That’s the way things were in Rio…

Rio in the 1990s….
“The thing you have to understand about Rio is that the middle class—and yes, there is a large middle class—lives in very close proximity to the poorest of the poor because the favelas are usually in the hills up over the “regular” neighborhoods, which are referred to as the asfalto (asphalt, because they have paved sidewalks, unlike many favelas). But the favelas are a world apart—they essentially have their own “government”—the law in the favelas is the law of the gun, and many of the men and boys are armed. Rio itself is divided into two parts—the South Zone, which includes the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, where the middle and upper classes live, and where the tourists go; and the North Zone, a vast area where both lower and middle class people live. There are favelas in both areas, steadily growing larger and more widespread.
Some of the samba schools we played in held rehearsals in the favelas, where scrawny teenage boys, their eyes flat and expressionless, with old men’s faces from sniffing glue, stood holding machine guns with the nonchalant air of seasoned soldiers. The drug dealers ruled in the favelas, along with the police, and sometimes it was hard to tell which was which.”
This is an excerpt from my book, “Getting Down to Brass Tacks -My Adventures in Jazz, Rio, and Beyond. You can get the book here: http://goo.gl/OfdMd7
Cover_Getting_Down_to_Brass_Tacks_Duncan

 

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