Carnival (Mardi Gras)

Mardi-Gras is the one day that believers have to not behave before the Season of Lent.  Because after 40 days, Easter comes and you want to be purified for the Holiest of Days.  It is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, not including Sundays, because the first day of the week is never a day to fast.  So, the world’s Christians debauch themselves one last time.

But … here in Brazil, Mardi-Gras is stretched to several weeks.  It begins about 2 weeks before and lasts until the last weekend after Ash Wednesday.  To celebrate this dubious holiday, the locals will dress up provocatively, drink to access and dance in the streets.

I have never been to Mardi-Gras in New Orleans, but I have a feeling it would be much more tamed than what I witnessed in Sao Paulo.  I will post several pics of what I encountered, but be aware, I could have taken many more that were greatly more bizarre, but I did not want the pictures on my phone. And here are a few videos.

I could go into a lot more detail, but I don’t want it cluttering my mind.  But here are two pics that will help clean the mind.See you later.  In the meantime, kick butt.

The Metro

I am a watcher of people and the best place I have found to watch them, is an international airport.  Now after living in Brazil, I see that the Brazilian Metro is a close second.

The Metro (or subway) is an inexpensive way to move through a city.  In my life, I have only used the metros in three countries.  The Metro in the Washington DC area, the Metro in Moscow Russia and the one here in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The one in the DC area is the most costly, as you are charged on how far you travel.  The trips I usually took cost about 4 or 5 dollars. The system is very efficient, and the stations are concrete, glass and steel.  I rode it many times from Springfield, VA into DC for work, and goes right past the solemn Arlington Cemetery.  It seems to be the only time the verbal noise on the train subsides.

I loved the Russian Metro system.  The stations are like museums, especially the ones that existed back during the Cold War.  You can see the old Soviet statues depicting how great the Soviet Socialist system was.  The newer ones have no statues but beautiful decor built into the walls and even the floors.  The Metro charges one fee and you can ride all you want until you surface and pass through an exiting turnstile.

It was an amazing thing to see during rush hour.  Back in 2007, the system moved 9 million people a day.  A train would arrive every 45-90 seconds, and the doors opened for 20 seconds, then closed and it was gone.  During that time of day, you walked like penguins because of the volume of people.

The Moscow trains always rode like they were about to fall apart, yet I don’t think they ever will.  As the car rocks back and forth, sometimes the flooring moves opposite the car.  The cars are not very clean and is common to see someone sleeping on a seat, or someone drunk.  But, that is what made it interesting.

The Brazilian system is like Moscow.  I will pay about what is equal to one US dollar and ride as far and long as I want.  We can travel clear to the other side of the city and back for 2 dollars.  A taxi ride can be as much a 40 US dollars.

The Brazilian Metro is like the one in the DC area, concrete, glass and steel.  But what makes this system so interesting, is the people.  I wish I had a camera I can wear that records what I see.  Brazil has many of these strange people that do not fully realize there are only two genders.  It is nearing Carnival which brings out very strange individuals.  Below is a picture I took of what I believe is of the male gender.  The metro is full of things like this.I will also tell you the Brazilians are very polite and considerate.  The first time I road the Metro in Sao Paulo, a young lady got up to give me her seat.  I was quietly stunned and just shook my head.  If I spoke Portuguese fluently, I would have chewed her butt out for thinking I am an old fart.  Do I really look that decrepit?

In Moscow, you would see the opposite.  Someone will stand to let an elderly woman sit and one of the arrogant Russians would quickly sit down before she had a chance to.  I learned to watch for it when I gave up my seat.  I would make a point to block anyone else from taking my seat before he/she sat down.

Anyway, now I am in a bad mood thinking about the arrogant Russians.  Good thing I don’t have a pet.  Carnival is coming up quickly and we are already seeing signs of it.  I will try to get a mess of pictures for you.

Until then, continue kicking butt.   D.

MASP

MASP stand for Museum of Art – Sao Paulo.  … or at least I think is does.

This post has a lot of pictures, so I hope you don’t get bored.

In her endeavor to keep me healthy, Dani has decided we will do more walking.  So, last Saturday we walked to Paulista Avenue to the MASP.

The ticket price to get in, is Br$40, which amounts to about $10 US.  Since I am an old fart (60 or older),  I get in half price.  So .. $5 for me.

We go into the museum and I see all sorts of wire sculptures.  A few interesting, but none worth paying $5 to see.  Below is what I took pictures of, with some additional commentary.Here is some “artwork” that looks like I got angry while wiring a piece of equipment, and decided to rip it all out and wad it up.And here are two exceptionally worthless … uh, things.And here is one that must have taken a great deal of time and forethought.  It is a little out of focus, but I don’t think it makes any difference:It was at this time I thought seriously about going back out and getting my 5 dollars back, then Dani told me there were more upstairs and sure enough, she was right.

What we came across first, was not unlike what we saw downstairs.  Here is a stunning piece that must have shook the earth.  A picture of a picture.And some bright artist evidently came across this in a salvage yard and yelled out, “Eureka!” and proceeded to display it.For those of you who don’t know what this is, I will tell you it is an old light fixture, probably from a stadium or maybe a parking lot.  Ingenious!  And then, I saw this:What I erroneously thought is a broken piece of glass, is not.  I noticed the description of the “work” and realized to my horror, that it is supposed to be … art.  I did not fully read the complete description because I lost interest immediately.

