EAT THIS BOOK (Chapter 1)A Carnival Barker in Training
Observe the Shea brothers, press agents by trade, carnival barkers in spirit, as they do, in tandem, the most exquisite deadpan in both businesses.
--Joyce Wadler, The New York Times
George Shea (right) chuckles at a comment made by his brother, Rich Shea, during the introduction of the September 2003 Cannoli Eating Contest, part of the Feast of San Gennaro in New York's Little Italy. (Courtesy of Matt Roberts/IFOCE)
Ever since I was a young boy, I've wanted to be a competitive-eating emcee. Okay, that's a lie, but it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. When I moved to New York after graduating from an Ivy League college in 1997, I wanted to become a writer. My first job was as an editor of children's books, but I grew tired of editing other people's material and quit. I began writing whatever the world would pay me to write--pseudonymous contributions to the Sweet Valley High series, unauthorized biographies of teen stars, restaurant and music reviews. I used my friends' names for characters in steamy teen-romance novels, which amused them greatly. As the author of a character guide to Digimon, a popular Japanimation TV show on the Fox Kids network, I found myself almost disturbingly excited to sit around watching cartoons each afternoon. The pay wasn't overwhelming, but I was having a blast in New York and my job provided priceless conversation at parties and on dates.
To pay the bills, I took odd jobs. I waited tables, conducted exit polls, edited personal essays for college applicants, and even modeled for the covers of young-adult novels. On the side, I wrote short stories and screenplays, all the while filling notebooks with ideas for my big breakthrough in the glamorous world of media--but it never came. In the fall of 2001, I fled New York for Berlin to improve my German and write a "real" novel.
Upon my return to the Big Apple in 2002, I decided that "entertainer" was a more apt description of what I wanted to be. I took acting classes and got headshots made. While acting in a dreadful off-off-Broadway play, I found myself reading a novel backstage instead of focusing on my lines. For reasons that eluded everyone but me, I charged a $700 wolf mascot costume to my credit card. It arrived in a giant box, and I immediately began planning my debut as a performance artist.
After e-mailing dozens of friends, I showed up in the costume on the corner of Prince and Broadway, in Manhattan's chic SoHo district. I placed my cassette player on the ground and pushed play. The idea was to do a sort of live music video that would turn heads and shake up all those dead-serious downtown fashionistas. Despite a particularly moving flute solo, the Wolf garnered a total of $5 for his efforts. Sadly, this performance felt more on-point than anything else I'd done to date. It was at the very least original and felt like a step toward one of my major life goals--getting paid to play.
In June of 2003, I met for drinks with an old buddy, Dave Baer, who shares my interest in all things absurd. He was working for a company called the International Federation of Competitive Eating. I was aware of his offbeat job, having accompanied him back in 1997 to a hot-dog-eating contest in the food court of a mall in upstate New York. My only memory was that Dave, in an attempt to recruit competitors, had played a song from the Boogie Nights sound track. The song was "You Sexy Thing," by Hot Chocolate, and the chorus began as follows: "I believe in miracles / Where you from? / You sexy thing." When it came around to the chorus, Dave crooned his own falsetto version into the microphone: "I believe in...hot dogs!" The mallgoers stared up from their food trays, confused, while I doubled over with laughter.
Over drinks, Dave explained that the IFOCE, or the "circuit," as he called it, was growing at an improbably fast rate. He described one of his favorite "gurgitators," Eric "Badlands" Booker, an affable subway conductor on New York's 7 line, who trained by meditating and eating huge portions of cabbage. I was intrigued. The next day, I pitched the idea of chronicling a "training meal" for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot-dog-eating contest to an editor at the Village Voice. Within a few hours, they offered to pay me fifty cents a word for the piece.
A few months later, I received an e-mail from Dave that changed my life. Would I be interested in hosting a Meat Pie Eating Competition in Natchitoches, Louisiana? They would pick up my travel expenses and pay me fairly handsomely for a few hours of work. It was a no-brainer. Frankly, I would have considered such an undertaking pro bono. My only questions were, What in the Sam Hill is a meat pie? And how do you pronounce Natchitoches?
