Brazil and all other nations that speak Portuguese are once again
bracing for an orthographic reform. They will be negligible but disturbing enough to make
millions of books obsolete. At least some people are welcoming the changes: book
By Brazzil Magazine
The offer was easy to understand and the readers of Campinas (state of São Paulo)
daily newspaper Diário do Povo (People’s Daily) were delighted to know about model
Viviane Castro’s proposal: she would take off one piece of clothing every time Brazil
scored a goal during the world cup and the result of her strip tease would be shown on the
pages of the paper. And, in case of a Brazilian victory, the 21-year-old beauty would not
leave anything to the imagination or to cover her brunette frame.
Afraid she would run out of body coverings too, fast she wore all kinds of bows and
bijouteries. Then the problems started. The goals became scarce. So, when the game against
Holland ended in a 1 to 1 tie, which had to be decided in a nerve-racking penalty-kick
shootout, readers swamped the newsroom with calls demanding that every penalty goal count
toward the stripping. Gamely Castro complied. And off came her second sock, her T-shirt,
bra, shorts and the green-and-yellow stripe she sported on her arm.
The final victory never came. "What the heck," said Viviane, "second
place is nothing to scorn about," and generously appeared in her glorious nakedness.
Not one to be out of the spotlight for long, actress Sônia Braga, 48 who
starred in Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands),
has found a way to be back in the news without any new artistic accomplishment. She shows
up at a party discretely dressed, covered with a cape. Suddenly, she opens the cape and lo
and behold: under a transparent blouse her braless boobies are showing. La Braga also
presented a recent see-my-breasts show in New York during the première of Out of Sight,
a movie with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. Then she repeated the exhibitionist stint
at São Paulo’s MorumbiFashion Brasil, currently the most important fashion show in
In New York and São Paulo Sônia stole the show, although she was only a member of the
audience. Using one of the acerbic comments it has become notorious for, weekly magazine Veja
noted referring to a soap opera that Braga starred in her younger years: "It was
almost as in the good ol’ times of Gabriela, if it weren’t for the changes since
then in the conditions of humidity, temperature and, most of all, gravity."
Braga made some more waves in an interview with Edney Silvestre from Globonews TV. She
produced an extensive list of past lovers, including international celebrities like Mick
Jagger, Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. Among the Brazilians she went to bed with,
according to her account: soccer legend Pelé, musical heavyweights Caetano Veloso and
Chico Buarque de Holanda, and TV comedian Chico Anysio. Her opinions on some of these men
are less than flattering. "He is very egotistical. He prefers to lock himself in the
dressing room instead of talking to actors and crew." This one is Redford.
Who is this naked black man nailed to a cross flaunting a penis in a very
noticeable erection? If you answered Christ, that is what everybody else who saw the
painting also said. What is He doing on the walls of the Brazilian congress? The aroused
crucified man is part of an Afro-Brazilian art expo held in the National Congress Hall in
Brasília and its artist is black senator Abdias do Nascimento.
Despite the clear reference to Christ, the painting goes by two more subtle official
names: Xangô Crucificado (Crucified Black God) or Martírio de Malcolm X
(Malcolm X’s Martyrdom).
"Nobody should feel offended," says the senator, "the work was inspired
by Xangô, a Yoruban god." Needless to say the presence of the black horny guy among
congressmen has more than ruffled a few feathers. Disgusted by the exhibition, senate
president Antônio Carlos Magalhães didn’t go so far as to ban the work of art, but he
has threatened to end the tradition of art exhibits in the congress.
Talking to weekly magazine, Isto É, Nascimento revealed that he painted Martírio
de Malcolm X when exiled in New York during the military dictatorship (1964-1975).
"Malcolm X was the Jesus Christ of the black community," he explained. And why
the erect penis? "This is a symbol of power, of force. I wanted to show the black man
in his whole body."
Ever the gentleman, writer Roberto Drummond, 59, not only sent a bouquet of 50 red
roses to every prostitute working at the Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais state)
Hotel Maravilhoso (Marvelous Hotel) whorehouse, he delivered the gift personally and then
spent some time with the merry ladies. This was Drummond’s special thanksgiving
celebration for the success of Hilda Furacão (Hurricane Hilda), a book he wrote in
1992 and that since then has seen 15 printings. The Mineiro (from Minas) author was also
celebrating the fact that his work was made into a hugely successful miniseries aired
recently at Globo network. Hilda is the story of a rich girl from Belo Horizonte who left
her bridegroom at the altar to become a hooker. The Hotel Maravilhoso whorehouse was the
place chosen by Hilda to trade her charms. Why the roses? Answers Drummond: "I have
come here so often and have always received the red-carpet treatment, so I decided that
they deserve homage."
Brazilian actress and model Thaís Araújo, 19, is experiencing a meteoric
riseshe has become the female spokesperson for a new clothes detergent and in Angola
no less. All of this is due to the character Araújo plays on Manchete TV soap opera Xica
da Silva, which tells the story of a legendary black slave who becomes her owner’s
lover and protégée. The erotically-charged novela, which has plenty of nude
scenes, was shown last year in Brazil, but the Angolans are just getting the chance to
taste Thaís spice. They fell in love with the African-Brazilian and Xica da Silva’s
ratings zoomed up.
Hence the invitation for the actress to sell soap in Africa. Araújo is on a roll. She
will be Edivanêa on Globo’s next 7:00-pm soap opera. The character Thaís will interpret
has animosity for poor people because she grew up poor, so she wants to marry the
wealthiest guy in the fictitious Village of São Tomás de Trás (St Thomas of Behind). To
portray the manicurist, Edivanêa, the actress had to make some aesthetic changes: she now
has long, straight hair and her wardrobe is much lighter since the clothes she wears
reveal more than they hide.
