It's still raining, outside the hotel, and, in a manner of speaking, in my room as well, the bathroom, I mean. Ate something the other day that has caused a lingering storm in my gut. Not pleasant at all. So I'm gonna have to mull over the last couple of days for highlights.
I saw this happen from my seat in a restaurant that specializes in galetos, spit roasted game hens (which are, of course, just baby chickens. I watched a few other customers eating their tiny birds in the Brazilian fashion, that is, with knife and fork. Now these are tiny birds, and using a knife and fork just doesn't seem very efficient to me, so I picked up the tiny drumstick with my fingers to harvest what little meat was there. DAMN! The looks I got from fellow diners! As if I had been committing an act of child molestation instead of eating chicken in the manner of my people! Fingers! So convenient, and so handy, much less cumbersome than any metal utensil. Brazilians, as discussed earlier, will not eat anything, in public at least, with their fingers. I saw a guy at breakfast this morning who had a very interesting technique for eating a banana. He held the banana, still partly enclosed in the peel, then, with his knife, cut a slice. He then put down the knife, picked up his fork with which he stabbed the banana section to carry it to his mouth. Totally crazy! Others were at least peeling the banana and cutting it on their plates. Needless to say, I ate my banana in the, apparently, crude American style, directly from the peel held in my hand. A prison term may be in my future if I continue with these barbaric eating habits!
You can't walk around Rio, at least when any other people are around (like in bars, restaurants, markets, on the street) for more than a few minutes without seeing someone give the thumbs up sign. In Brazil, far more than in any other place I know, it is an amazingly versatile gesture, all depending on context. A guy walks into a bar: thumbs up to the guy behind the bar, meaning "howdy". A guy walks out of a bar: thumbs up again, meaning "goodbye, see you soon". A guy sees a nice bunda: thumbs up to his friends, meaning "nice ass". (Don't get the idea I'm obsessed with bundas, ok?) Someone does a favor: thumbs up again, this time meaning "thanks, brother".
Another hand gesture I love, and which makes me giggle, sometimes audibly, every time I see it, is a slightly cupped palm used to cover the mouth, which in recent years has now come to serve a new function. Originally, I observed it mainly in restaurants, or even in peoples' homes, at the dinner table...it was a very polite social observance utilized to mask the obviously grotesque act of using a toothpick in public. I've seen it in the most humble hole in the wall, and the most expensive bistros. What's funny is, to me, it seems like they are trying to cover up, not just the gapping mouth and the probing toothpick, but they're making a vain attempt to conceal the very fact that they are using a toothpick. "I have my hand, casually covering my mouth, almost flat against my face, save for the twenty degree angle, like a salute, for no particular reason..." But I think, by now, everyone's caught on. I know I have. Now, in this day of cell phones, I see it, usually in restaurants, used to, again vainly, try to protect others from the one-sided end of the cell phone conversation. But they don't seem to understand that the hand is not very good soundproofing, but rather, just might serve as a megaphone, making the yapping even more obvious. I just love it.
Ok, Paulinho da Viola. It's because of Paulinho that I met my dear friend Celso here in Rio in May (or was it June?) of 1980, nearly 30 years ago. (Please refer back to my first post "Portland to Rio" which traces this all in detail.) Anyway, my adulation for Paulinho drew me to his concert way back when, and it was backstage that I met Celso.
So I feel very lucky to have entered, however slightly, into his world. When he and the band were playing two weeks in São Paulo, in June of 1980, not only did I attend the performance 5 or 6 times, but I invited the band over to our apartment on their two off-days, Sundays, to have lunch. Everyone but Paulinho came over (he's the star, after all), and that included Cesar Faria, Paulinho's dad who played guitar with the group.
So, when I finally got my visa and plane ticket settled, I was delighted to learn from Celso that Paulinho would have a concert Oct 11, the day before my departure for home. What great musical bookends for the trip: Epoca de Ouro at the beginning, Paulinho at the end. Even more exciting for me was that I would be able to attend the group's rehearsal a few days before the concert (yesterday). So Celso picked me up at the hotel around 1:30 for the 2pm rehearsal to take place in a music studio in Botafogo, in the very neighborhood where Paulinho was born back in about 1942.
Scheduled for two, music finally began at about 3:45...Paulinho himself didn't get there until nearly 3 himself. But when it started, it was magical! I was totally enchanted...Paulinho da Viola was playing for an audience of exactly ONE! That would be ME! How friggin' cool is that, Brazilian music lovers? Touch me for a bit of sizzle! They worked though, at least partially, most of the tunes scheduled for Sunday, some more than once, but since they have played these tunes together a million times (including for a Brazilian MTV music special in 2007, which, I think, is available from Amazon, and worth every penny of credit card principal and interest you have to pay for it!). I was floating on a cloud!
When it was over, some folks hung around talking for a bit (the accompanying photo shows the stragglers: Cristóvão Bastos, Jorginho Silva, the father of Celsinho Silva, Celsinho Silva, Paulinho da Viola, Dininho Silva, Hércules (Pai João)).
Now I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's performance since I haven't seen a "proper" concert of Paulinho in a long, long time, probably not since 1980! A BIG thumbs up, meu amigo!
Here's a sample (not my very favorite song, but it's really nice, and features the current line-up in an excerpt from the MTV program).