Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bits and Pieces

All my fellow expat bloggers are writing about the rain, so I won't write about that.

Instead I'll write about street art glory.

I may not have gotten on the TV program, and I didn't win an expat writing contest, but I did get written up in someone's blog:


He starts out the post writing I think the work of Mark Pfohl is incredible... and goes on to say that I'm one of his favorite graffiti artists... and I appear to be the only artist that got his very own post on the blog! At least so far.

What's that strange sound? Oh, don't worry, it's just my ego expanding to fill the available space in the room. Nothing to be frightened of.

Which reminds me- I've noticed my graffiti posts get much less attention than my Mr. Dad posts or my Rant-And-Rave specials. What does that mean??

In other news, I just did most of my taxes using a wonderful online filing tool (www.taxactonline.com if you must know). A bit odd, me filing a 1040 every year, but if I ever move back to the States (which I will do someday, somehow) I'd be kinda screwed if I didn't. The bad news: I made dramatically less than I did last year, the good news: I don't owe anything, which almost never happens because I'm self-employed.

And I really shouldn't be writing this but I just gotta tell you about the chicken coop. Not some chicken coop out in the periphery of the city somewhere, not even a chicken coop on some empty lot here in the Center, but a chicken coop right on Rua Carlos Gomes.

You'll need a little background to understand the significance of this. Rua Carlos Gomes is one of the principal streets here in the center of the city, it's part of the original Carnaval parade route, it's unavoidable and everyone here in Salvador knows it. It's not pretty, and doesn't get half the traffic as it's sister street Avenida Sete, and has some closed businesses and strip clubs and gay clubs as well (I once saw someone compare it to the Castro of Salvador, which is a biiig stretch, at least these days). It's also where the old graffiti shop was. And it's one route from the house to Lucas' school, which is how I spotted the chickens, living in the entryway to a defunct store or something similar.

It's kind of like finding a chicken coop on... Houston Street in New York? I'm trying to think of a good comparison but it's hard to make one, since the cities have almost nothing in common. I often think that Salvador is a little like a cross between Boston and New Orleans, but that comparison breaks down pretty fast too. And of course now I have to explain that. New Orleans because culturally and demographically N.O. is the most like Salvador of any major city in the US, plus what is 'south' in the US is equivalent to what is 'north' in Brazil, us being in the southern hemisphere and all. And the Boston bit? I put Boston in there because Salvador is so freakin' old, and has so much history, and was once the capital. Salvador ain't no snooty college town, that's for sure, we have no Harvards or MIT's here, and we aren't situated in a river delta which is a good thing considering all this rain that I'm not going to talk about.

Did I sell you on my comparison? No? Well, I tried.

So there I am walking back from Lucas' school and I see this chicken coop set up on one of the principal streets of this ancient and storied city. And I have to tell you, my first reaction, after the disbelief, was come on folks, this is ridiculous. It plays into all the stupid stereotypes you hear about Brazilians and particularly Nordestinos, or those from the Northeast of Brazil. My wife has very strong words which I will not repeat here for people who think small, and putting those chickens there was thinking very small.

Am I making any sense? Have I been here too long? Say No to chickens. At least on what should be valuable real estate. Even if it's not.


Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

Here you are, graffiti pics from Garanhuns, Pernambuco


Fabio Bossard said...

Congratulations for having your name and work recognized on another blog, Mark!

Troy said...

Not that your ego is suffering any these past few days.. but your blog is still consistently my favorite Brasil blog!

markuza said...

Daniel- nice! I love how graffiti can grow old gracefully here in Brazil- in the States those would have been covered with tags and ruined most likely.

Fabio and Troy- thanks!!

andre said...

You know I'll buy that comparison, at least part of it. I remember the first time I drove around Salvador (in the rain) swooning over the beautiful old buildings falling to ruin, and also the lovely graffitti. Here in Tremé, which is just getting famous by dint of a new HBO show of the same name, just around the corner from me, there are some roosters who run around loose in the street. The guy down the street used to have a pet goat that he walked on a leash, and some other odd fellows around the way wander the streets with their miniature ponies. It's like an urban farmland. I will be back in Bahia in just a few weeks, and will keep my eyes open for your work when we are wandering around Salvador. Happy painting!

Pedra said...

There was an article in one of the weekly newspapers here in Portland that was titled "Goats are the new chickens". People in Portland love having chickens for the eggs and now some folks have pygmy goats in the city so that they can have milk. The main difference is that people spend more on their chicken coops here than some people there spend on about 6 months worth of living. Craziness!

markuza said...

Margaret- Hey- a bona fide endorsement from a resident of N.O. itself! Welcome back to Bahia when you get here.

Cheryl, yeah, these aren't that kind of animals I'm talking about. I figure the animals you described probably get better health care than 3/4 of the population of Salvador...

Meisonh said...

Interestingly, in-city farming, including raising chickens, is on the rise in New York and many other large U.S. cities. And it makes sense, considering the health impacts of eating those steroid pumped industrial chickens. The struggle has been how to adapt city zoning laws and such to accept this kind of "strange" use of urban turf. google city new york and chickens and see what comes up. : )

markuza said...

Yes, I've actually heard something about that on NPR I believe... and I suppose I think it's a good idea, which is kind of ironic considering my reaction to the coop I saw (and still bothers me every time I walk by it).

andre said...

Comment update: Riding around in downtown Miami with a nephew who lives here, he points out behind the fence of some big apartment building a rooster and a whole flock of chickens and chicks. Free ranging. I think I am in favor of this, despite fears of bird flu or salmonella.