The Sahara desert is sometimes romanticized and sometimes villainized, but human beings will probably never lose their fascination with this 3.5 million square mile wasteland that stretches 3,000 miles in length across 10 countries and an entire continent. The Sahara is one of the harshest and least hospitable places in the world. Even though it has more than 20 lakes, only one of them contains water you can drink. The rest are full of brine. Average annual rainfall across the desert is roughly equal to the amount of water that comes out of your shower on a Friday morning. And temperatures are frequently well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which seems really darn hot unless you’ve also experienced a summer in Los Angeles.
Despite the fact that logic warns against ever going within 500 miles of the place, people not only live in the Sahara desert, they also visit it … on purpose. It’s not just the extremes of weather that make the Sahara one of the craziest places on Earth, it’s also the experiences of the people who live and run marathons there.
Climate change … for the better
Yes, the Sahara desert is a hot, inhospitable place. You probably think it’s always been that way, and it has. Mostly. But the really crazy thing about the Sahara is that it had an identity crisis about 10,500 years ago. Because it couldn’t get a divorce, buy a sports car, and date younger women, it just decided to give itself a face lift.
For several thousand millennia, the Sahara was wet and green. According to LiveScience , a “sudden burst of monsoon rains” drenched the land and turned the Sahara into a place where people could not only live, but raise livestock. Vegetation found a foothold there, wild animals moved in, lakes formed, and people built permanent settlements.
And then between 7,300 and 5,500 years ago, the rains stopped, the desert dried up, and the identity crisis was over. Maybe the Sahara’s younger, hotter girlfriend ended their relationship. Or, more likely, humans messed everything up. Archaeologist David Wright believes the young grasslands were simply overgrazed by the settlers’ livestock, which increased the amount of reflected sunlight, which triggered a reduction in monsoon rainfall. That set off a cause and effect loop — less rain meant less vegetation, which in turn meant less rain, and eventually the desert gave up its sports car and settled back into its old ways. It had a pretty good run while it lasted, though.
If there’s anything you can be sure of in life, it’s that death is coming, the taxman will eventually find you, and it never snows in the Sahara. Except for all the times it totally did.
According to CNN , in December 2016 a “freak snowfall” hit the town of Ain Sefra in Algeria for the first time in 37 years. The town is in the Sahara desert but it’s 3,537 feet above sea level, which would put it in the snow zone in most other parts of the world. However, because it’s also one of the hottest places in the world, snow just doesn’t happen there.
After that first storm was over, everyone said, “That was weird,” took a bunch of photos, and then went on living their lives. Then in 2017 another snowstorm hit the area, dropping enough of the white stuff for snowmen and sledding. And in 2018 it happened again, prompting some people to wonder if winter snowfall in the Sahara desert might actually be the new normal. As the climate changes, the odd weather patterns that made snow possible in Ain Sefra might start to become commonplace, and then the words “it snowed in the Sahara” won’t really seem weird or newsworthy anymore. Ain Sefra probably won’t open any ski resorts, but it’s possible that shopkeepers may one day do a brisk trade in plastic snow saucers.
Stranded marathoner survives on urine and bat blood
This sounds like the plot of a movie no one would go see, sort of a cross between a really backward teenage vampire movie and Ben Hur . But it’s not the plot of a movie — it’s something that actually happened.
According to the BBC, 39-year-old Mauro Prosperi was competing in the 1994 Marathon des Sables, a six-day marathon that crosses the Sahara desert. Four days into the race, he got caught up in a sandstorm. Late the next morning he realized he was lost and started peeing in his spare water bottle, just in case. Eventually he found a Muslim shrine with a bunch of bats roosting in it, so he caught them, cut off their heads, “mushed up their insides,” and drank their blood. Like Dracula only in reverse.
Just when you thought this story couldn’t get any more awful, Prosperi knew he was in for a slow and painful death, so he cut his own wrists hoping to speed up the process. But because of the dehydration, his blood was too thick to drain.
He started walking again. He drank his own urine. He killed snakes and lizards and ate them raw. And after he was rescued, he was mostly just bummed because he didn’t finish the stupid marathon. As of 2014, Prosperi has run the Marathon des Sables seven times, placing 12th in 2001. Because some people just don’t know when to quit.
Adventure on the high Sahara
If you shipwreck in the modern world you’ve at least got a hope of eventually being rescued by the Coast Guard. But in the golden days of seafaring, being in a shipwreck usually meant death, and the only real question was how long it was going to take.
According to National Geographic, in 1815 an American ship called Commerce ran aground on the northwest African coast, which was quite possibly the world’s suckiest place to be shipwrecked, mostly because of the desert nomads who were rumored to eat any shipwrecked sailors they didn’t sell into slavery. The crew tried to escape from those dangerous shores in a longboat, but ended up turning back, getting captured by Bedouin slave traders, and being forced to cross the Sahara.
Fortunately the ship’s captain was a pretty resourceful dude, and he convinced a desert trader to purchase himself and four crew members, which must have really stunk for the remaining crew members, but you do what you gotta when you’re half starving and dying of thirst. The desert trader agreed to take them north where they could be ransomed to their families and roughly two years after the wreck they finally reached safety. Then Riley wrote a best-selling book about the experience, which is what everyone in America does after a harrowing experience, so despite the slave trading and the shipwrecking, times were really not so different after all.
Really awesome dinosaur bones
Dinosaurs roamed jungles and vast grasslands and fictional amusement parks, but no one ever CGIs footage of dinosaurs trudging through the desert. Fun fact: Dinosaurs did live in the desert — velociraptor is perhaps the most famous desert-dwelling dinosaur — but for some reason that particular visual never caught on.
The Sahara wasn’t a desert back then, though, it was
tropical, and dinosaurs lived and thrived there. But for some reason, the Sahara of today is not known as a paleontologist’s treasure trove — it’s rare to find dinosaur bones there at all, let alone nearly intact whole skeletons. That’s why it was so surprising to find an almost-complete skeleton of a plant-eating dinosaur called Mansourasaurus shahinae in the desert of modern Egypt.
According to USA Today, this particular dinosaur, whose name is way too long to type twice, was about the size of a school bus and is an important find because it’s rare to discover dinosaur fossils in the Sahara but also because it’s the most complete dinosaur from the end of the Cretaceous ever discovered in the area.
Cutest thing to happen in the Sahara
This one isn’t super crazy, but if you need a break from all the urine-drinking, slave-trading, and headless bats, now is your time. According to Earth Touch News Network, in October 2017, researchers captured rare footage of wild sand cat kittens in Morocco’s part of the Sahara. What is a sand cat kitten, you ask? Picture the cutest thing ever. And then give it huge eyes and huge ears.
To call sand cats “elusive” would be like saying that republicans and democrats have different opinions. Sand cats are hardly ever observed in the wild, and when they are no one ever films them because they can’t stop gawking long enough to actually get their cameras out. Sand cats look similar to house cats, but they’re smaller and generally sand-colored. Like house cats, sand cats use the wilderness version of a litter box, which means researchers don’t even get to poke around in their poop, which must be pretty crushingly disappointing since researchers just love poking around in poop. Sand cats also don’t leave footprints because like house cats, sand cats can teleport. (Or they have specially adapted feet — could be either one.)
So there you have it, a positive reason to visit the Sahara and a story that is not horrifying and depressing. Onward.
The hottest, suckiest gold rush anywhere, ever
The story goes like this: Someone accidentally discovered gold. Thousands of people rushed to the scene in the hope they would find gold, too. Except this time we’re not talking about California, but about a new gold rush in what is possibly the world’s most sucky place to have to dig a hole: the Sahara desert.
No one knows the actual story about how gold was discovered in Niger’s part of the Sahara, because such stories benefit from exaggeration so most tellers don’t waste any time exaggerating them. According to Vice, one version says the discoverer was a goat herder who found an odd-looking rock and asked his friend to help him identify it. Evidently his friend did not say, “That’s a piece of quartz, let me take it off your hands,” which would make it a more realistic story, but instead told him that he’d found a gold nugget, which was later valued at $1,400. That’s roughly three times what most people in Niger earn in a year, by the way.
Word got out, people flocked to the area, and then the gold rush proceeded as gold rushes generally do, with a few people getting rich and most everyone else getting disappointed. Except if you don’t strike it rich in the Sahara, you’re still in the Sahara. During the California gold rush, you could at least throw up your hands and go to the beach.
Hottest place on Earth?
California and the Sahara are rivals for the title “most sucky gold rush of all time,” and they’re also rivals for the title “hottest, most sucky temperature of all time.”
According to Climate Central , on July 10, 1913, California’s Death Valley hit 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to be undone, in 1922 Libya recorded a temperature of 136.4° F in the Sahara Desert at El Azizia. The record stood for 90 years, until Guinness World Records called B.S. and gave the title back to California.
Evidently this was a controversy because meteorologists don’t really get to argue about anything cool so they might as well argue about the length of their mercury rods. El Azizia is close to the Mediterranean Sea, so you wouldn’t really expect to see temperatures that hot, and surrounding regions recorded temperatures as much as 18 degrees cooler that day, so it seemed pretty unlikely that a freak heat wave would have struck just that one town.
None of that means the Sahara isn’t really, really hot, though. The world record for “most reliably measured temperature” in Africa was 123.3° F, which was set at Semara in the Western Sahara in July 1961. And keep in mind that meteorologists can only measure temperatures in places where there’s a weather station — it’s actually pretty likely that the Sahara not only exceeds that temperature in some places, but does so on a regular basis.
The Iron Man motorcycle
When Tony Stark was captured by terrorists in the desert of Afghanistan, he built an Iron Man suit and exploded everything. When Emile Leray was stranded in the desert of Morocco, he built an Iron Man motorcycle. This story would be cooler if Leray had also somehow exploded everything with his Iron Man motorcycle, but you can’t have it all.
In 1993, Leray got the bright idea to go on a road trip across the Sahara in a Citroen 2CV. If you aren’t familiar with the Citroen 2CV , here’s the rundown. It’s about the slowest car in the world and quite possibly also the ugliest. Anyway, Leray went off road in his very slow, ugly car, crashed it, and then probably deeply regretted his decision to drive a Citroen 2CV across the Sahara.
Instead of sitting around waiting for someone to rescue him, though, The Vintage News says Leray took his car apart and used the parts to build a motorcycle, a project that took 12 days. By the time he finished he was down to around 16 ounces of water but was miraculously able to drive away from the wreck. Moroccan police picked him up about a day later, and then fined him because his registration documents were for a Citroen 2CV and not an Iron Man/Mad Max motorcycle. Lucky for them, Leray chose not to explode them, though that would have made a very fine Marvel film.
A 700-mile dust storm
Dust storms are familiar to everyone who has ever seen any fictionalized account of life in the Sahara, ever because dust storms are super dramatic and fun. To watch. Being caught in an actual dust storm is considerably un-fun — just ask Mauro Prosperi. While you might complain when one of those mini-twisters flings dirt into your face, just imagine if that mini-twister was hundreds of miles long and lasted for 12 hours.
In May 2011, NASA captured a photograph of a dust storm said to be 700 miles in length. Just to put that into perspective, that’s about 40 miles wider than the state of Texas.
So what’s the deal with all the dust in the Sahara? Well for a start, nothing is really holding all the sand and dust in place. There aren’t any roots to keep the ground together because nothing grows in the Sahara. And there’s hardly ever any water, so the ground doesn’t get packed down into mud, either.
Because the Sahara is so hot, the air at ground level is unstable, so it has a tendency to fling dust particles up in the air, just for fun. So when the desert decides to have a party, 700-mile dust storms form, people get lost in the desert, and the bats are all, “We’d better get out of here before that guy with the bottled pee shows up.”
Nostradamus, a 16th century French apothecary who developed a reputation as an oracle, made a number of predictions that his adherents believe to be accurate.
• Nostradamus published a book in 1555 containing 942 quatrains that allegedly predict famous future events.
• Observers have come across a handful of predictions that due seem to reflect real world events.
• In reality, most of Nostradamus’ prophecies are poorly translated — and vaguely worded enough to encourage tons of speculation.
Nostradamus’ name is basically synonymous with predicting the future.
The alleged oracle began publishing his famous, cryptic quatrains » in 1555. But these were no ordinary poems. Nostradamus was allegedly a diviner who was able predict future tidings.
The 16th century apothecary and astrologer’s status as a reputed “seer” allowed him to solicit patronage from wealthy and prominent individuals like Catherine de’ Medici, the queen of France.
Nostradamus’ star didn’t fade after his death in 1566. His works have continued to attract adherents who have connected his writings to earth-shattering events like the rise of Adolf Hitler and the 9/11 attacks.
But, like horoscopes, the predictions themselves tend to be vaguely worded, and therefore open to the reader’s interpretations and biases.
In ” Nostradamus, Bibliomancer: The Man, the Myth, the Truth » ,” biographer Peter Lemesurier concludes that Nostradamus “believed that history repeats itself” and used the technique of projecting past events onto the future in order to make realistic-sounding claims. What’s more, scholars have argued the modern translations of Nostradamus’ writing are sloppy and unreliable.
With all that in mind, here’s a look back at some of Nostradamus’ most famous predictions:
The death of Henry II
The young lion will overcome the older one,
On the field of combat in a single battle;
He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.
In the summer of 1559 King Henry II of France ( older one) lined up to joust Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery, (young lion) , who was six years his junior. The tournament was held to celebrate the upcoming wedding of the king’s daughter.
In their final pass, Montgomery’s lance tilted up, burst through the king’s poorly-secured visor (pierce his eyes through a golden cage) , and splintered, according to ” On the Death of Henry II » .”
In the Journal of Neurosurgery » , Kamilah Dowling and James Goodrich write that the profusely-bleeding king remained conscious and was “able to walk up some steps with an unsteady gait.”
But splinters from the lance had entered the king’s eye, throat, and temple (two wounds made one) . Despite the best efforts of royal surgeons, Henry II experienced agonizing pain, seizures, and partial paralysis (then he dies a cruel death) before dying in his bed » 11 days later.
It all sounds pretty accurate, on the surface. But, according to ” Nostradamus: The Illustrated Prophecies » ,” the prophecy’s veracity is in doubt because it didn’t appear in print until 1614.
The Great Fire of London
The blood of the just will commit a fault at London,
Burnt through lightning of twenty threes the six:
The ancient lady will fall from her high place,
Several of the same sect will be killed.
What happened: This quatrain is often linked with the devastating Great Fire of London.
In regards to the date, 20 times three is 60. Add six to that, and you’ve got 66 — or the year ’66. London’s infamous three-day blaze began on September 2, 1666.
The fire wasn’t set off by lightning, however. A hot, arid summer » and a spark in the bakery of Thomas Farriner on Pudding Lane set the stage for the inferno.
Peasant and middle class deaths were not recorded at the time, according to the Smithsonian Magazine » , but it’s likely that hundreds or even thousands of people perished in the flames.
