“Streaking” by Kinsee Morlan
Ah, Labor Day. What was once supposed to be a highly charged political day meant to commemorate the historic struggle of the working class has become a day of laziness and lethargy (the real Labor Day, of course, is May Day, but Congress wanted the U.S. collective memory to forget about all that history and never, ever protest working conditions or poor economic situations again; so instead, they gave us Labor Day, a meaningless day off).
But rather then lament the lost sense of proletariat camaraderie, I went camping. And watched my first and last-ever bullfight at the only remaining bullring in Tijuana. And went bowling at Mundo Divertido. And played dominoes while sampling things like burnt-milk, avocado and horchata-flavored ice cream at a Tijuana spot called Tepoznieves.
Now I’m nice and tanned dark brown, relaxed and ready to start the rat race anew. This weekend, I was reminded of the mysteries and secrets of northern Baja California. And the wonders — holy moly — the wonders included a man who’d built himself a garage full of strange flying contraptions. Take a look:
The flying thing became one of our favorite pastimes as we enjoyed the beaches of La Fonda. Another form of entertainment came when the sun set Saturday night and the pop-pop-pop of firecracker after firework began.
It’s funny; not only can you still drink down here, you can zip around on your ATV, light off a few Black Cats and sip on a Tecate on most Mexican playas. And the U.S. is supposed to be the home of the free? How many of you had to sneak your beer to the PB or Mission Beach this weekend?
The vendors do get a tad intrusive — you can only say “no, gracias” so many times before your feigned cordiality turns to lightly veiled annoyance — and one t-shirt may or may not have been stolen while my friends and I frolicked in the ocean, but all in all, I’d have to say that Mexico is about a gillion times better in terms of being the perfect backdrop for a stress-free, beach-camping getaway.
And guess what, scaredy-cat gringos? Not one of my friends was raped, beheaded or fucked with by the federalis. Amazing, huh?
Your fears of Mexico are unfounded if — and I feel like a freakin’ broken record while typing this — if you aren’t connected to the drug cartels in any way.
You see, even the most gangsta of Mexican ganstas these days seems to want to do his part in getting tourism back on track. One of my friends — a journalist who’s heading off for an Iraqi embed in the next few days — assured me that a few of his sources who know how the cartel operates said if they find a U.S. I.D. on someone, they back off, partly because they don’t want to deal with the DEA and partly because they want the tourist economy to go on smoothly like it did 10 years ago. That way, they can operate below the flow like they did back in the glory days.
After camping, it was off to the bullfight where my adrenaline started pumping hard and fast before I even stepped foot inside the ring — some asshole Americans tried to cut in the long ticket line, and if there’s anything that pisses me off it’s that bigoted sense of entitlement.
“A la fila, la fila, la fila,” the crowd would yell in unison to the swarm of stinky buttholes who kept trying to creep their way into the line. “Culero, culero, culero!”
But one guy was pretty big and from the U.S., so he ignored the people’s taunting and tried to con a guy wearing a “Bigg Nigg” Oakland Raiders jersey to buy him and his buddies some tickets so they didn’t have to wait in the long line.
“Why don’t you wait like the rest of us?” I asked, tapping him on his pudgy shoulder.
“What? I’ll even buy you a ticket if you want,” he said, annoyed, “just chill out.”
I didn’t chill out. Instead, I made sure the rest of the line saw what he was trying to get away with, and a few yells and yanks later, the jerk was gone.
So, yeah, my adrenaline was pumping while my bf and I climbed our way to the top of the sun section inside the ring, near the corner so our flesh didn’t completely burn off our faces (seats in the sun were 2×1: A deal that’s not easy to resist). The first fight was already in progress — we walked in right as the picadores came out on their horses ready to stab the poor bull in the neck so the matador would have even a chance of winning.
The crowd booed. I gasped. The bull got stabbed repeatedly in the neck.
I’d love to go into all the quirky and strange traditions that I learned about that day, but the long and the short of it is this: Bullfighting is a vicious sport steeped in cultural traditions that, once upon a time, meant a whole lot. Now — aside from those who actually take the time to learn about the traditions — it’s a spectacle watched by Bros who say things like, “that dude needs a bigger sword” or “nice pink socks” while slamming Sol and cheering wildly anytime anything — the bull, the matador, the picador or the picador’s horse — gets injured.
Six bulls were slaughtered on Sunday, by the way. But the guy sitting next to us in the bullring told us we had nothing to worry about.
“They send the meat to the Tijuana jail,” he said. “It’s gross and tough because of all the adrenaline in the meat, but they send it to the Tijuana jails and the prisoners eat it.”
Huh. Interesting, but for some reason, it didn’t make the slaughtering or the constant teasing and harrassing of the bull any easier to handle. I think I’ll stick with bowling: