“What, you mean you DON’T race drunk on champagne in cars on fire anymore?”
The Indianapolis 500, a Triple Crown of Motorsport race, stands as one of America’s oldest and most prestigious opportunities for people to drive cars really fast in a circle for a few hours. As dangerous as braving breakneck speeds for the chance at a large payday can be for drivers, when the race was first run in 1911, early car technology made it an even crazier proposition. Automobiles were relatively new in the early 20th century, and things like “seatbelts” or “anything to give off the semblance of safety” were laughably foreign concepts.
For the first two years of its existence, the Indianapolis 500 was only driven by Americans, and won by Americans, which we here at American Fun Fact of the Day generally approve of. But we’re here to talk about the 1913 Indy 500, because even though it was won by a French person (booo) it featured fires, booze, and broken limbs, which pretty much describes our typical Staff holiday party. So strap in (because the drivers of this race couldn’t) and open a bottle of champagne (which the drivers of this race could) and get ready to take in some American history.
The 1913 Indianapolis 500 (Was Drunk and on Fire)
“Hahaha, the late 80s and early 90s were a MESS.”
Everyone loved the 1989 music video for Opposites Attract when it came out, even though it has aged about as gracefully as Laura Flynn Boyle. For those of you too young to remember the music video’s popularity (or those of you too wired on cocaine to remember those years), it was a duet between Paula Abdul and a cartoon cat named “MC Skat Kat” voiced by “The Wild Pair.” As with most things that happened between 1988 and 1992, we have to go out of our way to confirm that, yes, this was a thing that actually happened, and no, we’re not making this up. Our staff has long since drunk away any semblance of creativity, so trust us, making up something this comically stupid is beyond us.
The song shot up to #1 on the charts, and because music executives are as [redacted] as they are [redacted again, seriously they’ve threatened to sue us if we publish this analogy] they decided they were going to cash in (or should we say kash in) on the popularity of this groovy hip hop kat who raps about staying out and partying by giving him his own album.
So in 1991, the same year that N.W.A. disbanded, the album The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob was released on Virgin Records. It was produced by Paula Abdul, had a comically “this is how the young kids talk nowadays right?” press release attached to it, and it is awful.
Let’s talk about it.
The History of The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob
“Wait, without Budweiser, that means I’ll have to drink a better beer, which is literally any other beer.”
~America in 1976
Even when we’re screeching harpies hating on everything you love (which, apparently, solely consists of fucking ALDI, you goddamn lunatics of the internet) we are at least aware of the hatred we’re spewing. For example—many Americans like Budweiser. Like, they buy it, and drink it, and describe the flavor as something better than “remember that kid who would always sit alone and chew grass during recess? We’re pretty sure he’s now the brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch” and that’s fine. Let your freak flag fly, enjoy getting full before getting drunk and, we don’t know, unironically wearing trucker hats, it’s your life and do what makes you happy. We’re putting that out there because, invariably, every time we talk about Budweiser (which fucking sucks) an army of mouth breathers flock to the comments section to respond to our (correct) point (that Budweiser is trash). They say things like “Hey! Asshole! I like Budweiser!” (literally the only valid argument you have) or “Listen Mr. Fancy Beers, go back to your IPAs and your porters or whatever” (which inevitably is brought up in the articles where we never once mention IPAs or porters).
So, we know two things here. First of all, we know that we have a fun fact that most of you are unaware of. And secondly, we know that many of you will be absolutely fucking livid at the tone we take to tell you about it (that tone being “Budweiser is like if someone drank gutter water and thought ‘if only this could get me a slight buzz’”) (which is the correct tone). And we say bring it on. Budweiser is trash, no one should drink it, and for a brief moment in 1976, a group of Teamsters actually managed to make that happen. This is their story.
Unsung Heroes: The Budweiser Beer Strike of 1976
“Let me write an article or I’ll kill your family.”
~Cal Van Buren
It’s widely believed that in order to become a writer for America Fun Fact of the Day, you must first survive the whiskey challenge (drink a bunch of whiskey), then the hot dog challenge (eat a bunch of hot dogs), then the murder someone without asking questions challenge (RIP Dan Bilzerian
And that’s pretty much true. But our latest writer to pass that test is our newest editor, Cal Van Buren, who decided to tell you about the House of David. We’ll let Cal take it from here as he tells you about the crazy religious communes, baseball, and hair hair HAIR. Enjoy.
