By Lance Belville
The Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire has been thrilling concert audiences since he was a child prodigy of six from a small town in the interior if Minas Gerais and this latest documentary about him only confirms his power at the piano and his charm away from it. He is a sort of pixyish little man of 61, with a scruffy, graying beard, chubby little hands and a sweetly sad smile that breaks your heart while it warms it.

The content is a fairly straightforward telling of the maestro’s life from still pictures of him as a sickly child in outback Minas, to his first, prodigy performances in Rio, to footage of him worrying, rehearsing and performing in Brazil (of course!) Russia, France and Belgium.

But the form of this fast-paced documentary is unusual for this sort of film biography. It is a series of short segments introduced by brief screen titles. The segments range from perhaps fifteen minutes to one hilarious little piece of about 45 seconds.

The film is not chronological, if follows its own emotional line. We start with Freire on the concert stage of St. Petersburg, Russia, with the thundering final piano and orchestral chords of a piece which is impossible to know from the little we hear. We see Freire taking reluctant final bows and refusing to play any encore for the ecstatically clapping audience. This opening image of the reluctant musical superstar, this shy and private individual whose love and dedication to music has cast him all-but-reluctantly onto the world concert stage, will be explored during the course of the film.

Although the style of the film is quick and finds humor in unexpected places, it also delivers quite a varied and reasonably satisfying plate of music given virtuoso performances. Noteworthy are the rehearsal and concert sequences with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. There are striking performances of works by Villa-Lobos, Rachmaninoff (lots of Rachmaninoff!), Brahms, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Chopin, Bach and Gluck. Musical gourmets will likely find the offerings more tantalizing that nourishing. For the rest of us, there are many musical moments to be savored.

But the film is also very much a back-stage view of a world-class pianist and what it takes to stay that way. We see Freire pacing and fretting about upcoming performances. We see him sitting down in street clothes in empty concert halls, trying the pianos and getting used to the acoustics. In one sequence, he finds a piano in (where else?) a São Paulo concert hall unsatisfactory. He tells us that in the words of the great Brazilian pianist of another era and the musical love of his life, Guiomar Novaes, Pianos are like people. Some people they like. Some they don’t.” After the unfriendly piano is taken to a subterranean workroom, all-but dismantled, re-assembled and returned to the stage, the maestro is still unsatisfied, “This one doesn’t like me,” he pronounces, but performs on it.

We see Freire practicing and performing with Martha Argerich, the Argentine pianist and his musical partner. At one point he shows her how he cleans his piano keys with 4711 cologne.

In another sequence, Freire is at home watching videos. Through this, we stumble onto a sad and moving insight into the man. Watching an old Errol Garner clip he beams, “The joy he has in playing! That is music!” This leads to a short but revealing discussion. ” For me, a concert I play is a failure if I do not have a moment of joy.” A moment? “Classical pianists used to have that love of playing,” Freire opines, ” but no more. Rubenstein adored playing. Novaes had the joy.” With classical pianists nowadays, he feels, most of that joy is gone. “Argerich has it,” he adds. “And you, do you have it?” the off-screen interviewer asks, Freire’s reply is a sad shrug.

Freire is notoriously publicity shy and short on the usual virtuoso’s ego. We see it as he trudges out for curtain calls and presses flesh in the green room after a concert; all chores to be endured as part of the job. Freire puts it simply: ” It is not about fame. No ego.It is the music. Only the music.” Observers of the international music business believe Freire’s publicity shyness has cost him dearly in both fame and fortune.

In one sequence , which falls just short of hilarious, we get a good example of just why Freire dislikes publicity. In an elaborate sequence filmed by a swimming pool in France, a harried director is trying to get just the right amount of child hilarity in the background before he pops Freire his first question: “Coming from such a warm country as you do, do you think it affects your piano playing?” Freire’s expression tells us why he hates interviews.

Loneliness is his constant companion and you can see it in his sad eyes. He attributes much of it to his sheltered and sickly childhood spent mostly sitting at a piano keyboard. No football for little Nelson. No climbing trees. He did not go out and play rough games like the other children. “I was a lonely child and my music became my refuge. Loneliness? I have learned to like it.” That a life dedicated to music has taken its toll is noticeable in the man. You see that is makes him happy and it makes him sad, often at the same moment.

The documentary arrives at the San Francisco International Film Festival at an opportune moment. Freire and Argerich performed in across-the-bay Berkeley barely a week before the first showing.

