Sunday, February 27, 2011

Miscellaney

Today is the first day I can remember when I have not eaten any meat, at all. I did have a large cheese omelet, so a vegan I am not. Although I would like to reduce my meat consumption, I don't expect this feat to be repeated anytime soon.

Today I did not leave my house. This is not the first time this has occurred in recent history, and I expect it will be repeated relatively soon.

Carnaval starts this week, so I expect I will be leaving the house with some frequency over the next few days. We also have guests arriving starting tomorrow, which is always kinda fun. I'm a little nervous about Evani's slightly bizarre cougar friend who is supposed to spend the week here helping out- she may drive me insane. At least she means well. And she will help out.

In more important news, Lucas' new teacher has suddenly decided to resign, for 'personal / health' reasons. They called us parents in to a meeting to tell us. Lucas is bummed, he likes her. He's liked almost all his teachers, so I hope he likes her replacement as well. The meeting, after we got over the teacher-leaving part, quickly degenerated into a group of frustrated mothers complaining that their kids can't read yet, even though their public-school friends are all reading and writing already. I'm not worried. Lucas will be reading soon enough. I only hope he becomes a real reader, like me, and enjoys it.

Finally, be careful what you put on Facebook, because your old acquaintances might figure out things about you. I often wonder what happened to old friends and roomies and so forth, and until this social networking thing came along I did just that- wondered. Sometimes Google helped, but now all I have to do is search a name in Facebook and it comes up, more often than not. Then, the next time I wonder about that person, I can go and see if they've done anything interesting, like gotten married or had a kid. I enjoy seeing old friends with their kids that I've never met, and probably will never meet. Well, I got wondering about this guy I shared an apartment with about twenty years ago, so I went and had a look at his profile. We'd friended one another, but as so often happens, never really made contact beyond that. This guy was super nice, and an excellent roommate, but one thing has bothered me about that time in my life- and I discovered it needn't bother me any more.

You see, I had just turned 21 and was just getting used to the idea that I could walk into any store that sold booze and buy myself some. I liked beer, so that's what I bought. Six packs of Red, White, and Blue if I remember correctly. I'd hang out in the living room and watch TV, drinking the beer, and not thinking much of it. My roommate would almost never share the living room with me, instead, he would stay in his room, reading the Bible.

I discovered he was religious as soon as I moved in, but didn't think it was going to be a problem. Lucky for him (or for me) I wasn't smoking anything at that time, so that was never an issue. I was 21 and oblivious, and it wasn't until much later that it occurred to me that it might have bothered him that I was drinking in the house. This became more and more of a concern of mine, to the point that I remembered myself as this nasty punk-rock drunk trying to lead his virtuous roommate to temptation. I kinda wanted to apologize for my insensitive behavior.

Well, all that changed when I looked at his profile and saw him with what looked like a mixed drink in his hand. A bunch of his status updates mentioned meeting various people at different bars. And there was more than one reference to 'partying hard.'

No more guilt. I don't believe he started drinking because of me- my guess is it happened long after we shared the place. So he probably doesn't remember me poorly- after all, he did friend me.

None of this would be a big deal except that I know, because of the faith he was a part of, his drinking is a very big deal. He is almost certainly no longer part of the church. This was probably as radical a life change for him as my moving to Brazil was for me.

I'm not a religious person, but I try to respect all religions, even when I don't agree with a lot of the doctrine. I must confess I was a little saddened to see him with that drink in his hand. Or maybe just a little shocked.

So now what? Do I write him something on Facebook, put something on his wall: "See you like to PARTY now dude, rock on!!!"

Nah. Too awkward. I won't do anything. Or rather, anything beyond writing this post. I still have fond memories of the guy- he was one of the first people I met that was interested in electronic music and he was waiting for electronic beats to get mixed up with Jazz, something he was also an avid fan of. When I first discovered Acid Jazz, a couple years later, he was the first guy I thought of.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday is Graffiti Day, vol. XVIII

Today I took advantage of a painting opportunity I could not pass up.

Carlos Gomez is a main thoroughfare through the center of the city, it is also very close to my house. Painting spots on this street are highly sought after, and there is graffiti in every available spot. But occasionally, new spots appear- and if you're quick, you can grab them. That's what I did today.

In this case, it wasn't that an old painting got painted over by the city, or the owner of a building, but rather that a new wall was created where before there hadn't been one. This was at a spot that used to be a deposito, where one could buy sand and cement and ceramic blocks for construction. They had a big gate that a truck could be backed up into. I used to buy lots of sand and cement from them when I was working on my house. A couple years ago they closed up. And a couple weeks ago, they took out the big gate and built a wall in its place. That's what I painted.

