By PAT HARTMAN
Marina Sarruf, special envoy to the Brazil-Arab News Agency, reports on an upcoming work about the Arab presence in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently the history of Arabs in Brazil is a neglected area of study. Sarruf tells us:
Paulo Hilu Pinto, an anthropologist and professor at Fluminense Federal University, has already started collecting files, images and stories for elaboration of the book, to be part of a series of publications by Light Institute, under the Rio de Janeiro energy company.
Rio! Is there any other place-name so evocative, that can pack so much into three letters? There may be a thousand cities in the world named Rio This, That or The Other, but there is only one Rio, and everybody knows it: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There’s Carnival, of course. And filmmakers love the place. If you search for the city name in IMDb’s location database, well over 500 results come back, including movies and TV shows. The new feature film Beneath the Cristo was conceived there, inspired by Romeo Risica’s novel, as director Mario M. Milano told the press. Relaxing at an outdoor café, he was overtaken by a need to write down so many ideas for the film, he used up a whole container of paper napkins and didn’t vacate his seat until the proprietor decreed it was closing time. Milano also discovered a new leading lady, in a crowd of extras, at the beach.
The beaches of Rio are, of course, legendary. So are the hundreds of slums full of armed thugs. There is even a sociological phenomenon known as “slum tourism.” The city wants to host the Olympics in 2016. It’s the home base of gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello, as we see from Julie Garisto’s report in the St. Petersburg Times. A pair of performance artists have lived for weeks suspended from the wall of an art gallery. In fact, they’re scheduled to be there until August 20.
It was in Rio that a famous footballer called Fat Ronaldo got into a compromising position of some kind last year with a transvestite or three. He also abandoned his team for a different club, and disapproving fans were going to meet him at the Rio airport on August 9 dressed up as transvestites — which would kind of make them transvestites, too. I mean, wouldn’t it? Anyway, it’s a very complicated story and the airport protest may not have happened anyway.
Although Kevin believes Corsica is the most beautiful place on earth, he also says, “In my book, Rio may well be the most beautiful major city.” Well, it is his book, isn’t it! And part of it is about Rio, and one of those statues he’s so crazy about, and a lot of people with
…their arms stretched out so that their friends, lovers or spouses can squat a few
feet in front of them and take pictures of them superimposed on the 30-meter statue of Jesus behind them. All together, they kind of look like the final scene in The Life of Brian.
The person who wrote that piece on The Life of Brian at the other end of that link, by the way, is Alex von Tunzelmann, who is a historian and the author of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire. As a specialist, she “watches classics of big screen history and prises fact from fiction.”
By the way: What is the most beautiful major city?