Musings on Brazil, the Flow of Ideas and Over Two Decades of Brazzil

Brazzil Magazine covers This week has been rather hectic. I have been working on the Frida Kahlo article. I was going to place it in the hands of foreign magazines in Mexico, or the large audience of Frida at their worshipping sites.

A special article of mine was placed into the hands of a Brazilian magazine based in L.A., California by intention. Yes, I hand-picked this particular one out of the five magazines based here in the U.S. because it seemed more adaptable and friendly, as I would think a Brazilian magazine should be.

Not at all, esoteric by any means. A magazine established since 1989. When I surfed this site yesterday, I  kept getting disconnected and  wondered why. Finally, I e-mailed them, and was told that their main server had been hacked into and that they thought it would have been troubleshooted by now.

Brazzil magazine is by far the leading Brazilian magazine in this country. Not, only did they publish a special piece of  literature of mine, dedicated to my dad, but provided current insight to my present understanding of Brazil  by articles and feedback that I found to be quite interesting.

It was a great political platform, whether you felt like discussing the pros and cons of government issues to women that wear too much make-up and won’t cook to venting off political frustration,  or mudslinging over these differences… This was the place. All, right here. Much better than getting into a brawl at the nearest bars, at least. It is not hard to risk “obloquy.”

The way, in which some of these discussions went, made you wonder whether it was possible for a revolution to get started online. 

However,.. wherever possible, it is better to try and avoid direct derogatory statements. Instead, go the other way and playfully back up your opinion. In alluding to the current trend of online discussions, I would think that the danger is in the way a speaker approaches a comment. True, a commentator should be careful in the act of misconstruing strong opinions, but that is not always possible. 

I recall this one article, and I’m not certain of what site, that fueled up a large audience. The topic was highly political and brought in somewhere around 460 comments. I read most of it, but by the time I looked up, it was the next morning.  It was so long, that I dozed off in front of the computer. One commentator wrote that the U.S. flag should say this derogatory phrase on it: Axis of Evil.

However, it was a comeback to this American who had thrown the first punch about their country’s flag. It carries an element of hate. They really get all worked up and their personal differences launches that element to the surface. There have been thousands of arguments such as these on MSN, or Newsvine.  Some of these discussions can go too far, emotions become consumed with rage and the discussion becomes volatile.

In some instances, the tables can turn, and a commentator with the right character can create a more pleasant atmosphere. 

Although, sometimes, you can taste a flavor of humor in the air. Straight up,  home-grown online comedy from the discussions alone. There was one occasion where a gentleman wrote an article on the problem of drugs in Brazil, titled: It’s Time Brazil Learn Killing Drug Dealers is not the Answer.” {E. Bernard De Souza..11/10}  So, the commentators reply. Then, midway down was a comment steering the entire discussion off the subject,  an entire 360° turn by suddenly talking about designer accessories. the coach handbags at cheap prices.

So, what happened to the topic of drugs in Brazil..?.. I don’t know. For, it seemed the current readers have gone completely off  the subject.  For, now the topic had been replaced by the Coach eye candy at dirt cheap prices. In New York, Coach recently filed a lawsuit against a major retail company for replicating two of their handbag designs, “the Erago,” and “the Patchwork design.”  I imagine China is careful about that by connecting the letter C’s to the D’s. Coco Chanel  and Gucci have also been widely exploited in that way. But, Coach won’t tolerate it without a lawsuit.

Anyway, I got a good laugh out of the comments, in the same way I get tickled every time as when I’m driving down the road, while listening to Herb Alpert’s, “Zorba the Greek.”

The bust-out,  hard, lively laughter of Mexican men in the background having a good ole time  is just too enjoyable and a riot.

I thought about how diverse all  of the countries are when it came to violating laws. In Brazil, drug dealers are shot down like birds, during dove hunting season. Here, we do the sting operations also. At high schools, the police dogs sniff the lockers and stop any vehicle that seems suspicious coming out of the South.

In Mexico, they allow a small percent of drugs to go by, under the decriminalization law, that permits small amount of drugs to go by, so  long as there is no trafficking involved. According to the fact sheets, four joints to four lines of cocaine are within those limits. Between half gram to 500 grams they are being arrested and can be looking at 2-8 yrs. imprisonment. 

They also allow indigenous groups to use peyote and mushrooms for special ceremonies. These laws seem rather inconsistent to the war on drugs. However, it is their country, and how they go about it is entirely their business. For at least five countries, it is a constant battle and strife over this war on drugs. Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Afghanistan, and  U.S.

