20th Annual “Street Rods Forever” in Monrovia Saturday 9/11/2010

Over 200 restored beauties, hot rods, rat rods and every imaginable iteration of the antique (pre-1973) automobile will be on display at the Street Rods Forever show in Monrovia on Saturday.   Myrtle Avenue from Olive to Lime Avenues will be blocked off to showcase all of the old cars on display.  Of course my favorites tend to be the nicely restored to better than show room condition than the “rodded” out varieties.

If you have an old beast you’d love to show be there at 7AM with a $30 registration fee and you’re in.

Of course all of the great little eateries in Old Town Monrovia will be open along with other food vendors set up just for this event.

Deets: Saturday 9/11/2010,  9-3PM 300-600 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016

Pic by me shot at a previous Monrovia old car show.

GTD This Weekend: Rajskub, Burlesque & Pickles

Oh my, are there many things to do this weekend.

Not entirely sure what's going on here, but you'll have your chance to take your photo with an Uglydoll on Saturday.


  • Chloe O’Brien was to 24 what Sue Sylvester is on Glee: a much needed relief from the overdramatic shenanigans of the main characters.  Mary Lynn Rajskub played Chloe by imagining her as a cross between Darlene Connor and Debbie Downer, a characterization that worked in part because Rajskub was able to draw upon her experience in comedy before joining 24. From now through October, Rajskub is performing in her own stand-up show, Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs, at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Feliz.  As the title suggests, Rajskub focuses on the sometimes obscenely frustrating aspects of motherhood – the thought of killing your kid is no laughing matter, except when it is – and how to communicate (or not) those frustrations to your decidedly more blase partner.  Lest you think she’s trying to shed her days at CTU, she acts out her failed attempt to scare her baby in nursing by channeling her inner and outer Chloe O’Brien.   Not all of the routine sticks, but when it does, you’re stuck.  Overall, it’s funny, it’s quite ballsy, and you’ll be hard pressed to find better entertainment for the price.  $20 (but only $10 for upcoming shows via Goldstar).  The show runs Fridays and Saturdays through October 30th at the Steven Allen Theater in Los Feliz.
  • My better dressed friends remind me that Friday is FNO, which apparently is not a new boy band, but Fashion’s Night Out.  A nationwide event inviting you to beat the recession blues by engaging in some retail therapy, FNO is a one-night extravaganza in which stores I’m not cool enough to patron have fashion shows and killer sales.  Participating stores seem to be mostly on the Westside, i.e., West Third Street, Beverly, Robertson, and Melrose, etc.  To paraphrase Tim Gunn, I guess most of us east of La Brea can not “make it work.”  Because I’m not quite the fashionista that  glossy mags insist I become, I’m going to point you over the official website for a full rundown of the town’s FNO events.
  • Regardless of what you end up doing on Friday night, what better way than to end it than by watching the first rated R movie I ever saw in the theater, Terminator 2?  It’s one of the best action flicks of all time, and the various LA locales provide awesome pre- and post-apocalyptic backdrops.  $10.50.  It’s called a midnight show because that’s when it screens, at the Nuart in West LA.


