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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

INFOGRAPHIC: Your Guide to Prop 19

By Brandon Ferguson

For all you unmotivated pot-heads waiting til the last minute to get the facts on Proposition 19, this just in: The election is tomorrow. Take a look at this trippy infographic designed by Jay Brockman. It'll fill you in on everything you need to know about the issues surrounding marijuana legalization.

Click on the image to enlarge!

Product Review: Four Loko Energy Drink/Alcoholic Beverage

four loko cans

There’s this drink called Four Loko that has been making some waves recently, mostly due to its high caffeine and alcohol content, and the Bro-attracting pheromones it emits that hypnotizes people with backwards hats that can only say the word chug to drink multiple cans of it. The downside of this (or upside, depending on how much you hate “Bro” culture) is that the caffeine in Four Loko shuts off the body’s natural shut-off moment that occurs when drinking lots of alcohol. You know that moment -- it’s when you’ve had one too many and you start to get tired and lose all willingness to take another drink. Four Loko stops that stopping mechanism from stopping you from drinking, which, after a few more Four Lokos, stops your consciousness, and possibly your life. Case in point: nine college students in Washington State were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, some having a blood alcohol level of 0.35, when 0.30 percent is considered potentially lethal.

Depending on the state you’re buying it in, the alcohol content of a Four Loko can range from 6% ABV to 12.5% ABV. So if the average alcohol content of an average bottle of beer is 4 to 5%, then that means one Four Loko is around 6 beers in one can (if you’re drinking a 12.5% can). Add in the caffeine that apparently strips you of your humanity, leaving you unable to feel things, and one can easily consume enough alcohol to require a stomach pump and enough caffeine to turn your heart in to a blood-spraying fire hose. And on top of all that, each can is as tall as one of those large 99-cent cans of Arizona iced tea. In other words, this shit will get you f*cked up, and fast, and there’s a lot of it.

Being the idiots that we are, we decided to head on over to our local seedy gas station to pick up a couple of cans to see what all the fuss was about. We now hate ourselves and no longer trust ourselves to make wise purchasing decisions.

Can Aesthetics

Four loko can

Every can of Four Loko looks like it wants to star in a gay porn parody of a Rambo film. They’re all dawned in this Technicolor camouflage that no life-loving solider would ever wear in a battlefield, unless they were battling some tall, blue primitives on Pandora.


The can itself is rather large and phallic. If one were to gather a number of Bros together in a room, gave them a case of Four Loko’s, and told them to go to town, it would only be about 10 minutes before one of them started deep-throating a can for laughs. The laughs would then be followed by claims of homosexuality, which will cause a fight and a death or two. Contrast this with Arizona iced tea cans, which will not bring about cries of homosexuality because simply holding a large, dick-like can of pomegranate lemongrass fusion with a picture of a geisha on the front is a big gay subliminal tip off to everyone within a square mile.



It’s like Robitussin mixed with cheap vodka that’s been filtered through a cheese cloth made of woven hatred. Christ, it’s awful. Every time someone took a swig of the stuff, whether it was a the tiniest of sips or the mightiest of gulps, the sound of the slurping liquid was immediately followed by an eye-squeezing cringe that would also include some tongue waggling and some kind of unspellable word – one that was unique to each drinker -- that represented total disgust. In fact, you didn’t even have to be looking at someone to know they took a drink. You could have your back turned to them and the sound of disgust the person would make made you instantly aware they regret ever buying this can of suck.

Every 10 minutes or so one of my drinking buddies would turn to everyone and ask how everyone was feeling. When one of them answered, “full of energy,” I was shocked, because drinking this shit made me depressed, and not in the way that alcohol makes you depressed because it’s a depressant. No; I just felt so universally stupid for having bought something so atrocious just to get a little drunk. It felt so sad and desperate. Only hobos and transient pedophiles drink malt liquor, not adults with jobs and responsibilities. And, on top of that, it’s flavored, or, at least, they attempted to add flavor. I really don’t want to know what Four Loko tastes like when they don’t add in those wild approximations of fruity flavors -- probably battery acid and despair. My can was fruit punch flavored, but after having sampled some of the watermelon flavor I can safely surmise that the words on the can mean nothing: every flavor tastes like fermented assholes and poison, just one can of fermented assholes and poison houses a red liquid and another houses a green liquid.