“NELSON FREIRE” has played in Brazil. But it is already available in video stores or you can buy the DVD at www.americans.com or www.submarino.com.br

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This week’s entertainment guide features a Mediterranean restaurant in Itaim Bibi which cooks it food over hot coals, a bar in the quiet neighborhood of Alto Boa Vista, a band which provides a blend of Latin and Brazilian music, the latest movie release – an drama/thriller starring Nicole Kidman and a bike ride to commemorate May Day.

Assador Trainera The majority of dishes in the restaurant Assador Trainera are prepared over hot coal which explains indeed why it is called Assador Trainera! The dining space has a very light feel that comes via the restaurants seven windows each decorated with flowers – oranges and yellow dominate the colour spectrum here. The kitchen is organized by chef Jacó Volf who provides a menu dominated by Mediterranean fare along with some other choices. You might consider fillet mignon served with red wine sauce and baked palmito or the salmon with a lemon sauce. The menu also has a range of seafood including grilled prawn and Valencia paellas, (with rice, squid, shrimp, chili, chicken and safflower). There is also an extensive range of wine available. Cost is R$80 per person. Rua Jorge Coelho, 160, Itaim Bibi. Phone (11) 3167-7819. Open Monday to Sunday for lunch and dinner.

 Mercearia do Alto Mercearia do Alto is located in the calm suburb of Alto da Boa Vista. Owned by the people that also have Mercearia São Roque and Mercearia do Jockey this location is a departure, with a large veranda and a peaceful garden. There are a number of plates available, including potato with salsichão, eggplant torte and various sandwiches. On Wednesday there is of course feijoada with: Carne Seca, Paio, Lingia Calabresa, Lingia Portuguesa e Costelinha accompanied by rice, banana, mandioca fries, torresmo and Batida de Limão. During the weekends oysters are available. Of course you can wash it all down with an ice cold chope or caipirinha. Address: Rua Irineu Marinho, 344 (Esquina com R. Elias Zazur), Alto da Boa Vista. Phone (11) 5687-8458. Open for lunch and dinner very day. Check the website http://www.merceariaSãoroque.com.br/alto_principal.php

Havana BrasilHavana Brasil is playing regular shows this month at the Bourbon Street Music Club, with lots of salsa, merengue, samba and ch-ch-ch. The group fuses Latin and Brazilian sounds. The play list includes some hits from the Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club including Chan Chan and El Cuarto de Tula, without forgetting classics of salsa e merengue, Oye como va and Guantanamera. There will also be music influenced by afro-Cuban and the Caribbean such as Tres Deseos, Lola and Echale Limon in the repertoire. The group will play its own original compositions Caf Brasil and Inadimplente.. When: Sunday nights at 9pm. Cost: R$18. Where: Bourbon Street Music Club, Rua dos Chans, 127 Moema. Phone: (11) 5095-6100. Check the website www.bourbonstreet.com.br

The InterpreterThe Interpreter is a drama/thriller. Nicole Kidman stars as African-born U.N. interpreter Silvia Broome, who inadvertently overhears a death treat against an African head of state scheduled to address the United Nation’s General Assembly. Realizing she’s becoming a target of the assassins as well, Silvia’s desperate to thwart the plot. if only she can survive long enough to get someone to believe her. Sean Penn is Tobin Keller, the federal agent charged with protecting the interpreter, who nonetheless suspects she may not be telling the whole truth. Silvia and Tobin, by nature, see life from different points of view: one, a U.N. interpreter, believes the power and sanctity of words; the other a Secret Service agent, believes in reading people based on their behavior, no matter what is said. Now showing in Brazil. Rated PG-13 for violence, some sexual content and brief strong language. Length 2hrs and 08 min.

Sampabiker'sSampabiker’s have organized another bike tour around São Paulo to celebrate May Day. Departing from Shopping Market Place at 9pm on the 1 May, 2005 500 cyclists plan to ride for approximately 50 kilometers (about 4 hours), passing some of the historical sites of São Paulo. Pablo de Tarso, the organizer of the event, said “the route this month commemorates a critical date of world-wide history”. For those interested in participating check the website www.sampabikers.com.br, and complete the entry form. Cost is from just R$10. Sampabiker’s also asks for cyclist to make a non-perishable food donation on the day.

See below for previous editions of What’s On in São Paulo
What’s On Guide, Apr 21 – Apr 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 6 – Apr 20, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 24 – Mar 30, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 17 – Mar 23, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 10 – Mar 16, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 3 – Mar 9, 2005

England’s Edward Catchpole lives in Recife with his wife and two-year-old son. He has some great information to share about the North-East of Brazil where there is a small gringo community. Read more for his stories about supermarket loyalty cards and Carnival in Olinda!

