About Me

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

BossaBreezes Music Review: 2014

Oi Gente! 

I wanted to write a little review on music here, as I believe 2014 was an outstanding year for Brazilian music.

Of course, my personal taste is going to be reflected here. That being said, don't expect to see sertaneja songs or funk probidão around here….

Vamos lá! 

CRIOLO- CONVOQUE SEU BUDA 
This album is chocked full of different musical genres, just as Criolo's first venture into the musical world with his album ''Nó na Orelha.'' This album is a little bit more grungy, has a bit of hip hop undertones, as well as reggae. Of course, Criolo doesn't forget his roots and has some super traditional Brazilian sounds, as well as a few songs that sound like they came straight out of carnaval. I suggest a listen, its a really fun album!

My favorite tracks are:
-Esquiva da Esgrima
-Cartão de Vista (Feat. Tulipa Ruiz.)
-Fermento pra Massa


BANDA DO MAR 
A combination of Marcelo Camelo and his girlfriend Mallu Magalhães, this CD packs an awesome punch. It's got a very earthy, beachy Brazilian vibe. It's reminiscent of Marcelo Camelo's solo works, with a twist of funky Mallu Magalhães style.

My favorite tracks:
-Hey Nana
-Vamo Embora


ANELIS ASSUMPÇÃO- E OS AMIGOS IMAGINÁRIOS 
This album is AMAZING. Newcomer Anelis represents my old São Paulo neighborhood of Vila Madalena in style, and incorporates modern MPB, old Brazilian sounds, reggae and other new wave sounds and creates beautiful music. It's super funky, and reminds me a bit of Céu's work. Céu and Anelis make beautiful music together in my favorite track from the album, ''Song to Rosa''.

Also, take a look at
-Mau Juízo
-Eu Gosto Assim
-Toc Toc Toc

and last but not least, my Favorite album of 2014 ……

PARAÍSO DA MIRAGEM-RUSSO PASSAPUSSO 

Ahhhh! I Can't say enough good things about this album. It's very nicely varied, but includes some of the most beautiful Nu Bossa that I've heard in a LONG time. It also has some funky songs with rap undertones, some reggae, and lots and lots of traditional Brazilian beats. There are special appearances on the album by my girl Anelis Assumpção, Thalma de Freitas and Bnegão. The beginning of the album starts out super 60s psychedelic before it starts to unwind into a warm, breezy and delicious musical treat.

My Favorite tracks include:
ALL OF THEM!

Please listen to this album! It's crazy good!!

______
Thats it for now! If I remember more, I will be sure to add!

Abraços,
Alex



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Falling in love….with Brazil, again.

Hey Guys,

So it's been a couple months since I last posted (seems like thats the norm now, doesn't it?), and I'm back to say a few things.

As the title suggests, I'm starting to fall back in love with Brazil after a big bump in the road. I think my love has been reborn with a few new conditions, as I've grown and now understand some things about Brazil and Brazilians more than ever.

One of these things is: Don't bother looking at Facebook posts about Brazil and it's government. This will only lead to depression and the urge to give up on Brazil. Unfortunately there are so many vira-lata Brazilians out there screaming on Facebook and forums about how much they hate Brazil and how much it's a lost cause. These people, honestly, are pathetic. They aren't solving any issues and they are just poisoning the minds of others. I fell for their poison, and it made me want to not look at Brazil for a little while. I think I've matured a little in relation to this issue, and now instead of looking at the ridiculous things people say behind keyboards, I take what I know and apply it to my opinions of Brazil. Brazil is a complicated place, and these anti-Brazil posts that are so common nowadays (by vira-lata Brazilians) are overly simplified and quite honestly show the stupidity of those who write and post them. Basically, eu não ligo mais! 

Another thing: ignore the majority of overseas Brazilians. I know this may sound terrible, but in my experience the majority of Brazilians living outside of Brazil are absolutely arrogant when it comes to their opinions. They discount your opinions on Brazil within two seconds if you:

a) Like Brazil
b) Are not Brazilian born
c) Like Brazil and are not Brazilian born.

