Friday, August 14, 2009


Gerson dropped Grover and I off in downtown Gracie Barra last night (close to where Renzo Gracie used to own a restaraunt), and we walked around a little bit prior to spotting a place with live music. The line was short, and when we walked in, the band was tuning their instruments. We had a good feeling about the place, which was reinforced by the country music being played over the speakers:

Way down yonder in the Chattinoochee
Never realized what that muddy river meant to me
I learned how to swim, and I learned who I was
a lot about livin' and a little 'bout love

I asked a waiter in terrible Portuguese “What type of music they play” pointing to the band, and he responded, “Country.” We had found a country music bar in Rio! I’m not a huge fan, but I used to listen to Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., and the Dixie Chicks before they trashed our president in a foreign country and appeared naked on a magazine cover with names that had been called written all over their bodies as though they were somehow victims. I was born in St. Louis, so country music is inextricably linked to my DNA. I can no more disown my country music-listening, narrow-gene pooled, nascar-loving relatives than I can my hip, urbanite friends of Los Angeles.

Out of nowhere, cowboy hats appeared - this was getting better and better! I spotted two dudes grab their belts and kick out their heels like a two-stepping cowboy after herding cattle. Grover speculated this may be influenced by the gaucho culture of Argentina. We waited for the music to start, and drank draft beer (“Choppa”) until the waiting didn’t bother us. Then we waited some more until the waiting started bothering us again. The crowd grew larger and larger, and still we waited. I wondered to myself if the electric slide was considered a line dance.

After an hour or so, and getting increasingly antsy, I tried to ask an enthusiastic young woman next to us “When music begin” in caveman Portuguese. She responded by asking me if I spoke Spanish, and so I switched to “Cro-Magnon” Espanol. From what I gathered, the band would begin playing when the place was full and all the VIPs had arrived. So Grover and I continued to wait, swapping stories of our other trips overseas, and trying to make the best of the situation.

After the second hour, I looked over, and noticed liquid streaming down Grover’s face, and realized that I had liquid running down my own face like a faucet. When I saw that it was coming from our eyes, I realized that we were literally bored to tears. My back was sore from standing, and we continued to drink Choppa long after the beer was doing nothing for us other than contributing to a hangover the next day. We challenged each other to freestyle rap. We took turns elbowing our way to the bathroom. (Incidentally, it is perfectly OK in Rio, when in a crowd and needing to get by a woman, to put your arm around her like a sideways hug indicating your intention to squeeze by.)

We stood and waited for nearly FOUR hours until the place would have been shut down due to fire code violations in the United States. The last couple of hours they stopped playing US and Portuguese country songs, and resumed playing the same five or six songs in a row that everyone knew the words to, and everyone clapped in time to, and raised their hands in the air at the same time to, which was a great cultural experience the first few cycles, but soon became overbearing. Every hour, someone would say “Prontos?” ("ready?") into the microphone.

“I’ve been prontos for hours,” I grumbled to Grover.

The band finally took the stage and....and....and....started playing those SAME STUPID PORTUGUESE SONGS WE HAD BEEN LISTENING TO FOR THE PAST TWO HOURS!!!!!! The crowd loved it, but Grover and I were about ready to draw straws to determine who would go last in the murder-suicide that would put us out of our misery.

As the band was not catering to our specific cultural ideals of what constitutes “good music,” we left after three songs, pressing through a thick crowd of people. I was briefly separated from Grover. Two women were yelling in my ear to continue moving forward. I looked ahead and saw an impenetrable wall of human beings packed like Japanese businessmen in subways. I felt a surge of pressure from behind, and somehow my body was being squeezing through people like a jutting rock in between two tectonic plates. I felt something cold in my swimsuit area. I looked over, and a women had spilled her drink down my back. Grover, towering over everyone, yelled at me to press forward. We finally found our way to the front, used our card to pay for our drinks, and made our way through the crowd of people waiting in line to get in.

We were a little giddy to have left with our sanity intact, and stopped by a Portuguese Roach Coach, an electric grill in the back of a minivan, that happened to have a bumper sticker affixed to their window, and ordered a couple of cheeseburgers. We talked to the couple selling food, and the older guy running the roach coach was from a Gracie Barra jiu jitsu school, which goes to show you that even if their music sucks, the Cariocas (residents of Rio) culture is not completely worthless.

We made our way back to the apartment, and slept through the early class the next day, waking only for the arrival of Chimmy, who trained with Spider Guard immediately upon arriving. After class, we put Chimmy down for a nap, and he fell fast asleep clutching a teddy bear under his arm.

Tonight, I look forward to sweating out this hangover at the academy, and trying not to get pwned by Rio for a second night in a row.

The King has spoken.

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