Friday, June 29, 2012

New Peeks at Bernd Beetz

FirstNerve’s annotated version of Coty CEO Bernd Beetz’s WSJ interview in 2009 continues to draw traffic, no doubt to the dismay of his company’s PR department as it reliably turns up near the top of “Bernd Beetz” Google searches.

Now, following its unsuccessful run at Avon, Coty Inc. plans to take itself public. The S-1 registration filed with the SEC includes these tidbits about our favorite obsessive showering enthusiast:

• Mr. Beetz’s salary is listed as $1,632,600.
• Coty provides him with a housing allowance, a leased company car, and payments in lieu of pension payments. (Amounts are not disclosed in the filing.)
• The company has given him millions of stock options, some vested, some not, as part of a performance incentive plan.
• Beetz owns 6,235,715 shares of Coty common stock, or 1.6% of the total. That figure “includes 4,750,000 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of vested options.”

We figure that at his usual three a day, Mr. Beetz earns another $1,490.96 every time he steps into the shower. Since he became CEO in 2001, he has accumulated about 517 shares/options for each invigorating, cleansing, and refreshing episode under running water. We don’t begrudge him a penny of it. Plus, he comes out smelling like lemon and peppermint. Still, it’s shocking that his compensation package doesn’t include a loofa fund or laundry service for all those towels.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fart Rage and Old Age

Dan Ivers has the first story at
Police: Teaneck man pulled gun on neighbor for farting

An elderly man was arrested Monday night after a neighbor’s fart allegedly drove him to threaten him with a gun, police said.
The impulse is to criticize 72-year-old Daniel Collins for going all Harry Callahan on his apartment house neighbor. However, FirstNerve readers know that deliberate farting is an effective provocation.

Police say Collins and his 47-year-old neighbor were involved in “an ongoing dispute over noise.” So there could be an element of aggravated farting involved.

Exit question: Why isn’t the alleged victim named in this story? Do journalists have a fart-shield rule?

Meanwhile, a few miles down the Garden State Parkway, some other elderly Old Farts are audibilizing tonight not far from FirstNerve Manor.

70, 67, and 70, respectively.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sniffing Notes from a Pheromone Speed-Dating Party

Image via ZoeCormier.

Male #1
A musky warmth. Very manly. Slightly acrid overtones of an athlete after a workout. Hint of Old Spice AP/deo—a traditionalist. Starchy, cottony nuance suggestive of fresh Franklins.
Interest Level (1 – 10) = 10

Female #1
Faint aroma of wet potato. Sweaty fat girl. Chalky, powdery, reminds me of fresh kitty litter. Trace of amines: tuna salad for lunch or Friskies in the bowl.
Interest Level (1 – 10) = 1

Male #2
Damp cloth and citrus (orange soda?). Sharp culinary note—mustard? Cheddar cheese, toasted corn. Ewww! Just snorted Cheeto dust.
Interest Level (1 – 10) = 2

Female #2
Strong black tea or chai, with a milky impression. Cinnamon, maybe nutmeg. Hemp scent: sandals, yoga mat? Hint of shallots in the armpits. Perfume free, no additives.
Interest Level (1 – 10) = 2

Male #3
Axe. Bronzer. Hair gel (Redken—classy!) Fabric softener—his mother loves him. Slight metallic note, gold crucifix or St. Francis on tight abs.
Interest Level (1 – 10) = 7 (9 if he lives above exit 17)

Female #3
Big perfumey scent like that old Calvin Klein perfume. Lime, maybe bitter orange, plus something fruity like cranberry juice. Waxy smell: lipstick? Fresh Marlboros. Whoa . . . Stifler’s mom!
Interest Level (1 – 10) = 11

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Notes from a Canadian Fumehead

