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.


Jornal do Brasil

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)


Rio Olympics, one year later

I’ve been seeing articles and videos on the topic for a few months but I was waiting for one that could hit upon the zeitgeist. I think this 19-min report by China Global TV Network does a nice job of showing just that.

It’s sad to see but it’s not like this wasn’t the expected outcome. There are so many pressing issues but I feel like if public safety could be at least under control, it’d make a world of difference. For that to happen, police presence would have to be increased by 10 times.

Rio Marathon shows endurance


With the inspiring landscape of Rio de Janeiro as a backdrop, the Rio Marathon extends along the coastline of the city with a record number of participantes in its 15th* edition. When it was launched in 2003, the event brought together 3,000 people; this time, there will be more than 33,000 runners from 47 countries, who will run on Sunday (June 18th), the route between Praia do Pontal and Flamengo Park. As such, the race assumes the position of Brazil’s largest, surpassing the number of participants of São Paulo’s traditional 2016 São Silvestre marathon by 10%. “It’s incredible to see that, fifteen years later, we multiplied the number of participants by more than ten. I’m very happy and honored to have believed in this,” says João Traven, creator and producer of the event.

Made up of three types – the main route, at 42 kilometers long, the half marathon and the family circuit (6km) -, the competition has turned into a big event, and there’s a lot of fun planned for each of the starting points, such as live music from Alice Caymmi, Serjão Loroza and Davi Moraes. The large size is also evidenced by the impact on the city’s economy. According to the organizers’ calculations, the marathon will bring in an estimated revenue of R$200 million. At the same time, Expo Run, a fair with 25 companies specialized in food supplements and sports equipment, occupies the Sul América Convention Center between Thursday (15) and Saturday (17).


Excited to take part in the race, even far from being professional marathon runners, amateur athletes are getting ready. Retiree Lindalva Figueiredo, 71, trains four times a week with her daughter, Claudia Figueiredo, 43, on the track around Maracanã. “I started running to control blood pressure. This year I suffered signs of a stroke and, according to the doctor, I’m only here because I exercise,” says Lindalva. For those looking for reasons to start running, this is one of them. – Source (PT)

Contrary to statements in the article above, the Rio Marathon has been ocurring since 1979 (PT). The 15th edition mentioned above refers to the currently named version. The original was created by Eleonora Mendonça, the first woman to represent Brazil in an Olympic marathon, in 1984.

The Kaiser examines trickery and soccer

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‘The Kaiser’: film debates malandragem (trickery) and soccer in Rio de Janeiro

The British-made documentary looks at the formation of the Rio trickster by way of Carlos Kaiser

Kaiser is a nickname that, for some – including Carlos Henrique Raposo, owner of the honorary title – traces a parallel with that of German Franz Beckenbauer, a world champion that played for Germany. There are those who point out a less pompous comparison, comparing the physical form of the guy with the nickname to a bottle of beer.

It is a fact that the trajectory of the Brazilian Kaiser, who played for the four big clubs in Rio and also played in Europe without ever being a football player, underscores the trickster’s ambiguity. And if Brazilians still try to decide between fascination and embarrassment, foreign aid will soon arrive via the big screen: the documentary “The Kaiser”, by British director Louis Myles.


Louis Myles, director of the documentary, kicks a ball with Eduardo Lara, an actor who plays Kaiser

The documentary immerses itself in the story of Carlos “Kaiser”, a character who made a career in football forging an image of a player that had little (or no) basis in technical quality. Kaiser, who started at Botafogo, got contracts through friendships with other players, or simply selling snake oil to club officials – and then using tricks to avoid being discovered.

When he signed with Bangu in the 1980s, he had a fight with fans and was sent off when he was warming up to take the field. He alleged that he heard trash talk about Castor de Andrade, then-president of the club. Instead of being punished, he ended up winning a contract extension for apparently proving his loyalty.

The interest in the unusual trajectory united Myles and a group of producers from the UK. None of them had come to Brazil before preparations for the 2014 World Cup. It was a time when the economic boom and international attention seemed to lead to renewed customs that, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, had created a romantic image of the country, although not always positive.

“When I talked to Tim Vickery (BBC correspondent in Brazil), he told me it was the best story he had ever heard from Brazil, not just in sports. There are other cases of players who have cheated clubs for some time, but with Kaiser they lasted 26 years”, notes Myles. “For a gringo, it’s harder to understand that sort of thing. People in Brazil are very receptive and friendly, except when someone from the outside begins to ask lots of questions about cheating. Kaiser himself asked not to be called ‘171’ (a trickster).


