Disclaimer. This is a post written under the state of full anger.

Every year is the same. As soon as the dawn of the eigthth day of March arrives they come to light: the “happy Women´s Day” messages. So cute, so pink, so infuriating… It is probably just me, but I can´t help the uneasy feeling.

I try to keep a low profile and ignore the group messages, but people contact me in private messages. The best reply I can do in this cases is sending a smiley emoji. I know their intention is good, but what happened to this important, necessary and combative date is a real shame.

Somehow Women´s Day is now presented with some sort of “Disney princess filter”, which covers all the political meaning and historical importance of it. And women are buying the version. Why? It might be that the “princess filter” is blurring our perception, but, sisters, roses and candies? Come on!

Pretending that Women´s Day is a spin-off of Valentine´s Day is outrageous, to say the least, and I won´t even bother to explain the obvious.

I told you I was angry.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

My mother always made sure we took good care of our teeth and as far I can remember, I was never scared of going to the dentist. On the contrary! As a matter of fact, dental offices are part of my affective memory.

So, when my dentist told me he would retire, I felt as if I had finished a book or just watched the final episode of a beloved tv series. Kind of lost, kind of sad.

I knew I would have to jump the stages of grief and go for acceptance rightaway. For over fifteen years he was part of my story. Now he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren and be part of their story, totally understandable. And yet, what a pity!

“When are you closing the office?”, I asked him.

“I don´t know yet. First I have to find someone to get my chair and all the furniture here”

“So… do you wanna sell it?”

“No, not at all. I want to donate it. I just need to find a trustful person or institution.”

“Well, maybe I can help you on that…”

I told him about my last Christmas shopping adventure and put him in contact with the orphanage people. The following day, they arranged all the details for moving a complete dentist office. Hurray!

When I heard the message from my now ex-dentist saying that everything went all right, I started crying of joy immeaditely. What a decent ending for the office of a decent man!

I am still feeling a bit sad about his retirement, but you know what? It is true what they say: doing good really makes you feel better.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

One of the most undervalued untapped markets for advertisin is the condo meeting. A vast, unexplored land teeming with all kinds of people… until the meeting starts. From this moment on, all types melt into just one: the self-centered owner/tenant who tries to pass an improvement that suits him, as if it were for a common cause.

Performances are often grandiose, but over the years I’ve learned not to be affected by anything that happens at a condo meeting, especially after the pandemic turned them into Zoom meetings, which means logging into an account and using a username that will be for all to see during the meeting.

In the early days of virtual meetings, I uploaded a profile picture to my account (can´t remember where or when), but since all the meetings I´ve attended so far required an open camera, I simply forgot abot the profile pic… until my last condo meeting started.

After a short while being able to see everybody´s face (“new normal” equivalent to meet and greet), participants were asked to turn off their cameras, in order to avoid further connection failures. And there it was: my profile picture. The only smiling face amidst a sea of cold initials.

The problem was not the picture. As a matter of fact, it is a very good one for a jazz singer: good lighting, in front of a mic and all, but not exactly appropriate for a condo meeting avatar. Besides, I always tried to keep a very low profile. Most of my neighbors don’t even know I sing. Rehearsals at my place, for example, only happen on rare occasions, and I always make sure we’re not too loud or playing too long.

All this care for nothing. Just like that, I was busted at a condo meeting.

Jazz-shamed (and despite the scwitched off camera), I kept my expression as haughty as possible until the end of the meeting. As silly as it may sound, the situation was quite uncomfortable for me. “What would my neighbors say?”, I kept mentally repeating to myself.

Suddenly, I remembered that I used to sign academic essays with my other surname, to separate the researcher from the singer, something that makes no sense at all for me today. So why on Earth should I bother about my neighbors opinions? Why?

The truth is: I shouldn’t. So, I didn’t.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Summertime, the world-famous song by George Gershwin was originally the opening aria of the opera Porgy and Bess, and is a jazz-inspired lullaby. Summer time is also (and you have to love the irony) the period of the year when I get the less sleep.

Summer in Rio, as far as I can remember, has always been very hot, but global warming and disorderly urban growth (did someone say rampant real estate growth?) are apparently doing their job and every summer temperature records are broken. Forget the expression “Rio 40 degrees” (Celsius), usually used to express the party side of the cool city. What we experience now is “Rio 50 degrees” and there is, literally, nothing cool about it.

