Scene & Herd - Hot Diggity Dog

We have a weiner

Last weekend, there were three big events in town celebrating big pieces of long, warm meat: Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Zoo Atlanta, Corndogorama 5000 at the Earl, and of course, the 2005 Atlanta Pride Festival and Parade. I'll begin with none of them and instead first tell you about my trip to IKEA last Sunday.

A little background in case you've missed the whole IKEAMania! media storm. IKEA is the gigantic, Swedish-owned furniture chain that just opened at Midtown's Atlantic Station. IKEA is known for selling affordable, Scandinavian furniture with names like HÄSTVEDA and STRÖMLING.

The local media is still going nutso about the store's June 29 grand opening for several reasons. Why dat? Here are three of many: 1) It's easier to cover than, for example, real news. 2) IKEAMania! is a genuine phenomenon. Grand openings of new IKEA stores are greeted with the sort of enthusiasm typically associated with Afghans protesting Quran-flushing. IKEAMania! has actually triggered violence. The hysteria that greeted the opening of an IKEA store in London earlier this year led to a riot. 3) Journalists are personally geeked up about IKEA because it's one of the few places that sell nice, new furniture that journalists, particularly print journalists, can afford.

My interest in covering the opening developed after receiving a press release telling me about Roger Penguino. Penguino started camping outside Atlanta's IKEA store June 22 so that he could be first in line and win a $4,000 IKEA gift card. The press release got me thinking: "I wonder who's second in line," "I wonder what second-in-line guy gets," "I wonder if second-in-line guy hates first-in-line guy," and "I wonder which of them, in his heart, loves IKEA more."

So I stopped by on Sunday to find out. Second-in-line guy was Dan Almasy. He's a wedding photographer. Sunday was his first wedding anniversary. He admits that his "heart sank" when he arrived and saw he wasn't first in line. But he says that his ill feelings subsided when he saw that Penguino and his wife are "cool, deserving people" who didn't "roll up in a Lexus."

For standing in line for six days, Almasy is expected to receive a mini-room setting worth several hundred dollars. As he describes it, he also gets to be a "part of history."

To answer the question, "Who loves IKEA more, first-in-line guy or second-in-line guy?" I devised a quiz. The quiz is called "IKEA or ABBA." I gave Penguino and Almasy a list of 13 names. They had to tell me whether the names were IKEA products, or the first name of a member of ABBA. The winner received an ABBA mix CD that I made.

You can play along at home if you'd like. Tell me which of the following names are IKEA products and which are members of ABBA: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorken, Bjorn, Erling, Frida, Frideborg, Gustav, Lydia, Utng, Tork.

Second-in-line Dan got nine correct answers. Roger got six. I hope that IKEA's management sees fit to reward Dan a little extra for his obvious IKEA passion. See the end of column for correct answers to quiz.

A chance meating: On Saturday afternoon, I witnessed sports history at Zoo Atlanta during my fourth annual trip to Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Two-time defending Atlanta hot dog-eating champ Dale Boone was trounced by a petite, elegant, 60-ish woman named Carlene Lefevre. Lefevre is no upstart. The International Federation of Competitive Eating, the sport's sanctioning body, ranks her as the 11th best competitive eater in the world. The 302-pound Boone ranks 12th.Lefevre flew in for the competition from Nevada after failing to win her local contest. To compete in sport-eating's premier event, July 4's Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, eaters must win a regional qualifier like Atlanta's. With her husband, Richard, cheering her on (at 61 years old and 132 pounds, Richard Lefevre is the IFOCE's third-ranked eater), Carlene downed 23 hot dogs in 12 minutes. The first thing she did after winning was reapply her lipstick.

Placing second in the competition with 18-and-three-quarters hot dogs was 285-pound Pennsylvania resident "Humble Bob" Shoudt. Humble Bob says that, outside competitions, he's actually a vegetarian. I thought it was a neat coincidence because, other than all those men I have sex with, I'm not actually gay.

Later that evening, I stopped by Corndogorama 5000 at the Earl. Official entertainment included lots of live music, lots and lots of corndogs, and lots and lots and lots of $2 16-ounce cans of Miller High Life. The unofficial entertainment was an inebriated man wearing nothing but a jock strap and a baseball cap riding a mini-ATV through the bar's parking lot. He and another drunk-looking friend eventually had people lie down in front of the ramp all daredevil/Evel Knievel style. Shockingly, no one was injured.

On Sunday, I took time out of my busy hangover schedule to make it out for a drizzly Atlanta Pride Parade. The usual gang was marching: lesbians on motorcycles, lesbians with lawn mowers, Delta employees on miniature planes, bank employees, telecom employees, local politicians, gay men with hairy bodies who like to go camping in the nude, gay men with hairless bodies who like to parade nearly nude, a couple of men with breasts, Clermont Lounge's Blondie, friends of gay people, family members of gay people, politicians, and lots and lots of church groups. The marching church groups were more frequent and large than I've seen before.

It's hard to pick a favorite parade moment, but since I want to finish this column and go eat something, I'll choose this one: An exceedingly plus-sized drag queen riding a motorcycle in the parade stopped in front of me on Peachtree, winked at the guy next to me and asked him, "Hey, wanna fuck a fat girl?" (S)he rode off before he could answer.

(IKEA or ABBA quiz answers: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Frida are members of ABBA. The rest are IKEA products. And no, mom and dad, I don't actually have sex with men).


For more of Andisheh's wacky adventures, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.??

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