1932 – Al Capone begins his prison sentence

Alphonse ‘Al’ Capone had enjoyed a long and successful run as a gang leader in Chicago before the feds finally caught him. But they didn’t manage to get him on any of the murders, bootlegging, rum-running, assaults or robberies he’d committed (or ordered committed) – they got him on five counts of tax evasion. Capone’s 11 year sentence was a record high one for tax evasion, a sentence he began in the Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary.

Capone’s criminal charms would serve him well inside – he twice had to be relocated after suborning guards and obtaining illegal privileges. But when he landed in Alcatraz, his luck ran out. Unpopular with his fellow prisoners, Capone was eventually paroled with about six months of his sentence still to run. Things were no better outside of prison – the repeal of Prohibition had meant the end of Capone’s most lucrative racket and anyway, at 40 years old and in poor shape, he was in no condition to reclaim his old territories.

Referenced in:

Public Enemy No. 1 — Megadeth

1947 – The Roswell Incident

Will we ever know the truth of what happened that day?

For more than sixty years now, the Roswell Incident has been a mystery, one only obscured further by the mass of claim and counterclaim that it has inspired. Even leaving aside fictional treatments (of which there are over a hundred), the ‘true’ accounts given by various people disagree in nearly every possible particular, from what happened to where it happened. But all speculation and rumour leads back to the few incontrovertible facts: the Air Force issued a statement on July 8, 1947, attempting to stem a tide of rumours regarding what it might or might not have picked up the day before. Unfortunately, later that same day, a second press statement that contradicted the first in some details was also released.

Wacky hijinks ensued, and fifty years later we were all watching The X Files. Strange but true. The rest of it, while definitely strange, is less clear as to truth…

Referenced in:

Hangar 18 – Megadeth
Roswell 47 – Hypocrisy
Aliens Exist – Blink 182
Hangar 84 – Pitchshifter
Motorway to Roswell – the Pixies
Remember 47 – The Skitzophones
Roswell that Ends Well – Far-Less


1284 — The Pied Piper plays Hamelin

The legends are very specific: in the year 1284, the town of Hamelin, in the in Lower Saxony region of Germany, was overrun with rats. Hordes of rats. One day, a piper claiming to be a rat-catcher appeared in the town. A deal was soon struck: he would play his pipes and draw the rates away, the townspeople would pay him handsomely.

The piper led the rats into the nearby Weser river, where they drowned. But then the townsfolk reneged on their part of the deal. This was decision-making roughly on a par with saying “oh, what a lovely wooden horse, let’s drag it into the middle of Troy.”

The piper returned on the feast day of Saints John and Paul. He played once more, and this time, he enchanted the children of the town. 130 children followed him, leaving behind only one or two (accounts vary). Accounts also disagree over what happened to the children – some say he drowned them like the rats, some say they were safely returned after he was paid several times his original price. So it’s six to five and pick ’em whether the Pied Piper was a mass murderer, or merely a staunch advocate of contract law.

Referenced in:

Pied Piper — Jethro Tull
Pied Piper — The Saw Doctors
Symphony of Destruction — Megadeth
People Call Me the Pied Piper — Donovan