Monday, November 15, 2010

Packing is the Hardest Part

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

     This is my last Monday here in Glorious ol' Brazil and I'm in the frantic trying to pack and buy last minute gifts for friends and family pack home. As always I have screwed myself with promises of gifts which doesn't bother me in the least other than buying Havaianas or flip flops because the sizes printed on the shoes are all jacked up. Sure it might read size 8 US but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is correct. I found that out last time when I bought three pair for family then got them back to Ana's and found they almost fit my feet. My Grandmother can be a lot of things, cantankerous is one, but big foot she is not.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

     I think my bags will be filled with as much presents and contraband on the way home as it was coming here. In arriving I had 6 books, a lens cleaning kit, a diamond necklace, ear rings, bourbon and a LCD Picture frame. On the return my bags bulge with coffee, a coffee pot, candy, 4 pairs of havaianas, a few shirts and a carton of cigarettes for Brandon.
  His Lungs Are Like Tarpaper

     I am sure that my bags will be rooted around in again. Last time I made the mistake of being away for more than 15 minutes from the US and had to pop my bags open for the customs officer and turn on my computer to show him pictures. I think they get suspicious if you don't look rich or aren't 150 years old but I guess they are just doing their jobs. I'm too nervous to try and bring contraband into the US besides if I wanted dope I do live in KY. I mean the county next door is Methenberg County and I am pretty sure the Patton Farms have been growing pot for almost 20 years. Also I am an American Citizen, I will be damned if I am going to get caught with some second hand drug when I can just go to the doctors office and put on a sad face and get a prescription for whatever Pharmaceutical Company drug bought him a free weekend in Vegas to push. 
     Also they will probably ask me how I afforded to stay in Brazil for 3 months when I don't have real employment. I was asked this last time, my friend Sam was asked the same question when he returned from England and he only stayed two weeks. Last time I was so taken aback by the question that I don't even remember how I answered. What difference does it make? If I am a terrorist I am sure I would have the correct answer in my head or documentation but I'm not. I'm just a hillbilly that painted houses and tiled bathrooms all summer and lives with his mother which in fact will be the answer I give this time around and it will be true because that is how I paid for this trip. I don't have a life other than Ana and I worked for Brandon painting condos and tiling floors. I'm sure that will win the guy over and I will go straight into the airport to the bar.....NOT!

     Anywho, I hope today is busy because I know I won't be able to sleep worth a damn tonight and of course sleeping on the plane is near impossible with the shit seats and a weight of emotions in my heart as I leave my Girlfriend and everyone else I hold so dear back in Brazil even this little old man:
Old Man Wilson

     Please let me sleep on that flight. It is going to be 10 hours in the air with nothing to do other than listen to my iPod and try to avoid whatever Jennifer Lopez movie that they have on this time around. Last time it had that one great scene where her little dog shit something the size that would probably tear an elephants ass in half as humor. Hopefully the flight into Nashville will be less hectic, last time I flew into Louisville and was crowded in with a bunch of people going to Derby, all the overhead bins had hat boxes stuffed inside. 

     I have to go, buying bus tickets to the airport and seeing if the airport bar takes credit cards for booze. I'm coming home Mom with a rock in my heart and a head full of booze. Back home to gray skies, bare trees and darkness at 4pm plus an economy in the shitter and a congress that has already agreed to a 3 day work week for themselves so I don't see any help coming from those assholes.

A good read about airport security in the US

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Super Duper Sao Paulo Film Festival

Hillbilly at a Film Festival Edition: Part 2

      Waking up is always the hardest part especially after a full day of driving, walking, watching movies, standing in lines, eating food and figuring out the subway. Luckily we had bought some croissants at Bella Paulista the night before so it was a lazy morning of munching in bed while deflecting house keeping from the door. Much like Bill Hicks I wonder if the words on what I think reads Do Not Disturb really translates into Knock Incessantly.
       We started off this morning with the express interest in going to the Sao Paulo Museum of Art to check out Wim Wenders photo exhibit. It read in the Film Guide that if you had tickets from any of the Mostra Films that you would get in the exhibit for free. This turned out to be a lie of course, the film guide is full of them from telling you a movie has English Subtitles to free museum tickets. Of course to give the promoters a break I imagine that it is very difficult to orchestrate so many things at the same time and then print a reliable guide for a 12 day event.

      On the way up Paulista to the museum we happened open a film crew recording a bit for a TV show called Aline or so we think. We stood there and watched them film for about 15 minutes while I took many, many shots with my Nikon.... Japanese Photographer strikes back.

     It was really cool as I have never seen anything filmed for anything other than some dirty WKU film students wondering around downtown Bowling Green, KY filming something that will never see the light of day and the occasional TV news crew. They took take after take, with a dolly shot of Maria walking down Paulista bumping into people from all walks of life, the cop, the mother, the rock n rollers, the fashionistas, the business men and of course the Tourist from Beaver Dam, KY. Well I might have made up that last part as they weren't really interested in my bald ass running through the scene, especially the Security Guard that was standing in front of us. She thought it was way less cool than I did.
    After watching them shot the same thing 15 times we walked the rest of the way to the Museum to be told that no, there was never ever going to be a free admission to anything ever. We paid the money, and checked out the German Painters before moving on to Wim Wenders photos. I can't really say that I loved all the German paintings, they were trying to show the difference between East German artist and West German which was interesting but still, meh. I did like one painting that read Fuck The Police which I felt had a message to it. 
     Ana and I took the lift to the 1st floor and finally came face to face with Wim Wenders photos that had supposedly been blown up to 3 meters in some instances but we only found one or two that were in such large proportions. We bumped into the blonde woman that was with Wim Wenders the night before walking away with a video camera, still don't know if she is a daughter, wife or an assistant. The photos were great by the way but then again I love photos. Some were a little meh but most were good, of course the man being a director has an eye for framing a shot. In that there can be no doubt. 

     We left the museum and walked downhill to our next theater which was located several blocks from Paulista Ave in a Mall. We showed up, got our tickets, wondered around to the food court found some strange food place called McDonald's whatever that is and had something called fritas and a quartero. I don't know what that means but it was good. Tasted familiar. 
     The movie we went to see was called Red Light Revolution which you can read about on my other site Brief History in Bullshit. It was really funny I can't remember the last time I laughed so much in a movie. I really think the director and producer understand that the one ingredient that is great for comedic films. Jokes. Apparently if you put jokes in a comedy it causes people to laugh. 

     After the movie and turning in our rating cards we went back to the hotel via Taxi because we were both worn out from the night before running uphill trying to escape phantom muggers. The cab driver was "stressed" Ana said as he suggested a quicker route that ended up in a traffic jam. Lucky for him I guess. Once on Paulista Ave he passed another Cabby even though we only had one more block to go, the look on the the other cab drivers face was one of anger and whatthefuckness. He started yelling at our driver as we zipped by him. As he pulled up on the street to let us out, the other cabby parked next to him and started yelling. Something about common courtesy and not being an asshole I think. Always good advice in the big city.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sao Paulo International Film Festival and Road Show

Hillbilly At The Sao Paulo Film Festival Edition: 
Day One

     Ana and I went to the SP Film Festival over the weekend to try and cram as many films into our eye holes as possible. We had to coordinate so that we crammed as many titles that also had English subtitles in because my Portuguese is at the fetal grade level.

     I always do my movie reviews on another blog, so if you want to know what I thought of the movies we watched you need to go to my other blog A Brief History in Bullshit.