The House of David: The Religious Commune That Took Baseball By Storm
“Um, we still don’t really know how championships should work?”
~1925 NFL Officials
As we’ve discussed previously, when the NFL was getting off the ground, things were patently ridiculous. That’s not too surprising—frankly, the early days of any professional sports league looks silly in retrospect. By the sixth season of the league’s existence, things were starting to settle somewhat, but clearly they still had some growing pains. In fact, 1925 might very well be the most absurd season in NFL history. And no matter what you thought of last week’s Super Bowl (WHY DIDN’T YOU RUN THE BALL MORE ATLANTA), at least you know that the Patriots are the top team in the league this year (SHUT UP BOSTON FANS). 1925 did not have that luxury. Let’s take a dive, shall we.
The Beautiful Mess That Was The 1925 NFL Season
“You can’t both be called the Tigers. Or you can. Whatever. We’re kind of making this up as we go along.”
~Jim Thorpe, the first president of the NFL
The NFL is part of our nation’s DNA, exhibiting everything we stand for. Teamwork. Perseverance. Struggle. Old white men punishing people when they dance too much in celebration. A shocking inability to properly handle domestic abuse. And, of course, Tom Brady’s cleft chin. Imagining America without football is almost impossible. What would we do with our winter Sundays? Football is in the bible, you guys. “On the seventh day, the Lord kicked back a 12 pack on his recliner and watched NFL Red Zone with a close eye on his fantasy team.”
We think. Listen, just like most Americans, we like to use the bible to make our point, despite not having really “read it.” But we digress.
The point is, as much as we assume that football has always been with us, there was a time when the league was brand new and very, very ridiculous. So let’s hop in a time machine of words and go back to 1920, where the first season of a National Football League took place. It was sloppy as hell.
The First Season of the NFL was Ridiculous
“*gets hit by lightning* *chugs a beer* Don’t worry guys, I’m good.”
Most history curriculums are pretty bad at telling us about the crazy things that have actually happened in the world, if you think about it. Sure, McCarthyism during the Cold War is “something we should know” but how come no one talks about the time we tried to build a military base on the moon in 1959? Hell, even when history tries to get edgy (like, for instance, the existence of Teddy Roosevelt) it somehow manages to leave out some of the best parts (like how his daughter was a pet-snake keeping badass). This goes double for history. We know about Babe Ruth and his philandering, boozy ways, but we don’t know about the pure insanity that was Charlie Sweeney. Likewise, everyone and their mother knows at least the name “Cy Young” when it comes to pitchers, but was Cy Young an alcoholic who once was struck by lightning during a game that he stayed in and finished? We didn’t think so.
So we here at America Fun Fact of the Day have decided to do history a favor and help them spice things up a bit by telling you a little bit about Ray Caldwell, one of the most badass pitchers to ever play professional baseball, and one of the few people who can give Charlie Sweeney a run for his money.
Ray Caldwell: The Alcoholic Lightning Rod of Major League Baseball
“A Realistic Objective.”
~An Actual Section of a 1959 Proposal To Establish A Permanent Moon Base by 1966.
The Space Race was definitely one of the coolest and silliest parts of the entire Cold War. Two Superpowers were tossing around ungodly sums of money to try to make the other nation look stupid due to not being as good at making really cool toys, but it was dealt with an honest-to-God level of severity that equated “Russia going to the moon before we do” as being probably an inevitable lead up to complete nuclear annihilation. Baby Boomers get a lot of (mostly deserved) flack for constantly complaining about how Millennials, and pretty much every younger generation, had it so much easier than they did and they take things for granted, but we’ll give them this—if we spent our entire childhoods with nuclear weapons literally pointed at our homes so often that we became this numb to the destruction of society, we’d probably feel it was within our rights to complain about how much people use smartphones now, too.
