Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter

Easter, and Holy Week, are a big deal here in Brazil- I celebrated them by locking myself up in the house and ignoring all invitations for Good Friday meals and the like. On Saturday I let myself out and painted something, and on Sunday I went and got Lucas at his aunt's house.

Lucas had been counting the days on the calendar until he would get his big, chocolate Easter egg which are the big thing for kids here in Brazil. They are usually big enough to contain a toy, and this year he got a Cars egg with a little Lightning McQueen car inside. He devoured half the egg and got covered in melted chocolate as a result, so I pulled the car over to wash his hands. The spot where I stopped was at one of these automobile graveyards that build up around the Police waystations they build along major roads- for some reason they bring the smashed up cars there and leave them. I had my camera so I took some pictures:


The vast majority of the wrecks were head-on collisions. I know this road well and I've seen dozens of people do crazy high-speed passes of multiple vehicles around curves so I'm guessing this is the sometimes result of that kind of dangerous driving. One time we came upon a recent accident with multiple fatalities on this road - it's a horrible story and I don't want to get into it.

When I was in college and took my photography more seriously, I wanted to do a body of work of smashed up cars like these- now that I'm older and presumably wiser I'm not sure I'd have the stomach for it.

ANYHOW then I took Lucas to the 'new park' to ride his bike. They built a bike path and put in a playground and grass and such underneath the Metro that never seems to get finished. This is the first time we went there, and Lucas rode a couple miles at least on his bike.


I heard on TV that this will be, when they finally 'finish' it, the shortest Metro in the world at 6 kilometers. I don't know what the hold-up is, apparently they've done test-runs on it and everything. 'The Metro from nowhere to nowhere' was how I heard it described - they lopped off the other 11 kilometers in order to get something finished.

Lucas got tired of riding (and I got tired of running along behind him), so we stopped at the playground so he could use the slide and see-saws and such. I will now take the opportunity to complain about a piece of playground equipment:


These have got to be the stoopidest see-saws I have ever seen in my life. I'm no engineer, but I know enough about levers to understand that these see-saws are either a) too tall or b) too short (lengthwise). They are almost impossible for kids to use due to the brutal angle. I might not be complaining about this, but for some reason this is the padrão (standard) for all the see-saws in all the parks here in Salvador.

And I'm done complaining. These are the funny things that bother me now that I'm a parent. Moving on to the next item, I finally got a close look at one of these:


These towers have been appearing all over the city over the last year or so. They tell the temperature and measure UV radiation, and are rumored to provide wireless internet although I have never tested them. I was mystified by the displays until I finally had this chance to see one up close:


The scale on the left I presume is the relative UV risk, the numbers on the right are much more interesting. They are a suggestion of the SPF you need based on your skin color. They read, from top to bottom:

  • Redheads and Blondes
  • Light Morenos (roughly 'brown people')
  • Dark Morenos
  • Mulatos (this gets confusing) and Negros (literally 'blacks').
I can already feel myself entering dangerous territory as I prepare to talk about skin color. It is well known that Brazilians recognize a wider range of skin tones than we generally do in the US. One of the frequent ones I see is pardo, a brown that is not on this list. Moreno can be confusing because it can refer to a dark-haired as well as a dark-skinned person. Maybe that's why there are both light and dark morenos listed. Mulato is a term I've never really understood. The dictionary in my computer defines it as 'a person of mixed white and black ancestry, esp. a person with one white and one black parent.' By this definition Lucas would be mulato. But here in Brazil I believe it refers more to a rather dark-skinned person, but not quite 'black.' Very confusing. Also not listed on the scale is the colloquial (and possibly pejorative) azulão, which refers to someone who is so dark they have a blue cast to their skin. I wonder if there is an equivalent to this in English.

And that's all I have to say about skin color for today. I hope I didn't offend anyone, it was not my intention to do so.

After our time in the park Lucas enjoyed chicken nuggets, french-fries, and Spongebob Squarepants.

And that was Easter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pinte Aki Véio

(Note: this post was started a couple weeks ago and I never published it. I have a bad habit of doing that)


That title translates as 'Paint over here dude,' and it was the name of a graffiti event that I attended this weekend in the city of Serrinha, which is about a three hour drive from Salvador. I almost didn't go, and it's only thanks to my wife that I ended up going, and escaping a weekend of rain in the city.

