Day 3 – Banana Pizza – Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It
A solid four hours of sleep and I was ready to make sure everybody else was up. Our room was street level and at times we couldn’t even hear ourselves talk over the passing trucks and buses and rice rockets and jetliners outside our "window." We got dressed and hid our stuff under the beds and then went up a couple floors to Robert and Karoline’s room. They didn’t answer and we figured they were already out on the town, but as we were stepping away from the door a half-dressed, half-mast Robert let us in.
We were shocked at what we saw: hot water, satellite TV, classy well-kept décor, and it was almost kinda quiet! No wonder they were having some (interrupted) morning nookie.
Our first order of business was some agua. Lots of it. We found some at the end of our block, a block lined with barracharias. We assumed they were bars (borracho en Espanol = drunk), but it turns out they are auto part stores, which explained the incessant revving of car and motorcycle engines that woke us up so early this morning.
Fully hydrated we went out in search of some food and found it in a food court. Our restaurant was a cross between McDonalds and Hot Dog On A Stick. Bright primary colors, sterile environment, greasy food. We ordered a variety of something called a pastel. It’s a flaky, greasy ‘pocket’ comprised of potato and vegetables, or chocolate and bananas or, my favorite, apples and cinnamon. We had seconds.
Next stop was a heavy metal mall. Every store was either a skateshop, a record store, or some amalgamation of the two. Every kid looked like a Hot Topic model, but it was nice to see a central place for them to go and check out records and hang out looking like freaks and find out about any punk or metal show in the area without the fear of getting spit on by meatheads or followed by cops.
A good chunk of all the mall merchandise was bootlegged. There were the traditional record and movie bootlegs, but it didn’t end there. We found a line of shoes called Mad Rats which reproduced every style of Vans shoe for 1/3 the price. We also found knock-off restaurant chains, electronics, and even cars, all made to look exactly like the original until you looked closely at the brand name.
Come nightfall we made our way towards Hangar 10 for our show with Sick Terror, Life Is A Lie, and MDR. The stage was, as Harlen Coben would put it, tall enough to ride any adult ride at Six Flags. This raised all of our suspicions that we were playing a bona fide rock club, an arena we don’t generally fare so well in. But with a halfpipe against one wall, a snack bar selling vegan goodies, and a Dutch soundguy who know what was up (and spoke English), we felt more at ease. A name like Sick Terror had me expecting either girthy dudes with neck-tattoos or stinky dreadlocked patch-punks. I was not at all prepared for four happy, skinny guys, one of which looked like a 14-year old bulldyke. Onstage they played, then talked, then played, then talked, and so on, but my Portuguese was still limited to apologies and bad words so I could only assume they were discussing relevant social topics since their songs had titles like Aborto Legal and Minha Musica Politicamente Correta. Back stage they were incredibly sweet guys, leading me to wonder how they came up with the name Sick Terror.
LIAL took to the stage with more of an intent to rock. They were very young and energetic and had two singers that both ran amok to the band’s mosh-able hardcore. I’m not big on reverb, especially on distorted guitars, so I had this little twitch when I’d notice it during their set. Then, as we were setting up to play, I realized the reverb was mandatory. There was a setting on the amp that was cranked all the way up and the only way to disengage it was to have a pedal, which we didn’t have. The amp, by the way, was also a knock-off. It was the same size, shape and color of a typical Marshall combo amp – it even looked like it said Marshall across the front in that highly recognizable font – but it was not. Marshall combo amp with reverb or not, we had a great time (but were again overshadowed and forgotten once MDR started).
Last time I was in Sao Paulo my friend, Cesar, ordered us a pizza which has since re-shaped my pizza-enjoying criteria. The secret ingredient? Bananas. Cesar now (legitimately) re-releases records from bands like SAMIAM and Refused through his label, Highlight Records. And if that weren’t cool enough he also surprised me tonight with a full pizza, com plantanos. He invited us to a party at his house and I assured him at least some of our gang would be there. But of course, tonight was the one night everybody wanted to hurry back and sleep in their soiled beds.
Back in our hotel room, I was washing up when someone came to our door and offered me a ride to Cesar’s party. She told me to meet her in the lobby but in the 60 seconds it took me to dry off and get downstairs she had already gone. I ran up and down the block trying to catch them but instead caught some stares and offers for handjobs from the callused hands of our hotel’s lady gargoyles. I walked back to the hotel and just then saw her and some of her friends filing out of the elevator. I don’t know what ‘lobby’ means in Portuguese, but they apparently thought it meant Room 62. Regardless, I had found my gang and I was ready to party.
Cesar’s house looked like a comfortable place for people to drink themselves sick, which is exactly what many had been doing before I got there. I stepped over the bodies and sat down with Cesar and Nekro (aka Boom Boom Kid – who had flown out from Buenos Aires to hang out with us). The conversation quickly turned to music and before long Nekro led us to his pile of recent acquisitions in Cesar’s bedroom. I swear, that little man is a walking jukebox. We were talking about band after band and for almost every band mentioned Nekro pulled out some relative record he had either brought with him or just picked up. We must have spun records for 3 hours. At one point the power went out and Nekro turned to singing/humming/snapping/knee-tapping the records himself. When the lights came back on we went back into the living room to find everyone stoned out of their minds off some sort of pudding.
More motivated than wasted, my escorts decided it was time to hit the town. I said my Good-Bye’s and headed downstairs where nothing seemed to happen. In my remedial Portuguese mind I could only tell that we were sitting on the street because nobody had any idea what else we were supposed to be doing. Every so often someone would start laughing and then everyone would laugh and then it went silent. I remained silent the whole time, probably because I didn’t have pudding sludging through my veins.
Ten minutes went by and a cab pulled up. Half the group got in and said they were heading to a goth club and that we should follow. We all waved No Problemo as the cab sped away, then agreed that none of us wanted to go to a goth club. In fact, none of us wanted to go anywhere except to sleep. We walked to the nearest subway station and waited till 5:30 for the first morning train to wisk us away to the seedy underbelly of Sao Paulo that was my hotel room. The ride, and subsequent thirty-minute walk from the station through some sketchy neighborhoods and back to the hotel, was made to pass quickly with the company of a Japanese/Amazonian/Portuguese English teacher who bought me french fries. The sun was coming up and the street noise was leaking into our room so heavily I snuck into bed without anyone noticing.
WHN? in Sudamerica - May 2002
0 – Please wake me for meals.
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