Maria Gadú – My new favorite singer

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Maria Gadú, she’s a woman I want to know more about. All I can find out is that she’s a singer/songwriter from São Paulo, grew up in Rio where she still lives and she’s only 22 years old. Without further adu, here’s Miss Gadú!

Altar Particular

Ne Me Quitte Pas

Killing Me Softly

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Fruit terms in Portuguese

General Fruits

Apple – Maçã
Avocado – Abacate
Banana – Banana
Blackberry – Amora silvestre
Cherry – Cereja
Grape – Uva
Lime – Limão (or Limão-verde)
Lemon* – Limão (or Limão-amarelo/siciliano)
Mango – Manga
Orange – Laranja
Papaya – Mamão
Peach – Pêssego
Pear – Pêra
Pinapple – Abacaxi
Plum – Ameixa
Strawberry – Morango
Tomato – Tomate
Watermelon – Melancia

* – In Brazil lemon is limão-siciliano, Mexican (Key) lime is limão-galego, Tahiti (Persian) lime is limão-taiti and Rangpur lime is limão-cravo. Bearss (Siciliano) is grown in the hot and humid climate of Brazil for the same reasons it is the main variety in Florida. Whereas Mexican and Tahiti limes are better suited to the climate and therefore much more common in everyday use, the ‘Siciliano’ lemon is a specialty food item in Brazil, much appreciated for its fragrance. Most of the crop is eaten fresh, some of it is used for rind oil.

Brazilian Fruits

Açaí
Acerola – Barbados Cherry
Cacau* – Cocoa
Caju – Cashew fruit
Coco da Bahia* – Coconut
Cupuaçu
Goiaba – Guava
Jaca – Jackfruit
Maracujá – Passionfruit

It is estimated there are 312 kinds of Brazilian fruit, although only 6 kinds are widely cultivated (subtract Jaca and Acerola from the list above). Among the stranger kinds, there are names like banana-de-macaco, marôlo, araticum-cagão, taperebá, cariota-de-espinho, pau-alazão, marajá and fruta-de-ema. One strange sounding fruit isn’t mentioned though, it’s the ‘oiti-da-baía‘, which although the favorite fruit of Dom Pedro II, is extinct.

* – Cacau, while translated as ‘cocoa’ is not chocolate-flavored as the seeds from the cacau are what make the chocolate.

* – Coco da Bahia is a Brazilian coconut variety. The origin of coconuts in general is not known. Coconuts received the name from Portuguese explorers, the sailors of Vasco da Gama in India, who first brought them to Europe. The brown and hairy surface of coconuts reminded them of a witch called coco (that used to be represented as a carved vegetable lantern). When coconuts arrived in England, they retained the name and -nut was added.

Fruit-related terms

Pulp – Pulpa
Seed* – Caroço
Skin/Peel – Casca
Vine* – Vinho (or Videira)

* – Semente also means ‘seed’, but in a general sense. It is not used for what is found immediately inside a fruit, that’s a caroço, while the semente is protected by the caroço. In summation, caroços are hard but it’s the sementes that germinate.

* – Vinho can also mean wine.

The Ribbon of Bonfim – Souvenir of Salvador

The Fita do Bonfim (Ribbon of Bonfim) which is also known as the fitinha do Bonfim (little ribbon…) is a typical souvenir and amulet from Salvador, Bahia.

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History

The original ribbon was created in 1809, having disappeared by the beginning of the 1950’s. Originally known as the ‘medida do Bonfim’ (measure of Bonfim), its name is owed to the fact that the exact measurements of 47 cm long, the length of the right arm of the statue of Jesus Christ, ‘Senhor do Bonfim’, situated on the high-altar of Bahia’s most famous church. The image was sculpted in Setúbal, in Portugal in the 23rd century. The ‘medida’ was made of silk, with the design and the name of the embroidered saint and complimented with golden or silver tint. It was worn around the neck like a necklace, where saints and medallions were hung, working as a type of currency: upon making good on a promise, the faithful carried a photo or a small sculpture of beeswax representing the part of the body which was cured with the help of the saint. As a souvenir, these ribbons would be acquired, symbolizing the church itself.

