For Pete's Sake

Sports writer Pete Grathoff loves burnt ends, ‘Justified’ and a sweet animal shelter

“Justified,” starring Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, streams on Amazon.
“Justified,” starring Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, streams on Amazon. .

Here’s what sports writer Pete Grathoff is into right now:


I’m living in the past. That is, I’ve been watching a show that hasn’t aired in a few years: “Justified.” I’m streaming this old FX series on Amazon. It’s about a deputy U.S. marshal named Raylan Givens who is reassigned from Miami after a shooting (was it justified?) to Eastern Kentucky, where he grew up and is well known to the locals (for good and mostly bad reasons).

There are a lot of reasons to like the show: the complexity of the characters, the story lines that keep you guessing, and especially the dialogue. The show is based on a story by the late Elmore Leonard, who is one of my favorite authors.

As Raylan once said: “Sometimes, we have to make deals with lowlifes because we have our sights set on life forms even somehow lower on the ladder of lowlife than they.” Great stuff.

And if I’m in the mood for a laugh, I go back to the ’80s: I’ve been watching “Cheers” on Netflix and had forgotten just how that show can make you laugh out loud.

Burnt ends

q39 burnt ends
Q39’s burnt end burger. Shelly Yang

This sounds a lot like saying I love to breathe air, but I love Kansas City barbecue. Pulled pork and ribs are excellent choices, but my go-to is burnt ends. And one great thing about them is the various ways you can eat them: burnt end hash (RJ’s Bob-Be-Que), burnt end hamburger (Q39), burnt end chili (Woodyard Bar-B-Que) and now ice cream (Betty Rae’s). One underrated place for them is not far from my house: Bates City Bar-B-Que in Shawnee. They also have great ribs and fries.

Merriam Farmers Market

merriam farmers market
The Merriam Farmers Market. Tammy Ljungblad

On Saturday mornings, my buddy and I take our dogs for a short walk to this market, which is just the right size. Plenty of fruit and vegetable options, plus bread, coffee, awesome breakfast burritos and friendly people. Unlike other markets in the area, dogs are allowed here, which is another plus.

Great Plains SPCA

That’s my “new” 9-year-old dog Calpurnia (left) and my old friend Henry. Pete Grathoff

I’ve been volunteering here for about a year, and let me start by saying that the hour or two I give every week is a drop in the bucket compared to the incredible people who give their time at this Merriam animal shelter. It’s totally rewarding, whether I’m walking a dog, doing laundry, taking out the trash or petting a cat.

When I started, I was concerned that it would be a bit depressing, but it’s been the opposite. Many of the animals get adopted out quickly, and they are pretty happy to be in such a loving place. I encourage anyone who’s thought of volunteering there or at another shelter to go for it. An added bonus: I recently adopted another dog, Calpurnia.

Big Bam’s

big bam's
Big Bam’s in Shawnee has the best hamburgers. Gen Yamaguchi The Kansas City Star

I love to eat, so here is another food-related item: You’re not going to find a better hamburger than at Big Bam’s in Shawnee. I go here about once a week, and one time it was closed when I arrived. I decided to get a hamburger at a national chain (that shall remain nameless), and it was terrible. My standards for a hamburger have clearly changed since I was in college.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff