Bullfrog on the Moon

By DAVID THORPE  |  September 26, 2012

We grabbed a rental car and headed out to Kodiak proper. It was a pleasant drive past some scenic lakes and seaside cliffs, blighted only by a half-mile stretch of industrial fish-gutting smell just before town. The metropolis itself was pleasant but unremarkable — a base camp for wilderness adventure, but probably not a destination in itself. The main drag featured a few restaurants, a Safeway, a couple of outdoor supply stores and, at the end of town, the big-box monolith that called me to the island.

We stopped to scout the famous Walmart. Fuel Partnerships had been in there laying groundwork — there were Pitbull posters at the door, and the music aisle had a huge rack of Pitbull records with a Sheets display beside it. Sheets — how did I forget to mention Sheets! Energy Sheets are little caffeine cocktails that dissolve under your tongue so you can party all night without the fucking ignominy of chugging a 5-Hour Energy. Sheets was a co-sponsor of this whole Walmart/Pitbull deal, making it a three-way promo train wreck that I still don't fully understand. I didn't buy any Sheets, since I was convinced I could score some free ones later.

HJ and I took in some scenery, all of which was breathtaking. We saw a pair of bald eagles squawking at each other in a tree and watched the mist collect around majestic mountaintops. Around 9 pm — still broad daylight in the middle of the Alaskan summer — we drove to a bear-watching hotspot to look for the island's famed heavyweight maulers. We were supposed to meet Erik and Lindsay from Fuel Partnerships there, but they were running a bit late so we popped a couple IPAs from Alaska's Midnight Sun Brewing and checked out the water. We could see why bears would love the area: enormous salmon were sauntering by in droves, ripe for brutal filleting.

Erik and Lindsay showed up just as we were about to leave. They were nice people and we had a pleasant enough chat, though their dislike of us was evident. If not dislike, something parallel — the old Looney Tunes "Ralph and Sam" dynamic, maybe: they worked their asses off on a celebrity event, and we were there, as far as they knew, to ruin it. We weren't going to, but they could be forgiven for distrusting a pair of grinning bohemians after their maddening day of last-minute logistics.

Still, Erik gave us some inside info. We learned that due to his insane Cleveland-to-Alaska-to-Atlanta schedule, Pitbull would be able to visit Kodiak for just three or four hours — it was pretty much his only day off during this leg of his US tour, and I gathered that I was a pretty big asshole for making him spend it this way. The press conference would be brief and the questions pre-selected. I assumed as much already, but maybe they emphasized it to prevent me from popping in with errant queries. Also: it turned out the security detail at the hotel was actually not Bullfrog's at all — it was a group of Walmart "Asset Protection" agents flown in for the event. Pitbull, they told me, doesn't like to travel with heavy security — God forbid some fan moves an inch too close and gets tackled to the ground by an overzealous bodyguard.

After parting ways with Erik and Lindsay, HJ and I headed to the hotel, since it was getting rainy and gnats were starting to lay eggs in my marshy half-beard. We got back to our hotel around 11 pm, just as it began to get dark.

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