Bossa Nova, literature, films, Cazuza and a Caipirinha - an ode to the sound of Watercolour of Brazil
I honestly hoped this post would not be another one about food and music. I swear I did. First, because today is my sister's 40th birthday, and I figured this cocktail would be as good as any other to cheer the date in, hoping she gets to have the best year of her life so far, she could do with a lucky and happy break! Then, because it also happens to be Friday, and cocktails spell Friday, yes, and they spell music, yes? perhaps, because I was never very keen on going out on a Friday night. I was always your girl Saturday, never your girl Friday, you know? But Friday always made me long for a cool, zingy drink, so here's one for today.
But I suppose you've all identified the drink already, just by the images, and there is no way I could do a post that features a caipirinha and not mention brazilian music. I mean, come on!! It's quite obvious I'm gonna run my mouth on the subject, as it happens to be one that is so very dear to my heart! My love for music seems to be quite as big as my love for good food and good drinks, and seeing that I am rather eccletic in my overall likings, it must come as no surprise if I were to tell you that I do quite like some brazilian music... I do, when it comes to Bossa Nova, or Tribalistas, or may major crush - musically - Barão Vermelho and Cazuza. I'm a sucker for that. I also love brazilian authors and some movies. I used to love telenovelas when I was a kid!
Caipirinha - which I suppose must be Brazil's national drink! - always makes me think of Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana mostly. My mind fills up with these utterly romanticized images of that city during the fifties, the nights at Nara Leão's flat where a bunch of young people would get together and jam up new songs that were to be what is now know as Bossa Nova. I can almost hear Vinicius and Tom singing and playing "Chega de Saudade", along with Elizeth Cardoso, or "Aquarela do Brasil", that despite not being Bossa Nova is one of my favourite songs ever. Women are dressed in a mix of casual and over the top, wearing jewelry and adornments, but donned in pants and simple tops. Men look dapper and fresh, in their light linnens, and cachaça flows all around. I am a huge fan of Bossa Nova, of Vinicus de Moraes and Tom Jobim, I am a huge fan of certain brazilian literature, in the person of Erico Verissimo, Nelson Rodrigues and José Lins do Rego, and I am also a huge fan of brazilian cinema.
Politics aside, I do find Brazil to be quite rich culturally, and very interesting, because of the hodge podge it is composed of. But I do know my vision of this country is far from its reality, and is a romantic one, and I honestly prefer to keep it that way. I love the Brazil of old, yes, of the books written by those authors I love, the society depicted in those books, yes, I will admit to that. I don't really know much of today's Brazil, not even when it comes to its cinema. Actually, when it comes to the cinema, I only began to feel interested in brazilian movies during the 80's, all because of my favourite brazilian personality of all times. Cazuza, The Poet, as he is also called, is someone I relate to so much, and I don't even know why. I was a child when he began his career, I was a kid when I first heard him sing "Maior Abandonado" with the band he was part of, Barão Vermelho. Maybe because we share one of our surnames, I don't know, but I have this huge admiration for him especially as a poet. I remember being twelve and reading the lyrics to "Todo o amor que houver nessa vida", and feeling it deeply, without even having heard the song.
But those were the days of the brazilian telenovela here in Portugal, and "Maior Abandonado" was featured in one - which sported a character dubbed "Super Cazuza", in clear homage to Cazuza, the songwriter and singer in Barão Vermelho - and I got to listen to him sing and I got to become really hooked on their sound. I hunted their music down, and came across what was a huge success in Brazil, the song "Bete Balanço" that was featured in the movie of the same name. When I found out Cazuza had a small cameo in that film, I did not rest until I saw it. And I did. And I loved it. And so I wanted to see other Brazilian movies from the 80's. I went on to see "Ópera do Malandro"(a musical), "O Beijo da Mulher Aranha", "Com licença, eu vou á luta", "Um trem para as estrelas" (also featuring Cazuza's music), "O Quatrilho", "Cidade de Deus", "Carandiru", "Central do Brasil", and finally, "Cazuza - O Tempo Não Pára" that depicts a softened version of his life. He died of AIDS in 1990, and there's a lot of his life story I would like to know, but the movie, though I loved it, was a bit of a disapointment, because it left many questions unanswered, and it did not dive as deep as I would have liked into his mind, his writings, his feelings. He is still to this day a highly controversial figure, some love him, some hate him, some say he had no talent whatsoever. I beg to differ.
Cazuza to me is freedom, and wildness, cachaça and beer, Arpoador and romance, loving too much and forgetting that love quickly, broken hearts and broken dreams and the beauty of life. Cazuza to me is a really cold caipirinha and the sound of Bossa Nova on the back, is not knowing who you are and what you want to be, it's nightlife and intoxication, it's not caring and caring too much, it's music and poetry and Summer and fun, and pain and deception and politics and cynical jokes and satire and sweetness and innocence. He is all that and so much more, but above all else, he is my favourite poet and musician from Brazil, and although I cried like a baby watching that saccarine film of his life, I would still love to have met him and I would love to have been able to talk to him just for an hour or two, about everything and nothing at all, sipping on a cold, cool caipirinha much as this one. Whenever someone asks that silly question of which dead person would you like to meet, I always think of Cazuza. So here's to him, here's to Bossa Nova and brazilian literature, here's to telenovelas and brazilian cinema, and here's to my sister for her birthday as well! With a caipirinha.
My version for a glass is this: (not traditional, I know...)
- one lime
- 2 tsp sugar (muscovado and dark brown, I used both for flavour)
- ice (lots and lots)