No one knows when the transition occurred from the old style ribbon to the new one (worn around the wrist), although the new ribbon was popularized by the street vendors of Salvador around the 1960’s, when it was also adopted by the Bahian hippies as part of their style of dressing.

Colors

Sold in diverse colors, the Fita do Senhor do Bonfim possesses a side that few actually know: each color symbolizes an Orixá (or deity of the Yoruba religion). Dark green is for the deity Oxossi, light blue for Iemanjá, yellow for Oxum…Whichever the color, the ribbon holds a symbolic, aesthetic and spiritual representation typical of the Afro-Brazilian culture. Practically speaking, the colors represent various positive words (such as blue for prosperity).

Usage

The famous fitas have been used by Brazilian designers locally and nationally in many different ways. Aside from their fashion statement, the user must have three knots tied and if the ribbon falls off naturally, the wishes will be granted. According to Travelvice.com

“Multiple chances for a miracle, or chances for multiple miracles, are obtained as the wearer makes a wish each time one of three knots are tied to secure the fita around the wrist.

No wish will be granted unless the cloth is permitted to wear until it disintegrates naturally, and falls from the wrist of its accord. If you remove or cut the ribbon yourself the wishes will not—never?—come true and invites bad luck and misfortune upon you.

If you plan to stay the course and leave the ribbon on, it’s a serious commitment. The typical fita is rumored to fall off after a handful of months, but I’ve read stories of ribbons staying intact for anywhere from six months to two years after they were tied!

There was one Internet source found that said you must never purchase your own ribbons, but only accept them as gifts. Additionally, some sites mention a third party should tie the knots for you, as you make your wishes.”

My personal favorite use of the fita motif is on the canga…

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Child, The Name of the Game

We all know I like documentaries….and there’s a fairly disturbing yet interesting documentary out now in Brazil called ‘Criança, A Alma do Negócio’ (which roughly translates to ‘Child, The Name of the Game’). Its a study done on propaganda and children and it presents both professors and children themselves speaking about consumerism. Everyone knows technology enforces the problem, unless you’ve been living in a jungle (oh, wait…nevermind…jungle included).

Who I’m against are those who just give in and allow their children to be babysat by the television and to play online for hours at a time, not to mention buying them the latest Chinese-made product of the moment. After all, if one product really made someone happy, that same person would never need any other product for the rest of their life….sadly, things don’t bring happiness and buying the newest thing-a-ma-jig doesn’t make for a good parent. In one scene in particular, a mother with a hard-to-hide grin on her face tells the camera that her daughter (after her fourth cell phone by age 11 or so), is an extreme consumer. How can anyone be proud of that? 

In another instance, a professor says “these days what matters is the quantity of what you have rather than the difference in what you have (versus the other person),” while another professor says “the passport to enter a social group in school is to have this brand or that brand, while in the old days what mattered as far as social passports go, were the abilities you possessed…such as how well you played a sport or how good you were at telling jokes.”

As far as consumerism in general within Brazil, the country ranks very high in worldwide terms of hours of TV watched per child, money spent on beauty products, percentage of household items bought for children, etc. At one point, a teacher says “by age 4 or 5, the girls are using makeup”. I find that pretty disturbing too as scientifically women use makeup to replicate natural occurences of a biological cycle…which is definitely something children should not be imitating.

Think about this, if so many children the world over want the same exact things in the same colors, in the same way…thats not simply because they are children, its because the propaganda is being heavily directed towards them.  In two experiements in the documentary, the children are shown fruits and told to name them (they fail), and then are shown packaged popular goods with the names blocked out (they pass). The other experiment revolves around them being shown animals versus famous brand logos minus the actual name…guess which one they always get right. Here’s the trailer…in PT

If you wanted to see the documentary now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on Youtube too.

