Archive for Brazil

Happy Birthday to Bayard Rustin, Jorge Ben, and… to Me!!! (Sunshine Superboy!)

Posted in art & music, celebrities, culture, politics, race, racism, video with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by Sunshine Superboy

rustin march on washington

Its Mid-March! There are a couple truly stupendous March babies* (not babies anymore!) whom we ought to pause for a moment and appreciate. Lets get to it..!

Bayard Rustin was born 100 years ago, on March 17th! He is one of the dopest organizers, not just of American History, but of the entire 20th century, the world-over (IMHO).

His most visible achievement was organizing- as deputy director of mobilization and logistics- the 1963 March on Washington (in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the hallowed “I have a Dream Speech”, and at which a multi-racial coalition of singers performed- from Bob Dylan, to Joan Baez, and Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson- cuz thats how he rolled!) bayard rustinIt was Bayard Rustin who visited Gandhi in India, and cross-pollinated the Sattyagraha and Nonviolent precepts, bringing them to the US south and working closely with King among others. Rustin was a quaker, a singer, a socialist, and…wait for it… unapologetically the gay! (Hooray!)

It was for this homophobia latter identity that King was counciled to throw Bayard Rustin under the bus (in the parlance of our times), which is why he has been largely written out of mainstream and much African American history.

As our culture starts to warm to the idea of gender justice and queer liberation (we’re getting there…) Rustin is slowly being woven back into narratives and history of Civil Rights organizing in the 20th century.

On the deeply regarded Bayard Rustin:

Another force of brilliance I’d like to celebrate this week is the very much alive and kicking-ass, Brazilian Samba-Rock Godfather, Jorge Ben who marks his 70th birthday on March 22nd! Jorge Ben Jorge Ben makes me smile, move, shuffle my feet, and sometimes sigh in melancholy (see “Gabriela” where he openly weeps on the recording!) with his genius fusion of samba, bossa nova, soul and rock n roll. The execution is something you just have to listen to in full to appreciate.

As with most artists who where on their A game in the 70s, there are some awkward albums and singles that followed the apogee of their songwriting, but most of his albums are slam dunks from start to finish. Perfect for cooking brunch (a favorite pastime of yours truly), doing dishes, playtime with toddlers, or drinking on your back porch in the evening. Impress your date with your refined musical taste!

His lyrics “blend humor and satire with often esoteric subject matter” including politics of Black Liberation, and post-colonial dreams for Africa (again think 60s and 70s composer here). He intersected with the Tropicalia movement of Brazil, and his song “Mas Que Nada” (song/ video below), which was his first big hit in Brazil, remains to this day ‘the most played song in the USA sung entirely in Portuguese’. I seriously heart this dude.

Enjoy the song and slide show with some rando pictures of the 1960s (??!)

oh, and I’m not that important, but I just celebrated my birthday on March 16th so I just wanted to dredge up some homies of mine who I happen to think about or listen to every day because they are badass.

You look like a Rock Star and you shred like one too!!!

(…and many more!)
Sunshine Superboy

*ps- we also welcomed some amazing babies to our spinning planet this month (and more to come!) and I wanna holler to them too (especially you baby Marlowe xoxoxo)


Rio Amazônas: Is that a Floating Bank or are you just Happy to Expand Brazilian Financing?

Posted in anthropology, maps with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

The fact that I lived on a boat that traveled down the Amazon River for two weeks (this was back in 2001) comes in handy anytime I’m playing “two truths and a lie” (you’re right Timmy! I haven’t eaten human meat on the arctic tundra for my own survival!). But beyond that, my own fortnight of bedding down in a hammock, bathing with river dolphins, and interviewing anyone from loggers to school teachers to sex workers never yielded anything as bananas as this story (see below or click here for the crazy interactive map), but it helps me imagine what the daily life is like for Sra. Moraes, the savvy finance skipper who’s branch is literally buoyed by the Amazon River.

According to the Bailout-Street Journal:

Most bank managers fret about bad loans or a run on deposits. Luzia Moraes has to worry about a leak in the hull, bandits and rainstorms that keep clients away for weeks.

Ms. Moraes, a 43-year-old former housewife, is at the helm of a swashbuckling new venture in Brazil—as manager of the first floating bank branch on the Amazon river system. From a riverboat, she peddles banking services in a frontier where people don’t have much money—let alone experience with ATMs, savings accounts or personal loans.

besides supporting a bank branch and carrying passengers, the 125-foot, triple-decker Voyager III stocks 500 tons of beans, chicken, bleach and other goods that it sells over a 1,000-mile course and a dozen ports of call.

Every two weeks, along with some 200 other passengers, Ms. Moraes boards the diesel-powered riverboat for a nine-day voyage from the central Brazilian Amazon into muddy tributaries bordering Colombia and Peru. As passengers hang hammocks, she strings a red banner outside her branch—a cramped closet that until recently was a storeroom.

