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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rio Carnival 2006

(Don't forget to check out the 2007 information edition, Rio Carnival 2007, and especially the newest pictorial post, Samba Schools 2007! ...and one more, Street Carnival 2007!)

There's good news, and there's bad news.

GOOD NEWS: Vila Isabel, the Rio de Janeiro Samba School held winless since 1988, won the Jury Prize this Ash Wednesday!

BAD NEWS: That nutter, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, had a finger in this carnival pie...

See, the story behind the Brazilian Carnival is just too intricate for those out there, who know bupkus about how things work in Rio de Janeiro.

It's one of my deepest convictions that the more you know, the more you can suck the very marrow out of life.

That is why I can say, with all the arrogance of 30 summers gone, that this is why the young are more likely to commit suicide:

They just don't know the true richness of what life has to offer them yet!

And never has this been truer, than knowing about the glories of the Rio Carnival.

So come join me, now, as we go on another wild ride, when I unravel the mysteries of:

CARNIVAL CARIOCA STYLE

Those of you who think you know what carnival is, through your cultural connexion to New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebrations, will be chagrined to find out:

You know beans about carnival, my sweets.

(If however, you think you do, skip to the "Rio Carnival 2006" part below. You'll regret it, but hey)

Now, we're all of us happy that NOLA is finally back on her feet again (gearing up for Ray Nagin's colossal defeat in mayoral elections this April), after having staged a watered down version of Mardi Gras, just to spit in the eye of fate.

But puh-lease.

When I went to Mardi Gras with my parents some years ago, we almost laughed at the nonsensical brouhaha that passed for a "carnival" in this puddle-town.

Their idea of carnival mayhem was to get some college freakette to bare her bosoms for a split second, to the pumped fist frenzy of frat brothers, "Party!!!".

Yawn.

If you think I'm being heartless, tough cheese.

Once you've tasted Veuve Cliquot, suddenly you realise Manischewitz tastes bloody awful.

So here's a primer for you, un-Catholics out there:

OTHER CARNIVALS

Carnival is, of course, as ancient as Christianity itself, culminating in the days just before the Lenten season begins.

Some cities start carnival as early as November 11, which is the case with Vienna, as an example.

That's when their mega-elegant Fasching balls begin, although truly the carnival season is not well underway until January.

Venice, Nice, Cologne, Düsseldorf, and many other Catholic cities, but also Protestant redoubts such as Oslo and Stockholm, hold raucous, hard-drinking affairs, which pass for carnival.

In Oslo, they even have special wheel-barrow carts provided by the city, which pick up drunken revelers in the streets, so sloshed out of their minds Norwegians become just before Lent.

And can you blame them -- it's as cold as a sow's tit up there.

Even Havana used to be famous for its wonderful carnival, but since that idiot, El Barbudo Cojunudo, did away with religion, the poor Cubans in Cuba are stuck lighting up candles to their corner Changos. Que atraso!

Ahh, but not Brazil.

Cursed though they are to have a summer Christmastime in the 104Fs/40Cs, complete with Santa in speedos, this seasonal quirk pays huge dividends in February, where carnival traditionally falls.

Though this is true of all in the Southern hemisphere, it is in Brazil that carnival is truly an art-form.

However, what you are about to see below, in a series of well-chosen photographs of this year's carnival, is not really CARNIVAL.

Well, not everything it is supposed to represent, anyway.

BRAZILIAN VERSIONS

You see, carnival in Brazil is as diverse and special as Super Bowl parties are in the United States -- this being the closest cultural event I can conjure up for you Merkins out there.

Basically, people party during carnival, but the way they do so, is fairly localised.

In Olinda, Pernambuco, where many Brazilians escape to if they don't like carnival in their hometowns (which is actually fairly common), they have parades full of minnesingers around its streets.

In Salvador, Bahia, they have block parties with a decidedly African flavour to them, this after all, being the most "black" state in the Brazilian federation.

(Brazilians are about 68% white, 32% black and "other"...but these numbers are exactly switched in this state)

In São Paulo, the money capital of Brazil, often compared to New York City and has a huge recent, European immigrant population, well -- they just suck at carnival, poor mites.

Oh, they try, but man does their carnival look shoddy compared to...

Rio de Janeiro!

