Jack Lutz – View from the West: My El Paso, Part One
It’s 4 a.m. on a Saturday and I’m looking for a place to eat after a long night of playing poker and I want real authentic Mexican food. I’m cruising Dyer St. , passing the Devils Triangle, a neighborhood located in the northeast that was once a powderkeg of crime, prostitution, and drug trafficking.
I pass by my old comic book store, All Star Comics and Games. I remember vividly as a kid, along with my best friend at the time, during the Summers we would walk out of the Pershing Theater after viewing a cheap matinee and we would continue to walk until we arrived at the comic shop completely drenched in sweat handing over the rest of our allowance to buy the latest issue of Spiderman.
During the late 80’s – early 90’s and well before that, you didn’t have too many helicopter parents; they wanted you to be outside, they wanted you to go on youthful adventures that would later sweeten over time as you would revisit those memories every now and again.
Pardon me, I digress. I’m really hungry.
The radio is blasting rock ‘n roll on KLAQ and I just realized that this is the first time I’ve listened to that station since 2005 when I was fired from there for, we’ll just say I wasn’t the most pleasant person to work with at the time. It sounds good, clean, and crisp. The Programming Director there is running a tight solid ship.
Rob Zombie is finishing up screaming in my ear as I drive by Chicos Tacos and I know they’re already closed but even if they were open, being in this area I have a different destination in mind. A few blocks down, near the overpass, is Jaime’s Hut. I’ve had this place in the back of my mind since I sat down to play Hold ‘Em and Deuce to Seven Lowball several hours earlier.
I walk in and it’s like a scene from a movie, kind of like Desperado with Antonio Banderas where he walks into the bar and all eyes are on him as he’s about to ask for “Bucho.” The only difference is, is that I’m pale white, bald and I don’t have a guitar case full of guns, I left those in the car in case someone wanted to mug me after the poker game.
Here, it was as if the record player skipped. All eyes on the “guero” that just walked in, who must be lost. I know exactly where I am and I know what I want to eat.
I sit, place my order and wait for my food. By the way, I mentioned I was looking for authentic Mexican food. You want to know how authentic this place is? When you order, you best know your Spanish, because if you order in English the staff won’t know what you’re saying.
After a while I finish my meal and I get back into my car, now ready for the trek back home to the Westside, but before I can even turn the key to the ignition I get a phone call from my mother asking me to head to The Bowie Bakery and pick up some choco-flan for her for a party she’s throwing later.
7 a.m. hits with a cold shower and a little snack as I plan the rest of my day out. I have to go to Quality Coin on Montana to pay off certain things my mother has in pawn and then I have a date with a school teacher and I’m thinking the Wyler Aerial Tramway is the way to go. It’s really a nice romantic setting if you get there right at noon before it gets too packed.
I haven’t slept; a nap hasn’t even remotely crossed my mind. There’s just so much to do.
This city, with all her faults and blemishes, has a charm like no other place. It has all the qualities of a small town and all the great attributions a large metropolis possess.
What do you want? What are you looking for? It’s all here; you just have to find it.
I think I’ll have Italian for dinner.