Dear readers: It has come to our attention that certain people found last week's Last Days column—featuring spontaneously combusting 11-year-olds, sexually enticing pit bulls, and corpse-flavored drinking water—to be excessively depressing. Let us remind you that Last Days doesn't create the news, we just report it, and if you have a problem with what's being allowed to occur on earth, you should take it up with God. Nevertheless, in the spirit of healing, this week's Last Days contains nothing but good news. (Almost.)
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25 This week of almost nothing but good news kicks off in Sweden, where furniture giant Ikea has responded to Europe's widening meat scandal (down with widening meat!) with the praiseworthy decision to withdraw its signature meatballs from stores across Europe, amid fears that the balls contain horsemeat. "Authorities in the Czech Republic said they had detected horse DNA in tests of 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) packs of frozen meatballs that were labeled as beef and pork," reports the Associated Press, adding that North Americans need not worry, as the meatballs in US and Canadian Ikea stores come from a US supplier. (Meanwhile, tomorrow the UK's Telegraph will report that up to 68 percent of South Africa's processed meat contains "irregular ingredients"—including donkey, goat, and water buffalo—while the USDA will announce that impending federal budget cuts [aka the sequester] will force the temporary layoff of 8,400 meat inspectors.)
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 In better news, nothing happened today, unless you count the 73rd birthday of Walter Schmader, the hardworking and hilarious man Last Days is lucky enough to call Dad (as well as the man who paid our way through college, so quadruple win).
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 Speaking of wonderful people we wish we could see more often, the week continues with Patti Smith, the punk poet/rock star/National Book Award–winning author, who tonight played a show with her band at Seattle's Neptune Theater and was totally amazing. Full disclosure: Last Days did not go into a 2013 Patti Smith concert expecting to come out raving. We've seen too many 21st-century Bob Dylan shows to expect our legends to represent in full in the present moment; mostly we just want to be in the same room with someone whose art we love, even if the live iteration of this art is a limited pleasure. (Sometimes it seems like Dylan has a "the artist will use no consonants" clause in his tour rider.) But Smith and her band put on one of the best rock shows we've ever seen. Great care was taken with instrumentation and volume, and the sound at the Neptune was amazing. But what took things over the top was the theatrical attention to detail, with song after song inhabiting its own sonic world, many of them building to climaxes that felt truly cathartic. (That's the thing about playing stretches of a show at mid-volume—it allows you to truly make a point when you crank shit up.) Patti Smith is still entertaining: She told a story about giving Ralph Nader a birthday present, and how he immediately recycled every bit of the wrapping paper. And she discussed her deep love for AMC's The Killing. "It's coming back for a third season!" Thanks for the amazing night, Patti Smith.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 Last Days Good News Week™ continues in the US House of Representatives, where today 87 Republicans joined 199 Democrats in voting to pass an expanded Violence Against Women Act. "Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the act provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims," reports CNN. "Supporters credit the act with sharply reducing the number of lives lost to domestic violence over the past two decades." The measure now goes to the president, who announced, "I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk."
FRIDAY, MARCH 1 And the good news hits keep coming (even if we have to repurpose news stories from yesterday into items for today)! The site of today's good news: Boston's Emerson College, where members of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity are warming hearts and exploding stereotypes with their quest to help pay for a transgender frat brother's surgery. As CNN reported yesterday, 20-year-old sophomore Donnie Collins had only recently joined Phi Alpha Tau—described on its website as a "professional communicative arts fraternity"—when he learned that his insurance company "declined to cover surgery to remove breast tissue to flatten his chest." When Collins's brothers at Phi Alpha Tau heard the news, they launched an online campaign to raise the $8,100 needed for the procedure. They brought in almost $16,000, with the surplus funds going to the trans-assisting Jim Collins Foundation.
SATURDAY, MARCH 2 In much worse news, the week continues in central Florida, where Last Days' hopes of a week of all good news was suddenly sucked below the surface of the earth, never to be seen again. The scene: Seffner, Florida, where today rescue crews called off their search for the man swallowed by a sinkhole under his home. "Jeff Bush, 37, was in his bedroom Thursday night in Seffner—a suburb of 8,000 people 15 miles east of downtown Tampa—when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room," reports Newsday. "Experts say thousands of sinkholes erupt yearly in Florida because of the state's unique geography, though most are small and deaths rarely occur." Still, rarely isn't never, as the friends and family of Jeff Bush are learning in a most painful way. "At this point, it's really not possible to recover the body," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill. "We're dealing with a very unusual sinkhole." Condolences to all.
SUNDAY, MARCH 3 In much better news, the week continues in Scotland, where today Cardinal Keith O'Brien—the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland and a notorious crusader against gay rights—ceased his lying denials and confessed that, yes, he did engage in "inappropriate acts" with male subordinates. "I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop, and cardinal," wrote O'Brien in his official apology. "To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement." Dear Catholic Church: Enough. Pick a pope that will burn the existing tower of evil to the ground. You bitches need a fresh start.