Largo do Boticario finds a buyer

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Largo do Boticário will have a hostel with 70 rooms and coworking spaces
AccorHotels bought six houses in the Zona Sul for US$5.1 million

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June 2018

A business project – mixing the concepts of a hostel and a coliving center, with gastronomic and coworking areas and a swimming pool – will be implanted in Largo do Boticário, in Cosme Velho. The news was presented to Cariocas in June by AccorHotels, who bought the six houses in the square for US$5.1 million and will invest $7.6 million in equipment and restorations so that the place can receive the first Jo&Joe venture to be opened outside of Europe. With an opening scheduled for September 2020, the space will follow an open house concept, with a large bar open to the public. There will also be a cultural and artistic space. The hostel will consist of an area of 3,500 square meters and will have 70 rooms, of varying prices and sizes. Construction will be started in about four months.

According to Patrick Mendes, CEO of AccorHotels in South America, the hotel network decided to invest in Rio because it believes in the economic recovery of the state and the tourist potential of the cidade maravilhosa.

“The decision to give this gift to Rio shows our intention to bet on the city”, said Patrick Mendes, noting that construction begins at the end of the year.

The purchase of all the houses, explains Patrick, was a negotiation that lasted about a year.

“Since we managed to buy it all, we can restore the whole complex. And rehabilitate this place for Cariocas. It will have a bar, barber, coworking space, plus a hotel. For that, we have brought in a new brand, Jo&Joe, which follows a new concept, with multifunctional spaces”, adding that the hotel will not be the main attraction. “It will be a place of […], in which the hotel will be the consequence and not the main reason.”

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According to the architect responsible for the project, Ernani Freire, the restoration of the space will be the starting point for the revitalization of the entire Cosme Velho area.

– It’s a space that the city complained about the very poor state of conservation. It’s a very charming urban space protected from the traffic of the city. The fact that all six houses were purchased facilitates the restoration project. It’s the phenomenon of the “positive metastasis” by the Catalan architect Oriol Bohigas. I imagine other buildings in the area, such as the Casa dos Abacaxis, will benefit, too”, said the architect Ernani Freire.

The architectural project, says Ernani, will respect the characteristics of the houses and the volumetry of the buildings. The buildings will be interconnected internally, but the facades will be maintained. Additions will be made to areas not related to the buildings. The forest area will also be preserved.

Aimed at a younger audience, the undertaking will have collective dormitories for up to ten people, average rooms for up to four guests, and smaller housing for two people. The estimate is that the tourist rents a bed, in a collective room, for about $25.

A large bar in the middle of the Open House, with capacity for 300 people, will be one of the biggest attractions. It will remain open until 2AM. The new Largo do Boticário will also have swimming pools. – Source (PT)


A news report from the 1960s, and another from 2016 on the space being put up for sale

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Origins of the Animal Game

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I translated pieces of an article from 1963 and posted them below. You’ll read about how the animal game was played in Cambodia, how different variations of the game pre-existed the one we all know (including the more prominent flower game), and that Brazilians have a Mexican to thank for the continuation and proliferation of the game in Rio.

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Jornal do Brasil
12/13/1963

Despite a law to the contrary, the animal game is considered one of the most serious institutions in Brazil. And every afternoon, from one end of the country to the other, Brazilians ask themselves: “What animal did you get?” The animal game only exists in Brazil and in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The animal game started to be played in Brazil and only a few years later it was introduced in Phnom Penh. Senator Érico Coelho (depicted), who in 1915 proposed to congress the legalization of the animal game throughout the country – which occurred for the first time – justified his bill with the fact that it was an eminently Brazilian game, warning that it would be easier pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to make people stop gambling on the camel.

Before the animal game appeared in Brazil, there existed, with the same characteristics, the game of flowers, fruits, birds and numbers. Before the advent of the animal game, the numbers game was very popular in Espírito Santo. The flower game, however, was the one that had the most fans throughout the whole country. As in the current animal game, the other games consisted of 25 numbers, a fact for which no one has yet found an explanation. […] A Mexican, by the name of Manoel Ismael Zevada, was the biggest financier of the flower game in Rio. His bank was on Rua do Ouvidor, according to the chroniclers of Old Rio.

