4 Ordinary Things You Never Realized Were Fakes
The world as you know it is a lie. And the worst news is that it’s not even a lie in a cool kind of way. Instead of everything being a computer simulation where you get to do Cyber-Goth-Fu with Hugo Weaving or whatever, the world is fake in the most boring, everyday ways possible, like how…
The Walls of Amps at Rock and Metal Shows Are Dummies
During its last season, Stranger Things introduced a new generation of fans to Metallica with one of the coolest moments in the series.
So now’s probably a good time for us to take the budding metalheads about to jump into Metallica’s discography, sit them down, and help get them mentally ready for “St. Anger.” And while we’re helping prepare them for disappointment, we might as well talk about the huge walls of speakers and amps you often see at rock and metal shows. Because, in most cases, those that aren’t merely unplugged are literally just empty wooden boxes, no better at amplifying sound than banana shipping crates. “Bananas” is also how a lot of people tend to get when confronted with this information.
Back in 2013, a Texas radio station writer snapped behind-the-scenes photos of the American heavy metal band Machine Head during their Rockstar Mayhem Tour, revealing that many of their on-stage amps weren’t plugged in. This happened only a few weeks after similar photos of the rock band Black Veil Brides emerged, showing that their “amps” were, in reality, empty cabinets with no electronics inside, and some people have reacted to it as if the bands were caught using their grandparents’ hollowed-out corpses as sleeping bags. Although, now that we put it out there, Cannibal Corpse is probably commissioning that album cover as we speak…
The backlash forced Machine Head to issue a statement that boiled down to “Eat me, everybody does it." And ... yeah, they actually do. Sound tech has made huge advances since the ‘70s and ‘80s. Back then, you probably did need a cyberpunk recreation of The Wall from Game of Thrones behind each band to make sure their sound carried past the third row. But in those days, you also needed an entire separate room to house a computer that had 1/1,000 the processing power of modern refrigerators. Nowadays, all you need for live shows is a quality PA system, which comes with the added bonus of not giving the band tinnitus. Maybe it was “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” because you needed the first two to deal with the damage to your ears caused by the third.
Anyway, the tradition of stacks of Marshall amps at rock and metal shows continues primarily for appearance’s sake. They look cool, and people expect them. In short, they’re decorations. Because duh. When Slayer set two upside-down crosses made from amps on fire in 2012, did you really think they torched tens of thousands of dollars in sound equipment instead of using dummies? If you did, then you might be the dummy.
Influencer “Mirror Selfies” Are Regular Photos Taken with a Second Camera
Back in the day, we used to joke about people “being famous for being famous” while a young Neil deGrasse Tyson screamed at the TV over the utter nonsensicality of that phrase. Now, though, it's a career goal for millions of people, some of whom actually make it and become millionaire “influencers” with tons of dedicated followers.
Joke about mega-influencers as much as you want (they’ll just dry their tears with all those spare $100 bills they have lying around), but they give a certain subset of people something that they want. A lot of folks look at these seemingly-genuine people inviting millions of strangers into their homes through social media posts, and they see someone they’d like to be. Who among us wouldn’t want to feel confident enough about ourselves to be able to reveal our most private space (the home) to anyone with an internet connection? Nowadays, this is mainly done through TikTok videos and the like, but the mother of it all that is still going strong is the mirror selfie.
Mirror selfies are usually taken in bedrooms and bathrooms, the most private space in an already private space. At least that’s how the trend started, but over time, mirror selfies became more varied, being taken in basically every room possible and making it seem as if the influencer was living in a traveling carnival’s house of mirrors. Actually, that’s not entirely true because their selfies didn’t show any pee, spit, or other bodily fluids in the mirror. They were always so clear. So perfect. Almost too perfect … That’s because (and please imagine the bald kid from The Matrix saying this) THERE IS NO MIRROR.
Most “mirror selfies” from big-time influencers are just regular pictures taken by a second person while the subject holds up a decoy cell phone to give the appearance of photographing their reflection. We expect this kind of chicanery from food ads that fake stuff all the time, like using mashed potatoes for ice-cream photoshoots because those don’t melt under studio lights. But the appeal of mirror selfies for people who care about those things was their genuineness and apparent, well, intimacy.
To some, it was comforting to see these relatable, spontaneous glimpses into the lives of people who looked like they had their shit together. It was understood that they may have cleaned up a bit and tried a few different angles to get the best possible shot, but, in the end, they still presented a real part of themselves. That all goes down a carnival house of mirror’s floor drain the second the mirror selfie becomes, ugh, just another photo.
Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? No. It just contributes to the overall dullness of this disappointing dystopia.
“Corinthian Leather” Is Just a Marketing Term and Nothing More
Before his bare-chested appearance on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Ricardo Montalbán was known for peddling a different kind of skin. Starting in the 1970s, he became the official spokesperson for the Chrysler Cordoba, starring in a bunch of commercials that by now have become part of pop culture (and your mom’s sex dreams) thanks to the actor’s distinct voice and the way he praised the model’s “rich, Corinthian leather” upholstery.
