Friday, October 09, 2015

Since I Don't Have a Place On Campus

I'll tell you about the best Mexican food in the world.

It is at Camacho's Place. You hear restauranteurs talking all the time about the importance of Location. Here's the truth of that. If you have a good location you can serve shit burgers and people will come once to savor the view. If there's enough traffic you will never have to worry about steady or repeat business. If your food is exceptional, people will flock to your door.

I set out this afternoon about 12:30 to be there to pick up the order I made by calling Maria Camacho at home last night. Just making the order took about half an hour because I had to give her an update on every single one of my kids, all my sisters, promise to tell my cousin, the brilliant attorney's partner hello from Maria and her son. All that good, honest local stuff.

The first landmark on the drive is The New River, or as we locals call it, Shit Creek. This is one of the most polluted waterways in the world. One mouthfull of this water can quite literally kill you.


Coming up out of the river basin, you see Billy Hale's horse operation.


Billy has some of the most prized cutters and penning stock in the West. You can take one of his ponies into a feedlot pen looking for the mostly black one with a white splotch over its left eye and once you put that horse on the cow, that cow will be forced out of the herd, and coaxed to where ever you want it to go. All you have to do is hang the fuck on. Once one of these guys gets a bead on a cow they drop into that pea picking stance and they fucking explode at light speed in what ever direction they need to go to get the job done. Nothing like a cutting horse to show you how superfulous a rider really is on a working ranch. Billy has also been kind enough to offer a very reasonable boarding set up for my arabs come September. Stud fees from Casey are involved, I don't think Casey will mind a bit.



Next is about eight miles of this:


But don't relax too much. If you miss the turn, you'll have less than a mile before you're across the border. The border fence hasn't happened yet. Here's the thing to remember, when the pavement ends you're in Mexico. Act accordingly. Lucky for us all, there's a high voltage transmission line at the road we need to turn left on.



Before I quit drinking I managed to miss that turn a few times.

The next landmark is Farmer Ed's feedlot. This is an old fashioned farmer's co-operative venture. Hay farmers pool their resources to have a ready market for their overages. There's some damned fine beef here. The main breed is Brangus. Regular Angus cows can't take the desert heat, Bhramas taste like shit but are hardy as hell. These aren't anywhere near as tractable as the Angus beeves, but that's why Billy's horses are such top notch masters. One of Billy's Bulldog Quarter Horses will not only make that cow do what ever you want, they will humiliate the poor horned critter too.



Right across from the feed lot they are cutting a field of Timothy.

This is a great smelling crop, normally, driving past something like this I would roll down the windows and inhale deeply. Sweet, country hay. Smells great. Since there are about 3,000 cows on the other side of the road, I just keep driving.

Back down into the New River Basin to cross Shit Creek again.


Up the bluff, past Danny Phillip's Cattle yard. Another 5,000 goddamned cattle.



Then we're here. Camacho's Place, established in 1946.


The place started out as a country store, but Maria Primera, being a tender hearted soul, began making tortas and burritos for the field hands and vaqueros. Word got out and folks started showing up for cooked food. It is pure Norteño cuisine. Poor people's, working people's food. It is wonderful stuff. The parking lot is always full. People start coming in at 7 a.m. and will eat steady until 9 p.m., except on Mondays (closed) and Sundays (they open after Mass, when ever after Mass happens)



That's the original counter from the store, those are the original reefer cases too. They still work.



That's the main dining area. Those dark brown beams are the main framing of the building, and the family houses. They started out as railroad ties, but when the Southern Pacific discontinued its runs to San Diego they left all this fine timber lying around and Tapio figured "Porque no?" There are ten consecutive years of Blue Angels portraits on the wall. It's a rite of passage for new members of the Angels to come here and taste real Mexican food.



I don't know if you can make out the headline but it's about how the Skipper of the Blue Angels was surprised by his crew. They flew from Pensacola to NAF El Centro, picked up his birthday lunch and flew back. Your tax dollars at work.



Here's the three generations who have owned and operated this fine restaurant. The fourth generation (and the third Maria) are here now.

The food comes and I drive the same road back. Once at home I spread out the goodies.



Quesadilla Especiale Take an uncooked tortilla round, stuff with cotija and jack cheese, crimp and fry. Total, gooey, lucious, goodness. Also something you won't find anywhere else. This is Norteño Pocho style. Delicioso.



Arroz, Salsa Roja, y frijoles. Each one of them exquisite.



Rolled tacos. Machaca, and cotija cheese, rolled in home made tortillas and fried to a perfect crispy but not crunchy texture. The perfect mixture of crisp and chew.
There were also some flat tacos, which are exactly the same, the machaca and the cotija are flash fried together, then shredded lettuce, diced tomatos and grated jack cheese are added. I blew the picture, sorry, they're all gone now. I only got two dozen of them. Nope, I didn't blow the picture at all, just blew the order of them. Now it's right These beauties below are the tacos. Probably the smell and the anticipation drove me temporarily insane and shit.




Every thing on the menu here is homemade, from local ingredients. It's all so very good. Especially since the folks here have been family friends forever. That makes it extra nice.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Since You're College Students, We Need to Have "The Talk"

A friend recently interviewed me by phone for a piece he wrote about the NRA's claim that "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Here's the link to that story. You should read that before you continue.

There were two strange coincidences in the interview. The other quoted veteran is also a friend of mine, and both of us are former contestants on the game show Jeopardy! (Jeopardy! really doesn't mean anything in relation to the story but it is cool)

It was funny that even though our experiences were separated by four decades, they were very much the same. Raf served in Iraq, I served in Viet Nam. Joshua had to pick one or the other of us many times when we said the same thing. I remarked to Joshua that if he could have interviewed Ceasar's or Alexander's veterans the experiences would have been close to the same. Uniforms and weaponry might change but war itself is pretty close to eternal.