Machado de Assis – Best of Brazilian Lit.

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, often known as Machado de AssisMachado, or Bruxo do Cosme Velho, (June 21, 1839, Rio de Janeiro—September 29, 1908, Rio de Janeiro) was a Brazilian novelist, poet and short storywriter. He is widely regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature. However, he did not gain widespread popularity outside Brazil in his own lifetime.

Machado’s works had a great influence on Brazilian literary schools of the late 19th century and 20th century. José Saramago, Carlos Fuentes, Susan Sontag and Harold Bloom are among his admirers and Bloom calls him “the supreme black literary artist to date.”

Biography

Machado is said to have learned to write by himself, and he used to take classes for free will. He learned to speak French first and English later, both fluently. He started to work for newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, where he published his first works and met established writers such as Joaquim Manuel de Macedo.

Machado de Assis married Carolina Xavier de Novais, a Portuguese descendant of a noble family. Soon the writer got a public job and this stability permitted him to write his best works. Machado de Assis began by writing popular novels which sold well, much in the late style of José de Alencar. His style changed in the 1880s, and it is for the sceptical, ironic, comedic but ultimately pessimistic works he wrote after this that he is remembered: the first novel in his “new style” was Epitaph of a Small Winner, known in the new Gregory Rabassa translation as The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas (a literal translation of the original title, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas). In their brilliant comedy and ironic playfulness, these resemble in some ways the contemporary works of George Meredith in the United Kingdom, and Eça de Queirós in Portugal, but Machado de Assis’ work has a far bleaker emotional undertone. Machado’s work has also been compared with Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy.

Machado de Assis could speak English fluently and translated many works of William Shakespeare and other English writers into Portuguese. His work contains numerous allusions to Shakespearean plays, John Milton and influences from Sterne and Meredith. He is also known as a master of the short story, having written classics of the genre in the Portuguese language, such as O AlienistaMissa do Galo, “A Cartomante” and “A Igreja do Diabo”.

Along with other writers and intellectuals, Machado de Assis founded the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 1896 and was its president from 1897 to 1908, when he died.

Narrative Style

Machado’s style is unique, and several literary critics have tried to explain it since 1897. He is considered by many the greatest Brazilian writer of all times, and one of the greatest in the world as a romance and short story writer. His chronicles do not share the same status and his poems show a curious difference with the rest of his work: while his Machado’s prose is serene and elegant, his poems are often shocking for the use of crude terms, sometimes similar to those of Augusto dos Anjos, another Brazilian writer.

American literary critic Harold Bloom considers Machado de Assis one of the greatest 100 geniuses of literature, to the point of considering him the greatest black writer of western literature. He places Machado alongside writers such as Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes. 

Dom Casmurro

Machado de Assis was fascinated with the theme of jealousy, and many of his novels are built on this intrigue. One of his most popular ones, Dom Casmurro, is still widely read in Brazilian schools. The volume reflects Machado de Assis’ life as a translator of Shakespeare, and also his influence from French realism, especially Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert and Émile Zola. In the novel, he also refers to Much Ado About NothingThe Merry Wives of WindsorHamletRomeo and Juliet, and most importantly, Othello. In fact, Helen Caldwell wrote a book comparing the Shakespearian play to Dom Casmurro “The Brazilian Othello of Machado de Assis – A study of Dom Casmurro”. It gives new meaning to this story.

Origins of Funk Carioca

I’m sure many people have heard of Funk Carioca but perhaps not so much about its actual origins. In case Funk is new to you, I’ll post a very short intro before getting into its origins.

Funk Carioca, also known as Brazilian Funk (which also relates to a 1970’s musical style), Favela Funk and, elsewhere in the world, Baile Funk, is a type of dance music from Rio de Janeiro, derived from and superficially similar to Miami Bass, with deep rapid beats and aggressive vocals. In Rio de Janeiro it is most often simply known as Funk, although it is very different musically from what Funk means in most other places. As far as lyrics are concerned, the more recent Funk artists typically cram as many sexually explicit lyrics as possible into their songs a la style of Eazy-E, which is also typical of a similar more underground genre called Proibidão (Prohibited).

