Taco Trucks

Taco trucks have been on my mind a lot lately.  Perhaps because of the weather, it’s been typical August weather, hot.  Around 10:30 pm it starts to get really nice and I like to be outside.  And although I love to cook, the kitchen gets so hot from the stove and oven.  I prefer to nibble from the fridge throughout the day but later in the evening I can develop a pretty serious appetite.  Also this weather brings back so many wonderful memories of being with friends crowded around a taco truck.

     A while back I listened to a podcast in which Sergio Jimenez, the chef/owner of four taco trucks was interviewed.  He spoke about his philosophy and passion for what he was doing.  He talked about waking up at the crack of dawn, chopping onions, radishes, and cilantro, slicing limes, and cooking various meats that would be served in little corn tortillas.

     He set out each morning to make a difference.  He said he didn’t compete with other taco trucks but only with himself to make a superior product, better than he had the day before.  “I try to pour my soul into my food.  So that the customer, who may be having an average day, is changed by the experience of coming across something truly wonderful.”

I first experienced the taco truck in 1978.  On a summer night in Placentia, California my friends and I came up to a vacant lot at around 11:00 pm.  There was a taco truck with about 25 people standing around feasting.  This is what was available to eat:

     The tacos were small, inexpensive, and delicious.  The taco truck became one of the coolest institutions in my life.  It was there every Friday and Saturday night offering hope and perfection.

As a teacher I am confronted with so many bored and confused people.  Kids and parents both that have been beaten up with negative media stories, news about the recession, and the force-fed lies that Rhianna and Lady Gaga are good music.  Please!

I want to be the taco truck in people’s lives.  Consistent, accommodating, giving symbols of hope, and something to which to look forward .  In fact I might just fly out to Los Angeles, buy a taco truck and drive it to Lexington.  On summer nights I’d be parked at the different places Downtown, tweeting my next secret location to hungry followers, and serving up delicious little corn tortillas filled with promises of abundant life!

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Excerpt from “1984: My Olympic Boycott”

The next day we bought scissors and I gave Rob and Byron haircuts on the rooftop outside our third-story hotel room.  I had cut Rob’s hair before but I was surprised that Byron let me cut his.  We were all ready for change.  As I clipped the hair it just fell onto the rooftop and we left it there.  I slightly clipped Rob’s ear but it was not serious, and the cuts really looked good.  We were all spiky and we were ready to move on to new places.  Over dinner Byron suggested that we go to Paris and that sounded fine to us.  The next morning we booked three berths on a train-ferry-train trip that would take us to France.  The train would depart Victoria Station the following morning at 9:45 am.  We found a place in the neighborhood to wash our clothes called a Launderette then we walked to Hyde Park to hear maniacs rant and rave at Speaker’s Corner.  We deeply wanted to get to the European continent and were ready to leave London.  We had a mellow evening, re-packed our newly cleaned clothes, and got to bed early.  Monday morning came and we took the tube to Victoria Station and boarded a train to Dover.  At Dover we boarded a ferry and steamed across the English Channel to France.  The fog on the channel was thick but about halfway across it lifted and we saw the sun for the first time since we left Los Angeles.  My headphones pumped Jamaican dancehall music into my head; Yellowman was chanting romantic boasts to the backing of the Sagittarius Band recorded live at the 1981 Sunsplash Festival in Kingston Jamaica.  When we reached Calais we got back on a train and headed for Paris.  We had sandwiches and beer on the train.  Some trains had a dining car; this one had a food and beverage cart that went up and down the train visiting each berth.  We arrived at Gare Nord at 5:50 pm and stepped out into Paris.  My first sensation was the strong taste and smell of diesel bus exhaust.  This place was different; there was a completely different pace going on and it was uncomfortable.  We were no longer the likable Yanks who were a novelty, we were seemingly a pain in the ass to anyone we talked to or looked at.  We walked two blocks and found our way to a café to eat dinner and simply weren’t prepared to deal with this city.  The menu was confusing, the waiter was a dick, and then I had a disgusting, small, old man in a basement bathroom yell at me for not giving him money to use the restaurant’s bathroom.  It was only later that I realized that this was his full-time job, sitting underground in a filthy, dark bathroom collecting coins from the restaurant’s patrons as they needed to use what he felt was his stinking bathroom.  We decided not to stay in Paris so we finished our dinner and went straight back to the train station.  By 10 pm we were on an overnight train heading south that would arrive in the seaport town of Marseille at 7:14 am.  This was our first overnight train ride and we learned a few things.  First of all, trying to sleep on a train sucks.  There’s just not enough room to get comfortable.  Also the temperature can change on you while you’re dozing and you can wake up sweating or freezing.  The upside is that you don’t have to pay for a hotel but you also don’t get to take a shower.  Speaking of which, at about 11:30 pm a young man came into our berth.  He was tall, had long blonde hair, and spoke in a breaking voice that sounded like Peter Brady’s performance of “It’s Time to Change”.  He said his name was Haimu and he was from Algeria.  He would be getting off the train at about 2:45 am in the city of Dijon.  This guy reeked.  He obviously hadn’t showered in over a week and looked and smelled like he had walked all the way from Algiers.