Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fly Brother Interview on Jay Travels

Atlanta-based fly blogger and brother Jay interviewed me a few weeks ago for his international travel site, Jay Travels. The resulting madness went live this Tuesday, featuring my musings on Greenland, Mickey Ds, and prostitutes. Here's an excerpt:
Have you ever experienced a problem when traveling (passport, victim of crime, etc.)?
Once, in Rio de Janeiro, I was walking home from the gym with a Brazilian friend and while we were talking, a kid of maybe 9 or 10 came up to me and started talking in Portuguese. I told him, in Spanish, that I couldn’t help him and he grabbed my wrist. I, in typical American fashion, yanked my arm back and told him not to touch me (or as we say in Florida, bag back!). He started yelling at me in Portuguese and I yelled back in Spanish, then turned to make my way home. He came up and kicked me in the butt, then ran back across the street.

Things escalated from there, with him throwing a rock at my foot and my friend pulling me away from the scene because Lil Man was about to get the whippin his daddy clearly wasn’t giving him. Meanwhile, my friend kept commenting how kids these days don’t even seem to fear two over-six-foot-tall men anymore. When we got back to the house, my anger had turned to anxiety because I was lucky the kid only picked up a rock as opposed to pulling out a knife or gun. And it didn’t matter that I understand all the socio-economic backstory behind this young, black street kid; I was identified as foreign and subsequently as an easy mark. That ended my short-lived love affair with Rio.
Check out the rest of the interview here. Thanks, Jay!

Fly Brother welcomes your views. If this post hit the spot, please comment and/or click.


Nikita said...

hey man! congrats!
and thanks for the link this morning by the way... about to watch it right now... :-)

Jay said...

Thank you for the insight!!!

A Cuban In London said...

Wow, that was an adventure! By the way, thanks for your comments. Here's my reply.

I not only took offence at that scene but also at what Cortazar calls 'lector-hembra' (female reader). To him, this is the passive reader to which I alluded in my review.

My reaction to the passage you mentioned was similar to yours, but then I remembered that it was La Maga speaking and also there was always the suggestion that the incident never happened and she was trying to impress Gregorovius (in fact, Oliveira mentions that at some point in the novel).

Cortazar later explained that his definition of 'lector-hembra' should not be taken as a snipe against women but was merely a phrase he used at some point in his career and he dropped it afterwards. In terms of race, the further south you go in South America the more complex racial relationships become. The African presence in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay is not as heavily felt as in other countries of the Latin Diaspora like Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Colombia. So, misconceptions do exist and prejudices abound.

Thanks a lot for your comment because it highlights an aspect of the novel little explored.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

I remember that story. Rio is so complex but it's still beautiful. Now that you're finally in Brazil, I'm headed to your home state, on Amelia Island next week!

Anonymous said...


Ali la Loca said...

Wow, you are super lucky that kid wasn't armed. I just have it engrained in my head DO NOT REACT, DO NOT LOOK, HAND EVERYTHING OVER. It's to the point that someone could probably ask me for the time or for directions and I'd give them my wallet and cell phone.

Ali la Loca said...

I just read the rest of your interview - really fun stories, good advice. Makes me want to pack my bags and hit the road this summer.

I do have one little bone to, I can't believe you avoid Americans unless they (we) are in need or look lost! Do you avoid the Germans, South Africans and Canadians, too? I guess it's easier for me to think about avoiding foreigners in general in an attempt to have the most local experience possible, but singling out Americans just seems, I don't know...just didn't sit super well with me. To each his own, for sure, but I thought I'd let you know my reaction.

Fly Brother said...

Thanks for the comments, everybody!

Nikita: What'd you think about the film?

Jay: Anytime, man.

Cubano: Unfortunately, even in places where the population is high, you still get the misconceptions and stereotypes. I didn't even notice the "lector-hembra" transgression, though I did read it in English and I can't remember the exact translation used. As we all (should) grow and mature, I'll accept Cortazar's explanation behind dropping the term. Thanks, again, for your insight!

Fly Girl: No doubt, the Cidade Maravilhosa has indeed earned its nickname. She's just not on my particular list of favorite places, especially after this. That doesn't stop me from enjoying a nice, hot weekend there. Amelia Island, huh? Make sure you hit the few blocks of what's left of American Beach. My mom used to go there a lot as a kid/teenager, back when it was the happening spot.

Loca: I appreciate your honest reaction. I guess I'd say I tend to stay away from (loud, obnoxious) English speakers. Those tend to be Americans. I've also had some ugly interactions in France, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil with certain white Americans who hadn't coded me as American and thus behaved in ways they certainly wouldn't have had they known I a) spoke English and b) hailed from the same country. I owe you an email. Miss ya!

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harry john said...

Much fun and you can't imagine how that is happen. Well, that is definitely an adventure and is jealous.
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