INVESTIGATIVE journalism doesn't get any more hard-hitting than the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's ongoing asbestos series, which began with shocking May 23rd revelations that popular children's crayons—so frequently used for day-care center snacking—contained this known carcinogen. Pounding away on their battered Underwoods between sips of straight bourbon, those intrepid P-I deadline poets have again scooped the Times and brought fleeting glory to their understaffed, underfunded, perennially endangered publication. For now, at least, the fabulous invalid of Puget Sound print media is guaranteed at least another three years of survival.
However, the asbestos story doesn't end with crayons and kids. In a secret, parallel Seattle Weekly investigation—launched weeks before the P-I's, but then briefly lost behind the copying machine—this reporter has learned of even more widespread local asbestos contamination. Below, an overview of our findings:
Salmonburgers: That's right, our own independent laboratory testing has confirmed that no less than 85 percent of this favorite local delicacy is constituted of the nonflammable—yet remarkably tasty—material. When asked about the potential health risks of such a meal, one food scientist commented, "Sure, the stuff is bad for you, but it could have its advantages in offsetting a particularly spicy appetizer—when your stomach feels like it's on fire."
Starbucks Cup Insulation Rings: It only looks like cardboard. Those seemingly innocuous rings, designed to keep our fingers cool while gripping hot beverages, are actually emanating lethal contagion with every sip!
Cell Phones: Keep those things away from your faces, people! The plasticlike casings are made almost entirely out of asbestos! Is your next call important enough to die for?
Safeco Field: In order to adhere to strict cost caps on the stadium's construction, its seats and concrete were recklessly impregnated with this cheap yet perilous building material. Attend the next M's game at your own risk! (We also have our suspicions about the hot dogs.)
Madison Park: Long one of Seattle's most fashionable neighborhoods, officials have discovered that this area sits on the site of a former asbestos manufacturing plant. All the groundsoil is hopelessly contaminated, but residents have been oddly unwilling to vacate their homes, opting instead to hope for a property tax abatement.
Squatch: Think twice before you pay for those courtside seats at the next Sonics game. It turns out that the foul-smelling sports mascot wears a shaggy suit made entirely of asbestos. And you thought those were fleas being shaken out of his mangy coat! Keep back when he approaches during his pelvic-thrusting halftime dance routine—he's dangerous!
Prada Handbags: The must-have of any well-accessorized Seattle woman is largely constructed out of asbestos—particularly the handle and interior, where most skin contact is made.
Belltown Condo Siding: No, it's not stucco that causes all those shoddily constructed Regrade buildings to leak—it's asbestos, great for fire, not so great for rain. Of course unlucky buyers are more likely to die of cancer before the water damage and mildew become unbearable.
Amazon.com Packaging: Every parcel, every book, every CD, every piece of lawn patio furniture comes to your door securely wrapped and padded in pure asbestos fiber! Be careful when you tear open the package, and don't let the kids play with the boxes.
Tofu: It's asbestos, pure and simple, with no sweeteners, flavors, colorings, or preservatives added. And, yes, it's organic.
SUV Seat Padding: It seems that the more luxurious and upscale the SUV, the greater the asbestos content. Sure, the leather seatcovers feel nice—when you're driving to your own funeral!
Tattoo Ink: Liquefied asbestos makes for a remarkably resilient and long-lasting bonding agent for the needle artist's dyes and designs. Impress your friends and scandalize your parents with the security of knowing that the Guns 'n' Roses logo on your ass will last longer than you do.
Hackey-Sack Stuffing: Every kick releases deadly airborne carcinogens into the lungs of unsuspecting computer programmers on break from their dot-com jobs. Yeah, it's a great way to get a little exercise—while you still have time!
Plastic Surgery Implants: Whether for breast, lips, chin, or penis, it's all the same stuff being pumped in through the laparoscope wand—cheap, plentiful asbestos, the unscrupulous surgeon's alternative to silicon. Sign up for your medical class action suit now—while you still look great.
The Seattle P-I: Most shocking among all our findings is the discovery that the P-I itself is printed on asbestos fiber paper and that its building, furniture, and fixtures are similarly riddled with the stuff. When asked if he was concerned about the hazardous material's adverse effect on his staff and readers, Executive Editor Ken Bunting replied, "There are two ways of looking at it. One, the paper won't be around long enough for Hearst to worry about liability. Two, if our newspaper war with the Times turns really ugly, we're fully protected against firebombing. Either way, we're expecting a Pulitzer for our asbestos series and next week we're running an equally explosive new expos頯n sawdust."