New York City: Dispatch from the Enclave of the Brazillionaires!


Brooklyn by bicycle. Been there. Done that.

There is a certain type of Brazilian journalist whom the media back home like to market as an expert on New York City.

But who also appears to have some kind of tracking device attached to their ankle — kind of like Apóstolo Estevão of Renascer — which prevents them from venturing more than 7 blocks to the east, west or south of Central Park. (North of the park? Harlem? Are you kidding?)

On pain of having their head explode.

They’re like the blind man who grasps the tail of the elephant and concludes that the beast must be some kind of hairy snake. See also

They tend to disinform.

And Marília Martins, the O Globo (Rio de Janeiro) daily’s designated New York City blogger, appears to be one of them.

Item: Donos de restaurantes podem pagar multas de ciclistas: “Restaurant owners may pay fines for bicycle delivery workers.”

The woman appears to be recycling something she read in the gabbling, neoconservative New York Sun without citing the source.

Os vereadores de Nova York querem passam uma lei para que as multas recebidas pelos ciclistas que fazem serviços de entrega para refeições sejam repassadas para os proprietários de restaurantes As multas vão de US$ 100 a US$ 300, dependendo da infração e foi pensada para responder às milhares de queixas sobre direção perigosa que chegam à Câmra dos Vereadores referentes aos ciclistas da cidade. Mas muito acham que o tiro vai sair pela culatra: os donos de restaurantes serão desestimulados a contratar este tipo de transporte para fazer entregas. Foram 1800 reclamações aparenas no Upper East Side, uma das áreas mais caras da cidade. Os veredaores contaram que receberam reclamações até de uma menina de 9 anos de idade que se dizia com medo de andar na rua por causa dos ciclistas. Muitos veredadores são favoráveis também a tornar mais rigorosa a lei de trânsito para ciclistas. Uma decisão sobre o assunto deve sair nas próximas semanas.

The city councilmembers of New York want to pass a law so that fines levied on bicycles who do food deliveries on to the owners of the restaurants they work for. ….

Which city councilmembers want this? All of them?

She continues on in this vein, then comes out with:

There were 1,800 complaints alone on the Upper East City, one of the most expensive areas of the city. The city councilmembers said they even received complaints that a nine-year-old girl said she was afraid to walk down the street because of the bicyclists!

Save the children!

The refusal to answer the most elemental of the Five Ws they teach you about on the first day of junior high school journalism class — What was the name of the city councilmember who screamed “We must act now to save the children from Mexicans on bicycles, armed to the teeth with steaming pizzas!”? — immediately suggest to me that this is greasy, gabblingly dishonest local political reporting based on glittering generalities.

I learned absolutely nothing from reading that blog entry. Did you? And I am having a hard time finding any local press sources that are reporting on the proposed measure, too. It reminds me of nothing so much as

In that case, hysteria was being whipped up over the looming passage of a bill that, as many were pointing out at the time, had zero possibility of passing. As one commentator wrote to Boing Boing, which covered the kerfluffle:

First of all, the title “Brazil’s congress wants to track Internet users” is inaccurate: only a few people in congress want this. Just like in the U.S., the fact that a bill is proposed doesn’t mean it’s widely supported. Second, it should be noted the President already declared to be against this bill a couple of days ago. And of course, as someone else said, there’s still a long way for this to get approved. I personally don’t think there is any chance that it will happen. Plus there’s always the Supreme Court, in case it is found this bill is unconstitutional.

The exact same rhetorical ploy, in other words.

For some meaty context on the New York City bicycle issue, meanwhile, read Joshua Burd’s August 2007 report, State of Cycling, in the Gotham Gazette.

Josh provides a pretty full rundown on the general direction of bicycle and traffic infrastructure policy in the entire city so nice they named it freaking twice, fuhgeddaboudid.

As he notes, the really vocal opposition to the trend comes from the Upper East Side — traditional stomping grounds of what the New York Observer likes to call “the Brazillionaire.”

According to the New York Sun, residents of the Upper East Side have enlisted their elected officials all the way up to their congresswoman. The transportation department is considering an alternate route.

The “Brazillionaire,” as in fabulously wealthy men buying stunningly expensive real estate with mountains of cash — but no one really knows how they made it.

There was an article in the Observer‘s real estate section a year or so, in fact, on the subject of “what ever happened to the Brazillionaire, anyway?”

A notable decline in the species, they wrote.

Do you think maybe the indictment of Paulo Salim Saluf — on charges of laundering public money through New York banks, a development that New York Times reporter Larry “Hooker With a Heart of Gold” Rohter found “bizarre” — by the Manhattan DA could have something to do with it?

Look: the Upper East Side has some 200,000 residents.

The Five Boroughs — which include Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as districts of Manhattan above and below Central Park — have 8 million. Stuffed with huddled masses yearning to bike free, or too busy to cook and therefore hungry for pizza that comes along to your house by bicycle.

American democracy is theoretically based on the “one man, one vote” principle.

(And we do not want freaking Diebold electronic voting machines in our city, either. It might have been more interesting to have covered that City Council debate and vote.)

Do the math.

When we visited the historic Olinda, near Recife, a few years ago, a local “guide” to the astonishingly antique Baroque churches there — the transaction was actually sort of a veiled act of soft extortion, carried off with a certain rough eloquence that will be familiar to students of the early Spanish picaresque novel — was asking me how realistic I thought América, TV Globo’s hot nighttime soap opera at the time, really was.

You mean the one where most of the scenes are set inside a high-end shopping mall in the posh part of Miami Beach and involve professional Brazilian rodeo clowns with outsize Hank Williams Jr. belt buckles, saying things like, “Yee haw”?

None of it actually filmed in America, but rather filmed on a Globo back lot in Rio?

So I told him what I thought about the realism of Globo’s soap opera about the Shining City on the Hill that is contemporary America.

We had a good laugh together, this toothless fellow and I.

He even offered to buy me a pinga.

I read somewhere a while back that Globo has dozens of correspondents in New York and not a single correspondent in Manaus.

Pois é.

And this is how they cover America: They film their stand-up on Times Square and then dub a hysterical voiceover over somebody else‘s footage of tornados devastating Midwestern trailer parks.

Globo journalism under the tutelage of Ali Kamel: horse-laughable to the maximundo.

Do not drink beverages while consuming this nonsense.

The liquid might just shoot out of your nose.

Another case in point: A psychiatrist tell Globo that the environmental factor is more significant than the genetic factor in producing illicit behavior.

Globo: “Psychiatry says that corrupt men are born, not made!”

Globo gabbles like a homeless schizophrenia sufferer talking to himself on the 2 train.

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