The Other Side of the Olympics

brazillian-police-welcome-tourists-welcome-to-hell-696x522

(google – Rio Airport)

The beauty, the pageantry, the test of human endurance and achieving athletic triumphs heretofore unknown: the Olympic Games. The glory of the human body and spirit. What could be wrong with that?

Location, location, location.

Why Rio? One in seven Rio denizens lives in cinderblock shacks or “favelas” stacked on top of one anotherViolence and street gangs run rampant.

Rio’s governor declared a “state of calamity” last month because the administration had run out of funds for public security and healthcare. Part of this was due to spending on the Olympic Games. Contracts for stadiums, transportation and port renovations have added to the already enormous wealth of Brazil’s elite families and their companies.

One of the most expensive Olympic projects is the $3 billion subway extension linking the wealthy suburb of Barra de Tijuca to the tony beach neighborhoods Leblon and Ipanema.  92-year-old billionaire Carlos Caravalho is one of the men who owns most of Barra’s land.  Once the games come to a close, all 31 of the Olympic Village’s 17-story towers will be converted into luxury condos.

In an interview with The Guardian last year, he [Carvalho] spoke of his dream to turn Barra into “a city of the elite, of good taste.” This is why he dubbed the Athletes’ Village development Ilha Pura, or pure island. “It needed to be noble housing,” Carvalho said, “not housing for the poor.” (The Atlantic, “The Broken Promise of the Rio Olympics,” Alex Cuadros, Aug. 1, 2016)

So pure does not equal poor.

Mayor Eduardo Paes, an Olympics enthusiast, belongs to the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, representing the old establishment. He is the son of a highly respected attorney and a member of Rio’s elite.

Beyond the economic concerns surrounding the projects of the Summer Games, there is the substantial human cost. Under Paes, more than 20,000 families have been evicted from their homes. It’s the most extensive favela removal drive in Rio’s history—and a far cry from the mayor’s declared goal of social integration.  (The Atlantic, “The Broken Promise of the Rio Olympics,” Alex Cuadros, Aug. 1, 2016)

Paes admitted in an interview that the Olympics were used as an excuse to complete unrelated projects and that his goal is to make Barra the new hub of international business.

Nothing wrong with growing business, but it seems that average citizens were once again deceived. They were told the Olympics would benefit all of Rio, but this is indeed not the case. One could say the same thing if the homeless of New York City were told that Olympic Games held in the Big Apple would improve their quality of life. They might also be “relocated” or have their makeshift cardboard homes destroyed.

My intention is not to rain on anyone’s Olympic parade, but simply to shed some light on a perhaps not-so-well kept secret. The elites strike again!

Source: The Atlantic, “The Broken Promise of the Rio Olympics,” Alex Cuadros, Aug. 1, 2016.

Another article of interest:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/12/world/americas/brazil-rio-olympics-crime-poverty-favelas.html?smid=nytcore-iphone-share&smprod=nytcore-iphone&_r=0

Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die

“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
     –Hunter S. Thompson

 I admit to being a weirdo, a mutant, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson. But mutants are on the rise, are they not? X-Men and superhero movies are all the rage, as are TV shows about geeks and zombies and people with special powers. Not sure if I fall into any of those categories. I am more a generalized weirdo with an abstract sense of humor that some don’t understand and others are offended by. So be it.

I’m writing this because (a) I don’t have much to say at the moment, (b) I only had 2 visitors today on my site (egad!), and (c) my husband and I are in the throes of selling our home (short sale) and have had 20 or so prospective buyers come to see the house so far. Somewhat nerve-wracking and self-absorbing, but a necessary and positive step forward in our lives.

We have done a lot of cleaning, sifting through our belongings and throwing things out, all in preparation for the “staging” of the house before our realtor’s photographer took pictures of the house pre-listing. After seeing a slideshow of the photos, my husband said, “The house never looked so good.”

We call our house “the huddle house,” because we feel cozy and safe in it, shielded from the troubles of the world. During one of our marathon car trips, we discovered a restaurant called Huddle House, and wondered if people go there to gather in safety or take a needed respite from the madness of The Outside. Seems like a good idea to me.

m-8925

(google)

Alas, it is time to leave our Huddle House and begin a new chapter of our lives. I hope someone nice moves into our house. It’s a very, very, very fine house.