     I have always dreamed of going to a film festival ever since I was a little film watching kid. I'd hear on TV about some Film Festival somewhere around the world and you'd see all the stars lining up but you'd also see these young upcoming directors who were just trying to get their film out in front of some people. Or I'd hear about a festival that was just showing a certain actors or directors work, like a Woody Allen Festival or Schwarzenegger Fest and you could get tickets to see as many as their films as your body could hold. I'd hear about these things but I knew I'd never experience it because I live in BFE, KY, USA. Where do these things happen in the United States, primarily in LA and NY. What do you get in the "Heartland", fucking 600 showings of The Waterboy or G.I. Joe and three days blink and it is gone showing of a Woody Allen movie. Owensboro, KY had three theaters when I was a kid now they have the one multiplex that only shows Huge Features and all the rest have been converted to churches. Personally I'd rather watch a movie than listen to some jive ass preacher talk about heaven and hell but I understand that there is a lot more money in God and judging what other people are wearing on Sunday than in movies. 

     Ana and I arrived in Sao Paulo just knowing that the weather service must have gotten it right this time around. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me a third time and you really should just give up trying to predict the weather because you suck. Well, they suck. The predictions which is what they shall forever now be called because a charlatan predicts a scientist forecasts was for a low of 63F and the high of 73F. Nope, it had to be in the mid 80s at least which is a little different from a nice cool 70 believe me. Damn you, damn you to hell. So we checked into our hotel room with bags full of long sleeve shirts and sweaters just knowing that it was going to be cool all weekend. Foiled again.

      The first movie that we watched was The Silence which you can read more about here on my other blog.

     After the movie we walked around Paulista Ave some then went back to the room to plan for the rest of the night. Ana has been dying to go to a posh place with a view of everything in the city but the weather men had actually gotten the cloudy part of their prediction right unfortunately they got the rain part wrong because there wasn't a rain drop in the sky that night. She was hoping to see a sunset but the weather blocked out the sun so we thought we would try and catch another movie. I won the coin toss so we tried to make it across town to the William S Burroughs documentary that was playing in the Sao Paulo Cultural Center.
    After we almost walked a block in the wrong direction after exiting the Subway Station (I am not allowed to say who was in the lead at this time but it wasn't me) we arrived to see a huge line. Our hearts sank, Ana wondered if this was the ticket line. I was sent ahead to scout out what the deal was and I found that this was just the line to get into the theater. Seeing that my Portuguese is still at the level of small child Ana went to the ticket window to inquire about tickets. The woman told her that all three showings sold out within 15 minutes of becoming available. After I heard this and walked back along side the line it made more sense to me, lots of aging hipsters and young nerdy bohemian types were in the line. Another way of saying that is a whole lot of readers were in that line and I'm not talking about Twilight readers either.

    It all worked out in the end besides the fact of not seeing old Bill Burroughs. We had to book across town either way to catch Wim Wenders giving a lecture on the movies of his life. It was 20 subway stops plus a walk up hill both ways to get to that venue and home again but it was well worth it. We arrived at the Cinemateca to an empty hall with two book stalls set up that were being packed away. At one stood the 100 year old former storyboard artist for Akira Kurosawa, setting against a wall was the Film Festival Organizer and also in the room was his girlfriend who was also an organizer. The problem was of course that there were 200 seats available to see Director Wim Wenders give his lecture but all those seats had been sold to watch the movie Wings of Desire. Even though the film guide said that the lecture was free to anyone that showed up  it was first come, first serve when it came to seating and all the seats had an ass parked in them at the moment.
     So in an act of bravery and desperation Ana went up to the female organizer and gave her our sad tale of walking uphill for 20km to get there and that I was an American who was unfrozen by scientist and was unused to the Brazilian scary modern ways. I ran out of gas. I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts.
    After all that she had to let us in at least to stand in the back which so agreed to do if there weren't any seats left. So we were left to our own devices while the movie was still running, a few more people were showing up and then this tall lanky fellow with long curly hair showed up with a gorgeous blonde. Ana grabbed my arm and whispered that's him, that is Wim Wenders. He walked past us a few times, girl in tow as we stood there like schoolgirls mumbling. I kept teasing Ana that I was going to go all paparazzi on him and she kept punching my arm and telling me that no, I wasn't. Which made it even more fun to do when he was standing directly behind her in the open area.
    He must have wondered around the place for 10 minutes, walking to the outside courtyard and farting around I guess waiting for his movie to be over so he could go and make his lecture and get the hell out of there. Finally after he walked past us for the 11th time Ana turns to me and says, if he walks past one more time I'm going to ask for a photo, do you think that would be all right. I said I guess what else does he have to do right now but glad hand. So on his 12th lap she snatched his arm and started what I can only say was nervous bantering. "Big fan of your work... appreciate your films...thank you for coming here...can I please take a photo with you..." In very calm, quiet English with a German accent he replied "Do you have a photographer". "Yes" she replied. "Does he have a flash". "Yea" I replied. "Then you may take the picture" and bam that is how I got a photo of Ana with Wim Wenders.

Ana and Wim

     The lecture was great he was really good natured and funny through out and like most cinema buff he couldn't stop. He would say this is the last film that I am going to talk about then he would go on and talk about three other films that he thought were important to him. Earlier in the night I bought a little notebook and pen to carry around with me at the bookstore because I didn't have my phone which I usually use to keep notes. Ana borrowed it and wrote all the films he discussed as did a few other film students in the crowd. He must have talked for at least an hour, quite a few people left in the middle but I just assumed it was because they didn't offer a translation to what he was saying. 
     We barely made it back to our Subway Stop in time because they close the station every night for a few hours to do maintenance and things of the like. As we stepped of at the stop on Paulista the announcement started about how the station would be closing in 3 minutes. Get your shit and get out. We got off the escalator just as they were locking up the turnstiles. If we had just been ten more minutes at the Cinemateca we would have been screwed because cabs like cops are hard to find when you need one. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Fathers Pride

Definitely A Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

     I've been thinking these last few months what would my dad think about me being in Brazil again. While I am sure that he would have had a mild freak out because even though he was the man he was still a parent I think in my heart he would have thought it a hoot.

     I think he would have gotten a kick out of me traveling here and all over the United States with Ana last year. He loved to travel even though some of his choses weren't exactly all that great. (How many times can you go to Kansas isn't once too many) I'm pretty sure he would have loved Ana to death as well. I haven't meet anyone yet that doesn't like her except for Old Crazy Bill the Mail Carrier and that is only because he hates everything and everyone on this Earth except possums and trannies.
     I also think he would have been proud of me making here by myself both times. This is the same man that told me before my first flight in 2000 that I'd be so nervous on the tarmac that "they wouldn't be able to drive a toothpick up your ass with a sledgehammer". Here I am Pop, numerous flights later in Brazil, I've flown to Rio, Sao Paulo, Baltimore, Detroit and out of Boston. I know enough to find my seat, dump all my change before walking through the detectors, don't mention bombs or dope being hard to pack and to always grab as many free drinks and peanuts on the flight as possible because you got to get your moneys worth. Even if you are eating peanuts on the way home from the airport you have to stick it to the man somehow. 

   I have to though that I think probably he would have been beside himself with pride this afternoon. After class as I stood on Ana Costa waiting for my ride, I let the longest, loudest fart that I have ever heard in my life. A fart so loud that I could hear it over the Onibus and the traffic. A fart that lasted over two presidential administrations. A fart so loud that all the pigeons in Santos suddenly took to the air for a moment. It was glorious and I couldn't stop laughing because I knew my dad would have been proud of that. 

    This post was supposed to be about the Sao Paulo Film Festival but that will have to wait until the next one. That and I have to finish writing it up. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Thing About Dentist

     I would just like to say that if for any reason it seems that I am being mean or saying bad things about my dentist that that was truly not me intention. My Brazilian Dentist has been very kind and considerate and has helped me in a lot of ways not to mention just the costs alone. Also she is more personable than any other dentist I have ever had who usually for one reason or another seems to have an assembly line mentality to dental work probably from just the number of patients. Of course they don't charge assembly line costs in the states, they charge hand made custom teeth prices.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Tooth Extraction

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

     I got a wisdom tooth and a broken 2nd molar extracted Saturday afternoon by my dentist T. Mengele whose great grandfather I think might have been German who moved here after WW2 but I am not sure. The name does sound familiar though but I can't put my finger on it.

