Friday, June 6, 2008

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is wildly publicized. Every magazine and newspaper here heralds its coming, like it's a first-rate advertisement for our fair city, proof that we're the entertainment capital of the world.

Just one problem. You'd have to be an idiot to go there, because it's an absolute nightmare.

See, of the eight million people in New York, seven million are dirt poor and desperately in search of cheap entertainment. They mark inexpensive events like this on their calendars, and race to them the minute they start.

So, picture this. Seven million people. Twelve stands hawking cheap barbecue, each manned by three or four people who are more concerned with pork burning than the crowd. You can actually see this in the center photo: on the left, a tiny umbrella shields a guy with a butcher knife who cutting small parts off a pig. And on the right, nine thousand people in line who've waited four hours and are so famished they're about to grab that knife and start carving themselves.

Now, the barbecue organizers aren't total idiots. After they were overwhelmed the first year, they realized something had to be done. For Year Two, then, they sold a Fast Pass. Buy a prepaid hundred-dollar gift card, they declared, and you won't have to wait in those crazy lines.

Anyone with half a brain will realize this doesn't make sense. They need more cooks. They need more servers. They should hand out wristbands to the people in line, because it's easier to get tickets to a Madonna concert than to get a pulled-pork sandwich here. Instead, they create another line for rich people who get served before the regular folks. Just before that platter of pig is served up to the first person in the Poor Dude line, a well-dressed man will casually saunter up, hand over his pass, and take it.

Nobody in the regular line gets served until all the rich people are fed. And at three o'clock, when they finally run out of food due to "unforeseen popularity," they turn off the fires and close up.

The first guy in line -- beet red from all that time in the sun -- stares in disbelief. "Can I get an order of ribs?" he asks.

"Sorry," the chef declares as he fires up his Ford F10. "All the millionaires ate them. Catch you all next year!"

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