Strange Geographies: Iraq in San Diego
In the 70s, Stu Segall made porn movies. In the 80s he became a mini-mogul, building a studio in an industrial part of San Diego where he began producing low-budget movies and TV shows like Silk Stalkings. After 9/11, he built a mock Iraqi village in a neglected corner of the backlot, rarely used by film crews but frequently filled with marines, thousands of whom have run through intense training exercises there. I was at the studio for a few days last week to work on the set of a friend's film (not porn!), and I couldn't help exploring the empty Iraqi village while there. It's a strange and surreal place: barely-furnished rooms; facades with nothing but weeds behind them; plastic flowers and "Arab"-looking dummies made of foam; blank shell casings everywhere. It's not quite Iraq and it's definitely not San Diego; instead, it's nestled deep inside the uncanny valley.
Many of the rooms are covered with paintball splatter. I'm told that soldiers sometimes use paintball guns during "home invasion" exercises -- when accurate firing is especially important, one would imagine.
It's clearly been used for training exercises, as well -- evident from the paintball splatter throughout the plane. I would definitely not want to be on a flight where whatever they practice for here actually transpires.