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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another Gay Pride Parade?

You people seem to live on gay prides, right? No, it is just that in Rio and Porto Alegre they are belated events. They happen late in the year whereas in Sao Paulo and in the United States, they happen mid-year.

It so happens that on this Sunday, November 1st, Rio de Janeireans, we call them Cariocas, will have their turn to march to the sound of beats and dazzling performances for rights and all the old stuff we so much want and claim as legitimate rights. Their theme: I have the right to live and love freely. A fair claim, we say.

It will be their 14th Gay Pride Parade. we read elsewhere that the Governor of Rio himself was there last year to lend support to the LGBT cause. A great do.

The South Side of Rio is up in flags bracing, err, preparing for the onslaught of the old and young ones flying and being bussed in from Sao Paulo and other towns around this area to witness this important event for the city.

The city? Yes, tons of money is spent when all this people come in and naturally, business rejoice at the prospect of having the flood of customers in for the parade. I would, too.

Check their site:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Body Language

When we write we tend to jot down what is foremost on our minds. Where does it come from? Outer Space? I don’t know. We are able to “log on to” hidden crannies in our brain that retain information for later use. Or maybe, we tap into the World of Ideas of Plato.

Sometimes, we get to see parts of our Being that wants to be in evidence but cannot do it explicitly. Life makes use of subtle antics to manifest itself. I think that when we write or say something, we always reveal a little bit of ourselves, like a footprint, in the Path.

As is with body language that will show when we speak our minds. The best of actors will not conquer it. Self-control will not be enough. Eyes too, windows. Souls are revealed through the eyes. Watch, if you can, your eyes…

Sobre a Linguagem do corpo

Ao escrevermos tendemos a por no papel aquilo que está passando em nossa mente. De onde vem isso. Do Espaço Sideral? Não sei. Talvez acessemos recônditos escondidos em nosso cérebro. Algo que retém informação para uso posterior. Ou talvez, buscamos isso no Mundo das Idéias de Platão.

Às vezes, acessamos parte de nosso Ser que quer se manifestar e não consegue explicitamente. A Vida usa de artifícios muito sutis para fazer-se evidente. Penso que ao escrevermos ou falarmos deixamos sempre um pouco de nós revelado, como um rastro, no Caminho.

Como a linguagem corporal que teima em aparecer quando o verbo diz outra coisa. Inexorável é a linguagem do corpo. O melhor ator não a domina. Extremo auto-controle não lhe adianta. Os olhos também, janelas. As almas se revelam pelos olhos. Cuidado, se você puder, com o olhar...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gay Pride in Porto Alegre. Yes to Rights, No to Violence

True to form, thousands turned out to see the Gay Pride Parade in Porto Alegre.

After a rainy Saturday which kept most everyone wringing their hands and worried that oh no, we're going to have to postpone the event, the sun rose early on Sunday morning to greet the parade watchers.

No different than the previous years, the event was a huge success.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon when the park started filling up. At first, a small set of MC's in drag ready to get the show on the road. From a trickle to a barrage of people eager to take part in the fun, the park filled up unrecognizably.

The straight crowd watched sheepishly and with curiosity the commotion that was to take place. I could have sworn I detected a touch of self-consciousness on them.

The usual do's and acknowledgements, clad in garish and sometimes downright gaudy attire, but carrying their dresses gracefully, the performers did their best to impress.

With the Rainbow flag unfurled and waving in the air, people had a sense of accomplishment about them. It was beautiful to watch gay and lesbian couples holding hands, marching to the beat of the latest disco hits and enjoying their day.

Surely, the odd spoilsport was on hand to cast malicious comments on the whole affair but that was not enough to dampen the spirits of those who want to have another world in which love and understanding, justice and equality for all is freely available.

Come back for the photos to be uploaded shortly.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On What People Do When They Go Vacationing in the South

The web is full of lurid tales of people who leave their cocooned existence in richer, colder climates to find comfort in the third world. What we read about most often is when their experiences go sour.

Frequently, it is either because they have liaisoned with children too young to be out there in the company of “different” foreigners or because they have been found lifeless in some tropical bedroom.

The picture painted here is not positive.

Realistically, when one person or other decides to take a few days off and fly themselves to some warm, brown, country one knows for a fact that they do not come to merely take pictures of the lush landscape and the various shades of green. They come, and there is no denying it, to seek for release. Release from the repressed societies they live in and family arrangements they may be getting away from for a while.

The thing goes bad when people decide to fall in love for that young twenty-something they have met at some club. That is not good. Simply because you come from different worlds and you have different outlooks on life. More often than not, it is the vacationer who is going to end up footing the bill. The bills of his beloved and, it is suspected, the beloved’s next of kin.

Am I saying, then, that people are not allowed to fall in love? No. I am merely saying, and I have met many bi-national couples, that long distance love is hard for two similar bank accounts, what to say when there is a discrepancy in the solvency of either one or the other fellow in the relationship? Something’s gotta give.

It is entirely possible that I am being a bit severe on foreigners that go on vacation in the south and meet with, unwittingly, the bogeyboy, girl, man. It is a risky enterprising.

It is specially risky when you fall in love and you demand devotion from your twenty-something. Oh, don’t.

Oh, you are a prude and a spoilsport. No, I am all for the fun of it. I am for the good feelings and good emotions - and peace of mind.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Does Porto Alegre Have a Book Fair?

Visitors at the Book Fair - A crowd drawer
Gay Pride Parades, beautiful parks, beautiful people, all the amenities found in the best capitals all over and a book fair to boot?

Yes, Porto Alegre has a book fair. An annual event held every year towards the end of October, beginning of November.

It is one of the oldest in the country. This after one porto-alegrean visited one such fair in Rio de Janeiro and inspired, he came up with a similar event in Porto Alegre. That was in 1955.

