a blog with cultural bulimia.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Beautiful horizon: sometimes you just can't see very far.

My favorite thing about Belo Horizonte is that it's in a valley, surrounded by mountains. But the city has grown uncontrolled. This neighborhood, Belvedere, was deserted jus a few years back. Can't stop the future...

That baby found floating on a lake in Belo Horizonte.

 Every now and then a news story seems to have an unusually high effect on us. Babies are abandoned all the time by their parents. In Brazil and elsewhere in the world. There are tons of homeless kids around waiting to be adopted. Yet...

In this case, there was the added drama of the rescue being caught by an amateur video and shown on national TV:
Amateur footage broadcast on Globo TV showed rescuers using a long tree branch to pull the black plastic bag out of the water. They opened the bag and found the girl inside, wearing a pink dress. Guardian
The mother has been arrested but she denies having thrown the baby out -- she says she paid a homeless woman R$5 (about U$2) to keep the baby she did not want.

The story has sparked an adoption rush: "The hospital in Belo Horizonte has been inundated with offers to adopt the two-month-old and telephone lines are jammed, officials said." Is it a happy ending? Far from it.

I think it's great this baby will have a home and that its story has attracted worldwide attention. But why isn't the discussion - and the solution - going beyond this case?

Homeless kids are the ugliest facet of the Brazilian reality.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Moved in.

Impressions are still as fresh as the paint but, overall, I can say I'm happy. I'll elaborate more as we go along, I'm sure. For now I just want to thank some early well-wishers:

"Please post a picture soon after you decorate. And good luck my friend." Robocub

Mr. V: Posted. That Vanity piece was my grandma's and it's one of the few pieces of furniture in the apartment for now. But that's the way I like it. Give Eddie a big kiss for me.

"Being independent and free to come and go as you wish is going to give you a lift and the freedom to make some major choices." Kitchenbeard

Mr. V: What is it: experience or age? But you are getting wiser, honey! Love you.

"I can only see the door and it's already bigger than my apartment!" Joe

Mr. V: Yes, Joe, but yours is in NY, remember? My aunt use to say she'd rather eat sausage in NY than Filet Mignon in BH. But I think you meant it as a compliment. So, thank you!

"A warm house blessing to you!" Randy

Mr. V: Thank you!

Oprah Apologizes...
President Bush Doesn't...

"A public figure admitting they made a mistake? Stunning."
The Huffington Post

 Mensch of the Year. Oprah: "I was wrong" -- a transcript of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" from January 26, 2006.

Do Not Piss Off the Oprah: Gawker has a photographic recap of the show.

Daily Zen Meditation.

"You are a seeker.
Delight in the mastery
Of your hands and your feet,
Of your words and your thoughts.
Delight in meditation and in solitude.
Compose yourself, be happy.
You are a seeker."


Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I'm in the process of moving to my own apartment. I've been living with my sister since I moved back to Belo Horizonte and this has been going on for too long. I was trying to decide what I really want to do with my future before I made any moves (BH? São Paulo? NY?) and in the meantime I was just going with the flow. And time kept going by. As part of my New Year's resolution I've been getting an apartment I have here ready and I am finally moving in this week. I'll send out my new address soon.

WHAT WORRIES ME: "Last year was the warmest in a century."

HAVE YOU SEEN IT?: "during a speech in Kansas, the President is asked if he's seen Brokeback Mountain, with hilarious results".

STILL THAT IMAGE: "Drew Barrymore on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update spoofing her own Golden Globes incident where her tatas sagged to the floor". Via Farpas & Bitaites.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rio 104°

Rio had it's highest temperature yesterday, so far this year, according to the Jornal do Brasil.

Yes, Ipanema Beach can get a little crowded. But that's one of it's strong points for me. The beaches in Rio are a social focal point. Like at the Roxy in NY, you always know where your friends like to hang out. That's where you see and meet people. That's where you find out where people are partying at night. That's where Rio becomes the amazing place it is the most.

Long and short define each other.

