Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mister Grafite

One might think with this sudden flurry of posts that this blog is suddenly experiencing a digital rebirth, a virtual reawakening, a deep, gasping breath of electrons to bring it back from its silicon coma.

One would probably be wrong.  But then one never knows, does one?

At any rate, there was more excitement to be had on Sunday in addition to the first swimming and the cave spelunking and the mountain scaling - I was in the paper!  Yes, in spite of my perennial lack of focus, my distractibility, my un-traction-getting-ness, I have garnered another tiny feather in my small Hat of Recognition for the things I have managed to get done in spite of... everything else.

Of course it helps that I know a very wonderful photographer who is also a client and just happens to write for the newspaper that has featured me twice now, along with others in the street art scene, dragging her reporter co-workers kicking and screaming (well, I hope not too much) to write features about us.

And here's how I appeared last sunday in the newspaper Correio:

photo by Angeluci Figueiredo

If it appears that I am less than animated there's a reason for that.  I made the poor photographer's work difficult.  I had been up late the night before working on a website and I am never at my best on less than 8 hours sleep, plus I had completely forgotten that we were doing the interview so I didn't bother to shave or put on a cool t-shirt.  And it had been really busy at the store that morning.

If you'd like to have a look at the whole article, here it is.  It's in Portuguese, so if you don't read Portuguese you're out of luck unless you can convince Google to translate it for you, which it increasingly gets better at doing.  I for one have no intention of translating it for you, but I'll give you a brief overview.

It starts by saying who I am and how I ended up in Brazil,  and that I have the only graffiti store in the city.  There's a section about my inspiration to make graffiti, and I talk about how I like to make silly drawings of animals, and how I created a monster called the Kamr Famr when I was five years old.  Well, he put 8 in the article, but it was really 5.  I was tired, I may have said 8.  Don't remember.  I haven't painted many of them in the city, but there are a few - here's one:

The reporter asked if I'd had any run ins with the police and I basically said no.  I mentioned my favorite graffiti artists, and wish I'd mentioned some of my other influences but you know?  I forgot to.

We talked a bit about how the store got started, and the crazy paintings on the walls (my ongoing collaborative work with my clients), and then I wind up talking a bit about the street art scene in Salvador.

It's a little weird getting written up like this in the paper - I walk down the street and I wonder if anyone is looking at me and saying "hey, there's Mister Grafite, he was in the paper yesterday!"  Then again, papers don't have the kind of readership they used to - I'd be much more likely to be recognized if I ended up on one of the mid-day journotainment shows that are so popular here.  Nah, don't want to do that.  I hate those shows.  Been meaning to write a post about that.  Of course being written up in the paper is not any weirder than writing a blog that is a hell of a lot more personal... the big difference being most of my digital fans, outside of the family (which would be most of them) are most likely in far-flung locations and the locals?  98% of them don't read English.

Big thanks to Victor Villarpando for the interview, Angeluci Figueiredo for the hard-earned photos, and the Jornal Correio for publishing it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Get Out Of Town

I don't commute, quite deliberately - I hate sitting in traffic.  And it's really bad for the planet.  I set up my whole life around this whole not-commuting thing, which is great on one hand, and not so great on the other.  I have pretty much everything I need within walking distance of my house: my store, my kid's school, food, movies, even museums and an UNESCO World Heritage Center.  Beaches!  Hell, I could walk out my door and get me some crack cocaine and a couple skinny prostitutes to help me smoke it if I was so inclined.

The down side is it means I spend most of my time moving in very small circles.  I figure if I had a tracking device strapped to my leg (I don't, in case you're wondering), the map of my movements would be extremely limited and repetitive, and restricted to a very small geographical area. Go to store, go home.  Take Lucas to school.  Go to the bakery.  Go back to store.  Go to house, get some paint, go back to store.

You get the idea.

Well, all that changed on Thursday night, when I boarded a night bus and went to a town called Lençois.  Lençois is a wonderful little tourist town on the edge of the Chapada Diamantina, which is a gorgeous national park full of waterfalls, caves, and great rock formations.  Think of the American Southwest but in a tropical climate.  They also have the best Mexican restaurant in all of Bahia in Lençois.  Although I've visited it several times, I hadn't been back there since before Lucas was born.

This is not a travel blog in case you haven't noticed- I think in some ways it's an anti-travel blog, which is a bit weird because I love to travel.  Maybe I'm just bitter because I can't get away as easily or as often as I used to, which is why I write this way.  At any rate, I'm not going to do the classic "we went here, which was great, and then we went there, which was great too," kind of thing.  I will say this: it was a fucking awesome time for both me and my travel companion, my now nine year old son.  That's right - the kid is nine.  In fact, he turned nine yesterday, on Sunday, and he did something else really great yesterday: he learned how to swim.  Here's proof:

The mask and snorkel (presents from his Grammy) were critical to his getting my various swimming lessons coordinated into an actual 'float and move' model which include the two most critical elements in swimming.  You gotta float, and you gotta move around.  Very impressed and immensely proud, I still urged him to try swimming without the mask, which proved to be more difficult.  All in good time.  I told him he really needs to learn to breathe without the aid of a snorkel, but he assured me that he will always have the mask and snorkel with him any time he is near water and might need or want to swim in it.

On my first trip to Brazil I visited this park and took a one day van tour around the park, which feels a little bit like cheating, but also allows you to see a huge amount in one day: several waterfalls, a couple caves, mountains, souvenir shops.  Since we only had a couple days I really wanted to repeat the experience with Lucas, which is what we ended up doing.  It was great, but a bit more painful: like pretty much everything in Brazil these days, it was freakin' expensive.  In fact, the whole trip was freakin' expensive, and as an inveterate penny-pincher hearing that cash register noise in my head every time I turned around caused my blood pressure to rise some.  But, as my wife likes to say, you can't take it with you and I have to say I'll have the memories with me long after my bank account stops aching.

It was fantastic to spend three days with my son, who is growing up all too fast.  The days are numbered that he will be willing to hold hands with me in public anymore.  But hey, there's more news - we are off to the States for two weeks in June, in the midst of the World Cup madness, which also just happens to be Lucas' winter break.

So now, dear readers, I would like to leave you with a few choice photos from the trip- I didn't spend five years in college taking photos for nothing.  Thank you for your time.

If you want to see more pictures, go here.