The Malandro’s Goodbye

    The Malandro's 

    Atypical for a bohemian, Moreira da Silva hardly ever drank
    and went to bed early. The musician used to boast about his habit of
    drinking eggnog in the morning and milk before going to sleep.
    He was, however, an assumed womanizer.
    By Alessandra Dalevi

    The samba de breque—samba in which the singer stops and improvises some
    rap-like music—is orphan. Its creator, Antônio Moreira da Silva, also known as Kid
    Morengueira, died at age 98, on June 6, at Rio’s Hospital dos Servidores do Estado (State
    Public Servants Hospital). He had endured a long disease and had been taken to the
    hospital May 15. Moreira da Silva, who was from Tijuca, in Rio, died in the city he loved
    where he spent all his life and where he earned the fame of being a legitimate malandro
    (street-smart individual).

    To those who called him malandro he used to say: "I’d rather have people
    thinking I am stupid. Those who want to be too smart get all tangled up." But he
    himself cultivated the malandro character during all his life wearing a special
    outfit that included a white linen suit with a kerchief or a flower on the lapel, an
    orange silk shirt, white shoes with toe caps and a Panama hat. Atypical for a bohemian and
    malandro, he hardly ever drank and went to bed early. Moreira da Silva used to
    boast about his habit of drinking eggnog in the morning and milk before going to sleep. He
    was, however, an assumed womanizer.

    In 1985, this son of a trombone player from the Military Police band told an
    interviewer about his interest in young girls. He was already 83, but continued to go out
    with young and pretty women who also seemed to like him. "I don’t take my eyes from
    women," he declared. And talked about a 19-year-old girl he was dating: "I am
    drinking catuaba liquor (an alleged aphrodisiac) to be able to deal with this
    brunette with juriti’s (a bird) breast."

    He recorded more than 100 albums. Morengueira started his musical career with
    "Arrasta Sandália" (Drag Your Sandal) in 1931. But it was "Jogo
    Proibido," recorded five year later, that would make him noticed. Despite his
    popularity and success achieved mainly through radio, the musician made only enough money
    to survive. He lived most of his life in a modest house in the poor neighborhood of
    Estácio and only recently had moved to a small apartment in Catumbi. "I moved
    there," he joked, "so I can walk by myself to the cemetery when I die."

    What he left was a $30,000 debt in the Panamericano hospital, a debt friends like
    musicians Beth Carvalho, Elza Soares, and Paulinho da Viola decided to pay by organizing a
    show at Canecão, a prestigious location for music in Rio. It was Moreira da Silva himself
    who asked for the show saying he wouldn’t like to leave this bill to his relatives to pay.

    Some people thought he was putting them on when he told about his date of birth: April
    Fool’s Day. In fact, he was born on April 1st, 1902. Among several odd jobs he had,
    Morengueira worked for a sock factory and also as a taxi and ambulance driver. Among
    Morengueira’s most popular songs are "Acertei no Milhar," "Morengueira
    Contra 007," and "O Rei do Gatilho," all good-humored stories, the latest
    two making fun of Hollywood and the Wild West. In 1995, he released the CD "Os Três
    Malandros," a parody to the Three Tenors—Placido Domingo, José Carreras and
    Luciano Pavarotti —in partnership with Bezerra da Silva and Dicró.

    One day before Morengueira’s passing, Brazil had lost another sambista, and malandro
    symbol. It was João Nogueira, who died at age 58 from a heart attack, on June 5. He was
    the author of such musical pearls as "Um Ser de Luz," "Súplica" and
    "Minha Missão." Nogueira, a married man with two children, wouldn’t heed his
    doctors who had advised him to stay away from alcohol. He never stopped his all-night
    parties always accompanied by his beer mug. He was getting ready to record a new CD with
    seven new songs among the 14 tunes selected for the album. It would have been his 19th

    Na Subida no Morro

    Moreira da Silva

    Voce mesmo sabe
    que eu já fui um malandro malvado
    somente estou regenerado.
    Cheio de malícia
    dei trabalho à polícia
    pra cachorro (…)

    Mas nunca abusei de uma mulher
    que fosse de um amigo.
    Agora me zanguei consigo
    Hoje venho animado
    a lhe deixar todo cortado.
    Vou dar-lhe um castigo
    meto-lhe o aço no abdomen
    e tiro fora o seu umbigo

    Going Up the Hill

    You know very well
    that I’ve been a mean street-smart guy
    Even though I changed.
    Full of malice
    I gave a very hard time
    to the police (…)

    But I never abused a woman
    who belonged to a friend.
    Now I’m mad at you
    Today I’m ready
    to cut you all up.
    I will punish you
    I’ll stick the steel in the abdomen
    and I’ll pull out your bellybutton


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