Needless to say, it’s pretty tough to drink more than a quarter of the can without wanting to throw it away, but if there is one saving grace for Four Loko it’s…

The Effects

drunk guy

…a quarter of a can will get you drunk, or at least very tipsy. Within sips, everyone I was drinking with was well on the way to vomiting red in to a toilet. If the stated purpose of Four Loko is to get you super-drunk super- fast, then this product is smashing success…you just have to muscle through sip after sip of questioning whether or not you want to continue to subject yourself to a the kind of torture that I’m pretty sure the Geneva conventions outlawed years ago.

So it gets you drunk, but it’s also got a hell of a lot of caffeine and guarana and taurine and all of those energy drink buzz words that only stressed-out hardcore PC gamers can spell the names of without having to type them in to Google because Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize them. There is so much of this stuff that my heart actually began to palpitate, which is not a good thing, as one of my drinking buddies that also happens to be a paramedic informed me. My heart rate was well above normal only after having drank half the can – the hearts of those kids in Washington State had to have been beating so fast they could have powered a Tesla coil. I’m convinced that if this Four Loko stuff doesn’t get banned by the government for being stupidity in a can, the power of a human heart being fueled by Four Loko could be the wondrous alternative energy source humanity has been waiting for.

The Verdict


If you want to get drunk there are better alternatives, for instance, you can always make some toilet wine. I’m sure that would be a better drinking experience, and you’ll also feel productive instead of thinking about hiring a level-headed non-idiot to walk around with you that will prevent you from buying products that make you hate them, which seems counter to the purpose of every product that has been and will be.

Awesome timelapse video: Rapture


Tom Lowe is an amazing photographer who makes devastating, astonishing timelapse videos of the night sky. Once again, he does not disappoint. Here’s your must-see video of the day: Rapture.

TimeScapes: Rapture from Tom Lowe @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

Make sure it’s set to HD, make it full screen, and turn your speakers up. I suggest letting the video buffer get well ahead, too, so it doesn’t skip.

Rapture is a paean to the American Southwest, one of my favorite regions on the planet. But the video’s loaded with gorgeous, sensuous astronomical skyscapes as well. Tom takes time exposures long enough to register faint night sky objects, but at the same time uses slow tracking to move the camera. The superposition of the ground and sky motion is simply mesmerizing. The music by Nigel "John" Stanford is incredibly compelling, too.

How many deep-sky objects can you identify in the video? The Andromeda Galaxy makes a brief appearance, and when the hub of the Milky Way slides across the sky, it’s awesome to behold.

Tom is the real thing. You should also check out his "Death Is the Road to Awe", a similar timelapse video.

Simply incredible. There is such beauty out there, and such gifted artists who can capture it and show it to us.

My thanks to Tom for giving me the heads-up on this. Follow him on Twitter for more information about his amazing work.

MC Hammer Gives Jay-Z a Bap-Diss-’Em in WTF?! Retaliation Video

by Kenny Herzog

After Hova unnecessarily slammed formerly untouchable hip-hop icon-turned-Surreal Life cast member MC Hammer in Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Friday offering, “So Appalled” (the third(!) random Hammer reference this year, oddly, following Freeway and Rick Ross’ lead), Hammer pledged via Twitter that he’d avenge his honor on Halloween. And boy, was he not bluffing.

Over the past month, Hammer apparently set out to produce a five-minute video for a track titled “Better Run Run” in order to set a few things straight: 1. If he can afford such an indulgent conceptual clip, he must not be the “broke,” less “focused” has-been that Jay-Z’s diss asserted; 2. Because of the pastor/rapper’s own flirtation with ethically compromised success while on Death Row Records, it’s his sanctimonious and crowd-moving duty to warn Jay that Satan wants his soul, and will follow him for months in a cheap plastic devil mask until he gets what he’s after; and 3. the world has been needing a satirical diss video from a clearly less influential MC ever since Kool Moe Dee launched his ridiculous “Death Blow” comeback to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.”….