In a region where villagers travel days to get to a market or a hospital, the branch offers services including savings and checking accounts, personal loans and direct deposits from the government for public servants, pensioners and the poor. The office consists of Ms. Moraes, her laptop, a printer, and an automated teller.

“People don’t know what to think,” says Ms. Moraes, “but it’s not hard to explain that a bank can make things easier.”

Modest but steady growth in Latin America’s largest economy over the past decade has catapulted millions of poor Brazilians into the middle class. Launched in November by Banco Bradesco SA, operator of the country’s largest retail-banking network, the riverine effort shows how far into Brazil’s corners the changing economy will reach. The number of bank accounts in Brazil has tripled over the past decade, from just over 42 million in 1997 to nearly 126 million at the end of 2008, according to the Brazilian Banking Federation. Still, there are at least 50 million “unbanked” Brazilians out there.

In less than four months, more than 300 clients have opened accounts aboard the floating bank. Dozens of others have done so on day treks that Ms. Moraes, the branch manager, takes in canoes and rafts into villages beyond where the riverboat moors.

The Voyager III’s owners were robbed at gunpoint underway a few years ago. The bank lets them offload as much as 800,000 reais, about $460,000, in cash collected from sales during each voyage. The branch, linked via satellite to Bradesco servers, uses the boat’s own cash flow to fund withdrawals and loans and then wires reimbursement, plus a small commission per transaction, into the boat’s account.

“Before, I hid money all over the boat,” says André Araújo, the vessel’s 28-year-old manager.

Ms. Moraes was born and raised in Benjamin Constant, a boggy logging town across a tributary from Peru. She never had a bank account until she was 30. After dropping out of school at 16 and having three children, she decided in 1997 to leave her mechanic husband and start a career. Earning a high-school equivalency certificate, she landed a job as a town clerk, then worked her way up to bank clerk and teller jobs.

“This is a lot safer than it used to be,” Ms. Guedes says. She used to have to take her money on an 8-hour canoe trip to a town to buy goods. She recalls one 2008 voyage home amid a rainstorm, when the wake of a larger vessel toppled her canoe and washed away a month’s worth of provisions for her family. “I don’t really need that canoe anymore,” she says.

Now thats what I call a sticky fishy situation!

(kinda makes me want to leave my husband for high-seas entrepreneurship!

Bon Voyage,
Sunshine Superbuoy

bonus footage of Amazonian Surfers!!!!!!

Comeuppance! Retournourá pra Você

Posted in art & music, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

I found myself last weekend disclosing the fact that one of my favorite words is the english “comeuppance” which means:

an outcome (good or bad) that is well deserved [syn: deserts]

its a little different than lay understandings of karma, or fate, or even the oversimplified “what goes around comes around”. Its more like “that dastard has it coming”.

I like that comeuppance lacks a prefigured moral imperative (ie “unless you do x your fate will be y”). Its strictly after the fact, and yet it has this sense of looming justice either recently delivered or otherwise in the future of the deserving party. Either way, its just a word thats been on my mind for no particular reason, and I offer it as some kinda appetizer for this little Zelaya _46453755_-74update that I was poised to post cuz it goes along with the Brazil theme of the track below…

Honduras has threatened to revoke Brazil’s right to a diplomatic mission in a dispute over the status of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa after sneaking into the country on Monday, three months after he was sent into exile.

Honduras’s interim government has given Brazil 10 days to either grant Mr Zelaya asylum or hand him over.

It has also issued a decree allowing it to ban protests and reporting.
The move was announced on Sunday after Mr Zelaya called on his supporters to stage a march on Monday.

Yay Brazil. Keepin it real ya know?

Anyway, I’m not translating this (because sometimes native english speakers feel like they’re entitled to all kinds of shit), but I will write up the text at the beginning of this track if you wanna try and piece it out. Its quoted in portuguese as a esoteric intro to this Portishead track which was stuck in my head for a full week last year when my Brazilian friend first played it for me. I put it on repeat on his computer and danced around repeatedly while cooking meals and cleaning in his little cottage on the outskirts of São Paulo. I then returned to North America and forgot about it after a few weeks… until last weekend!

In a bar in Milwaukee last week (while locals were pleased to point out the Phillies being pummeled by the Brewers), out of the blue I heard the following. And it all returned to me.

Esteja alerta para a regra dos 3 o que você dá, retornará para você Essa lição você tem que aprender Você só ganha o que você merece

portishead, silence

Esteja Alerta!!! … Porque Retournorá Pra Você,
Sunshine Superboy

aight! and just as a visual bonus (while you’re dancing) to my most rando stream of consciousness post ever, some love for pinstripes and mustaches, please!
phils fever

Não Era um Pais Pequeno

Posted in anthropology, maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Apparently size used to matter.