In regards to the “same sect” portion of the quatrain, Londoners blamed the conflagration on Catholics and the Dutch, and a number of lynchings and attacks ensued as the city smoldered, the BBC reported » . But the members of the “same sect” are also mentioned in conjunction with “the ancient lady,” which could be interpreted to refer to London itself.
This prediction is one of the weaker prophecies, as it’s often quite a stretch to link the historical events of the Great Fire of London with Nostradamus’ words.
The French Revolution
From the enslaved populace, songs,
Chants and demands
While princes and lords are held captive in prisons.
These will in the future by headless idiots
Be received as divine prayers.
What happened: Starting with the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the French Revolution saw the overthrowal of the monarchy and the establishment of a new republic.
The Third Estate ( enslaved populace) took control of Paris and forced their demands on royalty ( princes and lords).
Ultimately, the revolution turned bloody. Nobles and commoners alike were declared traitors to the revolution and beheaded at the guillotine ( headless idiots) .
According to Britannica » , 17,000 people were executed during the ensuing Reign of Terror, while 10,000 died in jail. Those figures account for all victims of the First French Republic, not just aristocrats.
The lost thing is discovered, hidden for many centuries.
Pastor will be celebrated almost as a God-like figure.
This is when the moon completes her great cycle,
But by other rumors he shall be dishonored.
What happened: Much of the excitement surrounding this prediction is based on the fact that “pasteur” is the French word for “pastor” or “shepherd.”
Louis Pasteur (Pastor will be celebrated) is credited with discovering microbial decay ( lost thing is discovered, hidden for many centuries) . His breakthrough is credited with saving countless lives over the course of history.
From the depths of the West of Europe,
A young child will be born of poor people,
He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop;
His fame will increase towards the realm of the East.
Beasts ferocious with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battlefield will be against Hister.
Into a cage of iron will the great one be drawn,
When the child of Germany observes nothing.
What happened: On April 20, 1889 Adolf Hitler was born in Austria, which is in Western Europe. But his family was
middle class » , not impoverished.
Hitler did rise to power in part due to his oratory abilities » ( by his tongue will seduce), and did initiate WWII (a great troop ) by invading Poland.
Some Nostradamus supporters have posited that Hister » is a mispelling of Hitler, but it’s actually the Latin term for the Danube.
Charles De Gaulle
Hercules King of Rome and of Annemark,
With the surname of the chief of triple Gaul,
Italy and the one of St Mark to tremble,
First monarch, renowned above all.
What happened: Charles de Gaulle was a three time leader of France (chief of triple Gaul).
First, De Gaulle led the Free French Forces during WWII. Then, he became prime minister of the provisional post-WWII government. Lastly, De Gaulle was the first president of the French Fifth Republic.
Other than that, this quatrain appears to have little else to do with the famous French politician.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Near the gates and within two cities
There will be scourges the like of which was never seen,
Famine within plague, people put out by steel,
Crying to the great immortal God for relief.
What happened: In early August 1945 the United States dropped two atomic weapons on the island of Japan, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ( within two cities ). The cities were devastated, and many survivors of the blast suffered from radiation poisoning ( crying to the great immortal God for relief).
In the wake of the war, Japan also went through a food shortage crisis » ( famine within plague).
The assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy
The great man will be struck down in the day by a thunderbolt,
An evil deed foretold by the bearer of a petition.
According to the prediction, another falls at night time.
Conflict at Reims, London and a pestilence in Tuscany.
What happened: President John Kennedy (great man) received numerous death threats » ( petition) over the course of his presidency. While visiting Dallas on November 22, 1963, the president was gunned down (thunderbolt). The assassination shocked and devastated the nation.
His brother Bobby Kennedy was later assassinated just after midnight on June 5, 1968 ( another falls at night time) .
The conflict in Reims and London and sickness in Tuscany, however, doesn’t fit in with the assassination of the Kennedys.
Sept. 11, 2001
Earthshaking fire from the center of the Earth
Will cause tremors around the New City.
Two great rocks will war for a long time,
Then Arethusa will redden a new river.
What happened: On the morning of September 11, 2001, the two towers ( two great rocks ) of the World Trade Center in New York City ( New City ) collapsed after al-Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked passenger planes into the buildings. Nostradamus’ prediction about “fire from the center of the Earth” doesn’t connect with anything pertaining to 9/11.
Christina Aguilera went from being a Mouseketeer on Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club to wearing chaps and a striped bikini in her risqué music video for “Dirrty .” She was the antithesis of the squeaky clean pop star image that flooded the early 2000s, and it was her ability to carve out her own rebellious niche that helped her soar to the top of the charts, eventually snagging five
Grammy awards by 2014.
Despite her success and her ability to look practically flawless each and every time she hits up the red carpet, Aguilera has always been open about her imperfect upbringing, which began with a less-than-idyllic childhood. If you listen closely, the hellish events that shaped her life can be found within the lyrics of some of her most emotional songs. From allegations of domestic abuse to a crippling divorce that did a number on her emotional wellbeing, this is the tragic real-life story of Christina Aguilera.
She experienced ‘pain and betrayal’
Dealing with a series of traumatic incidents during her formative years meant Aguilera was forced to find an outlet to help her cope. She told Women’s Health , “My whole life has been about ‘fight or flight,’ but yoga has helped me to appreciate the moment and be okay with the now.”
Her ability to combat her fight or flight instincts — a physiological reaction that prepares your body to deal with a threat or flee for safety — came in handy when she became a witness of alleged domestic violence. “No matter what chaos is around me, it gets me back into my body. [I’ve learned that] the stronger you get within yourself, everything else just bounces off,” she said.
These days, she has turned a negative situation into a positive one by lending her time to various causes that help victims of domestic violence. After partnering with Verizon Wireless and the company’s HopeLine initiative in 2006, the singer told Forbes magazine, “I know I am not the only person who has experienced such pain and betrayal caused by abuse and violence. That is why I feel it’s so important now to use my voice to support efforts to spread awareness and encourage engagement against domestic violence.”
Domestic violence damaged her, but she’s a survivor
Since the start of her career, Aguilera has spoken out about the abuse she witnessed within her family and around her neighborhood in Staten Island, N.Y. The songstress told Paper, “I watched my mom have to be submissive [to my father], watch her Ps and Qs or she’s gonna get beat up,” she said. She stated that she knew she had two options in life: “You can either be, unfortunately, so damaged by it that you take a turn for the worse, or you can feel empowered by it and make choices to never go down that route.”
At an early age, she made it her mission to become a survivor and to raise her children, Max and Summer Rain, in a loving household. But she has never swept the abuse allegations under the rug. She has let out her emotions through many of her tunes, including the 2002 emotional ballad, “I’m OK,” in which she sings, “Hurt me to see the pain across my mother’s face / Every time my father’s fist would put her in her place / Hearing all the yelling I would cry up in my room / Hoping it would be over soon.”
“I definitely wrote that song not to badmouth [my father] at all, but one, for a healing process for myself, and two, to give people hope or a voice to relate to. To know that you can get through it and that it will be OK,” she told MTV.
She’s thankful for the ‘darkest’ times
VH1’s Behind the Music documentary gave fans a close look inside the lives of some of their favorite musicians. In 2010, the program featured the ” Reflection ” singer, and, in her candid interview, she not only touched on the alleged domestic abuse, but she also made a startling confession. “I do battle with depression. It’s something that is always right below the surface. And it’s almost seductive to go to a place of sadness and darkness. I’m truly thankful for the darkest times in my life,” she said (via Cosmopolitan ).
She may be thankful for those experiences, but those in her inner circle may not agree with her coping mechanisms. The singer’s way of dealing with life stressors has reportedly teetered toward the edge of destruction, with Aguilera saying in the documentary, “I definitely don’t choose the safe way of living or expressing myself but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Does she have an alcohol problem?
TMZ reported the “Lady Marmalade” vocalist’s friends and business associates were begging her to enter an alcohol treatment center back in March 2011 after she was arrested for public intoxication. During the incident, her fiancé Matthew Rutler was arrested for driving under the influence, as reported by MTV.
Years later, in December 2015, Aguilera was a guest at Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s Christmas party, and she reportedly became a “boozy Grinch” when she allegedly fell into a decorative Christmas tree after consuming too much alcohol (via
“She was a mess,” a witness told the publication before stating that Rutler and a friend had to carry the singer out of the party by the end of the night. “She was wearing 6-inch custom [Christian] Louboutins. She was literally wobbling.”
Aguilera has yet to address any of the allegations about her drinking, but, if she is suffering from a problem, we certainly hope she’s working on it in private for the sake of her children.
An ex’s secret left her heartbroken
As if her childhood drama wasn’t enough, Aguilera also felt intense betrayal by the hands of an ex-boyfriend, who was later revealed as her former backup dancer, Jorge Santos.
During an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked (via People ), Aguilera was asked about the inspiration behind her 2002 song,
“Infatuation.” With lyrics, such as, “I am full blood boricua / Reads the tattoo on his arm / He tells me ‘Mami, I need you’ / And my heartbeat pumps so strong,” it’d appear clear that Aguilera was blissfully in love with her Latin lover.
But that all changed when she reportedly found out his hidden secret. Without mentioning Santos by name, she told the reality series, “It was heartbreaking because I found out he played for your team, not mine.” In other words, she was alluding to her ex-lover allegedly being gay.
And this wasn’t the last time the singer dealt with heartbreak…
Divorce took a toll
By the time she filed for divorce from her ex-husband Jordan Bratman in October 2010, she knew her marriage had run its course. But that didn’t mean she left her relationship unscathed. TMZ reported it was Aguilera’s infidelities that ruined their marriage. However, other gossip outlets claimed the then-couple had an open marriage and that Bratman may have grown tired of Aguilera reportedly bringing home other women to “play with.”
With her then-marriage in ruins and rumors spreading about her personal life, Aguilera told Redbook magazine, “It’s not easy, and there have been a lot of tears and sadness.” She also stated that, although she had her mom and a close group of friends constantly by her side during that tough period, the emotional turmoil got the best of her.
“On days when it feels impossible to even get out of bed, much less function as a mother, their support and encouragement have kept me moving forward,” she said.
She’s learned from her past
When it came time to put an end to her marriage, Aguilera didn’t second-guess her decision, telling People magazine, “I knew I had to end it.” After the “constant arguments” had inundated her once-happy home, it left things “unhealthy and unhappy” for the both of them and caused their humble abode to be “filled with a lot of tension.”
“I knew what I was doing was the right thing for my child because I strongly believe it’s better to have two homes filled with love than one filled with tension. That’s one thing I learned as a child,” she told the magazine.
When she was asked what it was like to grow up in such a strained environment, she responded, “My mom tried for years to stay in a marriage that she was not happy in. I would watch her torture herself emotionally.” She went on to reveal that she finally started to feel “more loved and secure” the day her parents finally separated.
Her father ‘Hurt’ her
Christina Aguilera sat down with W magazine to speak about her life and career in a 2011 cover story (via Huffington Post ). As she dove deep into her childhood, which was far from picture-perfect, she made a heartbreaking revelation. “I felt caged by my childhood. And unsafe: Bad things happened in my home; there was violence,” she said.
As vocal as she has been about the alleged abuse, it was only a matter of time before her father, Fausto Aguilera, spoke out about the allegations. He told Us Weekly , “I never abused them in any way, and they know that” (via NY Daily News). Aguilera later issued him an apology via her track, “Hurt ,” where she sings, “I’m sorry for blaming you, for everything I just couldn’t do / and I’ve hurt myself by hurting you.”
But as of March 2018, the father and daughter continue to have a fractured relationship, as reported by Radar Online .
Her pain makes hit records
Aguilera doesn’t just crank out danceable, body-moving tracks that blare from the speakers of nightclubs across the globe. The
Grammy award-winning singer also uses music to share the pain she has endured throughout her life.
Sitting down with Dateline NBC (via the Daily Mail), she was asked if she ever felt bullied. Aguilera responded, “I have definitely experienced forms of bullying, and that’s why it’s so important for me to write songs like “Beautiful” and “Fighter.”
She also wrote her 2012 album Lotus in hopes that it would be a source of inspiration for those who may be in a similar situation. “Lotus is all about being an unbreakable flower that survives the test of time … Throughout the roughest of surroundings and harshest weather conditions it remains strong and thrives,” the singer said.
But while she is committed to being a beacon of hope for others, she still has to deal with…
She’s faced intense criticism
As a public figure, Christina Aguilera is constantly scrutinized. She has been criticized for almost everything, from flubbing the words of the ” National Anthem” at the 2011 Super Bowl to her spray tan malfunction at legendary singer Etta James’ 2017 funeral. However, the most harsh judgement has been directed towards her weight, which has
fluctuated since the start of her career.
What many fail to realize is that Aguilera was a pre-teen when she first entered the entertainment business as a star on Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club. So, naturally, her body would change as she matured. But that hasn’t stopped people from bashing her figure and using every opportunity to put her down about her weight, including fellow celebrity Kelly Osbourne who once called Aguilera a “fat b***h” during an episode of E!’s Fashion Police (via Us Weekly).
“Being too thin. Being bigger. I’ve been criticized for being on both sides of the scale,” Aguilera told Marie Claire. “It’s noise I block out automatically. My son is healthy and happy, so that’s all that matters to me.”
icolas Cage definitely isn’t the actor you cast as the boring old “everyman” character, but that’s exactly why his fan base loves him. While so many people hide their eccentricities from the world, Cage applies his quirky style to every job he takes. He brings the same intensity to every performance, whether he’s playing a depressed screenwriter (and his identical twin brother) in an Academy Award-winning film, or screaming about how much he hates bees (“Not the bees! Aggghhh!”) in a B-grade horror remake. Say what you will about Nicolas Cage, but that guy never phones it in. Ever.
Even in the real world, Cage is quite a character. Despite being in the public eye for most of his life, Cage has never shown any qualms about discussing his weirder interests, experiences, and lifestyle choices, and for that, he deserves credit. It takes effort to be weird, but not many people are bold enough to be so publicly weird. We won’t claim he’s a vampire, like some have, but he’s definitely one unique dude.
He bought a real dinosaur skull
This sounds like a prank, an exaggeration, a threat someone makes on April Fools’ Day. But Nicolas Cage did lay down the winning bid of over $270,000 on the gargantuan, prehistoric skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar , according to Vanity Fair . Why did he want a dinosaur skull? Who knows, maybe he was hoping to turn it into a crazy-cool bed frame, a la the Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok. Cage wasn’t the only rich guy bidding on the skull either. One of his top competitors was apparently fellow actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Anyway, dropping cash on bizarre items is kind of Cage’s thing, as we’ll see. Unfortunately for him, the dinosaur skull purchase didn’t turn out so well. Six years later, Cage got the depressing news that his prized skull wasn’t really his: The seller, a guy named Eric Prokopi, had stolen the skull from the Gobi desert in Mongolia, according to the New York Times . Obviously, the theft wasn’t Cage’s fault, but the actor amiably agreed to give the skull back to the original owners. All in all, this whole scam just goes to show why you should never trust an independent dinosaur skull retailer, no matter how trustworthy their website looks.