Brazilian Playboy has been badgering her for more than a year to pose nude. She
will do it if the price is right: "I am not against the idea because I don’t know
what Playboy has to offer. I just don’t feel comfortable getting naked in front of
a photographer. I’ve already done those dreadful scenes for Xica da Silva and I
cried a lot. I will pose, but only for the money. I think it is weird when women say that
they pose for vanity. I am happy enough looking at myself in the mirror."
Despite her busy agenda, she is also in two upcoming movies by director Lucas Amberg: Um
Sonho do Caroço do Abacate (An Avocado Pit’s Dream) and Negritude, um Drama Urbano
(Blackness, an Urban Drama). Araújo jumped at the chance to travel to Africa to get a
better understanding of her roots. "It’s a great opportunity to work and, at the same
time, to know Africa," she said with a broad smile right before leaving Brazil.
of All Moms
You knew that this had to be big news when Brazil’s most prestigious prime-time news
show, TV Globo’s Jornal Nacional, dedicated 10 minutes to the subject, while
turmoil over the biggest privatization ever in the country, that of Brazil’s
telecommunications, was compressed into 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Apparently envious of
this exclusive scoop, every paper in the country commented on this excess the next day.
You knew this was big news when one of the most popular weekly magazines, slick Manchete,
in a technological coup, came out with a special edition, the same day the birth occurred.
The ten-minute prime spot and the magazine cover went to Sasha, the first-born child to TV
personality, Xuxa, 35, whose pregnancy had been covered step by step in the more and the
less serious media.
The country learned that Sasha was born on July 28 at 12:45 am and that she was 3.135
(6.897 lb.) and 51 cm (20 inches) at birth. But this was just the beginning of the Sasha
deluge to come. The Jornal Nacional showed Sasha’s first bath, an exclusive, which
happened at 10 am. The country was able to see that the baby had a ring on her finger
similar to the one that Xuxa herself wears and that she was not blonde as the mother, but
tawny, like the sperm donor, Luciano Szafir. (Szafir’s relationship with Xuxa was on shaky
ground after she said in an interview that he only had ugly people in his family.) After
her first bath, Sasha wore a pink overall that, according to the news, was bought in New
York. The public was also made aware that Xuxa’s baby was breastfed first at six in the
morning, then every time she started crying. And some details: the baby was taking
15-minute turns on each breast. Explained press aide Mônica Muniz, "As soon as the
baby starts crying, Xuxa offers her the breast."
In the first tests of vitality Sasha got a nine out of a possible ten. The next day the
girl got a BCG and a hepatitis vaccine. After examining the baby, pediatrician Sérgio
Cabral stated, "Xuxa has plenty of milk. Sasha is being breastfed every three hours.
It is important now that she gets her food from the mother’s breasts alone."
The birth was expected for August 10, but Carlos Dale, the gynecologist, said that the
delivery wasn’t premature since the TV star was already on her 39th week of pregnancy. The
choice for a caesarian was due to Xuxa’s age and the fear that the umbilical cord was
around the baby’s neck. Xuxa withstood an 8-cm incision that was applied with surgical
precision and the procedure was followed up by her plastic surgeon, Ricardo Pieranti.
"The stitches were done internally so there would be no visible scars,"
From her father, who is a model and businessman, Sasha received a golden brooch with a
little angel and a David star "to symbolize Judaism and Christianity, the religions
of the father and the mother," said press aide Monica Muniz. A little lion was on the
card relaying Sasha’s birth as well as on the baby’s linen and every door on the wing Xuxa
stayed. The Lion is Sasha’s sign.
The next day the cameras and flashes were still running amok when Luciano Szafir went
to a cartório (notary public) to get a gift certificate for daughter Sasha
Meneghel Szafir. In Minas Gerais state, however, parents who decided to name their
children Sasha were dissuaded from doing so with the argument that the moniker might cause
embarrassment to the girl later, since Sasha is a Russian diminutive for Alexander and not
common in Brazil.
The spectacle started on December 7, 1997, when Xuxa appeared on Globo TV Domingão
do Faustão (Big Fausto’s Big Sunday) to reveal that she was pregnant. Then the news
bombardment ensued: the construction of special quarters for the coming baby, Xuxa’s trips
overseas to buy Sasha’s layette, the gifts people started sending, the skirmishes between
the TV star and her daughter’s father. People were informed that Sasha would have two
rooms in her mother’s mansion plus a swimming pool with hydromassage.
Jornal do Brasil’s (a traditional daily from Rio) irreverent curmudgeon
columnist, Xexéo, distilled some venom and went scatological saying that the country also
wanted to know about Sasha’s first vomit and first bowel movement. Xuxa herself stayed on
the sidelines on the first day, but Szafir was interviewed live and no other TV station
besides Globo, where Xuxa is a star, had access to the hospital and the little princess.
Show-business also had some humane touches. All the children who were born during the
time Xuxa stayed in the luxurious São Vicente hospital, in the Gávea neighborhood,
received a teddy bear and a baby kit. The celebrity also made donations of toys and
diapers to the Pró-Matre foundation, an institution that cares for poor mothers.
The S-33 Tapajós is already at sea going through some rough tests and training before
joining the Brazilian Navy. It took three years to build this Brazilian-made submarine,
which is the third one manufactured in Brazil. The country is proud of being the only one
in the Southern Hemisphere to build its own submarines. Brazil uses technology learned
from the Germans and manufactures these war machines at Rio’s Arsenal de Guerra (War
When the S-33 is ready she will become the fifth submersible in the country’s flotilla.
The S-34 Tikuna is being built right now and should be ready by the end of the year. Two
of the submarines were bought overseas: one from England and the other from Germany.
Preceding the Tapajó in the Rio arsenal were the S-31 Tamoio and the S-32 Timbira. All
were named after Brazilian Indian tribes.