Back in the day, my parents lived in Rio in the late 80's and 90's, when my father was a visiting professor for 3 years there.

In that capacity, I was able to visit them during Carnival, often with homework in tow.

That's when I fell in love with Carnival, with its many traditions, some of which I will now explain.

Carnival in Rio takes the form of private parties, public celebrations, and one particular competitive celebration, which has the whole of Brazil agog during the weekend just before Mardi Gras.

Before I get to that, let me just say the private parties are just amazing...but definitely not for the kiddies.

My mother approved a party invite for me, at Rio's "Yacht Club" (the most socially exclusive country club in the city), completely oblivious to the fact that its main event was...an orgy.

I had already gone out, dressed I thought, rather cleverly as a teenaged Cleopatra, when my father arrived home and was told the news. He almost fainted.

Not only did I stare wide-eyed at the goings on, but first thing on entering, you get bottle of your very own 'lance perfume' (pron. lahncee per-fumee), or a bottle of some nitrous oxide mix, which gets you high in no time at all.

But I digress!

(Don't worry. The orgy, or suruba as it is called in Portuguese, is a forthcoming post on Sundries...one day)

WHAT DOES CARNIVAL MEAN IN RIO?

There are also public contests held in Hotels, where Cariocas (as Rio de Janeiro City inhabitants are called) dress up in plumed costumes, of such extravagance and magnificence, that it puts all other carnival costumery to shame.

But this is actually a perfect segue to mention the most important part of carnival in Rio -- the parade of floats which individual "Schools of Samba" present, in a judged competition, at a two-mile wide open-air roadway known as the Sambodromo.

Before this structure went up in the mid-80's, the Schools would parade in the streets of Copacabana, which of course, is a bit like the Macy's Day parade in Manhattan -- a choatic communal neighbourhood event, which can often be deadly, alas.

But then the city fathers and mothers decided to build a place where the paying public could watch the schools in greater safety, combining profit and organisation perfectly.

There are various seats available at the Sambodromo (or "Sambadrome", as it would be in English), which range from Setor 1 (the nosebleeds, but not because they're high up there, but rather because it's at the very beginning of the parade), costing about 15-20 US dollars, a fortune for poor people in Brazil.

But there are also the arquibancadas, or bleacher seats, which go from $30-100 US.

And then there are the hyper-expensive camarote (balcony box) seats, which can be had for $150-$500 -- that is, if you can get them, as they sell out very quickly.

On the black market, these camarote seats can fetch in the thousands, and my parents told me if you want to hire out a whole box for yourself and your party, it can be as costly as $10,000 for the two-nights!

Now, my father is as cheap as sin, bless him, but because his two girls mean everything to him, he always splurged for three camarote seats -- usually in the 2nd floor, eye-level with the larger floats.

Pay attention to the height of the Sambodromo seats in the photos below.

The height is about 40 feet up in the air, for the 3rd level -- which some floats are well over!

It was there in the camarotes, that I once saw Pele at the bar area, dressed all in white from tip-to-toe.

I sooooo wanted to ask for his autograph, but I noticed that not one person went up to him and bothered him, so I just observed him from afar, learning my first bitter lesson in sophistication -- act like you belong.

Ah well. I got his autograph years later, anyways.

(I wonder what Pele was doing there, as he's not at all well-loved in Rio -- being associated professionally with bitter rival state, São Paulo. Maybe he was checking out the half-nekkid babes. We are legion)

So, do you have a good idea of carnival, Rio-style yet?

Lots of topsy-turvy sensuality. Lots of foreigners mixing with locals. And lots and lots and lots of fun.

Now that you are bona-fide cognoscenti about Brazilian carnival, we are finally able to explore this year's version below.

It wasn't THE BEST carnival I've seen, but like sex and pizza, even bad carnival is pretty damn good.

RIO CARNIVAL 2006

Having been too busy with my guests this past weekend, my mother and I barely were able to catch the opening day of the parades, via GLOBO International TV channel, at the Sambodromo -- namely, Sunday night.

As I mentioned earlier, the party each night lasts nearly 12 hours, as the 6, 7, or 8 Samba Schools scheduled make their bid to become Top School of that year.

Now, one thing: those of you who think a "Samba School" is like a dancing academy, forget it.

