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Andrew Cunanan was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on July 23, 1997, on a houseboat days after murdering fashion icon Gianni Versace on the steps of his South Beach mansion. Versace was the final victim of Cunanan’s cross-country killing spree that left bodies in Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida. In many ways, it all started in the Spring of 1997 in San Diego, Cunanan’s hometown.
I was one of the hundreds of reporters who covered that story. I’ve written extensively on his killing spree and the events leading up to it. I’ve given dozens of interviews about the facts and appeared on national television as an expert witness, so to speak.
What I haven’t done, before now, was share what it was like covering the story as a young 24-year-old reporter in way over his head at a small community newspaper suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. Because it’s not a reporter’s job, I’ve also never really talked about how I felt about the man I would come to call “Hurricane Andrew.”
How It All Started
Newspaper clippings of Andrew Cunanan America's Most Wanted
It was the Spring of 1997. I was the editor of Update, a pretty decent LGBTQ weekly newspaper that has since been lost to time and the digitization of news. I’d never met Cunanan and had never heard of him. When Marianne Kushi, then a beat reporter for our local NBC affiliate in San Diego called my desk on Monday, May 5 to ask me if I’d heard of him, the answer was “No.” A producer for the station, Paul Krueger had suggested she call me. Now retired, Paul was old-school. He knew the value of keeping relationships in every local community and when I became the editor at the publication Paul was the first to offer congratulations. So when Marianne called and dropped Paul’s name I agreed to ask around, if only as a favor. She said Cunanan might be gay and was from San Diego and had been implicated in a pair of murders in Minneapolis. One of the victims was a former sailor who may have spent time here. She was working that angle.
Marianne told me Cunanan’s home address at the time, which wound up being a 10-minute walk from my apartment. Gay San Diego is a six-degree kind of place so I figured I must know someone who knew him. I called around and it wasn’t long before I got the tea, though as it turns out, nobody really knew Andrew Cunanan.
With just a little digging I found out he went by the name DeSilva — just one of many facades he would carry throughout his life. He was raised in a middle-class suburb north of San Diego, but his father fled back to the Philippines after some illegal stock trading, abandoning his family. His mom moved him into a working-class neighborhood south of the city, earning what she could babysitting.
But Cunanan was smart, witty, and charming and would eventually earn a charity scholarship to attend high school at a prestigious private school in the wealthy enclave of La Jolla (think Beverly Hills on the beach). Here he would develop a flamboyant persona and dreams of a big life. He would regale his classmates with the inevitable successes he would achieve. He was going to be big.
Cunanan was definitely gay and he liked two very different types of men. He liked to spend the early part of his evenings with typically older men, wealthy, who were cultured, worldly, accomplished, and who liked to travel and wouldn’t think twice at the idea of taking him along as a travel companion. He liked their refinement and their bank accounts.
To them, he was good eye candy. He was young, charming, charismatic, lean, and very handsome with smooth, brown skin. He was good conversation, too. While he lacked formal education, he was knowledgeable about fine wine, arts, culture, history, and fashion — knowledge he cultivated while trying to fit in at the fancy private school.
But when it was those older men’s bedtime, Cunanan had a different type. He liked young, all-American “jock” types, gym-toned with squared-off jaws and handsome faces — and the kinkier the better. When he was with the younger men, it was all about sex and showing off. Friends would say Cunanan liked to show off, often with the money he would be given as an allowance from the older men whose company he would keep.
About the time I was going to ring up Marianne to let her know what I’d found out, my phone rang again. A Chicago reporter working for the CBS affiliate had found our paper’s number in their copy of the San Diego yellow pages they had on file in their newsroom. Back then newsrooms had phonebooks. The reporter told me Cunanan had killed again, the day before. This time the victim was a very wealthy real estate developer named Lee Miglin, and it was gruesome.