Origins

Brazilian record suppliers who went to the United States in the 1970s to buy what was called at the time “Black Music” for Brazilian DJs, targeted stores that sold American Funk records. As they continued to support the same hotspots over time, though American music had evolved away from Funk into new genres such as Hip Hop, the word “funk” stuck in local usage.

Miami was then a popular place to obtain records for Brazilian DJs, and therefore, Miami Bass was prominent in these imports. DJ Nazz and Tony Minister were the main suppliers credited to bringing Miami Bass records to Brazil while still referring to them as American funk records. Other local music producers began mimicking these importers in the late 1980s. The influence of Miami is also reflected in the prominence of freestyle-style synth melodies.

Even today, the funk carioca music played in clubs is dependent on a network of couriers used by DJs living in Rio. This is critical because the music these DJs play is not commercially available in Rio. These couriers periodically fly between New York and Miami to buy music. They return to Rio after short trips to resellers, who then provide DJs their music. Fierce competition exists between individual DJs in Rio, as each DJ wants his music to be the most popular and the most danceable.

Much like any kind of hip hop music, funk carioca relies heavily on samples and interpolations of other songs, as well as of pre-existent funk music. Much of the production occurs in small-scale studios in Rio, and achieve distribution through hand-burned CDs in the markets throughout Rio and all over Brazil, from São Paulo to the Amazônia region. One of the first funk carioca widespread hits was a remix of Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)” tune.

Besides Miami Bass-style beats, funk carioca also uses some traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythms. A West Coast Electro Bass track entitled 808 Volt (Beatapella Mix) by DJ Battery Brain was widely sampled, and became the common background for various funk carioca songs, recycled time and again with the inclusion of more percussive elements as the “tamborzão” beat style became popular.

In recent years, Funk Carioca has been characterized within the popular imagination has having simple beats derived from cheap technologies with vocalists who tend to shout as much as they sing. The greatest export of this particular aesthetic revolves around the trio known as Bonde Do Role, who are a popular act in international hipster circles thanks to support from producer Diplo and significant coverage within the music media such as Rolling Stone.

The emergence of readily available digital music technologies in the early 90s changed the face the Funk Carioca movement in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Funk Carioca can be traced to many different musical genres ranging from Brazilian samba to European techno. Although Brazilian Funk started using mixed vinyl tracks that mimicked the scratch, loop and break techniques made famous by Bronx artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Miami Bass legends 2livecrew, the movement is currently almost exclusively digital. Beat machines and automated loop technology have revolutionized the genre.

The spread of Funk Carioca from an exclusively Rio based subculture to an international musical phenomena can largely be accredited to the influx of personal computers and internet technology in Brazil. Brazil is the global leader in Internet growth. “In Brazil, Internet use jumped 130% between from 1997-1998, and the Internet now constitutes a major industry with almost 1,300 ISPs, and somewhere between 5 and 6 million users”. So, while Funk maintains its favela roots and perspective, it has gained significant global listenership and recognition. Technology has increased musical plagiary in an already sample based genre and furthered the disregard for copyrights or musical ownership. Most Funk is mixed in home studios in the favelas and suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. This has resulted in a climate in which a new sample can become popular and spread through the dancehalls without officially crediting the artist. New digital technology combined with the social context and dancehall culture of Funk has resulted in one of the most piracy-driven music industries in the world. This trend has led to the limited opportunities of album sales and relegates the standard of success to DJ’ing at Friday or Saturday night dancehall events. Funk from Rio de Janeiro is a prime example of a new way in which music spreads in the modern globalized world. Catalyzed by the advance of music technologies, Funk marks a new trend that allows music that originates in a low wealth community to spread globally. In an article titled “The localization of Funk in Rio and Bahia”, Livio Sansone notes “the stylistic mosaic varies when one can buy and store music or can only enjoy it live…” This, compounded by the lawlessness of the favelas, has caused almost complete disregard for music ownership or accreditation.

