Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken to Die For

A review on midnight chick wings peppered with reflection on his weakness of unwilling to take risk, the author of 'Chicken to Die For' got a university newspaper into the storm and himself into fear of life.

Kyle West, a student at University of Oklahoma was lured to a midnight chicken joint for 'best wings in the state of Oklahoma'. He patronized the place despite its a gangsters gathering place, and was quite impressed by the tasty wings. At the end, he concluded the spicy deliciousness lived up to its reputation and trip was well worth it. Had he not taken the risk, he wouldn't have had a bite of the one of a kind delicacy.

Because the trailer chicken joint located on an abandoned parking lot is the center of a Black community where murders and drive-by shootings frequent, the food review came under severe criticism for being 'racial provoking'. Although there's no exaggeration or misrepresentation of facts, the article was accused of 'embracing negative stereotypes'. The author was rebuked and the editorial board apologized. The food review was withdrawn. In other words, there are things you should not say in the United States, under the current political atmosphere.

Without further due, here is the original article in its entire length:


Before going there, I thought there'd be one of two ways I would die by eating at Bobo's. One, the chicken itself, a delicious yet deadly combination of spicy, smoked chicken wings that are then deep fried and generously slathered with honey, a concoction that churned like acid in my gut the whole next day. The second way I thought I'd die was a driveby, because being white and naive, I thought I was the obvious target of gangsters and thugs. But the promise of the best fried chicken in the state of Oklahoma overcame my fear of death. Which, if you think about it, is saying a lot. I guess you could say Bobo's makes chicken that is literally to die for.

Bobo's sits in an abandoned parking lot, and is only open 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday. I had no idea how bad it would be. It sounds ridiculous, but the image of my body lying dead in a gutter loomed large. This was the reason I enlisted several of my friends come. We left Norman around 2 a.m. to get there around 2:30, the place's peak time where its clientele are the most interesting. Before arriving, I'd imagined my faithful friends and me walking quietly yet purposefully up to the trailer, getting our food and stealing away like phantoms into the night before the inevitable gangs descended upon our soft, suburban underbellies. But thankfully, things didn't turn out that way. It seemed like every gangster and wannabe gangster had been drawn here like iron filings to a magnet. I probably unfairly thought most of the honest people there were gangsters. Not that long ago Bobo's was the site of a drive-by where six people were injured. Looking at its neighborhood, it's not surprising -- Martin Luther King and NE 23rd is arguably the most dangerous part of OKC. Though my house is only five minutes from Bobo's, I had never been that far east on 23rd.

No one wanted to be the first to get out. We were nervous, but we hadn't yet figured out there was no real reason to be. Finally, we hopped out into the dusty lot, the loud beats of rap music reverberating from every dark corner where shady cars were parked. Even the massive floodlights mounted on Bobo's trailer couldn't reach those dark corners. Like a pack of wildebeests on a lion-filled savanna we clustered en masse toward the trailer. Its menu offered three items: "wings n' things," catfish, and shrimp. Everyone ordered wings n' things, and while waiting for our orders to arrive, we each privately pondered what "things" might be. Things turned out to be fries and deep fried dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, which, together with the wings, were smothered with Bobo's signature helping of honey.

Once we had our food, we retreated to the safety of the capitol steps, a two minute drive, to eat our wings n' things. Ironically, the capitol probably boasts more corruption than Bobo's parking lot ever could. But I'll spare you the politics. That night, we satisfied ourselves on the spicy, sweet goodness of deep-fried deliciousness, licking our fingers because apparently Bobo doesn't believe in napkins. Napkins are too polite for Bobo.

While uncomfortable, I know Bobo's was a good experience. It made me realize that I rarely take risks. Usually, I don't intentionally put myself in harm's way. It's counter to reason. But it's interesting that our ancestors quite possibly experienced true and physical danger every day. This is an element nearly absent at a public university where our greatest physical fear is probably getting run over by a bike. If I learned one thing from Bobo's, other than their chicken is the best I've had in Oklahoma, it's this: perhaps risk-taking isn't so counterintuitive. While probably not that great a risk, going to Bobo's made me feel more alive. It made me less afraid of being uncomfortable. It makes me discontent to sit, playing video games when I could be doing something more stimulating. Life is short, then we die might morning, as well be doing interesting things while we wait, like risking your life for fried chicken.

Kyle West in a professional writing senior.


WANT TO TRY THE INFAMOUS EATERY FOR YOURSELF? THE DAILY'S LIFE AND ARTS STAFF GATHERED THE DETAILS. WHERE: 23 St. between Lottie and Martin Luther King WHEN: 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. each Friday and Saturday WHY: Because fried food tastes better at night. WHAT TO EXPECT: Plan on eating some of Oklahoma's best fried food while making memories you might never forget.

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