With the arrival of the 7th Season of HBO’s hit show “Entourage”, we thought we’d take the occasion to review a couple of the great entourages of past and present, both fictional and non.
Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Society
Also know as the Leather Apron Club, Benny Franklin’s group became a veritable who’s-who of American social, political, and philosophical leaders. It didn’t start that way though. Ben formed the group when he was only 21, bringing in ordinary working men–a bartender, cabinet maker, a clerk, a printer–who he found especially thoughtful to discuss matters such as economics. And drink. Lots.
Every Friday night, Ben and his little entourage would uncork a bottle and discuss and debate the topics regarding politics, science, morality, and civics. Ben would keep a list of questions he could pull from in case there was a lull in the conversation or someone had to go make a booze run. Some of these include: “Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?” or “Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?” (in other news, Ben was apparently pretty concerned with making some coin). Another example: “What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation?” (at this Ben would pause for effect, laugh loudly at his own joke, and make everybody do a shot).
Soon the group grew to include others, and eventually became the American Philisophical Society, with members such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and John Adams. That’s two dudes who ended up on US currency and one who got a great HBO show.
Jesus and the 12 Apostles
You may have heard of this guy. Turns out he ran a hell of an entourage, throwing down across the towns and villages of modern day Israel. And he rolled deep, with 12 bearded dudes he called his Apostles.
Unlike many other superstars through history though, he had an entourage before he was even famous. Moreover, he didn’t acquire his crew through fame or money; instead he convinced each of these Apostles–all of whom were ordinary working men–to join him solely through his inspiring words. We couldn’t find a youtube video of it, but we imagine it went something like this:
[Apostles-to-be Andrew and Simon are casting their nets on the shore when Jesus approaches]
Jesus: Salutations, my good dudes! What you up to?
Simon [looking down at nets full of fish]: …uh, fishing.
Jesus: Nice! Little fishin’ action! Love it. So look, I’m starting a little thing where guys like you follow me around to places near and far and help me spread my ministry that may or may not be the direct word from God himself. Wanna join?
Simon and Andrew: [awkward silence]
Jesus: Or, you know, you can stay here and fish. No worries.
Simon and Andrew: [awkward silence]
Jesus: I can turn water into wine, by the way.
Andrew: I’ll pack a lunch.
Jesus was never flashy. He didn’t roll in an Escalade so much as on foot, or by mule. He did go all rockstar once and trashed a temple, but it was more a result of a moral rage than booze. As he went about his travels, his entourage filled their roles as fawning disciples pretty well, except this one guy Judas, who turned out to be a backstabbing prick.
In the end, Jesus–like so many icons–met an untimely end. He ran into some trouble with the law, fell out of favor with the public, and was forced to endure a pretty grisly death. All’s well that ends well though, as his entourage wrote extensively about his miraculous deeds–some of which really set the bar for party tricks–and his ministry. Since then, he’s had his picture painted a bunch and developed a bit of a following as the eponymous founder of Christianity. Also he’s apparently the son of God, which doesn’t suck.
The Rat Pack
The Rat Pack is perhaps the most well-known real-life entourage of the last 50 years, but there are several things about that group of devil-may-care gentlemen that are surprisingly unknown. For instance, it was only called the Rat Pack by the public and the press. To the members, they referred to themselves as The Summit or The Clan. Can’t say we blame them for doing so, as “The Rat Pack” conjures up unsavory images of, well, a pack of rats.
Another falsehood was that the pack was all male, all the time. While Frank, Dean, Sammy, Joe and Peter were certainly it’s core group, it didn’t start as such. Frank Sinatra inherited the de facto leadership from the Coolest Man in History, Humphrey Bogart. Under Humphrey, and indeed after his death, the Rat Pack saw many female members inducted into its ranks, including Humphrey’s wife Lauren Bacall (who would remain the Clan Mother well after her husband’s death), Shirley MacClaine, Ava Gardner, and even Marilyn Monroe. Though there’s no group of guys who wouldn’t say no to Marilyn.
