Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Love Thy East Village Neighbor

My wife Beth and I moved from the quiet suburbs to an old, remodeled warehouse loft in downtown's East Village five years ago.

We loved the sunsets from our fire escape, the fireworks over the bay and ballpark, and that it was not the Gaslamp, not quite gentrified, not completely safe, but still real and ecelectic.

Beth embraced everything about East Village life, even the sirens, the weekly traffic accidents, the three competing rock bands that practiced next door, the construction, the parking problems, the crowds from Petco Park, the lost tourists driving the wrong way down our one-way street, the drunk bar-hoppers wandering back from the Gaslamp, the runaways sleeping outside our building. The homeless folks made me nervous, but Beth learned their names.

The only neighbors who bothered her were the guys who ran the tattoo parlor across the street. Day and night there was a gang of them camped out inside the shop or in a row of chairs on the sidewalk out front. They blared "#[email protected]! your mother" music at two in the morning, got into car-stopping fights in the middle of the street, harassed any woman and intimidated any man who passed by. They were the reason Beth didn't walk on that side of the street.

For two years, she glared out our third-floor window, sending hate-filled vibes toward the row of guys sitting in front of the shop. I'd disrupt her trance by asking, "Honey, what are you thinking about?"

Without turning away from the window, she'd answer methodically, "I was fantasizing about shooting out the tires of their big, black trucks with a BB gun."

I resisted saying, "Beth, it's been over two years. Get over it."

She was stubborn.

Then one day at work I was interrupted by a phone call from Beth.

"Joe, I decided I'm going to get a tattoo. You okay with that?" I laughed, not quite knowing if she was serious or not. She had never wanted a tattoo. In fact, she took some pride in being one of the few people in our circle of friends with no body art. Though surprised, I distractedly said, "Okay," and went back to work. Less than an hour later she called me back and announced, "I did it."

I hurried home to our loft, and found Beth beaming as she showed me her left wrist, revealing the delicately scripted words, "Love Thy Neighbor."

She explained how she'd walked to the ATM and withdrawn some cash, then marched across the street, taken a deep breath, and stepped through the doorway and into the parlor. The walls were covered with tattoo art, skulls, bloody knives, naked women, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Chuy was working on somebody's backside. "Excuse me, I'm your neighbor from across the street; may I watch you?" He looked up at Beth and gave a half nod.

As she sat there in her pink T-shirt and ponytail, Beth noticed she was the only one in the room without piercings, tattoos, and black clothing.

After watching Chuy a while, she decided to step out onto the sidewalk and have a seat in one of the chairs in front of the shop. She tried to relax and take it all in; she studied the world from their perspective. The guy next to her asked what she was getting done.

"Love Thy Neighbor," she muttered.

"Why?" he asked.

"Well, you guys are my neighbors, and I'm having trouble loving you. You kind of scare me," she sputtered. "You know, with the fights that break out over here and all..."

"Whoa! That is so cool!"he exclaimed. He hopped up and ushered her back into the shop and announced with complete sincerity, "Chuy, dude, we're scaring our neighbors! We gotta stop fighting."

Chuy was not quite so touched by the story. "Hey," he said defensively, "I'm just tryin' to run my place." Beth explained that her intention was not to change him; she just wanted to get this tattoo.

The tattoo artist next to Chuy said, "Love Thy Neighbor? Like with brass knuckles and shit?"

"No, that's not exactly what I had in mind," she responded.

He found a tattoo magazine and turned to a picture of "Love Thy Neighbor" tattooed on a man's inner forearm — with a bloody knife and bat in the background.

"That's not exactly it, either," said Beth.

Chuy, who Beth sensed had learned his penmanship behind bars, began to methodically prepare his tools. A few of the tattooed locals gave Beth the rundown on all the care and instructions for a first-timer, and Chuy began to do his art on her wrist. Then he stopped. "How do you spell 'Thy'?" he said shyly. "I didn't go to school."

The other tattoo artist piped in, "Dude, it's not because you didn't go to school, it's because you don't read the Bible! It's all over that book."

After that day, Beth could often be found out on our fire escape waving down to the tattoo guys, whom she now called her new friends. The music that came streaming across the street from the tattoo parlor was not so grating. Fewer fights broke out. The sidewalk felt safe. Or maybe we just imagined that all this was different. I was a little skeptical of it all, and whether her "new friends" remembered her, or if she was even on their radar.

Then about four months later, Beth took our car in for an oil change at the tire shop on 11th Street. As she entered the office she noticed Chuy talking to the repairman behind the counter.

"Excuse me, Chuy? Hi, I'm Beth. I'm not sure if you remember me..."

Before she could finish, his face broke into a smile, and he stepped forward and gave her a warm hug. "Hey," he said to his friend behind the counter, "This is my neighbor, the one I was telling you about."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Unemployment leads to Ocean Beach baking

The bread man
Next Article

Is Midway the new Soccer City?

Fresh chapter unfolds in San Diego's well-lobbied Sports Arena muddle

My wife Beth and I moved from the quiet suburbs to an old, remodeled warehouse loft in downtown's East Village five years ago.

