Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where Lenny Is Afraid & Oliver is Twisted

Have we gone through the looking glass entirely? Is ours now a society where an amalgam of attention whores gathered together on the boardwalk at Coney Island jamming as many water-soaked hot dogs and buns down their throats as they could in ten minutes fit within the definitional framework of the word "athlete" and the circus they put on is deemed to be an "athletic competition"? For years as a boy every Saturday I listened to the great Jim McKay talk about victory's thrill and defeat's agony. Never once did I suspect that the agony he was speaking of was indigestion or under especially extreme circumstances acid reflux.

One needs to look no further for support for Mr. Springsteen's statement about the inequity between the number of channels to watch and the number of things worth watching than ESPN's live coverage of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th of July. Actually, watching the footage of the lineup of "competitive eaters" (my new favorite made-up job) cramming food down their throats serves as support for Mr. Springsteen's statement on the origins of man as well. Talk about your valuable piece of videotape.

Apparently, cramming food down their gullets as fast as they can is how this year's champion Joey Chestnut (in the event he actually reads when not speed-eating allow me to be 100% accurate and note that his win this year was his 4th straight win at Coney Island) and his Japanese counterpart Takeru Kobayashi earn a living. They do - honest to God - compete under the banner of an organization known as "Major League Eating & International Federation of Competitive Eating". Want to be entertained and appreciate just how frustrated our primate brethren feel about our way cooler thumbs, check out the MLE&IFCE website. The logo is an outstretched fist -raised high - and clenched around a fork. Had this organization existed when I was in 8th grade, then maybe Ms. Guida would have used it to advertise that year's school musical. To Hell with Chestnut and Kobayashi. You want a competitive eater? Oliver Twist was one seriously competitive eater. His diet of preference? Three banquets a day. Put that in your bun and soak it wiener eaters!

The MLE&ICFE have a reach far beyond the blistering July sun of Coney Island, N.Y. According to their web site, "Major League Eating is the world body that oversees all professional eating contests. The organization, which developed competitive eating and includes the sport's governing body, the International Federation of Competitive Eating, helps sponsors to develop, publicize and execute world-class eating events in all variety of food disciplines." While the annual frank fest at Coney Island is one such event, it is apparently only one of more than 80 that this group puts on annually worldwide. Although not all of them feature one of the "athletes" (who boycotted the event by the by) who storms the stage at the event's completion and ends up getting arrested.

I must confess that I find the use of the word "disciplines" in their tag-line nothing short of hysterical. One would think they sponsor martial arts competitions or gymnastics events or some such thing. Scarfing down as many water-soaked hot dogs as possible in ten minutes is now deemed to be a discipline? Someone get Michael Stipe on the line. It appears he was right after all.......

......but just in case he was wrong, give me two Texas Weiners with the works. You can keep your cup of water. I eat mine old school.


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