Below is a 27-minute documentary (with English subtitles) on Funk Carioca and what it means to the people who create it.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade – A Nation’s Poet

Carlos Drummond de Andrde (October 31, 1902 -August 17, 1987) was perhaps the most influential Brazilian poet of the 20th century. He has become something of a national poet; his poem “Canção Amiga” (“Friendly Song”) was printed on the 50 cruzados note.

Drummond was born in Itabira, a mining village in Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. His parents were farmers of Portuguese ancestry (and remote Scottish ancestry). He went to a school of pharmacy in Belo Horizonte, but never worked as a pharmacist after graduation. He worked in government service for most of his life, eventually becoming Director of History for the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Service of Brazil.

Though his earliest poems are formal and satirical, Drummond quickly adopted the new forms of Brazilian modernism that were evolving in the 1920s, incited by the work of Mário de Andrade (to whom he was not related). He adopted a Whitmanian free verse, mingling speech fluent in elegance and truth about the surrounding, many times quotidian, world, with a fluidity of thought.

One of Drummond’s best-known poems is his hymn to an ordinary man, “José.” It is a poem of desolation:

Key in hand,
you want to open the door –
there is no door. . .

 Although my personal favorite is called “O mundo é grande” and I will paste and translate it below

“O mundo é grande e cabe
 nesta janela sobre o mar.
 O mar é grande e cabe
 na cama e no colchão de amar.
 O amor é grande e cabe
 no breve espaço de beijar.”

“The world is large and fits
 in this window over the sea
 The sea is large and fits
 in the bed and in the mattress of love
 Love is large and fits
 in the brief space of a kiss.”

Styles & Influences

The work of Carlos Drummond is generally divided into several segments, which appear very markedly in each of his books. But this is somewhat misleading, since even in the midst of his everyday poems or his socialist, politicized poems, there appear creations which can be easily incorporated into his latermetaphysical canon, and none of these styles is completely free of the others. There is surely much metaphysical content in even his most political poems.

The most prominent of these later metaphysical poems is A Máquina do Mundo (The Machine of the World). The poem deals with an anti-Faust referred to in the first person, who receives the visit of the aforementioned Machine, which stands for all possible knowledge, and the sum of the answers for all the questions which afflict men; in highly dramatic and baroque versification the poem develops only for the anonymous subject to decline the offer of endless knowledge and proceed his gloomy path in the solitary road. It takes the renaissance allegory of the Machine of the World from Portugal’s most esteemed poet, Luís de Camões, more precisely, from a canto at the end of his epic masterpiece Os Lusíadas. There are also hints from Dante and the form is adapted from T. S. Eliot’s dantesque passage in “Little Gidding.”

Drummond is a favorite of American poets, a number of whom, including Mark Strand and Lloyd Schwartz, have translated him. Later writers and critics have sometimes credited his relationship with Elizabeth Bishop, his first English language translator, as influential for his American reception, but though she admired him Bishop claimed she barely knew him. In an interview with George Starbuck in 1977, she said:

I didn’t know him at all. He’s supposed to be very shy. I’m supposed to be very shy. We’ve met once — on the sidewalk at night. We had just come out of the same restaurant, and he kissed my hand politely when we were introduced. 