We loved the sunsets from our fire escape, the fireworks over the bay and ballpark, and that it was not the Gaslamp, not quite gentrified, not completely safe, but still real and ecelectic.

Beth embraced everything about East Village life, even the sirens, the weekly traffic accidents, the three competing rock bands that practiced next door, the construction, the parking problems, the crowds from Petco Park, the lost tourists driving the wrong way down our one-way street, the drunk bar-hoppers wandering back from the Gaslamp, the runaways sleeping outside our building. The homeless folks made me nervous, but Beth learned their names.

The only neighbors who bothered her were the guys who ran the tattoo parlor across the street. Day and night there was a gang of them camped out inside the shop or in a row of chairs on the sidewalk out front. They blared "#[email protected]! your mother" music at two in the morning, got into car-stopping fights in the middle of the street, harassed any woman and intimidated any man who passed by. They were the reason Beth didn't walk on that side of the street.

For two years, she glared out our third-floor window, sending hate-filled vibes toward the row of guys sitting in front of the shop. I'd disrupt her trance by asking, "Honey, what are you thinking about?"

Without turning away from the window, she'd answer methodically, "I was fantasizing about shooting out the tires of their big, black trucks with a BB gun."

I resisted saying, "Beth, it's been over two years. Get over it."

She was stubborn.

Then one day at work I was interrupted by a phone call from Beth.

"Joe, I decided I'm going to get a tattoo. You okay with that?" I laughed, not quite knowing if she was serious or not. She had never wanted a tattoo. In fact, she took some pride in being one of the few people in our circle of friends with no body art. Though surprised, I distractedly said, "Okay," and went back to work. Less than an hour later she called me back and announced, "I did it."

I hurried home to our loft, and found Beth beaming as she showed me her left wrist, revealing the delicately scripted words, "Love Thy Neighbor."

She explained how she'd walked to the ATM and withdrawn some cash, then marched across the street, taken a deep breath, and stepped through the doorway and into the parlor. The walls were covered with tattoo art, skulls, bloody knives, naked women, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Chuy was working on somebody's backside. "Excuse me, I'm your neighbor from across the street; may I watch you?" He looked up at Beth and gave a half nod.

As she sat there in her pink T-shirt and ponytail, Beth noticed she was the only one in the room without piercings, tattoos, and black clothing.

After watching Chuy a while, she decided to step out onto the sidewalk and have a seat in one of the chairs in front of the shop. She tried to relax and take it all in; she studied the world from their perspective. The guy next to her asked what she was getting done.

"Love Thy Neighbor," she muttered.

"Why?" he asked.

"Well, you guys are my neighbors, and I'm having trouble loving you. You kind of scare me," she sputtered. "You know, with the fights that break out over here and all..."

"Whoa! That is so cool!"he exclaimed. He hopped up and ushered her back into the shop and announced with complete sincerity, "Chuy, dude, we're scaring our neighbors! We gotta stop fighting."

Chuy was not quite so touched by the story. "Hey," he said defensively, "I'm just tryin' to run my place." Beth explained that her intention was not to change him; she just wanted to get this tattoo.

The tattoo artist next to Chuy said, "Love Thy Neighbor? Like with brass knuckles and shit?"

"No, that's not exactly what I had in mind," she responded.

He found a tattoo magazine and turned to a picture of "Love Thy Neighbor" tattooed on a man's inner forearm — with a bloody knife and bat in the background.

"That's not exactly it, either," said Beth.

Chuy, who Beth sensed had learned his penmanship behind bars, began to methodically prepare his tools. A few of the tattooed locals gave Beth the rundown on all the care and instructions for a first-timer, and Chuy began to do his art on her wrist. Then he stopped. "How do you spell 'Thy'?" he said shyly. "I didn't go to school."

The other tattoo artist piped in, "Dude, it's not because you didn't go to school, it's because you don't read the Bible! It's all over that book."

After that day, Beth could often be found out on our fire escape waving down to the tattoo guys, whom she now called her new friends. The music that came streaming across the street from the tattoo parlor was not so grating. Fewer fights broke out. The sidewalk felt safe. Or maybe we just imagined that all this was different. I was a little skeptical of it all, and whether her "new friends" remembered her, or if she was even on their radar.

Then about four months later, Beth took our car in for an oil change at the tire shop on 11th Street. As she entered the office she noticed Chuy talking to the repairman behind the counter.

"Excuse me, Chuy? Hi, I'm Beth. I'm not sure if you remember me..."

Before she could finish, his face broke into a smile, and he stepped forward and gave her a warm hug. "Hey," he said to his friend behind the counter, "This is my neighbor, the one I was telling you about."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Red, White, and Blue can never tell a lie: San Diego was the place to be for the Fourth of July!

America’s Finest County
Next Article

NPR Livestream: The Dears, To Tame a Wild Tongue Charla (Talk), Cinema Under the Stars: Midnight In Paris

Events July 16-July 17, 2020
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close