Publishers note: The following Lethal Entertainment article was, in large part, written prior to the states of Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts (at last count) banning the sale of “alcoholic energy drinks.” While the author has done his best to update/otherwise bring this article into the present-tense…well, stuff might have happened to his brain, here and there…
Some people care about their bodies. Some people know not to play with fire. Sometimes, I’m not some people.
Having sampled a wide swath of mind-molesting substances in the years since my mom and I kicked the Mormon home teachers out of the house, I regarded the media hubbub surrounding the legal-scourge-of-the-day with the same zeal I reserve for when the new Madden games come out: none at all. Had I a fuck to give, I likely wouldn’t give it. Giving a fuck sounds like work…bending over, grunting, and shit.
Nonetheless, when my friend James–a classically trained pianist who is given to reading thick, dusty books about ancient civilizations–asked to bum $2 off me so he could by a can of Four Loko, I could not help but scoff at him. And shudder. I scuddered, really. I figured he should know better. Then again, erudite as he may be, the motherfucker’s broke.
Hell, I’m broke too. I rarely, however, seek out cheap, fortified alcohol products. Not since I was 20 years old and my best friend came over with loving offerings from his mother–two bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 and a bottle of Peach Schnapps. I think there was some other fruit-flavored stuff, but I forgot what it was. Big surprise there. I remember putting one of the bottles of MD in the freezer…then vaguely remember a car ride…then my next memory was of being face down in grass, lying on an innertube, being washed down by a hippie with a garden hose. After he had cleaned me up, he tossed me in a car with other hippies and we drove out to a remote, steeply-grades stretch of Highway 12, down which we rode skateboards on our backs (“Land Luge,” they called it), hitting speeds of 50mph. How’d we measure the speed? They sped down the road in a car next to the dude. What could go wrong?
Jackass wouldn’t come out for another four years. I wouldn’t drink MD again for ten years.
Oh yeah and this one time…I was about 22 years old and the local (well…a half hour drive away to Dayton, WA, really) PDQ was offering bottles of Thunderbird Apple Wine for $1.50. I was still a farmer, and since farm work is seasonal and it was Winter (and hadn’t figured out to go apply for unemployment yet), I was flat fucking broke and decided to try a bottle out.
My friend Jack over in Walla Walla very kindly insisted he take me to see Starship Troopers. Poor Jack figured this movie would be a faithful recreation of a time-honored Heinlein classic. I knew nothing about this…yet knew he was wrong. A glance at the poster could have told you that, but Jack seriously sold this shit to me with such zeal that I could not turn down a free ticket.
So I snuck this vile Thunderbird shit into the theater in the pocket of my trenchcoat and we sat right up front. Any asshole knows if you’re drinking in the movie theater, you don’t sit up front. But I wasn’t just any asshole, I was a stupid asshole. Hell so was everyone else (besides Jack…you should never mistake a trusting person for an asshole) in the theater. And on the screen.
I had to duck my head and kind of curl up in a ball if I wanted to take a slug off this shit, because either the locals or the staff would call the county Sheriff office a block away to deal with you (rather than tell you to take a hike, like in a real city with real people). No shit. I had seen Beavis and Butthead Do America in the same multiplex at roughly the same time. Seeing as how, in Walla Walla, this was a cultural event on par with the time they got the Violent Femmes to play there (very reluctantly), the entire theater was packed. Halfway through the show, the projector ground to a halt and the lights went up.
I was disturbed to see two of the fattest, Faggot Store-mustache-wearing, most corrupt Deputies the WWCSD had to offer (one of them had tried to plant marijuana paraphernalia on my person a year before during a frivolous traffic stop). They were breathlessly ambling through each aisle, looking for “the guy smoking the joint.” Which was funny, as I couldn’t smell any pot (and had I, I would have followed the smoke and bummed a few hits off the guy). I pretty much think it was like that time a Midwestern Sheriff Department sent out a bunch of tickets to a “free Ozzy concert” and ended up rounding up nearly every bail-jumper and deadbeat dad in the state. The local law enforcement were actually showing a rare case of big brains to match their guts and asses.
Needless to say, the movie was fucking awful, and I had that shit swigged the fuck DOWN before the first giant CGI insect hit the screen. Rather than make the movie tolerable, as most liquor would do, I imagine (I’ve not even given ST an irony viewing with pals since its theater run), the Thunderbird enforced the cinematic atrociousness as the wine left my bloodstream, clawing and scraping at my internal organs on the way to my bladder. By the time the giant Vagina Monster at the end was having a spear thrust into it, I was literally in tears, thanks to both the shitty awful movie and the fortified wine.
Did I learn my lesson? Hell no, because a couple months later, the Dayton PDQ dropped the price of Thunderbird Apple Wine to 50 cents a bottle. FIFTY FUCKING CENTS. FUCK THE HANGOVER, I’M GETTING FUCKED UP FOR TWO FUCKING DOLLARS. Oh and McDonalds still had 50 Cent Cheeseburger Fridays back then too. Holy shit, that’s a whole night of fun right there. I ended up finding myself laying in a gravel driveway, screaming incoherent, Authentic Frontier Gibberish at the moon like a concussed Gabby Johnson.