Right next to it, but no picture to show you was a blank white canvas.  My first thought, it was a picture of a polar bear in a snowstorm, but then I looked on the backside and saw the painting was there.  It was some sort of riot scene.  So, I guess it was supposed to be a political statement, so I walked away to this amazing thing below:This wonderful piece looks like handbags hemorrhaging out of the glass.  No sense of art.  Not even on a kindergarten level.

The “artwork” below is total chaos to me.  If any of you see anything in it, please let me know.  I assure you, it is not upside down.This is a concrete wall that I never understood what was going on.  Something about people are suppose to use some of the material located nearby and add to its beauty.  All I saw, was just a stack of paper.  That’s it.So, to keep with the total nonsense being passed off as art, I decided to add this picture to the gallery.Makes about as much sense.  To be truthful, I saw nothing more than that which falls out of the north-end of a southbound cow.  But, then the further I walked toward the back of the museum, I began to see real art.  Here are several pieces that I actually sensed had something to say. The tiny green dots you see are reflections of the lighting in the ceiling. Here are some interesting sculptures:  This first one probably is supposed to have some racial statement. And now we come to some work that is true art. I first saw the beauty in Holy Icons when we lived in Russia.  Here are a couple: I was surprised to come across 4 pieces of Vincent Van Gogh’s work. –  1853-1890 These next two are phenomenal!  They are the amazing work of Andries van der Horn, 1638. But it was this one that brought me to tears.  Literally.  When I first saw it, I knew it had to be one of the many self-portraits of Rembrandt.  I was not wrong.I stood stunned, looking at this work of the Genius just inches from my face.  I could have reach out and touched it, but did not.  It was not just a copy of the original, but was the original!  The only other Rembrandt that I have seen in person, was his “The Descent from the Crosswhich is hanging in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.  This is the one that made the $5 entrance fee worth $50.  I will go back and view it again.  Most likely at a time when I am in need of a creative spark.

And … perhaps see what else passes as art on the lower level.

Until we talk again, wrap your arms around any adventure that comes your way, and kick butt!       D.

 

Hands

There is a nice French restaurant I go to at times just to sit and have a whiskey while I work on some writing.  The other day there were three old coots sitting nearby and each had to be at least in their 80’s.  They spoke French which suggests they may have been in France during the last war to end all wars.

I glanced over at them, just as I saw was a perfect time to snap a picture.  I must show this to you.I kept looking at this picture for a long time!  What beautiful hands these men have!  Full of history.  I sincerely wish I could know what all these hands have done throughout the decades; what professions they had.  Are these the hands of compassion?  Manual labor?  Accountants?  Doctors?  Only they know.

During my life, I always looked at hands of others.  I used to work in the construction field and saw the hands of the craftsmen.  I found the hands of carpenters to be the most artistic.  Electricians usually had the most sculptured hands.  The hands of plumbers are interesting, but I never wanted to touch any of them – no telling where they have been.  Farmer’s hands will always show signs of the Good Earth.  I distinctly remember Grandpa Kimbrough’s hands.  They looked like they were formed and shaped by the sun.  Beautiful!  The many times I shook hands with him, they seemed to engulf mine in Love and Compassion.

Every time I am home to see my mother, I always love looking at her amazing hands, and I love holding them and caressing them.  I wish I had taken a picture of them to show you, because the history behind them is astounding.  I know those hands!  No telling how may times they wiped our runny little noses or held us close to her.  I know they cooked more meals than I can count.  Sewing, dressing us, driving us, caressing us, tucking us into bed.  I know for a fact they painted many things, included commode seats.  I always felt those hands were nothing less than a gift from God.

I look at my hands and I know what all they have done in life.  Not as impressive as these old coots; not as beautiful as my mother’s hands, but they are mine.  Give them another 20 years, and then maybe their history will show forth also.

Next, I must tell you about an art museum we went to.

 

Comments from the Balcony

The apartment we are staying at is on the 4th floor next to a small, but busy intersection; and I often step out and watch the traffic below.  Recently, the traffic lights had quit working which made for some interesting observations.  It may not be polite of me, but I kept hoping for an accident.  Even though nothing happened, it did remind me of an intersection in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that we had to cross twice a day.  There is a YouTube video some of you may have seen.  If you watch the video below, which is twice normal speed, you get an idea of what it was like.  Our intersection was the one at the top of the video, which was just as crazy.

I once asked one of the good Ethiopians I worked with why the traffic lights never work.  He said, one day a Contractor went to the City and said he would fix the lights for “X” amount of money.  It was a good deal, so the City Government accepted.  But when he started working, there was so much corruption in the Government, that he was always having to pay extra fees or bribes to do his job, so he just quit.

About once a week, a perfectly healthy character will kneel down next the street to beg.  I watched him several times and took a picture of him.  The next time, I will try to get a video of him.  He will hold out his hands asking for money, and slowly move down the line on his knees like he cannot walk, then when the traffic clears, he will stand up and move back to the front.  The lady in black had just handed him some money, and he slid it into his pockets and continued begging at the next series of cars that stopped at the light.

One of the things I kept here in Brazil is my sling shot and a bag of marbles.  I cannot fully express how tempting it is to send a marble down to the character just to watch him dance, but I refrained.  For now.

The drivers in Sao Paulo are very patient compared to the dangerous drivers in Turkey, but we often hear some idiot honking his horn because the driver in front did not immediately respond when the light turned green.  So, I decided I will keep my eyes open for paint balls the next time we go to the nearby mall.  Then we will see what happens with some idiot lays on his horn, or a perfectly healthy joker starts to beg, or any one of the many people out walking their dogs do not pick up after the animal.

Then, we will see who is the boss looking down on these people from above.

Makes you a little giddy, doesn’t it.

D.