One last book

I was part of the audience gathered last night at McCosh auditorium attending the lecture: “The Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attacks: Freedom of Speech in the Age of Radicalism.” Like many, I had been anticipating to hear Mario Vargas Llosa and Philippe Lançon’s for months.

After last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, this lecture’s relevance had become unprecedented. Philip Laçon was the only survivor of the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo and this was his first public lecture since the attack in January 2015. He didn’t refrain to share horrific details he lived. I confess part of me refused to take in his fresh memories. His account of events mingled in my mind’s eye with televised images of last Friday’s attacks in Paris.“Allahu Akbar”. One bullet. “Allahu Akbar”. Another bullet. “Allahu Akbar”. It keeps going. This happened in Paris in January. No. This happened in Paris last week.

Laçon’s vivid descriptions and subsequent reflections were meandered by the words’s of Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. He gave a passionate speech on freedom of expression and censorship, stressing the destruction of civilization as the most dangerous consequence of terrorism, and calling all to resist the temptation to sacrifice freedom in order to stop acts of terrorism.

Of all the details Philippe Lançon shared of that January morning I’ve created a selective memory. In it, I only keep the very last moments he spent with his friend, the 76-year-old cartoonist Cabu. Philippe is showing a photography book to Cabu. It is a book about the famous Jazz club, Blue Note. All photographs taken by the owner and founder of the club, Francis Wolff. Black and white photos of an eternal New York. Cabu loves Jazz, and to sketch about it. I envision Cabu’s laughs, glossy pages and comments flipping through the air. There is even Miles Davis and Coltrane playing in the background. But of course, this is only in my mind. Right after this, two terrorists walked into the room.

 

The lecture “The Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attacks: Freedom of Speech in the Age of Radicalism.” was hosted by the Program in Latin American studies at Princeton University and moderated by Rubén Gallo, Director of PLAS, on November 19th, 2015.

You can read Phillipe Lacon’s personal account of the events written three weeks after the attacks at http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/jan/21/my-charlie-hebdo/

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#PourteOuverte

Acho que aqueles que me conhecem sabem da minha maior fraqueza, e da minha maior qualidade: sou completamente ingênua e inocente. Eu sempre acredito antes de duvidar. Nunca vejo as intenções que realmente podem estar por trás das ações de uma pessoa. Confio antes de questionar. Ao longo dos anos, aposto que muitos ficaram até com pena de tamanha ingenuidade e preferiram não me usar tanto. Já outros usaram, gostaram e continuaram a me usar con gusto.

Mas o que se perde ao usar o outro, e o que se ganha ao acreditar no outro são coisas bem diferentes. Você preserva a sua integridade ao se dar, mas precisa continuamente vestir uma carapaça para tirar algo de alguém e tentar se proteger. Ver que tantos abriram as portas no meio da noite em meio ao caos e medo me faz acreditar que talvez seja possível vivermos como um só povo. Entāo ainda por cima, sou Poliana?! Não. No fundo, no fundo, eu sei que leis da física são aplicáveis à tudo: para toda ação há uma reação. Não há como anos e anos de guerra acontecer, e continuarmos desligando a televisão, e pulando página de jornal e ignorando que a cavalaria das cruzadas está a todo vapor na rede, no rádio e na terra.

A marcha começou no Iraque, continua no Afeganistão, foi pra Síria e Iran talvez. Agora, decapitação faz parte do nosso vocabulário digital. Guilhotina até parece tecnologia avançada. 14 anos de guerra fazem isto. Há uma população específica sendo aniquilada entra dia, sai dia, e gerações inteiras vão se perdendo no oriente-médio. Definitivamente as gerações presentes e provavelmente, as futuras. Não. Vamos ser menos abstratos, pelo amor de Deus! Gerações coisa nenhuma. C-r-i-a-n-ç-a-s. São crianças, cara! Seja em Paris ou em Damasco. São todas crianças. Estaremos germinando cavalarias para cruzadas infindáveis se continuarmos a trancar porta à chave para elas. Fazer cruzadas em 1101 D.C. tem consequências bem diferentes do que no mundo globalizado, urbanizado e conectado de hoje. A onda humana está transbordando lá na Turquia, Líbano e Egito, mas a inundação vai acabar mesmo é lá na Alemanha. Todo imigrante vira farinha do mesmo saco: Iraquiano, Iraniano, Afegão = muçulmano, islâmico, militante do ISIS. Só estamos nos esquecendo que foram ataques como estes que os fizeram deixar seus países e virar refugiados pra início de conversa. Eles como ninguém conhecem o nível de barbárie que pode ser usada contra alguém em nome de Deus e Religião.

O que me faz lembrar porque estou lhe aborrecendo numa manhã de Sábado falando de inocência, ingenuidade e da Poliana que sou… Desde Domingo estou com a revista do New York Times na minha cabeceira. Lendo e relendo a matéria de capa sobre refugiados. Nada como 6 dias depois para tornar uma matéria ainda mais relevante…. E não foi à toa que New York Times lançou esta matéria como a primeira na história do jornal a usar não só texto, fotografias e vídeo mas um filme em realidade-virtual. Eu acredito que se todos lessem a página 48 desta matéria o mundo tomaria coragem de se unir e proteger uns aos outros, abrir as nossas portas e fazer um #PourteOuverte mundial. Aí está minha inocência escancarada. Acreditar que fotos como as da Lynsey Addario e textos como o de Susan Dominus sobre uma menina chamada Hana podem salvar o mundo. Pare neste instante de ler #Paris hashtags no Twitter, procurar por fotos de quem estava dentro do #LeBataclan no Instagram, ou olhar vídeos da Boulevard Voltaire no Periscope, e leiam a página 48 desta matéria. Paz e solidariedade podem ser criadas tão simples assim.

Jennifer Cabral, AKA Poliana.

Para ler Matéria “The Displaced” no New York Times visite o link http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/magazine/the-displaced-hana.html

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Current exhibition

PENNINGTON, NJ – Photographer Jennifer Cabral received an honorable mention for her work VISUAL CONCEPTIVE at the show Mercer County Photography 2015. Thirty-four photographs were selected for this juried exhibition supported, in part, by Mercer County Culture & Heritage Division, through a grant from the NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Silva Gallery hosted the biennial exhibition Mercer County Photography 2015 from September 9th through October 9th, 2015 at the Pennington Schoolhttp://www.pennington.org/arts/silva-gallery-of-art/index.aspx

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VISUAL CONCEPTIVE is a series of 4 photographs representing women’s weekly cycles. “I believe our bodies follow moon cycles – a waning and waxing of emotions and potentiality we carry within ourselves. Like seeds.” This work is only one of the elements that compose CONCEPTIVES – an art project created by photographer Jennifer Cabral as an invitation for women to become aware of their internal phases. While prints of VISUAL CONCEPTIVE was exhibited at Mercer County Photography 2015, three additional elements of  CONCEPTIVES project will be available online where the public can explore digital downloads, voice recordings, and imagery simultaneously.

According to Jennifer, “by connecting with each stage of our female cycles we take away the stigma of inconvenience and discomfort surrounding our menses and incorporate into it an element of empowerment and potentiality. In each week of their cycle women feel different inside their bodies: the changes are hormonal; emotional; mental and physical. As women, we all know this. But we ignore it or suppress it because of societal pressures, conventions, and demands; or influenced by external factors, like artificial hormones consumed through oral contraceptives, which can sometimes inhibit these natural female phases. As women, we have a chance to tap more easily into a part of ourselves each week – one that nourishes intuition, reflection, creativity or receptivity within us. With this artwork, I am attempting to remind us all of that.”

The other elements of CONCEPTIVES art project can be fully access online at conceptives.jennifercabral.com

AUDIO CONCEPTIVE explores sensations and impressions the artist experiences during her cycles with recordings of her voice. “I combine adjectives, nouns and verbs to create a lexicon of potentials existent in each of the four phases of a woman’s cycles. Its an evocation for women to become aware of these multiple parts within themselves and integrate them into their monthly, weekly and daily routines.” To listen to this recording now click here or visit conceptives.jennifercabral.com

DAILY CONCEPTIVE is used by Jennifer Cabral to share a daily word or image to describe the stage of her cycle she is experiencing. This will be explored simultaneously on Twitter with the hashtag #DAILYCONCEPTIVE and Pinterest. She wishes this to become an interactive element of the project and invites other women to share the phases of their cycles they are experiencing, as well. Click here to see it on Twitter and Pinterest. It can also be accessed from the artist’s website conceptives.jennifercabral.com

The last element of this project is called ORAL CONCEPTIVE. A set of images that can be downloaded as wallpaper/ screensaver for digital devices and be used as reminders of the feminie cycle on computers and mobile devices. Its intended to function as reminders of which 7-day-phase a woman is experiencing in her cycle. Each of the four image describes a potentiality to be explored. According to the artist, “As women, we have a chance to tap more easily into a part of ourselves each week with our hormonal cycles – one that nourishes intuition, creativity, receptivity or reflection within ourselves.” To access images go to http://conceptives.jennifercabral.com

The artist would like to add that, “this work is my artistic representation of women’s cycles and is not intended to promote health advice for women. For that, I encourage you to read the work of three inspiring authors I used to guide me through my own process of cycle awareness. They are Christiane Northup, MD; Alisa Vitti and Sara Avant Stover

Jennifer Cabral is an independent photographer based in Princeton, NJ. A member of National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), her work has been featured in newspapers and exhibitions in the US and Brazil, her native country. In Brazil, she graduated from the School of Fine Arts Escola Guignard, with a certificate in Photography. She also holds a BA in Social Communications from Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais. She attended the Photography Continuing Education Program at School of Visual Arts, in NY. And since 2010, she joined the staff of Princeton University where she photographs rare books and manuscripts from the University’s library collection.

For complete information about CONCEPTIVES | Art Project visit the website http://conceptives.jennifercabral.com

Any images included on this project can be used exclusively to promote the artist’s project and art show. Further usage of these images require a written permission from the artist Jennifer Cabral. She can be reached at photos@jennifercabral.com

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Breaking Silence

A gift received from Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā during my 10-day monastic retreat in Barre, MA.

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“May we be filled with love and kindness. May we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be happy.”

And so another day ended. At 10:00PM we walked out of the meditation hall the same way we came in: in complete silence. This chant would echo in our minds and lullaby us into the night. Together with a handful of chants in Pali, these were the only words ever uttered from our lips. The same routine would awaken us the next day at 5:30 in the morning. Day 1. Day 9. Day 3. It didn’t matter. Time was suspended. And so were we for the duration of this retreat. Sitting meditation. Walking meditation. Tea breaks. Breakfast. Lunch. Night fast. No dinner. Volunteer work.

Enclosed at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, our activities had one defining commonality: complete silence. Ten days of it. And there was a hundred of us. I opened a magazine and this universe that now seemed light-years away instantly flashed back at me. I was sitting at Barnes & Noble, a latte within reach, bad country song playing in the background, and I was now staring at the two Bhikkhunis that led that 10-day silent retreat. My two teachers, Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā were being featured on the later issue of Tricycle magazine.

I had forgotten that emptiness. I had forgotten the space that opens after your thoughts echo in vain in your mind. After ten days of ricocheting at an invisible wall with no response, a thought has no strength to keep going on its own. It gives up. You give up. You surrender. What was I saying? Nothing… Wasn’t that the whole point of that retreat? I never spoke about those ten days. (Silence, right?) And, It’s not that you walk away from an experience like this with “no words to describe it”. You walk away with a million words to describe it. Enough to keep you talking for hours on end, but that is exactly what you no longer want. Talking means missing what just happened. Missing this very moment. You treasure more the listening than the speech. So you suspend the speech in midair and go into silence. And this happens more often than you ever thought possible.

But, looking back at those ten days, that taught me more than I could ever grasp in 10 years, I realized there is something to be honored. And, in no way I am referring to my resilience to withstand a 10-day monastic retreat. Believe me, there is no merit in crawling into a quiet place when you are confused and in pain. But I have to break the silence, to honor those who held a space I could crawl into. And held that silence. And held me. Forever.