His cat ate his shrooms, so he ate some to keep the cat company
House cats are neurotic enough without adding hallucinogens to the mix. What do you do if you accidentally leave your magic mushrooms lying around and your feline friend licks them right up?
This sounds like a big “oops,” but if you love animals as much as Nicolas Cage, you might be inclined to join them in the experience. According to The Guardian , Cage explained to David Letterman in 2010 that when his cat, Lewis, gobbled up the actor’s mushrooms as if they were catnip, Cage decided the only moral thing to do was take mushrooms with him, to provide companionship. Cage told Letterman, “I remember lying in my bed for hours, and Lewis was on the desk across from the bed for hours, staring at each other … not moving. But he would stare at me.” Evidently, Cage and Lewis bonded over this shared experience, with Cage saying that after going through it, “I had no doubt that he was my brother.” No word on whether they’ve tried it again since.
He invented his own acting style, ‘Nouveau Shamanic’
If you’ve ever watched a Nicolas Cage film — and if you’re here, you probably have — then you know how invested he gets in every role. According to the AV Club, he gets into the heads of his characters by using a self-created acting discipline he calls “Nouveau Shamanic,” as a tribute to the shamans of ancient history. For example, when preparing himself for Ghost Rider , Cage’s Nouveau Shamanic approach was to apply “Afro-Caribbean paint” and put on a costume composed of priceless Egyptian artifacts to evoke the feeling of being an extra-dimensional spirit. Cage knows his approach is weird, but says it’s “all semantics.”
Later, Cage clarified to LA Weekly that Nouveau Shamanic wasn’t something he really invented: It was inspired by a book titled The Way of the Actor , which described how, thousands of years ago, “the medicine men or the tribal shamans were really actors. What they would do is they would act out whatever the issues were with the villagers at that time, they would act it out and try to find the answers or go into a trance or go into another dimension, which is really just the imagination, and try to pull back something that would reflect the concerns of the group.” So basically, Cage’s approach to acting is intended as a tribute to customs from a bygone era.
He’s been stalked by both a mime and a naked fudgesicle eater
Most major celebrities get followed by creepy fans, but not surprisingly, Nicolas Cage has the weirdest stalker stories around. In an interview with Parade, Cage said when he was filming Bringing Out the Dead , he became unsettled by the random appearance of a silent performer in a mime costume. Evidently, the mime somehow got past security and kept doing strange antics on the set. Cage clearly got a bad vibe from the mime, saying, “I guess it would fall into the stalker category, more or less.” Apparently, the producers were similarly weirded out, and ordered the mime removed. He never came back — as far as anyone knows, anyway.
This isn’t the only invasive encounter Cage has experienced. According to Reuters , Cage said in 2011 he endured a home invasion and had been awoken at 2 a.m. by a naked man standing at the foot of his bed, wearing nothing but Cage’s leather jacket and licking a fudgesicle. Cage stayed calm, talked the guy into leaving his house and didn’t press charges. So even when Cage himself isn’t being odd, odd things seem to happen to him.
He’s owned some wild properties
Ever want to live in a castle? So did Cage, so he bought a real castle in the German state of Bavaria, according to People. Cage was interested in establishing a residence in Bavaria anyway, since his mother’s ancestors originated from the region, and as soon as he saw the castle (which is named Schloss Neidstein), he fell in love, explaining, “I liked the architecture and the gigantic forest.” You could just buy an old Victorian house in northern Maine, but hey.
Cage’s astonishing real estate purchases don’t end there. According to Variety, Cage also once owned a private, 45-acre island in the Bahamas, though he sold it in 2008. On top of that, Vanity Fair says he also once owned the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, which previously housed 19th-century serial killer Delphine LaLaurie, the villain played by Kathy Bates on American Horror Story . Cage bought the residence, which he calls “the most haunted house in America,” to write a horror novel. “I didn’t get too far with the novel,” he admitted.
He’s in the most surreal Japanese commercials ever
In Japan, Sankyo’s Pachinko is an arcade/gambling game which has many fans, but in the United States, it might forever remembered for the increasingly weird series of commercials that starred Nicolas Cage. According to Complex , these insane videos — which feature such sequences as a cowboy Cage maniacally dancing with spherical-headed aliens, or Cage getting insanely excited about triplets — were never meant to be shown in the United States. But then YouTube happened, the ads became a staple meme among American high school kids, and Cage earned some of his most adoring fans. So hey, it worked out for the best.
Cage’s weird adventures in Japanese marketing don’t end there, though. According to a 2017 article on Japan Today, Cage’s likeness was also featured on a line of snack foods called “Nicolastick,” as part of a marketing stunt for Cage’s movie Army of One . The problem? Cage never gave his permission, and when he found out, the distributor apologized.
The crazy amount of huge movie roles he didn’t take, or which were taken away from him
Now, to be clear, this happens all the time. It’s just the nature of how Hollywood works. Actors often get cast in a role, only to back out for one reason or another, or are replaced after filming commences. Nonetheless, it’s pretty crazy just how many iconic film roles almost featured Nicolas Cage’s wild eyes and distinctive voice. For example, Superman is generally seen as the ultimate boy scout superhero, but as the video above reminds us, Nicolas Cage almost brought a darker, lonelier, more haunting Kal-El to life in the 1990s. Entertainment Weekly reports he was also supposed to play John Constantine before the role went to Keanu Reeves. Over on the Marvel side, Cage was originally the studio’s favorite choice to portray Spider-Man villain the Green Goblin, according to Entertainment Weekly .
The parade of “almost-Caged” roles doesn’t stop there. In 2016, Cage was offered the role of President Ronald Reagan but was worried the part might “damage his career,” according to Yahoo . It’s even crazier to speculate on the fact that he was offered the part of Neo in The Matrix, according to MTV, as well as Aragorn in
Lord of the Rings. He has no hard feelings about missing out on a stint in Middle-earth, though, having explained that, “I thought what Viggo did was terrific.”
His diet choices are very specific
Some people stick to a vegetarian diet, for moral reasons. Others go vegan. Many people eat meat, but are strict about what kinds of meat they consume, whether it’s due to a desire to keep kosher, a preference for grass-fed, organic beef, or what have you. Nicolas Cage also practices a rather specific sort of carnivorous diet, as described by the Telegraph. In an interview with the Sun , Cage explains he chooses the animals he eats based on how dignified their mating rituals are. For example, he’s comfortable if you put birds or fish on his dinner table — but pigs? Not so much.
That said, this has nothing to do with his personal feelings toward the animals themselves — as he’s stated on many occasions, he’s a big animal lover, with a “fascination with fish, birds, whales, sentient life, insects, reptiles” — so his views on their mating rituals are only a factor when it comes to what’s on his plate. So far, there’s no word on whether he would ever consider chomping down on one of those Japanese Nicolasticks.
He’s going to be buried in a pyramid one day … in New Orleans
Everyone deserves the right to make their own decisions about how their remains are handled after their death, but Nicolas Cage isn’t interested in having his ashes scattered anywhere. According to Atlas Obscura, Cage plans to follow the lead of those ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, and have his remains forever housed in a pyramid. Yes, a pyramid … on American soil.
Before you go thinking this is just a silly joke he made, you should know the pyramid has already been built. Cage’s rather unusual tomb now stands in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the famous New Orleans graveyard that also contains the tomb of Marie Laveau. Cage’s pyramid is 9 feet tall, carved out of solid stone, and has the Latin phrase Omni Ab Uno (“Everything From One”) scrawled on the front. Obviously, Cage isn’t occupying the tomb yet, but its unusual shape has already made it a tourist attraction. Some have theorized Cage’s pyramid obsession is a sign of him belonging to the Illuminati, but he probably just likes Egyptian architecture.
Nicolas Cage and Charlie Sheen think airplane pranks are funny
The best pranks always carry a certain level of risk, but when Nicolas Cage decided to punk an entire passenger airplane a couple decades back, he probably took it a little too far. Recounting the whole incident to David Letterman, Cage explained that about halfway through the flight, he somehow got a hold of the PA system, and announced over the speakers that he was the pilot, and “wasn’t feeling very well,” which definitely isn’t something you want to hear when you’re miles up in the sky. Understandably, the actual pilot was pretty upset about the whole thing.
Cage’s first problem, after doing the prank? When the aircraft landed, six armed police officers met him at the door. The bigger problem? One of Cage’s fellow passengers was infamous Hollywood wild child Charlie Sheen, who — unbeknownst to Cage — had a bag of cocaine wrapped around his ankle, and thus also wasn’t too happy about Cage’s little prank. Somehow, Cage managed to talk his way out of the situation, and no one suffered any legal trouble over it.
He likes taking names from comic book superheroes
Ever wonder how Nicolas Cage managed to snag such a cool surname? It turns out “Cage” is actually a tribute to the superhero comics the actor grew up on. As the New York Times explained in 1994, the actor, nephew to Francis Ford Coppola, was originally named Nicolas Coppola. When he went into acting, Cage wanted to carve his own path instead of just being identified with his uncle, so he took the surname of the bulletproof Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage. Perhaps intentionally, this mirrors the path of the Marvel character, whose birth name was “Carl Lucas” before running afoul of the law.
Not surprisingly, when Cage’s third wife Alice Kim became pregnant, Nicolas once again looked toward his favorite comic books to find a name. The couple ended up naming their boy Kal-El Cage, according to Time, as a tribute to Superman. We’ll see if Kal’s Kryptonian super powers kick in someday.
He SAYS he’s not a vampire
This might sound silly, but honestly, if there was any major actor who would be revealed as an immortal creature, it’d be Nicolas Cage. Back in 2011, The Hollywood Reporter discussed an eBay listing that had set the internet ablaze: a yellowed photo dating back to the U.S. Civil War, which the seller claimed as proof that Nicolas Cage was actually a vampire. The seller, who wanted $1 million, argued that Cage was probably an undead being who reinvented himself every 75 years or so. The whole thing was tongue in cheek, but it can’t be argued that the guy in that photo really did look a lot like Nicolas Cage.
Joke or not, the vampire theory got people talking so much that by the following year, Cage himself was forced to comment on the matter, according to Today . Though Cage conceded a resemblance, he shot down the internet’s fantastical explanation, telling the world, “I don’t drink blood, and the last time I looked in the mirror, I had a reflection.” So for now, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. We’ll just have to wait 75 years or so, and see if a new celebrity, politician, wizard, or superhero emerges with Cage’s easily recognizable appearance and personal quirks. On the other hand, if Cage does turn out to be as mortal as the rest of us, at least the creepily lifelike wax figure pictured above will preserve his likeness for eternity
There are countless songs out there, with countless more being written and recorded seemingly every day. If you’re looking for some good, quality tunes you and your beloved parents can jam out to together, you certainly aren’t starved for options. That said, not all songs are created equal, and there are plenty you should steer clear of during family listening time. If you don’t, you’ll invite awkward silence at best. At worst, you’ll invite angry conversations about your mindset, mental health, and what exactly you were trying to tell dear old Mom and Dad with the music you played them.
Here are some of the worst possible songs to listen to when your parents are around. The reasons vary from song to song — your folks aren’t only going to be offended by a dirty, raunchy, sex-filled ditty after all. Whether it be sex, violence, or the lyrical implication that they were terrible, cold, unfeeling parents (and people) the entire time, the following songs will put an abrupt and uncomfortable end to just about any family gathering.
NF’s ‘Let You Down’ will let Mom and Dad down
The message of NF’s “Let You Down” can easily be lost within the rapidly rapped verses, especially if the listener zones out during the comparatively gentle chorus. But if you play it for your parents and they do pay attention, expect an awkward conversation afterward.
“Let You Down” (based on NF’s childhood experiences of feeling like he, as he told NME , “didn’t really have much of a voice or … wasn’t being heard,”) is a bitter rap about a man’s estranged relationship with his parents. He’s angry at them for seeing him as a disappointment, always starting arguments, and seemingly never being happy for their son. Lines like, “You don’t wanna make this work / You just wanna make this worse / Want me to listen to you / But you don’t ever hear my words” make NF’s anger clear. In the final verse, he complains about his folks wanting a happy relationship, despite not doing the work to earn one: “Oh, you wanna be friends now? / Okay, let’s put my fake face on and pretend now / Sit around and talk about the good times / That didn’t even happen.” Giant redwoods don’t provide that much shade.
His folks still neglect him as badly as when he was a child, and he seriously resents them for it. If you play this for your parents, especially while imploring them to focus on the words, they’re gonna have some questions.
Metallica’s ‘Dyer’s Eve’ blasts over-sheltering parents
Metallica, loud and angry as they are, has lasted long enough to be accepted by all generations. Turn your radio to classic rock and you’ll likely hear “Enter Sandman” eventually. Still, after all these years, Metallica has at least one song guaranteed to ruffle your parents’ feathers: “Dyer’s Eve,” an anti-ode to overprotective parenting gone excruciatingly too far.
In the song (based on James Hetfield’s Christian Scientist upbringing, as he told Rolling Stone ), the singer rages against his parents for sheltering him from life’s harsh realities. Lines like “Pushed onto me what’s wrong or right / Hidden from this thing that they call life” may not be profane, but there’s enough unbridled angst in that couplet to match a million angrily slammed bedroom doors. But if it’s profanity you want, Metallica offers that too, screaming “Dear Mother, dear Father / You’ve clipped my wings before I learned to fly … I’ve outgrown that f*cking lullaby.” Why the tantrum? Thanks entirely to Mommy and Daddy’s coddling, he’s now totally unprepared for the real world that’s slowly destroying him.
He hates his parents for making him this way and hates himself for being unable to handle life alone (“I’m in Hell without you / Cannot cope without you two / Shocked at the world that I see / Innocent victim please rescue me”). Basically, everyone’s terrible, nobody’s happy, and now your poor mother is tearfully asking where she went wrong.
Slayer’s ‘Disciple’ hates us all, including your folks
In general, Slayer can be a turn-off for squeamish parents, what with song titles like “Necrophiliac,” “Raining Blood,” “Dead Skin Mask,” and “Public Display of Dismemberment.” Still if you can keep the titles (and album art) away from their fragile eyes, you might be able to get away with Slayer. Their lyrics, while obviously super-dark and loaded with profanity and violent/evil imagery, are often conveyed via inscrutable screaming. If you don’t already know the words, don’t expect to learn them simply by listening.
That’s not the case, however, with their 2001 song “Disciple.” Most of the lyrics are more sound and fury than anything else, so you can probably slip “Cut throat, slit your wrist, shoot you in the back fair game” past Mom and Dad without much effort. Then there’s the chorus: a shout-along chant where the band repeatedly screams, crystal-clear as day, “GOD HATES US ALLLLLLLL!” Expect a good chunk of parents to get mighty uncomfortable at that point — if you’re in a car, they’ll likely start shout-singing “99 Bottles of Beer,” just to change the mood as completely as possible.
