There’s a spot, a couple benches next to the bus stop, outside Gomer’s on 39th and Broadway where these two old guys go every Saturday morning for as far back as I’ve ran by it, probably much longer. They argue and bicker back and forth about the hottest issues, from Obamacare to Andy Reid’s offense. They may not have all the answers, but they think they do.
As often as I can (weather and motivation permitting) I try and run from my place downtown through Westport and back. Along my route is this corner. When my path crosses these gentlemen’s we say our greetings, maybe talk about the weather depending on how long the light lasts, then carry on. It was back in August on a slightly breezy day with a longer-than-usual red light that I caught these guys talking about the upcoming Chiefs schedule and how they don’t know if Andy Reid is the right guy for the job. I stopped, took out one headphone and simply said “Honestly, I think the guy’s as good as any. Look what he did in Philly, he’s not done yet.” The two guys stopped bickering with each other, looked at me, then to each other, and erupted in laughter. In what could quite possibly have been the first thing in history they ever agreed on, they looked at me and said “Son, you’ve not been here too long have you? Best get settled in, this season’s gonna be a lot longer than the rest of your run!”
Wise old men…
That aside, I’d like to think I’ve come a long way in the 10 short months I’ve been living in the heart of Kansas City. Sure, it’s only a couple hours from my hometown, but the differences in KC and the Ozarks stretch much further than that. There’s a lot around here you have to soak in, and I can’t sit here and type like I’ve mastered every single thing quite yet, but the first five make for a good place to start…
5: It’s Windy. All The Time. No, not Chicago windy (fortunately) but at any point in time on any day of the month, there’s at least a slight breeze. I have a theory that this is because we’re so close to Kansas…and Kansas doesn’t really have many trees…so the wind just sweeps through that flat state and hits you like a brick wall. It’s also why it takes forever for the Sun to go below the horizon line in the summer. Geesh, grow some trees Kansas.
4: For a Big City, You Seem To Know Everybody. It’s kinda crazy that in a city of more than 2 million people you see a LOT of familiar faces. I knew a few moving up here, it of course didn’t hurt to have some family here and a rather large Drury network to fall back on, but the more you’re out the more you see. The more you see, the more you see again. Seriously, there was a guy at Power & Light I ran into with my little brother and some friends that looked like Alan from The Hangover. Not three weeks went by before I saw that exact same bearded individual eating Sunday brunch at Tomfooleries. I give it a week before I bump into him at Hy-Vee.
3: The Border War Is Alive And Well. Each state’s respective college may have parted ways into separate conferences, but trust me when I say that has in no ways diminished this awkward interaction between the locals at each end of the bridge. Working in the industry I do I get to interact with both sides of the City. Each think they have something over the other. Take it from the newcomer’s perspective, BOTH sides are awesome in their own right. Obviously I have some bias being from the great state of MO, but KS has a lot going for them as well, plus the girls over there are pretty cute…JUST, give me a little more time with that whole ‘Jayhawk’ thing…
2: It’s The Best of Both Worlds, Old AND New. It’s crazy that just about anywhere you can go, you can see how far back these city’s roots are but at the same time how far they’ve come. The history is SO rich, from the American Royal to the Nelson-Atkins to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame to the Jazz Museum. yet at the same time, KC is one the hottest Tech hubs in the nation and has gone against the grain with the flow of the economy. The best part about the whole thing is that nobody here really takes that for granted, it’s truly awesome.
1: You Shake Your Head and Laugh Every Time Someone Says ‘BEST BBQ IN KANSAS CITY’. This statement is a bold faced lie! Anyone who says it hasn’t thought about this: there are TONS upon TONS of barbecue places in KC and no matter how amazing that piece of burnt ends you just demolished is, it’s almost a guarantee there is somewhere around this city that can do it better and there always will be. It’s really a blessing far more than it is a curse and definitely a good problem to have. Sure, there’s the Big Four (Joe’s, Bryant’s, Gates and Jack Stack) and each can hold their own, anybody who’s come to KC for the food can tell you that, BUT this place is called the BBQ Capital for a reason. What about R&J’s on 80th and Parallel? What about Smoking Guns in North KC? Smokehouse? LC’s?! Seriously, there’s even a guy that has a trailer on North 7 Highway in Blue Springs with burnt ends that can stand plate for plate with any of these places I just mentioned…and these are only a fraction of what this town has to offer. Don’t deny yourself the awesomeness of KC barbecue, it truly is the best in the world, but don’t EVER call one place the BEST. This is a town effort.
I’ve got a long way to go, this town is far more complex than five points. But I’m in no hurry. I’ll grab my Sporting scarf, put on my Chiefs hat and head out for a Z Man with a glass of Boulevard Pale Ale, never knowing what this town has to offer me next!
This last Saturday was a very nice day (kinda windy, go figure), so I decided to go for a run. Sure enough, those two were outside Gomer’s, talking up a storm. Today’s topic of heated debate: BBQ. Let’s just say I didn’t make this my Number 1 without reason…One was arguing about some new place that opened up just a few blocks from him, the other was just sitting and laughing, only stopping occasionally to say “yeah, but it don’t beat Gates”. I stopped, the light was red for a while, took out one ear bud, and said “come on, everybody knows there’s no such thing as the ‘best BBQ in KC’. They stopped, looked at me, looked at each other, then turned back to me and said. ‘Son, you’ve come a long way!’
Proud to be here.