To the nearly 50-year-old Hammer’s (or his management’s, whichever) credit, it’s a shrewd move, and the song itself isn’t actually terrible, and he even gets a few cutting lyrics about Jigga’s boundless self-branding in there (“Naw, naw, I don’t Roc your wear/Your shoes, I don’t need a dark pair”).

But alas, the man who once assumed the role of his own audience when begging himself to Please… Don’t Hurt ‘Em takes pity on Jay in the end, managing to halt the devil’s chase (the purposeful casting of a doughy, man-boobed actor in a Yankee hat and white tee to represent a frightened, fleeing Jay is genuinely hilarious) with a simple “talk to the hand” gesture, before concluding the “Better Run” saga by giving Jay an actual baptism in the surrounding lake.

Obviously, Hammer’s emphatic response will do little to dent Jay’s momentum, and Hova himself will probably express some kind of genuine tribute to the MC’s legacy and admit to laughing along with the clip. And Hammer knows this. Jay picking a fight with the long-irrelevant rapper and dancer, particularly when the guy ultimately broke down mainstream doors for hip-hop that would have never been ajar, would be outright bullying. So ostensibly, it’s a win-win piece of viral reactionary genius.

Although for all those other rappers out there taking a jab at Hammer’s expense, bear in mind the guy largely squandered his millions employing virtually every person from his entire Oakland family and neighborhood. Last time I checked, Hova’s been acquiring portions of his fortune by spinning narratives about all the people he’s stepped on and over to get there.

Costume Designs from Tim Burton's Unmade 'Superman Lives' Film

By: Andy Khouri

At the moment there's a Superman movie in development with a story by a noted screenwriter and a visionary director signed on to direct. It's easy to forget that when it comes to the Man of Steel on film, the same state of affairs has existed for the better part of 20 years. As detailed in the book Superman Vs. Hollywood, a number of filmmakers and performers were attached to various aborted Superman films before we finally saw Bryan Singer and Brand Routh's Superman Returns in 2006, but none more closer to the finish line than Superman Lives by Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage, on which $50 million was spent before Warner Bros. terminated the project. If the photos after the jump prove anything, it's that Superman dodged a pretty big kryptonite bullet.

Released for the first time last week was a collection of pre-production photos from Superman Lives, specifically spotlighting the radical and achingly 1990s-specific redesign of Superman's costume commissioned by the famously idiosyncratic Burton. Taken from the Facebook page of Visual Effects artist Steve Johnson, the photos are fascinating and frightening glimpses into what might have become of America's greatest hero (especially disturbing are those shots of the Nicolas Cage mannequin). Indeed, that Burton never called "action!" on even one take of Superman Lives is something for which both comic book fans and general audiences should thank Rao and all other available gods, demons and supernatural beings.

Interestingly, before the Superman project fell to Burton, Clerks and Mallrats writer/director Kevin Smith was hired to write a Superman screenplay under the auspices of producer Jon Peters, a polarizing figure in Hollywood who, it is suggested in the book Hit and Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood, may have been making movies while not knowing how to read. Burton chose not to use Smith's script, freeing the screenwriter to later deliver what is an absolutely unforgettable tale of Hollywood horribleness as seen through the prism of a dubious Superman movie. You can listen to Smith's story in the YouTube clip below.

Here’s Your First Look at Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s The Adventures of Tintin

First Looks ||

Unless you’re one of those people who call Doctor Who their favorite television series, the chances are good that you’ve got limited knowledge of Tintin and his trusty dog, Snowy. The cub reporter, made famous by Belgian artist Hergé (really Georges Rémi), is huge abroad, but barely known here in America. That will likely change come 2011, when Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson unleash their motion capture-palooza, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, on the unsuspecting public.

British film magazine Empire brings you the first looks at Tintin (fitting since the film will hit UK cinemas before arriving in the United States), and they’re…like Polar Express only without snow? But with Snowy? They’re only three pictures, but it appears the uncanny valley has yet to be mastered, even by two visual effects masters. Still: Intriguing. Check out the images below.



