Comical Inflation – 1952


A shipwrecked person – I don’t understand how you immediately got used to this life!

The other person – It’s cause I came from Rio. There we didn’t have meat, butter, electricity and water, and we were also surrounded by sharks…


The Avalanche

– If he continues digging for HIGH SALARIES, the whole thing will come down!

(the other rocks are high prices, higher taxes and inflation)


– Mister, there’s a Barnabé over there who also wants a raise!

Getúlio – I already raised (prices on) meat, milk, bread, the bus, boats, trams, sugar, butter, coffee and this guy talks to me about a raise?


The Elevator

The attendent – Who wants to go up?

(from left to right – people representing meat, bread, buter and sugar)


In the country of contraband

– They increased the price of a sack of oranges!

– In compensation there’s an abundance of citrus preserves…

(Marmelada is slang for crooked deals)



– Everything is going up! And Getúlio?

– He’s going up too. He’s going to spend the summer in Petrópolis…


Celebrations – Then & Now


The Centennial At The Door
Jeca – My lady, the Centennial is already here.
Exposition – Let him in. I will greet him just like this, in a shirt…

In 1922, Rio and the rest of Brazil celebrated 100 years of independence from the Portuguese crown (for which even the Portuguese president was in attendence). The so-called “Exposição Internacional do Centenário da Independência”, which lasted from September of 1922 until March of the following year, included the participation of 14 other countries and still stands as the largest international exposition in Brazil.

But how did the people feel about it? Famed Carioca novelist and journalist Lima Barreto penned a piece in Careta magazine in late September 1922 about his people and their feelings. Sadly, he would die of a heart attack one month later at the age of 41.

If one swaps the word Centennary for Olympics, it could have almost been written today. I apologize beforehand for any questionable phrasing, some parts were tough to parse being they were written almost 100 years ago.

Clique na imagem abaixo pra aumentá-la.

The Centennial
by Lima Barreto

“What one notices, in the current commemorative parties for the passage of the centennial of the proclamation of Brazil’s Independence, is that they are unfolding completely alien to the people of the city. The impartial observer doesn’t see in them any enthusiasm, doesn’t feel in the soul any patriotic vibration. If in our ‘little’ people there is no indifference; there is, at least, incomprehension regarding the date that is being commemorated. Moreover, our Carioca people were always like this: we never took national dates seriously, which always deserved this displeasing attitude that is being taken now with the Centennial, celebrated so pompously with dances and banquets.

There’s a story from a British humorist in which he makes a homeless man in London speak in the following manner: “I am a subject of Your Majesty Britian. I have, aside from the British Isles, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand and I don’t know which other lands; however, I dress myself with rags, I sleep, most times, outdoors, and I spend my days without food. What does it matter to me to nominally have so many lands? Nothing. Before [anything] I would [prefer to] have a few coins per day.”

I believe the Carioca reasons in a similar way. I would say to him: “What’s the point of José Bonifácio, Pedro I, Alvares Cabral, the Amazon, the gold of Minas, the magical Exposition, Minas Gerais, if I have a life of counting coins, to be able to live?”

Such a state of spirit is not favorable for patriotic enthusiasms; on the contrary, it must bring about general impoverishment and dispondency.

Times are tough; Everything is overpriced. A poor head of a family has to thing constantly about tomorrow. Will he have time to be impressed with patriotic festivities which are mostly ball games and other futilities rather than serious protests of a cult for a country and its past?

Brazil is going through a curious crisis that I don’t know how to classify. With these Centennial parties, we see one of its manifestations. Open any newspaper. Pages and pages are filled with news of sportive rivalries that are destined to consecrate the current ephemerality. The date in itself is forgotten; as is everything that can be related to it; but things about balls and boxing are front and center.

So that we don’t celebrate 100 years of our political independence. What we do is to transform Rio de Janeiro into a large field of boxing fights and horse races.

I said at the start of these brief lines that the people didn’t associate themselves with the Centennial parties. I was wrong. The sportive ones willingly do. For them, and for those of lamps and military parades.

