Lordy. When will the city government come to terms with the reality of how cities function? It’s a rhetorical question, the answer to which continues to shock and awe. Every day there is a new and more ridiculous edict intended to impose control on the uncontrollable. This week their Lordships launched the brave idea that all of the weekly ferias livres (open air markets) need to close promptly at 1pm. This un-loving squeeze (or the annihilation of space by time), which has also occurred in São Paulo, was met with an entertaining, effective, and important protest, photos and video of which are below. In the short movie, well worth watching, the crowd is chanting “Epa, Epa, Epa, Quero minha xépa! Epa, Epa, Epa, Quero minha Xépa!”
Xépa is the discount price given by merchants at the tail end of the feira. The forced closing of the market at 13hrs will change market logics and eliminate long-standing custom. This is exactly against the principals of a free-market economy. The easiest thing to do to preserve the Xépa and the discursive integrity of their Lordships would just be to back the f€©k off and let the feiras be.
Informality will not be tolerated in the Olympic City of Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics Jogos de Verão 2016 Host City Olimpíada 2016, 2016, 2016, ©,™,℠,℗,ⅎ,∩, ₭. According to the ill-logic of the current regime that governs this city, Rio de Janeiro functions Best and Only when all of its elements are formalized, social practices regularized, and social formations crystallized. In order to accomplish this Sisyphean and Kafkaesque task, to contravene the very nature of the city, their Lordships are applying an extensive series of Shocks. Some of these shocks are, perhaps, welcome – at first. I like a swept street and sanitary restaurants as much as the next flaneur. Shocks like the one being applied to the feiras are not only unnecessary, autocratic, and downright annoying, but contrary to principals upon which their Lordships depend for the continued accumulation of wealth and power. There is no Shock of Education, Shock of Health, Shock of Clean Air, Shock of Corruption – just the Schlock of Order.
The Saga of the Maracanã continues. This week, workers struck to protest the poverty of their wages and working conditions. The greve by the STRAICP union (Heavy Industry Construction) workers will continue into next week. After one of the workers was seriously injured by an on-site explosion, the workers walked out with a series of demands including an increase in the lunch allowance, safety inspections, and a health plan that is “equivalent to the directors’”. As the projects for the mega-events accelerate, the indices of accidents are bound to increase and workers' rights will be eroded. What is the highest blood/concrete ratio that Brazils’ major construction firms are willing to tolerate?
The Olympic governing structure is nearly erectus. It took awhile for their Lordships to figure out just where and how to pull and push and prod to get the juices flowing, but now that they’ve got it just about where they want it, the pistons of progress can lead us smoothly forward into a blissful, naturalized, and fully actuated future. Just check out how easily the BRT lines are going to slice through the urban fabric, leaving a silky trail of effervescent efficiency. It's hard to see the tens of thousands of disappropriations happening in this video, but if you listen closely, you can hear the screams.
The struggles to mount on Mount Olympus are the stuff of boring, though important tabloids. Henrique Mirelles has jumped out of the lower reaches of APO and moved to the Conselho Olímpico, a perch from which he will lend a certain sober credibility to the Herculean and Pharonic projects happening down below. The APO top spot belongs to Márcio Fortes de Almeida. The recent revelation was that he is willing to work with one third of the public functionaries that have been designated to work for him is a good indication of how much work the agency is going to do. Since Mirelles figured out where the real power lay and moved out, the APO has been stripped of nearly all significance. Remember, a few months ago the APO was going to have 484 positions. A senate committee hacked it down to 181 and now Fortes now only wants around 60. The APO will organize the spending of R$29 public billions. I don’t think everyone working at the APO will be an accountant, especially as the organization is charged with determining what is to actually be built. How many urban planners will the APO employ? My guess is ZERO. This year, the paper tells me, just putting the APO together is going to cost the tax-payer R$22 million. This is going to be a very expensive rubber stamp.
The other Olympic news of note was the announcement of the winner of the Olympic Park competition. AECOM of London (responsible for the London 2012 Olympic Park), in conjunction with Daniel Gusmão (DG)of Rio, carried home the R$100 thousand prize and the right to deliver on their proposal. Interesting, the proposal intends to preserve at least a part of the Vila Autódromo, urbanizing and integrating it into the larger urban context of the Olympic peninsula. Whether this will actually happen or if the Vila Autódromo will be used as a Potemkin Village is yet to be seen. Here’s the video of that incredibly bright and interesting and naturalized future: