Authentic Austin Pig Roast

Words and Photos by M.L. Huisman —

On Friday, Dec. 20, my friends Ian Buchanan and Ryan Reid roasted an 80-pound pig. It was their third time roasting a whole pig but their first using the caja china method, an aboveground roasting box. Ian and Ryan engineered a box out of cinder blocks, lined it with aluminum foil and capped the structure with an ⅛-inch steel sheet.

The day before Ian and I picked up the pig from a butcher near Manchaca, Texas. Back at Ft. Lott, the pig was rinsed, dried and had its spine split to allow it to be placed on a rack. It was then injected with mojo a mixture of cumin, oregano and other spices with orange and lemon juice. The liquid flavor is injected on the meat side so as not to pierce the skin.

On Friday afternoon, the pig was put on a rack built with 2x4s and chicken wire. A fire built on the metal roof serves as the heat source for the caja china. After five hours Ryan and Ian flipped the pig, scored the skin and cooked it an additional hour and a half. Once free from the rack, it didn’t take long for the hungry crowd to descend on the pig.

Safety Concern of Pennsylvania Ave. Bridge

In mid April, I wrote the District of Columbia Transportation Department about concerns I had regarding a section of the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge that crosses the Rock Creek Parkway. I cross the bridge two times a day as part of my bike commute to and from work.  During the first few months of this year, I noticed that the height difference between the eastern-most section of the bridge where it meets the road was growing. Given the news of a bridge collapse in Washington state, I figured it would be timely to publish DDOT’s letter in full.

Dear Mr. Huisman,

We at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) have received your message regarding the stability of the bridge along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The bridge is safe. The reason the bridge is appearing to sag is due to the support bearings having settled slightly. This condition will be addressed in a forthcoming rehabilitation project which will replace the aging bearings. In the interim a temporary asphalt transition will be placed to soften the bump by the end of June 2013, until permanent repairs are made.

Regarding the gap you mentioned. All bridges are built in this manner there is a rubber joint which separates one concrete slab from another on bridges. It’s an expansion Joint between the bridge deck and the hard street approach.

For further questions regarding this matter, please contact DDOT at 202-673-6813. Thank you for contacting DDOT.

d. Clearinghouse


Where to Play Pinball in Washington, D.C.

Updated 6/15/13

I love pinball. It has been a hobby of mine since I was a boy. I grew up playing Space Mission and have always sought out machines wherever I lived.

However, I was disappointed to find that once I moved to Washington, D.C. there seemed to be an absence of pinball culture. The “pinball museum” was even forced to move to Baltimore. That leaves only a sporadic gathering of games across town. With this in mind, I decided to create an unofficial database of pinball machine locations so that others like myself might be able to enjoy this game of skill. I will update locations and machines as they are brought to my attention.

Machine : Location

Big Buck Hunter Pro : Solly’s Tavern – 1942 11th St N.W. – At $1 a play, this is a pricey, but clean machine.

Medieval Madness :  Board Room – 1737 Connecticut Ave. N.W. – Machine is in excellent condition. Machine was removed for repair.

The Lord of the Rings : Penn Social – 801 E Street N.W.

The Getaway : Black Cat – 1811 14th Street N.W.

The Sopranos : Iron Horse Tap Room – 507 7th Street N.W. – Weak left flipper that freezes on you occasionally.

Rollercoaster Tycoon Pirates of the Caribbean: Rocket Bar – 714 7th Street N.W. – New machine, but $1 a play makes it pricey.

Family Guy : Kelly’s Irish Times – 14 F Street N.W.

The Sopranos: MIG Bar – 2226 18th St NW

I will provide updates as needed.

