so we left off when I left for sfo
let’s pick up the story from there
I went to sfo
went to the international terminal feelin all bold n busty
but then went to the domestic terminal because I was flying to ny
tail b/w legs
flew to ny
wrote some of my “speech” on the plane
talked to old lady next to me
landed, rushed to brazil gate, got there as they were boarding
pandemonium at this gate
as I got to my seat, three rows of brazilian dudes are standing and laughing and talking loudly
I sit down and my seatmate immed. begins asking qs
Do I speak portuguese? oh only english. where am I going/why
he is returning to brazil for the first time in 9 years
I ask if he knows these guys, everyone is talking and very friendly
he says no that’s just how brazilians are
they pass out el folhea (sp fuck you I’ll check spellings/facts later these are just NOTES so be kind), SP’s daily newspaper, there is flooding, TKm people displaced from their homes, he asks me how many were displaced by katrina; I don’t know, feel like an ass. (Later, reading about recent violence/deaths in Nigeria next to stories about the attacks in Mumbia, I again feel this simultaneous meaninglessness and profound importance of quantity w/r/t suffering)
the flight is half-full, after take off I move to an empty row
sleep for a few hours, maybe four?
watch a fair amt of a movie without sound, starring vince vaughn, paul giamatti as santa claus? it looks fantastic. then a bit of shrek 2 or maybe 3
get off plane in sao paulo, maybe 11:30 a.m.
take a long time trying to figure out which bus goes to hotels
take bus to hotels
see outskirts (airport is 30 km away from city) from bus
weird heiroglyphic-like grafitti prominently on facades of buildings. is that a prison 10 km from the airport? looks like one. A mail store called FARTO makes me wish I had a camera for the first time.
bus lets me off early, tells me and a guy from Puerto Alegre, as far as I can understand, that the bus doesn’t go to our hotels but we should share a taxi. we share a taxi. he doesn’t really speak english, does network stuff, loves San Francisco, CA. I semi-accidentally pay both our fares, as I’m dropped off, approx. $4 U.S.
hotel. check in. there is some materials from the cultural institution that brought me here. I go buy a sandwich I mentioned in the comments section of a different blog (best new blog of 2008; “even dirtier palmtrees” is the link on my “blogroll”. my “L” key is sticky, btw)
drink 1.5L of water, run on the hotel treadmill, email times, email times, shower, shave, head over to the cultural insitution where there is another “panel” / “debate” / whatever
really huge crowd, mostly young, journalism students I think
lotsa people snacking
It doesn’t seem like there are any translation devices so I think “fuck it I need to get a sense of how these debates operate; it doesn’t matter if I don’t understand a word, I’m just going to sit through it.” this is what I do. I end up taking lots of me-style notes about superficiality, caracature, listening to a language you don’t understand, etc. All of it genius, just hysterical, outta-the-ballpark-type observations. Wait till you guys read my notes on this lecture I didn’t understand a word of. I’m thinking James Thurber award. Seriously. Just kidding.
Afterward there is a reception with champagne and FRUIT JUICES. not mixed. separate. I drink champagne and a mysterious red juice.
finally I can’t stand the isolation the gnawing, impending loneliness, and I see someone with a badge and I just say “ARE YOU ANTONIO?” (Names still changed, whatever). He says “NO BUT I CAN FIND HIM” [It is loud in the sala] “WHO ARE YOU?” and so I begin to meet people, end up going to dinner with the dude who brought me here and my co-panelist. An italian restaurant pretty far away. “lots of writers, famous film critics are here.” I drink a bohemia (“brazil’s oldest beer still being made”) and a Crampa (not real name, I’ll remember. Carpa. THESE ARE NOTES). Literary discussions. Women discussions. Good times. “I have a friend who is a brazilian rock star, I have to go to the show, you must be very tired (it is 1 a.m.), but you can come.” we go. it feels like a movie, all the elements — smoky, cheesy grungy music, crowd, lights — I don’t know. it felt fake. but fun. we got free beer b/c of band-connection. co-sponsored by Converse. In a red light district. walking back to where cabs were easier to find, passed many prostitutes and sketchy solicitous dudes. I learned about “paco grande” (sp, I have it right in my notes), who had Retinitis Pigmentosa and was jessica lange’s boyfriend. more on paco grande later.