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(Almanak Laemmert: Administrativo, Mercantil e Industrial do Rio de Janeiro, 1900)

This is where the Barão de Drummond comes into play. João Batista Viana Drummond, a friend of Dom Pedro II, from Minas Gerais, would address Princess Isabel as “my angel” and, in her honor, named the farm on his property after her. It would become Vila Isabel – on the former Fazenda do Macaco, where he founded a zoo (on the slope of the Serra do Engenho Novo), which was the first that Rio had. […] Because he was one of the monarchists who supported Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca, Barão de Drummond fell into disgrace with Marechal Floriano Peixoto, who cut the annual sum that the Federal Government gave for the maintenance of his Zoo by 10 contos de réis. That was in 1892.

The Mexican, Zevada, knowing that Barão de Drummond was going to close the Zoo, due to a lack of financing, proposed the animal game – just as he did on Rua do Ouvidor – in order to keep it going.

Quickly, the animal game dominated the city and the zoo was no longer big enough for the visitors, who went to Vila Isabel to gamble more than they went there to see the animals in the zoo.

In less than a year there wasn’t a corner in Rio without an animal game, which alarmed the police, who prohibited it at the zoo. Already rooted in the habits of the carioca, it began to be played out of sight…

Source (pdf, PT)

Carioca Brands 2018

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Carioca Brands 2018

Study

The “Marcas dos Cariocas” study, a partnership between Globo and TroianoBranding, started in 2010. This year, the survey listed the product and services brands that are most admired by Cariocas across 40 categories.

Stages

In the ninth edition, the first phase included 2,060 interviews, in which brands were cited spontaneously, without suggesting names. The ten most memorable ones in each category went to the second stage, with 2,355 interviews.

Criteria

The researchers asked participants to evaluate the brands in each category, taking into consideration quality, respect for the consumer, price, identity (“it matches my style”) and evolution (“it’s always remaking itself”).

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The Face of Rio

Brands identified as having traits that are typically Carioca, such as optimism and relaxation.

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  1. Respect for the Consumer. 2. Respect for the Environment. 3 – 8. Winners.

Source (PT)

Casa do Jongo shut its doors

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Cultural producers and students protest in favor of the Casa do Jongo

The official home of Jongo in Rio de Janeiro – headquarters of the traditional cultural group Jongo da Serrinha, in Madureira, in the north of the capital – has closed. Casa do Jongo suspended activities last week due to a lack of funds.

In order to demand public policies for the safeguarding of its intangible heritage – declared a landmark by Iphan in 2005 – and the upkeep for its scheduled activities, visitors, students and supporters protested today (January 9th), in Cinelandia, in downtown Rio.

Inaugurated in 2015, Casa do Jongo is the result of the dedication by Jongo masters since the 20th century so that the dance doesn’t disappear. The cultural group was founded to expand the jongo groups and professionalize activities, hence the need to have a space of their own.

With the support of the city government that, in 2013, bought and renovated the property where the institution was operating til today, Casa do Jongo opened its doors. This is the last nucleus for the dance in the city, the inheritance of Mestre Darcy and Vovó Maria and the birthplace of the samba school Império Serrano.

Until last year, the venue served 400 students of all ages, with classes in percussion, singing, sports, cultural practices, as well as serving as a meeting point for neighborhood artists. Three thousand people visited there in 2017.

Financing

With the suspension of the bill approved by the administration of the previous mayor, Eduardo Paes – the main way the institution’s activities were financed – the problems started. The amount raised by companies through the tax incentive law is insufficient to maintain the space’s activities, whose monthly costs are US$12,400 for infrastructure and to pay 23 employees.

The director of the house, Dionne Boy, says she tried for one year to get support for a direct contribution from the City’s Culture Secretary, in the form of investment granted to other cultural institutions, such as the Deborah Colker dance company and the Museum of Tomorrow, however the results weren’t positive. The director questions the criteria for receiving investment and also demands contributions for projects that work with intangible heritage.

“We do not think we have to be supported only by the city hall, but what are the criteria [for direct transfers]? That is not clear, “Dyonne questioned. “We are fighting all the time to have a policy for the city’s intangible heritage. Groups that are 50 years old, 60 years old, like Filhos de Gandhi, Jongo da Serrinha, Trem do Samba, they are projects that are the very identity of the city of Rio and are being undermined, making culture with their own funds, but which in the crisis are the ones that suffer the most”, she said.