Of course, I had no conception that this strange gig would turn into hundreds of gigs. I had no clue that "competitive eating emcee" would become my job title, that I would befriend dozens of pro eaters and write a book on the subject. I couldn't have imagined announcing an onion-eating contest in Maui, or witnessing the circuit's first-ever Heimlich maneuver at a jambalaya-eating contest. I couldn't have known that I would emcee the Nathan's Famous contest on the Fourth of July after appearing on the Today show, and later compete against the great Kobayashi in a burger-eating contest. At the time, it just seemed like an amusing adventure, some quick cash, and a funny story to tell my friends.
I was told to report to IFOCE headquarters for a brief tutorial. The office is in Chelsea, a trendy section of Manhattan, on the fourth floor. I naïvely expected the International Federation of Competitive Eating's office space to have an odd carnival feel to it. I imagined a training room in the back where one watched through observation windows huge men shove food down their gullets. There would be rows of cubicles with employees' feet kicked up on their desks, laughing hysterically into their phones. Perhaps a few eaters would be in cages, fed on occasion and released only before big contests.
In reality the vibe at IFOCE HQ is serious and diligent. (This is not to say it's normal. On one visit, I found the office filled with giant metal boxes that held corporate mascots like Charlie Tuna, the Michelin Man, Crash Test Dummy, and the California Raisin.) The office looks like your standard Manhattan corporate loft space, with five partially enclosed offices around the perimeter, four desks in an airy middle section, and a conference room with an oval table and a television.
I met with Dave Baer, along with George and Rich Shea, the brother duo who founded the IFOCE, in the conference room. My instructions were straightforward. All eaters had to be over the age of eighteen, the reasoning being that if you're old enough to vote, you're old enough to gorge responsibly. Each contestant had to sign a waiver that I would later return to the office. Under no circumstances would I allow eaters to compete who were underaged, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or otherwise mentally or emotionally incapacitated.
I was given a checklist for hosting the contest. It included such details as food prep, quantity, and delivery, table space, sponsor signage, sufficient water for eaters, contest judges, eater relations, and sound system prep. There would be an emergency medical technician (EMT) at the event in case of, well, an emergency. I was not to start the competition until I had confirmed that an EMT was present.
As for the presentation, I was told to "provide maximum pageantry." I would start the show with a broad introduction to the sport of competitive eating. Such background info as speed-eating records and the history of the Nathan's Famous contest would help distinguish the event as a sport, as opposed to a local pie-eating contest. Then I would narrow the scope of my monologue to the event of the day, which in this case would be meat pies.
As a host, my job was to let a story unravel before the spectators' eyes. I had to strike a delicate balance between the facts--that we were witnessing history in the form of a first-ever meat-pie-eating record on the professional speed-eating circuit--and the inherent absurdity of the affair. George and Rich stressed that I should capture the depth of the sport, explaining that some eaters were rookies with natural capacity but mediocre jaw strength, while others were sprinters who might not have the endurance to go the distance. I would bring a stopwatch and keep track of the time for the audience and eaters.
To establish drama, I would announce eaters in order of their experience or perceived abilities. Local eaters hungry for victory were introduced first, and then any IFOCE-ranked eaters, whose eating exploits should be memorized and duly embellished. To help get the crowd emotionally invested in the contest, I would stress that the local eaters were going up against professionals--"ringers" brought in from out of town. Using melodramatic background music and straight-faced commentary, I would capture at once a humorous spectacle and a dramatic sporting event.
My uniform would be that of a turn-of-the-century carnival barker. Regardless of weather or inclination, I would wear a blue blazer and a tie. George Shea handed me an Italian-made straw boater laced with a blue-and-red ribbon. I must confess that I experienced a visceral surge of pride upon receiving the hat. It was circular with a stiff brim, a style rarely seen since the 1930s. I got the sense that it could transform me into an almost fictional character, allowing me to say things I normally wouldn't. As I was leaving the office, hat in hand, it occurred to me that this whole IFOCE thing treaded a fine line between fiction and reality, and I was deeply curious to find out how it all--this hat, this sport, and this league--came to be.
JULY 4, 1988.
