TAILPIPE

Dude, come on in. Welcome to the brand- new Broward County North Jail. Have a seat. No, not there. Over here in this boxy wooden chair with the wires. Built not for comfort but utility, you could say.

No, no, no. It's not -- ha ha -- the electric chair. You're our, uh, guest. Why would we want to execute you?

What you're sitting on is our newly purchased Ranger BOSS chair. Our pride and joy. "BOSS" for Body Orifice Security Scanner. That's right. At this very moment, we're doing a full body search on you. Hey, sit still! Nothing like that. This is what's called a "clean" search. No more push-push with the rubber glove. We do it while you're fully clothed.

You see, embedded beneath the seat of the Ranger BOSS is a flat, highly sensitive metal detector. Its sensors are aimed -- pointblank -- at your orifices. Yup. Right up there where the sun don't shine. Now, if you were going to get off on the wrong foot with us by trying to conceal, say, a straight razor in a cigar tube up your butt, let me assure you: You're busted. That baby you're sitting on is so amped up it'll squeal like a pig when it detects your gold fillings. A blade or an ice pick? It just might knock you off the chair. Imagine what could happen if the Tailpipe settled into the hot seat.

Amazing the things that do show up. "It's not something people talk a lot about over lunch," says Robert Burchett, the very unsqueamish owner of Torrance, California's Enterprise Electronics, one of the product's prime marketers. "Pins, razors, knives, lipsticks. They can all be concealed in there." Women, of course, have the advantage of that extra orifice. "The internal workings of the human female" Burchett marvels. "A tampon, or contraband, can go quite a distance up there."

So can the BOSS, of course.

The Broward Sheriff's Office, whose new, state-of-the-art facility in Pompano Beach opens for business next week, has 15 BOSSes in its various jails and holding facilities, says spokesman Hugh Graf. The sheriffs, who endured all the usual problems associated with the antiquated "probing" method -- yuck -- have happily been using them since 2001.

The chair, which sells for about $5,400, was developed a few years ago by a Texas-based company called Ranger Security Detection (and I bet you thought the name Ranger BOSS came from that long-lost Ron Jeremy movie). It was developed because a lot of contraband, including weapons, was getting through those gross body searches. Since the New York State Department of Correctional Services started using the BOSS chairs five years ago, the number of incidents of inmates assaulting other inmates with weapons has fallen by 57 percent.

The company recently developed extensions that will check out that other orifice, the mouth, and feet, says Ranger's project manager Les Burk. "We'll soon be offering an ergonomically designed one for handicapped individuals going through checkpoints," Burk says. "You know, for the wheelchair-bound individual who might be sitting on an MP5 [submachine gun]."

You'll be seeing a lot of the BOSS as you make your way through the system here. Get used to it. Now, step away from the chair.


They say the patient is doing fine. With a cabinet full of meds, multivitamin injections, lots of positive thinking, and a transplant or two, Gulfstream Park is hanging on -- and even looking a little pink in the cheeks these days. The other day, Tailpipe visited the track -- "It's beautiful animals, beautiful women, and cold beer," as one patron happily summed it up after cashing in on his first bet of the day.

Beautiful animals? For the average Joe, the horses that made Gulfstream what it is are becoming ever more remote. If you want the modern experience of horseracing, stay away from those rails, railbirds. The packs of straining thoroughbreds out there are best seen on the track's many television screens. Horseracing, this tube discovered, has become more and more of, um, a tubal experience -- even when you're at the track.

This is the time that anybody who cares about horseracing starts worrying about Gulfstream again. With its scattered pines, condo skyline, and big horses thundering toward the finish line, it's still one of the nation's premier tracks. But less than two months into the new season, the racing crowd continues to fade away. Acknowledges track president Scott Savin: "There's a continuing 3-percent-a-year attrition of our core of race fans through death and disability." How long can that go on?

The hope is that all those pathetic fans of Pat Benatar, Styx, and the Beach Boys -- all on the track's performance schedule this year -- will do a little exploring of their own and make their way to a betting window. It's starting to happen, Savin contends.

But Magna Entertainment Corp., the big Canadian company that owns Gulfstream and a dozen other tracks, continues to bleed money. A few weeks ago, the company took a big $82 million writedown -- a non-cash devaluation of assets for tax purposes -- based on the continuing poor results at Gulfstream and the Maryland Jockey Club.

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