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Chip Ahlswede
Meredith Weisel

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Perspective

Getting to see things from another perspective helps you realize your own limits in vision.

Today I got to take one of my boys with me into LA.  We had some work to do, a few meetings, and then a chance to play.  He'd been there before.  But it became a playground to him.

LA is an amazing place and he was filled with wonder.  And most people get blind to it all.

It reminded me back when I first moved to DC.  I looked at the Capitol Building and realized that is the seat of power for the world.  Most people scuttle by it without much regard.  I made myself a promise at that point.

"The second I walk by this building and am not in awe is the second I need to leave because I've become too jaded."

That day never came for me.  And I try not to let it happen anywhere I go.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Candidate Trump... and What it Means

Everyone is making a big to do about Trump running for president. Lots of speculation. Lots of assumptions. Lots of guesses.

Also, a lot of posturing.

However this isn't the first time we have seen an otherwise non-politician entering a race.
- 1992 We had Ross Perot, a Texas Billionaire, took a sizable amount of the vote
- 1996 Perot came back, to less effect
- 2000 Ralph Nader came in to the race and pulled a lot of Democratic support from Gore
- 2004 Rev. Al Sharpton was the second to last candidate to withdraw in a field of 10
- 2008 saw Alan Keyes return, but there were primarily elected officials on the ballot
- 2012 we had Herman Cain, a businessman who's plans shaped how candidates presented theirs

So the question isn't can they run, how far they can run, or can they get the nomination.
The question is what will the discussion be centered around, and will they make an impact?

Looking at the elections of the last 25 years - Perot and Nader made an impact in the discussions and outcome. Sharpton was able to define an opposition to war, and Keyes and Cain were able to present a series of plans that shaped discussions and presentation styles.

However in order to actually become the nominee, you have to have support across a large swath of the party. Only time will tell if Trump is able to build that support.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bar B Que Is America

So this week I did something unbelievable.

Between various business meetings in and around Austin and San Antonio Texas I went on a 48 hour 10 bbq joint 15 lbs of meat journey with a friend.

Let that sink in.  2 guys 15 lbs of meat, in 2 days from 10 places.

It was glorious.

And we hit up 10 places.  But rather than rank them out by which I liked best, I am going to offer it a different way.

What these 10 places were by how they represented the American Ideal - and in the order that we went.

  1. Salt Lick - The Salt Lick is an experience all its own.  It's community.  You bring your cooler of beer, sit on a picnic bench and talk with everyone around you on a family plate of meat that never stops coming.
  2. Terry Black's - Terry Black's is where you see a family business that branched.  We'll talk about the original later, but here we have where the nephew has taken a few recipes and improved on them while preferring location and volume to the hometown. The expansion to a new market.
  3. Luling City Market - The Luling City Market is the kind of place where you meet everyone from town and hear the stories from the carryings on of the mayor to the gossip on who will be the Thump Queen (you thought I was just making that up).
  4. Smitty's Market - Smitty's is in Lockhart, the famed Capitol of Texas BBQ.  Smittys is the kind of place with 50 years of soot on the wall from the smoker and the smell that will bring you back everytime.  It's where someone didnt care about anything other than a finely perfected craft.  It's not fancy.  It's not inviting.  It's just what it is, great BBQ.
  5. Black's BBQ - The Original that Terry up above spun off from.  It's a dedicated craft, a family tradition, and the kind of place you want to be.  Yeah, they got a branch.  But true believers go to the original for the true essence of their product.
  6. Kreuz's Market - Kreuz's is unique and its own way.  No sauce.  Not even offered.  Like forks.  You don't need em. end of story, its how they roll, and don't bother asking.  Their product is theirs, they know how its best, and regardless of what you think you listen to the expert.
  7. Franklin BBQ - Aaron Franklin put this place on the map.  He studied under the Mueller's BBQ family, learned the craft, bought the pit, and started his own thing.  Doing a truck before food trucks were a thing, and then setting up shop to make the absolute best possible brisket imaginable.  How good?  You stand in line at 8 for a restaurant that doesn't open until 11, and he's sold out by 3 or 4 everyday since.  The apprentice that is still true to the process, because he's there most days cutting your meat.
  8. La Barbeque - Masters of the food truck BBQ, you find La Barbeque in a vacant lot with a few other trucks, putting their own spin on that Mueller / Franklin style.  The innovator, taking it to a new place.
  9. IronWorks BBQ - IronWorks is the typical staid restaurant.  They have a style.  They have their type, and frankly they are happy to provide an atmosphere, a great product, and be pleased with that process.
  10. Brown's BBQ - What do you do when you're not of the storied groups, you find your own way.  You set up shop outside a place that doesnt serve food and you build a following.  That's what Brown's did, and does successfully.
10 places, 15 lbs of bbq, and several dozen beers and big reds.  Which leads us to the other most American observation - It's harder than you think to develop gout and diabetes.