Photo by Marc Majcher
First of all, if you eat meat, and have never had the opportunity to try Texas style BBQ, I feel sorry for you. It’s good stuff – delicious brisket, beef ribs, German style sausages, and other meats, seasoned and then smoked to tender perfection. Sauce is secondary, and not even needed or desired by a lot of folks. Serve it all on a sheet of butcher paper with pickles, onions, and white bread, and you’re good to go. BBQ has a culture, and various regions are locked in an endless battle over who does it best. (I’ll save you the trouble of trial and error. Texas does it best).
But can BBQ also be of value to a Black Magician? Perhaps that seems unlikely to some of those reading this, but as an Evil Wizard who also has studied BBQ and its culture extensively, I assure you that an astute student of the Left Hand Path can indeed learn a few things from Texas BBQ.
A large part of successfully performing magic is being able to control one’s Subjective Universe – the Black Magician’s ability to shape his or her inner world and apply their Will to create change in the Objective Universe. Go to just about any BBQ joint in Texas, and you are stepping into a carefully cultivated environment. This is especially obvious if the place is not particularly old. Much of BBQ culture is based around “authenticity” and the length of time a BBQ practitioner has been at their craft. In most parts of the country there are a few venerable restaurants that have been in business for generations. It’s immediately obvious upon walking into one of those culinary time machines that they’re the real deal, and that the ambiance developed naturally with little effort spent to look “authentic.”
When a Black Magician walks into such an environment, they should take note of the subjective bubble they’ve entered. Like the ritual chamber, some of these temples to BBQ are protected from outside influences. The successful Black Magician’s ritual chamber is a highly charged environment where they are in complete control; when one walks into a good BBQ joint, they are immediately under the influence of someone else’s a carefully created subjective environment. Black Magicians must learn to interact within subjective spaces created by others, and a local BBQ joint is as good a place as any to do just that.
Next, let’s look at Franklin BBQ. It’s probably the most nationally famous BBQ joint in Austin at the moment, despite having only been around a few years. It seems to make every top 10 “Best of BBQ” list around, and I don’t doubt it’s good. But “best”? I wouldn’t know first hand, as I’ve avoided the place. Why? How can a self-professed Evil BBQ Wizard (EBW) such as myself not have eaten at Franklin? Well, the thing is…it’s also famous for having an hours-long line, and is only open until it runs out of food.
One magical principle I’ve learned as both a Black Magician and an EBW, is that one should only allow themselves to submit to subjective manipulation if they want to. We all filter out the obvious stuff; the constant white noise static of TV ads and spam emails, irritating energy-sucking people we have to deal with at work, or other kinds of time-wasting crap that we don’t want to allow in. How does this relate to one of the supposed best BBQ joints in America?
Well, I know the truth of the matter. There’s bad BBQ, and there’s a lot of average to good BBQ…and there are a few consistently great places. However, once you enter that “good to great” level, most people can’t tell much difference in the food. When someone tells me that the best BBQ in town requires waiting in line for two hours, hoping they don’t run out of anything, I start to question whether the food is that great, or if smoked shoe leather would taste transcendent after waiting forever, while talking to others in line about how amazing the meal will be. Creating that sort of rewarding subjective environment is both masterful marketing and a form of Lesser Black Magic. It’s fine to allow oneself to enjoy that kind of experience, but a Black Magician should be aware that’s what they’re doing. Me? I’ll go to any one of several other local places I know of where the line isn’t so formidable and the food is great.
I invite others to become Evil BBQ Wizards. But be wary and mindful. There are lessons to learn, and they can be applied to our own magical operations.