At the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, a crowd has gathered in Schweikerts Alley, on the west side of Nathan's Famous hot dog stand. Center stage behind a couple of hot-dog-covered tables stands publicist Max Rosey on a pedestal, bullhorn in hand, wearing a foam carnival barker's hat and a Nathan's Famous T-shirt. The precontest ceremony is almost nonexistent. Max welcomes the crowd. The eaters shuffle in and take their places at the table. "Get in line," Max yells in a high-pitched voice. "Everybody ready? Get set. Go!" And they're off.
A plucky young employee at Max Rosey's PR firm, George Shea, is a judge at the contest. His memories are fragmented and a bit haunted, almost as if the contest had caused him lasting posttraumatic stress: "There was a gentleman at the area of the table I was given who had a wen, a big wen on his forehead, a genetic disfigurement. I was brutally hungover, and it was 103 degrees, and I almost passed out looking at this guy with a wen on his head. It was not an attractive growth."
When the twelve minutes are up, Max announces the winner, Jay Green, who has consumed thirteen hot dogs and buns at a just over a dog-a-minute clip. George's memory of the winner, while limited, is consistent with Coney Island's tradition of carnival sideshows. "Jay's eyes were a little askew," he says. "And he was an out-of-work taxi driver, which is interesting because taxi drivers can always find work. But he had a bad back, I think."
Three years later, in January of 1991, Max Rosey lay in a hospital bed at St. Luke's Hospital on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, suffering from the latter stages of metastasized bone cancer. George Shea went to visit him. To distract his mentor from the unbearable pain, George began to speak in hushed tones about the history of the Nathan's Famous contest. Out of nowhere, Max started talking about a yellow belt that lay somewhere in Japan, but whose rightful place was here in America. "He said the belt was created by the descendants of Fabergé, such was its workmanship," George remembers. "But I didn't give much thought to it, because he was on an extraordinary dose of codeine."
When Max passed, Nathan's Famous decided it was only appropriate to relinquish their contract with Rosey's former firm. But George Shea, who had taken over for his mentor, made a suggestion: Instead of maintaining a monthly contract, how about they pay a publicity retainer for the month of July, just for the hot dog contest? Nathan's agreed.
Fast-forward to the summer of 1997, six years later. A Japanese man with a thirty-inch waist named Nakajima had recently supplanted a crew of Americans the size of NFL linebackers as the hot dog champ, and Nathan's was suddenly awash in a deluge of media exposure. "That was the spark when God's finger touched Adam and it created, in my mind, the whole future of competitive eating," says George Shea. The company he had recently formed with his brother Rich, Shea Communications Group, suggested that Nathan's Famous sponsor a circuit of qualifying contests leading up to the grand finale on the Fourth. Nathan's agreed, and the forerunner of the modern American competitive-eating circuit was born.
While conducting a dozen or so Nathan's qualifiers per year, George and Rich Shea were forced to learn the old-school carnival barker's trick of "filling the tent." Because many of the events were held in food courts of anonymous suburban malls, and because competitors had rarely signed up beforehand, the Shea brothers had to recruit them. "In 1997 and '98, you used to go to a mall with no competitors," says George. "None. And you'd get up there on the mic and just start talking. 'You, sir! Don't turn your back on America!' "
Though the exact date of the IFOCE's conception remains a mystery, certain facts are indisputable. There was, for example, a historic meeting in the fall of 1997 at a downtown Manhattan restaurant that included George and Rich Shea, former hot dog champs Mike DeVito and Ed Krachie, and New York Post scribe Gersh Kuntzman. The first official minutes were taken, and several rules and regulations were decided upon. Perhaps more notably, the meal itself had elements of competitive consumption. "That was the first time George and I realized who we were dealing with, because we invited two competitive eaters," remembers Rich Shea. "They ate shrimp with reckless abandon, and Ed Krachie drank a lot of wine."
The name International Federation of Competitive Eating was derived from an inscription they'd noticed on the fabled Mustard Yellow Belt. The inscription read: IHF, for the International Hot Dog Federation. According to George Shea, the story of how the Mustard Yellow International Belt returned to America's shores was the founding myth in modern American competitive-eating history. It should be noted, however, that George possesses a rich imagination, so his "oral history" of American competitive eating exists somewhere between reality and make-believe.