And this is what I painted:


Four dancing monsters, just in time for Carnaval. This is on one of the main Carnaval routes, and they are headed in the same direction as the parade will be going. This was not by accident. If this looks like it was done from a 30-second sketch, that's because it was. That's how I roll.

The surface I had to work on was very rough, the kind of rough-finished cement that is done by flinging the cement through a screen if I'm not mistaken. Not the easiest surface to work on, but in some ways ideal for spray paint. Why? First off, because this is what spray paint was made for. Spray paint doesn't care about nooks and crannies, it just sprays on. What ended taking me forever was not the sprayed part, but the background, which I first tried to roll on and then finished with a brush. Brushes don't like nooks and crannies. Another advantage is that spray paint almost never drips on a surface like this. And the final advantage? It's way too rough to glue a poster over- something us graffiteiros have been suffering from lately. Other artists won't paint over us, even the pichadores (taggers) generally leave us alone. But these bastards who glue up big posters for events don't give a shit, here's an example:


This painting was practically brand new when it got pasted over the first time. Kinda sucks to spend a whole afternoon and R$100 or more in paint to have some dildo come along and advertise right over the top of it. I'm wanting to do more wheat paste stuff to go over these guys.

When I was done the people who own the restaurant across the street wanted to know why I didn't paint the whole wall, going over the old and beat up paintings next to mine. I explained that we don't go over each other, and I didn't explain that the paintings next to mine are by the bad-boy of Salvador Graffiti and his wife- despite his seemingly innocent cartoon-like paintings of silly robots he's known to be happy to resolve disputes with his fists, or other weapons - he's also about the only guy who will go over other people's graffiti. He's done it to me. You can't really see his piece, it's hidden behind the wood in this picture:


Finally, boys and girls, use your mask when you paint! You can't see it all that well in this picture, but this is a plastic cup I was testing my paint on:


The paint melted it on contact. Imagine what that it do to your alveoli. Which is why I must protest the spray paint manufacturers who put the nice vanilla smell in their paint- that paint should smell bad, because it's not good for you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

First Day of School Addendum 

I guess Lucas had a good first day of school. He drew this picture of himself writing at a desk:


Note the huge smile.

Back to Normaltude

After a week in the house by myself, bouncing off the walls and staying up until dawn, the family returned this morning and things begin to return to normal. The TV and radio are on, Evani is chatting on the phone as she does for at least a couple hours a day. Normal.

Summer vacation ended for Lucas today, and he is at school. He was so cute, so excited- he woke me up and the first thing that came out of his mouth was about the Spider Man notebook he has convinced himself he needs... I talked him down, more or less, but I'm sure he'll be back on it soon enough. He's a determined little guy. He went through and organized all his new school material, took a shower and dressed himself without any encouragement, even rolled his new backpack all the way to school. Ah to be five again! Well, maybe twenty. Twenty-one, so I could buy booze in the States.

In other news, my not-yet-14-year-old stepson sold his cellphone and got a tattoo. This is not permitted by law here in Brazil, but if I've learned one thing during my time here it is that a law is only as good as its enforcement, which leads to a high degree of chaos. I'm not saying lawlessness doesn't exist in places outside of Brazil, just that I've learned a lot about it here. Neither Evani nor myself have actually seen this tattoo, but rumor has it it's the initials, or initial, of some girl- which is precisely why it is against the law for minors to get tattoos here. I doubt that was very thoroughly thought through. At least it wasn't the 50 Cent tattoo he wanted to get last year. Oh well- to be young and stupid- that's what cover-ups are for. I'm sure if I had been born five years later I would have at least one tattoo- I came pretty close a couple times as it was.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blackout

Here they call it a 'Bleckautch'... Portuguese can sound odd to the unaccustomed ear, but if you hear a word that sounds truly bizarre, it's probably an English one getting the Brazilian vowel treatment. You wouldn't recognize 'check in' (as in a flight) or 'outdoor' (what a billboard is called) unless you saw them written down.

When the power went out last night, I could tell by the exclamations outside on the street that it wasn't just my house this time. I went to the window, and it didn't appear to be just our street, or as has happened before, just our side of the street. In fact, it looked like the whole neighborhood was out. I looked up at the sky and was astonished to see more stars than I've ever seen within the city limits. That was impressive.

Today I found out why. It wasn't just my neighborhood, it wasn't just the city. It was the entire state of Bahia that was without power. Couldn't tell you why. It did screw up a fine Friday evening of billable hours however. It was tempting to go out and wander around, but I value my life more than that. Turns out some friends of mine went on a mad tagging binge in the dark...

For billable hours, there's always Saturday and Sunday. I did have a normal life once, didn't I?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Recurring Themes

I just had a car battery die - the third one in six years.

I also had another wireless router die - the fourth in six years?

I know the climate here is rough on electronics, but this is ridiculous.