"When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created."

Tao Te Ching

Logic and taxes.

"Logic was invented by Socrates as a way of avoiding taxes. To this end, he created the logical syllogism, which is a kind of Greek joke. An example:

All men are mortal,
Socrates is a man,
Socrates really should be placed in a lower income bracket."

Albino Neutrino

Saturday, January 21, 2006


 Praça da Assembléia, Belo Horizonte.

"I don't like the thought of Dick Cheney ogling my Googling."

Maureen Dowd for the NYT served by The Era: "It was hard to know which story yesterday was scarier: Osama bin Laden, still alive and taunting the U.S., or the Justice Department's trying to force Google to turn over a suspiciously broad array of information on millions of users' searches and Web addresses, supposedly to investigate online crime involving pornography."

Friday, January 20, 2006

O Segredo de Brokeback Mountain.

Brokeback Mountain "is currently the #1 movie in America, the soundtrack is the #1 selling album at and on iTunes." Towleroad
And it still has not opened in Brazil (it has a Feb 3rd opening planned) where they've inexplicably changed the name to "O Segredo de Brokeback Mountain" (The Secret of Brokeback Mountain).
THE POPE'S NEW CAR: "Gayest. Pope. Ever." Andrew Sullivan

AN IMAGE from the Golden Globes that, unfortunately, does not want go away.

BRAZIL IN NYC: the Times finds a vibrant Brazilian community in Astoria.

THE PREJUDICE MAP: According to Google, people in the world are known for...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The past & the future.

"The past came back to her in one of those rushing waves of emotion by which people of sensibility are visited at odd hours."
Henry James
Every now and then some memories of simple, perfect happy moments from my past come back to me, apparently without any connection to what I'm doing at that present time. A flavor, a smell, a sight. A fully content heart. While these are great memories, they worry me and make me melancholy.

Are they coming back because the future is failing to excite me?

The Lottery.

There is a very interesting article in this week's The New Yorker on the State Department’s Green Card lottery and, consequently, the elusive search for the American dream.
The lottery began—in the name of diversity—as a way to bring more white people to America. It was, so to speak, a correction to a correction to a correction. The earliest immigration laws, from the late eighteen-eighties, favored Northern Europeans. In 1965, at the height of the civil-rights movement, Congress changed the laws to favor relatives of American citizens or permanent residents, regardless of origin, and Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans began arriving in record numbers, while European immigration plummeted. The shift alarmed many members of Congress, who argued for legislation that would, in the words of Senator Alfonse D’Amato, relieve the “painful, and even tragic problems for Irish, Germans, Italians, Poles, and others without immediate family members in the United States.” The Lottery

The culture & acceptance of lying.

"How come none of the right wing culture warriors are drawing the connection between President Bush's habitual inability to tell the truth and the epidemic of lying that has taken hold in America?" HufPo

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Accident in Belo Horizonte.

My friend Ricardo sent me this tiny movie and I have no idea what it is. It's silly but it shows my favorite building in Belo Horizonte, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, being attacked by... whatever.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The past is not what is lost
but what belongs to us.

 February, 1966. On the front row: my aunt Neusa, now famous in NY, a cousin and me and my mom.

Who's Yer (blog) Daddy?

 I have always been a very proud blog daddy. Joe's talents were clear to me since I became a fan of his profiles at manhunt - he would change them constantly and was often censored - you can be scatologically graphic but don't dare talk about politics... And thus a friendship started. I'm not at all surprised with his success and I'm sure his is guilty of many more blog children than he is aware of.

Joe has sort of started a meme on blog relatives.

I found out about blogs because of a crush - how pathetic. Good thing the guy was also a great writer. His name is Walt and his blog was "Cucalambe: Oyeme" described by the author as "the caffeine-induced life, rants, musings, and what-nots of a gay, Cubano-American living in New York City". I met him at Friendster, through Erik (what does that make him? my blog godmother?), and was immediately hooked on his blog. Sadly, the blog does not exist any longer - nor I have any idea what has happened to Walt. I never had the chance to call him blogdaddy...

