Tom Mylan groupies -- fans of the Marlow and Sons butcher and meat craze cult hero who was recently celebrated in a New York Times story -- had their day in the sun this Sunday at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn. The pig finished roasting in a impromptu smoker of cinder blocks during the Colt 45 open bar for the first hour, though it must be said the baby bottles of malt liquor were hardly worth the wait on line. The six-oz sippers should have come with their own plastic straws, so clearly were they meant for children.
The roast wasn’t inside the sprawling 3rd Ward space in East Williamsburg, but outside in a long narrow alley adjacent, with a band set up at one end and the real rock star of the moment, Mylan, at the other end. People crowded around a window in a hallway overlooking the carving space to get a look at Mylan performing, assisted by chef Eric Sherman and a Mexican (which we say only because he wore a T-shirt that read “Mexican!”). Sherman chopped and diced the still smoking porcine slabs, while Mylan sliced and carved, seemingly oblivious to all else; and the Mexican made fast work of pounds of pork at a time.
The process was surely one of the most well-documented pig roasts in the history of pig roasts. 3rd Ward is, after all, an artists collective and work space, and the members must have had an urge to record every second of activity in every possible way. A reporter with a notebook seemed to be taking down Mylan’s life story while he waited in full butcher's apron regalia to remove the pig from the smoker. A camerawoman with headphones on slid in out of corners around the work station.
One eager fan placed her head uncomfortably close to the pig’s face just inches away from where Mylan’s blade flashed. He grinned at the fan’s friend who was preserving the moment for posterity (and in that split-second you could be forgiven for worrying that a human ear would soon join all the piles of pork flesh).
All manner of photogs with snazzy long-lenses snapped away from every angle. One woman got out an old wooden accordion camera and set up her tri-pod across from the pig, splayed out on its wire mesh with Mylan lording over it and took what was sure to be an appropriately old-timey portrait.
All of this activity isn’t even beginning to count all the iPhones and camera phones flashing through the windows and in the alley. One imagines Mylan as an old man, long forgotten and walking down the steps of his dilapidated brownstone after holstering his assortment of knives: “Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close-up.”
After what seemed like more than an hour’s labor the tacos were for sale to all. They came simply — small piles of pork cubes plopped on tortillas with little more embellishment than a few shreds of lettuce. The line for a taste stretched up and down the long alley and snaked into the building, a seemingly hopeless case, except for the helpful addition of trays to service the back of the line with one taco per person -- a while-you-wait taco, if you will.
Then the rains came and washed all the pork grease away, dousing the squealing crowd, the chefs, Mylan, the band’s instruments and all of the waiting open and barren tortillas. Everyone rushed to cover the pig and food and the buckets of prepared pork, but the rains came hard and everything, no doubt -- except spirits -- was considerably dampened.