Posts Tagged ‘Rio de Janeiro’

…whereupon the omniscient gray-bearded gods of good husbandry and fatherhood grant one gringo’s petition of relief from bad Brazilian weather, extortionately priced Panamanian airport chicken wraps, and an encroaching swarm of Mexican airport mosquitos, behind the soundtrack of the world’s finest trampoline-pouncing epic metal.

Flying from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Saturday, May 24 has been a day of precipitated and inexplicable awesomeness. A 50-megaton downpour engulfed Rio this morning, strapping up every taxi in town. Three hours before my flight departed, and I still hadn’t left my apartment. My hand wringing was well underway. Then a one-legged man (another story altogether) stepped (yes, with one leg) into the street on my behalf and, his kindly and knowing booger-pickin’ finger jutting into the inundated avenue (where I spotted a robed man gathering two of every mammal and leading them toward a wood-framed flotilla), hailed by Divine Providence an unoccupied cab. That taxi-hailing finger served as a figurative weather vane for the good fortune to come, for we got to the airport in 30 minutes. No traffic, no delays, the taxista driving at a steady and legal clip, peppering me with inspired queries about (!!!) the ease of handgun purchase in the United States, Stand Your Ground laws, and how he wished that Brazilians could shoot each other when, you know, “one feels threatened”.

At the Galeao International Airport in Rio, then, a series of fortunate occurrences transpired, each one compounding into the next like interest accumulating in a cleverly selected index fund. First, my flagging self-esteem got a long-overdue boost. While in line at the Copa counter to check my luggage, I met a Colombian dermatologist who assured me the vitiligo spots on my head are barely visible and probably “all a figment of your imagination”. Next, said Colombian and I went for cafe before heading to our gate, and whereas I generally despise the Brazilian devil bean for its overly-robust roast, this was actually a cup I’d take home to mom, my beseeching lips seizing upon it greedily with two big-assed buns of pao de queijo. Third, our gate was practically devoid of human presence and our flight to Panama City consequently empty, so I had an entire row to myself. I spread out and read Pantera’s ex-bassist Rex Brown’s autobiography in its entirety. Find me a better way to begin a long trip.

In Panama City, I have to admit, my mood soured somewhat. I paid 11 bucks for a spring chicken wrap, the terminal’s air conditioning was on the fritz (I invite you to try this in tropical Panama; ‘tis an unpleasant experience by any measure), the announcement system may as well have been a Motorhead concert for its ear-shredding volume (even the Brazilians present were covering their ears, so you KNOW it went to 11), and my connecting flight to Guadalajara was delayed due to an electrical failure on the plane’s navigation system. Once in Guadalajara – into which I rolled bleary-eyed at nearly 2 AM – I stood in line at customs and immigration being eaten alive by famished mosquitos, an invading swarm of Biblical proportions, and watched Mexicans slap at the air and each other amidst comments regarding the pinche dengue we were all sure to contract in the aftermath.

But just as with the morning’s sudden taxi luck, the gods of good husbandry and fatherhood, those ageless graybeards grinning down from their benevolent diaper changing thrones, smiled upon me when I reached the customs/immigration x-ray and declaration point. I presented my tourist passport and explained, when queried why I’d be two months in Ciudad Juarez, that I’m here to wed the hot tamale to whom I am betrothed and assume charge of my demon seed. She examined me dubiously, and I thought perhaps she required additional identification, at which juncture I produced my diplomatic passport with a sheepish grin and shrug of the shoulders. She waved the diplo passport away, informing me that her shock was merely over the fact that I have come from a continent away to do something which, in her words, “I couldn’t even get a guy in my same barrio to do.” And so she waved me through without x-ray, body cavity search or further ado on a tourist passport.

Emerging on the other side of the electrical door to the terminal, what should greet me but a Starbucks. Whereupon I presented the Starbucks gift card my mother sent me last Christmas (which the Brazilians will not honor), ordered a white chocolate mocha (which the Brazilians have not yet made correctly for me), and noted that on the Starbucks house sound system was playing “Through the Fire and the Flames” by DRAGONFORCE, sending me into spasms of Guitar Hero.

Next stop in a few hours is Ciudad Juarez, where I’ll be received by the hug-starved arms (and kiss-starved lips) of one Maria Vega. We’ll proceed with all haste to the Chulo Vista Hotel, whereupon I shall slumber after 26 sleepless hours in airports and on planes. Tonight I shall sup loudly at a plate of nachos, my first in 13 months, for a long-anticipated return to living Mexicanishly.


