All posts by clfayman

El Cumpleanos (The Birthday)

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The Port of San Diego is the primary port of entry for Honda, Acura, Isuzu, Volkswagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Hino Motors into America. You’ll often see these automobile cargo ships passing in the bay.


Photo by Corey Lynn Fayman, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

The San Diego-Coronado Bridge opened in 1969. Apparently it’s only the third deadliest suicide bridge in the country now, but perhaps Bonnie Hammond has access to different statistics than I do. The hills you can see in the distance beneath the bridge are the hills of Tijuana, so Rolly really might be prompted to think about the house on the border.

Photo by Corey Lynn Fayman, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

Zeta is a weekly Mexican magazine, which regularly runs exposés on corruption in Mexico’s governments as well as on organized crime and drug trafficking. Two of its editors have been murdered and others attacked in retaliation for articles published in the magazine.

There really is a Chinese Consulate in Tijuana. Also with one representing Guatemala and one for the United States.

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La Familia (The Family)

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Photo by Robert Drake, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

One thing I learned while writing this book is that “hearse” is a generic name for a funeral vehicle. It’s not a company or brand. Most hearses in North America are built on Cadillac or Lincoln chassis. Originally the word “hearse” referred to an elaborate framework erected over a coffin and placed on a horse-drawn carriage. But these days it usually used to refer to the vehicle itself. I imagine the one driven by Sayer Burdon looks something like the one below.


Image based on photo by Daniel Imfeld, Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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La Batalla (The Battle)

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Image in public domain

Ellen Ochoa — the first hispanic woman in space, Ochoa served on 4 space shuttle missions. She also has strong San Diego connections, growing up in La Mesa, graduating from Grossmont High School in El Cajon, and receiving her B.A. a in physics from San Diego State University in 1980 (Her Master’s and Phd are from Stanford). Hector and his friends would be well aware of her accomplishments.


Image based on photo by MikeMurga,
Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Carlos Santana — I’m pretty sure you know who Santana is, but just in case, he’s a Mexican-American guitarist who became famous in the late 1960s via his eponymous band Santana. The band created a fusion of rock and Latin American music, featuring Carlos’ melodic, blues-based lead guitar set against Latin and African rhythms, including percussion instruments such as timbales and congas not previously used in rock music.

Photo of Sheila E playing timbalesImage based on photo by Elian Chrebor,
Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Sheila E — Grammy nominated American singer, drummer, and percussionist whoe comes from a long line of musicians and drummers, including her father, Pete Escovedo. She has a San Diego connection as well. Javier Escovedo, her uncle, founded the seminal San Diego punk-rock band, The Zeros, who no doubt played some of the same bars as Rolly’s early band, The Creatures

Para la raza. Para el Chicano. — “For the race. For the Chicano.”

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El Circo (The Circus)

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The protests are taking place in Friendship Park, the hill that stands at one corner of Border Field Park. This is the same place we first met Rolly and Max back in chapter two. There is a parking lot on top of the hill, and a picnic area, but the road isn’t always open, which is why Rolly and Max had to park so far away before.

Photo by Bruce Fayman, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)
Photo by Bruce Fayman, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

Fernando Valenzuela pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1980 – 1990. He is the only player in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season. His nickname was “El Toro”. Named as one of three starting pitchers on Major League Baseball’s Latino Legends Team, he also pitched for the San Diego Padres in 1996, putting together his last solid year.


Image from photo by Jim Accordino Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Virgin of Guadalupe — also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Virgin Mary associated with the pictorial image housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Some have suggested that the name “Guadalupe” was based on the indigenous word “Coatlaxopeuh”, which has been translated as “She Who Has Dominion over Serpents.”

Image based on photo in the public domain

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La Pistola (The Gun)

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“Con esta pluma, una niña destruye a fascistas” – I originally had this as a direct steal of Woody Guthrie’s famous guitar inscription seen below. But it didn’t quite make sense in context, so I figure Roberto has seen the photo and is referring to it, perhaps unconsciously.

Photo in public domain

Concha is Spanish for seashell. It’s also the name used for a type of pan dulce, a breakfast bread/pastry. It’s also Spanish slang for a vagina. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


Image based on photo by nenoirenediaz Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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El Medico (The Doctor)

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I decided at some point in the development of the Ramoñes character that he had a case of Haphephobia, which is the fear of touching, in many cases the fear of touching by the opposite sex.

Chilaquiles are a Mexican breakfast dish. Corn tortillas are cut in quarters and lightly fried. Green or red sauce is poured over the tortilla chips, then simmered until the tortilla starts softening. Eggs and/or shredded chicken are added, and topped with queso fresco and/or crema, served with refried beans. There are other versions, of course.

Based on photo by Carlos t Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Zildjian Ramoñes — yes, there really is such a thing as Zildjian cymbals. So the doctor is named for those cymbals and The Ramones.

Photo in public domain

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El Deudo (The Pall Bearer)

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Many video games can be “modded”, either by clever hacking or through methods approved and sometimes encouraged by the original manufacturer. Mods are popular in role-playing games, first-person shooters, and real-time strategy games. They are usually “modded” by using a level editor – a specialized software tool used to design levels, maps, and campaigns for video games.

There really is a video game titled Zombie Apocalypse, released in 2009. On Metacritic, it has received an aggregate score of 61% on PlayStation 3 and 66% on Xbox 360.

There is no video game called “Border Lords”, although there is one called “Borderlands”.

Sayer Burdon — named for 1970s popster Leo Sayer, and The Animals gravelly-voiced frontman Eric Burdon

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La Discusion (The Discussion)

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Mother Jones is a left-wing American magazine, featuring investigative stories on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. It’s named after Mary Harris Jones, called Mother Jones, an Irish-American trade union activist in the early 20th century. I figure Hector’s a regular subscriber.

Hector gets his medical terms wrong here when referring to the Mother Jones article. He calls the procedure a hymenectomy when he should have said hymenoplasty. They are both real surgical procedures, but basically opposities. To put this as delicately as possible, a hymenectomy is about opening the door, a hymenoplasty is about closing it. If you need any more details than that, you’ll have to look it up yourself.

From what I’ve read, hymenoplasties are not uncommon in Muslim countries, although you’ll find gynecologists/plastic surgeons advertising the procedure in Western Countries as well. I don’t know about China, but I do know China has too many men as a result of their one-child policies and it’s no doubt a ripe market for this kind of thing. As for women who choose to do this as a “treat” for their partner (see video), count me baffled.

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La Entrevista (The Interview)

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This is the astrological symbol for Virgo, in case you were wondering.

According to Wikipedia, the constellation of Virgo is representative of many identities, all related to maidens, purity and fertility. Make of that what you will.

There’s an official medical name for the “re-virgining” operation Rio tells Hector about. It’s called a hymenoplasty. More on that in the next chapter.

Ramoñes — I bet you guessed this one. The doctor is named for those foundational punk rockers, The Ramones. I suppose his last name should be pronounced Ramonyez, though.

Hector’s line, “Don’t mess with Mexican girls, amigo.” was inspired by Tom Petty’s comments after George Harrison’s wife Olivia knocked out an intruder who had attacked George in their home.

“When I heard about it, I sent George a fax, and it just said, “Aren’t you glad you married a Mexican girl?” Olivia really kicked ass. She is a beautiful person.” — Tom Petty (after hearing the news about George’s 1999 stabbing)

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