Aparato Singer: Border Patrol Profiled Me

[Mental Notes] Also, No Doubt's famous 'Beacon Street' house for sale

Anaheimer and front woman for the jarocho-rock band ¡Aparato! Nancy Mendez (a.k.a. Cat) says that, in the early-morning hours of Jan. 10, she was pulled over by a Border Patrol agent in Laguna Beach.

The singer/guitarist was driving home when she noticed a vehicle tailing her. "A white Jeep began following me for a really long time," Mendez recounts during a lunch break from work. "We passed the downtown area and up into the hills. That's when and where he turned on his red-and-blue lights and decided to pull me over."

The white male approached the minivan and identified himself as Border Patrol. The musician says the agent, who had a badge hanging around his neck, mentioned people crossing the border at sea and landing on the beaches.

"He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was just driving around," she says. "He asked me if I had ever been arrested before, and I said no. He then asked to see my license, and I provided it. At that point, I asked him if I had done anything wrong, and the man said, 'No, not yet.'"

Authorities note that cars park at coordinated "drop-off" spots near coastal highways and freeways to pick up incoming undocumented immigrants. According to Border Patrol spokesman Steven Pitts, a multi-agency task force—the Maritime Unified Command—was created in April 2008 in response to those activities, and the Border Patrol is one of those agencies.

As for Mendez's account, Pitts says, "I can't speak to the specific incident . . . but we do have agents in the field in areas where we see an increase in maritime smuggling, and our agents act whenever there is probable cause or reasonable suspicion."

The Border Patrol agent who pulled Mendez over let her go after searching her minivan, but the ordeal left her angry and frustrated. She contends she was racially profiled. "I'm pretty sure he got a look at me before pulling me over because he drove parallel to me in the next lane, going at the same speed, through the well-lit downtown area of Laguna Beach," the singer says.

In response to the experience, Mendez has called and left messages about the incident with Laguna Beach city officials. "I was really upset throughout the whole scenario," she says. "Laguna Beach, I love that place. . . . If I go back, I'm going to feel like people are watching me." From a Jan. 14 Heard Mentality post by Gabriel San Roman.

The house at 173 W. Beacon Ave. in Anaheim is world-famous. It was the family home of Gwen Stefani, but it's also where No Doubt rehearsed, recorded some of The Beacon Street Collection in the garage and filmed two videos. And it just sold for about $325,000. We chatted with guitarist Tom Dumont, who confirms that not only were the "Trapped In a Box" and "Just a Girl" music videos filmed at the house, but also "much of Tragic Kingdom" was written there. Hat tip to No Doubt fansite Beacon Street Online, which suggested fans pool their cash to turn the place into a museum! From a Jan. 13 post by Vickie Chang.

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