What they wanted was to make books available to the masses and since they would not come to the books why not take the books to the them? That is what they did back then.

Paixão Cortês - Honoree 2010. 
Alfândega (Customs) Square was a busy corner in Porto Alegre in the 50s and 400 thousand people inhabited the Merry Port. So, on November 16th, 1955, the first Porto Alegre Book Fair was set in motion with 14 wooden stalls around a monument to an important general. From then on, as you can imagine, the fair idea caught on and goes on until today.

With all the success, at the occasion of the eleventh book fair, the tradition of adopting one Honoree – a Guest of Honor, so to speak – who would represent the whole idea of the fair, began. And to him homage is paid every year. The Honoree, more often than not a writer or an important personality connected to books or to academia, is always busy granting interviews and making clear his vision of the world.

This year’s fair will be held from October 29th to November 15th , 2010. Been swayed? Catch that flight and visit the fair.


Book Fair Organizers

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On Violence Against Women. Sad Truths

Women, love them or hate them. I love them.

Not so, apparently, do some disgruntled males in the United States. If violence perpetraded against women is the plat du jour in the daily servings of the American media, one is led to think that there is something wrong with north-american men.

Women are not just shot, clubbed or hacked to death but their remains are stuffed in suitcases and thrown into dumpsters. Not to mention babies that are ripped from their wombs as they lie dead.

Now there is something to be said about a pattern that has been developing for a long time. Worrisome. One would have thought that in a supposedly advanced society anger and its corollaries would be a thing of the past.

No way! It is very today and it may be happening as we write. Girls, do something to protect yourselves. And if we cast our attention to the Middle East, we read (and watch) that women are literally disfigured by acid thrown on their faces by suitors who may have been rejected. And now, ten women are supposed to have been murdered by a serial killer in a small town in the same country mentioned above. Sadly, by their ethnicity, black, their plight might go, it is hinted, under-reported and under-investigated. Go figure.

Meanwhile, in the world, things are happening all in the name of some power or some money or some other agenda. Heavens guide us!

On Sex and How...

It affects our lives. We in the Western Hemisphere are steeped in Judeo-Christian tradition and that can only mean one thing: repression.

Sexual repression, that is. A look around mental health offices we will notice that most of the complaints therapists hear are all about relationships and how they have gone bad. And how sex has become stuff of dreams.

Some will say that this construct, the west's religious background, is no longer in operation. Ha! No longer? Then that means it was there once. As if that weren't enough to cause the downfall of governments...

While in gay relationships what seems to matter is the myth of youth and in heterosexual relationships the myth of thinness - women seem to think that their men want them thinner. It could not be farther from the truth. Men prefer their women plumpy and exuding with power. For ages on end men have been looking for comfort and they will lay their heads on willing, fleshy bosoms.

The above seems to indicate that humans operate by intricate mechanisms not yet explained by science.

It is hormonal. It is in our chemistry. No amount of bible-thumping and scarlet wearing will stamp out the age old urge to go out and liaise with other human beings - gay or straight.

If you get that, fine. Otherwise, accept your sexuality the way it is and make the best out it. No use beating yourself up about it (please no pun). Let us all live and let live so that we can preserve our sanity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can Rio Solve Its Crime Problem Before the Olympics?

Can Rio Solve Its Crime Problem Before the Olympics?

To answer the question above we will have to turn to the Oracle at Delphi.

This historical inequality problem and the complete disregard with which the powers that be treat the disadvantaged population is an impediment to progress in the Wonderful City.

Do we have time, in six years, to give the hapless population long used to inattention a measure of security? Only if we started working yesterday. It is imperative that the authorities in Rio de Janeiro address the rampant poverty on the hills of the city and give the shanty-town dwellers hope for a better future.

Education, decent jobs and food on their tables will do the trick. It should be done sooner rather than later. Let us wish ourselves luck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is the Soul in the Brain?

Soul. Is it real? Is it to be found in my feet, head, solar plexus? Where? It is said that the metaphysical controversy has been going on for ages.

We all know and feel, that deep down or way out, there is someThing that makes Its presence known in our moments of meditation. We've all read somewhere in this or that philosophical tradition that man is spiritual and that the Soul rears its beautiful head in most of the discussions.

I wonder what it is like to experience the Soul? If I touch myself, do I touch my S/soul? If I smoke, will It smoke as well?

What if one day we could all download our innermost processes onto a memory stick? Then decide to put it away for safe keeping. Uploading them back onto our brains when needed?

That is not far from reality. We have all seen injured soldiers back from the wars where they are reduced to fractions of what they used to be and then fitted with gleaming prosthetics they look part-men, part-machines. Veritable cyborgs. Iron-men.

What if Mary Baker Eddy was right? There is no Life in materiality. Materiality is fuelled by God (cosmic energy). Ergo, it is subject to my Mind. That so?

Better start thinking good thoughts, constructive ones, just to be on the safe side of things.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Loneliness, Eyes, Bodies, Desires

Loneliness makes you stupid. Also, it makes you walk for miles and never move an inch. Amazing.

Consider night-life in my hometown. Or any other town the world over. Bars packed to the rafters with souls in search of whatever, that cannot be found, but stubbornly they trudge on. They will keep on knocking (with their eyes) until whoever answers.

Bodies talking, rather, begging with their unflinching language the attention that will not come.

Attention is a bitch. Do we not know it is spoken for? Surely, it will go to the under forties.

Haven’t you noticed? I have. When you reach your forties you become invisible. A mere wall painting. The Scream by Edvard Munch says it better. Museum bound.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On Rio Violence. Will There Ever Be an End?

Incredible images out of Rio de Janeiro when we watch on TV that a police helicopter has been shot down by drug lords on the hills of the Wonderful City. This time two policemen were killed.

