Bottle-Loving Beetle, a Beatle in
Brazil & the Beetle’s Real Father
What’s in a name? Much before early rock bands named themselves after insects, or what sounded like it, someone imagined a bug-shaped ‘people’s car,’ and even earlier in Australia, a certain beetle species was already wrongly accused of hitting the beer bottle too often.
It’ll be a quick tour through completely different universes, where dreams get crushed by dictators, nature is forced to adapt, and human creativity is bounded only by prejudice. In the end, though, all three stories have something for everyone, for this is, after all, Friday, and we’re not about to spoil your carefully laid out plans for the weekend.
THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT
For a long time, most people who saw the Julodimorpha saudersii, known as the Buprestid (jewel) beetle infesting empty brown beer bottles, thought it was all about the alcohol attraction, or at least, the sugar left inside. Few noticed then that it wasn’t just any bottle, but only those with an indentation at the bottom that caused the buzz.
But it took Australian entomologists David Rentz and Daryll Gwynne to find out the truth about the misguided love story. It turns out that the males would ‘love long time’ the bottles, thinking they were mating and preserving their species, because the glass resembles the females’ shiny wings.
For that 1983 research, Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies (the particular kind of beer bottle) For Females, they received the 2011 Ig Noble award for Biology. It made a lot of sense, as it fulfills the Improbable Research premise of entertain and educate. There was fear that such useless attempts would harm the species, but so far, they’re doing just fine.
You may say that love knows no barriers, and all that. But the most appropriate cliche, if there was ever one, would be the old, not everything that shines, etc. They will learn it. At least, thank goodness Professors Rentz and Gwynne have cleared the species’ good name, lest not think that just because they’re Australians, well, you know.
THE JEWISH BEETLE
In the early 1930s, Josef Ganz, a Jewish engineer from Frankfurt, changed the history of the automobile by creating the first small family-car, the Maikäfer (May Bug in German). Its design was a triumph of ingenuity and anticipated in years the many Sedans that started getting mass-produced after WWII.
It was, though, a personal disaster for Ganz, who became a target for the Nazis and had to flee Germany, only to see his original concept stolen and given to Ferdinand Porsche to develop into what Hitler called, seven years later, the “people’s car,’ an effective piece of propaganda for the mass murderer’s regime.
According to Paul Schilperoord‘s The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz – The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen, while Ganz was being hunted down, arrested and almost assassinated by the Gestapo, his masterpiece gained worldwide renown, keeping even his original nickname. For a little while, he managed to develop a similar model in Switzerland, where he lived, but war interrupted all his plans.
He emigrated to Australia a few years after, and died there in 1967, just a year before the Volkswagen Beetle was featured in a Disney movie, Herbie, the Love Bug. By then, it’d freed itself from its Nazi past and become a symbol of the swinging sixties. It remains one of the most popular car designs in history, and up to the early 1990s, it was still produced around the world.
PAUL PLAYS FLORIPA
He’ll be 70 next June. He has survived two bands, a urban myth calling him an impostor, musical partners and his first wife, besides a very acrimonious divorce from his second. On top of that, he has recently declared, as his life or at least parts of it has been lived in public for the past half century, officially in love again.
But except for the last part, you wouldn’t say that it is so, just by looking at Sir Paul McCartney playing in front of thousands of fans in Florianopolis, in the South of Brazil Wednesday night. It rained but neither he nor the crowd cared, of course. For three hours, he showed more stamina than many an audience member half his age.
Earlier, hundreds waiting in line to get in were treated by a rare moment, when his entourage parked right next to them and he got out to greet the fans. For many, whether he’s Paul or Faux, is besides the point: this guy, whoever he is, is the real deal. Pardon, if we seem a bit gaga about what’s after all, just another rock concert.
But there are those who do think he’s more beatle than the beetles, the beetle and the Beatles combined. It’s arguable and, really, who cares? There is the music, and there’s no way on earth we’d be able to top this post with anything better than those songs. Hey, as he sang, Friday night arrives without a suitcase, and Sunday morning creeps in like a nun. Go, have a great one, then.