I use psychology and the air-conditioning and try to stay positive. It works, sometimes. Not during the night, though. Instead of “the livin´ is easy”, my summer time is an ode to insomnia. And who can be more sensitive and vulnerable than a sleepless human being? Don´t forget to take my sleep deficit into account in the next parapgraph, will you? I wasn’t exactly myself, but my semi-zombie version.

After another night of hellish heat and failed attempts to sleep, early morning found me in a semi-asleep state which, along with a sudden gentle breeze suddenly running through the room, was the best I could hope for at the moment. And that’s where it started. The noise. That tremendous noise of tiles being cut, which had been tormenting me all week at alternate times of the day. That unbearable noise had decided to spoil my morning of almost falling asleep as well.

I got up and went straight to the window overlooking the building next door, where the noise was coming from. Well, straight is a way of saying it, because to reach that window, I have to climb a little bench. From there, I started waving my arms to get the attention of the man who was cutting the tiles with his noisy machine: “Sir! Oh, sir!” It took a while for him to realize where the voice was coming from. “Up here, in the window! “Up here!”

When he finally looked my way, I used my best polite-yet-firm tone and asked him to continue elsewhere, if possible. And to my enormous surprise, he shook his head. I yelled, “Thank you so much” and the deafening noise stopped.

Maybe you’re asking yourself now, “yeah, so what?” Maybe that’s the way you solve all your problems: directly, without further thinking. Maybe my solitary revolt against acoustic abuse seems trivial to you, but to me it was a big deal. I tend to be the type that thinks, reflects (too much), and never goes into, shall we say, extreme actions. Until now, at least.

Maybe it is the insomnia speaking, or maybe it is because I’ve run out of musings, but in this particular situation I’m glad I acted on the spur of the moment, jazz style. I felt really brave and able to take care of myself. No drama, no overthinking.

I doubt this is a concept applicable to all areas of life, and eventually summer time will be gone and I’ll go back to sleep well, but until then it is good to know that I can still surprise myself.

… and the livin´ is easy…

Be seeing you!

G.F.

January 25th marks the birthday of a very special person, a true genius that brought the small neighborhood of Ipanema, in Rio de Janeiro to the world map. Antonio Carlos Brasileiro Jobim is one of those iconic musicians whose reputation needs no introduction.

His work goes far beyond the legacy of Bossa Nova and largely describes the changes that took place in Brazilian music of the 20th century. Originally influenced by samba, Jobim is part of the team that consolidated MPB as a genre (Brazilian Popular Music, the genre is often classified as Brazilian Jazz by international critics). Not by chance Chico Buarque, another brilliant musician refers to Jobim as “his sovereign maestro”.

Jobim would reserve a special place for samba in his latest works in a settling of accounts with his own personal story, especially after years living in New York. A true Brazilian even in his family name, Tom embodies Leonardo da Vinci’s maxim that defines simplicity as the highest degree of sophistication. His songs, whose most distinguishing feature were the highly sophisticated harmonies, are also easy to listen to, with their striking melodies and ingenious lyrics.

He was the first one of the Bossa Nova “Dream Team” to leave the stage of life and, in his honour, January 25th is considered Bossa Nova Day. I thought of a tribute of my own to celebrate Tonzinho (as he was affectionately called by another giant named Vinícius de Moraes), but it was not easy to get out of the classic list-of-favourite-albums-and-songs box, and even that would had been a hard task for me. The reason is simple: his oeuvre is multiple.

Relaxed, as during the early years of Bossa Nova or engaged in the environmental cause, as in the songs on his latest albums, there is a Jobim for every moment. There is a Jobim to sing along (did anyone say Águas de Março?), a Jobim to smile, to dream and even a Jobim for those moments when “it is essential to cry”, as in the verses of the song Caminhos Cruzados (lyrics by life long partner Newton Mendonça, with whom Jobim shares the authorship of many of his greatest hits).

However, there is one aspect of Jobim’s work that perhaps has not yet been given the attention it deserves. In addition to the fantastic content, his albums also used to have very interesting covers. Let´s take Wave as an example. One of Jobim´s best known albums, it was released in the United States in 1967, with graphic design by Sam Antupit and photos by Pete Turner, a renowned photographer in the musical world.

Turner developed a look of his own that would become a real trend. He created abstract compositions instead of the usual posed portraits of the musicians. The result was simple, and yet very appealing (da Vinci strikes again!). The clever and innovative use of colours on the cover of Wave provided a new kind of representation for a new kind of music. By bringing art and music closer to each other, it helped to establish a visual reference for Bossa Nova, as it went through the process of leaving Ipanema and Copacabana to become a genre appreciated worldwide.

