The 2018 Meat Sweats Tour: Few Things Finer Than Carolina (and Barbecue)

As the first two plates of chopped and sliced pork were placed on the table in front of us, accompanied by sides of Ore-Ida-looking French fries and an entire basket of hush puppies, my first thought was, “I hope I can handle a whole week of Carolina barbecue.”

My son Nick and I were at Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina, the first stop on one of our somewhat annual barbecue tours. Our first trip, the Barrage of Brisket Tour back in 2013, took us to the Austin area, where we made five stops. The next tour was 2015’s Madness in Memphis , where we hit six barbecue places (and one fried chicken joint).  In 2016, it was Kicking It in Kansas, for seven stops.

That last name is pretty damn awful, and I admit I’m retroactively naming some of these because I dubbed this year’s trip The Meat Sweats Tour.

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Paranormal activity almost killed me

Since Cara and I moved in together a hundred or so years ago, my consumption of horror movies has increased exponentially. She likes them. And, truth be told, the genre has grown on me, partly due to some pretty quality stuff being released in the last decade or so. There’s also some outright garbage that can be enjoyable in its own right.

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The truth about Brooklyn barbecue

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If you’re gonna take a picture of a tray of meat, THEN ORDER A TRAY OF MEAT. (Photo courtesy of Izzy’s Smokehouse, Brooklyn.)

The article was headlined “Why Is Brooklyn Barbecue Taking Over the World?” I’m not even going to link to it. But it was a perfect example of a certain sort of food writing: provocative clickbait written by someone seemingly ignorant about barbecue and journalism.

It also gave Brooklyn way too much credit while trying to champion something that didn’t need his damn help—which seems to be a particularly Brooklyn thing to do (and by that, I mean a particularly Williamsburg thing to do).

As a certified barbecue judge who’s eaten his way through Austin, Lockhart, Memphis, and Kansas City, with a couple of stops in the Carolinas, I can tell you this: Brooklyn barbecue isn’t taking over the world, but it is good and doesn’t need this trend-setting bullshit.

The piece featured a handful of places, including one Brooklyn barbecue restaurant that’s been closed for over a year. The only thing remotely supporting a claim that Brooklyn barbecue was taking over the world was that people in other locations are using the same sort of decor (which, to be honest, is generic Brooklyn hipster and not remotely unique to Brooklyn barbecue joints).

And there was the photo. On an oversized metal tray lined with butcher paper, five slices of gray brisket, two pickles, what appear to be two Kings Hawaiian rolls, and beer served in a Mason jar (of course). There had to be two inches of real estate between each item.

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Trump vs Amazon: More Stoopid

Donald Trump think Amazon isn’t paying it’s fair share in taxes. Hell, maybe it isn’t.

But what’s increasingly clear is that Trump doesn’t understand how actual business works these days. Trump has probably never shopped at Amazon. He’s probably never shopped at Walmart. He’s probably never shopped at a grocery story. Hell, he’s probably never shopped for himself, period.

I’m ALL for companies paying their taxes. And more taxes! And we should definitely have a discussion about Amazon demanding and getting NFL-stadium type property tax breaks and other incentives from cities. And the NFL getting those sorts of tax incentives. And real estate developers like Trump and his family getting those breaks.

But he’s suddenly worried about this one business paying taxes. Bullshit.

Small businesses? Walmart and Target killed a ton of those and never provided opportunities for third-party selling or for so many other small businesses to sell their stuff.

He also doesn’t understand how the postal system works. The only reason the USPS was never Trump’s delivery boy was because no one ordered Trump Steaks or whatever he was trying to sell.

I’ll tell you what this is. The few real businessmen he pals around with are old farts with their money tied up in retailers with way too many physical locations and far too few sales. He probably thinks Sears is cutting edge and saw a segment about Toys r Us on the news. And he can’t run real-estate cons on companies uninterested in giant stores.

Oh. And he probably is just jealous of Jeff Bezos, who is an actual billionaire and instead of turning into someone who’s developed Grandma Ass in his old age looks more and more like Mr. Clean. Don’t even get me started on Trump probably thinking Bezos assigns and writes stories for The Washington Post.

(And if your only response is “But Hillary,” just save it. She’s not the president. No one cares about Hillary at this point but Hillary and Fox News.)

E.T. and the anxiety attack

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Last night, I watched E.T. from start to finish. I can’t remember the last time I did that. I do remember that the first time I tried to watch E.T., things didn’t go so well.

I freaked out right around the time E.T. was found sick in the ravine, white and almost dead. If memory serves correctly, I ran out to the bathroom and barely succeeded in puking up a box of Hot Tamales and soda (25% chance it was Dr Pepper, 75% chance it was Mr. Pibb, way back before Pibb Xtra was a thing).

I’ve always chalked it up to being scared. I was a scaredy-cat as a kid. I’m told that when the family went to see King Kong at the drive-in, I hid in terror on the floor of the back seat. I could be misremembering someone else’s memory there. But the point is, I was a chicken. And I just fueled my imagination with books about Big Foot and ghosts and aliens.

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It’s election season: Let’s play ask a politician!

As a recovering journalist, I know that working journalists love nothing more than other people telling them how to do their jobs, especially folks who never covered that particular beat. I was never a political reporter, so maybe I shouldn’t be writing this. After all, I don’t have the level of expertise it takes to pitch tons of soft-ball questions to continue my access to a politician and the occasional hard ball designed to make me look cool in front of the other reporters. Or something something something Russia.

The thing is, politicians pretend to be public servants but rarely act like either a servant or a member of the public. There is also a certain breed running around screaming about elitists–and then jumping in a limo or first-class to make their next meeting. So I’ve come up with a list of questions all politicians should be asked. I’ll be honest, I first came up with these because of Donald Trump. And this list is a hell of a lot more fun if you imagine Trump successfully answering ANY of them. But the questions should work for any politician of either party–particularly incumbents.

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Eating Louisiana: A few photos

I’m home in Louisiana for the holidays. And that means food. Lots and lots of food. How has it gone so far? Let me show you.

1. Fried shrimp platter from Soileau’s in Opelousas, eaten upon completion of 25 hour drive from New York.


2. Sunday morning breakfast. Boudin and cracklins from Ray’s. (Billy’s boudin recipe, though.) Donuts from Mikey’s. I ate a lot more than what is on this plate.

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