The best 4th of July ever (no disrespect for the Billy Carter 4th of July Softball Invitational—which is the other best 4th of July ever) in comparison to last year’s Independence Day, which I ‘celebrated’ by eating bacon and building an enormous hamburger with one other American and a British dude while nursing a broken heart.
So yesterday, four of us foxy ladies (a foot juggler, a belly dancer, a singer/artist, a set-designer/artist) set sail in a Land Cruiser towards Coney Island, which just happens to be my favorite place to visit. We were aiming to be on time for the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which started at noon. It being Independence Day and all, the place was packed, but we managed to park in the aquarium parking lot and make it to Nathan’s with time to spare. The contest only lasts 10 minutes, but we were treated to a little pre-show entertainment by some burly rapper and three jugglers from Ringling Brothers–whose one-ring Gold Unit is in Coney Island for the whole summer. They couldn’t even find the energy to put on costumes, but it didn’t matter because the crowd was in a fever for the face off between Japanese Takeru Kobayashi and American Joey Chesnut. The Jumbo-Tron allowed us to see what was going on in the contest area, and the MC whipped the crowd into a patriotic frenzy. I was laughing so hard I almost threw up the two hot dogs I ate immediately upon arriving. In the end, it was Joey Chesnut who took home the Mustard Yellow Belt and $10,000 after eating 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. This contest is no joke and sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. I’m going to visit their site and see if they offer any training tips.
After the contest we rode the Cyclone and walked the boardwalk with warm beer in plastic cups until Jean’s sprained ankle started bothering her. So we got back in the car and drove to Riis Beach to lay topless, splash in the surf and ogle cute boys. It ended up in reverse, though, with us drawing a crowd of young, hot admirers thanks to our eye-catching displays of topless lesbian Thai massage, acro-yoga, and belly-dancing. When our boobs turned crispy from the sun, we piled back in the car to head back to Williamsburg, first stopping on the side of the road for chili cheese fries and a peanut butter milkshake. There was incredibly no traffic on this holiday and we sped home singing along to Dolly Parton and forgotten disco. Thanks to PMS, I got teary-eyed and weepy when the theme song from Emir Kusturica’s “Underground” trumpeted out of the speakers, not through any affection for the film, but because it reminded me that the world contains Yugoslavians—a reminder that is often surprisingly painful and unwelcome. But then I reminded myself that I learned a lot from one particular Yugoslavian man, not the least of which was how to stop being a money-crumpler.
Back in Williamsburg, the four of us split in half, with Trisha and I attempting to go to a barbeque. While I was waiting for her hippy Israeli friend to get ready, I started to feel my energy waning—sapped by the sun. When he picked up and drum and started slapping it, I made my excuses and went home. There are many things I won’t tolerate and a hippy drum jam is one of those things. I went home, checked out my tan in the mirror for a while, changed my clothes and met up with my “Austin” posse on the roof of a friend’s studio. We drank lambrusco and watched a water-tank warehouse burn to the ground as a prelude to the fireworks, which we could barely see because they moved them to other side of Manhattan for some reason. Suddenly, I was drunk and my Independence Day officially ended.