Today, at 54 years old and far from football, Kaiser was interviewed for the documentary, whose filming began in 2015. The director himself admits that he couldn’t trust everything he heard. The former player, however, became more than mere character to Myles and his team, with whom he developed a relationship of complicity. Not surprising: it was Kaiser’s good relationship with then-football stars like Bebeto and Renato Gaucho, which opened a few doors for him.


Kaiser in the famous photo next to Renato Gaucho, in the 90’s

“Almost everyone we spoke to showed a lot of affection for Kaiser. Everyone likes these romantic characters, full of personality. These are stories that could happen anywhere, provided there is a certain context. Kaiser is from a time when the great Brazilian players did not go to Europe, but played in Rio. The stadiums filled up more, there was a passionate atmosphere around football”, says Tom Markham, a football finance expert who, drawn by Kaiser’s story, became the documentary’s producer.

To get close to Kaiser, Myles learned to speak Portuguese and also adapted to the carioca way. The director stresses that the focus of his film is the player’s story – including, he guarantees, unprecedented details – but he estimates that it would be impossible to present it without understanding the Brazilian context.

Myles recalls that back when Kaiser played, with an unstable currency and political turmoil, the gulf between rich and poor was seen as more insurmountable than it seemed at the beginning of the present decade. After traveling to Brazil several times since the 2014 World Cup, he says a regression of expectations and “erosion of confidence” is visible.

“I don’t see it as a problem solely in Brazil, but here it is felt differently due to the expectation that had arisen,” Myles says. “Until the filming began, I had no idea that malandragem was something typical of Rio. Personally, I like the trickster’s celebration. In the UK, for example, there is a fascination with the anarchy of the punk movement. It’s as if people have to have something like that to deal with the difficult day-to-day. But there are consequences in doing so.

In addition to interviews, “The Kaiser” will feature some staged parts. Kaiser, for example, will be played by actor Eduardo Lara. The film is in the final stages of shooting, and due to be completed in early May. The forecast is to launch in September, with versions narrated in English and Portuguese.

“I had to dramatize some things because basically there is no footage of Kaiser,” says the director. “On the other hand, I think if I delivered a totally re-enacted movie, no one would believe the story. – Source (PT)

As I was translating the Brazilian version, an English article about the film came out.

Dive into the ‘Purple Tide’


The purple tide (maré roxa) phenomenon is responsible for what many call the Carioca Caribbean. For a period, due to maritime currents coming from the south after a cold front, the waters of Rio’s sea get warmer and clearer, like what happens to Caribbean beaches. And if on the surface the phenomenon is already enchanting, this report from Domingo Espetacular decided to dive in to show how the purple tide allows one to get to know a new world, which includes scenes of the remains of a more than 100-year old shipwreck. – Source (PT, click to watch news report) More


The shipwreck happened on July 24th 1890, as reported in O Paiz the next day. Here’s a drawing of what the ship looks like today.

Surf culture in Rio

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Youtube channel Surfari TV has been traveling the entire coast of Brazil filming surf culture. Over the last 2 weeks, they published two 20-min videos on Rio (with subtitles), one on surfing in Rio itself and the other on the Região dos Lagos, to the north.

In the last few minutes of the second video, a famous ex-surfer says the word haule/haole many times. This is surfer’s slang for someone who says they can surf well but they really can’t and also for foreigners or people who aren’t locals, although it has entered into normal slang as someone who is a beginner, dumb, unaware. Check the list of some surfer slang I’ve translated below.

Alisar: When the sea starts to be calmer and stops being choppy

Batida: Maneuver where the surfer climbs the wave after a cavada (see below) and hits it on the crest with the lower part of the board. It can be done either on the lip or on the bubbles/foam when the wave breaks on both sides

Bomba: Big wave

Cavada: When the surfer executes a maneuver with a curve at the base of the wave in order to gain speed. The cavada can be done “backside” (facing away from the wall) or “frontside” (facing the wave). AKA Bottom turn

Free surfer: Surfer that isn’t taking part in competitions, surfing just for pleasure, traveling the world in search of good waves

Marola: When waves are small, we can say they’re “marola”. When the surfer likes to surf these kinds of waves, he’s a “merrequeiro”.

Quebra-côco: When the wave is hollow and breaks quickly, making surfing difficult

Rabeta: Tail

Rabear: To drop in

Rasgada: Maneuver in which the surfer, after a bottom turn, goes in the direction of the crest but before getting there, uses his strength and agility to change direction, returning to the base

Vaca: Wipeout

For more, here’s where I found the list (PT) and here’s another list that’s been translated. As a reminder, at Deep Rio, I’ve posted twice about surfing. Once on the Ipanema Pier and another time on Fernanda Guerra.

