Brazilian Love Affairs

    Brazilian Love Affairs

    The Brazilian press
    is in love with Brazil’s Finance Minister,
    Antônio Palocci. One of the reasons for this crush is the

    media’s distrust of President Lula’s chief of staff, José
    Dirceu,
    who is regaining his power after losing it. This just shows how

    the Brazilian media manipulates the news when it wants to.
    by: John
    Fitzpatrick

    Palocci
    Leftist Lovers 1

    A section of the
    Brazilian media has fallen in love with a new sweetheart
    finance minister Antonio Palocci. He was the subject of a fawning
    profile in Veja magazine and there have even been reports
    that he might be a presidential candidate for the Workers Party
    (PT) in the 2006 elections.

    The
    Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, while not going as far
    overboard as Veja, has been plugging any bit of positive
    economic news as though it meant we were no longer in a crisis.
    The front page lead story on June 12 announcing that “Retail
    sales surpass expectations” was typical of the kind of positive
    spin the paper has been putting on news recently.

    One of the reasons
    for this crush on Palocci is the media’s distrust of President
    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff José
    Dirceu who has lost much of his power and influence since one
    of his aides was involved in a bribery scandal.

    There
    are signs that Dirceu is regaining his strength and the press—most
    of which loathes him—is trying to replace him with Palocci.
    Since Dirceu has much more influence with Lula and the PT than
    Palocci this ploy is unlikely to work. However, it shows just
    how the Brazilian media manipulates the news when it wants to.

    Leftist Lovers
    2

    If you
    think the Brazilian Senate is a place for dignified speeches on
    the future of the country made by statesman who have the interest
    of future generations in mind then think again. The Senate recently
    witnessed a touching demonstration of peace and love by Senators
    Eduardo Suplicy and Heloisa Helena who openly kissed on the floor
    in front of other members.

    Maybe it was just
    a collegiate cuddle from two ideological allies or maybe it
    was their way of marking the upcoming Dia dos Namorados, Brazil’s
    Valentine’s Day. What next—wedding bells?

    At least
    this display will bring to the attention of the public the heroic
    efforts this great constitutional body is making in resolving
    the problems facing the country. One of its latest ways of helping
    Brazil overcome these problems has been to appoint a Senator accused
    of diverting loans from the state development bank, the BNDES,
    to the body which oversees the federal accounts.

    Salvation
    Army?

    São
    Paulo is hosting a meeting of the United Nations Conference on
    Trade and Development, a body which has the kind of unlovely acronym,
    UNCTAD, which is so common here such as CEAGESP, CEASA, FAPESP,
    SABESP, FIESP, CESP, MASP and so on.

    The presence of hundreds
    of political leaders, international bureaucrats and the media
    has allowed the city authorities to feel that São Paulo
    is taking its rightful place on the world stage.

    However, apart from
    some hoteliers and presumably the local ladies of the night,
    most people are either uninterested or fed up because the event
    has led to even more traffic chaos.

    Security
    has been stepped up and armed troops have taken up positions in
    the streets—not to protect us locals from the gangsters
    and murderers amongst us but to look after the distinguished visitors.
    Although this is a special case, the issue of soldiers assuming
    greater responsibility for public security is becoming increasingly
    topical.

    Troops have recently
    been sent to Minas Gerais and Piauí to help the state
    governments there following strikes by the local police. Many
    people like having soldiers and armored cars patrolling the
    streets despite the fact that the military ran the country for
    two decades and deprived the people of their rights rather than
    defended them.

    While
    there is no political or military movement which wants the armed
    forces to return to the political arena this feeling shows how
    democracy is failing to provide the people’s need for security.

    The decision to send
    Brazilian troops to take command of the UN peacekeeping force
    in Haiti has been criticized in several quarters. It is common
    to hear people ask why these troops are patrolling slum areas
    of Port-au-Prince instead of Rio de Janeiro or Brasília.

    Caetano
    – Better Get Rid of Your Accent!

