I love my neighborhood. Being an awkward, white chick makes me a minority here in Harlem-Town and I find that refreshing. More notably, residing here makes for an always interesting, colorful, and generally easy-going lifestyle. Here you can find the most beautiful brownstones in all of NYC, African grocery stores, Louis Armstrong’s ghost, Starbucks, the occasional backpack-wearing drug dealer, several historical landmarks, and a couple of dumpster diving raccoons (story for another day). What you can’t find is a legal sidewalk Barbecue.
That’s right, it is illegal for a person to pull out the ole’ grill, throw on some meat, open a beer, and enjoy this fun-filled style of cooking. Having this rule is both hilarious and an injustice to all Sugar Hill dwelling citizens. I have to ask- What happened here that caused the city to not only create such a rule but also invest in signage to enforce it? Was there a BBQ gang outbreak in the area? Who was the person that approved this sign and did they not notice how ridiculous it was? HOW can one host a proper neighborhood block party without the key ingredient!?
Sure, being a southern girl might cause for some bias when it comes to this issue (my brother was actually on a traveling BBQ team whose whole hog won them the title of “World Champions” at Memphis in May), but that doesn’t change the fact that the preparation of a culinary delight on a public sidewalk should NEVER be denied. I was under the impression that living in Harlem meant occasionally watching neighbors fire up the Q on the sidewalk as their children played in water shooting from a nearby fire hydrant. Sure, this assumption could be questioned as being a Harlem stereotype, but that’s kind of how I imagined all NYC residential areas thanks to various books, movies, television programs.
You’ll be glad to know that all summer I witnessed kids creating these hydrant sprinkler systems and it made me very happy every time.
I’m not saying the city of New York doesn’t have reasons for this rule. Jackie Robinson Park is on the other side of the fence shown in the above picture. So, there is a bit of foliage close by that could possibly catch on fire and start utter chaos. However, I think that it is just as likely for a person tossing a cigarette to create such a dilemma. Why have they designated Barbecuing as the only enemy? I’d much rather there be no smoking allowed and, honestly, there are far more people who smoke on that sidewalk than would grill up some meat. On top of that, I’m pretty sure JRP has more concrete than trees.
In the end I will never contest this law or approach any local politician who might actually be able to do something about this absurd rule. That would be a waste of time, partly because I will never actually attempt to BBQ across the street. On top of that, I’ve come across several BBQ rebels over the last few months who said “Mutha’ F**K the NYPD and that stupid sign!” So, knowing that those who really need their Barbecue outlet are willing and able to get it gives me all the peace of mind I need.
Post Summary: “No Barbecuing” is a stupid rule that was probably made by a miserable human who should be slapped.