The malandro or bad boy is a recurring figure in Brasilian culture, an anti-hero who lives by his wits, on the edge of the law. His standard costume is a white suit, collar and tie, and white Panama – ironic, and smart. Here he is in Rio street art near the Arcos viaduct – which you can see in the painted background – wearing a sardonic grin.

Malandro, Arcos, Rio centro

Malandro, up close

And here he is in the Museu Internacional de Arte Naif do Brasil, at play in the carnaval.

Carnaval malandro

In this photo on the back of David Byrne’s excellent O Samba compilation (Luaka Bop / Sire 9 26019 – 2, H Armstrong Roberts Inc) he’s a singer. I haven’t seen him in Sao Paulo yet …

Singer, O Samba (Luaka Bop 9 26019-2) back cover

Samba composer and carioca da gema Noel Rosa pursued the lifestyle and feted the role in his work. There’s a sweet side to this character – listen to a Rosa choro (Ione Papas, Ione por Noel, Dabliu Discos DB 0084) Choro mp3 and I can’t help but smile – though the illegality has a darker side, of course. How much of this bad behaviour (malandragem) and the related ducking and diving (jeitinho) is in response to the corruption in Brasilian society to which everyone alludes? Or IS it the corruption?

Updates on the changes occurring in Rio for the Games and the Cup at Julia Michaels’ blog give you reason to hope – she’s an American carioca with an axe to grind about it.