Saturday, October 23, 2010


I went to put out the trash just now, 10:30 on a Saturday night, and as I go to drop a bundle of cardboard on the sidewalk I hear "No no no no!" I turn around and this guy, socializing with the neighbors, reaches for the bundle, saying "What, you're just going to throw it away?"

I give him the cardboard, thinking, but not pointing out to him, that I have neatly separated my trash into a) a bag of plastic bottles, b) a bag of food scraps and other non-recyclables, and c) the aforementioned bundle of cardboard. You'd think we have curb-side recycling here in Salvador, but we do not.

The reason I do this is because we do have recycling here, even though it is essentially unsupported by the city government. It is market driven. Cardboard, plastic bottles, and especially aluminum are collected by 'entrepreneurs' because they can be resold. These entrepreneurs tend to be folks who don't have other work, including a lot of homeless folks, although lots of people will casually collect empty cans to make a few extra reis.

There's a reason why I separate my trash, and also a reason why I put it out at this hour, when I think the dump truck is likely to pass by. Actually there's two reasons. One is to be a nice guy, and help out the people who might want the stuff. The other reason is so that my trash bag doesn't get ripped open by people after the recyclables inside. I've put out bags of trash and had four or more people go through them over the course of a few hours; I've also had the remaining trash strewn across the sidewalk and street in front of my house. Putting out trash cans is out of the question- they'd vanish in an instant.

There's something that appeals to me about the organic nature of the recycling here, things are recycled because they really have value, not just because it's 'the right thing to do,' although I agree with that sentiment. Personally, I think that trash is going to have a lot more real value in the years to come, even in wealthy countries where people are known to throw out working TVs and such. I think that will be a good thing too.

I titled this post 'trash' but I really should have called it 'recycling.' I could write a lot about trash in this city, this dirty, stinky, trash-filled, rodent-infested city, but I won't. Except to say that I think the trash problem has gotten worse in recent years. Brazilians I know tell me it's the fault of the current city government- I woldn't know about that. I've also heard it will probably get cleaned up before the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I'm getting a feeling about this World Cup thing. I think it may be a convergence, a wave of good things that will crest here in Salvador and other host cities in Brazil. It may be the perfect wave to catch, and use the resulting momentum to fling me the hell out of here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting Famous

Yeah Right.

I had been told that a painting of mine had gotten into a TV commercial, but I hadn't seen it until just now, as it's on YouTube as well:

My little red monster can be glimpsed at 4 seconds in and again at 50 seconds, you can even read the 'Kuza' under it if you are really paying attention, or if you put it on pause.

Also in the video is work by my friend Limpo who now lives in Sweden (I found the link on his Facebook page) and many many beautiful women. And lots of other typically Bahian stuff.


PS Here's a photo of it right after I drew it, with Lucas' contribution as well, which I discovered also appears in the video, if you really pay attention and pause the the thing:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bombs and Free Canvases

I had fun today.

Today was Brazilian election day, and I went out scavenging with a couple friends of mine. They are a Chilean couple who, unfortunately, are planning to leave Salvador in a couple months. Since none of us was obliged to vote (like that would have stopped us) we went out with my car and grabbed a whole bunch of these big political advertisements that have been lining all the boulevards- wooden framed portraits of cheats and hypocrites, grinning all the way to the bank, with big names and numbers so you'll be sure to vote for the right one. The ones we took home range in size from about 3 square feet to 3 by 6 feet, with one huge one that must be nine feet long. We strapped them on the car and carted them back to our house, where they are now clogging the hallway and causing my wife distress.

I plan to paint these monsters with spray paint. I've always been ambivalent about the use of spray paint on canvas, but these seem like the perfect thing to paint on- probably because they were free and will be re-purposed, which I like. Plus they're big, which is how I figure spray paint should be used.

The other thing we did was paint a bunch of 'bombs,' better known as 'throw-ups' in the English speaking world - big, quick pieces on top of the political ads that are painted or pasted on almost all the free wall space in the city. Now that the election is over, it's going to be a free-for-all to grab all the best spots and repaint the city with graffiti. That was also fun- it's always a rush to paint your name in huge letters for thousands to see- but my pleasure has been tempered by the fact that there is to be a runoff election, which means that in all probability the bombs we painted will all get covered up again. Which sucks. Spray paint is expensive.

I plan to take some pictures tomorrow, I will post them here after I do.