Escola de Samba is actually a name for an organisation which hails from (usually a poor) neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro -- the city.

These indigent suburbs started informally celebrating carnival in the late 1800s, when ex-slaves and poor Portuguese immigrants joined together in houses, partying the nights away until Lent came.

Then, in the 1920's and 30's, many of these neighbourhoods joined together to form a "Samba School", which often bore the name of these suburbs.

Famous Samba School/neighbourhood names are "Mangueira" (Mango tree) "Beija-Flor" (Hummingbird), and this mouthful, Imperatriz Leopoldinense (Empress of the Leopoldina neighbourhood).

Bejia-Flor, which is my personal favourite Samba School, entered the 2006 carnival as threepeat champs, trying for an unheard-of, 4th title in a row.

Could they 4-peat?

Well, alas, they didn't.

Beija-Flor, like many Samba Schools, have the backing of bicheiros (or numbers racket gangsters) who are patrons of this or that school, despite often being on the lam from the law.

And Beija-Flor's bicheiros and patrons just gave them TOO much money, if you can believe that.

When you have a lot of money, sometimes, you overdo it -- and that's what they did.

But this is where our beloved President Hugo Chavez enters the picture.

Since each year, the Samba Schools choose a theme, and are judged for the inventiveness, the creativity, the musicality, and the coordination of their presentation, one Escola de Samba, namely, Vila Isabel, decided to go with this theme:

A celebration of the "Latinness" of "America"...

When I heard that, I almost hurled.

First, Brazilians are not very pro-the-rest-of-South-America, and the word "Latin" rarely is heard in Brazil in connexion with the other cultures.

Brazilians do their own thing, and aren't much interested in the culture of say, Bolivia, or Peru, or Venezuela.

There's no malice in this.

It's just that their history and their language is different from the rest of South America, so they hold themselves a bit apart.

But with the leftward shift of South American politics recently, there is a newfound spirit of continental solidarity, in my opinion.

(Although to be sure, the various free-trade pacts like Mercosur and the Andino Pact, which ironically many progressives abhor, had a hand in this closeness too)

And so when Vila Isabel decided to stage their theme, "Soy loco por ti, America!", (I'm crazy about you, America) this year, guess who came-a-calling?

Hugo Chavez and his Petro-dollars, is what.

It is rumoured he authorised over 3,000,000 buckeroonies to go to help Vila Isabel win this year's carnival, and they did...

He was even supposed to be on one of the floats, but cancelled at the last minute!

The song itself was sung in what is called, Portunhol -- that mixture of Portuguese and Spanish which sounds funny to both ears.

And the title "America", doesn't mean the United States of America...which requires even further explanation for those who may not be aware.

AMERICA ISN'T WHAT YOU THINK IT IS

America, of course, is the continental name for 3 areas, North, Central, and South.

Sure, most English-speakers and many others, connote America with the USA, but PARTICULARLY in South America, they are very very VERY touchy about that.

So, they take every opportunity to rub it in the Americans' faces, that when they say America, they mean all of the Americas.

Often, they think this usage might irritate the Americans when they hear it, as they pointedly ignore mentioning the USA by name, when they do.

Little do they know, this inferiority complex is almost totally ignored by Americans, who are not aware of these little byplays of jealousy, at all.

If you think I exaggerate, you'll see below what I mean.

Trust me on this.

I love and admire Brazilians and South Americans a lot, but when they get on this topic, sparks of childishness fly on their part, and I just laugh at them.

2006 CARNIVAL REVEALED

Now, you'd think maybe I would be a little unpartial to Vila Isabel, because of this nauseating link to Hugo Chavez, a man I revile?

Not a bit of it.

It's precisely his kind of person, the fanatic, who puts politics above everything, which would take this tack.

But not me, nor my mother.

When we saw Vila Isabel on television, we instantly recognised that they had the best presentation of any of the Samba Schools.

I was cheering them on, when they were tallying up the votes.

To be sure, there were a lot of good themes this year, and some even more luxurious than theirs, petro-dollars notwithstanding.

I've mentioned Beija-Flor's extravaganza, but also of note were Viradouro, Imperio Serrano, and Mangueira, all of whom outdid themselves with the staging of their parades.

You can check out some of the Carnival "folia" (madcap antics) here, on the Globo site.

