Sunday, February 1, 2009

3 Crucieros

Fiction-good stuff). So today, research the topics below, and incorporate 5 of the 10 into a short story. -nubilous (definition) -laissez-faire -middle eastern cuisine -the commonalities of the Fireside Poets -Bossa Nova -blue-green algae -Che Guevara -gestation crates -the aye-aye -postmodernism Have fun. And please don't hate me.

Fuser sat in the darkened theater, mesmerized by the flicker, the persistence of vision searing the floating images into the back of his head. The audience sat in a nubilous haze, transfixed as Orfeu Negro played to a full house. The melody of Luiz Bonfá's "Manhã de Carnaval" lulled the crowd into a state of contentment even as the tragedy of the street car conductor and his doomed love affair played out on the screen. It had taken Fuser more than two weeks to save up the 3 Crucieros to pay for the admission price. He and his cousin, Tomfeio, had worked for Senhor Belasco, delivering groceries to some of the better off families that lived on the outskirts of Rio. The deliveries allowed him the few opportunities he ever had to actually leave the favela on Morro daProvidênci.

Even standing at the door step of some of the houses, he felt envious that there were people who lived less than a mile from his own house, that didn't worry about things like having to heat up the water they washed in, or even having to get their water from outside their house in the first place. They had proper roofs that didn't leak because theirs weren't made from scavenged road signs and sheet metal. Their electricity didn't come from an extension cord that came in through their window, stolen from a municipal power box that had to be re pried open every month or so after someone from the city would come out to do maintainance. They didn't live packed together in cramped boxes fighting for space, dying from stress and lack of proper medical care. And these weren't even the houses located in the Zona Sul, in neighborhoods like Ipanema or São Conrado. Fuser couldn't imagine what sort of royalty qualified to live in these palaces. There were even houses directly on the beach in Copacabana. Presidential housing, it must have been. Who else could live there? Maybe movie stars, even.

wondered if Breno Mello lived in the Zona Sul. Mello had been futebol player with Fluminense F.C. (Fuser and his friends called the team Fluzão and sometimes O Máquina Tricolor) and before that, he had played with Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense. Now, there he was larger than life on the movie screen playing the title role. Tomfeio had told Fuser that he'd read that Breno Mello had been discovered by a famous director while he had been running on the beach in Porto Alegrense. Ever since, Fuser had been trying to convice Tomfeio and his sister Zélia to go with him to the Praia do Pepino in São Conrado. He imagined that he too would be noticed on the beach and given the lead role in a musical, like Breno Mello.

"You're too rechonchudo," Zélia would tease him. Looking down at his belly, Fuser knew she was probably right. Breno Mello was handsome and athletic. Fuser wasn't really gordo, but he wasn't the type to get noticed on the beach either. Firstly, the glasses he wore were had been his father's. Fuser's family couldn't afford new glasses for him, so he just wore his father's old pairs. The prescription was close enough, but as his eyed inevitably worsened, he simply traded up to the next subsequent pair that his father had discarded on his own way to eventual blindness. This trade up created the added disadvantage that Fuser's frames were always woefully outdated. Quite simply, he always wore old man glasses. He looked like an aposentado on his way to collect his retirement check.

His second problem was that his arms were too skinny for his body, but his legs were, by contrast, rather thick. This created a subtle disproportion that was difficult to put a finger on at first, but impossible to ignore later. And it was all the more obvious when he wore his swim trunks on the beach. Added to these distinctions were his flat arches that made him flap his feet like divers flippers when he ran. But still, he would always return to the fantasy, even in later years when he had grown less rechonchudo and more gordo. It helped pass the time.

Now, watching Orfeu Negro, he laughed quietly as he allowed himself one conceit. He may never be discovered by a movie producer, but if he was, he might certainly do a better job acting than Breno Mello. But at least Breno Mello could sing well.
A felicidade é como a gota
De orvalho numa pétala de flor
Brilha tranquila
Depois de leve oscila
E cai como uma lágrima de amor
Fuser had to content himself with the thought that even if he couldn't sing that well, not all leading men sang in musicals. He saw himself as more of the Romantic type. If he couldn't sing those lyrics, he could always recite them with the same sincerity as any poet.

