Film and Television Rights: Napoleon Barbecue

This weekend I went to the Big Apple BBQ festival in Madison Square Park--which is one of my favorite outdoor spaces in NYC. When I moved to this fair town, my very first dead-end-corporate-drone job in Manhattan was just a block away, so I ate cheap and greasy Indian food in the park on my lunch hour every day (that was me on the grass, scribbling in my notebook by the dogrun) or I'd wolf down the pathetic and hastily-made sandwiches I'd sometimes bring to work in an effort to save money, considering my rent was approximately 50% of my take-home pay.

The park is gorgeous, with giant trees from James Madison's Virginia estate. (For the uninitiated, the park is not near Madison Square Garden, thank god. The Garden used to be there long ago, but it moved up and over a few avenues to be closer to the hookers.)

The BBQ festival was meant to be a taste of North Carolina goodness for me, since one can't experience a decent BBQ sandwich anywhere else. Mitchell's BBQ, from Wilson, NC represented the great Tarheel State. (There were six or so other vendors from lesser barbecue regions--Missouri, etc.) I imagined the festival would be a quaint affair, since there were a dozen other street festivals on Saturday. Alas, it seemed all of the metropolitan area had the same idea as me, and the lines to the food stands snaked all across and around and through and over and around 26th street (my puffed-up pride told me the line for the NC cue was the longest). A sea of us at the hog trough. I tried to find the end of the Mitchell's line, but instead, near the back, I found a guy I play softball with, and chatted with him awhile, as the line inched forward. "Thanks for saving me a space in line." I said. He sort of agreed the propriety was okay, since we were technically friends. The lines were a confusing sight, all jumbled together and intertwining, and, of course, there was much state-of-the-line exposition to be heard. It seemed everyone was suddenly a proper-line-maintenance expert. "There should be more signs," and "those people need to turn around and face the direction their line is moving," and I, of course, offered my own 2 bits. "Where are the barbecue ambassadors?" I shouted. "We need to rope this off." After 45 minutes (or was it 2 hours?), when I got to the front I was so spastically happy to finally get some NC BBQ I think I actually became inhabited by my mildly-retarded inner child on Christmas morning. I ordered six sandwiches while excitedly rambling to the frightened people in line behind me. Meanwhile, my softball friend was yelling at some poor guy who unintentionally cut in line--meaning he'd no idea where the lines started and ended. Somehow, softball buddy and I became separated after that--for I was transfixed. When I got my BBQ, I let out a Whooo Doggie! Which, obviously, I picked up from Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies, rather than ever hearing it when I was raised in the rolling hills of NC.

I neglected to mention I went to the festival with my friend Brian, (also a Tarheel boy like me). He had his dog with him, safely away from the throngs, in the dogrun. We ate and succeeded in convincing ourselves it was worth the long wait and hassle. This is a good time to point out BBQ down home is as commonplace as falafel is in NY, and cheaper. That it's better goes without saying. (Yet oddly, I used to walk two miles for the rare exotica of a falafel sandwich in NC.)

Brian and I parted ways, and walking home, I decided to catch an early movie. Mrs. FTR was out of town, so I'd no plans. I'd been entertained by the previews of Napoleon Dynamite at the Sunshine. I noticed it was playing in 10 minutes, so I bought a ticket and a lime soda and enjoyed the happy little riot of a film. (This may sound weird, but the opening credits was the coolest opening credits sequence I've ever seen.) Everyone clapped at the end, which was when I realized it was the premiere. The people clapped some more, and Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) himself was standing before the audience thanking us for coming. Kind of an odd and pleasant moment. I wanted to stand and channel Jethro and shout, "I just saw you in the moving picture show." On the way out, there was a table of promotional giveaways--I snagged Mrs. FTR a cool Liger t-shirt. It's a cross between a lion and a tiger, and has magical powers. Sweet.

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