Industrial Park

19 07 2014

Patricia Galvao, known in her day as “Pagu”, was a Brazilian rebel, poet, author and Communist agitator. In 1920s Sao Paulo, she wore purple lipstick and mini-skirts, married (and divorced) Oswald Andrade, a leading light of the Brazilian “cannibalist” intellectual movement, went to China, interviewed Freud, protested at a dock dispute where a worker died in her arms and was (later) arrested and tortured for four years by the Vargas military regime.

She also wrote  “Industrial Park: A Proletarian Novel”. Its a short and easy read, if rather simplistic to modern tastes. Characters – manual workers in Sao Paulo factories – are thinly sketched and speak almost exclusively in passionate, propagandistic dialogue like “our daily sweat becomes the champagne they throw out!” Despite this,  the book does provide an opinionated window into the lives of factory worker immigrant women in the Brazil of the rapidly industrialising ’20s, and touches on surprisingly modern themes of rape, abortion, lesbianism and racism as well.

Although she rejected the term herself, it is apparent that Pagu was as much a feminist as a Communist, with sexual (and other) exploitation of women forming the central topic of the book. Sexuality is presented as a trap, a means by which women can be undone but also something that women actively seek out and deserve. Its an interesting and quite modern (in some ways) and regressive (in others) take on the topic. Likewise on the topic of racism, her black characters occssionally voice strong views, but this is rather undone by the peripheral relation they have to the story as a whole which mostly focuses on European (Italian and Lithuanian) immigrants to the city.

A progressive puzzle.

I read this interesting time capsule at the ironically-named “Workers’ Club”, a pub in Fitzroy (the former Rob Roy) while waiting for friends.

Neighbouring Sounds

7 07 2014

After several aborted attempts to watch this (DVDs in wrong area code) I am now halfway through this movie which I had so eagerly awaited. Lots to think about…full report soon!


STOP PRESS: I finished the film last night and athough I had feared it wouldn’t be able to tie all of the threads of the story together, the ending was actually oddly satisfying: much was left unsaid its true, some things were clarified and then you were simply left to think and wonder…

All in all, it was an interesting – and very stylish – meditation on middle class guilt, paranoia and privelege, delivering its acute observations of modern Brazilian life with great subtlety and verve.

We loved it.

Rio, Eu Te Amo

28 06 2014

After several years of gestation, the latest installment of the “(insert city name), I love you” series is ready, and this time, its Rio. The film follows a now familiar format of short episodes each with a different director, telling a multitude of stories taking place in the same city. It will hit screens in September, running the risk of a world thats rather Rio-ed out after the World Cup but it’ll be interesting to see if it can hit some of the heights of the original “Paris, Je taime” (Gus Van Sant’s gay romance and Tom Tykwer’s quirky entry) without falling as flat as the often bland NY version. The cast has a mix of some great  Brazilian actors (Fernanda Montenegra, Rodrigo Santoro) and international B-list stars (Ryan Kwanten, Harvey Keitel, Vincent Cassel and Vanessa Paradis!) but the real star – of course – will be Rio.

No goal

16 06 2014

Was it just me, or did the opening of the World Cup seem a little…flat? OH well, time to blast some old Brazilian tunes from my days in Rio instead…

Cibelle: The Rise and Fall

11 06 2014

Cibelle is the wispy Sao Paulo model who started her musical career with a sultry trip hop record, then created an alltime ilbonito classic with a lovely rendition of the Tom Waits tune Green Grass, before covering Caetano Veloso with Devandra Banhart and then released an art-pop concept album under the name Sonja Khalecallon, flirting with the Abranavista cultural movement and glamming it up in single “The Blue Shoes“.

So its fair to say she is a bit of a chameleon.

Her latest, which I’m a little late to catch up on, sees the restless early adopter with a harder-edged new sound and ‘Second life’-inspired visuals. And – crucially – TUNES!

“The Fall” is a case in point.

A Meeting of Two Giants

11 06 2014

I’m hanging out to see which Brazilian artists perform at the World Cup Opening Ceremony in a few days time. Cup fever and the hot weather have put me in a Lusophone musical mood. And just who will emerge to wow the world on Friday night – Gaby? Marisa Monte? Vanessa da Mata? Caetano Veloso, dare I hope? This year’s breakout Rordrigo Amarante, or the return of the old-time queen: Xuxa?

But regardless of this there is another great muscial event on its way to Brazil: perhaps the greatest of the nation’s current crop of musical talent, Criolo, is to tour with the mystical Milton Nascimento.


Songs from the South

12 05 2014

The joyous new clip from Rodrigo Amarente, freshly graduated from popular rock group Los Hermanos with his solo record, Cavalo. This video features footage his parents took on a home video camera in the mid 1970s – a perfect fit for his mellow psychedelic Carnival rock.

Meanwhile, one of the quirkier talents of recent Brazilian pop is back: Fernanda Takai.


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