Playboy Oct. issue hot with Byrd, Escobar at Chicos
By David Crowder
The hardest thing to find in El Paso these days, next to a job, may be the October issue of Playboy.
That’s not because it holds layouts of UTEP co-eds but of a much-discussed article by Luis Alberto Urrea entitled “A Weird Calm at the Edge of the Abyss.” As the title suggests, the article offers a colorful exploration of the peace and funky proud culture of El Paso painted against the eerie dangers and amputated heads a few feet away in our sister city.
Search as you will the Circle Ks and Barnes & Nobles, you will not find that copy of the magazine better known for classy porn than classy words. The question is when the next shipment will arrive?
Urrea works his words hard to explain why El Paso is El Paso and in the process conveys the bouncy optimistic grit of the town in a way that many would find more real and alluring than any splashy chamber of commerce ad in an airline magazine.
He follows publisher Bobby Byrd around town by day and is led by night to Downtown’s gay bar epicenter and on to a mandatory stop at Chico Tacos by that dangerous political sister duo, Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar.
And there come the quotes that have sent many on a search for the elusive Playboy with the article as a convenient excuse to plop cash on the counter for the plastic-wrapped girly mag.
Oh oh, the radio hosts fret and churn, will their loose, unmanicured quotes be the end of them?
Deep in Urrea’s story, Byrd says, “The secret of Chico’s is I think that this might be government cheese!” Escobar is quoted as adding a comic’s refrain, “It’s that good welfare flavor.”
Of course, we all know that such has been the urban legend of Chico’s for years along with the countervailing belief that the yellow stuff they serves up might not be made of anything uddered by a cow but is a vegetable oil concoction. While the EPA and TCEQ are spending thousands to tease out the ingredients of the water under Asarco, maybe they could give us the definitive answer on Chico’s cheese.
But no one really wants that; it’s far more fun to surmise.
Exhibit 2 in the case for the undoing of the mischievous sisters is the paraphrasing of Byrd about one of El Paso’s rebeatified saints, “The great worry in El Paso is not the narcos or the alleged immigrant influx or even the drug culture. … ”
“But what worries the paseños most are the 33,000 new troops scheduled to come in soon,” Urrea writes, getting his numbers a little wrong. “Thirty-three thousand outsiders, strangers who don’t get the Chuco vibe at all, who will bring in big-city violence and Iraq war anger and strange new military gangs and unwelcome otherness. That’s what scares El Paso.”
It would have been safer to pick on Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa mother than Fort Bliss, but Byrd says she said it late at night in a booth at Chico’s.
So while I may have given you the hot politigoods from the latest edition of Playboy, there’s plenty more in there. If you find one, call me.