He had recently come to fancy himself as somewhat of an expert on poetry. He had been fond of Olavo Bilac for a few years, especially his poem DELÍRIO, as well as Menotti Del Picchia, the father of Modernismo. He had also tried to expand his tastes somewhat by attempting to read a book of poetry by Federico García Lorca in the original Spanish, but he had to admit that it lost something in the translation. Pablo Neruda was also another great source of inspiration and Fuser saw in him a kindred romantic. On the insistence of one of his instructors at school, he had tried to read a translation of a book of American poetry by Henry Longfellow and some of his contemporaries. Senhor Lutz had spoken effusively about the inspirational spirit of the verses, but Fuser couldn't make sense of them. All the poems seemed so self-aggrandizing and pompous with stanzas about shipwrecks and fallen patriots and quaint families. In short, it all seemed so damn American. Fuser returned the book, half finished, convinced he'd never read anything translated from English again.

On the other hand, he had heard about a new group of American poets who were supposed to be creating exiting work. Work that was being banned by the American government. If anything could raise the hackles of a country that prided itself on it's supposed freedom of speech, Fuser wanted to read it. His classsmate Alceu had received a letter from his older brother who lived in San Francisco, California. His brother Rogério had included his translation of the first lines of a poem by Allen Ginsberg:

Eu vi as mais melhores mentes de minha geração destruída pela loucura,
morrendo de fome, histérico, despido,
arrastando-se através das ruas do negro no alvorecer que procura um reparo irritado

Rogério had promised to try to translate more of the poem but it would take a while because it was over 400 lines long. Fuser couldn't wait. The words filled him with a sense of immediacy and excitement. Even the title, "Howl", conveyed an energy that those staid austere "Caseiros" like Longfellow could never match. "Howl" meant uivo in English. A cry of pain and anger and protest. There was little of any of those things in Fuser's life. The words were like a Clarion Call to action. "Starving, hysterical, naked" these words had power. The only problem was that Fuser had no direction to take. His restlessness was aimless.

His friends had jokingly nicknamed him after after Che Guevara's nickname, on the afternoon that he had expressed interest in the subject of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution. The name had been meant to tease and denigrate, but Fuser suprised them all by embracing it. He imagined himself in the mold of Lord Byron or Arthur Rimbaud, poets turned warriors. That Rimbaud deserted the Dutch Colonial Army soon after enlisting did not faze Fuser in the least. That Fuser himself had never written a single verse mattered even less. In his mind, both of his callings were simply waiting for the inspiration that would set them in motion. In no time, he would become a combination of Vinicius de Moraes and Simón Bolívar. Provided that no one discovered him running on the beach and put him in the movies.

This one took me a few days to put together. It started as a story, but in the end became more of a character sketch than anything else. Though I did manage to satisfy five of the research requirements, most of the time was consumed by additional research outside of the perameters.
The definition of NUBILOUS is utilized from the outset.
Along with providing the inspiration for the characters name, several references to Che Guevara appear throughout, along with references to some of his favorite poets.
The film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) was considered a starting point for the Bossa Nova movement as it marked the first collaboration between Antonio Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, who would go on to become to of the most renowned songwriters of the genre.
Addtionally, Vinicius de Moraes was also considered one of the founders of the Brazilian post-modern poetry movement, but this was purely coincidental and therefore not technically a fulfillment of the writing requirement.
The description of the overcrowding in the Favela was taken from the description of the gestation crates.
The reference to Longfellow was used to contrast what was considered proper poetry to some of the more romantic and radical work that was being done by other writers.
Additional research included the neighborhoods and Favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, monetary conversion rates as adjusted for inflation (a very rough approximation at best as the Cruciero was replaced by the Real as the official monetary unit of Brazil a few years after the setting of the story), a biography of Breno Mello (the star of Orfeu Negro), and most importantly, translations of various words and phrases into Portuguese. The meaning of most of these words can be gleaned from context, but here is a translation of the two portions of verse included in the above piece:

Happiness is like a drop
Of dew on a flower's petal
It shines peacefully then swings lightly
And falls like a tear of love

from "A Felicidade (Happiness)" by Jobim and de Moraes

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix

from "HOWL" by Allen Ginsberg

I'm having formatting problems, but i gotta go to bed now so I'll fix em later.

Antonio Carlos Jobim - A Felicidade (Happiness)

1 comment:

JPM said...

great! didn't take long to care about what happened to Fuser....