Hard to believe its been 3 years since I visited you in Sao Paolo. So much has happened...
I rediscovered my diary from that time and enjoyed noticing a few things I didn't tell you about before:
All is well here. It's hot. Hottest summer in Sao Paolo ever. since they started measuring around 1950. Every time I get too warm I think about how I have to go back eventually to a frozen urban wasteland. The clouds gather in fluffy hard shapes over the afternoon. It will most likely rain a little every day. I camp the sun in one of the smoking sections of GRU (airport). This air and climate has thinned my blood. But making love in the cold when I return will thicken it up again appropriately. I still haven't checked the weather. A little longer to go with out being online. I walk down the far side of Augusta, past Consolacao, ducking into the shade and trying to connect to wifi with my stubborn telephone. To enjoy the sun, por favor!
Cucharachas the size of my stubby pinky finger amble drunkenly along sideways until they get crushed. They are big and few enough to deserve names, if I cared to name them. From the smallest to the most massive: Banyan-like trees with complex root structures and trunks sprout ridiculous and arching and beautiful. Along my walk I recall again the upcoming anniversary: Sao Paulo will be 460 anos this week. Any cause for celebration- Paulistanos are enjoying the full swing of summer. As I watch the news (JN and SP on Globo- gshow.com.br) this place becomes more and more interesting to me. From the 'ooo' and 'uh-oh' deep lip-puckered sounds of portuguese, to the fact that there is a whole lot that's about to happen here- Carnivale in a month. The world cup this summer and 2016 games in Rio. There is a buzz in the air. I think randomly of the foreign language instructors I had in college. 2 were decent and the others sucked horribly (Spanish and Italian.) But none of them every really tell you that to best learn a language, you must fly, nee flee, to the place that beckons you bend your tongue. For one thing, they seem to pronounce certain 'd's like 'j' and 't's like 'g's. I start reading "Tropic of Capricorn" and catch "nausea." I know I will be thinking about this place and missing it for a long time after I return home. Home- the cold, hard-as-rock working place. A place of no street vendors and strict rules of jackets and drama and too much drinking. I sigh. Something in me has cracked open and see it for the sad place it is- my own sad place in it.
Besides the heat the thing that makes this a real paradise for me, and easy on the eyes, is all the race mixing and the true melting-pot confluence of color. The guide book says it better than I can. I am happy to have the metric (converting F to C) practice, and one more week of summer- bought and paid for. The longer I stay in this place, the more comfortably surreal it becomes. A kid who looks like Jim Morrisson passes wearing a Jim Morrisson t-shirt. The air is powdered with the occasional delightful waft of pot smoke, and I meander in a grocery store, buying snacks and gifts and simply enjoying the foreignness of everything. Little adventures yield big results. Especially as hours are long and this place, despite its size, is highly walkable. I see some dudes holding hands here. And some fine dykey ladieez. It's all good. Everybody seems to get tatted up for any reason imaginable. So many kids with tattoos. I feel as if I almost fit in a little better since I have two mid-size visible ones. 'Leger & Franco & Leavitt & Gosling.' A girl walks by wearing this slogan on a cutoff T. The handsome faces pop into my mind- does she know? Or is she another of those increasing many who have Ramones t-shirts stuffed somewhere in their drawers?
I meet another photographer with whom I got in touch before arriving: Carol. I'm sorry you two didn't get to meet one another, but you both still have profiles on the same photography site. She is a gem and Chicago would love her. She'll be in the states by March for awhile, and maybe she'll never leave! I laughed when one of the first things out of her mouth was 'I hate Brasil'. She was so hot, flushed in the cheeks, from the midday walk to my hotel, bless her heart. She's dressed in PJs, two different tops and bottoms that clash, and has dorky glasses frames and one stretched earlobe and clearly doesnt give a fuk, and yet gives many fux about the right things. Her english is much better than she gives herself credit for, and our chat about music is refreshing. Turns out she's a huuuuuge Elvis fan!
I pull a ground score on a pack of Marlboros. I think I will have one now, and read some poetry. Flattered, even by a street solicitor, to be mistaken for a resident. I'm just an open person to talk to, really. "Night Power"- the stacks of an energy drink with an intense name in a convenience shop make me laugh. This along with a few storefronts leave me in stitches. Namely 'Thuty Shoes' and 'Qualy Copy.' Almost got lost coming off of Praca de Se, down into Liberdad this afternoon. But with a little hearty map reading I managed to make it past the ghetto while walking along a patch of highway only to run smack into lower Augusta again. Whew. In Praca Agua Branca, I drink from a coconut and listen to all the ruckus the cocks are making- calling forth and back thru the lattice and trellis. PEEP! PEEEEP! Bitchy Sparrows in Ibirapuera Park bicker a welcome on a Sunday. Naturally, the place is packed and I pop a squat in the shade and hydrate and take it all in for a moment. The music, the sculpture, the lagoon fountain with its angular dances. On the way here there are street performers at stoplights on Aveneda Brasil. Also, a man selling flowers. Brazilians are just trying to improve their station like everyone else in the world. They try hard and smile while doing it. And they love American music. "Knocking on heaven's door" sung at top volume with 2 saxophonists and one classical guitarist outside of my hotel lobby. Yet another lovely Sunday morning rendition around 4am by drunken youth as Rua Augusta stays hopping until the faintest blue, selling single cans of beer and thrashing the streets. Some choosing to pick a fight until the subway opens. And remarkably, for how much litter was present, the streets at Sunday noon are remarkably free of debris.