  • One of the best parts of my trips to Mississippi was the food.  Sure, it was fried 99% of the time, and at the end of each week, I felt bloated and constipated, but it was all worth it.  For those who want to spend the afternoon lazing away with the foods of Mississippi – fried catfish, BBQ ribs, authentic hush puppies, and non-McDonald’s Sweet Tea – hit up Elysian Park around 1pm for the 34th Annual Mississippi Picnic in LA.  Southern bands will entertain while you grub.  The only thing missing is Mark Twain steamboating down the Mississippi River at sundown.  $25 (cash), which includes food and entertainment.  Picnicking starts at 1pm at Montecillo De Leo Politi Park on Stadium between Scott and Academy Road, Elysian Park.
  • If you’re looking to get out of the country and head south below the border instead, head on over to Baja Night.  As I posted yesterday, Ricky’s Fish Tacos and Mexicali will be side by side, dishing out the very best of Baja-style fish and meat tacos.  See you there.  Pay as you eat.  The grilling starts at 6pm and goes until the food runs out, at the parking lot at 1st and Beaudry in Downtown.
  • The Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture begins Saturday and ends Sunday in San Pedro.  Partake in a little culture via food, live music, and even live art.  $7, tickets online and at the door.  The festival runs 10am-6pm both Saturday and Sunday at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro.
  • Courtney Cruz and her buxom band of burlesque dancers are back with their artful striptease at the Bordello Bar.  The theme of the night is “Ladies of Sci Fi”, giving life to all your fanboy/girl dreams of seeing Ripley, Barabarella, and Aeon Flux nearly nekkid.  $13.  Doors open at 9pm at the Bordello Bar, 901 E. First Street, Downtown.
  • If you prefer Uglydolls over the Superhotdolls above, head over to the Giant Robot store on Sawtelle.  The store will host a reception for Photos from the Uglyverse, a gallery featuring the work of Uglydoll masterminds David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim.  The pair will be on hand to sign autographs, although, honestly, I am way more excited at the prospect of taking a photo with the life-size Uglydoll that will be scaring/delighting the children. Free.  The reception starts at 6:30 and ends at 10pm at the Giant Robot (GR2) Store on 2062 Sawtelle Boulevard.


  • In a pickle?  Exclusive supper club organizers Chicks with Knives presents Perishable: A Pop-Up Pickle Shop at the unlikely location of Starry Kitchen downtown.  For $5 (cash), you’ll learn how to pickle, then can nosh on a few pickled-inspired appetizers and drinks.   Pickling kits and jarred organic pickles will be available for sale.  $5 entrance fee.  If you want in on the workshop, get to Starry Kitchen at the California Plaza by 11am; the event goes on until 2pm.
  • Scotland gave us more than the low-key indie alt band Belle & Sebastian; no, the land of the kilts also gave us dreamy rock band Mogwai.  A short, 45-minute documentary focused on the band’s three night residency in a Williamsburg theater will be screened for free at The Echo. Screening is at 7:30pm at The Echo in Echo Park.  RSVP on their Facebook page here.

Photo of two guys, an Uglydoll, and a Comic Con courtesy Seyek and made available under a Creative Commons license.

Hard Wood Floors: Bad Ad Campaigns Part V

Snapped at Woodman and Ventura
When the history of bad ad campaigns is written, this billboard may have a chapter all to itself, or at least a subsection of a chapter. Seriously, it feels almost too easy to critique this as an example of an awful piece of advertising. I mean, really guys? Really?

This billboard sprang up just a few blocks from my house since I started this bad ad campaign mini-series of posts here at b.la and it almost feels like a plant. Every time I pass it I giggle to myself about hard wood floors. I am, I admit, lodged firmly in arrested adolescence. Retarded in the true sense of the word. Even so, it feels almost unsporting to pick on this billboard–like the jock beating up the fat kid on the playground: it’s just too easy. But of course, here I am.

Other posts in this series:
To A New World of Gods and Monsters
It’s a Thin Line Between “Awesome” and “Awful”
Graffitists, I Invite Thee
Some Things Shouldn’t Go Viral

Pocket Parks: Stewart Street Park

Tucked between Olympic Blvd., the 10 Freeway and what appears to be the Santa Monica City work yard, sits the lush green spot that is Stewart Street Park.

I was there on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and it was pretty empty. Not sure if that was because of the holiday or if because it’s always pretty quiet in this tidy corner of East Santa Monica. With a number of office buildings nearby (The Lantana Building and Tribeca West to name a few) I can imagine this is a nice spot for office dwellers to come to for lunch when they just need some fresh air.

Here’s where to find this green retreat (Click on the image to take you to the google map.):

There is ample parking and very clean, bright, airy bathrooms – two each for ladies and gents.

The sinks are outside and I kinda dig ’em:

There is a basketball court near the front of the park surrounded on three sides by shady trees. No other courts at this park, just the B-ball.

Beyond the basketball court was a baseball field ringed with a fence and this sign. Unfortunately there was no information on when the field would be completed.