It seems that overseas Brazilians try so hard to disqualify your opinions on Brazil, especially if they are even slightly positive. Most Brazilian immigrants that I have come across here in the New York Metropolitan Area will talk more sh•t about Brazil than good. They will be totally deslumbrados (in awe) of anything here…even the most simple McDonalds deserves ''Ahhh, primero mundo é outra coisa!!!! OLHA ESSE MCDO, QUE LUXO!'' as they scream in Portuguese about how Brazil is a shithole. Most Brazilians here also don't even bother learning English or meeting Americans and isolate themselves in a  Brazilian ghetto somewhere in Newark or Elizabeth, live like they never left Brazil, and post pictures of themselves luxuriando na neve and ostentando in a mall which looks exactly like the mall that they left behind in Governador Valadares. This is why, unless proven otherwise, I avoid Brazilians in the US like the plague. Mainly because I will always be wrong for rooting for Brazil and for even liking the place.

When I take these two issues mentioned above out of the equation, I remember the Brazil that I love. The music, the (good) people, the food, the scenery, the weather…….ah, saudade! 



I miss São Paulo and it's funky vibes. Its got this awesome underground feeling that nowhere I've been can replicate. I miss the street art in Vila Madalena. I miss the chaos of Rua Augusta. I miss the buzz of construction and growth. I miss the araucárias, the parrots waking me up every morning….I miss the metro, I miss the coffee, I miss Ibirapuera, I miss Avenida Paulista, I miss Oscar Friere………I miss it all.

My life is getting more complicated back home. Falling in and out of relationships just to fall back into them again, graduating school in four short months, getting my New York Real Estate License, getting a job, trying to find my way in the world…it's all happening right now.

I will always want to be in Brazil. I just don't know how feasible it is right now. I don't know when I'm going to get back to Brazil to visit, let alone live. It makes me sad how uncertain my Brazilian future is, but I still have hope I will get back one day. I just don't want to look back at this post in 10 years and be stuck somewhere I don't want to be….that will be my motivation to not let that happen.

I will keep you all updated!

Beijos, Abraços, Fiquem com Deus,
Alex


Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 2014

Eiii Galera! 

Its been around two months since I last posted here. Wow, time really flies by quickly! I've been super busy with school, leaving me with little time to myself, but its Thanksgiving weekend here in The States, and I figured now that I have a little free time (at 1:35 on a Saturday night) that I would post here and try and reconnect with my readers. 

Since the last time I wrote, Dilma has been reelected as preside-anta of Brazil for another four years. I'm deeply disappointed in this. To be honest, it makes me think that Brazil going down the wrong path ideologically, and that the population (or, the 52% who voted for Dilma) are a lost cause. I will never understand how Brazilians are content with Dilma. Sure, she throws money at poor families. It's not even that much money…but the poor will take what they can get. I guess a few reais is worth it to the uneducated masses…the few extra reais must be worth living in a country with a completely outdated business law, with a completely ridiculous penal code, and a place where the media is censored so that Dilma always looks like a saint even though she's a thug chess piece of the PT. 

The extra few reais must be worth living in a country where over 50,000 people are murdered every year. The extra few reais must be worth living in a country with terrible public education, bad health system in many regions, with no infrastructure in many locations…..it must be worth living in a country that is DESTROYING any natural assets it may have left (kiss the Amazon goodbye, Dilma prefers cows, soy and termite mounds to water and air), the few extra reais must be worth the billions of dollars hemorrhaging from Brazil that middle class Brazilians spend in the US buying bad quality goods for cheaper than in Brazil…..I could go on, but I won't. 

Basically, the next four years in Brazil are going to suck. Unfortunately, the country is pretty much divided as Aécio and Dilma were neck to neck (a probable Dilma rigging pushed her over the edge, causing her to win), but the majority elected her. So those people deserve the stagnation, violence, insecurity and the environmental holocaust that Brazil will be for the next few years. 

It makes me want to cry. I used to have high hopes for Brazil. The country will always be in my life, mainly because I've grown into a man and Brazil has played a big role in that. I'll always be extremely connected to Brazil and Brazilians culturally, romantically and pretty much every other way. But as of right now, I don't have much hope for Brazil. I think, at least, for the next few years, we can expect more people we know to be robbed at gunpoint (hopefully not murdered in the process), we can expect more people to be unemployed, and we can expect more catastrophic droughts that paralyze cities of 23 million people, like the current situation in São Paulo. We can expect to lose more of the Amazon and the water that comes with it. But hell! We'll have a shitload of soy!!!!! Soy sauce instead of water? Sounds good to Dilma and the majority of Brazilians. 

