Protests, and that one time in Tijuana with the cops

There was a peaceful demonstration/vigil for George Floyd at a park a couple of blocks away from me today, so I went and checked it out. Everyone was masked, it was fine. What struck me as interesting was I met up with a few friends and we were talking in the Park after the vigil had mostly ended, and a couple of people came up to us in a kind of weird fashion, almost like a covert op, and shared information on where the cops were, how many on each entrance to the park, and a police scanner app with updates on movements of protesters. This one chick suggested we snap a photo of her phone so we could follow.

This struck me as kind of funny, because my friends are all approaching 40 or well into them, and I wondered if we looked like people mobilizing to do some shit, but whatever. I guess I appreciate it. I also heard that the looter faction is pretty organized and work in tandem – like a group looking out, a group causing a distraction, and a group coming out in cars to loot the stores. So that was kind of fascinating. Last night they blocked off all car traffic below 96th street in Manhattan after the 8pm curfew. and it seems to have had a pretty big effect. I have for years joked that a lifelong dream of mine was looting, and my brother brought that up in a text the other day. I was like ‘ well, shit, it’s problematic in NY because you have to carry that shit home with your bare hands. nobody has a car’. But some people do. And, for the record, while I would love to loot, right now I feel like I have grown up or something, and just want the city to be back to where it was. If looting must be done, I hope it is at big businesses with large insurance policies who treat their employees like shit and not at small family owned places struggling to survive So, all in all, interesting.

By sharing this story I am in no way trying to make light of the numerous messed up stories people of color have about police interaction. I was just reminded of it because I remember the feeling of kind of helplessness, and WTF? But I realize that for me this is just a story that happened, and for a lot of people this kind of shit goes on all the time. Also, telling this story will kick off the family roadtrip stories, which I enjoyed being a part of.

When my parents were together, we would make an annual Christmas trip to L.A. to visit my grandfather. When my brother and I were really young, this was great – we would get to go to Disneyland and stuff. But the last REAL family trip to L.A . was kind of an ordeal, because nobody was into it. At that point my parents were barely holding on to their marriage, and Disneyland was still cool, but god – we all had to be in a car together for like two days.

On the way home, my dad saw an exit sign for Hollywood Boulevard. ‘That’s where all the hookers are!” He said. OMFG> Sign me up! “I want to see the hookers!!!!” I said. I’d watched all kinds of seedy movies but never seen a real live prostitute.

My mom was against it. “No, we are not going to stop”. But somehow, my dad, being the hero that he was, decided that yes we were. He took the exit, and we parked the car on Hollywood Boulevard. Oh my god, it was fantastic! I didn’t see anyone flagrantly prostituting themselves, but I fucking loved it. We walked by Fredericks of Hollywood and the Chinese Theater, and it was so gritty and fabulous in the sense that it so wasn’t fabulous. My mom was growing uncomfortable. There were homeless people out on the strip and I think someone said something to her because it was clear that she didn’t belong there. After that, we had to go back to the car .

I was so disappointed. I never got to see a live hooker. My dad said “It’s okay, we will come back next year, and I promise we will spend some time here”.

In my head I was thinking, ‘yeah right, you and mom are not even going to be together next year, or at the very least we will not all be in a car together, so…. empty promise.’

But I kept focused on it throughout the year. I kept saying, “we are still going to Hollywood next Christmas, right?”

And I’ll be god damned if he didn’t hold true to that. Like I had internally predicted, there were no more family outings including my mom, but my Dad, brother and I went to Hollywood to see the fucking hookers!

Oh my god, so many good memories as we embarked on that trip. I remember playing a lot of Nine Inch Nails music, my dad had these ‘hi-tech walking shoes’ that we relentlessly gave him shit for, my brother was kind of new to driving, so it was cool for him to ‘drive the streets of LA’. It was so dumb. and fun. I remember some homeless kids saw us having fun with our dad and they said “Hey, will you adopt me?” My dad had one of those “Entertainment” coupon books, so we were staying in really random hotels and our meals were also guided by the coupon book.

Right near LA is Tijuana, so of course we had to spend a day there. To be honest, this recollection may not have been from our first year there. I remember desperately wanting us all to pose on the donkeys. Which I accomplished, right after we all bought matching jackets:

The day in Tijuana was fun. but god……. Both my dad and my brother love bargaining and pretending they are proficient at speaking other languages…..So every interaction we had was this exhausting back and forth, and I was just over it.. It was also hot, and I was thirsty. My dad was a notorious cheapskate, so when I asked if we could just stop somewhere and get a coke or whatever, he suddenly became pragmatic.

“Well, a coke costs a dollar (or whatever), but look at this place – you can get a bucket of 10 beers for five dollars!” I was like 16, and didn’t really love the taste of beer. But he refused to pay the exorbitant amount for a coca cola, so we instead sat down to a bucket of beer. And you know, after a couple of those, it suddenly seemed like the best idea in the world. I was in a great mood, I had forgotten all of my annoyance over them haggling for switchblades and stuff and was all in.

I am pretty sure we got another bucket. There was also the added thrill for my brother and I that we were drinking in a bar, totally underage. We thought we were so fucking cool.

Many crazy things happened that night (haaaaayyyy – strip club!), but eventually we walked back to the border to go back to our hotel selected by the Entertainment coupon book.

On the way, I really needed to pee. Of course, I mentioned this, and suddenly my brother had to as well. My dad said ” Well, we are almost back to the border, just hold it”….but we couldn’t. Right before the border wall was a building under construction. It was pretty much abandoned and had – you know, great areas to pee..

So I went into one walled off area, my brother the next, and my dad stood on the walkway. I was hunkered down doing my thing when two cops shined a light on me and started speaking in Spanish. ” I don’t understand” is all I could say, super drunk, and noticed they had a gun on me. I was kind of stunned and they went around the wall to my brother They kept saying “coca? coca?” So, I guess they thought we had cocaine or were pretending we did. They put my brother against a wall with a gun pointed at him and rifled through his pockets. He had just bought these fake brass knuckles (plastic) and a couple of switchblades, which I think they took. (actually, I remember him having the knuckles, so maybe not on them) But they for sure found his wallet and emptied it of cash. (which, come on, a teenager is not going to have much, but still.) I remember looking at my dad on the sidewalk as he was watching this go down, seeing and that kind of hesitation to interfere, will it make things worse?

It was fine though, they robbed my brother and we left, our bladders empty. Good times were had by all.

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