As my interest has risen in the passionate culture of Brazil, I have explored their music, their language, and their…appearance. I had not as of yet made much of an effort to taste their cuisine. I had a vague inclination that the food in Brazil is tied closely with that of Argentina – specifically, I had decided that these two countries had little in common with the strict diet of comida tipica found in many Central American countries. (In my experience, comida tipica changes a little bit in each place, but revolves around rice, beans, and some sort of meat fritado.) I also had been exposed to cachaça, the elemental native Brazilian liquor. I enjoyed my shot of cachaça. I could not describe it any more that “enjoyable,” because I don’t remember. A quick Wikipedia search and I was inundated with different styles of cooking from different sections of Brazil. That only makes sense, of course, seeing as the landscape and cultures from these different sections are very varied. From the northeast, which sees seafood on its plate often, comes Moqueca, a seafood stew. Strangely this stew is cooked without adding any water – the stock liquid is palm oil and coconut milk.
For my museum visit, I rode my skateboard to the Bea Art Hall Gallery, which is actually the hallway of the Centro Cultural Brasil in New York. They are showing about 10 pieces, all of which are inspired by the writing of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, a novelist, short story writer, and poet, who lived and worked during the 19th century. The pieces invoked images of Brazil, which is only natural since Machado de Assis never left Rio de Janeiro. One painting jumped out at me, because the whole canvas, about the size of my midsection, displayed two toucans. I could not fully translate the Machado quotation next to the painting, and so I asked for the only employee there to help me translate. The words read something along the lines of “God, you have given man a face or friendship. Devil, you have made men confused between love and friendship.” And the picture was of two toucans. The woman said that the toucans were specific to the Amazon, and represented Brazil. Another instillation piece had leaves strewn about on a shelf. All of the leaves were green, yellow, and black, which I took to represent the Brazilian flag. There were some portraits of Machado de Assis, one of which had lines of his writing spewing out of his mouth. To tell the truth, the art itself did not give me any particular impression of Brazil, or even of Machado de Assis’ works.
On my first google-search for “Brazil,” I found some very stereotypical reasons to visit Brazil. Alongside some maps, there are pictures of girls in bikinis, people playing soccer, women wearing next to nothing for Carnaval, a coffee plantation, the statue of Jesus on top of Rio de Janeiro, and beaches. In searching through Brazil travel websites, beaches and bikinis were not displayed as often as I would have thought. On the other hand, there are many photos that show Rio de Janeiro from the top of Corcovado Mountain, where the statue of Christ the Redeemer opens his arms. Everyone seems to be impressed by the image of this statue. Even national geographic has a picture! This one is my favorite that I have found.
I have been having fun finding RSS feeds to add to my Newsgator account. I like being able to scroll though different topics that relate to Brazil. I found one feed from BrazilNews.net and I thought this would be the most informative for news from the country. Recently, however, most of the news feeds are either about the Brazilian Grand Prix or the U17 world cup going on in New Zealand. There have been a few articles about the drug enforcement in Bolivia. It seems that the Bolivian government is accusing the US of espionage and funding criminal groups. I found a fun article with the headline, “Latin America indifferent over US election poll reveals.” All-in-all, Brazilnews.net is a fun feed to browse.
I have a feed that is all photos of Brazil. The site that is connected with is not set up very well, and so every post is of only one photo, which is not usually deserving of it’s own individual blog post. Then again, one picture of a road cutting into the Amazon was paired with a caption speaking of the apparent lawlessness of the region – it was enough to start my mind wandering into my romantic future as a traveler in Brazil. I liked the idea of receiving photos, and so I searched for feeds that would deliver visual stimulation. Lonely Planet has a feed specifically for photos of various places.
The first feed I subscribed too is called “Made in Brazil.” This looked like it was devoted to pop culture of various kinds in Brazil. After a short period of browsing, I found out that it specializes in tantalizing pictures of hunky men; men in speedos on the beach, men in underwear advertisements, and male model competitions. It is a feed that includes pieces on homosexuality and homophobia in Brazil. While not something I intended to focus on, I know that gender politics in Brazil are different than here, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on.
My name is Louis Frank and I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. My father and I disagree often about various key elements to life, but one of those is style of music. He mocks me, saying that I like music that is “raw.” I do not understand what there is to mock about that, because it is true. I like music that expresses raw emotion, and often multiple emotions. If the musicians can’t play jazz scales like computers, I don’t mind.
I found Brazilian music to be raw in the best sense. While most American music fills me with love, heartbreak, anger, and sexuality, the music introduced in my Brazilian Music & Globalization class made me nostalgic for a country I had never been to before. Brazilian music has nothing to do with my major – metropolitan studies – but at this point it has a lot to do with my life. The music is technically quite impressive and most importantly it is quite different from the American music I can listen to on the radio. The culture of Brazil is almost totally foreign to me, and I know that. It taunts me. I believe that this land south of the border is filled with music, food, and feelings that will bring me back to an innocent self.