I’ve been in Brazil for about 10 days. It’s been great thus far. It took around 4 days to get over the jet lag from South Korea; it was no joke, i couldnt keep my eyes open at like 6pm and was literally falling asleep while standing up. A weekend trip to the beach was the perfect de-compression and I’ve been lounging in Sao Paulo (my Dad lives in Sao Bernado do Campo, about 30 minutes away from the main city center, towards the coast). I’ve got a car and local cellphone at my disposal and it’s been key to hit up the city whenever I want.
Driving in Sao Paulo is always an adventure, especially since my Accord in SF is an automatic. Suffice it to say, I’ve been catching up on my stick shift skills. It’s raining cats and dogs here on the regular and i was basically thrown out there for the sharks with the car. It was either ‘remember how to drive a stick pretty damn quick, or you’re gonna crash.’ I laughed out loud to myself in the car a few times about how crazy the driving is out here and how close i was coming to running into shit…But i didn’t, ha!
I met my grandfather for lunch yesterday and to my surprise, my Uncle Alex and cousin Anna Luiza were there too. It made me super happy to see more family:
My grandfather (Nonno, in Italian) is my favorite person in the world. Nonno is 82 and as healthy as can be. I came to Brazil for his 80th birthday two years ago and not only did he celebrate his bday, but also his marriage to a lovely lady 20 years younger than him. (My grandmother passed away 32 years ago and we were all happy that Nonno found someone to spend the later years of his life with). Giuseppe Spinelli moved from Italy to Brazil when he was 17, met my grandmother and had 4 boys, who all built their own families thereafter in Sao Paulo (My Dad is the oldest of the four.)
At any rate, seeing my family was a huge part of why I wanted to come to Brazil after my trip to Korea. But I must admit, as I enter what I hope to be my final career transition and seeing as my Dad will be gone all of next week on business, I wanted to take this opportunity to network and meet people in the Brazilian sport industry. I wish I could experience the complete immersion in the industry that I went through in Korea, but that’s a longshot at best. What I’m left with is my own research, exisiting connections that could lead to others and people my family could point me to.
I’ve got a meeting setup with a sports writer for a major daily newspaper in Sao Paulo next Tuesday in hopes of learning more about the exisiting infrastructure in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and understanding more about the role that other countries (USA, for one) and their businesses are playing in Brazil right now. On Weds or Thurs, I’ll be heading to a city called Vinhedo where an old family friend, Harry Hull lives. I’ll be meeting with one of Harry’s close friends who has a lot of ties to International soccer here in Brazil.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is Edno de Souza??? Through some research over the past few months, I’ve learned that the Tampa Bay Rays have plans to build a baseball academy in a small city in the state of Sao Paulo called Marilia. This would be the first time that a Major League Baseball team establishes a bonafide presence in Brazil. This is a really big deal for Brazil and my expectation is that over the years, Brazil could be exporting the kind of talent into baseball that countries like Columbia and Venezuela have. Edno de Souza, is Tampa’s number one guy on the ground in Brazil and all of South America. Nothing happens in the Marilia project without Edno overseeing it all. Here’s a great, albeit older piece on the Rays’ efforts to cultivate Brazilian baseball players through the academy in Marilia.
Here’s the catch (no pun): I can’t find contact information for Edno de Souza anywhere… there’s a LinkedIn account with 1 connection (clearly dormant), I’ve sent e-mails to the city of Marilia, the Marilia newspaper, the Tampa Bay Rays, etc… and I just can’t track this guy down. Heck, I’m starting to feel like Nicolas Cage’s Charlie Kaufmman, chasing down Meryl Streep’s Susan Orlean in ‘Adaptation’. I’m fascinated by the idea of a major league baseball team coming to Brazil. In researching, i’ve found that Brazil’s baseball scene is much bigger than I would’ve ever imagined. There are actual leagues operating here out of smaller cities, largely in the state of Sao Paulo and MLB International makes its presence felt via occassional clinics.
While finding de Souza might represent a sort of holy grail for me while i’m out here, the path i take in looking for him is inadvertently teaching me more about baseball in Brazil. (In fact, while grabbing links for this post, I’ve already found some new leads on Edno). My career goals are all over the map, literally. I love San Francisco, want to be there for a long time, but being based out of California and have the ability to travel to Brazil regularly for a sport organization is my dream. We’ll see what happens next week…..
Seu Jorge – The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions – SJ’s covers of David Bowie tracks in Portuguese
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless – A timeless album. This is ‘Soon’
Zero 7 – Simple Things – The first and still their best album.
Criolo – No Na Orelha – New Brazilian artist i added to the arsenal. Check it: ‘Nao Existe Amor em SP’
Median – The Sender
Atlas Sound – Parallax
Atlas Sound – Logos
Givers – In Light
LCD Sundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
Ulrich Schnauss – A Strangely Isolated Place
Geographer – Animal Shapes – Coming to a Mike Torres bday party near you….
Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner – Another fine Ghostly International artist
No Age – Everything in Between