Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tijuana North (But No Cheap Smokes, Pregnant Strippers and Large Bottles of Vanilla)

***Note*** This post was written by Kevin Kimmis. Blogger has been having technical difficulties, and I had to repost it.

First off, I've pushed Avi's trivia feature, Back of the Card, down the page. For all you baseball or trivia fanatics, I suggest you click on this link to see if you can stump our miniature Schwab.

Now to my post: Windsor is getting a lot of free advertising, courtesy of the Super Bowl; it's just not the kind of notoriety the city fathers would like. Take, for example, this ESPN article which makes Windsor sound like a cross between Vegas and ... er, Vegas? Cuban cigars, gambling, fully naked strippers and "escorts" (or, to use the descriptive language of my grandmother, dirty whores shakin' their behinds at the men-folk). But because Windsor is also the only place in Canada which is geographically south of the United States, it's earned the ironic nickname "Tijuana North".

I've spent a few hours in both places, and for my two cents there is no comparison. Tijuana struck me as something out of the Depression -- the cowboy boots I bought there in the 1980s were probably the same price in U.S. dollars as they would have been in Oklahoma City circa 1932, and the storefronts were definitely as kitsch. But the place had a seedier side, which I wasn't old enough to see, although friends who went later on told me a few stories I'd rather not repeat here. (Suffice it to say the title of this story borrows from those tales).

Windsor? Well, it's an odd place. Part blue-collar town, part upscale city. Oddly enough, it reminds me of a smaller, slightly seedier version of Edmonton (which probably will insult people from both cities) but with more manufacturing. (I was going to say we have a hockey team and they don't, but that would be wrong.) Not my cup of tea, but compared to downtown Detroit, it's a jewel.

But the real issue I take with these articles is the painting of Canadians as morally bankrupt. Pu-leeze. Canadians are the most boring, staid, and proper people on earth; they're just practical. Why outlaw things people will do anyway when you can make it semi-legal and tax the living crap out of it? (Hence our near-decriminalization of marijuana.) Americans, on the other hand, are one part prude, one part voyeur; they'll admonish everyone else for doing something they themselves secretly desire or actually do behind close doors. (If you don't believe me, check this shit out.)

So let's explore these sins, shall we, and see why Americans are denied them -- and just for good measure, I'll sprinkle in a few tips for all those dirty
Yankees in case they decide to head north (or in this case, south) of the border to find them.

When I think of 'dirty Yankees',
this is usually what comes to mind.

Cuban cigars: Sheer stupidity? It's one thing to hate communism and Castro; it's another thing to deny yourself the pleasure of a Montecristo or Romeo Y Julieta. And if you slapped an import duty on them, not only would it fail to dissuade the target market for them -- rich jerks -- but you'd have enough cash for Bay of Pigs II. Hopefully, like Star Trek movies, the sequels are better than the original.

Dirty Yankees Smoking Cuban Cigars

My tip? Only buy your cigars at stores who import from Habana House, the only legal importer of Cuban cigars into Canada. Retailers should display the symbol in their stores. If there's no symbol, then chances are you're not smoking what you think you are. (I think I said those exact words to a girlfriend once. Well ... now an ex-girlfriend.)

Gambling: Apparently every American sportswriter covering the Windsor beat doesn't remember or know that Detroit has its own casinos. (Apparently we share the same style of reporting -- we write what we see out the window of our small one-bedroom apartments.) Not only that, you can smoke in American casinos; since the only thing Canadians are puritan about is health care costs, that's something you can't do here ... unless the casino is on a reserve, that is.

"Daddy doesn't care that you're a whore;
just point me towards the sign-in tables for the WSOP."

Advice? I play a little poker and blackjack, but only when I feel the urge to lose a lot of money. In respect of the latter, all I can do is relate the same advice a good friend once gave me when playing pool: It's not what you take, it's what you leave. For example, hitting on ten or eleven is a no-brainer, but if the dealer has a marginal hand (for example, anything between 13 and a soft 17) where he has to hit (and likely bust), better to sit on your bad hand than risk going out early. (Come to think of it, that's exactly what a girlfriend once said to me. And yes, she's also an ex.)

Strippers: My cousin in Michigan made it clear that Yankee strip clubs can't serve booze, and often require pasties. Ugh. Looking at skanky partially-clothed women sober sounds like f-u-n. Damn Puritans! But what do you expect from people who also
hate Christmas?

My tip? I have two. First, don't believe it when they talk about lap dance rules. Yes, the rules are no touching, but what happens in the Champagne Room stays there. Some of the experiences that have been related to me (since I of course would never go to a strip club as I'm too busy dating supermodels) suggest they'll do things to you your (ex-)girlfriend would never dream of doing.

How much do I pay for you
NOT to give me a lapdance?

Second, if you want to see great strippers, skip Windsor (do you want a lap dance from any of the girls in the pictures accompanying the ESPN story?) and go straight to Montreal. It has a more European feel than any city I've been to in North America, and that applies to the seedier side of life; for example, even the streetwalkers dress better than most of the women in Edmonton's club-of-the-moment. The things I've seen there are burned into my retinas for eternity ... of course, I'm talking about hockey games at the Bell Centre. (Hey, look ... Nickelback's playing there. Wow. What a dump.)

Escorts: See the "fun-hating moralist prudes" references above as to why the Yankees don't have 'legal' escorts, although I understand there are plenty of 'illegal' ones. Even I can't fathom why Canadian cities license escorts, but my reason is a legal one: While prostitution is technically legal in Canada, nothing else about it (solicitation for the purpose of, living off the avails of, or operation of a common bawdy house) is even remotely legal. Hence my first piece of advice for filthy American tourists: If you're crazy enough to talk to streetwalkers, avoid talking about the transaction in public -- 'cos you're probably going to jail. Of course, if you were in America, at least you'd have some good company; not so much here.

I finally find a girl who's into sports...
and the first thing she asked for was my credit card number.

As for escorts ... well, apparently the World Wide Web has created a whole new "marketplace" for them. Just like the great outdoors, picking up a rock in cyberspace means you're bound to find a few bugs, albeit some rather pretty ones. Is Brandy -- the escort mentioned in the ESPN article -- pretty? Unlike ESPN, I wanted to link to her webpage to let you decide for yourself ... but I couldn't find it. (Consider this a challenge for our regular patrons.) But I did find one girl who was advertising her Super Bowl appearance; ladies and gentleman, I give you Chanelle. Do with this knowledge what you will.

And finally: If you're married and looking to trade up without divorcing your spouse, you can always swap with someone. Why should marriage be any different than baseball cards?

**UPDATE**: Cranky administrator of this site emails me and says, with the irony turned up to eleven, 'Nice sports references.' Since it's clear I plum forgot this was a sports site, I went back in and added some appropriate content. My bad for leaving that out the first time.

Of course, ESPN also spent a whole article talking about this. And thanks to them, poker now predominates more of the sports selections available on cable than 'professional' wrestling (or worse yet, this). So smoking Cuban cigars while getting a lapdance from a licensed escort in a casino hotel on Super Bowl weekend must be a sport, right? Damn rights it is. Screw it -- I'm going to Windsor.


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