After picking the broken basalt from my butthole, I decided, by and large, to just avoid any kind of wine or fruity drink altogether. I’m not even mentioning the embarrassment, injury, and criminal behavior committed under the influence of things like St. Ides Punch, or the classic Wine In a Box (a.k.a.: Spacebag, Box of Weird, Felony Box, Fagbladder, etc.). Not until the Statute of Limitations expires in another few years.
For a good 10 years or so, I held fast and resisted any fleeting impulses to drink sweet, fortified, alcoholic beverages, until an old roommate gave me a bottle of Orange Mad Dog. That bottle sat in my closet for months, until I ran out of booze during a massive binge. That was enough to remind me.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve done my share of substance tourism. I have phases, get bored, and then stop doing said substance long enough to be able to be feasibly credible when I talk mad bitchass bullshit about guys who do that shit (in fact, I’m wearing a “TWEEKERS SUCK” shirt…that I got from a tweeker…while tweeking…many years ago).
My current chemical obsession? Four Loko.
Up until recently, I wouldn’t even STAND NEXT TO the section at the convenience store that has Four Loko, or its competing products. I got pushed to the edge, finally, by my best friend (with whom I have been staying for a month), who had a Fruit Punch and Watermelon flavored can each, sitting in his fridge. He would randomly berate me: “DON’T FUCKING TOUCH MY FOUR LOKO, FAGGOT!” and I would laugh and walk away with my can of Rainier (which is pretty much a PBR-level hipster beer, for people with pride in their Pacific Northwest surroundings and fond memories of the TV ads). I had no intention of drinking his stupid gay-prostitute-on-welfare fruitbooty bullshit.
And then I snapped. I was bored.
So what exactly is Four Loko? It doesn’t quite say, save for four (geddit) ingredients: caffeine, taurine, guarana, and alcohol. It comes in camo-patterned 22.5oz cans. I’m assuming it’s camouflaged so you can’t see it…drink enough of them, and you won’t see anything. It’s fucking pure rock-n-roll in a can, goddammit.
Substance-abuse-wise, what you’re getting is the equivalent of four very strong cans of ice beer and a cup of coffee, and saving yourself 4.5oz of your stomach’s liquid burden, so to speak. No big deal at all.
Well, apparently, it’s now a very big deal, because a bunch of dipshit under-21’s made it a big deal by drinking to many Four Lokos and fucking the fuck up like the fucking fucked up fuckups they are.
I was going to link you to the stories, but there were way to many of them. Google it motherfucker. The country is, apparently, suffering from a debilitating FourLokopocalypse. THE KIDS ARE DYING. THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Forget their parents driving them to drink with their shitty upbringing, THESE PEOPLE ARE KILLING KIDS AND DREAMS AND PUPPIES AND PIXIES AND UNICORNS AND THE RAINFOREST.
A couple weeks ago, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (who are HUGE PIECES OF NAZI SHIT who FUCK LITTLE BABIES IN THE ASS WITH TOOTHPICKS SOAKED IN MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE) ordered all retailers to remove Four Loko (and their lesser peers, such as Tilt) from the shelves until the manufacturers removed all the energy-drink components (caffeine + a bunch of shit that doesn’t even work, according to studies) from their formulas.
After roughly two weeks, the drinks reappeared, sans stimulants. Free at last, they took their life, but they could not take their pride.
Well, as of a couple days ago, it was announced that local governments are, again, trying to ban Four Loko. Apparently, the caffeine disappeared, but the “problems” remained…and intensified. Now, the allegation is that “people are now getting TOO drunk on something that tastes TOO good.” WELL NO SHIT, YOU REMOVED THE CAFFEINE. PEOPLE TEND TO ACT DRUNKER WHEN THERE’S NO CAFFEINE IN THEIR DRINKS. HELLO, McFLY.
So now, even as I gingerly sip a neutered (yet still glorious and beautiful even under camo) Fruit Punch Four Loko, old Peter Gabriel burbling away on my headphones while I tell stories about junior high to redheads in North Carolina on Facebook, I am given to speaking of Four Loko in past-tense. The rights of the many are being violated because of the stupidity of the few, and it is, indeed a tragic thing.
I will miss you, Four Loko.
I will miss the faux-illicit thrill of chugging a 4L with my best friends, savoring it like an eight-ball and sending phone pics to friends bragging about our joyous sacrament.
I will miss the lack of stomach space and aggravation of acid reflux your more revered counterparts (beer, wine, and liquor) have a habit of aggravating.
I will miss that hot, whorey hipster cunt in the Melvins t-shirt turning a snooty nose up at me when I purchase them at the Plaid Pantry on Killingsworth and Denver.
I will miss the easy cleanup. I much prefer cleaning up only four cans after sobering up. Oh and the big red/purple/green blotches on the carpet. Which usually aren’t too bad…apparently my roommate’s dog likes the Watermelon flavor.
Puke for the Buke