Sundry

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

The picture reads “save on housing”, is part of series of glazed tiles and was taken at a bar in Lisbon one day before a business newspaper reported that a City Council member had bought and renovated a building in a traditional neighbourhood for around €350 thousand and now plans to sell it for around €5 million. So far so good, nothing new in a city that is selling its soul, its houses, gardens and whatever is there to sell. The only issue raised by nearly everyone left, right and center pertains to the fact that he was elected by a left-wing party and so therefore he incurred in the sin of capitalism, along with the fact that he has been one of voices against speculation and eviction of inhabitants from the historic centres. Not only is he now embarking on this game but he negotiated also with the tenants to leave the building which will be probably inhabited by some affluent investor.  Nobody is innocent in this story: neither the people making business selling places that will be worth far less  when the bubble finally and hopefully bursts; nor the critics who short rent a room, a house or the backyard or at least have a relative who does it; nor the government officials promising to find accommodation for tenants in need while selling at the same public buildings and whatever to the first foreigner with millions to spend. Everybody has a role in the real estate plot either as main actor or as complacent bystander. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

O tempo tem o tempo que o tempo tem

O tempo nada tem que ver com isto tudo mas tem tudo a ver com as festas do Lux que recuperam e misturam o tempo que é de todos ao mesmo tempo.

Something happened on the week he died e a primeira palavra que vem à cabeça é gratidão. Uma semana depois da morte desse personagem maior que é David Bowie, Manuel Reis, uma figura ímpar na noite de Lisboa e que tantas saudades deixa congregava todos para uma festa de homenagem ao ídolo maior da maioria dos seus clientes do Lux e do Frágil. Um pouco por todos os andares do Lux ouvia-se Bowie, cantava-se Bowie, dançava-se Bowie numa celebração emocionada. “Isto somos nós”, dizia-me Rita ao ouvido por entre o som de “Somebody up there likes me”. E éramos, somos. Aqui na terra celebrava-se o homem e a obra graças à generosidade ímpar de um homem que abrira as suas portas e o seu bar para aquela quer terá sido a melhor festa de homenagem a Bowie. Agradeci-lhe emocionado. “Isto é para vocês”, respondeu-me. Era assim, fazia coisas bem pensadas a pensar em nós. A produção foi exemplar, dos fatos às pinturas dos funcionários, passando pelos vídeos e sets dos muitos DJs que responderam à chamada.

Estava inaugurada assim mais uma série de festas de Domingo com o simpático horário das 18 à 1 da manhã.  Meses depois seria a vez de mais uma festa, desta vez sob o signo do Mecenato para angariar fundos para a compra do quadro “A Adoração dos Magos” de Domingos Sequeira para o Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga e uma vez mais foram muitos os que acorreram para mais uma festa de produção exímia, a que se seguiria uma outra para celebrar a vida e obra de Grace Jones, esse felino da pop, da moda, da imagem.

Dois meses depois da morte de Manuel Reis, o seu legado continua no Lux e eis que volta mais uma festa de Domingo desta fez sob o lema de “Take me to the river”, tema incontornável do cancioneiro americano composto por Al Green e que os Talking Heads interpretaram magistralmente. “Existe o rio, as águas que passam mansas porque aqui o leito é profundo. Existem as paredes firmes do edifício que tapam os teus furacões, que escondem pessoas que se perdem e que não querem ser encontradas, que condensam o familiar suor de desconhecidos.Existem as portas e as janelas que numa tarde se abrem para a claridade branca.” Reza assim o texto desta festa que tal como as anteriores promote revisitar o tempo sem esquecer este tempo, uma festa que pelo horário, pela selecção musical promote ser mais um encontro de gerações, de sons e de visões partilhadas. Como dizia há pouco um amigo e assíduo frequentador do Lux, “vamos ver gente da nossa”.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Lisbon comes tumbling down

Lisbon is currently under strong seismic activity and the city’s fabric is shaking 

Recent news point to the bad quality of renovations of buildings and flats in Lisbon, thereby increasing the danger of collapse in case of an earthquake. According to “O Corvo” a local newspaper covering Lisbon-related issues and quoting an expert in seismic prevention “we are doing works in the centre of town that are true death traps” adding that we are building beautifully ornamented coffins to bring us to the other world. True to be said the risk has always been there, with vast areas of the city considered to be in danger even before the renovation frenzy. But the huge profits in the real estate market assisted by the strong international demand and the deregulated short rental market are leading landlords to renovate buildings in a haste in order not to lose the opportunity to milk the Lisbon cash cow. The result is, according to a number of engineers and assorted specialists in the field, thin walls and false ceilings with bad quality plus the destruction of some wooden structures that are there to protect buildings in case of a major earthquake and designed by Marquês de Pombal, the man who planned the entire downtown area after the catastrophic earthquake of 1755.