The S-30 Tupi was built in the ’80s in Germany by the German consortium Ferrostaal/HDW,
but under Brazilian supervision. The fifth Brazilian submarine in operation, the Tonelero,
was bought from England during the ’60s. When the military purchased an aircraft carrier,
also from England, during that period, the acquisition was satirized by "cursed
minstrel" Juca Chaves in Brasil já vai à guerra, a popular song that said:
Brasil já vai à guerra
Um viva pra Inglaterra
Rá, Rá, mas que ladrões
Brazil is going to war
It bought an aircraft carrier
Long live England
Tsk, tsk, what thieves.
Although not nuclear, the Brazilian-built submarines are 200-foot-long high-tech
machines. The Navy, however, won’t reveal what kind of torpedoes the device, which carries
seven officers, 30 sailors and comes equipped with imported gear, can launch.
After English and Spanish, Portuguese is the most widespread language in the West.
There are 219 million people speaking it in four continents, 161 million of them in
Brazil. While the members of the several communities that use Portuguese can understand
each other, they have been trying to unify the way the rich-in-accents language is
After eight years of discussions, the CPLP (Comunidade dos Países de Língua
PortuguesaCommunity of Countries of Portuguese Language) has agreed on a set of
rules. The decision has been criticized both by those who deemed any change unadvisable
and people who wanted a much more radical approach to simplify the way Portuguese is
For Brazilians, it will be much ado about almost nothing. One of the few changes will
be the elimination of the umlaut, a diacritical sign that many people are already doing
without. It means that a word like tranqüilidade from now on will be written tranquilidade.
The new rules, however, don’t change the way words are pronounced and they can be quite
different from one country to the other.
According to the just-signed agreement, the acute accent over words ending in ‘eia’,
‘eio’ disappears. So idéia (idea) becomes ideia and ministério
(ministry), ministerio. It also eliminates the circumflex accent in words with
repeated letters like vôo (flight or I fly) or vêem (they see). Another
eliminated accent is the acute sign over the ‘u’ in words like argúo (I argue).
Publishers, mainly those dealing with dictionaries and didactic books, are happy with
the new editions they will have to print, but others decry the hassle and the expenses
they will incur. In Portugal and the African countries that speak Portuguese (Angola,
Cape-Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe) the ‘c’ and the ‘p’
will be removed from words in which they are not pronounced, something Brazil has
practiced for 30 years now. So, people from Portugal will write excecionalmente
(exceptionally) instead of excepcionalmente as Brazilians do.
(By the way, to those who complain and insist that Brazil should be written Brasil with
an ‘s’, in the United States, the country’s name was Brazil with a ‘z’ until 1943, the
year of one of several orthographic reforms in this century and nothing prevents it from
being Brazil again in some future orthographic amendment. The lesson: the s or z are nor
intrinsic to Brazil, but just a cabinet decision by lexicographers.)
From now on letters ‘k’, ‘w’ and ‘y’, which were considered foreign, will be
incorporated into the language. For not having ‘y’, ‘k’ and ‘w’ many Brazilians write Nova
Iorque instead of New York. The present orthographic rules were established in 1943 and
tinkered with in 1971. There were other attempts of change, however, that never quite
caught up. The new half-hearted reform was concocted by Brazilian renowned linguist
Antônio Houaiss (he translated James Joyce’s Ulysses into Portuguese) and
Portuguese linguist João Malaca Casteleiro.
Commenting on the changes in the Espírito Santo state daily, A Gazeta, José
Augusto Carvalho, professor at the Vitória’s School of Law, wrote:
"The main difficulties remain: they are the little rules that determine how to use
the hyphen and many absurd incoherences in the writing of many words. Estender (to
extend) is with an ‘s’, but extensão (extension) is with an ‘x’, pêssego,
which derives from persicu has two ‘ss’ because the Latin ‘rs’ becomes ‘ss’, but almoço
is with a ‘ç’, although it derives from admorsu, also with ‘rs’. The suffix ‘ecer’
sometimes is ‘escer’, sometimes ‘ecer’. We have amadurecer (to ripen) and rejuvenescer
(to rejuvenate). Bahia (northeastern state) is with an ‘h’, but not baiano (someone
from Bahia), tecido (tissue) is with ‘c’, but tessitura (tessitura) is with
two ‘ss’. And we haven’t even mentioned different letters that have the same sound (x, ch,
s, z, x, etc.) and are always a headache for anyone writing.
"How can you take seriously an accord that allegedly wants to make the language
uniform, but adopts two spellings, and wants to simplify but keeps the orthographic
complications and the stupid rules for the use of the hyphen? The ideal is that teachers,
journalists and writers, schools, newspapers and publishing houses simply ignore the
agreement, even if it becomes law after being ratified by Congress. Until we get an
intelligent, ample and definitive reform."
Inspired by the Académie Française, the ABL (Academia Brasileira de
LetrasBrazilian Academy of Letters) is best known for the afternoon teas it promotes
among its 40 more-or-less mummified members. It was a delightful surprise last year when
then Academy president, Nélida Piñon, who has never used a computer, decided to
computerize and internetize the institution.
In another step to make the Academy less elitist and raise some funds in the process,
the organization has just started a 900-number service offering poetry read by a narrator
or the author himself. The service is called Disque Poesia (Disk Poetry) and people pay
around $2.50 for the minute. The initial batch of verses offers love poems by Castro Alves
("Os Três Amores"The Three Loves), Gonçalves Dias
("Desejo"Desire), João Cabral de Melo Neto
("Poesia"Poetry), Lêdo Ivo ("As Rosas Vermelhas"Red
Roses), and Olavo Bilac ("Canção"Song). Melo Neto and Ivo are still
alive and are immortals, as the Academy members call themselves.
