March 27, 2011

The Big Quiz Truck

I tweeted it, and it's true: Last night might have been the single most enjoyable BQT event I've ever hosted. With the help of stalwart BQT fans from team Jefferson Davis Starship, I took part in the fifth Lost Horizons Night Market. Seriously: Twenty-three teams of creative types each parked an unmarked box truck on a corner way out in Greenpoint, and each truck was its own self-contained lounge/art gallery/show space. The Noodle Truck, the Japanese Tea Truck, Smash Truck (pretty much what you're imagining), even the Hot Tub Truck. And, for the first time, the Big Quiz Truck.

Setting up at Lowe's. Smart!

We met early afternoon in the parking lot of a Lowe's in Brooklyn, the genius idea of team member Sherry—worked out well when we realized that our we-don't-want-to-mess-with-a-generator plan was going to result in an ominously dim Quiz Truck, and we needed to purchase the finest 300-lumens camping lanterns $50 could buy. Red satin cloth on the walls, the old-school BQT banner in the back, shiny streamers all around. By 8pm, we were parked in the desolate Greenpoint corner, between the Campfire Truck and the Stillness Truck, ready to go. And despite the distance and bone-chilling weather (I had a fleece on under my quizmaster uniform), I downed a Five Hour Energy shot and got ready to go.

And go we did. Four straight hours, as hundreds of cold but happy people filtered in and out of our extremely intimate, extremely blinged-out truck lounge. Three players at a time, ten questions per round, with as many bodies as we could stuff into the truck watching and cheering along (and no, I did not repeat questions. I asked about 270 total by my estimation). Everybody got candy and one of the new BQT stickers, while the winner got his/her choice from our selection of that musical format of the future—the compact disc.
Nearing setup completion. Damn, it was cold!

The competition was heavy, the hilarity extreme, especially as the night wore on and the surfeit of BYO booze took maximum effect. I'm proud to say I knew what this crowd wanted—this was the single best received question of the night:

What weeklong annual event is administered by an organization called Black Rock City, LLC?

I mean, who else would come to an event like this?

And no, we didn't make any money—the Night Market has a strict no-charging policy, you're creating art. Although we actively solicited donations, and plenty of folks complied, including a smart-ass with a $2 bill.

A major-league photographer snapped quite a bit; those photos as soon as I get them. (We were hoping to take more of our own, but more pressing needs intruded.) Apparently, The New York Times was there too, but I've no idea if they made it into our truck—the chill made people reluctant to wait in line when a particular truck was at capacity. (Damn, I so wish I got to go in the Hot Tub truck this time. Bath oils and naked women on a street corner in Brooklyn, it don't get any better.) In the meantime, here are a series of shots from the Market; only one of the Quiz Truck, toward the bottom, from the outside (with the billowing red curtains).

Are we hoping to do it again sometime? Oh, dear God, yes.


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