See? Even when you think you’ve heard everything about it, there’s still a lot to contemplate in the work of Antonio Carlos Brasileiro Jobim.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you have many shoes? I don´t. In fact, shoes are a top item on my gotta-buy-sometime-very-soon list. I recently got two pairs back from repair, and it was such a relief! I say it a very practical, non-shoe fetishist way. I just happen to have a very limited number of choices and any item matters.

Maybe you are one of those “sneakers will do everywhere” kind of person. There are so many of you out there! I admit it: maybe a tiny part of me envies you, but I could never be part of the gang (same applies for the “jeans will do in any occasion” fandom). And then there’s also this particular group, whose skills I truly admire: people that actually feel comfortable in high heels.

You may not believe they exist, and I do not blame you for that. I also used to be skeptical about their existence, until I was warmly welcomed into the house of one of them. Long story short: I had a few stop-over days in Paris on my way to India, and this very nice couple of friends of my good friend M. welcomed me into their lovely place, and by welcome I mean a great dinner and subway tickets. Best hosts ever!

One night we went out and then I had my vision. Walking around Paris cobblestone streets, I realized my hostess was one of those heavenly creatures that rather seem to float, so graceful are their steps. Effortless Parisian elegance, materialized right in front of me.

Anyway, I know my limits and I do not plan to achieve this level of expertise, but after such a long time (ages, it seems) out of stage, and maybe slightly influenced by this series I am streaming, I thought it was the perfect time to practice walking in heels again. Just a little bit. For fun.

My first enthusiasm faded a bit when confronted to the bitter reality of a low-budget season, apparent temperatures of 50º C (!) in Rio, and the Omicron variant, all very good reasons to stay home. Nevertheless, my determination to go back into heels (go figure) was stronger. After cleaning them carefully, I put on my favourite pair and used my apartment as a catwalk, so to speak.

The first steps were not easy, but after a while I was doing the laundry on heels with no problem. A great song started on the playlist, and voilà! I was dancing on my living room and really enjoying it. In heels!

My tiny condo may not have the same magic appeal of the streets in Paris, but I guess as long as I keep moving, it´s all right.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

It´s been one year since my first post, can you believe it? After the series of interviews that kept my busy and relatively sane in 2020, exactly an year ago, this blog was born to keep me busy and relatively sane in 2021.

During the last fifty-two weeks, the Red Flower Press provided thirty-eight short trips to different destinations, having music as a guideline. The inspiration for the name came from very favourite sitcom, as I told you here and, of course, from one of my constant elements on stage.

Together with the black dress, a red flower, used as a hair or gown ornament is my stage signature and it represents a lot more to me than a simple accessory.. It makes me feel part of the very special jazz-singer-with-a–flower-in-the-hair club, a very traditional institution that has my beloved Billie Holiday as one of its most famous patronesses.

Moreover, it represents the overlap of the three other music traditions that together form the foundations on which I build my home in music: samba, tango and the French chanson. As you can see, carrying (and earning) the flower really means a lot of responsibility to me.

In nature, flowers attract birds and insects that will take their gametes from one place to another, making it possible for plants to spread around, even though they are not mobile. I cannot think of a better analogy.

Thank you for being part of this journey.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

The biophysicist Norman Holter was responsible for a big step in the history of heart treatment. 1949 he  presented to the world for the first time a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for long periods (24 hours or more). The Holter monitor was a true game-changer for Cardiology. Holter even added a noble humanitarian note to the story, by donating the rights to his invention to medicine.

When my cardiologist asked me during a check up, how I felt about including a 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, I remembered all the nice stories about Mr. Holter and cheerfully agreed. Unfortunately, they did not help at all, when the technician adjusted the device that would inflate my left arm each 15 (!) minutes for the next 24 hours. In case this information does not sound bad enough for you, read the next paragraph.

The instructions were clear and yet a bit incomprehensible: 1. stay still after hearing the long beep (measurement starts) and wait until short beep ends to move it again; 2.fill up a paper form with a description of my activities during the day; 3. in case the monitor tiny screen shows “error”, change batteries immediately.; 4. do not leave the device in contact with water, and finally: 5. follow your regular activities, normally. Doubts? No doubts? See you tomorrow, thank you. Next!