The helicopter had tried an emergency landing on the soccer pitch of Vila Olimpica de Sampaio before catching fire. This is actually the culmination of a week-long ordeal with police raids and shoot-outs.

People are trying to solve this problem by shooting from the hip in disputes for drug sales at the Macacos (Monkeys) Hill, in the north zone of the city.

Four buses were set on fire. People have been found dead in a car on a road leading to the community. Chaos and panic reigning in the bullet-ridden reality of the favela.

At the time, 120 policemen were in operation at the place.

The festering wound on Rio's image is its poverty. People have no hope of getting anywhere other than they have already reached and drug lords offering a way out. We get death.

Now that everyone is happy that the city has been chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Besieged by violence, the city trudges on.

Video by André Souza

On Medicinal Plants

Late last night I watched a show on Globo TV –  Brazil’s most popular TV channel – on medicinal plants.

The show was an eye-opener in that the reporters strove to squeeze the most they could out of the the various experts on phyto botanicals they had interviewed.

I watched in awe as they reported on trees in the Amazon forest and how promising the research being done is. In the oil of  single tree, Copaíba, for example, there might be the cure for Cancer, tuberculosis or, as one of the interviewees said, even AIDS.

They  also showed how people in those parts of the world live without the traditional meds we take for granted and rely solely on plants for their aches and pains. And surprisingly, taking statistics as a basis, their longevity is remarkable. Obviously, we cannot tell whether this is because of the power of the plants they imbibe in concoctions or the very fact they live in remote regions, away from sources of pollution. However, that is drink for thought.

If we consider that we live in an over-marketed world when it comes to drugs - with new diseases and the “right” medicine for them easily available and mainstream media campaigning on our behalf, it is a breath of fresh air to learn that much is being done to popularize what is already popular.

My great-mothers and their mothers all very much relied on herbs for every complaint they had and I find myself touched by the knowledge they took to the grave with them.

Luckily, my sisters seem to have retained some of that Wisdom.

Above: Tanchagem (Plantago major L.) - used for the treatment of Acne to Chronic Urethritis.

Left: Cashew fruit - the fruit is mashed and from it a gel-like substance is used to heal open wounds.,,MUL1344242-16619,00.html

Friday, October 16, 2009

On writing Blogs

Kudos to technology! We’re now able to write blogs and feel good about it.

There’s more, we have to “importune” (notice the word I used) our friends to find time to read what we write - which can be interesting or boring. Of course I know that not everyone in our mailing list has broadband or is familiar with the novelty. Or, personal experience, interested.

I have had the closest of friends telling me that they have not found the time to take a peek at what I have been doing over these past three months. Not a peep. You may feel the same.

We've got to be patient and wait for the blog fever to catch on in our neighborhood. It is just like Facebook (I'm on there. Want to add me? Feel free). We all catch up with it and start looking for folks we used to know years ago.

Further afield, we hope to be writing interesting stuff so that we can be sure of other bloggers following us. Man alive! There are thousands out there. Which is good and bad. Good because we have the chance to get to know so many people and whatever kicks they get out of life, and bad because we may overlook the good ones because we don't know about their being there.

No matter, we will keep our writing coming and regale all the other bloggers with new and interesting stuff to add to their knowledge. The experience is mostly positive, you betcha!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pride in Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Do we folks have Pride Parade like you do in the United States and in the United Kingdom, with thousands of people turning out to say: "Yes, we're out, get used to it. We're here to stay?"

Yes, we do.

Porto Alegre will host this year's Pride parade on Sunday, October 25th, at the Redenção (as in Redemption) Park.

The park is a meeting point for rallies, protests and the like and this is also the place where porto-alegreans go on Sunday afternoons to chat with their friends and to enjoy their Matte tea.

Surely, it is nothing like the parades in São Paulo that attract millions, or to be rivaled with those of New York, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro (Rio's is on November 1st, this year) and in other major cities around the world, let us be honest. Nonetheless, the LGBT community is out in force, literally.

To give you an idea, the parade has become so popular that you will be hard pressed to find a place to stand amongst those old ladies and their grandchildren there to watch the extravaganza as it rolls by. Where else would you see scantily dressed young men and done-up trans and she-males on floats with music blaring to the nth decibel?

One nice thing I have noticed is that the number of young gay people, teens to early twenties, boys as well as girls, holding hands and skittering to and fro in the crowd. You would never have seen this 10 years ago. Times are changing. For the better.

On Global Human Rights Causes

While we applaud the efforts underway in the United States for unjust laws to be repealed and inclusive policies to be put in place in various spheres of that society, we should also take a moment to reflect on what is going on in the world regarding human, or more specifically, LGBT rights.

On Facebook, there is a huge campaign going on about the Decriminalization of Homosexuality. With about 180 thousand members the organizers – Dutch and French -  want to bring the matter to that very place where world issues are discussed – the United Nations.

We would profit by making this global cause known to all. It is high time we stopped the navel gazing and participated in the plight of millions around the world who don’t have half the “freedom” we have.

For universal causes you may want to add your voice to:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Noble Prizes and People that Get Them

Commercial Indeed.
I tend to take issue at the loose portrayals, sometimes blown out of proportion or frequently downsized to accommodate and to fit preconceived parameters, of gay people.
In Brazilian soaps, gay people are often portrayed as raging queens or frivolous beings interested in fashion or the latest hair style. Little is shown of the real life of those who endure in the real world of prejudice and lack of respect. Little is shown or said that gay people pay taxes, go to school, have jobs, and have families.
Watching trailers of The Single Man, by Tom Ford, I have been drawn to the same feeling yet again. What kind of individual is Mr Ford trying to portray? Is it really the lonely person grieving over the loss of his companion? Or is it another propaganda piece to sell his wares? Apart from the main character, shown in his real age, what comes to mind is that yet again we see what is most prevalent in the gay scene: the eternal youth.
If you haven’t been living in a cave for the last twenty years, or more, you will notice that The Pink Market is associated with youth, muscles and fashion. Far from the truth. In gay life, there are all sorts of people who are as normal as your uncle from the next state and who, hello, missed out on his mortgage for lack of funds.
Granted, there are those who follow fashion and have tons of money to burn. All power to them. However, it would behoove movie directors to reach farther into the community and take examples of life-sized people. I know you are going to say that the non-descript, run of the mill, filthy nailed, paunched with smoke-tainted teeth slob does not sell in Hollywood. I shy away from those types, too. Nonetheless, there are those who are in between who would fit the bill very nicely, thank you.

