Into the holiday fire pit

Welcome to the holiday fire pit! For Memorial Day (this year, Monday May 30th, today) — because searing slabs of raw meat over an open fire is an obvious way to honor our war dead — and for Father’s Day (this year, coming up on Sunday June 19th) — because searing slabs of raw meat over an open fire is the obvious way to recognize a man’s ability to, as the poet put it, fuck kids up.

In past years, advertisements that came my way for the masculine meat holidays were entirely focused on  conventional grilling apparatus: from various forms of charcoal-fired grills (the simplest round portable grill / barbecues, more substantial wheeled rectangular devices), through gas-fired stoves on wheels, up to motorized spit-roasting machinery.

But in my on-line life, this seems to be the year of the fire pit, ‘a pit dug into the ground or a freestanding metal vessel, in which a contained outdoor fire is made’ (NOAD).

There are Memorial Day sales on the things. Right now. (See below.)

As for Father’s Day, I’ve been getting ads for weeks saying that a fire pit is just what Dad wants for his special day; I’ve explained to my daughter (yes, I went to stud, back in 1964) that though she’s unlikely to get into Father’s Day presents after all these years (of passionate neglect), if she somehow becomes ensorcelled by fire pits, she should try channeling her desire into something socially useful.

The thing is, my brand of homomasculinity lacks the drive for putting meat into or over fire. I can, however, stir-fry almost anything up a treat; I can make a truly fine beef Stroganoff, though that takes a good bit of time; and a grilled kosher hot dog serves as my personal ritual for the masculine meat holidays, but I get mine from a restaurant or deli. Meanwhile, I have a number of gay male friends who are both enthusiastic about and adept at the meat-and-fire thing, and that’s fine with me; humani nihil a me alienum.

So bring on the hot wieners, but spare me the fire pit.

But I do have a distant connection to some authorities on fire pits, friends of a friend of a friend, as it were, via the fabulous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: the braggart skirt-chaser Don Giovanni; Il Commendatore, the worthy that DG runs through with his sword early in Act 1 of their Mozart opera; and the Stone Guest, the statue of the dead Il C that meets up with DG for dinner late in Act 2 but instead gives him the handshake of death and turns him over to a death squad of demons for transportation into the fire pits of hell.

From me to Mozart to Don Giovanni, Il Commendatore, the Stone Guest, the demon squad, and the fire pit.

But first, some modern fire pits.

At the Etsy shop. HBee Fire (“Fire Pits. For Life. Home | Cottage | Travel”) in Toronto ON, with four versions of a design:

(#1) From Wikipedia: Weathering steel, often referred to by the genericised trademark COR-TEN steel and sometimes written without the hyphen as corten steel, is a group of steel alloys which were developed to eliminate the need for painting, and form a stable rust-like appearance after several years’ exposure to weather

From the Solo Stove company (offering fire pits, pizza ovens, camp stoves, and grills). The Ranger:


[ad copy:] Ranger: Smokeless fire on the go, meet the most portable fire pit [$300; $200 on sale for Memorial Day] [15 in. diameter, 12.5 in. high]; with free carry case: take your fire pit from the backyard to the beach with the carry case

The company also offers a larger version:

[ad copy:] Yukon: The biggest and baddest smokeless fire pit. The fire pit created for community; Yukon’s generous flame and unique features invite one and all to gather and greet [$750; $400 on sale for Memorial Day] [27 in. diameter, 17 in. high]

Bronson in concrete. From the Outdoor GreatRoom Company:


[ad copy:] Build your own gas fire pit with the all-in-one Bronson Block Round Gas Fire Pit Kit. The traditional brick paver style gives the familiar look of a backyard bonfire with the modern convenience of gas. Choose between round or square options, both make for an easy DIY project. Optional concrete top pieces, available in charcoal grey or limestone tan, offer a contemporary finish to the round fire pit design. ($2,200)

The Manhattan fire table. Now we move indoors (there are other indoor fire pits available). From the UK company Inverse Square, the Manhattan 50 fire table by EcoSmart Fire:


[ad copy:] This rectangular offset fire pit coffee table has plenty of space for entertaining. Enjoy flames at one end, and a wide serving area at the other. [£1,895]

Into the fire pit with Don Giovanni. From Wikipedia, on Don Giovanni, Act 2, close to the end: The Stone Guest:

A graveyard with the statue of the Commendatore [who Don Giovanni killed, early in Act 1]

Don Giovanni laughingly taunts [his servant Leporello], saying that he took advantage of his disguise as Leporello by trying to seduce one of Leporello’s girlfriends. The voice of the statue interrupts and warns Don Giovanni that his laughter will not last beyond sunrise. At the command of his master, Leporello reads the inscription upon the statue’s base: “Here am I waiting for revenge against the scoundrel who killed me” … The servant trembles, but Don Giovanni scornfully orders him to invite the statue to dinner, and threatens to kill him if he does not. Leporello makes several attempts to invite the statue to dinner, but is too frightened to complete the invitation … Don Giovanni invites the statue to dinner himself. Much to his surprise, the statue nods its head and responds affirmatively.

Don Giovanni’s chambers

An ominous knocking sounds at the door. Leporello, paralyzed by fear, cannot answer it, so Don Giovanni opens it himself, revealing the statue of the Commendatore. … the statue asks if Don Giovanni will now accept his invitation to dinner. Don Giovanni brazenly accepts, and shakes the statue’s proffered hand, only to collapse as he is overcome by sudden chills. The statue offers him a final chance to repent as death draws near, but Don Giovanni adamantly refuses.

(#5) The fatal handclasp: Scott Conner as the [Stone Guest] and Robert Gierlach in the title role of Don Giovanni, Cleveland Opera, 2009

The statue disappears and Don Giovanni cries out in pain and terror as he is surrounded by a chorus of demons, who carry him down to [the pit of] Hell.


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