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A Vacation In Prison
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Matthew Paris

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Post Fri Jan 30, 2004 8:35 pm - A Vacation In Prison
A lot of you have been wondering where to travel for your vacations this year; so have I. Where can we go that some crazy Arab isnít going to blow up with a suicide truck filled with explosives.
Do you think Venice and Paris are safe?. Would you dare to spend a day at the beach lolling at Club Med when you think of who is out there in the jungle with a jeep filled with dynamite?
Do you want to take a trip to Washington or New York? Hey, thatís where the crazies come after you with airplanes.
It doesn't have to be Arabs either that do the big number on your head. It can be some patriot like Timothy McVeigh, making a big bomb out of cow turds, taking out your fancy hotel, machine gunning you and your family at the beach because he is still fighting the Civil War.
Maybe some of you out there are certified suicide bombers; how would I know? Baby, maybe Iím about to blow you up. Thanks, folks, for trusting me not to do it. I sure as hell donít know whether I trust you.
With all this political craziness out there these days, we have to give up on the old fashioned places for a vacation. We maybe need to relax in some kind of fortress. We may even live in one. Itís not much fun to take it easy in a place or with a lover youíre all too familiar with. We can always lock ourselves in a room, bolt the door, watch reruns of television game shows with a shotgun in our lap; I wouldnít call that amusing.
Part of a good vacation is the mild sense of the exotic, the marginal feeling of danger in a weird and eerie moonscape. We look for that mild stink of death. Peril is reality to us. Comfort is the plush carpeting of the grave.
Thatís why I have this brochure I am offering you: all about a new way to have fun, even get an education about the modern world without ever getting hurt by any of the natives. Iím talking about a tour of our wonderful new prisons and loony bins of course. Theyíre fascinating as Club Med or Tiajuana; thereís no place safer. They just seem scary.
America has more and varied prisons and crazy houses than any country on Earth; these days we are to locking people up what Mecca is to mosques. We have over three million convicts, five million more hark working Americans laboring at these joints as guards, wardens, caterers, bedclothes salesmen, architects, lawyers, psychiatrists, judges, certified latrine engineers and munitions wholesalers. Some sell stock in themselves. Why not? Only the dead donít need caterers.
If we were to close down our prison and mental lockups in America weíd have a Depression. Donít worry; there are plenty of lobbyists talking to our Congress all day long and passing along a buck or two to the right people to make sure our institutions stay open, are easily available to everybody. Theyíre working for you not only when youíre sleeping but when youíre long gone, not even a memory.
We have little laws we are passing now that will change the crimes around every week; our modern crooks will have to get a magazines every Tuesday to find out whatís legal. Every year we add two hundred and thirty ways of being diagnosed insane that can get anybody, even dogs and cats, thrown into the slammer though theyíve done nothing wrong.
We have elected two presidents with the heavy solidarity of our prison union voting clout; donít think they donít know it. We are not going to let these people out of their cages without a fight, believe me.
As you new tourists might imagine every prison and dump for lunatics isnít the same. We all have our tastes in felons and people gone bonkers; none of us exactly like what everybody else likes. For those of you who want the usual generic big house and trash heap for madmen experience we have a hellova brand name tour that is going to give you not only a general but surprisingly broad experience of the slammers that keeps our country safe.
This tour has both a fast food reliable quality; yet it has its niches that might be blandly amusing though it aims at being suitably brainless for our more moronic clientele. The dollar of an imbecile to us; thank God, is still a dollar, folks. We donít have the prejudices about intelligence or lack of it of a lot of snobs.
Tonight I want to talk mostly about the more select and elite tours; you donít hear about them as much in our advertising. Youíve heard of minimum and maximum security lock ups; we take you to the most loose and tight of both. We have the palatial King Farouk Memorial Correctional Institute in a posh suburb of Memphis that many people, maybe some of you, have tried to get into when you think of your stale, penurious and lousy lives. Itís like Forest Lawn in Hollywood except everybody is the tomb of tombs is still living.
