Meat Beaters

Unreal mingles with true meat-masters, joins the campaign to save CBGB and receives a dispatch from Redbird Nation. Plus, what's Keebler doing handing out roach clips?

Unreal is a grand cham-peen when it comes to beating our own meat, so when we heard that Kirkwood's Texas Roadhouse steakateria was hosting the first round of the national chain's annual Meat Hero Challenge, we just had to check out the local competition.

On a recent afternoon, Unreal entered the joint under the watchful eye of a giant stuffed moose and shook paws with meat cutters Doug McCurdy of the Kirkwood Roadhouse, the O'Fallon franchise's Tom Schaffer and Dennie Dowell of Owensboro, Kentucky. Each was presented with twenty pounds of top butts, tenderloins and rib loins and allocated an hour and fifteen minutes to carve out as many eye-pleasing, mouth-watering sirloins, rib eyes and filet medallions as possible.

"The contest was more professional this time around," veteran contestant Dowell confided to Unreal after smartly snapping off his latex and thoroughly washing his hands. "The product coaches were more aware of what we needed." Which was? "Knives. Sharp knives."

When asked for tips on how amateur Meat Heroes with starry eyes could win competitions, Schaffer advised against trying to catch a knife if it falls off the table.

Unreal was then invited to stand behind the kitchen's meat-display case and breathlessly witness the "meat audit" -- a.k.a. the weighing, measuring and man-handling of each protein-rich slab in order to determine its dimensions, the amount of tapering and presence of fat and/or prominent veins. The cuts were also inspected for "silver skin," which, as Roadhouse manager Byron Wofford explained, is the "tough membrane that doesn't cook off, like when you're eating a steak and you get to a bite that's got the consistency of chewing gum."

Though a professional meat cutter for a mere two months, Kirkwood's own McCurdy was eventually declared the day's Meat Champion. Insanely jealous, Unreal headed home to practice our slicing skills. But one butter knife, three turkey dogs and one trip to the emergency room for stitches later, we realized we should have heeded Schaffer's advice.

The next qualifying round for Meat Heroes advancing from competing regional Roadhouses will again take place in St. Louis this fall. The top six finalists from across the nation will compete in Alberta, Canada, for $6,000.

Doug McCurdy: Unreal's got you in our sights.



Mellow Buzz

Let's say you run into someone on the sidewalk munching on some miniature chocolate-chip cookies called Keebler Gripz. Let's also say that person starts spontaneously raving, to no one in particular, about just how awesome the little cookies taste. Is that person sincere, or is that person an agent of Keebler who gets free products in exchange for a little street-level word-of-mouth? If it turns out to be the latter, this person is what's known in the stealth-marketing world as a BzzAgent.

Recently, a sixteen-year-old BzzAgent residing in the greater Pontoon Beach metropolitan area received a box of the aforementioned Gripz. He also received what appeared to be a roach clip (pictured here). Which got Unreal to thinking: Must a cookie monster be sky-high to enjoy the chocolaty Gripz? We called up Kelly from BzzAgent corporate in Boston (a.k.a. the St. Louis of the Eastern seaboard) to find out.

Unreal: What's up with the roach clips that come with Keebler Gripz?

BzzAgent Kelly: The what?

Roach clips.

That's, like, a memo holder.

So should I use the clip to hold flaming memos so as not to burn my fingers?

I guess.

What sort of buzz are the roach clips generating?

What's a roach clip?

It's for a joint.

Can you tell me just what sort of thing you're writing? I'm not sure I'm the one you should be talking to.

Who should I be talking to?

Hold on a second.

(Unreal holds on for approximately 300 seconds before hanging up. Five minutes later, Kelly calls back on speaker phone.)

So what exactly were you wanting to find out?

Whether or not it's a roach clip.

Of course it's not. There's another thing in the kit -- that's a pen that's branded.

Okay, that's all we need.

(Note: Actually, we could use a coke grinder masquerading as a pepper mill around the office. Take note, Keebler buzzards!)



Save CBGB!

After months of speculation and false starts, an official campaign is underway to prevent venerable St. Louis music venue CBGB on South Grand Boulevard from closing its doors. Often cited as the birthplace of American punk rock, the venue was founded in 1973 and gave such performers as Television, the Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith and Talking Heads their start. Seems there's a bit of a rent dispute going on, and its lease with Bowery Residence Committee is set to expire August 31.

Unreal isn't exactly sure why a bunch of folks like Jonathan Demme, Juliette Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Little Steven and Legs McNeil are trying to preserve the club's legacy as, get this -- "an official New York City landmark." And we don't know why a bunch of benefit shows featuring the bands Dead Boys, Thursday, Gorilla Biscuits, the Liars, Sham 69 and others are scheduled throughout August in New York City's Lower East Side. One thing we do know: Unreal wants to help.

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