Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sharing some thoughts while visiting Glendale, Arizona

Here we are, my hubby and I, in Glendale Arizona. Gorgeous sunset skies and so close to one of the wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. How come we are surrounded by a Westgate Mall where people are looking for holiday sales, and a Cabela’s Outfitter store that will give away Browning rifles to the first 800 shoppers that line at the door at 5am on Thanksgiving? Tell me. Please, answer my naive question. This is surreal. If I was still asleep at 2pm I definitely woke up after entering Cabela’s. The Fodor Travel book suggested visiting the Old Town and Caitland Corner. We tried. The only think we found was thrifty stores trying to pass themselves off as antique shops. I guess the economic crisis hit town before they could finish the job. On the other hand, the tattoo stores are booming and we saw few Mexican girls with pierced noses holding a sign on the corner of Glendale Ave with 67th Ave offering free tattoos. 
Outside our hotel veranda there is a big silver spaceship that looks even more striking agains the dark gun powder gray sky. It’s the University of Phoenix Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals professional football team’s home. Here, the US female soccer team will play against Sweden. We watched the US training this late morning and drove around guided by the Fodor’s travel book afterwards. Back to the hotel, I can’t quite get away from the impression Cabela’s Outfitter store left on me. 
“Hot Lead vs Hot Espresso, Shoppers vs Shooters.” My husband can’t stop laughing.
“Draft Beer Drinkers vs Head Shot Thinkers.” He laughs a little more. I watch him call his buddy in Florida to share his impressions of this side of the world. 
I kept taking pictures of everything that was new to me: lines of rifles ranging from $75 to a thousand dollars, an aquarium with two albino catfishes, videos for children using fake guns, camouflage clothing, a T-shirt with a front design showing a smoking gun written “Happiness is...” I feel I’m on another planet. Glued to a restaurant’s door I see a “No firearms allowed” poster that reminded me of a similar one I saw at a Kansas hotel in the beginning of this year. I realize I’ve been blind all these years living in California. I assumed whatever I wanted to assume. I’m made of a mishmash of conceptual ideas about freedom, civil rights, amnesty, animal rights, Gandhi, save Tibet, save the polar bears and the dolphins, end the famine in Africa and stop the melting of the planet. My mind is an antenna capturing trillions of events and the emotions that come attached to them. I look at the world around me coming from a great desire to make the world a better place. “My” better place. So self centered, I know, but that’s what everybody does. Oh well, I do the best I can.
Tonight, CNN announced that Republican and Democratic Congress men didn’t agree on a way to diminish the national debt. As a woman who was born during the Brazilian dictatorship time, I always thought of the power the presidents had. I wished Obama was a dictator for a split second. I feel discouraged thinking about him and the Republican candidates for the 2012 presidency. “Se correr o bicho pega, se ficar o bicho come.” This Brazilian saying literally means “ If you run the animal catches you, if you stay it eats you.” Years ago I wanted to be an American citizen to be able to vote, and now I’m cringing at the thought of the election day that is around the corner.

Iowa State beat Oklahoma State and the field got packed with happy American football fans. The “Occupy” movement would be very happy to see that amount of people walking in the streets asking for equality. I wonder what would make Arizonians to camp on the fields around the Westgate Mall and Cabela’s Outfitter. I look at the million stars on this amazing sky and want to visit its big observatory. The documentary about the band “The Doors” is on TV and I imagine that everyone on this country is on drugs. Each one is humming an old song that perpetuates a foggy impression of what’s going on. “But don’t we all do that,” I asked myself. Jim Morrison thought he was part of a revolution until he watched a play, acted as an invincible fool and ended up in jail. For a long time I thought that art was a revolutionary tool, and I have to confess that visiting the Cabela’s store felt like something was killing the poetry I carry in my heart. I don’t want to die in the bath tub like Jim. The fresh cold water of reality stings my skin, but I prefer to take a skinny dip in this middle of nowhere Arizona state.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Photo by Beto Gonzalez

At about 8am the bus stopped in the middle of the 170th Street in Edmonton. It looks like we are stuck on a freeway. We joked that it looks like the 10 freeway in Los Angeles. The Canadian driver understands our feelings. He used to lead tours to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and experienced the crazy traffic of the city of Angels. This morning I had an extended chat with him and he says he does not like Halloween. He found out that people spend more money in costumes at this time of the year than on Christmas. He laments that. My friend Cynthia also disapproves the idea, but I know disapprovals don’t promote change, unless...well, that’s another story.

The Red Arrow bus is carrying eighteen of us, luggages with costumes, instruments plus our mascot, baby Keyan who turned six months in April. Taurus is his astrological sign, and that triggers a conversation about how stubborn the “Taurus personality” can be. We laughed while the bus now moves freely surrounded by early morning workers driving their Kias, Fords, Jeeps, and other types of cars. 

