Fly Favorites: November 2012

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

Happy 50th Birthday, Dulles Airport

On November 19, 1962, an Eastern Airlines flight from Newark arrived and pulled up to your iconic Space Age terminal, replete with those infernal yet endearing “mobile lounges,” and a new era in Washington’s aviation history began.

Originally built to relieve tiny, overcrowded National Airport and named for President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State (that’d be John Foster Dulles), you were seen as a boondoggle, a waste of money, a “white elephant” because you were out in East Upper Buttcrack, Virginia, and no one in their right mind wanted to traipse that far away from civilization to catch a flight. But development grew towards you and time and politics have allowed you to flourish and become the international gateway to our capital city.

You were the first American airport to host the Concorde, the Boeing 747, and the Boeing 777 in commercial service. You have surpassed National Airport in passenger traffic, with more than 23 million travelers passing through you every year.

I have flown through you 45 times, on Air France, Air Tran, British Airways, American, United, Delta, and Independence Air. And though your security lines are ridiculously long and your concourses ridiculously cramped (and low-ceilinged), the airline geek in me still gets excited when it catches a glimpse of the mid-century modern styling and sleek, timeless terminal building.

Happy 50th Birthday, Dulles Airport!

Images by theqspeaks, Pierre Metivier, and Jennuine Captures.

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

Black Consciousness Month in Brazil: An Inconvenient History

In Brazil, “the delineation between black and white is blurred, with the overwhelming majority somewhere in the middle. But white remains the color of aspiration, and black the color of a history that some would prefer to forget.”

In continued recognition of Black Consciousness Month in Brazil, I’d like you to take a quick 45 minutes of your time to watch this eye-opening and well-produced BBC documentary released in 2000 called Brazil: An Inconvenient History. In it, the narrator and featured scholars discuss in painful detail the destruction of the indigenous population, the unmitigated brutality of Portuguese slave owners, the forced concubinage of indigenous and African women, the complicity of the Catholic church, and the reasons why African culture is much more palpable in Brazil than in other New World slave-based societies like the United States.

It’s well-known that Brazil was the last major slave-holding country to officially abolish the institution, granting its remaining slaves freedom in 1888 without any further assistance to become a productive part of society such as the Freedmen’s Bureau in the US. Keep in mind that my mother’s grandmother would have been born a slave in Brazil, and we’re talking a decade after Karl Benz (yes, that Benz) invented the damn modern automobile engine!

What does slavery have to do with modern Brazil, if it ended “so long ago?”

“The legacy of slavery to modern Brazil is huge: the racial inequality, the fact that the majority of blacks are poor, that they are not as well-educated as whites. But you also have positive results as well. Not of slavery itself but of the slaves, in terms of the music, in terms of the religion, made Brazilian culture much richer than it would have been without the presence of Africans in Brazil.”

…and more…

“The heady mix of music, religion, dance, and sport can sometimes blur the less-appealing legacy of slavery: homelessness, street children, unemployment. A country built on sugar has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many…Brazil still looks like a colonial society…[it’s] the world leader in inequality.”

Watch and learn, good people:

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

Smushis and Sound Guys: My Weekend in Copenhagen

Historic Center, Copenhagen Despite $5 bottles of water and grey, rainy weather for most of the weekend, Copenhagen proved a welcoming and interesting little city, with an outsized cultural scene and friendly people. I arrived into the Danish capital early on a Friday morning and zipped quickly through the stylish and efficient airport terminal only to have my spirits dampened by the uninspiring currency exchange rate and the uninspiring gloomy skies (underscored by an uninspiring high temperature in the low 40s). With the excitement of getting to know a new place somewhat tempered by my aversion to the cold and my fear overspending—hell, of spending any money, really—I caught the bus from the airport to my friend’s house, passing alongside the blue-gray expanse of the Oresund and coursing through quaint little Danish neighborhoods with quaint little Danish houses, all with quaint little Danish flags flying on flagpoles in each yard. Danish Flag My friend Naomi is in Denmark with her son working on a Master’s degree and she was one of the first friends I made in Brasília when I moved there a few years ago. I was hyped about seeing her and speaking Portuguese on the streets of Copenhagen. And speak Portuguese on the streets of Copenhagen we did, with people looking curiously, then smiling at the three of us as we took advantage of the one sunny day that weekend and toured the historic canals by boat, wafted through legal weed smoke in the independent little burg of Christiania, and took in a couple of the offerings at the documentary film festival happening that weekend (specifically, we saw Paul Simon: Under African Skies and Tropicália). There’s something to be said for the way people respond to families with children, as opposed to single (and large) men on the street.

