Eternal March: Influencer Sellout – Book Presentation and More Travel – Warren, Ohio

I’m good with words. I’m not very imaginative, I can’t create a new world. But I’m good with words and storytelling.

I have friends who are horrible at this shit. They will tell you a story for more ten minutes that could be summarized in a few words. And the whole fucking story is that she went to some place and that she liked it.

I’m also good with pictures.

I have friends who are also terrible at this shit.

But I’m proving myself wrong in both with this shit text and no pictures.

The point is, I got paid to do both. And I feel like a sell-out.

I’m finishing the edit of hamburger pics.

February was a blink. March is eternal. I have the presentation of my book and photo gallery today. I haven’t even given that much though. I’m good at improvising like always. So I’ll improvise.

Tomorrow I fly to Warren, Ohio. The next week I go to Atlanta. Somehow, March got five weekends and I’ll end up working four of them. And when not working, I’m still making money in other ways.

I should write another book.

I’m talking to an influencer about being influencer and not liking other influencers.

I created a social media package. I reply with it when restaurants or places ask me to go. I got paid to influence.

Burra Burgers is my first victim. Victim? Or client?

It feels like a victim because I get paid to take pictures, eat burgers, drink a beer, and tell you and everyone what I think. Oh. And make a TikTok of me eating.

That’s the future we live in.

I went with my friend Ana, the Chinese Tijuana LA red-haired woman. She knows her food. She has been trying to find the best burger in Tijuana. I’ve tried to find the best burger in Tijuana for more than a decade. Is Burra Burgers it?

The first thing they told me was not to compare them to In N Out. That a lot of people have and they don’t want to go in that direction. But the place looks exactly like that California chain. Same colors. Almost same menu. Even the slogan is the same but in Spanish. Here’s the thing though, they are RIGHT. They aren’t really like In N Out. They go for a charbroiled burger instead of flat-top. Meat is dryer and leaner, not fatty. The bun is a homemade brioche. The toppings are the same as In N Out (lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions) with a similar Thousand Islands spread… but so is like every fkin burger. Fries look nothing like In N Out.

This is where it gets good. They have four different spreads: Chimichurri (which was reddish), chipotle (smokier and tastier than your usual mayo-chipotle concoction), jalapeño (creamy and spicy), and habanero. Instead of just choosing one, I got all four on the side.

Habanero is usually my favorite, but I liked all the sauces with a slight preference for jalapeño because it pairs better with a burger.

Without the sauces it’s… just a burger. Nothing exciting but nothing wrong with it. Perhaps a bit dry. But it’s a kid pleaser. As in, my niece and nephew would eat that burger and won’t complain. It looks similar to other burger places that they like. It has zebra donkeys painted everywhere and is in bright colors.

I actually LOVED their decorations. I’m a sucker for good bathrooms and the bathrooms were painted with Tijuana memorabilia (zonkeys and Tijuana city views). Ana loved that they had ample parking. And they also have a drive-thru!

And BEER! They have beer! Baja Brewing beer to be precise. It fits with the donkey theme. Baja Brewing keeps getting better as it ages. I used to have them in low regards but they keep climbing up the quality tree. I had their Baja lager “La Surfa” with a donkey carrying a surfboard on the can. Quite lovely easily crushable lager that fairs very well with the burgers.

Ana got a vanilla milkshake. I tried it. It tasted like melted ice cream just like a vanilla milkshake should. Kid pleaser again.

Ok. Management told me to mention their new container thing converted into a drive-thru. Now serving croissants, sweet ones and breakfast ones, and coffee. I got the cajeta croissant and Ana got a cheese croissant but turns out they switched it and it’s no longer a croissant but a Danish looking thing. The cheese Danish looking thing was way better than the croissant. I expected more cajeta because it was covered in cajeta, there wasn’t much. It wasn’t buttery flakey goodness, it was dry. They were only 40 pesos so for the price it’s something I’ll dunk in my coffee. And the coffee was 30 pesos!

The coffee… THEY USE SOSPESO which is the best coffee in Tijuana. They do not have an espresso machine or anything, so they just have coffee makers. It wasn’t as good as Sospeso coffee, but a million times better than Caffenio and other bad coffees in Tijuana.