The people will understand the relationship they’ve got.”

Careta Sept 1922

Folha published an article about Barreto today also which I was unaware of, but it doesn’t mention the story above. Read it here (PT).

Rio Metro being built

I often talk about the beauty of Rio on this blog but, as we know too well, many things need improvement, such as the city’s infrastructure. People make use of it and either forget or never experienced the problems (including eye sores) it caused when being built. Rio’s Metro, inaugurated in March of 1979, with five stations operating on one line, is one such example. What follows are photos of some of the stations as they were under construction.


Metro being built near Carioca station. The area being opened up on Avenida Treze de Maio, with the Largo da Carioca still untouched which points to the photos having been taken between 1974 and ’75. The image by Paulo Moreira above shows the famous ‘cut and cover’ excavation method, utilized many times in the building of the metro, in which the surface is torn up in order to get to the earth beneath it.


Carioca Station in 1976.One of the biggest stations in the whole system, it was done on two levels, as the terminus station for the Linha 2. The platform, which is under Avenida República do Chile, is empty. As can be seen here in this photo from the ’50s or 60’s, the area’s landscape was dramatically altered.


A huge intervention in Cinelândia. In the first photo, Praça Floriano taken over by construction, around 1974/75. In the second, its arrival at Cinelândia.


Largo do Machado. First photo, 1976. Second, Rua do Catete and Largo do Machado in 1977. A ton of disturbance for the public over a few years.

If interested in learning everything about Rio metro’s history, check out my source (PT)

Carnival Dialogue – 1927

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 1.22.46 PMCarnival Dialogue

Written by Saul de Navarro, pen name of Capixaba writer Álvaro Henrique Moreira de Souza. Read it in Portuguese.

Carnival Sunday. Rio, since the night before the start of Carnival, became Hell-opolis, a city of craziness and pleasure, the residence of noise and of smiles. I was, as the afternoon arrived, in a discrete cafe, on a side street of the Avenida, where the violence of the Carnival revelry wouldn’t reach me. There, one group or another of masked people shimmied by singing “Ninguém não viu” [1]…

I don’t like street Carnival, the pleb orgy, the stupid parade of the riffraff, who exhibit their colorful rags and sing, out of tune and monotonously, verses more terrible than those of the Petit Trianon poets [2]. When I was starting to ingest, with the slowness of my boredom, a fresh cajuada [3], without the least bit of ceremony, a sad and sentimental Pierrot [4] sat down at my side, seeming to me like a embodied dream, a romantic vision of the verses of Musset [5].

– “Aren’t you having fun?”, he asked me with a loud and feminine voice, having, however, in its timber the cooing of a complaint, the lament of a fugitive and daydreaming soul…

– “I get sad when I watch this conventional happiness coming from the Carioca people, who suffer from hunger, misery and injustices during the entire year and, in the three days of Momo, they surrender themselves to the comedy of a forced, false and almost carnal jubilee…”

– “Don’t be so unfair with the Cariocas. Carnival is their only revenge. In each Carnival there is a revolution, sui generis, by the common people: in their songs, in their sarcasm, in their jokes and in all of their expansion of orgiastic happiness and furor I merely see an anger exploding like the curse of a monster!

– “An excess of fantasy…by infection.”

– “There is not. It’s pure observation: bursts of laughter explode like grenades; gazes shoot out like lightning; smiles shine like knives glittering in the moonlight; jests, insults, satires and epigrams explode like articulated combat, from a formidable shout, from a hissing hoot by a million victims getting revenge…smiling.”

– “I’ve never seen such an original Pierrot. You’re a vacationing philosopher, an enchanting sociologist!

– “Don’t bother me with your fine and loveable irony.”

– “I will follow your orders with spiritual pleasure, because I am enjoying your talk.”