If you then mention, even casually, that the album “Disciple” appears on (also titled “God Hates Us All”), was actually released on September 11, 2001 , watch out. Now, that release date was planned months in advance, and Slayer obviously couldn’t predict the horrific events that would occur, but try telling that to your parents as they start ransacking your bedroom for signs of bombs.
Body Count’s ‘Cop Killer’ cares not for grieving moms
This might be the least subtle song of all time: a thrash metal band called Body Count (fronted by gangsta rapper Ice-T) playing a song called “Cop Killer” about proudly murdering police officers. The jaunty 1992 ditty features zero metaphors, zero irony, and zero chance your parents will enjoy it.
The song’s protagonist is completely fed up with police brutality, so he’s decided to blow cops away or possibly slit their throats. He couldn’t care less about the cops’ families either — as he sings in the chorus, “I know your mama’s grieving/F*ck her!” Singer Ice-T then namechecks police brutality victim Rodney King and then-LAPD police chief Darryl Gates, to make it extra clear what he’s singing about. Add a few “die pig, die” repetitions, and many “f*ck the police” repetitions, and you have the perfect song for making Ma and Pa uncomfortable, especially if you have any cops in the fam.
No surprise, but this song invited massive controversy , with police organizations from sea to shining sea condemning the tune. They were soon joined by President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle, along with dozens of Congressmen and future second lady Tipper Gore. Ice-T ultimately removed the song from the band’s album and turned it into a free single, so at least the song’s still around. As for your parents, if this song makes them too nervous, respect their wishes and play them something from their time. Like “I Shot The Sheriff.”
Eminem’s ‘Kim’ couldn’t be more uncomfortable
While it’s hard to find any Eminem song you could comfortably play around your parents, “Kim” is in a cringy class by itself. It may be the most disturbing thing Eminem has ever put to tape, and that’s saying something.
Simply put, “Kim” is a domestic violence incident turned brutal murder, set to a horrorcore hip-hop beat. Eminem screams at his wife, Kim, for kicking him out of their house, remarrying, and letting her new husband and his son move in. Eminem’s in-song reaction is to murder both the guys, force Kim into his car, drive her to a far-off place, murder her, then stuff her body in the trunk. Oh, and up until she dies, you can hear “Kim” pleading for her life, just to make things even more ghastly. Virtually all of “Kim’s” lyrics are unprintable, but here’s a bit of poetry to set the mood: “You were supposed to love me / Now bleed! B*tch, bleed! Bleed! B*tch, bleed, bleed!”
While there have certainly been other songs about love-turned-murder (Guns N’ Roses’ “Used To Love Her” comes to mind), few are as unnerving as “Kim.” Whether you’re single or not, your parents will likely end your listening party by drilling you about how you’re feeling, if you’re angry at anyone, did someone hurt you, and the like. You should probably play a more parent-friendly Eminem tune, and by that we mean a jaunty M&M’s jingle from the ’70s.
Rihanna’s ‘S&M’ is an amplified ‘birds and bees’ talk
Rihanna’s hit “S&M” is about just that: the wonders of getting tied up that you should probably not play when your folks are around. Stick with “Pon de Replay” for your parents’ Rihanna fix, it’s way more innocent.
That said, as long as they don’t know the title, it might take a little while for your parents to start blushing over “S&M.” Early verses make it sound like a typical, comfortably vague love song: “Love is great, love is fine / Out the box, out of line / The affliction of the feeling / Leaves me wanting more.” Then comes the chorus, with key lines like “Sex in the air / I don’t care / I love the smell of it / Sticks and stones / May break my bones / But chains and whips excite me,” and that should be about the time your parents slink away. No matter how open they might be in the bedroom with each other, that’s not a thing they want to hear about (or even think about) when their kid’s around.
The cringe factor is likely to increase if you show them RiRi’s performance at 2011’s Billboard Music Awards . There, Rihanna performed the song in full gear, alongside Britney Spears who wore the same. There were blindfolds, handcuffs, whipping sounds — in short, very non-family-friendly material. Even the performance ending on a cutesy pillow fight won’t take that back.
2 Live Crew’s ‘Me So Horny’ … duh
You can tell some songs are unacceptable for parental ears simply by reading the title. 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” is one of them and yes, it’s exactly what you think it’s about.
The title comes from Full Metal Jacket ‘s famous prostitute scene, with the “Me love you long time” dialogue played out at the beginning. That in itself should be fine — there’s a good chance your parents saw and enjoyed Full Metal Jacket — but the rest of the lyrics will prove uncomfortable as can be. The singer describes a dirty tryst in the most explicit, vulgar language possible. It’s hard to find any lines we can repeat, though.
If this song skeeves out your folks, know they’re not alone. In fact, they have friends in legal places who agree with them. As recapped by the 1993 paper “Rap, Rock, and Censorship,” “Me So Horny” and its album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be , were declared legally obscene by a Florida judge in 1990. Later that year, as the New York Times reported, at least one record store owner was arrested for selling the album. In 1992, the federal Court of Appeals reversed the obscenity ruling, but that’s not likely to stop your disgusted parents from scolding you for playing such obscene trash in front of them.
The Police’s ‘Mother’ begs stifling moms to go away
Most people, parents included, love The Police. Usually, however, that love gets severely tested with “Mother,” perhaps the single weirdest song the band ever recorded. Not only is it weird, it can be deeply unsettling to your poor old mom in a “what are you trying to tell me?” kind of way.
In this ultra-creepy song , the singer (Andy Summers, in a rare case of Sting buttoning his yap and letting someone else have a go at the mic) rants about his his overbearing mother. He says things like “Telephone is ringing / Is that my mother on the phone? / The telephone is screaming / Won’t she leave me alone?” and also wails, “Oh mother dear please listen / Don’t devour me / Oh women please have mercy / Let this poor boy be.” This poor man’s mother clearly didn’t get the memo that you’re supposed to let your children be free as they grow up, and now he’s suffering dearly. Even the song itself sounds disturbed, like a musical version of the man’s own warped, swirling, never-resting brain.
Your own mother, regardless of your relationship with her, will likely wonder why you’re playing her this song of all possible tunes, so be prepared to either explain yourself or apologize profusely. If she catches the line “Every girl I go out with becomes my mother in the end,” prepare to explain yourself extra hard.
Papa Roach’s ‘Broken Home’ makes divorce even worse
Divorce, sad as it is, is a fairly common event these days. That said, it’s not exactly something parents want to be reminded of, so playing a song like Papa Roach’s “Broken Home” would likely hurt far more than entertain.
“Broken Home” covers a bitter, angry divorce where the kid feels stuck, alone, and torn. That said, he’s not torn for long, as he makes it clear later on he feels his father is to blame. He sings lines like , “I know my mother loves me / But does my father even care / If I’m sad or angry? / You were never, ever there,” and then plays child psychologist by suggesting his grandfather neglected his father, and that’s why the father’s been so neglectful toward his son. With such sensitive subject matter, we can’t imagine many parents would want to endure “Broken Home,” especially fathers.
Regardless of your parents’ marital state, this song risks causing a broken home of your very own. If they’re still married, playing them an angsty, angry song about families being torn apart might plant a seed of doubt somewhere. If they’re already divorced or in the process of divorcing, the song might be seen as confrontational, like you’re further piling on about a decision that was likely very difficult for them to make. Either way, there are better, happier Papa Roach songs to play at the next family gathering.
Korn’s ‘Daddy’ puts abusive parents on notice
Very few songs about rape are likely to leave your parents unfazed, but when a song blatantly implies the abuser is the victim’s parent, expect them to very quickly leave the room and possibly never return.
Korn’s “Daddy” is one of the creepiest, angriest songs ever recorded. Inspired by singer Jonathan Davis’ real-life experiences with child molestation, the lyrics consist of a man hysterically screaming about being assaulted by his own father while his mother watches and does nothing. Davis has made it clear in subsequent interviews that his real-life parents did nothing of the sort, and that his abuser was an unrelated family friend (who is now dead). That said, the creative license he took with the lyrics definitely turn the song-child’s folks into the criminals, increasing the likelihood of parental squeamishness by at least 1,000 percent.
The song ends with Davis screaming profanities and declarations of hatred at his father, before legitimately sobbing for four minutes. That last part (which he told
Rolling Stone he didn’t know was being recorded) somehow makes this song even more uncomfortable. Due to the song’s emotional nature, the band didn’t play it live for 20 years, only bringing it out of the mothballs in 2015. Your parents would likely prefer to it be retired again, and for far longer.
Tool’s ‘Prison Sex’ covers the worst life imaginable
No song with a title like Tool’s “Prison Sex” would be acceptable listening for your dear parents, but the song isn’t actually about what you’d think. It’s actually about something so much worse.
Though Tool has never come right out and said it (because they wouldn’t be Tool without being gleefully vague and mysterious about everything), the lyrics to the song make it pretty clear it’s about a guy who was molested as a child who then becomes a molester himself when he grows up. Early in the song, singer Maynard James Keenan details some pretty horrifying stuff. He also sings, “Do unto you now what has been done to me,” which completely drives the brutally cyclical point home. This guy went through perhaps the most traumatic childhood experience possible, and keeps the circle unbroken by being what destroyed him so long ago. Don’t blame your parents for cautiously walking away from you once they realize this.
If this isn’t a conversation you’re ready to have with your folks, your only real hope is that Tool’s lyrical subtlety will help convince your parents that the song, while certainly dark, is about something else. Good luck.
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Tara Marie Jason Iannone
Most songs are about nice things — love, friendships, joy, dancing the Macarena, all that fun stuff. But some songs are so disturbing, so horrifying, you’ll regret ever listening to them in the first place. Here are some of the best (worst?) of the creepy song bunch. Enjoy!
Queen: ‘The Show Must Go On’
Since God first farted and created music, Queen has been one of the best bands to perform it, ever. There’s almost no song that Queen has made that you can’t listen to over and over, except for one. The Show Must Go On, undeniably one of their most famous and awesome hits, is also incredibly depressing.
See, Freddie Mercury is dead (spoiler alert) . He died of AIDS, but he didn’t die fast, although he kept it well-hidden. When he recorded The Show Must Go On , he was basically a corpse, albeit a rather lively one. The song, written by Brian May, is basically about Mercury’s state of mind as strove to keep on performing, despite inching closer and closer to that great epic mustache in the sky with every breath.
Legend has it that Mercury was so ravaged by disease at that point, May thought he’d be unable to perform the song. But he swigged some vodka and belted the entire (extremely difficult to sing) song in one take, because Freddie Mercury is the closest thing any of us have ever seen to a god. He died shortly thereafter, leaving this song as basically his beautiful, sad, rather uncomfortable eulogy to himself. een – The Show Must Go On ( Official Video)
Sarah McLachlan: ‘Possession’
Sarah McLachlan’s 1993 song “Possession” sounds like a beautiful, sexy ballad, until you read the lyrics and realize it’s about a creepy stalker-turned-rapist. The chorus goes “I would be the one / to hold you down / kiss you so hard / I’ll take your breath away / and after, I’d wipe away the tears / just close your eyes, dear.” Later, she sings, “Nothing stands between us here / and I won’t be denied,” to really drive home that this couldn’t be less of a love song.
Worse, the song’s based on real people. According to an interview with Rolling Stone, McLachlan had been receiving multiple letters from creepy guys who felt they should be with her. She, as an artist, wrote a song based on those letters. But one of the alleged stalkers sued McLachlan for $250,000 , citing “breach of confidence and breach of moral rights.” Basically, he admitted — in legal documents — to writing two years’ worth of unsolicited letters to someone he didn’t know, then accused McLachlan of betraying his trust by writing about them. For the record, this is not how you win over a woman (or any human being).
The case never went to court because Vandrei killed himself in 1995. While everything turned out OK for McLachlan, the song is still incredibly difficult to listen to once you know the whole story. Sarah McLachlan – Possession
*ABOVE VIDEO SUPER-DUPER UNSAFE FOR WORK*
Most of Eminem’s lyrics, even the vulgar ones, are ultimately tame. Even his attempts at being shocking
like, “wanna see me drive nine inch nails through both of my eyelids” simply makes one think of a really bad cartoon. One of his songs, however goes straight past that and into, “Okay, this man is genuinely dangerous” territory.
Like many angry white boy songs, Kim is about a woman. Like many of Eminem’s angry songs, it’s about his on-again-off-again partner/wife/ex-wife/mother of his daughter, Kim. The song’s a great ride if you’re twisted enough to enjoy hearing rap songs about murdering women. If you’re not, it’s pretty tough to get through even once. The song details Eminem playing with his baby before revealing that he broke into Kim’s house, and has her tied up. He then takes her in a car, screams about every wrong she supposedly did him, wraps it all in a neat little bow with the Shakespeare-esque copulet “BLEED B**** / BLEEEEEEDDDDDD!!” and then brutally kills her.
This would be squirm-in-your-seats-bad enough if it was an entirely fictional tale, but it might not be — well, he obviously didn’t kill her , but Eminem has quite the alleged history of abusing Kim. Even if he hasn’t, he’s still not the nicest guy to her. One time — get this — she attended one of his shows, and he told her he wasn’t going to play Kim. Then, with her there, he played the song, AND he assaulted a blow-up doll in her image as the crowd screamed with approval. Wow, what a laugh-riot that Eminem is!
Kim says she tried to kill herself after the show, and it’s sadly not hard to imagine why. Kim (uncut ) – Eminem
Harry McClintock: ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’
There’s a lost verse in Harry McClintock’s classic folk tune “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” one even the folksiest of folk aficionados might not know about. It describes an apparent epidemic among hobos at the time: picking up kids, enticing them with romantic tales of the vagabond life, and then raping them.
The long-forgotten verse goes : “The punk rolled up his big blue eyes / And said to the jocker, ‘Sandy / I’ve hiked and hiked and wandered, too, / But I ain’t seen any candy / I’ve hiked and hiked till my feet are sore / I’ll be damned if I hike any more / To be buggered sore like a hobo’s whore / In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.'” The “punk” is a young kid, and the “jocker” is the creepy hobo looking for sexual favors. It’s not a surprise this verse has been dropped, is it?
McClintock apparently wrote the song in the early 1900s based on popular hobo tales, but the final verse didn’t go into most recordings. The song had been
copyrighted in 1906 by two others, but McClintock eventually won the rights by producing postcards he’d sent out to radio listeners in the early days. Great for him, but good luck hearing kids sing this song and not shuddering every time. MOUNTAINS – Harry Mac McClintock – 1928
Rammstein: ‘Mein Teil’
Every Rammstein songs sounds angry and scary, but “Mein Teil” might be the scariest of all. It’s easy to ignore the lyrics because they’re in German, but once you learn them , you’ll probably want to stick with “Du Hast” and “Amerika” forevermore.