When I was leaving the place, I saw their sign for their secret burger. I took video and pictures of the whole place and failed to notice their secret not so secret burger because it’s displayed in front of the cashier. That burger doesn’t even sound like a burger, it sounds like a torta. It contains: beans, chorizo, Oaxacan cheese, beef-patty, bacon, jalapeño spread, and guacamole. That sounds like a stoner messy disaster. I’m curious about it, so I’ll get that when I go back. If I go back.

Conclusion: The sauces rescue the burgers. And the price is alright. 99 pesos for a decent cheeseburger that can be slathered in a variety of good sauces. Would smash again if I’m in the area but would not go seeking it. Not bad for a TJ burger.

Picture by Ana the Emo Tijuana Chinese Map Geek

Everyone in management and staff were really nice and I got paid without issues. My pictures make them look so good. iPhone pictures can already be amazing and good enough. But fake macros on the Sony with a Canon lens is a hilarious setup that works. Oh. And I tried to fly my drone. It started to rain. I couldn’t.

After eating burgers I walked to Teorema brewery. Some nice chick gave me a free slice of flan. It was a really good flan. My beer pairing was way off though. I liked their coffee sours, but it does not pair with flan.

It’s a whisky in my coffee kind of morning. St. Paddy’s was this last weekend. Not like I give a fuck. Never cared much for that holiday. I do care for Irish coffee. I’m using Barker’s Mill and it’s a good one for it. It’s a good one by itself. I told the saleswoman that I liked Maker’s Mark as my favorite commercial bourbon, she directed me to that bottle.

Oooo this has a bite. I got a cheaper bottle and that one is sweeter and easier to drink. They both come alive after you leave them breathe. Which I did not on camera. I don’t know how to review whisky or bourbon, I just know I like drinking it.

I read other whisky reviewers on my plane back from Kentucky. Most of them praised the bottles that I bought. Most of them find more sophistication and flavors in the bourbons than I do. I took pictures of the most expensive whiskys in the airport store. I looked them up and kept reading more reviews. One dude (sorry I have no link to you dude) reviewed a bottle that was over $1,000. He had a full disclaimer that he got the bottle for free and that he was getting paid to review the whisky. I have no idea how many followers this guy had, but he obliterated that expensive whisky.

I’ve decided to stay true to who I am and add some sort of warning / acknowledgement on my influencer sellout package so I can still be honest about the food or product I’m being served. Burra Burgers asked me to delete what I wrote on my IG and it was way nicer than what I wrote here. I didn’t like the video I made, so I’m remaking it and I’m still going to be super nice. After all, they are a good family friendly burger. Definitely would take the kids after Flyers. And definitely, their different spreads save them from being bad.

Warren fucking Ohio. Oh, Hi, Oh.

As in you get there, go “oh hi!” and seconds later you think “oh…I should go.” Ohio.

Hey. Cleveland looked cool. The airport had all this rock stuff. I had no idea rock stuff was in Cleveland (as in music). Who is Cleve anyway? And why did they build a city on his land?!

I know shit about Cleveland except that the Browns play there and they suck (lately not bad, and I kinda like them, but they are usually sooooo fucking bad). So hey! I’m ignorant in a lot of American cities still!

I wish we stayed in Cleveland. Or Cincinnati. That’s where Nick Lachey is from. I hated photographing that dude. My TikTok videos about celebrities are still a thing. I won’t talk about Selena Gomez anymore. Her fans are fucking wacko.

Cincinnati has their own chili. It’s on top of spaghetti. That’s all I know about Cincinnati. Wow I’m ignorant in a lot of American cities still!

And the job will eventually take me to Columbus, Ohio! Who knew Ohio had so many cities with sports teams and other shit. The home of Columbus Crew. That’s all I know about Columbus, Ohio!

Warren fucking Ohio though… Warren… Fucking Ohio. It’s near the recent trainwreck with the massive oil spillage. That tells you a lot. It’s barren. It’s sad. It has Trump flags spread around. It feels old. Like uncared for. Forgotten.

And that’s where the job took me. Worst city. Worst crowd. Worst dancers. One of the best teammmates or co-workers.

