The Week in Review
MONDAY, APRIL 15 This week of almost unrelenting American horror kicks off in Boston, where today tens of thousands of people gathered for the 117th Boston Marathon, which transformed into a scene of deadly mayhem after two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three people (29-year-old Krystle Campbell, 22-year-old Lu Lingzi, and 8-year-old Martin Richard), injuring more than 200 others, and commencing a frantic five-day manhunt for suspects.
TUESDAY, APRIL 16 The week continues in Washington, DC, where today the nation's leaders and lawmakers were scrambling to determine who bombed Boston when word arrived of the ricin-laced letter sent to the Senate. "An envelope that had tested positive for ricin had been sent to Republican senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi," reports Reuters. "Ricin is a lethal poison... [that] can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists." Tomorrow, another ricin- enhanced letter will arrive for President Barack Obama. "The mailings to Obama and Wicker were related, based on the postmarks and the identical language of the enclosed letters," reports Reuters. "The letters included the phrase 'To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance,' and were signed 'I am KC and I approve this message'... The envelopes both bore postmarks from Memphis, Tennessee, and were dated April 8." Silver lining: No one was hurt by the poisoned mail, and authorities found no indication of a connection between the letters and the Boston bombing. Tomorrow, the Feds will announce the arrest of a 45-year-old Elvis impersonator from Mississippi, but in five more days, charges against him will be dropped as authorities zero in on another person of interest. Stay tuned.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17 Speaking of dangerous fuckery in DC, the week continues with a day that will live in infamy, as the most modest proposal for curbing American gun violence—requiring background checks for firearm purchases—died in the Senate. "All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," said a visibly pissed President Obama, mourning the failure of a bill that "represented moderation and common sense." "But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill," said the president at a press conference also featuring the families of Sandy Hook victims. "They claimed that it would create some sort of 'Big Brother' gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn't matter." Obama's woe was echoed by Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy: "When the Senate cannot come together on an issue that is supported by the vast majority of Americans, there is little to no hope that common sense will prevail. The members who voted against this proposal should be ashamed of themselves."
•• Meanwhile in West, Texas, a fertilizer plant exploded, killing 14 people (including five volunteer firefighters and four emergency services workers), injuring 200 others, and damaging and/or destroying dozens of nearby homes and businesses.
THURSDAY, APRIL 18 In much better news, we continue with the only thing (besides a Percocet hailstorm) that could temporarily divert Last Days from this god-awful week: the first of two nights of performances by the world-historically great musical artist Prince in the Seattle nightclub Showbox at the Market. Every serious Prince fan has encountered numerous anecdotes about the amazing, intimate club shows Prince has given in the middle of the night at Minneapolis's First Avenue or some nightclub in Paris. Tonight, we got one in Seattle. The basic setup: a performance by Thirdeyegirl, an all-female band with a male lead singer who happened to be Prince. The basic question: Would Thirdeyegirl be a tool for Prince to communicate weird new free-jazz feelings, or would this be an honest-to-God Prince show? This question was answered almost immediately after the lights went down, the band came on, and the stage exploded with amazing virtual pyrotechnics as Thirdeyegirl launched into "Let's Go Crazy," performed in a slowed-down, power-chord heavy version. This was definitely a rock show—Prince kept his guitar on all night, with things getting seriously funky only toward the end, when he brought out the Controversy classic "Let's Work" and—OHMYGOD—"A Love Bizarre." But holy shit, what a rock show. The set list was both a fan's dream and from outer space, ranging from humongo-hits ("U Got the Look," "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," "When Doves Cry") to beloved B-sides ("She's Always in My Hair"!) to weird catalog gems (The Gold Experience's "Endorphinmachine"! Chaos & Disorder's "I Like It There"!). The whole thing ended with a stageful of dancing band/audience members, and Prince DJ'ing a career-spanning medley of hits, over which he sang live and praised Seattle. We responded by losing our minds. Thank you, Prince, for an exceedingly well-timed visit.
FRIDAY, APRIL 19 In worse news, the week continues with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing suspects identified yesterday via photographs and video stills released by the FBI. Last night, following the release of the identifying images, the brothers allegedly killed an MIT police officer, hijacked a car and its owner, and were tracked by police to Watertown, Massachusetts, where, after an extended firefight, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was captured by cops and taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries. Despite his brother's capture and his own injuries, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev managed to flee the scene of yesterday's firefight, instigating a manhunt that brought thousands of cops and military personnel to a 20-block area of Watertown, where the wounded suspect was found hiding in a boat in someone's backyard and, after another firefight, taken into custody. On Monday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be charged with using weapons of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property, for which he could face the death penalty.
SATURDAY, APRIL 20 Nothing happened today, unless you count the most desperately needed 4/20 in American history.
SUNDAY, APRIL 21 Surprise! The week ends with more tragedy, this time in nearby Federal Way, where tonight a man fatally shot four people (his girlfriend and three male bystanders) before being fatally shot by police.