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RAPIDINHAS

RAPIDINHAS

Bahia has a new muse. Banda Eva sells one million CDs and projects
Ivete Sangalo as the new rising star in axé music. Ivete pursues her destiny of
muse maintaining her form.
By Brazzil Magazine

João de Aquino and
Dalva Lazaroni

Quando eu me aposentar

com o baita de um salário mínimo

ai! Vão querer me taxar

de marajá

de tremendo vagabundo!

Pro mundo do submundo

pra lá de 300 vagabundos

de carteirinha assinada

só oito anos…e mais nada!

Minha gente! Minha gente!

Brasileiros! Brasileiras!

Que é isso, presidente?

Aposentado? Tem é gente!

Quando fala!

Deve pensar!

Se não pensar… lá vem

nhém…nhém…nhém

lá vai blá…blá…blá!

Que é isso, presidente

Vagabundo? Não é bem a gente!

Deixa de drama… segura sua banda!

Vagabundo a ninguém se chama
!
One Million Lazy Bums

 

When I retire

with a huge minimum wage

alas! People will label me

a maharajah,

a super lazy bum!

For the underworld world

with more than 300 lazy bums

with official documents

8 years are enough…nothing more (1)

My folks! My folks!

Brazilian men and women!

What’s that, President?

Retired? These are people!

When you talk

You must think

If you don’t think…you get

senseless yak yak

there goes blah-blah-blah!

What’s that, President?

Lazy bum? This is not really us!

Don’t do a drama…hold your band!

You can’t call anyone lazy bum!

(1) An allusion to congressmen who can retire
with full benefits after eight years in office.

The Cardoso administration seems to have opened a poetic vein
among its critics. Normally-restrained Josias de Souza, a renowned columnist for daily Folha
de São Paulo lambasted a recent cabinet rearrangement in a rhymed poem.

 

A reforma em versos

Josias de Souza

Ah, governo das ilusões perdidas

Dos tucanos depenados 

Das biografias falidas

Dos pefelês animados

Das armações desabridas

Serra, sujeito esquisito

Da Saúde, sonha em ser presidente

Por ora, só combate o
mosquito

E irrita muita gente

Diz-se que é de Bornhausen

Afirma-se que é de Maciel

Ora, meu Deus, que bobagem

É a ACM que Waldeck é fiel

Nada é o que parecia

O verniz falsificado

O discurso enlatado

O compromisso abandonado

Caiu-se numa fria

Botafogo é Flamengo
doente

Vem das Relações Exteriores

Nomeou-o o presidente

Mas é a Maluf que deve favores

Às favas com os escrúpulos

Despiram o rei

O Congresso está aos pulos

FHC virou Sarney

De Collor foi amigo ardoroso

Na defesa do confisco, estava
na liça

Agora sob o professor Cardoso

Renan foi parar na Justiça

Foram-se os ideais

Foi-se a filosofia

Os tucanos viraram pardais

Foi-se a sociologia

Nem ética há mais

Pobre Freitas Neto

Ícone da fase chinfrim

FHC arrematou o soneto

Entregando-lhe um certo Mirin

Ah, incrível mistério

Por que tanto papelão?

De onde saiu tal ministério?

Por que Ruth não disse não?

Oh, supremo prejuízo

O FHC puro sumiu

Salve-se quem tem juízo

O ACM assumiu

 The Reform in Verse

 

Ah, government of lost illusions

Of plucked toucans (1)

Of failed biographies

Of lively PFLs (2)

Of unabashed schemes

Serra (3), weird fellow

of Health, dreams to be president

For now, he only fights the
mosquito (4)

And irritates many people

They say he’s for Bornhausen (5)

They tell you he’s for Maciel (6)

Oh, my Good, how dumb

Waldeck (7) is loyal to ACM (8)

Nothing is what it seemed to be

The falsified gloss

The canned speech

The abandoned commitment

We fell into a trap

Botafogo (9) is crazy for
Flamengo (10)

He comes from the Foreign Ministry

The President appointed him

But he owes favors to Maluf (11)

To hell with scruples

They disrobed the king

Congress is jumping

FHC (12) became Sarney (13)

He was a fervent friend of Collor (14)

He was on the ring defending the confiscation

Now under professor Cardoso

Renan (15) ended in the Justice

The ideals are gone

The philosophy is gone

The toucans became sparrows

The sociology is gone

Not even ethics was left

Poor Freitas Neto (16)

Icon from the shabby phase

FHC concluded the sonnet

Bestowing him a certain Mirin (17)

Ah, incredible mystery

Why so much fiasco?

