I wanted to pull out my favorite parts of To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism by Chuck Thompson to tell you why I liked this book so I sat down to flip through its pages again. Three hours later I was on page 77, devouring each chapter new. I should have underlined my favorite passages but instead was transcribing entire paragraphs and pages into my journal like homework, but happier. Chuck Thompson is FUN-NAY.
If you've ever, like me, done stupid crap while traveling - hopped in the pickup of strange men I met while they were machete-ing a snake to death on the side of the Mexican highway, or spent way more time with arms dealers and drug traffickers than my naive dumb ass ever should have let happen - then you will probably appreciate Chuck's approach to travel. Not that he was really out of line because STUFF JUST HAPPENS when you choose to go to places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo over, say, Club Med. The only exception possibly being when Chuck wrote of leaving his safari group and guides to wander through the plains alone. Whaaat? That chapter made my hair stand on end; I apparently fear lions more than I do Interpol.
The four locations he writes about are those he spent a year investigating solely because he was afraid of them. And, of course, maybe for reasons he wasn't fully aware of at first and needed a strong dose of travel-inspired reflection to tap into.
3. Mexico City
4. Disney World
There were surprises, none more unexpected to me than his reaction to Disney World. If a man who says, "And no, it doesn't make me un-American to have assiduously avoided setting foot in a fabricated dream patch plopped in the middle of a morally rudderless state of bogus elections with a half-baked citizenry who think absolutely nothing of supporting an idiotic fifty-year embargo of Cuba or taking the Camaro with the slave-days flag decals to the corner market for a pack of smokes without bothering to put their shirts on. So, Disney," can end up liking Miley Cyrus then none of us should presume to take anything for granted.
A Place to Bury Strangers @ High Watt, Nashville
Hunters, the punk-flavored openers. Sadly I didn't get any good shots of singer Isabel Almeida crawling and/or writhing around on the floor. The only thing I didn't like about Hunters were Isabel's pockets hanging out from underneath her short jean shorts. I refrained from asking the bartender if I could borrow scissors and climbing onstage to snip off the offending two inches of fabric. It bugs me more than it should but I did not fixate because the music was too good for such triviality.
And then A Place To Bury Strangers came on.
Audio Source / Decibel Level courtesy of Logan Donaldson
Angels getting their wings / 0.02 dB
The Gentle Crackle of Rustling Fall Leaves / 10 dB
Careless whispers & sweet nothings / 20 dB
A disgusting, quaint ukulele cover of a Train song / 40 dB
"Normal" Conversation / 60 dB
That guy in a music shop that can only play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" / 85 dB
Orchestra / 98 dB
Electric Light Orchestra 100 dB
Assholes that rev their motorcycles at stoplights/ 105 dB
** Threshold of Pain reached**
Front row of most concerts / 110dB
Powersaws / 110 dB
Sleigh Bells / 120 dB
A Place To Bury Strangers / 130 dB
Gunblast / 140 dB
Perforation of Eardrums i.e. instantaneous, possibly permanent hearing damage / 160 dB
This is me staring at the empty stage hoping that they'd come back out (they didn't).
Part 1 here