Sunday, August 22, 2010

Collateral damage, cultural cataclysm

Ma Crosby's in Acuña, the Cadillac in Nuevo Laredo, the Kentucky Club in Cd. Juárez – classic border-town ginmills – are all barely surviving the narcoviolence in Mexico. I've wasted time and substance in all of these places. Ma Crosby's was the place to go for dinner in Villa Acuña. The food was good. When I was around there in the early 60s, there was an old man who hung around in the restaurant, Jaime Quiñones by name, as I recall, who was supposed to have been a general during the Revolution. You could eat your tampiqueña and then slip into the bar for a couple of drinks afterward, maybe smoke a La Perla. The Kentucky Club is a old, old joint with a long, heavy bar down one side and booths and tables down the other. The mirror behind the bar was all discolored and losing its backing, but you could still study yourself in it as you nipped along on a cervecita. Dignified bartenders and bow-tied waiters looked like they'd worked the job since the 1930s, and maybe they had, as it was considered a respected trade. Cormac McCarthy drank at the Kentucky Club when he lived in El Paso. The Cadillac is a couple of blocks off the main drag in Nuevo Laredo. Shoppers would drop in for a Ramos gin fizz or a big steak after a hard day of acquisition. The loss of any one is a loss to all of border history., and all will be mourned. From an NPR story:
Mexico's drug cartel war has killed more than 28,000 people in four years, but some of the collateral damage has not been as noticeable. A trio of famous, Prohibition-era cantinas in Mexican border cities, having survived more than 80 turbulent years, are in deep trouble.

Read it all here.
Maybe a block and a half from the Kentucky Club and down a side street was Tommy's Rendezvous. I used to take a copita from time to time with the piano player there, nice-looking and amusing guy named Javier. He was hell on the tourist ladies who'd drop in from time to time. Javier had two complete families, wife, children, house and all, one in the central part of town and the other farther out. I doubt that Tommy's place will survive if the Kentucky Club is tipping over.
If we can get everyone all in a swivet about the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, can't anyone get an armed UN delegation in to protect the in-its-way-sacred heritage of the border ginmill?


Edith Ann said...

Ah, the Cadillac Bar in Nuevo Laredo...

Been there, done that. Ate some kind of chicken as I recall. Had a tepid Coke and probably drank a gin fizz, I can't really recall. I just know it wasn't beer. But that was a good trip.

Thanks for jogging the memory.

Pilot said...

Past my bedtime, and probably best, because a few of my border town adventures are not G rated. My last journey in was through Nuevo Laredo in '90 on my motorcycle, refusing to turn 40 in an office tower. Wife on back, we traveled to cascada de Cola de Caballo south of Monterrey up in the Sierra Madres. Wouldn't even consider such a trip today, at least until the revolution is over and if and when anarchy subsides and sanity and simplicity return. Many memories of wading the river at Boquillas, or drivinng across at Matamoros or Villa Acuna. Saw a bullfight in N.L. as a lad of twelve. Once was enough.......

here, the voice of an angel and some south of the border melodies:

if they don't link, go to YouTube, and look for Tish Hinojosa's
Austin City Limits performance of "By The Rio Grande", and "Banderas del Sol".......