Fortunately, just past the jungle gym, there is still plenty of field left unfenced for frisbee, catch or a rockin’ game of Freeze Tag, if you are so inclined.

At the end of this path, at the west end of the park are the swings. I was tempted to stop and enjoy them, but saved it for next time.

From the swingset end, looking back to Stewart Street.

I’m curious how busy this park actually gets on non holiday weekends. It seems a gorgeous spot to relax and unwind after a busy week. I hope it is well used and loved by it’s neighbors!

Ricky’s Fish Tacos and Mexicali Team Up for Baja Night

I’m not one to get all Noah’s Ark on you and proclaim that the best things come in pairs, but sometimes – sometimes – they do.  Ninety-nine dollar Simple Human waste receptacles + Hefty; Mulder + Scully; French fries + Ooegy Gooey — all great pairs.  On Saturday night, add another great duo: Ricky’s Fish Tacos + Mexicali, bringing Baja to Beaudry + 1st.


Mexicali’s chorizo cachetada + Ricky’s fish tacos

Both Ricky and the guys at Mexicali are tenaciously intent on bringing authentic, Baja-style tacos to LA and are cooking up some mad delicious tacos to show us what we’ve been missing.  Ricky fries fish and shrimp tacos at 1400 Virgil on most days (see Burns! review here) while the guys at Mexicali use a parking lot on 1st and Beaudry to cook up meat tacos, quesadillas, and whatever else strikes their fancy on Wednesdays through Saturdays (see my review here).

Both, however, will interrupt their regularly scheduled programming for Saturday’s Baja Night.  Starting at 6pm, the two will go Justice League on us and combine their respective strengths: you’ll find Ricky frying his fish and shrimp alongside Mexicali grilling their carne and chorizo at Mexicali’s parking lot spot on 1st and Beaudry.  Pick up a lovely fish taco from Ricky, then wash it down with a cachetada from Mexicali.  Stick around a little bit to digest it all, then go back for more.  Maybe try a shrimp taco paired with a vampiro?  Or a shrimp taco with nachos con carne?  Noah aside, it will have to be a polyamorous night.  The Baja food gods wouldn’t have it any other way.

Elektra at the Getty Villa: A New Translation or a Rewrite?

Electra Receiving the Ashes of her Brother, Orestes, by Jean-Baptiste Joseph Wicar

Elektra is the third Greek drama I’ve been to see at the Getty Villa, and it’s the first I’ve been compelled to blog about. That should tell you something right there. I went to see a preview show Saturday night thanks to a belated birthday present from a dear friend, and I was so impressed I wanted to tell you all that you should go, but here’s the sad news–well, sad for you, good for the Getty and the troop–the show, which runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through 2 October, is already sold out. So then I wasn’t going to write about it, because I didn’t want to irk folks like Frank, and I didn’t want to gloat-post (“Look what I did that you can’t do…”). But then I read that it’s not impossible that seats will become available and so I’m back to posting about it. Besides I’d really love to get a take on the performance from someone who knows more about translations and/or classical drama than I do (and I know precious little, so that’s a lot of someones).

So yeah, if you’ve heard that the Getty is putting up Sophocles’ Elektra what you’ve no doubt heard is that Olympia Dukakis plays the chorus, which is, somewhat oddly in this production, not really a chorus at all but more like Dukakis and a sidekick along with a cellist. And sure, that’s noteworthy. Who doesn’t like Olympia Dukakis? But the real star of this show is Timberlake Wertenbaker’s translation, which was commissioned specially for this performance. And here’s where my questions come in: at what point does a translation cease to be a translation and become, instead, an interpretation? It’s been about a thousand years since I read Elektra (really, I think I was in high school, which means it was not only a thousand years ago but also that I was extremely stoned, so I truly don’t remember any detail), but it did, to my muddled memory, seem like the translation followed the sense of the play throughout. The language was almost hyper-contemporary at times, however. By itself, that would have probably gotten under my skin eventually (I am generally averse to the dumbing-down of things), but throughout the performance, at the moments of most heightened drama, the actors launched into pure Greek. It was delightful. Wertenbaker completely won me over. And really, like Stephen Mitchell’s Tao, the translation, while contemporary sounding, was extraordinarily poetical in its own right. I was so impressed that, if Wertenbaker’s translation is published, I’ll probably purchase it and read it.

