Sampa Diary: The Chileans Have Landed

Chilean fashion correspondents report from the field: Cornrows are all the rage in Santiago suburbs! Pictured here: Simona the trans-Andean sylph.

I turn on TV Justiça at 4:30 pm to see if that interview with Justice de Mello is going to appear as advertised.

It does not.

Instead, we watched Prof. Cacilda Decoussau Affonso Ferreira interview Justice Luiz Fux, president of the Superior Tribunal de Justiça in São Paulo.

First question: “To what do you attribute your outstanding success in life?”

Answer: “99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”

“Also, the love of my family and, of course, my deep faith in God.”

About every 15 to 30 seconds during the interview, the image freezes and a short snatch of jazzy music plays.

For no apparent reason. My guess is that the thing ran short and some pot-smoking summer intern got the word to dar um jeito nisso.

Prof. Affonso keeps sneaking sidelong glances at the camera with sort of a complicit smirk.

The final round of questions is a series of word associations. “Say whatever comes into your head first,” urges Prof. Affonso.


Power? “Only in the service of the people!”

Mother? “My best friend.”

I had bet Neuza, given the tenor of the first couple of minutes of the interview, that the man would at some point demonstrate that is he good to, and listens to, his sainted mother. I won.

This was one of the cheesiest things I had ever seen in my life. It reminded me of some of the loopier TV evangelists I used to watch in my Southern California trailer-trash youth.

TV Justiça, to be fair, is more normally to be found mounting a decent and fairly informative, if minimally produced, panel discussion or debate.

Minister Mello did show up in the news cycle today, however, “defying” — the word he was     quoted as using by the Folha de S. Paulo reporter — the Congress over the cap recently placed on judicial salaries and “supersalaries” by means of a threatened presidential veto.

The top salary for a judge is some $R22,000 per month (US$10,000ish). But a raise to R$24,500, which  the Supreme Court voted itself  — and by extension, every employee of the judicial branch — late last year was recently vetoed by, or threatened with a veto by, Lula. I have to check that.

A senior legislator can earn up to half that sum, which — finally — explains the attempt to raise that salary by 91% at the end of the last Congress, in the name of “parity.”

The top executive salary is R$8,500 per month, one reads. By executive order. Wherein lies a tale.

At 5:00 pm, the Chileans arrive for beer and computer games and sibling networking, and also to wait for the afternoon monsoon.

Luiza and Simona report that it rains very, very rarely in the llama-infested Andean foothills of Santiago, so they would really like to see a really stentorian tropical monsoon, with extremely loud and scary thunder and stuff and junk.

It would be really great if it rained toads or whole houses floated off, too, but we cannot swing that today. Unfortunately.

Normally we can at least rely on an earsplitting explosion of an Eletropaulo transformer or too, followed by the lighting of candles and the waving of fans and the making of drinks with ice that will only go to waste otherwise.

But AES did not come through for us, either.

Legal affairs expert Cacilda Decoussau Affonso Ferreira of Brazil’s TV Justiça: “What do you think of when I say the word ‘mother’?

My sister-in-law the Santiago superflack, one of the infamous Sánchez sisters. Dances a mean tango, is amazingly good at complicated and very fast flamenco clapping, knows lots of silly schoolyard songs. Photo credit: Fabio, 4.

The Paulo of Paulo and Paula, with Luiza, 4. Luiza learned from Fabio today how to turn penguins green and purple, using computers. Fabio already knows how to right click into context menus, in Gnome, Windows, and Mac, and is teaching others. Photo: Fabio, 4.

Zebu Cavaco asks for a wooly Andean hat that makes his head look pointier — and his wish is granted. An avuncular nickname is settled on: Tio Dude, because I remind Paula of The Big Lebowski. The woman saw directly into the innermost recesses of my soul. Uncanny.

The Dude, Donny and Walter.


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