The Jaula das Gostosudas (Caged Hotties), Brazil’s once-premiere female funk group, just aborted its reign at the top of the pops due to, as you might have surmised, internal schisms amongst its female integrants. (To be fair, The Beatles also ended due to mutual animosities between the Fab Four, so it’s not just a female thing.) Never being one to extol the virtues of Carioca funk music, I never knew the gostosudas existed. But as with all the most fortuitous of life’s multi-hued circumstances, I found out about the group half-an-hour ago, whilst on a quest for an open Starbucks in Leblon and passing random, seemingly unconnected people who, upon further scrutiny, possessed three common attributes uniting them this overcast Sunday morning: all were men, all were over 40, and all held open the entertainment section of today’s paper, examining with exquisite interest an article proclaiming the end of the Jaula das Gostosudas. Clearly the break-up of this funk outfit is receiving disproportionate attention, and one suspects this is not due to the loss of quality music now that gostosudas’ mics are forever silenced, their bum-bums never to bounce anew.

For posterity’s sake, it’s critical we invest a final, proud moment in honoring the achievements of these Brazilian artists, these musical queen-pins who took it to the proverbial next level. Seizing the liberty to conduct a YouTube search, I chanced upon the following specimens of their contribution to arts and letters in Rio de Janeiro and beyond. This one’s my personal fave. The push-ups will spur you onward to exercise robustly. Start around 1:04. Not only were the gostosudas in peak physical condition, they could likewise croon. Consider starting around 1:10. Here they demonstrate the training regime that undoubtedly catapulted the gostosudas to stardom. For point of comparison, here is one of the many competitor female funk outfits, Gaiola das Popuzudas. Their lead singer, Valeska Popuzuda, broke off to begin a solo career last year, and has done well for herself based on the amount of advertising I’ve spotted for her in select parts of Rio. In the broader historical trajectory of the study of Brazilian butts, here’s the one that initiated the trend. Granted, there were meaty flanks in Brazil long before her time. But the Mulher Melancia (Watermelon Woman) was the first to elevate the lethal duo of bun-bouncing and Carioca funk music to national prominence. Watermelon actually found six distinct speeds with which to shake; just wait ’til she shifts into 6th gear. It’s a sports car, not a family sedan, and it’s at least level-4 armored.

I don’t know why, but when searching for the Jaula das Gostosudas in YouTube, buried midway down the list of return is always Anthrax’s “Room for One More” video. I don’t recall thonged hinds in the Anthrax clip; then again I never paid much attention to anything they did during that long, depressing night with John Bush on vocals.

What teen idol descends from the stratosphere, inspiring on the order of 1,000 Brazilian teenage girls to amass before the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, chanting and shrieking in pants-peeing unison at the very top decibels of their hormonal lungs? Justin Bieber, who arrived today for a weekend’s worth of gigs at the municipal Praca da Apoteose, which I believe means “Enormo-Dome” in English. On the way to Laranjeiras this evening, my taxi driver – in the middle of chronicling to me every sordid detail of his recent vasectomy – asked me if I’d like to see Bieber at his hotel. Naturally I assumed he was joking, until he plowed up to the hotel, dumping me front and center and – I swear this as I live and breathe – there stood The Phenom himself on the balcony of his 10th floor suite, blowing kisses and gesticulating broadly to all us gawkers huddled below. And with his every kiss blown, so in direct proportion rose skyward the screams, punctuated with outstretched arms capped by sweaty jazz fingers, which trembled with baby-making frenzy as they tickled the summery night air at the Copacabana Palace.

Update one day later:

I went to a barbecue with a local friend, to the satellite city of Niteroi on Rio de Janeiro’s outskirts. Once there I found myself making the acquaintance of a foursome of beer-swilling brasileiros who were deadly serious about two things and two things alone: metal and child-rearing. And as your modest servidor bespake them, these men fumbling about for their rugrats while toe-tapping the blast beats to Morbid Angel’s “Chapel of Ghouls” as it blared from someone’s iPod, a pair of urgent items was imparted to me. First, that the Black Sabbath/Megadeth concert two weeks ago was amazing. As well it should have been, given the $150 booty even nosebleed seats fetched. And second, the Justin Bieber faithful had already besieged the venue a fortnight prior, anticipating the coming of their mop-topped messiah. Hence the line of Black Sabbath fans entering the Praca da Apoteose was forced to snake around a refugee camp of Beliebers, a meeting of two worlds not dissimilar to Marco Polo and the Chinese coming face-to-face all those centuries ago.