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The Striated Soppressata Sandwich Taste


I expressed in the PIT my wish that Tom Wolfe accompany the Huffington Post Pan-America* Bus Trip to give us his usual mordant commentary. Luckily, a rift to an alternate future opened up in my kitchen this afternoon and left a small sample of that very work. I hope you enjoy…


The bus has been cruising down I-80 for two hours now since the last stop, and The Team is getting hungry. The phone-qua-navigator says two more hours until they reach their hotel for the night. But The Team’s bellies are rumbling NOW — two hours is two too many — is there anywhere to eat out here in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania? Curtis’s position at the wheel makes him the de facto leader and he polls the journos scattered about the bus: press forward to Pittsburgh, or take their chances on the next exit?

From behind him come vague mumbles, grumbles, and equivocations:

“I could eat…”


“Yeah, I guess…”

“As long as we find somewhere with vegan options…”

Each statement is left open, just like that … Finishing the sentence would make one The Decider. Too much responsibility on The Decider for a momentous call like this…

Zeba stands up to address the group. Clears her throat. Is she preparing to make … The Decision? “This is why we’re making this trip, right? To step outside our bubbles?” Hmmmmm … no statement yet…


“Yeah, I guess…”

Zeba turns to Curtis and says, “I say we take the exit.” Wham! A period! The rest of the bus silently ponders this new path that’s been decided for them. Curtis moves into the right lane…

The phone-qua-yellow pages brings up a list of restaurants in the town that The Team find themselves in. The sun is going down, and each member’s face is illuminated by a bright square of white light as they page past the local McDonalds and Taco Bell and Wendys and KFC and Subway and Long John Silvers and Five Guys and Panera Bread — Panera Bread? What’s that doing out here? — and Pizza Hut and Dominos and Burger King and — finally! — the local joints.

X’s bar.

Y’s tavern.

Z’s pub.

Are there any restaurant-restaurants in this burg? Aha! A family-friendly BBQ Bar N’ Grill with some decent Yelp reviews. (Who told them about Yelp?) And that’s not all, says the phone-qua-tour guide, tonight is Trivia Night at this Yelp-famed institution! Fabulous Prizes! Half-Price Pitchers! Fun For the Whole Family! The Team settles on the BBQ by acclamation, and the phone-qua-compass leads Curtis on.

The bus rumbles and rocks past a strip mall, a gas station, and — could it be? yes! — a Walmart! Finally The Team has hit Real America! And there, actually located IN the Walmart parking lot(!), is the burnished-wood BBQ joint. Country music and laughter float out through open front doors to greet The Team as Curtis settles the bus up against the grassy edge of the parking lot. A flashing neon Budweiser sign in the window paints the bus red, white, and blue. Yes…the Real America hangs thick just beyond those doors … like someone kicked over a whole thurible of gunpowder, tobacco, french fries, and cheap beer…

The Team gathers their tablets, pens, papers, recorders, smart phones, smart glasses, smart watches, smart pens, smart paper, and smart shoes. The first big scoop, the first chance anyone’s ever had to understand Real America, is finally here…

There are 14 comments.

  1. Member

    The sad part is many NYC liberals came from such small towns after being brainwashed at some university paid for by hard working parents of such towns.

    • #1
    • July 14, 2017 at 5:15 pm
  2. Member

    Rednecks in the mist…

    • #2
    • July 14, 2017 at 6:30 pm
  3. Moderator

    My only criticism is that I wish you had written just a bit more. I feel teased.

    • #3
    • July 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm
  4. Member

    Surely there will be more adventures to come after they recover from being beaten half to death after trying to get vegan, gluten-free barbecue, prompting the first warning sign, “You ain’t from around here, now is ya, precious?” But did they even notice that warning? Of course not. And do you know that an iPad is not as good of a weapon in a bar fight as a bar stool? They do now. More to come after release from the hospital.

    • #4
    • July 14, 2017 at 7:02 pm
  5. Reagan

    I have been to that joint! Their Memphis Mild sauce is meh, but the Texas Hot is going to need a few beers to quench the fire.

    Oh and avoid the men’s room, the fan is in need of serious repair…

    • #5
    • July 14, 2017 at 7:10 pm
  6. Coolidge
    WinterMute Post author

    skipsul (View Comment):
    My only criticism is that I wish you had written just a bit more. I feel teased.

    As criticisms go, that’s a good one to have levied against you. I was working under a deadline since my own local BBQ place was closing in 90 minutes at the time I started writing.

    • #6
    • July 14, 2017 at 7:17 pm
  7. Member

    Very Wolfeish use of CAPS and italics. Nicely done.

    • #7
    • July 14, 2017 at 11:05 pm
  8. Member

    WinterMute (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):
    My only criticism is that I wish you had written just a bit more. I feel teased.

    As criticisms go, that’s a good one to have levied against you. I was working under a deadline since my own local BBQ place was closing in 90 minutes at the time I started writing.

    Then this should be just the first part of several. Great idea and fun to read. Do more with it, please.

    • #8
    • July 15, 2017 at 10:18 am
  9. Reagan

    Please tell me this is the first in a series . . .?

    • #9
    • July 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm
  10. Member

    So enjoying these posts. Thank you.

    • #10
    • July 15, 2017 at 7:50 pm
  11. Member

    This reads like a faux Stephan King dream sequence where the Blade Runner-Bot wakes up on the bus and .. well, eats BBQed Soylent Green.

    • #11
    • July 16, 2017 at 2:06 am
  12. Coolidge

    WinterMute: The Team settles on the BBQ by acclamation,

    No way!

    How many vegans are on the bus?

    Does the place have a gluten free menu?

    Is their meat “organic”?

    Even though none of the journos are Muslim, would it be proper to go to a place serving pork? Nobody cares to ask photographer Weinberg whether he keeps Kosher.

    • #12
    • July 16, 2017 at 5:12 am
  13. Coolidge

    Have you told the story of how Victor the intern put in for workers comp after being tasked with refueling the bus?

    Muffy, the Times auto columnist, seemed the natural choice until she proudly proclaimed her status as a non-driver.

    “Who here ever had a diesel Benz?”

    MSNBC’s Henry, proudly wearing his Mercedes-Benz denim shirt to fit in with the manually laboring locals, pops up only to point out: “In New Jersey petrol stations are full serve.” Attention shifts to CNN editor Helen from Greenwich who submits that refueling the car is the chauffeur’s function.

    Daily News intern Victor finally volunteers and Helen offers to coach him having occasionally observed Steven filling the the old S-Class.

    • #13
    • July 16, 2017 at 5:37 am
  14. Member

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Even though none of the journos are Muslim,

    A lot have converted in private and they do their praying quietly while fondling Gucci store special made carpet pieces from the Grand Mosque’s billionaire hand me downs.

    They make a big show of eating bacon to keep people from knowing. They have special dispensations directly from the Grand Mufti.

    • #14
    • July 16, 2017 at 9:00 am