Investigating the Killing SpreeWhat had started as a double-homicide in Minneapolis was now a killing spree and a very big, developing story. The Chicago reporter told me what he knew and I told him what I had been told by Marianne and my community contacts, but was still trying to verify a few things. When I hung up I called Marianne and told her about my call with Chicago and what I’d been able to piece together. I also told her that I was working on confirming something that now seemed pretty important.Cunanan had a going-away dinner of sorts about a week before at a favorite restaurant of his. Who was there, and what was said, needed to be confirmed, because it wasn’t the kind of thing that I could be wrong about.
Marianne asked me how much time I needed. “Give me about an hour.” She graciously gave me two and told me she was going to talk to Paul but that they were probably going to be sending a “crew.” Back then that meant a reporter and a camera operator. Not long after I hung up with Marianne our receptionist told me that CBS Chicago was on the phone again. I knew more about their suspect than anyone he had talked to (thanks to Marianne, mostly), so they wanted to send a crew from the San Diego affiliate. The idea was the local CBS crew would shoot a segment for the local station and the Chicago station. “I need a couple of hours to lock in some facts,” I said.
“Will 3:00 p.m. be ok?”
It was 11 a.m. “Sure.”
Over the next couple of hours, I set about trying to find the waiter who served Cunanan at his going away dinner at a restaurant called California Cuisine, a pretty nice joint in the heart of San Diego’s gayborhood, and pretty far away from my $250 a week paycheck. I had a line on who that might be. I had spoken to one person who said he was there but for this kind of thing, a reporter needs double confirmation. If someone threw a going-away party for Cunanan, then that meant he wasn’t coming back, which might put these murders into a different perspective.
About an hour later I found the waiter. Initially, he was reluctant to talk to me, but since he knew I was part of “the community” he agreed. The dinner happened. I even got confirmation on who paid the check. That it wasn’t Cunanan wasn’t a surprise. My reporting at this point suggested he was broke, at the end of his rope, and out of favor with all of his wealthy benefactors. In fact, he was even down a friend, with his bestie, a former Navy Lieutenant, a guy named Jeff having recently moved away to Minneapolis to be closer to family.
But it was something else about this dinner that was ominous. It was what he said as the dinner was wrapping up, as the waiter was clearing away the plates.
Cunanan, I was told, leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head as he stretched — as one would after a satisfying meal. He looked around the table at those gathered and said “All of you think you know me when the truth is, none of you know the real Andrew.”
A few hours later I told that story to the NBC affiliate in San Diego and the CBS crews for San Diego and Chicago, along with everything else I had confirmed. I told them where he went to high school, the name he used – DeSilva and not Cunanan – and that there was an inscription in French that appears next to his picture in his high school yearbook, which when translated means “After me, comes the flood.” It was a famous quote from Louis XIV, who was just as dramatic and destructive as the guy who cribbed it.
Our local NBC station is what’s called an “O&O” which means it’s owned and operated by NBC, so it’s a network-owned station. Anything that airs on it can be picked up by any other NBC station pretty easily. For a story like this, I should have guessed what was going to happen next.
The Media Frenzy
Starting at about 8 pm Pacific Time, or 11:00 pm Eastern, and for the next 48 hours, all hell started breaking loose. San Diego was about to be hit by every kind of journalist, good and bad (mostly bad) and lots of people were going to get their 15 minutes of fame, whether they should or not. Oh, and my cell phone battery died from reporters calling me from all over the country, each wanting to set up interviews.
Meanwhile, three people had been killed and I had a job to do. I had to find out why — from my office in San Diego without any kind of travel budget. Fortunately, I had leverage. While reporters around the country were trying to get to me, I would only talk to the ones who felt like sharing. Typically reporters don’t play well with others. We’re competitive. We don’t want to get scooped but I wasn’t really competition. I worked for a small, regional weekly publication and websites weren’t a thing in 1997, at least Update didn’t have one, and anyway, we had a very specific readership. We weren’t going to be scooping 48 Hours or Good Morning America, or any local TV stations. The smart reporters knew that. So, if they wanted me to talk, they had to tell me what they knew. For the most part, this worked out for a couple of months, as we all tried to piece together what happened.