Hundreds March in Support of Prop. 8 Ruling

Thousands of supporters of a California judge's recent Propsition 8 decision gather in The Castro before marching down Market Street toward City Hall. (photo by Matthew Huisman)
Thousands of supporters of a California judge's recent Propsition 8 decision gather in The Castro before marching down Market Street toward City Hall. Mickey Garza holds up a sign in San Francisco's The Castro district.(photo by Matthew Huisman)

by Matthew Huisman

SAN FRANCISCO – Gay rights supporters showed their pride and colors after a California judge overturned Proposition 8, a law that only recognized marriages between men and women. Rainbow flags flew through the streets of San Francisco as thousands marched from The Castro, San Francisco’s gay district, down Market Street toward City Hall where a rally would be held.

Leading the march was a portion of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Jeff Bowles plays clarinet for the band. “It’s a great day for everyone,” Bowles said.

Thousands of supporters of a California judge's recent Propsition 8 decision gather in The Castro before marching down Market Street toward City Hall. (photo by Matthew Huisman)

Supporters toted signs and waved rainbow flags during the march. The ruling would overturn the controversial ballot proposition passed in the 2008 elections that stripped the rights of the gay community. In the meantime, the law will remain in effect, pending the appellate process.

Mickey Garza, a 14-year San Francisco resident, was holding up a sign with the words “Can I get a witness?!” – a phrase Garza said he used to hear often from pastors in the Midwest where he grew up.

“Hallelujah, Amen,” Garza said. “I’m happy to be celebrating equality.”

Thousands of supporters of a California judge's recent Propsition 8 decision gather in The Castro before marching down Market Street toward City Hall. (photo by Matthew Huisman)
Thousands of supporters of a California judge's recent Propsition 8 decision gather in The Castro before marching down Market Street toward City Hall. (photo by Matthew Huisman)

20 Miles, Three Flautas and Two Flat Tires Later or How I Bought a Bike

It’s summertime and for me that usually means two things: bicycling and swimming. Unfortunately, living in New York City limits my ability to do the latter. So to kick off summer, I decided that I needed a new road bike. I prowled Cragislist and a few bike shops before setting off for a bike shop in Sheepshead Bay, a few stops short of Coney Island on the Q train.

But when I got to the bike shop, I was dismayed to find that they only sold new bikes, starting at around $400. Not wanting to drop so much money on a bike before the added cost of accessories, I opted instead to call a guy I met on Cragislist. He lived a short 15-minute bus ride away in Bensonhurst. So I hopped on the bus and met up with the Don in his garage. When I arrived, I found him and a friend drinking Coors Light in the garage.

There she was, a red road bike with greasy gears and a solid frame. The tires, however were rotted and cracked. After bartering him down from the original price, I walked the bike three blocks away to a gas station where I filled it up with air.

Not knowing how long the tires would stay inflated, I headed for the nearest bike shop to get them replaced. I made it three or four miles before the back tire went flat. Luckily,  was a few blocks from the shop by the time this happened.

I left the bike at the shop for the attendant to fix and went next door to a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch. Three chicken flautas and a side of rice and beans later, I was back on the road with two new tubes and tires. And seeing as how safety is a priority for me, I decided the best thing to do was see how fast I could ride the bike. So on my way back to Manhattan I rode through Prospect Park.

Man did it open up. I shifted the bike to the lowest gear as I weaved through other bikes and pedestrians.

The rest of the ride home was rather uneventful. I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and made my way to the bike path along the Westside Highway where I rode all the way home.

The Borough Bridge Challenge

There are 24 bridges that separate the boroughs and I intend to run across all of them.

Manhattan & Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge
The Manhattan Bridge
The Williamsburg Bridge

Queens & Manhattan

Queensboro Bridge
Roosevelt Island Bridge
Ward’s Island Bridge

Brooklyn & Queens

McGuinness Boulevard Bridge
Greenpoint Avenue Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge

Bronx & Manhattan

Triborough Bridge
Willis Avenue Bridge
Third Avenue Bridge
Madison Avenue Bridge
138th Street Bridge
145th Street Bridge
Macombs Dam Bridge
High Bridge
High Bridge Aquaduct
Washington Bridge
University Heights Bridge
Broadway Bridge
Henry Hudson Bridge

New Jersey & Manhattan

George Washington Bridge

Staten Island & Brooklyn

Verrazano Bridge (no pedestrians)

