Redneck Games
Nicole Fruge  /  San Antonio Express-News via AP
Blake Harris belly flops into the mud pit during the Texas Redneck Games at the Pool Ranch in Athens, Texas, last week. For three days, hordes of legit and wannabe rednecks convene to drink, race their ATVs, and compete in events such as spam eating and mattress throwing.
By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
COMMENTARY

More than a few athletes have been accused of doping over the years, but the competitors at the "Texas Redneck Games" might just be dopes.

These sportsmen forgo the shotput for the "mattress chuck" — in which two-man teams heave a mattress from the back of a pickup truck as far as they can. And if you aren't planning on heading to Beijing for the next Olympic Games, there's always the ugliest butt-crack contest.

By the time the latest Redneck Games ended this week, more than 54 arrests and citations had been issued on charges ranging from public intoxication to speeding, according to the Henderson County Sheriff's Department. Officials are considering charges against the organizer and landowners where the event was held for not obtaining the proper permits.

"I'm an old fuddy-duddy and all that, but you got a vehicle, you got alcohol, and you got illegal dumping, and you're making a contest out of that?" said Lt. Pat McWilliams, sheriff's spokesman. "We are very fortunate that we didn't have a fatality."

For years, Bobby Williams has awakened to the roaring engines of all-terrain vehicles, midnight fireworks shows and thousands of drunken revelers who gather across the narrow county road from his property at the Redneck Games. Police estimated 6,000 aficionados of the redneck lifestyle attended this year.

"We're just a nice, calm community, and nobody can get any rest — nobody can get any sleep," said the 76-year-old Williams, who had hoped his 100-acre ranch would be a scene of post-retirement tranquillity.

Garland Pool, the owner of the 3,000-acre ATV park where the event was held, 70 miles southeast of Dallas, said he was aware of neighbor complaints but hadn't heard anything from the sheriff's department.

"Maybe the neighbors don't particularly like the traffic," he said, "but it seems like most of the businesses in town had a lot of success."

With all this interest, you'd think the 2008 Beijing Olympics organizers would consider adding some redneck sports, but we're guessing they won't get within tobacco-spitting distance of them.

Toilets + food stands = yuck
And you thought New York City "dirty water" hot dogs were gross: Food stalls attached to Beijing's public toilets will be removed in time for next year's Olympics, state media said last week.

Complaints over toilets with poor sanitation and toilet operators turning them into commercial operations led to the ban, which comes into force in October.

"It is not proper to sell soft drinks or snacks right at the toilets," the Beijing News said, citing sources within the Beijing Municipal Administration Commission.

Billboards near toilets will also be banned, Xinhua news agency said.

Notoriously polluted Beijing is cleaning up its act before it hosts the Olympics. It also has announced crackdowns on spitting and smelly taxis.

We applaud these moves, although having a bathroom in close proximity to Chinese food isn't always a bad thing.

British smoking ban causes big stink
Many people can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke, but who knew its absence can be worse? After Britain banned smoking in bars and restaurants last month, artificial scents are set to be pumped into English pubs to mask the smell of stale beer, sweat and other odors previously camouflaged by burning tobacco, London's Sunday Times reported.

Mitchells and Butlers, which runs about 2,000 pubs across Britain, is testing leather, freshly cut grass and ocean breeze fragrance in its premises.

"Appetizing food smells have increased, but others are less attractive, such as stale food and beer, damp, sweat and body odor, drains and -- how do you put this nicely? -- flatulence," Oliver Devine was quoted as saying.

Devine, a marketing manager at M and B unit the Sizzling Pub Company, added: "We are considering trialling the smell of leather, which suggests luxury and indulgence, and cut grass, which is clean and domestic."

The newspaper said an "ozonic" fragrance mimicking the smell of sea breeze has been tried out in four M and B pubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, where a similar smoking ban was introduced in March 2006.

Maybe they could also spritz the pub-crawlers as they leave so the won't smell like a brewery as well.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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