Bed, Bath & Trauma

957061_14521255459687_rId8

(google)

Christmas Tree Shops is/are one of my favorite stores. I haven’t figured out if the store name is considered singular–as it would be for a collective noun like “family” or plural since “Shops” is plural. Any guesses? For now, I’m going to assume it is plural.

Christmas Tree Shops’ (“CTS”) parent company is Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Although the former has a better selection of products than CTS, I tend to prefer CTS for the prices–much cheaper. That being said, a co-worker informed me yesterday that there was a Bed, Bath Beyond / Barnes & Noble / Whole Foods store complex (not exactly a mall) near our new office space on Vesey Street, so I had to venture forth. I knew it was raining, but I wasn’t expecting the blustering winds, spray and cold. It didn’t feel like early June. I was wearing a jean jacket over my blouse and had my mini urban umbrella, which wasn’t cutting it.

I was on a mission to continue looking for small items to spruce up our home. We are in the process of doing a short sale and our realtor’s photographer is expected at our house early next week; after the photos are done, our house will be listed. Last weekend I got coasters, a throw pillow, a couple candles and a glass jar with beach glass (or at the least the package said it was) in the shape of fish at CTS. Having done more online research about pre-sale home staging, I decided I needed more throw pillows for the master bedroom, a bowl of balls like they have in corporate apartments (see Better Call Saul episode 6, season 2, “Bali Ha’i”) or fake fruit  for the dining room table, and other sundries.

The Bed, Bath & Beyond on Greenwich Street was smaller than the one I normally go to in Paramus, NJ, claustrophobic, even. No ball of balls to be found and the throw pillows I liked were all around $34.99 (too expensive for a short sale). I ended up with two plush gray-blue bath towels and a hand towel–both on sale.

Determined to find that bowl of balls or anything else, I kept repeating the circuit: around and around, from BATH section to BRIDAL section to BEDDING section with overpriced DK sheets and pillow shams to KITCHEN section to SCENT section to OUTDOOR DINING section and over and over. I couldn’t stop, as if possessed. Then I started to feel dizzy. I looked at my watch: 1:35, still 25 minutes to get back to work, and the walk was 10 minutes. Around and around I went. I was lightheaded, and my hands were shaking, and I desperately wanted to find the cashier but he/she was not in sight. Oh my God, what’s going on, I thought. Trapped in Bed, Bath and Beyond! Now I knew what the “Beyond” was for.

Finally I saw an “EXIT’ sign, which I assumed would lead to the cashier. At last, a kindly cashier beckoned me. He was smiling, which helped a great deal, as I was trapped inside the maws of a full-blown panic attack. I smiled at him, or at least I thought I was smiling. Perhaps I looked manic or even insane. I didn’t know. All I knew is that I wanted to purchase the murky blue towels and get the hell out of there.

“Did you find everything you were looking for?” he asked, cheerfully.

“Well, I was looking for a bowl for the dining room or living room, and I couldn’t find it.” I was hoping this made sense.

“Oh, you mean to use as a centerpiece?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, we don’t have many of those; this store is smaller than most of them.”

“Yes, that’s what I thought. I wondered if I had missed something.”

I inserted my chip card, my eyes not focusing well.

I thanked him and left.

I found it difficult to put one foot in front of the other; my hands were still shaking. I was pulling in enormous gulps of air, audibly. It felt weird.

On the downward escalator, I scanned for seating downstairs, but there was none. I took a mild sedative, and faced the tempest.

It was colder and more blustery than before, or so it felt.

My knees felt like blocks of steel; my feet were partially numb. When I entered Brookfield Place, I plopped my soggy corpus onto one of the uncomfortable benches, vaguely watching shoppers popping in and out of J. Crew and the other chi-chi stores. It was 1:50 p.m.

After a few minutes, I dragged myself to the escalator, then took the elevator to my floor. Eating a sandwich at my desk was a gift from God. I felt like I had experienced a shock, a trauma of some kind. But it was all within myself.

No more Bed, Bath & Beyond for me. At least not for a while.