All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
Typically – I’m not a big fan of Mexican restaurants. I don’t eat meat & I find that pretty limiting with most Mexican menus. The shrimp dishes can either be way too buttery or fatty or whatever – or downright funky. Bay shrimp? Who the fuck eats – if any other choice is available – BAY shrimp???? They sell them at Gel$on’$ and I am always tempted to wait there and watch & see who the these weirdos are that buy them – and then ask WHY. Anyway – at Mexican restaurants, I tend to fill up on chips & beer (and the inevitable seafood tacos) & leave feeling vaguely cheated but stuffed to bursting. If I’m gonna be forced to eat fish or shrimp tacos (because ordering a quesadilla in a restaurant is tantamount to ordering a PB&J sandwich) – I prefer to go to little taco stands that seem to deal with these things with more authenticity & flavor – and they don’t load you up with lard-based refried beans & rice – and they are usually very cheap.
So – the other day when my boyfriend requested a Mexican lunch – I had to give in & take him to a local restaurant – rather than one of the many far more colorful stands around Hollywood. Why? Because my guy likes his beer and those taco stands never serve alcohol. OK, so fine. A restaurant. Mexican. Open at noon. NOT El Coyote – with the worst food on earth. Not an icky Acapulco-type chain. Hmmmm.
I settled on one that is very close to where I live, opened fairly early & had beer – the Mission Cantina. There was one parking meter on the entire block – and it was available! OK – that’s a good sign. We stepped inside & it was bright & cheery – which I like – and we were the only ones in there. We sat at the bar & ordered beers.
The beer was a Craftsman 1903 Ale – made right in Pasadena & it was awesome! The bar is wide & welcoming & the bartender was super friendly. There is outdoor seating – just as an FYI – but the interior is so pleasant – I recommend it highly. Chips & a really great salsa were placed before us as we perused the menu. There was a $12 taco sampler – so we chose to split that. I got a fish taco & their verduras (veggie) taco. Miles got the carne asada, carnitas & the highly recommended (by the bartender) – beef barbacoa.
When the tacos arrived, they were served with a selection of pickled things:
These tacos were clean & light & I suggest you try them. If you really love tacos – try Mission Cantina’s Taco Tuesdays – with $1 tacos all the live-long day!!! That is an awesome deal.
We left Mission Cantina satisfied but not needing the naps that are so often the case after eating exhausting Mexican meals – so we decided to drop into the nearby Museum of Death – just a few blocks away to kill some time. 🙂
Free parking in the rear…
There is a really spooky old trailer back there – no explanation.
Predictably, no photography is allowed in the Museum of Death. The museum tour begins with a gallery of art created by famous serial killers as well as some background on the more famous ones (Ed Gein, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy – etc) & rare documents. Then a few novelties – like a mummified head of guillotine victim (a convicted serial killer) – the crime scene & autopsy photos from the Manson-Tate murders, Victorian post-mortem dead baby portraits & generally just a lot of stuff you’ve probably seen (or seen similar) if you have had any kind of history of a fixation with the morbid (as I have). Footage of an autopsy proved too gross to watch.
The most compelling collection in house was a series of photos depicting a nude wife holding her dead husband (killed at the hands of her boyfriend – also depicted but not nude, I don’t think) – and the progressive dismembering of said husband & then the loving portraits of his severed head with his severed foot in his mouth – and then with his severed hand putting his severed penis in his own mouth. The photos are from the seventies – shot (hilariously to me) on a 110 camera. I think only subject matter as unusual as a party-style mutilation could really distract you from the other novelties in the images – her vintage, 1970’s winter bush & tiny, seventies natural bud-like breasts. Oh – and her wickedly smiling face as she poses – nude & squatted – with the castrated torso of her late husband. It seems this naked butcher had a pal at a Fotomat or something but she didn’t realize that the developing & printing process involved more than one employee. I’m not sure why she thought even her own mother would look at the developed photos & not turn her in – but the stranger involved in the photo processing did just that. Thank heavens – or I never would have gotten to digest fish tacos looking up into the neck hole of a beheaded man.
As an aside – I worked at a little Fotomat-esque storefront in high school & routinely stole the embarrassing images from the stuff that came through. The shop was near Boston College & I have a lot of nudes & images of men’s penises & mooning arses etc – all typically a result of the pyramids of empty beer cans college kids seem to enjoy building so much. So – if you went to BC around 1981-83 – and had a tendency to nude up for the camera at keggers – I might have some things that would interest you.
The Holocaust got surprisingly little coverage – too obvious perhaps? Overexposed? Who knows? I think it is a gross oversight because the Holocaust has more horror to offer than the combined elements of the entire rest of the museum. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway – Heaven’s Gate & Jim Jones get some exposure. Jayne Mansfield’s dead & taxidermied chihuahua is in the collection along with a series of stuffed albino animals & some jarred animal “abominations” of the two-headed or 9-legged variety.
All in all – it was worth the $15 each, I’d say, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone. Mission Cantina & Taco Tuesdays, on the other hand – I recommend without reservation!