The São Paulo Bienal which has been running in Parque do Ibirapuera will finish on 19 December 2004. Therefore if you haven’t been yet make sure you make plans to go. The bienal, which presents contemporary artwork every two years, is one of the oldest and largest shows of its kind. More than 100 artists from 62 countries are displaying their work. The São Paulo show is one of the most important venues for cutting edge art, which organizers compared to the better-known Venice Bienal. Organizers said they are trying to emphasize art that is outside the mainstream.

Curator Alfons Hug said he chose this year’s theme of No Man’s Land,” to counteract a predominance of what he calls “sociological discussions” in international art exhibits. “The no man’s land is a space for art itself. It’s a space outside the world of economics and politics,” he said.

Calling it “a return to art,” he said he hoped the show would “value the autonomy of art and of its aesthetic principles.” In contrast to the 2002 biennale, which focused on the energy and grit of metropolises, this show will have “more poetry, subtlety and extremely sublime works,” Hug said.

The show also tries to make contemporary art more accessible to the public. For the first time, the show will be free of charge, each artist will have a text introducing his or her work, and 400 guides will be available to help explain the pieces. “We have taken care like never before to help people understand the show,” Hug said. “We have to do away with this prejudice that contemporary art is something out of reach. That isn’t the case. Even a young person can appreciate it as he learns from it.”

Indeed, there are a number of eye-catching works. “Gimme Gummi,” by Austrian artist Leo Schatzl, consists of a candy-apple red Volkswagen Beetle strung up to a metal frame with elastic cords so visitors can literally go for a spin in the car. Spectators can also see haunting photographs captured by U.S. artist Alex Soth on a road trip along the Mississippi River, a life-sized stuffed elephant being attacked by a fake tiger in a piece by Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping, and paintings by Brazilian Beatriz Milhazes, whose flower-like structures and concentric circles burst with color and energy.

This year, organizers are expecting more than 1 million visitors to wander the 25,000 square meter, specially-built Ciccillo Matarazzo, Pavilhão da Bienal, portão 3, Parque do Ibirapuera. The event runs from September 25 to December 19, 2004. From Monday to Thursday, 9.00 am to 10.00 pm – people who get in at 10.00 pm can only stay until 11.00 pm (the Bienal recommends at least 2 hours to visit the exhibition). Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, 9.00 am to 11.00 pm. The event is free. For more details see the website http://bienalSãopaulo.globo.com

Carlos A. DeJuana, Senior Correspondent, Reuters provided text used for this article

This week’s entertainment guide features Brazilian funk and soul band Jam Suburbana, Sujinho, one of São Paulo’s most traditional and best value steak houses, ice skating, for a limited time only, at Morumbi Shopping Center, the city’s most authentic Irish pub, Corcoran’s, and for the kiddies the ‘Happy Place’ toy factory.

Jam SuburbanaIf you are looking for something to spice up your Monday nights then check out the funk and soul band Jam Suburbana at the Urbana club in Pinheiros. Usually playing to a packed house, the band, led by Bocato on the trombone, includes black music, soul, funk and jazz in its lively repertoire. The band has a strong link with the Urbana club and was formed there a number of years ago by a group of friends. The band has played with the likes of Jorge Ben Jor, Sandra de Sa, Ed Motta and other big artists. The group also includes Reginaldo 16 (trumpet), Jean Arnoult (sax), Jota Jota (base), C. Tchernev (drums), Marquinhos Aflalo (percussion), Jean Trad (guitar), Marcelo Lima (keyboard) and Lino Crizz (vocals). Every Monday night from 00h30 at Urbana (Rua Cardeal Arcoverde, 614). Admission R$15 – R$30.

