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The Helicopter Brothers and Other Madness, Chapter 7 from 'Pushups in the Prayer Room'

The Helicopter Brothers and Other Madness, Chapter 7 from 'Pushups in the Prayer Room'

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Published by Norm Schriever
The Helicopter Brothers and Other Madness, from 'Pushups in the Prayer Room; reflections from a year backpacking around the world.' by Norm Schriever. This book has been called wild, crazy, dangerous, sexy, irreverent, pee-your-pants funny, and enlightening and has a 5 star rating on Amazon! Check it out at www.NormSchriever.com and I'd love to hear your feedback, so email me at hi@NormSchriever.com
The Helicopter Brothers and Other Madness, from 'Pushups in the Prayer Room; reflections from a year backpacking around the world.' by Norm Schriever. This book has been called wild, crazy, dangerous, sexy, irreverent, pee-your-pants funny, and enlightening and has a 5 star rating on Amazon! Check it out at www.NormSchriever.com and I'd love to hear your feedback, so email me at hi@NormSchriever.com

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Published by: Norm Schriever on Apr 04, 2012
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01/22/2013

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TheHelicopterBrothersandOtherMadness,Chapter7from'PushupsinthePrayerRoom'Whenyou
’re
travelingaroundtheworldyouseesomestrangethingsandmeetsomestrangepeople.Thereisno“normal,”nosafeplaceforyourpsychetoperchandtakearest,sosoonitallbecomesachaoticblur.Afterawhile,youstartquestioningifyou
’re
goingmadoriftherestoftheworldis.Ialwayswrote—furiouslytryingtodocumentthesnippetsofcon-versationsandminutiaethatreallymadetheexperiencesgrandbeforethemomentsfadedandwerelostforever.IboughtanynotebookIcouldfind,oftendesignedfora10-year-oldwithHelloKittyorRickyMartinonthecover,andwhenthosewerefilledfrontandbackIscribbledonhotelnotepads,napkins,barcoasters,andmatchbookcovers.Iwrotesittingonmybedinmyhotelroom,duringlongwaitsinairports,thenonplanerides,inbusstations,andundertreesbythebasketballcourtwhenitrained.Iwroteinbarsandstripjoints,withoneeyeonthefrontdoor,andtherewasbeerandbloodspilledonmorethanonepage.Stilltothisday,IneedenergyandstimulationwhenIwrite—IdobetterinthemiddleofchaoswithhotmusicplayingthanIdoinasilentroomataboringdesk.BythetimeIreturnedtotheStates,Ihadfilledsevennotebookscovertocover—morethan1,000pagesinall.Tenyearslater,IreadthroughthesenotebooksandI
’m
amazed,notbecausethewritingisgood,becauseit
’s
notparticularly—it
’s
crude71PushupsinthePrayerRoomandchoppy,liketherushedconfessionsofaprisonerwho
’s
goingtothegallowsinthemorning—butbythepaceofthecrazyexperiencesthatwerehappeningtous,andhowthebizarreanddangerousjustseemednormalafterawhile.SoIwantedtoshareasmallcollectionofthesejournalentriesfromCentralandSouthAmericawithyou,withoutdressingthemuporcraftingaproperstoryaroundthem,soyoucanreallyfeelwhatitwasliketobeintheheatofbattle.TheFavelasRiodeJaneiro,BrazilShaneandItookatourthroughRiodrivingaroundwithaguyfromthehotel.HeblastedMadonnasongsthewholetime,butotherthanthatitwascool.Hetookustothefavelas—barriosorghettosontheverytopsofthehillsoverlookingRio.Theywerecrazy,self-sustainedcommunitieswhereeveryonewasdirt-poorandruledbythedrugcartelsandviolentgangs.Thefavelashadtheirownschools,stores,andclinics,andpeoplerarelyleft.Wecouldonlygoinsidethefavelabecausewewerewithourguide,whowasfromthere,orelsewewouldhavebeentoastwithinfiveminutes.Theneighborhoodswerejustshacksalongthesteephills,barelyremainingstandingatimpossibleangles,anditlookedliketheonlythingthatkeptthemfromslidingdownafive-hundred-footmuddycliffwastheirneighbor
’s
roofbelowthem.Iguesstheyhavemud-slidesallthetimewhenitrainshard,andlotsofpeoplearekilledortheirshacksarejustwashedaway.Everyonethrewtheirgarbageandbucketsofwasterightoutoftheirbackwindow.(Ain
’t
thatanaccuratemetaphorforhowlifeworks?)Itallsliddowntheembankmentandsettled,decomposinginadumpinfestedwithcockroachesthesizeofrats,ratsthesizeofcats,andcatsthesizeofdogs.Theshackswereredclay,fadedwiththesun,withredtinroofsandlaundrylineshangingfromeverybackwindow.FromthedistanceIcouldseeanoccasionalspotofblueorwhitepaint,butotherthanthatitwasallaredanthill.Mostoftheshackshadonlyonelightbulb,strungtogetherwithelectriccordsandducttape,andatnightitlookedliketenthousandmothersholdingcandlesoutsidethechurch,waitinginvigilforthejournaliststoreappear.72TheHelicopterBrothersandOtherMadnessLittlekids,noneofwhomlookedliketheyownedshirtsorshoes,swaminamuddywaterholeonthesideoftheroadwhereanindustrialdrainagepipespilledover.Anoldmanstoodstrandedonthemedianofthebusyroadwaydownthehillf
 