Where this cabinet came from?

Why Ruth (18) didn’t say no?

Oh, supreme loss

The pure FHC is gone

Whoever is in his mind should leave

ACM is now in charge

(1) Toucan is the epithet for politicians belonging to the PSDB
(Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira—Brazilian Social Democracy Party), the
President’s party

(2) PFL (Partido da Frente Liberal—Party of the Liberal
Front), a right-wing party allied to the President

(3) José Serra, the new Health Minister, and Cardoso’s close
friend 

(4) A reference to a dengue epidemic in the country

(5) Jorge Bornhausen, from Santa Catarina, president of PFL

(6) Marco Maciel, the Vice-President

(7) Waldeck Ornelas, senator from Bahia, the same state of
senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães.

(8) ACM, Senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães, the all-powerful
PFL’s de-facto chief

(9) José Botafogo Gonçalves. Botafogo is also the name of a
popular soccer team in Rio

(10) Flamengo is Rio’s most popular soccer team

(11) Paulo Salim Maluf, former mayor of São Paulo and president
of the PPB (Partido Progressista Brasileiro—Brazilian Progressive Party)

(11) FHC, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the President

(12) José Sarney, former President, criticized for being to
chummy with the military regime

(14) Fernando Collor de Mello, former president who was impeached
for corruption

(15) Senator Renan Calheiros from Alagoas was Collor’s leader in
the House, but he broke with the President when it was revealed that there was corruption
in the administration

(16) Antônio Freitas Neto, PFL’s senator from Piauí

(17) Mirin (Ministério Extraordinário das Reformas
Institucionais—Special Ministry for Institutional Reforms) was the name given
facetiously to a new ministry, apparently created just to accommodate another one of the
government’s allies. Mirin reminds people of mirim, small.

(18) Ruth Cardoso, the First Lady, an anthropologist

Prices
Airfare
Warfare

For decades, gouging has been the favorite pastime of the
Brazilian airline industry. Foreign competition however is bringing radical changes and
cuts up to 60% off regular air ticket prices. The last salvo in this unheard war was given
by Vasp (Viação Aérea São Paulo), the second largest Brazilian airline, which in
partnership with American Continental is offering a $452 ticket to New York, more than 50%
off the $999 regular high-season price. The three other airline companies, Transbrasil,
TAM, and Varig (Viação Aérea Rio Grandense), the largest of them all, have also
promised reductions up to 60% off their national and international prices.

The national skirmish started when regional air carrier TAM
(former Transportes Aéreos Marilienses and now Transportes Aéreos Regionais) was allowed
to fly the shuttle flight between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the busiest air corridor
in the country, and started charging 25% less than the competition. For more than 30
years, the so-called ponte aérea (air bridge) between the two most populous and
developed cities in the country was the fiefdom of the three airlines, which divided the
territory among themselves establishing a very lucrative high-priced, low-service route.
Lately they were offering 30 daily flights covering the 225 miles between Rio and São
Paulo—a 50-minute hop each way—charging more than $300 for a round-trip ticket.
With TAM’s entry now is everyone for himself. Varig decided to abandon the pool, but not
the route and will offer the same 25% discount given by TAM.

In an ironic twist, Vasp has started a price war at the same time
when its pilots and other workers were ready to strike due to late payment of salaries and
Vasp’s threats to cut wages from 30% to 40%. Unable to match the competition Transbrasil
has started to delay their salary payments too and owner Omar Fontana has already signaled
that he is ready for marriage with a wealthier foreign airline. Some experts believe that
no more than two airlines will be able to survive in the new competitive skies.