According to Dyonne, these groups have more difficulty attracting sponsorship compared to institutions in the media such as museums and dance groups. “We are inside a favela, serving, especially children, we should have priority,” she said.

Regarding the direct transfer of funds to the Casa do Jongo, the City Secretary of Culture, Nilcemar Nogueira, said that it was not possible because of the decrease in tax collection in the city. He informed that, through the fiscal incentive law, Casa do Jongo raised so far, $37,400 so far, to be paid this year. On the pay-outs to the Deborah Colker dance company, the secretary argues that the group is a reference in the country and internationally and develops social projects – with free presentations. He also says that, in the last year, support from the Secretary to the group was reduced from $624,200 to $124,800.

Another alternative to get resources offered to Casa do Jongo, according to Nilcemar, were the three open tender notices made by the secretariat last year. One of them allocated $156,000 for initiatives with an emphasis on African culture, distributed in amounts between $3,000 and $15,600.

The Casa do Jongo did not compete for the open tenders, according to director Dionne Boy, because the maximum amounts were low. “We do not have projects at these [lower] amounts. We have projects for one year, not one month. And we know, moreover, that such low amounts ​​hurt cultural activity”, she said.

According to her, since last year, even with fiscal stimulus funds, the Jongo supporters were paying for some activities. “We were banking this with money from our own pocket, these 23 teachers don’t get a paycheck, they are partners who give classes elsewhere and do volunteer work in the Serrinha. We, the coordinators, are seven people, and are like State employees (with parceled wages). This is a scandal for the city.”

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Afro-Brazilian culture

In the evaluation of the director and other cultural producers in the city, who launched a public letter in defense of Casa do Jongo during the protest, the city hall has left behind manifestations and cultural groups linked to black culture. “There is a component of persecution of cultures from the African matrix, of popular culture, without a doubt”, criticized the cultural administrator.

Secretary Nilcemar Nogueira denies that projects related to Afro-Brazilian culture are being relegated by the administration of Mayor Marcelo Crivella. However, he acknowledged that initiatives related to Afro-Brazilian memory or intangible heritage have more difficulties to maintain themselves, including those related to samba.

“Today we don’t value anything that comes from African matrix. This is a discussion to be had with the entire society. Because if the entire society understood its importance, this wouldn’t be happening to the Casa do Jongo, nor with samba, nor with the Folia de Reis. We still think in an isolated way,” he said. – Source (PT)

Services place their trust in Cariocas

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Data shows that honesty is still growing among cariocas

In gloomy times, plagued by corruption and serial political scandals, honesty, so discredited, endures in the day to day of the city. Contrary to even the non-believers, it’s possible to see evidence everywhere that having a good character is on the up and up. From services such as the VLT, which did away with the fare collector and depends on the awareness of the users, the newly established self-service registers in department stores, always with dilettante customers making the payment, Rio is still able to teach lessons of citizenship.

With the modern streetcar, the evasion rate – that is, of passengers who get on and off without paying, ignoring the rules of civility – doesn’t hit 10%, according to the concessionaire responsible for transportation, going against all expectations that vandalism and slyness would prevail. With the establishment of cash registers operated by customers, almost nobody leaves without paying, to the surprise of those who didn’t believe that it’s possible to adopt here a common system of the world’s great metropolises.

In 2015, when it was announced that VLT passengers would be responsible for paying fares upon entering the vehicle, the news was practically treated as a joke. But, after two years, the fact is that 90% of the passengers behave as they do what’s customary, religiously paying the R$3.80 fare. The percentage is even higher than what’s been registered in European cities, according to the consortium that operates the streetcar that already cuts across the center of Rio. The VLT’s honesty “inspectors”, who do random checks, attest that it’s rare to catch a bad payer in the act.

The most common thing, they argue, is to watch passengers, as they embark, go straight with their RioCards towards the fare validators. Inspector Bruno Teixeira Campo says that, by day, he sends at most one passenger to the police to be fined for evasion. He also says it’s normal for savvy users to alert others who use VLT sporadically on how to validate tickets on the machine. And those who fall into the fine mesh of inspection usually get embarrassed and make feeble excuses.

