Monthly Archives: January 2011

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A View from the Crib

So, I’ve settled into a new one-bedroom apartment in Downtown São Paulo. The place has character: huge rooms, high ceilings, French doors leading out to a small terrace where I can sit and write (theoretically), with my feet being massaged on top of the clothes dryer. My street is one of those formerly-grand boulevards gone to seed, complete with prosties and crackheads (think ’70s Times Square). In fact, twice, I was propositioned on the sidewalk in front of my building by unscrupulous and sordid characters. It’s all novel-worthy, if anything.

Here is the view from my living room, at night and in the day. Come visit…I’ll protect you from the crackheads!

After a devastating earthquake one year ago, the first colony in the hemisphere to throw off the yoke of slavery – a place that has forever been punished for that courageous act – is still in major need of financial and physical assistance. I have asked two of my fellow bloggers, native Floridians, and all around Fly Sistas (Dr. Brandi Reddick, The Green Pharmacist, and Frenchie of Black in Cairo) who have intimate contact with the country to recommend legitimate organizations that are worthy of your help:

The NEGES Foundation, a small non-profit, environmentally-focused organization with which Dr. Reddick worked back in 2009 (remember, grass-roots organizations need help, too).

Volunteers for Peace, a coordinating organization that arranges placements for volunteers interested in doing work on the ground.

Partners in Health, a medical NGO with a long reach and proven results.

Oxfam International, a highly-regarded development-focused NGO.

Prayers and peace to the millions of Haitians and their families who have suffered in the wake of the earthquake, as well as to the thousands of foreigners working to help make Haiti a sustainable nation (big ups to Brazil for its role in assisting Haiti).

Last year, Air France decided it would compile a bit of its inflight musical entertainment into half-hour podcasts that you can download every couple of months. With an esoteric mix of relaxingly ambient and soulfully acoustic selections, the “On Air” podcast is excellent accompaniment for a lazy Sunday afternoon in the hammock, a lounge-y late night in bed, or an early morning en route to Paris. Below are some of my favorite tracks from artists I discovered via Air France Music. Get lifted.

OK, I didn’t just discover Me’Shell, but she’s not been on my radar since Bitter.

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Paul Downey/Flickr

First, I want to start the new year giving thanks to you, my readers, for traveling with me this far.  I know I’m not very communicative via the comments section, but I sincerely appreciate every person who looks at my blog and takes away even the smallest bit of inspiration – be it to travel, to encourage someone else to travel, to move overseas, to start a blog, or to bring an end to a dead-end situation.

The purpose of Fly Brother is indeed to inspire and encourage a positive interaction between the reader and international travel, albeit through a very specific demographic lens.  But then, the way I experience the world – as black, as an American, as a man, as a son, as a lover, as a writer, as an educator, as someone who passes for Latino or Arabic or Canadian when need be – isn’t necessarily all that specific, either.  Regardless of its specificity or universality, I hope that my writing grants a minimum of disappointment and maximum of fulfillment in 2011, and beyond.  And I hope you stick around to see where we go next.

Thank you, well and truly, for reading.
-Fly Brother

Second, as we’ve started the Year of Consolidation here at Fly Brother, it pains me to say that I’ve had to sell my lovely Fiat Palio Fire Economy, Negrita. I’ve only had her for seven months, and she really is a dandy companion, especially when traffic’s light and the music’s right. Still, I bought her when I lived in Brasília and needed a car most desperately. Since moving to São Paulo – very much New York when it comes to traffic volume and lack of cheap or adequate parking – she’s become a liability. That being said, I’ve not sold her in a traditional way. I’ve exchanged her with a good buddy of mine who’s also a personal trainer. I’m going back to a serious weight-training regimen and was able to get four one-hour training sessions a week, plus a nutrition plan, in exchange for allowing my trainer unlimited use of Negrita.  Of course, I’d still pay the monthly car note, but in the end, I get his services for 40% of what he normally charges and he gets to get rid of his miniscule, boxy, burgundy really-very-late-model Fiat Idontknowwhat. I can also snag her back for a couple hours or a weekend when need be.  Either way, considering the value of his services, I think I’m getting an excellent deal.

Meanwhile, I’m going to miss riding around in my little Negri. Traffic in São Paulo is a total cluster fuck, no doubt, but it’s less about the volume than about how silly and slow these people drive.  [Begin rant here] They’re like drunken penguins, bobbing about between lanes, driving ten kilometers under the speed limit, sitting through green lights, stopping at yellow lights!, straddling the lane markers, riding their brakes, ssssssslllllllloooooowwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyy turning right from the left-hand lane!  Just holing up progress, in general.  In Brasília, seat of government and power, people had important places to be and they expected to get there as quickly as possible and drove like it. I liked that, as I have the innate necessity to be everywhere in 20 minutes, regardless of distance.  Not here in São Paulo.  There’s always some damn body in the way. And don’t even get me started on the motoboys [End rant here].  It’s probably for the best that I’m handing over the keys to someone else and going the way of public transport.  Goodbye, mi negrita linda!

Here’s video of me on my way home from work, coursing through the very cool and futuristic Ayrton Senna Tunnel underneath the city’s expansive Ibirapuera Park (I love this tunnel; you wouldn’t know it was named after a race car driver, the way these folk creep along).  I tried to go as fast as I could, but you can see the blockers in full effect.  If you listen closely towards the end, you can even hear a bit of profanity. 😉

Take a ride with me: