Written by Frank Cotolo
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Topics: Spain, New Jersey

Saturday, 29 May 2004

JOBIM, N.H. -- Though it is infamous for its crowds and danger, Rio de Janeiro has been named "the friendliest city in the world." A new study revealed the honor, with runners-up San Jose in Costa Rica and Madrid, Spain. Newark, New Jersey did not make the list.

The study also reported that residents in Kuala Lumpur, New York, Singapore and Amsterdam are the least likely to help strangers in need, especially if the need has to do with personal injury or directions to a nearby tobacconist. This made those places "the least friendly cities" in the survey that covered one hundred countries.

"It all comes down to simpatico, a Brazilian word that describes a person who possesses certain qualities such as friendliness and openness," said Norris Orangebloom, who has studied the issue of friendliness in cities for forty years while writing three books on totally different subjects.

According to this new study, Brazilians have "simpatico in spades," which is why Rio topped their list.

Study organizer Brendon Filmentasoar, said, "To have simpatico in diamonds or hearts or clubs is not enough. Brazilians have it in spades, the most potent group of the four. And even though it is next to impossible these days to distinguish the actual sex of a Brazilian due to severe identity problems among the young population, it appears friendliness remains a constant.

"Plus, you must remember that this is the birthplace of the Bossa Nova, which is simpatico in music. Girls from Ipanema may actually be half boys but when you have simpatico in spades and music, who cares?"

When the researchers conducted tests of the willingness of residents to help strangers, they found that Latin American cities, where social relationships are highly valued, did the best.

They also discovered that for some odd reason, residents in Latin American cities can identify strangers more easily then residents in American cities that are represented by Major League Baseball teams.

Many of the poorest and least stable cities were the friendliest while people in overcrowded, fast paced ones that have major league baseball teams were less likely to direct anyone to a tobacconist, no less to a discount clothing store.

"This suggests environment has a greater influence than ethnicity or cultural background," Filmentasoar said. "And it reveals that baseball-oriented cities are filled with cut throats and malcontents and, often, people who wear baseball caps the wrong way."

The findings also support the "stimulus overload" theory of social psychologist Jeramiah Lovetuck, who in the 1970s suggested that people in crowded environments tend to stay close to one another physically, but cannot cope with emergency situations that involve more than ten people, especially if more than two of them has been set ablaze by a torch.

Lovetuck was unavailable for comment about the new study, but he did say, "Helping others is a matter of human nature that always escapes the masses in times of stress and disorder. When more than twenty people begin to behave violently in public they are called a mob. Yet, when the same twenty people go into a restaurant and order soup, they are called patrons. Go figure."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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