While Naomi and filho were at school, I took to the city alone, marveling at the seemingly large number of brown and black people in town (including several city bus drivers) and hitting up a few quirky coffee shops and eateries in search of what the Danes call hygge, which is roughly translated in English as “coziness.” I had a trio of delicious “smushis” (traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches served in sushi-sized chunks) at The Royal Café, proceeded to choke on the prices for curios at the nearby Royal Copenhagen porcelain store, then warmed up with one of the richest cups of hot chocolate I’ve ever had in life at La Glace, an old school confectionary with enough enticing sweet stuff to warrant an extra hour on the treadmill.

At night, Naomi and I met up with a couple of her school mates at the National Gallery of Denmark and had engaging political debate (Obama vs. Romney, Greece vs. Germany, McDonald’s vs. Burger King) while the DJ spun Scandinavian downtempo and people just sat and watched the light display and drank beer. After chicken curry and shawarmas (at two different places), we ended up at a surprisingly amazing and intimate concert by Alcoholic Faith Mission (had never heard of them); we were being told the happening party we’d stumbled upon was “ladies only” and the concert’s sound guy randomly intervened and invited us upstairs, where the set was already half over. I didn’t get a chance to say it at the time, but cheers, Random Sound Guy!

The weekend ended all too quickly, but I never got around to seeing the Little Mermaid and accidentally left a sweater at Naomi’s house—all the more reason to head back. Copenhagen, you were indeed wonderful. I’ll see you again soon. Save a smushi for me! More photos! Copenhagen Waterfront

The Royal Cafe Smushis

The smushis were good, y’all! (Crabcake, steak, and haddock!)

Golden Eagle, Copenhagen

Get a load of that price tag! This golden eagle is on sale at your local Royal Copenhagen store.

Nordic Sun, Copenhagen Copenhagen Toilet Copenhagen Dusk

Meninos Loucos

“Aiight, no more sugar for you, Li’l Man!”

And special thanks, Henrik at Wonderful Copenhagen, for your humorous and insightful pointers on getting along in “The Kingdom!”

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

Global Juke Joint: Chill Music for a Chilly Day

‘Tis the season for chilly, grey, rainy weather across much of the Northern Hemisphere, and as a Florida boy, I’m ill-equipped to handle too much gloom for the next few months. Music, however, can often make an uncomfortable experience much bearable, and these icy little numbers—at turns melancholy, ethereal, moody, blue—allow me to embrace the cold, where ever I may be (and yes, it can get chilly in Brazil, too). That said, here’s hoping for an early spring!







What’s on your chilly weather playlist?

Photo by alexandra1818.
Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

November is Black Consciousness Month in Brazil

Starting today, Brazil celebrates Black Consciousness Month, honoring the contributions of African-descended peoples in Brazilian society and recognizing the challenges of those same peoples in the country today.

Well, that’s not entirely true…many people in Brazil are celebrating Black Consciousness Month. But many others see this particular exercise as unnecessarily divisive and alien to Brazil’s culture of “inclusiveness and miscegenation.” I see the latter as a negation and a silencing of an inextricable aspect of the culture that has long been undervalued and misrepresented, so…Happy Black Consciousness Month, todo mundo!

Stay tuned for related posts throughout the month…er, year, and in the meantime, take a look at the trailer for a documentary currently in the works about the black experience in Rio de Janeiro, called AfroCariocas. Can’t wait for the debut!

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)