Category Archives: photos

La Mesa Bar Bike Adventure

There are all sorts of bars in La Mesa, the city I grew up in, that I’ve never been to. Places that I wondered about when underage, but just didn’t seem cool enough once I could get into bars. Last night Kinsee, Derrik and I rode our bikes to five of those La Mesa watering holes.

First up was Centifonti’s, I’ve walked past it a few times before and always assumed it was a restaurant or bakery, I was shocked when I saw a coupon in the Citybeat advertising their “Boot of Beer”.  Why a place like this serves a boot of beer is beyond me, but we weren’t concerned with that, we just wanted our 112oz of cold, foamy Stella Artois. I felt a little out of place at first, most of the patrons were older than the three of us combined, but as we drank the boot I stopped worrying about La Mesa folks and started having a good time.

Pouring the Boot

Pouring the Boot

Drinking the Boot

Drinking the Boot

Finishing the Boot

Finishing the Boot

Next up was Pete’s Place. Pete’s used to be one of two dive bars on La Mesa Blvd, but they both recently closed. Pete’s Place opened back up after some remodeling, Joe and Andy’s, the other dive hasn’t reopened yet. When tearing down the old walls they apparently found nice brick walls behind them, so Pete’s Place looks nice these days. Even though they got remodeled the bar tender said they still have the same people hanging out there and drink prices didn’t go up. $3.25 for a decently stiff whiskey and 7up was pretty good.

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Brick Walls

Brick Walls

After Pete’s Place we rode down the street, passing such places as Hoffer’s Cigar Bar and the Turquoise Room at the Riviera Supper Club for the tried and true Falcon’s Lure. They only serve beer and wine but we found some good local brews. We played the jukebox (I resisted putting on Alice’s Restaurant, three times), met a local who showed us a magic trick, he originally wanted us to buy him a beer before showing us the magic behind it. When we showed no interest whatsoever he decided to tell us free of charge.

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Bikes in the Bar

Bikes in the Bar

We sprinted down University Ave to The Dragon Room at Wong’s Golden Palace. This was the most divey, and least fun bar of the night. We walked in and it was almost silent, no music was playing, and nearly dark. No one was behind the bar so I asked a guy sitting there if he’d seen a bartender around recently. He looked at me and laughed and said “nah”. Then he started yelling “MEATLOAF! MEATLOAF!”, shortly after that the bartender started walking over. We didn’t feel comfortable ordering drinks from someone that responds to the name Meatloaf so we went into the restaurant and order our Flaming Volcano drink. We downed the drink and got out as quickly as we could.

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The Volcano

The Volcano

The Flaming Volcano

The Flaming Volcano

Last was Mr G’s Tavern. It was bright with loud but not too loud music and a decent crowd. One patron was apparently trying to make fun of us and our bikes but I didn’t let him get away with it.

Him: “So you guys ten-speeded in here huh?”

Me: “They’re single-speeds actually.”

We quickly became friends with him and another regular named Tim. By the time we left we’d earned his respect by riding around the hills of La Mesa with only one gear.

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A Few of the Regulars -- We met Tim

A Few of the Regulars -- We met Tim

A Couple of the Other Regulars

A Couple of the Other Regulars

Photos mostly by Derrik.

I’ve Said it Before…

…I Love Santa Ana’s.

Urban Tumbleweeds

Urban Tumbleweeds

Tijuana Doorways

Photos by Kinsee Morlan

Ogre

Lines

Rocks

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Too Late

My friend Ryan is the king of hipster fashion. It seems like every time he changes his style I start to notice more and more hip folks at bars dressed like him.

A few months back he started wearing a watch, kind of rubbery and brightly colored with a small time face. It looked more like one of those “Livestrong” type bracelets everyone was wearing a few years ago than a watch. When asked about it he said they’re all the rage in Italy. He somehow got hooked up with some Italians and became a US distributor for the watches. I didn’t quite believe him that these simple, bright and inexpensive watches were popular in Italy, the land of fashion, but I didn’t really think much of it.

He gave me one of the watches a while back, I’m not a jewelery person but I wore it for a few days, a lot of people commented on how cool it was, then I gave it away to a friend. Now that in itself isn’t really worthy of me writing about it to post up here, but then something funny happened.

