The Drone, the Bug & the Beat

Bottle-Loving Beetle, a Non-Stop
Beatle & 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.
But as Volkswagen ended this month production of the beloved ‘Fuca,’ as it was known in Brazil, some thought of crying, while others brought up that it’d outlived even the Nazis (well, at least, those Nazis). Thank goodness then that beetles, and the Beatle, are still going strong.
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, Thursday, and we’re not about to spoil your carefully laid out plans for the weekend.

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 booze, the alcohol, 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 entertaining and educate. There was fear that such silly drive 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, be grateful Professors Rentz and Gwynne have cleared the species’ good name, lest not think that just because they’re Australians, well, you know.

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. He 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 (more)
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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. Sadly, not anymore, though.

He’s just turned 76 and has a #1 hit again. He’s outlived two bands, a urban myth calling him an impostor, musical partners and his first wife, besides a very acrimonious divorce from his second. And yet he seems, as always, happily married again. As his life has been playing on in public for half century, there’s no end of production for him.
But except for the last part, you wouldn’t say that it is so, just by looking at Sir Paul McCartney, seen above in 2012, playing in front of thousands of fans in Florianópolis, Brazil, or at left, performing at New York’s Grant Central Station, a few weeks ago. Talking about stamina feels like an overkill; despite hundreds of songs, well known worldwide, he’s still recording and performing new material, in concerts that go way pass the 3-hour count.
According to Beatle lore, it was John Lennon who came up with the pun that baptized the most successful band of all time: the word ‘beetle’ (certainly inspired by his idol Buddy Holly’s Crickets) plus ‘beat.’ It may’ve sounded insane, or even a bit farfetched, but it was exactly all that the magic required.
Who cares if die-hard conspiracy freaks still believe he’s Faux Paul, or over-the-top followers think he’s more Beatle than the beetles and the Beatles combined? This guy’s the real deal. 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. So, before Friday night arrives without a suitcase, and Sunday morning creeps in like a nun, as he still sings it, go on, have yourself great one, too.

(*) Originally published on April 27, 2012.

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