Tracking Momoland

The Forgotten Fun
of Brazil’s Old Revelry

Carnival, the world’s biggest party is on, even though it’s hardly the pagan, all-inclusive fun it once was. Whether in its biggest setting in Rio, or in New Orleans, across the Caribbean nations or even in Venice, it grew in form as its substance’s dwindled.
Costumes are flashier, the music got louder, party-goers are bolder (as costs skyrocketed) but somehow there’s also more longing for the lost innocence of yesteryear. We don’t meant to be nostalgic, though; just the typical Ash Wednesday-born party poopers.

But never mind the bullocks. If you’re ready for some fun, by all means, this is the time. Join the samba in Brazil, follow a jazz parade in Louisiana, or waltz to the Italian Bal Masqué; they’re all worthy soundtracks to your sense of abandonment and debauchery.
And check these pics out, from when Brazil’s carnival was measured by how much enjoyment you could pack without spending a penny. See the homemade cross-dressing, the cheap face mascaras, the pedestrian expressions of pure delight. Grandpa knew best.
It’s our humble homage to those lives that went before, and how we can still relate to them partying or having a ball. Bring the kids, call your neighbors, and fall in love. As some used to say in, have the most now, and forget all about the morning after Fat Tuesday.

Sunken Ships

Scientists, Astronomers & Women:
Things You Didn’t Know About Pirates

When it comes to pirates, certain die-hard notions have little to do with the historical record, and romanticize what was essentially a brutal time, before, during and after the Discovery Era. For besides the pillaging and mass murdering attached to their lore, paid-for and generously rewarded by the crown to which they served, many a no-less sanguinary brute managed to leave contributions to the sciences and nautical arts that were obscured by their flashier feats.
Take William Dampier, who wrote about Galapagos almost 200 years before Darwin. Or, a century later, Capt. Cook’s detailed notes on the transit of Venus. What about Grace O’Malley, Anna Bunny and Mary Read, fierce female pirates who fought enemies and potential rapists with equal ferocity? With considerable delay, even the MIT got into the buccaneering trail, as it’s been issuing ‘pirate certificates’ for 20 years. And don’t let us get started on the so-called ‘last American pirate.’
To be sure, beyond literature and Hollywood’s caricatural portrayals of pirates along the years, most people have heard of some of real-life scourges of the sea, such as Blackbeard, Capt. Kidd, Barbarossa, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Henry Morgan, Calico Jack, and others, whose lives were alternately celebrated, persecuted, rewarded or simply sent to the gallows and bodies disposed at will.
Many were graced, officially pardoned, chronicled in verse and prose alongside their royal protectors but still, as was often the case and despite all of that, unceremoniously beheaded, either by their enemies, Continue reading

Aye Aye

Captain Morgan:
Rum, Wreck & Hip?

Sir Henry Morgan, the ruthless Welsh Buccaneer, who looted, pillaged and terrorized Central American nations and the Caribbean on his way to British Knighthood in the 17th century, had a storied and profitable existence.
His name, though, surpassed his own legend and the feats of his natural life as a pirate. For all the wealth Morgan accumulated to himself and the crown of England, he’s known today mostly for a brand of liquor produced in a Spanish-speaking country, a shipwreck that didn’t kill him, and even a physical therapy procedure.
Last week, archeologists announced what they think is the resting site of five of Morgan’s ships lost off the coast of Panama in 1671, including the flagship “Satisfaction.” The new discovery follows the finding of several canons earlier this year, identified as belonging to the sunken Continue reading

Five Fine Stamps

Postal Service Pays Homage
to Latin American Music Titans

To label as “Latin” the music made by Latin American artists is nothing short than an empty generalization. But as the U.S. Postal Service stamp collection of five such legends shows, it’s clear that the endurance of their work went way beyond the limitations of the label and turned irrelevant even the Spanish and Portuguese languages through which they mostly Continue reading