Skitchin’ a Ride

Traffic is usually a skateboarders worst enemy. Nothing makes riding the concrete wave more difficult than cars whizzing by inches from your board. Now normally I like to ride the hills in Central Park but riding the same street all the time is monotonous. So I took to the streets and decided to use the traffic to my advantage by skitching a ride on city buses. The best way to skitch a ride is to hold on to the bumper or tail light of buses. While not the easiest of vehicle to hang on to, I find the bus drivers are nicer than most drivers. The hazard can be the constant stopping and starting to pick up passengers. This is a more dangerous endeavor than darting between pedestrians.

The advantage is a welcome break from having to push myself.Fortunately today I was able to find a driver who didn’t mind me getting a free ride. I used him to pull me through some lights and finally let go when I saw him signal that he was pulling over. I passed the bus on the left side and waved thank you to the driver. Sometimes I’m not as lucky, but the skateboarding gods were on my side today.

Fed-Ex, Delivering More Than Packages

Anyone who rides public transportation knows the feeling – watching the glowing red tail lights of the bus or train as it rides away without you, missing it by a matter of seconds. The feeling of disappointment hurts almost as much as the cold wind that slaps you across the face.

This happened to me Thursday night, coming back from Harlem. Fortunately for me, a Fed-Ex driver named Derrick saw my misfortune and honking his horn, motioned me to the door. He unlocked it and asked if I was trying to make the bus.

“Yeah,” I said.
“Hop in. I know what it’s like to miss the bus,” he said.

Now I’m not normally one to be accepting rides from strangers, especially ones offering me candy or willing to drive me to soccer practice, but on this cold evening I made an exception. Dressed in a blue hoodie and with white earbuds dangling from his ears, he introduced himself as Derrick.

“Hold on,” Derrick said punching the accelerator.

The engine roared and the truck raced up the hill to the next stop. Derrick pulled the truck to a halt and I hopped out, slamming the door behind me. I waved to Derrick, thanking him as he peeled off around the corner.

At this moment the M104 pulled up and I hopped on board. That night Fed-Ex was delivering more than just packages – they were delivering Huisman too.

Zen and the Insanity of Running

Yesterday I ran further than I can recall in recent memory. The last time I ran more than 20 miles was six years ago to the day when I finished the Motorola Marathon in Austin, Texas.

So I laced up my shoes and headed toward Central Park. I initially intended to run to a nearby borough – The Bronx or Queens, perhaps, but as I traversed the trees of the North Woods, I decided to detour south, cutting through to Columbus Circle.

” The Brooklyn Bridge,” I thought. “I’ll run across the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The cereal and granola bars in my stomach were getting tossed around with each step and I needed something to level the balance of food. A hot dog fit the bill perfectly. I dug two dollars out of my kangaroo pouch in my running tights in exchange for some red and yellow tube steak.

With zip in my step I started down Broadway again following the green path between traffic and the sidewalk. It was here that I noticed a bicyclist who was keeping pace with me quite well. We matched each other through Times Square but I lost him shortly after Herald Square. Oh well, I thought brushing him off.

I continued past the Flat Iron building, through Chinatown and finally reached a bridge. But to my dismay it was The Manhattan Bridge.

“Maybe I’ll just cross this one instead,” I thought. “No…I’m not quitting now.”

Finally I approached the Brooklyn Bridge as I weaved between photographers and tourists the massive cables ran overhead. The wooden planks that carry you across the East River provide a nice change from the hard concrete and asphalt of the city.

I am not familiar with most of Brooklyn so I knew that I would have to zen it. It’s a combination of a good sense of direction and wandering about aimlessly. I use this quite often.

I remember running down Flushing Avenue until I arrived at Metropolitan Avenue when I realized I was lost. A sign pointing east toward Long Island was a pretty good indication. I had intended to zen toward the northwest part of the island, when in fact I was running northeast. The good news about getting lost is that your ability to zen only improves. Continue reading “Zen and the Insanity of Running”