Those Who Don't Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It
Last Days: The Week in Review
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 This week of convicted killers, disrupted blowjobs, and dead Joan Rivers kicks off with the hottest trend of the summer: commercial airliners forced to make unplanned landings thanks to customers fighting over legroom. The trend first announced itself just over a week ago, when a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver was forced to land in Chicago after a fight broke out onboard over one passenger’s use of the Knee Defender—“a gadget that attaches to a passenger’s tray table and prevents the person in front of them from reclining,” as the New York Daily News reports. A similar fight over legroom and the right to recline went down last Wednesday, forcing an American Airlines flight from Miami to Paris to abruptly land in Boston. Which brings us to today, when a flight from NYC to Palm Beach was forced to land in Jacksonville after another goddamn fight over reclining chairs and the right to personal space. As the New York Daily News reports, today’s fracas involved a passenger reclining her seat, only to be met with screaming and swearing from the passenger attempting to sleep on her tray table behind her. “The aggravated woman was cursing at the cabin crew and said something along the lines of ‘I don't care about the consequences, put this plane down now,’” reports NYDN. In closing, some words published by Dan Savage on Slog: “Diverting planes is hugely expensive: It burns expensive jet fuel, it causes delays that cost airlines money, it can mean overtime for crew. So, hey, if the airlines keep having to divert planes because angry passengers are fighting about legroom… maybe the airlines will conclude that it's cheaper to give passengers a little more legroom? So keep fighting, airline passengers!”
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 The week continues in Seattle, where a man stands accused of firing his gun at a pair of pedestrians who disrupted the blowjob he was getting in a Pioneer Square alcove. Details come today from Seattlepi.com, which reports the scene went down around 2 a.m. on August 26, when 64-year-old Paul J. Hunter was heard arguing with a female on Fourth Avenue. “[A witness] who overheard the argument from an apartment nearby said he heard Hunter complain to the woman that he’d given her money but hadn’t received anything in return,” writes Seattlepi.com, citing police reports. “Hunter and the woman then stepped into the alcove.” That’s when a second arguing couple appeared on the street and proceeded to argue as they walked past the aforementioned alcove. “The argument spooked the woman fellating Hunter [and] she fled,” reports Seattlepi.com. “Hunter hitched up his tuxedo pants—for reasons unclear in charging papers, he’d gone formal—before drawing his pistol, shouting that he would kill them, and firing one shot.” In a blessed turn of events, the fired bullet struck no one, and Hunter was soon arrested and jailed on charges of second-degree assault. “According to court papers, he had the pistol on his person when he was arrested, as well as $190, a concealed weapons permit, and a comb, reports Seattlepi.com.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 Over the past several years, this column has shared dozens of stories involving idiotically fatal gun violence. This week, we have the opportunity to report on the consequences of idiotically fatal gun violence, and by God we’re going to seize it. Our setting: suburban Detroit, where last November, 55-year-old Theodore Wafer, who’s white, responded to the appearance of an intoxicated 19-year-old African American woman banging on his front door in the middle of the night by fatally shooting her in the face. Last month brought the start of Wafer’s murder trial: “Wafer never denied shooting [Renisha McBride] in the face when she showed up drunk on his porch last November,” reports CBS. “During trial, he said he shot the 19-year-old because he feared for his life.” Lucky for all but Theodore Wafer, the trial jury didn’t buy his claims of self-defense, and today Wafer was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Renisha McBride. Thank you, Michigan jurors, and eternal condolences to the friends and family of McBride.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 The week continues with Joan Rivers, the pioneering comedian-turned-contentious-TV-personality who today died at age 81 as a result of complications from what should have been simple throat surgery. But never mind her unfortunate end—Rivers is and will remain an entertainment legend. She was also a study in contradictions. As a female stand-up comedian in the 1960s, she blazed a trail that inspired and enabled such contemporary comic miracle workers as Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman. Then, as the New York Times best-selling author of The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, she turned slut-shaming into a popular art form. She was emotionally open enough to respond to the suicide of her husband by making a (creepy) TV movie about it starring herself and her daughter as themselves, and emotionally coarse enough to devote the later part of her career to making shitty comments and "jokes" that painted her as the entertainment-television equivalent of Rush Limbaugh. (See her recent comments about how Palestinians in Gaza “deserve to be dead.”) But as the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work made clear, she was, more than anything, an inexhaustible comedy professional, a fact we’ll salute with but one of her lifetime of one-liners: “Mother kept asking, 'Why can't you be more like your sister?' My sister had died at birth.” RIP, Joan Rivers.
>>In better news, today the Seattle Seahawks played their first game of the 2014 season, during which they trounced the Green Bay Packers 36-16.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 The week continues in Seattle near Green Lake, where this evening a crowded Metro bus was struck by numerous bullets, which tore through the bus's windows and walls and grazed the head of a passenger. "Police say it began at 9:30 p.m. with an argument between two men in a car and two men on foot near a bus stop at Linden Avenue North and North 66th Street," reports KIRO. "One of the men in the car began firing shots at the men on foot after they boarded the southbound bus.” The passenger with the non-life-threatening bullet-grazed head wound was taken to Harborview, and the search for the anti-transit gunman continues.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Meanwhile in Texas, Senator Wendy Davis—who last year spent 11 hours filibustering against a bill that would severely restrict access to abortion, and who is currently running for governor—broke through to a fresh level of badassery by speaking out about her own experiences with abortion. Recounting facts included in her new memoir, Forgetting to Be Afraid, Davis told ABC’s Robin Roberts about the two abortions she had in the 1990s. “Davis had [one] abortion in 1996 when doctors said her baby girl would be blind, deaf, and in a permanent vegetative stage if she survived to term,” reports ABC. “Two years before, doctors deemed it medically necessary for Davis to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, when an embryo implants outside the uterus.” Thank you, Senator Davis, for not letting what is sure to be a hurricane of GOP shit talk deter you from sharing facts that put a high-profile human face on the fight to protect abortion rights and will help many, many people.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 The week ends as it must, with church—specifically, the once powerful, forever bigoted, and currently adrift Mars Hill Church, which today announced it will be closing three of its locations, including its huge location in downtown Seattle. “Mars Hill Downtown Seattle, and University of Washington District will be closed and asked to join Mars Hill Ballard,” reports the invaluable Warren Throckmorton at Patheos.com. “Mars Hill Phoenix, AZ will close at the end of September while Huntington Beach, CA will remain open for awhile pending giving increases. If there is a turnaround, the Huntington Beach location might survive.” According to Mars Hill’s “Weekly” blog post, the last Sunday services at both the downtown Seattle and University District churches will be held on October 5.Send hot tips to email@example.com and follow me on Twitter @davidschmader.