Today, “Corinthian leather” is automatically associated with style and elegance… which is exactly what the people from Nebraska who came up with the totally made-up term wanted. In reality, “Corinthian leather” was a marketing term invented by the Bozell advertising agency based in Omaha. But that’s not where the leather was made. It was a product of the Radel Leather Manufacturing Company, a Chrysler supplier from Newark, New Jersey.
New Jersey doesn’t exactly scream “luxury goods,” and even if it did, it would be more of a threatening demand delivered from behind a baseball bat and a thick Italian-American accent. But then again, why the hell would an American car named after a Spanish city, with an Aztec hood ornament, sport leather made in a Greek city that had been destroyed twice throughout its history? It wouldn’t, but everything sounds better if you put the name of a location in front of it. It doesn’t even have to be anything ancient etc.
Think of it this way: would you rather buy a regular watch or “a Finnish watch”? Is Finland known for being particularly good at watchmaking? No, but it’s like … why would they put that qualifier there if it wasn’t important? Surely it must mean something. Something good. That’s what the Bozell people reckoned and how right they were. That’s not to say that the Cordoba’s upholstery wasn’t luxurious or anything. It was high-quality leather that was polished smooth and then covered with a protective coating. But without that totally-unrelated-to-the-place-of-its-origin “Corinthian” cherry on top, the product would never have become a pop-culture juggernaut referenced by the likes of Deadpool or Archer.
Chances Are That You Have At Least One Fake Food In Your House
We talked before about the sweetest of crimes, i.e., fake honey made by adulterating real bee sauce with B-grade corn/rice/beat syrups. And if you only paid a few bucks for your Winnie-the-Pooh Smack, there’s a high probability that you’ve been chugging fake honey straight out of the bottle late at night after your family had gone to sleep. Or however normal people consume honey. Is it boofing? Yeah, probably boofing.
But that is just the tip of the counterfeit food iceberg, which isn’t just sticky with honey but also slippery with counterfeit olive oil. In 2017, Italian police busted a counterfeiting operation of the ‘Ndrangheta (a mafia group from southern Calabria) that was exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the US. Don’t worry, they weren’t doing anything gross like scraping puberty face oil off teenagers’ faces into bottles or anything like that, though you ARE very welcome for that visual. No, they just repackaged cheap olive pomace oil (basically the opposite of the extra virgin variety, which we’ll refer to from now on as slightly slutty oil) and sold it as the real stuff all over New Jersey.
You might think that this was basically the ‘Ndrangheta’s version of “guarding the bee” and keeping some of their less-gifted members occupied and out of the way. But no, this was one massive operation. It’s estimated that Italian crime groups raked in about $16.85 billion in 2015 from agricultural fraud. To put that in perspective, that’s enough money to buy 16.85 billion things from your local Dollar Store. Really makes you think.
It’s estimated that up to 70% of “extra virgin oil” in some parts of the US might actually be slightly slutty, with some oils possibly containing the pulped remains of olive fly larvae from contaminated olives. There are a few ways to check if your Slippery Juice is the real thing, but since most of them involve actually tasting the oil, we cannot in all good conscience recommend them in light of the previous sentence.
Your best bet is looking for olive oil sold in dark bottles (which protects it from light and keeps it fresh longer) that also feature a harvest date. With a little bit of research, it’s relatively easy to find real extra virgin olive oil. No such luck with truffle oil, though.
Truffle oil is supposed to be oil infused with black or white truffles. But almost all commercially available products claiming to be that are actually made artificially using the 2,4-dithiapentane aromatic molecule that gives real truffles their distinct aroma and flavor. Genuine TO is so rare and hard to find that the fake stuff has become what too many people associate with the taste of real truffles. It’s like if, for most of your life, your only interaction with strawberries was strawberry-flavored candy, and then someone handed you the actual fruit for the first time. You would not recognize it as a strawberry because you got too used to the imposter.
You would ask the person who gave you the strawberry if this was some kind of joke. Tensions would be high, words would be said, punches would be thrown, grandpa would hit the floor, and Christmas would be ruined. Anyway, it’s not hard to see why real truffle oil is such a rarity, as real truffles are very difficult to farm. It’s the same reason why you’ve probably never tasted real wasabi.
The famous sushi condiment that also feels like a nose disinfectant if you eat too much of it is very hard to find outside Japan. Real wasabi is made from the stem of a plant in the brassica family, which is related to horseradish but is about as easy to produce as a life-size horse sculpture made out of radishes.
Wasabi is actually one of the most finicky and expensive crops in the world, coming in at $250 a kilo. Horseradish, on the other hand, is something like ~$10/kg, which is why most Western restaurants take THAT, go all St. Patrick’s Day on it and dye it green, and serve it as wasabi. They could really save themselves a lot of trouble, stop the lies, and still get people in the door if they just renamed it to something like, say, Irish Horseradish. Hey, it’s like we said before: putting a place name qualifier in front of stuff just makes it sound better for some reason…
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Top image: J. Chizhe, PsyComa/Shutterstock