Feelin' the Freak

That Redline Frame of Mind 

Never let it be said that Tailpipe doesn't occasionally jump-start the motor and floor the accelerator to get moving at top speed. The "high-octane" approach goes with living in a 21st-century urban environment, n'est-ce pas, Speedy?

But when it comes to kids, the 'Pipe likes to keep it under the speed limit. Don't want to stunt the young pipette's growth or anything.

The Broward County School Board was recently forced to weigh in on things that make kids spin their wheels when four eighth-graders from Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston were sent to the hospital after chugging bottles of Redline (produced by Davie-based Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc.).

Said board member Beverly Gallagher, referring to students drinking so called "high-octane energy drinks" like Redbull, Mega-Monster, and Redline: "This is really scary."

The School Board, which had already stopped the sales of these drinks in schools, wanted to ban these energy drinks from all campuses so that students wouldn't be allowed to bring them from home. But the board can't ban a drink that isn't illegal to purchase, board member Phyllis C. Hope said.

"The board is putting together a marketing strategy to educate parents on these different drinks that could be very dangerous to students," Hope said. "They might look like soft drinks on the outside, but obviously, they can contain more than just sugar inside."

A warning label on Redline says it shouldn't be consumed by individuals under age 18 (or anyone who's pregnant or nursing). The nearly-300-word warning goes on to say that before drinking Redline, consumers should "consult a physician or licensed qualified health professional before using this product if you have, or have a family history of, heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression or other psychiatric condition, glaucoma, difficulty in urinating, prostate enlargement, or seizure disorder." That's in fine print.

But who could resist the more prominent parts of the label, which command potential consumers to "FEEL THE FREAK/ FEEL THE FREEZE/ WATCH THE FAT DROP OFF WITH EASE!"

When the Redline-drinking students arrived at the hospital, they were sweating profusely, and their hearts were beating rapidly.

Representatives from Vital Pharmaceuticals did not respond to Tailpipe's inquiries.

New Times' Michael J. Mooney heard about the controversy, though, and wanted to understand what all the fuss was about. Mooney, who lives by the dictum "never hesitate to walk in another man's shoes," had downed enough chemicals in college to drill holes in walls — with no long-term effects. A little red bottle full of energy drink? Bring it on.

Mooney went to his neighborhood Kwik Stop and bought two bottles of Redline (and a bottle of Tylenol, just in case). He had a fleeting moment of doubt when the clerk at the register laughed and shook his head.

The experiment began in Mooney's office with the frat-style chugging of an entire bottle (the maximum daily dose, according to the label). Down went the sweet, pink concoction in three gulps, tasting like something between cough syrup and the detoxifying goop you might find at a head shop. Up went his eyelids, eerily alert.

Within ten minutes, sweat covered Mooney's face. At 15 minutes, his hands shook uncontrollably. Twenty minutes after chugging, he felt like someone had reached into his chest and wound his heart tight, like an old-time pocket watch. His pulse raced. His blood pressure shot up. He animatedly paced the newsroom, eyes unblinking, jittery as a crackhead. At the 30-minute mark, both arms were covered in sweat, and coworkers pondered if he was actually waiting for death.

Two hours later, Mooney began to crash. He had a headache and wanted a nap.

There you have it. After seeing a reporter turn from a dignified adult man to a crazed, red-eyed freak, the 'Pipe has to wonder: Why? Redline does not provide a pleasurable feeling. Could college students use the stuff for late-night cramming? No way, Mooney says. "Last thing I wanted to do was look at a book or sit in front of a computer."

Tailpipe doesn't advocate a blanket ban on the stuff. Let's just keep it around for its only valid use: to slip into the drinks of foreign spies when you want them to think they're going crazy.

Book 'Em, Tony 

Say Dolphins around here and the word probably conjures images of a defensive lineman in tight pants (who may or may not be dancing the foxtrot). But the other day, Tailpipe was lucky enough to hitch a ride on a research vessel owned by the National Marine Fisheries Science Center to get an up-close look at the original famous fish. That would be guys like "Hatchet," "Sharky," and "Cruncher." (Much more intimidating than "Twinkle Toes Taylor.")

You see, since 1990, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been keeping track of local dolphin populations through a photo identification project. Every so often, a trio of marine scientists is sent out to patrol Biscayne Bay and monitor the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins who live there. The method is highly scientific: They motor up and down the Intracoastal, scan the horizon, and see if any dolphins pop out of the water. (Well, it's better than tagging them.)

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