Via GeekyCanuckGirl

The Calgary Herald publishes Bruce Weir’s entertaining ramble through his personal smell associations. Weir is FirstNerve’s favorite kind of Canadian: to establish his olfactory cred he tells how he once cleared a disco by farting. Then he turns to the smellscapes of Calgary:
I’m also generally delighted by the reliable smell of beer that wafts over Inglewood from the Canada Malting Company on Bonnybrook Road. On a good day, when the wind is out of the south, that smell combines with the yeasty goodness of the Fleishman’s plant—it cranks out about 14 million litres of yeast annually—to produce a sensory knockout.
Along the way, Weir provides an interesting vignette about the sequence of aroma released during coffee roasting:
One of the first things to burn off is chaff, a papery coating that [head coffee roaster Tim] Houghton compares to a peanut skin and which smells a bit like hay as it combusts. At about 375 F, the beans go through the “first crack” and release a lot of oil. As that burns off, it produces aromas that Houghton calls “chocolatey and a bit like a camp fire.” Once the beans lose those substances, they develop flavours like “nougat, honey and chocolate,” he says.
Not bad, eh?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When Worlds Collide

The headline from KEYT-TV:
“Bird Refuge Smell Upsets Neighbors”
OMG! What sort of heartless, Gaia-hating bastards could possibly object to the smell of a bird refuge?

Apparently the sort of unenlightened troglodytes who live in . . . uh . . . Santa Barbara, California.


In that case, toss a bag of popcorn in the microwave then watch reporter John Palminteri describe the green-on-green action: nature-loving Californians upset with the smell of nature.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ISDP June, 2012: The Great American Songbook

By’n by Hard Times comes a knocking at the door, 
Then my old Kentucky Home, good night!
At around 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, Kentucky State Police executed a search warrant on a barn in Hustonville. 
“We got a tip from the property owner around 3:00 this afternoon,” explains Kentucky State Police Trooper Paul Blanton. “The home owner told us a few weeks back he smelled a foul odor coming from the barn but thought that it was a dead animal. When he found out about Thomas Hager, the man accused of shooting and killing two people in Danville on Monday he got suspicious.”
Sure enough, a “body was found in the basement of the barn hidden underneath a pile of trash bags.”

If I can make it there,
I’ll make it anywhere . . .
Police are investigating the beating death of a 75-year-old Bronx man who was found with an obscene message scrawled on his stomach, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York. 
Law enforcement sources say Joe Fischer’s body was found by a neighbor who smelled a foul odor and went to check on him. She has keys to his apartment and hadn’t seen him in several days so was concerned about his welfare, law enforcement sources said. When the neighbor went into Fischer’s apartment, she found him lying dead on the kitchen floor. On his stomach, someone had scrawled the message “Who’s b---- now” in red lipstick, according to multiple reports.

I’d be safe and warm,
If I was in L.A.

In late May, LAist ran an initial report about the bodies of two women found in a Los Angeles apartment.
The LAPD were alerted to a potential issue when neighbors reported smelling a foul odor coming from the unit. The women were in their 30s, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.
Whoops! Initial reports are often wrong. Make that a woman and her son.
Los Angeles police have arrested the boyfriend of a woman whose body was found decomposing alongside the corpse of her son in South Los Angeles earlier this week. 
Ishamel Imran Townsend, 41, of Los Angeles was booked Tuesday on suspicion of killing his live-in girlfriend, Penelipha Carter, 39, and her 11-year-old son, Crestsalin Carter, police said. Officers found the Carters’ corpses in their apartment . . . Monday afternoon. Neighbors had called authorities complaining of a foul odor coming from the apartment. They said no one had seen the woman or her son in several days.
One day after the Los Angeles incident, there was another in San Bernardino:
A neighbor notified police at 9 a.m. that a suspicious odor was coming from the back of the home . . . .Officers investigated and found a five-foot hole dug in the backyard. Pieces of wood and debris were covering the body of a man who had been dead at least several days, [Sgt. Gary] Robertson said.
In the KABC version, it was the landlord who noticed the foul odor:
Police on Tuesday found a decomposing body in a hole behind a San Bernardino home after the owner reported a foul odor. The owner of the rental property was checking the property and called police, who arrived around 9 a.m.
Then there’s this:
Residents said they weren’t surprised by the situation, describing the home as a “drug house” and the block as crime-ridden. 
“This neighborhood, a lot of those things happen,” one nearby resident said. “There was people going in and out all day, all night,” another neighbor said of the home. Several neighbors said they heard gunshots from the house last weekend, but no one had called the police.
Call the police, why bother? Well, the cops stayed on the case and made an arrest on June 7.
The victim was identified as 21-year-old Angel Cortez. Thursday police arrested 38-year-old Victor Angulo. Officers also arrested his girlfriend, 32-year-old Olga Varela as an accessory to murder.

