Beautiful Bandit

Maria Bonita, Better Half of
Brazil’s Riskiest Love Story

It’s easy to romanticize about outlaws who fall in love, lead a trailblazing life, and burn out like shooting stars, leaving the holes in their story to be filled with awe by future generations. As legends recede, it’s ever harder to match them with reality.
But the life of Maria Déia and Capt. Virgulino Ferreira da Silva sure packs all the heat those landmarks evoke, placing them at the rarefied pantheon of anti-hero couples whose feats and memory still transfix the living, no matter how much time has passed.
As infamous leaders of a ragtag bunch, who terrorized the hinterlands of Brazil’s Northeast and entranced the nation in the 1930s, Maria Bonita and Lampião are at par with contemporaries Bonnie and Clyde, and after them, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate.
They all rose quickly from the anonymity of underprivileged classes to news headlines by the way of the gun, leaving a trail littered with crime and death in their wake, but also, a surprising tenderness, represented by their mutual affection.
But while Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not lovers, and Charles may have manipulated Caril Ann to follow him, Maria Bonita (Beautiful Maria) and Virgulino (lampião means oil lamp, but his nickname is a reference to his lethal firepower) did it all together.
They were equals and in synch in both love and killing skills, although she may’ve been demonized by the Brazilian press at the time, because she was a woman. How fitting then that today, March 8th, the International Women’s Day, also marks her 107th birthday.

QUEEN AND KING OF CANGAÇO
Lampião, 14 years her senior, was already a wanted bandit when he met and literally swept Maria off her feet, around 1930, in the arid Sertão of Brazil, in 1930. A kind of local Robin Hood, he’d avowed to avenge his parents’ deaths in the hands of government soldiers.
When she joined in, Maria became a de-facto co-leader of his gang, which certainly benefited from her charisma. They became folk heroes and it’s not hard to picture how the impoverished populace embraced their fight against enforcers of big landowners and corrupt politicians.
Lampião’s campaign lasted some 16 years, and even as Maria could have played Marian to his Robin exploits, the cangaceiros, as they were known, were closer, (more)
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Read Also:
* Women’s Day
* The Body of Choice
* Phony Outrage

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Forget Me Not

When Killers Fancy Storytelling,
It’s Our Vanity That Gets Exposed

To the chronically gloomy and the pathological self defeatist, few things seem more pointless than the wish to be remembered. To transcend this mortal coil, or at least outlast your lifetime-guaranteed Zippo, holds no court  down where wilted, anxious-to-be-forgotten souls dwell.
Yet, to leave a legacy is not a monopoly of the naked ape. From time immemorial, tiny male spiders beat gruesome competition, only to be swallowed by giant mates. Far from suicidal, they’s only seizing the chance to leapfrogging a generation and add their genes to the future.
A similar urge may have driven Italian Giuseppe Grassonelli, in prison for Mafia-related crimes, and Canadian Robert Pickton, a convicted serial killer, to write their stories. When one won a literary prize and the other appeared on Amazon, people got shocked, shocked.
Neither role models nor bottom feeders, they still stand above child-abusing priests, or pension-savings raiders, on some vain moralistic stepladder. Yet while padres and Wall Street psychopaths often carry jail-free cards, Grassonelli and Pickton are both convicted lifers.
They’re all depraved, that’s for sure. But like anyone, it’s their right to tell their story. Again, no prize or blockbuster sale will cleanse the books’ blood stains or redeem the authors before their victims’ grief. But hey, Hollywood makes a killing just trading on such stories.
All this canned outrage about what’s basically someone trying to control their own narrative sounds utterly phony. While we know the score about these two cons, it’s a wild guess to imagine what those feigning rectitude hide in their own closets. But let’s meet our duo.

TALES OF THE MALAVITA
Almost two years ago, when Malerba won the Sciascia Racalmare prize, there was furor in Italy over this confessed killer’s boldly fictionalized account about the Cosa Nostra and its ruthless grip over Sicily, between the 1980s and 1990s. And lots of anger from relatives of the dead too.
What irked them, more than Grassonelli’s preposterous claim to redemption, was the prize itself, named after a famous writer and critic of Italian organized crime, Leonardo Sciascia. It was partially due to his efforts that public opinion turned negative toward the Mafiosi.
Many a Mafia tale has been told, but this was written by an insider’s own blood-dripping hands. Who’s always eager to add that he didn’t break the Omèrta, the feared code of silence. Since he’s still alive, he probably didn’t. In any case, there’s only time in his hands now, since he’s going nowhere for a long long time.

WORDS OF A RAVENOUS PIG
Last January, Robert Pickton, in His Own Words, written by one Michael Chilldress, appeared briefly on Amazon’s book list, before being withdrawn under request of its self-publishing service (more)
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Read Also:
* Last Call
* Out to Get You

Continue reading

Beautiful Bandit

Maria Bonita, Better Half of
Brazil’s Riskiest Love Story

It’s easy to romanticize about outlaws who fall in love, lead a trailblazing life, and burn out like shooting stars, leaving the holes in their story to be filled with awe by future generations. As legends recede, it’s ever harder to match them with reality.
But the life of Maria Déia and Capt. Virgulino Ferreira da Silva sure packs all the heat those landmarks evoke, placing them at the rarefied pantheon of anti-hero couples whose feats and memory still transfix the living, no matter how much time has passed.
As infamous leaders of a ragtag bunch, who terrorized the hinterlands of Brazil’s Northeast and entranced the nation in the 1930s, Maria Bonita and Lampião are at par with contemporaries Bonnie and Clyde, and after them, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate.
They all rose quickly from the anonymity of underprivileged classes to news headlines by the way of the gun, leaving a trail littered with crime and death in their wake, but also, a surprising tenderness, represented by their mutual affection.
But while Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not lovers, and Charles may have manipulated Caril Ann to follow him, Maria Bonita (Beautiful Maria) and Virgulino (lampião means oil lamp, but his nickname is a reference to his lethal firepower) did it all together.
They were equals and in synch in both love and killing skills, although she may’ve been demonized by the Brazilian press at the time, because she was a woman. How fitting then that Sunday, March 8th, the International Women’s Day, also marks her 104th birthday.

QUEEN AND KING OF CANGAÇO
Lampião, 14 years her senior, was already a wanted bandit when he met and literally swept Maria off her feet, around 1930, in the arid Sertão of Brazil, in 1930. A kind of local Robin Hood, he’d avowed to avenge his parents’ deaths in the hands of government soldiers.
When she joined in, Maria became a de-facto co-leader of his gang, which certainly benefited from her charisma. They became folk heroes and it’s not hard to picture how the impoverished populace embraced their fight against enforcers of big landowners and corrupt politicians.
Lampião’s campaign lasted some 16 years, and even as Maria could have played Marian to his Robin exploits, the cangaceiros, as they were known, were closer, (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Women’s Day
* The Body of Choice
* Phony Outrage

Continue reading