The Ozzfest Project

It is a smoggy evening at the Burbank Airport, and Carlos Gonzales of Mesa is explaining his documentary film, the one he is making by himself with his own money.

"There's chicks showing their tits, dudes smoking weed and some guy who got jumped really bad and they fucked him up. There was everything, bro, and I got it all on tape."

The guy next to Gonzales has a form like a steroid-fortified strip-bar doorman. He waits until Gonzales finishes, then offers up some unsolicited personal information; he's someone who thinks any chance meeting is a press conference testimonial to his all-encompassing prowess. We soon learn that Muscle Man deals in commodities, owns a chain of kung fu instructional gyms, has a hot car and gets many babes.

Nobody cares. A long, awkward moment passes.

Gonzales finally picks up where he left off.

"We just said fuck it and went in and got what we got," he says. "Nobody saw us with the cameras."

Around Gonzales' neck is a large silver crucifix that just touches the neckband of his Oakland Raiders jersey, and his nearly waist-length hair is pulled back into a horse-tail mane. Every so often, some nearby passenger on the crowded plane will stare at him like he's some kind of weirdo, which -- aside from being unshaven and having unusually dark eyes -- he's really not.

If anything, the 28-year-old looks vaguely like some stickup man from a Sergio Leone movie.

Gonzales had spent the day before at the Devore Blockbuster Pavilion, capturing all the head-banging splendor of Ozzfest '99 with two handheld digital cameras. The day and night festival featured, among other riff-addled naysayers, Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie and Godsmack. Not exactly the stuff of Kevin Smith or Todd Solondz. Gonzales says he spent many weeks planning his trip to Ozz, and saving up from his two crap jobs -- one as a freezer attendant at a discount store and the other manning hot ovens at a pizza chain in a Mesa shopping mall.

Inside the freezer, Gonzales says, the temperature stays at a good 15 to 20 degrees below, and his job is to pack and unpack frozen meats, vegetables and other arctic goods. He also hangs out in there, often times removing his shirt in an insane effort to train himself for his next project: shooting a documentary of the Oakland Raiders in the NFL playoffs.

"They had a job opening for the freezer that nobody wanted to work," he says. "But I want to go film the Raiders on the road in the playoffs, and they'll be in Buffalo or Cleveland or Kansas City, and I'll be ready, bro. So I thought I'll go in this freezer and take my shirt off and see if I can hang. And I figured out I can hang."

Born and raised in Guadalajara, Gonzales was exposed to his four older brothers' and uncles' mix of streets and rock 'n' roll. He was introduced to street fighting, drugs, naked women and homelessness by the age of 6. He also was singing along to his elders' late Sixties and early Seventies rock records.

"I would wake up to go to school and there would be some naked chick right there on the floor and my brother is all fucked up on something," he says. "My brothers and my uncles were the only grown-up men I knew around the house, and they were all riffraff fuckers. And so they were always fighting and beating up people and smoking dope. But they would go up to the States and come back with instruments and something like Zeppelin's new record. So as a kid I would see all these guys come back with the cool fucking clothes and the long hair and the records.

"And around then I saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and I always loved monsters. All the other kids were into Batman and all the cool heroes. I always liked the evil bad guys. I saw the giant squid grab a submarine in the darkness of the ocean and I thought, 'Yeah, I'm gonna make a film like this one day.' But you forget about your dream for a while. I did all the crazy shit and now I know I am back to that dream where I wanna make films."

When Gonzales was 9, his mother beat up her husband's girlfriend and then took Carlos to a poverty-stricken 'burb in Southern California. Before long Gonzales had friends, attended school and learned to speak English.

Years later, Gonzales' mother tosses him out of the house for intolerable behavior. He winds up living on the streets of Los Angeles, doing and selling drugs, getting busted and starting various short-lived speed-metal bands. But, as he proudly attests, he miraculously managed to drag himself to school, which, for a while, was just a short drop from the roof.

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Brian Smith
Contact: Brian Smith