S'MORES AT HALCYON
You know those friends who "love" camping, but when you've found your plot, they don't know how to construct a tent? And then, they wonder where the bathrooms are. Or worse, they ask for the campground's WiFi code. Crickets. Next time they suggest packing their bags for a road trip to the trees, offer up Halcyon (1429 Island Ave.) as a compromise. From the comfort of an Adirondack chair on an East Village terrace, they can roast s'mores over a controlled mini flame—sans dirt. Six dollars gets full-sized Hershey bars, marshmallows and graham crackers for two, or double up for nine dollars.
WE GOT THE MEAT
The greatest thing that ever came from man's fascination with setting things on fire is, undoubtedly, barbecue. To get the best barbecue, you used to have to travel to the American South to chow on some quality grilled, charred or smoked meats. However, Grand Ole BBQ y Asado in North Park (3302 32nd St.) offers some of the finest barbecue our city has to offer. Tender, smoky cuts of brisket, tangy pulled pork and Texas hot links are among some of the savory offerings, with four different sauces to enhance the flavor to your liking. It's first-come, first-served in an outdoor, picnic-style setting, and the line gets long pretty quickly, so show up early and hungry. And though it doesn't serve alcohol, Grande Ole BBQ has a BYOB policy, so brown bag your tall boy or fill up a growler before heading over.
WE DON'T NEED NO WATER, LET THAT MF-ER BURN
If you're going to pay more than $20 for a drink, there needs to be some element of danger to it, and not just the "ooh, I'm gonna be feeling this tomorrow" variety—we're talking serious bodily harm. For a beverage that offers that satisfactory risk/reward ratio, look no farther than Polite Provisions' (4696 30th St.) Flaming Skull Scorpion Bowl. To be fair, the drink is meant to be shared by more than one person, but it contains enough booze that your resulting BAC might as well be flammable. Given that the drink is lit on fire when delivered to your table, we don't suggest you find out.
Need evidence that Obama is definitely not trying to take away anyone's guns? Just head to El Cajon's P2K Range and this indoor/outdoor shooting range (2082 Willow Glen Drive, ) and don't worry if you can't BYOG. There are plenty of rentable options from the controversial AR-15 rifle to an M4 Tactical shotgun that's as big as a small man. Sure, you could just head far out into the desert to shoot at some cans, but it just doesn't have the same appeal as getting to yell "PULL" and blast at a flying clay disc called a skeet. It might seem strange that a liberal alt-weekly would recommend anything related to guns, so just consider this a meta-alt option.
Summertime is great for starting a new hobby. Instead of running from the heat, why not confront it head on by taking up the age-old craft of glass blowing? The Bench Glass is holding summertime classes in Venetian-style glass blowing. Don't show up looking to make sick bongs, bro. Instructor Chris Moore works closely with you in his large studio to craft unique vases, cups, goblets and other beautiful glassware you can proudly show off. It's the one time you should play with fire. Sign up for classes or rent studio time.
DANCES WITH FIRE
Smoldering, seductive and just a little bit strange—does this describe your inner aura? If yes, you might be destined for fire dancing. Practitioners of this offbeat dance style relish in the outsider nature of their craft. Think carnivalesque flower children spinning staffs in Ocean Beach. They're likely practicing unlit "hooping" and specialize in acrobatics, burlesque, belly dancing and a whole slew of fire-accented boogieing. Aspiring fire dancers should contact Unity Hoops for lessons or visit The Fire Garden in Bonsall for inspiration.
HOT, HOT HEAT
Sparks fly and torches sizzle as students of all ages hunch over their work stations, eyes hidden behind protective visors that repel molten bits of metal and shield their eyes from the flames. Fallbrook's California Sculpture Academy goes beyond teaching traditional sculpture techniques (although they offer those classes as well) and provides red-hot instruction into the world of artistic welding and fabrication, plus metal molding and bronze, glass and jewelry casting. Custom courses and private lessons are available, but check class schedules (prices vary). And if you can't take the heat, there's always the flame-free figure drawing class.
FOR THE REST OF US
The most unusual and entertaining bonfire party I ever attended occurred at Campland on the Bay (2211 Pacific Beach Drive). A friend procured a site (check campland.com for rates) and threw a beachside, flame-fueled Festivus night party. Yes, this is the Seinfeld-inspired event where participants air personal grievances while gripping an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole (note: we skipped the "feats of strength"). Ensconced safely within the park's gates and with San Diego Bay as picturesque backdrop we consumed cheap cans of beer, burned wooden pallets and complained about life—all to great joy.