Monday, October 10, 2011

Cover Me Monday!

Columbus Day almost tripped me up, but I refuse to be stopped! A beautiful weekend in Boston, but man am I itching to get out of the city. I think the mountains are starting to call me home.

This cover is kind of a fun one, as Hawa does a unique rendition of Justice's electro-banger "D.A.N.C.E.". Big-time switchup, but it works. Do the dance, do the dance, the way you move is a mystery...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday: The Year Mark

Ok so I jumped the gun last week. I guess I missed a week somewhere in there so here it is: Cover #52!

After a year of digging around for these covers, I finally completed my mission and brought you a year's worth of pretty decent songs. I went through them last night and they ain't half bad, definitely impressed myself.

For those of you that have been following, it's been great to get some feedback every once in awhile, even though it's usually reminding me that I'm a day late.

This week's cover is a little jam by Lissie who does a pretty brilliant rendition of Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness". I've heard this one a bunch and thought I'd already put it up, but hey turns out it was still up for grabs, lucky me.

Hope you've gotten something out of this whole venture and are ready for the next. It's crazy to look back on these and see where you've come in a year, it's been an interesting trip. In summation, I think Dre said it best, "My life's like a soundtrack, I roll to the beat." EZ DUZ IT bostonia...

Brasil: Skin Deep 8/4

Ok so there's one more after this, then that's it for Brasil posts. Reading over these a little while later is kind of fun though, brings it back. Enjoy.

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I had read about it previously, but didn't really believe it until I heard it again in one of our lectures.

Back in the States I read that Pelourinho and much of Cidade Alta had been rough area just a decade before (drugs, prostitution, crime, etc). Upon arriving though I was shocked to see a very clean-cut (almost cookie-cutter) neighborhood with the same old style architecture and colors used by early Portuguese settlers. How could this be an area like the books had described? Something didn't add up.

I was disheartened when my suspicions were confirmed. The area hadn't been improved, it had been gentrified. Instead of helping the people in need, Salvador had swept them away to the favelas to create something that they could show off to tourists. In my opinion this is always a temporary and very unstable solution, but Salvador is a city built on tourism and they needed a tourism center, so they took action. Worse still however, was the reconstruction of the area was only skin deep. Many of the buildings, were just made to look nice from the street, while their insides sat vacant and rotting. After I heard that I couldn't help walking through Pelourinho and feel like I was in Disney World with cardboard cut-out buildings surrounding me and a subtle "It's a small world" ringing in my ears. I felt a little cheated. I felt hoodwinked. I loved Pelourinho, but was it really Brasil?

A little of this bitterness started to carry over to my stay in Brasil. How much of my experience was simply a tourist facade? Admittedly, it started to bum me out.

But then I took a deeper look, a look beyond the plastic-y surface of Pelo. I was staying with a family that would bend over backwards to help me see what they see. They had taken me to their family house on Itapirica, to their favorite samba club, to play in a soccer tournament with their friends. They didn't stop at the surface, they opened their hearts and their home to a couple of gringos that for all they know could have been there because their parents in the U.S. wanted them out of the house.

My family helped me see the real beauty of Brasil, not just the picture-happy tourist trap. They helped me appreciate that short 15-minute walk down to Porto da Barra, helped me appreciate that R$5 acaraje that became R$3 after bartering away the "gringo turista tax" and the R$2 tallboy of ice-cold (and I mean ice-cold) Skol. They helped me appreciate sitting in the sand, watching futevoli (soccer volleyball) while the sun lit the sky on fire over Itapirica across the bay. No matter how many street vendor's were there hocking useless trinkets and how many plastic facades dot Salvadorian storefronts, that's a moment you can't fake. That's something I'll never forget. That's Brasil. That's real.

Obrigado Familia.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Brasil: Move Your Feet

Woah, sorry I should have finished this a long time ago, whoops..


This post is a little dated, but essential nonetheless. Two weeks ago our mae asked Alec and I if we wanted to go to a concert put on by her friend's husband. Knowing little else beyond that Salvador is home to many different musical influences, we begrudgingly said yes despite wanting to spend Thursday night out with the group. What a pleasant and welcome surprise that gametime decision ended up being.

Our mae, Carla, swept us up and drove to Pelourinho, the Old City portion of Salvador. Through a convoluted maze of cobblestone streets we tried to follow our mae, not an easy task. After a couple of double-takes we caught up with her in front of a wrought-iron gate that seemed unassuming enough. We nodded at a bouncer and walked up some stone steps to where this small concert should have been.

And then we entered another world. A wave of music and motion crashed over us. I've tried a thousand times to think of a quick way to describe the scene and all I can come up with is that we were in a scene out of "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" (yeahh, they made a sequel). Bodies upon bodies all moving to intoxicating guitars and drums, as a singer belted out crowd favorites. We were quickly swept up in the mass and didn't stop dancing for over two hours.

When the dust finally settled we couldn't believe it. The band nailed it as everyone vibed to the funky Bahian fusion. Alec and I surprised ourselves really getting after it (even though our mae said we moved like "robos", robots). Our mae was even more surprising, looking at home on the dance floor. It sounds weird describing a mae like this, but she just seemed so happy and fluid out on the floor, it was really something to be seen, and contagious.

I really don't know how to express my appreciation to her for taking us into her world voluntarily and showing us something so authentically Bahian. She went out of her way to open our eyes and give us a broader perspective of a diverse (both societally and culturally) people and saved us from falling into the all-too-easy tourist trap of the bar scene down by the water. It was really something that I'll never forget.

Thanks Mamy.