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«New Crack City» | São Paulo


I was shocked! shocked! to read on the Web site of Veja magazine that the neighborhood where we live has become some sort of post-apocalyptic  compound under siege by brain-eating zombies.

Eyewitness reports from friends of hours who ventured into the restaurant and club scene during the matches do not support this — we have it on the authority of Alfredo King of the Caipirinha — and we ourselves had a pleasant, peaceful dinner at a restaurant a 100m or so of the densest cloud of revelers during a televised match.

Source: Reinaldo Azevedo | Veja.com, known as “the pit bull” for his rabid right-wing views and his ability to create mindless memes for his followers to echo.

With a few exceptions, the Brazilian media, continuously surprises. It may be openly favorable to the legalization or decriminalization of drugs — there are various statutes on the same topic — but treats as a scandal the fact that the Vila Madaelena has become a duty-free zone for the drug traffic.

The criminals are out in the streets offering their wares as loud at the top of their lungs. The state secretary of public safety (SSP) decided to apply a policy of “100% tolerance” because it was afraid of clashing with … the news media!

The SSP prefers to explain that police have been ordered to abandon their normal posts in order to, oh, let’s say,  be blamed for acting in an authoritarian manner when it takes on drug trafficking and consumption — both of which are illegal, by the way.

The military police cannot be accused of negligence.

It is merely following orders. Bad orders, misguided orders.

On July 2, I posted a note that pissed a lot of people of, as if what pissed-off people think about what I write bothers me in the least bit.

“Pissed off” is a bit strong, but this is a draft translation, and you get what you pay for.

I wrote that the Vila Madalena had become a New Crack City on account of a certain dope-smoking element. I now repeat what I said and compare my predictions to the reality that everybody can see for themselves. Let us begin.

In [Crack City] Cracolândia, the Penal Code does not apply. In the Vila Madalena, also.

In Cracolândia, the anti-drugs law does not apply. In the Vila Madalena, also.

In Cracolândia, Article 5 of the Constitution, which confers fundamental rights — among them, the right to come and go — is not in effect. In the Vila Madalena, also.

In Cracolândia, the legitimate residents of the area have no outlet for their complaints. Neither do the residents of the Vila Madalena …

Actually, I have read innumerable complaints from the NIMBY — not in my back yard — element in the local papers and neighborhood forums, complaining about the noise and world-class frolicking. This is to be expected. It is not the end of the world. I know that I get pretty cranky myself when the pamonha truck rolls by, blaring sertanejo and serving as a sort of trio elétrico.

Then again, I also saw a photo of Cup revelers pitching in to help clean up the trash the morning after an especially messy celebration. Probably Dutch. You know how those people are.

[When I first arrived in São Paulo, there was a shantytown up the street in a neglected Eletrobras transformer station, but it was cleared for eventual reinstallation.]

Azevedo now assumes a biblical turn of phrase, making use of the rhetorical figure known as anaphora.

In Cracolândia, all is permitted, except breaking the law. In the Vila Madalena, also.

In Cracolândia, property owners watch as their investments turn to dust. In the Vila Madalena, also.

In our corner of the region, construction crews are busy rezoning the area for mixed use — residential, commercial and retail. Friends and fellow homeowners from the Internet of dogs — our neighborhood dog run — generally think this might be a good thing. Azevedo is savagely attacking the forces at work in favor of urban redevelopment of the area.

In Cracolândia,  a public street serves as a bathroom or hotel. In the Vila Madalena, also.

So what is the difference between  Cracolândia and the Vila Madalena? The price you pay to visit to this place or that; the social status of its residents; and the products sold in the streets.

The Wikipedia profile of the Vila Maddá betrays hints of boosterism:

Vila Madalena is an upper middle class neighborhood of the Pinheiros district in the western part of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The neighborhood is known for its bustling nightlife and its history as a center of São Paulo bohemian culture and art. The neighborhood is filled with dozens of art galleries and studios, an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars and a series of graffiti-covered streets and alleys, and is attracting young professionals.

Well, they did steal our car as we ate at O Sachinha, a couple of months back.

On the other hand, Internet of taxi drivers report that armed robberies of eateries and cabbies are on the rise, despite official silence on the topic.