When I was at Safeway picking up some broccoli and bananas earlier this week, I came across a new drink and thought to myself, “that could be just disgusting enough to work.”
That drink? It’s called Coca-Cola Blak.
Even though they went for the edgy (mis)spelling (what, dudes, no exes or zees?), it bills itself as a “carbonated fusion beverage,” which sounds about as sexy as “processed cheese product.”
The fusion part of that billing refers to Coke Blak’s unholy marriage of coke and coffee, though you won’t find that mentioned anywhere on the packaging other than the ingredients list, which names “coffee extract” fifth down, after “high fructose corn syrup,” but before “caffeine.”
Coke chose to use their iconic glass bottles to package Blak, which is cool, but they inexplicably chose to top it with a plastic cap, which is kind of like buying a BMW, then slapping a sparkly “100% Bitch” sticker on the bumper. Also, the bottle comes tightly wrapped in a plastic sleeve, which makes it nearly impossible to see what’s inside without pouring it into a glass. If you’re going to name your product after a color, you might want to let us see exactly how Blak this crap is. The truth is, it’s not very Blak. It’s more Drk Brwn.
Even with all those negatives, I still bought some. I was curious and excited to try it, but completely prepared to be repulsed.
I have the same reaction every time R. Kelly drops a new album, by the way.
Anyway, with my expectations low and the Blak cold, I cracked open a bottle and gave it a go.
Blak is surprisingly fragrant, giving off a toffee scent on open. I expected the drink to be bitter. Honestly, I expected it to have the taste and texture of Guiness, only, you know, without all the wonderful drunkifying properties. In reality, it tastes like a combination of caramel and toasted almonds.
Because Coca-Cola Blak is cut with artificial sweetners, it doesn’t have the sticky, gritty mouthfeel of Coke Classic and it’s only about a quarter as caloric. Both of these things are awesome.
Now, this might have something to do with the fact that I cut myself off from caffeine last week, but drinking this first gave me a detatched, lightheaded feeling, which eventually gave way to a mild case of The Bonkers. Your mileage may vary if your brush with Blak isn’t your first taste of caffeine in several days.
Though Coke could certainly market and package Blak more effectively, they’ve built a unique and surprisingly tasty drink.
I’ve seen a lot of great music in this room. I’ve seen the place packed full with sweaty nerds dancing to The Faint. I saw Ted Leo and CommuniquÃ© share a bill there, playing to less than a dozen people on a Tuesday night. I saw Rilo Kiley play there when they were small enough to open for a side project from one of the dudes from Ozma, whereas now they play cavernous arenas opening for Latte Rock juggernauts Coldplay.
Now, it’s Ma Jong’s, an Asian fusion restaurant geared towards yuppies. There’s no stage and the only music I remember hearing was James Blunt piped in via Muzak. My orange-peel chicken tasted fine, but eating there mostly just depresses me (and that’s not just because I’m breaking my policy against patronizing business with pun names).
There aren’t a lot of opportunities to catch a decent show without heading to San Francisco. After the original Capitol Garage closed, those opportunities shrank even further.
Some enterprising locals opened Junta recently, giving downtown Sacramento a live all-ages music venue once again.
Thanks to its location directly in the middle of Stabbin’ Country, it’s a safe bet the venue won’t get displaced in favor of another upmarket douche zone anytime soon. I just hope it gets a chance to succeed. The kids deserve their rock.
* To celebrate my pal Matt’s birthday, I took him to see the Rebirth Brass Band at Harlow’s on Sunday night and ended up having more fun than I’ve had at any show in the past five years. Brass band music is cool and all, but it’s not something I listen to with any regularity, so I figured Matt would enjoy the hell out of the concert while I’d drink a few beers and maybe nod my head a bit. This was not the case. Matt did enjoy the concert, but the band won me over immediately. I danced, spazzed, hooted, hollered and clapped for about two hours straight, losing about three and a half pounds in water weight from sweating in the process. I used to love live music more than anything, but I don’t see as much of it as I used to. What I miss most about live music is that moment at a great show where it’s no longer a concert, but a party. That moment came at the very beginning of the Rebirth Brass Band’s set and the feeling never stopped. I feel so lucky to have seen them.
* I’m not one for hyperbole, so I hesitate to say this music video by Pleix for the Vitalic song “Birds” is mankind’s greatest achievement, but I will say it ranks somewhere in the top 25, just between waffles and Gutenberg’s printing press.
* Worst thing I heard this week: Sergio Mendes – Timeless. Is Sergio Mendes even remotely popular or influential enough to warrant a Santana-style pop-friendly guest-filled extravaganza? I’d say no, but that didn’t stop Will.I.Am from assembling a crew to update the Brazilian sounds of Sergio Mendes. With the lead Pea deucing his dumb, clumsy raps over mostly smooth jazz-quality arrangements, this ends up sounding like an unholy cross between Red Lobster lobby music and the worst of MTV Hits. Other guests like Justin Timberlake, Q-Tip and Stevie Wonder (STEVIE WONDER!) do no better. This album functions less as a tribute to the talents of a great musician and more as a cheap way for everyone to find out what a train wreck sounds like in Brazil.
* Best Thing I Heard This Week: The amazing a capella version of “God Only Knows” Petra Haden recorded, which is somehow more incredible than her a capella version of The Who Sell Out. You can download her version of “God Only Knows” for free over here.
* I think around the time I stopped eating so much food, for some reason I started watching way too much Food Network, which led me to an unhealthy celeb-crush on Giada de Laurentiis. Even though she smiles so much as to quite frequently appear demented and half of what she says makes no damned sense, I am in deep lust. Plus, everything she cooks looks delicious. By the time I finish watching an episode of “Everyday Italian,” I’m so hungry and aroused that I get confused and often find myself making sweet love to a plate of spaghetti tossed with olive oil, basil, gorgonzola and toasted pine nuts. Clearly, whoever decided to allow her to host “Behind the Bash,” a show where she occasionally appears in formalwear, is trying to kill me. I may need help.
* While being lazy is fun and all, I’m trying to push myself to work harder so someday maybe I can actually make a success out of myself. As a reminder to stay focused, I made a motivational stand-up I keep on my desk at work. Here’s what my version of a “hang in there” kitty poster looks like:
(“Stay On Your Grizzly” is my motto for 2006, by the way.)