SujinhoDespite its name, Sujinho is one of the most traditional and best value meat restaurants in town. If you prefer a large steak, rather than the ‘Rodizio’ style churascarias, then Sujinho is the place for your. The house specialty is the Bisteca de Boi, which at 700 grams is enough to satisfy most appetites. The restaurant has been around since the 1960s and there are two addresss, one on Rua Consolacao (No. 2078) and the other in the center of town (Av. Ipiranga, 1058). Despite it’s simple dcor, the restaurant is popular among artists as it opens late into the night (5am). Very reasonably priced at around R$25 per person. Tel. (011) 3256 8026. Website www.sujinho.com.br

Ice SkatingIf you are feeling nostalgic for some snow and ice this Christmas then you might want to pay a visit to the temporary Ice Rink set up at Morumbi Shopping Center. The 400-square meter rink has been mounted specially for the Christmas period and will remain until Feb. 13. The rink holds 70 people at a time and the cost is R$20 per half hour (including skates). The skating rink was originally set up in the 1980s but closed in 1994. Six instructors are present for those who are a bit shaky on their skates, while for complete beginners there is course available (10 hours for R$300). The rink is located in the Atrium and children over 5 can participate. For those under 5 there is a special sleigh (R$5 for five rounds) available. Open from Mon – Sun from 10h to 22h. Shopping Morumbi (Avenida Roque Petroni Jnior, 1089)

Corcoran'sCorcoran’s, an authentic Irish Pub with room for up to 400 patrons, is located in the trendy Itaim district (Rua Tabapu, 1439). The pub is decorated with fine wood and soft lighting, creating the ideal atmosphere. It sports a mezzanine and terrace with pub games, televised sports, and valet parking. Live music most nights, with local bands such as River Raid, Junkie Box and Taboo. Meals range from traditional Irish snacks, to pastas and a variety of sandwiches. Draft beers include Guinness, Beamish, Old Speckled Hen, Carlsberg and Brahma, as well as a host of imported drinks and whiskeys, including Jameson. Open from Tues – Sat. from 18h until the last customer. Website: www.corcorans.com.br

Happy PlaceThe Fbrica de Brinquedos Happy Place toy factory is every child’s dream. Instead of smashing up toys they can get the chance to make their own. Under the watchful eye of trained monitors, children from the age of 3 can make their own cuddly toys, including monkeys, cats, elephants, bears etc, as well as robots, in any color and size they wish. There are 21 different options available, all pre-molded and easy to assemble. After they are mounted the toys are given a name and sent to a separate production area where they are stuffed and given a final touch. Once ready, toys are announced by name over a loud speaker, like at a maternity hospital, and your new toy is born. They even come with a birth certificate! The toy factory is located in Tatuape (Rua Itapura, 1243) and is open from Mon-Sat from 9h to 20h and Sundays from 10h to 16h. Price ranges from R$19.90 to R$39.90, depending on the toy chosen. Tel. (011) 295 7999

British born Margaret Mee spent over thirty years, from the 1950s to the 1980s, drawing flowers and plants from the Brazilian rainforest, many of which are now extinct due to deforestation.
Her life was cut short by a car crash on one of her return visits to Britain in 1988. However her memory is preserved in her many drawings which are currently being shown, for the first time, at the Museu de Zoologia in São Paulo.

Where: Museu de Zoologia, Avenida Nazar, 481 – Ipiranga. Tel. 6165-8100
When: Tues – Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Until Feb. 27
Admission: Free

Multi-talented Irish musician Liam O’Connor is back in Brazil for the second time in two years to perform his rare mixture of Brazilian and Celtic music at a number of locations around the country. An extremely versatile musician, Liam is known as the man of ’20 instruments.’ He was born in County Cork and raised in a family where music was a way of life. Cutting his musical teeth at the age of four he quickly became an All-Ireland Champion and has also won the Beamish & Crawford Award for Best All-Round Musician. With so much success, Liam was sought after by Michael Flatley to join ‘Lord Of The Dance’. He subsequently played on the soundtrack for the original show and it’s successor ‘Feet Of Flames’. Accompanied by a group of Irish dancers, Liam will play in São Paulo (Dec. 13), Salvador (Dec. 19) and Aracaju (Dec. 20). The money raised from the shows will be donated to a number of local social programs.