For Those Who Love Books

You are what you read. You read, therefore you are.

It just happens to be underway, in Frankfurt, Germany, from 14-18 October, if you want to take note of the fact.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is a major trade fair that has been happening for the last five hundred years. An event made possible by the invention of the movable type printing by Johannes Gutenberg.

It is an interesting milestone on the calendar of world publishing in that books are the plats du jour. Books, books, books. I mean books, media, rights and licenses with about eight thousand exhibitors from one hundred countries. A huge gathering. It is beautiful for book lovers because it is a veritable treasure find. It something akin to finding King Solomon’s Mines. Miles of corridors to be walked. And admired.

Every year the Fair pays homage to a country. In 2009, China is the Guest of Honor. Germans and the world will have a chance to see that country's literature – there must be a lot to show.

This year, however, besides spotlighting on the Guest of Honor and its vibrant literary landscape, the Fair will also zero in on Education for the Future and on Creative Content, that is, work linked to both publishing and other creative industries and new partnerships for pioneering the digital future. Attendees will have a lot to see.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scraps - The Story of a Young Man Who Made it Big.

1976 – Somewhere, a small town, in the south of Brazil, Latin America – Tina Charles: "Dance Little Lady Dance..."

Pussycat: "Where the Mississippi rolls down to the sea
And lovers found the place they'd like to be
How many times before the song was ending
Love and understanding
Everywhere around".

Just ten years old, he hears the music he could not understand on people's radios, those two at least, as he comes back home with his mom and younger sister and very small brother as they wend their way along the beaten dirt road to their small lean-to Sister Maria had built them.

On his back, a bundle of scrap wood they had been to the lumber's to collect. It happened most Saturday mornings. The scraps were thrown on a pile for the poor. A mad scramble it was. The first to get to the pile collected the most.

The father always absent and a drunkard, probably away on a selfish journey on his drinking binges.

Pitiful sight to see but they trudged on, spurred by the mother. Source of heat, he knew. They needed the fire wood to cook their scant meals.

On somebody’s radio, Tina Charles crooned her famous song and he pretended to sing along. The language fascinated him no end and perhaps he knew then that one day he would master it.

Back home to decide what to put on the wood stove. Shall we cook the neckbone or stir a polenta with the scraps of corn flour? The not having it enough touched him to the core at that young age. If it was a Saturday and they’d been to the Lumber’s to collect scrap wood, then it would mean the mother had not been to work doing her cleaning jobs and then no money so she would send him over to the grocer’s to buy scraps of pork meat and cassava.

Those were hard years, he recollects. The constant fights in his family. What family was that? His battered mother suffering hell for a bad choice she had made. The kids, his young siblings, that had died. Of hunger? The constant lack of everything. Lack. Lack. Lack. To this day he thinks he grew up fatherless. He envies Nemo.

At school, the young man fared poorly. He did not accomplish much. How could he? He did scraps of learning here and there. His awareness of his surroundings and of himself made him want to grow wings and fly.

Twelve years old at the no-named protestant church. He was baptized and became different. He heard that life was different and that there was a bigger world out there. He did listen. He had ears. One of the most important steps he took.

For when he was sixteen, he went to work as a bagger at a local supermarket - he had tried knocking on that door so many times before - and became known. He could sing in that foreign language. Of course, people did not believe him at first. They said he was making it all up. He was not. “Please, don’t go, don’t go, I beg you to stay….”.The beginning of the eighties.

Poor thing was taunted by the boys. He was cute and not without his attractions. He remembers that once when invited to attend a language class, for he was a good example, he saw himself in a classroom with the more well-off kids in town. He was thoroughly embarrassed his trousers had a hole in the crotch. Yes. It was bought with his wages. He had bought his pants at the Jumble Sales - clothes sent from Europe to the poor of Brazil. They had to sell those clothes. Those people would not confer on them their due value. Teach’em how to fish.

Word spreads that the mulatto boy speaks the oh-so-en-vogue language. Ah, unbelievable at first but he was offered a post at some small firm – a publishing and book distributor – to translate telexes. He endured hell for they were different. He was different, he had darker skin and he did not have a South-European surname. He says he still remember his colleagues from work. Some he says are doing very well. Have kids of their own. Here he became a book-worm. Reading was all he had.

Word spreads further afield. He now begins to teach English - the language he had learned with his Church - to those his home-towners who liked travelling and visiting distant places. He remembers being given a few American cents once. And dates from Jerusalem. And being sent postcards from places he would only dream about. Interestingly enough he set foot on some of those very countries. Yes, he did.

This is when, in his late teens and mid-twenties, now that he had been expelled from the Church on account of his differentness. He thought better of it and said he would choose himself when faced with that choice: Sophie's Choice? Maybe not. He'd been asked to either choose his being different other than the conventional or the Church. Incompatibility. His life-style and the church. Naturally.

He was noticed, dark-skinned, exotic boy. He was. By all who happened to walk by him. He had now a reputation to keep. That was difficult and hard and a pain for him. For he had to do with his life the way it was allowed him to. In the margins. At night when it was dark. That is when he was abused and sometimes even beaten by those very bullies he now sees in those holes they dug for themselves. Yes, all of them. He says he now watches from the outside.

