On a holiday devoted to marijuana, it's good to reflect on all it has given to the world. Amid hacking coughs, pot is responsible for modern rock music, the popularity of Cheetos as a dessert staple and a stream of cinematic comedy heroes -- from Cheech to Thurgood to Kumar. The influence of the drug on American culture is unquestionable, especially in Boulder. What is less clear is its role in the tech community that surrounds us.
Weed is not the drug of choice among members of the tech community. For all its vaunted qualities ("It puts the second L in 'mellow.' And that L stands for 'Let's be incredibly annoying.'"), it seldom has a place at the table when there's important internet stuff to be done. No, that seat is reserved for the time-tested workhorse of chemical dependency -- caffeine.
It comes in many forms, from gas station pick-me-ups with names like Infernal Purpose to aromatic concoctions brewed with care by baristas and, more accurately, java barbers. Caffeine is what we turned to in high school when cramming useless information into our brains for the SATs. The same goes for college, when we crammed equally useless but dramatically more expensive information into our brains.
The point is that we have all, at one time or another, had a bit of caffeine and felt its effects. This is especially true for those of us who work on the nerdy side of the coin. Caffeine is the jittery cornerstone of a well-balanced tech breakfast. Given its ubiquity, why isn't there a holiday to celebrate the noble contributions of this chemical? Where is our 4/20?
Yes, I am proposing such a thing. If marijuana is celebrated on April 20 each year with howlingly illegal fiestas and fiascos, then I encourage all of Boulder's geeks and geek sympathizers to throw their support behind a new faux holiday to celebrate the importance of caffeine in Colorado and beyond.
It will be called "3/25" and will be celebrated, of course, on March 25 with blaring trumpets and sashaying elephants. The date honors the birth of Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, the German chemist credited with discovering caffeine in 1819. I like to think of Runge as a wild-eyed rebel scientist, but my research revealed that he looked a bit like the mom from "Home Improvement."
No matter! Runge will have his day. Most Boulder geeks will follow along if I promise them free T-shirts, so I don't have to worry about their allegiance. However, acquiring support from Boulder County's wily caffeine barons may prove more difficult. They're a shifty, duplicitous lot and can seldom be relied upon to do anything but glower at you from behind the counter.
I cornered one such peddler of perk and pled my case for a caffeine holiday.
"I'd definitely support 3/25," said Chris Rosen, owner of café Atlas Purveyors. He has observed caffeine's grip on local startup employees firsthand, with some of them drinking upwards of half a gallon of coffee each day. "Caffeine is social. That should be celebrated."
Rosen is right. Caffeine, while firmly entrenched in late-night culture, has had broad social appeal throughout American history, from soda fountains to coffee dates. We will not rest until 3/25 is a reality -- mostly because we can't sleep.