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“Those in a hurry claim that they forgot to validate the card, that they didn’t know they had to have a ticket when they boarded or that they saw the VLT at the stop and, in a hurry, they got on without reloading the RioCard. There are also those who talk on the cell phone and say they were distracted. But in general, as a Carioca, he is proud to see that almost everyone does the right thing,” Bruno observes.

VLT Director of Operations Paulo Ferreira says that, even on European systems, the evasion rate can surpass 40%. In the VLT contract, a 30% rate was forecast. But the rate never got so high. At the start of the operation, it was close to 15%. And, since then, it’s just been falling. This can be understood from the convergence of data from the validation machines and the passenger counts done by cameras installed at the vehicle doors.

“But it’s still not possible to remove the inspectors from the operation”, says Ferreira, without ruling out the possibility of an even more civilized future, with total mutual trust between the operator and passengers.

The anthropologist Alba Zaluar says that the phenomenon doesn’t surprise her, despite the whole reality of corruption that haunts Brazil. She calls attention to what she considers discrimination against Cariocas, said to be mischievous. She says that, despite this collective value judgment, very few people try to take advantage of everything.

“The population is very outraged. I see people proud to differentiate themselves from those who are robbing the country, to say that they work and live honestly, without deceiving anyone. Even because trust is the basis of all the movements of society – analyzes the scholar.

From September 5 to September 30 2016, the police counted 8,970 fines imposed on passengers for non-payment of the VLT fare. February had the highest number of infractions: 950 people. Last September, there was a sharp drop: 521 fines.

New Relations in Commerce

Another service that depends on the goodwill of customers is Bike Rio, which, since 2011, has trusted that rented bikes, after being ridden, will be returned by cyclists. And that is how it has been, nearly all the time. At Rio International Airport, terminal parking managers say that 90% of drivers respect exclusive vacancies for seniors, people with special needs and pregnant women.

In addition, throughout Brazil, public and private libraries are already implementing book-lending systems, in which interested parties lend and return publications on machines with barcode readers. In commerce, establishments began to provide self-service registers, in which customers themselves register their goods and make payment, without any inspection, as it has been for some time in stores in Europe. The system was adopted in some supermarkets in the Zona Sul and, since the beginning of the year, in five Lojas Americanas in Rio and São Paulo. “The solution is practical and allows the customer to carry out the entire purchase process alone. The implementation of this technology contributes to the operational performance of the stores, boosting sales, especially in times of high traffic. In a short time of operation, the self-checkout has been very receptive and represents a relevant portion of store transactions,” says Lojas Americanas.

At the end of last month, a GLOBO team tested one of these terminals at the Shopping RioSul location. People were still staring at the machines, half-disbelieving, and suspicious. I had to line up for the traditional cash registers, but there was no one using self-service. It was enough for the reporter to start paying for his purchases, for two other customers to notice the novelty and to encourage them to use it. Even smaller stores are venturing out. And it’s not just now. In Botafogo, it has been even longer, decades, that a restaurant has no one mediating payments made by customers. The owner of the establishment prefers not to disclose the address, claiming that he chose the method by having a captive clientele. He admits, however, that widespread publicity could jeopardize a model that, without marketing, is working.

“What we do goes against the madness we’ve seen in this country,” the businessman acknowledges.

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Nearby, at UniRio, in Urca, the students are trying out an initiative that has earned the nickname “the little wall of honesty“. In a garden at the Arts and Literature Center, students leave products for sale and go to class. The offer goes from snacks and cakes to sweets and fruit. But no one is watching what happens. If someone is interested in buying, they choose what they want and leave the money. There are reports of stealing, but most behave well. Those unusual cases forced the group to make adaptations, such as creating makeshift coffers where customers deposit notes and coins to prevent any thefts.

“I’ve seen people put paper in place of money. But it’s a minority. Most of it is honest, says Information Systems student Davi Coutinho.

Another university student and actor César Júnior is enthusiastic about the experience:

“The function of the university is also to provoke this reflection and stimulate awareness. Products have fair prices. And behind each of them, there is a job. The ‘little wall’ helps support many students, either to pay for the bus to come here or for class expenses.”