As one would expect from a performance at the Getty, the acting was spot-on throughout. The other unexpected (to me) aspect of the performance was the music (cello, light percussion, and another odd sort of found-object-looking instrument I can’t name for you). Theresa Wong, the cellist, and Bonfire Madigan Shive (hippy parents anyone?), the composer, deserved their own ovation post-performance. Things that worked less well for me were the costuming, which was just too modern for my tastes, in the men’s jacket’s in particular–really, a leather jacket and a linen sport coat?–and the chain link fence part of the set design. The latter is explained this way in the program:

In designing this production, we wrapped the Getty facade in security tape and chain-link fencing to evoke the protective barriers Clytemnestra herself might have erected to defend against acts of reprisal. We are, of course, sadly accustomed today to the sight of public buildings becoming bunkers against possible “terrorist” attacks, and we are certainly accustomed to repetitive cycles of violence. Perhaps this is the real fascination of revisiting Greek drama: it is an occasion to look at our own experience through the unblinking lens of great tragedy.

I’d say, no, in fact, that’s not what the fascination is for me, nor do I expect that’s what draws most people. I could have just as well done without the chain link and leather jackets and amateurish references to terrorism, honestly. If I’m going to seek out a parable of some kind for our war against terror, Elektra wouldn’t be it.

ICME: Audi Pinto?

click to get a better look.

Must be some great cosmic joke I’ve missed, but this Audi A4 driver felt compelled to paste on Pinto decorations on his back side.  Maybe the same reason a Bentley owner is running around LA with a Hyundai grill ornament in place?  Dressing down is the new black?  Anyone with an idea as to why they did it?  Just call me curious.

Going Stag at the Taste of Beverly Hills or: Why I Ate Everything

Hi back at you, Simple Human.  Fancy seeing you here at the Taste of Beverly Hills.  The theme tonight is Date Night – who’s your date?  Where?  Oh there!  Come out, don’t be shy!

Oh, there there.  I know, you’re $6.49 for a pack of 35 on sale at Target.  Simple Human is the $100 Dyson of trash cans.  But, there’s nothing to feel self-conscious about.  You’re not too trashy for Simple Human.  Lady and the Tramp, Prince Charming and Cinderella, the prostitute and Richard Gere, Xena and Gabby — see, opposites attract.  By the end of the night, you’ll see that it doesn’t make a difference whether your dress is lined with silver or with a black Hefty bag: when it comes to AYCE, rich people shove, jostle, and growl at each other in line, just like everyone else.  And, after the plates are full and the drinks are imbibed, the all-class instinct to mark your spot in a queue gives way to another, more communal instinct to have deep, intellectual thoughts on whether Mozza’s butterscotch budino could properly be considered one of the Top 5 Desserts in Los Angeles, and theories on how it is that that guy over there snacking on Chef Ben Ford’s pork cheek and risotto doesn’t care much for Chef Ford’s father, Indiana Jones.

There you are.  What a handsome couple.  Trash for everyone.

The happy couple there were dutifully performing their duties on Saturday night’s Taste of Beverly Hills event.  This was the third night of Food & Wine Magazine’s food and wine festival on the roof of a parking lot behind the Beverly Hilton (it was slightly more classy than that reads).  Saturday night was themed “Date Night”, because, I guess, the restaurants in residence were the types of places you would take someone on an (expensive) date?  Or, in my case, take yourself on a date, because many of these restaurants have great bars that make solo dining not sad.  Also, future reference, everyone: you can take me to a very good taco truck, and I’ll love you just the same.

I digress.  On to the food.  The restaurants began dishing at 7pm sharp.  I’m no fool – I made a beeline to Mozza‘s stand first.  Nancy Silverton, as she was plating mini versions of her butterscotch budino, noted that they would have to have more at their ready because “these will be gone in minutes.”  And she was right.  They were.  Minutes.

