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Step Up and Out: Stately Plate: Little Austin’s Texas BBQ isn’t shy about shoveling out monster servings at modest prices.— Jane Morba

GET AWAY… Man, I need a vacation. Not a traditional vacation where you stop your regular routine for a week or two, go somewhere to forget about everything, then step back into your usual life. I’m really thinking about an inverted vacation, where the whole world goes away and changes its routine, only when it comes back it has miraculously transformed itself into a more hopeful and positive expression of itself.    I’m a little burned out on all the violence and hatred, vanity and greed, insincerity and vindictiveness, ignorance and pedantry, selfishness and heartlessness. When I go on vacation I can’t escape it. I guess I can disconnect the television, the computer, get rid of my car and phone, move to the woods and hide, but I don’t want to live in the woods. I don’t want to disconnect myself from humanity…just humanity the way it looks today.

Despite decades of understanding of various additive’s negative effects on  health—items like MSG (monosodium glutamate), used in hundreds of products by most giant food companies and disguised with all different names (read medical studies at pubmed.com)—we have Congress pushing a bill through called the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act. This bill will ban anyone from suing food manufacturers holding them responsible even when they have deliberately added addictive chemicals to their foods and Blitzkrieg-marketed them to kids and other unformed humans.

I’m the first guy to scream for people taking responsibility for their actions, and personal freedom is the most important thing, but people need a defense against disinformation campaigns, brainwashing and insider deals that hurt society. The audacity that the monkeys running these companies, along with their political puppets, dare to exhibit baffles me—as if they and their mutant offspring won’t be affected by what happens to the world at large…oh, there I go again.

Let’s focus on some nice stuff.

FUN AND MUSIC… My man MARK “HAYWIRE” ANDERSON told me about a barbecue place in Salinas where the people are awesome. It’s a family joint with good lunchtime combo specials and super thick, meaty and tasty beans that highlight a bunch of sides to go along with brisket, chicken, Elgin Sausage (trucked in from Austin, Texas) and St. Louis ribs. It’s Little Austin’s Texas BBQ in the Shaker Square Shopping Center off Natividad, 449-4835, littleaustinbbq.com. Saddle on down for a bite.

Next time you’re in Whole Foods, stop into the wine section and say hi to ALAN “HOT LIPS” SHAPIRO, who recently wrote and recorded a wonderfully poignant song entitled, “The Oil Drum.” It’s a hauntingly hip indictment of society’s addiction, “dancing to the beat of the oil drum.” It’s got a great arrangement, layers of rhythm and vocals, important lyrics and a hot sound. There’s hope yet for great American protest music. If you want to find out more, contact him at 626-3404 or e-mail me, ray@mcweekly.com.

BLUE RIBBON PANEL… The Monterey County Fair is coming up in mid-August. As always it’s a fun showcase, with plenty of food and wine related offerings. One is the announcement of the award-winning county wines, as judged last week by a local panel of professionals, including JACQUES “LE GRANDE SOMMELIER” MELAC of Rancho Cellars, FABIA “THE PORT QUEEN” MASSARO of Terranova Fine Wines, RICH “VIVA ITALIA” PEPE of Little Napoli et al, KEN “BIG BOY” RAUH of Taste of Monterey, TOM “F. LEE” NASH, a local food/wine consultant, FRED CRUMMEY and STEVE PESSAGNO, who mostly ran the thing, TED WALTER and JENNAE LIZZA, Passionfish’s Bonnie & Clyde of wine tasting, plus a few others, including me, whose name escapes me now since I forgot to bring home the roster.

Anyway, it was a bit disappointing because of the lack of winery submissions by so many of the locals. This is only the second year of this particular judging and I think it’s a wonderful idea, but for it to really take hold, most of Monterey’s juice needs to be in the mix.

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FAMILY PLUS FUN… Starting in Aug., Thursday nights at Del Monte Center become the Musical Marketplace, featuring a new band each week along with dining, wine tasting, prizes and more. Check out delmontecenter.com or 888-474-6736.

Aug. 5 and 6 is the ever-popular Monterey Scottish Games & Celtic Festival. Let’s face it, everybody wants to be from the magic kingdom and this is the easiest way to taste the flavor without having to cross a continent and an ocean to do it. It’s at pastoral Toro Park and benefits local charities. For more info, montereyscotgames.com or 647-6311.

VACATION AT HOME… Quail Lodge has two cool summer offerings: Five at Five at The Covey Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 7pm with Chef MARIO ORTEGA’s delicious small plates and a wide selection of cool wines at $5 each and “Summer Nights,” Edgar’s Sunday BBQ on the Patio, from noon to 4pm…Rio Grill, led by CHRIS “GOLDEN BOY” BAHRAMI, is doing Hospitality Mondays, whereby anyone in the hospitality industry gets 25 percent off.

Roy’s Hawaiian Luau is happening at, well Roy’s, in Spanish Bay. ROY YAMAGUCHI will oversee a Hawaiian hula ho-down complete with Hawaiian martini stations, sushi, sashimi, roasted pig, poi and Hula dancers (don’t worry, I’m not one of them). 647-7500…The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, is the ultimate lifestyle event. Luxury cars and all the frills at Quail Lodge on Friday, Aug. 18, 877-734-4628 or quaillodge.com…Garden Bistro in Carmel Valley is knocking ‘em dead with great food. Check out this mission statement: “The Garden Bistro is committed to providing authentic French bistro fare with a touch of Euro and American influence using organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible.” ‘Nuff said.

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