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Mounting The Psychedelic PR Campaign In Earnest

from the renegade files of Scotto

as seen in The Resonance Project #4 (Spring 1999)

I was doing a lot of freelance consulting in those days, offering my particular brand of so-called "insight" to whoever was paying the most. I'd spent most of my career working for high-powered entertainment conglomerates, getting their stupid clients out of trouble, finding ever more creative ways to publicize and promote movies that offered absolutely no value to the human race, and feeling pretty good about the fat paychecks I promptly wasted on horrible weekends full of taxing debauchery. So imagine my surprise when an InfiniTek representative called me out of the blue, requesting I fly to London and meet with their Board of Directors for a project that would ultimately change my life.

InfiniTek was at the time the leading global pharmaceuticals and advanced weaponry conglomerate. By that time, the summer of 2004, the pharmaceuticals industry was in a deep recession. No new diseases had come along in at least eight months, and all the old ones were well in hand. It had become extremely apparent to InfiniTek's upper management that a change would have to take place in the political climate of the world if profit margins were to return to previous heights and if growth was to return to previous astonishing rates. It was no longer enough to be the leading supplier of every kind of medicinal pharmaceutical you could imagine; no, it was now obvious that so-called "recreational pharmaceuticals" were the key to answering all of the company's serious cash flow problems. But how to get around the ridiculous War on Drugs still being waged by the United States government? How to circumvent the absurd propaganda machine that the United States had set in motion decades earlier?

"What we need," said InfiniTek's chairman of the board, [name deleted for security reasons], "is a counter-campaign, a public relations campaign that will target the next generation of recreational pharmaceutical users and open the ballgame wide up for competitive, aggressive marketing of psychedelic substances to the world. Mind you, I have no interest in the 'hard' drugs; no one wants to compete with the CIA that directly, after all. But the fact remains: it's time to open the floodgates, introduce significant and powerful alternatives to the goddamn monopoly that alcohol has on the public consciousness. There are other ways to alter human consciousness for fun and profit, dammit, and InfiniTek needs to be at the forefront!"

My mind was racing. Of all the seedy, disgusting things someone had ever paid me to do, this was among the worst - and that included my work to convince the entire population of China that Melrose Place had deep religious significance for all of them, and should be revered alongside the words of Confucius.

"Well," I said slowly, ideas forming more rapidly than my sickened stomach could manage, "it's obvious we need to target the children."

[name deleted for security reasons]'s eyebrow shot up.

"I'm listening," he said.

"It's simple, really," I replied. "You've got the resources, the undeserved respect, and the marketing clout to wield an iron fist wherever you want to. So: it's time to develop your own line of toys, gentlemen. It's time to start advertising those toys on Saturday morning cartoon programming. You'll make these toys more desirable than the Cabbage Patch Kid fad, the Beanie Baby fad, even the recent Cuddly Parasites of the Amazon fad. Soon every child in America will want these toys, and their parents will be powerless to resist. With your toys in the hands of the American populace, no politician will dare resist their influence as they grow to voting age and demand that psychedelic substances be legalized."

"What kind of toy are you thinking of here?" asked InfiniTek CEO Alexander Strip.

"Action figures," I replied. "Psychedelic substance action figures. Let's take the War on Drugs to the next level, except we'll cast the psychedelics as cosmic heroes, Team Altered-State, battling an onslaught of evil Republican menace. Just think of the possibilities. Captain Acid will lead our heroes into battle, with his high-powered Tripmobile and his devastating Self-Recursion Lasso. The mighty Doctor DMT will stun his enemies with the Tremendum Torpedo, and his sidekick Elfy the Entity will provide much needed comic relief. The Mysterious Mescalito will give us access to the niche ethnic market. The beautiful Princess Ecstasy will add that much needed feminine touch to the team. Let's not forget the relentless Mister Mushroom, either, with his remarkable Swivel-Arm Battle Spores, or the ever intriguing Agent K, whose prowess with far eastern 'throwing syringes' will send his foes hurtling into the K-hole at a moment's notice. Their enigmatic commander, Heroic Dose, will send them on mission after mission, to win the War on Drugs once and for all."

"Good Lord," said [name deleted for security reasons]. "I think you've got something here."

"The fight will not be easy, of course. Team Altered-State will have their work cut out for them against the vicious Drug Eradication Association, led by the maniacal General Bummer Trip and his fearsome Forfeiture Flamethrower."

"Of course, of course," muttered Alexander Strip.

"You could sell entire playsets. The Team Altered-State command headquarters, Code Name: Ground Control. The Team Altered-State chemical supply dump, Code Name: Pillbrook. The Team Altered-State r&r joint, Code Name: Tryptamine Tavern. The DEA will of course have its own hovercraft, the Schedule One. You picking up what I'm laying down here? Build brand awareness, turn it into the Team Altered-State half-hour cartoon, start releasing Team Altered-State feature films· eventually each playset will come with its own little vial full of Strange White Powder, and your revenues will go through the roof."

It was a bold and brassy plan, coming at just the right time, a time when boredom was the primary motivator for most human beings in the western world. InfiniTek unleashed the full power of its immensely savvy marketing arm, and within fifteen years, the War on Drugs in the United States collapsed. Within a year after that, InfiniTek itself was worth more than the total gross national products of every nation on Earth combined, and its executives were widely said to be laughing their way all the way to the bank, and then to the lab, to pick up their own little vials full of Strange White Powder. It was a weird weird situation, and consensus reality was pushed to its limits.

I, of course, collected a big fat paycheck and moved to a small Caribbean island with not vials but full fledged vats of Strange White Powder. My little corner of the planet has not been the same since, I can tell you that for nothing.

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