São Paulo Diary: A Further Think on the Unthinkable Stink

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Where there is a stink of shit
there is a smell of being.

–Antonin Artaud

The Jornal do Trem is handed out every week in the stations of the CPTM — the “São Paulo Metropolitian Transportation Company,” the Metro North of Latin America’s largest metropolis. As is its sister publication, the Folha do Ônibus, on city buses.

I picked one up today on my way back from a business engagement along the Rio Pinheiros, out in that general direction. It is not exactly Pulitzer material, but I have this knee-jerk habit of reading anything anyone takes the trouble of printing up. It reports:

O Jornal do Trem & Folha do Ônibus recebeu a denúncia que próximo ao ponto final do ônibus Helena Maria, em Osasco, existe um rio que passa atrás das residências situadas à rua Belmiro Alves da Silva. De acordo com as informações, o rio está lotado de ratos e baratas que estão infestando as casas, além do mau cheiro que é provocado. Será que a prefeitura ainda não tomou conhecimento desse problema, ou está fazendo vistas grossas? A denúncia foi feita. Agora, vamos cobrar as soluções.

The Jornal and the Folha have received a charge that close to the last stop on the Helena Maria bus line in Osasco there is river that runs behind residences situated on Belmiro Alves da Silva Street. Reports are that the river is teeming with rats and cockroaches that are infesting the homes, as well as a bad smell that results. Can the city government really not be aware of the problem, or is it turning a blind eye? The fact has been denounced. Now let us demand solutions.

As I expressed in a piece of (bad) deadline poetry earlier this week, there are many bad smells to be smelled along the Rio Pinheiros in the direction of Osasco. Bad, bad smells. Shockingly bad smells. Depressingly bad smells:

nos arredores:
maus cheiros
do Rio Pinheiros

The Jornal do Trem may be engaging in a confusion of cause and effect here, or Non Causa Pro Causa.

I would guess that whatever is causing the big stink is also fueling the food chain of the vermin, rather than vice versa. And that the fate of Belmiro Alves Street in Osasco may be tied to larger and more systematic environmental issues.

The (interminable and reportedly overbudget) clean-up of the Tietê River gets most of the ink — the Tietê Beltway which runs alongside it is the highway that brings you in from the Guarulhos international airport.

But it sometimes seems that they have simply pumped the toxic sludge to another branch of the ambling watershed where inglês is less likely to cheirar it.

Well, this inglês smells it, at any rate, and wishes to express his general solidarity with all efforts, great and small, in the cause of stink abatement, whether well reasoned or not.

With that much stink, it’s hard to think.


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