A few selections from “Forbidden Knowledge”

mental_floss publishes a whole line of books along with the website and the magazine. I just finished reading one of them entitled Forbidden Knowledge that I highly recommend. Why? Well, read on for a few choice selections:

Hey Judas: 5 Historical Tattletales and $nitches 

_04::Elia Kazan

Although he directed such classic films as East of Eden and A Streetcar named Desire, Elia Kazan is probably most famous for tattling on Hollywood communists for the House Un-American Activities Committee. In the 1930’s Kazan briefly joined the Communist Party but left, feeling betrayed (and rightly so, really) by Stalin’s decidedly unegalitarian regime. When Kazan named names, helping to create the Hollywood blacklist, it provoked a firestorm of controversy within the artistic community- Aurthur Miller’s play The Crucible, which portrays a Puritan who chooses to die rather than make a false accusation, is widely seen as an attack on Kazan. For his own part, Kazan made On the Waterfront, a movie a heroic mob snitch, played by Marlon Brando.

4 Angry Authors and Even Angrier Critics

_04:: Gore Vidal v. Norman Mailer

While Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal were serving as commentators for ABC at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, their private feud became fairly public when Mailer called Vidal a “queer.” Of course, he had his reasons- after all, the openly gay Vidal had just referred to him as a “crypto-Nazi.” End of Round one. Three years later, Vidal (most famous for his historical novels) compared Mailer’s view of women to that of Charles Manson in the New York Review of Books. Mailer, whose gritty The Naked and the Deadestablished his reputation, was a misogynist- he once remarked, “I don’t hate women, but I think they should be kept in cages.” Even so, he didn’t appreciate the Manson comparison. Just how much didn’t he appreciate it? In the Dick Cavett Showgreenroom a few months later, Mailer headbutted Vidal, who cleverly responded with a punch to Mailer’s gut. The show itself was a disaster, with Mailer insulting both Vidal and Cavett while Vidal stared blankly like, well, like someone who’d just been headbutted.

Hoaxing Hoaxers and the Hoaxes They Play: 4 Greatest Hoaxes of All Time:

_03::This is Your Brain on Bananas

When the alternative newspaper the Berkeley Barbpublished a satirical article in 1967 claiming that smoking dried banana peels could lead to intoxication, they never expected to be taken seriously. But the oh-so-square national news media didn’t get the joke, and publicized the report throughout the nation. Since then, countless wayward teens have been duped into smoking bananas (which can make you nauseated, but not pleasantly so). The hoax really took off, though, in 1970 with the publication of William Powell’s The Anarchist’s Cookbook, which covers all manner of craft pleasantries from building pipe bombs to manufacturing LSD. Not surprisingly, it also provides a recipe for turning your banana peels into “a fine, black powder” suitable for smoking. Even though no one’s ever gotten high from bananas (although they are a great energy fruit, according to Dr. Atkins!), the Barb’s hoax has had a stunning shelf life.

If your interested, you can pick the book up here.


~ by herodotuswept on January 11, 2008.

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