One day on the Facebook I got a friend request from “Too Late”. I decided to add them as a friend and didn’t think much of it. One of the ways the Facebook works is that when your friends are tagged in photos it shows up on your newsfeed. A lot of stuff ends up on there, so I don’t pay attention to it most of the time, but I started to notice more and more photos tagged with “Too Late” in them. One day I was bored to I started clicking on them. All of a sudden I was looking at all sorts of photos of Italian hipsters showing off their Too Late watches. They were in cities like Milan, Rome and Bologna. Drinking, dancing and partying, all while wearing one of these watches. The more I looked at it the more I realized these things must actually be really popular in Italy.

So now everyday I get a few pictures of random Italian hipsters posing with their Too Late watches mixed in with info about my actual friends on the Facebook. It’s pretty amusing.

You can see the watches on their English language website.

And if you’re in San Diego and want to be on the cutting edge of Italian-hipster style you should hit up Ryan on Myspace to buy a watch.

And if you’re on the Facebook and want to see all the action for yourself, add Too Late as a friend.

Below are a few of my favorites.

A Weekend at Richard Feynman’s House

The view of the house from the beach

The view of the house from the beach

I first heard of Richard Feynman a couple of years ago while looking for a book to read. I was chatting with a mathematician friend and he recommended Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. Richard Feynman was a brilliant mathematician and physicist, but the book had little to do with that. It was mostly about his curious character and all the wild adventures he got himself into. With the money he won from the Nobel Prize he built a house in in La Mision, Baja California, Mexico.

The house was right on the cliffs above the beach and had a beautiful view of the ocean from all the rooms, as well as a nice patio over looking the beach.

The weather was perfect, santa ana winds blowing in from the desert made it about 85-90F during the day. Warm enough for one person to sleep outside in a hammock at night.

I went horse back riding for the first time ever (on the beach no less, I felt like I was in Spaceballs the entire time, even though I think they’re parodying Planet of the Apes in that scene). I went swimming in the ocean in November — well I didn’t do too much swimming, it was pretty cold, but had some fun for a little while. We played some horse shoes, ate delicious home cooked meals, watched a pretty sunset. One afternoon a dog came up to our patio, he was friendly and ended up staying with us all evening and throughout the night, in the morning when we woke up he was gone. But about an hour before we left the next day he came back, as if to say goodbye.

As it always seems, the wonderful weekend was far too short and monday morning came too quickly.

Update: The house’s official name is Casita Barranca, here’s a link with more information and reservation info.

(thanks to Derrik for taking pictures all weekend)

Oso, the dog that adopted us

Oso, the dog that adopted us

Horseback riding on the beach

Horseback riding on the beach

Sunset from the house

Sunset from the house

Tecate, A Magical Place

Me outside the Tecate Brewery, photo by Kinsee Morlan

Me outside the Tecate Brewery, photo by Kinsee Morlan

I drink a lot of Tecate beer, they seem to have a monopoly of some sorts in Mexico. But Tecate is a lot more than just a beer. The town of Tecate — where the beer is made — is a small border town about 45 minutes east of Tijuana. As it was pointed out to me this weekend, Tecate, unlike many border towns, is a Mexican border town, rather than an American border town. There is a Tecate, USA just north of the border, but it exists because of Tecate, Mexico, the town just south of the border, not the other way around.

Before recently I had only been to Tecate once. We drove down from San Diego, parked on the US side of the border and walked across. The central part of the town, the plaza and the brewery are within a five minute walk from the border, which makes it really convenient for tourists to get around. The first time I went a few years ago the brewery was closed by the time we got there but we spent some time wandering around town, took in the wonderful plaza in the center of town and had some cheap Mexican food.

Five years ago or so, an English teacher I had at Grossmont college recommended I read a book called Enchiladas, Rice and Beans by a writer named Daniel Reveles. I picked up a copy and read it, it’s short stories about people in Tecate. Daniel Reveles I learned retired to Tecate after working in Hollywood and started writing books. The stories usually follow one or two characters around Tecate and tell stories about the people and the place. They have a bit of mysticism, but are rarely impossible tales that couldn’t really happen.