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Downtown, a formal business decided to change its relationship with customers. In the Curto Café, on Menezes Cortes, the prices of goods aren’t fixed, only suggested. And there isn’t a cash register controlling how much each person pays. It’s the customer who makes the payment and takes his change from a pot, on top of a counter. Asked if it’s successful, the entrepreneurs say the establishment has been operating for five years, and they serve 700 to 800 coffees a day. Some pay less than the indicated prices, others pay more. The average balances out the sales.

“I’m surprised at this place. I hope that this concept spreads,” said customer Sueli Afonso.

Source (PT)

The future Museum of Tomorrow

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Visited by 1.4 million people in the country in 2016, the Museum of Tomorrow, with investments abroad, wants to bring its collection and content to an audience of over 100 million per year. Open for less than two years, the Museum of Tomorrow has just started its international expansion. With the brand MoTi (Museum of Tomorrow International), based in Rio, it arrived earlier this month in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, as part of a commitment made with three local partners. The investment abroad is part of a strategy that aims to bring collections and museum content to an audience estimated at over 100 million people each year, via TV, Internet and traveling exhibitions.

The institution’s global ambitions are encouraged by last year’s results, when the Museum of Tomorrow was the most visited in all of Brazil. The audience (1.4 million persons) was almost three times what administrators expected, which was 500,000. The unconventional collection, based on interactive content which is easily replicable in other areas, is a point in favor of the internationalization strategy.

Even before settling in Holland, the institution’s area of influence already far surpassed the building’s futuristicly-lined walls erected next to Praça Maua, the design of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. “Today, via Facebook, Twitter and the official site, we reache 7 million people,” said Ricardo Piquet, CEO of the Museum of Tomorrow and Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Gestão (IDG), a social organization that manages the institution. In the Netherlands, the Museum of Tomorrow occupies a space within the THNK School of Creative Leadership, a laboratory for the discussion of ideas and a startup accelerator aimed to generate social impact. The intention behind internationalization is just developing a series of initiatives on a global scale that encompass both traveling exhibitions, online exhibitions and audiovisual products. “We want to produce films and series for TV and Netflix,” said Piquet. Within the strategy outlined by management, the transmission of audiovisual content via cable and broadcast television have potential – in the long run – to reach more than 20 million people per year.

At the moment, the Museum of Tomorrow is expanding its operations with temporary itinerant exhibitions. It also offers a consulting service for the implementation of methodologies and content tools, within a logic which will, in the future, include marketing “packages” including content, design and concept for exhibitions. The model reduces costs traditionally associated with artistic exhibitions, such as the transportation and insurance for art work. The next step is the global dissemination of such content via the Internet, reaching more than 100 million people in a period of over four years, according to the institution’s projections.

The Netherlands branch, according to Piquet, is an almost entirely self-sustaining investment from a financial point of view, the same line adopted at its Rio de Janeiro headquarters. Of the US$14.6 million budget for the Museum this year, $6.1 million would have come from the City of Rio de Janeiro, which informed the institution’s administrators of a reduction of their share to $3.6 million.

The cut was drastic in comparison with 2016, when Rio’s City Hall contributed $8.5 million. Even so, the museum’s activities were not affected, since most of the budget is made from private resources. “Our desire is to be entirely private,” says the CEO, without establishing a deadline. In the Netherlands, the first years of operation are guaranteed by resources allocated by a private investor.

In addition to the agreement signed with the THNK School of Creative Leadership, for an initial duration of one year, there are signed partnerships and technical cooperation agreements with 17 institutions, including the Google Cultural Institute and Columbia University. The choice of Amsterdam as first city to house a MoTi unit took into account technological and logistical factors, but also the ability of European capital to attract new businesses and talent (the city ranks third in the Global Power City Index ranking) and it has the best cost/benefit in comparison with London or Paris.

