"CRAZY." That’s the word that seems to come up the most when talking to people about Brazil. But like your aunt with 10 cats, or Jaws, or popcorn-flavored jellybeans Brazil is a good kind of crazy. The people are crazy friendly and optimistic to the point of being delusional. The country is crazy beautiful and has like a million miles of coastline. The weather is crazy tropical, the vibe is crazy great, and if you like soccer they are playing like crazy, all over the place, all the time. But there are also those things that can make it a bad kind of crazy sometimes. For example NO Uber. I love Uber, use it all the time. And I get it, the cab drivers are mad at Uber for doing such a great job that they have to take them to court to try to stay in business. But in Brazil things are a little more gangster. Court? Pshaw. Caio Notaro told me about a neat little trick they use in Brazil that beats court any day. An undercover cab driver orders an Uber. He gets picked up and sets his destination at a rendezvous point where there are a bunch of his cab driver homies waiting in the bushes. When the Uber driver gets to the destination, he gets jumped, beaten, stabbed in the eyeballs or whatever, his car is torched and he’s left for dead, or just left dead, aaaaaaaand that’s the end of Uber. DJ Wade opened the app in Sao Paulo to find one Uber available in the entire city, which has roughly 11 million people in it. I’d like to meet that driver, or maybe not.
But yeah, we went to Brazil for the first ever Damn Am in the Southern Hemisphere, and it was beyond amazing. The crew: Milligan (judge #1), Hoffart (judge #2), Eric McKenney (registration), Bart Jones (photographer), DJ Wade (DJ), and myself (English speaking organizer / announcer). Schaefer and Filmer Frank were supposed to be with us also but their visas never came so that was that, they had to stay home.
Kelvin Hoefler (judge #3) and his wife Ana Paula (Portuguese speaking organizer) helped us set up the contest from start to finish. They rule. We had probably somewhere around 700 kids try to sign up to enter, and since we didn’t know who any of them were besides Caio and a small handful of others, we needed a grip of help deciding who to let skate and who to not let skate. Kelvin had just broken his leg at Tampa Pro so he was laid up and had nothing much to do so we put him to work watching videos of kids who wanted to skate. He settled on about 220 of them who looked like they could hang. In the end 186 of them showed up to skate making it the biggest turnout for any Damn Am ever. And you saw the edits, the kids rip! All of them.
A couple things that you can’t help but notice about Brazil vs. the US:
People make out in public a lot. Here someone would yell "Get a room!" out of a passing car window. There they don’t…well maybe they do but I wouldn’t understand it anyways since it would be in Portuguese.
A typical Brazilian has anywhere from 2 to what, 7 names? Felipe Rodrigo Silva Oliveira Santos Etc. I like to refer to them as Choose Your Own Adventure names. Apparently the rules are pretty loose as to where these names come from, they might be from your mom’s side of the family, your dad’s side, or both. The more names the merrier in Brazil.
There is graffiti everywhere in Brazil. And I mean EVERYwhere. They have a unique style of ugly writing that they scrawl all over the sides of every single building. They call it Pichacao. I think they need to figure out a way to fight it because it’s hideous. They also have a lot of trash strewn about and there are sections of town you don’t go to no matter what.
I don’t know if Kelvin Hoefler’s erratic lane changes and herky jerky acceleration / braking patters are representative of all Brazilians, but he drove out to the airport in Sao Paulo to help us all get back to the Santos with our million bags, so I was following him and it was like trying to keep up with Senna after a weeklong bender. High speed, cutting in and out of lanes, slamming on the brakes, speeding up, slowing down, and then occasionally throwing horns out the window at us, Heavy Metal!!! (Ana drove us back to the airport when we were leaving, and after promising she was a much slower / safer driver we got the same thing minus the horns).
Santos, where we did the contest, can best be thought of as Clearwater Beach in relation to Tampa proper. Sao Paulo is the big city, Santos the "sleepy" beach town an hour and half away on the coast. Although I looked it up and it has a population of 400,000+, so nothing to sneeze at. And I’m not joking when I say that the skatepark sits on the most impressive piece of real estate in the entire city, a tiny peninsula just big enough for the park, some churro stands, and that big sculpture that you’ve seen in a million photos by now which was created by artist Tomie Ohtake to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil. Who knew.
I could go on all day but you have better things to do. I’d suggest you try to come out for it next year, oh, and no, as far as we know none of us brought home any Zika.
Bart was my roommate for the first part of the trip and this is what he looked like the entire time.
He was pretty hyped on this photo because he said it makes him look buff.
When I wasn’t staring at Bart’s physique I was looking out the window of our hotel at this.
This is DJ Wade from his yellow period.
This is how you know DJ Wade’s been here.
Bart talked too much so I moved in with Hoff, seen here going Hoff.
Qix Damn Am shoes. I have one of the few pairs in existence.
The first two days it rained non stop and the forecast showed it wasn’t going to quit ever.
When a handrail needs to fixed in Brazil they don’t let a little rain stop them from fixing it that’s for sure.
I ventured into town with this Brazil Squad to look for alternative parks in case the rain didn’t let up. From left: Caio Notaro, Kelvin Hoefler, Julio Detafon from Qix. Detafon isn’t really a last name, it’s a nickname borrowed from a product that kills cockroaches.
Actually this was the full squad but the photographer shot blurry to be usable. That’s Ana Paulo second from the left, she helped put the whole contest together and drives like a bat out of hell.
This was the first park we scoped out.
It could have worked for a Damn Am, but Kelvin said that once the sun goes down the gangsters living in the surrounding area might swarm the place and rob us all for everything we have. We passed.
This was the second park we looked at. It was kind of small but we ran into Ivan Monteiro there and he proved to us that yes, it’s skateable.
Meanwhile outside the park, Kelvin did his best Prime Minister Pete Nice impersonation.
This stray looks a lot like I felt at the time.
The third and final park we looked at, Kelvin’s private TF, which is really good but we would have been packed in there like sardines.
But the rain stopped, just in time, and this is where we got to have the contest.
But first, registration. And I’d like you to try signing up 186 kids who are speaking a different language than the one you’re used to. Not easy. Milligan and Eric handled it though.
And then the contest went OFF. That’s Ivan again, he skated everywhere.
I was so hyped afterward that I blasted this commemorative air off the banister.
And then went and saw a Brazilian ACDC cover band. Heavy Metal!!!
And back at the hotel we Facetimed with Pat Duffy. Random.
Eric counted his spending cash.
This was the last photo I shot in Brazil, it’s a house across the street from Kelvin’s. You can’t tell but Kelvin’s neighborhood is gangster, my guess is he’s worth more than the entire block. In fact when I got the phone out to shoot this photo, every person in the car freaked out and told me to put it away. From there we were off to the airport, and we’re already planning next year’s trip.