In case you’re wondering, that is Andy Serkis as Tintin’s (voiced/played by Jamie Bell) pal Captain Haddock. The Adventures of Tintin hits theaters on Dec. 28, 2011.

· Exclusive: First Full Tintin Pictures [Empire]

The new Heathrow Airport Flashmob by T-Mobile

by admin


If you were watching TV last night you will have found it hard to miss T-Mobile’s latest flashmob-based ad, which took place in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, in London.

The ad was shown simultaneously on 86 channels at 10.15pm, meaning that around one in six people in the UK will have seen it. In the event that you didn’t, here it is:

The mobile firm has a history of inviting people to flashmobs for a spot of public dancing. It then films them and turns them into ads. This one was filmed, edited and broadcast within 36 hours.

Hecklerspray hates hanging around in airports, but this would have provided some light amusement, in a Bobby McFerrin kinda way.

The T-Mobile flashmob ads have been seen by more than 26 million people on YouTube. What do you think of the latest one?

What Obama Has Done [Comprehensive Edition]

There has been a great deal of change and reform delivered over the last two years. While most of these have gone by unnoticed or are not remembered, a fine Wiki team has recorded and organized every major point in a comprehensive database, now available here.

Tom Cruise Hangs From Tallest Building in Dubai

By Krystal Clark

Tom Cruise 1 11 10 kc Tom Cruise Hangs From Tallest Building in Dubai

Tom Cruise is turning into an adrenaline junkie. It’s no secret that he likes to perform his own stunts in movies, whether they include fight choreography, motorcycle riding, or car chases. He’s currently in Dubai filming the latest installment of his Mission Impossible franchise entitled Ghost Protocol and he’s hanging off the tallest building around — literally.

On Saturday afternoon, Cruise was photographed dangling from the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Why wasn’t a stunt double used for this? Because that’s not Cruise’s style. He has to be giving the executives over at Paramount heart problems after pulling a move like this.

The Burj Khalifa is just one of the locations used for a fast-paced action sequence featured in Ghost Protocol. Cruise loves doing his own stunts. He’s stated in the past, “I love having the camera right there in front of me, where you can see me holding a shot all the way through. I think it adds to the excitement for an audience. It’s something that is challenging to do and fun for me.”

Touche Tom. Touche.

Incarcer-Vacations: 11 Prisons-Turned-Hotels


Anyone with even a slight appreciation of irony would enjoy knowing that hellish prisons around the world, closed down because of overcrowding and human-rights abuse, have reopened as posh hotels and kitschy hostels.

Although it does merit a good chuckle, if you think about it the conversions totally make sense. Constructed as grand buildings intended to house lots of people, jails can easily be turned into hotels once the inmates leave and a construction crew makes a few necessary upgrades (Private bathrooms? Yes please!). It’s a wonderful way to preserve classic architecture in a city and honestly, who doesn’t love a well themed hotel bar. Meet you at Alibi– first round’s on us!

1. The Liberty Hotel – Boston, USA

Image: Ben+Sam/Flickr

Although The Liberty Hotel might have the gosh darn coolest design of any hotel on our list, it certainly wasn’t always that way. Back when The Liberty Hotel was the Charles Street Jail, the place was so overcrowded and nasty-gnarly, the US District Court ruled it was unconstitutional for even criminals to live there.

Image: liluinteriors

Constructed in 1851, the Charles Street Jail was designed by famed Boston architect Gridley James Fox Bryant, who created a massive granite structure with an octagonal rotunda, a 90-foot tall atrium, and 30 arched windows that measured 33 feet high. A mix between a Gothic cathedral and a fortress, the Charles Street Jail was once home to Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti, and Boston mayor James Michael Curley.

Image: The Liberty Hotel

After failing inspections, the Charles Street Jail was closed to inmates in 1990 and renovations began to turn it from an all-around dump into one of the swankiest hotels in Boston. The Liberty Hotel maintained the grand exterior and rotunda while totally refurbishing the jail cells into rooms considerably bigger than the original 7 x 10 foot floor plan.

Interested in rubbing shoulders with the “in” crowd without paying the big bucks to spend the night? Grab an appetizer at The Liberty Hotel’s restaurant Clink (teehee) or a drink at their bar, Alibi (haha), which has an impressive array of celebrity mug shots. Oh, The Liberty Hotel, you’re so clever.

Image: The Liberty Hotel

2. Jail Backpackers – Mount Gambier, Australia

Image: avlxyz/Flickr

Some former jails go through massive renovations led by world renowned architects and top-notch designers. Others kick the prisoners out and open their doors to patrons the next day. The Jail Backpackers (website under construction) falls into the second category. Don’t expect witty jailhouse names or tongue and cheek references here…don’t even expect a private bathroom. The cells haven’t changed much since the prisoners left — except now the doors lock from the inside and the former chapel is used as a common room. The hostel is owned by Gary and Patricia Adams who seem to be an, “if it ‘aint broken, don’t fix it” kind of couple.

Image: avlxyz/Flickr

Image: avlxyz/Flickr

Image: avlxyz/Flickr

If you’re dying to see more, take the $3.30 “grand tour” of the property where a “tour guide” takes patrons around to the solitary confinement cells, a mural painted by the inmates and the old kitchen, and much more:

Volleyball and tennis were played here on the weekends and at the end of each day. In the early days this was not a high security gaol, and sometimes the inmates would climb over the walls, run down to the pub, buy some grog, climb back inside and hide it to drink later. Did you know that tennis nets make good ladders?

An extra enticement for playing tennis was having friends on the outside who would throw in a doped tennis ball. (An ordinary tennis ball with a slit was stuffed with some drugs – mainly marijuana – in a plastic bag. The recipient would swallow these drugs, plastic and all, and retrieve it later in the privacy of his cell, as it passed through him! This ruse didn’t always go as planned, however, and at least one prisoner was very ill because the plastic bag had not been well enough seal; an overdose resulted!

Oh those prisoners, what tricksters!!

3. Karosta Prison – Liepaja, Latvia

Image: Yves B./Flickr

There are prison hotels, and there are Prison Hotels. Karosta Prison is the later. Although it’s no longer in government use, guests pay money to stay in this former prison that treats patrons like they are, well, in prison. Yep. People pay for the chance to experience the joys of being abused as if they had been incarcerated in a Latvian KGB prison circa 1986.

Image: Liepaja Turisms/Flickr

Whether you think Karosta Prison is the cutting edge of reality tourism or can’t really understand the draw of being barked at in Latvian with a Stalin poster hanging in the background, one thing’s for sure… Karosta is NOT playing around. After “check in” with a large, surly guard, “prisoners” are stripped of all their luggage (save a toothbrush), and are berated with rules and then forced to squat, hands behind their head, in a dark, musty corridor. After more verbal abuse and a medical exam, patrons are photographed and given a “prison passport”. Screw any part of this initial process up and you’ll find yourself in solitary confinement for a whole 5 minutes.

Image: Liepaja Turisms/Flickr

Image: Liepaja Turisms/Flickr

After the warm welcome, guests are then fed a delicious meal of stale rye bread, a pickle, and sweet Russian tea before being forced to haul a heavy pallet into a communal cell and make their bed according to army codes. Then it’s 4 minutes of free time, usually involving a trip to the three dirty holes in the ground used as a toilet and using a dripping faucet for teeth brushing. After that, lights out and enforced silence, unless of course the staff decides to walk their guests up for a little manual labor. At 7:30 the next morning guests are promptly kicked out, without breakfast. Sounds fun!!

Image: Karostascieturns/Flickr

Although it’s hard to believe, the prison has garnered a small cult following from Latvian bachelor parties and corporate “team-building”. At least they only charge £7 a night, making it a pretty good deal as far as youth hostels go. If you only want to endure a few hours of this torture, Karosta offers two hour “experiences” in addition to their “extreme package” which involves the overnight stay.

