São Paulo, 456 candles

January 25, 2010

Favela do Moinho, a downtown shanty town

Happy anniversary, Sampa.

A few pictures to sum up the highs and lows of my hometown. Plus, images produced in 1929 by Rodolfo Lustig and Adalberto Kemeni, when São Paulo, then the coffee capital of the world, was transitioning into a huge industrial and financial hub. It was also the eve of the so-called Revolução de 30, when its  historical alliance with the state of Minas Gerais collapsed, and São Paulo lost a political battle to define who the next president would be. The main outcome of the conflict was the rise of Getúlio Vargas, that commanded the country for most of the following two decades.

Postscript – I did a lot of reflection after receiving Ray’s comment and seeing, at least partially, his point, decided to remove the homeless boy’s pictures from my original post. I appreciate my readers help. This blog is still trying to find its voice and its right tone

At Araçá Cemetery

Teatro Municipal



  1. Dear Regina,

    Would you be so kind and try to explain the obsession with Slums and Poverty?
    This seems to dominate Brazilian blogs, Movies, Books, it seems to be a favorite topic for ex pats living in Brazil and or even Brazilians talking about Brazil.
    I have traveled the world, there is poverty everywhere, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, London, homeless and horrible living conditions that resemble slums…
    But you don’t hear Americans or English glorifying the subject of poverty and putting it in the spot light every chance they get.
    I think you missed a great opportunity to honor Sao Paulo in a decent way by placing as the first picture of a celebratory post, a picture of a slum in downtown Sao Paulo.
    You also placed a horrible picture of a homeless passed out drunk or sleeping on the side walk.
    What is it with the OBSESSION?
    Do you feel confort in putting the city down?
    You are probably NOT a native of Sao Paulo, this is shameful, and it should be dealt with appropriately.
    The city of Sao Paulo’s birthday is not a moment to put the shame and poverty on the spot light!
    Wake up for the absurd double standart when you describe Sao Paulo!

    Warm regards


    • Yes, I am a native (and my parents are paulistanos too). And yes, I love my city with all its contradictions. Don’t think I didn’t consider your arguments when I chose the images. But I just came back from one month in Sampa. I saw how money is changing it, I saw there are more jobs, more construction, more riches everywhere. But I also saw people eating trash. Then I saw a girl losing her purse to a thief in the bus. Then I talked to this elderly nanny who described me the three buses that she takes everyday to work in Jardins. That is something I have seen all my life, of course. No news there. But after years living in the US, you lose touch with this reality. And I think it is important to try to be balanced. So, yes, you may have a point – I could have stressed more the good aspects of São Paulo (after all, she is the birthday gal). But I still think I can’t ignore the other side of the coin.

      • And, Ray, let me also add that I really appreciate your comment and that it will stay with me for a while. All this blog thing is new to me and I am testing the waters. It offers lots of freedom and I am still checking how I will deal with that.

  2. Dear Regina,

    I am really sorry if I came out to strong, it wasn’t my intent to be rude to you at all.
    However, the subject really bugs me.
    Recently I had a flat tire while driving on the 405 in Los Angeles, while I sat on the side of the road, under a strong heat and sun, I went under a tree looking for shade…to my shock, there were about 10 homeless people sleeping under the tree on the side of the road.
    It wasn’t a poor area either, it was half a mile from the Burbank Blvd. Exit.!!!
    Yes, you are correct, there is a serious problem of poverty in Sao Paulo, a very important issue, it has gotten better lately, but they still are long ways to go from anything acceptable.
    Living in the US I have a chance to look into Brazil from the outside with a different point of view.
    You got to agree with me that there is “trend” going on for a long while to make movies, books, stories exploring the theme poverty, slums, drugs, crime…etc…ex: Cidade de Deus, Central do Brazil, Bus 174 just to mention a few.
    Brazil has so many interesting, positive stories to be told and shared with the world…but no, the poor, the bad and the ugly have had the spot light for the longest time.
    Which is sad. I hope a new generation of film writers, producers and “people who form opinions” can expose the other side of Brazil that has taken the back burner to the negative stuff.



  3. Dear Regina,

    I loved the video “Sao Paulo Sinfonia da Metropole”, Thanks for sharing.
    Love Brazilian history.
    My comments from earlier today were very specific to that subject.
    I think your blog is GREAT! You are doing an awesome job.

    Warm regards

    • Ray, you have nothing to be sorry about. Really, I appreciated your comment. It was elegant and had strong arguments. I really hope to receive many more of those every day. In fact, just yesterday I was bothered by a blog that said Copacabana is dirty and awful and complained against Barry Manilow’s propaganda. As I said previously, I am trying to be true to reality, and I realize in general my blog bends to the positive side. I am still trying to find balance. Thanks again for your help.

  4. “Brazil has so many interesting, positive stories to be told and shared with the world…but no, the poor, the bad and the ugly have had the spot light for the longest time.”

    Funny, in my perspective, talking about poverty is not a shame at all. I remember I had a bit of shame trying to explain Daslu once. Unjustifiably so, since I don’t own the place and I’ve never been. Still.

    The thing that defines Brazil more clearly, and that defines society and life is this violent class struggle. It’s inescapable, it affects your daily life in every single aspect of it (including all your personal relationships), and people choose sides. Closing your eyes is a way to choose a side, imao…

    • I am a 100% with you, Eloisa. I think certain things simply have to be shown. On the other hand, I am still looking for the best way of exposing the country’s dark side. One thing I realized, for instance, is that the interest for my lighter posts is much bigger. Part of the readers seems to ignore heavier stuff – and this is one of the reasons I chose to mix good and bad images in this post. The mixture makes it easier to swallow the pill, I suspect.

      • you’re right. and it’s indeed hard to find a balance… :)

        you’re doing a great job!

      • Thanks, Eloisa, really!

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