The facts were simple, horrifying, and heartbreaking.
On the Run
Not long after that dinner, Cunanan boarded a plane and went to see his friend Jeff Trail, a former lieutenant in the Navy, who had spent time in San Diego. Trail had moved to Minneapolis after leaving the Navy, following a short stint in the Highway Patrol academy. We would learn later that he and Cunanan had a falling out but Trail was trying to stay cordial and keep up appearances, perhaps to not alienate Cunanan, who had fallen on seriously hard times.
When Cunanan landed in Minneapolis on Friday, April 25, David Madsen, an ex-boyfriend of Cunanan and an up-and-coming architect in the area, picked Cunanan up at the airport and took him to dinner with some friends. Cunanan would spend the night at Madsen’s apartment but would spend Saturday night at Trail’s apartment alone. Trail was spending a romantic night away with his boyfriend, who was turning 21, at a quaint Bed & Breakfast and was letting Cunanan use the apartment while he was away, perhaps (and this is total conjecture) to not burden Madsen more than necessary as he knew the two had broken up.
While Cunanan was at Trail’s apartment on Saturday, April 26th, he stole Trail’s handgun and took it with him back to Madsen’s apartment, where he was scheduled to spend Sunday night. Cunanan had left a message for Trail to come see him at Madsen’s apartment and when Trail and his boyfriend returned Sunday, April 27th, Trail realized his gun was missing.
The couple had plans to go out that night with friends to a local dance club and continue the boyfriend’s birthday celebration. Trail said he would just meet up with them after going to see Madsen and Cunanan for a few minutes. He said nothing about the missing gun.
Right before Trail got to Madsen’s apartment, Madsen took his dog Prints out for a walk. When Trail arrived he was livid with Cunanan, shouting at him as soon as the door was opened. Within a few seconds Cunanan bludgeoned Trail across his temple with a claw hammer and quickly dragged Trail’s crumpled body into Madsen’s apartment. Cunanan continued to pummel him in the chest and stomach until Trail’s lifeless body stopped responding.
Within a few moments, Madsen returned to the apartment with Prints and walked in on the scene.
Putting the Pieces Together
What happened over the next few days is unclear. We know Madsen stayed in the apartment with Cunanan and the two were seen walking Prints in the neighborhood, and this is confirmed by witness accounts. However, what is also confirmed by witness accounts but largely overlooked in subsequent media coverage, was that Cunanan was wearing a heavy jacket during those walks, in May, during warm and sunny days, with his hands in the coat pockets, while Madsen was in shorts and a t-shirt.
When police entered Madsen’s apartment two days later and found a body wrapped in a carpet, initially they thought it was Madsen. When they heard a phone ringing on the body, they answered it, as is standard procedure. It was Trail’s boyfriend. This was confirmed during my exclusive interview with him I conducted a year later that only ever ran in Update. The police asked him who he was. He told them and said he was calling his boyfriend Jeff. A few minutes later, and without revealing anything, the police ended the conversation.
When police continued their search of Madsen’s apartment they found wrist restraints near his bed, the kind used for bondage scenes. It has always been my theory that Madsen was forced to stay in the apartment and was restrained to the bed and kept quiet by gunpoint while Cunanan figured out his next move.
I don’t believe he expected to kill Trail, that it was an act of passion — the motivation for which is unclear. I believe Madsen had walked in on it complicating the situation and Cunanan needed time to think. So he kept Madsen restrained on the bed, quiet, while he thought. To keep the dog quiet, the two would walk him at regular intervals. During these walks I believe Cunanan kept Madsen at gunpoint, hiding the gun under the coat with his hand on the gun in his pocket.
About the time Trail’s body was found, while police were still trying to identify it, Cunanan took David Madsen, in Madsen’s red Jeep Cherokee, to Rush Lake, about 65 miles north of the city, and shot him in the face, head, and back, with Jeffrey Trail’s gun. He would then head southeast, about 450 miles to Chicago. He was now on the run and he needed money.
This would lead him to Lee Miglin.
