by Andrew Davie
It’s sort of like apples and oranges, and art versus commerce, but let me see if I can accurately describe what I’m talking about since you have no frame of reference. The Scoville scale measures the pungency of chili peppers and other spicy foods using SHU or Scoville heat units. Jalapeño peppers tend to max out at 10,000 SHU. The Ghost Chili measures in at a little over 1,000,000 SHU. This would be the equivalent of the Judge album Chung King Can Suck It selling for $6,048 on Discogs.com. But we’re not even close. The Welsh Dragon has reached levels of 2,480,000 SHU. Reportedly a person who consumed the pepper became numb in the mouth for two days. Suggestions have been put forward to use the pepper as an anesthetic. This would be the equivalent of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin selling for $2,000,000, making it the most expensive album. It’s like that. Now, do you understand?
Glossary of Terms
The Ghost Chili: In India, they hang ghost chili pods from fences to keep elephants away. It’s robust enough to be elephant repellent. They have also weaponized the peppers by using them in hand grenades as a non-lethal option.
Judge: A Militant Straight Edge (SXE) Hardcore band from New York. They founded the group as a reaction to fans who thought a previous band (Youth of Today) was too militant with regards to their straight edge ideology; i.e., shunning all intoxicants, drugs, and promiscuous sex (Although that last one would be the equivalent to sometimes Y in the equation for vowels). In an example of situational irony, they were assigned an engineer with a cocaine addiction. (See blow– whups, see below)
Chung King Can Suck It: When the band was going to record at “Chung King Studios” then the site of albums recorded by Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Run DMC, the engineer with the cocaine habit didn’t show up at the allotted time. The producer on the album is uncredited (later on a compilation album he’s credited as “some cokehead loser.”) They were unsatisfied with the mix, but the producer had already paid for the mastering plates, so the plant made a batch of 110 records (one hundred were ordered to satisfy pre-sales, and plants always print 10% more) making it a sought after collector’s item. Another example of situational, or perhaps historical irony, but certainly an example of supply side economics in that the band didn’t think too highly of the recording, yet it’s precious in certain circles.
The Welsh Dragon: This, of course, is different from Dragon’s Breath, a cartridge for a 12 gauge shotgun which disperses magnesium shards. There is no known conversion from magnesium into Scoville units. Although, magnesium is a 1-2.5 on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness. Dragon’s breath is classified as an incendiary weapon as recorded in Protocol III at the Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons which would relegate it solely for military applications. These magnesium pellets burn at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit; water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (standard atmospheric pressure.)
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: A conceptual album by The Wu-Tang Clan, recorded in secret over a six year period, as an experiment to recreate music as a commodity from a time when artists had patrons and benefactors; think 1500-1800’s. A single album would be auctioned off to the highest bidder with the stipulation being the album could not be released commercially for 88 years. The number 8 had symbolic importance to the band for a litany of reasons. However, it could be played at parties or released for free. Some felt the commercial ban until 2103 unfair while others believed it preserved the integrity of the project as art over commerce. The album sold to Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager turned pariah, known mostly for increasing the price of Daraprim (a drug which treats toxoplasmosis, actinomycosis, isosporiasis, and can prevent pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in people who have contracted HIV/AIDS 5,500%.) Upon discovering the identity of the owner, the Wu-Tang Clan donated a majority of the money they received from the sale to numerous charitable organizations.
Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. Currently, he teaches in Virginia. His work can be read in Bartleby Snopes, Necessary Fiction, and The South Dakota Review, and FLAPPERHOUSE among others. His website: asdavie.wordpress.com.