UPDATE - I've decided to post all the pix, including many not here, in an album. I'll drop a link here as soon as it's ready. Also, I've included some good links to Steve at the end of the story.
OKI DOKIE... here's a link to the photo album.
This was my starting point.
Steve McQueen is my hero. Always has been since I watched Wanted: Dead or Alive when I was a kid. Steve was the coolest guy I'd ever seen in my young life. And he was one of the few TV actors to make a successful jump to the big screen. Boy, did he ever!
I'd been thinking about going to Juarez for a while now. Wanted to find the clinic where he died. Dunno exactly why. Maybe it was the Chinese cockroach.
Ya see, a few days ago I spotted Slider chasing this big-ass roach cross my kitchen floor. He was maybe three inches tip to toe. Never seen one that big. And, ya know, once that sucker ran under my fridge, I thought that was the end... cause a roach never ever shows his ass when the lights are on.
Here he comes... big MF roach running like his ass is on fire. He's... disoriented... I'm guessing. Stella appears and starts screaming... "Kill it! Kill it!" Well, I'm more a Buddhist than she'll ever be, so I'm trying to corral the fucka... with Stella's sneaker... and she's screaming... ""Don't touch it!" cause she thinks whapping it with her shoe would contaminate her shoe or something. So I get this humongous roach trapped in a glass and I take him outside in the pre-dawn darkness and I set him free on my neighbor's lawn. (I do this with all bugs in the house.)
I'm kinda pissed that we have roaches cause, well... I'm basically a pretty clean guy, ya know? So Stella floors me when she says this was no ordinary roach. No sir! This motha was a Chinese cockroach. All the way from China! Ya see, Stella purchased a swinging chair from Pier 1, and, of course, the thing was shipped from China, and, well, I guess he was wrapped up in the packaging.
So, let's make a connection, shall we... McQueen's only nomintaed best actor role was for The Sand Pebbles, which takes place in... China.
I drove to El Paso Saturday morning and immediately got lost. I did find a ten spot on the street while roaming aimlessly, so that was pretty cool. Finally, I get my car parked and I cross the bridge. And, on the other side, that's where I meet Pedro, my taxi guy. This is Pedro...
Yeah, he got me to the clinic, alright. Mr. Invaluable.
So Pedro is driving and I'm shooting.
Pedro hangs outside while I, um, converse with Steve's doctor, Cesar Santos Vargas. He is a most gentle man, soft spoken, 81 years old... he sure doesn't look it.
Dr. Vargas is most ingratiating. I like him already. He shows me Steve's X-rays...
...though I'm not certain exactly what I'm looking at.
I ask if I may see the room where the operation took place. He obliges.
(Lots more pix, but I think they're probably redundant.)
Dr. Vargas makes copies of all the essential documents, but... I stoopidly leave them in the operating room (above) and, when we go to retrieve them, Dr. Vargas can't get the door to unlock.
And that's his typewriter.
Before I post a few documents, I just want to convey my impressions of Dr. Vargas. Although he's way past retirement age, he continues to minister to those needing medical attention. During my stay the clinic was inundated with fathers and mothers and their kids seeking help. And yet, he'd told me that the clinic has been closed for a year now due to the violence in and around the neighborhood. He said he works at various clinics and hospitals and yet, here I find him on a Saturday with a waiting room of patients.
I'm going to post three of several documents below, but, before I do, I want to say this... Dr. Vargas asked me to send him a copy of the newspaper if he gets written up. I explained that I wasn't affiliated with any paper, but, if anybody picked it up, I'd personally come back and give him a copy.
I'm hoping that a paper, maybe the Las Cruces Sun-News, will jump on this and do a real story. For Dr. Vargas. And for Steve.
Below are three photo copies of interest.
Finally, I just want to say I have way more pix than I used here. Many more crazy stories, too. However, I really like my job, so I'll just hush.
Steve, I love you man.
SOME LINKS FOR YA, BOUNTY HUNTERS -
Steve McQueen dies in Juarez from the El Paso Times
El Pasoans remember McQueen on, off the set from the El Paso Times
Actor's death turns attention on El Paso, Juarez from the El Paso Times
Steve McQueen's life as average Joe from the Los Angeles Times
Steve McQueen turned to quiet life in Santa Paula before 1980 death from the Ventura County Star (good article but contains numerous formatting errors.)
Steve McQueen - scene stealer - Rivalry between star Yul Brynner and co-star Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen Online - Extensive!
BONUS! - Which McQueen film was the inspiration for my "Impeach Somebody!" tee pictured above? (I had a dozen made during the last years of the Bush administration.)