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Friday, October 17, 2003
El Grillo Report #2: Scarface and the Gyrating Turkey Butt
OK, I didn't smash the monitor with the Hulk Hands. Why not? So I could tell you about a trip to a strange Mexican restaurant.
If you read last week's report or hang around downtown Portland, you know that El Grillo is a cafe attached to one of Benecio del Toro's favorite strip clubs. Something weird's always going down there and it's probably the best place in the city to people watch.
On a recent trip, the place was packed at 11:30 on a Wednesday night. A line of teenagers clogged the counter, looking like they were on a late night field trip. Halfway through his meal, one turns to the cook and asks if he would turn the DMX from mariachi music to old-school rap. The cook obliges and the restaurant is suddenly filled with a track from Niggaz4life.
Gunshots and an endless stream of "fucks" cut like a knife into the patron at the window. He motionlessly smokes a cigarette and stares into oblivion. He's dressed like Tony Montana and carries the same scowl.
Something is about to happen. Will he rise and whip them with a Cuban brogue? Is that an Uzi under the jacket on the chair? Do psychotic mafiosos live in Oregon and hang around Mexican restaurants? Things are tense.
Suddenly, an old man appears in a cloud of smoke from Mary's Club. He rides in on a wheel chair pushed by what looks like a daughter. The tension drains from the room as the restaurant tries to suppress smirks. The cook asks, "Did you have a good time?" "Always. Always," the man assures him.
Before things can get uncomfortable again, a couple flounces through from next door. Both are built like linebackers. While the male chats with the guy working the register, his wife, approaching 40 and as pale as White Out, dances to NWA.
This isn't your average head-bob, knee bend. She's into it, working a strange combination of the "Shake Your Bon-Bon" and the Chicken Dance. She flaps her arms as her ass gyrates like a pair of turkeys filled with vibrators. She's oblivious to the lyrics and smiling like a baby.
Her dance lasts 30 seconds but seems like hours. People laugh, Montana doesn't move his head. His eyes are fixated on a spot in the street. Does he know she's there, that this gigantic turkey butt is gyrating only a few feet from him? He's as still as stone.
The song stops and so does she. They leave and the teenagers follow. DMX is quickly switched back to the mariachi station. Montana lights another cigarette. I never find out what's so fascinating about the pavement.