But Dad, it's Smoky....
This is the "before" picture of baby back pork ribs I smoked last Sunday. The "after" photo didn't come out well because I lost too much daylight by the time they finished cooking, but the ribs cooked up just fine: deeply smoked over hickory, and gently spiced with an improvised (and therefore secret recipe) Oscar night dry rub.
A full load in my Weber Smoky Mountain cooker equals 10 racks of baby backs - a fairly expensive loss if I screw it up. I once screwed up a beef brisket that came out tasting lightly of creosote instead of tasty applewood smoke, but I've solved that problem.
Now that I'm getting more confident, I'm filling the cooker to capacity for the maximum return on my time investment. It takes anywhere from 4 hours for baby backs to 18 hours for a large brisket, so I'm going to fill the cooker, even at the risk of messing up from time to time. One of these days, I'll screw up the courage to smoke a prime rib roast, which costs about $100. Maybe Easter dinner. Or Passover Seder. Note to self: look into the Kosher rulebook.
If you're a fan of real slow cooked Southern barbecue, you'll be disappointed with the lack of a truly great commercial source in Orange County. Yes, there are a few places that'll do in a pinch (Burrell's in Santa Ana, Clayton Shurley's in Newport Beach & Aliso Viejo). Los Angeles has more options, and some really good ones at that (Phillips, Woody's, Bad 2 Da Bone, Jaybee's, Rib Nest...)
But no matter where you live, why gripe about the lack of good cue when you can have fun making it yourself? Sure, there's a learning curve, mostly in controlling the heat of an open fire. But Weber designed their cooker to make good barbecue easy for the home enthusiast. This is not Peking duck or advanced pastry. Head over to the Virtual Weber Bullet, a forum dedicated to the use of the Smoky Mountain cooker. Read up on the basics, and get yourself a Weber. You know you want to.