“Hospital de la Bubas” is a song about perseverance. It’s a song about being pulled in different directions, physically and emotionally. It’s a song, also, about how sometimes you have to spew.
Max wrote this song with his high school friend, Pat. In school they formed the now defunct, dangerously experimental electronic duo, Tone Cock. Since then they’ve both been writing music separately, collaborating on occasion, when Pat can get time off from work.
They wrote “Hospital de la Bubas” in May, while Max still lived in Maryland. Pat got away from his UPS job in West Virginia for the weekend to visit during the Forward Festival. Forward is a DC group that puts on electronic music concerts, electronic music that Max deems superlative.
From his arrival at Max’s house, Pat had felt seriously unwell. There was something wrong with his stomach. Did he have food poisoning? Dengue fever? Stomach flu? He didn’t know, but he thought maybe he was starting to feel better. He got to the show, danced a bit, and got home thinking he’d sleep off whatever had poisoned him.
By the next night, Pat had taken a turn for the worse. This time, there was no room for debate. His insides were definitely preparing for emergency exits. But the music and the flashing lights and cement floors of the Forward warehouse called to him, tugging at the belt loop of the baggy pants around his soul.
So there Pat was, too close to diarrhea to dance, sitting outside the warehouse cross-legged, his hood pulled over his head. There was a sprinkling of rain. Two rave nymphs approached him. One of them started rubbing his back, without his bidding. Maybe they thought he was lonely, or overwhelmed by drugs, in need of comfort. “Does this make you uncomfortable?” the masseuse asked. “No,” he lied, and waited for an opportune moment to slip back into the shadows of the warehouse. On either side of the warehouse entrance there were couches. He collapsed on one, and closed his eyes, willing himself not to throw up. A bouncer approached him and told him he wasn’t allowed to close his eyes on the couch. The bouncer, Pat suspected, was charged with preventing attendees from lolling on the couches in a substance-induced stupor. Unfortunately for Pat, profound stomach trouble, alcohol poisoning, and drug abuse all look pretty similar.
Pat sought refuge in the rain again, seeking the comfort of a portable toilet. Maybe he threw up, maybe he had diarrhea – by now the evening was a blur of thumping bass and unwelcome bodily functions. And yet, he never said he wanted to leave.
The next day, Pat ate barbecue with Max. Why would someone who had been violently sick to their stomach eat barbecue? I asked Max later. He indicated that thinking about when to eat barbecue and when to not eat barbecue was for girls.
Having happily consumed spicy, greasy meat, Pat threw up next to a gas pump on the way back to West Virginia. Then he stopped at a rest area, had diarrhea, and in the midst had to throw up, between his legs, on the floor. But he regretted nothing. The gods of dance will demand their sacrifices.
As we all eventually learn, one way or another, if you love something, a little corporeal horror doesn’t stand in your way.