     I'm not saying that this round was a little more painful but what I am trying to say that shit fucking hurt like a motherfucker. Damn that hurt! No amount of novocaine or slaps to the face could stifle the pain made worse to the fact that I had developed an infection under the very tooth that she was extracting.
    My dentist is very good and professional even with blood on her glasses she was top notch. I tried to remain calm throughout the procedure the wisdom tooth came out like it was nothing making me believe that I was going to be out of that chair in no time flat. Then she went to work on the 2nd molar and things went down hill from there. I believe in the post extract play-by-play interview that the root and somehow grown into the bone of the skull thus making it a total bastard to remove. (I am paraphrasing of course) The roots were all crazy and sideway and the infection wasn't making things all that easy either. It was bad is all I can say I actually was covered in sweat when I got out of the chair and had teared up a few times during the pulling part. You know that when your shirt is soaked with sweat that you had a good visit at the dentists. She finally got part of the molar out after drilling it in half but they had to take a break because I started laughing about it. I must have sat there laughing for about 5 minutes and I still don't know if it was nervous laughter or just relief that the pain was almost finished. Or maybe I just like to perpetuate the idea that most Americans are a little nuts. I seriously doubt any amount of sedative would have worked except maybe morphine or whiskey. I am sure it would have hurt worse back in the states because of the post operative procedure they do to your wallet.

     All this happened on Saturday so I am taking a few days off to recover. I didn't manage to get to school this morning because of the recovery plus there was a monsoon going on outside when I awoke this morning. As much as I like answering questions about Justin Bieber at school even I needed a break from such queries. That and walking through shitstorm two blocks to the bus stop and carrying what would have been a stick which started out as an umbrella and then waiting for the bus to take 15 minutes to arrive while missing a chunk of skull, and standing shoulder to shoulder for 20 miles, well it wasn't appealing today. So I decided to sleep another 6 hours this morning or at least my body decided.

     At least that is what I am telling everybody.

Friday, October 1, 2010

There Is No "I" in Onibus...Oh Wait There Is

 Hillbilly In Brazil Edition

     I knew I said I was going to write about Justin Bieber or meeting Matthew Shirts in the last blog but I think that is rapidly becoming a lie. OK, Justin Bieber is a robot built by Music Execs and I stood next to Matthew Shirts long enough to get my picture taken at the Tarrafa Literature Festival last Sunday. Today I am going to talk about riding the public bus in the morning which has been a new treat for this old country boy. The only bus that I have ever rode on a regular basis was a School Bus, the last time was 1993.

Cool Flame Job

     I have been taking the Onibus since the second week of school when waking up my girlfriend was becoming increasingly dangerous. Ana finally just told me you need to take the #29 to get there and the #42 to get home, here is some change, here are the door keys, let me sleep. SLEEP!!!! So there I was at the bus stop waiting with the other strap hangers for the right set of numbers to float in front of me.
     This morning was one of those great mornings when the bus that you have waited for for 10 minutes only slows down enough for you to see that there is no fucking way you are getting aboard. I'm not saying it was anymore overcrowded then say a train in India during the 1950's because at least the onibus didn't have people with chickens riding on the roof. It did however have people stuck in the front door well, asses pressed against the front windscreen like a jar of people with wheels.

Artist Rendering

     Even the bus driver wore a worried expression on his face as he slowed down enough in front of our bus-stop to show his reasoning for not stopping. Well shit, another 10 minutes surely another onibus will come through here, I mean I am standing on the Beach Avenue right, buses come through here all the time some with standing room even.
     Finally a half packed bus did arrive and I clambered on board with my $R2.50 in hand ready to get through the turnstile and join my other onibus buddies in various positions of discomfort. "Buy the ticket, take the ride" is my motto for the onibus anyways. I know this is sounding like one huge complaint about the busing system but I don't think this is just typical of Santos or even Brazil. I am fairly certain people are packed into buses around the world during these hours of the morning with the exception of maybe New York City and Tokyo were they are packed into Subway Cars. This is just how the public transportation rush hour world works.
    The morning onibus is a fun mix of riding a rickety rollercoaster and an elevator. You get the pleasure of thinking you are going to die with the experience of not making eye contact or talking with the other passengers. Buy the ticket, get crammed into a confined space with strangers, the driver could possibly have a death wish, be drunk or both much like a carnie at any festival. There is also the constant braking and acceleration, the honking at bikers, pedestrians, dogs, bums, other buses and on top of all this you can't see anything except maybe some buildings in your peripheral. Is the driver heading the right way down the street or straight into oncoming traffic? Are we parked on the railroad tracks? Being sucked into a flying saucer? T-Rex attacking us? Who knows all I can see in front of me is a fat woman with some perm farm going on on top and I just know she will get out before me crushing my crotch into either the handrail or the shoulder that is in front of me as she hustles toward the door. Or perhaps she will barricade the aisle when I need to get off the bus. I can't speak Portuguese elegantly enough to ask her to PLEASE (por favor) move her fat ass (bunda) out of the way because I wanna get outta here, get to the house (casa) and drink a coke (coke). 


Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Hillbilly in Brazil Edition 

    In happier news I had two teeth removed from my head Monday night after about 30 shots of Novocain and several reassurances that it would be OK that she wasn't going to hurt me. The She in that sentence is my dentist Thais assisted by sister Adriana, also a dentist, as they pulled and yanked out the previously mentioned teeth. Seems like if you have an infected tooth you probably shouldn't let it run ramped for 6 to 7 years. 
Marathon Man School of Dentistry

     My dad was alive when this tooth started hurting so that must have been in 2004 because I think I was also working at Thrifty Nickel at the time. I remember the pain was so bad at one point I was tempted to go to the dentist office next door and beg for them to rip the god damned thing out with an old rusty monkey wrench. Then I would think how much the monkey wrench option would cost me and that I was only working part time and had student loans, a car loan and a huge credit card debt that I was trying to pay off with my little income.
     Everyone who has ever talked to me about teeth have screwed their eyes up to the air and complained about the costs. I well knew, even when I had dental insurance it seemed to cost more than I was willing to part with but being surrounded by examples of those unwilling to pay made me always fork over the cash. Working in a factory can be an eye opener to many things. I used to work with a guy named "Donk" who had one brown tooth on the bottom gum and two on the top and was still somehow managed to chew tobacco. If you don't think that will make you brush often then you are sadly mistaken. Especially night after night of seeing Donks brown grin after making some stuttering half intelligible joke about either your sexuality or how you should go out with some 45 year old woman named Mary Beth.
     My infected tooth pain would come and go until one day I finally went to a Dentist who might have been drunk and convinced him that I had pain and could he do something about it. So he drilled a hole in the side of my molar, charged me some money and sent me on my merry way. When the pain killers from the drilling wore off my pain had doubled and I spent about 2 weeks without sleep due to the throbbing in my jaw that seemed to get worse when I was either trying to sleep or trying to be awake. I went back to the same dentist but his secretary wouldn't even tell him that I was there to see him much less give me an appointment even after I explained pain to her. I was probably to tired from sleep dep to get my point across on reflection maybe if I had thrown something at her head she would have allowed me through the doors.
     Luckily me regular dentist gave me a prescription for some painkillers and antibiotics. You might ask the question why didn't I go see him in the first place but he is almost always solidly booked for 6 months at a time. Getting in to see him unless your teeth are exploding is an impossibility and sometimes I am grateful that his building was condemned.
     Anyway, after getting 312 shots of Novocain injected into my gums, lips, hair, mouth and eyes they extracted two teeth from my lower jaw. What is more disturbing, the sensation of tugging or the sounds of the teeth moving around, I really don't know. I think it helped having two attractive dentist hovering over me even if they were wearing masks, hairnets and bickering at each other in Portuguese. I might not yet have a full grasp of the language but I do know body-language and intonation.  Thais and Adriana are professionals but still, they are sisters first. First came the molar with its silver filling in the side and which was less infected than the premolar in front of it. The fun part was getting the premolar out which had broken down to the gumline, I won't go into detail other than to say it hurt like hell. Then she had to clean out the infected parts which was by far the grossest part, especially when she drug out strips of bright red infected parts with scissor clamps saying "Look at the lesion, how it is infected" almost as casually as Jacques Cousteau would describe a passing Sea Turtle.
     After seeing bit by bit of my jaw being removed a gloved hand with gauze went into my mouth to soak up blood and the remaining infection. It is truly odd to have someones hand in your mouth while they are turned around talking to your girlfriend who calmly and slightly grossed out sits in the corner of the room, legs crossed, hands on her knee. Deep inside she is ready to bolt out the door and feverishly punch the buttons to call the elevator up because she hates the Dentist. Which is odd seeing that her best friend is in fact in that profession.
     Thais then proceeded to sow up the huge gap in my gumline where my once infected and broken teeth had set for almost 6 years. Second odd feeling of the night is seeing someone hold what looks like a piece of yarn with a fishing hook on the end tying your mouth together. Tugging, knotting, repeat until everything is neatly tied together. I was starting to wonder if she was placing a button on my lip when she said that we were done. She placed a new gauze in my mouth and told me to chomp down on it for 30 minutes and to lay back in the chair for a little while longer. Imagines of me jumping up and immediately passing out ran through my mind, I doubt if the three of them could have gotten my big fat American ass back in the chair.
     I was finally allowed to stand and we talked about what I could and couldn't do over the next few days. I was expected to lay on my ass, not drink anything hot, no solids for at least three days, no grains, no beer, and don't brush the part of my mouth with stitches while brushing my teeth. So now I get to eat all the milkshakes, pudding and yogurt that I want while watching Ana and family eat all these great smelling dishes in front of me. I would force a smile but it hurts.