There has been much conjecture over the years about whether or not Cunanan knew Miglin. Miglin certainly fit the wealthy, older man profile that my reporting had shown funded much of Cunanan’s life before this spree began. However, nothing ever corroborated any of that conjecture, even after 25 years. The murder appeared pretty random, if conveniently coincidental. Cunanan came across Miglin sweeping up the garage. The garage door was open. Cunanan probably struck up a conversation and when Miglin was off-guard, he would have struck. A gun would have been too noisy so he used what was handy in the garage — a screwdriver, a bag of cement mix and a gardening saw to cut Miglin’s throat. Miglin’s face was also wrapped with cellophane, probably to keep him quiet. The timing was convenient because Miglin’s wife, a cosmetics rainmaker for QVC, was out of town on an overnight business trip. Cunanan took some gold coins from the Miglin home and their green Lexus. But before he left, he made himself a sandwich, leaving half of it on the kitchen counter.
About four days later, Cunanan drove into Manhattan with Miglin’s Lexus. He activated the car’s phone and the FBI pinged it, and then released that news to the media, who reported it. Cunanan heard about it, probably on the radio. This likely cost William Reese his life. Cunanan now knew he needed a new car.
A cemetery caretaker in New Jersey, William Reese was a Civil War buff who was married with a pre-teen special-needs son. Reese owned an old pick-up. When a new Lexus pulled up to the workshop at Finn’s Point National Cemetery where the 45-year-old worked, he probably didn’t know he wasn’t going to make it home that night. Cunanan shot Reese, execution style, and then stole his truck. He would drive it to Miami. Along the way, he would exchange a couple of those gold coins for some cash.
A few months later, after skulking around in South Beach, he would walk up to Versace and shoot him on the steps of his compound. Eight days after that, the coward would shoot himself in the head. I should point out here that it was the gunshot that was reported, not that people spotted Cunanan in the houseboat. Police had no idea at this point where he was, or what city he was in.
Back in San Diego
In San Diego, we were all worried he was going to show up here. The week Versace was shot was the week of San Diego Pride. The late Mandy Schultz, the event's Executive Director at the time, told me she and her team had gone through a briefing where the San Diego Police Department had shared they would be deploying snipers on the rooftops of the parade route and plain-clothes police officers in the crowd, just in case Cunanan showed up. I was scheduled to appear on Good Morning America Friday morning, the day before the parade, to talk about the fear of Cunanan returning. Fortunately, my appearance on GMA had a very different vibe, the day after Cunanan was confirmed dead. It was more about closure.
After completely failing in literally every possible way, the FBI, and the police departments in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and Miami are at least partially to blame for the deaths of William Reese and Gianni Versace, as they ignored leads and wouldn’t engage with local gay communities, steps that could well have lead to the earlier apprehension of the murderer.
The media made the story worse, with more than a few unscrupulous journalists caring more about being first than being right, and putting anyone in front of a camera without first stopping to think whether or not they should. This led to more than a few wholly inaccurate stories being peddled as truth, including one whopper that Cunanan was lashing out because he was convinced he was HIV-positive. He wasn’t. There was even a story one that he had killed a San Diego man whose murderer was already behind bars. He didn’t.
Much has been written of those failings over the years, some by the excellent journalist and author Maureen Orth in her book Vulgar Favors. Her work, heavily researched and sourced, served as the launching point for the writers of the poorly named and often fictional FX True Crime Anthology The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Along with Ms. Orth, I suppose I’m about the only other reporter still considered an expert on Cunanan and when shows like Dateline NBC do anniversary retrospectives as they did on the 20th anniversary, they always include her and me. That will inevitably lead to our hometown stations following with coverage of their own on 20-year and 25-year anniversaries. For my part, this is mostly because I picked up the phone back in May 1997.