For next year, one of the major international bets for the Museum of Tomorrow is the Global Climate Room, an exhibition that will encourage the visitor to reflect on the effects of climate change and the consequences of human activity on the planet. It’s not by chance that the first cities planned to receive the exhibitions are located on the coast. “The idea of sustainability is tied to our project,” says Piquet. – Source (PT)

Rio bookstores, reinvented

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Bookstores reinvent themselves to face the crisis and the internet

From the outside, Livraria Camerino, in the Port Zone, looks like a shop for photocopies, novelties and stationery. But whoever crosses through one of the three doors of the old building, in front of the Valongo Suspended Garden, will discover a world of shelves and shelves filled with used publications, among them, textbooks, novels, guides, almanacs and rare magazines. There are 15 thousand titles for sale in the used bookstore, open since 1971, and that has belonged, for several generations, to the family of 55 year old bookseller Paulo Félix. Meanwhile, the bookstore Lumen Chisti specializes in new editions with religious content, but those who are looking for the small shop in the courtyard of the São Bento Monastery, also in the Port area, can find chocolates and sweets produced in the South of the country, as well as images and medals.

The two addresses are in the “Guia de Livrarias da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro” (Bookstore Guide of the City of Rio de Janeiro), released by the State Association of Bookstores (AEL-RJ), last month. Edited after two years of research, the material, however, is already in the hands of readers in need of correction: of the 204 listed establishments, eight have already closed their doors. Three years ago, they were 252.

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According to the president of the association, Antônio Carlos de Carvalho, this was the first guide of its kind produced by the institution and, as the objective was to make a complete map, the survey included all types of establishments from the branch. There are small bookstores on the street, used bookstores, those with bistros, religious ones, those that diversify with stationery, and the mega bookstores, who also sell electronic items. Diversification may be the reason these places weather the era of fast internet and e-books.

The Oldest is from 1897

Of the 204 presented in the Carioca guide, the one on Spiritist Federation on Avenida Passos, 28, founded in 1897, is the only one in operation since the 19th century. Beyond that, seven were opened in 2016. In the opening text, the guide explains that this changing shop profile is actually a return to origins, “when books were just one of the items offered”:

“Unfortunately, some that are in the guide, such as Casa Cruz and a Saraiva branch downtown, have closed. But the guide shows that there are many still open. The reality is that the vast majority do not just sell books. They sell games, CDs, magazines and even coffee. Many became almost bazaars. But I think it’s still possible to live off of selling books in the city. So much so that our family has been in this business for more than 40 years, and my bookstore sells only books”, defends Antônio Carlos, owner of Galileo (Rua Major Ávila 116, Tijuca).

Of the bookstores in Rio, 25% carry general titles, from various areas of knowledge. The others are segmented. There are 33 religious bookstores (15 being Evangelical) and 27 used bookstores, according to the guide. Those who sell didactic and paradidical books make up 28. The Livraria Camerino (Rua Camerino 52, Centro), for example, mainly carries books on exact sciences for undergraduates.

“Looking online for mainly engineering and mathematics books, for students from 38 colleges in Brazil. Half of my sales come from there”, says Paulo Félix, who, on days for guided visits to the Port Zone, usually receives tourists looking for books on the history of the region.

Solário (Rua Sete de Setembro 169) is one of the traditional ones that endure downtown. But, like most, it also adhered to selling online:

“In the months of January and February, the buyers are the self-taught group. Throughout the year, we sell other types of books, focused on fiction, esotericism, self-help and children. We are always struggling with internet sales, with sites that buy wholesale and give discounts. There is even a site for home appliances selling books online. But from my experience, anyone who likes to read will never give up a book. We have to continue”, says manager Alfredo Silva, at Solário for 15 years.

One flip through the guide shows that many owners have diversified their businesses to ensure survival. Antiqualhas Brasileiras (Rua da Carioca 10, Centro) exhibits cachaça, antiques and some book covers of literary works about Old Rio in the window. Letra Viva (Rua Luís de Camões 10) is another example. In its large hall, used book shelves share space with bistro tables. Owner Luiz Barreto believes that the way to attract readers is the environment:

“We are a used bookstore, but not that old kind, dark, dusty, unkempt. The customer comes and feels like staying longer. We also do online auctions of art books. The important thing is to diversify the business.”

Zona Norte has More Spaces

The addresses indicated in the guide are divided by the regions of the city, with maps and a short summary of each establishment. The Zona Norte appears first, with 63 stores; followed by downtown, with 60; the Zona Sul, with 54, and the Zona Oeste, with 28. The publication, which will not be sold, has been distributed to publishers, bookstores and public agencies.

