Good, profitable, dirty fun

On Fat Tuesday, 1988, I was in Boston for a Technology in the Practice of Law conference. (I was a very techy lawyer, relatively speaking: I traveled with my TRS-80 Model 100 for real-time notes and an NEC Multispeed HD 15-pound luggable for post-processing those notes, transferred by serial cable.)

I went out walking in the not-too-chilly coastal March evening, and was impressed by the number of pious college boys retching and relieving themselves in the alleys after doing their darndest to get into the True Spirit of Lent. I’m sure all of them got their ashes the next day and abstained from vice for the next 46 days.

I don’t care to see how far N’Awlins outdoes Boston, and I sure don’t plan ever to contribute to Brazil’s $1.8 billion annual tourist trade by doing Carnival, especially as I might get some sprayover golden shower on me.

A few principled Brazilian politicians — pecksniffs if you’re Bloomberg’s South America correspondent — took some issue with the “cherished, if hedonistic and boozy, cultural institution” (New York Times), whose justification is the riches that pour into Brazil from tourists less repressed than I.

There is something of the deathworks in Carnival, it seems to me, but I’ll let that go.

There definitely is something of the deathworks in the Bloomberg correspondent’s take on the Mayor who expressed some disapproval in advance and pulled some public funds:

Brazil as usual was on fine-feathered display during this year’s Carnival, the rolling street party that captures this nation at its irreverent best

Rio’s Carnival is Brazil’s signature holiday, the premier attraction for international tourists, and a vitamin jolt for a city still staggered by three years of economic prostration.

Rio pulls in 30 percent of the 6.78 billion reais ($1.8 billion) in tourist revenue that Brazil is expected to generate this year, according to a study by the National Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism. So skimping on Rio’s carnival is shortchanging Brazil. “Crivella doesn’t understand the difference between his private beliefs and his public role,” anthropologist and noted carnival scholar Roberto DaMatta told me. “As mayor he’s part of Carnival’s cast.”

(Emphasis added)

“Irreverence,” the mocking of holy things, is good business, you see, and the Mayor of Rio is derelict in his duty if he doesn’t bow to the new gods of debauchery once per year on the new high anti-holy day.

Surely I’m overreacting, you may say. Well, judge for yourself, from the New York Times description:

As millions of Brazilians enjoyed the last few hours of Carnival, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president, denounced what he said was the debauchery of the festivities, and posted a video on Twitter that he presented as graphic proof.

“I don’t feel comfortable showing this, but we have to expose the truth so the people can be aware,” the president wrote alongside a video he posted that showed one man urinating on another in public. “This is what many street parties during Carnival have turned into.”

The video shows a man, wearing a black jockstrap, dancing on what appears to be a bus stop. At one point a second man urinates on the head of the man in the jockstrap. Mr. Bolsonaro urged his 3.4 million Twitter followers to draw their own conclusions and comment on the video.

… the post signals that Mr. Bolsonaro sees value in stoking societal debates over sexual orientation and morality that turbocharged his rise to power.

Note well that the saints in this story are the purported B&D boys taking golden showers, while the sinners are those who suggest that such ought not be taken in public — transvaluation of values and a deathwork in the combined names of mammon and iconic iconoclasm.

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