After I moved to Tijuana a few months ago I started thinking about this book again. Tijuana is nothing like Tecate, the only thing they have in common is that they’re both on the border with the US. Tijuana has about 1.5 million people, it’s a real city. Tecate has about 150,000 people, it just barely qualifies as a large town. I looked up Daniel Reveles and found a story about him from a few years ago in the Union Tribune, I saw that he has released a couple books since Enchiladas, Rice and Beans which was his first.

Last week I picked up a copy of his second book, Salsa and Chips at the library and started reading it. As far as I can remember it’s much like the first book. Short stories about the people in the town of Tecate. Saturday morning Kinsee and I woke up and decided to drive out to Tecate and try to find Daniel Reveles. If his stories could be believed we assumed we would be able to find him wandering through the plaza on a Saturday afternoon, having a drink at Bar Diana or maybe dining at La Fonda restaurant. After a lazy morning and a late start we hit the road to Tecate. There are two ways to get to Tecate from Tijuana, a toll road that costs $75MX, about $6US, each way and a free road that is slower, farther out of the way, and presumably more dangerous. I’ve heard stories that often times the pavement just disappears and one finds them self driving on gravel, that speeding trucks don’t always mind the yellow divider line in the road, and that if you get a flat you might not be able to find a shoulder to pull over on for a while.

In order to save time after our late start we decided to take the toll road, but when I missed the turn off and we saw a sign telling us the free road was just ahead we decided not to backtrack and take the free road. We drove through the outskirts of southeastern Tijuana, the farther we got from the center, the more poverty there was. The neighborhoods and houses reminded me of Salvador Brazil, but without the beautiful beach on the other side of the road. After about twenty minutes we were out of town and cruising along the road. While passing the municipal dump we saw smoke rising from the ground, Kinsee tells me it was methane from the cows.

After what I thought was far too short of a drive, we arrived on the outskirts of Tecate. We parked near the plaza and walked to the brewery. We found the gates locked, the attendant told us they were closed. But then when we pointed out that the sign said they weren’t closed yet he let us in, they were however done giving tours for the day. We got to look around the garden and drank our complimentary beer. While drinking we got to talking to the guy at the bar. I told him this was my second time coming and that both times I didn’t make it in time for the tour, he gave us his email address and told us to let him know next we’re coming and he’ll schedule a special tour.

We walked back to the plaza and just wander through. Small restaurants line one side with tables outside. One of the first thing I noticed was white people. In Tijuana it’s very rare to see any other white people, tourism is nearly nonexistent. But in Tecate there were plenty of Americans walking around eating and shopping. It’s obvious the plaza is a social focal point of the town. There were families with kids running around playing, teenagers that appeared to be on dates, old men playing chess, as well as vendors selling anything you could want, everything from cowboy hats and leather products to cotton candy.

While wandering around the plaza we stopped to watch the old men playing chess, looking for Daniel Reveles, wondering if he still looked the same as the picture on the jacket of his latest book. A man of about 60 sitting on a bench asked us if we were enjoying our time in Tecate. We got to talking to him, in Tijuana I would have assumed he wanted to sell us something, but this man just wanted to talk, wanted to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and finding everything we were looking for. He made sure we had gone to the brewery and recommended the bakery down the street. He told us that he’s lived all of the US, everywhere from Florida to Alaska, but retired to Tecate because it’s cheaper and life moves at a slower pace. He told us where Bar Diana was, and admitted he didn’t know a restaurant called La Fonda. He asked another old man: “Jarocho, Sabes el restaurante La Fonda?” The man thought for a moment and then gave directions in Spanish. “I don’t know it,” he tells us, “but my friend says it’s two blocks up the street.” We thank him and as we’re walking away tell him we’re actually looking for Daniel Reveles. He doesn’t recognize the name at first, but then tells us he knows who he is, that he often sits in the plaza, but he hasn’t seen him yet today. I start to think to myself that it was silly to think we’d be able to just show up in town and magically find Daniel Reveles, that he’d be just hanging out in the plaza or drinking in the bar. But I’m consoled by the conversation with this man, that he was nice and friendly and wanted to talk with us. Even if we don’t find the author it won’t be a wasted trip to Tecate.

