Monday, November 26, 2007

Sounds of Living and Moving Around in Rio

I haven't been using an alarm clock. I live next to a morro (hill) called "Cantagalo" or "rooster crows" because of the omnipresence of roosters in that favela. However, one of my neighbors has "saudades" of the countryside and keeps parrots and roosters as pets. Every morning the local roosters start to crow at 7:30AM. That combined with the other roosters on the morro makes an alarm completely unnecessary. Even if I'm exhausted and only get 5 hours or less of sleep, I still wake with the roosters.


On my third day in the city I heard the sound of guns firing from one street away. The police were invading the favela on Cantagalo from the "Boca de Fumo," or drug-dealing point, in search of a man who had accidentally caused the death of an Italian tourist a few weeks back. The family who owns the apartment where I live instructed me to close the window and to not let the traficantes (drug dealers) see that I see them. It took me a good 4 hours to recover from that incident.


As I was running along the beach in Ipanema yesterday, a I heard a loud siren coming from behind me. I turned my head to see what was coming at me in the same moment that I was trying to avoid a pot hole in the running/bike path. A bicyclist travelling along at top speed skidded as he expected me to move out of the path completely. I apologized after I figured out what was going on and lept up to the barrier. The cyclist yelled at me, "Você é campinha," or "You are from the country!" I know that it was my mistake but in my defense, I am much more used to hear yells of any sort or even bike bells rather than an ambulance siren in a bike lane. Note to all cyclists: if you choose to cycle in an area also frequented by runners and pedestrians like a beachside path, do not use a siren that could be mistaken for something else. Not effective!

I never use bike bells and siren mostly because I don't want to crowd my handle-bars. Yells work just fine for me, but I generally avoid riding through areas frequented by runners. It's too bad that cyclists and runners here share the same narrow paths all around the city. It can't be safe.


I went to my first concert/show of the trip last night. Soft-rock hit-maker from the 80s, Marina Lima, perforned a free show at the Lagoa to commemorate the day to denounce violence against women. She is one of a few "out" singers in the MPB scene and the audience clearly reflected her popularity with lesbians. Nearly forty percent of the crowd were gay women, a group in Rio that is normally invisible in comparrison with the men of Rua Farme de Amoedo (the gay street of Ipanema).

I was pleased that Lima played some of her most recent recordings that reflect a sensibility more akin to performance artist Laurie Anderson. There was minimal techno and plenty of monologues with musical accompaniment. In general those songs were much more effective than her old hits from the 80s. She has recently reinvented herself in much that same way that Everything But the Girl did in the mid-1990s: techno programming is apparent and tasteful but not overwhelming. One of my contacts in the music industry informed me that this transformation is the result of damaged vocal chords that can no longer sustain the aggressive, full-throated style of ballads. Since she couldn't rely on her old vocal style, she had to find other creative outlets for her music. It was an incredibly satisfying evening.

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