He remembers he had to leave his mother and siblings to live with his godmother because it was easier for him to go to work. He supported his family. There is no word here of his step-father some horrible bully his mother had found when finally she decided to leave her abusive husband.

The first person he engaged in an intimate relationship was one of his cousins’ friend. He was in love and totally into that person. Starry night. The field. The warmth of that body. The kiss that has not left his memory. Is he still drawing breath? He must be. This is one of those warm nights walking hand in hand on the fields they were surprised by the whole gang of boys who suspected….Take it on the chin.

He climbs up the social, professional rung and on and off at the same company, he toils. Up until the day he saved enough for a trip to Europe. He wanted it so badly. He made it to Europe and met his pen-pal from northern Europe. He wanted to go to England. He had a friend there who had gone before. Only because he had a letter from his friend did the customs officers deny him entry to the hallowed country. Of course he had plans of working and making a life for himself there. Not allowed to. Hopes dashed. He spent the night in a cold police cell. Next day he was sent back to where he had taken the train. The Eurostar.

Back in his country to the same old routines. His mind fast at work. He climbs higher. This is when he is promoted to publishing assistant and his job involved travelling to Europe to visit book fairs. He never told his boss he had been denied entry to the country a year or two before. Upon arrival, it was a dramatic scene, since his boss had made it to the other side of the passport control and he did not. Interestingly enough, England was the country he visited most in his travels.

He was still exotic when in pubs in Soho. Attracted the obvious attention as was expected without being swarmed with proposals. He enjoyed it through and through. That prompted his boss to remark would he ever go to a museum instead.

His life changed when the internet arrived.

to be continued.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama's Gay Outreach: All Talk, No Action

Obama's Gay Outreach: All Talk, No Action

My take:

Meanwhile, The United States goes on losing ground with the rest of the world. Failing to catch up with Uruguay down here is, in itself, mind-boggling. If only the people or the hurdles the president quotes that are against change and equality were to be dispelled and replaced with more sympathetic ones...

Not so. It will take ages for that to happen. Unless, less pessimistically, people in attendance in such rallies campaign really, really hard to change the status quo.

The National Equality March Rally in Washington, D.C.
Sunday, October 11, 2009.

Raw Emotion

From the media:

"Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay member of Congress, said the marchers should be lobbying their lawmakers. He said the demonstrations are simply 'an emotional release' that do little to pressure Congress.

'The only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass,' the Massachusetts Democrat said Friday."

From the Cultural Industry:

"Obama, are you listening????"
And to Barney Frank: "We're putting more than pressure on this grass; this grass is ours!"

Lady Gaga

"It's time for us to make the president move beyond words."

Cynthia Nixon - Actress

On a more academic note and with reasonable arguments

"Repealing the ban now will be more
difficult than when it was created in 1993. It
is no longer a Pentagon policy, but rather one
codified in law. It will require new legislation,
which would necessitate a filibuster-proof
supermajority in the Senate.52 Most likely,
leadership on the issue will come from the
executive branch, and President Obama’s
transition team has indicated it will likely
tackle the issue next year.53 It is also possible
the law could be struck down by judicial
action finding the law unconstitutional.

Based on this research, it is not time for
the administration to reexamine the issue;
rather, it is time for the administration to
examine how to implement the repeal of the

Read the whole PDF file at:


On National Sterotypes - Which One is Throwing the Rocks?

It is that diaper-head over there, Dummy! Yes, We speak Latin.

National stereotypes and how we can get rid of them. We can’t. They will always be there. One thing we have to do is to cut down on the degree of mordancy they are expressed. That said, I cannot help but be amazed at the number of things we see on the Internet.

Some videos are just plain malevolent. Some are malevolently real. Some just hearsay, not based on fact. How to filter out the good from the bad?

I touched on the subject when I wrote “A Bit More Where I Come from” on this blog. Based on baseless stereotypes, Brazilian women are considered an easy lay and most of them have less than a stellar reputation in European housewives’ lore. Or that we are sex machines. I beg to differ!

In the last decade, much has been said about how much Americans ignore of the world and its inhabitants. The Bush wars (and era) made that plain when the media explored Americans' less than accurate knowledge of world affairs. Okay. The problem is, to quote a friend: “just the interviewed ones”. True. People who have had contact with the nation – and who have first hand contact with Americans - up north will say that most of what we see and hear is just that, exaggeration.

Surely, I have caught myself explaining that Buenos Aires is in Argentina and that Maradona is Argentinian not Brazilian. Pelé is Brazilian. So what? That lady living in that little shack up on the hills (Oops, or that penthouse in Ipanema) in Rio de Janeiro is just as ignorant of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, for example. Or that Bernard Madoff is a priest of evil - to go a bit over the top.

It is very true that in the United States we will find excellence in education and that the best minds in Science make their homes in that country. That the meds we take com from American labs, or the money we remit to the U.S. every time we use our VISA for instance, or the tithing we pay at that particular religious denomination we happen to belong to, or the computers we use, by the way. So, we could make the case that ignorant people do not think that far, or wide. That, alone, is enough to rest my case.

However, popular belief still affirms to the contrary when yes, people up north could make an extra effort and learn more languages. What for? Isn’t English a global language, already? Yes, it is. But then, when we learn a foreign language, we will also widen our sense of identity. True.

This is just an appetizer. We cannot, for reasons of space, ramble on about the Chinese, the Japanese, the Scots, the Irish, the Welsh, the Chilean. I am sure they all have their national peculiarities. Wonderful. To quote Vanessa Redgrave on Larry King Live years ago: “Thank God for diversity!” Praise Him/Her, indeed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In a Surprise, Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

In a Surprise, Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Sur-prize, indeed! Questioning whether he deserves it or not is fruitless. Let us see what we can pick up from the vibes we read about on the internet. My gut reaction: "you lose the Olympics and we'll give you the Nobel". Supposing the world were run like this. Surely it is not.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another World is Possible

At least in theory. This is what the WSF – World Social Forum – has been trying to say for ten years now.