Earlier in this reflection, I posited that I talked to a lot of people who spent time with Cunanan but probably nobody who really knew him. That’s because I don’t think it’s possible anyone could have. He lied all the time about who and what he was. To some, he would lie about being in the import/export business. To others, he was playing bit parts in movies. For more important audiences, he would spin tails about building sound-proofing materials in factories in Mexico. Others thought him a drug dealer. His mother, incapable of nuance, told me her son was “a high-class prostitute for homosexuals.” Then she hung up on me.
The only thing about Andrew Cunanan that was true is that after living a completely unremarkable life, he died a coward, and in the end, he is famous not for the life he lived, but for the lives he took. When he did, he cut short the lives of what I found in my reporting to be amazing human beings who were vibrant, talented, and who managed to achieve something Andrew Cunanan was never able to. Everyone he killed had managed to be loved for who they really were, without pretext or pretense.
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A massage gun is a great way to relieve tension in specific muscles. We can do it from the comfort of our own couches while watching TV. The benefits of a massage gun can help you feel relaxed, feel calmer, improve circulation, and can relieve stress and tension throughout your body. It’s no wonder that we seek out full-body massages whenever we can.
I would love to say that I work out so much that a massage gun helps me loosen up the tight muscles from lifting all those weights. The truth is, I have pulled a muscle in my next twice just from shampooing my hair…Or there was that time I turned around in my chair awkwardly and pulled a muscle in my back. That actually happened the day before I got the massage gun to review luckily, the battery had a partial charge to it and I had my first opportunity to test it out.
First, let me introduce to you the B37 Massage Gun by Erkin Athletics…
What is the B37 Massage Gun?
Four Attachments for the B37 Massage Gun
The B37 Massage Gun is an ergonomic and percussive therapy machine. The handle sits at a 15° angle which helps lessen arm fatigue. The handle is also designed so that you can reach the hard-to-reach places that normally would require another person to assist.
- 5-speeds: the variable speed ranges from 1,400 to 3,200 RPMs. The lower speeds let you warm up your muscles and work through any sensitive muscles.
- 4 attachments: There are four different types of attachments you can use to work your muscles.
- Flat: The flat attachment is perfect for overall massaging
- Bullet: The bullet is great for zeroing in on specific knots, and is also perfect for hands and feet.
- Round Foam Ball: the foam attachment works best for all larger muscle groups
- Fork: this attachment is specifically designed for the neck and spine.
- Power: the massage gun delivers up to 56 pounds of stall force. What is stall force? Stall force is the amount of pressure you can apply to a massage gun before the motor stalls.
- 8-Hour Battery: The Samsung Lithium-ion battery provides plenty of power so you can really work out those knots. If you’re on the go, you won’t need to worry about recharging or running down the battery prematurely.
- Travel Case: Take your charged, or uncharged, B37 Massage Gun with you in the handy travel case that organizes everything neatly.
How Do You Use the B37 Massage Gun?
According to the information on their website, you should
- Turn the massage gun on before placing it on your body.
- Use speeds 1 - 3 for any muscle recovery and for speeds 4 and 5 for a soothing massage or pre-workout muscle warm-up.
- Glide the massage gun over the muscles and let the gun do the work. Apply pressure for added muscle relief.
- Breathe and relax and let the machine do the work. (in other words, if you’re tense, the massage will not work.)
Another step I would add is to make sure you know which attachment you need before you even begin step 1. This way, you don’t just turn it on, start massaging, and then realize you need a different attachment.
What I Liked About the B37 Massage Gun
What I love about the B37 Massage GunPhoto by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
There’s always the chance that you get a product that just doesn’t perform. I kind of knew that this was not the case when I turned on the B37. You could feel the power when you were holding it. In fact, it was so powerful I had it on the lowest setting and barely applied any pressure to my sore back. After a few swipes, I felt better.
The attachments are great and my two favorites are the foam ball and the flat attachment. They really promote muscle relaxation and work pretty well for me. To be honest, the fork scares me a little plus, I can’t really reach. I haven’t used the bullet yet because the foam ball and flat piece work great for me. Did I mention that they’re so easy to change too? You just pop them in or out—that simple.