The idea, according to ABL’s president, Arnaldo Niskier, was to popularize poetry. And
apparently it is working, judging from the brisk initial interest. On the first day the
service was offered, there were hundreds of calls, 197 of them from people who wanted to
listen to romantic Baiano (from Bahia state) poet, Castro Alves. There will be new
poets every month and they don’t need to belong to the Academy. Ready to call? The number
(in Brazil) is 0900 21777. The money raised will help finance the Disque Língua
Portuguesa (Disk Portuguese Language) service, another 900 initiative that will have 50
Portuguese teachers on the phone answering questions about the correct usage of the
language. The new service will cost the same as the poetry one and should start in
Here’s the most requested poem, "Os Três Amores" by Castro Alves:
Minh’alma é como a fronte sonhadora
Do louco bardo, que Ferrara chora…
Sou Tasso!… a primavera de teus risos
De minha vida as solidões enflora…
Longe de ti eu bebo os teus perfumes,
Sigo na terra de teu passo os lumes…
Tu és Eleonora…
Meu coração desmaia pensativo,
Cismando em tua rosa predileta
Sou teu pálido amante vaporoso,
Sou teu Romeu… Teu lânguido poeta!…
Sonho-te às vezes
Roubo-te um casto beijo à luz da lua…
E tu és Julieta…
Na volúpia das noites andaluzas
O sangue ardente em minhas veias rola…
Sou D. Juan!… Donzelas amorosas,
Vós conheceis-me os trenos na viola!
Sobre o leito do amor teu seio brilha…
Eu morro, se desfaço-te a mantilha…
Tu és Júlia, A Espanhola!…
Recife (state of Pernambuco),
My soul is like the dreaming front
Of the crazy bard, who cries Ferrara
I am Tasso!… the spring of your laughs
Flowers my life’s solitudes..
Far from you I drink your perfumes,
I follow on earth the lights of your steps…
You are Eleonora…
My pensive heart faints
Mulling over your favorite rose
I’m your pale misty lover
I’m your Romeo… Your languid poet!…
I dream about you sometimes
I steal from you a chaste kiss by the moonlight
And you’re Juliet…
In the voluptuousness of Andalusian nights
The fiery blood rolls in my veins…
I’m Don Juan!… Loving damsels,
You know my dirge on the guitar!
Over the love bed your breast shines…
I’ll die if I undo your mantilla
Your are Julia, The Spaniard
Created in 1960 and elevated to an art form during the military dictatorship
(1964-1985), on June 18 the office of censor was eliminated from the Brazilian
bureaucracy. That was the day the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives)
approved a law extinguishing the post. But not before the institution had created some of
the most unbelievable and hilarious-to-the-point-of-absurd pages of Brazilian history.
However, the Censorship Department, a branch of the Federal Police, was legally extinct in
1988 when the new Brazilian constitution went into effect.
There are still 240 people receiving monthly salaries ranging from $3,000 to $4,000 as
censors84 of them actively workingeven though they were occupying different
positions in the government machine. These men and women decided what Brazilians could
read in the papers, what books could be published, what songs could be heard and what
films and TV programs could be shown. For newspaper editors it was almost impossible to
keep up with all the taboos and items that could not be reported. The news blacklist
ranged from an obvious terrorist attack, bank robberies, labor strikes, and epidemics to
any criticism of the military and news about the censorship itself.
In 1973, for example, an order from the Departamento de Censura da Polícia Federal
(Federal Police Department of Censorship) barred the media from reporting on a meningitis
epidemic. Declarations by members of the progressive clergy were forbidden and bishops who
demanded more justice and a better distribution of the wealth, like Hélder Câmara and
Pedro Casaldáliga, couldn’t even be mentioned in the media. In May, 1974, a bus strike
paralyzed São Paulo, but nobody heard a word about it through the media.
Over a period of 10 years, starting December 13, 1968, the country lived under AI-5
(Ato Institucional No. 5Institutional Act Number 5), a presidential decree by
general Arthur da Costa e Silva that suspended the constitution, disbanded congress,
cancelled the political rights of more than 60 congressmen, and created the so-called
previous censorship all in the name of "the defense of the necessary interests of the
Except for official communiqués, all of these events could not be reported, though,
and Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil, for example, talked about the crisis in cryptic
format: "Weather black. Temperature suffocating. The air is unbreathable. The country
is being swept by a strong wind." And it is hard to imagine what did readers make of
Rio’s serious, now defunct, Correio da Manhã with this attempt at humor with the
headline, "Rich Cat Dies of Heart Attack in Chicago."
While other dictatorial regimes, even the ones installed at other times in Brazil,
didn’t hide their censoring efforts or try to justify the closing of publications by
denying printing paper or threatening advertisers, the Brazilian military regime that took
over in 1964 wanted to display an appearance of legality. This surreal status quo, such as
it was, became so real and comforting to the military that President Emílio Garrastazu
Médici made an anthological declaration about the subject. "Brazil is an island of
tranquility," he said, explaining that he had arrived at this conclusion after
watching TV news, which showed a world in conflict and a paradisiacal Brazil isolated from
the turmoil. He seemed oblivious of how the tranquility-island myth was maintained.
As a form of protest, daily O Estado de São Paulo published extracts from Os
Lusíadas (The Portuguese), an epic poem by the greatest of Portuguese poets, Luís
Vaz de Camões (1524-1580), instead of finding other news, as most other newspapers did to
fill up the gap left by the vetoed article. Jornal da Tarde, O Estado’s
afternoon sister publication, used the extra space for food recipes. These fillers showed
up in all places and often on the front page. In Rio, Tribuna da Imprensa, more
censored than most, filled its spaces with shockingly ugly black boxes.
Foreign correspondents in Brazil were also subjected to the military scissors.
Journalists had to present their stories to a censor before being able to wire them back
home. Not doing so would mean certain deportation. In 1973 the Bolshoi Ballet wasn’t
allowed to perform in Brazil under the pretext that the Soviet art would not be healthy
for the country.
Between 1974 and 1979 the censorship vetoed or made cuts or other changes in thousands
of magazine and newspaper articles, 840 songs, 117 plays and 47 films. Warner hasn’t tried
to show Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange since 1971, fearing it would be vetoed. When
the film was presented to the censors in 1978, it was liberated without cuts, but the
distributors were forced to insert some black spots to cover the actors’ genitalia.