But since this blogpost is unusually long already, you might be nodding to sleep as it is, and without any energy to click on links.

Don't worry!

My fingers have done the walking for you.

Below, are some of the finest photographs I've chosen for Sundries readers, so that you could get a feel of the Sambodromo showdown this year.

If you're used to my travellogues, you'll instantly recognise the method I have used.

So, finally, without further ado (I mean it this time), here is the:


BEST OF CARNIVAL 2006!





My favourite float, by far.

I'm not sure why, since there are so many to choose from.

Maybe because it's a behemoth statue of Simon Bolivar, a general who played the equivalent role of George Washington for much of South America, that is, he liberated many countries from Spain -- and I love history, as you know.

Look at this thing.

Compare it to the guy in feathered costume, on that perch, which is called a "destaque".

It's massive! At least 35 feet tall.

And to boot, like a Disney World Hall of Presidents animatronics display, the statue of Bolivar was articulated to move around, showing the heart in his hand to both sides of the "Avenida".

Unfortunately, this float also left me a bit sour, too.

This is the float which Hugo Chavez was supposed to go on, and amongst the many flags of all the "American" countries, you found EVERY flag, including Canada, and JAMAICA for chrissakes, (how "Latin" are they, I wonder?), but the one, THE ONLY flag missing was...

...you guessed it, Old Glory.

See what I mean about inferiority complex and spitefulness? It's too pointed not to be premeditated for a reason.

Bah.

And those of you Cubano-Americanos out there, won't fail to notice the Che Guevara pic just below the destaque, either...

Still, A+ for effort, even if F- for overall stupidity, a subject many of us major in, in life.





This is my second favourite float, the very first one in the Vila Isabel parade.

Jesus Christ on a bike. This is a work of art!

Look at the detail-work of the costuming, and the supple waxiness of that dragon.

All on the most massive of scale. This float is just breath-taking.

Each Samba School can display up to 8 floats, which however, can be as big or as small as the School want them to be.

The caveat is that if they are too big, and can't be shown in the allotted 80 minutes to file past the Sambodromo, the Samba School organisers are often in the unfortunate position of having to make a split-second decision:

Take it out, or prejudice their timing, and thus their hopes to be champs.

Remember, this is a judged event, which is taken very seriously by all Samba Schools, not just a fancy show of plumes, and naked women.





And I must say, I couldn't have segued this last bit better, than to show you how one lovely damsel in undress decided to pledge allegiance to her Samba School.

Not only does she have a tattoo of Vila Isabel just above her derriere cheeks (permanent or slap-on, I wonder?), but she has a pin with the Vila Isabel logo stuck daintly in her, oh what shall we call it?

In her crevice.

Yeah, that's it.

Although, why and how it's actually being held in place, I really really do not want to know................





Each Samba School has various components, which are always there, regardless of theme chosen for that year.

They are:

Alas (Wings) -- which are often composed of at least 50 people, each dressed in identical costumes, which represent one theme of the overall theme. The maximum number of people anyone School can have is 5000 people. That's 5000, folks. Many towns around the world are not as big as that.

Commisão da Frente (Opening Act) -- the group of participants which set the stage for the theme of each parade to come.

Ala de Bahianas -- the wing of twirling Bahianas, or the black ladies with the bananas in their hats, which Carmen Miranda made so famous in Hollywood.

Carros Alegoricos -- the floats you see above and below. This is when the carnavalesco (or the person in charge of the artistic theme of the Samba School, that year), can really shine. Some carnavalescos spend thousands of dollars on the feathers and glue alone.

Some famous carnavalescos and carnavalescas include: Joãozinho Trinta (in English, his nickname would be, "Johnny Thirty"), Maria Augusta, and Rosa Magalhães, the latter of whom is most tied to Imperatriz Leopoldinense, and is a professor of Art History in a Rio University.

Each is known for a certain type of tradition, such as Joãozinho Trinta's injection of mega-luxury into carnival parades in the 1980's, which some people decry as more glitz than gold, or Rosa Magalhães' super proficient and well-researched productions, which however, earned her the reputation of being rather "cold" in her designs.

The designs, costuming, and themes the carnavalescos produce, are started a year in advance, often the DAY after, the event judging.

Brazilians take carnival as seriously, as they do frivolously.

