If anyone deserves to be on Cleveland Magazine’s most interesting people list it’s me! My life has had more fairy-tale moments than the Brothers Grimm. I could sit on a bus stop bench all day trading stories with Forrest Gump and give him a run for his money in the weird moments department.
I mean, how many people have had a book written about them? I’m the blowhard protagonist of Jason Fagone’s classic, compelling report on competitive eating, Horseman of the Esophagus, published by Random House. You’ve heard of Random House, right?
Ever starred in a movie? Hmmm ... me again, with my turn in the documentary Swallow Your Pride. Been on TV? From New York City with Sally Jesse Raphael to Los Angeles with Steve Harvey, all the way to Tokyo with a giant named Shirota. ESPN? Fox? Spike? CBS? Food Network? CNN? Travel Channel? I’ve been there, done that — all of it.
I’ve been written about or quoted in GQ, the Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly and Sports Illustrated. I was even a Trivial Pursuit question!
And I’m just getting warmed up. I had a hand in bringing the National Hamburger Festival to Akron and the National Dachshund Race to Cleveland.
I’ve accomplished all this while exploring salt mines beneath Lake Erie, ogling nudists in Hinckley and repossessing cars in the suburbs.
Well, there you go. I’ve placed my cards on the table. Time to go back to my real job: housepainter. Now that’s a story.
Dave “Coondog” O’Karma Cuyahoga Falls
Editor’s Note: Dave has contributed to this magazine since his 2005 award-winning recounting of his life and times as a competitive eater. (We’re also the people who paid him to ogle nudists.) Dave has always wanted to be featured in our Most Interesting People issue. We told him we’d at least print his letter in it. Turn to page 68 to check out the list of ’09 honorees.
Speaking of Coondog ... It was great fun reading Dave “Coondog” O’Karma’s interview of Charles “Big Chuck” Schodowski (December 2008), but I think photographer Chris Walter must have been indulging in a little Photoshop chicanery. Sure, that’s Big Chuck’s head in the photos, but his body must be someone else’s: The guy’s not wearing white socks. Louis Pumphrey Shaker Heights
• We misspelled Sue Sabetta’s name in our December 2008 “Tastes of the Town” article. We also misidentified St. Andrew church in Parma as St. Andrew’s church.
• In the same issue, we referred to Kent’s Water Street Tavern as a “hole in the wall” in our list of best beer joints. Actually, we meant “former hole in the wall.” The place is quite nice now. We were not drunk — we just accidentally deleted a word.