Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mike’s Bar-B-Que Adventure: Syracuse

Part 3 of a 4-part series

The rest of the week passed uneventfully as much as I can remember. I sorted through my network of contacts and reached out via email to anyone with whom I had a sufficiently personal relationship that I didn’t think it too forward of me to ask them to vote for the Dinosaur on Saturday. Somewhere between my email client and my internet provider’s SMTP email server, something choked on most of the email addresses I was trying to send to, so only around half of them went out. Of those, fewer than ten people sent me replies (though certainly more folks may well have voted – if so, thanks!). It turned out not to matter, as I learned Saturday night after a mad scramble by GMA staff to track me down. But I digress.

Saturday morning I eagerly watched GMA Weekend to see the spot on the Dinosaur. I expected that it would be about a 5-minute segment (which it was), so I knew in advance that NONE of the interview Ron taped with me would ever see the light of day. Nor did it – there simply wasn’t time to show interviews with the restaurant owners AND the essay finalists at each of the four locations PLUS tell viewers what the segment was about AND encourage them to vote for their favorite BBQ joint. I hope that the other three people who were my counterparts at those restaurants weren’t too disappointed not to see themselves on TV. This was a big part of the reason that I was grateful to News 10 Now and the other media outlets who interviewed me, as I realized early on that I’d only maybe be on the national news if the Dinosaur won. And at that time, I still had no idea how the whole thing would turn out.

Video: The original GMA Weekend spot showing the four finalists

I cast my vote, then went on with my day. My wife and I had just celebrated our wedding anniversary and my parents were babysitting that afternoon while we went to a movie (Terminator: Salvation) and dinner. The movie was okay and took my mind off the BBQ competition, at least until we got to the restaurant. Over dinner I’m sure I bored my wife to death with my excitement. The web-voting was to be open until midnight. While we were eating, her cell phone rang once with an unknown long-distance number. It took her a while to decide not to answer it, and I was just reaching to take it and answer it myself when it stopped. Little did I know that Eric Noll, on the other end, was frantically trying to reach me.

We got home and were barraged by my parents and children with greetings of “Good Morning America called!” and “We think the Dinosaur won!” and “Eric needs you to call him back right away. Something about going down there tomorrow.” Oh crap!, I thought. Did he decide I need to be in NYC on Sunday after all? I placed calls to Eric’s office number and mobile phone, leaving messages at each, while my mom speculated wildly about why he’d called. I decided I was not going to get overly excited until I spoke with Eric and knew what was really going on. After all, the voting wasn’t to be done with for hours yet.

At last we got in contact and Eric told me that the Dinosaur had won by a landslide. Not only had most of the web votes been for the Dinosaur (again, thanks to everybody in my extended personal and virtual network who cast a vote for the Dino!), but three of the four anchors had preferred the Dinosaur as well, and their votes counted for half. It was decided and the Dino was the victor! I was stunned, but elated. I was told to please be down at the Dinosaur by 6:30 AM on Sunday morning and to bring my family if possible.

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