Aside from the handy case, the battery is third in line because well, sometimes, you just forget to charge things. Hello, headsets anyone? I can use the massager for an hour or so and then put it away and use it another day.
What I Don’t Like About the B37 Massage Gun
What I didn't like about the B37 Massage Gun
It's fine when you are on the lower settings but when you get up to the higher settings, it gets a little noisy. Especially if you’re watching TV. If I need that much work on my muscles, I probably shouldn’t be sitting in front of the TV anyway. The lower settings work just fine for my muscles.
Also not a deal killer, but it has some heft to it. While the 15° handle does help with arm fatigue and wrist exhaustion, it’s still there especially if you have a particular knot to work out. Usually, I switch hands if possible or take a break here and there.
Is the B37 Massage Gun Worth the Price?
Prices for massage guns can vary and the B37 Massage Gun is decently priced compared to other massage guns. Considering the quality of the massage gun, all of the features, AND a lifetime warranty, I think it’s well worth the price.
Should You Buy the B37 Massage Gun?
Massage guns are perfect for anyone that is an endurance athlete, an avid weightlifter, or anyone suffering from tight muscles. The National Institute of Mental Health also discusses practicing self-care by using relaxing activities such as muscle relaxation. The institute also mentions using relaxing techniques for managing stress.
I would recommend the massage gun for anyone dealing with sore muscles and who may need relaxation in general.
What to Look for in a Massage Gun?
Speed and Power
When you are searching for a massage gun, you want to look for a gun that offers a range of speed and that has enough power to handle the stall force.
Size and Weight
Part of what I didn’t like about the B37 was the weight. It was a little heavy, especially for one-handed massaging. That’s why you need to make sure that the weight isn’t going to be too cumbersome and at the same time, it isn't too flimsy. There is no way around it but if you have a powerful gun, it’s going to be heavy or heavier. The size is a factor too. If it’s too large, it’ll seem awkward; if it’s too small, it just won’t get the job done.
Chances are, you’re going to want to take the gun with you. Having a nice travel case will make that a lot easier. You will want or need, something compact enough for those road trips and flights. Just don’t forget the charger.
Attachments make life and working out the kinks so much easier. While I really only use two, I can see where the four come in handy. Depending on how often you will use one, I would say a minimum of two attachments.
Disclaimer: Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
After a visit to Honolulu, I returned enthusiastic about the Imu, the traditional Hawaiian underground oven. If you’ve been to a traditional luau, you’ve had kalua pig cooked in an imu. The word kalua means “the hole”. Depending on the pig’s size, it is steamed in an underground pit, sometimes for days. Throughout Polynesia and in many other cultures, earthen ovens have been used for centuries. They are a highly effective way to produce succulent proteins and vegetables without an ounce of electricity.
Really, you can only eat so many carbonized weiners.
While I have always loved cooking outside and enjoy the morning ritual of getting the embers going, camping food is rarely special. It’s hard to control the fire without standing vigil every second. Something always burns. Something is always undercooked. In recent years, meals for the yearly camping trip with my college friends consist of variations on the foil pack theme: individual hobo packs and the like.
The flavor of the food cooked in an imu is unmatched and it frees you up to snuggle with your new love, go for a hike, watch Ellen’s last show, or even do some quick manscaping in your tent.
Consider the imu nature’s crock pot. Maybe you can recline in your new zero gravity camp chair where that perfect combination of rustling leaves and a few beams of sunshine poking through the trees will lull you into a nice nap. This doesn’t have to be just for camping. If you have even the smallest swatch of yard you can do this at home. This summer or fall put on some Don Ho and start digging. It’s worth the ten minutes of cardio. Here’s how to do it.
Pork shoulder is an easy protein to work with. Serve it Cuban style with tortillas, avocado, and salsa verde. An entire pig would be fun, but totally unrealistic if you’re camping. Cooking in a small hole would take a few hours to a half day for the meat to become flavorful and succulent.
This may feel intimidating but it’s really quite easy. Don’t let the digging scare you away.
What Do You Need to Make an Imu?
