MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 This week of horror, loss, and triumph kicks off with horror and loss, first in northern Afghanistan, where today a man in a vest loaded with explosives blew himself up in a crowded intersection in the Kunduz province, killing 10 policemen, who were reportedly the targets, and six innocent bystanders. Meanwhile in Kenya, hundreds of armed raiders killed at least 38 villagers and torched more than 150 houses in the Tana Delta coastal region, in what Reuters describes as "the latest fighting between rival tribes in a dispute over land and water... More than 100 people have been shot, hacked, and burnt to death in the last three weeks as the two sides take revenge for the other's killings." The cumulative moral of these news reports: Last Days could fill every day of the week with such horror, but in the interest of a well-balanced column, we have to pick and choose, somewhat arbitrarily, which few to report. It's weird.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 Speaking of the erratic reporting of human loss, the week continues with a day that brought the death of so many people that it's still news 11 years later: 9/11, that extensively tragic day when Muslim jihadists hijacked commercial planes and flew them into the Twin Towers in NYC, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and (thanks to the heroic actions of a planeload of hijackees) a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands were killed, and the day provided fodder that was manipulated into wars that would kill many, many, many more. Nevertheless, today's 11th anniversary of the worst day in contemporary American history was thoroughly upstaged by two ridiculously awful occurrences. First, NBC decided to opt out of the commemorative moment of silence shared by all other major television networks to broadcast an interview with a Kardashian. Second, Islamist militants "armed with antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing the American ambassador and three members of his staff," reports the New York Times. "The ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, was missing almost immediately after the start of an intense four-hour firefight for control of the mission, and his body was not located until Wednesday morning at dawn, when he was found dead at a Benghazi hospital. It was the first time since 1979 that an American ambassador had died in a violent assault." According to US and European officials, the heavily armed assailants appeared to have at least some level of advance planning—suggesting today's attack was related to the anniversary of 9/11. However, the lion's share of blame for the attack will go not to "American imperialism" or a religion that supposedly drives believers to murderous rages, but to a stupid fucking YouTube video. "Fighters involved in the assault, which was spearheaded by an Islamist brigade formed during last year's uprising against Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's founder, as a villainous homosexual and child-molesting buffoon," reports the NYT. The violent blowback will continue into next week and perhaps beyond.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 From the instigation of something awful we now move to the end of something great, as today Seattle and the world lost a most dazzling and beloved personage: Heather Hughes, the worship-worthy Seattle theatermaker who, after a battle with lung cancer and one day before her 45th birthday, passed away early this morning. Word of Heather's passing inspired an outpouring of love involving everyone from friends and family to fans to Cameron Crowe (in whose film Singles Heather had a part). As for Last Days, we got to know Heather during the '90s, when she was the glamorous center of a totally hot-shit fringe theater world we loved. We loved her work with the brilliant Kings' Elephant Theater, loved her work with Annex Theater, and loved her for being a totally gorgeous bombshell of a woman willing to deploy that totally gorgeous bombshellness in the service of deep, weird, hilarious, brilliant art. In the aughts, we'd see Heather out and about probably once a year, and it was always like no time had passed—kisses, hugs, hilarity. Our thoughts go out to those who had Heather as part of their daily 21st-century lives—her family, dear friends, and beloved son. As you're all probably coming to understand via the voluminous outpouring of affection, this city loves the hell out of Heather Hughes. She will be so missed.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 In lighter news, the week continues with a warning about Seattle's forthcoming Ratpocalypse, courtesy of Seattlepi.com: "Millions of rodents and roaches have lived underground long before construction on the [Alaskan Way viaduct tunnel] started, and when the giant boring machine goes to work next year, pest control experts say those critters will scurry in search of quieter lodging." As Seattle historians are aware, it's happened before, when the Kingdome was demolished and sent hordes of roaches and rats into surrounding buildings. "It can affect one building, it can affect a whole block, and it can affect, in this case, the entire waterfront of the city," said Shane Hartnett of Sprague Pest Solutions, which is addressing the threat early via bike billboards that read "Save your building: Ratpocalypse is coming." (Granted, quoting an exterminator about the threat of vermin is like asking the barber if you need a haircut, but there you have it.)
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 The week continues with a beguiling tale of crime and punishment out of Athens, Georgia, where early this morning, a 21-year-old man allegedly attempted to flee a Waffle House without paying for his meal and was fatally struck by a truck. "Clarke County coroner Sonny Wilson identified the dead man as Justin Antonio Simon, 21, of Monroe," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The Nicholson man driving the pickup has not been charged."
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 Nothing happened today, unless you count the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, where the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presented its Governors Award to (Stranger editorial director) Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, for their creation of the lifesaving, humanity-improving It Gets Better Project. "The men were honored for their work on the anti-bullying campaign and video series that has earned submissions from stars and international figures including President Obama," writes the Hollywood Reporter. "Savage told reporters afterward that he became emotional when seeing the crowd's warm response. 'The award is not for us. It's for the project,' Savage said. 'I think it's a moment in our culture when it's broken through to the world that LGBT children were suffering and dying. The award means that the culture is reconciling itself to the needs of LGBT kids, who grow up in straight families and are often bullied by their own families.'" Congratulations, Dan and Terry!
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 Nothing happened today.
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