Sunday, January 13, 2008

Surreal Rio!

I have been sick with a flu for a few days now and catching up on my reading. The pile in the living-room includes several past editions of the daily O Globo. And what do you know? For the first time, (and I can mentally hear a collective "DUH!" from my Brazilian friends), it has struck me that Rio is totally surreal. I offer you a couple of examples only, because I need to go lie down again:

A musician from a popular Brazilian rock band came across an illegal street vendor hawking pirated copies of his work downtown. He picks up all the copies this guy has and walks away. The guy shouts: Hey, come back, you've got to pay me for those! He walks back and gives the man a lecture on piracy and so on, telling him, so should he, the artist, be paid for these, and leaves!!!

Second instance of seemingly widespread insanity: A series of car robberies, assaults, and attempted murders are committed by young men on (mostly stolen) motorcycles. The solution proposed by the state governor: to prohibit bikers from carrying passengers (the reason being that they're the ones carrying the guns). I kid you not! And, on top of that, he was totally peeved when the public and assorted authorities objected on grounds that his fix just might restrict civil liberties, constitutional rights, and so on.

I can imagine you'll be as baffled as I am or, not having spent time in Brazil, perhaps considerably more so. I must tell you that I have been talking over these topics with my carioca friends, asking why didn't the musician call the police or why don't they increase police presence in the streets and take other repressive measures to protect life and property? The almost universal answer is "não adianta!" or "what's the point?" Which inevitably leads to further discussion about a corrupt police force and crooked politicians and...I could go on, but I really must rest and recover!


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