Here are Uncle Stevie's things to do if you, by bad luck and happenstance find yourself in that situation.

1. Run. Figure out what direction the shots are coming from and go as fast as you can the other way. If you pass somebody standing still with their arms raised pleading for calm, run them over if it won't slow you down too much. Panic is your friend right now, it will help you to run faster. Also, the more people running, the safer running will become.

2. Hide. Make yourself small, get as close to the floor or the ground as you can. If there's a door, start piling things like desks, bookcases, chairs, or anything else to block the door you came into. Above all, do not quit looking for ways to run. At the Virginia Tech shooting, students used barricades to buy time to escape out of windows.

3. If all else fails, fight. If the shooter is right there and gives you commands do something else. A shooter has done nothing to merit your compliance. Charge them, throw things, scream, cry, but fight. Fight desperately. Fight crazy. Crazy can beat bigger and better armed often enough to make that an acceptable option.

Above all though, in the aftermath, be kind to yourself. What ever you choose to do, or feel forced to do is just what happened then, nothing more. You should not have been placed in that situation to begin with and what ever you do in those horrible moments will be understood in that perspective. Don't "should" all over yourself thinking about rights, wrongs, or options.

If something like that happens to you, I am sincerely sorry. It's wrong and unfair that these things happen. I hope you survive.

I wish I didn't feel the need to talk to you about it. In the time it took to compose this, it happened again. I really hate this world sometimes.

I'll leave with this musical offering:



Monday, October 05, 2015

A Blog Post Doesn't Need to be Long, to be Effective.

Jeb! Bush is going to revitalize his failing campaign by having his brother, G.W. Bush campaign with him in South Carolina.

Cue the effects:

Sunday, October 04, 2015

A History Geek Worries

Being a history geek, i have been seeing many parallels to just before the Civil War in today's situation.
 
Buchanan (always a contender for "worst president ever" a position he held until gwbush reopened the competition) was faced with an incredibly polarized congress. Everyone was clearly in one camp or the other with zero common ground to be negotiated.
 
The slavers (fuck calling them "The South" they were fucking slavers) not only wanted to expand slave territory, the slavers of the Carolinas wanted to reopen the African Trade (and flagrantly disobeyed the nonimportation laws), and were constantly trying to do things like sieze Cuba, Nicaraugua, and other Central and South American territories to expand the geographical reach of their system. This was because their main cash crops were incredibly hard on the farmland they currently occupied, but it was also because while their economic model benefitted a very few very well, it was destructive to all other forms of commerce. A few slavers opened factories with slave labor, Thomas Jefferson famously had a nail and a brick factory at Monticello, but, because slave labor was so cheap there was never an incentive for anyone else to open a productive factory and there was also no incentive to modernize or increase production in the existing factories because slaves were cheaper than machinery, and even if someone else began production nobody had any money to buy things. The very few that had wealth were already served by the few in production and what they didn't produce they would import.
 
The sole issue the slavers were divided on among themselves was the question of African importation. Virginia (which included West Virginia still) was doing quite well with its slave breeding industry (think of the most horrific puppy mill you can imagine, make it for humans, multiply by 10 and you might get close to the level of depravity) and had a huge economic stake in keeping the price of slaves high. The tobacco, cotton, sugar, indigo, and rice plantations of the Carolinas and Louisiana needed cheaper slaves, and longed for the days of free imporation when they could simply work their slaves to death in two or three years and then replace them with the cheap imports.
 
Charleston had a policy that they applied to any ships, including ships of the French, Spanish, and British navies, that required captains to turn over any sailors of color to the local authorites to imprison them during the stay of the vessel. They also had to pay for that imprisonment, and many free blacks were stolen from those prisons to be quickly sold off deep into the interior never to be seen again. The white people of Charleston were still very frightened by Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey's insurrections and believed, maybe even correctly, that the mere sight of a free black person could incite another rebellion.
 
The north was in opposition to slavery itself, but they were also hypocritical in that they profited greatly from the slave system. Northern goods were imported to replace what the slavers could not or wouldn't bother to produce on northern ships that also were the main transportation vessels in the smuggling of new slaves.
 
The vast majority of the slaver's real wealth was in human bodies, and they were loathe to even consider ever breaking that system. Modest buyback proposals were made, but they would have reduced the slaver's wealth to an unacceptable level.
 
Compromise had played out with the Missouri bargain. the slavers felt they had gotten a raw deal anyway and began to ram through things like the Fugitive Slave Act which tried to make the antislavers complicit even further in the slave system, and also resulted in free blacks (like Solomon Northrup of "Ten Years a Slave") being kidnapped and sold.
 
While Buchanan was President there wasn't much at all in the business of the nation that could be accomplished. Every issue that came forward swiftly split along intractable party lines and died. For three years of his term he simply quit trying.
 
On so many issues today, there is no compromise to be found, no common ground to share. Every gain, by either side is continually expanded and exploited. The demand made is, "agree with me that I'm right" on abortion, gay rights, voting rights, minimum wage, or anything else, and the subtext is that if you don't agree and accept that they are both right and moral in their positions they will just fucking kill you like the godless fucking scum you are.
 
When political balance, economic balance, and now even the balance of nature itself reach states of critical mass to one side or another, corrections will occur. Those corrections are often swift, violent, and destructive when they do so.
 
I wish I had a better outlook to offer up, but I can't. Things might ease to a better equilibrium, but those wanting the balance tipped to their favor will never take their thumbs off the scales.