Occasionally the gods of leisure will smile upon you. Maybe it's fate, maybe they just tire of seeing you trudge through your same routine every week, but for whatever reason they decide to throw a whole bunch of fun at you just to see you happy.
Although knowing that mythological gods could be dicks, they might just want to see if you die of a heart attack from fun overload.
For whatever reason, the gods decided to reward me by scheduling the Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships and something called the Cult Movie Drive-in on the same weekend, one of the weekends I was actually off work and could attend a smorgasboard of awesomeness.
There's not too much you can really say about the BBQ Championships, other than it's a good excuse to eat a whole bunch of food and ...I dunno, I guess the ticket goes to charity or something?
I had gone to last year's championship, and while it was pretty fun, it was also sort of unorganized. So there would be long stretches of no food, then a group would gather in front of some booth after somebody said, "They've got ribs" in the same tone you'd use if you had found a kid in a well who needed help. If you were in the back of the group, you might get some ribs, or you might get a big ol' helping of nothing.
This year, there were a lot more people cooking, so much so that I was so loaded up on samples that I felt sort of sick after we left. This is the feeling of accomplishment.
BBQ even makes hipsters smile!
They have this really progressive work release thing where inmates from the local prisons and asylums learn valuable life skills through cooking. Here, a local inmate displays his favorite cleaver.
From there we went to the Cult Drive-in thing. It was pretty dead, which might have had something to do with there being no advertising. I only knew about it because my friend Pat happened to stumble onto their webpage which he forwarded on to me, after having HIS MIND BLOWN. Seriously, the email he sent said something like "abaadabab this just broke my brain."
All sorts of famous-to-nerds people were there, and since they weren't bothered by pesky customers, they were captive to the nerds who showed up who would regale these poor actors with recaps of their favorite lines and how their roles in action movies back in the '70s were totally inspirational at their sad IT or library jobs.
Mink Stole from the John Waters movies was the first person we saw. She was awesome, sort of like a cool aunt. She totally wanted to steal my friend Matthew. Oh yeah, he was visibly freaked out by like 95 percent of the stuff there. He almost fainted when Ms. Stole suggested he talk to Ilsa (you know, the She Wolf of the SS). Ilsa's there by Matthew's shoulder. Poor Ilsa, no nerds at her table yet.
If you pay them for autographs, famous people will pretend to be friends with you.
Pam Grier offered to take me away with her, but I have too much to do here.
Jim Kelly no longer has his amazing afro (where I think many of his powers came from), but was still pretty awesome.
There were all sorts of movies of dubious quality being sold there. They had deals where you could buy 3 for like 30 bucks. I ended up with Moonshine County Express, Killer Fish, Three Tough Guys, The Legend of Lizzie Borden, some animated Dracula thing and ...I can feel your eyes glazing over from here, so I'll stop. Suffice it to say, I loaded up on treats, even though I have the feeling they're all gonna be released next week in five dollar Criterion reissues.
For the next few days I thought of all the stuff I left behind - some Bigfoot movie, a couple Italian Jaws ripoffs, some spaghetti western where Robert Mitchum plays a priest with a machine gun. Man, I really needed some of that stuff.
I noticed how everybody thought it was awesome that I was spending a ton of money on foolishness. I hope all these people remember that when I hit them up for loans when I'm 76 and headed to my third job.
Fred Williamson did a Q&A, which was just amazing. He looked almost the same as he did in the '70s, even though he said he was 73. He came in drinking a margarita and just started calling on people. He had a long list of people who's asses he should have or will or could kick.
I asked what his favorite role was.
"My favorite role? You've seen my movies, right? They're all the same. I look good, kick someone's ass, get the girl if I want her, then leave."
Someone asked if he'd accomplished his goals. He said he didn't have any, and said something like, "I never thought I'd play football professionally, or act in movies, or direct. Or be in this room answering all these dumbass questions."
After that, we went home and I fully intended to come back at 8 to watch Coffy on the big screen, but after my day's adventures, I stayed home and looked at all my treats.
When will the gods smile on me again? Who knows, the ways of gods are unknown to mortal men. I'd like to think they helped me out during Sunday's adventures, when I teamed up with Pam Grier, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly and we uncovered a wide-ranging conspiracy based at the BBQ Championships. I'd tell you more, but a lot of that information is classified at the moment.