Saturday, April 6, 2013

Strange Days -- Humble Pie

It was sometime back in the Spring of 1993.  I had just recently moved to San Diego.  I had moved in with a couple of guys from a business fraternity at San Diego State.  Shortly after moving in with these guys, my great aunt, who lived in Fresno, passed away.  She left all five of her nephews a little cash--about $5,000 in cash.  

This was the first time I ever had that amount of loose cash.  I had always been just living paycheck to paycheck.  I would blow most of my money on partying and the rest on necessities .  This time I decided that I would put some away into a savings account and the rest was for something nice.  That something nice turned out to be a rebuilt 1970 black Buick Electra convertible.  It ran nice and it looked structurally sound.  I thought it was a good value, so I bought it for $2,000.

Let me tell ya, that was one cool vehicle to go tooling around Southern California in.  My friend Jeff and I picked up a couple hitchhikers one time.  I drove through the desert mountains over to Palm Springs to see my Buddy Pete.  I tooled around downtown San Diego acting like some goomba from the mafia.  Whatever...

The car was in good shape, but the front bench seat needed reupholstering in a bad way.  One of my new roommates was into remodeling cars and he suggested I go to Tijuana to get the job done.  He had done it to his original, rebuilt 280Z and it looked like they did a good job.  It was inexpensive too.  I agreed but asked him to come along to show me the way.  

It was a beautiful sunny spring day as we cruised down Interstate 5 to the Mexican border.  It didn’t take us long to get through the border check point.  The highway continued for a mile or so when my roommate made me exit abruptly.  I swerved to the right down the exit ramp that swooped back to the left and turned right onto a city street--no traffic lights or anything.  

I was going a good 40 mph when I had to slam on the breaks because a half dozen Mexicans had run right into the middle of street.  They were waving their arms and yelling.  It turned out that they were all “salesmen” for their respective upholstery shops.  They probably saw my big black Buick rolling down the freeway ramp and freaked out.  I ended up pulling into a shop randomly.  Primarily because I was trying not to kill anyone.

I had always heard that one could bargain for good deals down in Tijuana, but I didn’t think it would be this easy.  This fellow told me it would be $700 or something like that.  I got a look on my face for about one second and before I could make a comment, he was down to $500.  I think I ended up getting the job done for like $300 in the end.

Now while those fellows worked on the car, my roommate and I had no option except to hang out on Revolucion Boulevard.  Revolucion was the main party drag of Tijuana--for the tourists anyway.

My roommate and I got some food and some beers.  While I was sipping on a beer and looking down onto the street from the balcony of this restaurant, I heard some music on the juke box that caught my attention.  It was Humble Pie.  

I paused for a moment in amazement.  I had been in bars all across America and I could have only wished that some old Humble Pie song would be playing from the juke box, but it never happened.  Suddenly I come down to Tijuana and what do I hear?  Humble Pie’s “Strange Days.”  I made a comment to my roommate but he didn’t know who they were.  

Anyway, the Mexican’s told us it would take about 5 hours to do the job.  It ended taking 10.   We eventually ran out of cash and ended up just standing around and waiting out in the dirt alley watching the guy do his work.  While we stood there, we noticed another American standing out back of the shop next door.  He did not have a happy look on his face.  We started chatting and commented on how long it was taking.  Turns out that fate worked in my favor that day.   I could have pulled into any shop on that road including the shop next door.  It turned out that this other American had not only been waiting all day like us, but his guys had actually fucked up the job.  They had actually done damage to his car.  My guy, on the other hand, did a great job.  I was very pleased.

In fact, I was pleased with whole experience.  And in commemoration of that experience, here is one of my favorite Humble Pie songs, “Strange Days.”

OK.  It seems that YouTube in the past 24-hours removed this song.  So you're going to have to make a bit of an effort to hear the song.  Click on the link below.  See the song list (someone has posted the whole album) and go to the 28:50 mark.  There is where you can hear the song.

Thanks for reading.

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