The World Social Forum, a democratic space for the debate of ideas where imperialism and capitalism are off the table and where people are invited to contribute with their ideas for a better and just society for everyone, first started in Porto Alegre, RS, in 2001. From then on, it only got momentum and spread globally.

On January 25-29, 2010, it will be back in Porto Alegre. If you wanted an excuse to come and visit, this is it. You will be joined by people from the world over. People who have different ideas and projects as to how the world should be run.

In all the editions, the first three held in Porto Alegre, the forum saw the likes of Noam Chomsky, President Inácio Lula da Silva, then candidate (2001), and a variety of other world luminaries who dared to speak against the yoke of big corporations and the rampant plundering of the world’s resources.

Surely next year we will be hearing a lot of discussions about climate change (The Copenhagen Summit will have just finished) and the perilous state the world is in and, no doubt, the Palestinian-Israeli dichotomy, the ill-fated American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the reduction of deforestation in the Amazon. A lot on their plate.

Want to track their progress?

1 -
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They Are All Aiming for the Same Thing

In a time when the gay agenda is all the rage and when the American president is all set to address the nation on Gay Rights and whether the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is to be nullified and replaced with full rights for gay people in the Army, and when we think that TV shows have always reflected society, it is only natural that networks will cash in on the niche.

True to form, ABC debuted last week a TV show, Modern Families, a show with two gay dads. They are so every-day, you find it strange, already. Great news in an ever-changing world where concepts are being shifted to accommodate new lines of thinking. About time, we say.

In Brazil, especially in Rio Grande do Sul, there seems to be a shift towards an understanding that yes, gay families are okay and why should they not be allowed to adopt or be moms and dads?

If you live in Rio Grande do Sul, and you are gay, at least judicially, you can count yourself lucky for in our neck of the woods, gay relationships when founded on strong affection and geared towards building a family, are recognized by our top courts. Great, we say, because we have heard of and read about many gay relationships that have gone down the drain and, luckily, have found support in our local courts when the issue of the division of assets cropped up. And not only that, nationally, you are a foreigner and your partner Brazilian and you have proof of your relationship going back, what, years, yes, family courts will now recognize your relationship and voilà! you can get permanent resident status.

Courts do now recognize common-law, same-sex relationships, that is, if they are public anyway, and go on to determine the proper division of the assets gathered while you two were an item. So it stands to reason that notaries are busy drafting contracts between these new couples if they are to avoid those pesky legal troubles down the road. It has not always been like this, of course.

We have reached this far through hard work and campaigning and our magistrates being with their eyes open to developments the world over. Surely, we are aware that many people have been instrumental in this shift in conscience. Chiefly among those, we have a judge, Maria Berenice Dias, founding president of IBDFAM - Instituto Brasileiro de Direito de Família (The Brazilian Institute for Family Law) who, through her books and untiring efforts, Rio Grande do Sul is a state we can be proud of. Next step, marriage?

Judge Maria has written extensively about human rights and, specifically, has drawn attention to the fact that Justice should not be blind to new societal paradigms and that the concept we have of family, as the classical mom and dad, children, church and state set, may not be the reality anymore. So do the new families have a place in society?

On Violence Against Gays

Homophobic attacks are not mythological. They are real and they they happen every day in big cities and in small ones all over the world. In Brazil, however, they are alarmingly common.

According to one official in Rio, Cláudio Nascimento, over the last decade, 3 thousand homosexuals have been murdered and 64% of them have been victims of violence and that includes gay men and women, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals.

Many countries around the world have their hands dirty with the blood of people who have been killed simply because they are not the conventional mold. What is conventional? Does anybody know?
Support decriminalisation of Homosexuality at UN!
Support French-Dutch Petition For International Homosexuality Decriminalisation, Presented To The United Nations

Art: Fabiano Spadari

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Trial of HIV Vaccine in Gay Men Begins - Gay Men?

HIV the virus that causes AIDS, always the first line of health stories on our TV and in newspapers, has been the buggeyman for gay men for nearly three decades now and they still haven’t found a cure for it – or a vaccine. Cynics will say that the interests of the Big Pharma will never allow that to happen. They say the same thing about cancer.

In other spheres: the religious right will say “it serves you right, why did you have to engage in doubtful behavior”; doctors will upbraid you for not wearing a condom and your father, who has lived with your gayness reluctantly, will throw up his hands and never bother to invite you for those family dinners. What does the government say? Nothing. They follow the science.

God forbid, when we consider what is publicly known as fast-tracking meds, the result may not be good. Pharmaceutical companies have already been hit by huge lawsuits. In that case, humankind is out of the fire and into the frying pan. The debate is never-ending. What about vaccines and other controversial drugs for AIDS, for example?

Not so fast, some say. According to a group of people, scientists in various fields in Biology, HIV is not the cause of AIDS. These scientists and others are called, branded, rather, AIDS deniers by the mainstream scientific community which affirms categorically that HIV is the cause of AIDS. HIV dissidence is split in two actually, like this: those who strictly believe that yes, the bug exists but is a harmless passenger virus, and those who will say, poo! poo! the thing does not exist, and that porcupine-like ball you see is not HIV but a malignant cell. Hello?? Either way…

Interestingly, another guy,Canadian filmmaker Brent Leung, decides to go see things for himself and makes a documentary about the whole debate and comes up with House of Numbers. Before that, we have The Other Side of AIDS by Robin Scovill. I have not seen the House of Numbers yet, however I have read about the dissidence. And when asked whether I thought the dissidence had an agenda, I said I did not know, and still don’t. The whole dissident theory makes for a very compelling read but is one that hits you to the core in that deniers will say is that because gay men lead, shall we say, fast lane lifestyles – some of us do, it is true - we will perhaps unwittingly veer towards harm’s way by not paying attention to our health. Dump those chemicals you have your medicine cabinet…

All those people immortalized in quilts, what about them? They died because of the massive doses of AZT they were given and now after years of refining they have come up with less lethal meds your liver can accommodate and metabolize, so they say, and that is why people are living longer and leading normal, healthy lives. Really? go tell it to those people who take five hundred pills a day. Those have a different story to tell.