    If you are a fan
    of Caetano Veloso then don’t read any further because you won’t
    like what I say. If you are Caetano Veloso then read on because
    I am going to give you some useful advice—don’t make any
    more CDs like your latest, A Foreign Sound.

    This
    is one of the weirdest collections of songs ever assembled by
    a grown man and raises doubts about Veloso’s judgment as he gets
    older. It includes songs like "So in Love" by Cole Porter,
    "It’s Alright Ma" by Bob Dylan and "Come as You
    Are" by Nirvana.

    The strangest of
    all is his choice and version of Paul Anka’s “Diana”.
    This was a smash hit in the late 50s and is a good example of
    the kind of rather naïve innocent teenage music which was
    to be overthrown by the rock revolution.

    People
    like Anka, the Everley Brothers and Dion would soon be swept aside
    by the barbarians at the gates led by the Beatles, the Rolling
    Stones, Bob Dylan and later on by heavy metal gangsters.

    Veloso is about 40
    years too old to sing “Diana” and does so in a slow,
    pretentious way with slushy backing strings as though he were
    trying to seduce someone in a Roger Rabbit-style nightclub.
    His accent makes the whole effort sound like a parody.

    This
    is particularly strange because Veloso is fluent in English, the
    result of the time he spent in exile in England during the military
    dictatorship. He even wrote his song “London, London”
    when he was still picking up English. This might explain the bizarre
    lyrics e.g. “I’m wandering round and round, nowhere to go/
    While my eyes go looking for flying saucers in the sky.”

    As far as I know
    no Portuguese version exists, presumably since it would be impossible
    to make sense of it. In these circumstances you would think
    Veloso’s ear would be better attuned. No-one expects him to
    sing like a native speaker but in this particular case he should
    have sought some advice.

    Veloso
    is not the only good Brazilian artist who loses his way singing
    in another language. Gal Costa, for example, who has one of the
    most beautiful voices of any female singer, has recorded some
    appalling versions in English, such as “The Fool on the
    Hill” and “The Laziest Gal in Town”.

    Ed Motta, Roberto
    Carlos and Sandy and Junior are others who have flopped in English.
    One exception is Marisa Montes whose version of Lou Reed’s “Pale
    Blue Eyes” is haunting. She also sings an unusual but
    passable live version of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love”.

    Before
    singing in English again Veloso should recall the advice to the
    Puerto Rican girls in the West Side Story number “America”
    – “Better get rid of your accent.”

    Scolari Stumbles

    I’m
    sure I was not the only person in Brazil who was pleased to see
    Portugal getting beat by lowly Greece in the opening game of the
    European football championship held in Porto. My pleasure was
    not the result of any antipathy to the Portuguese but to their
    Brazilian manager, Felipe Scolari, who abandoned Brazil immediately
    after leading the national squad to its World Cup triumph in 2002.

    The Portuguese must
    now be regretting their decision. Not only has Scolari’s record
    been unimpressive but his chances of overseeing his adopted
    team win the second most prestigious football championship in
    the world now look slim.

    Ratinho
    Outdoes Himself

    I have
    written about the Ratinho TV show several times expressing my
    distaste at the tripe it presents—physically deformed people,
    dwarves, grave robbers, obese transsexuals, midgets etc. However,
    I have to compliment him on a recent item which surpasses any
    of his previous feats—an item entitled “Man Wakes
    Up During His Own Autopsy”.

    Unfortunately this
    interview was not accompanied by a film, unlike one of Ratinho’s
    previous scoops which showed a pederast doctor fondling a drugged
    teenage boy he was allegedly giving a medical examination.


    John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish journalist who first visited
    Brazil in 1987 and has lived in São Paulo since 1995.
    He writes on politics and finance and runs his own company,
    Celtic Comunicações – www.celt.com.br
    – which specializes in editorial and translation services
    for Brazilian and foreign clients. You can reach him at jf@celt.com.br.

    ©
    John Fitzpatrick 2004

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