Thursday, September 27, 2007


Artie Lange in Chicago
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.

We are exiting at the top of a long escalator into a gaggle of 4 Moms with strollers. They are located in an inconsiderate spot for those who wish to exit the escaltor cleanly. "Lady, I Hate Your Baby..." Says Artie Lange, outloud to everyone and noone as he manuvers between their intent conversaions.

I am snickering at the comment, as it is the kind of humor I only get when hanging out with Artie Lange and Wing Kong. We are 3 Dads with Jobs and Mortgages set loose in a foreign town, and instead of drinking beer and chasing women, we will be drinking beer and telling fart jokes for most of the night.

We are in a Department Store in Chicago buying sweatshirts and it is 40 degrees outside. This morning we were in Philadelphia with a seasonable 75 degrees. How is it THAT cold in Mid-September?

Chicago from our Room
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
There is a long serious conversation about how awesome we would look in matching Addidas Jumpsuits.....White tops and bottoms with triple green stripes up the legs and down the arms. I settle. for a Bears sweatshirt, while Wing Kong gets just the Addidas Top.

Wing Kong and I are in Chicago for the La Costeña "Feel the Heat" Jalapeño Eating Challenge. All you can eat Jalapeños for 8 minutes followed by the most harrowing 12 hours of your life. I convinced Kong that nobody would show for this and that we'd have an easy job of placing first, second or third. We're not purposely ducking people, but it can be exhausting to show up at a contest and have to face the top 8 in the world....every time. We are small fish in the very biggest of ponds.

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
It should be noted that a year ago I convinced Kong to fly to Florida for a pretzel contest under the claim of "Who wants to go to Florida in January? (I actually said that) You've got this locked up!" As you might suspect that wasnt the case.

Artie Lange is meeting us here by complete Happenstance. He's in town on business and is kind enough to allow us to crash in the Posh Digs of his Hotel. I mean the hotel is nice....really nice and from the Twenty-Eighth floor we can look down over the Navy Pier and out into the water. It's the kind of nice, that usually wouldnt allow me in the front door. The free room and the cheap flight has made this trip reasonable, and easier to enjoy.

I dont have any real memories of the Great Lakes and I am just astounded how much it is like an ocean. Artie loves architecture and shares his passionate affection for this city as we walk down Michigan Ave. Chicago is the most amazing of towns, and there is a new skyscraper going up on nearly every city block.

Real Deep-Dish from Giordanos
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Now typically, it is my preference to fast for 24 hours before an eating contest. That doesnt work for everyone, some people just fast for 3 or 4 hours. In this case however I listened to advice from the holder of the Jalapeno 8-Minute World Record and made sure I had something in me for those hot peppers to land on. Deep Dish Pizza.

Why cant they make Deep Dish Pizza like this anywhere else? Do you need special air or water that only exists in Chicago? WHY??? Will I be doomed to trek back to Chicago the next time I need a slice of Heaven? We ate at Giordanos and I've never had anything like it. The crust was something you WANTED to eat.

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Later we went to Millenium Park and saw "The Bean" It's an enourmous mirrored coffee bean that you can walk up to and touch. Artie thinks it's such a great piece of artwork, because of the way it draws people to it. We look all around and there are hundreds of folks poking it, tpuching it, standing under it...all of them interacting with it and taking pictures. Because it's reflective it takes on the properties of the city, in fact if you wanted to paint or drawn it, you would be defining the Bean by drawing the reflected city. Put this thing in a field or suburbs and it will look very different. Having been an illustrator, I find The Bean fascinating and come back in the morning to watch how the light changes it.

The Bean
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Artie is very familiar with both our careers and comes to nearly all our local events. He knows the cast of characters and the latest news of who has won what. In the days before the contest we've learned the names of many top eaters who will likely show, and it has become apparent that this is not a gimme. We talk contest strategy, what's the best way to eat a pepper, how much chewing before you can swallow. How much can you hold in your stomach before something bad happens.

The Wicked Witch of the East
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Having never eating that many, we are mostly concerned about the aftermath and how we prevent an ecological disaster happening on the flight home 4 hours after the contest. I have no fear about the contest itself. I know that it would have been smarter to stay the night in Chicago, possiblly at the Hospital or Firehouse, but I was expected at work the next morning.

Kong in the Bean
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
My theory is that the volume of pepper mash is going to run through me like a "The China Syndrome" where a nuclear reactor goes critical and burns a hole straight down through the middle of the earth. I spend the day drinking shots of Malox and milk products. I take antacids. I figure I need to coat my entire digestive tract with some kind of base to chemically counteract the coming fire. There's lots of jokes, but really, this is scarey.

Oh Boy.


CoffeeDog said...

Love the pics!

katrocket said...

I love Chicago too (especially Millenium Park and the Mag-Mile)and your pics are so much fun. I hope the flight home was a success!

Leonesse said...

Too much fun!

Chris said...

I like it when you write stuff.

Mega Munch said...

Chi-town rules. So does this post. Looking forward to hearing how everything worked out in the end.

Anonymous said...

More Artie, more Artie!

Amish Rake Fight said...

I love the way you drift in and out of the Thompsonesque capitalizing of Key Words.

d.K. said...

I've never heard of the "Bean." Cool stuff. How'd the contest go? How was the flight back? Who sat next to you? Even if you don't recall, I'm quite certain he/she does, LOL.

Wing Kong said...

We were hoping for more Pictures of Wing Kong...He is a handsome man

Hunter S. Thompson said...

FINISH..... the fucking STORY, man. What happened? What about the glands?