4. Malmaison Oxford – Oxford, UK

Image: Rose Robinson/Flickr

Built in 1870, this Victorian prison seems like it was made to be a hip hotel. With three tiers of cells in the central galley illuminated by massive windows, the original Oxford Prison was considered to be a real 5 star place, as for a prisons go, when it was originally built. But after years of overcrowding, the building was put on up for sale.

The only caveat? The integrity of the original structure had to be completely maintained. Although it was a tall order, we think they did a pretty amazing job modernizing the building with only a few changes (like putting in safety glass, expanding the cells, and upgrading to top of the line en-suite amenities).


Image: KiwiCollection

Image: KiwiCollection

They even kept the solitary confinement cells intact, but turned them into a high-brow restaurant, Brasserie.

5. Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet – Istanbul, Turkey

Image: Onur COSKUN/Flickr

Image: Mohamed Haykal/Flickr

A former Ottoman prison isn’t exactly where you would expect a Four Seasons Hotel, but the ultra-luxe chain decided it was the perfect spot for their Turkish boutique. Built in 1918, Sultanahmet Jail was the first prison constructed in Istanbul and it housed intellectual dissidents, artists and writers who opposed Ottoman rule– yikes! After serving for years as a political jail, it was then turned into a military prison, and was ultimately abandoned in 1969.

The Four Seasons took over in 1992 and spent four years renovating the heck out of this building with a pretty unpleasant past. All “Turkish Delight” jokes aside, they left a few adorable “prison-y” touches — like a large marble pillar with the etchings of a former inmate — but for the most part completely redid the interior of the building in a lush, Four Seasons-worthy design.

Image: rougetete/Flickr

Need another reason to visit this hotel aside from the stunning interior, history-laden exterior, and superb service? Located in the center of Istanbul’s old city, you could pretty much throw a baseball from Sultanahmet and hit either the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace or The Hippodrome (Eds note: although we suggest just walking to all three).

6. Hostel Celica, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Image: Anne Gilmour/Flickr

Taken from “11 cool Hotel Bars Around the World“,

It can only be assumed the original occupants of this Slovenian prison weren’t exactly treated with the warmest hospitality. Initially the barracks housed prisoners of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and later on the Yugoslavian Federal Army. After Slovenia claimed its independence in 1991, the future of the building was uncertain: the city wanted to tear it down but artists, who recognized the prison’s cultural history, squatted in the building and ultimately saved it from destruction. After 10 years and huge amounts of work, Hostel Celica opened its doors to travelers in 2003 with the downright heartwarming vision of welcoming strangers into a building that used to confine prisoners, but is now full of art and culture.

Image: Monty Elm/wlnho/Flickr

Image: trepancrafts/Flickr

While Hostel Celica was being renovated, more then 80 local and international artists were invited to decorate the prison-cells-turned-hostel-rooms, and graffiti artists, muralists, and sculptors have covered most of the exterior with urban art. Even though many of the surfaces have been covered, a few remnants of the original architecture remain, including cell bars on the doors to the all the hostel rooms and two former solitary confinement cells.

Image: charliebrummitt/Flickr

Slovenia is still more or less on the backpacker’s trail, so check out Hostel Celica’s Bar and Restaurant if you’re feeling lonesome and want to meet some fellow travelers. It’s located in an atrium in the center of the hostel, is open from 7 am to midnight weekly, and serves local and imported beer, wine, absinthe, and an array of mixed cocktail and shooters. The bar also has a weekly schedule of cute-as-a-button cultural events that happen at night including dancing workshops, jam sessions, and folk music performances.

7. Langholmen Hotel – Stockholm, Sweden

Leave it to the Swedes to turn what was once a Alcatraz twin, into a lush, family-friendly haven. The island of Langholmen is located in central Stockholm and was once rocky and barren, originally home to a penal colony for women in the 1700s, it was then turned into the largest prison in Sweden in the 1800’s. But instead of its inmates lazing around, petting pigeons like they did on Alcatraz, those industrious Swedish prisoners were instead put to work collecting mud and soil to make their rocky prison-island just a tad more homey. With such fertile soil covering the whole island, seeds from merchant vessels easily took root on Langholmen, creating a floral paradise after a few years.

