The Killers at a Churrasco

My most distinct association with The Killers is driving to Mercy in the Honda –a great car until its untimely end. I cranked it loud and sang at the top of my lungs “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” repeat repeat repeat.

This afternoon I heard the same song in a very different context.

We woke up late today, lazing until 10am. As we contemplated making eggs, pancakes, or reheating spaghetti, Ethan announced we were leaving in 15 (so more like a half hour ish) for a Churrasco at his friend Mada’s home.

A Churrasco is something like a BBQ. Lots of meat. I mean a lot. We covered all of the basic meat groups: fried chicken, pork ribs, sausage, steak. Mmm. A true Pantanero–the Pantanal’s old time ranchers–style Churrasco would have started at 6am by killing the animal of choice. Preparing said animal all day, eating, then stretching out the hide. We abbreviate the process and headed for Tigre, the local market. (Where I also picked up my spiffy new Brazilian flip flops)

At Mada’s we settled in the back yard, a lovely space shaded by trees, around the coal fired grill. Mada wanted to listen to some international music and we pulled out an iPod and chose a selection of the paramount of American musical tastes from T Swift to Buttercup Baby, Eminem (a group favorite), throat singing, and the Killers.

A continent worth of time and space separate my high school self blasting The Killers to my present self and situation.

Thought interrupted. Losing Internet and going for a walk. To be continued.

Hurry up and wait

After 2 flights, being forgotten at the airport, discovered by Julie, hanging in a restaurant–which stuck out from the surrounding areas–for hours waiting for Ethan, a flat tire, one more wait for Julie, a ride in the combi death machine….I’ve made it to the Pantanal! Poconé in the state of Mato Grosso and Nazare –an orphanage/school for boys–specifically. I’m gathering information about the history of the city and area. Poconé was founded 232 years ago as a gold mining town by the Portuguese. Ranching is very important to the regions economy and culture. However, larger ranches near Cuiaba that have incorporated big production techniques have pushed many smaller ranch operations out of business and into another: ecotourism. Ecotourism is big here. Waiting at Cuiaba a man asked us if we needed a tour guide. People ride in seats in the back up Ford Pick Up trucks through the Pantanal. I haven’t made it into the Pantanal yet but I did make it onto the back of a pick-up truck. On the walk to Pocone from Nazare Julie’s friend spotted the gringos walking down the road and offered us a lift. Very kind of him and fun for us!

My current dilemma is learning Portuguese as fast as possible. It’s close to Spanish but definitely different enough to be very confusing and pretty much have no clue what people are saying. Despite that our first ‘class’– mostly introductions– went well. We played a rhythm name game and then worked on English phrases by acting out scenes, naming them in Portuguese then in English.

Biggest lesson so far is: hurry up and wait. There’s a lot of waiting. Then suddenly trying to get all of the things on the to do list done. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace. Music lessons will begin more in earnest next week.




In My (Our) Shoes

A previous piece I wrote after the end of my last performance with Halfway There Theatre Productions at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility.

The Justice Arts Coalition

By Mary Walle

About the guest blogger:Mary Walle is a Senior at the University of Michigan studying History. She’s been involved with the Prison Creative Arts Project since January 2012. Through PCAP Mary has participated in three theater workshops and performed in four original plays, one with the young men at Wolverine Human Services and three with two groups of men at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility. Their final production was February 7. Mary continues to work with PCAP but is not currently participating in any workshops in order to focus on her Senior Thesis Project on the Sanctuary Movement in Detroit. She dedicates her thesis to the men she worked with at Gus Harrison. 

I was always conscious of my clothing going inside nearly every week of this past year. Wear something baggy to cover my form. Make sure I have socks. (One time, I wore sandals and panicked in the…

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Everyday is another day to grow.

~ Rob

I worked with Rob from January-April 2012. Along with the rest of the theatre workshop at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, we collectively created an original play through improvisation. The play, entitled “Unforgiving”, came out of each of us, incorporating a small part of all of our stories. Doe, another member of the workshop, wrote the chorus to a rap that ended our performance. Its title, “Good Morning America.”

Rob always said “Everyday is another day to grow.” His mantra both comforts and challenges me. This blog I hope will document many things but in its essence, perhaps, a record of my failures, successes, challenges, and growth.