I still plan on making my way back to Brazil, but dang Brazil…..you really, really are disappointing me. 

Abraços 
Alex 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

São Paulo vs. New York

Oi Galera!

Sorry I've been so ''sumido'' as of late, things are still really busy for me around here! School just started, and I'm taking a super heavy credit load this semester so I'm already exhausted (…not a great sign…), but it's only this semester and then three more classes next semester until I'm officially graduated, and hopefully starting to do what I want with my life. It's about time!

Anyway, It's been over a year since I came back from Brazil, can you believe that? It's pretty crazy! Not surprisingly, many of my views about things have been permanently altered after my stint in Brazil, just like many people who have lived there/live there have observed. Even if you don't observe it and think you haven't changed from living in Brazil, you have!

One of the things thats really changed for me is the concept of lively versus boring.

Yesterday I was in Manhattan (a place where I go very often, because I live close by and also because my sister currently lives there, so I visit her there often), and couldn't help but think about the weird sensation that the place gives me.



I used to think New York was ''the center of the universe'', just as New York markets itself. It markets itself as a lively place where everyone is dying to be. I understand the allure of New York, but in reality I think it's a different place than most people envision.

It's a bustling city, with around 8 million inhabitants in its city limits with another 12 million in the surrounding metropolitan region (Similar to São Paulo.) Even though it's bustling, it hurts me to say this, but I think New York has turned into somewhat of a soulless place.

There are people everywhere, but no interaction. It's almost a sterilized city. By this I mean there is nothing unique about it anymore….each corner has a Starbucks Coffee, every two blocks there is Whole Foods Market and every block there is Duane Read, without much diversity in-between. There is no originality anymore. There is no grit. It's like a shiny coin that didn't get it's design imprinted on it….shiny and pretty but plain and kind of boring.

New York gets a back wrap because people think it's inhabitants are rude. I never agreed with this before, but now I'm starting to understand why so many people say this. New Yorkers will say ''Thank You'' and ''You're Welcome'', but there is almost no sincerity or genuine friendliness to be found in the city. It's like each person is their own walled fortress, trying to get to where they're going as fast as humanly possible with as little human contact/conversation/recognition as possible.


Contrast this to São Paulo…it's like night and day.



Some expats might say that Paulistanos are not overly friendly, and you'd be right. But at the same time, being someone who knows each of these groups pretty intimately, Paulistanos are definitely more outgoing than the common New Yorker.

Also, São Paulo is a crazy, mixed up city. It's got the chicest neighborhoods you'll ever see, decrepit neighborhoods falling apart, leafy suburban areas and favelas. Not uniform. The sidewalks are different every few steps, the stores are not all the same (well, only the banks and pharmacies…) and it doesn't give this completely sterile vibe that New York gives.

It's really funny how New York is such a tourist attraction, especially for Brazilians. I know they marvel at the tall buildings, how the streets are planned out on a neat grid and all that….but I wonder how they would really do if they needed to survive in New York. Brazilians are intensely social animals and the New Yorker is the complete opposite. I think most Brazilians would feel a little depressed after a real stint of New York living. You're on your own, and nobody really cares if you're lonely or not--because everyone in that city of 8 million people is lonely. Ironic, isn't it?

Abraços,
Alex

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Don't Like The Brazilian Middle Class

First off, I'd like to give a big ''OI'' to my readers! Sorry for being missing in action for such a long time! I'll write a post as to what I've been up to soon, time really flies! Anyway, lets get to the meat of the post.

I Don't Like the Brazilian Middle Class

Lately my interaction with Brazilians has been low, mainly because most of my friends that were part of the Ciências sem Fronteiras program that were studying at my university have left for other universities or went back to Brazil, but any kind of interaction I have with Brazilians now tends to be from the middle class, are here temporarily and are going back to Brazil at some point.

Unfortunately, speaking from an outside viewpoint, I find the Brazilian middle class incredibly negative. Brazilians are always known for their positive outlook on life, on their ''joie de vivre'' (did I spell that right?) and their ''Brasilidade'', something that combines a happiness with limes and sugar and creates a caipirinha like human. I have to disagree, and strongly, that all Brazilians are like this.

