The salty air, your wind blown hair,
Reflections on a dream,
Thoughts of you with who knows who,
Flowin' through me like a stream.
Brazilian serenades linger on,
Help me lose my soul in your song.
And I get a feelin' that I've seen the last of you,
Rio De Janeiro blues.
— Randy Crawford
RANDY Crawford is my all-time favourite female singer, and if you want to see a big tough black man like me have water in his eyes, just put on that song, Rio De Janeiro Blues.
There is something about music that brings out certain emotions in people and even soothes the savage beast, they say. When it comes to sultry Brazilian music there is hardly any equal. Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Roberto Carlos, Gilberto Gil, and others took the music of that country and infused it into our hearts. The pulse and rhythm of Brazil are haunting, infectious, passionate.
If you can remember the movie Black Orpheus you'd understand what I'm talking about. Two Brazilian lovers caught up in a web of romance, intrigue and sensuality. Perhaps those words sum up the soul of Brazil, or Brasil as is the Portuguese spelling.
Brasil has been on the minds of so many people during the World Cup. So that's where we'll be going right after we see what these folks had to say about 'What a Wurl Kup'.
Your piece about football and its history from leather to synthetic material was refreshing. It is my main reason for giving Pele much higher ratings than Maradona. What Pele managed to do at his age, when the ball was as heavy as lead, when no red cards or yellow cards were there to save any player from brutal treatment. How can you not rate Pele as the greatest?
Maradona was great, but players stopped playing dirty in the 80s, so he got away with most dribbles. It has been a great tournament, but a mixture of love and hate continues; from bad refereeing, to the minnows showing up the giants.
Your mention of the old leather football brought back memories of my early childhood playing football barefooted on the hard paved streets or on the dirt field of the neighbouring school. No thought was given to the possibilities of getting our toes scraped, bruised or cut, which they did while playing barefoot.
We kids back then loved playing sports, and we played with what we had, no fancy football boots or gear. It was a time when we were hardy and fun-loving and we didn't cry to our mamas for every cut, scrape and minor injury. I would like to think that we grew up as real men.
Jamaicans have had a love affair with Brazil for as long as I can remember. It stemmed from that country's style of playing football, which we all admired, and especially the greatest football player to have graced a field, the legendary Pele.
Well, some newcomers may say it's the Argentinian Maradona, and there are some Brazilians who will say that it's the Brazilian Garrincha who was the greatest footballer of all time. They say that he literally danced on a football field. Ironically, he had deformed legs, which made his moves even more deceptive. Sadly, alcohol and women proved to be his undoing.
Culturally, Brazil is rich, and the music is one force that invites the passionate to its shores. Let's not rule out the women, who are arguably the most beautiful in the world. Just walk on any beach in Rio and try to keep your eyes in your head. There are stories of men visiting Brazil for a pre-marriage bachelor party, only to call back home to postpone the wedding, so besotted were they by the beautiful Brazilian bombshells. By the way, prostitution is legal there.
So many Jamaicans shout Brazil at World Cup time yet haven't a clue about the country. If you ask them where is Brazil, they give you a blank stare, even though they wave the colourful flag with gusto. 'Waggonists' abound, and this guy I saw on TV, who switched from Brazil to Germany after the loss really summed up what a fickle waggonist is.
Brazil is the largest country in South America, and is the fifth largest country in the world with a population of over 200 million people, majority of them black. In fact, Brazil has the largest black population in the world apart from Africa.
The main language is Portuguese, and, interestingly, there are some slight differences between the Portuguese spoken in Brazil and that spoken in Portugal.
Brazil became the centre of the Portuguese empire, but following three centuries under Portuguese rule became an independent nation in 1822. It is by far the most prosperous country in Latin America but, even with this great wealth, Brazil still has pronounced and famous slums or favelas, with the most popular one overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro. These favelas have a pulse and life of their own and also have produced some of the world's greatest artists, dancers and footballers.
The music and dance of Samba, Choro, Bossa Nova give the favelas a vibrant life. Remember Blame it on the Bossa Nova, sung by Eydie Gorme? Then there was The Girl from Ipanema, by Carlos Jobim, sung by Astrid Gilberto with Stan Getz on saxaphone. "Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking, and when she walks, each one she passes goes 'ah'. When she walks she's like a samba, that swings so cool and sways so gently."
The music also accompanied Capoeira, which is a martial art that originated in Angola and was brought to Brazil during the slave trade. Capoeira is lethal, Brazilian karate you could call it, which was banned by the authorities for many years. But the crafty people put it to music and practised it nevertheless, right under the noses of backra massa. "Oh look at them dancing away to their heart's content." They were actually training, doing their deadly 'dance'. Capoeira is breathtaking to watch with its flips, cartwheels and lightning kicks.
There are branches of Seido Karate in Brazil, and as a martial artist I did Capoeira for a few months. It's a fascinating martial art that is as fluid as it is deadly. It is said that breakdancing originated from Capoeira moves.
Now, put this vibrant music with the beautiful women of Brazil and you have the most astounding Carnival in the world. Nothing can compare to Carnival in Brazil, and even the poorest people spend 11 months of the year preparing their costumes to take part in Carnival. The spectacle of those scantily clad gorgeous women is one of the seven wonders of the world.
Speaking of wonders, there are few statues as majestic or iconic as the huge statue of Jesus that overlooks Rio, with its outstretched arms blessing the city below. Even so, all is not paradise, for though most Brazilians are peaceful and fun-loving people, much like Jamaicans, they do have their flip side.
Like everywhere else, there is crime, and the streets of Rio are beset with grab-and-flee youngsters, who snatch chains, wallets and purses at lightning speed. I once saw on the news a lady's chain snatched from her neck while she was being interviewed on live television about... you guessed it, crime in the streets. Brazen!
But the joy and fun-loving style of Brazilians is infectious, and is reflected in all aspects of their lives, including their football... well, it used to be. Hopefully they'll get back to playing that way. Brazil is a cultural giant, just mention the name and ears perk up in the same way when Jamaica's name is mentioned. It brings a smile.
The capital Brasilia, the largest city Sao Paulo, the famous Rio de Janeiro, and Bahia are all cities that conjure up thoughts and dreams of beauty, colour and romance. A cultural cornucopia that captivates and beckons.
So all the waggonists who jump on and off a country, just because they lost a match, take note. A true Brazilian fan never jumps ship, and moreso, takes time to know a little about the country. Tchau! Ate' mais!
Footnote: I must comment on the past Brazilian football teams that over the years brought so much joy to the world with their style and flair, winning five World Cups, including the one in Sweden, making them the only South American team to win in Europe. This year's team fell woefully short, and we were all hoping for the best, even as we feared the worst.
It all went badly from morning, as Brazil has never depended on one man to carry the team, as in Neymar. Even Pele had a great supporting cast, and that 1970 team was perhaps the greatest football team of all time. The team struggled this year and paid the price. Without Neymar and captain Thiago Silva they were like a rudderless ship.
Why wasn't Ronaldhino, the 2013-14 Latin American player of the year, chosen, even to be on the bench? What about Robinho and Kaka? They should get back to their roots and let us enjoy football again. Interestingly, they won the Confederation Cup in style last year, beating everybody, plus Spain 3-0 in the final.
Congrats to Germany for winning this year, and to Brasil for hosting a great World Cup. CVM-TV, great job.