The last act of censorship occurred in 1986 after the generals had already bowed out of
power. That year the José Sarney administration vetoed the showing of Je Vous Salue,
Marie (Hail Mary), a movie by French director Jean-Luc Godard.
Representative Sérgio Carneiro protested against the status granted the former censors
by the new law: "It’s an act of immorality to reward those who always were on the
side of the dictatorship and were part of a period that Brazil wants to forget," he
declared. The passage of the bill was a result of the lobbying effort by the censor
themselves to guarantee that they can retire as chief of police and criminal experts and
thus receive better pensions.
The Fashion Mall, a shopping center in São Conrado in Rio’s south zone, has become the
in-spot for the Carioca (from Rio) jeunesse dorée. Teens from the
well-to-do neighborhoods like Ipanema, Leblon and Gávea gather there on weekends on their
way from or to a party to know the latest gossip, meet friends, discover upcoming bashes,
and learn the new slang.
"Planeta Globo," a Sunday supplement from Rio’s daily O Globo ,
recently published a glossary of some of the terms being used by the youngsters:
Alambrouit didn’t work
B. V. (for boca virgem =virgin mouth)he/she who has never kissed on
Chegar junto (to get close)to flirt
E aí, Leske?What’s up, guy?
Estancou (it stopped)it went wrong
Guerreiro (warrior)guy with an ugly girl
Levar (tomar) um toco (get a stump)to be spurned
Pegar (to pick up)to engage in heavy petting
Perder a linha (to lose the line)to hesitate
Qual é moleque?What’s up, guy?
Ralar (to grate)to split
Seqüeladospaced out, too drunk
Shape (English term)body as in shape maneiro = great body
Vazar (to leak)to leave
Zoarto go out for fun and love games
The disclosure that Brazilian women were taking birth-control pills made of flour
instead of active ingredients has provoked the Health Ministry’s intervention, which in
turn has led to the discovery of a rampant use of fake medicine across the country. At
least a dozen women came forward to say that they became pregnant while taking Microvlar,
a contraceptive made by German laboratory Schering, one of the ten largest in Brazil.
The lab’s explanation? The fake capsules that reached the market had been produced as a
test for a new machine and the flour-filled pills had been sent for incineration and
stolen during this process. Not very convincing, though, since the laboratory didn’t tell
the authorities or go public before the case had already become a scandal. Even after
having been contacted by the women who found themselves pregnant while taking the medicine
the company didn’t take any action to alert the public.
In some instances, the medicine snafu resulted in tragedy. It was reported that ten men
died across the country while taking an innocuous Androcur, a drug that was supposed to
treat their prostate cancer. In the state of Amazonas, 120 AIDS patients being given a
triple medicine cocktail by the government found out that their medication was adultered.
All of these reports provoked panic with people being medicated, wondering if they were
taking the real thing, a placebo, or something toxic and dangerous.
After being just installed in the office of the Health Ministry, José Serra closed
Schering laboratory for five days while government inspectors probed their facilities. At
the same time the Receita Federal (the Brazilian IRS) started to audit the company in
search of possible fiscal fraud. The Justice Ministry ended up intervening. It created a
special police force to fight counterfeit drugs and started a special hot line for people
to report fake medicines.
Brazilian police started a national crackdown, arresting bogus drug sellers and
shutting down pharmacies selling fakes. Hundreds of boxes containing phony medicines and
prescription drugs stolen from hospitals were confiscated in São Paulo and Rio, Brazil’s
two largest cities. More than 60 counterfeit brands of pharmaceuticals were discovered by
early August, ranging form antibiotics to cancer and AIDS medicines. Schering was fighting
in the Justice a close to $3 million fine and eight women who said they became pregnant
while using Microvlar were suing the laboratory.
Maria Seila Meireles Gonçalves, 32, one of the first women to openly speak about
discovering that the birth-control pill she was taking did not work, was using the product
for eight years. Gonçalves, who lives in Mauá in greater São Paulo, is one of the women
suing the laboratory. "I was shocked," she explained, "I was taking the
contraceptive because I’m in no condition to have more children."
Leni Aparecida, another plaintiff, says that for 10 years she had opted to use
Microvlar due to the low price of the product (around $3 for a 21-pill carton against an
average price of $15 charged by other contraceptives) and never had any problems.
Hooked on Drugs
In Brazil there are 55,000 pharmacies for a population of 161 million. The country is
the world’s fourth largest consumer of pharmaceuticals. Experts from the World Health
Organization (WHO) believe that 25,000 would be more than enough to attend to the
population. Brazilians are known for selfmedication and overmedication. It is believed
that half of all prescription medicines dispensed in the country is unnecessary. To
complicate matters, the federal government has only 1,400 inspectors in charge of
monitoring not only the pharmacies and some 7,000 distributors and 400 laboratories, but
also 600 ports and airports.
If the Health Ministry has its way, (it has presented a bill in Congress to moralize
the commercialization of medicaments), Brazil’s drug counterfeiters and distributors of
fake products might get up to 30 years in prison, the maximum allowed jail term in the
country, instead of the four years contemplated by the current law.
The president of Abifarma (Associação Brasileira da Indústria
Farmacêutica-Brazilian Pharmaceutical Industry Association), José Eduardo Bandeira de
Mello, estimates that pharmacies across the country might hold 135 million boxes and
bottles of phony medication. Inspired by the American Food and Drug Administration, Brazil
is creating its own agency to control the manufacturing and commercialization of medicine
to be tentatively called Agevisa (Agência de Vigilância Sanitária-Sanitary Vigilance
Agency). Serra traveled at the end of July to the U.S. to meet with directors of the World
Bank and the president of the Inter-American Bank of Development, Enrique Iglesias, to see
how the FDA works.