Tell us about yourself
My name is Edward Catchpole I am from Sussex, England. I am 31 years old and teach (British) English at the American School of Recife. I live in Boa Viagem with my Brazilian wife Sandra and our two-year-old son Patrick.

What brought you to Brazil?
I came to Brazil because I was very interested in its music, culture, people, language and nature. I got a contract to teach English and was placed in Recife.

What were your impressions of Brazil?
In retrospect I think I had a very romantic idea of Brazil before I came here. I thought it would be a big melting pot of happy, friendly, relaxed people who spent their time at the beach or dancing Samba.

Have these impressions changed?
They dance Forro in Recife not Samba.

What do you miss about home?
I miss my family and friends as well as British humour, Guinness, light summer evenings, curry, the seasons (except winter) and Christmas.

What was your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
When I arrived in Brazil I couldnt speak the language, my Portuguese (or lack of it) always caused a problem at the local supermarket. At this particular supermarket they have a loyalty card called Bomclube. Before they start putting your shopping through the checkout the cashiers always have to ask.

‘Voce tem Bomclube?
I had no idea what this meant. So whenever I was asked the question I would smile, give the thumbs up and nod vigorously. Seeing this the cashier would usually ask.

Voce tem ou não tem Bomclube!?
At this I would nod and smile even more vigorously. Then the cashier would call her manager.

What difference between your country and Brazil do you find most striking?
In my country if you go to the supermarket wearing a pair of Speedos you will be arrested.

What do you like most about Brazil?
Picanha completa, camarão, churrasco, capirosca, capirinha, Brahma, Antartica (bem gelada) pão de queijo, Guarana, carnaval in Olinda, live music, Rio de Janeiro, beach football, most of the people, trekking, trying to surf, MPB, sunshine, the history, the outdoors, the beaches in the North East (not necessarily in that order).

If you are married to a Brazilian what differences have you noticed?
That’s a whole new website.

What is your most memorable experience in Brazil?
The birth of my son.

What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Everything takes much longer here.

Tell us about Recife.
Recife is an interesting place to live. Carnival is probably the highlight with lots of events and concerts. The neighbouring city of Olinda hosts possibly the best street party in the world when hundreds of thousands of revellers party in the historic town for four days and nights. The atmosphere is fantastic with Frevo bands marching up and down. Its completely free – just make sure you wear a costume.

Recife has several shopping centres, loads of restaurants, lots of nightlife including three `pubs` and of course beaches. I think that life here is a lot more relaxed than in Rio or São Paulo and the cost of living a lot lower.

It has its problems, it is scruffy and sometimes dangerous. But when you get fed up there is a multitude of beaches and resorts to explore just outside the city.

There are a growing number of gringos living in the North East of Brazil as more and more Europeans are buying holiday property here and several large multinationals have moved operations to the area.

We have a small group of expats who meet socially, organise events and excursions. I would like to get in contact with any gringos living in the area who are interested in joining us. Edward Catchpole can be contacted at: edcatchpole@yahoo.co.uk

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

Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

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

By Kyle Hedlund
Brazil is renowned for its music, but I am not renowned for my taste. Discovering the sounds of this country thus posed a bit of a problem. What’s a person to do when he has no idea where to begin? If you like your music smooth and rhythmic, I have two suggestions: Putumayo’s Brasileiro collection and the Woman on Top movie soundtrack.

The Putumayo World Music organization puts out a wide range of themed musical compilations. I listened to a few at a local bookstore and ended up being impressed enough to buy Brasileiro. The first track, all-important for capturing the casual music-station listener’s interest, Silvia Torres’ Take Sarava, pulled me in with its pulsing beat. Torres is not a household name in Brazil, but many of her co-stars on Brasileiro are. Chico Buarque, Clara Nunes (who my friend says died from bad liposuction), Jorge Ben Jor, and Beth Carvalho are all well known in Brazil and abroad. This CD is a good introduction to them, yet it is does not dwell on the mainstream. It covers ground from old standards to more recent offerings, and styles from old bossa nova to newer MPB. And they save the best for last with my personal favourite, Geraldo Azevedo’s Bereker.

Bereker also appears on the soundtrack for the silly but cute Penelope Cruz movie, Woman on Top. The bossa nova here is more laid back than the tunes on the Putumayo production, but it still gets your feet tapping and your hips swaying in that infectious Brazilian way. The well-known Paulinho Moska sings almost half of the tracks, including the lissom A Flor e o Espino. Woman on Top wouldn’t be out of place in the background of your romantic candle-lit dinner. Just make sure you don’t serve feijoada.

