mexico city basilica

Radioactive Summer Part 2: The First 24 Hours in Mexico City

With a wild 36 hours behind the band in one of the most eclectic cities I had ever been to in Northern America, the Rays of Electromagnetic Radiation were on our way to Mexico City to continue our first international tour.

Our first set of experiences in Mexico were unforgettable as I could not shake the sense of shock, dehydration, and smell of hooker pussy from my system while we stood in various lines throughout the airport located in the first international city I had ever been to.

We arrived at the airport in Guadalajara sometime in the morning to catch a connecting flight to Mexico City. After landing and grabbing our bags and instruments from the baggage-claim, we were greeted by a smile, an animated wave, and sign with our band’s name on it from the guy that would be our host while staying and playing there.

His name was Max.

It was a sweet gesture, accompanied with a ride in the form of a small, red, hatchback sedan meant to fit one professional adult and his or her briefcase, not a group of five greasy men including their luggage, small personal bags, and no truncated amount of body odor.

I was excited to get to our gracious host’s house to unload, stretch my legs and catch some shuteye before our show that night, as we had gone out all night again prior to our morning flight out of Tijuana.

Instead, we headed straight to the venue, tightly crammed into Max’s sedan like a pre-smoked pack of hot dogs that would be found on the floors of some Upton Sinclair jungle trophic level. All but our host had not stunk with some kind of the iniquitous perfumes from the previous two nights.

Or maybe he did and all of us were so perceptively narcissistic and incoherent that we did not know the difference.

Max did not give off that vibe though. With the little English he spoke, those who had not met him before (X had gone to Mexico City the year before on a different tour) could tell he was a genuine cat that was excited to be hosting our band and facilitating this for the little hardcore scene we were expecting to play in front of.

Even though I was tired, I was still ecstatic to be in this new city, for it was another place I had never been to and another geographical thumbtack driven into the mental bulletin board map of North America, where we would be going throughout this tour.

But, there were three distinct things I would notice immediately when entering streets of Mexico City: fragmented infrastructure, political propaganda, and packs of stray dogs.

I first noticed the poor infrastructure as we were driving up to what I thought would be our venue; cracks along roads and sidewalks as the steepness of our ascent increased along with the curves we were maneuvering throughout to get to our destination.

In addition to the conditions of the fractured asphalt we were driving along, there were advertisements for political officials. We were told that there was some kind of big election happening at the time, but that is all that was discussed about whom exactly were running and the type of platforms these officials were running on.

“These fuckers made us so scared over the swine flu that they quarantined the city for a day in order to keep residents safe,” Max informed us with the last portion of the sentence said with an inflection of sarcasm. “The next day, there were all these fucking political posters everywhere. Like they did it all while telling us all to stay in our houses.”

The packs of stray dogs surprised me the most though. Again, I was a naïve part-time student at a community college with little wisdom of the outside world, let alone the difference in how other organisms survived within the different ecosystems that are presented before them.

Dogs are fetishized in America; people buy shoes, outfits, and strollers for them and sexually exploit them in order to sell them off in the hopes that their dog (or dog’s lineage) will star in a commercial or compete in some national championship due to its superior genetics.

But these dogs, these packs of dogs of Mexico City did not give a fuck. They were roaming the streets straight surviving.

And while they were not being fed and cared for by some suburban family in the states, they were also not tied up to some tree in a backyard neglected or stuck in some kennel because an owner did not understand the full responsibility of a dog when buying it for its superior genetics.

We finally came to a stop. To my surprise though, we stopped in front of a house inhabited with various groups of people roughly around the same age we all were. Most were obliged to offer us whatever they were sipping on while shaking hands and pounding fists while we walked through the space where a front door would be and shown to our room where we could put our stuff.

For the sake of packing lightly while flying, we all only traveled with our instruments and a few changes of clothes with the assumption that amplifiers and P.A. systems would be provided for us at each of the venues. But, this was not a venue. This was a house that was owned by the government and taken over by squatters and various groups comprised of squatter acquaintances, punk rockers, scene kids, and young professionals like Max that liked to get away and be part of something bigger than a reified human commodity (like the rest of us were trying to do).

The room that we were able to store all of our stuff in had a beat-up couch and a mattress with just a box-frame underneath it furnished with blankets and pillows in it and was occupied by a couple.

