Hugo Race: Blood and Chocolate


Race balances music and demons on tour in Brazil @ Overland.

Butcher and Alabama have been awake all night. They see me and I return fire with a jetlag stare – signals are exchanged. We’ve seen photos of each other online, even if we do look radically different in the fluorescent overkill of an arrival hall. That’s how it started – an exchange via internet floated the idea to bring me to South America. Now here we are in Sao Paulo International La Gru shaking hands.

Green succulents swarm the surrounding hills. I’m already sweating as we haul luggage across the car park under a sky laden with heavy grey clouds. Alabama, tall, dark and quiet, gets behind the wheel of a black sedan. A distorted Maltese cross logo on the steering wheel catches my eye. Alabama isn’t sure what make of car this is. ‘General Motors?’ he says quizzically and pulls out onto a highway billboarded with signs for Pepsi, Monsanto, Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson. In the backseat with a Panama hat pulled low against the morning glare, Butcher raps about rock bands like the MC5 and The Gories in a fluent American drawl.

Traffic intensifies as we enter Sao Paulo through peripheral districts of low-cost tower blocks, the smog absorbing us into a grey, hazy fugue of iron and cement. Huge subtropical bushes and trees decorate the flow of rough concrete. The elevated highway called the Minhacao, meaning giant worm, slices through the city centre in a pall of carbon monoxide. We ramp off and cruise downtown along Paulista Avenue, a long, straight, skyscraper-lined boulevard. Shopping malls, the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art, and the legion of destitute homeless sleeping on cardboard groundsheets are all equally squeezed between the corporate giants.

Image: Claudio Edinger at
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