El Rincon


Google, El Rincon, LA, December 2019.


“El Rincon” means the corner. A quick and easy stop-by for those craving crispy tostadas. Or juicy maduros. There are perhaps more than two dozen diners by that name in LA. But this one, wedged between South Central and West Adams (the newly in-demand neighborhood abutting Culver City and El Segundo, LA's Silicon valley), is hard to miss. The hand-painted cobalt blue walls jump to wandering eyes. The jukebox at the door, like a laborer indulging in naps, falls silent here and there. The owners propped the door open with a folded corner of the doormat to catch the last bit of daylight. The light creeps over the threshold and warms the guests' ankles. 

It’s the happy magic color that lured hundreds of thousands of stagecoaches into the desert. No sewage, no water, no house, but not a worry as long as I can get a little taste of gold. Westward went the hopeful crowd, the desperate crowd, the savvy crowd, and the naive crowd. The jukebox is humming an upbeat song. The guitarron and vihuela end on a bright metallic tone. 

Breathing in the familiar odor of a deep fryer tank, I glide into the semi-circular booth in the corner. Damion will be here any minute now. I open up the menu. I marvel at the economy of printing—27 dishes on the first half spread—and start perusing like it was today's papers.

Toddlers scream with joy. An older sibling or perhaps their aunt distracts them with soft drinks. Another voice, from the TV hung near the cornice area, flies across the room. A woman, on the verge of a breakdown, screams at her lover who remains adamantly off-screen and silent. It's a classic trope of female hysteria. The waitress approaches the table as I, staring at the locks of chestnut hair undulating on screen, fail to address her presence.  





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