Next Issue: How I met Matthew Shirts or more about Justin Bieber...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There Is Just Something About Sao Paulo (Part Dois)

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

      The thing about waking up in a Formula 1 Hotel is that you really can't jump out of bed and sprint around the room because you are going to hit all the walls. Also they offer a breakfast in the morning if you purchase this little red card in the morning from while checking in. The problem is they don't print the times of breakfast on the cards that you buy, you just have to know that it will start at 7 and end at 10:30. Now that makes sense to normal people but when you live with someone suffering from Brazilian Sleeping Sickness then you have to rethink things like normal breakfast hours and when to wake up in the mornings, especially weekend mornings. Somehow she convinced me that they served breakfast till 11:00 on Sundays, so while I sat in bed from 8 to 11 waiting for her to wake up so I could go to breakfast they were handing out the last of the stale toast and watery coffee. I wanted some of that watery coffee because it reminded me of home.
     Foiled again by The Brazilian Sleeping Sickness aka "The Sleeps" as they are commonly referred to around these parts and by these parts I mean this blog. So after her the rationalization that no one in Brazil wakes up early on a Sunday morning to eat breakfast because that would just be wrong we went off to find our noon breakfast. I wasn't even hungry due to still being full from the gorging myself the previous night.
     We went to the oldest of all Malls in Sao Paulo for an photo exhibit in the upstairs gallery but that didn't start until 2 pm so we had a few hours to kill. We ate lunch/breakfast (I guess that is brunch) and walked around looking into the stores that were still closed. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and other retail stores just like home in the Owensboro Mall. Swatch has it's own store, how cool is that. I mean I can't afford anything in this place but I can still look and appreciate and possibly buy a knock off from ebay for 1/6 the price.

      I have to say that I loved the Photo Exhibit not only were they serving free champagne (damn it feels good to be a gangsta) and the photos were simply amazing for the most part. I wrote down a few names while there so I could look up some work (poor, can't afford the photo books) on the interweb. Just fabulous, makes me want to get a camera and start taking pictures... oh yea I can do all that. Anyway, here is a video that someone made while there, please check it out. See if you can spot the photos from the Magnum Photographer.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just Something About Sao Paulo (Part Um)

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

      Ana and I went to Sao Paulo Saturday and after several failed attempts we finally broke free of Santo's gravitational pull. We tried to leave, honest we did by some secret shortcut near the port that is now under heavy road construction. So that super secret fast route was closed to us and we had to turn backtrack. About that time Ana realized that she had left her cell phone plugged up in my room. It was supposed to be my job to remind her to bring it that morning but in all the excitement of waking up early and brushing my teeth I forgot.
      So we drove all the way back home to get the cellphone and Ana a change of shoes because the weather was much hotter than we had originally thought it was going to be (wrong again weather guys/gals). Another universal experience, the weathermen the world over can't take a guess for shit. For some reason it was even hotter in Sao Paulo than in Santos, I would think the beach would be warmer but it is the opposite. There I go thinking again, maybe things are reversed down here in the southern hemisphere. I don't know because they stuck me in dummy science classes in High School which is really strange cause I always made great marks in science when I was in Grade School.
     Sao Paulo either means Giant City or Saint Paul I'm not really sure yet, even when you think you are in the middle of it you really aren't in the middle of it. Huge I tells you. We drove to a place Ana had read about in a magazine called The Bagel Factory. You might not realize this from the name but they serve Bagels. I can't remember the name of the neighborhood that we parked in, I think it was either called "No Parking Anywhere" or "Park Here Only After You Purchase A Blue Card" the blue card being their version of a parking meter minus the hassle of just walking out of your car and placing change in a box and turning a knob. You have to search for someone to purchase the card from, then fill it out and place it on your dash so you don't get a ticket. Much more efficient than you know, that whole nasty change thing.

      It was worth it, not only were the Bagels pretty damn good but the Cappuccino was excellent. I have never been a big fan of cappuccino mostly because I have never really had a good one. I mean I hate going to Starbucks because I feel like an idiot saying "tall" or "grande" and still somehow manage to get a small cup and when Brandon Ralph used to make them they tasted like shit. Probably because he is a caffeine junkie who injects double shots of espresso between his toes! Instead of getting a nice tasty beverage you are stuck drinking Nitro Glycerin with a touch of sugar that burns your stomach and turns your mouth black as if you drank ink. 

      After we checked into a chain hotel called Formula 1 which is like Motel 6 without the thrills or unwrapped condoms on the floor (happened in Chicago) we caught the subway to get closer to the street fair in some neighborhood which again I can't remember the name. All I remember is that it was filled with music stores and Ana's friend Cris lives there. By music stores I mean places selling instruments not CDs and boy are there tons of them. I don't even think Nashville (Music City USA) has that many opposing  music stores facing each other on the same strip but I could be wrong. After walking downhill several blocks we reached the Street Fair, I bought Steph a Frida T-shirt for her birthday which is next month. I can say this on here because she never reads my blogs. I also got myself a Rolleiflex T-shirt from a vendor, it was between that and a Leica camera t-shirt but seeing that I will never be able to afford either I went ahead with the Rolli. That and some other joker was already walking around wearing the Leica and that would have just been awkward. What if we were invited to the same party or Flickr Meet wearing identical shirts. Catfight! 
      We bumped into Ana's friend Cris while snooping around the stalls of the street fair which is held every Saturday in the same place. She was looking for some cool eyeglass frames, I tried to talk her into some kickass sixties Cat-eye vintage frames but she respectfully disagreed. Women, huh.
       Later that night we were picked up by Cris and her room mate Andresa for what can only be described as total glutton abandon at a fresh sushi buffet in Liberdade. While you might know it, Brazil has the second largest population of Japanese outside of Japan which means super awesome sushi. Especially when you only live about 2 hours from the coast, so even more super awesomeness is packed into those little pieces of fish and rice than say Evansville, Indiana or Bowling Green, Kentucky.