“May you be filled with love and kindness May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy.”

You can meet my teachers (I am daring to call myself a student) in the last issue of Tricycle | The Buddhist Review . They have been beautifully photographed by photographer Timothy Archibald.

If you want to experience some of the words that guided me during those ten day, you can hear some of the recordings of our evening dharma talks at http://www.dharmaseed.org/retreats/1444/

Since 2009, Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā have dedicated themselves in creating Aloka Vihara, a monastic community for women. And they hope to soon purchase its current rental house and 17-acre property near Placerville, California. If you would like to take part of their vision and assist them to have a permanent home, you can make a donation at http://saranaloka.org/support/were-purchasing-a-rural-property/

PS: I am happy to announce they were able to put a down payment on their rural property! All they need is help with their monthly payments. http://saranaloka.org/support/were-purchasing-a-rural-property/

And one more thing, Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā will be leading another monastic retreat at Insight Meditation Society in April. Here is all the information about it: Listening to Natural Law: Monastic Retreat

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13 MOONS

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I did it again. I told myself I wouldn’t. I told myself: “It’s time to stop. I’ve done it enough times. Stop it.” I asked myself: “Aren’t you tired of it? Just sitting there and dumping into it all that you feel again and again? Sometimes, you don’t even know what you are feeling exactly, but you do it anyway. Once these feelings are there, they become so obvious, don’t they? It becomes crystal clear: Oh, that is what was bothering me? That is what I miss? I thought I let go of that, so how come I’m still thinking about it? The truth is, you couldn’t stop it if you wanted to, could you?”

It all started as part of an art project. I called it #DAILYCONCEPTIVE. After 12 years of birth control pills, I decided to give it up, and in order to get in tune with the phases of my female cycles, I started to collect imagery and words on Pinterest and Twitter. My intention was to share it in social media, and open an invitation to other women to do the same. That they too would connect with their female cycles and express it.

It worked. It is happening. Others are connecting with me via Pinterest and Twitter. They react to this imagery and they add their own. What was mine becomes theirs, and what was theirs, mine. It’s a mere curatorial process. Some say curation is useless, but not when it’s done collectively. You can call it: collective selection. What is being said is not spoken in words, but there are thousands of them on each image. And it is so powerful.

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It was supposed to last 13 moons. The equivalent to 1 year of a woman’s cycle. The moons came and went. And I’ve now fulfilled my commitment. But I’m not done. I am still there. The imagery and lexicon are still there. And they keep coming. Just like my cycles: fluid and in volumes. It helps me understand my internal process. That confusing, intense and dark process that us women go through – being lead by unseeable hormonal waves. What a lonely mental and physical process that can be! But now these waves can be seen, and shared, and I am not riding it alone.

#DAILYCONCEPTIVE became a map. It shows me where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am headed. So I keep adding into it. Sometimes once a week. Sometimes every hour. All I know is that I am there often. Too often. It is a habit now. No, it’s a compulsion. If I am anxious and it’s hard to define where it is coming from, I have to go there. If the pressure is coming in waves or, the peace is so immense I just don’t want to let go of it, that’s how I do it. I put it there. I collect each emotion, each feeling, each day into this board. I can look back and it’s all there in one continuous page. This board now carries my past and present. And, although it can’t tell the future it tells me one thing: the search is infinite, limitless and continuous. And it must go on. And, so does #DAILYCONCEPTIVE. For as many moons as necessary #DAILYCONCEPTIVE will go on.

You can see my entire CONCEPTIVES Art Project at www.jennifercabral.com

This self-discovery wouldn’t have happened without the wisdom of three inspiring authors I used to guide me through my own cycle awareness process. They are Christiane Northup, MD; Alisa Vitti and Sara Avant Stover THANK YOU, Dear Teachers!

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We are MODPOnians

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MASSIVE.  The class had already started the week before. I had no background on the subjects that were being discussed, and an assignment was due in a couple of hours. But I mindlessly clicked the button and signed up for my first Coursera class. That morning, I had no idea of how massive of a step I was taking. I signed up to be part of an online class with tens of thousands of students. The exact number was something like 35.000 students. What was staggering was not how many people were doing something collectively online. Afterall, Facebook has trained us well on being one user in a billion. What was staggering was what tens of thousands of people, including now me, had chosen to do collectively online for 10 weeks. We had chosen to take a class on Modern & Contemporary American Poetry.

OPEN. The sense of belonging is not natural to me. I am an outsider. I think I will always feel inadequate. What could I possibly write about poetry? Who am I to talk about American Poetry? Could I even understand it? English is not my native tongue. But you can only underestimate the realm of universality that poetry belongs to for so long. By the end of the first week of classes, I got it. We all got it. Poetry is wide open. Wide open like beauty. And it had a world wide open space just for it. And from and through – forums, webcasts, assignments, peer reviews, twitter feeds, blogs, links – poetry was webbing itself. A World wide web.

ONLINE. You would think a Cousera class would be limited to a http:// address. But not this class. This class has an address. 3805 Locust Walk.  The Kelly Writers House, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Al Filreis welcomes all. Enrolls all. Teaches all. He circled himself with a select group of Teaching Assistants, wisely picked for their brilliance. And he generously shared the teaching gems he found with his student body. A physical student body that had nothing virtual about it. Because we came in herds from all walks of life, ages, nationalities, backgrounds. And we sat by their feet. And we listened to poetry. Read poetry. Discussed poetry. Proclaimed poetry. And we wrote poetry. Yes, we dared to.

COURSE.  You can call it Modern. Or Contemporary. Or American. Or Poetry. We call it MODPO. And we call ourselves MODPOnians. It is spread all over the web. Recorded for times to come. As proof of what is possible. Join us.

I was a proud pupil of Al Filreis during the class Modern & Contemporary American Poetry in the fall semester of 2013. And among my degrees, this certificate is one I will always hold dear to me. For more about this course and upcoming classes go to https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

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A BAKER’S HOUSE

Photos by Eugene Pierce and Jennifer Cabral. Written by Jennifer Cabral 
A bakery in central New Jersey becomes a household name for gluten-free living

The address is 2691 Main Street, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. When I walk into this house, I can feel the inhabitants that lived in it. Old fixtures and incandescent bulbs can still be found on the upstairs walls. A large dining table, full of stories to share is set up in the middle of the room. A chair saturated with age is placed by a window. The bathroom still carries its original iron tub. There is a couch I can share a book with. And the kitchen is no different than in any other home, the heart of it all. That is where I met Marilyn Besner. And that is where Wildflour Bakery and Cafe is housed.

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As the welcoming host at Wildflour, Marilyn is willing to spread maple syrup on confections for her guests, like the true Canadian that she is. Marilyn’s dedication to baking and cooking took years in the making. But the move from a part time pastry chef in the Princeton area, to a business owner, happened in a matter of months – she saw the old house for sale in November 2012, and Wildflour opened its doors in May 2013. After a few adaptations from a previous restaurant operating in the building, it was remodeled with food as it’s central purpose, and a home setting as it’s core. It now carries a hybrid design that allows a state of the art industrial kitchen to cohabit the intimacy of a living space. Marilyn Besner formally trained in New York, at The French Culinary Institute and The Natural Gourmet Institute. But it was in between meals served to family and friends, at a table inherited from her mother, where she has always actualized her recipes. It wouldn’t be any different when she had to create a menu for her first cafe. Except on one occasion, when Marilyn had to play guest instead of a host. To perfect the mint chutney sauce served on crepes at Wildflour, or the vegetable dosa that shows up as a daily special, Marilyn was invited to a dosa party. No such thing as too many cooks in that kitchen. There, surrounded by women willing to share as many recipes as stories, Marilyn made her first attempts to prepare dosa. Later, she would achieve the precise crispness and flavor of these dishes in her own kitchen with the direct supervision of her friend Jaya and her native South Asian palate.

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Her familiarity with timing and temperature comes not only from the oven, but from a kiln, as well. She is skilled in the art of pottery – clay and glaze being treated no different than flour and frosting. But when time came to create her breads and pastries, Marilyn Besner relied on Mathew Andresen, a member of Bread Bakers Guild of America, to help her adapt home made recipes into production. The most challenging element was creating the perfect mixture of entirely gluten-free flours – the core element of Wildflour Bakery and Cafe. Their partnership’s success can be tasted in every bite. You not only do not miss regular wheat flour, but welcome all sophisticated textures and flavors incorporated into their recipes from the use of more intricate flours like tapioca, quinoa, garbanzo, rice, lentil and amaranth. Wildflour is a safe haven for those with gluten sensitivity that will not disappoint any bread and butter eater. And believe me, I am both.

My grandfather owned a bakery in my hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in the 40’s. My dad, the youngest of 6 children, was able to escape shifts working behind the counter at Bakery Sul America, to attend games by his favorite soccer team, but life wouldn’t let him escape his fate of working in the baking business. Even after getting an Engineering degree at CUNY in New York, he would eventually go back to Brazil and open his own company custom building baking ovens in the same town his father delivered fresh bread out of carriages. For years, my dad’s job was coming in and out of bakeries making sure the ovens he designed at Erlan Ovens were evenly distributing heat over the golden rolls we Brazilians call “bread of salt”. My way of embracing our family’s roots in the baking business was to offer no resistance to being raised on bread – like any Brazilian worth it’s salt. As a child, I volunteered to take part of a national daily ritual – to stand in line at a neighborhood bakery to pick up fresh bread in the late afternoons. I can still feel in my arms, the warm paper bag I would carry, full of bread that would be smothered with butter within minutes of being out of the oven.

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I would still be carrying on such tradition, if it weren’t for a gluten sensitivity I developed a couple of years ago, and the migraines that accompany it. I had no choice but to settle for tasteless frozen versions of gluten-free breads offered at natural supermarkets. I was getting used to the packages full of ingredients that promised far more than they could deliver, until one day I read in the local paper that a gluten-free bakery was opening in my own town of Lawrenceville, NJ. I visited the bakery the next morning. And the morning after that. It quickly became my daily stop on my way to work – “A banana muffin, please. No. Make it, two.” One day I stared at a tray of robust purple loaves freshly baked. “What are those?”, I asked Anita, the friendly server that by now, knows me by name. “It’s Pumpernickel”, she said. I took a loaf home, and smothered it with butter while still warm out of the oven. Nothing like tasting tradition again. I was overwhelmed by its taste. Later I would learn where all that flavor came from – together with caraway seeds, Wildflour‘s Pumpernickel contains cocoa, maple sugar and a shot of espresso.

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And it was with a shot of espresso that I enticed my husband to come to a gluten-free bakery with me. Gene is the coffee-and-cigarettes type. My better-half is unwilling to sacrifice much in the name of healthy habits, let alone taste. So, he didn’t have many expectations for the “no-wheat-zone” he was about to step into. But that only lasted the first bite into a blueberry scone. Wildflour’s version of his favorite delicacy, and a bold cup of coffee did the trick. Now, he is hooked as I am at sitting in the cafe and enjoying the ambiance of the place, while trying something new from their menu without any fear of disappointment. It didn’t take long for the photographers in us to get hungry, too. So we invited ourselves into the kitchen, camera and all – “What time does a baker get out of bed?”, we naively asked.

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At 5:15 AM, both Matt and Marilyn were already down by the oven rolling bread. Predictable in shape and size were their rolls, but not their conversations. The discussions went from global warming – “Last night’s heavy rain in the garden might have done some damage”; to the ethics of free range cattle – “It tastes better, too”; to participating in the slow food movement – “Chard from the farmer across the street should arrive today”. As I stare at their hands covered in dough someone mentions: “You better love your baker, ’cause a little of the baker goes into the dough.” At some point, I caught Marilyn looking at the veins on her hands as she bragged: “I worked hard to earn these”. I kept a list in my head of the nouns those hands were able to create so early in the morning: Foccacia. Challah. Biscotti. Scone. Danish.