Cariocas kissing in cars – 1935


Going through the 1930s archives of Careta magazine, I found the short article below which struck me for the image of Carioca couples freely sitting in their cars at lookout points in Rio for some face time. Since air-conditioning didn’t exist, I imagine they did this with their windows down and not, ahem, paying much attention to their surroundings.

Throughout the years I’ve spent studying historical Rio, I’ve always sort of wondered when the city became violent, and my instinct has always told me this happened around the 1950s onward (I’m not alone, by the way).

In the image above, one can get an idea of what kind of cars the author might have been talking about. As a bonus, here’s a racing site (and its PDF backup) showing images of the popular races that took place at the same time as the story below was being written (the Volta da Gávea was one of Brazil’s most popular race tracks). Take special note, on the racing site, of French woman Hellé Nice, one of the pioneer female race car drivers who was also said to have been the first woman to wear a “bikini” (ie, a two-piece) on the beaches of Rio (though, traditionally, German Miriam Etz is credited for this in 1948).

A Smile for All...

“In the sentimental geography of the city, ‘territories of love’ are numerous and very well-known. Even without a compass and a “baedecker” (travel guidebook), any clever tourist will be able to discover them. But Mr. Henrique Pongetti (writer & dramaturge), with a gratuitous and praiseworthy wisdom, made himself the loveable “ciceroni” (tour guide) of sentiments, to happily teach us, not without a certain malice, the roads which in Rio lead to the territories of love. Pointing out to us, with an ironic but serviceable hand, these galant routes, the illustrious writer of chronicles declared that the automobile circuits of Carioca love, the “Volta da Gávea” and the “Volta da Tijuca”, were the everyday greatest testaments.

The Paraizo road, for them starts at the granite throat of Avenida Niemeyer, which seems like the Alighierian gate of Malebolge (eighth gate of hell), but allows — sweet clandestinity decorated in green! — the first fearless kiss from the tongue of the world. I wish to add to the geographic tips of Mr. Henrique Pongetti one more automobile circuit of Carioca love: the “Volta da Lagoa”. With the Avenida Epitacio Pessoa being my daily route into the city, I can give my testimony with authority and conviction: that territory is for love, as well…

Facing the placid mirror of the lake, the green shade of the mountain, in that beautiful landscape that starts at the Fonte da Saudade and ends at the court of Cantagalo — there are many idyllic carefree and happy people, every day! Sometimes, the sun has barely leaned over the green mane of Cantagalo hill to illuminate the lake, and already the cars slip in there, matinal-like, driven by happy couples in love…At midday, when I pass by for lunch, there are cars stopped, in whose cushions, the couples get cozy and kiss assured. Some of them, shy and cautious, hide their faces behind the windshield, in fear of being surprised in the criminal act of happiness. Naive ones! as if love were a sin…

At night, when the first stars jump from the sky to dive into the calm waters of the lake, mysterious cars, with headlights turned off, tranquilly stop in the middle of the deserted and seductive landscape, for a moment of privacy and silence…All these couples that pass by or stop there, from when the sun goes up til the stars come out, are courageous champions of a brilliant automobile circuit of love — of the “Volta da Lagoa”.

It is just a question of Mr Pongetti officializing, in the sentimental tourism guide of the Automobile Club, this new and adorable circuit. I consider it as important and as preferred as the “Volta da Gavea” and the “Volta da Tijuca”… And being that love, in Rio, is a sport for steering wheels, it is legitimate to point out this new route of happiness to lovers of automobilism…”

Documentary Series – Rio Por Eles


The documentary series Rio Por Eles is a different kind of historical and sentimental revival of the city of Rio. In it, viewers will discover how foreign documentarists, reporters and TV broadcasting station saw the city throughout the 20th century. It’s a mostly black & white record of Rio through the eyes of foreigners in different languages.

Directed and scripted by Ernesto Rodrigues, the series is the result of a two year research project through hundreds of foreign sources, in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Nine reporters from O Globo will take the viewer through 43 characteristic locations which contextualize more than 200 excerpts from 127 films and televised reports.

The series consists of five 30-minute episodes, which you should be able to find on Youtube: the transformation of the landscape, the political happenings, the interpretation of Brazilian culture, the style & behavior, and finally the tragedies & disasters shown abroad.