Filed under: Methodology, Prix | Tags: Clem Price, Columbus, Dante Carfagna, George Beter
Sometimes when we take another look at an old project we catch some fascinating bits of history that we missed the first time around. In this case, we were revisiting some of the Prix archives that Dante Carfagna kept and found an illuminating letter from George Beter to Clem Price. Beter and Price were the folks behind the Prix label and, like most of the mini-moguls behind eccentric soul labels they never got to quit their day jobs. Price was a defense contractor, developing weaponry for the U.S. Air Force, and Beter was a prosecutor in the States’ Attorney office in Columbus, Ohio. Working closely to get their label off the ground, however, led to another unexpected layer of their collaboration. This letter reveals that after they began working together to set the world on fire with productions of Eddie Ray, the Royal Esquires, and the Soul Ensemble they concocted a prototype for a device that could detect the presence of narcotics in a small area, and could theoretically pinpoint the location of a large narcotics stash from a distance.
The letter occurs while they are attracting great resistance. Beter relates a meeting with a police narcotics officer: “The indication was that the proposal was absurd & that I was some kind of nut!” No details of the device’s functions are ever discussed, it’s merely about the unnavigable bureaucracies faced in both the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice in order to get funding. “[Justice] could care less, and makes more effort to avoid work than to give attention to honest efforts.“ As far as we know, no such device was ever created by anyone (although surely in the minds of conspiracy theorists it’s used everyday). What’s interesting is the crossover of our little soul history project into the realms of near-science fiction. Perhaps if we were more technologically-inclined we’d be digging up the blueprints of lost ideas and repurposing them for a new century.
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