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questões estrangeiras

  • Noel


    Noel Rosa always had a special charm for me. Brief explanatory digression: as I will say for the hundred and eleventh time, my family has no connection with Brazil. Until recently I was the only person in my immediate family – and extended, for that matter – who spoke Spanish, let alone Portuguese. (I’ve taught my baby sisters to say “Por favor, você pode ler este livro para mim?”, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count as fluency.) Sure, my grandfather went to school abroad, but that was to learn classical violin in Germany. The novelty of my Latin American adventures aside, everyone has been very supportive. After the confusion of “now, why are you learning Portuguese, again?”, my musicologist dad bought me a four-CD anthology of Brazilian music. That was a tipping point. Within a week of listening to it, I’d decided that “O orvalho vem caindo” was my new favorite song, and whoever this Noel Rosa person was, he was a genius. — Leia o post completo.

  • Monumental perfection

    Monumental perfection

    Brasília is like a perfectly white wall. The instant you touch it, all you can see is the smudge left by your finger. What was meant to be perfection ends up throwing a spotlight on the fissures in that imperfection. — Leia o post completo.

  • Signs of life

    Signs of life

    Brasília wasn’t built for bipeds, my host warned me laughingly in an email before I came. Coitado do pedestre em Brasília, really. The city is built at the intersection of two massive highways, after all, in a sort of hymn to the automobile industry. São Paulo may not stop, but Brasília abhors red lights. I saw the extent to which cars are king in Brasília right away, as I was being given a tour of downtown (if you can call it that). As we crossed a street (on a pedestrian crosswalk, I hasten to add), my guides gave a helpless little wave to the oncoming traffic. I assumed it was just courtesy, but then I saw the command on the asphalt. — Leia o post completo.

  • Dear Caetano

    Dear Caetano

    Lately, everything exciting in my life happens on the bus.

    By that I don’t mean that things are boring; far from it. Back in September, I was stuck on what would be a 9-hour bus ride back from São Paulo when I got a series of increasingly alarmed phone calls about a post I’d written about PUC, and we all know how that ended up. And Sunday I was on a frescão crawling back from Galeão, just arrived from Brasília, when I got a text message. Did you see Caetano’s column in O Globo today???

     — Leia o post completo.

  • City planning

    City planning

    Of all the places in Brazil, I didn’t expect Brasília to look familiar. But as toon as I caught glimpses of the city out the window of the plane, I was transported in time and space. To Chambersburg, PA in the mid-1990s, of all places.

    At my grandmother’s house, my cousins and I had exactly one entertainment. When we weren’t being forced to see other elderly relatives, we’d dash to the dark computer room and spend the interminable dusty afternoons there, jostling for control of the bulky mouse (I never won) and resentfully backseat-driving as the lucky one got to play. Sim City 2000. — Leia o post completo.

  • Turismo polêmico

    Turismo polêmico

    People are mad at me. Friends who stood by me through thick and thin, called me a true Brazilian and a wunderkind, they’re all abandoning me. I’ve burned all my bridges now, without even trying.

    Because I’m taking half a week off to travel, I could go anywhere in Brazil (or South America, for that matter), from the peaks of Machu Picchu to the beaches of Cancún to Iguaçú Falls, and I’m going to… drumroll… Brasília. — Leia o post completo.

  • When poetry goes wild

    When poetry goes wild

    So what do you get a poet for his 109th birthday?

    If that poet is Carlos Drummond de Andrade, then you throw him birthday parties in five simultaneous cities with film screenings, round tables, poetry readings, and popcorn. And a-duh I was there to take in the festivities – it was liberating to be wearing normal clothes on a Halloween night, for once. The grand finale at the Instituto Moreira Salles was a reading of 5 of Drummond’s major poems, the ones that aren’t done as frequently in public because they’re prohibitively long. Does it sound like fun yet? Just wait. — Leia o post completo.

  • “Só tem pastor e programa de bunda”

    “Só tem pastor e programa de bunda”

    “You made it!”

    Even though he’d invited me to the film screening, my friend seemed genuinely astonished to see me. But this is what I love about not overscheduling myself in Rio: the freedom to blow an entire Monday taking the Metro out to Maracanã, summiting the massive jungle gym that is the main building at UERJ, and watching an hour and a half of Brazilian TV. Rather, watching the film that’s listed in Eduardo Coutinho’s resumé as a “filme inacabado” (a somewhat portentous distinction given that his last “unfinished film” was the landmark Cabra marcado para morrer): Um Dia na Vida. — Leia o post completo.