By Michael Jacobs
I’m not writing this article just to promote the wonderful pun in the title, but I readily admit that I could have. My story concerns an apparently banal fact: The noise made by barking dogs in my neighborhood is driving me round the bend. So really, this is just a personal desabafo, and I believe it’s healthier to get things off my chest (which is how we say desabafar in English) by writing about them, than by taking any extreme measures.
Just to put you in the picture, I live in a house in a relatively nice middle-class suburb of São Paulo, Brooklin, but there are times when I can’t believe I’m not in the middle of a favela, (pronounced as is read; /fa-ve-la/, but a word which has a smoother flow to it than slum, shack or shanty town). Luckily, while never having had the experience of actually living in a favela, I don’t know if my feeling has anything to do with favela life as such, but my imagination tells me it could be the case.

The fact is I’m surrounded on every side by dogs barking at all times of the day and night. Three together at one house on the corner just three houses away from mine, two of them (both high-pitched yappers) of indeterminate breeds – which is a nice way of saying mongrels – plus a pit bull terrier (a deeper bass-like bark). As their abode is on a corner, I get the barking reverberations in my house both from the front and the back, a sort of stereo effect.

And a very strange coincidence is that the previous occupants, a German couple, also had three very noisy dogs – or Hunde I should perhaps call them. The only difference being a change in nomenclature from Hunde to cachorros as far as I can see. Well, the Germans moved out, much to my relief, but then, lo and behold, a month later, three other dogs came to take their place. Clones apparently.

Then we have, somewhere at the back of my house, a large-sounding hound which never stops barking – nor sleeps apparently. I can hear the echoes of the barks from its back yard, which then travel up, over the walls and then on into every room in my house. To the side, other dogs can often be heard, although seldom seen, and over the road, sundry others help to make up this canine choir. The barking continues on all sides, only decreasing in volume as a square of the distance, or something like that – a concept dimly remembered from physics – until the barking fades into the distance.

When they are all going at it at once, the decibel level of the cacophony, best described as a canine symphony perhaps, can even drown out the sound of the low-flying helicopters on their way to and from the TV Globo studios just down the road a bit. That can give you an idea of the racket. Needless to say this din also includes motorcycles blasting by, normally the smaller models with the noisiest open exhausts, cars – either with radios blaring or tires squealing – or neighbors having a quarrel, or fun. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
On the nearly-plus side of things I am dogged (sorry about that) by a next-door neighbor to the right who doesn’t have a dog. But he and his wife make up for that by advising their respective arrivals to the housemaid by blasting bum-bum-bumbum-bum – bum – bum, his car horn, and tooting bip-bip bipbip-bip – bip-bip, hers. The unexpected sound of a blaring buzina often causes me to jump out of my skin, as it sounds as if it were in my front room.
Of course it probably would work out to be more expensive if they were to install an automatic gate, but that’s their makeshift solution to avoid getting out of the car each time they arrive home, which seems to be about six times a day on average, and walking all of the two meters which separate them from the front gate. Talk about energy conservation.
And then, until quite recently, right next door, to the left, there was a golden cocker spaniel, a breed not known for its constraint when it comes to barking. And bark it did, all the time, even after being told a thousand times by its owners to Fique quieto (be quiet; shut up, shut your yap)!

It got to the point that the neighbors` yelling became more irksome than the mutt itself, if that’s at all possible. The dog of course didn’t take a blind bit of notice. I think it was probably sending a not-too-subtle message, something like Take me for a walk or I’ll bark enough to drive you crazy”. At least that was the message I got. The neighbors, though, obviously didn’t. This chapter has a bit of a sad ending. The poor thing died, of natural causes, due to old age. What a pity.

For you Brazilians who think that sentiment a tad strange coming from someone who is so obviously not a great fan of dogs, let me tell you that I’m using “What a pity” in what we call a “tongue-in-cheek” manner. If you didn’t know the expression, or had seen it but didn’t quite get it, now you do.

Well, when the noise rises to a crescendo, peaking several times a day, and quite often at night too, I have to admit that the thought of feeding these animals some large and juicy pieces of liver with ground glass or rat poison tucked away inside becomes as extremely tempting to me as it would be appetizing to them.

But then I stop to think a little less emotionally and have to draw the line. While no great pet or animal lover personally, I realize that it’s not the animals themselves who are to blame, but of course the – here you may choose your own expletive; all mine are unpublishable – owners. Having dogs around the house that rarely if ever get the exercise they sorely and surely need can only bring on this type of neurotic doggy behavior.

My questioning goes deeper than that when I ask myself “Why do these people have dogs at all?” An easy answer to that is to protect their property from intruders. But that reasoning seems to me to fall a little flat, if not apart, when the animal or animals are barking constantly. How can the owner distinguish between a housebreaker or a burglar (for those who don’t know the difference, a housebreaker breaks into your house during the day and a burglar under cover of the night. It doesn’t make much difference to the dogs however), a passing pedestrian, a falling leaf perhaps or, worst-case scenario, another dog inadvertently just strolling by the front gate minding its own business, nose in the air and tail raised in disdainful and haughty aplomb. Or even the very worst-case scenario: Three stuck-up poodles being given the exercise they’re due, stopping right in front of one of the rat-.sorry, dog-infested houses to cock their legs, or squat, for a pee.

Do these pet owners call themselves animal lovers? Probably. But I would think that if they love their pets the least they could or should do is ensure that they get enough healthy exercise and, not incidentally, work off some of that excess energy, available, I can only presume by default, for barking.

Another question I ask myself is; if someone is normally present in the house (and they are) why doesn’t the noise bother them too? Not to mention the row from other neighbors` dogs? Do they get some kind of perverted sense of security, or even kicks, from all the barking, imagining that Fido or Rover is looking out for their best interests? What type of psychological reasoning lies behind the laissez-faire attitude? (I rather like this allusion in French, because my history teacher at school in England always translated that expression to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. I for one, certainly wish they would). Or are they possibly all deaf (the owners I mean, not the dogs)? Whatever, obviously none of them cares a damn about how their neighbors feel or suffer – nor do they care much, I would say, about their dogs.