– “The French people had the Terror, which was a Carnival of blood; the Cariocas have their yearly insuperable Carnival, which is the white Terror of a laugh, a recited revolution of mockery, a show of pleb fury ranted and danced on the streets, to the meloncholic sound of the serenades and at the meandering step of the ranchos and cordões. But in this Carnival the Cariocas get revenge on their exploiters and tyrants – enjoying it as if it were the Final Judgement, where the trumpets of Josaphat are a strident craziness, the mad music of jazz

– “Amazing, your psychology of Rio’s Carnival!”

– “Don’t mock my words, sir.”

– “But now you will allow me a perhaps inconvenient, perhaps indiscrete question?

– “We are in the ephemeral kingdom of Momo, in the plenitude of the best of states – that of absolute irresponsibility, with the abolition of guarantees of hypocryptic morality, under the judgement of loveable madness which frees us…”

– “May I, then, satisfy my sentimental curiosity?”

– “You may start your painful interrogation…”

– “Are you a man or a woman?”

The philosophic and kind Pierrot let out a series of loud laughs, like a broken kiss, I saw all his teeth sparkling on his lips red with lipstick.

– “Answer, please!”

– “I’m not a man nor a woman…”

– “It’s as if you didn’t say anything: I remain in the same torturous indecision.”

– “I am what you see: a Pierrot.”

– “Want to come with me to the Copacabana dance?”

– “I can’t. I’m afraid of committing myself…”

– “But who the hell are you?” – I asked him, already impacient, losing my calm and composure.

– “Take a guess.”

– “Mademoiselle Sphinx?”

– “No.”

– “Ganymede?”

– “Never!”

– “Then, I don’t know who you are.”

Taking off the black velvet half mask, the Pierrot exclaimed:

– “I am Reason, goddess of philosophers, muse of those who live more in their head than in their heart.”

And he disappeared, smiling from my error…

1 – “Ninguém não viu” was a popular song by Sinhô

2 – Petit Trianon references the building of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, which has a Romantic Poets Room.

3 – Cajuada is a dessert made of cashew fruit.

4 – Pierrot is a stock character of Italian pantomime

5 – Alfred de Musset was a French Romantic poet and playwright, remembered for his poetry.

Builders of the City – 1921

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 9.57.58 AM

May 28, 1921

The announcement that the city government plans to excavate the Morro do Castelo to make an artificial inlet in Glória provoked a wave of protests, as violent as the undertow, the irreconcilable enemy of the wonderful Beira Mar. The city ordinance to earmark a violently conquered space to the Guanabara Bay was of no use as a mitigating crime of counter-aesthetics : an idea that seemed extravagant in a city that possesses a backdrop of forests and mountains, a huge natural park in comparison to the panoramas of the man-made gardens that are deplorably modest. A city friend, more exalted by anger in the face of a sacrilegious attempt, reduced his indignation to a rigorous maxim, exclaiming: Na bahia não se toca! (One doesn’t mess with the Bay!)

What weighs on a friend of the Guanabara Bay, the truth is that Rio de Janeiro wouldn’t exist if the prohibition of messing with it were a law since the times of Mem de Sá. One can say that the entire lower part of Brazil’s capital is an achievement of our ancestors over mangroves, grottos, swamps, lakes and marshes that covered, 400 years ago, the city where automobiles pass by today.

When the third governor of Brazil, anchoring in the bay in January of 1567, disembarked in the fortified village that the heroic Estácio, his nephew, built between the cliffs of Sugarloaf and the São João hill, he soon thought the hostile cradle and future capital of Brazil should be transported in the laps of the warriors to the hill, initially denominated as São Sebastião, which would be its throne, capital and reliquary for thee and a half centuries.

On the hill overlooking the Coligny fort, the bronze cannons, transported from the ships to the barbarian seafront, stucco fort, dominated the valleys and commanded the bay.

After his valiant nephew was buried, Mem de Sá started the construction of the city at the Piasaba port, near the Santiago stronghold, where the Misericordia church is today. Via the hill’s slope, the first steep and venerable street of the city of S. Sebastião began.