Walking into Bar Diana, a bar that the man in the plaza described as “A small, family bar”, its small, with only a few people inside. Looking over at the three men to my left I think I recognize the one in the middle. It’s been about five years, but I’m pretty sure that’s my old english teacher, the teacher that introduced me to Daniel Reveles’s books. We sit down at the bar and Kinsee asks the bartender about Daniel Reveles. He says he knows him, but hasn’t seen him yet today. The next thing I know one of the men beside me is saying to his friend, “They’re looking for Reveles.” I look over and say hi, and introduce myself and confirm that this is indeed my old English teacher from five years ago. He’s there with two friends and colleagues of his, also from the English department at Grossmont College. Introductions are made and the next thing I know the bartender is handing Kinsee the telephone. After a few minutes she rejoins us and tells me Daniel Reveles will meet us here in a few hours.

We drink beer and tequila and chat while watching both American football and European football on the televisions above the bar. A group of musicians come in and we’re told that the guitar player is a character in one of Daniel’s stories. After a while the English teachers leave to have some dinner, telling us they’ll be at a restaurant next door if we’d like to join them. After a few minutes an older man walks in the door and the bartender seats him next to us. Daniel Reveles introduces himself to us and orders a tequila straight, with limes on the side. We talk for a while, about Tecate, about his life experiences that brought him to Tecate to be a writer of English language fiction. He tells us he names his books after food because the short stories are like a combination plate, with a little bit of everything. After talking a while longer we tell him his friends, the english teachers, are next door and were looking for him. Soon we all migrate the the restaurant and I hear the story of how the English teachers from Grossmont college discovered Daniel Reveles at an old bookstore out in Rancho San Diego (a bookstore I used to frequent some years ago, run by an amazingly nice woman, which is gone now). I heard some more stories and soon it was time for them all to leave.

Before leaving town Kinsee and I stopped by the plaza again. It was dark now but just as lively as it was in mid afternoon. Kids were still running around playing, people were singing and dancing around the gazebo. After taking in the scene for a little while we head back to the car. It was dark and we were tired so I decide to take the toll road home. It was quite a bit faster, but a lot more expensive, although the free road at night might be a bit hard to navigate.

I walked away thinking Tecate is just as mystical and magical as the stories Daniel tells in his books.

Me, the English Teachers, and Daniel Reveles, photo by Kinsee Morlan

Me, Tony Ding, Homer Lusk, Daniel Reveles and Joe Medina, photo by Kinsee Morlan

Halloween 2008

A few months ago a friend of a friend introduced me to the works of the writer and poet Richard Brautigan. I read Trout Fishing in America and enjoyed it. Then I read The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (a collection of poetry) and fell in love. I later read another poetry collection, Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork.

While trying to decide what to dress up as for Halloween I knew I needed a costume that would allow me to keep my moustache, as I’m just not ready to shave yet. Somehow Kinsee and I came up with dressing up as Richard Brautigan and Michaela Clark LeGrand from the cover of Trout Fishing in America.

The actual cover

The actual cover of Trout Fishing in America

Kinsee and Jeff as Trout Fishing in America

Kinsee and Jeff as Trout Fishing in America

Western Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Latkes

This meal started a few weeks ago while grocery shopping. Kinsee asked me to grab some pasta as we were walking past it. Faced with the plethora of ordinary pasta, noddles like spaghetti, farfalla and macaroni, how could I not pick Figuras del Oeste? Adorned with smiling cowboy, a cactus and other images from the wild west, I knew this was the pasta for us.

Figuras del Oeste

Figuras del Oeste

Well, when we got to the checkout line and were unloading the cart, it was obvious Kinsee wasn’t as much of fan of the little boots, cowboy hats and cactus shaped pasta as I was. I knew I’d need to make something really good out of the cowboys to win her over.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of macaroni and cheese. Well, I should say I’m not a fan at all of Kraft Dinner, the boxed, powdered cheese-like-stuff that passes for macaroni and cheese far too often. The few times I’ve had home made mac n cheese I’ve loved it. So I thought I’d give it a try, but wanted to spice it up a bit. It was easy to make and turned out great (unfortunately the pictures didn’t. My camera’s batteries were dead so I had to use my cell phone).

