Los Angeles, California Brazilian Wax

Stopped to get gas before returning my car at the airport. A guy walked up and tried to sell me two fat, shiny rings that I assume he purchased legitimately and then decided he didn’t really want them and then decided to sell them at a gas station.

At check-in, another guy told me he was $18 short for his plane ticket and asked if I could help him out.

Wow. Them’s balls!

I am left to wonder: if he’s $18 short of a ticket, where exactly is he going? And what’s he going to do with himself when he gets there?

I’m flying Virgin America; hands-down my favorite domesitc airline and the only one I know of with mood lighting in the cabins.

One more random plug: I donated an XO laptop for Christmas and unwittingly received a complimentary year of wireless service from T-Mobile. That means I have free wi-fi everywhere there’s a Starbucks, which as we all know is pretty much everywhere. Hot dog!

I’m down here to record music for the new video. We only recorded guitar and drums. I’m coming back in a couple weeks for strings, piano, and vocals, so this was sort of about laying the foundation.

We went back to Martinsound in Alhambra where we recorded the music two years ago.

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That’s Garry, the composer, eyeing me with bottled irritation. As the client, they’re all somewhat obliged to put up with me.

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Dan Blessinger on drums.

Dan engineered the 2006 video. He really wanted to play the drums on this one, so we gave him a shot. It turned out great.

I’ve been playing Rock Band for 6 months now, which means I’m pretty much an expert drummer. I didn’t want to steal his thunder, so I let him perform on the actual recording, but I taught him a thing or two between takes.

Next stop: Kevin Dukes’ house in Woodland Hills. Kevin played guitar on the 2006 video and the 2007 outtakes. We also recorded the outtakes at his house. He laid down the guitar in a very short time.

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The way Kevin works is to get all the existing tracks up on his Mac, then just play through the song adding licks as needed. He can add layer after layer of guitar and switch instantly between instruments, since his Variax can digitally reproduce the sound of pretty much anything that uses strings. It’s absurdly efficient.

Despite his obvious proficiency, I was able to share some important guitar-playing tips. For example, he had no idea how to achieve Star Power. He’d never even heard of it.

I am, once again, exhilarated by the experience of watching the video come together right in front of me. They put it up on the monitor while they were playing. It was a cut I’d only just thrown together the night before. I lined all the clips up to the beat of Garry’s demo, then let it render while I slept, so it was all new to me. Once the drums started crashing and booming and banging in all the right places, I was floating on air.

This is the first time I’ve really felt like this new video is better than the last one. It is it’s own beast. It’s probably less irreverent, but it packs more of a wallop. And that’s what I set out to do. I wanted to wallop.

And get this: I’m not even done yet. I’ve still got one more trip to go — albeit a highly abbreviated one.

Shortly after returning from the Middle East, I discovered, much to my surprise, that Brazil requires travelers to get a visa in advance of entry. I honestly just assumed we were buddies. Not so, apparently. Brazil has one of the most intensive and demanding application processes I’ve encountered. I had an easier time getting into Burma.

Here’s a thing: Brazil is the only country in the world that requires US citizens to pay for their visa with a postal money order. Oh, and it costs $140. I had to pay a whole lot more to get it expedited, more still to Passport Express to have them courier my passport into the D.C. embassy, more still to FedEx, and way way more when the embassy declined my application because I’ve run out of pages on my passport (the third time that’s happened — you’d think I’d have figured it out by now). I had to go through a whole separate expedited application process and have Passport Express pick up my passport, deliver it to the US Department of State for additional pages, then bring it back to the Brazilian embassy to try again.

Apparently it’s a reciprocity thing because we make it really difficult for Brazilians to get into the US. Now everyone gets to suffer.

So anyway, that cost me more than a week of traveling time in South/Central America. But cutting Brazil out of the video for logistical reasons wasn’t really an option. I’ve got about 500 emails from annoyed Brazilians wondering why a place so famous for its revelry has thus far been snubbed. The answer is because of their gigantic, hairy spiders, but I don’t dare tell them that.

Shhhh!

17 Responses to Los Angeles, California Brazilian Wax

  1. Artur

    Yeah, it’s pretty rough for us from Brazil to get to US, Matt. We need to set an appointment up with MONTHS in advance, then we have to wait in a humongous line at an american embassy for hours until we’re x-rayed completely, so they’re sure that we don’t hide bombs in our spine- don’t even think about bringing your PSP, no electronics allowed. Then we must wait a little more inside of a room decorated with “We Love Montana” posters – after we register our fingerprints, obviously – until we can meet a consular officer behind a bulletproof window to tell them we’re not terrorists.

    And yes, it takes about a week for them to mail your passport back to you.

    So, it’s quite complicated procedure to travel to U.S., believe me.

