A beau­ti­fully Amer­i­can act

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - SOCIAL - Kirsty Blake Knox @KirstyBlakeKnox

There are so many things to thank Amer­ica for. It is, af­ter all, the coun­try that gave us pas­trami sand­wiches, room­bas, Kim Kar­dashian and the slan­ket. It is also the coun­try that has lifted com­pet­i­tive eat­ing to an art form. No one does it bet­ter. And this year, as part of the July 4 cel­e­bra­tions, his­tory was made at the ‘de facto Olympics of com­pet­i­tive eat­ing’: aka Nathan’s Hot Dog Eat­ing Con­test.

Cal­i­for­nian Joey Ch­est­nut broke the world record when he wolfed down 74 hot­dogs in 10 min­utes in 27°C heat.

“I found a vi­cious rhythm,” Joey said after­wards. “I was feel­ing good.”

The 35,000-strong Coney Is­land crowd erupted in eu­pho­ria and cheered. One paper de­scribed it as “a beau­ti­fully Amer­i­can act”.

Closer to home, things were not so joy­ous on Amer­i­can In­de­pen­dence Day.

A pall was cast over the US cel­e­bra­tions in Ire­land with a planned boy­cott of the US Em­bassy’s July cel­e­bra­tions.

Iron­i­cally ti­tled ‘United We Rock’, the soiree was be­ing snubbed by some politi­cians be­cause of Trump and his im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it would be un­think­able to eat cock­tails sausages given ev­ery­thing that was hap­pen­ing at the bor­der. He made no ref­er­ence to hot dogs.

He had also promised to protest at the event. A protest and a snub? It had all the mak­ings of a mem­o­rable night so I was told to head along.

Frankly, the protest out­side the em­bassy wasn’t up to much. Per­haps peo­ple had for­got­ten the res­i­dency is in the Phoenix Park, and a protest would in­volve hang­ing about a traf­fic round­about, wav­ing a plac­ard at the dis­tant gates.

Let’s face it, there’s no glory in that

— not even much of a photo op­por­tu­nity. So there were no protesters.

No mat­ter, there was a good deal of spec­u­la­tion over who would and wouldn’t be there.

Chargé d’Af­faires Reece Smyth was all wel­com­ing smiles, and said that 1,500 of his ‘clos­est friends’ would still shown up.

And what an un­usual as­sort­ment of friends he has! On the way into the grounds, a pho- tog­ra­pher rushed to­wards me and said he had al­ready spot­ted some ‘fa­mil­iar faces’. Ap­par­ently he’d caught sight of the chair­per­son, trea­surer, chief whip, and spokesper­son of the new Hu­man Dig­nity Al­liance. All of whom go by the same name of Rónán Mullen. If he can’t get a party started — who can? Next to a gi­ant mar­quee I saw Mullen’s former com­rade Mat­tie McGrath, jostling to get his photo taken with a man in mil­i­tary uni­form. Mat­tie was there pre­sum­ably to rus­tle up some in­ter­est in his own po­lit­i­cal party which is al­ready twice the size of Mullen’s (since he has con­vinced one other per­son to join.)

Be­side the burger van, TD Noel Gre­al­ish, and proud Ker­ry­man Michael Healy-Rae stood side by side. “Why wouldn’t I be here — amn’t I an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen?” said Healy-Rae. “They know how to throw a proper party, the Amer­i­cans,” Gre­al­ish laughed. But it wasn’t all fun and games for Gre­al­ish. The TD said he was plan­ning to raise se­ri­ous con­cerns over Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion laws with the Chargé d’Af­faires later in the evening.

Per­haps, he thought that some­where in Wash­ing­ton an aide would burst open the doors of the Oval Of­fice and ex­plain to Pres­i­dent Trump that he had just re­ceived an ur­gent phone call from a gar­den party in Ire­land, where a Gal­way TD had ex­pressed his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with US pol­icy?

I think we can form our own idea of just how highly the Don­ald rates us by his de­ci­sion not to bother ap­point­ing an Am­bas­sador here since he be­came Pres­i­dent. Clearly, we’re petty far down the Amer­i­can food chain.

Still, no one likes to turn down an in­vite to a bar­be­cue on a sum­mer’s day, and so the motley crew of rene­gade politi­cians that had shown up posed with bot­tles of Bud­weiser be­side vin­tage Chevro­lets.

I ducked out early: I’m afraid that the lure of slid­ers, and an evening in the com­pany of Healy-Rae and Gre­al­ish wasn’t enough of a draw. Now if Joey Ch­est­nut and his 74 hot dogs had been there…


A proper party: Jamie Cahill and Ali­son Reddy from Dublin at the US In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions in Phoenix Park, and in­set, Joey Ch­est­nut.

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