I’m crossposting this awesome map from the strangers (also see blogroll to yr right) which I somehow missed before boarding a plane to Portugal.

If you couldn’t piece it out, the map is titled “Portugal is not a small country”. Inferiority complex much?

Portugal, on the southwestern periphery of the European continent, is a medium-sized EU member state. Its population clocks in at 11th place out of 27 (10.59 million, in between Belgium’s 10.66 million [10] and the Czech Republic with 10.40 million [12]). Size-wise, it’s a bit further down the list: 13th (at 92.391 km2, between Hungary [12] at 93.030 km2 and Austria [14] at 83.871 km2).

Yet Portugal is loath to think of itself as a small country. Or at least it was, before its overseas empire collapsed. Built up over centuries of exploration, trade and colonisation, the Portuguese Empire once spanned four continents. The jewel in its crown was Brazil, but Portugal lost control over its South American colony in 1822.

By mid-20th century, Portugal still held on to Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe, Angola, Mozambique, Macao, East Timor and its Indian possessions (Goa, Daman and Diu – three smallish footholds somewhat grandiosely labeled “Estado da India”).

As the legend to this map indicates, all these territories together added up to an area larger than (Continental) Spain, France, the UK (mislabeled “Inglaterra”), Italy and Germany put together, explaining why, as the title claims, Portugal não é um país pequeno. If that sounds a bit defensive and self-justifying, that’s no coincidence.

yrs truly (right) cavorting with a native on a beach in Lisbon province

yr truly (right) cavorting with a native on a beach in Lisbon province

In the early 1970s, Portugal languished under a dictatorship determined to hold on to the vestiges of its former colonial glory. The increasingly costly and impopular wars against freedom fighters in Portuguese Africa eventually led to the overthrow of the regime, in a virtually bloodless military coup in April 1974, the so-called Revolução dos Cravos. This Carnation Revolution would lead to a swift liquidation of Portugal’s overseas assets and ultimately to democracy within Portugal.

Portugal’s African possessions were all granted independence. Indonesia took advantage of the turmoil “back home” to take over East Timor (India had forcibly annexed Goa etcetera in 1961). Only Macao remained in Portuguese hands, until 1999, when mirrorring Hong Kong’s reversion in 1997, it was reintegrated into China. The Azores and Madeira, ethnically and geographically closest to the mother country, are still part of Portugal.

This map was sent in by Nuno D. Alves, who studied it in history class, when studying the pre-revolutionary dictatorship. “It is a propaganda map, suggesting that our country was important. Portugal’s orientation towards its colonies, away from Europe, “was used to justify the isolationism of the regime, and its neutrality in World War II (…) [The map] shows the Portuguese colonies that remained by that time superimposed on a map of Europe, going on to compare surface size with the main European countries. All in all very silly.”

you know what else is silly? (“what superboy?”). contemporary art. sometimes.

enjoying the primitive art of Europe

enjoying the primitive art of Europe

So how was my time in Lisboa? Foi ÓTIMO! Lisboa é uma cidade “feeeesh” (as they would say). It was unfortunate that my time there was so brief, but I know I will return, what with all my lusophone shenanigans.

And now I’m in South Africa. More on that later, eh?

Love from the Ethnographic Present,
Luz-do-Sol Superboy

Duped! Finance Expert and Brazilian Prez One and the Same!

Posted in humor, maps & mapping, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Pardon me for going all tabloids on you guys, but the images of these two salt-and-pepper bearded fellows has been festering in the facial recognition part of my brain for too long!

I mean, seriously, can any of you prove beyond the shadow of my doubts that Paul Krugman and Brazilian President Lula are not the same frakking person??!!!




And now:

Me? Carmen Miranda?! I'd need another 7 chugs of cachaça, before I do THAT impression again, amigo.

Me? Carmen Miranda?! I'd need another 7 chugs of cachaça, before I do THAT impression again, amigo.

Paul Krugman is is an American economist, columnist, intellectual, and author. He is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, a centenary professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.” Krugman is known in academia for his work in international economics, including trade theory, economic geography, and international finance.

Lula is the thirty-fifth and current President of Brazil and a founding member of the Workers’ Party (PT). In 1978 he was elected president of the Steel Workers’ Union of São Bernardo do Campo and Diadema, cities in the Greater São Paulo, home to most of Brazil’s automobile manufacturing facilities and among the most industrialized in the country. In the late 1970s, Lula helped organize major union activities including huge strikes. He was jailed for a month, but was released following protests. For many years he was president of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), a union federation that is strongly influenced by the PT.

Something seems Skrully…. I mean, is nobody else disturbed by the fact that a socialist foreigner is like the brightest economic mind in the middle of the U.S. financial whirlwind? Caralho! I’m taking my $100 visa and heading back south ASAP.

