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23 September 2006
Once upon a time in the city where all things were right and relevant (because this is the town where everything is right and/or relevant), a newspaper columnist named Bob Dunning got this crazy idea that he could raise money for local charities by teaming up with the local Waste Removal plant (which had a very large empty space on its property) and lots of local food places, get the food places to donate food, set things up in the very large empty space, and invite everybody in town to pay money to come and eat.
The "food places" weren't high fallutin' places. They were places like Safeway and McDonald's and KFC and a couple of local pizzarias.
For twenty years, "Dinner at the Dump" was the town's biggest annual event. In fact, it was the very first place I took Peggy to when she arrived in the United States.
(She's eating a chorro from a local Mexican restaurant, and hoping she won't have to talk to...you know...people.)
Walt and I didn't go to Dinner at the Dump every year, but we did go several times and always enjoyed it. Each year a different charity was selected to receive proceeds. All the food (including "fast food," "slow food," beer, & wine) was donated by local restaurants, markets, and businesses. For a single entry donation one could wander around and choose any kind of food you want and eat however much you want. Entertainment was provided by area musicians, and people sat around the Davis Waste Removal parking lot on bales of recycled paper and cardboard while enjoying the food and music.
As it grew, participating restaurants became more plentiful, but there were so many people coming, that they frequently ran out of food before the end of the event.
In 2004, the decision was made that it had just grown too big and it was decided to end the tradition. But there were those who were sad to see it end and decided to take it over. It is now run by "All Things Right and Relevant," a large consignment store in which all profits go towards funding mental health programs in Yolo County.
We hadn't been since the dinner was moved and renamed the "Relevant Dinner," but decided to go tonight (besides, I needed to make a new video!).
This can probably be described as "Dinner at the Dump Light." There are only a small fraction of the restaurants participating, which is fine because only a handful of the crowd is attending (I was amazed when we had a parking place just a few feet from the event!) We arrived around 6, when some of the food had already run out, but if you were into pizza, this was your place. Three or four different tables were serving pizza. There were Indian samosas, but all the barbequed items from Applebees and two other places were gone. There was fabulous chicken piccata from Ludy's in Woodland and some stuff from Safeway. Each merchant gave you an eency weency sample. A local politican gave out popcorn.
My friend Nancy was wandering around with balloons on her wrist. I never did figure out why.
There was one awkward moment when I was looking for some water to drink and found myself face to face with the woman who fired me from my last job, for reasons she never explained. ("There are just too many things and there's no point in going into it all"...this 3 days after I had been told that things were going "great." But who's bitter?)
She gave me one of those big "it's great to see you again!" smiles. I smiled back and continued walking. I wondered if she recognized me as someone she knew, but not under which circumstances. I had no desire to chat with her, for sure.
So it didn't quite measure up to the dinners of old, but the nice thing was running into folks we've known forever but rarely see, like the nursery school teacher for some of our kids, who lives about 3 blocks from here, and whom I never see. We made plans to have tea in the foreseeable future.
The psychiatrist and his wife were there, as was the former mayor, who used to be a neighbor and who now lives up near Mt. Shasta, as well as several other people we haven't seen in a long time.
Most fun was that I was playing with my new camera phone, sending off pictures to Ned and exchanging text messages with him. I started when I looked at the guitar of the guy who was playing...
...which reminded me very much of the old "Lawsuit guy," and I realized that I had a camera and could share it with Ned. The last two days have been a lot of fun and have turned me into those terrible cell phone people I hate...standing there in the middle of a crowd engrossed in sending text messages to Ned. I had a similar day with Jeri yesterday, but at least that was in the privacy of my own home!
Anyway, we've ventured out from our cave and mingled with the locals
and lived to tell the tale. And in addition, we had a good time.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(The woman on the right is a local artist, Heidi Bekebrede,
"Sign My Guestbook" doesn't seem to be working, so I've set up a new one...
This is Journal entry #2368