Landlord’s delight

But while such a major earthquake does not happen a number of seisms are being felt nearly everywhere under the form of astronomic price increases all over the city, particularly in central Lisbon. In a country where the average salary is below € 1,000 renting a house for a family of 3 or 4 is now above that amount, thus forcing many to move to the outskirts. While it is a fact that rents in some parts of the city were ridiculously low and prevented many landlords to make enough money to renovate buildings and flats, landlords are now in a true binge renting fever, evicting those who cannot afford the stratospheric rents. And such evictions do not confine only to the old ladies with their 100 euros rents. Anyone paying below 1000 and living with his family in central Lisbon may rest assured that he will be kicked out either because the landlord sold the flat to some international investor, to an affluent foreigner or converted it to short accommodation. The result is a increasing disgruntled city where a small percentage is making big bucks short renting or working in the real estate market, many of them to compensate the average salaries or after having lost their jobs, and a huge percentage who hasn’t figured what is really happening and how to react to it – after all tourism is bringing huge economic gains. As for the tourists, expats and foreigners who flock here Lisbon is still a city of opportunity given the low prices on average for them, tax benefits for expat pensioneers and possibility to invest in the booming local real estate market. Help yourselves. Lisbon is here for the taking.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Lambswool

Não há melhor palavra para descrever os portugueses. O lambswool é uma malha fofinha e quentinha e que dá com tudo, discreta como este respeitável cidadão.

Portugal é um dos países mais simpáticos do mundo, o que à partida é um grande elogio. Sorrimos muito, falamos várias línguas e somos muito bons a receber. O que também só abona a nosso favor. O português está por todo o lado, mas passa quase sempre despercebido, qual camaleão, integrando-se de surra nas sociedades onde decide fixar-se. Trabalhador, a sua entrega e dedicação é louvada do hemisfério norte ao hemisfério sul. Não se dá por ele. À falta de designação de origem controlada diz-se que é um povo bonito como os italianos, espanhóis, gregos ou franceses. Jantar num restaurante português é uma delícia, um sossego. Fala-se baixo e ninguém incomoda o vizinho do lado. O português não incomoda ninguém. Está ali sentadinho no seu rectângulo com os pés de molho no mar, desenha círculos na água mas não faz ondas. No vestir é um exemplo. Com os seus tons neutros não agride a vista e a sua paleta de cores funde-se com o cinzento da calçada, o castanho das paredes e o azul-bebé do céu. Portugal é um exemplo, vê-se que foi à catequese. Não há governante que não gostasse de ter um povo assim.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Portugal in Briefs – Moral Grounds

By now you have heard of Portugal or you are living or holidaying here. Despite the number of foreigners these people insist on speaking their own language which makes it harder for you to understand what is going on. But we are here to help and we will do our best to provide a regular insight on what’s hot in the country at the moment.

July – Moral grounds

One of the hottest debates in the social media these days in Portugal revolves around the statements by a reputable doctor who claimed in an interview homosexuality is an anomaly and Cristiano Ronaldo a moral villain for having resorted to surrogacy to have three kids. Abortion is also an issue the man is strongly against. You probably won’t hear people talking about it much in the bus but if you take a look at the comment boxes in the online world you will see two clear sides of the divide. It is not easy to be a Portuguese these days, particularly when you grow older. Despite the best efforts to keep some order in the country the place is a mess. Where once there were households respecting the moral values of ore and the sanctity of family there are now men living with men, women kissing women, girls shagging like mad and making abortions and personalities having babies made in pairs. And it is not easy to be a catholic either. After centuries standing up for some standards now even the Pope claims people shall love who they want and thinks divorce is not that bad. As for the abortion at least there seems to be common ground between the hardcore catholics and the laidback Pope. It is not easy for a country to see such abrupt changes. Should men marry men, women make abortions and athletes order babies abroad then the native population might reduce dramatically (which in the case of homosexuality could be a good solution for the world’s overpopulation according to a witty text by Brazilian Porta dos Fundos’ comedian Gregório Duvivier). Now you know what is afflicting the man and heating the debate.

Carlos Tomé Sousa