In 1993, Mike "the Scholar" DeVito, known for his erudite approach to the sport (he was the first to realize that a two-dog-a-minute pace would result in a then record-breaking total of twenty-four dogs), competed against a diminutive Japanese woman named Orio Ito. It was a thirty-minute, one-on-one hot-dog-eating contest held under the Brooklyn Bridge and filmed by TV Tokyo. Mike won the contest, eighteen dogs to sixteen, and the upset cast a pallor of shame upon the dethroned Japanese champ. Afterward, TV Tokyo filmed Ms. Ito leaning over the railing, donating her half-digested tube steaks to the fish in the East River.
Mike "the Scholar" DeVito towers over the diminutive Orio Ito Before their 1993 hot dog challenge beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. (Courtesy of Bill Mitchell)
Less than two weeks later, an unmarked package arrived at Shea Communications with postage from Japan. Inside the package was a bejeweled belt like those worn by boxing champions, but unparalleled in its beauty and craftsmanship. Accompanying the belt was a note written in pidgin English: "Me lost contest. Belt now DeVito." That he failed to save the box and note--both treasured historical artifacts--remains a source of great frustration for George Shea.
The name IFOCE not only honored the legend of the belt, it also expressed the Shea brothers' intentions. The international part reflected their desire to cement a global league involving a legitimate sport, and the competitive eating part meant that the league would not be limited to hot dogs. Unlike more pedestrian league names like NFL or NBA, the term IFOCE was a cumbersome combination of letters and thus inherently memorable. (The accepted pronunciation is I-F-O-C-E, not "eye-fose.") In addition to the league name, the founding fathers drew up a rough sketch of the league's coat of arms. It featured crossed ketchup and mustard bottles between two winged lions biting either ends of the same hot dog. The league's motto was written in Latin beneath the dragons: IN VORO VERITAS, roughly translated as "In gorging, truth."
In July of 1999 the league's name was introduced to a national TV audience for the first time. After a controversial decision between "Hungry" Charles Hardy and Steve Keiner in the 2000 Nathan's Famous finals (in which Keiner allegedly started eating before the contest officially began), Hardy was invited onto The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. After discussing the controversy, Leno asked Hardy, "So who decides these things?" Hardy didn't hesitate. "The International Federation of Competitive Eating," he said.
But it wasn't until July 4, 2001, that competitive eating hit the big time. On that day, Takeru Kobayashi of Japan doubled the hot dog record by eating fifty hot dogs and buns in twelve minutes. The image of a 131-pound man downing so many dogs in such a short time was irresistible to the media. Within twenty-four hours, Kobayashi became the face of competitive eating and the platform for the launch of a new sport.
The moment that changed the sport. Takeru Kobayashi, considered by some to be the greatest athlete alive, raises a triumphant fist after doubling the hot dog record on July 4, 2001.
Dave Baer began aggressively pursuing new clients with the lure of media exposure more eye-catching than a mere advertisement, and the circuit blossomed. Food festivals began to hire the IFOCE. Contests like the ACME Oyster Big Easy Eat-Off in New Orleans and New York-based contests featuring cannoli, matzo balls, pelmeni, and Thanksgiving dinner became annual contests or "majors," as the Sheas billed them.
Documentarians, likely encouraged by the popular mockumentaries of Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show) flooded the IFOCE with calls. Within a few years, documentaries appeared on the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network. Articles appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Playboy. Competitive eating segments began airing on SportsCenter, CNN Headline News, the Today show, CBS Evening News, and Last Call with Carson Daly. In late September of 2001, Fox television shot the Glutton Bowl, a two-hour multidisciplinary IFOCE championship.
As media coverage burgeoned, the circuit developed a personality. American gurgitators like Ed "Cookie" Jarvis and Don "Moses" Lerman started training and checking the IFOCE Web site for upcoming contests. T-shirts were printed with the IFOCE emblem on the front, and a revamped league motto--"Nothing in moderation"--on the back. George and Rich Shea continued to hone their skills on the mic, developing new rules and one-liners. Competitive eaters became "gurgitators," (the term is a registered trademark of the IFOCE) and the tactic of belching midcontest to free up space became known as "catching a burp." Throwing up during competition became a disqualifiable offense known as a "reversal of fortune."
