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Tijuana, February 25th, 2011

“Last Night in TJ”

February 25th, 2011,
Avenida Revolucion

by Erik Borowitz

Saturday, 10:22 A.M.


My hearing is deafened, I cannot read more than one in five words from the evenings notes, and I only managed about 5 hours of sleep.

Yesterday following a valiant hangover battle I answered a call from Reviewer Magazine for “new writers to pen reviews about alcohol.” Soon the editor and I were chatting on the phone and it was decided that I would scribble out a review on the ever classy Tractor Room. Upon hanging up the phone I immediately received another call from a friend looking to come over and the evening proceeded to take me everywhere but there.

We started out with gin cocktails (1) concocted behind my little home bar, which were unfortunately not quite perfect as I had recently run out of those Australian ginger beers that work so harmoniously with gin. We chatted for a bit, he left, and I decided that a walk to Hamiltons Tavern to pursue a particularly beautiful, interesting bartender was in order. Straighten tie, pour a few fingers of Hendrick’s (2) into a washed out Mexican sour cream container, Love in the earbuds, and I was off. Now I know what you are thinking, “Hendricks in a sour cream container?! Heresy.” but when taken into account the classiness of public intoxication it kinda had a nice flow to it.

By the time I reached Hamiltons I had finished my sour cream and Forever Changes, but alas there was no girl. At least not the one that I had hoped to woo. The thing is, if you like great beer, a loud boisterous crowd, neon beer advertisements, and pool, then Hamilton’s is the place for you. But I really only like the beer, so when Machino called and said “we’re going to TJ,” I was all aboard.

Friday, 9:51 PM


Park at the border, cross, taxi, and I found myself in downtown Tijuana. I love it down there; Young and full of character. Local guides and intoxicating substances certainly are a must though should you want to lubricate the experience. My first stop was Black Box to see Vis Viva, my roommates prog rock band. As I stood, grumbling about the fact that the bartender insisted on pouring my Negra Modelo into a waxed cup, my friend Aaron pops up to give me a hug. I have random friends in Mexico? Awesome.

The bar reaffirmed the surreal Fluxx experience earlier in the week having reminded me of a Mexican discotheque. The main difference being that Fluxx’s over-worked fog machine was here replaced by smokers and that instead of pungent perfume, Black Box smells strangely of french fries. As the band finished, I peered out the window to see various strobe lights dancing across buildings like bombs in a war zone and I decided that it was time to move on.

Club number dos for the evening and time had become a constraint from a forgotten past. After a pat down by a burley man, I enter an alleyway flanked by various bars. I meet my other friends at Indie Go! where they were spinning techno. Generally not my thing; I am more of a Bowie with a glass of smokey scotch sorta guy, but I am on a TJ adventure so techno and Pacifico will do just fine. Hell, the drink only cost me two bucks (3) and this time they let me keep it in the bottle.

I begin to say my hello’s to those that I have befriended during this past years border excursions and I am introduced to someone new. A grungy, smiling man with sticky hands, who turns out was originally from Vermont. It was then I was promptly offered prepared San Pedro from a rubber container in a plastic bag and I was reminded of how my moral lines tend to blur a little with the border. “Hell, why not?” It tastes sort of like if you took a lemon and married with the most bitter thing you have ever tasted (wormwood comes to mind), and then made it the consistency of honey. Dance, dance, dance, and time is blurred ever further. I finish the unwanted beers that are handed my way, plus a few more from the bar before I start what became my evenings mantra “I want Tacos!”

It is interesting to note in retrospect that I am finally beginning to understand the mating rituals of the 20 something-year-old Tijuanian alcoholic. It is different everywhere. Like in New York, one fairs much better when traveling in a pack, though more like California the bold are favored in TJ. So what I mean to say that I did not dance alone.

In the end as I weaved through the dirty dog stands in the misty morning to my chile rellenos taco cart, I half coherently jotted down that it had been an experience and an adventure, and who could ask for more from a Friday night?

(1) Rear Admiral Joseph’s Original London Dry Gin, some berry juice (no sugar added), grapefruit bitters, agave nectar, a lemon, soda water

(2) Hendricks Gin, two ice cubes, a splash of soda water

(3) The whole night cost me less than $15, including transportation, beers, and tacos.

Avanida Revolucion at night, from djibnet.com.

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