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The bread was finally baked. Clouds of steam rolled out every time the oven door opened. We were enveloped in fresh-out-of-the-oven smells. The 16 baguettes that would be sold throughout the day took over the kitchen counter. Right there and then, one was sliced and covered with jam and butter. Equal portions were shared among all. Breakfast was served. Nothing will ever taste better. I asked Matt: “What is your favorite thing to bake?” Chocolate chip cookies, he answered, as he handed me a scoop of cookie dough that made me dream of what the baked version tasted like. When I mentioned I was from Brazil, Matt immediately asked about Pão de Queijo, a cheese puff typical from my home state of Minas Gerais. I promised to bring him the authentic yucca flour recipe. They played with the ingredients I listed, and came up with a delicious crisper and darker version of the round and creamy color of the Pão de Queijo I’ve known growing up. They will now serve Brazilian cheese puffs every Wednesday mornings. If they serve it as my father likes it, it will be eaten along side a tiny cup of espresso, filled with spoons of sugar.

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It’s 8 A.M.. Countless trays flowed out of the basement. The staircase stood as a reminder there was a whole world waiting. Counter, kitchen and tables lingered. The encased glass display was now filled with flavors. The door opened to it’s first customers of the day. The servers and the dishwasher soon lined up for duty. Since 7 A.M., Monica had taken over the kitchen prepping vegetables and leafy greens with the familiarity that can only come from being a vegetarian chef (Her blog La Vegetariana is proof – www.lavegetariana.com ). The lunch rush would soon take over this establishment. One of the servers carrying a stack of empty plates, proclaimed: “They loved the corn cakes. They just ordered one more.” Monica greased a pan for the task. The case of ripened mangoes would no longer wait to garnish this dish. Monica combined the sweet salsa with a stack of warm cakes. All I could say was Olé. And many are saying the same about their menu that is not only gluten-free, but vegetarian as well. Wildflour Bakery was included in the 2013 Jersey Critic’s Choice Restaurant Poll under the vegetarian category.

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Orders for late lunches were still coming in, but the counter of pastries was already busy with late afternoon customers hovering to take home any gluten-free treats left. It doesn’t take much for someone to feel lucky – the last macaroon or shortbread will do. Meanwhile, Marilyn is in charge of the less glamorous tasks in the restaurant business: payroll, placing orders, getting supplies. If only her restaurant management training in NY, would make it any easier. The dishes are all washed. The kitchen is cleaned. The bakery is dormant for the day. The doors are now locked. But Marilyn is still standing behind the counter looking at numbers. It’s a 12 hour day, everyday. Do they teach that in culinary school? That’s what my father remembers the most about the bakery – the long hours his father worked. The bakery opened its doors at 6 in the morning and wouldn’t stop serving customers until way past 10 P.M. My Grandfather moved his family to the upper floor of the bakery as the only way to keep up with the intense schedule. The building of Bakery Sul America would be where my grandfather lived and died. He was 61. My dad was 15 when his father, José Amaro, passed away. To “earn one’s bread and butter” takes a whole new meaning when you are the one standing by the oven.

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Photographers Jennifer Cabral and Eugene Pierce create high-end photo essays for blogging, web illustration and social media to attend the needs of independent professionals and small businesses. To learn more about their services visit www.jennifercabral.com

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“This house is not yours”

After ringing the door bell, the gate was open to us. A polite and timid maid walked us through the garden. the owner waited for us by the door. My parents were received with a warm welcome by Dona Lourdes, their friend of many years, and I, after being properly kissed and hugged, escaped to see the backyard. Immense buildings surrounded the property on all sides. The only allowed view was the sky above. The sunlight was still plenty for the decade-old-trees guarding the house. Fruits like Papaya, coffee and Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora) waited to get ripe. Orchids housed by trees, thanked the hospitality with splashes of color on each branch. Pots were carefully planted with herbs that were used as spices as well as medicine. The memory of my daD crushing Boldo for his eventual hangovers came right back to me, as I saw some Peumus boldus growing there.

This backyard would’ve been unnoticed when growing up – just a typical house in my neighborhood. My Aunt Nenem’s place had an immense loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) attracting all kinds of birds, combined with a fish tank and wondering ladybugs – one would always come back home with me, inside a match box. At my Aunt Efigênia’s house, I would spend hours making bubbles using the stems of mamona, better known as, castor oil plant. No straws back then. Sometimes on my way home from school, I would stop by the Jaboticaba tree, at my friend Raquel’s house, for some snacking. And all neighbors knew about the avocado tree next door: “It’s so big, it could kill you”, as some would describe the ripened avocados that fell out of the sky. But all I had to do was to look up at the suffocating presence of skyscrapers over this house, to be reminded that places like those no longer exist. My hometown of Belo Horizonte, in Brazil, has become a permanent construction site. All houses from my childhood memories have been torn down, long ago. Progress, some say.

I’m invited inside. The table was set. Coffee, biscuits and pão de queijo, the regionally famous cassava flour bread, were served. A maid was standing by. Available and waiting. I am the only one who notices and acknowledges her constant presence. But I avert her eyes with obvious embarassement and shame on my face. “Why don’t you sit down, Have a cup of coffee, and Eat some pão de queijo?”- I dared to ask her only in my thoughts. As everyone else in the room I go back to ignoring her as we were taught to do.

My parents were having lively conversations and old stories were being shared like cups of coffee. I couldn’t resist the architecture and started to wonder around the place. Inside, religious relics blessed and protected the home. Even from the precise ticking of the clock. Time was still. the Family history was hanging on the walls as if intact. I walked down the hallway and found one of the rooms. A mosquito net and the open window made the humid South American air even more pronounced. Dona Lourdes walks in. “You can come and stay, anytime you want. This house is yours”, she said. And during that afternoon in May, I pretended it to be. unlike the maid. She knows better.

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SUNDAY BRUNCH

eggs ©JenniferCabralIt’s white. Sky, air, trees and ground. Another blank page of a day. Who would’ve thought I would be fond of winters? Milk is frothing-hot. Rice milk. I’ve banned Almond milk in defense of bees. Almond butter included. I don’t feel like sustaining an industry that truck loads entrapped creatures cross country. 12 years a slave! That’s what bee colonies became. Since 2001, California increased it’s almond production and now hogs more than 80% of the world’s entire production. No, thanks. I can live on peanuts.

Gene grinned the coffee. It has a pretty name. Lyon. Its tin tells me I am defending lands and oceans, helping endangered species, aiding disaster relief. I’m a hero, and I am not even awake, yet. I hold my cup asking the same question I pronounce every time a Starbucks’ door swings open on a sidewalk: why doesn’t it tastes as good as it smells? I take brief sips followed by deep breaths of coffee.

A nest of brown shaded cocoons sit on the counter. As I cradled an egg on each hand, I pause. But ultimate design is meant to be practical. I crack the eggs open. 2 suns now sit in a bowl. Organic. not enough. Cage-free. No longer enough. Pasture-raised eggs are the old new way. According to the label, animals are now roaming free! This promise costs me $7 a dozen. The chickens down the road seem free. I just can’t make it there on time. Farm hours and rush hour are not compatible. I drive pass Cherry Grove every day and say: tomorrow.

Brown rice wrap is warmed up. I bite the gluten-free pouch filled with scrambled eggs, more dry than wet. I’ve sprinkled it with Flor de Sal. As close to lusitanian waters and Fernando Pessoa as I’ll ever get again. Coffee, eggs. A newspaper? No. I am on Twitter. Non-organic, caged, ranged news.

Time for the ritual. Sunday Brunch. I start with a bag of chamomile tea. Some lavender is thrown in. I place a towel over my head. Moist vapors clog my chest, but my pores are wide open. I breath the scent, but it’s lavender mascarpone I taste. Is the Princeton ice cream parlor open? I wash my face with a dabble of facial wash and a bit of baking soda. Rinse. I put aside a spoon full of egg whites. I whip it and cover my face with it. Something my mother taught me. I am white. It drys until I can’t move my lips. My sis would try to make me laugh every time. Good times. I rinse againand I am now protein infused. I pat my face dry and smother it with honey. Licking each finger, I wonder how is Mr. Tassot doing. He is fine. Beekeepers live forever, don’t they? My skin smiles. Rinse.

{ SUNDAY BRUNCH INGREDIENTS }

PASTURE RAISED EGGS | Cherry Grove Farm – Lawrenceville, NJ http://www.cherrygrovefarm.com/

LAVANDER MASCARPONE | The Bent Spoon – Princeton, NJ http://www.thebentspoon.net

FLOR DE SAL | Savory Spice Shop – Princeton, NJ http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/new-jersey/princeton.html

LYON COFFEE | La Colombe Lyon Coffee – Philadelphia, PA http://shop.lacolombe.com/collections/reserve/products/lyon

HONEY | Tassot Apiaries  – Melville, NJ http://www.tassotapiaries.com/honeylavender ©JenniferCabralflor de salbaking soda ©JenniferCabralcoffee ©JeniferCabral

Let’s work together? Photographer Jennifer Cabral creates high-end photo essays for blogging, web illustration and social media. To learn more about her 2B photo sessions visit www.jennifercabral.com

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LETTER TO A FELLOW ARTIST

smithPrinceton, NJ. | Monday, December 2nd, 2014.

Dear Photographer Pablo Ortiz Monasterio,

I was fortunate to attend your lecture “Mexican Portraits” at Princeton University last Monday. Part of me wished you were one of the speakers during the symposium Itinerant Languages of Photography organized by Princeton’s Spanish and Portuguese Department. Although you didn’t speak during those 3 days, your presence was felt. Your work was well represented in the exhibition and book with the same title. The words during your lecture were so soothing to me. Reading from the pages of your own books, you told us: a photograph is powerful. Not once upon a time, but today, during a time, when all we hear about is the silencing of images happening by their mere volume. There are too many images. There are cameras everywhere. Everyone is a photographer. But you whispered: images still have a voice. Maybe not in the promiscuous space of the internet, where photographs are posted, blogged, twitted and constantly reproduced out of context. But they have a voice loud and clear inside books. For sure, inside your books. Once incorporated into a page, a photograph is protected by a defined space. Separated. Individualized. Your words gave photography a skin. Book pages are like membranes. A contamination happens from within. The meaning of one image transmitted to the one that follows, and vice-versa. In pairs, images carry meanings previously nonexistent, but surely present as a double.

You reminded me I don’t want every one of my photographs spilled immediately into a Flickr-Instagram-Pinterest-ocean. But instead, I want my images to be edited, selected, sequenced, interpreted, so my work in photography can be purposefully and intentionally written. Maybe this way, we wouldn’t be destroyed in a “tsunami of images”, like Joan Fontcuberta told us. A volume of images that makes us dismiss, ignore, reject and discard images, no matter how relevant or powerful those images are. Take Susan Meisellas’ ebook Chile from within, for example. How come, everyone is not downloading this book? Not only a testament to a time when photographers tiptoed respectfully into the editing process; Walking barefooted among photographs carefully printed from hand-picked negatives; But a statement to the powerful process of creating and sharing images among fellow photographers, working for weeks, to read and write photography collectively.

Which is why I am grateful to Gabriela Nouzeilles and Eduardo Cadava for organizing, curating, and generously hosting “Itinerant Languages of Photography”. The book, exhibition and symposium gave photography a space. We read photography. We discussed photography. We looked at photography. Once again, Photography was observed, described and interpreted. Sometimes by scholars like Geoffrey Barchen illustrating a history imprinted with photographs; or by Professor Maurício Lissovsky, and his observations on the Greeks’ concern over the effects the written word would have on rhetoric. A lyric reminder that trivializes the current digital versus analog debate. But throughout the symposium photographers themselves stepped into the stage. They carried with them a questioning that sometimes can only be detected by a fellow artist’s eyes. The photographer is exposing himself. Depicting himself. Exhuming his own body of work right there on stage. And this questioning is always followed by an internal knowing: Art is never easy; It is challenging to create it; It is daring to present it; It is daunting to interpret it.

