Finished Pine - 60" x 24" x 7" - November, 2000
Private Collection, Los Angeles, CA - I heard this was bought by a well-known local LA newscaster, but the gallery wouldn't give me her name (one reason why I left). I did find out who it was but I can't remember the name - just shows ya how business-oriented I am - not! I never watch local news anyway, too depressing. Okay, onward. This is a good story...
But I got to know a bunch of them while taking "voo livre" (hang glider) lessons on a big sand dune behind a slum on Pria do Futuro: "Beach of the Future", one of the most popular places in the area. When Paulo (my friend & flying coach) and I would arrive with the wing, these kids would come swarming out over the sand like locusts - at first it was a little scary. Thing is, tho, every one of em was enthusiastic, friendly, energetic and sharp as a tack - even the three year olds. Within a week they learned to put the wing together properly and were usually eager to help us carry it back to the top of the big dune after a practice flight - no easy thing on burning sand in 90+degree heat. All were sweet-natured - never a word of complaint, always smiling & laughing, much given to showing off and clowning around, extraordinarily clever to a man (and girl).
Of course these were very young kids, no older than nine or ten - perhaps later they will get that wary, closed-off look you see on the faces of older children of poverty. When I left I gave them little wrist watches and as much cash as I could spare and they hugged me goodbye. They kept asking when, when was I was coming back to Brazil? I can't help wondering how far kids like that would be able to go if they ever got a real chance in life - which very few ever do.
Those were good times... after the lesson we'd load the "asa-delta" onto Paulo's truck and head down to the beach where there are dozens of "surf-shack" bars, and hang out with the surfers and volleyball players. They play a form of soccer/volleyball in which the players are not allowed to use their hands, which is amazing to watch. We were often joined by "Fernandoido" (Crazy Fernando), my great pal Aldo (pron: "algae") or other glider pilots. (Paulo was the distance champion of Cearà at the time). We'd order oysters, fried fish and my fave - sopa do carangeju, crab soup. God it felt good to wash the sand out of your ass-crack, kick back under a high thatched palm roof, suck down the incredible ice-cold beers they have there - in no bar anywhere in northern Brazil will you ever get a warm beer - and just go over the days lesson, listen to great music, chat with the girls or watch the sun go down.
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