Under The Influence

We are all influenced by the things we hear and see and do. There’s no avoiding it, but it definitely changes you, and that’s okay. I’ve been getting super into modal jazz, and I’ve noticed myself using 50’s slang that I’ve heard in the music. I think it’s a part of growth; you expand your horizons, and adapt the things you like. If they stick, they become part of who you are, if they don’t, they fade away.

I’m not really keyed into the whole “woke” thing, so if I’m guilty of cultural appropriation, my bad, but I’m just blindly struggling through life, so I’m not really thinking too much about it. I think that your influences make you who you are, or at least who you want to be.

I’ve got to give credit to all the people who’ve influenced me, my parents, my friends, and all of the musicians who have sent me on musical K-holes that have introduced me to the things I hold dearest. Without all of my stoner friends, I wouldn’t have gotten into rap, and I wouldn’t have delved into the samples for more music, and I would probably still be listening to Disturbed and punching walls and shit.

I’ve also got to give it up to weed and whiskey, that combo has made me a lot more open-minded and gotten me to try things I never would’ve dreamed of doing sober, like listening to talk radio, or eating a bird’s nest (not a real one, a one made of potatoes and veggies and shit.)

To wrap it up, try things, you might like them, or if you don’t, you might get a funny story out of it, so it’s a win-win.

Frank Sinatra Invented Swag

Frank Sinatra was the shit. If you haven’t heard his music, stop reading this for a second, go to YouTube and search for “My Way”, or click this link if you’re lazy. Frank Sinatra is the embodiment of American excellence, he was a hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-loving showman with a voice that sounds like polished mahogany.  Frank Sinatra was the first real “rockstar”, fuck Elvis. Did Elvis light JFK’s cigarettes for him? No, he was too busy being dead. Did Elvis have an incredible batch of Jack Daniels named after him? No, he was too busy acting in shitty movies and banging underage girls and practicing karate.

Frank Sinatra came from humble beginnings, his parents were Italian immigrants who came over to America to provide their children a better life, and thank God they did. During the Great Depression, when every other child was dressing in tattered rags and dirty shoes, Frank was donning expensive suits. His parents wanted him to be the best-dressed kid in the neighborhood, so they gave him what little money they had to insure he never felt inferior. Those are good parents.

Now, there is some speculation that Frank had some mob ties, I say “So what?” If you’re an Italian immigrant in the 1900’s, and you grew up in a tightly connected community, and you care about the people around you, you’re bound to have a few less-than-savory friends. Just another reason to respect Ol’ Blue Eyes, as he was called for obvious reasons. This man was so suave that he actually got arrested for seducing a woman in New Jersey. Think about that for a second: it actually was a crime to be as smooth as Frank Sinatra. Talk about the real Smooth Criminal. Your grandmother probably had a crush on Frankie, she probably bought his records and learned every word.

Moving past Frank Sinatra the man, let’s talk about Frank Sinatra the singer. The first concept album EVER was by Frank Sinatra. 8 songs about love. The Voice of Frank Sinatra probably was playing in the background as your grandparents were getting jiggy with it after the picture show. Over the course of his 50 year career, Frank Sinatra’s 59 studio albums dominated pop charts, and defined what was cool at the time. His music inspired so many people, from artists like Amy Winehouse and Logic, to actors like Robin Williams and George Clooney.

Long story short: if you don’t like Frank Sinatra, I don’t like you.

Image result for frank sinatra

Even his mugshot is dapper as fuck.

The Great Molasses Disaster

In this installment of weird historical events, I’ll touch on The Great Molasses Disaster, one of my favorite wacky accidents, that devastated the North End of Boston. On January 15th, 1919, a storage container holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, flooding the streets at 35mph and killing 21 people.

Now, let’s unpack this a little. First of all, let’s picture what 2.3 million gallons of anything coming at you like a soccer mom in a carpool lane. Not great. Now picture molasses: it’s gross, it’s sticky, it’s heavy, and the more you try and fight it, the quicker it’ll take you under, like some sweet-smelling version of quicksand. Now imagine you’re on your way home from one of the many amazing restaurants in the North End when you hear something that sounds like a freight train roaring down the street, enveloping you in some sticky bullshit that slowly drowns you.

Why did this happen? Simple physics is to blame. New England weather is wild, we can go from 60 degrees and sunny, to -5 and snowy, in the same day. That’s what happened ln January 15th. The molasses was previously warmed to make it easier to transport, but when the newly-delivered molasses met the previously-delivered cold molasses, the difference in heat caused the molasses to expand and puncture the container. Thankfully, storage regulations changed, and now there aren’t any more industrial accidents*.

After all the damage was done, and the flood of molasses was cleaned up, over $9.18 million dollars (adjusted for inflation) in damage was done. Locals say that on a hot day, you can still smell the molasses. I’ve been to the North End in the summer, and I don’t buy it, unless molasses smells like the combination of great Italian food, garbage, and stale beer.

The Great Emu War

During my daily Wikipedia dive, I found something that shocked me: The Great Emu War of Australia. Now, Australia seems like both an awesome place to visit, and a horrifying deathscape straight out of Mad Max. Australia is where the British dumped their prisoners, who grew up to be hearty, resilient people, who then got beaten by flightless birds. This historical event makes me even less likely to visit Australia, just in case I run into an emu with a grudge against humans.

The Great Emu War happened in 1932 due to the ever-increasing number of emus, leading to the decimation of crops. The farmers, understanding that you probably shouldn’t fuck with a bird that can keep up with your car, called the government for aid. By the time the army arrived, over 20,000 emus were causing a ruckus across Australia. Australian leadership dispatched Major G.P.W Meredith to take care of them.

On the first day, there were 50 emus, and the Army had machine guns. No problem, right? Wrong. Those crafty little bastards used guerrilla tactics and divided the Australian forces, making it so that they were only pursuing a single emu at a time. Only 12 emus were killed before the machine guns started to jam, and the emus retreated. Emus-1, People-0.

This went on for around a month, with the emus displaying similar tactics to Zulu warriors. In the first 6 days of fighting, 2,500 rounds were fired, and only 50-100 emus were killed. Shortly after, the soldiers ambushed over a thousand emus, firing tens of thousands of bullets, and only killing around a dozen emus. Emus-2, People-0.

During the course of the conflict, the soldiers observed the emus following pack leaders, and obeying commands from them. This is a terrifying idea, that giant birds that can outrun my Honda can communicate with each other well enough to defeat a military unit.

After too many defeats from flightless birds, the Australian government had enough, and pulled the troops out. Emus-3, People-0.

This blew me away, I’ve seen emus in nature documentaries, YouTube videos, and Kangaroo Jack, but I never would’ve thought they were capable of defeating humans. If you’re from Australia, I really want to know more about this, is this taught in schools? Are there any other wacky wars like this? Let me know, I’m super interested in your crazy country.