“You can take a nap there if you want,” the man said as he pointed to the couch.

Being the hypochondriac I was, I barely wanted to sit down there and most certainly did not want to lay my head down and count sheep in a piece of furniture that had more holes than a Tijuana prostitute.

The rest of the group were happy to join in the festivities with some of the other occupants though as we were all continually offered communal drinks wrapped in paper bags and being passed around from one person to another.

One of these individuals was a guy the group called Sully because he looked like the blue monster, James P. Sullivan, in Disney and Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”  And no, not like the actor John Goodman who did the voice for the character of Sully and starred in other classics like “The Big Lebowski” and “Roseanne,” but the animated blue furry monster from the movie.

Having been a fan of that movie and watching it countless times as it repeatedly played on a display TV in front of the cash registers at the local Piggly-Wiggly I had worked at in high-school, I can attest that that dude did in fact look like Sully from that Monsters, Inc.

With Sully and a couple other individuals including Max (our ride), we drove up the road a little bit from where the house/venue was located to grab some tacos before the big show. I remember ordering 12 tacos and a couple of cokes; it was one of the best meals of my life as the service was incredibly hospitable and the conversations had among the band and our new group of friends were both robust and rambunctious in this little home-turned-restaurant.

It was nice to get a little energy before heading back to the squatter’s house/venue and do an interview and play the show. Albeit delicious, the food also acted as an enzymatic digestive catalyst through my system triggering some kind of diarrheal revenge not named Montezuma though.

I ran to the roof of the house to where I was told the bathroom was located. On top of this house, there was a deck with a small gazebo equipped with an awning that provided shade. Underneath the awning was a sectioned-off space in which a toilet laid in the middle.

The gazebo was more of a triangle with two legs that lacked a base and the only privacy could have come in the form of pop-up hospital barricades. But two of these barricades were resting against the walls of the gazebo or the legs of the triangle, and the other one was pointing out perpendicularly from what would be the base negating any privacy that could be obtained had it been on the other side of the toilet.

So even if I had tucked in that base barricade, someone could easily walk up to use the bathroom and all rock star mystique would vanish.

When I reached the mirage that was a toilet, I was punched in the face with the realization that not only was the toilet not serviced with any kind of running water. The trash can that was usually sat at the side of toilets for refuse ultimately became the toilet as shit and piss smeared toilet paper towered over the toilet in the form of a pyramid leaving small bits of porcelain visible to simply let me know that a toilet was there. I would have had to find a small ladder somewhere near by in order to comfortably defecate over the tall pile of human pollution.

So I did what any other respectable hypochondriac would do and puckered my butt-hole until I had succumbed to some kind of self-induced radioactive rectal toxicity. I was also able to meditate myself into thinking that I could comfortably be able to go about myself the rest of the unforeseeable future there, at a squatter’s house, with no running water and no toilet to use.

Finally, sunset fell over the city’s topography and more and more people began to gather inside the confines of this governmentally owned and publicly used house.

As mentioned before, we only brought our instruments with the thought that amps and microphones would be provided for us. We were wrong in thinking that there would be an amp and a microphone for each of us as we had numerous electrical instruments to plug in and “some super tasty” vocal harmonies that required more than one microphone.

However, we had one microphone and two instruments plugged into one amp, one other amp, and a drum set. And even though some instruments, like the bass and/or the quasi-tasteful and most likely crackling vocal harmonies, could not be heard, the people at the show did not give a fuck and loved it.

The crowd was going crazy in what should have been a living room with a beautiful view of the city, and all I can remember is catching quick glimpses of the view among the flying bodies; and stench of beer and conviviality. They were screaming inaudible lyrics with me into the one microphone even though they were primarily just spitting in my face and yelling onamonapias in my direction.

During the set, it made me associate our group of as one of those packs of wild dogs: conceptually gullible, intellectually incremental, proprietarily permeable, and socially durable, while experiencing this new city and new surroundings offering peace and hoping for acceptance and scraps. Max was nice enough to do so. He set up our first show there, let us into his social pack(s), and introduced us to things ubiquitous to that of the Mexico City hardcore scene.

Following the show, we were all sweaty, smelly, tired, and glad to hear that we would not be spending the night there. Instead, Max took us to his pad where we would meet his mother, sister, individual beds, and a private bathroom with running water.

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