Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Brazilian TV - Programa Eliana Hair Shake Special

It's all too easy to laugh at trash TV but I've resisted long enough so it's time to share some Brazilian trash TV with you.

To understand this you have to know some background information on drag queens. When they do a show, and don't ask me how I know this, they will often climax with hair-shaking frenetic head movements. I'm not sure whether this is a Brazilian thing or it's the same all over the world (please enlighten me in the comment section) but it forms the basis for the Bate-Cabelo item on the Sunday TV show Programa Eliana on SBT.

Contestants take turns to shake their hair as madly as possible:

You can happily forward to minute 13:45 if you want to get straight to the hair shaking business. And if you're liking the program feel free to peruse the official channel here:

And if you want to know how the drag-queen pros do it, here's an example of the non-televised show version:

Now that's what I call hair shaking!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Beauty Pageants in São Paulo

On the 12th September São Paulo will host the Miss Universe contest and the particpants are already here lapping up the city's cultural delights. This weekend they were having a flutter at the races for example:

Miss Universe Candidates at the Jockey Club in São Paulo

Most of us know that beauty contests in this part of the world are a comparatively popular event but earlier this month São Paulo hosted one that surprised me on a number of counts:

1. It was publicy funded and officially organised by the state of São Paulo government
2. It included categories such as: Mister Sorriso (best smile), Mister Timidez (shyness), ou Mister Elegância (elegance) as well as the obligatory Mr Belleza (beauty)
3. It was for retired pensioners only

I´ve never heard of an over-60 beauty contest and definitely not a state-sponsored one but here are the photos of the 2011 winners to prove it:

Sérgio Cardoso, São Paulo's best looking old man. Eutálio Francisco de Lima, 65 (Mister Beleza), Laudemiro Ribeiro de Souza, 63 (Mister Elegância), Basílio Sibove, 72 (Mister Simpatia), Cléber Gomes, 61 (Mister Sorriso) and Pedro Dutra, 90 (Mister Timidez)
And if you're wondering who the jury was, it was made up of "third age" Miss São Paulos from the previous four years...

Friday, 26 August 2011

Street Art in São Paulo Part 4 – space invaders are here

A space invader looks out on a São Paulo wall

Invader is probably the most famous tile graffiti artist in the world. He's been "invading" cities with his invader tiles for quite a while now and has become a cult figure quite often putting the mosaics in hard to see, hard to reach and hard to remove places.

But despite having "invaded" tens of cities worldwide he had never invaded a South American city... until now! And where better than São Paulo to start the invasion! Here are a couple of ones I started spotting earlier this month on some of the streets I frequently walk on:

At first I didn't know whether this was the invader or a copycat invader but then a friend emailed me to reccommend and exhibition and I realised it was part of the De Dentro e de Fora exhibition in the MASP musem in São Paulo, so it is the invader and the invasion has officially begun - look out!

See also: 

Street Art in São Paulo Part 1

Street Art in São Paulo Part 2

Street Art in São Paulo Part 3

Thursday, 25 August 2011

International brand adaptations: Smirnoff

Caipiroska is the vodka based version of the Caipirinha. Another common substitute for the traditional but somewhat harsh cachaça is the Japanese rice spirit saque, at least in São Paulo where there is a heavy Japanese cultural influence. The resulting drink is Caipisake or Sakerinha.

But for Smirnoff the former is more interesting and it makes complete sense that they try and capitalise on the the premixed drinks market not only through Smirnoff Ice but by offering their own capiroska:

Smirnoff Caipiroska Lime and Passion Fruit Flavours
It comes in Lime, Passion Fruit and Red Berry flavours. Here's the TV ad for the Lime version:

See also International brand adaptations: Zara, Burger King and Brasilwagen

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

New penalty fines for zebra crossing infringements

Crossing the road in São Paulo sometimes feels like a game of Russian Roulette. Anyone’s who’s tried will know what I mean. I find the best way to do it is to ignore zebra crossings and try to run across when there’s a gap. If you try and wait at the crossing you can wait a while and when you venture out the cars won’t necessarily stop.

It’s quite dangerous at first and I almost got run over a few times early on but then you get used to it. But despite it being quite "normal" it’s been getting quite a bit of media attention recently, like the front page of the Diario São Paulo above which reports that of 7007 people who were run over in the city last year 630 or so died.

There are even signs like this one on Teodoro Sampaio which officially asks vehicles to respect pedestrians:

Obviously they weren’t working very well which is why on the 8th of August a series of hardline penalties on zebra crossing infringements were launched by the Companhia de Engenharia de Tráfego (the local traffic control & management organization) commonly known as the CET. The new rules mean that even when the traffic light is green if you don’t respect somebody who happens to be on the crossing you are considered guilty of a infração gravíssima (major infringement) and liable to pay 191,53 reais (about 115 USD) plus get 7 automatic penalty points on your license. 

Difficult to apply you might be thinking. Well, according to official CET figure they managed to apply 2270 penalties in the first 5 days of the campaign, that’s one every 2 minutes. At this rate we would be looking at well over 10,000 penalties per month which would make zebra crossing one of the Top 5 most common traffic infringements. Good thing or bad thing? I´m not sure and although we’d like to think it’s not one of the main reason for the change the skeptics will raise an eyebrow at how quickly an extra 2 million reais is being raised every month by the CET.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Corinthians reach 1 million Facebook fans

Social media is growing at lightening speed in Brazil. In October 2010 it officially became Twitter's number 1 country and Facebook is now in full growth phase having seen initial growth hampered by the widespread use of the local rival Orkut.