The precariousness of the Brazilian health system was again exposed when only two Rio
laboratories from a total of 14 were able to detect that a yellowish sample presented to
them for analysis was not urine, but the popular soft drink guaraná-made from the guaraná,
an Amazonian berry-mixed with water. They even detected substances that couldn’t possibly
be present and, at least in one instance, the result indicated a disease. The ruse was
played by Rio’s daily O Globo, which sent its Amazonian berry concoction to 14
Mr. Controversy himself is at it again. Genius to some or just an incurable crackpot to
others, there is no other theater director quite like Gerald Thomas, a man who speaks
alternately in Portuguese, English, French and German, in search of the words that best
capture his thoughts. While gearing up for the 1999 presentation of Mary Shelley’ s Frankenstein
on Broadway and a show based on French author Jean Genet to premiere off-Broadway in
December, he has just started the run of his latest Brazilian spectacle, a García Lorca
inspired show being performed on the bed of a truck in Praça da Sé, a square in the
heart of São Paulo.
His show’s name? Hang on to your hat, but you probably have never heard of a more
tortuous and winding title: I, Federico García Lorca, who strangled my characters,
knifed the myths of the Spanish culture, beheaded the spirit of Latinity and laid down
naked in bed with men, now I carry my theater on the back of a truck to the squares in the
interior of the country before the fascist troops gun me down in one of them."
He should be in Vienna right now rehearsing Arnold Schoenberg’s opera Moses and
Aaron. Then it’s time to come to New York for Le Petit de Genet (The Little One
by Genet) a play with le petit déjeuner, which means breakfast. Le Petit
Déjeuner is a futurist reading of Genet’s Le Balcon (The Balcony). Not
that Thomas considers the enfant terrible Genet an avant-gardist. Au contraire.
Says the Brazilian director, "I wanted to show how dated is Le Balcon. All the
questions present in the text are already passé. I want to do Le petit de Genet to
celebrate the end of the century. Enough of Heiner Müller and his
"Hamletmachine" and "Medeamaterial", which are a bore. Today is time
for Michael Jackson and to discover what type of art we’re going to do from now on."
And he is already thinking about a new Brazilian project for next year, the staging of
Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot with veteran rocker Rita Lee in her first role on
The casting for Broadway’s Frankenstein has not been determined yet. The
producers, who are investing some $6 million, would like to have a big name like Robert De
Niro or French actor Gerard Depardieu. Thomas would prefer Christopher Walken. He
explained why in an interview with Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil: "De Niro
draws the public, but he is very hard to work with, rehearses little, and doesn’t have the
versatility of a Christopher Walken. As for Depardieu, I sincerely don’t know his
work." Thomas also believes that Frankenstein represents what the U.S. is today, a
mix of civilizations, "an attempt, sometimes naïve, to overcome the old
continent." He would prefer not to hear any non-American accents in his Frankenstein
Thomas also talked about art and himself recently to O Globo, a daily from Rio:
"To be an artist is to not recognize frontiers. Perhaps for that reason I think words
are less important and more restrictive than images. I am more a story teller than a
director. I develop the themes that interest me. I wouldn’t dare make a Molière and I
would only stage a few Shakespeare plays."
Gerald Thomas has also become the artistic director of off-Broadway La Mamathe
temple of experimental theater in New Yorkat the invitation of owner, legendary
Ellen Stewart. "Ellen asked me to take the position because at 78 she is in no
condition to take care of the theater schedule and bureaucratic matters," said
Thomas. The Brazilian director promises that until the year 2,000, he will take La Mama
back to its golden years when the place was the favorite stage for Pina Baush and Bob
Wilson. Thomas would like to see foreign directors at the new La Mama, people like French
Patrice Chéreau, Canadian Robert Lepage, Italian Leo Bernardini, and German Klauss
Michael Gruber. Two of his works will also be shown at La Mama: Nowhere Man, to
premiere in October and The Balcony adaptation scheduled for December.
Bye and Good
In his four-year stint as the American ambassador in Brasília, Melvin Levitsky did not
fit the stereotypical image of a diplomat: suave, dissimulated, diplomatic. He raised a
series of controversies and was even publicly scolded by President Fernando Henrique
Cardoso after criticizing the way Brazil was dealing with a billionaire radar contract to
monitor the Amazon. Always worried about the drug problem, Levitsky seemed at times more a
policeman than a politician.
"Dinosaurs," that’s the way he dismisses those who criticize him. Just before
leaving Brazil to become a professor, the ambassador distributed a few more samples of his
causticity in an interview with leading weekly magazine Veja: "The Brazilian
press always wants to make this monster or angel out of the American ambassador. That’s
why former U.S. ambassadors in Brazil wouldn’t talk to the press. The work of an
ambassador is not to create good relations in the country where he is, but to advance, to
improve the conditions for the interests of the country he represents."
And about the Brazilian-perceived American threat to the Amazon: "The threats
today come from gold diggers and drug traffickers. They are the ones who don’t respect the
Amazon’s sovereignty. The United States doesn’t represent any threat," the ambassador
Apart from Ocimar Versolatto in Paris, who, after being on the brink of bankruptcy,
starts to draw worldwide interest to its designer clothes, there are no Brazilian stars in
the skies of international fashion. Tufi Duek, who has already been called the Brazilian
Calvin Klein by an American fashion publication, would like to change this. In three
years, he says, you and almost any other person living in the U.S. will have heard about
him and his clothes already trademarked as Tufi Duek in the States.
Duek is not new at the dressing game. This Paulista (from São Paulo) born in
Rio was only 20 in 1975 when he started his first clothing business, Triton, with two
seamstresses. Six years later, the young entrepreneur created a second more sophisticated
label called Forum. Together these firms today have 1,300 employees and own 75 boutiques
besides having access to another 600 shops to distribute their products. Their slick
advertising sometimes takes 10 or more consecutive pages in Brazil’s leading magazines.
The plans to take on the U.S. have already been in the works for more than a year now.
In the first phase of the attack, the New York fashion media, upscale boutiques and every
main character on the Yankee fashion stage were bombarded with videos, samples and
information on his companies. Last November Duek installed a showroom in So-Ho to coincide
with shows for the launching of the summer collection. Result: two small shops bought his
clothes. In April the same strategy was used for the winter collection. The number of
American boutiques interested in the Tufi Duek label grew to 14 and two shops in London
also picked up the product.
"The market I am looking for" he told newsmagazine Veja, "is the
more sophisticated one, in which what counts is talent and quality. At the beginning we
don’t want a well-recognized name and a strategy in which the sale volume is what matters
most. We want a name with design quality."
The real test for the Tufi Duek label started in July when the clothes ordered in April
arrived at the mostly luxury boutiques. Duek says that he is not surprised that his
business is still in the red. He believes that in three years he will be in the black and
not singing the blues anymore.
The world’s fourth largest beer producer, following the United States, China, and
Germany, Brazil thinks it is time to share its golden wealth with the world. From the 8.1
billion liters (compare this to the 23.6 billion from the U.S.) it produces annually, only
a fraction is sold overseas. Some specialty chains and ethnic markets have been selling
the imported product in the US for years, but Brazilian beer brewers want more than that.
Antarctica and Brahma, the two largest beer producers, have their plans to gobble a
little more of the foreign market. Small-fry Independente has already carved a little
niche for itself with Xingu. The company hopes the mystique of the Amazon, Xingu is a
tributary of the mighty Amazon River, will rub off on their beer. Through an agreement
with the Budweiser Company, Antarctica has for the past two years been exporting Rio
Cristal, a concoction specially prepared for gringos.
Recently, however, Antarctica started another assault into the Yankee market shipping
120,000 Antarctica Pilsen bottles to Florida. This is the same beer that is sold in
Brazil, only the label is in English. Oddly enough, it is the Latino market in Florida
that is the main target of this initial assault. Today, overseas sales represent 1% of
Antarctica’s revenue. They are betting this share will grow to 5% in four years.
Brahma already sells 2.5% of its production overseas. The company has bought plants and
is manufacturing its beer in Venezuela and Argentina. They seem more interested in the
European market than the American one right now, though. Brahma used the World Cup in
France as an avenue to ship 2 million bottles and cans of its Brahma Pilsen to Europe.
to the Bomb
For the time being, Brazil has officially given up on its super-power dreams of
building its own A-bomb. On July 13, in the presence of U.N. general secretary Kofi Annan,
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso signed the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Arms, after years of steadfast refusal to do so. Brazil went the whole nine yards to
endorse another treaty that forbids nuclear tests, something that only 16 countries in the
world have done so far.
It was in 1987 that civilian president José Sarney announced to the world that the
country had learned how to produce enriched uranium, an indispensable step on the way to a
nuclear bomb. The Army, Air Force, and Navy, all three branches of the Armed Forces, were
in the pursuit of this Holy Grail that was reached first by the Navy. The Brazilian A-bomb
program has been so shrouded in mystery that at times not even the President has known
what is going on. In 1968, Brazil announced the construction of its first nuclear plant,
Angra I. (Angra II, the first one to go into operation, will be finished by year’s end,
two decades behind schedule.)
From the start, however, what Brazil really wanted was the bomb. Seven years later,
President general Ernesto Geisel signed a $30-billion contract with Germany for the
construction of eight nuclear plants. After leaving office, Geisel talked about his mixed
feelings about the deal: "The agreement was burdensome, but this was the only way
Brazil had to dominate the nuclear technology." The 1988 constitution had already
forbidden the use of nuclear bombs, but it was in 1990 that President Fernando Collor de
Mello, in a mostly symbolic gesture, threw two whitewash shovels into an until-then secret
hole in Serra do Cachimbo (Pipe Range), state of Pará. The crater belonged to the Air
Force and had been built for underground nuclear tests.
Recently, some episodes from the nuclear deals were made public and it was learned, for
example, that officials in Europe and the United States were bribed. A unnamed military
person who worked in the nuclear program told weekly newsmagazine Veja, "In
the United States, the Navy bought equipment that could be sold, but could not leave the
country. A team of technicians went there, disassembled the whole thing and copied them
piece by piece."
Enrollment is open for what Record TV hopes will mark the rebirth of the Festival de
MPB (Brazilian Popular Music Festival), a music competition that has been around since the
end of the ’60s and launched such musical talents as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and
Chico Buarque de Holanda. It all initially started at Record. But then, Globo network was
not the monopoly it has become and the TV station from São Paulo wasn’t owned by a
controversial evangelical church (Igreja Universal do Reino de DeusUniversal Church
of the Kingdom of God), as it is today. But the producer of the original shows, Solano
Ribeiro, is back for the new version of the festival, which he promises will not be a
rehashing of old ideas, "but something innovative."
Ribeiro expects to receive some 7,000 submissions. A jury of musical experts will trim
them to 36 and these will be the songs that will be introduced in three semifinals, until
only 12 finalists will be left when December comes. There will be a CD featuring all of
these songs. The finalists will also have a videoclip, which in turn will run for a prize
in screenplay, direction, and art direction. "There are close to 1.6 thousand
regional music festivals throughout Brazil," says Ribeiro. "A TV competition,
however, is one of the few roads left to reveal the new or unknown artist."
General Cinema, which manages 1,300 motion-picture screens in the U.S., is betting on
Brazilians’ increasing appetite for movies. The company is investing $250 million and
plans to build 300 new screens in the country in the next five years. The first multiplex
with 15 screens is almost ready and is the anchor business for Internacional Shopping
Guarulhos, a shopping mall in Guarulhos, in the greater São Paulo.