There is a kind of teaching that only comes from a fellow artist. At your lecture on Monday, or during the symposium, I was transported to a time when I’ve learned directly from other artists. A time when I was a student at Escola Guignard. An art school in Belo Horizonte, Brazil that throughout its history tried to balance the roots set by its founder and the demands of higher education. From the painter Guignard’s perspective, the lessons came as much from nature as from another artist. Guignard’s students became my teachers. Other artists also came and taught. Art was passed from artist to artist. Degrees and diplomas were a mere consequence.

For my husband, photographer Eugene Pierce, learning wasn’t much different. Some of his most memorable lessons also came from an artist. Gene was named after a family friend. This man was a frequent guest. He lived in and out of the darkroom that existed in the house. A kid less than 10, Gene was lured into that room. His curious observations as a child were not only acknowledged by this photographer, but were fed by him. Among negatives and prints; Among images and war; there was this man. A man wounded in war. A man with not enough time to document events like he wanted. Not enough money to support family or craft. Struggling but still producing images, still producing photographs, still being a photographer.

After listening to the Symposium’s closing remarks, Gene and I sat at Small World Coffee, in Princeton, and we had a catharsis of what we’ve just heard. Photography might not be dead, but it had been distorted, manipulated, infringed, reappropriated, to the point of becoming unrecognizable. And we felt impotent. There was a tsunami coming. A tsunami of images. How could we be heard? Like our voices muffled inside that cafe, our photography was disappearing. Gene still believes in the power of portraiture; in printing. I still believe in the power of the essay; in narrative. What can we do about it? We can’t change this. We can’t stop these tendencies that are seeping into every corner of this profession. The lack of skills. The trickery of effects. The false promises of technology. The indifference to the moment. We are sitting here, watching the death of a craft in an instant. And we feel paralyzed.

But this disempowerment only lingers until we walk into a museum; and we stare at a black and white print; and we become speechless in front of the beauty of a Graciela Iturbide’s photograph. Until we face the photo of a tortured man on the wall, just to realize he is not only photographer Marcelo Brodsky’s brother, but our own brother. Until we look at a photo of the streets in Buenos Aires to find layers of interpretation intentionally embedded by photographer Eduardo Gil. Until we see through the transparent work and soul of Salvatore Puglia. A gentle and humble artist that spoke of his work during the symposium, even thought he didn’t have to. His work alone said it all. Until I held your book La Ultima Ciudad, Pablo. And I am transported into a city. Mexico City. Carried there to roam its streets. In moments like these, we remember how loud of a voice photography has.

Sitting at the cafe that evening Gene and I started to gather our thoughts and strengths. Maybe we could fight this force. We could use the weight of our opponent, as if photography is some kind of martial art. And we committed right there and then to Gene’s out-loud-thoughts: “I could teach. These skills. This craft. I want to pass it on. One on one. In my own studio. To those who want to learn directly from a photographer.” As he said it, I could only think of the lessons that inevitably would have to come: How hard it is to become a photographer; How daring it is be a photographer; How daunting it is to continue to be a photographer. And most of all, that a photographer is not a brief self-pronounced-tittle, but a perpetual self-developed-skill.

Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, I thank you for your teachings. For passing your craft from an artist to the next. I hope this cycle continues. That artists can teach others, like I once was taught by Guignard’s disciples, and Gene was once exposed to a craft by W.Eugene Smith.

With much gratitude,
Jennifer Cabral-Pierce

Eugene Pierce and Jennifer Cabral are independent photographers living in Princeton, NJ. If you would like to learn more about their work and future projects just follow this blog.

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Miles apart

13-miles111“Are you ready?” – That is a question I have been asked a lot by those who learn I am running my first half-marathon this weekend. Even my mother is wondering, “Are you sure you can do this?”. And I’ll give you the same answer I gave her: “Mom, I have no idea!”

I know I probably didn’t get a “proper training”, because I simply can’t follow any rules. When I finished reading the book Running on Air for example, I put it down and hit the pavement. Between breathing and strides, I tried to apply all it’s detailed formula and somewhere during my run I lost track of it all. I came up with my own version of this technique, and managed to finished my first 13-mile run that afternoon. Sorry, Budd Coates your technique was a helpful start, but I couldn’t follow it all the way. Not surprising since I can’t even follow a cooking recipe, but somehow I always make it work.

When I am in the kitchen, I change ingredients; I mix different quantities; I add odd ingredients to everyday dishes like, cinnamon on rice, or cayenne pepper on oatmeal. I am as unpredictable in the kitchen, as I am in my runs. I know there is plenty of perfect equations with variables like carbs, electrolytes, pronated and supinated feet, orthotics, lactate threshold, taper….the list goes on. But when I schedule a run, things never go as planned. Days with perfect blue skies followed by GPS in synch, a blasting playlist, the new jacket that is just warm enough and a perfectly balanced evening meal, still might end as a battle against the asphalt in the morning. I try to follow all rules, but if my mind isn’t there, if my heart isn’t there, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t know how you do it, Pro athletes out there who must perform no matter what, when and where!

It’s the same when I’m photographing. I know the rule of thirds in composition. The four saddle points for subject placement that produces the most interesting and dynamic composition forcing the viewer to direct their eyes to the regions that follow the Golden Proportion scheme. Do I think about these rules even for one split second when I am looking through the viewfinder of my camera? Nup. That’s not how I function. All rules get lost somewhere in my brain, and I only follow what feels right. Which for me is something in between a tingling sensation in my belly, a longer inhalation and the skip of a heart beat. That’s when I know its time to push the shutter. And that’s when I know its time to push my body during a run.

And I know just as well, it is not by pounding the ground, puffing my lungs out or breaking my back, like some actually do, that I manage to finish a run. My almost fainting-breathless-self is proof. Instead, I have to go into a space inside my body where all I do is listen. The same space I had to find within myself during a 10-day-silent retreat I signed up for. Do you think running is hard? Try sitting meditation for 12 hours per day/ 10 days in a row. All I could do in that wanna-be-Budha-state was listen to my breath until I could hear my own heart beating. Only when I asked my body “What do you need?”, my hips found a way to melt into a lotus position and stay there without screaming. If I do the same while running, my body has infinite room to expand – there is more than enough air to take in and strides to push out. As long as I care to ask “What do you need?” like some magical running mantra, my body is willing to go the extra mile.

And you never know, there is always the possibility of coming across one of those mutating runs. Those mornings when I am tying my shoe laces as an I-don’t-want-to-do-this runner and finish as a gazelle-chased-by-lion one. In those runs, a sluggish-trotting-being takes over my body the entire first mile, yapping “turn around and walk home.” But if I only stop to ask: “What do you need?”, I can find myself lost in a blissful state by mile 2. In this runner’s high, my already big-mouth-smile doubles in size, and a 3-mile-run becomes 8. That’s because I am no longer running. I am dancing. Yes, sis. You are not the only one in the family that gets to do that. When I pay attention to my breath, align it with my heart, and synchronize it with my strides, a dance takes place.

I was always a quitter. One of those annoying whiny ones:  “It hurts. It’s too hard. I can’t do it.”. That was me at 13, running after my 11 volleyball teammates, the very last in line. So for the next 20 some years my “I can’t run” speech was legit. But the 13-year-old is now going on 40. In 3 months and 3 days to be exact. Mid life crises or not, I know the 13 and the 40-year-old are now miles apart. Let’s just hope they are apart for at least 13.1 miles.

And, Mom… I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you are in town, come to cheer me on and other 1000 runners during the Princeton Half-Marathon this Sunday, Nov. 3rd 2013. Race starts at 7:30AM and lasts for about 3 hours. 250 volunteers and 2000 spectators will be attending. More at https://www.facebook.com/PrincetonHalfMarathon 

Jennifer Cabral is a photographer in Princeton, NJ. Together with her husband, Photographer Eugene Pierce, she creates high-end portrait sessions and photo essays. www.jennifercabral.com

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SAUDADES DO BRASIL

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The radio would be playing: A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road…. And as fast as my dad reached for the car radio after arriving at our destination, I would beg: “Please don’t turn it off, Dad, I want to finish listening to this song.” For as long as I can remember, Águas de Março by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim has been my lullaby. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a memory from the womb, since in 1974, the year I was born, the classic duet’s recording was the number one song in Brazil. It’s still my favorite song, the same one I used to sing to my dolls, and the one I hummed in my head during the endless arithmetic classes I’ve hated so much as a child. In 1979, the poet Vinícius de Moraes put out the record “Arca de Noé” (Noah’s Arc) and my repertory of childhood songs grew exponentially. I would listen to all its 15 songs, but my favorite one was sang by Elis Regina, “A Corujinha” (The Little Owl), one of the saddest children’s songs you will ever hear. (listen to it here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=djv1UV8oCDI).

By 1980, when a K-7 tape titled “Saudades do Brasil” showed up in my house, Elis Regina was all I listened to. I had my first muse. That K-7 tape disappeared from my Dad’s collection and became my property. It’s still one of the few relics I’ve kept from my childhood. Never mind that so many words were not appropriate to a 7-year-old. Take the song “Onze Fitas”, for example:

By mistake, revenge or courtesy Por engano, vingança ou cortesia
Was there dead and put a stray Tava morto e posto, um desgarrado
Eleven shots made ​​fault Onze tiros fizeram a avaria
The dead man was already conformed E o mortotava conformado

And, I can’t tell you how many hours my little mind tried to understand the lyrics of “Redescobrir”:

Go like the child who does not fear the time. Mystery!
Love so pleasing to make that is to bepain. Magic!
Vai como a criança que não teme o tempo. Mistério!
Amor se fazer é tão prazer que é como fosse dor. Magia!

Then, in 1982, while spending the summer at my gradmother‘s house in Rio de Janeiro came the news: Elis Regina was dead. She was 36. Dead? – what does that mean? – Glued to the TV screen on a hot January afternoon, a week short of my 8th birthday, I was trying to understand it. A thousand people followed a casket through the streets of São Paulo. Her body there, laying still on TV, white, just like my grandma Luzia would be a few years later, their beds of roses mixed in a confusion of childhood memories. Dead? How could that be? The radio played her songs non-stop. Her voice still came out of my K-7 player. And, I could hear her singing in my head all the time:” It is night, it is death, it’s a trap, it’s a gun…”

A decade or so later, I came across moving images of her in Black and White. Enveloped in cigarette smoke, playing with rosary beads hanging from her neck as a necklace, she wasn’t laying still on the screen, but strong and alive as ever. I video taped part of the famous TV CULTURA interview on VHS. The muse was etched once and for all in my mind, where I had kept her alive just in case that casket, that body was just a childish make believe. Years later, at a concert in New York City, I saw her progeny sing. I closed my eyes and listened to Maria Rita pronouncing a language only spoken between a mother and daughter. Elis, Dead? Who said so? And away I still sing: “And the river bank talks of the waters of March. It’s the promise of life in your heart, in your heart.”

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BIRTHPLACE

visual conceptive seriesSo I will finally give birth to my latest project CONCEPTIVES after months of gestation! The birthplace is Brooklyn, New York. Most exactly, at BROOKLYN FIREPROOF in East Williamsburg on July, 6th 2013 during E.S.P. | Extra-Sensorial Perception | a Feminist Art & Variety Show. A show that has been cancelled before for lack of support to it’s goal: to raise money to Planned Parenthood and www.womanspace.org – a non-profit organization in NJ dedicated to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. But we are achieving what curator Doris Yuan envisioned as its birthright: to create a platform for emerging feminist artists and establish a link between artists and communities. Thirty artists from various parts of the country, will be participating of a group exhibition and during opening night a series of performances will take place including STAND-UP/IMPROV/MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMANCES BY: Jessica Delfino, Sasheer Zamata, SVCK MY D!CK II, Anna Drezen, Emilie Parker Strange; Judith George. LIVE MUSIC PERFORMANCE BY: Tiny Teeth and DANCE PARTY to follow with DJ DANNY BONADUCE, KAPERKOLATER, and DJ SOUR PUSS.

