photo manipulations by nacrowe
years ago i found myself in RIO DE JANEIRO in a mall (i was searching for an ATM) and noticed that FUTBOL was not the most represented sport in terms of products and merchandise on display, oddly it was all FORMULA 1. jackets and shirts with an iconic MARLBORO CIGARETTES color scheme and yellow performance racing helmets with blue and green stripes (the BRASILIAN flag colors). all this for some guy named AYRTON SENNA i learned.
never heard of him.
the documentary SENNA (STUDIOCANAL, 2010) dives deep into the legend and lasting cultural impact of AYRTON SENNA on both the world of FORMULA 1 as well as his native country of BRASIL.
back then the world of racing was very much a closed community dominated by EUROPEANS (including his FRENCH rival ALAIN PROST) with many unwritten but deeply ingrained "gentleman" rules of proper demeanor and accepted techniques and maneuvers on the racetrack. there was also a system in place to prove your worth up the ranks. SENNA basically destroyed all of this.
first off he was a veteran of the KART RACING circuit, a "lesser" form of racing with smaller financial barriers of entry. his move up the ranks and ability to fight his way into FORMULA 1 was a testament to his preternatural driving skills. his time in KARTING also made him familiar with various aggressive, highly risky maneuvers that would prove controversial in FORMULA 1 as they were done at much increased velocities. if there is one thing i know about BRASILIAN culture it is that it is not enough for the just to win, what they truly desire is to win beautifully. such is the case in futbol and thanks to SENNA such was the case with these risky maneuvers.
to the BRASILIAN mindset, he was out there dancing on the circuit, moving like none before in an inimitable form of SAMBA. and he was winning, having claimed the 1988, 1990 and 1991 FORMULA 1 titles before his death in 1994.
Having driven for MCLAREN team for most of his career, he switched to WILLIAMS as they had a new onboard computer that could account for the tires in hard turns, apparently providing a competitive advantage. this new technology was used by competitors and so SENNA was attempting to keep up with technology. unfortunately they were not reliable and given his relative inexperience with the system before the season, he overcompensated a turn that resulted in a crash that ended his life.
i can attest personally that the now mythic figure of SENNA is point of personal pride for BRASILIANS, the very embodiment of a local self-made kid done good in a world dominated for centuries by EUROPEANS. there is a definite COLONIALIST subtext to this pride, which is different than other heroes like PELE who participated in team sports.
my assumption is that SENNA did it alone. he won big and he did it beautifully.
SENNA is an interesting, well-constructed documentary about a public sports figure little known stateside. well worth checking out.
parodies by nacrowe
tonight's new episode of DEER GOD RADIO at 8PM EST on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC is all about the brutality of MAX CAVALERA and his legendary discography with projects like SEPULTURA, SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, NAILBOMB and KILLER BE KILLED. this is gonna be fun!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
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photo manipulation by nacrowe
zthe harmonic complexity and intoxicating rhythms of BOSSA NOVA are on full display in THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA: BRAZIL, BOSSA NOVA AND THE BEACH (BBC, 2016), q recent documentary recounting the birth, development and dissemination of this unique BRASILIAN phenomena in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
after centuries of colonialism and authoritarian rule, BRASIL in the 1950s found itself with a new leader PRESIDENT JUSCELINO KUBITSCHEK, who promised and delivered on economic expansion and modernization of both industry and infrastructure. BOSSA NOVA became very much domestically the soundtrack to an era of optimism and promise. i can't imagine the pride of being alive during that era, withe PELE and the national team playing like dancers and ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM and JOAO GILBERTO performing at the peak of their powers. it makes me sigh. then again i am completely biased, i was lucky enough to visit RIO DE JANIERO (article linked HERE) back in october 2014. its funny, i even spoke with the same owner of the BOSSA NOVA record store interviewed in this documentary about the cultural dialogue between AFRICA with BRASIL. how SAMBA relates to WEST AFRICAN musical traditions. good to see he is sharing his passion to a wider audience!
part of this film is about recounting the development of the genre and giving due to its originators, middle class SAMBA and WEST COAST JAZZ aficionados like CARLOS LYRA, LUIZ EVA, ROBERTO MENESCAL, SYLVIA TELLES and NARA LEAO ,that lived a charmed, bohemian lifestyle in apartments near COPACABANA BEACH and IPANEMA BEACH. the group circled around muse and gifted singer, NARA LEAO. they took what was a more somber genre and lifted it harmonically. this sound found its way to JAZZ artists like GERRY MULLIGAN and CHARLIE BYRD who initiated a fruitful, mutually beneficial dialogue that created a SAMBA/JAZZ hybrid sound.
sadly, the film also retraces how the style became a stateside fad and how MADISON AVENUE sucked the lifeblood out of such a special gift. the perfect example of such is the legendary track "THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA" which originally had PORTUGUESE lyrics by renowned poet VINICIUS DE MORAES which touchingly spoke of the grace of an unknown woman and the salvation one may find by being in her company. it is incredibly romantic and full of religious sentiment, even referencing the VIRGIN MARY in describing a level of passion and appreciation for such a graceful creature. the AMERICAN version had lyrics "translated" by NORMAN GIMBEL who wrote the lyrics to the HAPPY DAYS theme song. his version just describes a beautiful woman. its vulgar in comparison and a lost opportunity, and of course the biggest hit and cultural touchstone from BRASIL. its just so depressing an apt metaphor for how AMERICAN commerce and by extension society cares little for authenticity and exoticizes the unknown. the amount of products from the early 1960s that bear a BOSSA NOVA tag outlined in the documentary makes this point plain. ugh, so gross.
what is interesting is how ASTRUD GILBERTO, wife of JOAO, rose to prominence from this single. she was not classically trained but carried the tune in a naive manner sans vibrato in a wistful, seductive manner with a slight accent that won over the world. she sang it largely because she was in the room and she spoke english. it was an accident of fate. funny how pop culture works