I’ve liked all the teams I’ve been on. But this one was my favorite. Maybe because it already had a couple of repeated people in there. Maybe because I’m getting used to the job. Maybe because it was my first time as photo solo. But I felt great working and being part of the team. My roommate for the night was also awesome. A 44-year-old dude married to a way younger dude. Cute couple. He showed me on his phone.

We shared a bottle of wine and talked all night. Like a couple of gossip girls, talking about relationships and sex. And I told him how much I miss my ex-girlfriend. How much I still love her. He told me about his husband and how late he came out and more stuff that I won’t delve into. It was a big bottle of wine. A Barefoot Moscato of a liter and a half.

In one of my book reviews someone describes me as the male Carrie Bradshaw. It feels that way when typing this. It’s the most accurate way of describing my writing. A lot of people compare me to Bukowski. But fuck that. Male Carrie Bradshaw makes way more sense.

Work was brutal. So many fucking pictures in one weekend. Not all dancers were bad. Some I enjoyed. There were some good tap dancing sessions. One with zombies vs a girl with a light. And one kid who was probably 8-years-old that was flipping and dancing all over the place (he won). Elite. That’s what they call the winners. The losers are high gold.

There were several high golds. I tended to disagree with the judges. But what do I know about dance. I just know I take great pictures.

A lot of fucking pictures.

I tend to overshoot.

The first act on the first day of me doing photography solo. The camera gives me an ERR message. I was like… OH FUCK. I’m going to have to call for a pause. I’m always on the radio communicating if anything happens. And this was the nightmare.

I’m going to have to pause the show and use the back-up camera for the entirety of the show. A shittier camera.

Turning off and on didn’t fix the problem. The camera would just not shoot. I popped out and in the CF card and that fixed it. Saved.

And then the next act. SAME THING! ERR message. I did the same trick. I thought the CF card was corrupted, but when I had a chance, I switched CF cards.

That seemed to fix the issue. I told the social media girl (hi Sarah!) that the card was corrupted. I was wrong. It wasn’t the card. Second card did the same ERR message, but not as often. And I knew the fix. Turn off camera, pop out card, pop it back in, keep shooting. I thought it had to do with the card reader. I blew on it like as if it was a NES. But in the work chat they think it’s a shutter on it’s way out. And it makes sense. More than 30,000 fucking pics in one weekend!

The rest of the weekend went smoothly. We went to Outback. It sucked. The steak was okay, but the shrimp were rotten, I don’t know why I ate them knowing that they were bad. No shrimp in Ohio. That night we went to a nicer restaurant, they had veal. That’s illegal in California. I was tempted to order it. I didn’t. I wasn’t very hungry. The rest of the food was delivered at work. Applebee’s burger surprisingly good, the rest was forgettable (as in, I don’t even remember already).

I drank two Ohio beers at that fancy restaurant. A hazy IPA and a regular IPA. They were both solid and delicious. I didn’t have any other chance to get beer in Ohio. I wasn’t taking notes to make full reviews. I just know I was satisfied with both of them.

The second night I drank dilluted vodka from a plastic bottle with Tawny Mami. I’ve worked with her before. First time, she barely said anything to me. This time it was better. She’s a dope chick. A young and married dancer from Kentucky who seems to enjoy the simple Midwestern life.

I’m getting to know America better.

I enjoy traveling.

And I enjoyed everyone I worked with this weekend. Which means, I like the job! Though it is FUCKING BRUTAL. The venue was old. I got a shitty bar stool to sit on. I traded between sitting up straight and standing up straight while shooting thousands of pictures. My back hurt. My hands hurt. I had a weird cramp in my left hand and I couldn’t move it. It was another nightmare scenario. Sarah helped a lot. I thought of other photographers that do similar work. Either on sporting events or photographing politicians. You just hear CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK while some politician talks. Way fewer frames. But also, edits. And rush. Back to paparazzi times.

I’m tired of photography after this work. Though I do plan to shoot more food. And perhaps semi-naked girls.

But I think food photography is my path. And beer. And try that influencer shit. People like my shit.

Speaking of liking my shit.

Thanks for reading. Buy my books.

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