"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 May 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Vice Grip


[Bud Wear]

No one excels in the realm of

brand identification like

alcohol and cigarette companies -

as evidenced by proud partiers

everywhere, clad in shiny Camel

or Marlboro jackets over their

Bud Bowl or Spuds Mackenzie

T-shirts. But considering the

fact that American culture

celebrates the Bad Ass even more

than the Big Boobed, it makes

sense that such product-lauding

attire is so popular. Forget

those Dirty Harry lines, here's

a Camel motorcycle you can buy

with Camelbucks. We'd better

grab some cartons and start

puffin' - at a pack a day, we

won't have one until we're 89.

That is, if we last until



[Jack Daniels Screen Saver]

While most cigarette companies

appear too timid to sneak online

(for now), the Web offers

alcohol galore, with

merchandising that leaves us

twitchy and restless with envy.

From the Budweiser bathing suit

("Is that a tallboy in your

trunks...or are you just glad to

see me?") to the Jack Daniels

Screen Saver (perhaps it comes

pre-blurred), such products

allow weekend warriors to wear

their first loves on their

sleeves and on their screens, as

well as in their guts.


[Real Beer]

For those with extra time and

money who might find such brew

and hooch brands too pedestrian

for their tastes, wine

appreciation classes, and home

brewing are logical

alternatives. While some remain

suspicious of hobbyists who

dedicate vast amounts of time to

making beer at home, acquiring

an impeccable taste for fine

wine, or rolling their own

cigarettes, others take these

pursuits as seriously as any

12-step program - and the

results are sure to be more



[Combustible Edison]

And speaking of slippery nipples and

slow screws, the advent of

so-called "lounge culture"

brings the cocktail-slingers, as

proud of their degrees in

mixology as they are of their

daring Dep do's and patent

leather shoes. Rising beyond the

'50s homemaker,


schtick, drink recipes provide a

common tromping ground for

cyber-loungers fascinated with

which concoctions are slick and

which (found in mini-malls and

TGIFs) will make you sick - if

you're not a girl, that is.



But what else is there to get

thirsty about, if not squished

smurfs and frothy redheads?

After attending a party

featuring, inadvertently, Basil

Juleps, we reluctantly admit

that a certain amount of concern

over mixed drinks isn't wholly

inappropriate. Unless you'd

rather continue to slosh

together that slipshod Gin

and Coke in gut-rumblingly

ill-considered proportions.



Weak admonitions to stay away

from corporate alcohol sites if

you're not (yet!) 21 rank

between "Be Cool, Stay In

School" and "Don't Shake the

Baby" in the realm of useless

messages. Shooing away

adolescent netizens via a "don't

click here" can't be very

effective, given that the same

kids have spent years laughing

louder at Bud Lite commercials

than at cartoons. Zima gets

closest to the truth with its

message: "[I]f you are not 21,

we'll wait for your business."

All in good time, my little

pretties - you can almost see

the winged monkeys waiting on

the window ledges at the Zima



And if a camel handing you

cigarettes out of his pack at

every turn doesn't chip away at

your resolve not to take up the

habit, Pepsi's new promotion -

featuring cans as currency - could

serve as training wheels for

those Marlboro Miles and




The real draw of vice websites,

though, seems inextricably

linked to a long string of

positive associations. When many

of our wildest (woo hoo!)

experiences have been

consistently paired with certain

vices, the brand names alone can

trigger unsightly Pavlovian

responses - we can't so much as

glance at a Mickey's Big Mouth

without drooling involuntarily.

But, despite the fact that a

beer in the hand is worth two in

the spush, gazing glassy-eyed at

your monitor seems relatively

harmless compared to the

embarrassment of being caught

hypnotized by a pyramid of cheap




There are dangers associated with

dipsomaniac devotion, of course,

and on the client side, you

could do much worse than crash

your browser. But things aren't

so rosy from the perspective of

the vice merchants, either. Your

interest in a drunk's ductility

may have to do with getting

him/her out of his/her pants, but

Anheuser-Busch and friends want

you to stay in theirs. And let's

face it: it's hard to be loyal

to a single brand when you're

seeing double.

courtesy of Polly Esther