Where: Teatro Cultura Artstica, Rua Nestor Pestana, 196 – Consolaão.
When: Dec. 13 at 21h
Tickets: R$30 – R$40. Tel. 3258-3616
Website: www.culturaartistica.com.br

At first sight, São Paulo looks like a modern city. There are pavements, small sky-scrapers, houses and apartments, shopping malls, fast food, traffic jams and, for the most part, running water and constant electricity. In reality, like its flashier neighbour Rio, it’s a wild-west outpost in disguise, a frontier town reminiscent of those lawless western settlements. How do we know this? People get shot here all the time; and if they aren’t killed, they’re robbed.

Although Rio grabs the headlines (viz. the recent stabbing death of a Japanese tourist on Copacabana beach), São Paulo’s statistics make equally gruesome reading. Already this year there have been 3,396 murders, according to the State Secretary for Security – which, quite frankly, is a misnomer. In London, by contrast, there have been three.

Most people don’t even report muggings. My husband’s wallet was wrenched out of his pocket by a three-member gang during a recent Sunday afternoon family stroll through a crafts market. We told a nearby policeman. His response: normal. And he speaks the horrible truth. One out of every 50 people in the city is likely to be the victim of a crime this year.

The closest I have come so far, touch wood, is 15 feet. A man got out of the car next to mine at a traffic light. I saw the enormous Dirty Harry weapon he was holding and decided to break a different law. It was 6.30pm at an intersection on a street where every other shop sells blindado” cars, a word that sent me to the dictionary. It means armoured.

Cars are prime targets. Robbers approach, gun in hand, even on major thoroughfares, in broad daylight. I know four people who have been assaulted that way. Not surprisingly the blindado market is growing, despite the fact that it doubles the cost of a vehicle. Already there are more than 20,000 armoured cars in Brazil with about 400 new ones hitting the roads each month. One psychology website recently recommended that urban stress could be reduced by forking over the blindado dosh.

If you can’t afford armoured plating, however, there are do’s and don’t to remember. Always keep the windows up, even in nice weather, and doors locked (cars here tend to do that automatically after 50 yards); and, at night, don’t be afraid to run a red. Taxis, visitors will be glad to know, seem to fare better than private cars but always hide your laptop.

So, you might ask, isn’t everyone terrified to set foot outside? In a word, no. Most Paulistanos are already part of the statistics or seem sanguine about future developments. The city does not feel haunted because those not committing the crimes, and they are in the majority thank goodness, are just too nice to be that paranoid.

Those who have a lot to lose, however, take serious precautions. Posh houses have very high walls and swanky apartment buildings multiple layers of security. Nearly $3 billion was spent on personal security in Brazil in 2003. It is now an industry that employs half a million people.

I know where some of those dollars are going. Last year my school’s Parent/Teacher Association newsletter asked parents, in a perfectly matter-of-fact way, to tell their children’s bodyguards not to crowd the pavement. Nearby residents were feeling intimidated. I can understand why: these guys are enormous, wear black suits and are probably packing. Their charges generally come up to their kneecaps. This year a bunch of high profile child kidnappings elsewhere in the city prompted the school to build a fortress-like wall around the entrance.

So we adapt, which is both good and bad. Those who can, protect themselves and those who can’t try to minimize the potential damage. This, however, lets the security forces off the hook, and the underlying causes – the widening gap between the rich 10% and the rest, high unemployment, poor public education, judicial impunity etc. – go untreated. At times, one could wish for a little more Brazilian paranoia.

In truth, there are some moves to sort out the mess. The government realizes that having three separate police forces that barely talk to each other isn’t smart (very few crimes are solved), and is trying to introduce information sharing. But it’s hard to break the habit of two generations, let alone integrate completely different staffing systems, pay scales and pensions. I am not holding my breath.

In some poor suburbs where migrant population growth has turned vacant land into high density slums, bar closing hours have changed and increased street lighting has gone into known hot spots. As a result, there are fewer murders. And taking a 10 year perspective, things are getting better. Murders used to top 6,000 a year in São Paulo in the 1990s.

