Saturday, March 15, 2014

Waiting in Secondary Inspection

Part 1 Of A Series Of 6
Highway 101 Crossing The Border:

Border Patrol Truck
Not an Easy Job
Hello and welcome back to Old Highway Notes. In our last post we found ourselves detained at the US Border while some confusion involving our identification was sorted out. As our last post ended we were left waiting for the US Border Patrol to review our identification so that we could re-enter the country, we were hoping there would be no further delays, While I waited, I fumed just a little that I couldn't just walk into my own country without being subject to inspection. In my frustration a little punk rock music ran through my mind to vent about the situation.

The first song is maybe not punk, but what to you call the Violent Femmes? Alternative? Alt-Folk? Pop? Post-Punk? Anyway, when I think about the phrase "The Land of The Free" and yet I have to submit to questioning (even though I understand WHY I have to) the song "America Is" comes to mind. Its main line "America is the home of the hypocrite" seems to apply to situations like these, Well, if I am going to wallow in the failure of the American Dream, which is what the Violent Femmes are talking about, then I may as well continue with "American Waste" by Black Flag. It's chorus "I see my place in American waste, faced with choices I can't take" raged against the machine, before Henry Rollins sang for them and then became a beefed up MTV star. Speaking of MTV stars, Green Day's "American Idiot" seems like a good way to wrap up this little burst of un-American thinking. Maybe what I should do is get my focus back on music and away from politics. So lets continue our despair fest for just a few moments longer. As I look over towards the glass office doors, I think I see the patrolman headed this way.

  • America Is     Add It Up (1981-1993)     Violent Femmes     2:10
  • American Waste  The First Four Years    Black Flag     1:33
  • American Idiot   American Idiot    Green Day     2:56

As I take a deep breath, I see the badge gleaming in the sun and a smile on the face of the officer. "Your identification is quite complete. You are free to go. See the USA in your Chevrolet."  Happy to do so, I hop back into the car and  to cheer me up and to celebrate my freedom, we'll cap the mini-set up with the studio version of the Grateful Dead's U.S. Blues, from their album "From The Mars Hotel".

  • See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet  The Commercials Vol. 1     Dinah Shore     0:56
  •  U.S. Blues From The Mars Hotel Grateful Dead     4:42 

We start to motor North, we are on the oldest most southerly part of old Highway 101. It began at the border in San Ysidro. These days San Ysidro is best known for its parking lots for people crossing the border on foot and for its Mexican Auto insurance dealers. They operate small store fronts to offer the protection of legal in Mexico auto insurance for those who are driving into the country. It is the end of the line for the San Diego Tijuana Trolley train.

San Ysidro Massacre Memorial Site
San Ysidro is perhaps best known in recent history for being the site of largest mass murder in United States history where the murderer did not commit suicide. In 1984, an unemployed former welder James Huberty entered the McDonalds in San Ysidro with 3 guns and he began shooting. Before the police snipers would kill him about an hour later, 21 people were killed in the McDonalds in San Ysidro. Nineteen more were seriously injured. In the wake of the tragedy McDonalds donated the land to the city for a memorial park and rebuilt at a new location. This video recounts the events of that day:

Long before San Ysidro was in the news as the site of a horrific crime, it was a place of optimism. In the years 1907-1916 it was settled by a group of people known as the Little Landers. This was a group of people with a philosophy that would appeal to today's modern urban farmers. Their goal was for each family in the community to live a sustainable life on an acre of land. With the Tijuana River providing a reliable source of water, and the San Diego areas famously mild weather, productive farming seemed an easy proposition. 

They were a quasi-communal group opposed to hierarchy. Each man was given an equal vote and the city was run by a town council voted in by the citizens. Citizens agreed to particpate as a co-op with all profits being directed back into the community. Streetcar access meant that Little Landers were regular vendors at the San Diego farmers market. They enjoyed that they could take in cultural activities that the city of San Diego offered while still living a homestead rural existence. By 1912 the colony had attracted over a hundred families. Known as one of the first communes, there were attempts made in a few other spots in California to build Little Lander communities. None of them would prove to be successful.

Due to a variety of factors. most notable flooding of the Tijuana river in 1916, but also farming skills that were inadequate to provide the yields necessary to be sustainable, and failure to meet tax obligations in 1917, left the community virtually dissolved by 1918. From the remnants of that community the modern city of San Ysidro evolved to serve the needs of border crossers.

Speaking of border crossers, that would be us. We have been waiting to get across the border for what seems like months. At this point it would probably be a good idea to get some gas in the tank and some coffee into your humble narrator. After a quick stop at the gas station we pull into the Denny's parking lot. Its time for some Coffee and Cigarettes (old Highway 101 existed well before cigarettes were banned in diners), with versions by both by Otis Redding and by Buddy Miles Express. While we are here lets make that a sandwich with some American Pie. If you watch the video (sandwiched between versions of  Coffee and Cigarette, get it?) you will notice that the pie here is apparently served with cheese-as in one cheesy video.

Cheers! It's good to be back in the States.

  • Cigarettes and Coffee     Thank You For Smoking     Otis Redding     3:53    
  • American Pie    American Pie: The Best Of Don McLean    Don McLean     8:36
  • Cigarettes &Coffee     Be A Buddy-A Buddy Miles Anthology     Buddy Miles Express 8:29


Thanks for joining us this week. Make sure and visit us again next weekend as we return to Interstate 95 and the City of Miami. Then in two weeks as we return to Route 66 in Chicago and a look at pre-electric blues music. Three short weeks from now we return to San Ysidro and continue north on the old pre-interstate Highway 101. Hope to see you all then.

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