Which brings me to the point I want to make. The concept, admittedly sometimes taken to extremes in countries like the USA and Great Britain, where “Your rights end where mine begin”, is totally lacking here in Brooklin. The prevailing idea seeming to be that “I (or my dogs) can make as much noise as I (or we) like. That’s our business. But don’t you dare bother or upset me!”

I freely admit that this is one aspect of life in Brazil, which puzzles me no end (to put it mildly). Of course it’s not a country known for general peace and quiet, and while that does take some getting used to, get used to it we foreigners do, or seem to, most of the time.
I remember quite a few years back a couple of fair Canadian lasses who had come here to check out the country a little and earn some pocket money on the side by “teaching” English, asking me “Michael, why do Brazilians always have their TVs on so loud?”

I told them that when someone is talking while someone else is watching TV it’s only natural that the person watching TV obviously wants to, apart from seeing, hear what’s on, so will crank up the volume accordingly. That then distracts the conversationalists who raise their volume too, and then…well, you get the idea.

I often wonder if I’m the only local resident to feel miffed with all the canine uproar going on nonstop. Being the sole gringo on my block, can it be that only my sensibilities are under attack?

I once approached a neighbor who lived even closer than I did to a particularly noisy beast, saying to him something like “Hey, let’s get together and talk to our neighbor about her dog”. The reaction? He changed the subject, giving me the impression that he’d never heard an animal that must drown out conversation in his own home.

Oh well, I suppose I’m just a grumpy gringo, but it is for me at least, one of the least understood phenomena about living in Brazil. The right to assert oneself on these matters just doesn’t seem to exist. I’m writing this with typical British phlegm at the moment, and it is a quiet moment when, if I stop and listen, I can count only about five dogs having a go, but have to admit that my habitual calmness tends to disappear in the wee hours on being woken by one or, as is normally the case, several, of man’s best friends. Not only woken, but kept awake lying there in a stew with dark deeds churning through my mind.

When I read in the papers of some animal hater going berserk and killing some or even all of the animals in his and surrounding streets, I feel pity for the owners.

Well, to tell the truth, not perhaps the owners so much as their kids, but must admit to a twinge of sympathy for this serial dog killer on the loose, seeking justice with his own hands, gun, poisoned tidbits, or whatever.

Solutions? I don’t know, honestly. I once went to our local delegacia (police station, precinct) seeking guidance, only to be told that the best thing to do would be to talk to the offending neighbor (just two houses down this time), which I did, albeit with some trepidation, notwithstanding the fact of having police backing and approval (but no protection). Not only did she complain about a noisy party I had thrown once, many, many years back, she never spoke to me again for all the time she lived here (which was a great pity, because she was definitely the foxiest lady on the block, if not in the whole of Brooklin), until finally moving out about six months afterwards.

Need I mention that, for those whole six months, her barking, whining, howling, yapping dog, a beautiful collie which, by the way, I saw for the first time the day she pulled up roots (to enormous sighs of relief, silent applause and, obviously, smatterings of regret. Regret? Yes. Remember, she was no dog), never once let up on its ceaseless barking? Neurotic dog, or neurotic owner? Or, perhaps some would even say, neurotic gringo?

PS After finishing the story I received my Veja magazine with its supplement Veja São Paulo (Vejinha), with the then timely front-cover headline “Invasão Canina”. (Canine Invasion). The article dealt with the number of dogs estimated to be in São Paulo. “half of the three million homes have dogs”, that’s (let me get my calculator out. Hum, mumble, mumble. Yes, I have the answer) a million and a half pests (sorry again. I meant pets. Or did I?) all told. The article went on to mention that “sometimes the dogs are so badly behaved that they need to visit a psychologist”. Well.yes. But just the dogs?

“My pet peeve” was published in New Routes magazine, an excellent quarterly publication sent out to English teachers and students by the kind people at Disal, one of Brazil and Latin America’s largest distributors of teaching materials. The reading public I had in mind was English language students and teachers.

I got a lot of flack from readers after its publication but thank God the majority was in favor of it and full of complimentary comments praising my chutzpah for touching on such a thorny issue. Thorny that is, for a foreigner to bring up, which is why the criticism was leveled at me, and not because of anything inherently wrong with my point of view. While I do love this country, not everything is perfect, and you’ll see why this is one of my chief beefs.
I think it’s a crying shame to be criticized just for being a foreigner and voicing an opinion in such a democratic country, but could it be that freedom of speech is still too fresh a concept to some who perhaps don’t remember the dark days of the military dictatorship, being – who knows? – much too young or ignorant of the facts.

Some of the more virulent mail concerned the British and their famed appreciation as doting animal lovers while at the same time questioning their practice of fox hunting.not to mention Tony Blair. I couldn’t see why or how he crept into the criticism. As you can imagine conflicting opinions and even realities emerged, which I think is all very healthy. And it didn’t affect me at all; I only needed three days in bed and was then ready to get back to the keyboard.

Readers Comments:

I think this article was great. This is one of my biggest pet peeves about living in Brazil. I still live in the US but my husband (who is Brazilian) and I are thinking about moving to Brazil and this is one of my big issues. It is sooo noisey!!! I really don’t know if I could get used to it. Thanks for writing about this issue – I often wondered if it bothers anyone else because no one else mentions it.
— Marion DaSilva

I EMAPATHIZE! I am a humane educator which means that I attempt to foster compassion for people, the planet and animals. I strive to find solutions when I hear of a problem. I have had the same problem in my neighborhood in California living amongst people who have a completely different view of how dogs are to be treated. Apparently, this coupled with the fact that they seem to not be bothered by the barking, makes for some pretty sleep deprived nights and sadness for the dogs.

My first question to you would be this – do the dogs who are barking live their lives outside by themselves? If this is true, then therein lies the problem. Please let me know if you would like for me to forward some solution-oriented material that you can then pass along to your neighbors. The dogs are trying to tell us something and we need to listen!

Hope you have a restful night’s sleep!
–Doriane Lucia

How very appropriate was the article “My pet peeve” I seems to me that all Brazilians are deaf to the sound of dogs barking I have casually mentioned the problem to people in passing to be met with totally blank looks and the crazy gringo shrug
–Peter Gallagher

Brazilians are an isolated culture because they are irreparably isolated by their language. Its lack of use by others, its lack of authority by a designated group, and its lack of consistency from city to city. It should be no surprise that communication is one of their weakest talents. Couple that with a newly found sense of liberty and add a dash of having no idea what liberty and personal freedom really means, and you have the disorderly community that cries out for guidance… but refuses to listen.
–Lee Himelfarb “

By Mark Taylor
This article covers scams that have been experienced here in Brazil, with the primary purpose of making people aware so they don’t fall for the same trap.