Anyway, when we talk about the existentially terrifying realities of the Cold War, the space race at least feels kind of innocent and, well, awesome. Sure, a lot of it has to do with the fact that we won (USA! USA!) but also because it was about science for the sake of invention, and not finding new, horrific ways to nuke each other into the stone age. The two most powerful economies at the time spent decades funneling obscene amounts of money into discovering more about our universe, and even when that didn’t always end up as incredible achievements in space travel such as these bad boys, it still resulted in us exploring every planet of the galaxy while accidentally coming up with some useful technology that we use to this day like laptops, dustbusters, and whatever technologies are on the second page of the article we just linked (we were too lazy to get past the first page).
That is to say, the Space Race represented American (and, ugh, occasionally Russian) ingenuity and a passion for discovery that transcended the whole, “Holy shit, we as a species survived more than five years of Lyndon B. Johnson having the ability to nuke the entire planet” scariness of that era. But the space race wasn’t all about peacefully sticking a middle finger in Communist Russia’s face by planting a flag on the moon and shouting, “FIRST!” We also had some sinister, if not very realistic, plans on using space for our military advantage. Like the time we tried to build a military base on the moon.
Project Horizon: The Time We Tried To Build A Military Base On The Moon
“Oh thank God, now I can go to the bathroom.”
~Super Bowl viewers during the halftime show
Hey! The Super Bowl is just a few days away! It’s the one time of the year where you absolutely know, unequivocally, that you’re going to be suffering at work the following Monday, and you know it’ll be absolutely worth it. Super Bowl Sunday is a day filled with the beer and snacks and a statistically-probably-underwhelming football game, and it’s the closest to a live national spectacle as you can find in this fine nation. Everyone watches the Super Bowl, everyone has stronger than necessary opinions about the importance or unimportance of Super Bowl commercials, and everyone wishes that the party they were at had 30 bathrooms once the Super Bowl Halftime show begins, because the only person who actually gives a shit about the Super Bowl Halftime show is your friend’s girlfriend that no one in your group of friends really likes, who is really into Katy Perry to the point that it’s kind of uncomfortable.
Otherwise, the Halftime Show is an extremely expensive spectacle that’s just a waste of fucking time. The phenomenon of people looking for something more interesting to watch during Halftime directly contributed to the existence of both the Puppy Bowl and a women-in-lingerie football league that still exists to this day. However, the Halftime Show does serve as an interesting indicator of our nation’s culture. Like, in the mid 00’s we were terrified of breasts on live television, so we went with safe performances by old rockers in their 50s and 60s. Last year, we were way into uncoordinated sharks, apparently. There are a lot of memorable Super Bowl Halftime performances. And there are also the Black Eyed Peas, but we managed to get drunk enough by halftime that year that we blissfully have no memory of it.
What we’re trying to say is that Super Bowl Halftime Shows are very much a product of their times. Sometimes that can prove to be ageless, like Michael Jackson destroying the Rose Bowl at the peak of his stardom. And sometimes…well, sometimes you get…
5 Super Bowl Halftime Performances That Have Aged Horribly
Posted in 20th Century Insanity, America Fun Fact of the Day, America's Holidays, Strange America
Tagged America, Blues Brothers, Elvis Presto, Football, Indiana Jones, New Kids on the Block, Super Bowl, Super Bowl Halftime Show, Up With People, Worst Halftime Shows
“Get off my plane.”
Outside of children who are big fans of those Planes movies, nowhere in American society is a single aircraft more iconic than Air Force One. When we fly our President around, we fly him in style, in a cutting-edge jet that can survive a direct blast from a nuclear bomb and is exclusively piloted by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Okay, neither of those things are true, but Air Force One is so mythic that a decent handful of you absolutely took us for our word there.
Air Force One is an American icon, both over and underappreciated at the same time. So we decided to take a moment to sit you down (you are sitting, right?) and tell you about the history of our President’s super expensive charter jet. And since we’re feeling generous, we’ll just let you know about every Air Force One plane that has ever existed, partly because we like to be as thorough as we can when it comes to discussing presidential aircraft, but mainly because we want as many excuses to post scenes from the movie Air Force One on our site.
Every Air Force One in American History
Posted in 20th Century Insanity, Our Greatest Presidents
Tagged Air Force, Air Force One, Airplanes, America, Bill Clinton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, FDR, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Harry Truman, JFK, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon B Johnson, POTUS, Presidnt of the United States of America, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt