The American Society Rio Community Notebook / Vol. II, No. 12

The American Society Rio Community Notebook / Vol. II, No. 12

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

“History repeats itself, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.” – Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), a “sophisticated country lawyer” who was one of the most famous and successful American attorneys in history, notable for his wit and agnosticism; prominent member of the American Civil Liberties Union; built a career upon high-profile labor and criminal cases; well-known for his 1924 “broken machines” defense of Leopold and Loeb, which avoided death penalty convictions for the confessed killers; also remembered for his 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial defense, in which a high school biology instructor in Tennessee violated that state’s law banning the teaching of evolution



A long, quadruple holiday weekend starts tomorrow with Dia de Tiradentes, followed by Good Friday and Dia de São Jorge (Saturday), which are all legal holidays in Rio, and then Easter Sunday itself. If you and your youngsters are staying in town, you won’t want miss the Easter Bunny‘s return to the American Society Rio’s traditional Easter Egg Hunt Extravaganza, this Saturday, April 23rd, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm! The event takes place at the Escola Americana’s Barra Campus at Rua Martinho de Mesquita, 301. There will be all sorts of activities your kids can’t possibly resist: egg hunt (of course), egg coloring, sack races, pin the tail on the bunny, bean bag toss and more. The price is just R$ 10 for member children, R$15 for non-member children. And get this: Adults get in free! Also free of charge will be nibbles, as well as drinks courtesy of our Platinum Sponsor Coca-Cola. To ensure your kids really enjoy this typical American event, just send an email to Hollie Pate at Don’t delay! The first 30 kids to RSVP get an Easter Basket. And if you’re at the event, please ask for Marília Sarkis, who’ll be happy to take your reservation for our Cajun Night (please read on), which will be held the following Saturday.


The American Society Rio’ssecond annual Cajun Night takes place on Saturday, April 30th at a private residence in Zona Sul. Our chefs are all on board and you should be, too! Our Big Easy banquet not to be missed will feature main courses of gumbo, jambalaya, étouffé, red beans and rice, as well as beignets and bananas foster bread pudding, and other delicacies for afters. We might even whip up some Nawlins style coffee (it’s the chicory that makes the difference, you know). The evening’s musical soundtrack, including zydeco, will be as authentic as the food, so rest assured, you’re gonna love it! Beer, caipirinhas and soft drinks are included in the all-you-can-eat price. If you already registered at, your reservation is secure and your payment still valid. Prices are R$75 for paid-up members and R$125 for non-members. If you haven’t registered yet, don’t delay, do it now, as the fun’s just days away!


Soon after Easter comes May 1st or, as it’s also known, May Day, which is celebrated in Brazil and many other nations around the world as International Worker’s (or Labor) Day; although this date also has other celebratory meanings. Thereafter (and closer to home), come all the following: Ladies’ Night Out (May 5th), Pancake Breakfast (May 14th), plus a Happy Hour, Museum Visit and Speaker Series, whose dates are still to be firmed up. Add to that mix the International Club’s (InC) “Taste of Rio” (May 20th) and you can see that May Days will be great days for The American Society. But wait! There’s more! Planning is already underway for our BIG event, America’s Day, to be held Saturday, June 11th at the American School in Gávea.


Late last month, Laurie Anderson was in Rio de Janeiro to attend the opening of her new exhibition, “I in U (Eu em Tu)“, a show that she created exclusively for the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) that premiered at the CCBB in São Paulo in October 2010.

Anderson is a world-renown performance artist who first garnered international recognition in 1981 with her single, “O Superman“, which was eventually featured on her debut album, “Big Science“ and in her 1983 magnum opus, “United States: Parts 1-4“. Other works have included the concert film, “Home of the Brave“; the short, “What You Mean We?“; and last year’s “Homeland“.

She has invented and used during her performances several experimental musical instruments, such as a tape-bow violin (that replaces a traditional bow’s horsehair for recorded magnetic tape and a magnetic tape head on the violin’s bridge) and a 6-foot long talking stick that digitally interacts with other electronic instruments. Visitors to the “I in U” exhibition have marveled over her Head PhoneTable, at which an individual’s ulnae and radial bones are used to conduct sounds from an audio player inside the table directly to their inner ears.

The retrospective of Anderson’s works, from the 1970s to the present, “I in U”, featuring installations, photographs, drawings, videos, music, and performance footage will run at the CCBB, Rua Primeiro de Março, 66 in Centro, Tuesdays through Sundays, 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, through June 26th. There is no admittance fee.

Click here to see Laurie Anderson, being interviewed in English, on TV Globo’s Programa do Jô (Soares) at the time of the São Paulo debut of “I in U”.


In the Christian calendar, the days from Palm Sunday (April 17th) to Easter (April 24th) are called Holy Week. In the Jewish calendar, this same week is called Passover, or Pesach. Passover always begins on the night of the full moon following the autumnal equinox (in the southern hemisphere). This means that Passover 2011 began at sunset this past Monday, April 18th. It will continue until sundown, next Tuesday, April 26th. It commemorates the Exodus, which saw the ancient Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. It is said that as the Israelites left in haste, they had no time to let the bread rise. Thus, Passover is commemorated by the avoidance of any leavened foods, such as bread (which is replaced by the primary symbol of the holiday, matzoh), fermented beverages, etc.


Monday, April 18th, would have marked the 129th birthday of José Bento Renato Monteiro Lobato, one of Brazil’s most famous and influential literary and political writers. A few weeks ago, Brazilian Federal Law No. 12.388 declared Monteiro Lobato’s birthplace, Taubaté, SP, as the “National Capital of Children’s Literature”. The writer is best-known for his “Sítio do Pica Pau Amarelo“ or the Yellow Woodpecker Ranch, which has frequently been compared to Winnie the Pooh and Sesame Street for its quirky characters and inventiveness. Dona Benta, Emília, Saci-Pererê, Narizinho, Tia Nastácia and others have become iconic figures in Brazilian literature and culture.

In 1926, before serving in New York as a Brazilian Consular Officer, Monteiro Lobato penned a work of science fiction, set in the year 2228 and entitled “O Presidente Negro“. The book details how a black candidate surprisingly wins the US presidency against white male and white female opponents, and the consequences of that election. In 2008, the publishing house, Editora Globo, reprinted the book in its original Portuguese. To date, no English translation exists.

Politically, Monteiro Lobato was an ardent defender of the “O Petróleo é Nosso“ (The Oil is Ours) movement, which favored Brazilian control of oil exploration, iron and other mineral resources in Brazil. In 1941, the dictatorial government of President Getúlio Vargas jailed him for adherence to this and other beliefs. Monteiro Lobato died in 1948 before he could see his dream realized when, in 1952, a democratically-elected Vargas created the state energy company, Petrobrás.

Finally, in yet another instance where Monteiro Lobato was wonderfully prescient, he advocated that schools in Brazil should teach English instead of French or Latin, as he felt English was more important. This too, would only come to pass many years after his death.


Inaugurating a new tradition, your Community Notebook wants to know how carefully you peruse the news. On Monday April 18th, the municipal authorities in Teresina, the capital of the State of Piauí, decided to take decisive action when faced with a 500% increase in the number of cases of dengue fever, so it called in outside assistance. The question is: Which of the following did they summon: (a) a dozen, insecticide-laden crop duster airplanes; (b) an Army battalion; (c) Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders); or (d) all of the above. Send your answer to: First prize will not be a one-way ticket to Teresina.


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