Daily Dirt: From pizza with Mike to ravioli salsa rosa with Letterman

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The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)

The national anthem, celebrating the Fourth of July and “Lunch with Steve” — all great American traditions. Welcome to the three thoughts that make up Vol. 162 of the Daily Dirt.

What better time of the year than the holidays to enjoy the latest edition of “Lunch with Steve”? Our virtual theme will take us to eight establishments across the region with our usual cast of characters — four local guests and four from afar. Here’s the lineup for this installment:

Mike Terry, professor at John Wood Community College: Our lunch will likely include (long) discussions about popular music, particularly from the 1960s and 1970s, plus Major League Baseball. For those who have never met Mike, you can find him during Quincy High home basketball games in his familiar seat near the baseline at the Blue Devils’ end of the court. Lunch at: Casey’s General Store at 36th and State, where you can arguably get the best noontime pizza in Quincy — and doughnuts for dessert! Mike and I are both big fans of pizza. And doughnuts.

Mark Harmon, actor: His days of starring on “NCIS” are nearing an end. His exit will signal the end of a true TV era. Harmon pioneered the popular CBS whodunnit back in 2003, but at age 70, he says it’s time for him to step away. Good for Harmon. He is going out on top, and why not celebrate with one of his biggest fans? Me. Lunch at: Maid Rite, where we each down a couple of the house specialty sandwiches, plus some of those underrated onion straws and top it all off  with some peanut butter pie. Bon voyage, Mr. Harmon.

Marcel Wagner, former president of GREDF: Here’s wishing Marcel and his family the best of luck in Nevada. Marcel is retiring to the wild, wild west following a marvelous career in Quincy. While he lived in Quincy, Marcel never met a buffet he did not appreciate, so … Lunch at: Best Buffet. Only six words are important on this lunchtime venture: All. The. Shrimp. You. Can. Eat.

Urban Meyer, shamed football coach: I have no idea what he was thinking of late, but his firing in Jacksonville appears to have been well-deserved. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say in his own defense. Lunch at: Cassano’s. I never met a meatball I didn’t like at 312 N. 27th. I’m not sure, however, if Urban will have much of an appetite.

Jeff Gschwender, Hannibal High School football coach: I’ll treat Jeff to lunch at one of my favorite spots on the west side of the Mississippi River, one that’s little more than a good field goal from Hannibal High. I want to relive Hannibal’s march to the Class 4 state championship game through the words of the Pirates’ coach. Lunch at: Long John Silver’s in Hannibal, which, fittingly, is little more than a good field goal from the Pirates’ football field. 

Bret Bielema, Illinois football coach: Bielema is putting together a solid recruiting class for the Illini, but has yet to sign either a 4- or 5-star recruit. Bielema needs an influx of bluebloods to realistically challenge the Big Tern hierarchy at Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin. I’ll try and provide a few recruiting tips when we break bread. Lunch at: The Panda Express, for some of that tasty Shanghai Beef and the shrimp with walnuts. Bielema will probably want egg rolls, too.

Doug Mealy, announcer extraordinaire at Quincy Raceways: Doug has not been able to ply his trade since 2019, due to the track being closed the past two years. Come spring 2022, the engines will again be roaring at 8000 Broadway, and the Northeast Missouri resident will be describing the action us each and every Sunday night. Lunch at: Love’s Truck Stop in New London, Mo. Sometimes you just need a hot dog and fountain Coke. (PUBLISHER’S NOTE: How much do you dislike someone to take them to lunch at a freaking Love’s? I’m not dissing true truck stop food, such as the dearly departed Gasper’s in Kingdom City, Mo. That was where you took someone you loved. Or, heck, go five miles west to the 18 Wheeler in Taylor, Mo. JRG)

David Letterman: This is a very selfish choice. For decades, Letterman, now 74, was must-see late-night TV for me, and I guess I would just like to say thanks for the memories. I think I would ask him to do one final monologue for me while I sit and laugh. Lunch at: Tiramisu, where we can enjoy — what else, but — ravioli salsa rosa. It’s so good we might need a double order. We’re on our way, Roberto!

Steve Fact O’ The Day Steve watched his first David Letterman late-night show on Feb. 1, 1982.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News.

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