Day 0 – Please wake me for meals.
Devon was more prepared than ever for this trip. In the past, we’ve left for three-month adventures where he had only pocket change, disposable socks and a toothbrush. But this time he had $30, and socks, and a toothbrush, and an idea of which songs we were gonna play. Of course, I wasn’t aware of his preparedness until it was almost too late. My mom and I sat in front of his house for 30 minutes wondering where he was. I contemplated a WHN? tour without him. Realistically, he is the most disposable member of the live unit and honestly, I have more of a chance of coming home in one piece if he doesn't make it (if I were to count all the injuries I’ve incurred in the past ten years, at least half of them can be directly linked to Devon).
We were 10 minutes from leaving without him when he showed up, not sure if I was early or if he was late. To make matters worse, we were both wearing the same Flash Gordon baseball cap and Dr Scholl’s insoles. To prevent further embarrassments, Devon and I vowed to confirm and reconfirm all scheduled pick-ups and wardrobes before another episode like this happened again.
Speaking of confirming and reconfirming, there was a meal scare once we got on the plane. We confirmed everybody’s veggie meals no less than three times in the days preceding our flight, but Max was the only passenger with a special meal tray. We were about to start gnawing on the seat backs like turnbuckles when slowly, one by one, our meals arrived. You may think this sounds trivial and spoiled of us, but 12 hours with no food – after paying someone $650 to forget to add your name to a list – can really break a spirit. But alas, food was delivered, consumed, digested, evacuated, and eventually frozen and dropped somewhere over Central America.
Day 1 – Eu como minha propia merda.
An essential aspect of international underground touring is sneaking into a country with guitars and drums and merchandise without Customs knowing you are a band, thereby avoiding countless taxes and fees and forms and questions. To minimize the possibility of getting ‘found out’ Max brought no drums, and Robert and I only brought our guitars. Mozine, our Brazilian liaison, pressed CDs and shirts through his label, Laja Records. And finally, we sent all our other merchandise through snailmail. The whole method can be expensive, but rewarding. For example, if Customs took an interest in five scumbags arriving together at their airport and decided to search their bags, it would be helpful if those five scumbags had the foresight not to carry any contraband on their person.
Or the whole process could prove totally worthless if, say, the Brasil’s Customs officers were on strike and neither the Customs department at the airport, nor the Customs department at the post office were operating.
In fact, the Customs department at the Sao Paulo International Airport was not open. We walked off the plane, grabbed our luggage, and strolled right through Customs without so much as a glance from anyone. Sadly, this meant the merch we spent so much time and money to send over will now sit in some Customs’ office postal holding zone until they return from their strike, and the kids of Brasil will not have their 625 releases to show them the path to thrash righteousness. (In a splash of irony, Devon, who never got around to sending his stuff before we left, carried all his merch with him and thus made it into Brasil fully stocked.)
We were met at the airport by the guys from Mukeka de Rato and Discarga and led to our van which was manned by two well-tanned older men, both sporting polo shirts and golf shorts. Your typical WHN? fans. They were introduced as Cleber and Amigo but were quickly redubbed El Motorista Capitan e Co-Pilot.
Sao Paulo is one of the most over-populated and polluted cities in the world. Even cooler, according to the World’s Most Dangerous Places guide Sao Paulo is considered a premiere destination, not bad for a country not currently at war with anyone but itself. In March of 1998 there were 10,700 cars stolen and 771 murders in the city. And though 90% of the violent crimes are committed by and against minors, cops are statistically the least law-biding members of society.
So I wasn’t too disappointed to be heading straight out of Sao Paulo and north to a small beach town on the outskirts of Santos. On the way we got to know a little about our new friends – namely that they were bent on hearing Guitar Wolf over and over until we got to our destination some two hours away.
We made one pit-stop on the way at a one-stop
gas station/minimart/Blockbuster Video where all the employees looked
and dressed like J-Lo. We all waited in line for el baño and us
gringos took the time to learn some essential Portuguese from Breck and
Paulisto of MDR. The first being "sorry" (desculpa),
followed by "thank you" (obrigado), and finally "I
eat my own crap" (Eu como minha propria merda).
WHN? in Sudamerica - May 2002
Day 0 – Please wake me for meals.