April 15, 2013

Dear Daniel:

Congratulations to you on your new position at Texas Monthly. The Texanist is very pleased to see that the magazine’s brass have deemed the study and reportage of barbecue worthy of a full-time editor. He feels that it is high time, in fact, for a publication that bills itself as the National Magazine of Texas to take this historic step. It should warm the heart of every Texan to know that Texas Monthly is now taking barbecue so seriously as to have an individual of your caliber dedicated to the full-time examination of smoked brisket, hand-stuffed sausages, meaty spare ribs, homemade banana pudding, and the like. You are a very accomplished young former architect and the Texanist looks forward to sharing a masthead with you. He wants you to understand that he is here to help as best he can. Much fanfare has greeted the announcement of your hire, but the Texanist wants you to understand that he well knows just how grueling and difficult the job of Barbecue Editor will be. In the past, before there was a barbecue editor, it would often fall to him to lend his expertise on subjects like “How to Eat at Nine BBQ Joints in a Single Day.” In fact, the Texanist likes to think that he was kind of considered to be the Barbecue Editor before there was an actual Barbecue Editor. (Which is not to say that he was asked to apply for the job. He was not.) 

The Texanist attempted to share these words of support and congratulations with you several weeks ago. Perhaps you recall your home phone ringing late at night on the day it was announced that you (and not the Texanist) had been named Barbecue Editor? That was the Texanist attempting to reach you, as your caller ID probably foretold. He seems to recall being disconnected after a few dozen rings, which is probably best, as it was very late and he was very sleepy, having inadvertently mixed a few celebratory slugs of tequila with some over-the-counter cold medicine or something. The Texanist apologizes if he awoke you or any members of your family. This was certainly not his intention. Moreover, please know that all of the subsequent calls that night were completely unintentional. Is there anything more embarrassing than a butt dial? Technological progress is great and all, but nobody ever butt dialed anybody back when all we had were land lines. Again, the Texanist is sorry for the many repeated disturbances on what was surely a momentous night for you and your family. 

So anyway, welcome aboard, Barbecue Editor!

The Texanist understands that your barbecue bona fides result, in part, from having eaten at some six hundred joints. That’s a big number. It has served to impress a good many people in the past month or so during the media blitz that has made you a big star before you’ve even worked a single day; and while the Texanist shares an admiration for your intestinal fortitude, he’s compelled to note that he consumed his own six hundredth barbecue meal at such a young age that at the time he could not actually count to six hundred. Now, seeing as how his options were limited to joints within a car or pony ride of his home in Temple, Texas, 99 percent of those first six hundred meals were taken at Clem Mikeska’s Pit Bar-B-Q on 57th Street. The Texanist, you see, is from Temple, Texas. You appear to be from Ohio. The Texanist read this about you somewhere on the Internet. Ohio the state, right? Just below Michigan? West of Pennsylvania? There’s an Ohio, Texas, but you couldn’t be from there because it’s a ghost town in Hamilton County. Nobody’s from there anymore. Ohio the state is a place known more for its sauerkraut balls than its barbecue, right? So how many sauerkraut ball joints have you eaten at in your lifetime? The Texanist is just curious. He has never had a sauerkraut ball, probably a result of having never been to your home state of Ohio.

Anyway, kudos to you, sir! 

You know, since the Texanist is going to be working together with you, it’s probably best to express now that he has been asked by a whole lot of people, pretty much daily, why it wasn’t his mug featured prominently in Section A of the New York Times, and if he was at all disgruntled at the announcement of your hiring. The Texanist assures you that in all such cases, he has responded by telling his questioner that he is not disgruntled. At all! The Texanist’s plate is full—not, of course, with tasty smoked meats that can be expensed, but with letters from people in dire need of his signature fine advice, people for whom the Texanist may be the only one they can turn to. You see, even if he had been offered the job (which, again, he was not), he would have had to politely decline. His own work is simply too important. 

Again, congratulations and welcome to the new Barbecue Editor, Daniel Vaughn, of the Ohio Vaughns!  

Yours in smoked meat,

The Texanist