For those of us just passing through, we remove the rings from our crossed fingers and live in hope. The Wild West didn’t stay wild forever and São Paulo, which is celebrating its 450th birthday this year, will have to grow up one day – won’t it?

Of course, for the inhabitants held hostage and robbed last week by armed gangs in a couple of posh apartment buildings, this won’t happen soon enough. In Portuguese the word for gang is quadrilha. I first thought it sounded like a dance Darcy might invite Miss Elisabeth Bennet to try; yet another example of a misleading first impression.
DCW”

Canada’s Aaron Day moved to São Paulo with his Brazilian wife Paula about a year ago. Despite having lived in such exotic locations as Curacao Island, he was still enchanted with São Paulo and it’s nearby beaches. It certainly beats the 8 months of winter in Vancouver.

Where are you from?
Originally from Vancouver, Canada, but had been living in Miami for 12 years before moving to São Paulo

What brought you to Brazil?
During 1996 I was working on the Island of Curacao, installing what became one of the first Internet Casinos and I met and fell in love with a girl from São Paulo.

What do you do here?
Internet marketing and web site development, I manage a dozen or so web sites and Blogs that reside on a server in California, connected by Virtua from my home.

What do you miss about Canada?
My wife and I usually go back to Canada for July but we missed it this year and I often thought about my family, as I especially miss my niece and nephews. Also, if you’ve ever been to Vancouver you’d know what the combination of sky, sea and mountains could do to your mind. I definitely don’t miss the 8 months of winter.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
Just celebrated my first full year living in Brasil and found that Learning Portuguese has been a challenge but I’m making progress. When I first came to Brazil for a visit, 8 years ago I was a little frustrated by the deplorable distribution of wealth and that there are so many children living on the streets. Now I’ve come to accept the situation and recognize that most people are happy.

What do you most like about Brazil?
It would be too simplistic to say that it’s the culture I like the most about Brasil, so to be more specific, it’s the combination of exotic location (I love the beaches), with great music (I enjoy Brazilian music), fabulous food and wonderful people who really know how to enjoy life when the opportunity presents it.

What is your favorite restaurant in Brazil?
Since there are purported to be over 3,000 restaurants in São Paulo it’s really hard to choose just one but for total style, ambiance and incredible cuisine I’m very fond of Viccolo Nostre but still, for me, nothing compares to the Rubiyat.

Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
Driving a car for the first time in São Paulo can always be amusing. My first experience in Rio was kind of comical and hanging out in Buzios, trying to be natural and fit in but having lived in Miami for many years I was too much of a Gringo.

What difference between Canada and Brazil do you find most striking?
Weather is obviously the biggest difference between Canada and Brazil but also in Canada we have a huge middle class and very small lower class. Children are not seen out on the streets, especially during school hours. In comparing my experiences with living in Florida: I’d say they you don’t see the race integration and the poor are more hidden out of sight.

What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo?
Make sure you know exactly where you’re going and try to be with locals. The richness of São Paulo lays hidden behind a grimy cover-layer and it can be difficult to get to see what’s behind unless someone shows you. Make sure you take a trip to Litoral Norte.

Aaron Day can be contacted at aaron@siliconpalms.com

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Graham Debney – New Zealand
Ken Marshall – Australia
John Milton – England
Pari Seeber – Iran
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Kim Buarque – Wales
Carl Emberson – Australia
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany

Are you are foreigner living in Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@www.gringoes.com

This week’s (Nov. 25 to Dec. 1) entertainment guide features the legendary Brazilian funk and soul band Banda Black Rio, the super trendy Skye bar/restaurant at the Unique Hotel, the risqu Exxex club and cabaret, an art exhibition by Brazilian modern artist Francisco Rebolo and a science museum exhibition run by USP and open to the general public.

