One of the biggest idiots of our times, ryan air’s Michael O’Leary who has an opinion on just about everything is quoted by the german news website Spiegel online to have claimed that the swine flue ‘only affects people living in slums in Mexico and Asia’ and that ‘people flying short haul in Europe this summer will fortunately not die of the Swine flue’. Funny thing is that Ryanair flights can best be characterized as flying slums, which would make O’Leary a slum lord in addition to be a general nuisance and an idiot.
So i am at my third summit in three weeks. first summit in Berlin, then the copyright summit in Bruxelles and finally the iSummit in Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is absolutely amazing, which is best summed up by someone from FGV in rio de janeiro who’s first comment was. ‘whow! this place looks like a medieval favela‘ (which of course brings up fond memories from last years iSummit).
I am in Rio right now, which is anything else than a shrinking city. I have no figures ready but i guess there is a table which shows Rio’s growth in the last decades somewhere in Mike Davis’ excellent ‘Planet of Slums‘ which i finished reading just before coming here.
Now the lonely planet for Rio mentions that in Rio gas stations are one of the favorite places for party-goers to hang out as they sell beer all-through the night. This particular bit of travelers advice reminded me of one of the posters for the shrinking cities exhibition in Berlin a while back which showed an gas station that apparently served as the hang-out place for youngsters, supposedly because gas stations are the most exciting places to hang out in shrinking cities or something like this (I can’t find a single copy of the poster/image on the entire internets, but my sister has one hanging in her kitchen so go there if you do not know what i am talking about…).
Anyway, being in Rio we were of course looking for nocturnal excitement ourselves and the most exciting thing in town these days when it comes to going out are funk balls. The guardian has a fascinating article about the whole baile funk thing online (o.k. – if it has been in Guardian it is probably not the most exciting thing anymore for the locals but the whole thing still sounds quite exciting for visiting white boys). The only problem is that these funk balls take place in the Favelas and it does not seem like a good idea to venture out there in the middle of the night when you are drunk. However at some point we found some brazilians who had the same urge and took off to a ball in two cabs.
Of course being all slightly tipsy we did not really notice that it was 3A.M. and when we finally arrived at the venue the party was over and we did not get to dance at all (it was sunday night hence the early end). Instead we got some more drugs and gave some money to the 12 year old begging kid in an Osama bin Laden t-shirt (pictures of more OBL t-shirts here, here and here) and then descended from the hill to hang out at the gas station in shrinking city style:
Walked past the catholic (this might constitute a ideological problem) graveyard on Consolação today and to my immense joy realized the paranoid citizens of this fine city have had the ingenious idea to put razor wire on top of the sky blue walls that surround it. Until now i have never really known where i would want to be buried but now i am sure (other places i have briefly considered can be seen here and here). I will feel much safer here than on any other graveyard once i am dead.
Also i feel a bit sad that i have to leave as well. São Paulo has been really great. I must come here more often. I spend the last 2 hours at an amazing place: Prestes Maia 911. it is 23 story building in downtown that has been squatted by 458 families associated with the roofless movement (they do not say homeless because what they are missing is a roof or a dwelling and not a home with all its non material implications). It is a very organized place with an incredibly warm and friendly atmosphere. In fact it is the only squat i have ever been to that smells good (i was there around dinner time and the smell of all the different families cooking is absolutely mouth watering. The families live in separate little rooms that are made from wood and other discarded materials. in a way it is pretty much 23 favelas (by lack of a better word for collections of tiny makeshift housing units) stacked on top of each other. The whole place embodies the anarchic, organic chaos of the city on a miniature scale. Being there and talking to some of the inhabitants has been quite an experience. unfortunately it looks like the place is going to be evicted pretty soon.
Thanks to everybody who invited me into their ‘apartments’ and thanks to Fabiene for taking me there.