The Carlos Drummond de Andrade Memorial in Minas Gerias

Below is a short video interview of Andrade in his later years which begins with a few lines of poetry and goes into how at an early age, he was fascinated by the printed word even though he didn’t understand every word he read. The shape and the feel of the sounds and the visual of those sounds on paper was something that left its mark on him. He then speaks about his family who lived on a farm then moved to a city in the interior of Minas, where they had social importance. His immediate family was made up of his wife and his only daughter who lived in Buenos Aires. Later he goes into how moving from Minas was something that made its mark on him too, as anyone from Minas is eternally connected to it. Once in the National Library, he began to read about a lot of different subjects and it “made a salad in his spirit” (salada in Portuguese can mean a mixture). Being old and well-known, he says that lots of young people asked him for advice and counsel, even simple opinions yet he never felt quite right about giving these things, not even to himself. When he decided to move to Rio, he was happy to have his childhood friends around him because they were what connected his past with his present. The last part is a poem about Minas, where they show old pictures of him writing poetry. 

For some of his work in English, see this post!

Fernando Gabeira – Scene Stealing Politics

 

Fernando Paulo Nagle Gabeira (born February 17, 1943 in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais) is a Brazilian politician, author and journalist. He has been a federal deputy from the State of Rio de Janeiro since 1995.

Fernando Gabeira

Fernando Gabeira

He is best known for his book of memoirs. In the book, Gabeira tells the story of how Charles Burke Elbrick, the then-US Ambassador to Brazil, was kidnapped for 78 hours by the Revolutionary Movement 8th of October ( MR-8 ) in Rio de Janeiro, on September 4, 1969. The incident formed the basis of the 1997 Bruno Barreto film Four Days in September (O Que É Isso, Companheiro?), starring Alan Arkin, Pedro Cardoso and Fisher Stevens. The storyline was adapted from the 1979 memoirs of Fernando Gabeira, former member of revolutionary cell MR-8. 

Gabeira was also one of the founding members of the Green Party of Brazil, but left the group in 2002 to join the Workers’ Party. Recently he rejoined the Greens, due to his disappointment with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government, and also because of the way the Worker’s Party was dealing with its remaining far-left members.

Gabeira is a cousin of Leda Nagle, a well-known Brazilian TV hostess. Gabeira has lived many years exiled from Brazil, during the military dictatorship, and returned to his country in 1979. Just after his return to Brazil, a photo of Gabeira wearing a very small knitted swimsuit on Ipanema beach turned into a national scandal. Many years later, Gabeira revealed that his scandalous bathing suit was indeed the bottom part of one of Leda Nagle’s bikinis.

Gabeira has repeatedly voiced his ideological support for the legalization of marijuana.

Nós vs. A gente

Alternation “nós” / “a gente”

(Nós and a gente are both ways of saying ‘we’ in Portuguese.)

The inclusion of the expression a gente among the list of personal pronouns already spurred research into areas of formal and informal speech. In Brazilian-Portuguese, the distribution of use between a gente and nós is more or less equal: 56% and 44%, respectively. There are large divergences found within the five major Brazilian capitals, but Rio de Janeiro is the capital where a gente (59%) is mostly used as a subject, while the remaining cities still employ the use of nós.

The percentages of usage indicate that the substitution of nós for a gente still haven’t reached the level of formal speech, to the point that they have in informal speech. In the decade of the ’90’s, the use of a gente within Rio de Janeiro reached 75% and amongst the youth, a staggering 90%. This fact suggests an accelerated substitution of nós for a gente in the last 20 years.

Recife
a gente – 37%
nós – 63%

Salvador
a gente – 37%
nós – 63%

Rio de Janeiro
a gente – 59%
nós – 41%

São Paulo
a gente – 36%
nós – 64%

Porto Alegre
a gente – 28%
nós – 72%

This information is an excerpt taken from a purchased book called “Como falam os brasileiros.” (“How the Brazilians Speak”). The research was published in 1998.

Silvera – R&B in Portuguese?

If your taste tends to lean more towards the R&B/Pop/Hip-hop circut (think Craig David), then Silvera is what you have been looking for. A Paulistano and an up-and-comer on the scene, hes someone to look out for in the next few years. I listen to a lot of Brazilian music and Im pretty confident that theres no one like him out there in the Brazilian market.

Heres his website http://trama.uol.com.br/silvera/