Bateria -- the band, which provides the musical background so that the participants could shimmy as the School pass by. The CDs of the Samba School songs are released well before Christmas, so by the time Carnival comes, a lot of people in the audience can sing along, too.

And what you see pictured above, is the very important duo:

The Porta-Bandeira and Mestre-Sala.

The Porta-Bandeira, or standard-bearer, is possibly the single most important individual in the parade, next to the mestre da bateria (the band conductor).

Her partner, with whom she practised her intricate moves all year, is the Mestre-Sala, or Salon-Master.

These components come from the tradition of the minuet, a relic from the Portuguese colonisation, a dance always practised until well into the 19th century, at fancy-dress balls in Europe.

The 40 judges are scattered all about the Sambodromo, some secretly, watching, and taking notes, so these couples have to be in perfect synch!

I wanted to show you the best Porta-Bandeira and Mestre-Sala I could find, not only because of their costume, which was flawless, but look at the elegance of these two people, seen even in this frozen photograph.

Butter.





I don't have much to say here, save this is the Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Band) of the Viradouro Samba School.

Each school designate a woman, usually a famous actress, or starlet, who inspire them by her natural beauty.

This woman is their muse -- although she isn't being graded by the judges, she does have to give a good performance, to lead her band by her energetic example, especially through a body which doesn't quit.

Now, I'm a fairly modest girl. No, really.

But I can tell you -- one day, it's my dream to don on a "costume" not dissimilar to this one, as some band's Rainha.

Maybe if I start working out, like yesterday, I could possibly fit into that costume.

You think?





It's nice to see David Duke skipped New Orleans' Mardi Gras.





This is what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Not only does this photo reinforce everything I have mentioned about the luxuriousness, the grandiosity of Carioca Samba Schools, but this Vila Isabel float actually has tremendous artistic and historical detail.

In front, you see a phalanx of Peruvian llamas, crested by more massive llamas, followed by destaques representing the Inca Empire (with authentic Inca golden ingots, all around), and on top, the Inca himself, in the form of a huge condor.

And to the left, you can see the camarotes I spoke about up top, where I would have been had I been there.

This float is easily over 40 feet tall. Just. Wow.

Everything the Rio Carnival is about, is encapsulated in this one photo. I love it!





Now, listen.

I am not just playing favourites here. I truly like carnival even in New Orleans.

Each country has a cultural trajectory which gives their carnival a certain spice, a certain flavour, and that's absolutely fantastic.

But tell me the truth, all of you out there, especially the fellas.

What would you rather see in carnival:

Bozos in San Marco's square in Venice...





...or this Rainha da Bateria in Rio de Janeiro?

Yeah. I thought so.


FINALE

I hope you have enjoyed this personalised tour with me as your cicerone to Rio de Janeiro's carnival.

I wish I could take each and everyone of you reading this, on a real-life tour of the carnival one day.

But failing that, at least when you go there, now you'll know at least a bit of what is taking place during those hectic weeks, where no Carioca worth his feijão sleeps for more than 3 hours a night.

Because as much as I want to dismiss this whole event, and say you ain't missing a thing if you've never been there -- believe me when I tell you:

You haven't lived, until you've been to Rio for carnival.

Whatever you do, go!

I'll be the one with the Union Flag tattoo in my derriere.

Labels: ,

24 Comments:

  • Carnival is, of course, as ancient as Christianity itself, culminating in the days just before the Lenten season begins.

    I'm sure you meant Carnival is, of course, more ancient than Christianity itself.

    Christianity is the most syncretic of faiths, and pretty much all its festivals predate the religion itself and benefit from the wisdoms and resonances of these older traditions.

    Love the post, and photos, and sheer expressiveness of joy, but thought I'd throw my own thought about the ancientness of the renewal festival/orgy which has roots deep in greco-roman culture and in both New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro those celebrations resonated and picked up new and improved inflections from the many folks of mainly West African heritage uprooted and absconded to both those places.

    I know the connection between saturnalia/bachanalia and carnival is disputed, but I think the proof is in the orgiastic hedonistic pudding. (really doesn't feel all that Christian, if you ask me)

    By Blogger XWL, at Fri Mar 03, 06:57:00 am GMT-5  

  • Wow. Everything I didn't know about Carnival and then some. Thanks, Victoria.