The next 24 hours were as unpleasant, as you can imagine with the nice extra touch of very high temperatures, and required a lot of faith in science and a even bigger amount of willing suspension of disbelief (paper form? batteries? act normally?). The following morning, after getting rid of the monitor, I walked myself home and wondered what the result of the readings would show, but I will be very impressed if it is all normal. To anyone, at all.

I let my thoughts fly to that day in 1949 and came to the conclusion that Mr. Holter himself would be disappointed, if he could see how little your invention has advanced compared to others. Think of drones, smartphones and self-driven cars and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, what do we know, me and my foolish heart?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

There is always a lot of expectation around New Year´s Eve. Basically, two main groups dispute endlessly the right thing to be done on this particular night: the ones who prefer to sleep over it and start the New Year fresh and renewed, and the ones who believe you´ve got to have some sort of ritual to assure an auspicious year to come.

As I mentioned before, in Brazil a New Year´s classic ritual is to dress in white. It is one of my favourite traditions, but I have many other personal ones. My mental personal retrospective. As the first dawn of the year approaches, I let my mind fly back to the same period, a year ago. No doubt we moved a few steps forward.

Need an example? The single fact of having a vaccine developed in such a short time is already a huge development for humanity. It should be a sign of hope for humanity, but then again, there is all the mess going on everywhere. Future generations will have problems trying to understand how could we be so brilliant and so dumb at the same time.

Nevertheless, it is hard to pretend that there is nothing going on and that we should live our lives “old normal” style. With protocols changing all the time, it is very hard to plan anything at all, from a single performance to a tour. Artists, booking agents, venue owners, regulars: everyone is frustrated. And tired. Everyone is really tired.

I wish I had a flawless plan for the year starting today. Something that I could share with you, some sort of “5 steps to get it done in 2022” list, but I don´t. There is a lot of uncertainty going on, that´s for sure. Do you know what is also for sure? We will make mistakes. A lot of them. Wanna know why? Because life is like a concert.

As I say to my musicians before going on stage, it doesn´t matter how many times we have rehearsed and prepared ourselves for the show. There will always be some surprise in the middle of the way.

You don´t have to look for the unexpected (you don´t need to), but when it comes, don´t fight it. Embrace it, adjust the route and move on.

Enjoy your New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Corporations always win. The average individual, caught in the net of big companies, which will decide all aspects of their lives. From what you eat, to where you keep your money; from how you spend your leisure time to with whom you spend your pleasure time, there is always a corporation involved. Not even religious dates manage to escape the voracious radar of corporations and Christmas is no exception.

My story begins early in the month, on December 6th. On that day I bought online eighteen packages of Panettone to give as a present to family and friends. In Brazil, the Italian yeast-leavened bread, usually made with raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds, and a bit of brandy is a holiday traditional, and I was very happy for the good deal. With the delivery due to the fourteenth, what could go wrong? Well, quite a lot, as I would find out.

By the 10th it was clear to me that the package would not arrive on time. My account on the web store kept showing: “preparing your order” and the web chat was not a big help either. One day, I waited online for seven hours (I started in the 79th position on the line) just to be automatically disconnect, when the counter showed there were three people ahead of me. Pure evil? A total lack of organization? A mix of both?

I was not only very angry about not getting any kind of attention by the company, but also totally frustrated about the lack of my (already plaid) gifts. My sister came with a partial solution: a local super market had enough packages to replace my lost, by the same price. Great! The big corporations would not ruin my Holiday, although there was still the matter of the money to be solved.

On the 15th, since the delivered date had expired, I logged in again on my account on the web store and canceled the purchase. No need to tell you that, again, the company did not contact me. Little did I know, the plot twist was about to happen.

On the 20th the order arrived. Watching that huge box with all the packages laying on living room I felt confused. No sign from the company, no money back, double costs to me, double profits for them (if you consider the replacements bought at the supermarket). I simply did not know what to do, and hated the fact of being made “a hostage” by a big company.

I felt really angry and quite guilty for having such a feeling so close to Christmas. After all, no situation is so bad that it cannot be made worse by guilt. On the following day, I had a great idea, which turned the situation in my favor. A second plot twist: instead of trying to reach the company for a refund, I would simply donate the Panettones to the orphanage I usually help. Of course!

This way, it does not matter anymore, if the company will ever pay me back or, at least, answer one of the numerous e-mails I´ve sent. The packages had already paid themselves, so to speak. This time, the big corporation would not win, for a change.

The next day, the box with the Panettone packages was gone and there was a big empty space in my living room, but my heart was overflowing with pure joy. Since then, I feel ready for a Happy New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.