The Shea brothers became known among reporters for their outlandish quips. "To compare Kobayashi to Michael Jordan is a slight to Kobayashi," Rich would say. "He's a triple threat--jaw strength, capacity, and hand speed," George would add. While Rich developed the style of a silver-tongued sports commentator, George's routine sounded increasingly like that of an evangelical preacher, as he belted out lines like "Competitive eating is the battleground upon which God and Lucifer wage war for men's souls!" Whether in a mall food court, a parking lot, or at the Nathan's Famous contest on the Fourth of July, the Shea brothers started introducing the contest in the most bombastic tones imaginable: "Here we stand at the sanctum sanctorum of eating, the Mount Sinai of mastication, the Coliseum of competitive eating, the Madison Square Garden of gurgitation!"
While pop culture pundits continue to scratch their heads for a reason behind the competitive-eating craze, Rich Shea recognizes it as the "coming-of-age of what we do"--which is publicity. In an era when Joe Schmoes become stars on well-received reality TV shows and Paris Hilton becomes a megastar for doing nothing in particular, public relations no longer nips at the heels of entertainment. It is entertainment. And it's addictive, as proven by the popularity of shameless gossip glossies like Us Weekly and People. "We are essentially a drug cartel supplying a drug cartel," explains George Shea. "That's what we do. We are a Colombian drug cartel, supplying ourselves and the rest of our cartel with what we need, which is media exposure."
Laypeople often compare the growth of competitive eating to that of a long-running reality show, Fear Factor. They feel that audiences are simultaneously disgusted and captivated by the sight of watching people stuff their faces. But competitive eaters would beg to differ. They point out that it's a skill about which people are naturally curious. The populist dynamic of competitive eating--that anyone could potentially do it--leaves the average Joe wondering, "I wonder how many hot dogs I could eat in twelve minutes?"
Despite the growth of the IFOCE, the Shea brothers claim the league had, until 2003, been draining money every year since its inception. Shea Communications has always made its bread-and-butter earnings from corporate real estate publicity in Manhattan. The brothers Shea, both of whom are married with children and living in the pricey New York metropolitan area, would leave their families on weekends to emcee eating contests, ignoring other clients and swallowing the losses. "You'd look at the books at the end of the year, and you didn't pull much out," says Rich Shea. "But you'd had a hell of a lot of fun."
The transition from carnival sideshow to sports league/entertainment product has not come without its growing pains. The IFOCE is now beset by virtually all the trappings of modern pro sports leagues. There have been contract disputes, resulting in the secession of a few eaters and the founding of a rival league/eaters' union, the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters. Around the competitive-eating campfire, there have even been faint rumblings of a salary cap in the not-so-distant future.
In the wake of Major League Baseball steroids scandals involving players like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds, some competitive eaters have started clamoring for drug testing. Eaters have complained of the abuse of mysterious "throat relaxers" by top gurgitators. Kobayashi has been accused of surgically adding a second stomach or an extra row of teeth, or perhaps using an unknown herbal appetite booster. There are even allegations that the "munchies" effect produced by marijuana consumption may be aiding a few fringe eaters on the circuit. But the Shea brothers have concluded that these allegations are the brainchild of sore losers. "You have to read between the whines," Rich says. If a drug exists that would significantly aid gurgitators in competition, the Sheas aren't aware of it. "I'm not saying that no one's ever taken Gas-X to reduce the possibility of getting a burp caught underneath their food," George concedes.
As the popularity of competitive eating has surged, the Sheas claim that other sports have sensed the threat and gone on the attack. George points to repeated attacks at contests by "rogue members of the curling community." At one particular contest, George recalls a verbal barrage from an unknown group of hecklers. Looking out into the crowd, he saw signs that read CURLING ROCKS! EATING IS NOT A SPORT. Rich Shea bears no hard feelings and can even empathize to some extent. "You gotta look at where they're coming from. Global warming is a threat to their sport. They're in a bad place."
Despite repeated attempts to reach out to the middle-aged female demographic, the Shea brothers have found it a tough nut to crack. Dave Baer has pursued companies like Campbell's in hopes of sponsoring a soup contest that might appeal to older women, but to no avail. The Sheas sincerely hope that, as changing social mores continue to reshape the roles of American women, the rise of female eaters like Sonya Thomas and Carlene LeFevre will help bring female competitive-eating fans into the fold.
