Thursday, March 17, 2005

Information Overload, Vai Passar

I got so much interesting information in my various information slots today that I could barely keep up. When I got up this morning, there was a new "Tomgram" in my email; it was Dilip Hiro, one of my faves, reviewing about a week's worth of stories on the current situation in the Middle-East. It's great. Go there and read it.

Then, when I was on my way to teach my class this afternoon, I opened up my campus mail and there was this cool green envelope full of actual newspaper clippings about the MTA! From AM New York (a paper I usually ignore when it is thrust upon me as I enter and leave the subway): Chuck Bennet writes that the increase in bridge/tunnel tolls,70% of which are actually paid by city residents, are being funneled out to the suburban rail systems, so that "a half-million suburban rail riders get about 1/2 of the subsidy while 7 million subway and bus riders get the other half."
The Brooklyn College student newspaper had a nice editorial on Monday criticizing the MTA that noted the "curious quiet" of the straphangers campaign.
Thanks, Alex!

And then there was more. I came home from my office with Robert Fiske's book on Lebanon, Pity the Nation in my bag. It's a beautifully written and completely informative story of the roots of the conflict now ongoing and is worth reading.
Juan Cole's blog was full of the usual excellent info, including the exciting news that the number of Americans opposed to the war is growing, and the more disturbing news of corruption in Iraq.

If you are sweating now about what you can do to oppose this brutal and dreadful war, don't forget that this Saturday is the second anniversary of the American invasiono of Iraq, and it will be a day filled with protest around the world. One of the many things you can do if you are in NY can be found at the war resister's league.

As I've been writing today's entry, I've been listening to sambas, such as "Hino Da Bahia" by Maria Bethania and Gal Costa and "Vai Passar" by the immortal Chico Buarque. In a way, these happy songs connect the bad news and urgency to a breathing humanity, so that you can both appreciate the real pain and loss involved in the death and destruction, and feel hope at the same time. Someone else figured this about Carnaval music, and in the honor of the 2003 "Free Carnaval Area of the Americas" group," who wanted "Vai Passar" sung at the FTAA protests, I've reprinted the lyrics to Chico Buarque's song here (in both the original Portuguese and in an English translation (provided by the "FCAA" group w/minor edits by me.)

Vai passar
Francis Hime - Chico Buarque

Vai passar
Nessa avenida um samba popular
Cada paralelepípedo
Da velha cidade
Essa noite vai
Se arrepiar
Ao lembrar
Que aqui passaram sambas imortais
Que aqui sangraram pelos nossos pés
Que aqui sambaram nossos ancestrais

Num tempo
Página infeliz da nossa história
Passagem desbotada na memória
Das nossas novas gerações
A nossa pátria mãe tão distraída
Sem perceber que era subtraída
Em tenebrosas transações

Seus filhos
Erravam cegos pelo continente
Levavam pedras feito penitentes
Erguendo estranhas catedrais
E um dia, afinal
Tinham direito a um alegria fugaz
Uma ofegante epidemia
Que se chamava carnaval
O carnaval, o carnaval
(Vai passar)
Palmas pra ala dos barões famintos
O bloco dos napoleões retintos
E os pigmeus do bulevar
Meu Deus, vem olhar
Vem ver de perto uma cidade a cantar
A evolução da liberdade
Até o dia clarear
Ai, que vida boa, olerê
Ai, que vida boa, olará
O estandarte do sanatório geral vai passar
Ai, que vida boa, olerê
Ai, que vida boa, olará
O estandarte do sanatório geral
Vai passar

there will pass
in this avanue a samba popular
every stepping stone
of this ancient city
will shudder
to remember
that by here passed by immortal sambas
that here here we bled by our feet
that here samba-ed our ancestors

un unhappy page in our history
a passage erased in the memory
of our new generations slept
our mother land so distracted
without percieving that she was in the underground
of shadowy transactions

her children
wandered blind across the continent
lifted penitent stones
raising strange cathedrals
and one final day
they had a right to an fleeting happiness
a breathless epidemic
that we call
carnival, o carnival

this will pass...
palmos for the famished barons
the block of painted napoleons
and the pygmies of the boulevard

god, come see
come see close up a city singing
the evolution of liberty
until the day clears up

o what a beautiful life, hey
o what a beautiful life, hey
the banner of the madhouse will pass by
o what a beautiful life, hey
o what a beautiful life, hey
the banner of the madhouse
will pass by


Anonymous said...

FYI, the "sanatório geral", the "madhouse", is where the Brasilian military regime tortured its detainees. Good to see that it has passed!

Lars Gram said...

thanks for explanations. I knew Vai Passar in a instrumental version by Sivuca - but today I saw a video on YouTube with CHICO BUARQUE. Love the song - and now I understand what's it all about. Lars, Denmark

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for such an insightful comment and for getting the lyrics in Portuguese and English. I just posted it today, Monday, Oct 18, 2010, on my facebook page.