Talk about a hard cell! In 1999, a Westword writer attended a national convention of prison vendors, which tried to sell him stun guns and water cannons, barbed wire and suicide-resistant toilets. The resulting article ("Captive Market," August 26, 1999) featured photos of the more bizarre exhibits, including a Saddam look-alike dummy strapped into a Violent Prisoner Restraint Chair, manufactured by Oregon-based AEDEC International. That photo recently caught the eye of a government employee in Iraq, who mistook Westword for AEDEC in an urgent e-mail:
"I am a Master Sergeant in charge of a detention center. I am looking for information on the RC1200 DLX. I am looking for a price list for the chair and for all of the replacement parts and accessories....We are mainly looking for the replacement straps for this chair. I look forward to doing business with you."
The detention center was identified as Abu Ghraib, formerly known for stacking hooded-but-naked Iraqi insurgents into human pyramids as part of a novel approach to interrogation. These days the detainees are apparently getting good mileage out of AEDEC's restraint chairs, which have been criticized by human-rights activists and come with a manufacturer's warning: "The chair is not meant to be an instrument of punishment and should not be used as such."
Eager to do our bit for the war effort, Off Limits fired back a response: "In order to more ably assist you, it would be helpful to us if you could answer the following questions:
"1. Are you seeking unit price and parts information for the Adult Violent Prisoner Chair (RC 1200 DLX-M) or the juvenile model (RC 1200 DLX-JR), or both?
"2. Approximately how many units are currently in use at your facility?
"3. What sort of usage (hours per day, number of occupants per week) are you currently experiencing for this model?"
Our contact responded promptly. After noting how busy he'd been over the holidays ("even here it's been crazy"), he explained that he was interested in the adult model: "I cannot get into the number of chairs I have here and the amount of usage. I apologize for not being able to answer."
Sounds like a group discount might be in order.
Two questions: AEDEC, do we get a bonus for referrals? And could you send the check to Amnesty International?
No kowtowing to this cowtown: Did anyone else notice the complete and total lack of respect for our AFC Championship-bound Denver Broncos this past weekend? And no, Off Limits is not referring to that oft-batted-about "under the radar" tag that the Donkeys have been saddled with this season. We're talking post-Bailey-interception, minutes-remaining-in-a-convincing-victory-against-the-back-to-back-Super Bowl-Champion-New-England-Patriots-and-they-still-can't-throw-us-a-freaking-bone-here? level of disrespect. As our boys put the finishing touches on the Pats, it was all Jim "I Really Should Be Hosting Reality Shows" Nantz and Phil Simms could do to keep from openly weeping into each other's CBS blazers. Every other comment was about how valiant the Patriots had played that evening, how incredible their run over the past few seasons had been.
Off Limits understands the need to praise and recognize a football dynasty, but for chrissakes, Saturday was occasion for a Broncos toast, not a Patriots eulogy. Fellas, just because your pre-season predictions blew up in your face, that's no reason to ignore the accomplishments of the teams that assembled the bombs. Al Wilson said it best after the game: "The only people who believed we could win this game are the people in this locker room." Well, that locker room just got a whole lot bigger. Suck on that, Nantz.
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And still, on Sunday, Gene Wojciechowski, a former Denver Post writer, had the balls -- the balls! -- to offer the following on espn.com: "I have a better chance of slipping the Lombardi Trophy some post-Super Bowl tongue than the Denver Broncos do this year. That's because neither of us are going to be playing in The XL at Ford Field come February 5. And if the Broncos do make it to Detroit, I'll pay the barbershop tab for Jake Plummer to shave the worst beard this side of an Amish barn raising."
On Tuesday morning, Wojciechowski reported that he'd collected 1,300 irate e-mails.
Scene and herd: "That's not Flip on the crackers, is it?" asked the alter ego of Nuclia Waste, our town's tri-titted drag queen, at last week's Frontier party featuring the debut of Flight Attendant School, the Travel Channel reality series that follows high-flying airline employees. But before the show could go on, Frontier treated its guests to snack items -- including raw tuna (?) -- and the latest in its TV campaign chronicling Flip the Dolphin's efforts to get reassigned from Chicago to Mexico. The night before, as one of the celebrity contestants at the Concert for Kids mechanical-bull-riding contest at the Grizzly Rose, Nuclia had lasted all of 24 seconds. "You have to be able to keep your legs together, which has always been a problem for me," she notes.
"Selling 30 Fancy Females," read the ad above a urinal in the men's bathroom by the Cowboy Bar, conveniently located in the basement of the Hall of Education at the National Western Stock Show. But randy out-of-towners eager to skip the trip to Colfax had better read the fine print: "Outstanding Junior Heifer Prospects, halter broke and ready to go."