Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During the first two weeks of the month of July, Rio and a few other well-known places featured the celebration of several round number anniversaries — 10th, 50th, 80th, 100th and 120th. In the interests of keeping his readers up-to-date the Curmudgeon will describe all of these, not in chronological order. And he will ask the (perhaps flippant) question: does anybody care?
In flippant mode, we begin with the new kid on the block, FLIP. This acronym stands for the Festival Literario Internacional de Parati or, in English, the Parati International Literary Festival. FLIP celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, and it has thrived. Some 25,000 literati and glitterati littered and glittered the cobblestones, lamenting the absence of the French Nobel Prize winning auteur JM Le Clezio and the presence of the incorrigibly incorrect Jonathan Franzen. Does anybody care?
Hurriedly growing senescent, we note that Copacabana celebrated its 120th anniversary. No, not the beach, that’s been there for eons; the “bairro” or official precinct was created in 1892 by an Imperial Decree. Since that time, it has moved inexorably seaward, by dint of dismantling mountains and creating sand dunes, partially covered by asphalt and that delight of shoe repair shops, the cobblestones designed in ripply waves or wavy ripples, take your choice (but leave your stiletto heel). The Globo “news”paper promoted this, but got a wet weekend. Does anybody care?
Speaking of rainy places, São Paulo celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Constitutionalist Movement. What happened in 1932 was that a lot of Paulistas, who had been happily sharing the governmental reins of the country with Minas Gerais for over forty years, were thrown out of power through a military takeover by Getulio Vargas, a Gaucho. The Paulistas, ever zealous of their God-given right to run Brazil, took up arms and began a rebellion on July 9th. They weren’t very good at it, lost all the battles and the war within six months, with casualties in the hundreds. Does anybody care?
Fla/Flu, for those of you unfortunates who have not been on Carioca soil for the past century, is the most important “futebol” game of the year—any year at all. The very first “epic battle” was played 100 years ago in 1912, when some nine Fluminense turncoats who had joined Flamengo for more money (does this sound familiar?) overcame eleven traditionalists in titanic struggle (actually it rained hard and the field was a quagmire, but no matter). This year, Fluminense prevailed in a rainstorm. Does anybody care?
Over in the country where football was invented, the Rolling Stones celebrated their 50th anniversary as a group. Or, rather, the Fourth Estate celebrated it, because the Stones themselves were far too busy denying (a) they were nearing age 70; (b) they were going to put on a farewell concert this year; and (c) they had ever knowingly done dope, except when they were rocking or rolling. Does anybody care?
The Curmudgeon submits that two things happened in the first fortnight of July 2012 that we should all care about. First, the discovery of the Higgs Boson was announced. Second, UNESCO declared “Carioca Landscapes” the 912th Cultural Heritage site, the very first to mix human structures and cultures with natural beauty. Both of these were events that 10, 50, 80, 100 or 120 years from now, people will remember.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, moved here thirty-plus years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)