By Kyle Hedlund
If you ever want to start a fight with a Brazilian, mention the Wright brothers’ pioneering aeronautical exploits of 1903. Everybody knows Orville and Wilbur invented the airplane, right? Perhaps not. The guy who gave his name to the airport in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Alberto Santos Dumont, is thought by most people in this country to be the legitimate owner of the first to fly” moniker. The reason the rest of the world doesn’t know about it is the American propaganda machine. You conspiracy theorists out there might want to get out a pen and take some notes…

So who was Santos Dumont? He was a wealthy Brazilian inventor with a passion for flying. He worked mostly with lighter-than-air machines (balloons and blimps) before pursuing the much more challenging heavier-than-air, self-propelled planes that we take for granted nowadays. In October of 1906 in France, he got a contraption to propel itself off the ground, landing about 60 meters from where he began. On November 12 of that same year, he won a prize for setting the first aviation record in the world, flying more than 200 meters with witnesses from the Aero-Club of France in attendance. This was credited at the time (and some would say still) with being the first mechanical flight in the world.

But I know what you brainwashed Americans in the audience are thinking: Orville and Wilbur Wright flew three entire years earlier in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Well here’s where the controversy comes to a head. According to the pro-Santos Dumont camp, the secrecy of the Wrights makes it impossible to prove their claims, and there is circumstantial evidence working against them. There are no records other than eyewitness accounts for their exploits, and back in the 1950’s the New York Times produced an eyewitness who says the Wrights merely glided after getting off the ground courtesy of a hill and a big ramp. Hmm. The brothers were so secretive, allegedly due to concerns about patents, that they didn’t even film their inventions in action until 1908. Apparently they didn’t want anybody copying their design. Santos Dumont and his supporters openly wondered at the time why the Wrights did not try for the 500,000 French franc prize at the 1904 St.Louis world’s fair if they were, in fact, able to get airborne. After all, St.Louis is not far from their home base of Dayton, Ohio, where they were conducting many of their tests. If you think the brothers were not after the money, then why did they actively pursue similar prizes in the ensuing years? In 1907 the Wrights did not try to compete for the Scientific American trophy and prize money because they were unable to get their plane off the ground under its own means. In 2002, a North American named Ken Hyde, who is an expert builder of replicas of the first Wright Flyer, in an interview with the News Observer of North Carolina, stated that “we know how to put a man on the moon, but we have not been successful in flying a true Wright airplane” (C. Clabby, Dec.15, 2002).

This all sounds pretty convincing, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is one argument that will likely never be won (fisticuffs aside). Wright supporters have rebuttals for every Santos Dumont argument, and they have the upper hand in the history books. At least outside Brazil.

One final note about Brazil’s (or the world’s) first aviator, upon seeing airplanes used in World War I, Santos Dumont committed suicide, distraught over the direction his ideas were taken.

To read more about the controversy, check out the sources from which I gleaned much of my information. The first is from a Brazilian in the pro Santos Dumont camp, the second is from the Wright Brothers Airplane Company web-site, and the third seems relatively neutral.

http://www.first-to-fly.com/History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Santos-Dumont

By Lance Belville
The San Francisco International Film Festival kicked off its two-week run here tonight (Thur. 21 April) which will see 185 films shown from 49 countries. The Brazilian and Latin American film industries are strongly represented with three films from Brazil, nine from Argentina. Other Latin American entrants include Cuba (three films), Mexico and Peru (two each), and one film each from Ecuador and Guyana.

The Latin language line-up also includes Portuguese and Spanish language films from Angola and Spain.

The first of the three Brazilian films will come into the festival Sunday with a showing of the powerful Brazilian documentary NELSON FREIRE, a moving portrait of the Brazilian pianist virtuoso’s life and art directed by João Moreira Salles. The film has been seen on Brazilian television.

Later in the run will see screening of ALMOST BROTHERS (Brazilian title, QUASE DOIS IRMES) directed by Lcia Murat. And Fernando Roberto Moreira’s UP AGAINST THEM ALL (Brazilian title, CONTRA TODOS).

The SFIFF, in its 48th Year, has a long history of featuring Latin American films. For most San Franciscans, this festival is their only opportunity to see such films. films from Brazil or Latin America are few and far between in the dark of American cinemas. But in recent years two Brazilian films have made it big in general release in the United States: Fernando Meirelles’ CITY OF GOD and Walter Salles’ MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, which was actually Brazilian and Mexican film artists using American money.

The Mexican cinema scored hits here recently with two films: THE CRIME OF PADRE AMARO and Y TU MAMA TAMBIN. Outside of that foursome, the ranks of Latin language films seen on U.S. are thin as 35mm film itself.