      The Sushi was fabulous, I wish I could say that I have never ate so much sushi in my life but that would be a lie. I ate more last time I was here in Santos, a few blocks from Ana's house. What can I say, I love a sushi restaurant that owns their own boat. Now that is fresh fish dude. 

Continued later but so shots from Formula 1 before we go.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to the Books

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

     Today I went back to class, I haven't had to go to school since last Friday because of Brazilian Holidays. Woke up ready to go but then I realized I could sleep for another 15 minutes so opted for that route. I stayed up way too late reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest which is the last in the Millennium Trilogy.
     I have to say that I really enjoyed all three of the books but I think old Stieg Larsson could have used more editing. Some things in the books just seem to be thrown in for the hell of it. I am used to this in mystery novels because they are supposed to take you on misleading tangents but just throwing random bullshit in for filler that if removed would have no impact on the novel is masturbation. The corresponding films for the Millennium books have cut a lot of fat from the novels and the pace doesn't suffer for it in the least.

     Wait... I was talking about going back to school. The worst part of the day was that I didn't get any coffee this morning. To me that is just tragic, you wouldn't send a runner out without his running shoes or a stripper out to the pole without something to hang her money off of why would you send a 35 (trinta e cinco) year old male out into the world without coffee. Sure, you can do it but it is just going to be an awful fucking mess in the end.
     Friday morning is Kindergarten class first which is always fun because the kids are usually nice and really small so you can push them around easier. We learned about parts of the house today which is always a good thing to know. I don't want to mistakenly tell someone I am taking my lunch in the banheiro (bathroom) when I mean that is where I will be leaving my lunch.
     We looked in on another class of kids, I think they were 5yo or maybe younger and they were already doing cursive writing. I remember when I was in Kindergarten I was doing print with a pencil that looked like a tree and here these kids were doing cursive. The Kindergarten class is already learning Portuguese, Spanish and English. I wonder when they start teaching Algebra, 3rd grade?

'No Child Left Behind! No Child Left Behind!' 'Oh really, well it wasn't long ago you  were talking about giving kids a Head Start! Head Start, Left Behind, someone's losing fucking ground here!' - George Carlin

        I don't know what is being taught in our schools back in the States and granted the school I am attending is a private school but still I can't think that there are many private schools teaching three languages at once in Kindergarten or cursive handwriting at that age either. I could be wrong like I said I don't have kids. You might be saying to yourself 'Shawn why should I care about Brazil, it is still considered a third world country and I'm an American so what if those kids down there have more knowledge and skills'. Well all I can say to that you can't be Number One forever if you don't work at it constantly. Ali didn't win his first fight and then sit on his ass and eat donuts. Michael Jordan didn't get his first slam dunk in High School and then say, nailed it now to go home and watch Fat Albert. Marilyn Chambers didn't... well you get the point. 
        Secondly next time you go to Burger King and then swing by Iron Horse Liquors to get a case of Budweisers in Owensboro remember this, Brazil owns both those all American things now. (technically it is a Belgian and Brazilian joint things but still)
        Lastly, Knowledge is Power. If you have ever had to talk to someone that didn't know shit about shit for more than 20 minutes you know that in your heart. 
        Don't worry your pretty little head over any of this because as I was walking home from the bus stop, I saw a woman wearing a Twilight T-Shirt with Edward all over it. I stopped and saluted her in the middle of the street because God Bless America and it's spread of the pop culture virus like a sailor with the clap. If only we made more than just the movies, if we only made the merchandise that everyone buys that comes along with it maybe unemployment would be back to 8.5%.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Kinder, Gentler, Kindergarten or It's Not a Tumor!

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

     So following my Billy Madison-esque path through the Brazilian School system my first class on Friday was Kindergarten. Claudinei showed me the booklet we would be going over in the little people class which included todays lesson of body parts and a song titled Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. I told Claudinei that Kindergarten in America they pretty much just teach letters and numbers and then release us into the wild after half a day.
Stop Staring At Me Swan!!!

    Brazil is teaching the little munchkins English and Spanish at 5 years of age. I didn't tell him that in America we have a debate about having any other language taught let alone spoke in schools and when we do try and teach kids a language it is in High School and is French. Makes sense seeing that France borders the US and is one of our major trading partners in the world. I can't wait to get home, turn on my French Computer Le PC and watch things on my big screen LCD Monsieur Sony. Not to mention that most of the immigrants, legal and illegal come from France to escape persecution from Napoleon. I don't mean to go on about America but I think we are doing a disservice to ourselves by sticking our fingers in our ears and trying not to believe that other people speak different languages.
   I told the kids my name and how are you in Portuguese which never works. I think I say it right but no one sticks to the script. I say Oi and the kids always reply Hi in English and that fucks up the screenplay in my head but I think they are just excited to talk to someone who speaks English regularly. I sat in the back of the class feeling like a Giant in the little chair, I wonder if this is how a fat person thinks about movie theater seats or compact cars. We did the song, learned about body parts and then came time to color the picture of a boy we had used for the body part lesson. A few kids came back and asked me to say the colors in English and then tried to teach me the word in Portuguese until Claudinei shooed them back to their seats. The kids kept calling me Tio Shawn when they wanted my attention which sounds like Chill Shawn to my hearing impaired ears. Tio means uncle and is used as a term of endearment or so Ana and Claudinei tells me. The street urchins in Sao Paulo call the same thing when they see my camera wanting me to give them money or take pictures of their dead fish in a bag they are trying to sell. Good times.

    The next class was loaded with 5th graders and I had no Justin Bieber questions with this group as they were more interested in dressing up as figures from Brazil Independence from Portugal which happens to be September 7th. The class was learning how to say times in English and somehow I got roped into this activity with Claudinei writing my times on the board next to what the kids had answered. I got some mumblings from them when I said that I usually get up at 10am and go to sleep at 1 in the morning. Perks of being an adult I guess and living abroad. 
    Luckily my last class of the day was filled with 6th graders, Justin Beiber cards and questions so I didn't completely escape without a justinbieber, justinbieber, justinbieber. I tried to explain that in 4 years even they wouldn't care about Justin Bieber anymore and probably will have totally lost interest in carrying a stack of overpriced playing cards of his face everywhere they went. The kids need backpacks just to carry their Justin Bieber trading cards alone which is probably true for American kids as well. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day of School

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition:

     Yesterday was my first day in school which meant that I had to set my first alarm to 6am to make sure that I was up at 6:30am (somehow that makes sense to me). Ana, still decked out in PJ's and eyes still half closed gave me a ride to school which is more or less in the middle of the Santos I think. Look I can't find shit when awake in Santos much less half asleep with no coffee.

