La Paz’s Urban Rush Introduces Rap Jumping To South America

Australia and New Zealand are generally accepted as having cornered the market on bizarre adventure activities, especially in urban areas. Unsurprising, then, that Alistair Matthew, the Kiwi founder of La Paz’s ginormously successful, groundbreaking Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, has brought a bit of the Antipodes to Bolivia’s capital city.

A year ago, inspired by a similar enterprise in Melbourne, Matthew launched Urban Rush. The sport, also known as rap jumping, entails rappelling – preferably face-first – down the side of a 17-story building in central La Paz (the view, FYI, is spectacular; it’s across the street from the colonial stunner that is the San Francisco Church), and provides views of the tenaciously perched brick houses of El Alto. The kicker, however, is that the final six stories are in free fall (that’s me, above, about five stories before taking the plunge).

It’s not as sketchy as it sounds. In addition to your own power (meaning you have a brake and a guide hand), there’s an experienced guide belaying you from below, and another controlling you from the top. So even if you were to let go completely, you’ve got two ropes as backup.

The aforementioned building is the Hotel Presidente, La Paz’s finest. That only makes for more fun, as costume-clad, thrill-seeking, dirtbag backpackers traipse through the stylish 15th floor restaurant and bar in order to access the small penthouse space where suiting up and training take place.

Costumes? Si. In addition to the standard bright orange jumpsuits, you can leap out of the hotel dressed as Spiderman, Captain America, Santa Claus or Cat Woman, masks included. Why? Who cares?I serendipitously found myself watching a Spiderman launch himself out of the penthouse yesterday afternoon, while out with Gravity’s office manager, Jill Benton. She had a hunch this would be right up my alley, and sure enough, I soon found myself zipping up a jumpsuit (no heroic attire; I just wanted to survive the experience; the view from the top, at right).

In all seriousness, Gravity’s guide/instructors are experienced employees and the equipment is all top-of-the-line. I’ve done a bit of climbing and abseiling, but never have I contemplated a face-first rappel, let alone in the middle of a bustling city. In fact, I have a deathly fear of jumping off of or out of things in urban areas (because, you know, death hurts less when you’re out in nature).

After strapping on my helmet and having my harnesses fitted, instructor Andrea did some practice maneuvers, first on the ground and then on a six-foot wall (right). When I felt ready to bail out that window, it was at first tentatively, and not very gracefully. Having hundreds of spectators on the ground didn’t do much to increase my performance anxiety.

While my technique may have been a Fail (I weigh just under 100 pounds, and that made it difficult for me to hop my way down, rather than roll), it was a total blast. The free fall was definitely one of my adventure activity lifetime highlights: few things can beat plummeting at warp speed upon the Easter shoppers of La Paz.

A half-hour later, still trembling with adrenalin (which is why my photo of the hotel, below, is crooked), I was headed back to my hostel across Plaza San Francisco, an uncontrollable smile on my face. Bolivia certainly has no shortage of outdoor adventure sports, but should you find yourself with a little afternoon downtime in La Paz, you’d be simply crazy not to take a flying leap out of the Hotel Presidente.

Urban Rush, 1-5 p.m., daily; book in advance or just drop by the hotel, at Potosí St., 920. It’s just $20 for one drop, $30 for two (note that due to fluctuating exchange rates these prices may change).

[Photo credits: Jill Benton/Laurel Miller]

Couchsurfer rhymes a “gift rap” to his host


Couchsurfer Matthew Bloomfield really appreciated his stay at host Elmar Bierbaum’s apartment in Lima, Peru. If fact, he felt so grateful that he composed a rap as a tribute to Bierbaum (and he stayed within the 1,000-word limit for a CouchSurfing reference).

Bloomfield calls himself “The Rapping Professor”, as he not only writes rhymes for those you give him a couch to sleep on, but also for his day job. An event entertainer, the rapper has been able to break into an unusual niche and has been very successful, even performing at corporate parties in Asia.

Check out the Rapping Professor’s talents for yourself in the clip above.

Rapping flight attendant entertains passengers on Southwest

Check out this hilarious flight attendant on Southwest Airlines. Instead of the boring safety briefing most of us have to hear over and over again, David Holmes turns it into a rap song. He even manages to get the passengers to participate.

I’ve got to say, this is pretty awesome, and just shows the more down to earth attitude you’ll find on carriers like Southwest. Have you flown Southwest and had the pleasure of running into David Holmes? If so, let us know in the comments!

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Light the Menorah

I came across this wonderful video while looking for videos on menorah light up festivities. The blend of the music, the clever lyrics, and the images of Christmas and Hanukkah that interplay as backdrop to the young men who perform gave me a feel good feeling. I’m not usually fond of rap music, but this is an interesting mix between rap and a classical approach. You’ll see.

I’m not sure where this is taking place. One commenters asked if this was filmed in Portland, Oregon, but the lyrics mentioned New York City. Regardless of the location, it’s delightful. Listen for the popular culture references. These guys are smart.

Because this is the season for Hanukkah, as well as Christmas, this video seemed fitting and a companion to the post on public menorahs around the world.

“TSA Gangstaz” rap video teaches airport security

There’s no way this video was actually made by the TSA, but if it were, I’d have gained some new respect for them. Unfortunately I don’t think they’re quite this clever (or vulgar, for that matter). Their Myspace page says their record label is “Kanye Southwest Produkshuns.” Also from the Myspace page:

Shit Jacked Recently: 2 AirMac Laptops, Ralph Lauren Chaps Cologne, Nintendo DS Light, 5 bottles of Johnny Walker Blue, Size 13 Nike LeBron James VII kicks, 440 Ounces of bottled water, One Kobe steak, La Mer Skin Cream, Platinum Microphone Medallion, G4 Attack of the Show Sweatshirt, 6 cases Vitamin Water, One Puggle, 5 ounce Dry Idea Cologne…

Genius. (Video is very NSFW!)

I’ll jack your gold-plated pen knife, bitch, and that’s reality, you better lose you pre-9/11 mentality

[Via Boing Boing]