The situation has everything to do with business and little to do with quality, according to SFIFF Director of Programming Linda Blackaby. Some of the most creative and inventive filmmaking going on in the world today in happening in Latin America. But European films have an easier time making it into the American market because the European industry is better setup. We see our job here as leveling the cultural playing field.” The SFIFF does that by pushing Brazilian and Latin American films year after year.

Whatever difficulties Brazilian films have in capturing a place in the American entertainment marketplace, they are heavy world film festival players. Said Blackaby, “I see Brazilian films at festivals everywhere around the world. The Brazilian film industry is very visible. People pay attention. The Brazilians must be putting money into the drive into the commercial markets.”

Besides having a keeping a keen eye on Latin American cinema, the SFIFF has an eye on innovation as well. Besides the main-line films playing at four locations in San Francisco, across-the-Bay Berkeley and in nearby Palo Alto, there are late night Midnight Madness screenings for the dedicated cinemaniacs featuring plenty of slashes and crashes.

For stay-at-home film buffs this year features a video–on-demand (VOD) service delivering festival films into San Francisco living rooms via the internet.

There is a “Sneak Peaks” series on three weekend mornings where those addicted to, in the words of festival literature, “the holiday grab bag, mystery record packs and blind dates,” can take their chances on unannounced films allegedly about to go into general theatrical release.

Perhaps inadvertently, the SFIFF has something for the legions of homeless people who circulate after dark around Union Square, San Francisco’s action-packed concrete park in the heart of the downtown area. There, from 8 P.M. to midnight, a 220 square ft. outdoor video screen shows festival film trailers and “special highlights,” to anybody sober enough on the Square at that hour to focus on the screen through the haze of smouldering pot.

The serious prize-awarding comes at the end of the festival. The major two awards concentrate on recognizing emerging directorial talent from around the globe. The SKYY Prize (named for a locally brewed vodka–No samples appearing at the press hospitality room, however!) a debut international filmmaker. 11 films representing 14 countries–several co-production, obviously– are competing. They include one Argentine and one Mexican film. No Brazilian films is eligible.

The International Federation of Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI)has its critical eyes cast toward emerging talent as well. The FIPRESCI goes to a first OR second feature. The panel of jurors includes Jornal do Brasil film critic, MARCELO JANOT.

The oldest of the awards at the SFIFF, with it since the beginning in l957, are the Golden Gate Awards which honor innovation in documentary, animation, shorts, experimental television and works by youth.

While none of the Brazilian films here will be in competition for the awards, a warm reception from the public and some good reviews in the local and national press could open the arms of American film distributors. It could happened in this town that calls itself the “City By The Bay” and could be a sister to Rio de Janeiro in topography and philosophy. Fans of Brazilian cinema here–homesick Brazilian “expats” and nostalgic American “repats” hope it will happen.

This is the first in a series of exclusive articles and interviews for www.gringoes.com direct from the São Francisco International Film Festival. Lance Belville is a nine-year veteran of reporting from Brazil for UPI and ABC and has since become a playwright and screenwriter living in the San Francisco area. He refers to himself as a ‘repat.’

This week’s entertainment guide features a burger joint in Moema, a bar-cum-dance club in Itaim, the samba group Fundo de Quintal playing at the Olypia (this weekend), the latest movie release ‘Be Cool’ starring John Travolta and a four-hour city tour of São Paulo.

ApplebeeIf you’re in the mood for a good old burger and a beer, Applebee’s in Moema is worth a try. The menu is distinctly North American, in the sense that you’ll find Oriental salads next to Tex-Mex appies and Brazilian dishes. Appleby’s is representative of a popular niche in drinking/dining that has spread (like an epidemic, anti-corporation types might say) to major cities worldwide. Think Hard Rock Cafe without the hype. They’ve got happy hour drinks and draughts, as well as wings that come highly recommended by homesick Yankees. Appleby’s aims to serve a wide variety of customers, with a children’s play area and even a business meeting space. Address: Alameda dos Arapans, 508, Moema. Phone: (11) 5051-1946. Open Monday to Thursday, noon to midnight; Friday and Saturday noon to 1am. Valet service.

Ebanobano is one of those places that couldn’t make up its mind whether to be a bar or a dance club, so it became both. Fridays and Saturdays you can choose whether to accompany your drinks and appies with MPB sounds or just groove downstairs to the best of disco house with DJ David Pires. The two independent spaces do not interfere with each other noise-wise. Chef Pedro Paulo gives you plenty to do between sips with his menu of contemporary food and bar snacks. My source recommends the garlic & oil shrimp with peppermint jam. According to the owners, bano is for a more mature public that wants more than just a dining experience. Oooh. Address: Avenida Hlio Pellegrino, 531, Vila Olmpia. Phone: (11) 3842-4445. Tuesday through Friday from 6pm; Saturday and Sunday lunch from noon; Friday and Saturday dance floor from 10pm. The cover charge of R$30 (women) or R$70 (men) is discounted from your food and drink bill.