    !We Bible-thumping Baptists lack the Carnival tradition but the mayhem at the Golden Corral's buffet line after Sunday services comes close. All the excitement of Carnival but with more modest clothing!)

    By Blogger Pete, at Fri Mar 03, 07:13:00 am GMT-5  

  • Wow Victoria, te la comistes!!!!

    You prove once again that good things are worth waiting for! Excellent post which almost transports the reader to Rio! I have been to Brazil many times but never during Carnival; now I probably should just wait until your appearance as Rainha!

    My favorite line from this post:
    It wasn't THE BEST carnival I've seen, but like sex and pizza, even bad carnival is pretty damn good.

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Fri Mar 03, 09:57:00 am GMT-5  

  • hmmm...the pics seem to be cut off for me...I try to view them seperately...no luck! Is this just me and Firefox? Otherwise, of course, sublime!

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Mar 03, 11:36:00 am GMT-5  

  • I'm sure you meant Carnival is, of course, more ancient than Christianity itself.

    But as you well alluded to below, the exact correlation is disputed.

    Of course, Easter, Christmas, and other Christian celebrations built on existing feast days, and cyclical festivals.

    But the traditions of Carnival and Christianity are directly linked to each other, in tone and tenor, and that's what I emphasised here.

    Christianity is the most syncretic of faiths, and pretty much all its festivals predate the religion itself and benefit from the wisdoms and resonances of these older traditions.

    100% correct.

    Love the post, and photos, and sheer expressiveness of joy, but thought I'd throw my own thought about the ancientness of the renewal festival/orgy which has roots deep in greco-roman culture and in both New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro those celebrations resonated and picked up new and improved inflections from the many folks of mainly West African heritage uprooted and absconded to both those places.

    Absolutely. Those are two examples were Africans really put their stamp on the local culture.

    Soon the litany will be again --

    New Orleans, Rio, and Havana.

    I know the connection between saturnalia/bachanalia and carnival is disputed, but I think the proof is in the orgiastic hedonistic pudding.

    I'm not too sure about that, XWL.

    Certainly, carnival has its roots in ancient folkloric traditions, but the particular trajectories of each country, are very tied to the end of winter.

    We too had carnival, in the form of fairs, and fetes, in the UK.

    And they very little had to do with Graeco-Roman saturnalia, as such.

    Helas. ;)

    (really doesn't feel all that Christian, if you ask me)

    That's because your country's cultural tradition of Christianity comes from the Puritans, whether or not you yourself are a practioner of a more sober Protestant faith.

    In Catholic countries, Christianity is not necessarily synonymous with lack of unbound expressiveness.

    On the contrary, as you know, we are much more of the earth, earthy, than other Christian faiths.

    That spare, unfeeling, buttoned up Christianity, thank GOD, is not our heritage, our lot, and our joy.

    (I remember my father's mother, a good Presbyterian the whole of her life, who was invited to Carnival in 1950. She who rarely allowed a Christmas tree in her home, as being too showy and un-Christian, was shocked to her very core)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 03, 04:46:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Wow. Everything I didn't know about Carnival and then some. Thanks, Victoria.

    My pleasure, Pete!

    Rarely did I have such happiness on my blog, but to write up this post, into the wee hours of Friday. :)

    !We Bible-thumping Baptists lack the Carnival tradition but the mayhem at the Golden Corral's buffet line after Sunday services comes close. All the excitement of Carnival but with more modest clothing!)

    Hey, I've been to Baptist churches, and ya'll can certainly cook up and enjoy up a storm! ;)

    But I am also looking for specifics about what I wrote.

    If you had a question to ask me about these photos and the Sambodromo, what would it be?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 03, 04:49:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Wow Victoria, te la comistes!!!!

    Arrasei, Zezinho!! ;)

    (Means, the same thing, and uses the Portuguese nickname for José (Zhoo-zeh), Zé -- Zeh, not ZAY, please people!)

    You prove once again that good things are worth waiting for!

    Well, it took me the better part of two days to figure out where to get those nifty clear photos of specific samba schools.

    I have a workaround trick now. ;)

    Excellent post which almost transports the reader to Rio!

    No compliment is better than this!

    Thanks, Jose!