Dessert done, I went on for more substantive samples.  Chef Ben Ford’s Ford Filling Station had a nice little library that gave you a feel for the type of food he was serving: pig’s cheek on a soft bed of risotto.

Ford’s Filling Station wasn’t the only one to convey its food via table setting.

Clockwise from the left: a lot of red at Chaya; fresh made pasta at Terroni; Pace showing off fresh ingredients and, possibly channeling its inner Macaroni Grill, crayons for the kids; and Oliverio‘s white rose in a birdcage, which surely symbolizes something I was much too full to deconstruct.

A map of the vendors would have been helpful to plan one’s pacing of the event.  As it was, I pretty much ate ’em as I saw ’em.

From the top: olives at Terroni; refreshing gazpacho and summer salad from Porta Via; rugulah from Nate ‘n Al’s; a fried pig’s ear with a hearty corn bisque courtesy Fig; chicken mole tamale and mole rice from one of the best Oaxacan spots in the city, La Guelaguetza; goat cheese and pistachio baklava and s’more from BOA; 25 Degrees‘ mini-sirloin burger [insert Jack-in-a-Box jingle here]; cured barramundi with salsa and pink sea salt and a cookie from Craft; and SimonLA‘s pot pies.

It was a food and wine festival, but once I saw Father’s Office nearly hidden in a corner, I left the reds and the whites behind in favor of their beer.  I was handed a crisp Alaskan ale, then instructed to drink it with the next plate they handed me: a smaller version of their famous burger.  I was very full from all of the above, but how do you not eat their burger?

Despite the sometimes hostile glares at line cutters, you really only had to wait a few minutes at most at each table, which is how I managed to eat all of the above well before the night was over.  There are some things I didn’t even snap before gobbling up, like Anglini Osteria‘s plate of faro, meatballs, lasagna, and artichokes.  Having eaten an enormous amount of savory food, then, I had to go back to the sweets.  And then call it a quits, because I can only eat so much.  Luckily, I found Valerie Confections, who was sampling toffee and small slices of an amazing coffee crunch cake.  They’re often out at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market with freshly made jams and sweets; you’ll be remiss not to check them out at least once.

As I was walking out, I caught SimonLA spinning their own cotton candy.  The adults eagerly grabbed these sugar yarns like kids in a cotton candy store.  Some were unabashedly happy that a bit of the LA County Fair was found here in Beverly Hills; others were shyly justifying their reach with mumbled sentences about how this was for their son or daughter.  Sure.

A good first date night, then, by most accounts: the food was flowing, generous, and easily representative of the quality at the actual restaurant; most felt they got their money’s worth; and almost everyone left stuffed to the gills.   Will Simple Human and Hefty last, or will they decide that the whole idea was rubbish all along?  Ah, we’ll see – here’s to hoping there will be a second date next year.

Win Tickets to Opening Night of the Downtown Film Fest!!!!

Starting Wednesday, September 8th and going through the 12th, the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles aims to highlight the best indie flicks while reminding you that, oh, Downtown used to be – and getting to be – this cultural touchstone for all of LA.  There are a couple interesting indies that will be screened in venues across downtown: a documentary on the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Grammy Museum; Greenlit, a look (hilarious, I hope) at The Squid and the Whale producer’s woeful attempts to keep the set of The River Why environmentally friendly; and, the one I’m most interested in, American: The Bill Hicks Story, about the life of the comedian who died too young at age 32.  Tickets are here.


Gauging by the awesome lack of street traffic over the last two days, I’d guess that the lot of you are out of town, de-Laboring over Labor Day weekend.  For those of you who are around and checking in, I have a present: tickets to festival’s opening night, which includes a screening of American: The Bill Hicks Story and the post-screening gala party.  All you have to do is submit a comment with the name of your favorite film that took place in LA.  If you need help, our crew of motley bloggers did a series not too long ago on exactly this subject.  I’ll randomly pick the winners by Tuesday evening.  Good luck!