The drive made me realize there are two kinds of "not morning people" in this world:
A: Grouchy and not really firing on all cylinders or
B: Zombies

     I am A Type, wake me up too early and I want to punch a kitten in the face and set an orphanage on fire. Ana is more B Type I realized as we floated down streets in bumper car traffic as if in some kind of trance. Her silver Peugeot getting close to the other silver and black cars but never touching them which is a testament to her driving skill. Ana decked out in sunglasses, uncombed hair and near conscious like state. Thinking back on it, all that was missing was a long thin cigarette thrust between her lips and an empty martini glass clutched in one hand and it would have been picture perfect.
     My arrival was well timed I got there with plenty of time to spare before the classes started to hook up with my connection Claudinei. Claudinei teaches grade school English which is a requirement at this Private School that I am attending. When I say "Private School" I don't mean something that requires ties and blazers so get that Ivy League motif out of your head. Think more along the lines of when Beaver Dam Baptist Church decided to started an educational program for kids K-8. Take that idea and squeeze all the Jesus Juice and Hellfire Sauce out of it and bump it up to K-Graduation and there you have it. Ana even told me that one private school was created by just a bunch of teachers that wanted to set there own rules and curriculum that is kind of neat, never happen in the States though without Jesus.
     So I was lead to the teachers lounge which just looked like a place that screamed for cigarette smoke even though it was proibido. I guess I was having a flashback to when I was a kid and walked past the lounge to see huge plumes of smoke coming up from teachers. Strange memories of Southern Elementary, all the Brazilian Teacher's Lounge needed was a an old green couch and a wall stocked full of Red Puke Sawdust and I would have felt right at home.
      Claudinei lead me to our first class which was a 6th grade class. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be maybe due to being so early in the morning or because it was something I really wanted to do. I remember the first time I walked into Sumitomo in 1994 and the only thought in my head was "GET OUT, GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE" which was also what my brain was telling me the first time I walked into DIACEL 14 years later. Don't get me wrong, I was nervous but not balls in stomach flat out run nervous.
     I was introduced to the first set of kids who were 6th graders. I sat down with a few kids that knew some English and so started the theme of the rest of my school day. Justin Beiber. It started out slow, just a trickle of  "Do you like Justin Beiber?" but this was only the first class and still early in the morning. The little girl next to me had a stack of playing cards that had photos of Pop Stars, mostly Justin Beiber but also Lady Gaga and more Justin Beiber.
     The second set of kids were definitely more awake and interested in my opinions of all things "Justin Beiber" and "Hannah Montana" related. Actually it would start out with "What's your name?" being asked about five or six times even though Claudinei just told them five minutes ago but Shawn for some reason isn't an easy name to say in Brazil and it usually turns into John. Ana's mom Mara called me Johnny for the longest time. The name and where I from questions wouldn't last long and it would all fall apart into "justinbeiber, justinbeiber, justinbeiber,justinbeiber...." until Claudinei would break it up.
     I should point out that in Brazil that English class is a little looser and freer than any classes in the States, the kids are always jumping up and wondering around the room. Constantly sharpening pencils and throwing something away, way different than the US. The work load seemed to be about the same but I haven't been in grade school for years. I was thinking back to all the mean spirited teachers from my elementary school and thought half these kids would have been flogged to death by now for half of what they were doing.
     The kids were doing a lesson with words that were positive, neutral or negative such as Super, Awful, Rubbish, Cool and OK. Then there was a lesson afterwards where you had to make a sentence with a list of actors and musicians using the words from the previous exercise. Claudinei made the mistake of saying you can work in groups or with a partner, guessed what happened. If you said 25 kids rushed over to my corner to be my partner in this assignment you would be right. I was also asked about Justin Beiber during this mad rush to my corner of the room a few times plus which was my favorite soccer team.
     Let's just get that straight now, the girls would all ask about justinbeiber and the boys would as about soccer. Santos, great soccer team or the greatest. I know about as much about soccer as I do about the stock market or poker. I know some of the rules and what is involved but I am lost when it comes down to the fine details.
     This went on until the last class which was a 4th grade class when I basically made the statement at the beginning that no I didn't like Justin Beiber. Then some little girl looked at me from her seat with big eyes behind glasses and asked what I thought about Hannah the fate of her enitre life depended on my correct answer to this most important of all questions. I said "no, not really" and failed the test crushing her hopes and dreams of finding an American that liked Hannah Montana. So you would have thought from the reaction I got but it did stop the questions. I might add that all the boys in the class whooped in approval when I said no which scares me to think that somehow I am still an 8 year old boy. It isn't that I don't like these corporate made musicians it is just that I have seen them before, I remember when Justin Beiber was an entire band called "New Kids on The Block" and Hannah Montana was called "Tiffany" or "Debbie Gibson". Sorry kids, been there done that way before you were even an itch in your parents genitals.

     Left at 12 with all the kids, kids go to school from 7:30 to 12 here and that is there day and yet they still cram everything in somehow. I saw one kids report card and it was loaded just like ours are, but they get it all done in 4 and a half hours. History, Math, Portuguese, English, Spanish, Geography, Art and Computers and these kids are already learning about finding percentages and Pi in math class. I think we were still counting in 6th grade when I left.
     Ana was late picking me up but she was awake and made up, no cigarette or martini glass in this part of the day nothing but sun, beauty and smiles. Went to lunch, said the word "Chaka*" about a million times to annoy Ana mostly for being late and also because it amused me to no end. We went to a cake place so she could decide on a birthday cake for Friday night then back to school for my one on one lessons with Claudinei. Learned numbers and days of the week and the months and wouldn't you know it on the elevator down I got a homework assignment. I have to write all the numbers up to 100 on paper in Portuguese that is what I get for annoying Ana.

     Other good news is for Sam, I finally found a group of girls that is interested in Pop culture as much as you are maybe even more so. Bad news is they are all under 12.

*watch Land of the Lost and it will make more sense

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School

A Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

Ana and I went to a Private High School this morning, some friends of her family own and operate, trying to see if she could enroll me into some classes as either an American abroad or failing that as her mongoloid son. It was a good meeting in which I understood little to nothing of what was being said but that isn't so unusual for me. So I am going....
They have paired me up with the English teacher named Claudinea, I am going to be his assistant from America if you can believe that. It is going to be a wild ride that much is for sure. I guess it will work out  the kids will talk to me and I will talk to them hopefully the language will stick in the brain somehow. Lucky for the kids I am from the South which means I talk slow as hell. Unfortunately for me I am sure all these kids will talk fast, that teamed up with my hearing loss from working in factories will make things rougher for me. 
It is going to be interesting to say the least. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Summer Cold from Kentucky

Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

     My first few days so far in Brazil have been trying to get reacquainted with everything and also trying to shake this summer cold that has been with me the day before I left the states. Sleep with the window open one night and pay the consequences for the next damn week. I imagine it was brought on also by stress and being generally run down from painting a 12 hour day for two days.
    So I've been cooped up in the house for the most part, trying to get better. I have finally gotten passed the sore throat and sinus drainage phase and the coughing is now down to a few in the morning but still what a miserable way to start things off so far. That and I couldn't lay a big smooch on my girlfriend after I cleared customs because of germs, not that it mattered seeing that my girlfriend wasn't even at the airport when I cleared the gate.
     I can't complain, she did show up eventually which is a good thing because I had know idea where to find the airport bus that goes to Santos. They would have lost me at oi. I cannot explain the joy it was to see her again after 8 months but I don't think I could properly explain myself due to sleep deprivation, Dramamine overdose and having my spine temporarily realigned thanks to the plane seats. Also the fact that the Chili's burger and fries that I ate the night before had caused such a painful bloating that my stomach, much like the Grinch's heart, had grown three times it's normal size. Not exactly the most attractive way to greet your girlfriend obviously.

    We left the airport after Ana had a coffee and hit the road through Sao Paulo, down the hill towards Santos. Well, I guess hit isn't exactly the right word, we lurched because of the Saturday morning traffic but we were moving, ever slowly to Santos, BBQ,  Bohemia beer and a big soft mattress to sleep for 10 hours upon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hola, Adeus, I´m Back Again.

