Two bodies found floating in the sea
(My translation of an article in A Tarde and Massa, two papers from Salvador, Brazil 18/9/14. I have written about this beach in a previous post on this blog. Stories of this kind are very common in the press here. I have been reading A Tarde regularly and have often been struck by the dramatic nature of the reports of violence. This story is extraordinary because it juxtaposes the attractive and horrific sides of Salvador. The original article can be viewed at www.jornalmassa.com.br/2014/09/147119-terror-desembarca-no-porto-da-barra.html )
Yesterday morning violence landed on Porto da Barra beach, voted the third best beach in the world by the English paper The Guardian. A navy launch towed ashore two bodies which were floating in the sea. A forensics team established that the victims had died from bullet wounds to the head and stab wounds to the neck. Continue reading
This is Reginaldo and his little sound system truck. Like the other street music vendors he sells self-copied CDs and DVDs. Continue reading
Campos crash site in the city of Santos
There was high drama in Brazilian politics last week with Sunday seeing the streets of Recife filled with mourners for Eduardo Campos, a charismatic presidential candidate in the current elections. An executive jet on which he was travelling on his 18 hour per day campaign schedule had crashed last Wednesday killing all on board. I really had not been taking too much notice of the electioneering until this point but this tragedy made me look more closely. I soon realised that Campos had caught my attention once before. When I was here in Brazil at the beginning of the year, a photograph in the paper, of a middle-aged man kissing a new-born baby had caught my eye. Alongside, Campos was quoted as saying; ‘Seja bem-vindo querido Miguel, voce chegou na familia certa’ – Welcome, darling Miguel, you have arrived in the right family. Also reported was the fact that this, the fifth of Campos’ children, had Down’s syndrome. Continue reading
Yesterday, the day after my birthday we went to a small town near Santa Amaro to see a kind of festival, although ‘commemoration’ would perhaps be a better term. We got up early, despite birthday party hangover, to catch a bus put on by a tour company. All the excursionists were Brazilian, and local, as far as I could tell, apart from our party which consisted of five foreigners, most of whom live here and another local who is married to one of them.
Acupe, the little town,is on a tidal mangrove river on the Bay Of All The Saints in Bahia, Brazil, and originated as a quilombo, a settlement of escaped slaves. In an annual festival the residents commemorate the period of resistance by slaves and the repression of them. We see children apparently shot at point blank range, we see men and boys begging for mercy on their knees, we see chaos and violence between black people – and we see demons walking the streets.
Despite the many interesting and important aspects of the Acupe festival, the one which I have found most difficult to interpret is the way it was consumed by us, as spectators, as tourists, and in particular as photographers. There was a veritable feeding frenzy of picture-taking which was almost more extraordinary than the actions being documented by the cameras. Continue reading
He was born in the 60s. In the white heat of technology; you’d never had it so good, in the economic miracle. Everything was possible. And he was born first. Everything was for him. He was born a boy. His grandparents had known hunger. There was always enough for him.
As young teenager in the 70s he and his friends went to the matinée films. Especially James Bond. He could do everything: look cool, fence, shoot, ride, dive, fight, smile, gamble, charm. He always won. He always got laid. Continue reading
According to the paper by Thiele I mentioned before, Heidegger saw existential anxiety as a state with the possible positive effect of making us think about fundamental ontological questions such as: why is there anything? What is my reason for being? What should I do with this existence?
When anxiety loses its potency, it gives way to boredom. We are no longer shocked and worried by our existential conundrum, but bored by it. Furthermore, this makes worldly activity seem pointless, too. For Thiele, this state of boredom is hidden in postmodern society, by technological innovation and the resulting culture of novelty. The main purpose of technology then becomes to alleviate boredom. Continue reading
Since I’ve been in Salvador I’ve established the habit of having breakfast at one of the many little bars and cafés in Dois de Julho while reading a local paper. It’s a way of getting me through my morning blues, reading some Portuguese and keeping up with what’s going on. There are always some interesting crime stories which I find fascinating because of the human drama behind them.
Today A Tarde carried a section called ‘The New York Times: International Weekly’ in Portuguese with various stories from around the world. The one that caught my eye was by Katrin Bennhold. It was a story about the apparently growing popularity of winter swimming in unheated outdoor pools in London. Continue reading
I’m quite wary about blogging on this beach visit in Salvador, Brazil. After all I have enough trouble persuading people that I am here working and researching, rather than on holiday. And although I do occasionally go, for a swim and run perhaps at the end of another sweltering day, it tends to be a bit of a project. Get the bus, or walk, where is safe to walk? Will the beach be too empty (not safe) or too full (not safe). Once I get there, there is the problem of what to do with my stuff while I swim. You don’t really need to take very much because cold isn’t an issue. It’s more about money really. You’ll probably want some on you, at least for a bus home, but also perhaps for a snack and a drink afterwards. The solution is to ask someone to look after your bag. I’m quite used to doing this and I’ve never had any problems with it, but it does mean scouting the beach for someone who looks friendly and trustworthy. Families are usually a good bet, but I’ve asked all sorts of people and it’s always been fine. The context here is that Salvador is fairly crime-ridden. People get mugged a lot and there are a fair amount of shootings and robberies. This leads to everyone being more or less paranoid about security.
Today my flatmate went to the beach and asked me to join him. I was still doing work but said I might come later – which I did. It turned out to be a little cultural adventure. Continue reading