Architecture
Bum
Busters

São Paulo seems to be in the forefront of an architecture aimed
at keeping the homeless at a distance. Public and private buildings, parks and even
churches have incorporated the most ingenious stratagems to scare beggars and their likes
without calling too much attention to the devices used. The subway company, the São Paulo
Metro, for example, uses paving stones placed in very irregular position to discourage
people from even walking around their stations, much less sitting or sleeping. In an
example that has been mimicked by others, the Teatro Cultura Artística has installed the
"anti-beggar douche", a device disguised under the marquis of a building that
throws water jets at pre-established intervals.

In an interview with O Estado de São Paulo, Paulo Calux,
manager of the theater in downtown São Paulo, boasts of being the inventor of the
bum-buster sprinkler 12 years ago. He uses the device together with video cameras that
monitor the presence of homeless or other undesired people. "Our intention,"
Calux explained, is not to wet people, but the sidewalk so people will not lie down
here." The sprinklers are activated every hour during the night and every two hours
during the day.

Another common device used is a sharp metal rail placed on
windows and around grassy surfaces to prevent people from feeling comfortable and sitting
there. Some have also adopted the use of thorny bushes. It goes without saying that such
measures are controversial and people have been hurt by the metal and the thorny plants.

Behavior
Playing
With
Fire

Three popular saints in Brazil are celebrated in June. They are
Saint Anthony on the 13th, Saint John on the 24th, and Saint Peter on June 29. Because of
this the whole month is dedicated to the so-called Festas Juninas. These are joyous
celebrations often held at night around a bonfire (it is winter in Brazil) accompanied by
typical food (popcorn, sweet potatoes and a strong ginger-laced alcoholic concoction known
as quentão, which is served very hot) and folk songs and dances. It is also time
for firecrackers and fireworks.

There is a junina tradition, however, that Brazilian
authorities are trying to get rid of: the custom of sending fire-propelled balloons into
the sky. Despite the fires caused by the paper devices every year and institutional
campaigns to eliminate the practice, the balloon tradition is hard to die. In Rio, for
example, there are clubs that collect money just to build huge balloons that use 50 pound
gas steel vessels to go up.

These gismos have become so dangerous that American Airlines and
Lufthansa have threatened to suspend their flights to Rio and São Paulo if the balloon
problem—they are invisible to the radar—is not solved. A collision of a plane
with of the bigger balloons might cause an explosion and a tragedy in the air.

Only in February, law 9,605 was introduced making it illegal and
subject to one to three years jail terms all those who manufacture, transport and release
balloons into the sky. Balloons are a serious threat to residences, businesses and forests
and has become a nightmare for oil refineries and other industries that work with
inflammable material. From the 4996 fires extinguished last year by Rio’s firefighters,
2500 were caused by balloons.

Life
At Closer
Range

Despite all the news about violence in Rio, some areas had
escaped unscathed the crime wave. Cariocas (Rio natives) themselves never stopped
their daily or nightly stroll by Copacabana’s beach calçadão (large sidewalk),
for example. Criminal street kids known as pivetes have become more daring in
recent weeks though and many residents from Copacabana and neighboring Leme are not
venturing on the beach anymore, not even during the day. Talking to Jornal do Brasil,
Itamárcia Marçal, president of Amaleme (Associação de Moradores do Leme—Leme
Residents’ Association) said that the worse problem is in the Ary Barroso square, where
there is a big concentration of pivetes, drug dealers and prostitutes. "We had
several muggings in the area," she noted.

According to the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e
Estatística—Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) 55% of Copacabana’s
residents are 50 or older. They are also the most frequent targets of the street kids. The
problem became big news in mid May when renowned jurist and member of the Brazilian
Academy of Letters Evaristo de Moraes Filho, 81, a Copacabana resident for 40 years, was
mugged and thrown on the pavement by a pivete while strolling on Avenida
Atlântica, the avenue by the sea, on a Saturday afternoon. He broke his right leg and had
to be hospitalized and operated on.

The police say that they are doing what they can and even using
officers on horseback, but authorities complain that when they arrest a minor he is
released in a few hours and comes back to the same place where they were caught. They also
complain that tourists and residents alike are too complacent and careless in the streets.