From the top, the navy, the soldiers and the indians, allies of Ararygboia, dug the fort’s canals, from parochial [], from the residence of the Government and the Parliament, walling the citadel with strong [pelissadas?].

Soon, however, the population felt that the mountain was small for them. Protected by the fort, they started going down the mountain side. Then man’s fight with the water started. At the foot of the hill, an extensive water-filled valley stretched out, which had to be dried out and landfilled. The colonizers and populators had to conquer, palm tree to palm tree, the lands of Rio de Janeiro. There still weren’t any aesthetic champions to defend Guanabara from the sacrilege of the landfills. From a salt water marsh, the inhabitants of S. Sebastião made a city. It was on the first conquered lands near the water that the streets and the maze of alleyways of Misericórdia aligned themselves – currently being demolished – and later Direita do Paço and do Cotovello streets. These formidable ancestors, who didn’t have dredgers nor automotive vehicles to excavate, managed to build, at the spot where they found mud and grottos, the Carmo convent and the S. José church.

They made a nation so that we today could create nationalism.

Among the hills of S. Sebastião (Castello), Carmo (Santo Antonio), Manoel de Brito (S. Bento), Paulo Caieiro (Formiga), Santa Thereza (do Pinto), da Lagoinha (Paula Mattos), Pedro Dias (do Senado) and Desterro (Santa Thereza), a plain of marsh and mangroves stretched out. In the spot where today are the Largo da Carioca and adjacent streets, was the Santo Antonio lagoon. Arcos street was opened on the Pedro Dias swamp. The current street Riachuelo was a trail that gave way from the Desterro to the Sentinella lagoon. Next to the Ajuda convent was the marshy Boqueirão lagoon, that was landfilled by order of the viceroy D. Luiz de Vasconcellos with land from the knoll of the Mangueiras ranch (today’s Largo da Lapa) for construction of the Passeio Público. Viólas street (today Theophilo Ottoni) and all the surrounding opening of streets were marshes fed by the tide. When, in 1600, Antonio Martins Palma and his wife D. Leonor Gonçalves started to build the first church at Candelaria, in fulfilment of vows, the bay waters reached the spot where Primeiro de Março street now is. All the large valleys from Gávea to Engenho Novo were marshes and sandbanks. In the current Largo do Machado was the Carioca lagoon.

Compared with these tenacious builders, who needed to landfill soaked plains so that in them they could improvise a city, government projects seem like simple engineering toys. Mr. Carlos Sampaio intending to landfill the Glória inlet, could invoke the cyclopic public works of those that came before as justification of his desires. Since the foundation of the city man has fought with Guanabara, ripping out land to build churches and houses. And the fight will continue, without truces.

Our grandchildren will see, possibly, avenue Rio Branco extended til Villegaignon. The Passos, the Frontins and the Carlos Sampaios of the future will continue being like our ancestors, destroyers of hills, drainers of lagoons, landfillers of mangroves, conquerors of Guanabara.

To this conclusion one arrives examining any city plan and considering that, based on its geographic situation, by the ampleness of its port and by its demographic conditions, already impossible to correct, Rio de Janeiro will represent in Brazil the corresponding function of New York to the United States. The removal of the capital to the Goias plateau will be imperceptably influential in the solution to the extremely enormous problem that future generations will be faced with. Rio de Janeiro will be, in less than a century, a city with 3 million inhabitants and to accommodate this population and create the conditions in which it can exercise its activities, in accordance with the categorical imperatives of space and time, it’ll be necessary to impose a sacrifice of much of its natural beauty which we defend today, to landfill considerable areas of the liquid plains of Guanabara, to enlarge the scanty valley, still pregnant with knolls and hills.

There would still be time for the city government to entrust the study of the problem of Rio’s transformations to a commission made up of more competent figures of national engineering, adding to this technical commission some architects and artists, and asking them to prepare a project together which would represent an agreement of authorized opinions. Otherwise the future will be sacrificed to mere momentaneous desires and the discussion around each partial project will be renewed.