War on Caffeine

There’s a War on Drugs. One wonders if a prohibition of caffeine, another psychoactive substance that can cause addiction and altered states of mind, would have created a similar pricey, dangerous underworld.

To think of it!

Gun-toting goons watching the skies over waving fragrant fields deep in unstable Brazil, watching for a sign of government choppers with the flamethrowers and the special policemen. (“I love the smell of burning coffee in the morning!”)

Sweating politicians, nearby, promising they will eradicate this vile cancer on society; and they then sweating some more, as a briefcase with a campaign contribution and a horse head comes. Slick politicians, much farther away, promising that everything will be perfect, once all the trembly-handed caffeine junkies are locked away; once no dealer can palm bags of brown powder to kids who would otherwise be oh so fine. (A righter politician, adding: “We need to investigate these university professors that supply your children, your children! With this filth! What’s going on in their break rooms, if not sodomy and caffeinism? What else?“)

“The president promised today that all military aid given to Brazil will be directed at eradicating coffee slave farms run by the Communist terrorists. President Gingrich’s caffeine czar, Joey Brutalfist, meanwhile made similar remarks during an awareness event held in Bad Ass, TX, where over three tons of coffee beans were burned, all confiscated by the Border Security Anti-Psychoactive Substance Taskforce during its Summer of No Filtration. According to Brutalfist, recent calls for the legalization of coffee use are ‘frighteningly naive’ and do not take into account the ‘vast web of violent crime’ that surrounds the practice. To quote, ‘if we legalize coffee, we are in effect legalizing international terrorist crime at the expense, money body and mind, of America’s young. It is supreme naivetĂ© to assume there could be so-called safe usage; coffee use always escalates, leading into theft, fraud, underage prostitution, violence, murder and ultimately, death’. Meanwhile, protests continue at the ‘Coffee Mom’ trial in Memphis—”

Breathless reports of ten-year-olds that “drank an OD” of what they thought was “spiky cocoa” — breathless reports of hospitalized high school students that stabbed themselves in the eye with a pencil; “police suspects caffeine may have been involved” — urban legends of how someone sat down with a big, thick pot of coffee and wrote one hundred fifty pages of a thesis slowly descending into raving paranoiac madness, and then had a coronary and died; “Man, that coffee’s some evil shit.”

Movies zooming over a stained filter and a water heater, just to indicate what kind of a fiend one is dealing with — sleek dangerous characters laughing and boasting of how they like their brown death Turkish and with a touch of honey — opening credit sequences showing the waving fields, the unmarked manilla sacks, the secret-compartmented van, the shady inner-city dealer, the emaciated junkie, a handful of beans, a pestle, a mortar, a filter of notepaper and some hot water warmed on an open fire in an old wooden house, and a mishap while nervous hands raise the cup — and Horatio Caine kneeling over a burned corpse, saying: “Looks like he got… roasted.”

Reclining, trouble-brewing kingpins in white suits making an appearance in crime movies now and then; and shaking, rail-thin, disheveled, hyperactive addicted poor kids making an appearance somewhat more often, stealing to get one more brown fix.

Posters reading “Caffeinism: it’s ANXIETY HYPERREFLEXIA INSOMNIA SCHIZOPHRENIA ALKALOSIS DIURESIS HALLUCINATIONS RHABDOMYOLOSIS HEART ATTACKS AND HEADACHES” or “Caffeine hypertension: 60 000 preventable deaths every year”. TV spots where a somber man in a grey suit intones, to the sound and sight of a frying egg: “This is your brain on caffeine. It’s going fast because it’s fucking frying. Any questions?”

(And then a woman takes the frying pan, smashes the kitchen and, panting, says: “And this is what caffeine does to everyone around you. Any questions?”)

University students going into districts their mothers warned them about, heavy-lidded and stressed, and asking shady characters: “Would you, er, know anyone who would, um, know someone with an affinity for… Brazilian?” And the shady characters replying: “Maybe… but it’s going to cost ya. This ain’t something you can get over at Walmart, girl.”

A boyfriend sniffing the air of an apartment, then whispering: “This smell… dear God, Elizabeth, don’t tell me you’re one of those coffee fiends?

And Elizabeth, with a pout, and with a heavy textbook in one hand, an illicit mug in the other, answering: “Don’t get hysterical. I’ve got it under control.”

“Why, Elizabeth, why? I could understand tea —”

And Elizabeth would cry: “Tea! I don’t need a thrilly hipster placebo, Frank, I need a real fix, something that’ll keep me awake late and wake me up early, keep my wits sharp and hands trembly — besides, I’ve got the licence for medicinal caffeine.”


“Maths graduate student, Frank. Maths graduate student.”

One Response to “War on Caffeine”

  1. Margaret K. Westfall Says:

    Tea is a vastly superior beverage.
    Bach wrote a cantata on the perils of coffee drinking. Link to text / translation:

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