 Hillbilly in Brazil Edition

Friends and enemies ask me if I was scared to be flying to Brazil again. My reply was that only two things bothered me about my flight, Sam driving me to the airport and getting my huge camera/computer backpack through security. The first part of that is rather easy to explain, Sam is probably one of the worst drivers I know. He doesn´t wear a seatbelt, I don´t really think he can see very well because of the long hair in his face and he tends to drive his car like a cruise ship. Bobbing and swerving over the lines, never a gradual stop or acceleration always blast of one or the other. All I can say is that Sam is a lot better than he used to be, back in the days when he would pull out in front of Log trucks or hit cars and not even know about it until the cops pulled him over.
Turns out I shouldn't have worried about Sam´s driving, he got me there in one piece and I was only terrified once or twice during the entire trip which is about the normal times I get terrified driving down I-65. As for my carry-on bag I shouldn't have worried because some people were trying to take pianos on-board.
 I have to say that I enjoyed the Houston airport a lot more this time when I didn't have to knock old ladies over and jog/run all the way across the airport to get to the International Terminal. Struggling for breath and handing over my passport and ticket like a madman which I am sure they are used to seeing. This time I had a four hour layover affording me enough time to eat at Chili's Too and have what looked like a barrel of beer with a handle.
I had high hopes that the beer mixed with the dramamine would effectively knock me out for the nine hour flight to Sao Paulo but it had little or no effect at all. Obviously hard alcohol will have to be tried on the return flight. It is a delicate procedure, you don't won't to show up completely zonked out of your head, the days are over where they will just push you onto the plane and slam the door shut. Now they took you to a dark room with no windows and a metal desk and ask you questions while you shiver in the nude under a light. So I am told.

Most of the plane ride down to Brazil is a blur, I remember being excited that I could watch Iron Man 2 for the inflight movie but like most things the cover was misleading. My choices were a Jennifer Lopez movie in which she gets knocked up, has a dog that was in a wheelchair and about ten different CSI's. I didn't watch any of these though I caught glimpses of other people watching it. The scene were the crippled dog eats J Lo's pregnancy test and she returns to find it in the brownest wettest shit ever told me all I ever needed to know about this movie. Romantic Comedy huh. I have to say I am not a woman but I think anytime a shit joke is used in a movie that it should automatically be disqualified from being Romantic.
CSI just looks like bullshit to me, complete and utter bullshit. Some guy in a lab coat solves a murder in 24 hours, get the fuck out of here, I don't care how brooding David Caruso looks it ain't going to happen.

Sleeping on a plane is about damn impossible unless you can afford to get first class in which you rest on bed made of chocolate feathers and are served champagne by young trim fit stewardesses. Back in economy (aka coach aka third class, you know the people that drowned on the Titanic) your seat is upright or slightly upright and the one feather in your pillow doesn't really give much in the way to comfort. I slept in ten minutes shifts, I think I got about 4 hours all in all if you add them all together.

Landed in Sao Paulo, handed over all my documents and got stamped the quickly ran to take the longest piss in history or my history. Sometimes you just have to say the hell with the fucking luggage and hope it will still be spinning on the thing while you drain a few liters out of your bladder. I have no fear of pissing on airplanes but the woman sitting next to me seemed so peaceful that I didn't want to wake her while in flight. Damn stupid southern gentlemen crap, if I had been born a Yankee I could have woke her with either my ass or crotch in here face while I hurled ineffective "excuse me's" behind me as I pushed people out of the way to the air pisser.

But noooooooooooooooooooo!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eastbound and Up (On The Road to NYC)

      Ana and I awoke late in DC as usual, like I said in the previous blogs the Brazilian Sleeping Sickness is a bitch. After drinking free coffee, brushing teeth and frantically shoving clothing into bags, making sure we hadn't forgotten anything we drug our overloaded Steamer Trunk downstairs in time to wait in line to check out. Unfortunately for us a boatload of Europeans had landed in the lobby, all wanting to stay at the Days Inn, Washington DC. All twenty were jabbering and frothing to get their rooms at 8 in the morning and we were trying to get the the hell out of the place. Our bus to New York City wouldn't wait forever and the tickets were non-refundable.
     You see Ana found this bus service called MEGABUS that has trips between DC and NYC for $1 if you book enough in advance. Of course I didn't book enough in advance so our tickets combined cost a whopping $26 but still we didn't want to miss our cheap bus. So after waiting for the Euro to get out of the way, I handed in our flimsy plastic hotel cards, signed a few forms and off we hustled to the Metro Station with no working escalator, thump, thump went the 600lb bags. The Metro doesn't run as often on weekends and I cannot complain about that because walk into any state Capital or City Hall on a Sunday and you might see two people farting around and both of those people are probably hungover trying to find their car.
     We made it a few letters from our street which was H and we ran two blocks to get to the bus in time. I remember dragging those heavy bags toward the parking lot where the bus was to be waiting for us. We rounded a corner and saw two or three buses loading passengers but only one had the HUGE Megabus sign. I handed our IDs and Tickets to a man with a clipboard who checked our names off, placed a tag on our bags and tossed them to Isaac Hayes who placed them in the back of the bus. Ana and I clambered upstairs to the top of the double decker bus and got situated, Ana wondered if she had time to go and get something to eat or a coke but it wasn't five minutes after she said this that the bus lumbered to life and started moving out of Washington DC and toward The Big Apple.

      After calming down from our mad sprint which I would find out later would become a theme throughout our DC-NYC-Boston trip, we sat back and enjoyed the A/C. There really wasn't anything else to do for the 4 1/2 hours other than to gawk out the windows. To tell you the truth, I was like a kid in a candy store because I had never been this far into the northeast before in my life. Luckily this was a double decker bus so instead of looking out the window and seeing the side of an 18 wheeler I could see over trucks for the most part. I took this time to clean my camera lens and rubberneck and Ana tried to sleep off her sleeping sickness that and she did take an allergy pill and those make her drowsy. I wish I had her ability to sleep in a moving vehicle of that I am envious except when she is driving.
    A few times the bus stopped to pick up more passengers, the only stop that I remember clearly is Baltimore in a Mall parking lot.. The bus got to the stop and a few people loaded on with their baggage and tickets ready. After sitting there for at least 15 minutes this silver VW Station Wagon pulled up and just as a boy with a NY University tshirt and his father got out of the car the bus started moving. The look on the fathers face was priceless to say the least, with his hands raising over his head and what I can only assume were the words "What the hell" as he watched the bus slowly crawl away, stranding him with his son for a few more hours until the next bus. If there is one thing I have learned with these trips with Ana is that you shouldn't be ashamed to run after your transportation, unless of course it is a NYC Subway then you should just give up.
    We reached New Jersey and I think it can best be summed up by a George Carling quote "You can't back out of your driveway without some prick in a vest wants fifty cents" and "You can't get good gas mileage in New Jersey cause you are a constant state of slowing down". It is hard to judge a state while you are on the road though and most of what I know about the state comes in the form of Springsteen and The Soprano's. Still, it looked nice out the window.

      The Megabus pulled into a Gas Station/Rest Stop in New Jersey about 2 hours from NYC and I thought we were picking up more people. I was halfway right, we were making a personal stop for the bus driver, I will explain. The best way I could and will describe our bus driver is imagine if Barry White and Isaac Hayes had a LOVE CHILD. Unfortunately he didn't take on much of either parents award winning personality. In fairness, I imagine his attitude was brought on with dealing with the public and bad drivers all day plus a bad case of hemorrhoids. That combination would make anyone a little bit grouchy. So Barry Hayes walks up to the second floor of the bus counting as he is walking along the aisle telling people to stay in their seats and if you have ever been in a plane you probably know how many times he had to say that to get that point across. (This being Isaac White though it took about 3 times, if he had been a little white female stewardess it would have taken 150). Mr. Whitehayes starts telling us that this isn't a scheduled stop but a personal stop, he is going to park the bus here for 15 minutes and when those 15 minutes are up the bus is going to be leaving with or without all the passengers. Everyone busts ass to take a piss and buy a coke from the gas station getting back in time for Mr Whitehayes to smoke a cigarette, make his count, straighten his Kangol. The Megabus slouches toward NYC.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Beer Garden???

