Saturday, 31 May 2014

Hand-drawn iIllustrations of São Paulo and other cities around the world

Illustrator, Sam Brewster
Sam Brewster is a London-based freelance illustrator who studied at the Univeristy of Lincoln, UK and whose work has been featured in a range of galleries, magazines and publications.

He recently drew a set of beautiful coloured sketches of different cities around the world.

Each is an abstract vision full of colour and warmth. Have a look at São Paulo and other cities below:

São Paulo

Buenos Aires


New York

San Francisco



If you liked his work these prints can be bought in this online shop:

Thursday, 29 May 2014

São Paulo presents: World Cup Themed Hot Dogs

“Every day of the week there’s a different hot dog. One for each country of the world cup”

These are the proud words of Wesley, the owner of a hot dog stand in the Itaquera region of São Paulo, where the new world cup stadium is located.

And he’s not kidding either. Fifa's, recently published, official food menu is looking distinctively unimaginative next to Wesley's. He has dreamed up a hot dog for Italy, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, and the USA amongst others, each one with national flag coloured bread. 

Located in the shopping centre opposite the stadium he’s expecting to cash in on the thousands of hungry fans drawn to the area for the world cup matches. And the one he expects to drive sales is the Brazilian hot dog complete with kale, farofa (!) and, yes, feijoada.

Check out the pics below and tell us what you think in the comments!

The American hot dog has cheddar, coleslaw and barbecue sauce

The Argentine hot dog sports garlic mayo and chimichurri sauce

The German hot dog is covered with sauerkraut and dark mustard

Italy also has its own dog burried under tomato sauce and basil

The Japanese dog has sukiyaki, sesame and a hot roll instead of the hot dog. 

With Chilli, guacamole and Nachos, it can only be the Mexican hot dog

And the king of them all: the feijoada dog!

Monday, 26 May 2014

VIDEO: Wheatpasting in São Paulo

Wheatpaste.Doc is a 2012 Brazilian documentary about "wheatpasting", wheatpaste being a glue made of flour and water commonly used by informal advertisers and street artists alike to quickly attach large pieces of paper or posters to walls.

The documentary, “Cola de Farinha” follows various artists around São Paulo during a 20 minute introduction to the wheatpaste scene of São Paulo. Well worth a watch!

Friday, 23 May 2014

In Pictures: 125 years of Avenida Paulista

From a rough track with a solitary tree marking its beginning to one of the biggest, busiest, noisiest and tallest avenues on the continent, this is the story of Avenida Paulista.

1891 - Avenida Paulista is inaugurated
Its conception goes back to the 19th century and the need for housing onn the perimeter of the city. Central areas such as Praça Republica and Campos Elísios, which today are run down and undesirable, were hot in demand and expensive to live in.  And so an avenue was constructed around which rich as well as humble housing could be built. The official name was Avendia das Acácias but the engineer in charge of the project, a certain Joaquim Eugênio de Lima, baptised it Avenida Paulista in honour of the Paulistas. The name stuck.

In 1898 it underwent refurbishment. Pavements were created and four rows of trees were built along the avenue, two on each side.

Avenida Pualista 1902

Avenida Paulista 1902
In 1909 it had the honour of being the first street in São Paulo to be upgraded to asphalt.

A car show on Avenida Paulista in 1928
At the end of the 1920s the name of the avenue was changed to Avenida Carlos de Campos for political reasons. However, the public outcry was such that Avenida Paulista was immediately readopted.

Avenida Paulista 1935
Until 1950 it continued to be a residencial area but slowly the increased business needs of the greater city began drawing commerce towards Avenida Paulista.

Luxury villas belonging to coffee barons and rich immigrants on Avenida Paulista in 1956
Then in the 1960s and 1970s a dramatic change occurred as the law governing land usage became more lenient and a housing boom led to a host of 30 storey high buildings being built in quick succession.

Avenida Paulista in 1970

It now serves as an artery to other avenues such as Dr. Arnaldo, Rebouças, 9 de Julho, Brigadeiro Luís Antônio, 23 de Maio and Angélica. Despite the invasion of big business Avenida Paulista is still home to an extraordinary number of residents. Due to its length and height, if it were a city it would have over 200,000 inhabitants and be among the 150 biggest cities in the country comparable to Praia Grande or Boa Vista.

Avenida Paulista today

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Beautiful tilt shift photos of São Paulo

Check out Andre Cese Arantes' amazing photos of São Paulo. He is a Brazilian graphic designer who studied at Senac and uses tilt shift, a photographic technique employed to simulate miniature scenes.

Below are two of his shots:

The MASP in tilt shift

Aerial view of São Paulo

Monday, 19 May 2014

Trend Report: Food trucks in São Paulo

Suddenly food trucks are “in”. Following the success of American food trucks during the downturn years, the concept has taken off in São Paulo.

Up until last year the best cheap food you could hope to grab on the street was sweetcorn, popcorn or a dogão (Brazilian hot dog). Suddenly food trucks popped up and became a trendy alternative. The shift brought home the need for regulation, a new law was passed and so this year will be the first year São Paulo has legally compliant fully authorised food trucks.

2014, then, is the year of the food truck. Many of them have literally just arrived in town and still don't have websites but here are the top 7 to look out for:

1. Rolando Doguinho

This has to get first mention as he was here on the streets of São Paulo doing food trucks before it was cool (or regulated). You may remember the Rolando Massinha truck in Sumaré. It’s the same guy but now he does hot dogs and is at Shopping Vila Olímpia. He’s actually capitalising on his first mover advantage and turning into the first chain food truck having also launched Rolando Churrinho which sells Brazilian doughnuts on Rua Sumaré 1089.

2. The Holy Pasta Food Truck

In short, Holy Pasta is what the cool kids eat. The truck is on Facebook , and Four Square so you can follow it around the city. It is going for the high quality at a low price angle which explains why they make it a pasta only truck. You'll find it in places like Vila Madalena.

3. Temakaria Na Van

If you thought food trucks were Western food only, think again. And if you thought driving your restaurant around on a gasoline powered vehicle was not environmentally friendly, think again, again. Temakaria Na Van, the brainchild of a former DJ Alan Liao, uses biodiesel and is powered by solar panels fitted onto the roof of the van. He even has selective recycling containers which he takes away with him afterwards. Catch him in Berrini on the southside.

4. Jameson Food Truck

Of course, if something is fashionable, nocturnal and has only started being regulated, you can expect some of the major alcohol brands to get in on the act. Meet the Jameson Food Truck. It does curry, burgers, hotdogs as well as 'surubim and mandioca' known to the common man as 'fish and chips'. To wash it down? Jameson Tea and Lime. Obviously.

5. King Doner Kebaberia

Those of you unfamiliar with São Paulo may find this one unimaginative but actually kebabs are not a very common fast food here unlike many countries in Europe such as Germany or the UK. Tracking down King Doner Kebaberia is another matter. This guy roams not only the city but inland and up the coast too.

6. Buzina Food Truck

This is probably the most “in” truck of 2014. Read anything about food trucks and it’ll mention Buzina. Why? Well, because they went overkill on bringing high quality food to the street and employed two reknowned chefs: Márcio Silva (ex-Oryza) e Jorge Gozalez (ex-DOM). With these two in the kitchen there’s no need for a fixed menu, they will just rustle up something amazing on the go.

7. EATinerante

Also run by a chef who didn’t want to be left out of the party. Alex Capeto does mostly Italian food and is parked semi-permanently at Rua Gabriel Monteiro da Silva, 1236 in Jardim Europa.

Friday, 16 May 2014

São Paulo to be the third biggest recipient of World Cup tourist spend

The Ministry of Tourism has released expected spend figures for tourists visiting the country during the world cup. The total is a staggering 6.7billion reais and I suspect it would be much higher if the informal economy was built in.

The figures, which are broken down by city, show that São Paulo will be the third biggest recipient behind Rio and Fortaleza.

The fact that São Paulo ranks so high despite not being a tourist destination is explained in part by the higher prices here compared to many of the other host cities. Other factors include the number of tourists passing through due to it having the country´s main international airport as well as the high profile nature of the games it is hosting.

Although it is not fashionable to say it, the costs, which don't include flights or tickets, would already be enough to cover the bill of 11 of the 12 stadiums which were built for the event. And that doesn't take into account the potentially greater financial return of the stadiums, namely, profits for a multidude of Brazilian businesses, the creation of thousands of direct jobs and the, albeit questionable, legacy of the infrastructure.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

São Paulo in Statistics: Where People Live

In the so-called megacities such as Shanghai, Mexico city, Hong Kong or São Paulo we often talk about overcrowding but what does this actually mean?