fall asleep like 2:30 a.m.
wake up at 9:15 a.m. more slowly than I can ever remember. it feels like I’m floating, so slowly, from the bottom of a very deep pond. amazing. I reach the top of the pond and open my eyes, no idea where I am. I fart, pee, drink water, and sink back to the bottom of the pond.
wake up at 11:45 a.m. I guess the time precisely. do my little morning routine, exercise, work on computer. leave the hotel by 1:30 p.m. or so. Plan on getting lunch with “Jorge”. I have his “Argentinian” cell number. why do I feel the need to protect his identity. I have not protected “paco grande”‘s identity. I eat five mini pao de quiejo to “tide me over” till lunch. these are fried cheese balls. j cancels on lunch. I have a meeting with some film dudes who I have been put in touch with at 5. I walk over to where the meeting is, am about 2 hours early, so walk around some more, pretty aimlessly. see street names I recognize from recommendations, and turn down them. am in a pretty fancy neighborhood. upper west sidey. buy some postcards, and a little reporter’s notebook.
go to film dude meeting. fancy office. pointless but fine meeting. possible money-making opportunities. whatever. I love you.
film dude is very busy, apologizes he can’t show me around. he asks if the cultural institution that brought me here is showing me around and I lie. he recommends an expensive churrasceria.
I leave his office feeling somewhat alienated. planning to return to the hotel area, I soon cross the name of the st. he mentioned in talking about the churrasceria. I am hungry. I walk down the road, which is not a fun road. it is very trafficky. highly trafficked. I am almost run over by a motorcycle. I am jogging to avoid it, it is turning into me! help!! I do not die.
I walk for about 40 minutes, emboldened by signs that say the name of the neighborhood he said the restaurant was in. I know this restaurant is going to be wrong for a sweaty lonely guy, but I’m going for it. I don’t feel like returning to the hotel to think about New Journalism, or looking in a guidebook to go to a museum. I wanna walk around, and discover something! Rebecca Solnit, Will Self, and Geoff Nicholson have all written books I haven’t read about this feeling.
I arrive at the neighborhood. Upper East Sidey. I find the restaurant, proud of myself for I have never taken out a map or anything! The restaurant is large and very fancy and empty. It looks like if you gave Sizzler $50m U.S. to build a restaurant in Brazil. E.g. it is very fancy, but somehow felt chain-y, too. I didn’t go in.
I now have to pee and am very hungry. this story is so interesting to you, who are my mother, and as my mother you find everything about me interesting. My mom doesn’t read this blog. She just sent me a txt mssg asking if I was home yet. I get home sunday.
I walked by a bakery and bought three tiny Brigadeiros, which are little balls o chocolate covered in chocolate spreenkles. I ate them, and was cheered. I have not made any effort to learn portuguese and every transaction is problematic. I walked an ambitiously not-the-way-I-came route home. Passed many car/moto dealerships, then law-offices (I think), then urologists/gynocologists, then plastic surgery/hospitals, then army/police/gov bldgs. Then I started getting back near the centro, saw some monolithic shit (NOTES NOTES THESE ARE NOTES) and a stadium. never peed. returned to the hotel. here I am. work emails. fun emails. I don’t want to bother J, third time I’ll call him today, but god damn I’m gonna call him and see if he’s had dinner. it’s 9:05 p.m. I miss you guys! Tomorrow evening is my debate. I am not a vegetarian on this trip. people I talked with at the center last night kept mentioning “gay talese.” I also walked through a rainforest park and saw the art museum (nTOES). I saw some shit, you guys are appalled at what a poor tourist I am. whatever. I had no time to prepare. I am not preparing right now, nor am I prepared. I am an excuse for a human being.
You know that expression “a poor excuse for a human being”? Wel, what if I’m a really good excuse for a human being?