Orgone Research

Monday, November 13, 2006

Light My Fire

As you may know by now, I have strong but mixed feelings about the TV show Mythbusters. It seems like they employ protective equipment when they don't need it, yet they often do reckless and stupid things without any protection at all. I can't believe they do any kind of pyro at all indoors. Take a look at what happens at about 2:50 into this video:

Note too, that it happens on Adam's watch.....

Oh, did that bring back memories! I previously blogged about my friend Mike and me making and detonating a pipe bomb. Though we had made crude black powder before, at that time we were on a kick of making a propellant out of sugar and potassium nitrate. Mike and I had discovered Paladin Press, and in fact had ordered a couple of books from them. One was The Poor Man's James Bond, and the other was one of the ever popular Get Even series of books. I think it was in the Get Even book that we learned a recipe for making a "smoke bomb" using sugar and potassium nitrate. The fatal flaw in the recipe was having to carmelize the sugar in the mixture using heat.

Mike and I never had a problem with this, as I believe we used an electrical hot plate which had no open flame. You also have to go really slowly in heating the mixture. At one point I suggested to my friend Dave Peterman that we should make a really big smoke bomb. I think our plan was to light it off under the Higgins Avenue bridge on a Friday or Saturday night, probably to piss off the jocks cruising in their Cameros and Trans Ams. Dave and I decided to enlist the help of our friend Randy Pepprock, as Randy had his own apartment and so avoided the onus of parantal supervision. I think this all happened in the summer of 1980, when I was 17 or 18. Randy Pepprock was in a band called Who Killed Society about whom Steve Albini once said;

Circle Seven when they were called Who Killed Society actually were a motherfucker band. Just amazing. If you can imagine it, almost a cross between old Agent Orange and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Then they turned into Circle Seven...whose record had its moments but it definitely wasn't as good as it should have been.

--Steve Albini, Forced Exposure 9

Randy was the real deal, as punk as you could get in Missoula at the time. But deep down he was a really mild and thoughtful guy. He eventually went on to create a business called "Downtown Deco";

So one night Dave, Randy and I mix potassium nitrate and sugar in a saucepan inside of Randy's apartment. Unfortunatly, Randy had a gas stove...

The sugar was turning to carmel just a little too fast, and suddenly all hell broke loose. We had WAY more stuff in our saucepan than what you see in the Mythbusters clip, and in 2 seconds the entire apartment is full of white smoke. Randy had the presence of mind to pull the saucepan into the sink, or at least off the stove. Some of the incindiary mass got on his linoleum floor, but thankfully nothing in the room caught on fire. We opened the window to let out the plumes of white smoke. We expected the fire trucks to arrive in moments, but amazingly they never did. I think because the building was so old there were no smoke alarms to blast anyone with ear-splitting sound, so I think most of the building's residents never even knew. I felt really bad for one old man, who bundled his most valuable worldly possesions in a small plastic bag and slowly descended the main stairwell to escape the smoke.

Dave and I profusely appologised to Randy. Some time later, Dave and I set about to help Randy repair his carmelized linoleum. We did it in a typically punk way, by cutting out an undamaged section from under his bed, and swaping it with the burned section beside his stove. The really weird part about this was finding writing and strangely drawn crucifixes on the wooden floor underneath the linoleum. We didn't cut enough flooring away to get the whole screed, so we never knew exactly what it all said. Perhaps it was a curse of some sort; divine karmic payback for our incendiary transgressions.

Well, what can I say, seeing the Mythbusters, a couple of professional FX guys, doing the same kind of fucked-up thing I did when I was 17 kind of warms my heart. First of all, if you want smoke, there are MUCH safer ways of generating it than trying to carmelize sugar and potassium nitrate. Second, if you play with fire, DO IT THE FUCK OUTSIDE!!!!!


Post a Comment

<< Home