I can explain it if this brief look back at July 4 seems a bit “disjointed.” (And no, that’s not an endorsement for the November marijuana initiative.) Monday, being an extension of the holiday, felt like Sunday. So when Tuesday rolled around, I suddenly found myself “column-less” a day later than normal. Adding to my dilemma is the weather. For the past few weeks of June Gloom I’ve felt like I was in a bleak Ingmar Bergman movie. (As opposed to his musical comedies?)

Speaking of Bergman, here’s a bit of rarely printed trivia. When forced to travel, Bergman would ship his furniture ahead so that his new residence would feel just like home. Now that I think about it, maybe there’s a reason it’s rarely printed.

But back to July 4. Sgt. Jay Trisler, the Santa Monica Police Department’s community relations and public information officer, said that arrests in Santa Monica over the holiday weekend were down 25.7 percent from last year. Nationally, I’m not sure about arrest rates, but there were more than a few people who wish they could turn the clock back. (If you’re going to eat soon, or just have, may I suggest that you turn to the crossword puzzle now.)

One of those few would have to be Eric Smith, 36, who attended a big Fourth of July party on Long Island. Unfortunately, in the process, he blew his arm off with fireworks. Obviously we’re not talking sparklers.

It seems Smith used a 3-foot long metal tube to shoot mortars. Police believe that he leaned over the device to ignite it and didn’t get out of the way in time. Smith’s left arm was severed at the shoulder. (Ouch!) He was rushed to a hospital but doctors weren’t able to reattach the arm. I could make a joke here but, thankfully for all of us, I won’t.

Then there’s Damon Evans, 34, who on July 3 was the athletic director at the University of Georgia with a $500,000 yearly salary. On July 5, he was unemployed. On the third, Evans was pulled over by police and charged with DUI. Also arrested was Courtney Fuhrmann. She was charged with disorderly conduct after she got belligerent with police and had to be restrained. While Evans, a married man, insisted that he and Fuhrman were “just friends,” police found a pair of her red panties between his legs. Uh, oh.

Ironically, before each University of Georgia home football game, Evans’ taped video message was played for the crowd, “If you drink and drive, you lose.” As it turns out, he did both. On the bright side, at least Evans didn’t lose an arm. (Of course after his wife gets through with him, who knows?)

Also over the holiday was the 95th annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island (televised live on ESPN, which gave a free hour last night to LeBron James, speaking of hot dogs). The Nathan’s event struck me as gross on many levels. For example, with much of the population in third world countries near starvation, we’ve got bulimic models and eating contests. To hungry people in Darfur, Bangladesh, or North Korea, seeing Americans forcing food down their gullets must be a bit galling. (To judge for yourself, go to YouTube and type “Nathan’s 2010 eating.”)

The winner, and for the fourth year in a row, was Joey Chestnut, who stuffed his face with 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes. (He once ate 380 wonton shrimp in eight minutes.) At Nathan’s, Chesnut consumed 15,000 calories. Afterwards, however, he had to guzzle a bottle of that revolting-looking Pepto Bismol.

At least Chestnut won. The 20 other slobs, and at least one slobette, got bupkes, other than major heartburn. Watching the video, I had a feeling that one of these days some contestant is going to croak off in mid-bite. That would certainly get a lot of hits on YouTube. (And maybe a few laughs from some folks in Bangladesh.)

Chestnut is a professional competitive eater, a “gurgitator,” who earns a six figure annual income. (Maybe he has an endorsement deal with Pepto Bismol?) Imagine little Joey in grade school when his teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. A gurgitator?

Given the American obesity epidemic, I’m not sure eating contests are something we ought to promote. Look around, there’s a fast food place on every corner. The whole country is one big eating contest. Then again, I should talk. In college I used to ditch class to sneak off to Pink’s Hot Dogs on La Brea and feast on a minimum of five dogs (with chili!) and an orange soda. But at least I ate slowly and savored the delicious grease.

So, as June Gloom and the Bergman movie drags on, I ask how was your July 4? In my opinion, if you didn’t drink Pepto Bismol, get arrested, or lose an arm, you’re ahead of the game.

To get a hilarious look into the world of competitive eating, go to www.ifoce.com. As for Jack, when he isn’t dreaming about Pink’s hot dogs, he can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.

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