In my opinion, the lower class Brazilians have got some of this ''Brasilidade'' going on. The upper class definitely have it going on, as the Brazilian upper class lives better than almost any upper class anywhere in the world (yes, even better than the American upper class.) But the middle class? HELL NO.

The Brazilian middle class is a bunch of whiners. They complain about everything, they nonstop talk about how Brazil is an ''inferno'' and how they hate it, how they can't stand Brazil, other Brazilians or anything having to do with their own country. They don't look at things objectively, they look at them as if they were a two year old, and decide they hate everything Brazilian. They think it's cool to degrade their past, their ancestry, their bloodline, and try desperately  to be anything but Brazilian.

Now, I'm American. I don't necessarily love my style of life in the US (although I live a great life and I'm not taking it for granted…I just want a change of scenery and I love Brazilian culture), I don't tell everyone in the world that I hate the United States. I tend to try and make a balanced comparative between Brazil and the US. I know I haven't lived in Brazil for very long periods of time, so I'm missing some authentic experiences, but in general I lived my life like any citizen in Brazil. Middle Class Brazilians, for some reason, think life in ''the first world'', as they love to call it, is just like the movies that Hollywood brainwashes them with.

The middle class Brazilian fights, for two seconds, and then gives up and complains. They complain about how they hate Dilma, how ''nada presta'' how there is nothing that they can do to change their situation or the situation the country is in. They sit there, and cry, and cry and cry while making sure everyone around the world knows that, in their opinion, Brazil sucks.

All I want to say is, the majority of middle class Brazilians whine about everything, do nothing to change the things they don't like, give up on almost everything, and continue to think that going to the ''exterior'' to live a magical life on their three week vacations, buying apple iPhones, iPads and MacBooks is more important than painting their cinderblock wall in front of their house. Makes me sick.

Middle Class of Brazil: YOU are the ones holding Brazil back and YOU are the ones who messed it up in the first place. I would be happy if 50% of the middle class of Brazil was replaced with another nationality, hell, even ARGENTINIANS would be better than you. Wake the hell up and stop being babies. And put down your damn iPhone and do something important.

**Note: I know not all middle class Brazilians are like this. But unfortunately, the nonstop crying and doing nothing syndrome is RAMPANT in the Brazilian middle class.

Beijos
Alex

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Não, vai ter copa!!

Olá  minha gente,

Sorry for being so absent lately, I've been busy doing nothing :P. 

Anyway, Copa is fast approaching!! To be honest, I'm very nervous about what's going to happen. I know that half the infrasturcture promised is either unfinished and/or incomplete (so thats kind of a problem…), but to be honest, I'm more secured in terms of how the events will actually turn out. I'm afraid about violence against tourists, or violence that might occur because of disagreements between police and protesting Brazilians. I'm even worried about the potential attacks that drug gangs could pull (especially in Rio and São Paulo.) 



I'm cautiously optimistic, but in reality I can't help but think that this World Cup is going to make Brazil have an even worse reputation than she already has. The American and British media has already been out for blood regarding Brazil and it's capabilities for years, but now I think the situation is about to get much worse. I think, unfortunately, Brazil's reputation is about to go from bad to terrible. Its a shame that a wonderful country like Brazil has to be governed by such stupid people who can't get anything together. The place is marvelous and deserves a worthy government that can make it the place it's dying to be…a world class country!! 

What do you think? 

Abraços! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back, and Lost !

Olá Galera! 

Well, after a little bump in the road (ahem, wanting to shut down the blog....), I’m back and blogging much to the chagrin of the ‘‘recalcados!’’ I’m here to stay! :) 

Anyway, this week we went back to school after Spring Break, which was quite extended this year. At my school we usually get a a four-day weekend for Spring Break but this year I had a full school week off, plus two weekends, so I was away from school for a full nine days! I did absolutely nothing, I went home and stayed in my house the whole time except for leaving it a grand total of three times to go eat out a few times. I guess I had nothing better to do though, my friends from back home weren’t around and the weather was terrible (as usual.) 

