Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Liberty was Yesterday, Get Back to Work Edition

In all of history, only one man has stood to say, that he will dictate what is and is not possible, in this world...

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Liberty was Yesterday, Get Back to Work Edition

Hope you had a great Fourth of July celebration.

What would the founding fathers make of all of this? A former one-term, twice impeached, twice indicted president campaigning for another term by continuing to speak of the disproven claims that the last election was "stolen" from him, and that his leadership in an insurrection against the country was justified. Supreme Court Justices reversing cases with years of precedence as it is revealed that at least two of them have taken unreported favors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals with business before the court. Right-wing state legislatures continue to limit voting by gerrymandering and redistricting in favor of GOP voters and candidates.

Declaring independence on July 4, 1776 wasn't easy either, our factionalism goes back to the beginning. 'All men are created equal," of course referred to white men, with a bias toward land-owning white men. But let's not quibble over historic facts. On July 4th, independence for the colonies was set in motion. A democracy would soon be established. Warts and all, today we celebrate that independence.

From the smallest parade in the tiniest town. to the grandest fireworks display along New York's East River, Americans celebrate the holiday. There are sparklers and colorful hats and men on stilts in long beards playing the part of "Uncle Sam" and pickup trucks adorned with giant flags along beaches everywhere.

But one American tradition may trump them all, if you'll excuse the pun. A uniquely American athletic contest, a sport that the good old USA can call its own and has dominated from the beginning. I speak of course of the annual July 4th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

And today (the 4th,) Joey Chestnut inhaled 62 hot dogs inside of ten minutes to claim his 16th Mustard Belt. Sixteen. World. Championships. (His personal best remains 76 weenies back in 2021. 76 has a nice 4th of July ring to it.)

Football great Tom Brady has 7 Superbowl rings. Bill Russell has 11 NBA championships under his belt. Yogi Berra has a World Series Ring for every finger. Tiger Woods comes close with 15 majors. Yet Joey is America's ultimate winner, the Competitive Eating GOAT. The hero we all need.

And it's not just hot dogs. With only $10,000 in prize money for Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, he has become a champ in slurping other food.

• 18 pounds, 10 ounces of St. Elmo Steak House’s spicy shrimp cocktail in eight minutes
• 126 tacos in eight minutes, (one consumed taco per just under four seconds)
• 141 Hard-boiled eggs in 8 minutes (Does this make him the modern Cool Hand Luke?)
• Glazed donuts: 55 in 8 minutes
• 45 Pulled pork sandwiches in 10 minutes
• Taco Bell softshell beef tacos: 53 in 10 minutes
• 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes
• Chicken wings: 413 in 12 hours
• 32 Big Macs in 38 minutes
• Tamales: 102 in 12 minutes
• 47 Grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes
• Ice cream sandwiches: 25.5 in 6 minutes

Chestnut works these other contests, does paid appearances, and has multiple endorsement deals like any fine athlete of his caliber. His first endorsement was with Pepto Bismol. He was paid $40,000 for four competitive eating contests in 2010. He has endorsement deals with companies like Hostess, Raising Cane's, Hooters, and Pepsi. He has his own hot sauce line and makes paid appearances for halftime shows at NBA games, charity events, and multiple corporations.

He told USA Today that this last year, his income cracked $500,000. But the glory would be enough. To look out into the crowd and see grown men stand tall and teary-eyed in stone silence. To see women weep. To see children filled with awe and wonder, wanting desperately to grow up to be just like Joey.  

This is an American for Americans in all of America. The soul of a bald eagle, the cunning mind of a fox, the stomach of a whale, and the heart of a champion. When the contest was almost canceled on Tuesday before it started due to a terrible lightning storm that blew through the area, Chestnut was apoplectic. His fierce determination and can-do spirit would not allow the organizers to give up. He was quoted as saying, "I'm gonna get the rest of the guys out and we're gonna do this f***er." AMERICA! The Can-Do-Must-Do spirit! This is what makes a winner!

Joey. The GOAT. Walking into the ring. Lightning and rain be damned!

Here is a sample of the respect shown to such a champion. His introduction from today's event:

"...In all of history, only one man has stood to say, that he will dictate what is and is not possible, in this world..."  
"...for he has broken reality and all of time pours out around us now at once, simultaneous and endless. Erasing cause and effect and opening all possibilities before us. And the ancient powers are all subordinated to their own creation and they smile at his achievement. And they say that he shall live forever, for he does not do it for money, he does not do it for glory. He does it for his people. He does it for his country. He does it for FREEDOM. And the Gods shine down on us now. And the Gods shine down on us still.  Because of him alone. Because of HIM ALONE. Joey, "Jaws," Chestnut."   -his introduction, via ESPN

Joey Chestnut IS America.


And speaking of warts and all, the Supremes closed out their session last Friday with some fireworks of their own. Probably paid for by benefactors Harlan Crow and Paul Singer.  

Roger  Gray found that he just couldn't ignore the two big Supreme Court decisions and how lucky he was to be a white kid going to college in the 60's. That's when school was affordable and, well, the white kid thing.

″...when they lower the box.” | Texas Outlaw Writers
We consider now a couple of supreme Court decisions that show the milk of human kindness has curdled.

The Fourth of July always has us thinking of our country’s beginnings, and a lot of us wonder what they might make of what we are dealing with now. Outlaw Jim Moore took a slightly different approach and ended up contemplating what was happening in the US as we expanded Westward, and he wrote this week about a personal adventure of his own trying to discover the history of the Oregon Trail.

American Memory | Texas Outlaw Writers
Within an hour, we went from curious explorers of history to mercenary capitalists, transporting alcohol in quantity across state lines w/o a license or a permit. In the dorm, we sold out in a few hours at $3 a can, $20 for a six-pack, and $90 for a case. I had never made more money in one day.

"And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees.
But it's alright, it's alright
For we lived so well so long.
Still, when I think of the
Road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what has gone wrong"

Paul Simon's wonderful "American Tune" is the piece I always go to on July 4th. It's often recognized as coming from the hymn, "Oh, Sacred Head, Now Wounded." The melody was originally from "St. Mattäus-Passion" arranged by J.S. Bach.  It's a meditation on the American experience, Simon claims it was written right after the election of Richard Nixon. So as a meditation on "...what's gone wrong," it covers the doubt and despair over the country's direction. The melancholy Tune seems forever relevant.  

"And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying.
We come on the ship they call The Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age's most uncertain hours
And sing an American tune"

And still there is a glimmer of hope. The American Dream is forever our hope. Liberty, Equality, Justice, Opportunity, and maybe Prosperity. One can hope.

"...It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest."

Get some rest. We need to get back to work.