In English, “Mein Teil” translates to “My Part” or the more suggestive “My Piece.” That’s because, according to a 2004 MTV interview with the band members, the song is about Armin Meiwes, a German cannibal. In 2001, Meiwes cooked and ate various parts of Bernd Juergen Brandes’ body — including his “piece” — before murdering him. That’s disgusting enough, but Brandes actually wanted it to happen. Meiwes had put out an internet ad looking for a “well-built man … for slaughter.” Brandes answered with “I offer myself to you and will let you dine from my live body. Not butchery, dining!!” Not only did he allow himself to be eaten, he even partook in the dining, eating himself like a human Ouroboros. Here’s the end of the paragraph so you can go throw up quick.
It actually could’ve been worse, as Rammstein initially wanted the song’s video to show the actual dinner. Meiwes and Brandes taped their rendezvous, and the band thought showing snippets of a real-life guy butchering, cooking, eating, and killing another person would be perfect for Total Request Live, but the police weren’t interested in releasing it for the purposes of shock rock. Too bad for Rammstein; a huge relief for everybody else. Rammstein – Mein Teil (Official Video)
Beach Boys: ‘Never Learn Not to Love’ (written by Charles Manson)
Charles Manson’s infamy is impossible to separate from pop culture, specifically music. His murders were supposedly inspired by the Beatles song Helter Skelter (which is actually about a damned children’s slide) and he was a failed singer-songwriter, himself. That said, one band actually played one of his songs, and you might have heard of them: the Beach Boys.
Of all the bands that could possibly have a Charles Manson single, the Beach Boys — the “Fun Fun Fun” guys — are among the last you’d suspect. But there you go. Never Learn Not to Love is a slightly altered version of Manson’s Cease to Exist (such a happy title). As the story goes, Dennis Wilson was a friend of Manson’s at one point. The Beach Boys heard Manson’s music and said he was a unique talent — but they meant it in a
good way, because the murders had not started yet. So the group took his song, changed around a few words, and the rest is horrible, horrible history.
Honestly, even though they changed some lyrics, the fact that Charles Manson gets credit is enough for us to giddy up our 409 and drive as far away from anyone playing this song as humanly possible. Boys – Never Learn Not To Love (with lyrics)
Zach Sobiech: ‘Clouds’ (the Cancer Kid song)
Clouds isn’t a song you’ll want to listen to over and over, but the creepiness isn’t exactly lyrical — it’s more … existential. On its own, it’s a slowish, pop-rock song that’s about saying goodbye. The lyrics are pretty good and the melody and vocals are pretty enough in a Jack Johnson sort of way. Oh, yeah, and it was written by Zach Sobiech, a teenager who had terminal cancer, as his farewell song to the world. He’s dead now. Aaand, you’re sad now.
Sobiech wrote Clouds specifically about his life and his journey, going through the process of being a literal child who knew he was going to die. So if you, for some reason, are the type of person who delights in listening to a teenager who — again — is dead now, singing a song about how he knows he’ll be dead soon, go right ahead and listen to it more than once. Meanwhile, we couldn’t even get through The Fault in Our Stars more than once, so we’re gonna take a hard pass here. Clouds by Zach Sobiech
Some athletes rise to the top of their sports and stay in the spotlight seemingly forever, like Michael Jordan, David Beckham, or Butterbean. Even after they retire, many of these high-profile sports stars stick around as coaches, or do color commentary on a sports network, or maybe become the spokesperson for auto insurance or some really snazzy gloves. But that isn’t the destiny of every athlete. Some of them will take a step back from the limelight, and not always intentionally, because life can throw you a curveball, even if you’re a pitcher.
So what exactly happens to those sports stars who make a name but don’t stick around, who retire from their game of choice and go back to the regular world with the rest of us? Not all of them have all that sweet endorsement money to keep them afloat. Some of them need to get real jobs that are maybe a little less glamorous and a little more 9-to-5.
Tito ‘Your Homework is Due’ Santana
In the 1980s, Tito Santana was going toe to toe with the likes of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior in the WWF. In fact, along with Hogan, Santana is the only wrestler from the WWF’s extensive roster who made an appearance at each of the first nine Wrestlemanias. He made his mark as a tag team champ all the way back in 1979 and also reigned as intercontinental champ for a spell as well, proving to be a fan favorite and a guy who could get through a match with Doink the Clown without feeling ashamed.
Santana’s various gimmicks included El Matador and half of the Strike Force tag team with Rick Martel, and he was even immortalized in animated form in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling cartoon.
After leaving the WWF and taking a spin on the independent wrestling circuit, Santana went back to living life as Merced Solis (his legal name) and semi-retired to New Jersey. According to ESPN, Solis currently teaches Spanish at a middle school in New Jersey, though he does make occasional ring appearances for special events. Maybe he bodyslams the odd kid who doesn’t turn in their homework.
America’s hardcore sweetheart, Kerri Strug
Kerri Strug’s performance at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was iconic and unforgettable. After her teammate Monique Moceanu failed both her vault attempts, the gold medal that seemed so certain only a short time before was at risk of slipping through their fingers. Dramatic!
Strug’s first vault jump was not good, and she injured her ankle badly, as she told Huffington Post in 2015. But not making a second attempt would mean forfeiting to the Russians, so on a painful ankle she went all out and nailed it. Her landing was picture perfect and she sealed the victory for Team USA, becoming an instant hero in many people’s eyes. Her coach had to carry her to the podium to accept the gold as she was unable to walk by that point, her leg already wrapped and in a giant splint.
After the Olympics, Strug went to college, first UCLA and later Stanford where she earned a degree in sociology. After spending some time working as a second-grade teacher, she moved on to government work and is now listed as a grant manager at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Karl ‘Not Literally a Mailman But Maybe One Day’ Malone
Two-time NBA MVP Karl Malone was also a 14-time NBA All-Star and scored 36,928 career points , second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He also holds a record for most free-throw attempts and most defensive rebounds in NBA history, and even won two Olympic gold medals. The man was just super good at what he did.
After retiring from the NBA, the sports star entered the business world and really spread his wings, becoming a kind of mega-entrepreneur who did just short of everything. He owns an Arby’s, three Jiffy Lubes, a Burger King, and numerous other businesses, which at first makes it seem like he’s still living a life a little more elite than the rest of us. But also consider how he lives it. For a time, Deseret News reported, he was even in the
trucking business . And he wasn’t just running the business, he was driving the trucks himself.
Now sure, Malone doesn’t need to drive truck to make ends meet, but he’s a man who likes to keep busy and who understands the value of a hard day’s work, so he drove the trucks for the fun of it. After all, someone needs to haul the timber. Why not him?
Giovanni Carmazzi, yoga goatherd
Though you may not recognize the name, in the 2000
NFL draft, Giovanni Carmazzi was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers. He was the second quarterback drafted overall, and was, as Business Insider points out, drafted ahead of the now-legendary Tom Brady , so he should be a big deal, right? Well, Carmazzi was on the roster as a backup QB for the season but didn’t even get a minute of regular-season play in the league. Despite that, he did play against Brady in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game where he completed a disappointing 3 of 7 passes according to the New York Times . Okay, so maybe not the biggest sports star, but at least he played.
After his time in San Francisco ended, Carmazzi left the NFL and went on to play in Europe and Canada for several years before retiring. Because he was drafted before Brady, ESPN looked him up years later for a documentary. Carmazzi, who doesn’t even own a TV, declined to be filmed for the documentary and told ESPN he’s a bit off the grid these days as a practitioner of yoga and a farmer who owns five goats. Truly, success comes in all shapes and sizes.
Vin Baker: From multi-millions to mochaccino
Vin Baker played in the NBA for 13 years and the
Washington Post notes he appeared at four consecutive All-Star games. What should have been a remarkable success story took a bit of a left turn, however. Unfortunately, myriad personal problems plagued Baker, not the least of which was substance abuse. He told Boston’s WBUR he played his first stoned game in 1996, smoking weed before the game and surprising himself by having the best outing of his career to that point. From there it was a rapid downhill spiral of substance abuse, both drug and alcohol, and financial irresponsibility. While he amassed a $100 million fortune, according to Forbes, he lost everything by the time he was done.
Baker managed to turn himself around on a physical level, getting clean and sober, but he was dead broke. He needed a way to support himself and those he cared about, so he called up Howard Schultz. Schultz was his former boss and owner of the SuperSonics, who also happened to own Starbucks. As Baker told Connecticut’s WNPR, Schultz offered him a job at the coffee chain and he took it. Baker was given his green apron and started doling out lattes to make ends meet. It may not be as glamorous as life in the spotlight, but it’s an honest day’s work and he can wow fans by spelling their names incorrectly on the side of cups now.
The Picture Pitcher, Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson holds the title of the oldest player to ever pitch a perfect game, and is one of only five pitchers to pitch no-hitters in both the National and American leagues in baseball, according to ESPN. Sporting News notes he had a career 4,875 strikeouts in his 22 seasons, ranking him second to only Nolan Ryan. Not too shabby and a decent legacy to have in the game.
After retiring from the big leagues at age 47, he fell back on an old passion –- photography . As he told WTOP, Johnson had been a photojournalism major back at USC so it’s a natural second career for him, and something that gives him not just a creative outlet, but a far less physically demanding and stressful one. Randy Johnson Photography is a fairly prominent business, and he’s known for some of his excellent concert photography, having taken pictures on tour with Metallica, KISS, and Rush, among others. Being a former pro ball player does open some doors for you. He’s also photographed USO tours and gone to Africa to capture images of wildlife, which sounds like a decent trade-off as far as careers go.
Maya DiRado got out before she got pruney
At the 2016 Summer Games, Maya DiRado took home
two golds, a silver, and a bronze in swimming, putting her at the top of her game and positioning her to become a legend in the sport if she chose to pursuit it. The options for continuing on competitively, going into coaching or getting endorsement deals must have been plentiful. She’d competed at the collegiate level at Stanford University, and in various mid-level games for several years before qualifying for the games in Rio, so it seemed as though chlorine might be in her blood. But hey, things happen.
Prior to the Olympics, DiRado and her husband, also a swimmer, had purchased a home in Atlanta where they’d planned to settle down. As mentioned in a
Washington Post profile, she’d already been offered a job as a business analyst with McKinsey and Co. as well thanks to her degree in management science and engineering. As far as swimming went, she’d accomplished the goals she wanted to accomplish and that was enough for her. Now she probably just smokes people at the public pool on weekends and spends the rest of her time taking it easy.
Mark Wohlers went off his mark
Mark Wohlers spent 12 years as a relief pitcher, mostly with the Atlanta Braves. He holds the record as the third-fastest pitcher in baseball history with a 103-mph fastball that he tossed out during spring training back in 1995. Seemed like he was definitely in the right industry, but it was not meant to be.
However, he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, sometimes referred to colloquially as Steve Blass syndrome or the yips, which is what you call it when a pitcher seems to lose their ability to control the ball. Wohlers left the game for good. These days Wohlers can be found in Atlanta, where Realtor.com points out you can find the real estate business he runs with his wife and maybe get him to sell your house if you’re so inclined. The two of them are known as Team Wohlers and are doing well in their career together. Wohlers probably never has to hurl a rock through the window of a competitor’s property at 103 miles per hour. Ever.
LaRue Martin knows how to deliver
Back in 1972, LaRue Martin was at the top of his game and the biggest prospect in the NBA. He was taken first overall in the draft by the Portland Trailblazers, so this guy was on the money. But once he was in the big time, things didn’t go as planned for the Loyola star. The New York Post notes he averaged just 5.3 points in 14 minutes per game in four seasons which, if you’re not super into basketball, is pretty much the opposite of what you want a first round pick to be doing. He blames it on not getting enough playing time, while others thought he just couldn’t cut it, but it doesn’t matter anymore. His career was a little lackluster, something he readily admits, but past is past and he still needed to provide for his family.
After he left the game he snagged a job with UPS . As he told Northwest University’s Medhill Reports, he started from the bottom, driving a delivery truck and learning that UPS didn’t hand out a lot of its brown uniforms to 7-footers like him. From there he worked his way up to Illinois district public affairs and community services manager where he’s praised for his work ethic and the positive impact he’s had on the company.
Rick Steiner wrestles with real estate and school boards
One half of the legendary Steiner Brothers tag team from WCW and WWE wrestling, Rick Steiner was a powerhouse in the ring whose gimmick played off of him being somewhat beastly and animalistic –- they called him the Dog-Faced Gremlin. He managed to be an eight-time tag team title holder in the WCW and snagged it twice in the WWE, not to mention a run as WCW’s heavyweight champ.
After leaving the ring behind, he put those skills he used to sell a show to an audience to good use by selling real estate. He also serves on his local school board, where the Associated Press pointed out that despite being disqualified in 2006 for using his Rick Steiner stage name instead of his legal name, Robert Reichsteiner, he was still elected as a write-in candidate after running unopposed. He ran again for a third term back in 2014, and he won that one , too.
Don’t cross Adrian Dantley
With 23,177 points, six-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley was ninth on the all-time scoring list at the time of his retirement. A machine when it came to free throws, owing to an uncanny knack for getting fouled like people were out to get him, Dantley routinely averaged over 30 points a game during his heyday.
Unfortunately, a couple serious injuries slowed his pace, and after 15 years in the game he retired following his recovery from a broken fibula that had sidelined him for an entire year, according to NBA.com.
Dantley pursued coaching for a few years and then, in 2013, the Washington Post reported he was working as a crossing guard in Silver Springs for $14,000 a year. Of course, the story wasn’t what other outlets made it out to be — Dantley wasn’t in dire financial straits, he was just trying to be a good citizen. He likes working in his community and likes helping kids, so it fit into his routine and gives him a lot of time off. No weekend work and a summer vacation … what’s not to love?
Antoine Walker knows how to not spend your money
After being drafted sixth overall in the NBA’s 1996 draft, Antoine Walker filled the gap left by Larry Bird and led the Celtics in scoring in his rookie year. He went on to become a three-time All-Star and NBA champ, averaging 20 or more points in five of his seven seasons in Boston, according to the Boston Globe , and racking up over $100 million in his career. Fame and fortune are definitely not easy to manage, however, and by 2010 the sports star was forced to file for bankruptcy.
In so many words, Walker lost literally everything to the temptations of living large — helping friends and family, buying fancy cars and homes — until it was all gone. How do you blow through $100 million so quickly? Walker told Complex that one day he bought a Maybach Mercedes on a whim, setting him back around $400,000.
Now, in a unique position in life to understand what it’s like to be on top and fall, he works as a consultant with Morgan Stanley Global Sports and Entertainment, according to USA Today, helping young athletes learn how to manage money and not go down the same ruinous path he traveled, tossing out money like rice at a wedding.
So you’ve made it to the Olympics. No, not as a spectator, although getting tickets to the biggest events is a pretty impressive feat in and of itself, but as an athlete. You’ve worked your butt off for this. Suddenly there are TV cameras in your face everywhere you go and a ton of pressure on your back. You can do the right thing and train up until the minute your name is called out, or you can go a bit crazy. Why not get drunk, find a bed partner, and eat a bunch of fast food? And if you get too stressed there’s always a therapy dog to calm you. This is the sort of crazy stuff that goes on behind the scenes that regular viewers like us never get to see.