In another front battle against assaults, Rio’s buses are
starting to install video cameras inside the vehicles. The idea is being copied from a
similar successful experiment on New York’s subway. In 1997 there were 6,574 assaults on
Rio’s 6500 buses, an average of 18 daily occurrences. This number has increased by 50% in
the last five years. Made in Canada, the bulletproof cameras being used are a little
bigger than a cigarette pack. If the idea proves workable every bus will get two of these
devices. Bus companies are also trying other deterrents as radio transmitters and a sign
that blinks for help in the front panel of the vehicle when the bus is in trouble.

Economy
Upgraded

For more than 10 years Brazil has been watched carefully by
Washington’s Commerce Department as a criminal on probation. Accusing the country of
disrespect for intellectual property, the U.S., in 1987, threatened to impose more than $1
billion in economic sanctions against Brazil. The boycott was avoided by President
Fernando Collor de Mello who started to correct the situation. In the years since the
first moves to make Brazil respect pharmaceutical, music, computer and other patents, the
nation has been upgraded from "priority country" (with serious problems) to
"in observation with priority" to simply "in observation".

Only in May Brazil was taken altogether from the list. It doesn’t
mean however that problems have ended. Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky from the Commerce
Department cited considerable progress in the country, but also urged Brazil to take
additional steps to fight intellectual property piracy.

Entertainment
Fresh
Icons

For years the world of entertainment and TV in particular has
given Brazil the idols it thirsts for. And Brazilians have not been let down lately. There
is an abundance of new faces ready to be today’s heroes. They are all young, pretty and
well packaged. They are people like songstress Ivete Sangalo, who made Bahia state axé
music a must-hear rhythm in the richer South; Alexandre Pires, the crooner of the Só pra
Contrariar, a pagode (a samba style) band, the bestseller musical phenomenon with
three million CDs sold—-a record in the Brazilian recording industry—; and child
actress Fernanda Souza, who plays Mili in Chiquititas, a big-hit soap opera among the
kids. In other times they might be snubbed and considered not sophisticated enough to be
consumed by the elites. Thanks to a democratization and leveling of tastes though the new
idols popularity reaches all segments of the population.

The list of the emerging new stars also include the funk duo
Claudinho & Buchecha from Rio and the samba group É o Tchan!, which made blonde Carla
Perez and brunette Scheila Carvalho, both dancers, sex symbols and role models for kids
and teens. Thanks to this new generation of entertainers 80% of the CDs sold today in
Brazil are from national artists. On TV, mondo cane show hosts Márcia Goldschmidt
on SBT and Ratinho on Record, both with a huge following are helping to define the
national taste.

Another TV hero contributing to maintain the dumb blonde
stereotype is 24-year-old Carioca (from Rio) Danielle Winits, star of Globo TV novela
(soap opera) Corpo Dourado (Golden Body), In the soap Winits plays Alicinha, a model
worried that she is getting to old for her career. Danielle is also in Cabaret, a
play being shown in São Paulo. Winits’s agenda is full and her star is rising. She will
be Brazilian’s Playboy cover girl in August and in October people will be able to see her
in José Zaragoza’s movie Até Que a Vida Nos Separe (Until Life Do Us Apart). She
has patented her name and soon all sorts of products bearing her DW trademark should start
cropping up.

Information
Cheap
Chip

The Brazilian experience with the $1,000 computer was short
lived. So successful was the pioneering promotion that all the machines offered flew off
the shelves the very first day the deal started. The sales stunt was made by Carrefour,
the French hypermarket chain, which put for sale a very powerful machine: a MMX system
with 233 MHz, 16 megabytes of memory RAM, and a 2.1 gigabyte hard drive. The computer
comes loaded with multimedia resources and a fax-modem. The monitor is included in the
price. Brazilians normally pay 50% more at least for a similar system.