You can lunch on potato chips in replicas of the Taj Mahal or an exact duplicate of the famous Samoa Hilton. The caterers are all imported from Mexico; these wizards from the land of chili can cook you anything from a Swiss fondue to a hot Setzchuan feast. Nothing is spared on this tour in the way of cunningly spiced and fresh ingredients; statistically there are more truffles devoured at King Farouk than in the entire restaurants of France and Monaco combined.
There are women we put up there culled from the Andean mountains and Patagonian hills mostly, not only beautiful but graduates with honors of local love colleges in their foul native habitats. Theyíve all taken immersion courses in Oxford English; your think youíre making love to the Queen. In tactile perversions they are educated in a way that makes a geisha seem like an Iowa farm girl.
There is a casino at King Farouk of course, an aery of saunas, an almost authentic Jacuzzi, lots of Olympic swimming pools if any of you are in serious training. Unless you see the fences with the armed guards standing on them with machine guns on the borders of King Farouk mostly trying to keep the people out, you wouldnít surmise all that quickly, folks, this might be a prison.
Believe me it is. Try to get in and see what happens.
You can join the felons at Farouk in a little nightly revel after a quick turn in the pool as if you are a prisoner yourself. How would the locals know the difference? All night long you can have at those little golden colored girls no matter how ugly, inept and dull you are, play roulette in games where the high flying gambler always wins and the house always takes a big bath; you will eat the very sumptuous and inordinately rich fare the serial killers there do.
After a while youíll think youíre a prisoner yourself. You know youíre not though. After six days and five nights you go home; they donít. Some say, what would they? What would they go home to? Donít ask.
We donít have too many customers wanting to go the lock ups for the world of our craziest and most violent offenders. Yet there is something to be sad for the austere and frugal quality of life at St. Anthony Penitentiary for the Criminally Insane located deep within a huge abandoned coal mine in Plattsburgh, New York.
If the geography is dismal, the winters longer than long, we find a lot of pious religious people go to St. Anthonyís for ideas on how to purge themselves of the emptiness of their all too affluent lives. If youíre tired of comfort, pleasure, virtue and even life itself you might want to go on that tour too.
I donít think you want to know what we Americans do to the criminals we lock up there. Words can be flat sometimes. Patriotism never blinks at what others call excess. We can guarantee that life at St. Anthonyís is worse than death. Since nobody among you is afraid of what might happen after death, that should be enough for you.
We have special prisons for sex offenders of all kinds, most of which you wouldnít want to miss, several enormous jails that look like immense office buildings weíve set in the sea on large rafts for White Collar felons, mostly brokers of all kinds along with suave lying accountants. You can take pictures and come home with a trove of horrible and traumatic memories.
Most of you would prefer our loony bins to our slammers for crime; I can understand that. Most people are more at home with lunatics than crooks. So am I. Itís when both theyíre nuts and big into crime I get worried about my company. We have a very diverse range of Americans gone bonkers than will amuse you no matter what your taste is in being totally and utterly nuts.
You all know about the Marilyn Monroe Memorial Hospital for failed suicides and the Marilyn Monroe Memorial Hospital Two for the successful ones. They look identical; one has a different cellar.
Youíve heard of course about the Michael Jackson Refuge for General Confusion. Youíre all welcome in the catatonic wing of our guru meditation ward. Youíll find a place for yourself there even if youíre sane.
Yet I know most of you like to go to the Adolph Hitler Solarium where we keep our most colorful paranoid schizophrenics. They are indeed the most interesting crazies we have under lock and key. They will tel you stories of danger, stark hair raising episodes of panic and peril that will thrill you even if they arenít true. Hey, itís not too different in a way than watching the news on television, is it? Or is it?
When you leave each one of our many fascinating lock ups youĎll be glad youíre home. Everybodyís happy finally to get away even from King Farouk after a few days of pleasure fit only for felons. Thatís one of the joys of a good vacation, folks; knowing that it isnít real. Youíll enjoy the banality of your life as you never did.
As miserable, hopeless and enraged as you are, folks, itís better than being locked up.
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