2006/03/14

There are poor people in São Paulo?

I feel like it's a good idea to read articles in The New York Times travel section every now and then so we can renew our disgust against the moneyed classes. This Sunday's article on visiting São Paulo (The New São Paulo) proved especially effective. The author spent three days in São Paulo visiting expensive boutique stores, eating at expensive restaurants, and staying in expensive hotels. To give a taste of this:
My room at the Emiliano was soothing and sybaritic: white Egyptian cotton sheets and six pillows of different firmness; an Eames lounge chair upholstered in an oatmeal fabric; a wall of honey-colored wood that hid closets and two Sub-Zero drawer refrigerators stocked with drinks; and a large bathroom with a view of neighboring penthouses. As the guest services manager tried to teach me how to work all the lighting controls (which I never mastered), she told me she could send a butler to unpack my bags.
And the shopping?
Clube Chocolate is so chic that it has no display windows and is so exclusive that security guards flank the heavy wooden door that hides the glorious, airy interior. How would you know that inside there's a bright, three-story atrium with floor-to-ceiling palm trees and a sandy beach that you reach by descending a polished steel circular staircase?
Not once does the author mention that next door to this opulence lives an enormous slum population nearing 1 million people. The tiny percentage of Paulistas who have access to the city's luxuries, and who use private helicopters to commute between their high-security enclaves and jobs in the business districts, rests atop a working class of some 7 million, not to mention the absolute squalor of the under class. Perhaps the security guards that form a motif unnoticed by the author in his piece might have something to do with all this?

But to mention this would be bad form - it might be upsetting for rich New Yorkers to contemplate that the hotel charges for their weekend in São Paulo amount to far more than the yearly earnings of many hundreds of thousands of residents in the city.

1 comment:

Joe said...

I prefer to renew my disgust by reading the equally resolutely upper-crust NYTimes style section. My favorite article in recent months concerned the increasing number of men who are having laser hair removal to create a clean beard line so their five o'clock shadows don't look too scruffy. To get it done properly costs something like $15,000. But it's cool, cause even if there are poor people in Brasil, there aren't any in New York.