E.S.P. | a Feminist Art Show
8PM-2AM @ BROOKLYN FIREPROOF
119 Ingraham St, New York, NY 11237 (Morgan Avenue stop L train)
$5 – $10 sliding scale cover (all proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood and Womanspace.) (ages 21+)

For further information visit http://esp-feminist.tumblr.com/ 

Two of the four elements that compose the project CONCEPTIVES will be shown at E.S.P. | a Feminist Art & Variety ShowVISUAL CONCEPTIVE – a series of 4 photographs representing women’s weekly cycles;  And ORAL CONCEPTIVE– a set of cards that will be distributed during opening night. These cards will be presented inside birth control holders, collected during the last 5 years the artist submitted her body to oral contraceptive consumption. Each of the 50 pouches will be inserted with a set of 4 cards. “By repurposing birth control holders I’ve accumulated over the years, I am taking control over my own cycles and reclaiming each phase my body is experiencing. At the same time, I hope to raise awareness of what we, as women, might be loosing when we interfere with our natural hormonal cycles by absorbing artificial hormones via oral contraceptive consumption.

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But don’t forget CONCEPTIVES is an ongoing art project that can be completely accessed online. So if you cannot make it to the show you can still be part of it. The images that compose ORAL CONCEPTIVE can be downloaded as wallpaper/ screensaver for digital devices and be used as cycle reminders on computers or mobile devices. To download it, go to http://conceptives.jennifercabral.com And a Limited Edition Series of VISUAL CONCEPTIVE is available for purchase online. From each 4-print series purchase, a $5 donation will be made to Womanspace – a non-profit organization in NJ dedicated to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. To see this Limited Edition Series click here.

In addition, I’ve been sharing words and images to describe the stage of my cycle I am experiencing at #DAILY CONCEPTIVE. This is being explored simultaneously on Twitter with the hashtag #DAILYCONCEPTIVE and on the social media site Pinterest. It has become a fun interaction with other women and together we are constructing an iconography of personal cycles. See it now at:

http://pinterest.com/jennifercabral/dailyconceptive-diarioconceptivo-an-art-project-gr/

Any images included on this post can be used exclusively to promote the artist’s project and art show. Further usage of these images require a written permission from the artist Jennifer Cabral. She can be reached at photos@jennifercabral.com

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Spare Change

271493_107625736003330_4501113_o In September, 2004 I was in Los Angeles finishing a 2-month printing job. I woke up one morning, and received the sad news of Eddie’s passing. I went into the darkroom and made a small contact print of a portrait I shot of Eddie some year’s earlier. When it was dry, I put it in my wallet and it has stayed there ever since. A few month’s ago, I was contacted by the New Kensigton Camera Club, with a request to reproduce the image on a coin to help raise money to purchase a Pennsylvania Historical Marker in New Kensington, Eddie’s hometown. I said the cost would be one coin. When I receive the coin, I will put it in my wallet with Eddie’s picture. Fortunately, my wallet is usually empty which leaves a lot of room for fond memories of a friend who could be difficult at times, but never boring.

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The 100 coins featuring my photograph of Eddie Adams were designed by Don Henderson and minted by Dennis St Joer, a retired Army Sergeant Major that since 1993 has been manufacturing coins for the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. They will be sold during EDDIE ADAMS DAY, a day dedicated to Eddie’s life and times, organized by New Kensington Camera Club.

Eddie Adams Day

EDDIE ADAMS DAY will be celebrated on June 8th, 2013 in New Kensigton, PA. The event that will be marked by an exhibition of 21 photos by Eddie Adams at the Heritage Museum, a screeening of the documentary “An Unlikely Weapon” about his life, followed by a dinner with guest speaker Hal Buell, veteran photo editor for the Associated Press. Alyssa Adams, co-creator of the Eddie Adams Workshop and deputy Photo Editor at TV Guide will also participate of the day’s festivities as the judge of the competition Inspired by Eddie Adams 2013 photo show. All proceeds will be used to purchase the Historical Marker for Eddie in New Kensington, PA. Additional Proceeds will be used towards the Eddie Adams/John Filo Scholarship Fund.. Full information about EDDIE ADAMS DAY at www.eddieadamsday.com

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Final Act

65351-2-0118It was a final rehearsal for the group Danza Española de Princeton, lead by Alma Concepción. After a lifetime of dancing Alma was leaving the American Repertory Ballet of Princeton, where she taught for 29 years. But, from one of the four corners of the classroom I alternately positioned myself, I could see that Alma was not rehearsing. Just like she never rehearsed at six-years-old when she started taking dance lessons in her hometown of Santurce in Puerto Rico or, when she was a soloist performing in places as far away as Spain; much less, during the 10 years when she ran her own Escuela de Baile Alma Concepción – the name behind it wouldn’t allow it; And less, when she founded a volunteer community dance organization for Hispanic children, Taller de Danza. Performing is all she knows.

Alma had done it her entire life. I could see it when she moved in the center of the room filling the space with hand gestures and playing her castanets with closed eyes. The dancer was in the room. I could hear behind each word of encouragement she would give to a struggling dancer oblivious to his or her abilities. Her voice charged with anticipation for something no one in the room could foresee but she – what they, as dancers were capable of. The mentor was in the room. Perfection was mandatory. She demanded it non-bashfully. In a perfect marriage of intuition and technique, the group’s military precision of steps and castanets merged with a flow of improvised movements. Alma was anxious. She clapped in compass with the rhythm. Stop. Do it again. Stop. Start all over. And then, a contempt smile escaped from the corner of her eyes. Stop. Let’s take a break. She had achieved her goal.

The reflection in the mirror revealed her multifaceted life. She played all parts: The wife; The mother; The artist; The host I witnessed one January 6th. Her house was a combination of Art and Academia like its counterparts. No wonder her offspring are both artists. Welcoming laughs and warm introductions came from a worldly crowd. Spanish weaved every conversation. Music started playing and a little girl danced in the small living room. I recognized the stampede. It was as intense as her grandmother’s. From that evening, as if a Dia de Reys gift, I carried away a treasured realization: That life is a final act. And it never ends.

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AUDIO CONCEPTIVE – a recorded accent

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I had the concept for AUDIO CONCEPTIVE , my latest art project, ready. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to record my words in my own voice. I had a draft, and I had a cadence in my head. I even had the example of Sidney and Maria, my dearests of friends and muses to guide me. I had assisted them on voice recordings for their own projects once. (You can hear one of their recordings here – http://cowbird.com/story/59639/Paralitico/ ).

I had done it in make-believe voice-overs for make-believe products while I attended advertising school in Brazil. I knew what it was like to sit in a recording booth; memorizing lines; taking deep breaths and talking with no interruptions. I had done it. But this time I was scared. No, I was terrified. Because, I had recorded these audios in my own language. In my own local and widely accepted accent. “Mineirês” as this dialect of sorts is called in Brazil. And I could live with that. I have lived with that accent without much notice my entire life.

It was an accent only shown when I crossed state lines and walked barefooted on Rio de Janeiro’s shores, or stepped into Avenida Paulista, then I could see my accent spilled all over the ground – Yes it’s obvious – I am from the city of Belo Horizonte. I live in the state of Minas Gerais. I am not from there. But this time, I had to do it in a foreign language. Yes. It will be 12 years next month that I moved to the United States, but English is still a foreign language to me. It will always be. And with this recording – Yes, it is obvious – I am not from Jersey. I am not from the States. I am not from here.

I sat with the list of words on my lap. Disorganized on paper as in my head. I read the words over and over. Never aloud. The more I read it, the more I doubt it. Not good enough. Not long enough. For weeks I was building my own Chinese wall of excuses. I closed the notebook and put the words away just like I’ve tried to put away the grammar mistakes, the misspellings, the accent. The more I muffled it, the more it showed.

I forgot where I was. I was sitting at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University, and the Annual Poetry Festival was about to start. I don’t know what I expected. Surely not what I was about to witness that afternoon. I don’t know if it was the mere act of reciting that shocked me; The power words carry once spoken. Or, the lyrical nature poetry imbues into every syllable; or the heaviness strophes carry once written. No. My shock came from the confessions given by each poet before reciting: they were apprehensive about reading aloud. Reading aloud in a foreign language. About, reading aloud in English. Most of the poets presenting that afternoon were not from Jersey. They were not from the States. They were not from here.

As I left the auditorium, I knew there was only one thing to do. I sat in front of my computer, I opened my notebook and I pressed RECORD.

You can listen to AUDIO CONCEPTIVE in Jen’s foreign language, English – http://cowbird.com/story/60888/Audio_Conceptive/ . Or in Jen’s mother tongue, Portuguese – http://cowbird.com/story/64032/Udio_Conceptivo/.

AUDIO CONCEPTIVE is only part of a larger project created by Photographer Jennifer Cabral called CONCEPTIVES. More at http://www.jennifercabral.com

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So, why did I conceive this?

ORAL CONCEPTIVE

I believe as women, we have a chance to tap more easily into a part of ourselves each week . One that nourishes intuition, creativity, receptivity or reflection within ourselves. Depending on the phase of our hormonal female cycles. So, I created ORAL CONCEPTIVE to function as reminders of which 7-day-phase a woman is experiencing during this internal, innate and intimate process.
I wanted to help women to remember there is a time for everything. Remember to give themselves a break. Remember to give themselves a push. Remember it comes and goes. But most of all, I wanted them to know that this powerful ebb and flow is being continuously threaten not only by societal culture and demands, but also by ingestion of artificial hormones.
I only discovered this once I’ve experienced in my own body the freedom of not taking birth control pills. For the first time in more than a decade, I was bleeding like I used to; I felt hunger like I am supposed to; I had to rest like I deserved to; I had sex like I always wanted to. And once I knew this, I couldn’t hold on. I had to share it with other women. That’s how CONCEPTIVES | Art Project was born.
ORAL CONCEPTIVE card sets will be distributed during opening night of Extra-Sensory Perception | Feminist Art Show. In return, I’m just asking for a small donation to Womanspace, a non-profit organization in NJ dedicated to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and to Planned Parenthood.
These ORAL CONCEPTIVE cards will be presented inside birth control holders, that I’ve collected during the last 5 years I submitted my body to oral contraceptive consumption. Each of the 50 pouches will be inserted with a set of 4 cards. By re-purposing birth control holders I’ve accumulated over the years, I am taking control over my own cycles and reclaiming each phase my body is experiencing. At the same time, I hope to raise awareness of what we, as women, might be loosing when we interfere with our natural hormonal cycles by absorbing artificial hormones via oral contraceptive consumption.
And if you cannot make it to Extra-Sensorial Perception opening night, don’t worry, the set of images,
ORAL CONCEPTIVE can be downloaded as wallpaper/ screensaver for digital devices and be used as cycle reminders on computers or mobile devices. Just go to http://www.jennifercabral.com to download it.
ORAL CONCEPTIVE is only one element of my art project. To see the complete CONCEPTIVES | Art Project visit http://piercecabraleditons.com/artprojects
By the way, Extra-Sensory Perception | Feminist Art Show needs a new home! Curator Doris Yuan is looking for a venue in Central/North Jersey or NY to host this exhibition. ESP is looking for a space to exhibit and sell the work of 30 artists (around 40 pieces — under 20″ x 20″ each). The venue must also be open to hosting an opening night party, with full freedom of expression for our music/comedic performers, artists and community. Since this is a benefit show, we are searching for a venue that allows us to allocate 100% of the proceeds of this show to benefit Planned Parenthood and Womanspace. Please reach out and contact curator Doris Yuan here. If you would like to meet the artists participating on this group show, visit Extra-Sensory Perception’s wesbite http://esp-feminist.tumblr.com

ORAL CONCEPTIVEORAL CONCEPTIVEORAL CONCEPTIVE
ORAL CONCEPTIVEORAL CONCEPTIVE

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CONCEPTIVES | an art project

intuitive ORAL CONCEPTIVE | Art Project by Jennifer Cabral

CONCEPTIVES is an art project created by photographer Jennifer Cabral as an invitation for women to become aware of their internal cycles. According to Jennifer, “by connecting with each stage of our female cycles we take away the stigma of inconvenience and discomfort surrounding our menses and incorporate an element of empowerment and potentiality. In each week of their cycles women feel differently inside their bodies: hormonally; emotionally; mentally and physically. As women, we all know this. But we ignore it, or suppress it because of societal pressures, conventions and demands; or, influenced by external factors, like artificial hormones consumed through oral contraceptives which can inhibit these natural female phases. As women, we have a chance to tap more easily into a part of ourselves each week – one that nourishes intuition, reflection, creativity or receptivity within us. With this artwork, I am attempting to remind us all of that.”