In 2014 and 2015, the city lost 18 establishments, according to the association. For Bernardo Gurbanov, director-president of the National Association of Bookstores, the crisis in the sector cannot be interpreted as the end of books:

“The challenge of maintaining a bookstore is too big. Books compete with many other entertainment alternatives, with new technologies. And it’s up to bookstores and publishers to look for alternatives, such as offering aggregate services. But I believe books will keep their place, because a world without stories is inconceivable.”

According to the Panel of Book Sales in Brazil, a survey that the National Union of Book Publishers publishes monthly in partnership with Nielsen Bookscan, despite the crisis, there was a 6.02% growth in the amount of books sold in the country. Studies show that the number of readers has increased again: in 2011, it represented 50% of the population and in 2015 it reached 56%. The reading index indicates that the Brazilian reads, on average, 4.96 books per year. The previous average was four.

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Livraria Letra Viva

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Livraria Letra Viva

(see top photo)

Livraria Camerino

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Livraria da Federação Espírita

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Livraria Solário

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Lumen Chisti

Source (PT)

Gavea Planetarium gets protected status

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“Inaugurated on November 19, 1970, the Fundação Planetário is dedicated to disseminating astronomy and related sciences and offering quality culture and leisure to the people of Rio de Janeiro and other visitors, becoming synonymous with fun not only through the Summit Sessions, but by promoting a series of cultural activities and projects, for all kinds of people, allowing integration between the most diverse areas of science.

The Planetarium Foundation has two units in operation: Gávea and Santa Cruz. In Gávea, the visitor can visit the Museum of the Universe, which houses 60 interactive experiments and exhibitions; the Giordano Bruno Library, with a collection of approximately 2,500 books, the amphitheater, the Sergio Menge auditorium, the Galileo Space, aimed at children’s recreation; Telescopes Square, where telescope observations occur; and the Carl Sagan and Galileo Galilei Summits, reformed in 2011.” – Official Site

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Protected Status

Amid the legal dispute over a possible sale of the land to pay labor debts, the Gávea Planetarium will be listed as part of Rio’s historical and cultural heritage. The bill 2.640/17 had already been approved by the Rio de Janeiro Legislative Assembly (Alerj), who on Wednesday (August 23, 2017) overturned governor Luiz Fernando Pezão’s veto. Of the 70 parliamentarians, 48 voted in favor of overturning the veto.

The declaration does not prevent the sale of the land, which almost took place in April in order to pay the labor debts of Rio’s State Housing Company (Cehab), which owns the area. But the demolition or de-characterization of the original property is forbidden. – Source (PT)

Long Life to Folha Seca!

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A day doesn’t go by without news of the closing of a traditional establishment: a used bookstore that has a particular abundance of French books, a coffeehouse that was always full of people, a hotel that had lodged a world champion team (from Uruguay, in 1950), a newstand that served espressos to clients and even an important store for sports items on the most expensive block in Ipanema. Behind each story is the flight of clientele and money and the [economic] crash that swept the country.

At the same time, one doesn’t hear about the closing of pharmacies, banks, and Evangelic temples, nor of stores dedicated to mattresses, furniture or articles for the home. Incidentally, they occupy the spaces where nice and needed commerce was located up until a short time ago. It’s not that these new, arrogant stores can’t exist. But who needs four pharmacies from the same chain in a single block? In other countries, the government controls this excess.

That’s why when one learns that a bookstore in Rio is celebrating its 19th anniversary, it’s not a case of only blowing out the candles, but of setting off rockets. That’s what’s happening today, the anniversary of Folha Seca, on Ouvidor street, coinciding with Saint Sebastian, patron saint of the city. When Rodrigo Ferrari opened it, in 1998, the idea was audacious: a “Carioca bookstore”, specialized in books about Rio, popular music and football. Since when does a country in eternal crisis behave with such specialization?

But Rodrigo undertook it and his presence injected happiness into that section of Ouvidor, between Primeiro de Março and Travessa do Comércio. Bars, restaurants and samba circles cropped up, making it one of the most pleasant blocks of old Rio.

