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IT WAS ONE SUCH night that we met the Mole -- he who never saw the sun or, rather, the Big Red Man as it was affectionately known to Bob "Boobs" (he could, would, did and does make his pecs dance) Sarlatte. Bob, a St. Ignatius classmate of Craig's, was a regular at our Unions Street shows making no bones about the fact that he was auditioning, and he wasn't going to quit making us laugh until we let him in the group. (see Chapter 3)

It was another such night later that summer, that Laz arrived at the night club slapping his thighs and cackling like the Joker as he slowly drew from his pocket and fanned out 13 round trip tickets to Guatemala, long after the rest of us had given up hope, dismissing Laz as insane for believing in this pipe dream. This show was going on the road to Central America -- where they don't speak English, a small problem that didn't occur to us until the Pan Am jet began its descent into the jungle.

The Montana Purpola was a discotech in Guatemala City. To get there, our Spanish-speaking escorts had to park in a multi-tiered parking garage, patrolled by machine gun-toting teenage Federales. We sat in several tiny rusted cars, Chevy Vegas probably, in our costumes ready to perform. Our escort leaned back and said something in blah blah blah Spanish, which turned out to be a warning on the order of "whatever you do, don't run your mouths off to the guards, those guns are loaded." He was right. These guards had no sense of humor and didn't know or care what Glass Pack were. The slap of the clip of an automatic weapon sent several jokers to the pavement, as our escort cried out apologies for the guests of the Castilla Brewing Corporation who were in town to do a few society shows.

As usual, we didn't get paid any money, but we did live free like Kings for a week at Hotel Guatemala, where the sound of gunfire accompanied the late evening group brandy high atop the 10th floor conservatory bar. How do you say "eat and drink out of house and home" in Spanish? Whatever; according to the radio ads every 15 minutes Butch Whacks y los Glass Packs were the Beatles of Northern California and it was pretty good to be King. This road stuff was great.

We played at the whim of our hosts. Thus, we sat in for the regular band at a Charity youth dance attended by a thousand locals wanting a look these Beatles from Northern California. There was only one way in and one way out of this dance hall. The floor was covered with a foul fluid that gave pause to the most hygienically challenged. We were to and did play the instruments provide for us. The cymbals were cracked, one of the guitars was missing a string; the amps rattled. Undaunted, we launched amidst the din into "Rock Around the Clock" and ended with "Surfin USA". What followed was the sound of Creation and the low rumble of foot stomping. These kids really thought we were famous, and converged on the stage. This was no joke, there was no where to run to, no means of escape. So our escorts linked arms and charged back through the crowd with the Glass Packs in their wake displacing youths like bowling pins and pushed us into the waiting Vegas.

Our last performance was for the Caesar Romero set, the very best and brightest of Guatemala City -- tuxedos, pearls, the works, an elegant setting like a Three Stooges as waiters movie. Mid-way in our show, while in the midst of "Stranded in the Jungle", the extraordinary power demands of our equipment shorted out the electrical feed to the stage. Our hosts and a ballroom full of their peers had been curiously watching us Make Show in English. Thus far they haven't understood a word that we've said, but that O.K. because (a) we laugh at our own jokes and (b) our energy and music overcame our cultural differences, but now we had no power and it is stone silent.

It seemed an eternity as we stood like statues frozen in the pose we were in at the moment the power went out. First there was a titter, then a guffaw and soon laughter. They thought this was part of the show. So a voice directed in a stage whisper "the Last Supper", and as one we turned from either side to the center of the stage, dropped down and reached out to Laz in the middle as he turned to one side and spread his hands blessing us like Jesus in the famous painting, with two guys on either end arguing over which one is correctly Judas.

The audience roared. As the laughter subsided, another stage whisper directed "Valley Forge". Whereupon, we turned as one to stage left with the outermost guy assuming the standing, searching position of the Father of our Country as we became George Washington and his crew in that famous painting. Thank God the power came back on as we were about to do the Piata, and we continued with "Stranded in the Jungle" and our hosts were none the wiser. The "great googa booga, get me outta here" and "meanwhile back in the States" parts just cracked up the Latin Polo crowd.

Got away with it again.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs