Good Angel, Evil Genius

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By ANDRÉ RICARDO DIAS*

Comment on the book by Paulinho Lima

Good Angel, Evil Genius, written by Paulinho Lima, an important name for so many careers and works in cinema, theater and Brazilian popular music, is a contribution to the writing of our history, as the poet Antônio Cícero already says on the back cover. The title refers to the song “Perigo”, recorded by Zizi Possi and which was composed by the author in partnership with the lyricist Nico Rezende.

With books at hand, a researcher interested in Brazilian culture in the second half of the century is faced with names that, although little known to the general public, appear as definers of so many cultural events and products that delineated the paths of a certain formative late modernity from our mainstream. This, if we take this story as a product of the market, one of its faces. Another could speak more about the viscerality of this formation. Improvisations, pure acts of creation, chance, affinities, electivities that formed and created the directions of a story that includes events and characters that populate our imagination of fans, researchers or those who simply enjoy what we have been able to do, until today, are reported there.

Paulinho Lima is one of those names behind the scenes, the lyrics, the plots and also the businesses that involve the world of culture. And, by the lyrics themselves, in his book he lives up to his story with the honesty and generosity of someone who has lived a trajectory that makes the nostalgic admirer of a past he did not live envy. We read about the man, the culture worker, the artist, the fan, the thinker, the friend.

We tell your story because Good Angel, Evil Genius it is a kind of open diary. Not a biography, but a diary in its featherless truth. The author's life is narrated from his childhood, which, at first, leaves the avid reader intrigued by the stories of the artists with whom the author lived and the moments he lived and events he saw, already announced on the covers of the book.

However, it is soon seen that the personal story dialogues and introduces a greater understanding of the history of the great events and characters. It is, in its own way, a social history of important chapters in Brazilian culture. And in it, Bahia is the port and birthplace of a generation to which the whole country owes much of the good that was created here. The personal history helps us to understand the formation of a young man of the decade that gave us names like Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Maria Bethânia, Gilberto Gil, Glauber Rocha, just to stay in Bahia. In it, the migration to the southeast, the journeys and seasons in Europe are contemporary to the emergence and explosion of our popular music and our cinema-novo almost simultaneously, here and abroad.

This same story takes us especially to the south of Bahia, to the cocoa cycle, to the modernity of the interior, a modernity that surprises the common sense that presupposes an economic and social backwardness and the caricatural regionalism in the social formations of our sertões, especially when it comes to speaks of decades in which, from the rural universe, emerged names and forms of a culture that created its own northeast and, with it, its allegories. A much-debated theme that is unveiled through wanderings – ours – through the Itabuna of the author's childhood and youth in the pages of the first chapters.

When Paulinho Lima describes his memories with a truth that springs from the prolixity, the details, the affections poured into words, the patent historical cohesion and coherence, cocoa, music, theater and cinema are naturally connected. All of this, in Itabuna in the 1950s and early 1960s, makes up a true and delicious plot of a novel by Dias Gomes.

Paulinho Lima starred in the events that arouse our curiosity and admiration, we, who make up our minds by listening, watching and accompanying contemporary artists and movements in their work. From theaters, theater groups, actors and actresses who defined dramaturgy, stages and cinema (Tônia Carrero, the couple Cacilda Becker and Walmor Chagas, Fernanda Montenegro, Odete Lara, Sergio Britto, Glauber Rocha and many others) Rio, in Salvador, São Paulo, London and Rome. We go through private life, we get to know facts and affections, obscurities, kindnesses and the character of these many characters.

So much so that, when we least expect it, we find ourselves in the apartment of Caetano and Dedé Veloso in exile in London. We know about the day-to-day life of a depressed Caetano Veloso and we see him desolate, now, through another prism, beyond his stories sometimes told in books like Tropical Truth, in interviews and articles. We see the scene in which the author washes the hair of a helpless Caetano Veloso, inert in the bathtub of that same apartment. In Brazil, we entered the houses rented by Gal Costa in Rio. The daily life of the beginning of her career, of hard work, economic hardship, sweat and efforts that bring out the worker, the friend and the daughter behind the artist.

Once in the central region of Rio, we enter the house of Ítalo Rossi, the author's shelter upon his arrival in the city, in the community-penthouse of Novos Baianos. In the apartments and apartments paid for with difficulty by these and dozens of other artists, singers, actors, composers, musicians with whom the author lived. A life context in which, due to the force of migration demanded by the arts market in those times, innovating and transgressing the prevailing norms would cost one's own survival. Added to all this is the civil-military dictatorship that so repressed artists and producers and threatened the existence and integrity of artists and cultural spaces. In the book, we find reports of personal episodes and notorious facts in the field of culture that took place during this period.

As the decades progressed, we reached the 1980s, when the book brings valuable stories and reports about the period, mainly due to the little literature on Brazilian culture in those years. Zizi Possi, Angela Ro Ro, Marina Lima, Fafá de Belém, Sueli Costa (the latter, among her fellow composers), are some of the characters in these pages who made an inflection in popular music, introducing new sounds and rhythms, such as Marina's pop Lima and the verve of Angela Ro Ro. Paulinho Lima's personal story goes back to the 2000s, bringing endings, changes and beginnings. Also the departure of names dear to the author and the new directions taken by a history of more than sixty years in the world of culture.

found out Good Angel, Evil Genius in the context of Gal Costa's departure. I felt like reading something that brought, in a book, a bit of his story and I knew that there was a lot there about the beginning of his career. I received my copy in the mail, sent by the author himself. The sender address is located in Salvador. On social networks, Paulinho Lima informs his followers of his return to Bahia. Once again from Rio to Bahia, as we saw in so many episodes narrated in the book. And so there is a great desire to see the author returning to Rio to do it all over again. Deep down, we would like stories like these to be repeated. That of the author and of everything that developed around him.

*Andre Ricardo Dias Professor of Philosophy at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Sertão Pernambucano (IF Sertão PE).

Reference


Paulinho Lima. Good Angel, Evil Genius. Rio de Janeiro, Light of the city, 2016, 536 pages (https://amzn.to/45aqSTe).

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