Monday, July 04, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 34: Happy Birthday, America

By Pauly
New York City

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest represents everything that is wrong about America.

The November Nine final table and parts of the Olympics are not aired live -- yet the lasciviousness spectacle of inhaling 60+ hotdogs in ten minutes was worthy enough of a live broadcast on America's premier sports channel.

Millions of our fellow citizens cannot afford to buy food and require assistance from the federal government with handouts and food stamps, yet every Fourth of July, we celebrate the rather useless skill of over-indulgent speed eating (which eventually gets puked up off stage) in what has become one of the most absurd and decadent events America created since we broke apart from the British Empire.

Then again, I couldn't think of a better "Fuck You" from America to the world and its hungry citizens, by rewarding gluttony and over-indulgence on its birthday -- and broadcasting the voracious contest LIVE on ESPN.

Over 42,000 competitive eating fanatics flocked to Coney Island to soak up the lecherous hot dog eating event in person while enduring the sweltering summer sun and braving a horrendous aroma of vomit and nitrate-ridden ass gas. The annual contest sponsored by Nathans, attracted almost 2 million viewers on ESPN.

Holy shitballs, 2 million people tuned in to watch a bunch of fat dudes and freaks with eating disorders? Only in America.

The corporate interests running America rarely reward intelligence or temperance, rather the mad scientists in the media are running a brilliant piece of subliminal marketing and psychological warfare. Millions of Americans are addicted to food, and millions more are hedonistic voyeurs. I'm actually surprised that the World Eating Tour (WET for short) isn't airing events once a week in prime time. When will there be a knock-off version inspired by Jackass, in which cash prizes are rewarded to contestants who can eat the most cockroaches inside of 17 minutes.

Not everyone can sing, yet American Idol is still one of the most popular shows on television since its inception. However, everyone in America eats and has some sort of affinity or aversion to food. Either way, how could you not want to watch humans act like barbarians gnawing away at flesh? Unless the suits in Hollywood get really desperate with a risque decision to air the first ever eating contests with cannibals.

Nathan's one is the most prestigious and most popular events in all of sports -- even greater than the Running of the Bulls and the Tour de France. Pigging out (then puking off screen) has blurred the lines of sports entertainment. Although it's fairly lowbrow on the entertainment scale, watching people eat hot dogs on the Fourth of July is a ratings moneymaker, on par with crotch shots of shitfaced starlets on TMZ. It's certainly more enthralling than watching douchebags and brokedicks play cards for several days straight.

Joey Chestnut is the Phil Ivey of competitive eating. He won his fifth straight Nathan's title this year and holds countless records in eating other foods like pizza and tacos. Since Ivey was a no-show at the WSOP, I should have headed to Coney Island to sweat his competitive eating counterpart. Alas, I never got back to the city in time to catch the trivial contest at Coney Island. Maybe next year? After all, as much as overeating might kill you and create long term health problems, the government turns a blind eye to the rapacious displays of blatant food abuse. Online poker is evil, but shoving 62 hotdogs down your throat is the ultimate display of independence.

If I could have a cushy assignment, it would involve some sort of book deal to write about my experiences covering the competitive eating circuit for one year. I should pitch this book to my French editor because Lost Vegas is a huge hit in France, and a similar book about the freaks I'd encounter on the hot dog eating circuit sounds like a depraved aspect of American society that needs further investigation.

* * *

For a second year in a row, I escaped from prison inside the Amazon Ballroom and fled Las Vegas to celebrate America's birthday. It's not that I'm extremely patriotic, rather my favorite band had a habit of playing gig on/around the special holiday of the Fourth of July, when Americans get a day off from work to cook up hot dogs, get drunk, and talk smack about how our forefathers back in the 1776 decided to tell the King to fuck off, then conscripted poor/uneducated colonists, hired German thugs and borrowed France's navy in a concerted effort thwart Great Britain's B-team.

After working 23 days in a row, I saved most of my time off for a quick sojourn to Watkins Glen to attend a music festival called Superball IX -- a three-day extravaganza, disguised as an excuse to embark on a 3-day bender and eat mushrooms in the middle of a raceway in order to clear my head before the Main Event begins.

If you cover the entire WSOP, you gotta flush out all the bad gunk that gets caught inside the hallways of your mind, otherwise you go absolutely batshit crazy. I missed all of the drama this weekend, and I'm still only hear about 10% of everything after I left the psychedelic circus and I'm slowly re-inserting myself back into the circus of the bizarre and incorrigible.

The dates for Superball coincided with a much need retreat from the WSOP to relax, regroup, and recharge my batteries before the WSOP Main Event World Championship. That's what's it's all about, right? The $10,000 World Championship. Everything else during the preliminary events is foreplay, or in sports terms, it's regular season with the Main Event acting as the "playoffs." In the parlance of America's past time baseball -- since I'm the team owner, GM, coach, and starting pitcher -- I pulled myself from the game to rest my arm for the playoffs. I flew out of Las Vegas with a couple of days clothing, extra hiking boots, a couple of paper clips, cash, my sunglasses, and tent. Since I was camping out, I welcomed the opportunity to unplug and ween myself off of my addiction to my laptop. After four weeks at the grind, the addiction was full blown and only a camping outing would provide the perfect conditions to avoid logging into my laptop, though my CrackBerry was methadone (but I did my best to maintain a safe distance from the WSOP -- I have yet to read a single email or any of Nolan Dalla's WSOP reports to see who won bracelets and made final tables during my absence on Days 30-31-32-33.)

At this point, you probably figured out I had skipped the WSOP for a few days on my annual Phishy pilgrimage before the Main Event.

I closed the laptop for good on Friday morning at sunrise a couple of hours before I rolled into Watkins Glen (the site of many NASCAR events, not to mention the location of the epic 1973 concert featuring The Band, The Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers Band). Once I shut the laptop, I didn't open it up again until Monday night or almost 90 hours long. I dunno if that's a record -- but it's damn close. I was going to wait a full 100 hours -- just to see if I could achieve the century mark, but during my drive back into the city, I had an idea for a post about America's birthday that I was going to write the next day (Tuesday morning) in the airport while waiting for my flight back to Vegas. But, that plan changed when my brother suggested we watch the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Halfway through the contest, I had a moment of clarity as Joey Chestnut shoved a few hot dogs into his mouth and chopped away en route to another victory. That's when I blurted out at the screen -- "Happy Birthday, America."

If we don't eat 60 hotdogs on TV, then the terrorists win.


  1. I had thought you had died from a drug overdose, hence the light blog posts.

  2. Your comment lacks originality, and on the humor scale (1-10), it ranks a -3.

  3. Now that I think about it, my comment is rather in bad taste. Please accept my apology.

  4. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Super trivia question. GW wasn't actually the first President of the US in a literal sense, he was the 14th. Explain why...

  5. Anonymous2:10 PM

    And I thought Goldenpiggie comment was a complete load of bs personally. Good on ya for backing up DP.

  6. Jim - There were presidents who came before GW - presidents of the Continental Congress after we declared our independence and presidents when we were governed by the Articles of Confederation. GW was the first elected per our Constitution.

  7. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Jennifer - that is what I was trying to get at. Perhaps I was far too medicated at the time to get my point across.