In respect to Mr. Souza’s  article, (and a great political topic I might add.) …I would like to reiterate that, indeed, it is a problem that affects a large percentage of this world. The domino effect of the current drug wars  poses a heavy impact on a country’s economy, accompanied by higher crime, wide scale corruption, among some of the problems, provoking an even higher  demand for more rehab. facilities and programs to sustain citizens off drugs. 

However, to fend off the problem is a cross hatch puzzle with no answers to check by. Still, we are not at a losing end with this problem. Looking at it from one side of the spectrum, I would say that it is always a fine time to continue to try and  keep encouraging the youth of your country by building programs that will have long-term effects.

Creative approaches that will assist them with their issues in a timely manner. This is part of the spectrum that we can begin to move across the  chess board with. Our chances are 10 to 5, if we can keep the young distracted from a life of drugs. It will take government financial back up and a charged up, dedicated community of caring and creative citizens to  promote such programs for the young.

Hopefully by participating in this effort, the young generation will be less infected by the drug problems of the past and present ones. Here, in the US, we had bolstered our efforts in working on that problem in our school systems back in the late 1980’s. Still, there are communities that are burdened by the existing presence of drugs that contribute to the high crime rates in this country.

After all the hard efforts by government and law enforcement officials, it is a problem, not so easily dismantled and damns this world. However, the situation has to be dealt with time after time.. year after year.. generation after generation. We, as the present generation can only persevere in our efforts to keep this rampant problem from spreading still, further in the hopes of a brighter future for the next.  

There is a mentor who  lives up in the favelas. His name is Andersen Sá, who by a clear stroke of destiny, went  on a road less traveled of rebuilding his community of Vigário Geral, away from drugs. To his understanding, he knew that drugs would always intimidate and  itself in his town, constantly be enticing the young to become drug soldiers,  so he decided to work from the inside out, the standpoint of the youth.

For, it was from this standpoint,  that Sá  could possibly make some serious changes, easing the community of Geral from a worsening drug oppression. All young people love their music. That is exactly where Anderson began to move his chess pieces, introducing the favela youth to bumped up Afro-Brazilian hip-hop sounds.

The rhythm was quite appealing to the children and youth of the favela communities, with hip-hop lyrics that captured the emotions of their world. This individual gave a splendid narrative documentary into this world titled, “Favela Rising.” At present, the world is short of people like Anderson.  If one life can be turned completely around from the drug scene, it is good. That victory right there can always  turn around and influence other lives to avoid the world of drugs. Sá was empowering the youth to realize that they had potential and with that strength could spread hope.

Children need to believe in themselves because they are the ones that will be left to carry on. This old world will be in their charge. The very young always cry out silently. As with my teenagers, I always read the body language because they tend to get depressed also. Youth are not equipped to deal with every problem that comes along and are always looking for someone to turn to. 

As where, very young children with their wide open minds in their impressionable years between the ages of birth to 6 yrs. are constantly grasping, exploring, and studying their world in order to blend into the environment. It was never right for Anderson Sá  to have tolerated the sounds of gunshots and screams as a young child, but it became part of his childhood experience. On the other hand, it is always a wonderful thing for an individual to take bad and make good out of it. 

In sincere efforts to change this world, children always need to see good examples from a grown up that can inspire their lives and through this positive reinforcement bring about a better future.   

Communicating thoughts and ideas are a wonderful tool. These days done online more than any other platform. It is by no means, bias. What I find truly interesting is how some articles come back to a reader  such as De Souza’s topic did. His article, making mention of a pressing matter, an aged old battle…the ravages and ongoing plight of entire neighborhoods over the invasion of widespread illegal drug use and trafficking.

Here is a magazine, that is very conscientious of its wide audience that is comprised of about 51,000 online readers. I threw an average number out there. Actually, it may be larger than that. About  76,000, if not more. The limitless realm of discussions that take place on the world wide web are far more interesting than on any other forum. The information is fresh, timely, and archived.   

We are each entitled to our own prerogative. If anything, Brazzil magazine is nothing but, entertaining and informative. What more could you ask from a magazine? What makes this magazine  intriguing, is that it caters to interesting and inspiring articles and comments by a diversity of people.

Sometimes.. the articles can be very “saudade.”

Brazil is a blur right now… as in the recent shooting incident which took place at  Tasso da Silveira municipal school on the morning of April 7th 2011. Tragedy is a very delicate subject. A mother keeps a close eye on their children at crowded events, whether at Carnaval, beaches, stores,  parks and what have you. But of all places, what makes this tragedy so overwhelming.. so shocking, that, damn .. It was a school!

