CLOSE
iStock
iStock

22 Things You Should Know About Indianapolis

iStock
iStock

Any Hoosier will proudly tell you that there’s more than corn in Indiana. Its capital, Indianapolis, is home to everything from sliced bread to one of the largest sporting events in the world. Here are a few things you might not know about the Midwestern city.

1. An Indiana Supreme Court judge picked the name Indianapolis by sticking the state's name together with the Greek word for "city."

2. Indianapolis wasn’t the first state capital of Indiana. The original capital, Corydon, was given the boot in 1820, just four years after the state was formed.

 

iStock

3. Today, the city's nickname of "Naptown" is thought to be a dig at its sleepy reputation. But the term was actually coined by jazz musicians in the 1930s. One of the first recorded uses was by blues singer Leroy Carr in 1929, who crooned, “When you get to Naptown, the blues won’t last very long. Because they have their pleasure, and they sure do carry on.”

4. In 1911, the legendary Indianapolis 500 race as we know it was born. The prize offered to the winner among 40 qualifiers: $25,000. The ticket cost for each of the 80,200 spectators in the grandstands: $1.

5. Forget champagne: Indy 500 victors take a celebratory sip of milk, as part of a tradition that is said to have begun with three-time winner Louis Meyer in the 1930s. After a hot day on the track, Meyer would refresh himself with buttermilk. Today, the American Dairy Association Indiana announces which local dairy will provide the quaff, and even maintains a list of drivers' milk preferences.

Getty

6. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is home to the skull of the newly-discovered Dracorex hogwartsia dinosaur. Discovered in Iowa, its name means "Dragon King of Hogwarts.

7. An Indianapolis native is to thank for the traditional tune sung during every seventh-inning stretch. Albert Von Tilzer of Indianapolis penned “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

8. The great Kurt Vonnegut was born and raised in Indianapolis, where his father and grandfather, both architects, left their marks on the city in the form of historic buildings like the Athenaeum. Vonnegut himself once said that “All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. My adenoids are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis."

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain


9. Indianapolis-based Taggart Baking Company launched Wonder Bread in 1921, becoming the first major company to distribute sliced bread.

10. Indianapolis’ Gilbert Van Camp created his own American classic: Van Camp’s Pork and Beans. Van Camp worked as a grocer in the area and found that customers liked his recipe so much, he decided to start selling them to the masses.

11. Indiana is known as the Crossroads of America, and Indianapolis backs that name up, with six interstate highways crossing through town.

12. Washington, D.C. is the only city in the country that has more memorials and monuments that Indianapolis. The Hoosier capital comes in second, with 33 such commemorations.

14. Construction on America's very first Union Station began in Indianapolis in 1849.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

15. Indianapolis has seven bus shelters in its public transit system designed by architect Donna Sink, with a poem from a local artist adorning each one

16. The last concert The King ever gave was in Indianapolis—just three months before his death in 1977, Elvis Presley performed in Indianapolis’ Market Square Arena.

17. Indianapolis claims to be home to the world’s largest Christmas tree, a title the city has held since 1962. The tree sports 52 strands of garland and nearly 5,000 lights in the display known as the Circle of Lights.

18. The Indianapolis Zoo is a triple threat—it’s the only zoo in the country to be accredited by the relevant organizations as a zoo, an aquarium, and a botanical garden.

19. Iconic American magazine The Saturday Evening Post is headquartered in Indianapolis.

20. Indiana’s oldest bar, the Slippery Noodle Inn, is located in Indianapolis. During Prohibition, the bar was frequented by gangsters, and even today, a few bullets from their target practice remain lodged in one of the building’s walls.

21. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company, which now has offices in 18 countries, can trace its roots to a building on Pearl Street in Indianapolis.

22. Notorious crime boss John Dillinger, whose gang was responsible for dozens of bank heists and a handful of police station robberies during the Depression era, hails from Indianapolis. He quit school to work in a machine shop in the state capital before moving on to a life of crime.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Lists
10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
iStock
iStock

by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
iStock

Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER