Another year has come and gone, and if you're lucky enough to be reading this, congratulations on making it out of 2013 with your eyesight and literacy intact. To prepare for The Stranger's annual Regrets Issue, Last Days revisited what the hell happened within the boundaries of January 1 and December 31 to suss out some overarching themes.The only themes we can find: People are nuts, God has a dark sense of humor, and/or shit happens. These facts illuminated so many Last Days items that we had to narrow down the competition to these categories.
Funniest US Department of Homeland Security Spokesman
Brian Bell, the US Department of Homeland Security spokesman who addressed the press after January's discovery of 18 human heads in a container at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. "Everybody here is 'Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads,'" Bell told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment."
Florida's Premier Renaissance Man
Gregory Bruni, the 21-year-old Fort Myers man who made headlines in January after allegedly carousing naked on the roof of someone's house, falling off the roof onto one of the house-dwellers, running into the house, pulling a 72-inch television off the wall, knocking over a wet/dry vacuum, attempting to suck the spilled contents from the carpet with his mouth, masturbating in the living room, and defecating in a hallway before having his rampage stopped by a police officer's Taser.
Most Upsetting Story Instigated by Complaints of Low Water Pressure
February's saga at a Los Angeles hotel, where complaints of low water pressure drove a maintenance worker onto the hotel's roof, where he discovered the cause of the problem: a corpse in the rooftop water tank. "Tourists staying at a Los Angeles hotel bathed, brushed teeth, and drank water from a tank in which a young woman's body was likely decomposing for more than two weeks," reported CNN.
Best New Fear for All Humans Who Live on Earth
Sudden sinkholes, such as the one that opened beneath the home of Florida's Jeff Bush, who was relaxing in his bedroom one evening in late February when, as Newsday reported, "the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room," disappearing the 37-year-old Bush forever. "It's really not possible to recover the body," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill to Newsday. "We're dealing with a very unusual sinkhole."
Best Time a Guy Got Cottonmouth So Bad It Made the News
The evening of February 12, when wannabe GOP presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio delivered the rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union address, and secured his reputation as the thirstiest man in the world. After struggling through a series of sentences with a sandpaper tongue, the live-on-international-television Rubio dipped to the left, reached out of frame, and indulged in the cottonmouth-quenching water sip heard round the world—behavior that invited speculation on its deeper-level causation and meaning but was simply a matter of too many words and not enough spit, a perfectly human miscalculation that just happens to look super weird if you're a politician attempting to give a persuasive speech on TV.
But 2013 wasn't all entertaining freak-outs and dry mouth, thanks primarily to guns, one of which was used to kill 20 kids and six adults at the end of 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a tragedy that was addressed by the president on January 16. Unveiling what the Associated Press called "the most sweeping proposals for curbing gun violence in two decades, pressing a reluctant Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the [Sandy Hook] school shooting," President Obama laid out his battle plan: "To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act and Congress must act soon. Behind the scenes, they'll do everything they can to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever. The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, and their membership says this time must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids."
Instead, what followed Obama's historic call to action was another year of insane gun violence, including but not limited to January (when five people were nonfatally shot at five different gun shows and one asshole sent bullets flying around Seattle's Twilight Exit bar and wound up fatally shot by cops); February (when a mental-health advocate for military veterans with PTSD took a military veteran with PTSD to a gun range and wound up fatally shot by a military veteran with PTSD); April (when a 6-year-old boy was fatally shot by a rifle-wielding 4-year-old in New Jersey, a 3-year-old boy fatally shot himself with a loaded gun found in a relative's apartment in South Carolina, and a 4-year-old fatally shot the wife of a sheriff's deputy with a loaded gun he found at a family cookout in Tennessee); June (when a trio of Florida nightclub bouncers teased a peer about his lame gun skills until the peer shot them all dead); July (when an Oregon man was reportedly using his loaded rifle as a crutch when it accidentally fired and killed a kid in the apartment above his); August (when a woman was nonfatally shot by her instructor at a gun-safety class in Ohio, which is actually just hilarious); September (when a young man in Indiana fatally shot a 3-year-old boy while playing a game that reportedly involved pointing a loaded gun at the boy's face and pulling the trigger, a young woman in Colorado wound up fatally shot after jumping out of a closet to surprise her best friend, and a 34-year-old former navy reservist reported to his job at the Washington Navy Yard and fatally shot 12 people before being killed by police); October (when a 24-year-old woman in Phoenix gave her boyfriend a hug and wound up fatally shot by the gun in his waistband); November (when 19-year-old Detroit woman Renisha McBride sought help after a car crash and wound up fatally shot by a homeowner allegedly in fear for his life, and a 72-year-old Georgia man named Ronald Westbrook wandered up to a stranger's house in an Alzheimery haze and also wound up fatally shot by a homeowner allegedly in fear for his life); and December (when a young Florida couple played a gun-related game that ended when the female half of the couple fatally shot the male half in the chest).
But it wasn't all bad news, as evidenced by the three happiest Last Days items of the year (one of which nevertheless involves a kid with cancer, but c'est la vie).
FRIDAY, MARCH 1 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.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 Today brings some shocking progress, thanks to Exodus International, the "Christian ministry" that's spent the past 37 years trying to convince the world that homosexual attraction is a psycho-spiritual affliction that can be overcome through prayer. In the 21st century, Exodus existed mostly as a punch line, thanks to the parade of "ex-gay" spokespeople who steadily reverted back to their natural gay state. (Being "ex-gay" is like riding a unicycle—with focus and practice, you can do it, but it's constant work, you can never just coast, and eventually you just want to get back to your normal not-on-a-unicycle life.) Anyway, today the ex-gay unicycle fetishists of Exodus International took a huge step forward by announcing their plans to shutter the organization (?!) and effusively apologizing to the LGBTQ community (!!!!). "For quite some time we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical," said Exodus president Alan Chambers in a statement. "I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated. Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn't change... I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God's rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy, and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God." Right fucking on, Alan Chambers, and may God have mercy on your soul.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15 The week ends in San Francisco, where today a wondrous number of citizens joined forces to help one sick kid and make a million other people weep at the kindness of strangers. At the center of the story: a 5-year-old boy named Miles, who's been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 months old and was recently granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "He wanted to be Batman," said Patricia Wilson, the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Bay Area executive director, to the San Francisco Chronicle. To make Miles's dream a reality, Wilson put out a call for volunteers to help turn San Francisco into Gotham City, and was met with an avalanche of enthusiasm that soon went viral. Which brings us to today, when Batkid Miles fought crime in a San Francisco that brought the fucking ruckus, from police chief Greg Suhr issuing Commissioner Gordon–esque calls for Batkid's help to the thousands of fans who lined the streets. Thank you, San Francisco. We needed that.
Rest in peace, 2013's dead, including but not limited to James Gandolfini, Roger Ebert, Cheryl Chow, Marcia Wallace, and Lou Reed. Everyone else, send hot tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @davidschmader.