Rio couldn’t be understood without Folha Seca. A long life to this bookstore, that does the city so well! – Source (PT)

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Also, here’s a recent piece (PT) on O Globo about the bookstore

No fortune or future for Rio tea

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Rather than an early morning cup of coffee and another little cup after lunch, a cup of tea. Perhaps this would be a Carioca habit had Dom João’s ambitious project succeeded. In the 1810s, between 200 and 500 Chinese from Macau disembarked in Rio to work (in semi-slavery conditions) farming tea, until then only produced in China. It was a real Chinese business, since the product was a very profitable trade in Europe.

The plans included bringing up to one million Chinese to the country and supplying not only the domestic market but also the European market. Contrary to what was planned, the plantations – at Rio’s Botanical Garden, Ilha do Governador and the Fazenda Imperial de Santa Cruz – did not go forward. But the arrival of immigrants became a part of history as the first Chinese contact with Brazil. The circumstances of this trip and its consequences are now recounted in the book “China made in Brasil” (Babilônia Cultura Editorial), by journalists Cristiane Costa and Cibele Reschke de Borba.

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The book doesn’t end in the nineteenth century: it deals with the cultural and commercial exchange between the two countries to the present day. China is the country that most invests now in Brazil. The sum is around R$30 billion [in 2015]. And Rio served as the first port for these exchanges.

“Tea was an important spice at the time. And it was the moment for the globalization of food”, says Cristiane, noting that of the Chinese who arrived in the early nineteenth century, only the names of four are known (Liang Chou, Ming Huang, Chian Chou and Tsai Huang). “These were not ordinary workers. They stayed at the Conde da Barca’s house on an official mission. One hypothesis is that they organized the coming of workers or the importation of seedlings.

Different Palates

As to why tea farming didn’t work, there are some theories. Shu Chang-Sheng, a Chinese man who lives in Rio and holds a doctorate in history from UFF, says that one of them is about the difference between palates: since the Chinese usually drink green tea, the product produced here would not have pleased the Portuguese, accustomed to sweetened black tea. German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas, who traveled through Brazil in the following decade and came to portray the work of Chinese in the Botanical Garden (see main image above), wrote that the tea had the “acrid taste of earth.”

Immigrants might also not have been exactly specialists in this type of agriculture, according to the historian. The labor regime imposed on them – which reminds us of the Chinese currently treated like slaves in Rio’s pastry shops – is another possibility:

“The Chinese had an aversion to closed systems. They may have resisted the concentration camp at Fazenda Real.”

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After the plantations were over, the Chinese spread out. Some turned into peddlers, some went to coffee farms. There are also those that gave rise to the first opium houses downtown, next to Beco dos Ferreiros. Those who worked in the Botanical Garden built homes in Tijuca Forest, in ​​the Vista Chinesa area (above) – hence the explanation for the name of the viewpoint, which was also called Vista dos Chins and Rancho dos Chins. In the Pereira Passos government, a Chinese pagoda was erected at the Vista, in reference to this memory. The project, from 1903, is by architect Luiz Rey.

The country would only see a significant number of Chinese arriving here starting in WWII. Journalists estimate the number of immigrants and descendants living in Brazil is 250,000. Chang-Sheng estimates that in Rio there are about 20,000. Although there is no Chinatown in Rio, one of the strongholds is Saara, where, behind the counter, many children of the first immigrants are seen there, from the end of the 1980s.

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Chang-Sheng says that immigrants come to Rio today with different motivations, working in branches that go beyond commerce and the kitchens of restaurants and pastry shops:

“Most work within the retail and wholesale network. But a kind of transnational Chinese immigrant has arisen, who are executives of Chinese companies moving from China to Brazil, from Brazil to the United States or from here to Latin America.” – Source (PT)


This post was in honor of the Botanical Garden’s 209th anniversary yesterday. To know about tea in Brazil these days, here’s part of an abstract from a 2009 paper on the subject:

“In Brazil, the culture of tea is concentrated in the Ribeira Valley – SP, and almost all the production is exported. Despite the Brazilian product is not of high quality, it has achieved good prices in the international market. The Brazilian production, the production area and the number of tea industries are decreasing in recent years, clearly indicating the need for investments.”