Saturday, June 03, 2006

Run for the Border

I think I might have a problem. I think we may have to postpone those piano lessons for something, uh, a little more, um, remedial...

I first immigrated to Oregon back in August, 1994. Having unshipped my cargo, I was eager to explore my new home. In many ways, Salem, the state capitol, was representative of the entire state, and I was shocked to learn two things. First, I was dismayed to discover that the Del Taco fast food empire had not ventured north of the California border. This meant that I had to adjust to life without Del Combo Burritos or Chicken Soft Tacos. While perhaps a boon to my rather fragile physical health, it was a blow to my psyche.

Second, there didn't seem to be any non-Caucasians here.

Ultimately, that second discovery proved to be untrue. However, to be sure, there aren't many. Gas stations are operated by Caucasians. 7-11 stores are run by Caucasians. During a trip to the mall, the only language you will hear is English.

The result of living here is that the monkey will be raised in a somewhat homogeneous culture, and may not have the benefit of multi-cultural diversity that some other larger urban centers have to offer.

fortunately, since 1994, at least one of these two phenomena has been addressed. In the last couple of years, a small handful of Del Taco restaurants have begun to spring up across the region. Unfortunately, here on the southside of Portland, the closest Del Taco is across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington.

Yes, I must cross state lines to find me a decent chicken soft taco, which is exactly what the monkey and I did today.

Mama lie sleeping in a Nyquil and Claratin-induced mid-afternoon nap (coma). I was hungry and had time to burn. So, I decided to take the tot for a trek and introduce her to the wonder that is the Del Combo Burrito!

Our senses saturated by Sirius satellite stations, we blazed a trail north on I-5. We dashed through down town, past the twin hypodermic towers of the convention center. We Journeyed past Jantzen Beach.

As we approached the Interstate Bridge that would carry us over the river and across the invisible state line, which ran down the middle, my mind wandered back to Professor Turner and discussions of the Mann Act... We were just going for food, so everything was fine.

We finally arrived, and sat down for a fine feast of tacos, burritos and french fries. As the Monkey mashed salty fries into her mouth, her attention was diverted to something on the other side of the glass door to her left. I looked over, and standing there was a very cute African American girl with a big smile and poofy pigtails. The little girl waived hello. My daughter then pointed back, right at the little girl, and with a loud voice said, "Doggy!"

Now, I know you haven't been exposed to many minorities, but come on baby, "Doggy?" Well, so much for piano lessons, and forget ballet. First class on the list is going to be a bit of sensitivity training....

Reading for comprehension:

1) What is Brian's usual Del Taco Order?
2) Brian avoided using the phrase "hurried through the hood" to describe his north-bound route through NE Portland, why was this?
3) Brian made reference to the Mann Act. Was this inappropriate because it was an inside law joke that will exclude the non-lawyer readers, or was it more inappropriate because his daughter was in the car?


  1. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Dumbass. There are four Oregon Del Tacos.

    GRESHAM, OR 97030

    1850 14TH AVENUE, S.E.
    ALBANY, OR 97321

    SALEM, OR 97301

    612 S.E. 3RD STREET
    BEND, OR 97702

    While I recognize that these are not necessarily close, they are in Oregon. Also, now you can go to Starz Caberet AND hit up the Del Taco next time you're in Bend.

  2. the anonymous who can read5:58 PM

    Apparently, there needed to be a reading comprehension question about Del Taco in Oregon. The entry doesn't say that there isn't one in Oregon; it states there isn't one near the southside of Portland. And, no, Gresham doesn't remotely count.

    Don't give anonymous a bad name by being a dumbass.

  3. While in beautiful Vancouver, be sure to stop in at Burgerville as well. I don't miss much about Vancouver, but I did like me some Burgerville burgers.

    As for the Mann Act, strangely enough I get the joke - that's how they managed to bust Chuck Berry back in the 50's.

  4. It is tough.

    As my brother would say, “We are bravely homogonistic.” For a while, the only black person my kids saw was King James. Which raises all new issues (‘no dear.. they are not all pimps’).

    As for Del Taco, we have one in Salem. But we also have Muchas Gracias and “The Mountain.”

  5. a person who was there8:37 AM

    For some reason my memory is that it was Isom with the unhealthy preoccupation with the Mann Dabindark will remember.

  6. When I first joined the army and would tell black soldiers my age where I was from, they would pause, and then ask me a) "Am I the first black person you've ever seen in real life? or b) "Do y'all have black people in Oregon?" Of course, non-related - they also used to ask what we did in Oregon ... "raise sheep?" I would shake my head no and proudly defend the diversity of my home state! I would tout the close proximity to which I lived to the beautiful Pacific; and only an equal distance away to snow capped and evergreen blanketed mountains! Just beyond that - blazing, beautiful deserts. And yes, oh yes! We DID have a four black people in my Salem high school of two thousand!!!

    Okay, I may have been a bit naive, thinking that .002 percent or whatever was decent representation, but at least we had them around. And they were always the coolest, too! Most kids worshipped them! I don't ever recall them being referred to as "Doggy..."

  7. Steve Dabindark11:47 AM

    I am always good for an answer.

  8. amanda2:22 PM

    Brian. I noticed in your "reading for comprehension" that you admittedly avoided referring to Northern Portland as the hood. Therein lies your "doggy" inspired problem. I am the first to admit Portland is the whitest town I've ever lived in. However, there are pockets of diversity, mostly on the east side. Specifically you see a great number of black people in the north-east area of town--the hood of which you speak. Perhaps you need to take your daughter to Alberta street, a white friendly and thoroughly gentrified area full of thai food and art galleries--and black and latino people.

  9. I have a Ramirez family reunion next weekend - I could take the monkey girl with me and we can learn some "colorful" new words in Spanish for daddy from the handful of cousins I have who have served time. I know it sounds tempting...... I know personally I can't wait to see Bimbo, Chaco,Tito, Orty, Frito and Mars.

  10. How IS Orty doing? It's been years...

    10 to 20, to be specific...

  11. Oh good - the new giant crucifix tattoo on her cleavage looks really nice.

  12. Anonymous3:57 PM

    Wow. A crucifix. There's a place you don't want to go motorboating.

  13. Brian Smith4:25 PM

    I was at a Lesbo party 2 weeks ago and my son Got to see his first african american. Since my son is 6 months old he cannot talk. His reaction was hystercal crying and it made us all feel a little tense. Come to find out the guy is really cool and is even a lawyer.

    I know oxymoron right

  14. I particularly find the reference to a "Lesbo party" ironic in that last statement about overcoming stereotypes.

  15. "I know personally I can't wait to see Bimbo, Chaco,Tito, Orty, Frito and Mars."

    Wow...wasn't that the line up of the Jackson's 1984 Victory Tour?

  16. Anonymous8:02 PM

    Either that or someone has the munchies something awful.

  17. You just back the fuck off of Tito there, Cornett. Time is going tell on that guy's legacy, alright?

  18. They are actually a Mariachi band that only play Jackson songs. They rock!


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