Fruit Shake Uva- a grape soft serve smoothie to balance me out. I was shaking from low blood sugar. Back in Parque Trinanon to cool off for a moment in the minor jungle. When I go in after the park (both art museums there are closed, as well as the Japanese pavillion- not however a total loss) I find the roof in the hotel lobby is leaking. Dripping blatantly onto a wide rug- darkening it. The next day the rug is gone and a bucket is out. I keep discarding magazines on the coffee table and there they sit- as dutiful an entertainment as Brazilian TV. The one channel I get is chock full of news and soap operas.
Gus and I shoot some pics on the abandoned 11th floor (rooftop/solarium) lounge with 2 saunas and a gym area. This poor hotel. What it was in its heyday I'll never know, Tho' it was good to take advantage of the last overcast light, and provided it stays open, we'll go up there again. I recall Gus saying "I want to win the lottery." It made me laugh. He is like most who want to win but don't want to play. The next afternoon rain sets in- another good thunderstorm. We work on the roof for a second time and Gus uses some lights and leaves the shutter open for a surreal effect- this after breaking his external flash! Not irreparably, tho'. He'll take it to the shop tomorrow. He's off to night work after we stuff our faces at an indian place where I have a mango lassi for the 1x in a thousand years, and he may be up early enough to call before I take off from the hotel for my standard walking adventure. Reading Vanity Fair over breakfast and observing again how Hotel Pan Americano is straight out of the 70s and falling the fuck apart. Loose toilets, poor A/C, grimy walls, a biology experiment for a pool (open and closed in what seems to be a haphazard way but I make good use of it.), shitty telephone, and now the internet switch seems to be a genuine bust. It could be annoying, but mostly it's endearing. My walk down Augusta to Feria Lima and back keeps me out in a hint of greasy rain, and is only as productive as it takes me past a beautiful eastern orthodox cathedral and a minor sculpture park. I can find an excuse to take a walk to any corner of this place at any time. A ferocious thunderstorm seizes town just as I seek early dinner in the shopping mall 2 streets over, and I wander the awesome bookstore, watching the deluge pass from high windows. Sure enough later it's on the news: a bus overturned in the flooding. More traffic, more weather. It'll all happen again tomorrow. On a random afternoon later on, Gus discusses Fernando Haddad- the people's mayor, and the role of the media as he sees it, and news in general here in SP- as we explore the rooftop of the Copan- a truly phenomenal 360 view in a building comprised of only 32 floors and yet is the largest residential complex in Brasil.
Quarta-feira. Another day. The sun blasts above a block-away building and into my window at 7:30. I miss a meeting with Gus by waiting in the wrong park- but 'tis never a wash. I find another park and finally Parca del Luz beside the Luz station in all its glory. Full of fountains and fantastic sculpture and quiet places out of the heat and... teeming with that feeling… a hangout for prostitutes? Gus comes to mind again, as I walk down a portion of his street back toward the hotel and pass a few "American" bars. "Las Jegas" being one. There are bordellos or "big houses" tucked in here and there, it seems. I am thrilled in an insipid way to find my favorite clove cigarettes. Samporena A Milds. There are newsstands everywhere called Bancas that distribute literature and smokes. I have a debate with myself about how many packs I will try to take with me. I wonder if they are as good as I remember. Gus and I drink Ibiripava beer and macha and eat ponchu-quejiou (cheese rolls) and in the meantime I chew gum to nurse away my appetite. Traveling broke is a good way to diet. No open container laws means pleanty of fun on the streets. Joints close up around 1 or 2a anyhow. "Blue Night Show"- a neon sign shines over a patch of Augusta as I open wide my screenless 8th floor window to dream out into the cool breeze of a Monday evening. I think there was a heat wave just before I got into town, and now the air is smoother, and more rain no doubt on the way. This place is truly lovely, and makes me love and miss my own city all the more.
Randomly, I find bidets in private bathrooms to be another fun euro-esque feature. But kind of hate it when fixtures aren't white or off-white. I'm the kind of person who monitors the condition of my excreta. Flavio, my concierge, objects when I try to tip him after getting my requisite pizza injection last night, it will be the last time I see him tho'. After these long conversations we've had across the desk, he admits to being gay because he thinks my asking him out for a drink means I'm after him. We have permanent wanderlust in common and I do genuinely hope to run into him in the states. He is so proud of his travels. Fruit and pizza of course have been more the subsistence here. Ate just the greasiest little cheeze thingy outside of Parca Republica, and I splurge on the airport bus service- a charter- not very proletarian of me, but nor really is drinking at the airport, and since I can't take these beers, they gotta go. My microSD card is full from pictures. My last roll of film is almost cashed. Anyway, the bus lets me stretch out. It can take as long as it likes in traffic while it affords me a last elevated view of this extensive filthy city sweating all across itself. I've just got enough cash to take the train when I get back to Chicago. And to think! Gosh, how rediculous to be stranded at your own airport. Too, my sunglasses broke, so of course that means it's time to go home. I sure could think of reasons to stay, but the best one would be my own bilingual love. My concupiscence is, despite my generally infrequent masturbatory habits, getting the best of me. In short: I'm horny.
One of my first days in the city was a Tuesday. Hot, but not too humid. The MASP is gratis then, so I go and it's all Parisian 19th c. artists and Lucian Freud's etchings on display. WAY up-my-alley. I start to thinking about how blessed, absolutely and truly I am, to be a model, to be an artist. To know artists, and to have a love and reverence for this amazing history and work. And that perhaps I shall never really want for anything because these feelings are being so deeply forged into my heart, and they- along with a profound humble gratitude- cause me to fortify my real legacy of personhood and responsible eldership. I am an adult and my heart beats and I live! And for this and more I sit in front of Van Gogh's Evening Walk and weep. I cry and cry from the heart and my tears make my soul clean. My truest luck is the gift of this understanding.