Africa? They are dying of hunger and of those tropical diseases we have never heard of in our neck of the woods and they have no infrastructure. After all, they live next to open sewers. Women? It is because they engage in gay men style sex and boom! They get the bug. Where have I read (or heard?) that tops are less at risk of catching the virus? Even the WHO - world Health Organization - admits they may have overblown statistics to draw attention to this syndrome. No, WHO said in December last year, infection continues in those risk groups (guess who?) and no, it is not crossing over.

Meanwhile, from where we sit, watching the whole debate unfold and not knowing who or what to believe in, aware that there are people who either have passed or are suffering with the disease, we are left helpless. Can we take a more proactive role? Why don't we start with the media? We do need a more investigative media, one we can rely on, one devoid of corporate interests that are intrinsically linked to Science (in a bad way?) to give us a clear picture. Why don’t we bring people like Robert Gallo, Peter Duesberg (these two go back decades working together and now bitter foes – apparently) and Luc Montagnier, to the hot seat and demand of them what the hell is going on. So many questions.

Read further:

The World’s Most Reviled Genius
Can the scientist who denied the cause of AIDS be trusted to cure cancer?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The History of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. From Cattle Rustlers to Heroes

Timeline: The Pampas. The early inhabitants of South America. Portuguese and Spanish Colonization. Cattle rustling. The French Revolution. Positivism of Auguste Comte. Massive European immigration: Portuguese from the Azores, Germans, Poles, Italians, Jews and African slaves. Julio de Castilhos. War heroes. Order and Progress. RS. Porto Alegre.

The song lyrics and the translation? Ok. I'll see what I can do.

Horse Rider With Boleadoras
The quintessential gaúcho image
National Geographic

Chevron: The Toxic Tour

Chevron: The Toxic Tour

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Bit About Where I Come from

A work in progress, I'm totally aware of who (and whatever) is around me, I'm cool, practical and a bit of an air-head sometimes. Luckily, I tend to get back on track quickly . I think of myself as being charming with a winsome smile, that is, when I'm happy. I've been there and done that. I have seen so many places.

I love reading, travelling and meeting interesting people. Quick-learner, I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting things to do and make. Some, I end up doing (and making!) some, I don't.

That is a politically correct introduction of me. As every human being who has reached his or her forties, I have been through a lot. I have had my share of suffering and hurting, heartache and pain. And happiness.

I love reading about Spirituality and practice moments of quietness. I hope to get a Master's in English Literature. I place a lot of stock in good living based on the right choices. Moderation is my motto.

I live in Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, South America. RS is further down on the map neighboring Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. We are Gaúchos. The pampas cowboys. Interesting to note that before Positivism, we used to be cattle rustlers and all that the monarchies (Spain, Portugal) did not like. The Republic brought order and progress and ourselves. A new people.

Brazil, as you know from Carnaval and Soccer, (Mulattas and Mulattoes) is a powerhouse – full of possibilities and potential. Our contrasting society where you see people with billions and people with nothing is warm and open to new ideas. It is a pity that our education is not A1. Don’t be mistaken: it is a small minority of people who can write and speak in a foreign language like I do. I have applied myself and walked the extra mile. Literally, went places.

Now don’t be fooled. When you see photos in some sites that show Brazilian women with their behinds in evidence they in no way depict the Brazilian society I know. Or my girlfriends. Some women have reached the heights of power and they deplore the image of Brazilian women that is sold abroad. In some countries in Europe, Brazilian women are seen as less than they deserve. Not that there aren’t Brazilian women who, perhaps led by necessity, engage in work some of us might frown upon. I'm aware that they may have a role to play.

Additionally, I should be quick to point out that yes, you will have a good time when you set foot in the warmer parts of this vast country if you heed my advice: do not ever be caught “red-handed” or with your "pants-down”. We are known to be slow with Justice. Believe-me, if you are caught, you will go down with a bang. Clang! Gay or straight. Younger than eighteen? Forget it!

Okay with the above? Great! Come and see us. And have a good time.

Isn't it beautiful?

Olympic Dreams Realized, Brazil Steps into the Spotlight

Olympic Dreams Realized, Brazil Steps into the Spotlight

Friday, October 2, 2009

Okedokey! So Rio is the Place. What next?

We are all on cloud nine now that we know Brazil has made it to the final cut and beat Chicago as the host for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
It is a hard-won victory.

Rio de Janeiro, the Wonderful City, has always been on the headlines and is known for its majestic beaches and its quaint favelas, or shantytowns. The case that was made was genuine. You come up with a map and graphic and establish that South America is strange to Olympic Games. Hello! Why send it to North American or Europe?

Once thing is certain: The mad dash now to bring the city up to snuff and conform to international standards is about to begin. There is a lot that has to be done. Infrastructurewise. You know the drill. People who have visited the tropical paradise will tell you that being in Rio is a constant rush of adrenaline. You cannot shake the feeling that you are about to be mugged and subtracted of your camera or credit card or your bathing trunk. I have met people who sadly did have that experience. in Rio, rarely should you advance out of your hotel room bedecked in diamonds and Louis Vuittons – be simple, be local. Wear the fabled Havaianas sandals.