They eat a ton of McDonald’s
Olympians have to be disciplined in so many areas of their lives. They have to wake up early and work out numerous hours a day. They have to be available for random drug tests all the time. And, of course, they have to be fastidious when it comes to diet. That is until they actually get to the Olympics, when being careful about food seems to go out the window.
It all comes down to McDonald’s being a sponsor.
According to Eater , they don’t just get to set up a restaurant in the regular Olympic park for chubby punters to enjoy, they also have an outpost in the Olympic Village itself to cater to all those eight-or-more-ab-packed Olympians. And they want to give those athletes a reason to show up, so in Rio they offered free food to all of them. The problem was it became too popular, and it’s probably not shocking that people who work out all day without getting paid can really pack food away, so they finally had to add a limit of 20 items per order.
Mickey D’s can be a welcome sight in countries that don’t have Western food. Usain Bolt found that out when he was in China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
ESPN says his autobiography recorded him eating 1,000 McNuggets over 10 days of competition, as well as mountains of fries and the odd apple pie to sate his sweet tooth.
Everyone in the Olympic Village is boning
Some athletes have to compete repeatedly and stay totally committed to their sport, but some have more one-and-done events and find themselves with two weeks of time on their hands. And, shockingly, these people who have been working out every day for the past four years are in really good shape. Really good, really sexy shape. And they suddenly find themselves surrounded by equally athletic, attractive people with lots of free time. So they do what most anyone would do in that situation and start boning like their lives depend on it.
According to CNN , event organizers expected 2018 in Pyeongchang to be the sexiest Olympics on record. Only 100 more athletes competed than in Sochi, but 10,000 more condoms were shipped in for a total of 110,000.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Olympic Village is composed of nothing more than bedrooms and bored athletes. But in reality the participants have a lot of things they can do that doesn’t involve bedroom gymnastics (or bedroom luge, for the adventurous). They have food available 24/7, gyms they can work off that extra energy in, and even multifaith areas where they can go and pray for gold. How depraved are these people that they choose belly-bumping their sculpted abs over church?
It’s not just the athletes. While there are about 37 condoms per person to last them two weeks, media members get their own supply. Even spectators get some.
They get drunk and do interviews (as well as other things)
After you’ve proven to the world that you’re the greatest at what you do, you might think you deserve a cheeky drink. And that’s fine in theory, but you’re representing your country and sometimes alcohol leads to problems.
Take Hope Solo, the famous soccer goalie for the U.S. women’s team. According to Business Insider, she admitted in 2012 that her whole team went out celebrating the night after they won gold in 2008. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your win, unless, that is, you know you have a TV interview early in the morning. Solo says the girls went out and got off their faces, then changed clothes and went on Today without any sleep. Fortunately, they hid their drunken drowsiness well, with only one slip-up when Solo called the Games the World Cup.
Athletes who talked to ESPN say some coaches do try to ban alcohol consumption before competitions, but it doesn’t always work. But once the closing ceremonies come around, everyone is finished with their sport and can completely let rip. One participant said, “They basically throw us all in a stadium and say, ‘Just go for it, party hard, get drunk, and do some groping.'” What you don’t see on TV is athletes arriving drunk, then sneaking away to get even more drinks before rejoining the scrum on the field. It’s the last chance for them to go wild for four years.
They get their dental problems fixed at the Games
There are a lot of perks to being an Olympian: the Wheaties’ box covers, the national recognition, the Olympic Village aggressive cuddling. Perhaps the most surprising is that if you have problems with your teeth you can get them fixed for free, but only once you get there.
According to the Spokesman-Review , being an Olympian does a number not only on your body but on your teeth. Or as the dental director for the International Olympic Committee Paul Piccininni put it, “They have bodies of Adonis and a garbage mouth.”
Dental problems get so bad that it can actually stop athletes from competing, which is why every games has a bunch of dentists standing by to fix any issues. And you don’t have to break your teeth slamming face-first into a wall on the skeleton; these can be problems that built up over time. Athletes spend their days training and drinking sugary sports drinks that do a number on their teeth. Mouth guards wear away enamel. Even dehydration from working out can affect your tooth health. It’s a perfect storm of problems, and since they don’t hold down normal jobs, a lot of participants don’t have good dental insurance. But they know if they can just make it to the games they can get all the necessary work done for free. It’s not weird to have an athlete come in in the middle of the night for root canal surgery.
They cost an absurd amount of money to put on
If you’re just a casual observer of the Olympics, you could be forgiven for thinking they’re great value for the money the host cities throw at them. Sure, they have to build a bunch of special stadiums, but they get so much free advertising for two weeks it might as well be millions in free travel advertising. Unfortunately, just about every metric shows that hosting the games is a money sink.
The Council on Foreign Relations cites Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup . According to the book, every Olympics since 1960 has cost a lot more than expected and didn’t make any cash out of it. By 1972, Denver actually became the first selected host city to turn down its bid because someone realized how much it would actually cost. The 1976 games in Montreal were so costly it took three decades to pay them off, according to statistical blog FiveThirtyEight .
It’s gotten so bad that several aspiring host cities have pulled bids. Oslo and Stockholm both backed out of their 2022 bids, and Boston dropped the 2024 games, with the mayor saying he wouldn’t “mortgage the future of the city away.” And more are following suit. It seems the Olympics just aren’t a good investment.
‘Post-Olympic depression,’ for winners or losers
The buildup to an Olympics is long and intense. Some people have been working every day for almost their whole lives just to get there, medal or not. Competing leads to a huge adrenaline dump, and many people, if they placed last or came home with the gold, have a hard time coming back from that.
According to The Atlantic, Michael Phelps is perhaps the biggest example of this. He won a record eight medals in Beijing and then completely collapsed. He said he “barely trained” for the 2012 London games and in 2014 got a DUI. He said he fell into “the darkest place you could ever imagine.” But he is far from the only one. Mark Spitz, the Michael Phelps of the 1970s, had such a hard time moving on from his swimming fame that he tried to qualify for the Olympics in his forties. And there are dozens of others who have admitted falling into a deep depression after the Games.
Clinical sports psychologist Kristin Keim says the key is to build a personality off the playing field. Too many athletes throw themselves so into their sport that they don’t see how they’re important or worthy without it. Caroline Silby, a sports psychologist and former competitive skater, says a lot of athletes fall prey to something we can all have at times: “impostor syndrome,” where we think we’re just tricking everyone into thinking we know what the hell is going on.
Qualifying can be more stressful than competing (and therapy dogs help)
Most people don’t care about 99 percent of sports at the Olympics until the games actually start. Curling qualifiers aren’t exactly the Super Bowl when it comes to coverage. But the athletes are out there doing their thing week after week, and in some cases actually qualifying for the Olympics can be harder than finally being there.
In the run-up to the 2018 Pyeongchang games, People reported Lindsey Vonn didn’t go anywhere without one of her furry friends. While she has three dogs, the tiniest, Lucy, accompanies her everywhere as she trains and qualifies.
Petcha says it even goes beyond that. In preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the USA Swimming program brought in 30 dogs to act as therapy pals for stressed-out swimmers. It seemed to help, so they expect this trend to continue. Something about looking in a dog’s eyes and knowing he just wants petting and love helps create distance from the intense stress of the Olympics.
During the 2014 Sochi Olympics there was a bit of a stray dog problem, and lots of feral furry friends were euthanized. But when people heard what was happening many of them adopted the stray dogs. Slate even came up with creative ways you could add dogs to various winter events — wouldn’t having a pooch in figure skating be a huge step up?
Infrastructure is always a problem
The 2014 Sochi Olympics became famous for how crappy they were. Athletes showed up and soon started flooding Twitter with images of everything around them that wasn’t as you would expect. Sochi had years of preparation to get this done; surely doors should be able to close correctly! But the problems at Sochi were nothing new. According to GQ , the problems were par for the course at the Olympics. The 1900 games in Paris were so disorganized that some athletes competed and had absolutely no idea what they had just done, helped by the fact that there were no medal ceremonies.
It was so hard to get to the 1904 St. Louis Olympics (no highways to Middle America yet) that only 12 countries showed up. The 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid were also dogged by transportation issues, with just 80 of the 300 planned buses running. And public transport is terrible at the best of times.
Sarajevo’s 1984 Games were a complete farce, considering they were involved in an actual war at the time. The bobsled track was used as an artillery stronghold, among other crazy thing that would seem weird if you read them in a novel.
Then there was Sochi 2014, where lightbulbs became a bartering tool among athletes. People were especially desperate to trade for door knobs. Some had no pillows, and others found paint still drying in their rooms. Ahh, luxury and paint fumes.
They used to pay taxes on their winnings
There are very few things you can do to make your country look better than winning a medal at the Olympics. Unfortunately, the (U.S.) tax man doesn’t care about that, or he didn’t until very recently. He still wanted his cut of the money.
The problem was that Olympians get paid cash for winning by their national Olympic committees. Also, although gold medals aren’t pure gold and silver medals aren’t pure silver, they’re still worth something and therefore can be taxed. A gold medal is worth about $600, silver around $300, and poor lowly bronze didn’t get taxed because it was worth less than $5.
Then there’s the cash. The Olympics themselves don’t reward athletes, but their individual country’s Olympic programs do. According to Fox Business, an American gold medalist takes home $37,500, and gets taxed on it. In 2016 at the Rio Olympics, Michael Phelps was left with a $55,000 tax bill after winning six medals, according to Time .
Eventually, President Obama realized this was crazy and said only Olympians who make more than $1 million per year through sponsorship and whatnot have to pay taxes on their winnings ( via Yahoo Finance ). And since superstars like Shaun White are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to endorsements, that means most athletes no longer have to pay tax on their winnings. Just hope none of them go on to win a Nobel Prize, since that still gets a visit from the tax man.
It costs a huge amount to get there
Getting to the Olympics means you’ve beaten the best in the world, become superpowers at the top of your sport. Or it just means you can afford it. Plenty of talented athletes miss out on the gold because they can’t afford it.
Indian luger Shiva Keshavan has been training for years in the foothills of the Himalayas. Amazingly, according to CNN , he doesn’t actually get much snow and trains on a sled with wheels. And it has taken him to the Olympics every games since 1998 when he was just 16. In his 20 years of Olympics he has only been able to afford a part-time coach and had a regular job at a restaurant on the side. He barely made it to the 2018 Olympics because he couldn’t afford the flights needed to get the places where he would qualify. And training isn’t cheap. According to him it costs $100,000 a year, with a basic sledge costing $5,000 minimum.
Luge isn’t the only high-ticket sport. Time says figure skating is another one of the priciest, with coaches making $120 an hour. And these are kids that train many hours a day, six days a week. Parents have to really commit to their children’s Olympic success, with training, costumes, and various other fees costing $50,000 a year by some estimates.
And there are many more. If you want to be an Olympian, be prepared to give up years of your life and thousands of dollars to achieve your dream.
No one wants their sports heroes to be mere mortals. Not when they can be golden gods, capable of feats the rest of us lowly humans could only dream of. No mere mortal can stick that landing, run that 4.7 40, or hit that long ball 600 feet.
But behind the million-dollar publicists, watered-down personas, and endearing shoe commercials, athletes are still just men and women. Men and women who won the genetic lottery, for sure, but they often have deep, dark sides, and the money to keep those dark sides under wraps.
For every O.J. Simpson, there are ten athletes who did something awful and somehow seemed to just walk away. What makes these Teflon sportsmen so special? How did their time in the courtroom not affect our fandom in the living room?
Here are just a few of the athletes who’ve done horrible things, and somehow survived with their reputations intact.
Adrian Peterson exposed cultural fault lines after disciplining his son
Not that long ago, Adrian Peterson was considered the best running back in the NFL, racking up seven Pro Bowl appearances and being named first team All-Pro four times. Unfortunately, one fateful incident nearly derailed his career, his reputation, and his life.
On May 18, 2014, Peterson attempted to discipline his 4-year-old son for fighting with his brother. What he did next has been highly debated , often along lines of culture and class. While some parents may have chosen a timeout or just grounded the boy, Peterson used a switch, which is basically a light branch, whipping his son on the back, legs, arms, and behind.
When the boy returned to his mother, a doctor claimed the wounds were evidence of child abuse, resulting in
an indictment for misdemeanor reckless assault and a lost year in the NFL. Peterson would come back the following season and win another rushing record, but his reputation has never been quite the same.
Kobe barely escapes rape trial
For Kobe Bryant, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, which might explain why he’s still a free man. Younger NBA fans may not remember the Laker legend’s brush with the law, but back in the summer of 2003 it was the biggest story in sports.
Bryant, already a three-time NBA champion, was staying at The Lodge & Spa in Cordillera, Colorado, prepping for off-season surgery, when a hotel employee claimed the Lakers icon raped her. According to her interview with the police, Bryant choked the 19-year-old front desk attendant before forcing himself on her. The case was brought to trial and quickly turned ugly. Her reputation savaged in court, the accuser announced she wouldn’t cooperate with the prosecution, pursuing a civil trial instead.
The two eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, and Kobe continued his career, winning two more titles, countless accolades, and a freakin’ Oscar. These days, most fans don’t like to dwell on how close the all-time great came to spending the rest of his career behind bars. It’s more convenient to think about the good times.
Peyton Manning apparently couldn’t handle rejection
Whether he’s winning Super Bowls, hosting awards shows, or pushing pizza, chances are Peyton Manning’s doing it in some sort of aw shucks, non-offensive manner. This guy has made bank by being bland, and yet even one of the most market-tested athletes of our time can have a skeleton in the ole’ closet.
Back in 1996, while Manning was still a student at the University of Tennessee, he apparently asked out a female personal trainer, Jamie Ann Naughright, and was quickly rebuffed. Unhappy with her answer, he proceeded to drop trou, shoving his nether bits into the woman’s face. But here’s the thing, Manning was the school’s star QB at the time, so his punishment was mild, losing dining hall privileges and being forced to do some early morning runs. Naughright, unsurprisingly, wasn’t satisfied with Manning’s dinner dilemma as punishment, and sued the school for $300,000.
All seemed settled until Manning wrote about the incident in his book, Manning: A Father, His Sons, and a Football Legacy, calling Naughright a “vulgar woman.” Thus, another lawsuit, and another settlement, which put a gag order on all parties involved.
That is, until Manning again brought up the incident in an interview with ESPN Classic Sports Century: Peyton Manning, forcing Naughright to go back to court one last time. Being a champion is one thing; knowing when to keep your mouth shut is another.
Jason Kidd tormented ex-wife
No one has ever played basketball exactly like Jason Kidd, the pass-first point guard whose leadership made up for his lack of a jump shot. Over his nearly two decades in the NBA, he racked up records like a hipster in a vinyl shop. Unfortunately, there’s another side to this b-ball lifer, according to his ex-wife.