Last week Corinthians, which is the most followed club in São Pualo, proudly announced that they were the first Brazilian football club to reach 1 million fans on Facebook and celebrated by integrating Corinthians TV into their Facebook fan page:

You can watch it here:

The impressive bit is that half of their fans became fans in the last 3 and a half months, that's a rate of about 165,000 new fans per month or 5,500 per day, not bad!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Exciting cow auction on TV

In the short time I have been here, and without wanting to generalise too much, I have noticed that Brazilians tend to be quite enthusiastic and excitable (and consequently quite noisy (!)) about most things.

I try to tag along and get excited too but sometimes it's tough. Here's an example of a TV cow auction with a couple of Brazilian comentators getting (overly?) excited about cow prices, weights and milking capacities:

Friday, 12 August 2011

In-flight USB hubs on Avianca´s Airbus A319

São Paulo has many airlines providing domestic flights to numerous other Brazilian cities; Azul, Webjet, Gol, Avianca etc. These are not well known outside Brazil as they have a fleet of relatively small jets and only do short haul flights much like Easyjet and Ryanair back in Europe. In fact being well used to Ryanair and having once vowed never to fly Ryanair again I was pleasantly surprised last week when I boarded an Avianca A319 domestic flight from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro and found an excellent onboard service and cutting edge cabin fittings: cup-holder, remote control, individual tv screens, coat hook, adjustable head support, retractable arm rests etc. But the most useful feature which I don’t normally see even on long haul intercontinental flights was the in-flight USB hub for each passenger:

Now Ryanair has never given me a complimentary hot sandwich or a the courtesy drink like Avianca did so I guess I can forget about asking them for a USB port...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Getting used to car crashes in São Paulo

When I first got here I saw quite a few car crashes and thought it was a coincidence but then I got used to them and realised that the screech + bang combo is part and parcel of daily life in Sampa. Mostly I've seen low speed bumps which have taken off wing mirror, scratched bumpers or dented the bodywork but there are lots of more serious incidents.

According to the 2008 figures published by the University of São Paulo, Department of Transportation there are on average 70,9 fatalities per 100,000 vehicles in Brazil which means more than 35,000 people die in road accidents every year. To put that in context the we are talking 15 fatalities per 100,000 vehicles in the US and 7 per 100,000 in the UK so without exaggerating it's fair to say safe road safety is not exactly the same as back home.

Here are 3 of the high profile ones that the São Paulo media picked up on in the past 30days:

08/08/2011 Lorry that somehow managed to fall from one motorway on to another below it at Raposo Tavares in North West São Paulo

30/07/2011 - Car which overturned and killed a pedestrian close to my house in Vila Madalena

09/07/2011 Porsche being driven at 150km/h in a residential area of Itaim Bibi hits car that drove through a red light at night (a common and accepted practice to avoid theft and carjacking)

Porsche Crash São Paulo

I won't go into the details but all 3 drivers responsible for each incident were able to walk away from their vehicles unharmed. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the people they hit.

I have a driving license but I've never owned a vehicle and something tells me this is not the best city to get back into driving...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Poupatempos: Time saving at Timesaver Stations

São Paulo has a number of Poupatempos. The name literally means timesaver and they are multiservice governmental centres where you get to indulge in all manner of bureaucratic processes and believe me there are a lot of them out here. There are many  Poupatempos in São Paulo city all of which are officially run by São Paulo State Government.

Although I would personally prefer for their to be a less bureaucracy and the essential processes to be available online, decent internet access still doesn't reach all parts of society so there is a genuine need for presencial services. But in a city of the magnitude of São Paulo the efficiency of a presencial system is far from guaranteed. According to the official site just the Poupatempo in Praça da Sé attends approximately 200,000 processes per month and it doesn't open weekends so as you can imagine there are quite often queues. When I went this was the expected waiting times for the various services.

In case you're wondering that hours and minutes not minutes and seconds
More Perdetempo than Poupatempo more Timewaster than Timesaver, maybe they should rethink the name...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Funneling people on to metro trains

Overcrowded transport in Brazil
Overcrowding on São Paulo's metro

There are so many people in central São Paulo it can get quite claustrophic at times. There are some places in particular which have a tendency to get overcrowded quickly. One of these is the platforms at most of  the central metro stations.

The architects obviously already anticipated this problem and designed funnel shaped rails to make sure travellers are waiting at the right spot and are guided on to the trains quickly.


Things are not always very organised around here but these people funnels are very well observed, so well in fact, it almost looks like sheep herding>

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Human Aerial CCTV

Many of the high street shops over here don't have the budget for expensive tag based alarm systems or CCTV surveillance which incidentally I've always thought of as primarily a deterrent rather than a crimestopper. However they still have a need to protect their good from small time robberies and opportunist thieves.

One of the systems they use is simply to build a seat on top of a step ladder and put a security guard on top. From that vantage point he can usually see the whole shop and helps makes sure nobody makes off with their goods without paying. Plus, due to low labour costs it is much cheaper to implement than tags or CCTV. Here's an example:

Presumably if he spots something  there is someone else to stop the thief getting away because I don’t see safe way of getting down the ladder very quickly. In any case this is quite common not only in shops but also in car parks where you get more sophisticated turrets from which security guards have an aerial vantage point over the parking lot. If it’s used so much, I guess it's because it works.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Surprising item in São Paulo toilets No.1

I've mentioned helpful street items before (link) but since I arrived in São Paulo I have also come across a series of helpful but surprising items in public toilets.

Forexample when in a restaurant one day I found a cup dispenser:

It was next to the paper towels so I wasn't immediately sure what it was for until I turned around and found the mouthwash. Since then I've seen lots of public mouthwash dispensers:

Oral hygiene is obviously high on the agenda around here..
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