BR14: A Rota dos Imigrantes is a series of documentaries airing on TV Brasil in June during the World Cup, with the idea being that an immigrant in Brazil from each country competing in the World Cup will be shown whilst visiting places with links to their homeland or fellow exiles who have made a life in Brazil. The series begins tonight and the first show features Japan and Costa Rica.
The reason I am plugging the show here is because I am excited to say that earlier this year I was invited to be the focus of the programme on England. My episode airs on 16th June at 7.30pm and whilst I don’t want to give too much away, all I’ll say is that I had the honour of meeting someone whose grandfather every Brazilian will thank for what he brought to their country.
Here is link to the page with more information about my episode and below you can watch a trailer for the series. Also, here are links to the show’s website and its Facebook page. Enjoy!
In the months prior to leaving Brazil I’d written about walking and psychogeography as means of finding new ways to see, explore and understand the complexities and unseen beauty of São Paulo. It was fitting then, that during those final few months I became increasingly aware of a stencilled call to arms which seemed to echo my own advocacy for urban exploration:
‘See the city’
In the context of an iconic SP location like Parque Ibirapuera – where I took the photograph above – ‘ver a cidade’ (see the city) seems to convey a fairly straightforward observation: look how beautiful our city is. Continue Reading
Just a quick post to mention that the book is on the table has been included in the Guardian’s guide to the best city blogs around the world. They have today launched a new site about world cities and hopefully (fingers crossed) content from the blog will start to appear there in the future.
So, another good reason to keep the blog going then…
It was during my walk along the Minhocão – São Paulo’s grotesquely endearing monument to the car – that I first spotted it: an islet of tiled perfection in a city full of fractured and forgotten pavements.
An isle of tiled perfection (otherwise known as a ‘curb extension’). Note, the Minhocão in the background.
Unlike the pragmatically Ilha Grande (big island) and Ilhabela (beautiful island) which sit along the coast between Rio and São Paulo, mine is no island of exotica but instead one of Ballardian concrete.
Why, though, my fascination with a slab of paving in an unremarkable neighbourhood like Santa Cecília? Aren’t those ‘real’ islands on the Atlantic coast infinitely more interesting? Perhaps, but thousands of words have already been written in their honour; they’ve been Trip Advised to death.
What interests me are the ignored curiosities on our streets, and taking the time to stop, notice and appreciate them. As psychogeographer and novelist Iain Sincliar observes: ‘Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city…allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself’. Continue Reading
The Minhocão (known officially as Via Elevado Presidente Costa e Silva), is a 2.2 mile (3.5km) long elevated highway that perhaps exemplifies best how São Paulo came to privilege driving over walking and using public transportation.
Built in 1971, during a period in which the car industry was highly influential* and the city experienced rapid and unplanned growth**, the Minhocão was seen as being the solution to the problem of urban mobility – although today it instead symbolises all the worst aspects of São Paulo’s outdated infrastructure.
The highway earnt its nickname (Minhocão means “big worm”***) from the way in which it snakes through the city, from Barra Funda in the west to República in the centre. However, it might just as well be called “the thrombotic vein”, seeing as it is forever clogged with cars**** being pumped towards the beating heart of the city centre.
My first experience of the Minhocão came one rush hour morning as I caught a lift into town with my father-in-law, and I couldn’t help but be struck by how both sides of it are hugged by office and residential high-rises, although moving at speed made it difficult to fully appreciate this peculiarly intimate relationship.