Is all of the city overcrowded? How are people spread throughout the city?

One way or analysing this is to look at residential density. Below is a map from LSE cities which measure the population of each square kilometre of various cities around the world and attributes a column height in proportion to the number of people permanently living in that area.

Of course it doesn't account for movement but still it gives us an idea of where the greatest density of people is in each cities and it turns out it varies hugely between cities.

The shape of New York or Istanbul is clearly impacted by a geographical constrain i.e. the sea. Public transport can affect where people live as well as cultural traditions and historical urban planning.

In São Paulo's case we can see that there is a relatively high density spread almost evenly across a large part of the city. This is in fact uncommon. Most cities such as New York or Shanghai have extreme residential density in the central areas of the city and progressively fewer people living in the outer regions.

This possibly reflects the high rise buildings which have been allowed to be built irrespective of the region as opposed to London for example, which has very strict rules on multi storey buildings outside of its financial square mile.

Click here for more statistics on São Paulo.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Map: The Rivers of São Paulo

Today, we take a look at a hydrographic map of São Paulo.

It's not the way the city usually presents itself to us and we can see that, tucked in behind the concrete and tower blocks, there are far more rivers and creeks around us than normally meet the eye.

The river that you can see running East to West is the Tietê and athough its source in the Serra do Mar is only 20km from the coast, due to the undulating landscape it is forced to meander south towards São Paulo and through the city, draining 6 sub basins along the way and providing electricity as it passes through various dams and hydroelectric plants.

Hydrographic map of São Paulo city (click to enlarge)

The map is an ongoing open source project which you can visit and edit if you spot a river or stream that is missing.

Simply click on the following link and edit away:

Sunday, 11 May 2014

VIDEO: São Paulo's GRU Airport Terminal 3 is open for business

Well we`ve all been bitching for a long time about the state of Guarulhos airport; the cement, the overcrowding the decor that would have looked old fashioned in even in the seventies.

And there`s also been an awful lot of criticism of world cup projects being badly delayed and not being ready on time.

Let us celebrate, then, that GRU Terminal 3 is open, with a full 32 days to spare, and received it`s first flight today.

Below is a timelapse video of the 18months it took to build the terminal:

ps. Don't ask me about Viracopos!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Brazilian students learning English by chatting with lonely elders in the US

A São Paulo language school has launched an initiative to help it’s students get more talk time with native English speakers. And in doing so they have made a step towards reducing loneliness.

Made possible by technology and video chat accessibility, the idea is to match lonely elders in the US to keen language students in Brazil. Their needs are actually very similar; to talk! About anything!

A live video chat between a Brazilian student and an American elder
The project is called "Speaking Exchange" and is being implemented at the CNA language school in São Paulo with the pilot having been run in the Liberdade branch in São Paulo and Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago.

The initiative is a great example of dual learning, going beyond the teacher-learner dynamic in a way that both sides develop culturally and emotionally, making new friendships in the process.

On the back end, videos are automatically recorded and posted to teachers in order for the to evaluate their students and study their conversational development.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Organised crime in SP; The ethics of the PCC and why they are here to stay

Graham Denyer Willis wrote an interesting article for the Boston Review this week.

In it he provides an insight into some of the organisational structure of the Primeiro Comando do Capital (PCC), the largest organised crime gang in the country and the one which controls the city and much of the state of São Paulo. Willis invested considerable time shadowing police officers in São Paulo and was granted access to internal PCC documents which are occasionally found when a member is detained or houses/vehicles are searched.

There are a number of interesting observations, some of which are real eye openers to those unfamiliar with the highly structured way the PCC maintains a firm background presence in the city.

Carandiru prison
The first point made is that ironically the PCC, like many other criminal organisations, was born out of the state’s inadequacies. That doesn’t mean that the state police was not hard enough on criminal gangs. To the contrary, the seed was in the lack of basic provisions supplied to prisoners, the lack of care and the violation of human rights most notably in the Carandiru massacre which was the direct reason for the formation of the PCC. By failing to provide a minimum standards of public care, São Paulo gave an opportunity for the creation of an organisation which was willing to fulfil this role.

Having developed at pace since Carandiru, the range of “services” provided by the PCC to its members (known as “brothers”) is astonishing. It includes, but is not limited to, free transport for family prison visits, legal aid provided by a team of standby lawyers, the covering of all funeral costs in the event of the death of a brother, banking services through an internal cash loan service and perhaps most worrying of all an weapons bank for the temporary loan of a pistol or a machine gun.

The PCC has a gun loaning service
However, these services come with certain obligations. One of the standout characteristics of organised mafias and gangs is their strict moral codes and the  PCC is no exception. Rules exist over repayment of loans, which types of guns are permitted for certain types of needs, when murder is allowed (it must be pre-authorised by the leadership) and when it isn’t (the PCC does not allow children to be killed, for example) and they are strictly enforced. Therefore ethics as well as behaviour is dictated and there are spreadsheets which track all member activity in detail.

As Denyer Willis puts it, under the PCC rule “crime is at once a practice, an occupation, and an identity”. This serves to fuel loyalty but also to bind together a group which stretches far and wide across the country and depends on working collectively from both inside prison and out. The existence of principles also justifies its existence and is self-reinforcing in the face of what is perceived as a corrupt and often unjust public police force and justice system.

In a previous post we saw that one of the reasons for the dramatic drop in homicide rates in São Paulo is the PCC’s impact in the poorer suburbs and, as the PCC are “at least as concerned with safety and security as they are with making money”, it would seem difficult to imagine their dissolution or loss of power, in the near future.

Read the full article here on the Boston Review

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The story behind São Paulo's logo

Iconic Paulista symbolism
The iconic lozenge-shaped symbol which has come to represent São Paulo derives quite simply from the contours of São Paulo state itself. In a previous blog post we covered the widespread use of this symbol from pavements to no-smoking signs and police cars. Once you've noticed it once, you'll see it over and over throughout the city.

The shape of São Paulo state
Whilst the geometric origin is well known and relatively easy to notice independently, the symbol also has a human story behind it, one that very few people know, even Paulistas.

We have to go back to 1966. At that time Mirthes dos Santos Pinto was a designer for the department of public works of the local government council.

The, then mayor, Mr Faria Lima was a man known for his innovation and he decided to open a public competition in order to establish a standardised pavement design for the city. Amongst the hopeful designers was Mirthes and hers was one of the 4 final designs chosen to represent the city.

A stretch of Rua Consolação was chosen to lay down each of the 4 designs in order for a voting session to establish the winner. Mirthes dos Santos Pinto was declared the winner.

Public money paid for the paving to be installed on major avenues and soon private companies were making the tile available for more general uses throughout the city such as shop fronts and private houses. A design classic, the symbol was adopted by graphic designers for all sorts of applications and before long, it was omnipresent.

Part of the success is its simplicity, easy to replicate and identify and yet ingenious. The geometric rigidity contrasts with the flowing curves of Copacabana's pavements highlighting the differences in urban landscape between the two cities. And in many ways the shape itself sums up the city: practical, striking and unmistakably man-made.

For that we have Mirthes dos Santos Pinto to thank.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Classic São Paulo police cars from times gone by

In São Paulo you are never far from the wail of a police siren or the sight of a police vehicle. Patrol cars are part of the urban wallpaper but whilst they have always been highly visible they’ve changed a lot over the years.

Here’s a look back at some of the most famous (and infamous) police cars of recent history.

The bright orange and black colours seen here on a 1976 Corcel is synonymous with dictatorship era policing. Older Brazilians will remember this vividly.

The Fusca, popularly known as the “Baratinha” or little cockroach, is possibly the best known police car of all times. It was used widely across the city of São Paulo from the 60s right through to the 80s  and was an instantly recognisable design classic. The 1986 model was one of the latest editions and already ran on ethanol fuel, an innovative feature  at the time.

The Veraneio is probably the police vehicle most associated with the dictatorship era. Used by the Rota, the special forces of the São Paulo Military Police. During the repression era, the 5 metre long, 2 tonne truck was often deployed with no colours or outward symbols although few civilians were under any illusions as to what the 4 plain clothes men inside were really up to.

Another iconic car was the Chevrolet Opala, seen on the streets of São Paulo in the late 80s.

In more modern times the Ipanema 1.8 or 2.0 litre station wagon was widely used.

For anyone interested you can see these cars and more at the Military Police Musem in São Paulo.

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