romthefavela,tryingfranticallytocross.Iwatchedforabreakinthetrafficwherehemightmakeit,butsawnone.Iwonderifhe
’s
stillthere.Lateron,ourdrivertookuspastashantytownevenmorepoorthanthefavelas—hundredsofpeoplelivingintentsmadefromcardboard,discardedcorrugatedtinsheets,andscrapwood,throwntogetherinthemiddleofamuddyfield.Laundryhungeverywheretodryandlookedlikekiteswhenthebreezeblew.Ourdriversaidthatthesepeoplehadnoschools,nomedicalcare,verylittlefood,andmostofthemsniffedglueorgotfuckedupondrugsjusttogetby.Thegangsanddrugdealersruledeverything,andsomeonegotstabbedeverynight.Thesepeopledidn
’t
haveabathroom—theyjustdugaditchandeveryonewentinit.They
’re
probablythesamepeopleIseeeverynightoutsideoftheChurrascariaaKilobarbecuerestaurantwegotodowninCopacabana,thetouristneighborhoodbythebeachinRio.Wholefamilieswaitintheparkinglot,swarminglikethey
’re
atthestartinglineofamarathon,butfollowingsomeunwrittenrulethattheycan
’t
stepfootnearthedumpsteruntilit
’s
therighttime.Whentherestaurant
’s
dishwashercomesatmidnightandthrowsoutthegarbage,theyallrunoverandjumpinthedumpsterandstartpickingoutanyediblescrapstheycanfind.Wholefamiliesgetintheretogetherandripopenthebagsandeattheirdinnerrightonthespot.That
’s
aboutalltheyhavetofeedtheirfamilyallday.Fuck,I
’m
lucky.ExceptforthenonstopMadonna—nooneshouldhavetolivewiththat.Goaaaaaaalllllllll!RioDeJaniero,BrazilWemanagedtogetticketsforafootball(soccer)matchatMaracanã,thestadiuminRioinauguratedforthe1950WorldCupthatfit200,000spectatorsandwashometosuchgreatsasPelé,Maradona,andRonaldo.Thehotelarrangedforavantotakeusoverthereandbriefedusonthematch;itwouldbebetweenFlamengoandGrêmio,bitterrivalsliketheYankeesandRedSox.Hewarnedustobeverycarefulsincewewere73PushupsinthePrayerRoomgringos,andtoonlyweartheredandblackcolorsofthehometeamsowecouldavoidtroublefromrowdyfans.Ifthehometeam,Flamengo,lost,wemighthavealotoftroublegettingoutoftheresafely,hesaid.Itwasjustaregularseasongame,buttherewerealmost100,000peopleinthestandsandtheplacestillonlylookedhalffull.Wehadthirtythousandpeopleinoursectioneyeingusupanddownaswewalkeddowntoourseats,butoncewesaidwassuptosomelocalsaroundusandshowedthemthatwewerereadytoroothardforFlamengo,itwasallgood.ShaneandIrubbedshoulderswiththefans,aseaofcelebratingfanaticsinredandblack,andtheylovedthatwejumpedupanddownandwentcrazyrightalongwiththemwhenwescored.Inbetweenthestandsandthefieldtheyhadmoats,twenty-foot-deepandtwenty-foot-wideconcreteembankments,andthenastripofconcretethatlookedlikearunningtrackinbetween.Theyexplainedtousthattheysolddiscountedticketstothepoorfavelakidsandputtheminthatsectionisolatedonthattrack,wheretheycouldn
’t
spreadviolenceintothecrowdnoraccessthefield,butjustrunaroundandcausetroubleamongsttheirownkind.Flamengowon5-4andwegotoutallright.I
’ve
BeenUpAllNightSanJosé,CostaRicaThereareonlytwowaystofallasleepinaThirdWorldcountryandprobablytwohundredandfifty-seventhingsthatcankeepyouawake.Thefirstmethodistopassoutcoldduetoingestionofalcoholornar-cotics.Thesecondmethodistoliedownandcloseyoureyesandfallasleepnaturally.Peoplehavetoldmethatthenaturalmethodsometimesworks;Iwouldn
’t
know.NomatterwhereyoulayyourheadinaThirdWorldcountry,whetherinanapartment,acheaphotel,orahostel,it
’s
impossibletosleep.Thecombinationofnoiseanddiscomfortcreatesanopusofinsomniathatwouldbehilariousifyouweren
’t
tootiredtolaugh.Onlyduringsiestatimeintheheatoftheafternoonorduringtherainyseasondoyougetanysleep.Thetelevisionblaresfromyourneighborwatchingafootballmatch.Thecheating
 
