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.

In Sao Paulo March 15th?

22 02 2014

The quirkily-named Coala festival is on with two great artists headlining, Criolo and Tom Ze.

DJ Thomash: live from Pompeii

20 11 2013

DJ of the Voodoohop parties, from a set played at Sao Paulo’s brutalist landmark cultural centre, the SESC Pompeiia Centre.

Rio Alternativo

6 06 2013

Sao Paulo has always been Brazil’s alternative hotspot with its rock scene, Rua Augusta hipster hangouts full of tattooed girls and nose-ringed boys, Voodoohop parties, street art and this weekend’s art-sex PopPorn Festival.

But Rio? The city of easy living, beach bodies and samba and bossa nova (in the priveleged Zona Sul at least)?

Surprisingly, Rio also its own alternative scene centred around Copacabana sweatbox club Fosfobox, and including the BootieRio and Buati parties. But now there is also a new new punk/metal hotspot Praça de Bandeiras in the grittier Zona Norte.

A whole new side to the “Marvellous City”.

Sampa’s gay rain

4 06 2013

Rain failed to dampen spirits at the world’s biggest Gay Pride party, the annual Orghulho Gay party in Sao Paulo. Between one and three million people hit the streets to celebrate, including domestic superstar Daniela Mercury, newly “out”, who kissed her wife Malu to cheering crowds.


5 05 2013

DJ Carlos CAPSLOCK has a) the best DJ name in the world

b) a startling, and rather avant-garde style

and c) a funny/disturbing “logo” in the form of a smiling blonde face.

He is one of the crew for Sao Paulo’s Voodoohop parties discussed before on the blog here.

Space Invader

9 04 2013

A projection turns a Sao Paulo skyscraper into a gigantic retro arcade game, playable by passerby with iPads. More here.

True love is blind

1 03 2013

Watch the sweet Brazilian short film “Curta – Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho” here, in its entirety with English subtitles (click on the CC in the bottom bar). It is about a blind boy and his (predictable but still sweet) crush on his new friend. The film is now being reworked into a two-hour feature.

A fitting tribute

25 01 2013

Sao Paulo’s arresting multicoloured tribute to Oscar Niermeyer, the architect who passed away this year aged 101. He was responsible for one of the city’s landmarks, the hulking masterpiece or to some,dystopia, of the  Copan building. Famed for its massive bulk and sinuous curve, this skyscraper was built as an innovative mixed-income housing project, complete with luxury penthouses and cheap public flats (supposedly favoured by the city’s tranny hookers). It houses so many people it has its own postcode, and a local Buddhist group uses its summit for meditation (in place of the traditional mountain top).

Local street artist Kobra has produced this massive mural right in the heart of the city, on Avenida Paulista.

Sao Paulo state of mind

22 01 2013


22 01 2013

True Blood, Game of Thrones, the Wire … and now Destino? HBO is not only the home of many of the best American TV series it is also home to (who knew?) a Brazilian wing. Destino is an HBO Brasil minseries dramatizing the waves of immigration that have built Sao Paulo, with episodes on the city’s African, Korean, Bolivian and Jewish communities (the last of which features avant garde fashion designer Alexandre Herchcovitch in his acting debut).

African episode:

Jewish episode:

Dirty Hearts: an alternate history

22 01 2013

Corações Sujos is a film about the fascinating but little-known story of Shindo Renmei, a Japanese terrorist organisation that killed 23 people in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state in the dying days of World War 2. Refusing to believe in the surrender of the Emperor, die-hard loyalists set out to attack those within the Japanese immigrant community they accused of defeatism and spreading Allied Propaganda.

The film is – according to a Brazilian friend – not actually very good, but I’m still grateful that it introduced me to such an interesting episode of history, one that has apparently long been a taboo conversation among the Brazilian-Japanese community, eager to show its degree of assimilation.

The film inspired me to check out another book on a similar topic, “A Discontented diaspora: Japanese Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militarism”. I’ve ordered it from Amazon but not yet read it fully – from the sample pages it seems an interesting and surprisingly readable discussion of the Japanese community in Brazil, considered either a goody-good ‘model minority’ or more interestingly to me, a dangerous hotbed of violence and sedition. Evidence of this is in newspaper clippings from the 1960s cited in the book of dangerous “Japanese-looking” criminals hounding Sao Paulo.

Sampa streets, freaks and monsters

22 01 2013

Works by Japanese-Brazilian street artist Titi Freak (above) and below, the warped monsters of Mexican-Brazilian, Fefe Talavera.

Sampa – Madrid

22 01 2013

Ex-members of Cansei Sur Sexy with their new (English-language) dark rock direction.

Brasil te amo

22 11 2012

Ah, Brazil. What is not to love? While Rio staged a gay pride party this weekend at Arpoador with roughly a million requisite buff beach bodies, the ever-arty Sao Paulo is indulging its avant garde side with a new “festival of fashion films”. A nice complement to its recent pornography festival, I think.

The UFO has landed

11 11 2012

 Amazing images of a light projection show on Niemeyer’s iconic Auditorium in Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park.

Discovering Sao Paulo

5 10 2012

Discovering Sao Paulo is an interesting expat blog I have just discovered. It details all kinds of quirky facts about South America’s biggest and baddest concrete jungle, a strange mutant metropolis that is constantly evolving in alarming and unexpected ways. The blog is a must for Paulista-philes (like me) with everything from pictures of the city’s riotous street art to reports of alien sounds emanating from UFOs over the city, a visit to a ballet school for the blind ( very “Sao Paulo” in its incorporation of two seemingly random elements) and a discussion of the notoriously violent city’s crime rates – and their recent spectacular improvement; the city’s murder rate is the purple line. Rudolph Giuliani, eat your heart out.

Plus there are amazing only-in-Sampa scenes like this – surfing through the inner city streets (in this landlocked metropolis) after flooding from a recent tropical storm.

Fernando Volken Togni

5 10 2012

The illustrations of Brazilan illustrator Fernando Volken Togni.


Electro-pop South of the border

1 10 2012

From Brazilian-Argentinian artist Madame Mim.

Voodoohop’s dark rainbow magic

15 09 2012


Voodoohop is an amazing-sounding Sao Paulo party. Freshly returned from their “EuroMAcumba” (macumba being black magic) tour of Germany and France, the party is gearing up for a new set of events in the South American city. Its modus operandi is secret-location flash raves and art gatherings on freeways (the Minhocao) and in the slightly scary areas of the old downtown.


The party’s aesthetic is bright, brash, modern-day-primitive-tropicalist-hippie-electro abranavista and its sound is equally enticing. You can download some of their DJ setlists from Soundloud via the group’s suitable anarchic website.


The Google autotranslate of the site’s Portuguese text adds to the allure further with oddly disjointed descriptions like: “In a central district of the city, we will take the shed off of a plant tissue, with two celebrations in one (Cosmic & Voodoohop) and later participation of Backyard Muamba with a fair bazaar / fair exchange. Activities refreshing on the street: graffiti in neighboring bath hose, space sounds, beer and iced tea! From 19h The party starts at the factory! with intergalactic sounds on the track and knits adorn”

For Sampa lovers

5 09 2012


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