I heard Alberta has a 65% immigrant population. There are Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Chinese, Polish, Japanese, East African, Italian (of course) restaurants around here. Oh, did I mention the Ukrainian farm? A Lebanese man speaking Portuguese approached me at the hotel in McMurray one morning. He lived in Rio and I could see by his smile how happy he was to exchange few words. A group of Brazilians came to the show that night. They are working at the oil rig about two hours from Keyano Theatre and were thrilled to see us. The standing ovation was probably ignited by them. 

On our way to the next stop we met a smiling Nova Scotia woman called Linda. Her brightest face made an impression on me. She has been working for a year as a General Supervisor of two lodges located an hour and a half from Fort McMurray (est.1795 and the fastest growing city in Canada). The lodges house people working for the oil refineries. Linda told my friend Cynthia that one day she went to a used bookstore in the middle of “nowhere prairie land” trying to find something to comfort her soul. She found a book about Buddhism that led her to more trips to the same bookstore. Every time she bought a book donated by the same person. This reminds me of the used book about philosopher Boethius I just bought at I kept imagining what made the previous owner to underline certain passages. 

We finally get to the Whitemud freeway going towards the airport. The driver asked us if we went to the West Edmonton Mall, but we didn’t have time for any sightseeing. To be honest, the only place I’d love to visit is the Jasper National Park that is about 4 hours northwest from here. The young girl who assisted me in the hotel gave me a brochure with gorgeous pictures of it and I gasped. Besides fishing, hiking, “Looking-for-moose-seeing,” and the usual attractions, there is a lake cruise to an island called Spirit. A perfect place to feed my soul. “Next time,” I say to myself. 
Through the speakers we hear the driver tells us that the freeway 2 is now called Queen Elizabeth. I hear someone says: “So colonial.” We giggled. I wonder which politician had the idea to change the name. Talking about names, try to pronounce this word: Saskatchewan. I wonder if it is a Cree Indian nation name. 

Overall, I feel like I’m still in the US. KFC, Pizzahut, Firestone, Starbucks, Sears. They are all here.  Wendy’s was next door to another restaurant called Swiss Chalet that serves barbecued chicken. Their female waiters are all Chinese/Vietnamese. Go figure.

The crew at the Arden Theatre was sweet and they made us sound great. The piano at the rehearsal room was a little out of tune but helped me to warm up. I’m glad I brought the Throat Coat tea with me. In the middle of the previous show at Keyano Theatre, Vania, myself and the dancers found out we couldn’t produce saliva anymore. Water! 

Eileen, our lighting designer, fell sick but did a great job regardless of feeling crappy most of the time during the trip. 
I heard this was the first time the producer was bringing world dance to this theatre. He said we exceeded his expectations and by the way the audience responded, he will continue to introduce different cultures to his community in the future. Voila! I think this is called Success. 

I know it’s hard to please everyone and the subject “food” is always challenging. My friend Laila didn’t like the food provided by the healthy Prairie Bistro, but I was very grateful for it. Talking about prairie, that’s pretty much what you see in Alberta’s province. I look at the dictionary. “Planície, pradaria, campina.” In the south of Brasil you call them “pampas.”

Finally I’m at the airport sitting beside a Buddhist nun. While I write my account of the trip she plays solitaire on her Notebook. I smile. We are all One. I truly believe it now.
Photo by Beto Gonzalez

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brazilian Heart

November 2011
Since 1998

Brasil, here I go! 
Reasons? Millions of them!
My grandma is 99 years old

A possible reunion of my band from the 1980‘s: O Espírito da Coisa

To film a new video in São Paulo

To hug my family and friends

To check the amazing exhibition “INDIA” happening in downtown Rio

To bathe my body in the Atlantic Ocean and say “ahhhhhhhhh”

ELIS, a Celebration! 
Saturday, January 21 at 7pm 
A Live Show with Katia Moraes & Pure Samba + Photo Exhibition + Slide Show by Jorge Vismara + Set Design by Brad Austin to celebrate Brazilian singer Elis Regina!
@ Brasil Brasil Cultural Center
11928 Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066 (c/s Inglewood)
Featuring Antonio de Sant’Anna, Mitchell LOng, Leo Costa and Bill Brendle.
310 397-3667

Thursday, January 26 at 7pm
Katia Moraes & Pure Samba
@ Green Valley Recreation (Green Valley, AZ)

Directed by Michael Deane. He asked me about Saudade (longing) and that’s what happened to me...
I sing the notes to arrive at that rare beach
Where the white fine sand does not blind anybody when the wind blows.”

Peace, and Happy Thanksgiving in advance!
Katia : )