    I have been to Brazil many times but never during Carnival; now I probably should just wait until your appearance as Rainha!

    Remind me to wax every inch of my body, then!

    Although I'm not very hairy, but man, did you see that crevice...........

    (Rhetorical, I know)

    My favorite line from this post:
    It wasn't THE BEST carnival I've seen, but like sex and pizza, even bad carnival is pretty damn good.


    And so it is, by gum! ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 03, 04:53:00 pm GMT-5  

  • hmmm...the pics seem to be cut off for me...I try to view them seperately...no luck!

    Oh darling Ron, I'm sorry. :(

    What could be happening, I wonder?

    Is this just me and Firefox?

    Can anyone who is using Firefox too, give Ron some tips?

    Is it happening with ya'll too?

    I only use FF when I go to the UM labs, so I couldn't say.

    Otherwise, of course, sublime!

    Glad you liked it, Ron!

    Which was your fave photo? :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 03, 04:55:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger benning, at Fri Mar 03, 05:35:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The sights, the sounds, the atmosphere of Carnival, what a party!

    Every country has an event or activity that epitomizes the spirit of a people and I can't think of anything else that does it better than carnival for Brazilians. Okay, maybe soccer! From those pictures, filo-dent too.;)

    Any chance of a Sundries group discount trip to Rio next year? Maybe something can be worked out with Varig in exchange for a free blogad.:)

    By Blogger Renato, at Fri Mar 03, 09:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This post has been removed by the author.

    Too late, Benning! I read it! ;)

    Listen, it's okay -- it didn't offend me. I'm not easily offended by people I like.

    On the other hand, whatever led you to delete it, was perhaps a gentlemanly impulse not to be coarse towards me, so for that I thank you. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Mar 04, 02:35:00 am GMT-5  

  • The sights, the sounds, the atmosphere of Carnival, what a party!

    Totally. :)

    Renato still has the DVD-R I sent him last year, of that year's carnival.

    It featured some amazing sights too, didn't it, Ren?

    I especially remember the Hans Christian Andersen theme presented by genius-carnavalesca of Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Rosa Magalhães.

    Every country has an event or activity that epitomizes the spirit of a people and I can't think of anything else that does it better than carnival for Brazilians. Okay, maybe soccer!

    Soccer and carnival, both, yes. :)

    Brazil is particularly rich in tradition, and has so much potential.

    But you know, sometimes having the tag of "potential" can be so difficult -- if you never reach it.

    From those pictures, filo-dent too.;)

    Fio-dental, or dental floss for those unaware, is the name of that THING the girl might be wearing in her...crevice.

    I once got a pair of knickers like that in Brazil -- but they were so uncomfortable, I took them right off.

    Any chance of a Sundries group discount trip to Rio next year? Maybe something can be worked out with Varig in exchange for a free blogad.:)

    As long as I can charge it, sure! *g*

    P.S.: Seriously though, I would love to go to Brazil with all of you. Especially one of you! ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Mar 04, 02:40:00 am GMT-5  

  • Seriously though, I would love to go to Brazil with all of you. Especially one of you! ;)


    Victoria, Jose has probably gone there already! I, on the other hand, go nowhere in a hurry... ;-)

    By Blogger Ron, at Sat Mar 04, 12:19:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Thank you, Ma'am. I blush at the memory of my coarse silliness. :(

    Still liked the Llama foto best!

    By Blogger benning, at Sun Mar 05, 10:09:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Thank you! The best guided tour yet! You will educate, if not us, then certainly me before you are done.
    I wonder how well Vila Isabel would have done without Hugo, that lovable rascal. I just saw on the news a clip showing men training for the invasion to come for the North. Men on the firing line and in camouflage hiding in tunnels. I'm glad he takes time though, to do a little propaganda work in Rio.
    From the pictures, I can't imagine anyone doing better than Vila Isabel.
    So many wonderful things to see in this world; you've shown another.

    I can't properly comment on this post, it is a huge work and effort by you.
    Why you show such kindness to us is something I cannot understand. You are most gracious.
    You own Humour in your writing.

    It's one of my deepest convictions that the more you know, the more you can suck the very marrow out of life.

    There you go again, the sweetest writing in America.