She says Kidd isn’t the likable superstar fans see on TV, but a serial adulterer and abuser who made her life a living hell. According to documents Joumana Kidd filed during her divorce from the NBA superstar, he was sleeping with half the Western hemisphere while keeping her on a short leash using violence. She says he hit her while pregnant, once kicked her in the stomach, and attacked her with everything from a rock to a cookie.
Kidd’s counterclaim accused her of domestic violence and claimed she was “increasingly controlling and manipulative,” but a 2001 arrest for punching Joumana in the mouth seems to substantiate her story. The couple have been divorced since 2007, with Kidd going on to win an NBA championship and become a coach in the league, but the tabloid stories surrounding this nasty divorce will last a lifetime.
NFL player Kellen Winslow got turned on at Target
For some brands, the type of publicity that Kellen Winslow Jr. brought them back in 2014 would be worth millions, but for the NFL journeyman, it nearly cost him time behind bars.
It all began with Winslow’s arrest for possession of synthetic marijuana in a Target parking lot. Probably not the high point of the Pro Bowler’s life, but certainly not a career killer. That is, until NJ.com’s Dom Cosentino started digging around and found out that smoking counterfeit kush was just the tip of the icky iceberg.
Apparently, Winslow’s arrest came after a bystander noticed the tight end enjoying his Cadillac Escalade for more than the leather seats. That’s right, according to the police report he could have been flagged for holding his own miniature football player. By the time the police showed up, Winslow Jr.’s Junior was put away, and he was insistent there had been no public polishing of the helmet.
Instead, he said he was just looking for a Boston Market, which is a funny thing to call it. While the officer never witnessed Winslow in the act, the two open containers of Vaseline didn’t exactly scream a craving for rotisserie chicken.
In the end, he was only charged with possession, but that doesn’t mean all was forgiven. The locker room never forgets. Just ask his former teammate, Antonio Cromartie, who needled him via Twitter in 2015, asking if he’d been to Target lately.
Ben Roethlisberger twice accused of sexual assault
Ben Roethlisberger will never have to buy his own beer in Pittsburgh again. He’s a legend for life, and apparently nothing can change that. Any player that’s been accused of rape not once, but twice, and still gets to suit up every weekend is clearly untouchable.
The first accusation came from a civil suit filed by Andrea McNulty in 2009, claiming that the Super Bowl-winning QB forced himself on her at a Harrah’s hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She eventually settled with Roethlisberger out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Roethlisberger was again embroiled in a scandal in 2010, when an anonymous college student alleged he raped her in a bar bathroom in Milledgeville, Georgia. She eventually wrote a letter to the prosecution, asking them not to prosecute, not because she was recanting her story, but because she was afraid of the personal toll a trial would take on her.
Roethlisberger was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and lost a slew of endorsements. But, because if you can win on Sunday all is forgiven, Nike stood by him, and he eventually signed a record-breaking four-year contract with the Steelers, making him one of the richest players in football.
Jim Brown has been accused of attempted murder and rape
Jim Brown is celebrated for many things — his legendary career on the gridiron, his film stardom, and perhaps most importantly, his activism. He’s been at the nexus of sports and politics for decades, helping pave the way for stars like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick. He’s also been charged with beating or raping women six times, including assault with intent to commit murder. As he told Inside Sports in 1981 after beating up a couple police officers who once responded to a call, “You got to have something, goin’ out dealing with 270-pound lineman for a living. You quit playing, but that doesn’t just go away.”
Over five decades, he’s been accused of beating a girlfriend nearly unconscious, beating and then throwing two women down a flight of stairs, and forcing himself on a woman in his home. His wife accused him of threatening to murder her, and he even served nearly four months in jail for refusing to attend domestic violence counseling.
In his memoir, Out of Bounds , the former football star
denied a number of the accusations , but did say he had slapped women. “And I never should have,” he wrote, “I don’t think any man should slap a woman. … I don’t start fights, but sometimes I don’t walk away from them. It hasn’t happened in a long time, but it’s happened, and I regret those times. I should have been more in control of myself, stronger, more adult.”
Alex Rodriguez was once the face of steroids
Whoever Alex Rodriguez paid to rehab his image over the last few years has more than earned their money. These days J-Lo’s better half is best known as the face of baseball on Fox, back in good graces with the Yankees, and was even floated as a possible manager for the team. That’s a world away from where he was a
few years ago, an unlikable clubhouse cancer, and the face of the sport’s steroid epidemic.
For years, A-Rod denied he ever took a banned substance, calling the rumors a ” witch hunt” and fighting tooth and nail to overturn his suspension for the entirety of the 2014 season. In a statement at the time he said, “The deck has been stacked against me from day one. … This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test.”
Meanwhile, behind closed doors, and under oath, prosecutors forced him to admit the truth . That he’d paid $12,000 a month for two years to a fake doctor in exchange for performance-enhancing drugs.
He told Joe Buck in 2017 that he would often lay awake at night, wondering, “How the F did I get myself in this position?’ I’m the only jackass that has pocket aces and figures out a way to lose the hand.” Well, if his beautiful girlfriend and charmed life are any indication, it looks like he got those pocket aces back.
Jameis Winston has repeatedly been accused of sexual assault
Jameis Winston is one of the NFL’s more promising young quarterbacks, helping to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to relevance. Unfortunately, his story is a lot more complicated than his Sunday celebrations would have you believe.
Winston’s issues began during his time at Florida State University, when he racked up a laundry list of infractions, from stealing $32 worth of crab legs from a Tallahassee Publix to stealing soda from a Burger King. He was also suspended one game for yelling vulgarities in the middle of a campus dining hall. And, sure, these mistakes may all seem within the bounds of a typical college kid acting out, but what happened in December 2012 surely wasn’t.
According to Erica Kinsman , a fellow student, Winston raped her and then worked with the school and local police to obstruct the case . The two would eventually reach a settlement, but Winston would win a Heisman Trophy and become the face of an NFL franchise. If a recent accusation of groping an Uber driver is any indication, Winston still has a long way to go to clear his name.
Ray Lewis was once accused of murder
These days, Ray Lewis is one of the faces of football on Fox, a broadcaster who opines every weekend and gets paid millions for doing it. Back in January 2000, he was still a star for the Baltimore Ravens, and about to take part in one of the darkest days of his life.
It was the night after Super Bowl XXXIV. Lewis and friends were leaving a nightclub in Atlanta when they got mixed up in an altercation that left two men, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, dead.
Lewis was originally charged with two counts of murder, but pleaded down to obstruction of justice after providing testimony against two of his companions that night, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting. According to a witness the night of the murders, Lewis fled the scene, muttering, “I’m not trying to end my career like this.” And he didn’t, receiving one year of probation and a $250,000 fine.
Lewis insists that night is never far from his mind,
telling the Baltimore Sun, “No day leaves this Earth without me asking God to ease the pain of anybody who was affected by that whole ordeal.” Still, he’s gotten the chance to finish out his Hall of Fame-worthy career, which is more than most with a murder charge on their rap sheet could hope for.
Dez Bryant attacked his own mother
When people think of troubled NFL players, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott often comes to mind. But few remember that his teammate and
staunch defender Dez Bryant has also had a run-in with the law.
Back in 2012, Bryant was arrested for attacking his mother during an argument, hitting her face with his baseball cap and tearing her shirt after she tried to break up a fight between the wide receiver and his brother. In a police interview, Bryant’s mother said he “started talking about how he’s going to knock me out.”
While Bryant’s arrest could have resulted in a fine of up to $4,000 or a year in jail, he cut a deal with prosecutors, promising to stay out of trouble for the next 12 months. Bryant has gone on to become a three time Pro-Bowler and does seem to have stayed out of trouble. In 2013, he even spoke at a “Men Against Abuse” rally in Dallas, declaring, “I’m done with domestic abuse.”
Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson headbutted wife
In the end, it was a box of condoms that set him off. Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson has been a superstar receiver in the NFL, a reality show fixture and one of the most tenacious tweeters in football, but when Johnson was arrested in August 2012, he was a jealous husband wondering why his wife had bought a box of condoms.
What began as an argument quickly turned physical. According to a police report filed at the time, Johnson grabbed his then-wife, Evelyn Lozada, and headbutted her. By the time the cops had arrived, a three inch laceration was visible on her forehead.
Johnson ending up pleading no contest to misdemeanor domestic battery and was sentenced to probation. He and Lozada divorced shortly after the incident , having been married for only 41 days.
Johnson did end up serving time, though, after
celebrating his plea deal in court by patting his lawyer on the butt. The presiding judge was unamused, to say the least, and sentenced the football star to 30 days in jail, of which he served seven.
Ah, race car driving. The gasoline-powered sweet science. America’s favorite pastime to experience at 200 miles per hour. All the best left turns you could ask for. If competitive sports are an amusement park, then racing is the treacherous-looking Tilt-A-Whirl in the back corner that keeps throwing bolts and washers every time you turn it on. As such, it can attract some really odd ducks. “But how?” you may ask. “How could a world dominated by ludicrously high speeds and repetitive actions attract the quirky, the half-a-bubble-off-plumb, as race car drivers?” Yes, it’s a complete mystery.
Be that as it may, over the years, the field of ultra-fast vroom-vrooms and crash-bangs has brought in its fair share of irregular produce, psychologically speaking. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Some of the world’s most interesting people are bananas. Let’s take a look at a few of the nutrageous bars who decided they wanted to go fast.
‘Tiger’ Tom Pistone: King of Atlantis
Retired NASCAR driver Tom Pistone would know a few things about cautionary measures. Pistone says when he started out, he raced on a seedy track run by a man named Andy Granatelli who hired race car drivers specifically to crash the other cars on the course, hoping to give the audience a thrill. Coming from a place of extreme showmanship would be enough to make anyone nervous, but even by those standards, Pistone may have taken things a bit far.
See, in 1960, during a qualifying run at the Daytona Speedway, fellow driver Tommy Irwin lost control of his car and crashed it into Lake Lloyd, the man-made lake at the center of the track. Did he drown? No, he did not. “And neither,” one assumes Tom Pistone shouted with his finger pointed heavenward, “shall I.”
So during Pistone’s race, he drove wearing a life preserver and an oxygen tube. You know, in case the worst happened to him. Even odd ducks gotta float.
Ryan Blaney desperately wants to be a Jedi
As the Star Wars universe continues to expand and slowly envelop everything in existence like heat death scored by John Williams, questions remain that keep many of us awake at night. Questions like “How many parsecs would it take for a stock car to make the Kessel Run?”
For the answer to that, consult Ryan Blaney. He’s, well, he’s not just a Star Wars fan. He may be the Star Wars fan.
The driver of the Number 12 Penske car has a deep and abiding love of a galaxy far, far away, and it’s a light he won’t hide under a bushel. The banner art for his podcast, ” The Glass Case of Emotion,” features an artist’s depiction of Blaney as Luke from the poster for A New Hope . He celebrated the release of Rogue One by
tweeting a picture of himself posing with a lightsaber and staring into the camera, unashamed. He even
attended the red carpet premiere of The Last Jedi, which is basically the Wonka Factory tour of nerdiness.
And in case you were wondering, he disliked that scene where Luke drinks milk out of a space aardvark just as much as you did. Ryan Blaney just loves Star Wars so much, you guys.
Jules Goux is not your role model
There are rules that are easy to take for granted, that we just assume have always been in place. They are the unspoken laws of the social contract: Don’t punch the petting zoo animals. No hoverboards on the escalator. Don’t down four bottles of champagne while you’re driving in the Indy 500. But it’s a tragic and — at least in the case of the hoverboard thing — hilarious truth that rules only exist because they have, at some point, been broken.
In 1913, during the third Indy 500 in history, Jules Goux was having a mighty fine day. He was in the lead after only five laps. During a pit stop on Lap 15, he ordered some chilled wine. Records vary somewhat, but historians broadly agree that over the next three pit stops he consumed between four and six bottles of champagne, or roughly four to six more bottles of champagne than a person is supposed to drink when driving a car with no safety features as fast as they can.
The end result? Race car drivers could no longer drink alcohol during races. Oh, and Goux won. By a ridiculous 13 minutes.
Jim Rathmann lied royally
Who hasn’t lied on a job application? Who hasn’t exaggerated a little bit about their skill set or claimed that they had more experience than they actually had or stolen their older brother’s identity and kept it for over 60 years?
Well, maybe that last one is more of a niche category.
The racer you might know as Jim Rathmann fits that niche. When he was young, Rathmann was still going by his given name, Royal Richard Rathmann. Royal wanted to go fast, but age restrictions prohibited him from doing so. So Royal did what any of us would do: According to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s website, he swapped IDs with his older brother Jim and entered a stock car race. The change stuck, and the newly christened Jim Rathmann debuted in the Indy 500 at 20 years old, and later became an Indy 500 champion and one of the most influential racers of his generation, albeit one with the wrong date of birth listed on his records.
Tom ‘The Gasman’ Sneva advocates for disappearing
Good luck finding Tom Sneva. The man is a human disappearing act.
You could say the trick goes all the way back to his infamous 1975 crash at Indianapolis, where he opened his magic routine by touching wheels with another driver, turning his own car into an automobile-based variation on the “cut a lady in half” illusion.
It was in that crash that he first started his vanishing act, losing, as Sneva himself told the Indianapolis Star, “a set of lips and a nose … but they grew back, bigger than ever.” Facial features weren’t all Sneva wanted to lose that day, though. He wanted his consciousness gone, too. He was later quoted as saying “In a situation like that it’s important to talk to yourself: ‘Faint, you coward, faint!'”
Today, Tom continues his journey into invisibility. He doesn’t own a cell phone or an email address. His reasoning? Then “people can’t find you.” Five bucks says he never needed an ice pack for those burns. He’s plenty chilling as is.
Bobby Unser really wants his $75 back
How far would you go for $75? Probably not as far as Bobby Unser.
In 1996, Unser underwent a harrowing ordeal. He and a friend were out snowmobiling in New Mexico when their vehicles broke down. They battled the elements for two days, essentially embodying the Liam Neeson spirit animal that lives in all humans faced with death by Mother Nature . Then they found a barn and hung out until they were rescued.
When they were rescued, it was discovered they had been snowmobiling in a designated wilderness area, which is a no-no at a federal level. They were charged a $75 fine. No big deal, right? If you go out on a quiet night in the canyons of New Mexico, you might still hear Unser replying with a bellowed, echoing “NO.”
Unser fought the fine, which again, was cheaper than some parking tickets, taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case. You’ll bounce back, Bobby. Uber is always hiring.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. shoots dead cars
At some point or another, we’ve all had a special collection of things near and dear to our hearts. Millenials had Pokemon cards. Their parents had boxes of bottle caps and notebooks full of stamps. And with greater financial stability comes the ability to amass more colorful trophies.
Enter Dale Earnhardt Jr. While your standard gearhead might have a project car or two and maybe a shelf covered in Hot Wheels, Earnhardt prefers a more life-sized and objectively weird hobby: He owns a car wreck graveyard, according to USA Today.