Flash forward to 1975 and the prisoners were moved to off the island, and as a result families began pouring in to take advantage of the gorgeous coastline and beautiful gardens. Naturally, the prison was put to good use to, becoming the Langholmen. Classy, sweet, and design conscious, the Langholmen pretty much encapsulates Swedish living. It even has a few “hostel” room (multiple occupancy) and a tiny prison museum. So cute.

All Images: Langholmen

8. Hosteling International Ottawa Jail Hostel – Ottawa, Canada

Image: Capital Neighborhoods

Built in 1862, the original Carleton County Gaol (gaol means prison in kooky Canadian) was built in a massive, Georgian style that didn’t leave too much doubt about what it was. The beastly building was constructed without heating or toilets in the cells, and as you can imagine prisoners got a little sick of it after a while. By 1972 accusations of prisoner mistreatment really started to fly (it took that long?) and a new gaol was built.

Image: nelisa/hi-hostels

Instead of tearing down the monstrous old building, the Canadian Youth Hostel Association offered to buy it from the state, turning it into the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel. Most of the prison cells have been left pretty much intact, and instead of sleeping one inmate they now accommodate four bunk beds. This isn’t exactly a step up, but at least you get to leave in the morning.

Need a little more breathing room? The warden’s quarters is available for rent. And make sure not to miss The Carleton County Gaol museum, located on the 8th floor of the old jail– the entire floor was left totally un-renovated to give hostel-staying patrons a taste of the real jailhouse experience.

9. Hotel Katajanokka – Helsinki, Finland

Image: Best Western Premier

After Sweden lost control over Finland and the Russians took over in 1809, they decided the lovely hamlet of Helsinki should be made the capital. And good ‘ol Tsar Nicholas knew the first thing a capital city needs is a prison! And so he commissioned the building of a modern jail in 1832. The original jail structure was completed in 1837 and even came equipped with its own church (which survives to this day and is the second oldest church in Helsinki– wow!). Three more wings were added onto the prison in subsequent years, and it was only in 2002 that it was finally put out of commission due to overcrowding.

Image: Best Western Premier

Image: Best Western/rennygleeson/Flickr

Today the prison is a… Best Western? Although it might seem a tad anti-climactic, the mondo-hotel chain has done a nice job balancing the kitschy and the historical. They merged cells to create larger, more welcoming spaces while maintaining the original jail-house internal structure. The appropriate (but not particularly cleverly named) Restaurant Jailbird is open all day, and there is even a “Prison Break” tour/scavenger hunt offered to guests.

In need of a good laugh? Download the Prison Break PDF pamphlet. Those Finns really know the value of a good costume.

10. Courthouse Hotel Kimpinski – London, England

Although starlets seem to get away with murder in the legal system these days, the bad-ass rock and roll dudes of the ’60s and ’70s weren’t quite so lucky. Where were Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Johnny Rotten and Keith Richards held while awaiting their trials? That would be the small jail below the Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court. Clearly it was THE place to be for the naughty-boy types, many of whom were in trouble for marijuana possession… those rebels!

Image: Billboard

Although still a hip place to be but now without the prison bars, the old court house is a Hotel Kimpinski. Opting out of naming everything inside the hotel after a jail (good work), the old courthouse waiting room is now The Carnaby steak house and the courthouse itself is Silk, an Asian-fusion restaurant.

All Images: Courthouse Hotel

11. Bonus! Sainte-Anne Prison – Avignon, France

Image: Gridskipper

Although it’s not slated for opening until 2013, the 36 million Euros being poured into Sainte-Anne Prison should be enough to spruce it up just a bit. Located in Avignon, or the Palace of Popes, the aforementioned religious men set up camp in Avignon the 14th and 15th centuries and the city remains one of the holiest in France. The project is being undertaken by Marriott who even enlisted Michel Macary — famed architect of the pyramid at the Lourve and the Stade de France, — to help redesign the 13th century prison that was once a medieval insane asylum.

Located next to the papal palace, the prison was for sale as part of France’s new unused-government-owned-real-estate-garage-sale program that was kicked off in the beginning of 2010.