Bandalhismo

“Bandalhismo” by Aldir Blanc and João Bosco, 1980

Meu coração tem butiquins imundos // My heart has squalid taverns
Antros de ronda, vinte-e-um, purrinha // Dives of ronda, blackjack, purrinha [pub games]
Onde trêmulas mãos de vagabundo // Where the trembling hands of vagabonds
Batucam samba-enredo na caixinha // Beat samba-enredos on matchboxes

Perdigoto, cascata, tosse, escarro // Splutter, swagger, cough, phlegm [also can mean a low-down person]
Um choro soluçante que não pára // A sobbing cry that doesn’t stop
Piada suja, bofetão na cara // Dirty joke, a blow to the face
E essa vontade de soltar um barro… // And that urge to take a dump

Como os pobres otários da Central // Like the poor suckers at Central Station
Já vomitei sem lenço e sonrisal // I’ve vomited without a handkerchief and antacid
o P.F. de rabada com agrião… // The P.F. (prato feito) of oxtail with watercress…

Mais amarelo do que arroz-de-forno // Paler than baked rice
Voltei pro lar, e em plena dor-de-corno // I went home, and in the heat of jealous passion
Quebrei o vídeo da televisão // I broke the television screen

— Interpretation —

João Bosco and Aldir Blanc
João Bosco and Aldir Blanc

“Bandalhismo” showcases poet-lyricist Aldir Blanc‘s refined literary side – and how it meshes with vulgarity and humor in his lyrics – and his exquisite portrayals of Rio de Janeiro’s carousing lower classes. The song is a revision of Augusto dos Anjos’ 1902 poem “Vandalismo” (Vandalism, translated below). The symbolist poem begins with “My heart has immense cathedrals” — which Blanc turned into “squalid taverns” — and ends with “I broke the image of my own dreams,” which Blanc twisted into “I broke the television screen.” Blanc deftly adapted Anjos’ sonnet – set in a bygone aristocratic Brazil – into a present-day, hair-raising depiction of a bum’s life at a bar, ending with a comment on the vulgar centrality of the television.

Bandalhismo comes from the word bandalho, which means screw-up or good-for-nothing; bandalhismo essentially refers to the goings-about of a bum.  The soft samba is the title track of João Bosco’s 1980 album, and includes a guest appearance by Paulinho da Viola.

prato feito – referred to in the song by its abbreviation, P.F. – is a generally cheap plate served at lower end restaurants and bars, with rice, beans, meat, salad and fries (with variations of course).

The poem:

“Vandalismo” by Augusto dos Anjos (1902)

Meu coração tem catedrais imensas // My heart has immense cathedrals
Templos de priscas e longínquas datas // Temples of Priscas and far-off dates
Onde um nume de amor, em serenatas // Where a numen of love, in serenades
Canta a aleluia virginal das crenças // Sings the virginal aleluya of beliefs

Na ogiva fúlgida e nas colunatas // In the shining ogive and in the collonade
Vertem lustrais irradiações intensas // Rush intense purificatory radiations
Cintilações de lâmpadas suspensas // The sparkling of hanging lamps
E as ametistas e os florões e as pratas // And the amethysts and finials and silvers

Como os velhos Templários medievais // Like the ancient medieval Templars
Entrei um dia nessas catedrais // I entered one of these cathedrals
E nesses templos claros e risonhos … // And in these temples bright and cheerful…

E erguendo os gládios e brandindo as hastas // And raising the swords and branding the spears
No desespero dos iconoclastas // In the desperation of the iconoclasts
Quebrei a imagem dos meus próprios sonhos! // I broke the image of my own dreams

Main source for this post: Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song MPB 1965 – 1985, by Charles A. Perrone

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