CONCEPTIVES is composed of a four elements: VISUAL, ORAL, AUDIO and DAILY CONCEPTIVE.

VISUAL CONCEPTIVE is a series of 4 photographs representing women’s weekly cycles. “I believe our bodies follow moon cycles – a waning and waxing of emotions and potentiality we carry within ourselves. Like seeds.” This framed piece will be in exhibition at Extra-Sensorial Perception | a Feminist Art Show. Proceeds from this show will support www.womanspace.org – a non-profit organization in NJ dedicated to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

A Limited Edition Series of these photographs is available for purchase online. From each 4-print series purchase, a $5 donation will be made to Womanspace. VISUAL CONCEPTIVE is on view on the artist’s website – www.jennifercabral.com

creative ORAL CONCEPTIVE | Art Project by Jennifer Cabral

ORAL CONCEPTIVE which the images on this page represent, is a set of 4 cards with phrases that correspond to the internal weekly stages a woman experiences: “For seven days, I am more intuitive. | For seven days, I am more creative. | For seven days, I am more receptive. | For seven days, I am more reflective. According to the artist, “these phrases are to be pronounced as wishes, or weekly affirmations.”

They will be presented in birth control holders collected during the last 5 years the artist submitted her body to oral contraceptive consumption. Each of the 50 pouches will be inserted with a set of 4 cards. “By repurposing birth control holders I’ve accumulated over the years, I am taking control over my own cycles and reclaiming each phase my body experiences. At the same time, I hope to raise awareness of what we, as women, might be inhibiting within us when we interfere with our natural cycles by absorbing artificial hormones via oral contraceptive consumption.”

ORAL CONCEPTIVE cards will be distributed during E.S.P. | a Feminist art show.

But the images that compose ORAL CONCEPTIVE can also be downloaded as wallpaper/ screensaver for digital devices and be used as cycle reminders on computers or mobile devices. By clicking on each image on this page, a high resolution preview will be displayed. Just drag the image into your desktop and use it as cycle reminders.

receptive ORAL CONCEPTIVE | Art Project by Jennifer Cabral

AUDIO CONCEPTIVE explores sensations and impressions the artist experiences during her cycles and its recorded in her own voice. “I combine adjectives, nouns and verbs to create a lexicon of potentials existent in each of the four phases of our cycles. Its an evocation for women to integrate these multiple parts within themselves.”  This recording will be launched during the opening of the Feminist Art Show – Extra -Sensory Perception.reflective ORAL CONCEPTIVE | Art Project by Jennifer Cabral

The final element of this art project is DAILY CONCEPTIVE where Jennifer chooses a daily word or iconography to describe the stage of her cycle she is experiencing. This will be explored simultaneously on twitter and Pinterest with the hashtag #DAILYCONCEPTIVE and wishes to become an interactive element of this project by engaging other women to share the stages of their own cycles. During the next year, which corresponds to 13 new moons or 13 cycles in a woman’s life, Jennifer will be sharing words that reflect her internal phases. “By choosing a word I have to maintain a continuous inquisition of where I am in my cycle, and by sharing an image I invite other women to do the same: start a weekly process of self-discovery, no matter where we are on our cycles, and because of social media, no matter where we are in the world.” This dialog is ongoing on twitter and on Pinterest.  Send me an email with subject line #DAILYCONCEPTIVE and receive an exclusive invitation to share your cycle phases on Pinterest. On twitter it can be followed here.

This work is my artistic representation of women’s cycles and is not intended to promote health advice for women. For that I encourage you to read the work of three inspiring authors I used to guide me through my own cycle awareness process. They are Christiane Northup, MD; Alisa Vitti and Sara Avant Stover

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Pope Square

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It was a sunny day, I remember being sweaty under my bucket hat as we walked into the crowd. Sitting on my dad’s shoulder it felt like I was surfing over a sea of people surrounding us from all directions. To welcome Pope John Paul II to this part of Brazil, the city of Belo Horizonte had 2 million people invade its streets. Like everyone else, my dad and I were trying to reach the bottom of the ridge where a mass would be celebrated on a make shift stage. But there was no point to it. We were 4 kilometers away and the ocean of people kept growing. All culminated when sirens spread the people apart and a wave of people came and went, as my dad and I tried to keep balance. The famous Pope-Mobil was passing by. People were waving and cheering: “Viva o Papa. Viva João de Deus.” That’s when I saw it. My heart was beating fast with excitement. And I could barely believe I was seeing something holy and precious with my own 6-year-old eyes: a white inverted bowl passing by. That’s all I manage to see on July 1st, 1980 – the pope’s hat.

The pope came and went. But what he left behind was sacred to everyone in town. Where the mass was celebrated a square was built and forever called Pope Square. For the next decade, my dad would take my sister and I religiously to this part of town. If we were not flying kites by the square, we would be venturing the Mangabeiras Park near by, where the reminiscent Atlantic Forest was somewhat preserved. And we refused to go home without driving on “Peanut Street” – a ghostly road where you put a car in neutral gear, let go off the handbrake and it mysteriously starts moving the vehicle up the hill. At 10, I would swear by it.

But, such gravity miracles didn’t seem to happen anywhere else in town. Cars were dammed by the city’s geography. Belo Horizonte sits 852 meters above sea level. There are hills everywhere. Add to it a tropical climate, with a rainy summer season, and you have an urban landscape with cascading waterfalls, for at least three months out of the year. My sister and I would spend countless hours observing the streets of the neighborhood become rivers with cars as its floating vessels. A deep red water poured down the streets as the city’s ridges bled away iron oxide. Avenues and streets were like veins. Tires would screech trying to climb the paved hills just to give up and drive away to find a less menacing one.

If going up a hill was hellish, going down was blissful. The Cotorno Avenue has three perfect slopes that turned any ride down hill into a perfect roller coaster. My dad would play with the gears to generate the most effect. And since, at that time, there was no such thing as wearing seat belts, my sister and I would bump our heads into the car ceiling. As a bonus, we would swallow whole any hard candy we had in our mouths. You see, my aunt lived in the south part of town, up the hill, and every Sunday we would leave her house with our pockets full of candy. Not any candy, but Bala Soft. A hard candy, colorful and translucent as sea glass, renowned for its smooth nature and a coin size shape to perfectly lodge itself into windpipes. But nothing so serious that a good exchange of back blows between sisters wouldn’t solve.

By the 1990’s, going up the hill had a whole different meaning. My dad like many others fathers, didn’t want his teenage daughters going up the hill. But the pilgrimage was a mandatory rite of passage for male heirs. Many stories of virgins and immaculate conceptions were written on the slopes of Pope Square. The Ridge of Serra do Curral stood as a silent witness and reliable confessional. The mountain didn’t even dare to speak of crimes committed against it. 30 years of mining left half of a mountain. Like an eggshell.

During my last visit in town, a neighbor offered cassava bread, guaraná soda and childhood memories. I was leaving the next morning. She asked me: “Have you been to Pope Square?” She protested when hearing my no. She took me to my destination but not without driving me to Pope Square. As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle, I was suspended at 1100 meters above sea; I had the Ridge of Serra do Curral behind me, and down bellow my feet, an entire city. I looked at a dozens of stars above. Millions below.

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Ingredients

JEC_7725

“Do you have some of that bread?” I would ask, sometimes even before I said hi, as I walked into my Sister’s. When she hands me some, I keep the pieces of bread in my cupboard secretly wrapped and tucked away like a sacred relic. Yesterday, I looked for some in her freezer, but there was no sight of the tin foiled delicacy that is as precious to me as a Pizarro’s silver bullion. “It’s lightly sweet”, said my husband when I parted hesitantly from a small piece of bread. A rare event since I can’t purchase it at a store and have to wait for left overs of my sister’s baking. You have to understand, this bread is not only delicious, it makes my system “work” if you know what I mean… I’ll spare you any further details.

My sister called from her dining room: “Look, on the table… It’s for you.” A pink bag, ribbons, a card. Wrapping paper crumbled under my fingers as I tried to see what it contained. Ingredients. Spelt. Hard winter berries. Yeast. Flax seed meal. A bread pan. And a recipe. As I stepped into my kitchen this morning, yesterday’s ingredients whispered into my ears: bake. I whisked them together. Learned a new verb: to knead. And waited for 80 minutes.

As my sister’s note said: “Give a woman bread, and she’ll be happy for a day. Give a woman the recipe for the bread, and she’ll be happy for life!”.

Jennifer Cabral - ingredient JEC_7680  JEC_7730  JEC_7745JEC_7753-2

Kindergarten Bread (a Waldorf School recipe)

2 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

2 cups of warm water

¼ cup of honey

2/3 cup of olive oil

¼ cup of flax meal

1 cup (before grinding) of hard winter wheat berries

6 cups of organic Spelt flour

Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine yeast and warm water, salt, honey and olive oil and let it rest for 15 minutes. Add flour until dough is able to be kneaded and no too sticky. (Too much flour will make it tough). Add in ground hard winter wheat berries. And after, flax meal. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.Check bread at 1 hour mark and then bake it for 20 more minutes if needed.

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cook

Morning crime scene http instagr am p iiSwz
Actually, I’m not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I’m not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren’t cooks. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Adieu Facebook

photo
So I decided to cancel my Facebook account. And my decision, was as much as a shock to me, as to many of my friends. My 525 Facebook friends. After all, Facebook was my daily cup of coffee. It was the first thing I would do in the morning and the last thing before going to bed. It was the buzz I needed every 10 minutes. Flipping through my phone… Typing on my screen… Every 10 minutes, I would go to Facebook just because… just because I didn’t know how to be with myself. And worse, because I didn’t know how to be with anyone else. Getting together with friends was about talking for 5 minutes to each other and spending 10 minutes looking at our respective devices. Would you get together with someone and start reading a book in the middle of a conversation? So why it’s not only accepted, but expected of us to look at Facebook while in each others presence?

I am compulsive about books. I have always had a book in my hands for as long as I can remember. School break officially started by my dad taking me and my sis to a bookstore, and buying the volumes that would entertain us for weeks to come. And when I catch myself mopping about the fact that writting a memoir is probably not gonna happen, I pat myself on the back for my short story published in a college literary magazine that no one has a copy of. Including myself. For more than a year, I’ve been photographing rare books from the Princeton University archives. The studio is located among open stacks of books only second in size to the U.S. Library of Congress. I am surrounded by these objects I so adore. A few million of them.

But lately, I had been ignoring it’s shelves and many other things in my life. I was compulsively reading and writing a different kind of book. And I had to face it, page after page, the lines were not beautifully written and the stories were not that interesting. On Facebook there was just this nagging person desperately trying to receive and give attention. Disguised not as much as coffee cups, smiley faces, and fluffy pets but into an artsy, intellectual, snobbish self, just as needy. That person was me. As an open book.

I would be lying if I said, I don’t think there are positive aspects in an online presence. There are. And, that’s why I will keep this page for my photography www.facebook.com/jennifercabral.photography. But I just don’t want an online existence. One where I only have been to a place, shared a cup of coffee and talked to someone if I posted to Facebook. As if it didn’t really happen unless its there.

So, adieu Facebook!
To my friends I wanna say…
It doesn’t really matter where I am, unless you are with me. Let’s sit and share a meal once in a while. No instagrams involved. And when we do, we can tell each other how we really feel. I miss you, my friends. Especially, while we were on Facebook.

And, Zuckerberg! To like is not enough. In life, you have to love. Period.

PS: And maybe now, I will have time to write that memoir after all.