Of all places, the school, an institution considered a safe-haven for children in their growing years; a place of learning and social atmosphere. Once, in New York, a tragedy took place, where a nun was murdered for no reason whatsoever. My sister phoned me from Hawaii and relayed that the citizens were so shocked and upset over the tragic event, that the Mafia was also hunting this guy down. It is no wonder that no one came forward to claim the perpetrator, Menezes de Oliveira’s body. 

Terrible tragedy.. I consider these type of tragedies, “living nightmares.” The feeling of complete hopelessness down into the very pit of the stomach. These parents who lived out the nightmare, that we can only dread for ourselves; persons, who lived the nightmare of losing a  child through tragedy, and this is not to overlook the list of massacres in São Paulo or of others who have already lost a child in this manner.

There stands an old tree in a neighborhood that I avoid passing, or looking at. A huge tree, with large slippery branches, supported by roots that Hercules could not dismantle from the ground.    

One sunlit afternoon.., at a bar-b-que when my son was three years old he followed his older brother up this Mimosa tree. I went over to him, and just as I held my hands out to this child,  he fell right in front of me. I  heard every bone in his delicate body slam up against the rock solid tree roots. His lips turned blue and the color left his face.

The anguish was overwhelming. I screamed from the bottom of my sour stomach to my soul. Everyone up and down that neighborhood heard the scream of the anguish, the echoes of pain that could have stretched out to all four corners of this earth. I thank God to the bottoms of my feet that, despite that horrible accident, my son is alive and well today.       

From average João, or Joe, to the guy who just received his doctorate, coming away with flying colors for his excellent dissertation makes no difference. What you believe.. is your right to thoughts and opinions, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others.

Here we are on a platform as humans. That’s it.

Therefore, if someone gets offended in anyway.. It has to be taken  into consideration nobody in this world is perfect, no matter who we are. No one has to agree . We are looking into a  vast diverseness in communication that is simply brimming with cultural differences; traditions and religions.

There are times that the topics of government politics and religion have to be hashed out. It is important to speak out, and perfectly natural to vent off now and then. One of the great freedoms,  is to be heard. As the French legendary designer once quoted,

“The most courageous is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
          Coco Chanel

I am guilty of  my own biases. We all have that choice. My bias for some attitudes are by measure the same disgust Frida Kahlo felt when she traveled to Paris in 1939 towards the Parisian surrealists.  I understand that there is a certain movement of agitated citizens that despise tobacco smokers.  However, the poor quality of air should not be entirely blamed on the smokers.

Take count on the number of cars that start their engines every morning. Each one releasing carbon monoxide and other harsh chemicals into your fresh morning air. What is truly annoying, is that these idealist groups think that they are without imperfection. 

So, I often ask myself why the government and their lobbyist buddies have not banned the manufacture and sale of these darn expensive cartons of tobacco. Sometimes, decisions such as these, seem hypocritical of what they are trying to achieve. Their hidden agendas always seem in favor of more tax dollars.   

Easy to admire the eloquent speaker, or the passionate writer, that sees past the color of ethnicity and religion down to the qualities of an individual. But, it is hard to admire a young person using profanity at her mother in a public place. “Where does that type of boldness come in.. and where are the manners?  I, for one would never think of speaking to my parents in such a way. My grandmother would have slapped my face till it bled. Back in the day, you knew better.

One day, I was taking the city bus home from work. It was after school hours, so the bus was full of racket, by school kids acting obnoxious. Next thing you know, swearing and obscene language came flying out of their mouths. Finally, to my disgust I looked toward the back of the bus, and to my surprise,.. it was a young girl, dressed in the immaculate white shirt, tucked into a pleated plaid skirt of the Sacred Hearts Academy uniform.  

However despite all the growing problems we face in the world today, we, as humans still need to grasp and explore the beauty and goodness around us, that we desire to know. It would not hurt to teach ourselves the art of relaxation.

I admire the religious woman, who makes the sign of the cross, then kisses it, as she passes the Catholic church in her car, and  the farmer who tends his garden. Especially,  the older women who offer their condolences by toting food to the homes of  the families in mourning,  or the musician who chooses harmonies to fill his day over anger.

I find it soothing to read the elegant writings of Carlos Fuentes,.. Pleasing to notice the romantic and sophisticated brushstrokes of Brent Lynch in “Coastal Drive,” and  of  Jack Vettriano’s provocative style in his watercolor paintings of “Sunshine and Champagne,” and his cool oeuvre of “The Billy Boys.”

