Category Archives: Orange County
it turns out i’m brown.
i’m not really sure what that means. some might call me latino. others might say chicano. still other outdated folk might call me hispanic.
i call some aspect of myself brown.
brown. the last discovery of america. that’s what richard rodriguez has called it.
i call it brown. the color that pigments my embodiment.
being in my line of work, i am constantly reminded that i am brown.
i wish that line of work was something obvious, overt. it’s not.
i don’t work in a kitchen making sushi while listening to corridos.
i’m not a gardener, nor a dishwasher, nor a cleaning lady, nor a manos-for-hire.
i don’t work with inner-city kids talking about how we’re all ‘la raza’ and that we should have ‘orgullo’ and stick together and si se puede.
my raza passed me by–i never translated brown into chicano. my father is mexican. my mother is nicaraguan. they were born in their respective lands and came here with little more than some huaraches and the knowledge that they didn’t belong here.
i am reminded of my browndom in a different way than the way that they were reminded that they were brown, and still, in a different way from the manos-for-hire is reminded he is brown… .
through absence of brown people in my field, am i reminded that i am brown.
Cafe Lucca in Orange is a nice 19 minute bike ride from my shithole of an apartment in the heart of sanTana. When I have time or when I really need a good Americano I go there instead of going to the AV‘s Gypsy Den.
The Gypsy Den wins out for convenience sake. I live three blocks and one alley away from the GD, so when I need to just get down to business and get some work done I hop on The Beast, cycle the two minutes to the GD, and, just as quickly, am served my coffee by Sandrine, Christine, or that one chick that lives in the LB.
And frankly, the GD is home: I first ventured into sanTana during my first year at UCI because of the GD’s open-mic night. That night I met Jack and a handful of other people (some still around)–including that one guy that seems to identify galling behavior with free speech. (Naturally, he does have the right to sound like a jackass.) That night my wife-from-another-life and I hung out in sTa until the sun came up. A couple years later I found myself drinking a brown-bagged flasche o’ something hard on one of those promenade benches until the wee hours of the morn with the ever salacious and usually notorious LGFats–a dude (not “the dude,” but a dude) that would eventually become one of my core partners in crime. (This was all years ago when I was a snot-faced wreck who couldn’t tell his arsch from a hole in the ground.)
Memories aside, this is where the competition stops. In terms of service, Lucca wins out: all servers here are extremely competent, whereas (in my experience) only half of the GD servers are competent… “no one home” comes to mind when I think of the other half at the GD.
Espresso: I can’t get a good shot or Americano at the GD even if I pulled it myself. I think that this is due to their machine, they must not service it consistently enough because their espresso never has creme. Lucca offers up nothing but smooth tasting, awesomely pulled shots–complete with the requisite creme.
But digression gets the best of me, back to the best white man’s burrito around.
Listed on their breakfast menu not as a burrito but as a scramble, the Garden Scramble boasts this description: 3 farm fresh eggs, tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, spinach, jack and cheddar cheese, atop country potatoes. (Served with 7 grain toast.) $8
I ask for the Garden Scramble, made with only two eggs, and in burrito form. What results is a veg-head’s wet dream. It’s served with their house-made salsa that varies slightly according to which brown dude is manning the grill that morning. When it’s the guy with the bomb-ass, elvis-esque hair, the red salsa rocks a consistency similar to that of chimichurri. I like to mix this with the Cholula (bottles at every table) and spoon it onto each burrito bite along with sour cream (served alongside as well).
This definitely isn’t your taco-truck burrito (claims regarding “authenticity” may now ensue), but for whitelandia Orange, this is the best white man’s breakfast burrito around.
Oh and GD’s beer and wine selection trembles in comparison to Lucca’s.
106 North Glassell Street
*Breakfast served until 11am, lunch until 5pm, dinner thereafter.
He’s pulls up behind me and asks me if I’m “swinging a let it back.” I mentally check the position of my balls and respond with furrowed brows.
I don’t think I’m swinging a let it back, but frankly, I don’t know.
“What’s “swinging a let it back?””
“It’s when you purposefully ride a heavier bike to build strength, for training…” responds the 50 something year old cyclist. He’s rockin’ something Specialized.
“Well, I guess I am swinging a let it back. But not by choice. I can’t really afford anything else right now,” I say as I smile and look down at his ride. “I figure,” I continue, “that I’ll ride this thing for about a year, save up, and buy something else. …In the meantime, these are my training wheels.”
“Training wheels huh? Tell me something, how are you able to get up to 25 mph on that thing?” Leaving his buddy behind, he had hooked on to me about one mile back. His Cat Eye senses tell him to tell me how fast I was going.
“Really? I got up to 25 mph? Cool!” I smile big. The light turns green. I take off on a wave of adrenaline and a little pride.
I started cycling back in late August. Since I don’t have a car I had always been a big bus- and city-bike commuter, but I had never donned the tight shorts, exaggerated helmet, or eaten shot blocks.
Cyclists were these lycra-clad griffins that would fly by me on the San Diego Creek bike trail. I was the slow, cowboy-booted, jean wearing bicyclist just trying to get to Irvine from Santa Ana.
I was becoming bored with running, so when D-Bag randomly told me that he was going on a two-hour ride while I was sitting at the pub located one block from his place, I told him to “give me two minutes,” “let me finish my Devotion,” and “I’ve never ridden before…I mean…you know what I mean.”
That day we cycled up to Yorba Linda from Orange. A few days later we headed south via the SART to the ocean. A few days later back north up to Yorba Linda. A week later I cycled from Santa Ana to Seal Beach and back a few times. Two weeks after that we embarked on The Trip: D-Bag and I cycled from Santa Ana to Old Town Pasadena.
I now regularly commute to and from Sunset Beach.
…all on my heavy-ass 1970’s Chicago Schwinn Varsity.
Am I swinging a let it back? Yeah man, strength doesn’t grow on carbon fiber trees.