Timmy Geithner‘s speed dial is Hiz,
Sunshine Superboy

PS- also, since I’ve already outted myself as a Brazilophile, here’s a shiny old map (literally). fica a vontade:

Luso-Tongued World

Posted in anthropology, maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

€ Spanish and what other language are the top two fastest-growing European languages (According to UNESCO)?

€ Also according to UNESCO, what language has the highest growth potential as an international language?

€ Finally, what is the sixth most spoken language in the world? (Ranking third, behind English and Spanish, among European languages used around the world)

Well, meus amigos, if you answered Portuguese to each and every one of the questions above you’re either a dorky linguist, a close friend or colleague of mine, or a smug Brazilian (which probably means you live in either São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro… not to hate…)

Seriously? Sixth most spoken language in the world?? Yuppers, Portuguese is the native language of approximately 240,000,000 people, and you know whats coming next; Where do all these lusophones live? Humbly submitted, a map of the regions of the world where Portuguese is an official language (mind you, a map of the actual Portuguese speaking world would have to include places like Eastern Massachusetts and Coastal California and London and shit…)


Portuguese is the language of Portugal, including the autonomous regions of the Azores (Açores in Portuguese spelling) and Madeira. Additionally, it is the official language of Brazil, Mozambique (Moçambique), Angola, Guinea-Bissau (Guiné-Bissau), São Tomé e Príncipe, the Cape Verde Islands (Cabo Verde), and East Timor. It is also still spoken in Macau and Goa.

There are SO many reasons to learn Portuguese! A buddy of mine who used to do work in Bolívia recently switched his focus to Brazil. Though his mother is from Guatemala and he is a master of both Spanish and English (well… Canadian English), the sheer awesomeness of Brazil and the Portuguese speaking world compelled him to jump ship e començar de aprender esse lingua bacana. Por quê não?

I mean, in the many centuries since the unfolding of Portuguese colonialism that spanned the Atlantic, circumnavigated Africa, and nipped at the feet of Asia, it is possible to travel the world and every continent (I’m sure there are Brazilian scientists at the Antarctic research base) on that one language alone. That or connect with people in your local area who are from all of those far-flung worldly corners. Plus, you won’t feel compelled to explain away your North America English as “Canadian”. What could be more humiliating than that??

O Mundo é Seu,
Sunshine Supergarçom

Tears of a Spect-Actor

Posted in art & music, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Its been a short while since my last post, and I would have preferred that my return post would not bring such somber news. Theater of the Oppressed creator, Augusto Boal passed away at the onset of this May Day weekend. He was a great inspiration for me and a lot of the current anti-oppression organizing and education work that I and many friends and organizations with whom I work have been doing.


Unawares of his death, I spent six hours yesterday in a Cop-in-the-Head workshop, one of the major techniques in Theater of the Oppressed/ Rainbow of Desire. It was kinda uncanny to learn one day later of Boal’s passing.

According to the AP:

Legendary political theater practitioner, director, and teacher Augusto Boal died on May 1, from complications arising from a long-term health condition, according to the The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory in New York City. He was 78.

Boal is best known for founding the Theatre of the Oppressed, an international movement and system for creating theater that seeks to examine forms of discrimination and oppression, with the goal of possible transformation. He conducted workshops throughout the world, and his techniques have been widely inspirational and influential.

Boal authored several books, including Theatre of the Oppressed, Games for Actors and Non-Actors, The Rainbow of Desire, and Legislative Theatre. He served as a Member of Parliament for Rio de Janeiro in the 1990s and was formerly the President of the Centre of Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio de Janeiro and Paris.

He is survived by his wife Cecilia, his sons Fabien and Julian, and several grandchildren.


As for some of his transformational pedagogy:

In Forum Theatre, a unique participatory-theatre technique, everyone in the room is considered a “spect-actor,” a participant-observer. For Boal, who conceived the term, “when the first spect-actor comes on stage, he transgresses, like a member of a church congregation who takes the place of the priest and celebrates the mass himself. And, since the spect-actor is one individual rising out of the audience, he does not make this transgression in place of the other spectators, but in their name. The actor acts in place of the spectators; the spect-actor acts in their name, because each member of the audience can decide whether she feels represented by this intervention or not, and, if she doesn’t, she can go on stage and give her own version of things

Boal is also survived by the current and future generations of spect-actors who make use of his techniques to dismantle oppression in our personal lives and throughout the world. He was, perhaps the great negation of Mac Beth’s bitter pill brought to us by Wm Shakespeare as such:

Out. Out brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

Brief candle, may be. But what Boal helped us see is that we are much more than “the poor player,” and that perhaps the sound and the fury signifies so much more…

And that, dear friends, all-of-it, is yours,
Sunshine Superboy