Some Things Shouldn’t Go Viral: Bad Ad Campaigns Part IV

A few days ago a friend, who knows about my aversion to bad ad campaigns sent me this picture in case it was blog-worthy:

And then this morning I saw this on another friend’s Facebook uploads:

So yes, it seems that Sony has been successful getting attention for their forthcoming movie, The Virginity Hit. According to KTLA, more than 70,000 people called the toll-free number in the first five days the billboards and bus posters went up (please, let us hope they were just curious and not actually looking to cure their virginal malady). In that respect, it’s probably a really “good” ad campaign, just an annoying one. But this second picture was snapped in front of the Children’s Hospital, and I think placement alone earns it a spot in the bad ad campaign hall of fame.

Free tickets to screening of “Destricted” September 9, 2010

Free tickets to “Destricted” on September 9. The collection of experimental shorts “Destricted” will be screening September 9 as part of the DigitalArt.LA Expo. ‘Destricted’ is the first of its kind, exploring the intersection of sex and art in a series of films created by some of the world’s most preeminent and provocative artists and directors. Explicit in content they reveal the diverse attitudes by which we represent ourselves sexually. You must be 18 or older for the free tickets. Get tickets HERE.

The DigitalArt.LA Expo is organised by Rex Bruce with the LA Center for Digital Art (LACDA). It is being held in conjunction with the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. IT will contain works by Matthew Barney, Richard Prince, Larry Clark, Marina Ambramovic, Marco Brambilla and Gasper Noe.

Deets: Thursday Septbember 9, 3PM-4:30PM. Downtown Film Festival Cinema Lounge, 541 S Spring STreet loft 214, Los Angeles CA 91019.

Image courtesy of LACDA and used with their permission.

Pasadena Weekly Column Draws Criticism for “Racist Remarks”

I hate invoking the R-word. And I certainly hate directing that word at people. So before anyone gets on my case for calling someone a racist, let me just say that I think there is a difference between someone actually being a racist and someone doing/saying racist things (though some may ask “What’s the difference?” — a topic for another post!).

But after reading an article (Hearing is not believing, 8/26/2010) in the Pasadena Weekly written by Jim Laris, its former publisher and owner– who evidently has a regular column called Cigar Smoke published in the Pasadena Weekly every other Thursday — I don’t know if there is another word other than “racist” to describe his article, except maybe “unfunny.” The article seems to be trying to telling an “amusing” story about how the sound from his TV/cable box seemed to be coming out in Chinese, but it has drawn the ire of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), who issued a Letter to “Pasadena Weekly” for Racist Remarks.

Again, I just want to make clear I’m not calling Mr. Laris a racist. But I wonder if he had any consideration how the following excerpts might sound to Chinese-speaking (not all of whom are from China or “commies,” by the way) or South Asian people: [emphasis is mine]

  • …we started to hear the Chinese guy Kung Powing in Chinese.
  • It made me exclaim to Marge [his wife], “Holy communist plot, what is happening?”
  • Nat King Cole singing “Oh Holy Night” in commie would have killed me.
  • Should I call Charter? Well, I would probably get some Indian techie guy and when I told him I was hearing Chinese coming out of my TV and then it switched to Nat King Cole, he would hold his hand over the speaker of the phone, and turn to his buddy in Bombay and laugh his tandoori-ass laugh and regain his composure and ask me, “Sir, vat is a Nat King Cole?

Ok, so I get that he’s trying to be funny. He makes reference to his wife calling him “Couch Potato Face” and to imaginary conversations with the late Richard Feynman. But as a former publisher and owner of a publication based in the San Gabriel Valley– one of the largest concentrations of Chinese American populations in the nation– is it really a good idea for him to say things like “kung powing in Chinese” or refer to the language as “commie?” And exactly WHAT is a “tandoori-ass laugh?” Who is trying to be– Joel Stein?

What do you think?

The Best Pop-Up in the City: Mexicali Tacos

This is LA.