The first scam is carried out on job hunters, of which there can be quite a few gringos. Often this happens once registered with an employment agency. Typically the job hunter will receive a call about a too good to be true job with good salary, although the other details are vague. The caller will say they are from a job agency, and that you must attend an interview with them to discuss further. They will persist, even finding a colleague to speak English if necessary.

When you attend the interview at their office they will perhaps again show you a too good to be true salary scribbled on a bit of paper and yet again be equally vague about the other details of the job. They then drop in to the conversation that to be considered for the job you must complete a test, and the charge for the test is say R$100. Of course the test is just routine etc.

Of course the scam is that the job is fictional, and they are making money simply from getting a number of candidates to do their test.

The second scam relates to apartment renting. A foreigner arrives and looks for an apartment. They see an ad in the newspaper and reply. They meet the real estate agent in an office and go along to see the apartment. They like it and decide to rent. As they don’t have a guarantor they pay a three month deposit in cash, get a receipt and rental agreement.

They move into the apartment and the next morning are awoken by loud knocking on the door. It’s the owner of the apartment asking them what they are doing there. They show the contract and try to explain in poor Portuguese. The owner says they don’t know anything about the contract and that the realtor was an imposter. The tenant goes back to the office where he met the realtor but they are no longer there. It was a virtual office which can be rented out by the hour.

If you have been caught by a scam, or know someone else who has, then send us an email with the story at gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “scams” in the subject. We will post the stories, and hopefully can save others from being caught.

Readers Comments:

The apartment scam happened to me in SP exactly as described. 3 months rent were only recovered because my banker at home smelled something fishy and had not released the wire transfer. what luck!!!”

Meet Michael Meehan, a New York City police detective who is married to a Brazilian, used to live in Brazil, and now travels to Brazil every year. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

Hi, my name is Michael Meehan I am married to a Brasileira her name is Cris and we have two children, Briana and Aidan. (good Brasilian names huh!) We live on Long Island in New York. I am employed as a police detective in a suburb of NYC. We travel to Rio to see the outlaws/inlaws just about every year. I love traveling to Brasil.

I arrived in Brasil in 1986 and lived there for almost a year and a half. I was stationed at the US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. I had previously been stationed in Nigeria and chose to go to Brasil following that assignment.

My first impression of Brasil was when the Pan Am 747 touched down in Rio and the plane broke out in applause. I was taken back by the warmth of the people all around me. I had flown considerably and this was the first time that I a had witnessed this, so I had no choice but to join in.

I don’t live in Brasil, but when I am there I miss my work. I love the job that I do and if I could work in the same capacity in Brasil I would, but I know better than to wish for that.

Getting targeted on the street can be frustrating. Though after 19 years of putting up with it I have grown more accustomed to it. I am a gringo like it or not. Whether or not I have a great tan I am still a gringo and I stand out. I have no fear of venturing out on my own, in fact I enjoy it. I find the red tape and small scale corruption not too pleasant either. I generally spend about a month when I visit. I like to drive when I am in Brasil, but in order to get the proper documents, everyone has to be greased (paid). If I chose not to legally take care of my license, I then run the risk of getting stopped at a blitz and God only knows what can happen then. I just returned unscathed, whew…

I met my wife in Brasil, so that would have to be my most memorable experience. I met her at a house/flat party across the street from Lord Jim Pub, for those of you who know Rio, about a month after I got to Rio and that is the beginning. I could write a book about my wife and I. So for a simple memorable experience, I would have to say that seeing Brasil win the world cup while being in Brasil was awesome. (seeing them lose was a real bummer, especially to France. eewww) We went to Copa to see the plane carrying the selecao” fly past the beach. We then waited for hours to see them pass along the beach on their bus, but it never made it having been attacked with stones along Flamengo beach and not being able to break through the crowd and go any further. Only in Brasil!! Oh yeah, while waiting at Copa I had to keep moving because of the ladroes who were circling like hawks.

Some of the things I like most about Brasil are the weather, the beaches, the sights at the beach….OUCH!! (that was my wife hitting me), the warmth of my family and most of the Brasilians that I meet. I like New Year’s on Copa. My “tia” lives close by so it makes it that much more enjoyable. Oh yeah, I loooove the chopp!!! I also love “pe sujos”.

I do love the little restaurants that are all over the city. I like most churrascarias. I used to love Gaucha, but since going to “por kilo” I don’t go anymore. I am now hooked on rodizios de pizza. In particular I love the Vienna Cafe and its banana pizza and a close second is the chocolate pizza. I am slowly turning my friends in New York on to both pizzas. I am also getting better at making them. Another fine little restaurant is “Bar Brasil” in Centro with excellent ice cold chopp and, I’m told, the first place that beer was sold in Rio.

Not long after I had arrived in Brasil and was very much a virgin of the language, I was tasked with shopping for the seven other Marines that I lived with. I went to the store with my cook and repeatedly asked her where I could find the “piru”. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t look me in the eye until my next language class and my portuguese teacher explained the difference between “piru” and “peru”! I didn’t have the guts to ask her where the “coco” was!

The most striking difference between my home and Brasil are the mountains that are right next to the beach and the scale of the favelas.

I would encourage all newcomers to Brasil to LEARN THE LANGUAGE.

I would recommend to all visitors to Brasil to get out and see the sights. In addition, get out and experience the country as best as you can. Go where the tourists don’t. Go where Brasilians go when they want to get away. I love Buzios, Angra dos Reis and Cabo Frio. Upon my retirement I would love to go to Recife, Bahia, Fortaleza and Natal. I would also like to go and see the beaches in Santos.

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

Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
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

To win a weekend for two at the luxurious São Pedro Spa close to São Paulo, we are looking for the best photo of a cow from the Cow Parade around São Paulo. See our Cow Parade article for the background.

To enter, send the photo to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with the subject “cow parade”.

All entries must be received by the 14th October. Multiple photos are permitted.The better entries will be shown below as we receive them.