Friday, January 13, 2006

"There are a lot of bad things going on in the world this week..."
Read it here.


Maracanã (2006 FIFA World Cup Germany) by Beatriz Milhazes.

Germany invited 14 international artists to present their football interpretations to be used as official art posters for the soccer World Cup 2006 taking place in that country. Beatriz Milhazes, one of my favorite artists, was chosen to represent Brazil (Maracanã is the name of this stadium in Rio, the biggest in Brazil).

Wish someone had told me this when I was younger.

"Take things more easily. Don't ask yourself so much whether this or that is good for you. Don't ask your conscience so much -- it will get out of tune, like a strummed piano. Keep it for great occasions. Don't try so much to form your character -- it's like trying to pull open a rosebud. Live as you like best, and your character will form itself. Most things are good for you; the exceptions are very rare. (...) You have too much conscience. It's out of all reason, the number of things you think wrong. Spread your wings; rise above the ground. It's never wrong to do that." Henry James

Thursday, January 12, 2006

 Pizzaria Marilia, Belo Horizonte.

Much ado about nothing?

The question is: even if James Frey completely fabricated his history with drugs in "A Million Little Pieces", does it change the value of the book?? If so, why?
I am disappointed by this controversy surrounding 'A Million Little Pieces,' because I rely on the publishers to define the category that a book falls within, and also the authenticity of the work. But the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me, and I know it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book. What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent years in turmoil from the time he was 10 years old drinking and tormenting himself and his parents, and stepped out of that history to be the man that he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves. Oprah on Larry King
FREY ON KING: "About the best television I've seen in forever." Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Visitors from the U.S.

Mr.V, Mr. JF and X-S are hanging out in Belo Horizonte.

Mr. JF and I grew up together - played with the same dolls, as he likes to say. X-S is, well, an ex who became a good friend. We were never before all together at the same time in BH. They don't think I'll be able to stay here but that decision has not been made. Yet.

A Million Little Corrections.

"And, finally, since people are getting all 'fact-checky' on me, I should just confess that my life did not, in fact, shatter into a million little pieces. I just went back and recounted. It was six pieces. Consider it a rounding error." Tim Carvell for the NYT on the wake of the recent revelations about the work of James Frey.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Venus as seen from Itamogi.

Your three wishes: F.A.Q.

"5. How specific do I have to be? If I wish for "world peace," will you know what I'm talking about?

As a practical matter, no one ever wishes for "world peace." But it is always best to be specific. "I wish for my penis, when erect, to measure eighteen inches in length and six inches in diameter" is clear and concise -- and it counts as one wish only, because length and diameter are two dimensions of the same object. "I wish for my penis, when erect, to measure eighteen inches in length and six inches in diameter, and I want it to be erect all the time" is two wishes. "I wish to be a global celebrity, but not Michael Jackson or Tom Cruise" is three."

The New Yorker

Daily Zen Meditation.

"It is better to conquer yourself
Than to win a thousand battles.
Then the victory is yours."


Monday, January 09, 2006


 There is a bird in Brazil that sings only once a year, when it builds a nest, in order to attract a mate; even then, only from five to ten minutes early in the morning.

According to the legend, Uirapuru's song is so beautiful that all other birds stop singing to listen to it. Both in legend and reality Uirapuru is a symbol of rarefied beauty.

And loneliness.

Listen to the Uirapuru.

Popcorn, Itamogi.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"It's not sad to change your ideas; Sad is not to have any ideas to change."

Barão de Itararé

Reach Out and Touch No One.

"Doing the math, you've got to figure that the 12 wise men and one wise woman had about 30 seconds apiece to say their piece to the president about Iraq, where vicious assaults this week have killed almost 200 and raised U.S. troop fatalities to at least 2,189.

