Current Date: Friday, March 19, 2004 12:45 p.m. (Rosario, Argentina)

Current Itinerary: Here for atleast one night...maybe the weekend and then I'm not sure. Either to BA or to national park near here to spend more time hugging trees.

Note#1: Numerous hilarious responses to my last journal were greatly appreciated!! A "favorites/quotes" part 2 is already in the works. Glad everyone had fun with that one.

Note#2: WARNING: SHAMELESS PROMOTION. My friend, Damon Clevland in NYC has recently launched a web site that allows aspiring artists to showcase their talents to the largest network of music industry professionals. Please take a moment to check it out at http://www.theindustryresource.com Please forward the link on to anyone you might think is interested. I think it's a fantastic idea and wish him the best.

Note#3: Speaking of websites...before leaving SP, I posted some pics on my website (www.thecooperchronicles.com) of my apartment, students, and neighborhood if anyone is interested. Also, there are probably many other new pics that many of you haven't seen.

Note#4: Since this is such a short journal, I'm gonna add all these notes to the top just to make it longer.

Note#5: Seriously...this, again, is not really a "journal" but merely a few observations. I actually wrote this eons ago and planned to add to it but never did. Oh well. Things will return to normal in the next e-mail. Only about 5 more to get caught up to the present.


So I have been getting lots of questions about what it is like to live here in Brazil, specifically in Sao Paulo. Well, as I touched on back in my Pouso Alegre journal...living in Brazil (especially in the South) has some serious resemblances to a 1980's version of the United States. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it is bad, and sometimes it is just plain funny. So without further ado...here is my take on the top four ways that living in Sao Paulo is like living in the 80's in the USA.

1. The Machismo Attitude

Like nothing I have ever seen. If the folks at Augusta want to maintain their gender specific ways, they could easily move The Masters to Sao Paulo. They haven't quite tackled that female integration thing (or integration period...more on that later). The women here take a far more subservient role in society...none of this corporate power woman, "Waiting to Exhale" stuff. It is man's world in Brazil. One couple I met at a bar near my house actually thought that is was funny when I asked what the wife did for a living. Now, don't get the wrong idea, there are plenty of women here that have very good professional careers, but it is nothing compared to USA. It is seriously a mirror image of the USA in about 1985.

The "machismo" is apparent in many aspects of the culture. Somethings are similar to the US, like very estrogenic television programming during the day(think Oprah), but here everything is taken to the extreme. Shows have names like "Women today" and "Women cooking" and they have nothing but females in their audiences and as hosts. In fact, just about every woman you see on TV here isn't exactly there for her personality. The variety shows on the weekends are shameless...30 scantily clad backup dancers that they show between every skit and every commercial break. Classic.

But the machismo attitude is not just towards women...the people here are EXTREMELY homophobic. Trust me when I say nobody is laughing when you say "not that there's anything wrong with that!" The mere implication that someone is gay is an extreme insult here and except for a few areas in SP (and Rio), they remain well hidden. You also notice this on television...there is a show here that is sort of the equivalent of Saturday Night Live. EVERY single skit has a guy dressed up as a girl and acting "gay" or silly and the Brazilians eat it up as if it was the funniest thing they've ever seen...every single time.

There are also many other little things...like if you go to a party, you'll notice the women are constantly there cleaning up after the men (maybe that one is just because men are lazy), or you'll never see a male cashier in a grocery store, or a female bus driver...things like that. It is a great place to live, SP, but they have a long way to go in terms of equality. That is a perfect segway for reason number 2 that living in SP is like living in the 80's.

2. The Color Barrier

Alright, this one is a touchy subject for Brazilians...but it's time for somebody to point it out. As most of you know, Brazil is a nation that has a rather wide range of skin color...from the lightest of the light to the darkest of the dark. If you ask ANYBODY here if they have racism, you will get a resounding NO, followed by a 10 minute rant about how bad it is the US and how they don't have any of those problems here and everyone here lives in peace and harmony and are all equal. Well, I am here to tell you, they are right and wrong at the same time. It is true here, you'll virtually never see hate crimes because of race, and you don't have lunatic skinheads, and a black face in a small town doesn't get glances or unfair treatment. You'll see restaurants and bars where folks are all getting along, regardless of color and interracial couples hardly get looked at twice. HOWEVER, if you go to Avenida Paulista (business district) you'll be hard pressed to find anyone black on the streets whose not selling something or homeless. The racism that exists here in SP (yes, there definitely is some) is more of the covert type. For example, if you go to the shopping malls (here malls are relatively expensive while stand alone stores are cheaper), black faces are few and far between. I have found that I am rather ignored by the salespeople until it becomes apparent I'm a foreigner. I'm telling you that being here and being black, you certainly notice the little things like that. Now, anyone who knows me is more than aware that I'm not one of these folks that blames everything on racial inequality, but I'm telling you that here in SP, the financial gradient is defined by the color gradient, and I doubt much is being done to change any of that.


3. The fashion for males
I talked about this one in my Pouso Alegre journal. Hair gel and denim. My god. But it gets worse. Even the typical 80's "preppy" look is popular here. The sweater tied over the shoulders with a pastel polo shirt on...it is really difficult to take it seriously. Nevertheless, that's the fashion here and I find it funny, as I'm sure they would find some our fashion trends funny.

4. Financial transactions
Here's something that no one from my generation ever had to deal with...stores/restaurants that accept either only Visa OR Mastercard...or neither!! That is not as bad as some other things though...like the fact that people actually still write checks here. Not that it doesn't happen in the US anymore, but here it is the primary choice for method of payment. The debit card just isn't ubiquitous here so they are forced to stick with archeaic check writing. This is particularly annoying in a dance club at the end of the night...which I think I mentioned in some journal at some point along the way...you've got 50 people in line waiting to pay and 80% of them are writing checks. When's the last time you wrote a check in a bar. Let me guess...1986!

Another thing that is quite popular here and strange for me is that people actually go to the mall. Remember in the 80's when shopping malls were popping up everywhere and they would be totally packed? Well, come to Brazil and you can relive the good old days. And it isn't just for junior high kids...it's fun for the whole family! The only thing missing is pegged jeans and Bon Jovi T-shirts.

I have no where to stick this so I'll put it here and end this thing...and this is one of those little things you forget until you go somewhere and it's different. Pepsi is actually more popular here than Coke. Just like back in 1985 when Michael Jackson set his hair on fire! By the way, does anybody remember that Pepsi sponsored "Jackson Reunion Tour" when they actually released a collector's item soda can, signed by the Jacksons? I remember my friend Mike had that can for about 10 years in his room. You just can't buy those types of great memories.

AC

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