I know pop-up restaurants are all the rage – witness LudoBites and Test Kitchen LA – but let’s stop for a moment and pay homage to their humble origins: the taco trucks and food carts that pop up in the streets and intersections of the city, only at certain hours, and sometimes (but not always) at the same location (depends on the parked cars and the police activity).

I’ll be honest with you: as much as I would like to claim some street cred and tell you that I grew up around these OG pop-ups, I’m really just a Viet kid who didn’t realize that tacos from Taco Bell were bastardized, homogenized versions of the real thing.  When I moved back to LA a few years ago, I had to go through a sort of re-education, swish a little water and wipe the palate clean.  I listened carefully to wiser Angelenos and ate up at a little shack on Lincoln called La Playita; listened to The Great Taco Hunt-er and discovered Tacos La Fonda located in the first of many taco trucks parked unironically at a car wash.  More recently, I discovered – along with Burns! – Ricky’s Fish Tacos, a man whose fish and shrimp tacos are so flavorful and unabashedly Baja that you sort of just want to Kodak moment your last bite of the gently battered fish still smoking in the softly folded tortilla.  So, when Ricky told me about a taco stand set up in a lot at 1st and Beaudry, I knew I had to go.  You can’t trust everyone’s palate, but (as my friend Dana rightfully pointed out) a taco’s man taco stand?  Is like a thinking man’s bookstore.  Yes.  I want to go to there.

Mexicali.  Take your pencil, start at Tijuana, and draw an almost straight line going east. About three-quarters of the way to an imaginary southern extension of the California-Arizona border, you’ll find yourself in Mexicali.  Mexicali-the-place is the capital of the state of Baja California; appropriately, then, Mexicali-the-taco-stand channels its geographic namesake and serves up Baja-style meat tacos, with flair.   Two guys run Mexicali-the-taco-stand, and they offer 5 things (on the menu) (off the menu items to be discovered like badges on Foursquare).  All five (or more?) things are served on homemade – yes, beautifully homemade – tortillas.  If there are enough of you, you might as well order one of each and MacGyver a tasting menu for yourselves, but I concede that can be overkill for the first time.  Let’s make things easier and say you must order the cachetadas (tostada + melted cheese + meat + aioli chipotle sauce, $2.50).  If you can’t visualize this tasty concoction, well, here’s one, almost ready to be plastic plated:

I had mine with chorizo, and added the appropriate condiments.

Usually when you order something (anything) with chorizo in it, you end up with a soggy, oily mess.  Not so here – the chorizo was tender, smoky, flavorful, and held its own without leaving its mark.  There was no yellow-orange mess.  Combined with the melted cheese and chipotle sauce, it was meaty, a touch spicy.  Delicious.

I also had the Vampiros with carne asada.  The meat here too was delicious – juicy, not too fatty, and plentiful.  The garlic infusion kicked the quesadilla up a notch.  In your world of vampires, you can keep your Jacobs, your Edwards.  I’m on Team Mexicali and its smoking hot clan of Vampiros.

Eating his words, Ricky happened to be there as well, hungry after a full day’s work behind his fryer.  While we ate, he mused that you’d be hard-pressed to find a fish taco in Baja after dark.  Because most places use fresh seafood (a novel idea, I know), they close as soon as the last catch of the day is brought in.  After about 6pm, sometimes even sooner, it’s all meat.  Going from Ricky’s Fish Tacos in the afternoon to Mexicali at night, then, is the Baja way to go.

After my two plates, I was surprisingly full – they are super generous with the portion size and the filling meat.  Hoping to get over my full stomach to try something else, I poked around and discovered that they cut the meat on a tree trunk.  Nothing screams authentic more than the well seasoned wood of nature.

Total fail on my part: I stayed full, which means I’m going to have to go back for the Zuperman.  And another cachetada.  I’m going to have to make it soon, though: their location on 1st and Beaudry is semi-permanent.  They know they have the lot today and tomorrow (8pm-midnight), and they probably will have it next week, but it’s not set in stone.  Follow them on Twitter for more exact details, and find them at the tip of Downtown before they’re up and gone.  Like every great pop-up in the city.