The campaign was supposed to last 12 days in Carrefour’s 50
stores, but according to the company, all 5,000 computers in stock were sold in just a few
hours. Five thousand other people who also wanted the computer on the first day of sale
could not be helped. The deal was offered through a partnership with American computer
firms Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and United Information Systems (UIS). How successful
was the promotion? Carrefour sold 5,000 machines of its three bestseller brands during the
whole year of 1997 and 50,000 is the total number of computers of all makes that Carrefour
expects to sell this year.

Brazil is playing catch-up in the computer area. The so-called
"market reserve" system that lasted from 1984 to 1992, and whose intention was
to protect a domestic computer domestic that never took off, imposed heavy taxes for the
import of foreign computers. The measures didn’t fulfill the dream of a Brazilian computer
industry, but helped to create a blooming black market for foreign machines.

Behavior
Disk R
for
Racism

One week after its launching in mid May the service SOS
Racismo—(071) 321-7777—in the city of Salvador, state of Bahia, had already
received eight complaints from the population, seven of them from black people saying they
were discriminated. Only a white woman made the same charge. The inverse proportion of
people complaining would make more sense. Official statistics reveal that 89% of
Salvador’s population is black.

The historical 449-year old town, whose city council always had a
minority of black members, seems to live in an official apartheid system. Blacks are rare
in the best schools and in some others there is not even one white. Case in point, the
Steve Bilko school never had a white student in its five-year existence.

Sex
Bed and
Rubber

Motel in Brazil is synonym for whoopee hotel. Now, in Rio de
Janeiro, where there are more motels by the square mile than any other place in the
country, a new legislation will guarantee that the habitués from these houses will
practice safe sex. Law number 2,929 signed in May by Rio’s governor Marcello Alencar
requires that all motels in the state offer condoms to their customers together with
AIDS-prevention literature.

City
Motaxi

In search of a solution for their traffic woes some Brazilian
towns seem to have found the answer in the noisy, dangerous, but low-cc, portable, and
cheap motorcycle. The two-wheeled vehicle is officially being used in several northeastern
towns as moto-taxi. The idea that was first introduced in 1995 in Fortaleza, capital of
the state of Ceará—there are 6,000 moto-taxis there—has spread throughout the
region.

Authorities sometimes have been forced to legalize the situation
of these two-wheeled taxis, but in many smaller communities the service is being offered
without the backing of the law. According to weekly magazine Veja, while about 100
towns have legalized the moto-taxi service, it already exists in more than 1,000
localities.

Moto-taxi drivers generally use colorful outfits and circulate
till someone signal for them. Passengers by law must be offered a helmet. There are no
official statistics, but it is known that the motorbikes have been involved in several
accidents.

The practice is also contributing to booming sales of
motorcycles—the favorite is the 250cc model—,which cost three times less than
the cheapest model of car (approximately $3,000 against $9,000). Since 1994 the number of
motos sold in the country has risen 220%. This is not a reaction to a possible bigger
buying power brought in by the real, the new currency, and the economic stability that
accompanied it. Sales of automobiles, for example, have declined 9.5% in March when
compared to the same month in 1997. Moto sales, however, have increased by 58% in
identical period.

Happening
Evil
Cannibal

At age 60, José Celso Martinez Corrêa continues to be the enfant
terrible of the Brazilian stages, a title he holds unchallenged since the ’60s when
the director and his troupe staged modernist Oswald de Andrade’s (1890-1954) O Rei da
Vela, a satirical take on chauvinism. The last outrage of the controversial theater
man happened May 2 and 3 at Rio’s Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, at the end of the show
Trinta Anos de 68—Vanguarda, Desbunde e Utopia (Thirty Years From
’68—Avant-Garde, Dazzle, and Utopia). Joining the Mangueira samba school percussion
band, Zé Celso wrapped in a parangolé—a tunic of the ’68 Tropicalism
movement created by Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980), another professional
provocateur—started a strip tease that ended with the director completely in the buff
throwing himself at the spectators. Horrified, many in the auditorium, which had small
children as well as octogenarians, left the place. But many other stayed and joined the
clean fun with their clothes on. Later, Corrêa explained that the disrobing had been
didactic. "You need to be naked to feel entirely a work of art," he explained,
adding: "We need to cannibalize the tedium this country is going through."

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