El Cajon – from rednecks to immigrants
Ben Kalasho, Chaldeans, rednecks, architecture, Hell's Angels, Lester Bangs, Tunnel Hill
Natives of El Cajon tell me downtown Main Street was entirely “trashy” before Chaldeans and other immigrants started opening up businesses.
- At a city council meeting in September Elia spoke publicly to Kalasho: “Ben, you need help. It hurts me to see fellow Chaldeans spiral like this. It might be best if you step down. Work on yourself. Work on your family. And come back later on and do something else like a reality show or something.”
- By Eric Bartl, Nov. 9, 2018
"These politicians are playing Checkers while I’m out here playing Chess." (from Kalasho Instagram post)
- “The N word and the F word are not allowed here.” He's referring to the six-letter F word. “At first we experienced a cultural pushback from El Cajon, but now we are succeeding remarkably. Our profits are 400 percent what the previous owners’ were.”
- By Eric Bartl, June 13, 2018
- “They call my birth village ‘the lost paradise.’ Iraq was one of the most beautiful countries. We had freedom like here in the United States. If I showed you a picture of how we used to live, you wouldn’t believe it. We were the most educated people. In the time of that regime, [Iraq] had 33,000 scientists.
- By Siobhan Braun, April 20, 2016
Chaldean men at backgammon game outside the courthouse off Main Street
- "I hate the heat here. The mayor’s an idiot. They keep tearing up downtown. They tore it up, they tore it down. They rebuilt. Now they’ve torn it up again. There’s so much drugs in some parts. And I swear it’s getting hotter by the year."
- By Bill Manson, March 11, 2009
- Several blocks west of the Fosters Freeze on El Cajon Boulevard stands the regional headquarters of the Hells Angels, whose name for one of the hottest cities in the county is Hell Cajon. To the east, illusions of an idyllic time are further dispelled by the long stretch of Main Street, where the homeless and drug-addicted can be seen hanging out at most any time of day or night.
- By Joe Deegan, Dec. 24, 2003
- I think it’d really be groovy to give the readers an idea of what it was like growing up in El Cajon, that prototypical little inland town east of San Diego, and reading Burroughs and Kerouac and Ginsberg and listening to Mingus and Coltrane and the Stones and holding these books and records up like talismans or shields.
- By Roger Anderson, Nov. 26, 1987
Lester Bangs' high school classmate, Roger Anderson: "You were right, you loved music more than you loved yourself."
- Just 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, El Cajon (“the big box” in Spanish) is a sprawling box between old U.S. Highway 80 and State Highways 67 and 94. In recent years it has become the local media’s poster child for bad city planning — branded a “blight,” “pit,” and “disaster" by editorialists and “homier-than-thou” readers in other parts of San Diego.
- By Susan Vaughn, July 22, 1999
El Cajon policeman on Lexington Avenue. Concedes El Cajon City Councilmember Todd Keegan, “The valley floor needs a lot of improvement."
Photo by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
- The house, once upon a time, sat by itself—overlooking acres of oranges, of lemons, of gently lapping hills. It attempted, and failed, to overlook El Capitan Mountain; instead, it accepted the mountain as a pleasant, yet distant, companion. I was nine when I first entered the house and called it home, 29 when I left it for the final time, in the interim a community had sprouted at its feet, had replaced the oranges and lemons, had grown between the nearness of house and mountain.
- By Ross Bayard Flaven, Dec. 16, 1976
We had several brush fires come down from La Cresta for a visit: those crazy folks in La Cresta were always knocking over lanterns, shorting electrical wire, playing with matches. When I-8 was completed we ceased to worry—the freeway was an effective firebreak.