    ;P

    Hey, if you actually decide to come to northeast (Natal, especially) don’t forget to drop me a line, I can take you to the dunes! ;P Bem-vindo ao Brasil!

  2. Drew

    I have traveled to Brazil for business a few times from the US and the passport thing is a pain. The two countries just need to figure out how to be nicer to one another and stop their standoff about travelers.

    I use a passport/visa service exclusively in the US to avoid having to deal with the process – expensive but WELL worth the saved pain in my *&%&#.

    A nice thing about being in Brazil is that the time difference with most of the USA is almost nothing if you need to talk to folks at home.

    I also recommend if you want to bring gifts that a lot of branded products sell at crazy inflated prices in Brazil. Sony, Nike, etc. Sneakers in the US that are 80$ are double or more, etc. My co-workers that come from Brazil to the US bring empty suitcases to fill while they are in the states.

  3. Hey Matt it’s number 169 from the Montreal dance! 😛 Anyway, I’m loving all your blog entries!! This one is making me so eager to see video 3!! I really can’t wait!! Your description makes it sound fantastic!
    Brazil is so amazing, you’ll love it! Not sure where you are going but I’ve got friends in basically every city if you want some local company. Don’t go to Starbucks though!! Proper Brazilian coffee is SOOO nice!
    I never had visa issues since we are nice to them coming into Europe! Their logic is that you should complain to your local government about ways of treating Brazilian citizens and once they are treated nicer when they get there, they will do the same for your citizens. I think it’s a great system… but then again that might be because it doesn’t effect me with my Irish passport 😛 Keep in mind that annoyance is what a lot of people have to go through in visiting the states!! 😉
    Your blog is quality stuff! Always an excellent read; keep it up!
    Boa Viagem!!

  4. MATT HARDING WHAT IS WROOONG WITH YOU!
    I live in Mexico City and would give anything to go dance with you, i really admire you and you’ve inspired me to do some travelling of my own. The bad part… is that i came for a 10 day trip to cancun and i’m leaving for my 6 months euro trip the 25th of May. Too bad i wont be part of the video :( Have a great time in el zocalo.

    Cris.

  5. Willa

    If you had been a really nice guy you would have given the guy the $18 as a good will thing. It was only $18 for crying out loud—I guess that says something about you huh?

  6. Robert G the friendly brazilian

    have a fun time in Brazil! It’s a great country, and I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HAVEN’T VISITED IT YET. Be sure to get away from São Paulo and Rio, they are not representative of the real thing, although Rio is very photogenic.

  7. Hey Matt, congrats for implementing your ideas throw this website, its awesome man!!! I’m from Brazil and as you and someone said before, its reciprocity and sometimes we have to arrange the visa MONTHS in advance to go to the USA, it’s just crazy. But I’m here to encourage u to come! It may be the most difficult country to get a visa, but I’m sure it’s gonna be the most difficult to get out too, in a good way! You are gonna fall in love with the country! I’ve never been so many places like u, but I’ve been to 22 other countries and nothing is like Brazil! It’s such an energetic atmosphere, you will start dancing everywhere, I’m sure there will be many girls to teach u some samba! You will make the best dance videos ever! By the way, I live in Brasilia, right in the middle of the country, far away from the gorgeous beaches, but very near to many national parks and waterfalls! Don’t give up! Keep trying! NO PAIN NO GAIN!

    Cheers

  8. Sula

    So you’re finally coming to Brazil. It’s about time.

    Take care.

    P.S: spiders?????? Where the heck did you get that from?

  9. Bárbara Daher

    Hey Matt! It’s really cool that you wanna come to Brazil. I think you’re gonna love my country and it’s culture, but in order to really get to know it you gotta get out of Rio and Sao Paulo. I was born in Brasilia, and as said before, it’s a great city (don’t know if you know but it’s the capital of the coutry). I live in Goiânia, another great city, capital of it’s state, which, by the way, has these amazing old cities from the sixteenth century that carry so much of our culture (I believe you’re gonna love the food!) . So if you do come here, please visit my town, and I’ll be glad to show you around and dance with you!

  10. Rich

    Ah, another fun filled read. I can’t wait to see #3, but I check your site fairly often and I always enjoy reading your entries.

    I’m in Barcelona right now for work (I live in the U.S.), I was talking to a guy from Manchester today and he travels constantly for work. He tells me that the U.S. is a real pain to visit, for almost everyone.

    All I know is that it’s more work for me to get back into my own country than it is to go almost anywhere I’ve been. (other than working in Canada… they don’t like people coming in and stealing their work unless you have a REALLY good reason).

  11. Tiago

    you danced with a thought that evil in the bombonera in the game of football game Fluminense vs. Boca Juniors. Argentina
    I am sure?

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