I had come to KC to participate in a study of Parkinson’s based on analysis of people who had a certain genetic marker that predisposed them toward it– not sufficient in itself but perhaps necessary. KC was the nearest of the three cities to us, it was on the sleeper train, we had a good friend there in near- native Jennifer Wilding, who once covered Tom Russell’s performance with the late George Kimball for us. It had Barbecue, including a place rumored to be on some Anthony Bourdain Best list. And I hadn’t even considered museums…
The medical bit is easy to describe and doubtless will disappoint those who thought it was some kind of cure. I had no illusions. It was a series of questions, tests (including some difficult ones on memory that I think I aced), questionaires on various Parkinsonian symptoms, two sets of demonstrations of my ability and dexterity identical to the ones that my doc in Albuquerque, Sarah Pirio-Richardson does every four months; plus a bunch of sampling including five separate vials of blood, enough to really set me up for the barbeque later that day. There was also an extremely peculiar smell test: 36 strips of paper which mostly smelled of either those scented strips found in magazines or some kind of bathroom freshener. the question choices on the other hand all asked if they smelled like bacon, onions, smoke, turpentine and other pungent substances as there is a little loss of smell gradually with Parkinson’s, I think they were using the room fresheners to mask the other scents, and could often detect a whiff of something else underneath the distinctly chemical floral stink.
Our next stop was Jack Stack barbeque restaurant, a favorite of Jenn’s because of a dish I’d never heard of “burnt Ends”. These were originally thrown away crispy ends of the brisket and apparently fed to slaves and servants, who definitely got the best of the deal. I had sausage and a part of one of Jenn’s ribs and two kinds of burnt end meat, but the star of the show was definitely the beef burnt end. If this appeals to you, Jack Stack sells various samplers through the mail from their site.
Hemoglobin restored, but rather late for a real tour of any of the museums, we went to the World War I memorial that seems to be the highest place in the city. Jenn informs me that the museum, which was closed, was poignant and informative. What got to me were the obelisk and its surrounding sculptures, which resembled something out of H P Lovecraft or Charles Stross’ laundry series mixed with Communist-era Buddhist structures from Central Asia. pics below of me being menaced by a veiled sphinx, two of which stand around the obelisk and a structure resembling Gandan temple in Ulan Bataar with its roof blown off.
Just take the roof off the real Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery:
Next: giant spiders, Anthony Bourdain’s favorite barbeque place, and a sunken paddle-wheeler.