Friday, March 12, 2010

Mental Jackhammer Smart Drinks - The WNY Underworld Noisecontrol Publishing

The Mental Jackhammer Story

(An Article From The Buffalo News)



This article appeared in the Buffalo News May 23, 1993. This is
the longest newspaper article ever written about anything that I've ever
been involved in, with the exception of an article that I wrote for the
opinion page of the Niagara Gazette last year that was about drive by eggings
in my neighborhood. At the time that this was written, I requested that
my name be printed as Chris Alan because I didn't want any attachments
to my real name to the business to be made. Now I realize that in terms
of business none of it really matters anyway, you'll know from my autobiography
that it is clear that I did not succeed with it.

A friend of mine found this article on the Internet on a site called
Hyperreal which is devoted to rave culture. We printed a copy out in 1996,
and now we have it here for you on the web. Sometimes it takes time to
bring things back from the bleeding edge into reality, so here you have
it. The greatest criticism of my life between the years of 1992 and 1993,
from a writer who ran away to Washington D.C. Maybe in a few years, he'll
have a chance to write about me again.

January 1, 1998 




LEANING SELF-consciously against a smart bar gives
one an

excellent vantage point to watch a dance party and think about

Buffalo is not a cyberpunk city.

It was in just such a pose that Chris Alan and many
of his

customers recently took in the orgiastic tribalism of the Artists

and Models Affair. The thumping techno music. The neo-1960s

fashions. The incredible new perfume that suddenly all rave women

are wearing.

But what is a smart bar? Go ask Alan.

A smart bar, Alan explains, is where you buy smart

Smart drinks are fruity concoctions with a hint of grit. The grit

is amino acid powder, a smart drink's main ingredient, which is

mixed with orange juice and cranberry juice. These legal,

non-alcoholic energy cocktails are supposed to activate your brain

and metabolism, make you want to participate in physical activity

all night long.

Alan calls his bar the Mental Jackhammer Smart Bar.
"You can work out for four hours and not sleep; your mind will still be
hyped," he says of Fast Blast, one of four available smart drinks. The
other three drinks are Smart Start, Brain Boost and Memory Fuel.

"I've gotten really weird dreams as a result of Memory Fuel," Alan
says. After chugging an ice-cold Smart Start, one does feel a definite
tingle, as if something were caressing the inside of one's skin.

"Smart drinks are just as much a part of the atmosphere
as sound and lights are," says Tony Billoni, producer of the Artists and
Models Affair. "But I don't fool myself: If I didn't have a

real bar at Artists and Models, we'd be a bunch of artists sitting
around and looking at each other. This is a town that likes its (alcoholic)

So it's an uphill battle for Alan, who is the chief
distributor of smart drinks in the region.

Alan seems perfect for this work. He's 20, a former
computer hacker from Niagara Falls who writes techno music with his friend
named DJ X-O-Tec on a sampler at home. He once ran a computer bulletin
board named after a character in "Neuromancer," William Gibson's seminal
cyberpunk novel. Selling smart drinks, Alan hopes, will help him pay for
college. But he still has to work weekdays at Burger King.

Smart-drink suppliers like Alan have become minor
underground heroes in other regions, fueling all-night raves in cities
like Toronto and quenching the thirst of thousands of kids. The craze

has spread so wide and so deep that even the editor of the New
Republic recently named his two favorite flavors -- Fast Blast and Memory
Fuel. In some places, smart drinks are already on their way to becoming

Meanwhile, Alan has been able to introduce smart drinks
in only two local clubs -- the Pleasuredome in Niagara Falls and the Edge
in Buffalo. After several month of sales, he is just approaching the break-even
point on his $4,000 investment in ingredients and other expenses.

He should be doing better, shouldn't he? That's what
Alan and his customers are contemplating as they continue to lean self-consciously
against the Mental Jackhammer Smart Bar.

Then, under the influence of two consecutive Smart Starts, a theory
begins to emerge. It is communicated wordlessly, because the techno uproar
has made verbal communication impossible.

The theory is this: Smart drinks are more than just
a fad that came late to Buffalo and had trouble catching on. Smart drinks
are supposed to be the beverage of the cyberpunk generation.

Cyberpunk: An interlocking matrix of buzzwords and trends
gives cyberpunk a modicum of meaning. Smart drinks, smart drugs, 13th Gen,
rave (dance) parties, techno (machine) music, virtual reality,

computer hacking, electronic intimacy, etc. Think of the new television
series "Wild Palms" as cyberpunk for grown-ups.

When one of these fads fails, the whole trendy matrix collapses.
This is what has happened in Buffalo. The raves are small and infrequent.
The DJs need to catch up with what's happening in

Toronto and Europe. The designer drugs are impossible to find.
Computer bulletin boards cost too much by Buffalo standards. Techno has
been unplugged while alternative, classic rock and reggae reign in local
clubs. And so on. In short, Buffalo reality is never virtual.

The other night a man who said he was a go-go dancer from

Guelph, Ont., ordered his first smart drink at the Pleasuredome.

"I've tried those little pills," he said. "I wanted
to see if

smart drinks would work."

One wishes Chris Alan the best of luck earning his college

tuition. But one can't help thinking maybe it's a good thing that

Buffalo is not the kind of city where smart drinks would catch


@Art: JAMES P. McCOY/Buffalo News Chris Alan concocts smart

drinks at the Artists and Models Affair. {color}

Byline: DAVID MONTGOMERY - News Staff Reporter



Edition: FINAL


Page: E1

(Copyright 1993)

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