22 October, 2010

Carnival, in October?!

Earlier this month, the Casa crew visited our favorite Samba school, Salgueiro, to participate in the festivities as they narrowed in on choosing their enredo- theme song- for Carnival 2011. Saturday night’s semi-finals featured four songs.

The night kicked off with revisiting the choices from the past couple of years, to everyone’s excitement and booty shaking delight. President Regina Celi Fernandes Duran gave a short speech before hitting the dance floor to commence the celebration.

Then in came the flag bearers, Mestre-Sala and Porta Bandeira, performing a beautiful ceremonious dance full of spins and flourish. A parade of Salgueiristas dressed in the school colors of red and white made their way singing and swinging through the crowd. With the opening ceremony complete, attention turned to the main stage.

Out bounced samba dancers, in full carnival costume: sparkling little bits, high high heels, and massive feathery crowns. Jiggling their curves in that uniquely Brazilian manner, these ladies moved the audience towards full throttle excitement.

The heart of the action rotated from stage to main floor and soon the first two songs had passed and we were all in need of a bathroom and some fresh air. Upon returning to the hub, our crew encountered a group of future carnival stars getting an early start (on a late night) practicing their Samba skills. These girls had the proper moves, the costumes, and the attitude…and all between the ages of five and eleven. We were mesmerized, and also bewildered as to when they study-and sleep!

On the following Monday, Salgueiro held the finals between the last two songs in the competition. A few dedicated fans from the Casa returned to the Quadra- Salgueiro’s event hall- and were treated to a night of Samba-entertainment. The night followed Salgueiro’s theme for the coming carnival: Rio in Cinema. Featured acts included ladies in itty bitty bikinis showing themselves off in the way they do on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, a tribute to Carmen Miranda, a scene in which the Rainha da Bateria (queen of the drums), Viviane Araújo, was abducted by King Kong, and a somewhat disturbing excerpt from the recent cinematic hit Tropa da Elite 2. (Check our youtube page, www.youtube.com/casa579, for upcoming postings of video clips!)

Salgueiro’s enredo for 2011 has since been announced: “Salgueiro Apresenta: o Rio no Cinema,” written by Dudu Botelho, Miudinho, Anderson Benson and Luiz Pião. To listen to the song and learn the lyrics, visit Rio’s main Samba website: www.sambariocarnaval.com and scroll down to the link for Salgueiro para 2011, and continue to Salgueiro Samba campeão. Interested in experiencing all the fun of Samba rehearsals yourself? They run through February at all of Rio’s fabulous Samba schools, and it is best to arrive around midnight. Check the Samba website (above) or Salgueiro’s site www.salgueiro.com.br, for more details!

05 October, 2010

Political Play: Brazil’s Elections 2010

A sensory overload of fliers, posters, television adverts, and slogans blaring sing-song from vans and carts culminated on Sunday when Brazilians nationwide casted their votes for the 2010 elections. Over the past month, the innocent pedestrian has been accosted on a daily basis by peopl

e standing on the street, or in the square, forcing fliers into the hands of passersby. These fliers almost never contain more than a picture of the candidate and their four digit voting number. On the positive side, this advertising technique created numerous jobs for needy citizens. The posters, which are plastered to most any available outdoor wall space around town, or propped up on stands to sit on street corners, are simply larger versions of the same thing.Television adverts tend to be a bit more informative, if only in a low budget and comedic manner. The slogans blasted from vehicles which drive up and down the street are memorable and entertaining…but contain little to no education concerning the potential politician. Election season in Brazil was truly a unique experience for the visitor. Brazilian citizens are required to vote, and fined if they fail to complete that duty. Now that poles have closed, let’s take a look at who has been chosen in the race for President, Governor, Senator, and Federal and State Deputies.

Largo da Carioca, Wednesday before elections:

The race for President had three forerunners: Dilma, Serra, and Silva. Current President Lula’s Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff, of the Democratic Socialist Worker’s Party (PT), received 46.9% nationwide with 47.5 million votes, and also came in first in the polls in Rio with 3.7 million votes (43.76%). São Paulo Governor José Serra, representing a right-center opposition coalition (PSDB), came in second nationwide with 33.1 million votes (32.6%). Marina Silva, Lula’s former Minister of the Environment, and a member of the Green Party, came in third nationwide with19.3% of the overall vote (19.6 million). The rankings of Serra and Silva were inverted here in Rio, however, with 2.7 million Cariocas casting their vote for Silva, awarding her 31.52%, and 1.9 million local voters siding with Serra, giving him only 22.53% of the vote. As expected, Dilma did not receive a high enough majority (over 50%) to win the race in the first round. She and Serra will compete in a run-off vote next month. If she wins, she will become the seventh woman President in South America, and the first for Brazil.

Dilma, Serra, and Silva:

Rio’s current Governor Sergio Cabral (PMDB) was reelected with 66.1% of the vote. His campaign focused around the idea of strengthening the city. Proposals of action, to realize this dream, include expanding the number of police stations around Rio to match the number of favelas, establishing more family health clinics, and constructing two new Metro lines: one connecting Niteroi to Itaborai, and another reaching Barra da Tijuca.

Brazilian Federal Senate is composed of 81 seats, 3 representatives from each of Brazil’s 26 states; one third of which are elected every four years, and the other two thirds every eight years. This year was one of the “two thirds” years; therefore the state of Rio de Janeiro elected Senators: Lindberg Farias (PT), and Marcelo Crivella (PBS). Lindberg topped the race of 11 candidates with 4.2 million votes (28.65%) and Crivella was reelected to office, coming in second with 3.3 million votes (22.7%).

The Chamber of Deputies has 513 members, who are elected every four years. Each state has between eight and seventy representative in the Chamber of Deputies, depending upon the population of the state. Some interesting Carioca candidates this year included two soccer players: Romario de Souza Faria and Jose Roberto Gama de Oliveira (Bebeto). Romario ran for Federal Deputy under the Brazilian Socialist party and Bebeto for Deputy of State as a part of the Democratic Labor Party. Neither have any political experience, but both hope to use their celebrity (members of the successful 1994 World Cup team) to bring light to issues of education and distribution of resources within Brazilian society. Focuses include improving the quality of life within Rio’s favelas, introducing sports programs in schools, and training programs to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games.



In São Paulo, a clown by the name of Tiririca (a colloquial term meaning “Grumpy”) won, as expected, a seat in the Chamber of Deputies. With over 1.3 million votes, he came in first out of 70 elected candidates. His humorous advertisements included the slogans: “What does a Deputy do? I don’t know…but elect me and I will tell you!” and “It can’t get any worse!” However, current doubts concerning his ability to read and write may jeopardize his political career. Judgment of that sort seems a bit cruel, considering that one in ten Brazilians are illiterate.

Trumping Tiririca’s eccentrics is a political figure from Brazil’s past: Macaco Tião. Born in 1963, Macaco Tião was a beloved Chimpanzee, residing in Rio de Janeiro’s Zoo. He was known for throwing fruit and excrement at his adoring visitors. In 1988, a newspaper jokingly announced Tião’s candidacy for Mayor. He came in third, with over 400,000 votes. The public continued to vote for him as a write-in candidate until 1996, when the voting procedure switched to a computer system. He died the same year, of diabetes…or perhaps a broken heart resulting from unfulfilled political ambition.