- 5-8 Burlap bags
- 8-10 Banana leaves, fresh or frozen
- 1 or 2 Grill grates
- 20 pound bag Charcoal
- Foil pans
How do You Prepare an Imu?
Folding banana leaves over coals in an imu
Photo courtesy of Kandace Davis
- Dig a hole three feet deep by four feet wide with sloping slides. Save the dirt you’ve excavated. You’ll need it. If you choose a shady area with soft ground, a typical small camping shovel will work. Go for a bigger hole if you’re feeding a crowd. The pit must be large enough to contain an entire bag of charcoal and the food you’ll be serving.
- Layer the bottom center of the pit with plenty of kindling. Dried leaves, small branches, and twigs are best. Try to avoid newspapers as the print could infuse toxic ink fumes into the food. On top of the kindling, add an entire bag of natural, untreated hardwood charcoal. I use Rockwood brand which comes in a 10 lb and 20 lb bag. For this recipe, use about ¾ of a 20 lb bag. Light the kindling and let the charcoal become white hot. This will take about an hour. Hawaiians would traditionally use hot stones heated to 1,000 degrees and placed carefully into the oven with giant tongs. We aren’t doing that.
- Wear gloves to avoid a steam burn. The cooking process requires steam and not dry heat, so banana leaves will help you easily achieve this. You can find these at Global Foods or other international markets. If your banana leaves are frozen, you can place a double layer of them directly over the coals. If they’re fresh, wet them down before placing them. You are ready to cook.
- Carefully straddle a campfire grill grate (readily available online) over the coals. If you’re cooking for a larger group, consider using two grates and you’ll need a larger hole. Place your foil-wrapped edibles on the grill grate. We will get to specifics about what to cook in a bit.
- Wet down four burlap bags or a roll of burlap and lay them over the foil-wrapped food. Be sure that the burlap extends beyond the opening of the hole. You are going to be covering all of this with dirt and you want to keep the dirt from falling into the imu.
- The final layer is a tarp (anything will do) followed by the excavated dirt which is shoveled over the top of the tarp in order to keep any steam from escaping. Estimating cooking time is tricky. For this pork shoulder recipe, plan for five hours if it goes too long then all the better. As you become more confident, consider other foods including whole vegetables or smaller pieces of beef brisket.
- When finished brush away any loose dirt from the edges of the covering material. Avoid getting dirt into the imu. Uncover the layers of banana leaves and burlap sacks. Allow the foil-wrapped foods to cool for ten minutes before serving.
Pork Shoulder Recipe
Imu cooked pork shoulder
Photo courtesy of Kandace Davis
Yield: Serves 10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: Approximately 5 hours
- 5 pounds Bone-in Pork Shoulder
- Citrus Garlic Seasoning
- Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels.
- Season liberally with salt and citrus rub.
- Double-wrap the pork in heavy-duty aluminum foil by placing the meat on the two sheets where the foil meets, and seal the foil tightly by folding it multiple times until it meets the top of the pork. Seal the foil on the sides in the same way.
- Place When the pork is finished cooking, allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Break the meat apart with forks and season again if necessary.
- Serve the meat with the prepared toppings or sides.
Suggested Pork Shoulder Sides
- Avocado slices
- Pickled onions
- Salsa verde
- Corn and/or flour tortillas
- Black beans
- Roasted corn
What Can I Cook in an Imu?
- Whole Chicken
- Beef Brisket
- Whole sweet potatoes or russet potatoes
- Whole acorn squash or spaghetti squash
About the Author
Kandace Davis began her career at a large suburban St. Louis school district where she taught English and theater. In 1999, after training with the Culinary Institute of America, she moved on to pursue her culinary dreams. She enjoyed a twenty-year career as a chef and founded the award-winning St. Louis food company, Cha Cha Chow, which was thrice named by The Daily Meal, NYC, as one of the top food trucks in America. Kandace and Cha Cha Chow have been featured in the St. Louis Business Journal, Sauce Magazine, Feast Magazine, and “Show Me St. Louis.”