It must have been like a performance by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which boils down the great plays and books to their essence. Proust is 'I like cookies.' Othello raps that he left Desdemona 'all alona, didn't telephona.' 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey' condense into 'The Idiodity.' 'Henry V' is 'A king's gotta do what a king's gotta do,' and 'Antony and Cleopatra' is 'Never get involved in Middle Eastern affairs.'

Beyond taking a class picture ringed around Mr. Bush's bizarrely empty desk - a mesmerizing blend of 'Sunset Boulevard,' 'The Last Supper' and a 'Sopranos' ad - the former secretaries of state and defense had to make the most of their brief colloquy with W."

Reach Out and Touch No One by Maureen Dowd via The Era.

And the news behind the picture.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Congadas is another proof of Brazilian religious syncretism. In Itamogi it happens between Christmas and New Year's. Originally it celebrated wars that happened in Africa and the music reflects that. The name, of course, derives from Congo, the country. I imagine that slaves, not allowed to openly celebrate their kings/gods, used catholic saints to mask their original intention, which has been lost throughout the years. Today is a celebration sanctioned by the Catholic church but they still have a king and a queen, both black, that are brought to the church to be crowned and afterwards, of course, lots of food is served.

A history of violence.

Itamogi had its first murder during a robbery this week.

Random violence was something they heard of on the news and was a 'privilege' of big cities. This murder crashed their last illusions they lived in a special place. They've been leveled by the lowest common denominator.

Sign of the times.

Now, a sign of hypocrisy is that most of the townsfolk - all self-proclaimed Christians - were rooting for a public hanging of the criminals. Afterwards they would probably all go and take communion.

Times un-select.

"Did you know that if you do a Technorati search by NYTimes columnists' name the day of their column, you'll find a few thousand bloggers with TimeSelect who've republished their columns?"

My year-end gift from Mr. NS.

Donas de casa desesperadas.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What has been dark and rich and warm all over?

"Shall memory restore
The steps and the shore,
The face and the meeting place;"

W. H. Auden

The Kings Feast.

Today is the end of the celebration of Epiphany in Brazil, "the day when the Three Kings or Three Magi of the Holy Bible arrived to worship and bring gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the heavens." It's a 12 day celebration starting after Christmas that has, along the years, got all mixed up with the pagan celebration that would befall originally on this date, the winter solstice.

A group of musicians travels through the city and countryside singing about the visit of the three kings to Baby Jesus. The Kings are now represented by Clowns - don't ask me why - no one could explain it to me. They go to homes where some kind of promise was made and needs to be paid, bringing the 'sacred flag': in my case, a promise was made that if I got out of the hospital (where I was last year around this time), a dinner would be served (at my father's farm in Itamogi) to the group and to whomever showed up. EVERYTHING IS ABOUT FOOD IN BRAZIL. So I was handed the flag upon their arrival.

There is a whole ritual on the arrival and departure. Lots of singing asking for permission to cross 3 designated points that I, as the owner of the home and beneficiary of the promise, had to grant. The tone is much more pagan than religious.

And then, at the end, food - lots of it - is served. About 300 people showed up. Fireworks. Wine. My father and his friends were very happy. I was moved. This happened last Wednesday but EVERY DAY, for the last 12 days, something similar has taken place in a different house or farm, for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Eat and be merry!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Itamogi via Google Earth.

Itamogi as seen from 23,771 meters high.

S 21º 04'53.02"
W 47º 02'40.08"


Pig on a stick.

Instead of going to Rio, where they have the best New Year's in the world, I stayed in Itamogi and roasted a whole pig - from head to tail. I'm not joking. I don't even like pork meat. But that's what one eats on NYE here (only animals that are 'forward' like pig and salmon; no birds because they ... (what's the word for that thing the chickens do where they kick dirt backwards? My English is gone...)). And wears white. And a new pair of undies. So many traditions...

I chose the low key option which turned out not to be so low key - about 250 people showed up. 250 people that I'm connected with since I was a child which translates into a lot of love.

It felt good.

"Maybe your low self-esteem is just good common sense."

Great line, stupid movie.