18 June 2011
'Young, Broke & Beautiful'
Back in January a producer from Independent Film Channel (the newish network of "Portlandia" fame) emailed Turista Libre about a new series that "highlights off-beat, weird, and wonderful aspects of perpetually overlooked cities," and to say they would be filming an episode in San Diego. And that they wanted to include Tijuana. With Turista Libre. Orale.
The original plan was to take a guy who calls himself Broke-Ass Stuart, a poorman's travel guru of sorts and the show's host, on a locals-only, anti-Revolucion run around Tijuana. But the cost of the insurance policy to cover the crew south of the border, a nonnegotiable must, wound up rivaling their entire budget altogether.
Plan B: Recreate a Turista Libre trek in San Diego, hoping to highlight as much of its Tijuananess as possible. A visit to where the border fence trails into the Pacific. A beer at some Mexican dive. Tacos at El Gordo, edible Tijuana icons, in Chula Vista. A stop at a market for raspados or something. Even Otay Ranch Town Center has a kiosk that sells tostilocos, Tijuana's very own nacho-fruit-nut-lard salad. This should be easy, I thought.
I was wrong.
Tacos were a no-go; Broke-Ass Stuart already had burritos covered. Same went for Chicano Park and Barrio Logan. A lonely little piñata shop in City Heights randomly happened to serve tostilocos, but all the paper Elmos and Tecate cans made for a copyright lawsuit minefield. So no piñatas. And the owner of El Uno Bar on University at the 805, the most Tijuana bar outside of Tijuana in both body and spirit, is such a stereotypical Tijuanense that he was impossible to track down and didn't return until my calls until two weeks after the shoot.
So we headed to Border Field State Park, where a border patrol agent almost ran us down in his Surburban for trying to buy some chicharrones off a guy on the other side of the fence, and to El Take It Easy in North Park, where nacho-fruit-nut-lard salad is one of several Mexican street food items on the menu.
The episode includes the Ocean Beach skatepark, Pokez, Technomania's freak circus show and Heavy Hawaii at Tower Bar.
Check out it out on Hulu before the video expires on Thursday. Or save it for the screening party at, naturally, El Take It Easy 10 p.m. Friday.