loversintheroomupstairsfucksoloudlythat74TheHelicopterBrothersandOtherMadnessplasterdusthitsyouinthefaceandyouthinktheirbedisgoingtofallthroughtheceiling.Themaidstrytogetinyourroom,hopingyouaren
’t
homesotheycanboostyourwatch.Theparakeetatthefrontdeskthatisguardingabowlofcondomswon
’t
shutup.Coilsandmetalbarsstickoutofyourbedandpokeyouintheback.ChildrensellinglotteryticketsandChicletsonthestreetyellovereachother,competingforthedrivers
attention.Someoneispuking.Someoneiscrying.Bedbugs,sandfleas,andmosquitoesturnyouintoalumpofitchyredwelts.Thedrip-drip-dripfromthebrokenbathroomsinkislikeChinesewatertorture.Theairconditionerdoesn
’t
seemtobeworkingbuthumsonandoffallnight.Theelectricitybuzzesandclicks.Themisalignedceilingfanwobblesandwhirs.Ofcourse,therearenonstopcarhorns,policesirens,andthehourlywhistlesofsecurityguardsonbicycles.Dogsbarkandcatsfightinthealleys.Awifescreamsatherdrunkenhusbandreturninghome;whenshestartsthrowingpotsandpansheslamsthedoorandgoesbacktothebar.Somewherethereisthescreechandsmashofacaraccident.Amotorcyclefiresup.Towardthemorning,whenyou
’re
soexhaustedthatyoudozeoffforafewminutes,theconstructioncrewstartsjackhammeringconcreteat6a.m.So,youseewhyitisessentialtogetproperlyfadedbeforeyoutrytogotosleep?Mycocktailofchoicewas10or12ImperialbeersandafewhitsofdirtweedfromaSaturdayNightSpecial:anemptybeercanwithholespokedinit.Underspecialemergencycircumstances,ImightaddaVicodintothat.Thecombinationusuallynumbedmeenoughtogetafewhoursofshut-eye.TheOldSpiceMustacheSanPedro,CostaRicaIwashangingoutwithmyfriendLuis“ElToro”Diegoandhisgringagirlfriend,Wendy,atourfavoritelittlecollegebarinSanPedro.Oneofthegirlsatthebar,areallycuteTicanamedAlejandra,wassweatingme,soweallstartedhangingout.Shewascelebratingher21stbirthday,sohergirlfriendskeptorderinghershotsandthrowingcolorfulconfettiaround,untilwewereallcoveredinit.Icouldn
’t
believehowmanyshotsshewasdoing,especiallyforagirlwhoprobablyweighed100pounds.75PushupsinthePrayerRoomAfterthetequilashotscameout,evenIwasofficiallywindow-lickerdrunk,butshehungintherelikeachamp.Whenthebarclosedandtheykickedusoutshewantedtocomehomewithme,andherfriendsencouragedher,sotheydroppedusoffatApartmentoWilliams.Westartedkissingandshewantedtofoolaround,butshewaswaytoodrunk,soIjustgaveheraspirinandabottleofwaterandputmylittletrashcannexttohersideofthebed.Around4a.m.Ihalfwokeuptoherstumblingaroundtheroomandmumblingincoherently.SheaskedsomethingaboutthebathroomandIpointedandwentbacktosleep.Inthemorningshelookedconfusedandembarrassed,butIassuredhershedidn
’t
causeanytrouble.Shecalledacabtogocelebrateherbirthdaywithherfamilyandavicioushangover.Ineversawheragain,butthat
’s
whenitstartsgettingreallyinteresting.MymemoriesofmylastweekinCostaRicaarehazyatbest.ThedayswerespentplayingbasketballandtryingmyhardesttosmokeupthehugebagofdirtweedIboughtfromtheRastainPuertoViejo,andthenightscelebratingatthebarsinSanPedrowithElToroandourcrew.IwasprobablyaveragingthreehoursofsleepanightandhadcompletelysurrenderedtothefactthatIwouldn
’t
getagoodnight
’s
restinCostaRica.SoeverytimeIwenttobed,itwasafteranightdrinkingandpartyingandImercilesslypassedoutbeforeIevenhitthemattress.Istartednoticingthatsomethingsmelledfunnyinmyroom.Atfirst,itwasnobigdeal—thesmellofgarbageinthemiddaysunoftencamewaftingupfromthestreetbelow,buteverynightitgotalittleworse.IwastoodrunkandtiredtogiveittoomuchthoughtbeforeIjustpassedout.IactuallystartedquestioningwhetherIwasjusttrip-pingandimaginingit.Afewdayswentby,andthes

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