There is something very debonair about the man in a Panama hat. I admire the man in a white oxford shirt on a spring day, holding a cigar, a golf club, or his drink, giving the relaxed notion that life is good, although it may not be. It is for that moment.

I’ll be eating a snow cone, and here comes a middle aged lady in a mini-skirt and lots of shiny jewelry. I give her credit for having the courage to be herself. I thought she looked cute and it wouldn’t hurt to sit down with an older person every now and then, just to listen. {Who knows.. } You may live longer for it.

How can one not enjoy the American-Iranian humor of  Maz Jobrani. What a guy. Or, for that matter the clever, slick character of  Robert Goren, played by Vincent Philip D’Onofrio  in the drama episodes of  Law & Order. You just have to grin at the way this guy comes around with that clever mind game on the suspects being pursued.

Sly guy… I just love the way detective Goren methodically builds onto their guilt conscience. It’s exciting to anticipate how he goes about this. He is methodical from the beginning to the end of the investigations. His hunches are small at first, and then as he arranges the events leading to the murder, like a 1000 piece puzzle, finally all laid out in front of him, .. boom! He goes in for the kill. 

The hardest part about homicide cases is pulling the heart out of the pig. So! He begins glaring at the suspect, then offering indirect small talk, somehow guiding the discussion into the heart of the case. Goren is peeling away at the husk of the coconut, because the guilt of a homicide criminal is buried behind thick walls, layer up guilt that festers in the subconscious. Goren is out to get the authentic guilt. He gets underneath all those layers of guilt and lies till finally the criminal conscience surfaces all the way to the top. The criminal breaks down and confesses to the crime.  

I am tickled by the mischievous pranks of little children, but more so.. by the child who catches a butterfly, then sets it free. I can’t help being impressed by the 16 year old who hugs her grandparents at every opportunity, and tearfully impressed by hearing young people tell their imperfect parents how much they love them. There is so much more to admire in this world, among the ugliness of  hate, war, drugs, and  greed. Perhaps, the most lovely expression of all, is the “forgiving smile.” The sound of an apology.. where its due. 

On a lighter scale, I am still puzzled as to what perplexing angle Pamela Hanson took the photograph,”Biz.” I have stared at it over the years, and still cannot seem to figure it out. There are some things we can never figure out. In many ways, life is very much the same. 

The ongoing sharing of thoughts and opinions are very significant. It offers the individual a way to reach out and express those ideas. Human communication can travel a long way on the web. Perhaps leading to solutions that could someday ease some of the suffering of this world..
.. Who knows?

This magazine is a little over two decades in the running and did a wonderful job of providing such a platform. Its plain to see.. In it’s diverse audience and intellectual stimuli.

To some, it was like a part of the neighborhood where all the news gathered by the end of the week. For, others, it was a way to see into the life of Brazzil today and yesterday, and to the occasional browser, it raised some eyebrows and permitted a “hmmm…” Perhaps, accompanied by a chuckle, or two.

From avidly reading Brazzil magazine, a person comes to understand their style, humor, sarcasm, concerns, pride and passions. You may want to look up their slangs and when you get the meaning,.. Don’t be discouraged, or offended by some of the feedback. It’s just their local humor. Just, laugh. It’s all good. If you come across one, it was just meant to be enjoyed. If, they don’t like you, I think they will let you know. It’s all good..   

But, to many, this magazine brought some of the most discerning and creative articles about life, the arts, and politics to the forefront, engaging its readers into the conscience of Brazzil’s political arena, allowing fresh thoughts and ideas to flow, that is quite encouraging for a magazine. Showcasing to its audience that the largest of problems we face in today’s world becomes just another thread of life which makes the air around us. Just, a little bit easier to breathe. That is the caliber of Brazzil magazine.

All and all, I imagine it was a grueling week for the magazine’s editor and publisher, Rodney Mello, and  technicians. I’m glad to see that this magazine is on the road once again. There were many interesting articles the magazine offered, and thoughtful essays, along with silly discussions. But, that is what made this magazine so whole. It was for everyone. It did not discriminate. It was not only for a certain intellect of people. Everyone had a chance to speak.

That fairness, right there.. is what made Brazzil Magazine tops.  Your readers, that is well over 45,000 are just waiting to read their Brazzil magazine.

“Bem vindo  de volta,  Brazzil Magazine!” (Welcome back Brazzil Magazine!)

Debbie J. Beauchamp is a writer and observer of the Latin American arts. A  poet, philanthropist, and artist of the Contemporary arts. Her passion lies in Brazilian music, writing, and linguistics. Born and raised on the island of Oahu, the author currently resides in North Texas.


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