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Re: <eyebeam><blast> localization carnival

>I am happy about the 'localization' thread. (Andreas Broeckmann)

OK, I will try to write about where I am. Macro-localization first.

My computer screen is located in a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro. I
live there. Like many other parts of the city, it is surrounded by hills
(in fact, this neighbourhood is on the top of one), where quite
different people live. One thing is strongly visible in Rio: the middle
class apartments stand side by side with the hills where the "favelas"
are constructed. I guess everyone knows what the favelas are: wood or
even concrete/brick houses, inhabited by poor people, built over and on
the side of the hills, one house on the top of the other. Maybe favela
could be translated  as 'slum', but in Portuguese it sounds better and
it seems nice to add this word to the web. Well, in Rio you can see the
favelas every direction you look at (the sea side is the exception), it
is part of the city's landscape, and part of the city's culture. In
Brazil, appartheid exists, but it is primarily economical: poor people
is mostly black people. African culture is important part of Brazil - I
would say, it is everything. What would be of Brazil without Africa?
Only Portuguese Catholic and French Neoclassic influences won't make
this country ("Brasil is a name without a country, while United States
is a country without a name", wrote music composer Caetano Veloso)
something different (which it is, although no one knows how or what it
The hills are called Mangueira, Estácio, Formiga, Macaco, Vidigal,
Turano, dos Prazeres, etc, and among the favelas there are Rocinha, Rato
Molhado, da Maré, do Alemão, Dona Marta, etc. I live close to at least
three favelas, but here, different from other parts of the city, I am in
the top of a hill, and the favelas are built on the sides, following
down the hill. Can you sing the famous Jobim's song, the "Girl from
Ipanema"? (he recorded the song with Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra) From
the Ipanema Beach you can see the Cantagalo favela, impressive, going up
the hill, one house in the top of the other. It is fascinating,
beautiful, with its population going up and down everyday. Some time
ago, Rio de Janeiro's State Governor offered small houses in a suburban
area for people of the favelas to move in there. They could have there
"better living conditions, etc". Obviously they did not accept. They
don't want to live far from the beach. They don't want to lose their
incredible view of the sea. Many of them work there, in Ipanema or
Copacabana, why should they move for far away and spend two hours by bus
to go to work? They are right. I was told one day that strategicaly it
would be better, in case of war, to be on the top of the hills, there is
located the privileged position for observation and combat (I don't
understand about war strategy, but is sounds correct). So, Rio de
Janeiro has the favelas located as the strategic dominant position on
the landscape, and the socio-economic power located on the ground, on
buildings in front of the sea. As I said, the favelas are fascinating,
beatiful, impressive. The artist Hélio Oiticica wrote about favela's
architecture as organic spaces, where life would meet an ethical and
aesthetic dimension. His installation "Tropicalia" was influenced for
his experiences with favela architecture. Oiticica himself was strongly
marked for his visits to Mangueira hill, where he learned how to dance
samba and could cross his middle class cultural borders into another
world. He was around 1967. As I said, the favelas are fascinating,
beatiful, impressive, but now, in 1997, they are dangerous as well. I am
afraid to go by myself, alone, to Morro dos Prazeres (morro means hill),
which is not far from where I live, where I am now. I can listen at
night to the sound of people shooting, testing their modern guns (AR-15,
AK-47, automatic weapons, etc. A friend of mine, artist Rosangela Renno,
living close to me, can identify those weapons by the sound of the
shots. She learned faster than me.) While most of the people from the
favelas are sleeping now, at this time ("honest people" or "workers",
how they have to identify themselves to the police for not being
arrested), a powerful minority is awake, watching, hiding themselves,
taking strategic positions for defense or attack: they have economic
reason to behave this way, as they sell drugs and make a lot of money.
They have to protect themselves from the police or from other Gangs. The
favelas are not only a good place to hide from the police, it is a place
they can exercise control, apply some special rules, play highly
'status' roles, and there they can find people needing money to work for
them, etc.

Why do I write this story for you all netpeople? In every big city there
are ghettoes, places controled by a kind of parallel power, apart from
official policy. But in Rio the Morros and Favelas have had a very
strong role in the history  of the country's culture - maybe only
compared to the city of Salvador, in Bahia (the State where
Afro-Brazilian culture is stronger). Brazilian popular music history,
for instance, is strongly connected to Mangueira, where some of the best
composers lived and still live: I am honored to write in cyberspace the
names of great composers Cartola and Carlos Cachaça. And Mangueira (the
morro, the favela) is the name of the first Escola de Samba, founded in
early 30's (literally Samba School, meaning the different groups or
teams that join the Carnival Parade, every year). Today, besides the
samba, the favelas are inovating in music through a mix of funk with
samba: every weekend there are popular parties for dancing those rhytms.
To conclude my story, I actually live not far from Sambodromo, the
Avenue of Samba, a special place, built in 1982, for locating the big
samba parade contest, every carnival. The Escolas de Samba's names are
Mangueira, Viradouro, Beija-Flor, Portela, Salgueiro, Vila Isabel, etc.
Today, you can watch everything through television, in a very
professional broadcast live transmission, where sound and image are
perfect and beautiful. You just have to be awake from 8pm through 5am,
on Sunday and Monday. I would suggest anyone to watch it, it is
fantastic (it is preferable, of course, to be there, on the Sambodromo,
to have yourself the face-to-face multisensorial contact). I read on the
newspaper the spectacle this year would be broadcasted live to France.
Has anyone there seen it?

Ricardo Basbaum

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