There was a fistfight over corndogs at my first Meatpaper party. We were crowded up against the kitchen counter at Camino, a restaurant in Oakland, Calif., with brick walls and a big open fireplace. They were cooking a whole pig in that fireplace, dispensing plates of flesh to the crowd on the other side of the counter. To get some pig you had to push your way into this mosh pit and lunge for a platter when it emerged. You’d come away with a handful of something -- though not necessarily something readily identifiable: Chitlins? Head cheese?
I’ll admit that I didn’t see the fistfight -- I heard there were punches thrown, but perhaps it was just a scuffle. The story could have been embellished as it spread around the room. But it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody lashed out when denied homemade corndogs. I retreated from my excursion to the front of the restaurant, coddling a handful of offal and breathing hard.
For years, the editors at Meatpaper (I was one) considered writing about this high-testosterone meat frenzy, but we never did. It recurred at many of our parties. Meatpaper was a tiny, beautiful magazine. It was started by two former vegetarians, Amy Standen and Sasha Wizansky, with conflicting feelings about meat. It just published its 20th, and last, issue. The parties were the yin to the magazine’s yang. The magazine was poor, primarily female, and sensitively nuanced. The parties were sold out, joyfully macho, and boisterous to the point of anarchy.