Cow at Guarulhos airport Cow at Ibirapuera Park Cow at Ibirapuera Park Cow at Ibirapuera Park

By Prof. Claudia

Part 1 – The lh” sound

One of my dear pupils has been having a hard time trying to speak words with the “lh” sound properly. Thinking of him, and also of others who may have the same difficulty, I’ve prepared today’s lesson. Prepare your tongue, and put your shyness aside, please!

Activity 1
Read this song, “Melhor pra mim”, by Leoni.

Olhando as estrelas
Nada no espao
Fica parado num lugar
(…)
Olhando o relógio
O tempo não passa
Quando eu me afasto de voc
(…)
Olhando pro cu
E a tudo muda
Penso em voc e eu”

(Looking at the stars
Nothing in space
Keeps still
Looking at the watch
Time doesn’t go by
When I’m far from you
Looking at the sky
Then everything changes
I think of you and me)

Activity 2
There is an “lh” underlined word, repeated three times to give you a chance to start your practice slowly. You should pronounce “olyandu”, separating the l from the h, because l and h together is like an l plus a strong i, giving us a ly sound, as in happily.

Some more examples:
Falha: falya
Escolher: escolyer
Milho: milyu
Entulho: entulyu
A little clearer now?

Activity 3
I’ve made a table with all possible combinations containing the “lh” sound in Portuguese.
Read my table out loud, as many times as necessary, ok?

alha: alya elha: elya ilha: ilya olha: olya ulha: ulya
alhe: aly elhe: ely ilhe: ily olhe: oly ulhe: uly
alhi: aly elhi: ely ilhi: ily olhi: oly ulhi: uly
alho: alyu elho: elyu ilho: ilyu olho: olyu ulho: ulyu
alhu: alyu elhu: elyu ilhu: ilyu olhu: olyu ulhu: ulyu

As you can perceive, there isn’t much difference between the pairs i-e and o-u, at least not in the Portuguese spoken in São Paulo.

Activity 4
I’ve also prepared a word list.
Read it too, with the same effort of the previous exercise, will you?
1. Falha
2. Talher
3. Telha
4. Joelheira
5. Milha
6. Folha
7. Olhinho
8. Molho
9. Pampulha
10. Mulher

Activity 4
Now, to finish our lesson, read and understand a piece of “Faltando um pedao” by Djavan.

“O amor um grande lao
Um passo pra uma armadilha
Um lobo correndo em crculo
Pra alimentar a matilha
Comparo sua chegada
Com a fuga de uma ilha

(Love is a great tie
A step into a trap
A wolf running in circles
To feed its offspring
I compare love’s arrival
To an island’s escape)

See you next class!
Teacher Cludia

To read previous articles by Prof. Claudia click below:

Portuguese Tip: Verb Tenses
Portuguese Tip: The Mystery of Seu, Sua
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 2
A Brazilian custom: Kissing the Cheek
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Past
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 1
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Present
Portuguese Tips
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

Prof. Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at claudiafmla@uol.com.br

By D. E. Finley
When my husband and I moved to Brazil, everyone told us about how great it was to have your own professional cook. So, we hired one. It was our worst decision, since we invested in Enron.

First, there was the introductory meeting between our translator, Claudia, and our cook, Bruna to explain the preliminaries. Claudia translated how we like our vegetables steamed lightly, el dente. Bruna translated this to mean lightly pureed, mushy, and pale. Claudia instructed that we use very little salt and fat. So, Bruna measured little” as in Little Italy, New York amounts.

Claudia said that our favorite foods were quesidias, shepherds pie, and New England clam chowder with Boston brown bread. Understandably, they were foreign to Bruna. Bruna replied that her specialties were tapioca rolls, feijoada, and heart of palm tortes, which were non-staples to us. That’s when Claudia got the great idea that she could spend unlimited, billable hours helping me translate my favorite recipes from English to Portuguese.

“It will be fun!” Claudia exclaimed, making us wonder if “fun” in Portuguese meant lucrative.

Deciding on recipes also meant that I had to determine whether or not the stores carried the products. Several times a week, I’d go on a shopping safari to try to find as much as possible on the recipe list. Instead of flying back to the US to shop at Whole Foods or Albertson’s for foods like dried cranberries for muffins, and Rice Krispies for marshmallow treats, we learned to make due. We posted pictures of unpreparable recipes on the refrigerator, and licked them every time, we got a craving.

Getting the right amounts wasn’t easy either. Once, I thought that I was asking for hamburger for six persons, and the butcher fixed me six packages. I didn’t have the heart not to buy it all, especially after waiting forty minutes, and having my ice cream melt.

We also had to invest heavily in cabinet, freezer, and dishwasher space for microwavable, zip lock containers. Our dogs Rocky and Baylor would steal them to use as chew toys – especially, when they were on the counter with food in them that Bruna was cooling.

Bruna’s main seasoning repertoire consisted of Sazon packets (99.9% salt) and bay leaves. Fortunately, our landlord gave us the okay to plant a bay leaf tree in our back yard. Bruna also liked using red wine, although, we could never spot it in the dishes, only on her breath. We also wondered why we never saw mushrooms in the stroganoff, since we were reimbursing her for pricey mushrooms that she purchased from a guy in a favela alley (Brazilian low income housing project).

If Bruna was in a hurry to start the weekend, sometimes on a Monday, she’d leave all the food in the oven, figuring it would somehow finish cooking by its self. Sometimes, it would be pre-al dente as in raw or mooing, and other times, it would turn into a dehydrated meal to take on camping trip.

The hardest part of Bruna’s cooking for us was hearing my husband complain every night about the results of that cooking.

“Let’s just wait for the food to go through puberty, and breed in the refrigerator,” he whined. “She’ll get the idea.”

I thought he was being too negative. Then, he continued on his second course of criticism. “We can give Bruna a power saw, and ask her to slice the roast that she cooked into petrified wood.”

Then came the nightcap, “I don’t understand how she can take an expensive piece of meat and turn it into a deadly weapon.”

After our part-time maid, Dialinda, sampled Bruna’s culinary prowess, she started brown bagging her lunch. The only one who seemed to really enjoy Bruna’s cooking was our foodaholic dog, Rocky. Rocky ate almost anything with a calorie no matter how tough, burnt, or flavorless. So, when Rocky stopped stealing her food, we knew it was time to say good-bye to Bruna.

Copyright D. E. Finley 2005.

D.E. Finley is a writer and graphic artist. You can visit her website at http://defDesigns.com

To read previous articles by D. E. Finley click below:

Brazil Humour: Pet Sitting

Brazil Humour: Driving in Campinas

Brazil Humour: Lighting Up

Brazil: Going to the US Consulate

Brazil: Advice to Dialinda

Brazil: Feijoada Anyone?

Brazil Life: Winter in Brazil

Brazil Life: Home Safe Home
Brazil Life: Hose Shopping
Brazil Life: In-Laws In Town
Brazil Life: Got Floss
Brazil Life: Hiring a Maid
Brazil Life: Brazilians are so Nice
Brazil Life: Gringa Goes Shopping at Carrefour
Brazil Life: Amazon Encounter Lodge Vacation
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Meet Thales Panagides, who was born in the USA and subsequently lived in Cyprus, and came to Brazil while soul searching and decided to stay. He has also opened a business here in Fortaleza. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

My name’s Thales Panagides and if you think the name sounds Greek then it is. I was born in Ames, Iowa and grew up on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. I’m happily married to Glauci, a beautiful girl from Fortaleza – Cear. Between us, we have a baby girl who’s three months young and growing faster than my business.

The question is how does someone born in the United States but raised in Cyprus end up in Fortaleza – Brazil? The answer is a matter of interpretation. Some call it luck, others call it destiny, but I’m sure my dream and desire to work from home with a view of the Ocean had a lot to do with it. I currently represent Brazilian companies abroad and have my wife’s permission and authorization to represent Brazilian bikinis, fitness and lingerie manufacturers. More of who I am and what I do can be viewed by visiting my website at: http://www.brazilian-bikinis.net

When asked how things are going for me in Brazil I respond with the fitting ending of many fairytales, “and he lived happily ever after.”

When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I arrived in Brazil in October of 1998 and came with the intent to spend a couple of weeks in Fortaleza. At the time, I had just recently graduated with an MBA and was in need of some soul searching so I took advantage of my cousin’s offer to visit him in Fortaleza. He was working on a consulting project for the government of the North East in conjunction with the World Bank. Seven years later and I’m still here.

What were your first impressions of Brazil?

The first impression I can vividly recall of Brazil was the overwhelming sight of São Paulo as the airplane began to approach Guarulhos airport. All I could see was a concrete jungle of endless buildings in every direction, North, South, East and West. I thought to myself, gosh, “what was I getting into?” After all, the total population of Cyprus was a mere 780,000 and here I was witnessing a megalopolis of 13 million citizens, almost 17 times the entire population of my country! The very second impression was the confusion of seeing Brazilian cowboys in a rodeo setting being transmitted on the television screens at the airport. At first I thought that it was a clip from Texas but they were all speaking Portuguese and it wasn’t dubbed. Only later did I learn that Brazil is one of the largest exporters of beef and that it had a large rodeo following among locals.

Overall, my impression of Brazil was one of strong contrasts, a country with immense natural beauty and wealth but at the same time degradation and disparity.

What do you miss most about home?

I can’t say I’m nostalgic for anything particular other than my family and friends.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

Perhaps the most frustrating experience in Brazil has to do with how, for the most part, many businesses are poorly managed. It’s frustrating because you know they could do much better and that the only thing standing in their way is ignorance or a lack of interest. I could never understand (and still don’t) why they wouldn’t return my phone calls even if it meant I was the customer or buyer of their product. Customer service is practically non existent in Brazil. There’s also too much bureaucracy, red tape, inefficiencies, and lack of professionalism at the local, State and Federal level. But of course, Hurricane Katrina has shown that needless bureaucracy isn’t limited to Brazil but also to the most powerful country in the world, the United States.

What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Two memorable experiences in Brazil were a weekend trip to Ilha Bela and my participation in the Rio Half Marathon where I ran by the beautiful beaches of Leblon, Ipanema, Botafogo, and Copacabana. I can almost confess it was a spiritual experience.

What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

Let me invent the three P’s – People, Potential and Praias (beaches). The diversity of its people, the county’s enormous potential and natural beauty (endless beaches) are some of the things I like most about Brazil.

What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

Without a doubt, my favorite place to hang out is at the “Praa dos Estressados,” located in Fortaleza on the Beira Mar strip. It’s a rest and snack point on the beach front were you can order exotic fruit juices. My personal favorites are “suco de Aai” or “suco de Guarana.” Ask for these drinks in Portuguese and you won’t go wrong. You have to try them at least once in your life even if you think you won’t like them. They’re energetic and known to enhance all type of physical activity.

Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

During my first 30 days in Brazil I noticed promotional banners being displayed around the city. Many of these banners contained the word “SEX” and I had thought that there were probably an excessive number of bordellos promoting their services. It seemed that almost every other street corner had a bordello until I asked my friend to explain why there were so many Bordellos around town advertising sex. He couldn’t stop laughing and went on to explain that SEX is the abbreviation for SEXTA-FEIRA which means Friday in Portuguese. There you have it, Portuguese 101!

If you’ve ever driven a car or been a passenger in Brazil I’m sure you have a horror or funny story worth sharing. After all, we all know that Brazilians are notorious for their driving skills, or lack of, and that signaling is optional. Here’s my story. I admittedly made a left turn were I wasn’t suppose to and ended up being pulled over by two traffic police. At the time, I borrowed a friend’s car and drove by the motto, “when in Rome, do as the Romans.” Well, to make a long story short, I didn’t want to inconvenience my friend and have him to pay the fine at another location so I asked, with a smile, if there was a way we could settle this on the spot. Legally, of course! He wanted a small tip for himself and his colleague. I thought twenty reais (R$) was more than fair for the both of them. As I offered the bribe (if that’s what you want to call it) he repeatedly said, “dobro” so I thought! My Portuguese was weak at the time and I thought he was asking for twice as much since “dobro” means double in Portuguese. I didn’t think it was worth it so I offered to settle it at the proper location. He then raised his voice and said, “no, no dobra.” It finally occurred to me that the subtle difference between “dobro” and “dobra” was the difference between “double” the money and “fold” the money. I ended up folding the notes discreetly, and as they say, the rest is history.

What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

By far the greatest difference between the countries I grew up in (Cyprus and the US) compared to Brazil is the huge gap between the wealthy haves and the have-nots. A sight I still have difficulties adjusting to is seeing children, the old and handicap, beg for food and money on hundreds and thousands of streets across Brazil.

How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

My Portuguese is good but there’s always room for improvement. I definitely want to enhance my vocabulary. The best tool, if you’re single, like I once was, is to date someone who doesn’t speak your language. The girl I once dated is currently my wife. I also find that using small flash cards helps a lot. On one side you should write down the word in your language and the equivalent in Portuguese on the reverse side. Stuff your pocket with these cards and use them throughout the day. Once you master the word you can trash the note and gain confidence in knowing that you’ve memorized one more word. If you’re like most mortals, you’re greatest challenge will be to learn how to conjugate verbs. It will take time but in the end you’ll get the hang of it. Good luck.

What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

The best advice I have for newcomers is to be open-minded and flexible. Respect and value differences especially since we see the world, not as it is, but as we are. Don’t complain and waste your energy on things you can’t change. Never give up.

What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

If you’re in São Paulo, I’d definitely recommend you visit Ibirapuera Park. There are dozens of other places but the park, by far, is my favorite destination. If you visit Fortaleza, the place to stroll is Beira Mar. That’s were you’ll probably bump into me because I’m there almost every day of the week. See you at the “Praa do Estressados.”

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

Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
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 John Fitzpatrick
The ongoing scandal which has dominated the news since May has undoubtedly hit the popularity of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Instead of facing this crisis full square he has tried to wash his hands of it and, by doing so, has shown the country that he lacks qualities of leadership. He has lost much of the goodwill he gained from people who voted for him, particularly members of the middle class. By not voting in the election for the new president of the Workers Party (PT) on September 18, he also risks losing support among its rank-and-file members. Despite these comments, Lula could still be a winning candidate in next year’s presidential election.

There are several reasons why it is too early to write Lula off, either as a candidate or even as the next President. These include a solid bedrock of support from his natural constituency, a shortage of outstanding potential opposition candidates, the question of which party will provide the running mate, the improving economy and the possibility that, in a year’s time, the electorate may have forgotten this long drawn-out affair. A recent CNI/Ibope poll showed that around 80% of those questioned had heard of the scandal and followed the details. I would like to know how the pollsters defined the depth of respondents knowledge because I doubt if most people can truly follow the twists and turns of this unraveling case. My guess is that less than 10% of people really understand what is going on. This includes many members of Congress. Anyone who watched the testimony of the financier Daniel Dantas to the joint Post Office/Payments investigation committee on September 21 could see that most representatives were out of their depth. However, even if this poll is correct, its findings show that 20% of voters – one in five – know nothing about the scandal.

No Sign of a Smoking Gun – Yet
One hard fact stands out in Lula’s favor – after almost six months of investigation by a hostile press and Congress, there is still no evidence to show that he knew about or was involved in the central allegation that the PT had bribed members of other parties in return for their votes in Congress. As far back as June 20, Veja magazine had a cover story entitled Monthly Pay-Offs. When and How Lula was Alerted”. This was based on allegations by a number of politicians that they had raised the matter with Lula on five separate occasions between February 2004 and March 2005. Despite giving dates and the names of alleged witnesses, Veja’s story brought the scandal no closer to the President. The fact that Lula has survived unscathed is quite impressive when you look at the number of high-ranking ministers and PT officials who have fallen as a result of this scandal. These include the chief of staff, Jose Dirceu, the PT president, Jose Genoino, the communications minister, Luiz Gushiken, and the party’s general secretary and treasurer.

Any of these could have smeared Lula had they felt like it, particularly Dirceu. This is either because they could not or would not. If the latter is the case then they are showing greater loyalty than is normal in the dog-eats-dog world of politics. Dirceu has proven to be much tougher and wilier than any of his many enemies in the media and Congress could have imagined. He has flatly denied all knowledge of wrongdoing without offering any explanation and has successfully avoided losing his mandate as a member of the House of Representatives. He may not have persuaded many people of his innocence but he has not been found guilty. Like Dirceu, Lula is a survivor and a pragmatist who is not tied down by ideology. Brazilian politics is not short of similar characters who have bounced back from the bottom.

This lack of evidence does not mean that it does not exist. Anyone who follows politics here knows that the country is full of skeleton-filled closets which are only opened at the opportune moment for one party or another. The PSDB party of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in particular, has benefited from this kind of leaked information in the past. This could occur if Lula decides to seek re-election.

Who Cares?
Despite the lack of evidence surveys show that many – if not most – of those interviewed believe Lula did know about the alleged scheme. If so, they seem remarkably blas about the whole affair. Brazilians are used to being let down by their leaders, and corruption and politics go hand in hand. (The main difference is that the PT has also claimed to be morally superior to other parties and its involvement in this business has tarnished its image.) You only have to compare the lack of popular response to this scandal to the grassroots movement which arose when President Fernando Collor de Mello was accused of corruption in 1992. There have been some demonstrations in recent months but these have generally been against corruption as such and seldom against Lula. They have also been organized by left-wing groups and even PT members. The opposition parties, which are intent on seeing that Lula does not stand again, do not have the guts to organize anti-corruption protests. This is because no-one, except some party diehards, would support them and because the leaders of the PFL and PSDB are afraid of what any investigation of corruption might uncover among their own ranks.

Opinion polls have shown a fall in Lula’s popularity and that of his government but, in my own opinion, these are of little importance at this time. The anti-Lula media, such as the Estado de S. Paulo, has blatantly slanted its coverage of the latest CNI/Ibope poll published on September 21. Findings such as the fact that 43% of those polled think Lula’s government is better than his predecessor’s and 23% think it is better than they had expected are placed at the end of an article entitled “Lula has lost half of the 52 million votes which elected him, says Ibope”. There is no doubt that Lula has lost support but what is surprising is how much support still remains. For example, the survey shows that 49% disapprove of Lula while 45% approve of him. As for the government, 44% think it is doing a good job while 51% think it is not doing a good job. In my view, these show that Lula and his government are faring far better than one would have expected after these turbulent months. I doubt if many presidents enjoy approval ratings of 45% three years into their government and in the middle of a political scandal of this magnitude.