    By Blogger Paul, at Tue Mar 07, 11:21:00 am GMT-5  

  • very educational over all, however your comments on mardi gras were offensive and condecending. one mardi gras visit does not qualify you to judge.

    regards,
    jan

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 19, 05:53:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria, Thanks for the wonderful rundown about Carnival. I was in Rio for it this year for the first time and found it difficult to explain to my friends here in the States the spectacle and atmosphere of it all. I had a wonderful time during my two weeks there. And I agree with you about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It is a trainwreck of a party, where few celebrate the vitality of life and all it has to offer instead of racing to be the first among the mass to vomit in the streets. Might I suggest Mardi Gras in some of the smaller Creole communities outside of New Orleans for a much more enjoyable time.

    By Anonymous Robert, at Thu Mar 23, 06:24:00 pm GMT-5  

  • very educational over all, however your comments on mardi gras were offensive and condecending. one mardi gras visit does not qualify you to judge.

    regards,
    jan


    Sorry I didn't catch this comment in time, Jan.

    Normally, I do not in the least mind corrections, or rebukes on my blog, and indeed, I don't mind yours here.

    But I do want to say one important thing about blogs:

    Blogs are not the final arbiters of knowledge, and I am not pronouncing my thoughts from the pulpit.

    Blogs, in fact, provide each of us with the opportunity to express our opinions, some good, some bad, some not to be taken seriously, but meant in good fun.

    Obviously, I like to be taken seriously -- but only up to a point.

    My posts are fun. My opinions are genuine.

    But above all, they are mine.

    If you don't care for them, that's fine by me, but they're as valid as yours.

    And they stand.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Apr 10, 04:24:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Victoria, Thanks for the wonderful rundown about Carnival. I was in Rio for it this year for the first time and found it difficult to explain to my friends here in the States the spectacle and atmosphere of it all. I had a wonderful time during my two weeks there. And I agree with you about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It is a trainwreck of a party, where few celebrate the vitality of life and all it has to offer instead of racing to be the first among the mass to vomit in the streets. Might I suggest Mardi Gras in some of the smaller Creole communities outside of New Orleans for a much more enjoyable time.

    Same here, Robert -- sorry I didn't catch your comment in time!

    Thanks to both of you, for taking the time to leave them, though. :)

    I'm very happy you enjoyed yourself in the Rio Carnival this year -- and I know all too well the inability of most people to understand exactly how different and special the Rio carnival is.

    It may be true of most things, but PARTICULARLY true of this, that you MUST experience the Rio carnival first-hand, since it simply cannot be imagined.

    I hope you return again, Robert. :)

    Finally, a word about NOLA:

    My experience of Mardi Gras there is highly personal, of course.

    But though I was making cutesy points about Mardi Gras, I was also making a greater point that culturally, I think that the Mardi Gras carnival pales in comparison to the Rio one.

    And this isn't a question of one visit, or twenty.

    It's the overall history, and particular culture of each town, during Carnival.

    That's not changeable -- it's specific, and timeless.

    The carnival I like best, is the Rio Carnival, not because I went there twice and liked it.

    It is the one I like best, because its traditions are specific to Brazil.

    And unless you can transport the entire country of Brazil to NOLA, or Venice, or Munich, that won't change.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Apr 10, 04:32:00 pm GMT-4  

  • my pleasure... the pictures were really beautiful.. :)

    By Anonymous Alexandra, at Sat Feb 10, 10:33:00 am GMT-5  

  • February/Fevreiro 17, 2007:

    To all interested readers, I will be covering the RIO CARNIVAL 2007 version this year as well, but not as massively or with such an emphasis in introduction to the carnival, as in this post.

    Nevertheless, I will have full samba enredos, and photos, until Ash Wednesday. I will update the post with the winner of the 2007 carnival, on that day.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Feb 17, 03:29:00 am GMT-5  

  • 2007 UPDATED POST IS UP:

    Rio Carnival 2007 with pics!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Feb 19, 12:57:00 pm GMT-5  

  • UPDATE #2:

    Fresh, hot Samba Schools 2007 pics!!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Feb 19, 06:22:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Wow! that wonderful...
    We need to visit there at least once in our life for the occasion.
    I like the costumes. They look too good.

    By Blogger thatsme, at Mon Apr 05, 03:20:00 am GMT-4  

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