Fundo de QuintalThe ‘saudosos’, who feel saudade/nostalgia for Beth Carvalho’s Sierra Maestra os Samba, are due to be happy again. Fundo de Quintal (the back of the yard) follows the traditional ‘rodas de sambas’ style in their concert presentations, with members sitting in a informal circle to play and sing. Each show sets up as a kind of reunion with a lot of ‘ batuque’ (drumming). The group was created in 1976, with their first disc recorded 4 years later. They are quite popular in Japan, USA, and Africa, but you get the chance to see them perform here at the Olympia, Rua Cllia, 1517, Lapa. Dates: Friday, April 22 and Sat, Apr.23 at 10:30pm. Tickets: R$30-60 at the box office (Mon-Sun 10:00-2200). Website: www.olympia.com.br

Be CoolIf you’ve been holding your breath for a sequel to the popular John Travolta hit, Get Shorty, you can finally breathe again. Chili Palmer is back, this time taking on the music industry in F. Gary Gray’s Be Cool. The list of story ingredients includes the Russian mafia, Gangsta rappers, Aerosmith, and references to earlier Travolta hits like Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever. More evidence from Hollywood that guns and mafia hit men are cool. Just released in Brazil April 15. Rated 14 years and runs a shade under two hours.

City TourTo get to know the history of this great big urban jungle-its buildings, streets, monuments, and more-it’s worth taking the City Tour: São Paulo 450 years. It’s the first regular city tour and takes 4 hours to take you around 23 attractions, including the Monument of Bandeiras, Avenida Paulista, and much more. You can become enlightened in Portuguese, English, or Spanish with professional guides. The meeting/departure point for the 27-passenger micro bus is the Mercure Hotel on Praa da Repblica, Rua Arajo, 141, Centro. Wednesday to Friday from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Reservations: (11) 6121-7795 or (11) 6128-6763. R$40,00 (adults); R$25,00 (children 5 to 12 years old).

See below for previous editions of What’s On in São Paulo

What’s On Guide, Apr 6 – Apr 20, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 24 – Mar 30, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 17 – Mar 23, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 10 – Mar 16, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 3 – Mar 9, 2005
What’s On Guide, Feb 24 – Mar 2, 2005
What’s On Guide, Feb 17 – Feb 23, 2005

The American Society of São Paulo together with Os Amigos do Bem are organizing a fashion show, with Bingo and Breakfast, next month at the new Villa Noah Embratel. The show will benefit Lar Girassol and Assoc. Travessia, and will feature the winter collection from Cheetah, a store of fine sport and evening wear. Local and international designers will include Gloria Coelho, Renato Loureiro, UMA, George Kaufman, Miriam Giuliani, Maria Garcia e Spezzato. The music will be provided by renowned DJ Slvio Calmon who recently was responsible for the sound at Luciano Huck’s wedding.
Several items will be available for purchase on the spot with a 10% discount. Cheetah will donate part of the day’s revenue to both charities. There will also be a fabulous door prize.
Part of the money raised will go to sponsor various activities of the 50 children at Lar Girassol. The programs consist of 2X weekly psychological support for 20 children, capoeira classes, educational and cultural field trips, parties and crafts. The other part will be used for scholarships for underprivileged children at Associaão Travessia. This school specializes in children with learning and neuro-psycho-moto” disabilities.
The cost of R$70 will include a delicious breakfast, one bingo sheet and lovely fashion show. To purchase tickets please call Sonya or Fabiola at 3032-3515 or e-mail abrams@uol.com.br.

When: Tuesday, May 24 from 9.00 am
Where: Rua Castro Verde 266, Chcara Santo Antonio

I like to think of Cachaa as the new ‘Girl from Ipanema’: smooth, seductive and ready to win American hearts like the rhythms of Bossa Nova did 40 years before,” says Olie Berlic, Principal of Excalibur Enterprise, a new importer that introduces North America to the finest Cachaas of Brazil. As João Gilberto is the Godfather of Bossa Nova music, Olie Berlic is the Capo di tutti capi of Cachaa, delivering to the United States the greatest Brazilian export since the 1960s. Berlic, who has the passion of an adventurer and the palette and professional experience of a sommelier, acted as a master Cachaa distiller, and spent three years of intense research that included comparisons of over 800 different Cachaas. According to The New York Times (Dec. 24, 2004) there are over 5,000 Cachaa brands in Brazil.