Foreign Confidence in the Economy
Another factor which could favor Lula is the state of the economy which is showing signs of improving regardless of the goings-on in Brasilia. The Central Bank reduced interest rates on September 14 for the first time in 18 months and the signs are that there will be further cuts, inflation is under control, unemployment in the São Paulo area has fallen for the first time in four months, and companies are increasing investment. An impressive sign of foreign investors confidence in Brazil was seen on September 19 when the Treasury successfully raised R$ 3.4 billion (around US$1.5 billion) in Reais and not in foreign currency. The Treasury’s original idea had been to make an issue equivalent to US$500-US$700 but demand was so great that for the amount was increased.

The resignation on September 21 of Severino Cavalcanti, the disgraced chairman of the House of Representatives, has also lowered the pressure. Unfortunately, there is no chance of Cavalcanti being brought to trial on charges of corruption or being forced to explain his brazen denials of innocence. However, having him out of the way should result in a more experienced, dignified person assuming this position. Although the PT is the biggest party in the House, it has wisely not put forward a candidate. The field is not yet clear but most potential candidates are heavyweights who will hopefully steer this institution back to its main role of passing legislation and not devoting most of its energies to never-ending investigations which have brought few results so far.

PT Snubbed
By refusing to vote in the PT presidental election, Lula was like a mother turning her back on her own child. That is why people in general and not just PT supporters were bewildered and surprised by his behavior. As President of the Republic he has, of course, to be above the day-to-day aspects of politics but that does not mean he should have no political views. He is not a symbolic president. Lula founded the PT 25 years ago and stood for office four times on the PT platform. He owes a debt to its 800,000 members who have supported him over this period. He should also be showing the electorate that he still wields control over the PT which is, after all, one of the few truly national parties in this vast country.

It now looks as though he will vote in the second round to be held on October 9. However, according to the outgoing PT president, Tarso Genro, Lula will not be announcing which candidate he supports. Since the candidate who won most voters in the first round, Ricardo Berzoini, has held two senior ministerial posts, he must obviously be Lula’s preference. It could be that Lula does not want to antagonize the other five candidates, who together gained 57.5% of the vote in the first round, by supporting Berzoini.

It is not yet clear who Berzoini’s opponent will be in the run-off since the margin between the second and third placed candidates is extremely small – around 1,000 votes – with 10% of the votes still be announced. The two possible opponents Berzoini will face are Valter Pomar and Raul Pont who both picked up around 15% each. The Berzoini camp, which is known as the “majority” section and supports the government, is hoping that Pont wins. Not only is Pont less radical than Pomar but his wing of the party holds the Agricultural Development ministry within the government.

The two dissident candidates have said they will support each other and present a unified front to beat Berzoini. However, left-wingers the world over are notoriously quarrelsome and it is difficult to see this coming about. Should the more radical Pomar and not Pont be the left’s candidate then Lula could enter the scene and use his influence to have Berzoini elected. Lula still wields supreme power within the party and his support could be crucial.

Having said that, he will have to accept that the PT activists will not be as docile as they used to. All the candidates, including Berzoini, have been critical of Lula’s economic policies and several have called for the finance minister, Antonio Palocci, to be fired. If Lula is to intervene he will have to tread carefully. Once Berzoini is elected ,Lula will be in a better position to address the PT’s concerns especially if he decides to stand for re-election in 2006.

John Fitzpatrick 2005

John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish writer and consultant with long experience of Brazil. He is based in São Paulo and runs his own company Celtic Comunicaes. He can be contacted at jf@celt.com.br.

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on www.gringoes.com:

Brazil’s Congress Struggles to Cope with Ongoing Crisis
Brazil: Scandal Threatens Presidential Mandate System
Brazil: If Lula is to Survive He Needs to Change His Tactics
Brazil: Many Parties – Few Ideas
Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Helping the Helpless in Brazil
Pinheiros – São Paulo’s Best District
Growing Old (Dis)gracefully in Brazil
Canudos, Still With Us 100 Years Later
The Rise of the Brazilian Empire
Brazil and Portugal – The Samba and the Fado
Brazil – Just A State Of Mind
Brazil: For Lula, is Ignorance Bliss?
Brazil: Pay Day – or Pay Dirt?

By Jessie Simon
Noise pollution laws don’t exist in the northeast of Brazil. Beginning every night at 5pm without fail, a guy (either on a bike or in a car) mounts his huge speakers that blare the same crazy advertisement over and over on Beira Mar, the most famous block of Fortaleza. A Nintendo theme plays in the background of this promotion and it doesn’t stop until 9pm.

Last Monday we went to the famous Pirata bar in Praia de Iracema. This club is famous for it’s Forro* Monday night parties. Traditionally, Forro is played by trios consisting of an accordion, percussion, and a metal triangle. In a land of sexy dances, the Forro tops them all, even Brazil’s most famous movement, the samba. They had a live band with about 8 dancers on stage performing a choreographed routine. It’s pretty funny when you come from the land of electronic, punk and rock music. This kind of thing would never fly in New York City. We did enjoy watching the crowd follow the steps of the dancers; a lot of hip swinging is involved. The music was lyrical, loud and poppy. After 5 caipirinhas and 10 songs we decided it was time for bed.

While driving through the small villages of the northeast, it’s not uncommon for gas station dance parties. There, you will find groups of Brazilians rocking out to loud Forro music. They usually have a car with large speakers blasting the music, which can be heard miles away. I guess they don’t get out much?

Unfortunately, there only seems to be about five songs played in the whole city of Fortaleza. One is Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn translated from English into Portuguese. This new rendition features a woman singing her heart out. She actually screams and shouts over the instruments rather than accompanying them. The other four songs are played on repeat at every Barraca on the beach strip. In the morning, afternoons and evenings we hear the same tunes over and over. It wouldn’t be an issue except we both work from home and live on Beira Mar so it’s hard to get anything done.

There are some great clubs like the Lounge Bar, Orbita and Muricube. The Lounge Bar is located in Praia do Futuro and plays excellent samba, drum n’ bass and some of the popular American dance tracks. The club has a NY feel to it except it’s located on the beach. It’s mostly outdoors with a bright and airy feel to it. Orbita has live music and cover bands. You can dance, play pool or hang by the bar. The Muricube boasts 5 different rooms within the club each specializing in a different sound. Reggae, pop, R&B/rap and electronic can all be found here. This is one of the most popular clubs in Fortaleza as it can hold up to 1,500 people. It gets really busy during the weekends.