The five gentlemen of the Rat Pack performed together, drank a shitload together, and generally raised a ruckus in various cities across the nation for much of the 60′s. Though the greatest exploits of those savvy crooners were likely taken with them to their graves, we can still agree their cavalier hedonism set the bar for all future entourages.
Hyundai’s Entourage Mini-Van
Achilles and The Myrmidons
Achilles, as many of you know, was an virtually invincible warrior with a tendency to lose his temper and subsequently hand out death like Halloween candy. For those of you who are unfamiliar, consider this. The opening lines of the Illiad translate as follows: “Sing, Goddess, of the rage of Achilles, the accursed rage that brought agony to thousands of Achaeans”. That’s thousands. Plural. If that doesn’t impress, then consider this: after defeating an especially skilled warrior, Achilles remorsefully wept over the loss of such a rare fighter. Some Greek dude made fun of him for this, and–no joke–”Achilles punched him in the face and killed him instantly”. Boom. Goodnight Moon.
Achilles didn’t roll solo though. His entourage was extensive–an entire Greek legion called the Myrmidons. The Myrmidons were a group of highly-skilled warriors commanded specifically by Achilles–and they always were with him, serving up tasty spoonfuls of murder and riding the wake of their demi-god leader as he lay waste to entire throngs of humanity. And when Achilles wasn’t busy thinning the gene pool, the Myrmidons were out there retrieving all of the spoils of the defeated (read: randy Trojan wenches) and keeping up Achilles’ palatial war tent.
The Manhattan Project Crew
All told, these guys didn’t have the cash, fame, or women that many other entourages had. In fact, at their height, they were completely unknown to most of the world. They did, however, invent the most powerful force ever unleashed upon this planet.
J. Robert Oppenheimer was the head physicist in charge of the Manhattan Project, which operated out of several sites across the US (not just Los Alamos, New Mexico, but also Oak Ridge, TN and Hanford, WA). After word got out the Nazi’s were working on weapons utilizing extremely powerful nuclear reactions, Oppenheimer, a chain-smoking genius, was charged with putting together a team of the best and brightest. He surrounded himself with an entourage of scientists–including heavyweights like Enrico Fermi and Hans Bethe–in order to beat the Nazi’s to the punch. Armed with a blank check from the US Government, they plugged away for 3 years in a facility that drew a substantial percentage of the entire energy available in the US electrical grid. Their success–if you can call it that–landed on Hiroshima in the early morning of August 6th 1945.
In a wry twist of fate, many of the scientists working with Oppenheimer were expatriates from Germany and Italy, fleeing the oppression of Hitler’s axis forces. Turns out these geeks would’ve proved useful to the Fuhrer, as they invented a bucket ‘o sunshine that put an end to World War II nearly overnight.
The Sandlot Crew
Sure, none of them were of drinking age or had even kissed a girl, but these guys showed that at the beating heart of an entourage was not fame, cash, or women, but a fraternity. Fraternity and a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.
Recent new kid on the block Scott “Scotty” Smalls is taken under the wing of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, the neighborhood’s best baseball player and leader of the Sandlot crew. Smalls, Benny, and the rest of the team (including Hamilton “Ham” Porter, Michael “Squints” Palledorous, Alan “Yeah-Yeah” McClennan, and Tommy “Repeat” Timmons) have various misadventures before culminating with that priceless Babe Ruth ball being hit over the fence into the den of “The Beast”.
We all know what happens in the end. Benny saves his crew from dire repercussions by risking life and limb to retrieve said ball (aided by his PF Flyers) and win the day. 20 years later we find that Smalls, now a professional sports announcer, is still friends with Benny, who’s in his twilight years as a player for the Dodgers. It would seem that friendships hammered out by the various tribulations of life, including nearly being mauled by a massive animal, endure the years.
And that, in the end, is what the entourage is all about. A group of fellas–or ladies, if you’re a gal–who have your back, whether it’s buying you a beer after a rough day or helping you bury a body after a really, really rough day.