Written By Casey Deeha
For anyone who has read my review of Los Cantaros in Emeryville, will know that the area has certainly come a long way since the title 'mudflats' was the suitable name for the location. Even passing through the twentieth century, Emeryville, as an area of the Bay, took on various personas as a less desirable destination for the inquisitive local. In fact, from 1939 to 1970, amongst the various industries that ruled Emeryville with an iron fist, the area was famously known for a massive animated neon sign showing a can of red paint tilting, spilling and covering a globe of the earth, with the slogan "We Cover the Earth" which sat atop of the Sherwin-Williams paint company' s factory. This rather Dr. Eckleburg's-Eyes-esque harbinger of profit adorned and dominated the East Bay as city goers passed into San Francisco.
I can run with metaphorical significance of the imagery here, but reluctantly refrain. Needless to say, the Bay Street Mall poses no real difference as a harbinger to those about to pass the cathedral-like east span of the new bridge. Thus, the question looms however: has Emeryville improved?
Today we have the illustrious Bay Street Mall, a monolithic representation of what ensnares gentrification - a hodge podge of various colored buildings that bare more resemblance to Main Street USA at Disneyland than a veritable collection of new-build apartments with accompanying chain stores; at least Disneyland is honest in its intention. Buried within the 'food court' of this mass is Rubio's - a chain among chains of the Mexican culinary genre. And for those readers who are familiar with my thematic oeuvre will know that I approach this pseudo-taqueria very cynically. As an afficinado however, I am bound by the creed of my people - to approach burritos without prejudgement.
For all those who are in the know, Rubio's is known for their fish tacos and I take this into consideration as a Burrito Afficianado. I order the beer battered fish burrito with black beans. The salsa bar is meager but the 'red salsa' will suffice. I order and patiently take my place in the outside patio to turn my Eckleburg eyes on the Wasteland of Emeryville. Eager shoppers pass by equipped with their Gap and ibags completely unaware of my ninja presence - I think quickly of the great moment in Invasion of the Body Snatchers when Donald Southerland's character realized that they can walk amongst inhabited bodies by taking away the human gestures that otherwise convey emotion. I sit blandly and unhappily. I fit in perfectly. My fish burrito arrives and I crack a slight smile and worry that the alien infestation can smell my human emotion. I quickly take a bite - pure tortilla. I take another and, for fear of my sanity by being in such a place longer than I must, I finish the burrito in one fell swoop. I swallow, sit back and contemplate for I am pleasantly surprised. It's not bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed the burrito for the fish was well battered and remained the central piece of the ensemble given that many fish burritos allow too many ingredients to dominate the main protagonist as in my experience of The Burrito Shop in Oakland. The fish is crispy and light and works with the heat of the day.
I say well done Rubios and begin to consider a trip to the friggin i-store below. Is there an alien conversion taking place within my soul - am I falling into the collective... was there in fact a sense of relief when I find that Donald Southerland's character in the last shot of the film has been finally amalgamated into the hive?
I'm. Not. Sure.