Banda Black RioBlack Rio Band. The Carioca funk and soul band Black Rio will perform two gigs in São Paulo later this week at the Choperia do Sesc Pompeia (rua Clelia, 93). The band has been around since the 70s and was one of the pioneers in mixing samba, soul, funk and jazz. The group, now led by William Magalhaes son of the original founder, was a big hit with British DJs back in the 90s and has influenced such bands as Jamiroquai. The group could easily be compared to an instrumental version of other late 70’s early 80’s funk bands, such as Kool & The Gang or Earth, Wind & Fire, except with a Brazilian twist. Some of their best hits are “Maria Fumaca”, “Mr. Funk Samba”, and “Cravo e Canela”. A must see for any fans of late 70’s funk! Playing Nov. 26 and 27 at 21h00. Admission R$5 – R$15.

SkyeSkye. On top of one of the city’s most modern hotels, the Unique, the Skye bar and restaurant has become a meeting point for the city’s young and trendy crowd. It is not uncommon to see artists and actors among the crowd and if you get tired looking at the pretty faces you can always admire the magnificent view of the surrounding São Paulo skyline, including a view of Ibirapuera park. The kitchen is well taken care of by French chef Emmanuel Bassoleil and the menu ranges from chic French cuisine to pizza and even sushi. The bar has an open air deck, which is excellent on a warm summers night and table overlook a snazzy red swimming pool. Music is provided by a resident DJ. Avenida Brigadeiro Lus Antnio, 4700. Open till 01h00 at weekend. www.skye.com.br

ExxexExxex Clubaret. Exxex is a mixture of night club and cabaret. The club’s owner Angelo Leuzzi aims to mix music, dance performances and anything wild. The club is keen to promote new talent as well as revive old and forgotten bands. There is also room for artists, dance and theater. Different nights of the week are dedicated to different styles of music including rock, house, hip-hop etc. The club’s dcor has a distinct S&M feel to it with lots of iron, rubber, vinyl and velvet, as well as lots of bright colors. Rua Clodomiro Amazonas, 99
Itaim Bibi – Tel. 3168-6876. From Tue to Sat 23h00 – 5h00. Valet Parking. Admission from R$20 – R$30. You can get a discount by going to their site and putting your name on the Vip list. www.exxex.com.br

Francisco ReboloFranciso Rebolo. This colorful art exhibition by one of Brazil’s most expressive modern artists Francisco Rebolo is currently showing at the Espaco Cultural Vivo including over 60 works of art. Rebolo led an interesting and varied life. From 1917 to 1932, he was a semi-professional football player and this is reflected in many of his paintings. Through his link with football he also participated in creating the emblem for the Corinthians football club. It was only in 1934 that his artistic talent became recognized and for the next 45 years, until his death in 1980, he provided a descriptive and vivid impression of life in São Paulo and Brazil through his many colorful paintings and engravings. Espaco Cultural Vivo, Av. Chucri Zaidam, 2640 – Brooklin. Tel.: 3188 4147. Mon-Sun 9h to 20h until Dec. 5. www.uol.com.br/franciscorebolo/

EspacoEstacao Ciencia. Located in an old warehouse in Lapa, Estaão Cincia, run by USP, has set up a permanent educational exhibition which is of interest to for both adults and children. Unlike most exhibitions, this one is interactive and visitors are actually encouraged to touch the exhibits. One of the most popular items, especially among children, is the Van de Graaff generator, which is a large metal sphere which makes you hair stand on end when you touch it. The exhibition is divided into a number of different areas of interest including Astronomy, Geology and Geography, Biology, History, Technology and the Humanities. Also includes a miniature steam ship, and steam train, reconstructed dinosaurs, and an interactive play about the origins of electricity. Estacao Ciencia, Rua Guaicurus, 1285 – Lapa. Tel. 3673 7022. Tue-Fri 8h to 18h. Sat, Sun and Holidays from 13h to 18h. Entrance Free. www.eciencia.usp.br

Make your Thanksgiving Day celebration extra special this year by bringing the family along to the Hyatt hotel in São Paulo. The hotel’s Grand Caff restaurant will have a special Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 25 (see menu below). The cost is R$75 per person and reservations can be made at (011) 6838- 3203