Motel, money, murder, madness,
Let’s change the mood from glad to sadness

In West Hollywood in early June the body of an unidentified male was found about 10 min from Mel’s Drive-In.
Los Angeles police officers were called to Willoughby and North Genesee avenues on Saturday to investigate a foul odor. That’s where officials found the decomposing remains wrapped up inside a truck.
According to the Los Angeles Times's L.A. Now blog,
Neighbors told KTLA that the black Cadillac Escalade had been parked in the same spot since Thursday.
Daddy went a ridin’ in his old car,
Took the dog with him ‘cause it ain’t too far

And at the Eastern end of the Sun Belt:
Two people were found dead in a Lehigh Acres home by a sheriff’s deputy responding to reports of a foul odor coming from the house, according to Lee County Sheriff’s Office reports.
A headline from the News-Press in Fort Meyers gives the sad story: “Man, stepson found dead in Lehigh Acres; Odor leads deputies to an Alzheimer’s patient and his caregiver.” The deceased were an 88-year-old Alzheimer patient and his 61-year-old stepson who was his full-time caretaker.

Be true to your school now,
Let your colors fly

We leave you with a selection of lighter items the San Clemente Sheriff’s Department crime blotter, courtesy of The Orange County Register:
A woman told the Orange County Sheriff’s Department that she was in the shower when someone reached into the small window above the shower and took a photo of her. The incident was reported at 8:35 p.m. Monday . . .
Five youths reportedly toilet-papered San Clemente High School. 10:52 p.m.
Who says kids today don’t respect tradition?
Suspicious person/circumstances. 600 block Camino de los Mares. A woman said she suspected someone had died behind a tree because of a foul odor coming from the area, where she said a homeless man usually sleeps. Sheriff’s deputies investigated and did not see any bodies. 9:55 a.m.
No body home!

Until next time, remember: always trust your nose.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Psychedelic, Baby!

I’ve got a piece in the June issue of the BBC’s magazine Gardeners’ World—the one with the lavender-scented scratch-and-sniff cover. It’s called “The science of scent: Why do flowers smell?”
In a world of round-the-clock sensory bombardment, of the instantly downloadable e-book and iTunes, smell operates on its own time. The fragrances of the garden arrive on a schedule created before our species appeared on earth. Narcissus flowers release their scent near dusk, a daily pulse they maintain even in a vase in the living room. Apple blossom is available a few days in the year. The smell of wet, mouldy leaves is a long goodbye to autumn. These tidal rhythms of scent pull the gardener back into the natural world and away from the momentary distractions of modern culture.
Gardeners’ World came up with some groovy visuals to illustrate the piece (sample above). Very psychedelic, no?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.


There are many reasons to mourn the passing of Ray Bradbury. Here at FirstNerve, we think of the effortless way he brought smells to bear in his fiction. Read Fahrenheit 451 with your nostrils open. You’ll have nightmares about the Mechanical Hound, but also know that freedom has a scent. Then read about the Happylife Home in The Illustrated Man and see how a description of smell can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Ray Bradbury, dead in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blowing Smoke, Steampunk Style

The basic principle—acoustically driven smoke/scent rings—has been around for a while, but British architectural student Hee Park has scaled it up impressively. More about him here. I can think of some fun theatrical applications right off the bat.