Though the IFOCE has always had a global focus, outside of Japan the league has struggled to penetrate the international marketplace. Indeed, publicized eating competitions exist in England, Germany, Thailand, Ukraine, and Canada, but they remain the exception that proves the norm. The limiting factors for expansion include capital, manpower, and the assumption that social acceptance in some countries may be an uphill battle, especially considering America's beleaguered reputation abroad. That said, Dave Baer receives frequent e-mail requests from countries like Nigeria, China, and Latvia. In 2004, the IFOCE nearly signed a contract to host a plum dumpling-eating contest in the Czech Republic. Soon thereafter, Dave Baer claims that a contract for a contest in Liberia was quashed in the eleventh hour due to security concerns. "The bulk of the budget was for security," Dave recalls, "because there was a civil war going on there. We sent them a proposal that included a $25,000 security detail."
The IFOCE's repeated attempts to be accepted as an Olympic sport have been coldly snubbed, and the feud with Jacque Rogge, head of the International Olympic Committee, has gotten ugly. When Rich Shea went on record claiming that Rogge was "just in it for the frequent-flier miles," the otherwise stoic Belgian was doubtless ruffled but held his tongue.
On April, 1, 2004, the IFOCE decided to take their dispute with the IOC to the streets. They kicked off a SPAM-torch run from Times Square in New York City, traveling twenty-four hundred miles down to the SPAMARAMA festival in Austin, Texas, where the first ever SPAM-eating contest would be held. "We figured if the Olympics won't have us, we'll create our own country club," says George Shea. Dozens of runners from the Northeast to the Southeast participated in the first ever meat-based torch run, spreading a spirit of goodwill across the American heartland. "This torch run comes at a time of deep division in our nation," an emotional George Shea said at a press conference. "The bipartisan outpouring of support for this effort gives one chills."
The scope of the Shea brothers' ambition for the IFOCE knows no bounds. Besides acceptance into the Olympics, George Shea envisions a six-hundred-event circuit with thousands of eaters ranked regionally, nationally, and internationally. There will be so many events that eaters will become specialists in specific foodstuffs. Sprinters, distance eaters, soup slurpers, roughage specialists--all will have a place on the circuit, and the top twenty-five eaters will all be big earners. Rich Shea likens the future eating circuit to the PGA, in which all eaters will carry an official IFOCE-circuit ID card like the PGA's tour card. "Circuit cardholders will be like Vijay Singh down to John Daly. And Daly or somebody's gonna say I need to make my hundred grand so I'm going out as much as I can, whereas Singh is gonna only go to the majors where he can get some real cash."
If competitive eating really is becoming a globally recognized sport, what does that make the Shea brothers? Do they see themselves as coinventors of a new sport, as James Naismith was with basketball? Or do they liken their role to that of master sports promoters like Vince McMahon or Don King? Are they a modern version of Barnum & Bailey, or savvy league cocommissioners like the NBA's David Stern? "We've been called the Ring Ding brothers," George says. "And the Barnum & Bailey of Barf," adds Rich. But really, despite the meteoric rise of America's fastest-growing sport, the Shea brothers have a rather quaint vision of the competitive-eating circuit and their place in it.
"It is very much like a fraternity in which we are the social chairs," George observes. He then steps away from the analogy, explaining that several women are involved and that fraternities often connote "stupid rah-rah morons." But call it what you will--an outlet for hobbyists, an Elks Club for misfits, a clubhouse for like-minded adults. This last analogy is perhaps most appropriate, because the lure that seems to draw eaters, fans, and journalists alike is the common bond of the circuit, the friends, the travel, the humorous spectacle, and the thrill of competition. The competitive-eating circuit is a haven for grown men and women to toss aside their worldly cares and act like kids again.
Somehow, even as competitive eating grows globally and fiscally, the Shea brothers and Dave Baer continue to see it as a clubhouse they founded. "If money were no object," says Rich Shea. "If I were, say, Paul Allen, then we'd have that old social club down on Mulberry Street. And Cookie Jarvis would be walking around. And there would be rooms where the LeFevres could stay when they were in the city. It would be like Beautiful Brian bringing out the coffee and Hal Schimel running around, serving up espressos. That, to me, is what the circuit is."
EAT THIS BOOK Copyright © 2006 by Ryan Nerz.