Last week, Portland resident Asher Josiah worked as a busker and part time reseller of heirloom pickled eggs. But now, the self-styled ukulele playing egg man may have a new job with the Department of Defense.
Weaponized sound may sound like something out of science fiction, but police and military units have been using the technology for years. Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) recently made headlines when the NYPD deployed the non-lethal weapons on Occupy Wall Street protestors last fall. But while devices like LRAD use high frequencies to induce headaches and hearing loss, the legendary “brown note” serves a more embarrassing purpose.
Long considered an urban legend, the so-called “Brown Note” is a frequency thought to cause a loss of bowel-control in the listener. While the note has been featured in episodes of Mythbusters and South Park, Josiah’s ukulele is the first instrument in recorded history capable of reproducing the tone.
“I started out playing the usual crowd-pleasers, you know, fun.’s ‘We Are Young,’ followed by Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ … when I decided I’d move on to one of my favorites – ‘Brand New Key’ by Melanie. I started tuning my strings when I noticed a really bad smell. At first I thought the Svensson’s Aged Beet Eggs I had been serving to my guests had, you know, turned on me. But then I realized it was my loose E-string. Every time I strummed it, everyone in earshot lost control of their mud. I knew immediately that I had finally stumbled onto something of value.”
Josiah’s suspicions were confirmed after being invited to participate in a study at Andfield Laboratory’s Anechoic Chamber in Minneapolis, MN.
According to lab technician Erik Svensson, “We split the participants into four groups. One group ate the beet eggs and listened to Mr. Josiah’s ukulele. The second group did not eat the beet eggs, but listened to the ukulele. The third group ate the beet eggs in silence, and the fourth group simply sat in the room doing nothing at all. In each trial, groups one and two experienced involuntary defection. Group three reported slight indigestion and nausea while group four exhibited symptoms of disorientation consistent with most anechoic chamber experiences.”
Following the successful outcome of the lab tests, Josiah has entered into a joint partnership between Andfield and the DoD to develop a digitized version of the Ukulele-driven brown tone for future non-lethal crowd control applications.
While a Portland-born street performer and the military might seem like odd bedfellows, Mr. Josiah seems to have made peace with his decision, stating, ”I like to think of myself as a free spirit, you know? Like, if they had ukulele’s back when Ghandi was alive, and if he played one, I’d like to think that that’d be me… if, you know, I was him back then.”