Feelin' the Freak

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.)

When the dolphins do make an appearance, two scientists bust out their big cameras with massive lenses and try to snap the critters, paparazzi-style. It's kind of like playing Whack-a-Mole. Cooperating dolphins might open their mouths slightly when they jump, grinning with their cute little dolphin teeth. One is even named "Smiley Smile."

Turns out, researchers can specifically identify each particular dolphin by the marks on its dorsal fin. Although a baby dolphin's fin is smooth at birth, it gets permanently — and uniquely — banged up when bitten during fights with sharks or unfortunate encounters with fishing line. Software called Fin Scan exists — it's similar to computer programs that categorize fingerprints — but the researchers know the dolphins well enough to identify them by sight.

"That's Mogul!" captain Joe Contillo shouts the instant he spots a fin popping out of the water. "He's going to be with number 65. Those two are buddies." Sure enough, a second later, Dolphin 65 himself leaps out of the water.

"See?" Contillo yells. "I called it!"

The NOAA scientists have given names or numbers to 222 dolphins, but it's the same hundred or so who've been spotted around since the project started. That's a sign that the population is in stable health, the researchers say. As they dock the boat after six hours on the sparkling water, they figure that the day's total sightings — six dolphins, including a grandma and a baby calf — was decent.

On good days, they might spot as many as 50; on bad days, none. Their findings are entered into a database that is accessible to marine mammal researchers around the country for a host of scientific projects.

Have they figured out whether there's truth to that burning scientific rumor: that dolphins can kill sharks, particularly in defense of little blond kids who might have gotten lost at sea? Marine biologist Tony Martinez won't say it's never happened. "Let's just say that you see a lot of dolphins with scars from sharks. But you don't see a lot of sharks with dolphin scars."

Strip Maul

Joseph Kildare, a 20-year-old from Plantation, may not be a model citizen; then again, that doesn't mean he deserves to be treated like the chew toy of a German shepherd, Tailpipe says.

Kildare was one of three young men who scrambled out of the Blackhawk Estates driveway of Brad Corliss, who was arriving home just after midnight March 14. Suspecting burglars, Corliss chased Kildare and his cohorts through the subdivision. When officers from the Davie Police Department arrived, Corliss pointed to a bush where he thought the suspects were crouching, according to the police report. An officer shone a spotlight into it, and sure enough, the young men went running.

In Kildare's version, the chase lasted 15 minutes, until he finally realized it was no use. He surrendered. Instead of being handcuffed, Kildare says, "an officer said a command to the dog and it started attacking me — as if I was a threat."

The dog mauled Kildare's left arm and shoulder, inflicting gashes that would need stitches to close. But he'd have to wait for medical attention. In the complaint Kildare filed a week later against the Davie police, he says that he was whisked away as the ambulance was arriving and that an officer drove him to a secluded part of the neighborhood and parked. "Look, it's pretty dark out here," Kildare recalls the officer saying. "I can do anything I want, so stop fucking lying to me."

Kildare was in no condition for dialogue, he says in the report: "I didn't respond because I started fading out because of all the blood I was losing."

More than three hours passed, Kildare says, before he received medical treatment.

For all that, Kildare was charged only with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, though the case remains open. Davie Police Internal Affairs' investigation into Kildare's arrest is also pending.

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Edmund Newton