Buffet
Selection of freshly baked Italian breads
Focaccia, Chiabattini, Grissini
***
Selection of Italian Cold Cuts:
Salami, Mortadella, Coppa and BreSãola
***
Beef Carpaccio on Rocket lettuce with
White truffle oil
***
Smoked Salmon with onions, capers
and lemon wedge
***
Oven dried tomatoes with Buffalo
Mozzarella and basil leaves
***
Potato salad with mustard, bacon and
caraway Avocado salad with shrimps
***
Vitello Tonnato” thinly sliced and braised
veal with tuna-capers sauce
***
Pickled vegetables and mushrooms
***
Marinated figs with Parma ham
Grilled belle peppers marinated with
garlic and herbs
***
Sheredded carrot salad with apples,
nuts and olive oil
***
Ceasars salad with condiments
***
Heart of Palm salad with coriander pesto
***
Green asparagus with vinaigrette
***
Selection of fresh garden greens with
dressings and condiments
***
Oven dried and marinated tomatoes
***
Parmesan Cheese with apricot compote
Gorgonzola with plum chutney
“Condiment bar”
***
Garlic Chips, Cashew nuts, Parmesan Chips
***
Extra virgin olive oil, Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

Pratos Quentes
Traditional Minestrone
Vegetable lasagne
***
“Roasted Turkey” with gravy
Served with Brussels sprouts and potatoes
***
“Roasted Prime Rib”
Served with Barnaise sauce and roasted potatoes
Selected and tossed seasonal vegetables
***
“Steamed filet of Salmon”
with lemon butter sauce
Green peas puree and sauted carrots

Dessert
Baked pumkin tart with pecan nut
***
Chocolate brownies
***
Baked cheese cake
***
Riccota cheese tart with honey sauce
***
Tiramissu
***
Chocolate mousse (home style)
***
Red fruit jam
***
Vanilha sauce
***
Belgium chocolate

If you are a Swedish expat, or have a Swedish interest, or just like good parties, then this is for you. The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo will hold its annual Christmas Party on Dec. 8, from 19h. A complete, all-included Swedish Julbord” (Christmas Treats Table) will be served! Live music and performance with Sambrasil and Tribo! Swedish Christmas Tree! More special surprises will happen throughout the evening – gifts, raffles and more.

When: Wednesday, December 8, 2004. Cocktails/Drinks at 19h00. Capoeira Performance at 19h30 and Dinner at 20h00

Where: Gran Meli Mofarrej – Penthouse Restaurant 23rd floor, Alameda Santos, 1437, São Paulo

Price: R$ 135.00 (Members) R$ 150.00 (Non-members)

RSVP (by Dec. 06) to: Fabiana Cerqueira – Tel: (11) 3066-2550
fabiana.cerqueira@swedishtrade.se or Jonas Sjbom – Tel: (11) 3066-2590
jonas.sjobom@swedishtrade.se

A recent study carried out by the London-based Economist magazine, placed Brazil 39th out of a total of 111 countries in a global quality of life survey. The study was based on criteria which included income, health, unemployment, climate and political stability. According to the survey’s authors, Ireland is the best place to live in the world. followed by Switzerland, while Zimbabwe was bottom of the list. Apart from Australia, which came in sixth, all the countries in the top ten were European. The United States came 13th, while Britain scraped into the top 30 in 29th place.
In fact Brazil’s ranking wasn’t that bad if compared with similar polls taken this year. In a survey carried out by Transparency International, a global corruption watchdog group, earlier this year, Brazil came in 59th in terms of the least corrupt countries. On a scale of one to 10 — 10 being a nation without any political corruption — Brazil garnered a 3.9 rating. The administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was plagued by corruption scandals earlier this year including a former aide accused of receiving illegal gambling funds connected to the bingo industry.
In a recent United Nations study Brazil ranked 72nd in terms of human development while it received the same ranking from this year’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report for its educational system. Ten Latin American countries, including some of the poorest, like Ecuador, Panama and Peru, ranked ahead of Brazil.