Capoeira is another form of musical entertainment here. Every Tuesday night the Grupo do Brasil perform outside our window. There is a combination of clapping and drumming while the group (usually 2 at a time) tries out their kicks and flips. It’s really great to see this so up close and personal.

This is what we’ve seen thus far as I’m sure we have a long way to go. The five songs and advertising man are things we can count on everyday, almost part of our routine. Who knows? Maybe in a few months we’ll make our own dance routine to the Nintendo theme.

*Legend has it that the word Forro actually comes from the English For All, meaning anybody can join in.

Jessie Simon recently moved, with her fiance, from New York City to Fortaleza to start a kiteboarding company called Kite Adventures (http://www.kiteadventures.com) that specializes in guided kiteboarding tours around the northeast of Brazil. She can be contacted at jessie@kiteadventures.com.

By Mark Taylor
Following on from our Moby preview article, Moby has recently been on a mini-tour in Brazil playing in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.

I was present at the press conference with Moby last Friday (16th) at the Hotel Unique prior to him playing the first show there that evening. Moby is well known for being a devout Christian and Vegan, and in person comes across as very stoical and serious, albeit he cracked a smile now and then. Apparently he was tired and kept us waiting 2 hours beyond the official start of the conference, although the organisers tried their best to keep us entertained by holding a short conference with the sponsors (Nokia and Oi!) and the organisers themselves. When Moby appeared he was asked a number of questions, which unfortunately revolved more around his position on US politics which he is well known for having strong views on. It was a shame there weren’t more questions about his music. Aside from politics though I managed to ask him whether this was his first time in Brazil. He replied that he had been here in the early 90s during his “dancier” days and the rave scene with Ultra Nat, and was also here last year after he agreed during a drunken moment to DJ at a party organised by Diesel.

Moby also talked about his musical background. As a child he studied classical guitar and piano, from which he illogically jumped in his later years to form a punk rock band presumably to rebel a little, before settling into dance music in the early 90s (although his music is a somewhat undefinable blend of dance, classical, blues and rock). He was asked about the inspiration for his latest album cover, Hotel, which shows the back of his head as he looks through a window onto a city. He said that the cover was shot in his hometown of New York, from a hotel built across the road from his home. So he’s actually looking down at his own house from this hotel.

Those who are aware of Moby’s music will know that he has contributed more than a track or two to movies, but he explained that typically he’s just asked to contribute a song that he’s already written, so he doesn’t write specifically for film. The only change to this was for a James Bond film several years back where he was asked to jazz up the original theme, although he said it was his typical bad luck that it was one of the worst Bond films to-date. He also mentioned that he’s a big fan of Richard Kelly, who released Donnie Darko back in 2001, and is now working on music for Kelly’s new film, Southland Tales.

The ticket prices for the shows, particularly at Hotel Unique (at a whopping R$300) were also queried. Moby himself wasn’t aware of what was being charged, to no great surprise, and hoped that it hadn’t caused people too much hardship. He cited the prices at Espaco das Americas being lower than those at Hotel Unique, and hoped that people would be able to attend. The organisers were also queried on this prior to Moby’s appearance and they cited the small capacity of the venues for the higher prices (particularly the Hotel Unique, with a capacity for 3000 people). It was also queried why they had chosen such a small venue in São Paulo (10,000 vs. 18,000 in Rio), and the organisers said they had been unable to book a larger venue.

With his recent albums like Play, 18, and Hotel, Moby said that a lot of inspiration comes from “beautiful voices”. Moby is well know in these albums for using samples or recreating certain styles of music e.g. blues, which are then used with a contemporary musical background.

I don’t want to dedicate too much of this article to Moby’s view on politics, despite the previously mentioned dominance of the press conference with questions on this topic from Brazilian journalists. Suffice to say he’s not a fan of George Bush.

Last Tuesday (20th) I also went to Moby’s final show in Brazil of his mini-tour at Espaco das Americas, close to Barra Funda metro station. The venue itself was relatively easy to find, spacious, and well staffed (typical of Brazilin venues). Although it was poorly designed for stage shows as the stage itself was off centre, meaning that half the audience got to face a wall. They had tried their best to compensate for this though by placing a huge screen on the offending wall, as well as other screens around the venue.

The capacity at Espaco das Americas was cited to be 10,000 people, and despite the high ticket price it appeared to be close to or at capacity. Prior to the show itself a DJ was playing some well selected tracks, and close to the 11pm show time people stopped milling about and a few actually began to dance. At 11pm(ish) Moby came on with his group, to the Intro track from Hotel (his latest album). They played several tracks from Hotel, as well as the more popular tracks from 18 and Play, and also some of his Golden Oldies such as Go! (a rave track with a sample from Twin Peaks) and Feeling So Real (which even Moby described as ridiculously over the top rave track). Moby ordinarily plays most of the instruments and even sings on his albums, although he does recruit the odd person. Of course when playing live he needs a lot more support so he had a female vocalist (from the UK) as well as a bass guitarist, drummer, and keyboard player. Moby himself alternated between singing, playing lead guitar, playing the bongos, and just dancing around the stage.

Moby was a pretty good compere, complaining about the layout of the stage and apologising as well as dedicating a song to those poor souls facing the wall on the right-hand side of the venue. He also spoke “Obrigado” a few times at the end of songs (although often it was repeated “thank you thank you thank you’s” which it had to be said did disrupt the music a little), as well as running some political commentary on Bush. I saw him play in Switzerland 3 or so years ago, and he also apologised then for 1. being an “ignorant American” and 2. for George Bush, which received raputurous applause both in Switzerland and here in Brazil. He even got the entire audience to “give the finger” to Mr. Bush, and took a photo. I’m not sure if he’ll be forwarding it. Moby showed more than a passing interest for the nationality of his audience and played a Sepultura song (a Brazilian Heavy Metal group) as well as a Bossanova style version of Radiohead’s Creep.

All-in-all it was a great show in terms of both music and entertaintment, Moby didn’t dissapoint.

Here are some of my photos from the show (click on the thumbnail to see the larger version).