I'm very glad I went. Not only was it fun to get out of the city, but we were treated very well by the people organizing the event, and they provided plenty of yummy food. Apparently the accommodations weren't too great (in a school with no showers) but we avoided that by staying in a hotel in the middle of the city, which was nice and cheap by Salvador standards.

On the first day, I painted this:


And then, at the request of all the children in the neighborhood, I painted this:


I finally had to tell them that I would only paint the names of kids who were present, no brothers, cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. Otherwise I would have been at it all night.

That night I went back to the hotel and had a beer in the square by myself. It was almost deserted except for a group of youths playing guitar and a pair of peripatetic teenage girls. The main source of activity was going on in the adjoining square, where a large group of teenage boys were gathered, all of them with small motorcycles. They would zoom out of the square, passing me on one side, and then come back on the other, invariably pulling wheelies which they would hold for 50 to 100 yards. I've never seen so many wheelies pulled in my entire life. It made me glad I'd picked a room off the street as they made quite a racket.

The next day I painted this:

I did not paint the scantily clad lady. That was Monica. I did the 19 'things,' one observer said they were whales, I guess they could be whales. This wall was about 10 feet tall.

I was happy with both of these paintings because they are my first attempts at some ideas I've wanted to work with- first, to do more comic-type paintings in frames, and second, to work with groups of repetitive images. I would like to move away from the flat colors and get back to doing more modeled forms, but for now this will have to do due to budget restraints and the paint I have at my disposal.

One guy came to the event from the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, I liked his stuff very much. He calls himself Hyper, here's an example of an unfinished piece:


To see more of his work, check this out. To see more of my photos from this event, check this.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Facebook Scam

If you use Facebook, you may have noticed that the number of scams is on the rise. A friend of mine had her account hacked, so I learned about a new one today. This was in the form of a chat, with some crook pretending to be her and fabricating an emergency. Here's the transcript. See if you can figure out at what point I realized what was going on:

[K_______]
Hi Mark
how you doing?

[Me]
hey - on the phone!

[K_______]
i need your help?

[Me]
give me 10 mins.

[K_______]
ok

[Me]
What's up K_______?

[K_______]
Mark we need your help down here
we stuck at the moment

[Me]
what's going on?

[K_______]
we stuck in the UK at the moment

[Me]
stuck in the UK??

[K_______]
all cash,credit card and cell Phones were stolen off us but luckily we still have our passports with us

[Me]
oh shit
what can I do to help?

[K_______]
G_______ was beaten up while trying to protect us but his doing well now

[Me]
is he in the hospital?

[K_______]
please we need you help to get things sorted out donw here so we don't miss our flight back home

[Me]
what do you need

[K_______]
yea,but doing fine now

[Me]
thank goodness
do you have a # where I can call you?

[K_______]
don't have access to phone since the muggers went away with my phone and the hotel manangement stop me from making call because of my out standing bills

[Me]
can I call in to the hotel?

[K_______]
we just need to get the bills sorted out and get a cab to the airport
I'm at a local library trying to get help back and there is no phone in the library
please let know if you can help us out
we promise to pay back once we home??

[Me]
tell me G_______'s parent's number and I'll call them

[K_______]
don't have any# here with me

[Me]
you need money?

[K_______]
yes so we can have the bills sorted out
please we promise to have it refunded once we back home

[Me]
how do I send you money

[K_______]
you can have it wired to us down here vis western union

[Me]
ok

[K_______]
you need the info to have it done?

[Me]
yes

[K_______]
hold on let me get you the info

[Me]
you do that

[K_______]
Name-K_______
Location-1 Whitchurch Road Cardiff, CF14 3IL

[Me]
ok

[K_______]
how soon can you have it done?

[Me]
I already sent it
will 10,000 dollars be enough?

[K_______]
that is much

[Me]
I can send more if you like

[K_______]
all we need is just $1,550

[Me]
I think you need more than that

[K_______]
not at all

Then I signed off. As I was chatting with my "Friend," I called the school where her husband works, and they confirmed that he was definitely not on vacation this week. Since this conversation took place, I have been unfriended by my "Friend." Maybe she realized I didn't actually send the money?

Whoever hacked her account changed her place of residence to London, England, but left her workplace as Western Massachusetts. Wonder how that's supposed to work?

My friend wrote me back and confirmed that he is at home with the family, and they are indeed fine.