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Edifice Jose Amaro

For 22 years I lived in the same building, at apartment 702. A 4-bedroom, 2-bath apartment, with nothing particularly unique to it, except for its terrace. The mountains of Serra do Curral that takes over the east edge of town could be seen from there, as well as, Prudente de Morais Avenue down below, where as a kid, I could see the donkeys that provided rides in the Municipal Park galloping in the morning into town, and returning at the end of the day for a deserving rest. Small fruit trees were carefully planted on each corner of the terrace’s generous square footage, all bearing fruit: bananas, figs, limes, tomatoes. The terrace held a cacophony of pets owned by my Dad and sister – A black bird; A rabbit; A parrot; A dog; A hamster – living there simultaneously, or not. A box turtle was the only pet I dared to call my own. Basking in the sun was the only way I believed I could prepare for school exams. And the turtle would make its way to rest right next to my warm body, as we both sunbathed in the afternoon, under crisp blue skies. A thin glass window in my room seemed astronomically positioned for the moon to break into every night. Even the marble floors of the building at each apartment entrance where smoothly suited for my clunky 4-wheel-roller-skates. From which, to this day, came all my knowledge on nuts and bolts, screwdrivers and the importance of a good lubricant for mechanical parts. For the 25 plus kids inhabiting the 41 apartment complex, the garage was the ultimate hide and seek spot. Eventually evolving to be the perfect pot smoking and dating nook for the despair of parents and of the supper in charge of the building: my Dad.

I believed back than, my Dad’s craving for precise engineering and meticulous calculations was what made him such a committed supper. The constant checking of piping, TV antennas, and renovations throughout the building’s grounds; Followed by late meetings and detailed minutes hand written religiously every month. But on the right side wall of the garage entrance was the reason for his zealous care. There on top of some marble tiles, in gray rusting letters was written: Edifice José Amaro. My grandfather’s name.

José Amaro was the owner of a bakery – Padaria Sul America at Rio Grande do Sul Street, in the center of town. Like most cities in the turn of the century, Belo Horizonte’s main residences had a special slots not only for mail to be delivered, but bread and milk. Early in the morning, 12 coaches would leave my grandfather’s bakery full of bread loaves and bottles of milk. Its more than 40 horses wondered the city. Since most of the clientele lived in the neighborhood of Cidade Jardim, the horses would come to rest at the end of its main avenue, Prudente de Morais. The land where Edifice José Amaro would be built, and where I would grow up, was where it once stood my grandfather’s stables.

The bakery used 12 bags of flour a day – 60 kilos each. Dozens of bakers worked from night to dawn. They provided bread for the community circling the select Country Club, Minas Tenis Clube, different priesthoods and hospitals around town, and scattered apartment buildings and mansions. But nothing was reason of more pride to the family as to be the sole provider of bread, milk and butter to their soccer team: Clube Atlético Mineiro. The one and only team you could be faithful to. A family rule as black and white as the team’s stripped uniforms. Just watch an Atlético soccer match with my dad and unclesand it’s clear that its an honor to this day. The team headquarters was still in the center of town, conveniently located in the bakery’s delivery zone.

My uncles and aunts would help my grandfather at the counter or as cashiers. Their commitment of hours to the bakery dependent on their chosen careers. The lawyer and the teachers were not expected to be available as often as the others. My dad’s childhood memories at Sul America bakery are sweet. Even though, according to him, he never cared for the cakes, cookies and fine pastries surrounding him at the store. Just bread and butter. Fresh out of the oven. His memories at the bakery go back as early as when he was 4. He was the youngest of the 6, and constantly busy getting yelled by teachers for bad behavior. When he was finally accepted into Colégio Loyola, a catholic boarding school, it was a relief for his older siblings and a chance to save his soul. Later, he too would join his brothers in running the family business. Specially when my grandfather’s failing heart couldn’t keep up the pace. Later, in his career as an engineer, my Dad would have his own business. It wasn’t a mere coincidence that he owned a factory that built industrial ovens for bakeries.

The bakery and land would be sold, many years after my grandfather’s passing. An edifice was built in the late 70’s, and each son and daughter received an apartment in return for the land. To this day, I have uncles and cousins living in the same building: Edifice José Amaro, together with all my childhood memories, still suspended on that 7th floor terrace.

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Happy New Year

I surround myself with relics. Trinkets that become sacred because of the places it has come from, or of whom has given it to me. I keep it for the beauty it possesses, the laughter it reminds me of, or as a mere attempt to believe in something. These objects don’t take me home. They make my home.

I keep the Madonnas and secretly envy their mantles; Seeds, roots and crystals bewitch my surroundings, as I crave pagan objects to still be forbidden. To this day, I would exchange beads for mirrors, any time. And toys don’t let me take myself (or my profession) too seriously.

But as 2012 is about to start, or as many say, to end it all, we need protection from the four directions. So lets keep images of Saints and its angels for guidance; Use sage to clear our bodies from evil spirits; And even bring offers to a body of water for the goddess Yemanjá, if need be. Let’s come up with rituals. Invent sacred objects. Allow them to invade homes and haunt each corner with its blessings and curses. And believe in all its powers, so it can cary us throughout the year. And to the next. And next.

May the new year, begin.

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9/11

Copyright © Eugene Pierce

Ten years ago, I woke to witness the absolute worst and the very best that humanity has to offer. Now, a decade later, I am sadly left with the feeling that there are far too many days in which the worst has the upper hand. Terrorist groups still twist and warp the words of religion to justify their goals, while, our own politicians, use the events of that day as a rallying cry to serve their own agendas. Many of the responders that survived that day and the days to follow, still struggle to obtain the quality of medical care they so desperately need and deserve.

Although many hold names, such as King, Mother Theresa and Gandhi in high regard, it seems we have only learned the words, they spoke, and not their true lessons. I don’t remember, where I read it, but one of my favorite quotes has always been: “pray for your enemies.”

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Local

This has been week 1 of 2 that I’ll be without a car. And so, a walk in the neighborhood took a completely different meaning: it was no longer for leisure, but out of necessity. I told myself: this is a good opportunity to see the community, use local services like the library and public parks and shop at local stores.

But when I looked for a grocery store, all I could find were stale vegetables and white bread on the shelves; When I wanted a bakery or coffee shop, there was none to be seen – unless you call Dunkin’ Donuts as such; and the public library was closed – summer hours threatening to be effective year around, because of State budget cuts. I saw a neighborhood forgetting what it was like to be a thriving community and starting to acknowledge it was barely making it.

According to a 2001 Sensus, there are about 4,081 people, 1,747 households, and 1,070 families residing in Lawrence Township with me. Well, they might live here, but they are not shopping locally. The concept of “local” is going 20 miles north to the next strip mall. SUV required. The habit of walking around the neighborhood disappeared. And with it, came entire stretches of town with no sidewalks in sight.

When I lost count of how many store fronts were boarded up, I realized the radio announcements of a weak economy had materialized right down the block. Months of vacancy had now become years, and any attempts to keep the empty real state presentable were as abandoned as any expectation of an economic recovery. My inconvenience is easy to deal with for two weeks, what’s hard to face is that, what’s gone is probably not coming back to this neighborhood any time soon.

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Madame

When Gene and I were digging through his negatives the other night we found some photographs he shot of Mireille Guiliano, former President and CEO of Veuve Clicquot. I asked him: so what did you talk about? He said the obvious: “Champagne”.

Those who know me are aware of my dreadful cooking skills. At best, I am a well intended cook. Some dear friends even tried to assist me by giving me great vegetarian books with no avail. So when I picked up Mireille Guiliano’s books on French cooking it was common knowledge that I should just stick to some basic American classics like spaguettios and hamburgers (the veggie and frozen ones) and leave the Julia Child in me in its hibernating state.

But I couldn’t put her books down. Mireille Guiliano’s descriptions of petit-fours and croissants were only overshadowed by the prospect of using thyme, leeks, shallots and lavender on everyday cooking. Add to that the rituals of a glass of wine as a quotidian act; and off course all bubbly details about Champagne from Madame Clicquot’s cellars.

But there is more than Duck Breast ‘A la Gascone or Rack of Lamb Persillage on Mireille Guiliano’s books. Its pages intermingle french cuisine recipes with rendezvous through Paris and its sister city, New York; The routine of a business women in a field over taken by not so cavalier men; the lifestyle of meetings in multiple continents and simultaneously keeping a lasting and happy marriage; And the set example of a woman content in spite the fact she chose not to be a mother. Something this baby driven society of ours was making me believe was not possible. And how could any woman not respect a writer that dedicates an entire chapter to “Bread and Chocolate” and tell us all: savour.

To learn more about Madame Mireille Guiliano visit her websites www.mireilleguiliano.com and www.frenchwomendontgetfat.com

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If not as a right, at least as a courtesy

Gordon Parks, Photograph – Copyright Eugene Pierce

When I received an email from artist Charles King, it was a surprise. Why would someone bother to ask permission to paint one of my photographs? If he had gotten a copy of the photo online and used it to create his painting,  it would’ve been just one more copyright violation of my work to be added to a long list of small blogs, newspapers or renown magazines that have repeatedly done the same.

In the electronic age, Copyright laws that protect an artist’s intellectual property rights have become less and less effective. In addition, the recent Orphan Works Act legislation allows “good-faith” users of copyrighted material to publish any work, as long as they performed a “diligent search” but cannot locate the copyright owner. These complexities, make it a challenge for many visual artists to protect their work today.

When I discover a copyright violation, my interest is not trying to make the highest profit, but only to be paid what would’ve initially cost if it had been negotiated with me in the first place. Instead, the response is usually one of resistance, claims of ignorance of the law, and in cases of large publications or corporations, stalling tactics that make legal cases so vastly expensive that do not allow working photographers, such as myself, to pursue a fair resolve of infringements of the laws that were originally intended to protect us.

It’s comforting to know that if not as a right, permission to use someone’s work at least exist as a courtesy among fellow artists.

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Sea sick

Monday. 6:00 AM. Manasquan, NJ. The ocean seems untouchable. Uneasiness settles. Its rhythms have been broken. Its permanence betrayed. Blame their neglect. Condemn their greed. But who drove the car? Who pumped the gas? Who asked for more?

– Reflection on the largest offshore spill in U.S. history, Deepwater Horizon.

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Genetic looks

When Craig Venter was on his quest to sequence the human genome, Gene photographed him for the cover of the New York Times Magazine. After breaking the genome code, using his own DNA in the process, Craig Venter and a group of scientists started another quest: to create new species.

Although they didn’t accomplished that yet, today he announced to the world that they’ve create a synthetic cell. The first step in the creation of new species in a lab. Venter’s Company, Synthetic Genomics is attempting to create and use these new species so new vaccines or even fuel can be generated in the future. Now, maybe, in the near future.

Genetics apart, Gene definitely accomplished his task: to capture what 2.8 billion contiguous bits of genetic code look like.

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Columbus Farmer’s Market, NJ

The Columbus Farmer’s Market started in 1929 as an auction space for livestock and farm equipment. But antique vendors were attracted by the large crowds and started renting space to sell their goods. Today, tables, stores and pavilions spread throughout 200 acres, turning into one of the largest outdoor bazaars on the East Coast. Tens of thousands of visitors from Central New Jersey and Philadelphia visit the market each weekend.

But what started as a commerce of Collectibles and Antiques, hand made goods and foods evolved into a haven for China imports and mass produced trinkets. Given the obscure origin of most products it’s not surprising that in 2003, the Columbus Farmer’s market was charged by a group of record companies for not enforcing regulations to prevent tens of thousands of counterfeit CD’s from being openly sold in its grounds.

Observing its crowd was as irresistible as acquiring some of its bargains. 3 Kelbasas, 1 gumball machine, and some .25 cents’ books later here is some of what I’ve captured.

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Rosa Rei

When my grandmother, Maria Eulina Vieira Cabral, was 85-years-old she would still have her weekly ritual of getting a manicure and pedicure. You would think that someone her age would pick a neutral color for her finger nails and toes. But the only color she used of Colorama, the leading brand of nail polish in Brazil,  was Rosa Rei, a screaming bright pink.