Yes, Dale Junior’s equivalent to a stack of comic book is a stretch of land called Dirty Mo’ Acres, containing dozens of dead race cars. In it, you can find the remains of such vehicles as a Jimmie Johnson #48, Will Power’s #12 Indy car, which now resides in a tree , and one of Earnhardt’s own #8 cars, which he told NASCAR.com he uses for target practice . No respect for the dead.
Junior Johnson’s family gig
A lot of families enjoy the occasional holiday get-together over a couple drinks. If you’re like Junior Johnson’s family, you enjoyed running an illegal moonshine operation and based your livelihood on cosplaying a shirts-and-skins reenactment of the Volstead Act.
Yep, Junior Johnson’s father ran a whiskey still back in the ’50s. Junior was a runner, transporting that smooth North Carolina jet fuel from place to place. While he was never caught making deliveries, the future Indy 500 winner was arrested in 1956 at his pa’s still when federal revenue agents ambushed him, according to the
Associated Press. He was charged with the production of “non-tax-paid whiskey” and spent 11 months behind bars. When he was released, Junior pursued a successful career in stock car racing. They even made a movie out of his story in the ’70s called The Last American Hero.
Thirty years later, he was granted a retroactive presidential pardon by Ronald Reagan. Oh, and in 2007, he became the co-owner of a moonshine distillery . But all legal-like this time.
Dale Jarrett basically lived an Aesop’s fable about laziness
Dale Jarrett started his career in racing from the proverbial mail room. His father managed a race track in North Carolina and gave a teenage Dale a job running errands and performing menial tasks around the property. One of his chores: cutting the lawn on the makeshift grass parking lot.
Dale, disinclined to spend his days pushing a mower up and down a field, made what we can all agree was his only logical decision: He traded a golf club for a couple of goats and set them loose on the grass. The problem was, the goats weren’t into grass. They had more exotic palates. What these goats wanted, you see, was to eat big chunks of cars. You know. Goat stuff.
The animals apparently went wild for the upholstery inside a series of decorative wrecked jalopies left in the lot. According to Dale , they wouldn’t eat grass “if you put it in their mouths.” We all learned an important lesson here today.
Tim Flock beats Friends to the punch by 40 years
Who hasn’t wanted a pet monkey at some point? Tim Flock certainly has. But what separates the greats like Flock from the rest of us? Flock does something about it.
According to Fox Sports , for eight glorious races in 1953, Tim Flock drove with a rhesus monkey named Jocko Flocko as his copilot. What does a monkey do in a race car, you might wonder? You know, monkey stuff. Hop around, probably. Maybe look for ticks. Oh, and find the trap door installed in the floor of the car to more easily spot tire damage, open the door mid-race, and go full Tasmanian Devil inside the speeding vehicle,
screaming and tearing at Flock’s face.
Flock was less than enthused about this pragmatic style of high-speed monkey shenanigans and retired Jocko at his next pit stop. No solid evidence on where the mad primate wound up, but all signs points to him being in the back seat of your car right this minute, waiting for his moment to strike.
NBA action, it’s fantastic!
That’s one of the league’s old catchphrases from the 1980s, and it still rings true. In addition to being fantastic, things in the NBA can also get pretty dang strange, especially once the players leave the court, the crowds go home, and the lights in the arenas are switched off. Many eccentric guys have filled various starting lineups over the years, and have gone on to become downright legendary for their weirdness. They’ve drawn lots of attention for their bizarre spending habits, odd personal behavior, and, well, there’s Dennis Rodman’s whole persona, which probably belongs in a category all its own. He’s still making headlines even though he retired from the NBA after the 1999-2000 season.
Here’s a rundown of several of the oddest players that have appeared in the league in recent years, along with a few others that helped set the bar when it comes to NBA eccentricity. Whether they’re still playing or have since retired, these basketball stars are really weird people off the court.
Don’t ask Russell Westbrook about his left hand
Russell Westbrook has spent his career playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s also demonstrated some truly peculiar habits. That’s one of the reasons the New York Times described him as a “misunderstood genius” in a 2017 profile written by journalist Sam Anderson.
As Anderson revealed, Westbrook writes with his left hand, but shoots hoops with his right. Ambidexterity isn’t all that odd, but Westbrook became angry when Anderson noticed this while he was signing a stack of documents. “Don’t put that in your article,” Westbrook told him. When Anderson jokingly tried to make a bargain with him so he could publish what seemed like a pretty insignificant detail, the point guard cursed at him. “[It was] with so much venom it made me laugh out loud,” Anderson wrote.
In addition to being sensitive about his writing hand and getting into weird feuds with the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, Anderson is very particular about when the Thunder start their practice layups before each game. They must start when the pregame clock strikes exactly 6:17, but he has yet to explain why. Westbrook, who made $26 million during the 2016-’17 season, also insists on paying all of his bills himself, and has been known to bring them into the Thunder lunchroom — and quibble over any amounts he thinks are incorrect.
The sugary sweet weirdness of James Harden
Along with owning a closet stuffed full of some pretty wild and stylish clothes, the Houston Rockets’ James Harden has a face that’s currently home to one of the most famous and downright craziest beards in NBA history. He’s grown it long, and his career has grown along with it. The beard has helped him land lots of endorsement deals — one of which is pretty sweet, literally as well as figuratively.
According to a 2016 article in Forbes, Harden signed a deal with Ferrara Candy’s Trolli brand that kicked off with an odd advertisement revealing the contents of Harden’s brain. Spoiler: the primary thing on his mind at the time was, apparently, the company’s Sour Brite Crawlers. He also stores candy in his basketball and digs into it while driving towards the hoop, if this follow-up is to be believed. Later, his beard landed its own
digital video and got to participate in a mock press conference, sans Harden. It even has its own line of gummi candy called Trolli Sour Brite Weird Beards, James Harden Edition.
This all makes sense since Trolli’s catchphrase is “Weirdly Awesome.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harden’s promotionals are dubbed “Beardly Awesome.” His weirdness doesn’t begin and end with candy commercials, though. He speaks a “secret language” with his close friends that includes words like “fa’lo.” It means “excessively flashy,” apparently. They’ve been
speaking it with one another since high school.
Obsession, by J.J. Redick
J.J. Redick likes to stay organized. Really, really organized. The Philadelphia 76ers’ oddest shooting guard has turned this intense habit into something of an obsession.
Redick metiously plans his naps, which socks he’s going to wear, and his meals. His intense pre-game routine includes eating roasted chicken, a baked potato, asparagus or broccoli, and washing them down with a cup of coffee. While being profiled for the New York Times in 2018, he discussed one disastrous meal on March 22, 2013, when his dinner arrived 20 minutes late and “completely threw me off.” The team lost that night by 24 points, and he missed ten of his 11 shots.
As gametime approaches, his warm-up routine begins exactly 90 minutes before opening tip-off. It involves a series of stretches, practice shots, and eating exactly the right type of granola bar. At home, his closet must stay organized with “military-grade precision,” and he seems to derive little joy from all that extra effort. As he told the Times, “You know what it is? It’s exhausting.”
But not everything in his life is planned down to the second. While vacationing with his family in North Carolina, he somewhat spontaneously decided to join his grandmother on a journey to a tattoo parlor. She got a butterfly put on her shoulder. Redick, meanwhile, picked out a design that featured a reference to a Bible verse and the Japanese word for courage.
Jason Terry and his shorts
There are short attention spans and there are short s attention spans. One of Jason Terry’s routines might be best described as the latter. The night before each game, the shooting and point guard, who often goes by the nickname “JET,” wears the shorts of the opposing team. The tradition began during his college days, when he and teammate Mike Bibby wore their uniforms to bed in order to calm down and get some shut-eye before an important game. As Terry explained, he got bored with wearing his own gear, and this keeps him entertained. His wife, however, isn’t a huge fan of this routine.
The Times also noted that he used to obsessively eat fried chicken fingers before every game — another routine, this one supposedly inspired by Wade Boggs. As he’s gotten older, though, Terry has switched over to a healthier rotisserie or grilled chicken. “I can’t deviate from chicken,” Terry said. “It has to be chicken.”
During games, his rituals include imitating an airplane if he lands a series of three-pointers and changing his sneakers if things aren’t going well during the first quarter. Nevertheless, Terry knows his behavior is at least a bit strange. As he told the Times, “my daughters say I’m a weirdo.”
Sometimes Stephon Marbury gets carried away
Stephon Marbury had a career in the NBA that ran from 1996 until 2009. He made the All-Star team twice and
co-wrote a children’s book. Sadly, it all began to unravel after his final season.
In July of 2009, Marbury went online and began what would become a 24-hour long tirade that he
livestreamed for his StarburyTV web show. During the stream, he took questions from viewers; when asked if he believed in aliens, Marbury said that he didn’t know and added, “But I believe in Jesus because I saw him in the shower the other day.” He also said that he was looking forward to meeting the spirit of Michael Jackson and ate Vaseline on camera.
That last bit was particularly strange, but Marbury explained that it was his grandmother’s old remedy for curing a sore throat, according to a rundown on the incident that later appeared in The Los Angeles Times. Marbury clearly wasn’t in a good place at the time of the unusual broadcast, but he went on to a successful post-NBA career in China.
He helped the Beijing Ducks, a Chinese Basketball Association team, win three championships between 2012-2015. He also popped up in a Chinese musical about himself, titled I Am Marbury. As of September of 2017, he was reportedly mulling over returning to the United States for an NBA comeback or a spot in rapper/actor Ice Cube’s Big 3 league.
DeShawn Stevenson may or may not be able to feel his face
DeShawn Stevenson had a 13-year career in the NBA; along the way, he earned a reputation in the league for some pretty peculiar behavior. One of his quirks included doing a strange gesture every time he made a three-pointer, waving his right hand in front of his chin while he headed back across the court to play defense. He even gave the gesture the nickname “I Can’t Feel My Face.”
One collection of potential interpretations from the Washington Post suggests that it all had something to do with a neurological disorder, a reference to the 2000 Johnny Depp film Blow , a tribute to the dance moves of rapper Tony Yayo, or possibly all three. Whatever the reason, the “I Can’t Feel My Face” gesture spawned t-shirts.
There’s also the tattoo on his neck of Abraham Lincoln — and the ATM Stevenson keeps in his kitchen. According to TMZ , he was inspired to install one next to his fridge after he found out former professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek had one added to his own house during the production of an MTV reality show. Stevenson apparently paid $3,500 to have it put in, and charges a pretty steep $4.50 transaction fee. Oh, and a few times a year he restocks it with $20,000 in cold, hard cash.
The explosive life and times of Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas played for multiple NBA franchises before he went to China to join the Shanghai Sharks in 2013. Prior to leaving the States, he shared his tips for avoiding traffic tickets on his Instagram account — his favorite was leaving the dealer plates on his vehicle. As
The Bleacher Report explained, it once helped Arenas run 60 red lights in four months and not get caught. Needless to say, he shouldn’t offer driving lessons anytime soon. Along with blasting through red lights, he also once got caught speeding in a truck filled with fireworks — and without his driver’s license.
Along with getting a Barack Obama-themed tattoo on his left hand, Arenas’ other eccentric behavior during his NBA days included a 2009 incident with his former Washington Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton. After the two got into a disagreement over a card game, Arenas showed up in the team’s locker room at the Verizon Center with four guns and threatened Crittenton, who then turned around pointed his own gun at Arenas.
Fortunately, no one was injured in a standoff that, as their teammate Caron Butler later quipped , could have led to a much different “shoot-around” than usual at the arena. The two were booted off the team, and Crittenton was later sentenced to 23 years in prison for a shooting gone wrong.
Give Metta World Peace a chance
This peculiarly named former NBA star was anything but peaceful during much of his NBA career. After a 2003 loss to the Knicks, the player formerly known as Ron Artest destroyed a $100,000 TV camera and a monitor in Madison Square Garden. The camera’s lens alone reportedly cost $60,000, according to the Washington Post.
Years prior, the small forward also decided to get a job at Circuit City during his rookie year in the league. He wasn’t hard up for cash after a season that netted him a $1 million salary. He was merely bored and worried that he’d been partying too much. World Peace only worked a single shift, though.
Maybe it’s for the best. Customers can get awfully cranky at times and World Peace didn’t always get along with NBA spectators and his fellow players. His clashes included a fight — infamously dubbed “The Malice in the Palace” — that spilled out into the stands during a game in Detroit and led to him being suspended for much of the 2004-2005 season. To take the edge off, he also used to drink French cognac during halftimes while he played for the Chicago Bulls. He’s much more laid back these days, after legally changing his name to his current peaceful moniker in 2011, and currently works as a player development coach for the South Bay Lakers.
The world according to Dennis Rodman
No list of weird NBA players would be complete without the man who could one day prevent (or cause) a nuclear war with North Korea. Before he started hanging around with Kim Jong-Un during his “basketball diplomacy” treks to the closed-off kingdom, Rodman was widely considered one of the most eccentric guys to ever play professional basketball.
The former power forward announced he was getting married to an unnamed person during the 1996 offseason. This sparked countless rumors , among them that he was getting hitched to Princess Diana, Julia Roberts, Cindy Crawford, or Oprah Winfrey. When his wedding day finally arrived, Rodman instead rode around New York City dressed in a bridal gown and announced that he had decided to marry himself before attending a book signing for his first autobiography,
Bad as I Wanna Be .
As The Fiscal Times recounted in 2014, Rodman’s other antics included dating the equally eccentric Madonna, dying his hair tons of different colors, kicking a cameraman in the crotch, co-starring in a Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick along with a follow-up, and wrestling alongside Hulk Hogan in the WWE. He’s spent at least one portion of his retirement years working as the commissioner for something called the Lingerie Football League. Rodman made his first trip to North Korea in 2013, after which he called Kim Jong-un “a friend for life.”
The sound of Chocolate Thunder
Once upon a time, Darryl Dawkins made smashing backboards during his super awesome dunks a fairly regular habit. It was one of the things that helped him earn the nickname “Chocolate Thunder.” Strangely enough, it was coined by Stevie Wonder — who, for obvious reasons, never actually saw him play.
Okay, Dawkins only smashed a few backboards. However, it did lead to the league replacing their fairly fragile hoops with ones that had breakaway rims and shatter-resistant backboards. Dawkins’ exuberant personality and weird behavior made him hugely popular in the 1970s. He gave his dunks names like “The Look Out Below” and “The Yo-Mama.” Shaquille O’Neal once described him “as the father of power of dunking,” adding “I’m just one of his sons.”
Dawkins also still holds the top spot in the record books for most personal fouls in a season. While that isn’t too weird, he also routinely claimed he was actually a space alien from “The Planet Lovetron.” The strange persona and interstellar lifestyle he created along with it included frequent “frolicking” with his girlfriend, nicknamed “Juicy Luicy,” and spreading the gospel of what he called “interplanetary funkmanship.”
Dawkins, who passed away in 2015, is sadly no longer with us. But before he left the realm of earthly mortals, one of his weird post-basketball forays included guest judging a boxing match between Mr. T and Rowdy Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 2 along with jazz legend Cab Calloway.