It is sad I have to write about this but it is the plain truth. However, I have also met people who have been to Rio and had the time of their lives. Rio is famous not only for its sandy beaches and natural beauty and the blue of its seas but also for its bars, clubs, restaurants and samba dances. There is a lot of everything for everyone. Suppose you decide to attend a religious service in English, you just check the date and time in the local tourist literature and head to your nearest temple where you will feel right at home.

Also, if you would prefer to party till you’re fit to drop, again, the possibilities are endless – gay or straight or pan, or what have you, Rio is your place to be. A soccer game, football match, as we call it? I am sure you have heard of the Maracanã Stadium. About time too since we are to host the 2014 World Cup. My home town, Porto Alegre, is in the game, too. And so is Rio.

In search of more emotions? A trip to the favelas for a first hand, or eye, look at how the poor make it through the grueling daily life of a shantytown. Boom! Has anyone been shot? No, never heard of any tourist being unwittingly sent to the next world at the Favelas. Locals? Please! Ask your cousin who's been to Rio to tell you about it. I have friends on Facebook who have taken a day trip to the hills to see the high and lows of the fabled makeshift abodes. An unforgettable experience, obviously.

And today, a tearful President Lula described why Rio is the right choice:
“I’m sorry I’m happy and you’re sad. But you have been happy many times and we have the right to be happy now. We only needed a chance to show that we are able to do it. Rio has been through a lot. For a long time, it has only been in the papers for its police pages. We now want to show the sports pages. I truly, to the core of my heart, want to thank each and every one of the delegates that put us in the 2016 Games”.

Can you top that?

The Video speaks louder than words, however.

The Ipanema Girl - Rio Loves You

Rio deserves all this a..kissing, oops, attention. After all, this is their day. Cariocas, your rock!

Below, my rendition- and quite frankly, it is not perfect - into English of the famous Ipanema Girl song. It is a risky enterprise in that I am attempting to translate the author's emotions. Which is impossible, by the way, without encroaching into his creativity and changing what he meant exactly. Anyways, I did it so that you can have an idea of what one of the most famous songs in the world is describing.

Let us not veer from the fact that the Ipanema Girl is that kind of Ipanema girl with open access to, shall we say, New York, Paris, and all the ritzy (glitzy) places you can think of. But then, at the time, and today, too, the establishment will use such images to give the remainder of society a sense of belonging. As president Lula says in the story above, "Rio has been through a lot". Any form of escapism helps, right?

So, why don't I write about the songs the portray the people, those who dwell on the hills of Rio de Janeiro in the shantytowns, for example? Sinuous answer: while I sympathize with the people and their ills and their successes I am in consonance with the rest of the Brazilian media - we portray what is entertaining and makes you feel good. We Brazilians love it.

Anyways, I digress. Back to the song. I understand the original English version of the Ipanema Girl in English was done by one Norman Gimble. I do not have it. If you do, let me know..

Look what a pretty, graceful thing
She is the girl that comes and walks by
With a sweet gait (or sway)
(Here he means she is walking carefree and oblivious to the looks she is receiving)
On her way to the sea.
Girl, of the golden body,
from the sun of Ipanema
Your sashaying (or the swishing of your hips) is more than a poem
It is the most beautiful thing
I’ve ever seen walking by
Oh, why am I so alone?
Oh, why is everything so sad?
Oh, that beauty that exists
The beauty that is not mine alone
That also walks by on her own
Oh, If only she knew
That when she walks by
The whole world is smiling, full of grace
And becomes more beautiful

Olha que coisa mais linda
Mais cheia de graça
É ela menina
Que vem e que passa
Num doce balanço
Caminho do mar
Moça do corpo dourado
Do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado
É mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda
Que eu já vi passar
Ah! porque estou tão sozinho
Ah! porque tudo é tão triste
Ah! a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
Que também passa sozinha
Ah! Se ela soubesse
Que quando ela passa
O mundo sorrindo
Se enche de graça
E fica mais lindo

Composed in 1962

And here she is, years later..........

Helô Pinheiro - The Famous Girl from Ipanema

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You Do the Crime, You Do the Time

We hear of celebrities of this or that ilk being carted off to prison and we commiserate with them. We feel their pain. Let us all remind ourselves that celebrities are human beings and human beings make stupid mistakes – that get back to haunt them big time. Mistakes (those mistakes!), you see, are a horrible thing. If only they would keep quiet and never rear their ugly head. But they will. It is embarrassing even, mind you, because they will pop out when you least expect them…Remember that thing you did when you thought no one was looking? That one. Yes, it will come back to pester you. Oh, c’mon, it was a tiny lie, or it was just a nickel…

Life, those who are concerned with Spirituality tell us, is all about action and reaction. It is kinda like you do the crime you do the time. Karma, some say. I have grown to believe that it is so. Obviously, this is my opinion. You may disagree. Which is all fine by me. Thank Heavens for diversity.

What to say of politicians who plunder public coffers and act hypocritically? Those forever tarnish their descendants. The priceless looks we see on the faces of those who are economical with the truth…And why is it that we demonize sexuality of whatever kind and then flog our elected officials for being “guilty” of not being able to curb their very human impulses. We should standardize it in a way that we no longer stone our leaders for having a go with that young girl. Or boy? They are always younger…please do not overlook that fact. Gay or straight.

History, oh, History is tyrannical with evil-doers. Can you imagine not being able to go out and enjoy the sunshine or just an ice-cream in the park because you fear nasty looks? Some people, we watch on TV, are living just like that. Why not adhere to what is wholesome and politically correct to the eyes of everyone? Why take the shorter road? Now you know, you do the crime you do the time. Sooner, rather than later. And just because you are a celebrity do you think you can get away with whatever? ‘Course not!