When I came back to school I was pleased by the arrival of another shit load of Ciência sem Fronteiras students. In total, there are now about 50 Brazilians attending my school. For a school with 60,000 students, 50 doesn’t seem like a lot. But for some reason wherever I go I ONLY SEE BRAZILIANS. My Brazil-dar is extremely fine tuned as of now and I can immediately tell who is Brazilian just by looking at them. It’s not how they look that lets me know they’re Brazilian either. I’m almost sure it has something to do with the Brazilian eyes. Not physically how the eye looks, but it’s the ‘‘olhar’’ that definitely is the marking component. I walked past a table of Brazilians at the dining hall who I hadn’t met previously (as they just arrived) but I knew they were Brazilian immediately, and they obviously picked up on something off of me considering they all stared me down until I reached my table, meu jeito brasileiro gave me away Hahahahaah :P. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? 

I’ve only met a few out of the group, but so far this group seems a little more ‘‘chato’’ unfortunately. One of the new mineiros made a comment that really rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ll give him a second chance. Other than him, the rest seem very ‘‘timidos.’’ Like they’re afraid or something....maybe it’s the subzero temperatures freezing them alive/consuming all their energy? Who knows... 

As for academics, it’s in shambles. I mean, totally horrible. I have no drive anymore. I don’t know whats up with me because I feel like I just don’t care about school anymore. Not an ounce. I tell myself I need to study, I force myself to do so, but the information never sticks. I’m having a hard time actually getting myself to class (is it the weather that makes me not want to go, as I normally have to walk miles a day in subzero temperatures? Or am I just lazy?), I’m not doing all of my work and I’m afraid that I’m gonna flunk some classes. The weird part is that I technically care about getting good grades, but my organizational skills (or lack there of) are preventing me from actually doing something about it. I’m already going to be graduating late, but now I’m just worried about actually getting to graduate at all. 

I think it has to do with a few things outside of school. I know I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I have a very high pressure family. My father is a very successful businessman who built everything he has and has provided for me and my family from nothing. He grew up extremely poor (we are talking Brazilian styled extremely poor, not America poor), he has an abusive alcoholic father, a schizophrenic sister, a mother who never protected him from his father, and dealt with crime (including the murder of one brother and extremely close second call with another brother that almost died after having his skull cracked when having the shit beaten out of him in front of his house) and death his whole life. He’s the only member of his family that is still alive. So considering where he came from, it’s amazing where he is now. 

But, because he came from such tough backgrounds, he had to have to a drive unlike anyone you’ve ever met in order to escape the situation alive, let alone doing extremely well for himself financially. I’m so proud of him, and honestly I don’t even really know how to put it all in perspective. 

The dark side of the success story is that he thinks the impossible is possible. He has higher expectations than any of you could possibly understand. I have to be perfect at everything that I do. There is no room for any funny business. So, he expects that I graduate at the top of my class, he has expected me to work in a corporate setting since  it was legal (I’ve worked in offices since I was 16 years old), I worked illegally before that under the table. Now due to the economy being still extremely shitty in the US, I’m having a really rough time finding an internship for this summer even though (not to brag) my resumé is better than most 40 year olds, and I have lots of office experience and experience with dealing with the public, as well as being totally bilingual and almost trilingual nowadays with my Spanish improving every day. I’ve been looking the whole school year (yep, since September!!) and no bites. No wonder unemployment is still so high for my age group. 

You can imagine how this infuriates my dad. I don’t have normal conversations with him anymore. He can’t stop talking about how I need to find an internship, blah blah blah. He doesn’t even ask me how my life is anymore. I feel like I was put on earth to serve my fathers need of me being perfect for him.

In result, this discourages me greatly. I feel like my future is going to be dictated by my Dad and what he wants me to do. I still have not made many decisions in my life, the only one I made (and thank god I was allowed to make it, although it was in jeopardy for a while) was the study abroad in Brazil. It’s not like he paid for it though....I did. 

So now I feel stuck. Im constantly worried about jobs, couple that with school and I think I burned myself out. Now I don’t really care about either and it’s just going to lead me down a path of failure. I don’t know how to get out of this apathetic state I’m in, because now everything is just so blue-tinted and bitter. I don’t like being this person. I want to change. I also want to quit school and build a fucking shack in a favela somewhere because at least nobody would expect that I create a billion dollar company by the time I’m 25. 


Abraços,
Alex