Countering With Culture

August 11, 2009

Yesterday was my work-shop day and today was far more cultural.  Yesterday ended with a lovely visit to Paulo and Edite’s, and then we went to Scott’s cousins house for dinner. It was wonderful for so many reasons–to be in a house, to have someone cooking for us, to have easy conversation with family, to learn more about Brazil and to practice our Portuguese (kind of, since their English is perfect), to get to know them better, to see Andre’s pictures with Kiss, Lula, and ACDC.  We capped off the night by going through Andre’s truly incredible collection of autographed futebol jerseys (with Shaq and Magic Johnson jerseys and a Mohammed Ali signed boxing glove thrown in).  Beginning with Pele in the late 1960s and early 1970s until now with Kaká and David Beckham, there were probably fifty or more uniforms from the Brasil National team, the different World Cups, and every Brazilian team.  It was definitely something to see, and an important dose of Brazilian futebol culture.

This morning I went for a run to orient myself a little better in this city (very helpful) and went to the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo.  The building itself is cool– a box elevated above the busy Avenida Paulista (swooshing by in the picture.) 

The galleries were mostly in transition (which explained why they didn’t charge me admission), and from there I went to explore the Conjunto Nacional down the street, which houses one of the most prolific bookstores I have ever seen.

IMG_0118 It was like a literary funhouse, with a real cafe, not a stupid Starbucks, like in Barnes & Noble (and I’m not just saying that because this is Brazil).  There was another Livraria Cultura across the way that was filled with beautiful and unusual coffee table books, art volumes, cookbooks.  I liked these old school editions of classics.  IMG_0122The Conjunto Nacional was incredibly cool, too.  There was a giant spiral up the middle, like the Guggenheim in New York, and the packed center area had an exhibit of all of International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) winners (including the Havaiana store, as mentioned in yesterday’s post).  It was super cool.

Scott’s cousin Karen and I had lunch at Hebraica, their Jewish club–an expansive campus with every imaginable sports facility, restaurants, a library, a theater.

I’m quickly falling in love with Sao Paulo, the massiveness of it, the way the neighborhoods fit together, the juxtapositions.  Some of the streets are leafy and beautiful, and there are mysteriously glamourous houses beyond high walls, and small shops and restaurants that surprise you.  Rio is outrageously beautiful, but Sao Paulo has much more depth.

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One Response to “Countering With Culture”

  1. Barbara said

    Could it be that your impressions of Sao Paolo are colored somewhat by the way you are being introduced to the city—by the cousins who have welcomed you into their “San Paolo”? What a wonderful couple of days! Please send our love to all… We miss you guys!

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