I could give any advice I would recommend that people wouldn’t want to live beyond 100. There is too much suffering for all the things we would like to do but cannot do.” January 22, 2000.

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