    I went to the International BBQ Festival 2010 last night in Owensboro after watching Iron Man 2 for shits and giggles. All I can say is I don't remember it sucking this bad 6 years ago. I don't know, maybe it was the missing Big E Hotel or the fact that they are still working on extending the Riverwalk an extra 100 feet but it just wasn't the same. Also I don't think I have seen so many Cops in one place in all my life, even Mardi Gras didn't have this many cops walking around the French Quarter in 2000. I think it was at least 10-20 policemen walking around at the BBQ Fest ready at a moments notice to walk around even more. I guess if a riot broke out or the terrorist struck then we'd have lots of armed cops around us frantically trying to get that one bullet out of their front pocket. I saw a few firemen as well but you know, I'm down with Firemen for that whole EMT training that they all have. Let's face it, you have a bunch of fat fucks, add unhealthy food and lots of walking and you have the recipe for that stomach ache that starts in your left arm and moves to your chest filling like an elephant is standing on it.  I have to say the worst part of the entire ordeal was the sham of a beer garden.
     So you go to the Beer Garden, give the guy your ID, then you walk past and give the girl a $1 and she wraps a bracelet on you certifying that you are indeed over 21. Then you walk all the way to the other side to buy beer tickets, the will insure you that you can get a beer, they cost $3. Then you walk back from which you came to the beer tent to trade your ticket in for a beer. If you leave the area you have to pay another $1 to get back into the Garden. I had one, then after I left I went to J's Liquor and bought a sixer of Dos Equis for $8 or 2 trips to the Beer Garden. Screw your Lameness Beer Garden. You see, sometimes the Private Market does work a lot better than something that is ran by the Government. Now that I look back on the night, I wish I had gone down 2nd and grabbed the little twerp Tea Party Protester with his tri-cornered hat and stupid placard and carried him down to the Beer Garden to really protest Government Inadequacy. I'm sure he wouldn't have grasped the concepts I would have laid on him but still, maybe I could convince him of how communist the beer garden concept really was, employing 4 people to do the job of one really good bartender. Then again, anyone standing in the middle of the street with a hat that hasn't been in fashion for over 200 years who isn't selling Captain Morgans Rum probably should be given a wide berth. 
    I understand that we must protect our kids from the evils of alcohol at every step but having to go through 4 people for one beverage is just plain ridiculous. Compounded by the fact that the Beer Garden was also part of the enclosed area that houses a band stand with a nice local band on stage with all their amps set to 11 made it even more unbearable. What happened to the days of just sitting on a picnic table drinking a beer with just the sun shining on you while kids looked at you funny for sitting in a roped off area. Now you have to be forced to go deaf just cause you want a beer. Besides, I'm 34 years old, I've been to New Orleans and Brazil, the novelty of drinking a beer outside in public wore off a long time ago. Not to mention the fact that a short drive up the Ohio River you can go to a number of bars in Evansville all with outside patios and one person to bring you the beer. 
     Maybe I'm just complaining cause I was alone and didn't have my GF with me to make things more entertaining, I don't know. 

Round and Round

Barter Town

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 3 in DC: Dupont Circle and the Giant Ivory Penis

Woke up at 7am and snuck (sneaked) out of the hotel to get Ana something for breakfast while she slept or recovered from her coma. This feat is made easier by the fact that Ana can sleep through just about any form of noise, vigorous shaking or light show. I imagine a cartoon figured brass band running in front of her hotel bed wouldn't illicit much more than a snort and maybe, possibly a roll over in response. Brazilian Sleeping Sickness is no laughing matter, it affects 100% of the Ana's I know.
I got on the Metro to Dupont Circle where we had breakfast the previous day at Firehook Bakery. I bought us a croissant and a blueberry muffin each and hooked a ride back to the Days Inn. Grabbing some coffee in the lobby, shook start my girlfriend into an almost upright position and got ready for our tour of the Washington Monument. We were already late but early birds are nerds and if I have learned anything about US being together is we love to chase down an appointment.. It didn't help matters that the Metro obviously doesn't run full out on weekends so instead of the reliable 2 or 3 minutes between cars was now 5-7 minutes. Also the Metro really doesn't dump you in the middle of The National Mall but rather 6 miles from Washington Monument. That isn't a complaint, just an observation plus I understand not wanting a huge subway entrance in the middle of the National Mall.
Our closest stop was the Smithsonian which we exited after running around a bunch of yokels having problems figuring out the Metro turnstiles and getting their dimwitted kids together. Then getting on the escalator and the fatass that just stands on the right side, oh I'm so tired from sitting on the Metro now I just have to stand and block the walking lane and rest. Dammit can't you people see that I have 10:30 tickets to the Damn Washington Monument and it is already 10:20, get the fuck out of the way. Walking as fast as we could, 10:30 tickets in hand we raced toward the Washington Monument past crowds of tourist, joggers and Walk Against Lupus walkers to arrive with moments to spare. By moments I mean we got there on time but there was another 200 people who had also got there on time without having to run 2 miles.

     Entering anything in DC requires dumping your pockets and taking off your coat and backpack, learn it, accept it, deal with it this is life after 9-11 and some assholes would blow up the world if they could. After a few days of this and traveling on airplanes I have learned that everything I own is made of metal. I myself might be made of metal. We rode up to the top with a Japanese Family and got the view for which this thing was intended.

I will let the photos speak for themselves, the view was outstanding though.

     After we got back to the ground, I decided to find a post office to mail the 100 some odd post cards that I had and Ana decided to sit in the Mall and rest her ankles. I went to the one Post Office that I saw first hand at Union Station and it was closed, closing or in some state of being closed. So another ten stops down the line I went to the other post office that I knew about, the one near the hotel. By near I mean at least 15 blocks but I found it, stood in line with the guy trying to ship jagged broken glass with a paper bag and baling string and got my damn post cards out to those who needed them. Soon to adorn the refrigerators and trashcans of friends and loved ones.
    I got back to Ana and we cruised the Mall and Museums finally getting to see a Pollock and a few Rothkos at the National Art Gallery. Finally a Pollock. That was certainly a highlight of the trip other than to visit or see the Capital of the United States of America but to also see two Pollocks up close. 

     Afterwards we walked back toward the Lincoln Memorial and on around to see the Thomas Jefferson as well. I have to say one thing about DC, everything is spaced out very, very, very well.

     It tooks us 18 hours to walk all the way around from The National Art Gallery, to The Air and Space Museum on down to the Lincoln Memorial around to see Franklin D Roosevelt and finally good ol' Tommy J's place. (Thomas Jefferson's head was full of cobwebs). 
     After that 22 miles of hiking we were definitely hungry so we lurched toward the Subway to Dupont Circle yet again. Where we paced up and down streets trying to decide what we wanted to eat that night, Chinese, Indian or Italian. Finally after much indecision we settled on an Italian Restaurant mainly because we were to tired to go any further. All I can say was the food was great, unfortunately it took us about 40 minutes to get the food or drinks for that matter. I wish I could say that our waiter was so busy or we weren't posh enough for the restaurant but actually neither of those things are true.  Or waiter came by and refilled our neighbors on both sides of us about 120 times while we sat there chewing on the menus from hunger. It wasn't our dress, we were surrounded by jeans and tshirts. It was almost absurd, our waiter would go to the table next to us with all the 50 somethings and then walk all the way around our table to wait on some Yuppies. This was made even better when the 50-ish couples next to us started talking about crime and dirty cities and the one smug old man started bad mouthing Brazil.
     Finally we got the bread guys attention long enough for him to send someone over with a piece of paper to take our orders. Then we finally got someone to get us some more to drink after setting fire to the napkins and waving them over our heads. The best thing after we got the bill which was the third time that our waiter came to our table and I gave him a $50 for the $35 dollar meal he wanted to know if I needed change back. Yes I said, I want some change back. Actually I wanted all my change back and I got it all. I'm not a mean person, I know waiters, cooks and busboys do hard work and I always try to leave as much as I can. Even when I was broke and eating mustard and saltines through the week I always tried to leave the bartender something. This guy got nothing and I don't feel a bit bad about it, I might be a hillbilly but I still tip when treated decent.