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

minced Jalapenos to taste

half and onion, minced

a few cloves of garlic, minced

black pepper to taste

a sprinkle of cayenne pepper

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

200g Western shaped pasta

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Oaxaca cheese

  • Start by melting the butter in a pan. Then saute the onion, garlic and jalapenos for a few minutes.
  • Stir in flour and both peppers, cook for a minute or two.
  • Slowly add milk, mixing as you pour. Simmer while the pasta is cooking, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook the pasta.
  • Add a good amount of cheese to the milk mix. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Put the cooked pasta in a casserole dish, mix in the cheese sauce. Top with some shredded cheddar and jalapeno slices.
  • Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, until the cheese on top is slightly crispy.

I think the last time I had Mac n Cheese was from City Deli and we had latkes as well, they went well together so I decided to make those as well.

Ingredients:

One large Russet potato

One medium onion

One egg

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

  • Clean the potato well, I like the skin so I left it on. Using a cheese grater shred the potato.
  • Mince the onion.
  • Combine the two and place in a cheesecloth. Press out as much of the water as possible. You can add the mixture to a colander and press even more water out. It’s important to get out as much water as possible.
  • Beat the egg in a bowl, add some salt and pepper.
  • Combine the egg with the potato and onion, mix well.
  • Heat oil in a deep pan, get it really hot.
  • Using a spoon, put a ball of the potato mixture in the oil, flatten with a metal spatula. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn over. Place on a paper towel to soak up some oil when cooked.
Deep frying latkes

Deep frying latkes

This made about four medium sized latkes. Pressing the liquid out is really important. First, so it doesn’t explode when it hits the hot oil, but also so the latkes hold together better and don’t break apart. As far as the oil goes, you want it to be hot, cooking them in oil that isn’t hot enough will result in greasy latkes (more so than you want, because just look at em, they’re going to be greasy no matter what — thats what makes them so good).

I’m told it’s traditional to serve latkes with applesauce and sour cream. We didn’t have any sour cream but I did get some apple sauce. I seriously considered making homemade apple sauce, it doesn’t seem hard, but it was late so I opted for the stuff in the jar. I’m gonna have to get better at taking pictures of these meals. But her it is.

Western Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Latkes

Western Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Latkes

Minor league soccer and Tequila in Tijuana

Sunday afternoon we drove over to the Hipodromo to see the Xoloitzcuintles game. They’re the Tijuana team in Mexico’s Primera A league, a minor league of sorts — although teams can be promoted from Primera A to the Primera Division, the major leagues, if they do well enough. They currently play in a small fairly primitive stadium, but they’re building a new stadium which will hold about 30,000 people, and if Mexico wins their bid for the World Cup in 2018 there’s a chance some games could be played in TJ.

We got there a bit late, missing both of the Xoloitzcuintles goals. They played well in the first half, but Leon A.C. played well in the second half, scoring two goals and leaving the game in a tie. Even though Tijuana didn’t win we had a great time drinking beer with chimoy and chili pepper around the rim of the cup, chatting with vendors who tried to tell us the meat he was selling was greyhound from the dog track next door, and watching the amazing half time show with a mechanical bull rolled onto the middle of the field.

After the game we went over to the casino and watched a dog race before heading downtown to the Tequila festival. I’ve been wanting to try some different tequilas for a while now, to find out which I like and what prices they should be in Mexico. We got to taste about twenty tequilas and one mezcal. I found that I liked them a lot more than I expected I would. And a lot more than when I’ve taken Cuervo shots in the past.

My friends made me pose with the cheerleaders.

My friends made me pose with the cheerleaders.

One of my favorite things about futbol games is the cheering, song-singing fans.

One of my favorite things about futbol games is the cheering, song-singing fans.

At halftime the mascot rode the mechanical bull

At halftime the mascot rode the mechanical bull

This is a real life xoloitzquintle

This is a real life xoloitzquintle

I want this t-shirt

I want this t-shirt

The stadium theyre building.

The stadium they're building.

Pictures from my weekend

Neighbors

Neighbors

Dice

Dice

Little Italy Festa

Little Italy Festa