Watching the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on TV is a July Fourth tradition for countless highly patriotic closet masochists. I have been no exception. This year, I hauled over to Coney Island (which, if you were wondering, immediately made me stop complaining about living "far away" in Brooklyn) to watch the festivities live. Plus, I was eager to meet Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti and fellow New Yorker Tim "Eater X" Janus (ranked #2 and #3 in the world, respectively), two guys I had the pleasure of interviewing in the days leading up to the contest. Sadly, my media pass didn't come with the rain poncho I wished I'd had to shield me from the gobs of partially masticated sausage-bun amalgamation flying willy-nilly from the competitors' table, but I did snap some decent shots on my phone and get Bertoletti-hug residue on my arm, which I'm never washing again.

At the end of the show, slippery fragments littering the stage, the judges' shirts and part of Stillwell Avenue, I couldn't help feeling worst of all for the two dudes in poorly ventilated "Frankster" costumes who'd been dancing around in the heat for four hours and probably wanted a hot dog least of all.