This pure South American spirit is the main ingredient in Brazil’s national concoction, the Caipirinha (crushed lime, sugar, and Cachaa). This drink has appeared on top cocktail lists from Berlin to Tokyo. While the Caipirinha craze took hold in Europe about 10 years ago, Cachaa is just beginning to make its mark among U.S. tastemakers, according to Berlic. As Cachaa rapidly duplicates the rise and popularity of premium tequila in the United States, it also brings to mind Brazilian scenery and culture, which has been making a major international impact in recent years, as evident in the silver screen success of City of God. As stylish as Brazilian stunner Gisele Bndchen on the catwalk, and as eclectic as the Brazilian fashion scion Alexandre Herchcovitch, Cachaa is Carnaval a glass. It is as clean and pristine as the architecture designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the nation’s capital city Brasilia and as functional as a high-end chair designed by the Campana Brothers. Cachaa compliments any occasion with Brazilian spirit and Excalibur Enterprise has its finger on the pulse of the best-of-the-best, ready to hit the spot!

Ushering in outstanding liquor for the adventurous imbiber, Excalibur Enterprise heralds the arrival of the first line of super-premium Cachaas outside of Brazil. The portfolio, which includes Berlic’s own creation of a handcrafted, superior quality un-aged Cachaa as well as six artisan, aged Cachaas from small producers, is comparable in quality to that of the finest tequilas, aged rums, or single malt Scotches.

Excalibur Enterprise’s boutique Cachaas are aged, small-batch, artisan Cachaas from three of the country’s most celebrated producers that stack up against the premium spirits currently on the market in terms of flavor, nuance, and character. Beleza Pura, the signature, un-aged, premium Cachaa, invokes the refinement and generosity of spirit that is Brazil.

The GRM from Minas Gerais-Brazil’s best-known Cachaa region-starts with hand-harvested sugarcane grown without agricultural toxins on GRM’s farm. Finished in small batches and distilled in an alembic (copper still pot), GRM “is vibrant with cinnamon, spice flavors and a hint of coconut, recalling characteristics of aged tequila.
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Jetting off to the southern island of Florianopolis the avid Cachaa gourmand will find Armazem Viera Cachaa, where over 160 years of tradition are instilled in every batch. Composed of a triad of Cachaas -the Onix, Solera (aged 16 years) the Rubi, Solera (aged eight years) and the Esmeralda, Solera (aged four years), this collection shares the qualities of top light rum blended with fine tequila. Rochinha Cachaa, available in both five and 12 year old varieties, has been distilled in the romantic valleys outside of Rio de Janeiro since 1902. Single barrel Cachaas of the highest caliber, the Rochinhas are reminiscent of a stellar, single-malt Scotch.

Often compared to rum-which uses molasses, a by-product of sugar refineries-Cachaa is similar only in that both are made from the heart of the sugar cane plant. Cachaa uses fresh sugar cane juice to ferment and distill the libation. It is this difference that speaks volumes for the subtleties of this inimitable liquor.

A perfect pairing with food from around the world-e.g. Brazilian, American, Latin, Asian, and French-Excalibur Enterprise’s Cachaa is available in noted restaurants such as Brasserio Caviar & Banana, SushiSAMBA, and Gotham Bar and Grill. And when the music calls you away from your table, BLVD and Aer will transport you to a tropical state of mind with one of the many luscious cocktails made with Excalibur Enterprise’s Cachaa.

Cocktails created with the Beleza Pura Super Premium Cachaa include the São Paulo Cosmo in which the pure, crisp flavor of Cachaa blends with the orange zest of Cointreau, the tart tang of fresh lime juice and the invigorating harmony of pomegranate juice. The Zoom Zoom Brazil-with Red Bull and Beleza Pura-will make any time zip by to the syncopated rhythm of Brazil. The RIO Margarita brings together the heat of two time zones-Rochinha five-year “Single Barrel” dances with Cointreau and lime juice in perfect harmony.

Incredibly versatile, Excalibur Enterprise’s Cachaas encapsulate the warmth of Brazil, the pizzazz of a sultry samba dance and the elegance of evening soires on its undulating beaches. A noted New York sommelier, Berlic was formerly with The New York Times three-star Gotham Bar and Grill, and points out, “Cachaa is a state of mind-it is for the lover of life.” Indeed, Berlic and his charming wife, Marcia-a native of São Paulo-embody that very philosophy. “Brazilians are very proud of our Cachaa. It’s an important part of our culture, like soccer and carnaval,” says Marcia. Berlic’s frequent travels to Brazil-which have made him quite knowledgeable in the Portuguese language-were driven by his quest to discover and share Brazil’s adventurous spirit.