General Cinema is not the first foreign company to show intereste in the Brazilian
movie business and in theater complexes in particular. Cinemark, another American company,
had a head start with multiplexes in Rio and São Paulo. After all, Brazilians took close
to $400 million to the box-office in 1997 and the potential for growth is enormous. Brazil
has today a mere 1,300 screensmany in bad shape and in undesirable
locationsapproximately one third of the number it had in the ’60s when there were
3,500 movie screens.
The competition’s arrival has also been a blessing for Brazilian moviegoers who are
already paying up to $12 a ticket (popcorn and butter are extra) in some movie theaters.
As a consequence of Cinemark’s presence at a shopping mall in São Paulo, tickets in the
area have been lowered to $6.
Pedro Álvares Cabral, the Portuguese noble who is believed to have discovered Brazil
on April 21, 1500, was no gifted navigator. His trip to Brazil was probably his first one
as a navigator. He was chosen to command the 13-ship fleet and the crew of 1,500 that
arrived in Brazil because he was married to one of the wealthiest Portuguese women at the
time, Dona Isabel de Castro.
As for the sailorssince there were no women on the shipsthey loved to play
cards, but many card decks were lost. Every time they played and one of the religious
aboard showed up, the cards were thrown out to sea. Little revelations like these, stories
you won’t hear in school, fill the just-released A Viagem do Descobrimento (The
Discovery Trip). Written by Gaúcho (from Rio Grande do Sul) journalist, Eduardo Bueno,
40, and published by Editora Objetiva, the 140-page volume is only the first of a series
of six books in the Terra Brasilis collection.
"The book has no scoops, but information that the vast majority of people
ignores," Bueno told daily O Estado de S. Paulo. How many exilés were left in
Brazil when the fleet left towards India? Some say two, some five. One of them was Afonso
Ribeiro, who lived for a year and a half among the Tupi-Guarani Indians. According to the
author, those left in the first and following trips were enchanted with two things: the
sheer quantity of exotic fruit and the profusion of naked women.
The Voice from
Farofa Carioca (Toasted Manioc Flour from Rio) and Boato (Gossip) are two new bands
from Rio that have just released their first CDs. They are being presented under the label
of MPC (Música Popular CariocaCarioca Popular Music), a lively sound accompanied by
harsh lyrics identified with urban Rio, but they say this classification limits their
The new bands sing about the underbelly of the big city like the sale of crack and pot.
"Banana" broaches the subject of the landless and "Marginália" is a
hymn to justice and peace. Both are from Boato. Farofa Carioca’s crooner, Jorge Mário da
Silva, is a former beggar who, for three years, lived and slept on the streets. At ten he
already had a job fixing flat tires. In 1990, the police killed his brother in a massacre.
"I was a minor violator. In order to survive I sold peanuts in Ipanema, and when I
couldn’t make it, I would just steal," Sandrinho, the band’s percussionist, told
Rio’s daily, O Dia (The Day). Farofa sings, amongst others, "Moro no
Brasil" (I Live in Brazil), "Doidinha Pra Ter Neném" (Dying to Have a
Baby) and "Rabisca Robson" (Scribble Robson).
Robson era um sujeito legal (…)
Mas se arrasou e começou a vacilar
Quando passou a andar
Com o bonde do mal
Começou a freqüentar boca-de-fumo
Ficou popular como Robson Rabisquim)
Moro no Brasil
Moro no Brasil,
não sei se moro muito bem ou muito mal
Só sei que agora faço parte
A inteligência é fundamental.
Robson was a cool guy (…)
But went down and started to falter
When he started to go with
The streetcar of evil
He started to visit crack houses
He became popular as Scribbling Robson
I Live in Brazil
I live in Brazil
I don’t know if I live too well or too badly
All I know is that I’m now part
Intelligence is fundamental
Cripples, Jews, Japanese, gays, fat people, everybody is fair game for the vitriolic
humor of Casseta e Planeta, the Brazilian Monty Python with a tropical and popular twist.
Seldom light and often funny, the comedians are in charge of Globo network’s
no-holds-barred-in-the-politically-incorrect-department Casseta & Planeta Urgente! show.
The comedians have bought themselves a couple of lawsuits after telling jokes about South
African President Nelson Mandela during his recent visit to Brazil.
In one sketch, the announcer stated as in a news broadcast, "Now you are going to
see exclusive images of black leader Nelson Mandela’s night visit to Brasília. Here we
see Mandela being received by (black) senator Benedita da Silva and by former Sports
minister Pelé." All you could see on TV was a black screen. The text continued
talking about a fictitious show for Mandela by real black music bands Raça Negra (Black
Race), Negritude Jr. (Blackness Jr.), Cidade Negra (Black City), and Só Preto Sem
Preconceito (Only Black Without Prejudice). And they didn’t stop there: "The tickets
were sold on the black market for a nota preta (black money = big amount).
Lawyer Charlain Galvão da Silva from the Workers’ Party Black Movement criticized the
jokes as very detrimental to the black race and announced he will sue Globo network. The
president of the Associação Brasileira de Negros Progressistas (Progressive Blacks
Brazilian Association) also threatens to sue and intends to ask for around $1 billion in
damages. "This segment was an affront against the black race and a disrespect towards
a foreign dignitary, " he told São Paulo’s daily Jornal da Tarde.
In the wake of the Viagra craze, infamous lingerie manufacturer DuLoren has
started a new advertising campaign touting the natural aphrodisiac effects of their
products, bawdy and provocative bras and panties. The ad, which has been shown in weekly
magazine Isto É (the Brazilian Newsweek), shows a shirtless man standing by
a bed in a hospital room flanked by two gorgeous young ladies in their undies. While one
woman nibbles on his shoulder, the other one, clad in a scanty panty, daringly places her
hand under the panting man’s fly. The copy states: DuLoren provokes erection and has no
side effect. The panty maker has raised eye brows recently with risqué campaigns
involving religion, rape and even Santa Claus. This time, however, the jeering crowd is
silent. Not even a single "boo" has been heard. Hecklers get tired, too.