Elegant and gracious, Eulina was a charmer, always sending thank you notes and boxes of chocolate. From the bank manager to a doorman she would generously recognize a job well done. A refined host she served elaborate meals using tablecloths embroidered with gold and silver treads she made herself. Just as generously, she would distribute good laughs with her stories. And there were many.

She was born in the caustic heat of Pernambuco in the northeast of Brazil in 1903. The only daughter, in a household of 7 brothers, she was the center of attention. Her father owned a sugar-cane plantation but after WWI, the stabilization of beet sugar production in Europe eventually led them to loose their farm and riches. But the early prosperity of the family allowed her to have a wealthy upbringing. She told me that as a kid, during long trips on railroads, she would drop gold bracelets while on the train just to listen to it’s sound dangling down the tracks. She was sent to a boarding school for girls. Her mother’s way to protect her from having too many men around her. It didn’t help. While in school, she managed to date the nephew of the school’s principal. By age 15, she was a teacher in her state’s capital, Recife. A much less discussed subject was the use of slaves as the workforce on the family farm until Brazil’s declaration of the abolition on May 13th, 1888. Ironically, this date would be part of her personal history.

At the age of 16, she sent her photo to be part of a beauty contest in the neighboring state of Paraiba. She won the contest and as a prize her picture would be displayed on match boxes. But that didn’t go well with her fiancee. Valdemar de Oliveira didn’t approve that her beauty would be on display. “I declared my freedom”, she would say. She broke up the engagement on May 13th, 1919 saying: “Slavery was abolished on this date more than 30 years ago”. A prominent doctor infectologist in Recife, he would become a famous professor, lawyer, composer, theater director, art critic and writer. And some compositions and lines on his books would be dedicated to my grandmother. Only 16 years after her first proposal she would get engaged again. At the age of 32, she married another Waldemar. My grandfather.

With her brothers and parents, she moved to Rio de Janeiro in the 1920’s. Single at the time and still declaring her independent nature, she shared a room with a friend while working as a secretary at the Office of Justice, in Rio de Janeiro. A city she would adopt in her youth and later in her life. But the exotic fruits of the north of Brazil would be forever missed by her palette: mangoes, star fruit, jackfruit and, a more rare one called, fruta-pao (bread-fruit). If we passed one of these trees, not typical in the southeast of Brazil where I grew up, she would always point it out and even convince some of the owners of the rare trees to give her one of its fruits. She would crave these even more when, in July 1946, she embarked on a ship from Rio de Janeiro to the NY harbor.  Now, married for more than ten years, she arrived in the United States with her husband, a 9-year-old daughter, Gladys, and pregnant with her second child, Franklin.  A month-long journey of seasickness and longing. One of the photos she kept in her belongings was taken from aboard the ship, looking down at the small figures of her family. She didn’t get to visit Brazil many times while her parents were still alive. But letters were always exchanged. As well as boxes full of her craved fruits, carefully wrapped, that would be shipped to Staten Island – her home for the next 20 years.

When I was growing up, she would look at me and say: “You are just like me.” But to me, a clumsy girl, with glasses and pimples on my face, as shy as I could be, hidden behind my books, there was no resemblance to be seen between me and this charming lady. She would openly tell me: ” I want you to be with me when I die.” And at 13, I somehow happened to be the only one by her hospital bed when she passed. Proof that she always got things done her way.

Once in a while I wear screaming bright pink nail polish. Wishing deep inside that the resemblance she once told me about, shows up, somehow.

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We call it: soccer

Some consider soccer a sport. For others, it’s more like a religion. And growing up in a typical Brazilian household that was the case: Soccer was a religion. At least to my Dad. On Sundays, timed like church bells, the radio and TV would be on, while soccer players, just like Saints, would receive pleas of mercy for one more Gol. And on desperate matches, God would be involved as well. Many times, only His intervention would bring salvation to a team.

So, my sister and I, grew up witnessing my Dad watching every soccer match, religiously. But there was more to it than just relaxing and enjoying the game with a can of  beer and popcorn on the side. Something more sacred, that we wouldn’t understand until we left Brazil and returned to the US where my Dad had served in the army during Vietnam.

He was a soccer player. He was a soccer player at “7 de Setembro”, a professional team in his hometown of Belo Horizonte and he continued to be a player in the US Armed Forces soccer team during Vietnam.  In that team, he created friendships that are part of his life to this day.  Some like Mike, Peter and Arnold he talks to daily. But many team mates in that photo didn’t survive the war. Somehow, my Dad did. Some call it luck. But, me and my sister know better! We call it: soccer.

One day my 7-year-old nephew asked to play soccer. And after his first match the coaches asked my sister: Are you sure he never played before? If they knew our family history, maybe they would understand it.

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Estacao Central (À Natalia)

Apenas aguardava.
Fecho os olhos e vejo tantos que um dia conheci.
Abro os olhos e vejo tantos que jamais irao me reconhecer.
Aguardo que entre tantas faces, alguma nao mais exista so na memoria.
Aguardo alguem, enquanto guardo tantos.

Meu anonimato e comodo. Nao tenho historia. Nem mesmo existo.
Minha existencia depende de uma constante introducao:
Muito Prazer, Sou.
Aqui estao documentos, nacionalidade, personalidade.

Sindrome de cidade pequena.
Acho que entre padaria e banca de jornal, meu anonimato sera interrompido.
Mais do que isto, minha historia estara contada.
Sou ou vizinha, sobrinha e filha.
Tenho um passado. Era tao menina.
Comentam meu presente. Igual a mae.
Preveem meu futuro. Nao vai dar em nada.

Mas sou a unica que me reconheco.


Escrito na Grand Central Station enquanto esperava Natalia.

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To Doreen

She carries Caetano and Los Hermanos in her bag.
She listens to it, and understands it.
No portuguese is spoken.
Each word is a song in its self.
Translations only happen from across the room at my desk.
Sudden palpitations and time voyages occur in my brain while she dances.

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Dali’s eye

A piece of paper with a Dali’s eye stares at me.
It floats like my dream of turning it into a tattoo.
But I have been cultivating other scars.
Most of the time, self inflicted.

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Girino

Nota com instrucoes peculiares para a babysitter:
Por favor leve o girino cuidadosamente para o quarto do John quando ele for dormir.
O nome dele e Roger Gilbert Nevers.

PS: a babysitter sou eu, geralmente as tercas. E o nome foi dado pelo dono de 5 anos de idade.

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aparicao

Rezei para Santo Antonio. Instrucoes de minha mae como garantia de achar objetos desaparecidos.
Rezei. Depois de 3 meses evitando falar com meu tio porque tinha perdido um velho slide da minha avo,
o tal resurgiu ontem de uma caixa de negativos mortos.
Prometi para minha mae acender uma vela para o santo.

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Luka

1987. letra de musica na revista capricho. Luka no radio.
2005. Carnegie Hall. Luka ao vivo.

Show da Susan Vega para celebrar os 30 anos da Dri.

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O2

A ausência da escrita é como a ausência de ar entre expirações: acredito momentâneamente nao necessitá-las. Mas o oco dos pulmões se enchem de falas, ecos e resonâncias e nao resisto: inspiro.

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entremeios

Ruth,

A mudez do email foi mero ato falho diante do todo dito: como áspas entre palavras gerando sons; feito o vácuo de peito cheio entre suspiros; como o piscar entre o enxergar e o entender; como o intervalo entre a gratid?o e o obrigado.

Resposta ao email recebido contendo o texto de Marcos Rolim. LEIAM ACIMA

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Mea culpa

Sr. Ivan e comadre Adriana ( já íntima, de tão falada )
Como vão as coisas por ai? Acabei de ficar no telefone com o Max por uma hora….acho que mais do que isso….como se estivesse ligando pra ele da Cidade Jardim… uma hora a conta chega pra me lembrar que o Carmo-Sion tá um pouco mais distante do que isso…bem toda vez que falo com o Max ele fala do teu comentário, caro Ivan, sobre meus emails bêbados e cartas sóbrias…..e foi por isso que resolvi retomar o meu blog que tinha abandonado desde 2003. Agora tá aqui postado no mundo virtual a minha prostrada vida atual. Minhas frestas, escancaradas.
Carrega então um pouco da culpa, por que tenho que meiar a minha.

abraços, Je

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Barnes & Nobles II

Wondering around the bargain section of Barnes & Nobles is like looking at your bookshelf where the pile for “What was I thinking” or “My uncle didn’t know what to give me for xmas” books are.. But there are some books that I hope I wouldn’t get even if I was very drunk or if my family despised me… Like: “Elvis favorite meals” or “Guide to cats: How to survive your neurotic owner”. No wonder why they are all under 5 bucks. At the “travel” bargain section – ( These sections can be perfectly organized. Not like walking into a used bookstore at the Maleta building in downtown Belo Horizonte, where you can only find a book if you ask the owner of the place, usually an old man sitting in the back of the store. He knows every shelf by heart, since he has nothing else to look at or to look for… ) – So at that travel bargain section there was a book titled “Amazonia”. Picket it up, expecting to put it down by the second page… books like this are usually too outdated or talk more about the spanish countries than the Brazilian part of the amazon… even though it’s most of it… Go figure… But instead, I started dazzling over pictures of cocoa trees, acai, exotic birds and indians as if I am looking at the most remote place on the planet. For someone from southeastern Brazil, it probably is. I can count the people I know that visited the amazon forest. Most of them are foreigners, not brazilians. Joao you are not included on the list: I remember your stories about eating turtles and tucupi or something like that. After my speech about eating acai and banana smoothies, about a parrot and a turtle that I once had, about the rubber era in the north of Brazil, as if I know much about it, I finally shut up. But only for a few minutes. After finally putting the book down the speaker started playing an old Samba. I got amazed as if that sound is not played on every elevator ever built. By the time it started playing “cajuina”, I was sure I was doped by the pills I just took trying to stop a headache from becoming another migraine. Either that or the guy in charge of the counter on the CD section was. When I looked at the counter all I saw was a fat looking american guy, as fat and american as he could be, probably thinking he was playing another spanish CD. Probably no, I’m absolutely sure he has no clue that was portuguese…he doesn’t even know there is a portuguese spoken country in South america and maybe he doesn’t even know about the one in Europe. Before leaving the store I saw a CD named Acoustic Brazil on the shelf saying: Now Playing. At least it wasn’t playing only in my head.

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Polícia

Noite Fria….à espera de um amigo….porta do campus…nada dele aparecer…..dei uma volta no quarteirão….nada dele ainda…. retrovisor embassado….pouco a pouco o frio das frestas me congela e o calor do ar condicionado me desidrata….nada do cara….mais uma volta…tento ignorar o retrovisor… eles estão atrás de mim…..merda….porque não passam? Estão me seguindo… Esperança de que virem na próxima esquina….sinal vermelho…qual é o limite de velocidade?….estou com cinto?….cadê meus documentos?…..vão me parar….as luzes não estão acesas ainda….quem sabe escapo…..a sirene começa….merda..paro logo apos a esquina….abro a janela….meu calor é todo sugado….cegueira imediata diante da lanterna…tiro os documentos….um deles me pergunta o que estou fazendo aqui…me pergunto a mesma coisa…enquanto o outro está com a lanterna olhando debaixo do carro….caçando pela calçada a maconha que eu poderia ter jogado pela janela…antes tivesse ja que tô sendo presa de qualquer jeito não é, filho da puta?….Senhor, aqui estão os documentos… Vamos fazer uma verificação e já voltamos….com certeza… vou ficar aqui pra sempre…mãos frias….carro gelado…aguardo….nada….o cara sai da universidade….vejo ele atravessar a rua…tempo preciso….ele entra no ônibus…passageiros olham pela janela a minha cara obviamente estúpida…ele segue o rumo de casa …e eu aqui ainda cega entre azuis e vermelhos. Penso no toco que poderia ter jogado pela janela…no alívio que poderia ter achado…no trago que poderia ter dado…no isqueiro que poderia ter aceso…no tédio que poderia ter sentido…

Porta da Universidade de Princeton às 11:30 da noite

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