In 2013, Kandace was nominated and accepted into Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in food, fine beverage, and hospitality, and serves on the board of her local chapter. As part of her work to help provide healthy food to underserved communities, Kandace is a supporter of Earthdance Organic Farm School and Mutual Aid St. Louis. She has participated in local events supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Black Lives Matter movement, and, as a breast cancer survivor, The Breast Cancer Fund.
In 2019, after three spinal surgeries, Kandace stepped down from Cha Cha Chow. She is now working on a memoir about her mother’s mysterious and violent death by suicide and the amazing grandmother who raised her.
Campus Pride, the preeminent resource for LGBTQ+ leadership development, diversity inclusion, and advocacy within higher education, today announced the annual Best of the Best Colleges and Universities for LGBTQ+ students in the United States, recognizing the work of 40 campuses in making their communities safer and more welcoming environments for students, faculty, and staff alike.
“Campus Pride created the Best of the Best List to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of these colleges and universities, creating safer, more welcoming campuses for LGBTQ+ people,” said Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride Executive Director. “Students, prospective students, and their families, along with faculty and staff members, deserve to know whether they will be safe on campus, so they can make the best choices for their own academic success – and by creating inclusive, safe environments these colleges are taking responsibility for all students.”
Today’s announcement from Campus Pride features 40 four-year campuses from across the country. These campuses have achieved 5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index (CPI), the definitive national benchmarking tool measuring LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices. To earn a ranking of 5 out of 5 stars, campuses receive a percentage score from 90 to 100 based on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs, and practices. The methodology to determine this year’s Best of the Best List was based on an overall score of 93 percent or higher.
"We are seeing more and more colleges earn 5 stars because campuses are doing more to support their trans students," states Dr. Genny Beemyn, the coordinator of Campus Pride's Trans Policy Clearinghouse. "While all colleges can and should do more to be trans-inclusive, many institutions are taking important steps forward."
“The work Campus Pride does every day to foster safer, more welcoming campuses across the country is creating positive change for students, staff, and faculty, as this year’s Best of the Best list reflects that with 40 colleges represented, up from 30 last year,” said Tom Elliott, Campus Pride Board Chair. “At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and other civil rights are under assault in states across the country, including Texas and Florida, it is as important as ever to recognize the campuses in these states working to create spaces where the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders can learn and flourish.”
- Towson University, MD
- Montclair State University, NJ
- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, NJ
- Adelphi University, NY
- Ithaca College, NY
- Pace University, NY
- Lehigh University, PA
- The Pennsylvania State University, PA
- University of Pennsylvania, PA
- Northern Illinois University, IL
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL
- University of Illinois at Chicago, IL
- Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
- Purdue University, IN
- Kansas State University, KS
- Oakland University, MI
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
- Macalester College, MN
- Minnesota State University-Mankato, MN
- University of Nebraska at Kearney, NE
- Kent State University, OH
- The Ohio State University, OH
- University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, WI
- University of Wisconsin Green Bay, WI
- University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI
- Tufts University, MA
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
- University of Vermont, VT
- University of North Florida, FL
- University of Louisville, KY
- Elon University, NC
- George Mason University, VA
- Virginia Wesleyan University, VA
- Texas Tech University, TX
- University of Texas at Dallas, TX
- San Diego State University, CA
- University of Colorado at Boulder, CO
- University of Northern Colorado, CO
- Southern Oregon University, OR
- Washington State University, WA
About Campus Pride
Campus Pride’s 2022 BEST OF THE BEST Colleges & Universities is online at http://campuspride.org/BestoftheBest.
The Campus Pride Index full listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities is available at https://www.campusprideindex.org/.
Since 2001, Campus Pride has been the leading national organization building future LGBTQ and ally leaders as well as creating safer communities at colleges and universities. The Campus Pride Index annually helps 80,000 people find LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities. In addition, the organization has specifically tailored programs and resources to support LGBTQ youth and campus communities. Learn more at CampusPride.org.