The Cachaa market is dominated by commercially produced spirits known as aguardente (literally, fiery water) where volume and not quality are the main concerns. Berlic skipped the major brands and soon he and his wife started visiting small distilleries throughout Brazil to find spirits worthy of the finest palates. Berlic was entranced by the quality and nuance of the Cachaa that he encountered. He became sure that there was a place for this spirit on the top shelves in the U.S. “I want to make Cachaa a household name-from the Midwest to the Hamptons to Aspen. The best of Brazil stacks up against the finest spirits from around the world,” says Berlic.

Of the highest caliber, Excalibur Enterprise Cachaas usher in the birth of a new spirit with amazing offerings for those who know that the best things in life are shared-music, sun, and memories. This exceptional portfolio is targeted for the lifestyles of those who love all three.

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For more information on the Excalibur Enterprises or fine quality Cachaas- please contact
KB Network News 212-777-2455 or kbnn@kbnetworknews.com

This week Dear Gringo replies to another lonely heart plea for help. An attractive young flight attendant comes to Rio on a regular basis but is finding it hard to make new friends. Dr G gives some suggestions on how to break the ice and build up solid friendships…

Dear Gringo,
I find myself in a career which most would envy. I am a Flight Attendant, therefore I travel for a living and have found for the past two years Brasil to be the home” I had in another lifetime.
In past I have studied Portuguese and have recently begun my studies again, which is marvellous. I love the language, the people, the culture. I love it all! So, why the stress? Well, I am at a loss of where to go to meet Brazilians as I would love to make new friends and maybe even find a “boyfriend”.
I am in Rio once a week. I love the beach, the cafes and such, but just seem to not be meeting people. Yes, I am friendly. Did I mention I tend to “blend” in, (both) in looks and of the Portuguese that I do speak (plus or minus the dialect) I blend in that way too.
Any suggestions? The lone Comissria de Bordo, Yasmina
PS Love your site!

Dear LCB

Thousands of male readers are presently drooling on their keyboards due to stereotyped images of friendly flight attendants looking for fun in Rio. Had you included a phone number with your letter, your lines would now be burning.

My sense of your quandary is that you perhaps blend in a little too much to attract the attention you seek. If you looked a little misplaced, you would immediately cause others to take notice (though perhaps in a negative as well as positive way). Being foreign and having the kind of job that many people romanticize should make you a bit of a magnet. But lets not dwell on problems when solutions are so readily available.

How do you meet friends? Your first step is to peruse the Dear Gringo archives for the tips we gave “Pining in Pinheiros.” As we have not heard back from that lonely heart, we assume he has followed our advice and hooked up with an exciting crowd. If the wisdom of my slightly greener days doesn’t help, get a close friend or family member to help with a sniff test (do you wear deodorant? brush and floss? bathe?). I don’t imagine looks are a problem, as you seem friendly and positive. These two attributes contribute more to attractiveness than all the makeup and liposuction in the world.

With your transitory existence, being in town just once a week, it can be a little more difficult to accumulate a steady crew of companions. Most of us meet friends through work, school, and mutual acquaintances, and all three of these avenues are geographically limited in your situation. The Internet has become to modern society what the matchmaker was for more traditional generations. You can find plenty of dating and befriending sites online that could introduce you to the friend-seekers of Rio. If the creep-and-stalker quotient in cyber-mating gets your heart pumping to the wrong beat, keep hitting the cafes and beaches. While you’re there, try the could-you-help-me approach to breaking ice. Ask that friendly-looking couple at the next table if they can save your seat while you visit the ladies’ room, or get Mr. Speedo to watch your towel while you go for a quick dip. These tricks won’t work every time (especially if Ms. Fio Dental is the jealous type), but they get the conversation started in a non-threatening way. Other sneaky door openers include simple questions about where to go for the best chopp or how to say something in Portuguese (“Excuse me, what’s the word for ‘available’ in your language?”).

There is no magic to the ritual. Stay positive and receptive, without emitting signs of desperation, and soon you’ll be able to write one of those relationship-trouble letters the readers of this column love…

Dr G

To read previous letters to Dear Gringo click below:
Jealousy
Stalked
Squashed
Humour
Marriage
No Falo Portuguese
Paulista Princess
Amazon Woman
Pining in Pinheiros

If you have any unanswered questions that would benefit from the wisdom of Dear Gringo please forward them to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with ‘Dear Gringo’ in the subject line.