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.

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.

I was finally uploading my lyric videos (a long postponed chore), when the phone rang. It was my friend A.-M., what a nice surprise! Catching up after a long time, we joyfully jumped from one subject to another, and at a certain point of time, the recent political events in Brazil came to the conversation. Talking about politics with a friend? A fast road to disaster, right? Well, don´t judge us: even if you are not a newsaholic like myself, it is kind of impossible to ignore the disastrous governmental actions during the pandemic, since they interfere in our daily life.

A.-M. said she was kind of disappointed with some of her friends that turned out to be anti-vaxxers. Unfortunately not an usual complaint these (strange) days and even weirder here in Brazil, a country that has a vast and positive experience with vaccination. Implemented by our national health care system, immunization campaigns are usually well received by Brazilians. We trust vaccines and understand their importance in eradicating several diseases in the country. Most unfortunately, lately people seem to forget this long tradition, which used to make us Brazilians very proud. Strange days indeed.

To A.-M., I said that I do not have neither the time, nor the energy to deal with such situations. I am not saying it in a angry way, at all. I believe the word is: exhaustion. Therefore, I consciously decided to keep a safe distance from people who have problems understanding the basics about living in a society. Is it a lesson? Nope. A nugget of wisdom? Probably not. I would see it more as part of my moral principles. Or did they also turn cringe?

One more thing: today, according to the Catholic and Afro-Brazilian religion traditions, it is the day dedicated to the twin saints Cosme and Damian. Patron Saints of the children, in their honor on this day people distribute candies to kids. Now imagine you are a child, and once a year your family supports you on on the following agenda: 1. skipping school , 2. getting a bag to store candies, 3. meet your cousins and 4. run with them from door to door getting candies. Sounds like a dream? Welcome to my childhood. Viva São Cosme e São Damião!

Now tell me, how did you like my new page, exclusively for lyric videos? Suggestions most welcome!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

One of my very favourite albums of acclaimed Brazilian singer and composer Caetano Veloso is called Transa. Recorded in London, in 1971, during his exile due to the military dictatorship in Brazil, Transa was released in January on the following year.

The song It´s a long way was originally the first track on the B side of the vinyl, which used to be the place where you would find the “jewel of the crown”, and this one deserves all the honors. The lyrics are in English and in Portuguese, and they work both as a political and philosophical manifest. Its torturous refrain repeats:

It’s a long road
It’s a long road
It’s a long and winding road

It’s a long and winding road
It’s a long and winding road
It’s a long and winding, long and winding, long and winding, long and winding road
It’s a long road

It came to my mind when I read that events with the present audience are gradually coming back. I wonder how long and how winding will be your road back to normality.

Do you feel safe enough to return to all your former activities? Do you want to go back to them or are you planning a completely different post-pandemic life? Maybe you are going hybrid or maybe you will replace indefinitely some of your outdoor activities by online equivalents.

There are many possible combinations and each person will feel the comeback in a different way. I am sure that there are already plenty of people telling you what to do, but my suggestion (here we go…) would be: follow your own pace. You do not have to be as (un-)motivated as the person next door. For many reasons, each of us experienced the pandemic in a different way, therefore, everyone will have a different “starting point”. Many will need a gentle push here and there in order to keep walking and all of us can use some kindness, so follow the great Aretha Franklin and try a little tenderness, will you?

I wish you a safe return to this long and winding road.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Hey there! How are things going? Chances are this is not the first Red Flower Press post you are reading, so I will take it for granted that you are aware I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It´s winter time for us now and usually that doesn´t mean much here, but not this time. Oh, no!

Although meteorology says the season will probably have higher average temperatures, we are now experiencing some pretty cold days, meaning temperatures around fourteen degrees Celsius, quite unusual here. I like the cold weather, specially when they come with sunny (though short) days and a bright blue sky, but I must confess that this home office winter made me very nostalgic.

The reason is very simple: usually, at this point of time, I am travelling somewhere for conferences and performances. Last year was already a shock, after all, most clubs were closed and many conferences were postponed, but since some activities are resumed this year, mostly privileging local audiences, I feel somehow left outside the “back to normal party”, so to speak.

1984 British rock band Queen released the hit “I want to break free”, with an anthological video clip. 2020 the Brazilian writer Luis Fernando Verissimo wrote that the pandemic would teach us to cherish normality. In 2021 both visions make sense to me: I certainly miss my old life, but I am also aware that it was not ideal and I do want to break free from some old patterns.

The big question now seems to be how to deal with the challenge of reinventing ourselves. How to establish a new normal, that is actually better than the old one? Learning something from the pandemic (how to avoid another one, for instance) includes leaving some things behind for good. It also means being more thankful for the small miracles of life (a huge, wonderful mystery in itself).

I know it is just a matter of time for resuming all activities I had before the pandemic. I know that, in a big scale, things are getting better (wishful thinking?). Yet today, I get a chill in my heart.

I guess winter in Rio can be ice cold after all.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

Hey, there! How is your February going so far? Weird? It could be worse, trust me.

If you ever been to or lived in Rio de Janeiro you know that February is deeply related to Carnaval, which is deeply related to dancing and singing in the streets, which is deeply related to being happy. Let me remind you that not even World War II had the power to interrupt the popular tradition. The perspective of a February without Carnaval is for me one of the most eloquent signs that things are far from being back on track. Since we have been dealing with the expression “new normal” for quite a while now, I would like to propose a reflection on what is “normal” to you.

As far as I remember, l have been called weird by family members. The reasons would vary: tastes, looks, opinions. Weird is my old normal, so to speak. One of the most frequently given reasons was the way I move my hands. Like Italians, Brazilians also speak with their hands, but apparently my gestures are too big, too wide, too much even for Latin standards. Of course I hated the comments and felt a bit ashamed for not fitting in, until I understood what was so peculiar about my gestures after all: they were perfect to fill the stage. No wonder they felt misplaced in mundane, domestic situations! Now try them during a performance and they seem meaningful and unique. In other words: weird in a nice way.

Changing the approach to things can be a very interesting, sometimes also very painful, but always rewarding exercise. Does it prevent you from still being called a weirdo? No. Do I gently smile each time I hear it? Yes, noblesse oblige, but let us be honest: who needs normal, when you can have grand?

Here is a practical example, so that you can make your own opinion about my stage gestures (feel free to subscribe to the channel!).

Be seeing you!

G. F.