Category Archives: Orange County

No Te Gustaría?

In search of Ocotlán Tequilla, I spy this at the liquor store next to El Toro Meats:

the absence of brown

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 still other outdated folk might call me hispanic.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.

am i brown? or is this just a brown body?

best white man’s breakfast burrito around

Lucca 2
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).
Lucca 1
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.

Cafe Lucca
106 North Glassell Street
Orange, CA
714-289-1255
*Breakfast served until 11am, lunch until 5pm, dinner thereafter.

swinging a let it back

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.

Am I brown? Or are you just a hegemonic power?

terrorismo wide
I know there are some of you out there that have seen the above. Am I the only motha phugin’ spic who gets this shit? We used to call it “propaganda.” Now we call “patriotism.” Now…I know I’m not the only one looking through some colored lenses, so in case some of us missed it, here’s what’s going on in the above:

0) A elderly man stares at you, the viewer, with tender eyes. The white background suggests purity and the heavens. Large celestial wings protrude from his back and they give you a sense of authority and comfort. He sits as though waiting for you to say something, to call him for help. The spanish-language text reads: “Terrorism? Help yourself so that I could help you too,” then there is a website and phone number to call. The bold text at the bottom of the ad reads, “Keep yourself on guard,” and is flanked by two identity brands, one for the Ad Council, and one for Homeland Security.

While this may all seem well and fine, my uneducated, non-english speaking, brown ass can’t help but analyze it and argue that the above visually represents the illusion that “mexicans” are not the Other in this country, but instead part of the “Us,” when the reality is that visual representations like this merely promulgate the “Othering” of “mexicans” as well as “terrorists.” Furthermore, the above ad pits these two Othered parties against one another in order to have these parties unsuspectingly battle each other out for inclusionary status within the American psyche. This is a battle neither party wins.

I) Mexicans (because we brown folk are all motha phuckin Mexycaans in their eyes, aren’t we) want citizenship. So of course all the Mexicans are going to want to call if they see the above in order to be considered flag-waving, spandex-wearing, fat-ass hanging, stars and stripes bearing, patriotic Mr. Joe God Bless motha-phugin’ America Smith. Moreover–and herein lies the sweet, sweet bitter and disgusting irony–my grandma’s gonna pick up the phone, and call the authorities to report a bag full trash, and the feddies over from Ho-La Sick (Home Land Security) are gonna come knockin’ at her metal screen door, put her ass into a motha phuckin chariot van, and ship her no-document ass back to the mo-fo’in depths of mo’fo-in Culyacan. The very branch of our fine government that Others the “terrorists” is the very same branch of government that Others my spanish-speaking, welfare-collecting, tortilla-slapping, bean-frying, progeny-bearing grandmother. They want her to come forth from the thicket of American density and reveal herself so that she could think of herself as Mr. Smith (from above). This fine, fine branch of government actually believes that my grandmother doesn’t know she too is the Other.

II) If it is in Spanish, the assumption is that the person reading it reads no language other than spanish. Ho-La Sick seems to be saying, “Hey you, spanish-only speaking friend, why don’t you come on over here and tell me the four-one-one you’ve got…oh-and-by-the-way-can-I-see-your-papers?” That the ad is in spanish shows that the target viewer of this ad is some one who has not fully “integrated” into American english-speaking society.

In using a descriptor like “terrorism” the ad forces the viewer not think of a multi-perspectival definition of terrorism (because who walks around thinking that “terrorists” might be human?) but rather forces the viewer to revert back to a caricature of a “terrorist,” or a caricature of what “terrorism” looks like.

Furthermore, the spanish language text on a bus bench implies that brown people ride buses, which is not a bad thing unless you consider, as I have, the further implication: using spanish on a bus bench ad weds together the spanish language and bus-riding as an already highly stigmatized practice. In other words, that it is on a bus bench does not mean nothing. It means that brown people ride the bus. Riding the bus is stigmatized in our society because, “there must be something wrong with you if you ride the bus” (said by some random chick in her H2). The stigma of bus-riding stems from the fact that carless, homeless, crazies, and minorities ride the bus. That there is a spanish language Homeland Security ad in OCTA bus-stop ad space reinforces the idea that the low-paid, dregs of society (who can’t even read english!) ride the motha phuckin bus.

Here, I think of the way that the spanish language always seems to be essentially tied to kitchens and dish-washing sinks. Or how spanish seems to be essentially tied to manual labor trucks. Or the way that it is tied to those manos for hire who try to solicit work through their broken english. In other words, if you speak spanish only you are in a normatively disadvantaged position within our society, and if you speak spanish in addition to other languages you are still, at least in some socio-linguistic way, tied to the kitchen, the dish-washing sink, the labor truck, the Home Depot parking lot, or the bus bench–even when you roll by in your Prius.

III) In addition to linguistic boogy-monster-means, they simply must use the religious angle as well. All Mexicans are god-fearing catholics, protestants, or jehovah’s witnesses. Of course Ho-La Sick is gonna slap some motha phuckin wings on this old sweet brown man’s ass. WTPh.

IV) In addition to religio-iconclastic imagery, we’re also talking about brownie’s desire to make it through them pearly gates. Mexicans wanna go to motha phuckin heaven where the beans and tortillas are plentiful…and little streams of Tequilla come a-trickling down the rocks…and all the border patrol have wooden legs! Mexicans like to call this place The Big Rock Bean Mountain. Of course they’re gonna look at this, and buy into it by believing it. Even if they don’t pick up the phone their gonna think, “O, si veo una persona sospecho voy a llamar!” because they fear God and this?–this here is motha phuckin’ God’s country.

Well thank you very much Mr. Ho-La Sick and Ad Council. My grandmother and I salute you. We (along with our twelve relatives in our one-bedroom rat hole) feel much safer. We’ll make certain to keep ourselves “on guard.”

Or maybe it’s just all those pesky little Chicano Studies courses I’ve been taking (because those aren’t wrought with their own problems). Or perhaps it was the blasted visual cultures course.

Oh, and, Mr. Ho-La Sick…if I may: I just got a call from my Iraqi brother over in (you guessed) Iraq. He says that he just saw a poster warning him and his terrorist brothers of bean-chewing Mexican immigrants that are plotting to supplant them in all their low-paying, manual labor jobs. My Iraqi brother says he hears that we believe that we are entitled to all low paying shit jobs the world over because of Leviticus 3:2. He’s merely calling to fact check. Don’t worry, I told him that, since we all can’t read, we don’t exactly know what Leviticus 3:2 says.

Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest (real men, after all, do have nipples), I’m gathering my trollops and trinkets, hopping on some public transit, and heading to LA. Who’s with me!?

der Feierabend in sanTana

Unique Cleaners