The Week in Review
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 The week begins with a proclamation. After two weeks dominated by Hurricane Katrina and next week's impending domination by Hurricane Rita, this week Last Days will report absolutely nothing about natural disasters. Frankly, if Last Days reported every twist and aftershock of all the goddamn weather bombs being hucked at America these days, this column would be nothing but soggy trauma. So please enjoy this 100-percent hurricane-free column, filled exclusively with normal, human-sized horror, starting with the paralyzing humiliation and shame that descended upon one exceptionally unlucky lady from Texas—30-year-old Deleese Williams, who made headlines today with her bombshell lawsuit against the producers of ABC's reality show Extreme Makeover. Details come from the New York Daily News, which reports Ms. Williams's road to ruin began with her selection as a contestant for ABC's by-any-means-necessary makeover show, in which significantly unattractive people go under the knife for an all-expenses-paid journey to beauty, or at least its weird surgical correlative. According to Williams's lawsuit, the producers of Extreme Makeover promised Williams "a Cinderella-like" fix for her deformed jaw, crooked teeth, droopy eyes, and small breasts that would "transform her life and destiny." After ABC publicized Williams's participation in the show in early January, Williams flew to California to begin her bloody journey to beauty. But the night before she was to begin surgery—with her jaw broken and reset for a "Hollywood smile like Cindy Crawford"—Williams was told by producers that her surgical recovery time didn't fit the show's production schedule, and was abruptly sent home. The surprise dismissal, Williams's lawsuit claims, "shredded her family"—which seems melodramatic until you consider the specifics. Prior to her involvement with Extreme Makeover, Deleese Williams lived her life like any other person who hates her looks—in quiet agony, with as much dignity as possible. Once Williams signed on to the show, the majority of her dignity (along with whatever compensatory faith in "inner beauty" she'd cultivated for herself or presented to others) was gone, replaced by the promise of extravagant new beauty—a promise that was soon revoked, leaving Williams with nothing. "How can I go back as ugly as I left?" sobbed Williams after her dismissal. "I was supposed to come home pretty." Making matters worse was the involvement of Williams's family. As part of Deleese's pre-makeover process, producers coaxed family members to disparage Williams's soon-to-be-corrected looks on camera, with both Williams's mother-in-law and her sister Kellie holding forth on the shame of Deleese's lifelong hideousness. These damning comments were never broadcast, but Williams heard them all from an adjoining room, and the experience ruined her family's life. Following the reality-TV mindfuck, Williams's sister Kellie reportedly "fell to pieces," torturing herself over the shit she'd said about her sibling before killing herself with an overdose in May. "Kellie could not live with the fact that she had said horrible things that hurt her sister," said Williams's lawyer, Wesley Cordova, to the Associated Press. "These programs are cheap to produce... But there is a very high human cost." Tomorrow, ABC will express its "sincere condolences" for the death of Williams's sister, and reiterate that "all [Extreme Makeover] participants are made aware that if doctors or producers have any concerns about a procedure, the makeover will not go forward." But such an explanation does little to correct the psychological, emotional, and social horrors suffered by Deleese Williams, who, when she's not busy raising her dead sister's two kids, is suing ABC for alleged breach of contract, willful infliction of emotional distress, and negligence, for which she seeks "unspecified damages." Stay tuned.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 After the longest story in the world come two breezy Hot Tips, both born of the sociological petri dish that is Seattle Metro. First comes Hot Tipper Lindsey, whose bus ride home was thoroughly polluted by two guys who miraculously sustained a 30-minute conversation—executed entirely in shouts—about "the symbolism, artistic merits, and social significance of the goddamn Batman movies." "I saw the poor girl next to them flinch several times at the booming voices in her ears," writes Lindsey. "And yet none of us told them to shut the hell up. Are we really such wimps?" Apparently so. Further wimpiness was reported by Hot Tipper Michael, whose habitual skepticism about Metro Hot Tips was laid to rest by a sighting of his own: "I was riding the #73 downtown. Sitting opposite me was a man wearing gardening gloves and hitting a squirrel shoved in his fanny pack. I will never doubt the validity of a Metro horror story again."
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 Speaking of frightening mass transit: Today in California, passengers on JetBlue Flight 292 endured an excruciating two hours as their plane—hobbled by faulty landing gear—prepared for and executed an emergency landing, which fliers were able to watch live on JetBlue's in-flight satellite TVs. Speaking of horrors you didn't know to fear: Tonight in Las Vegas, a 27-year-old man drove his car into a crowd of people on a casino sidewalk. Following his arrest, Stephen M. Ressa told police he'd mowed down the crowd on purpose, after reportedly seeing his soon-to-be victims "staring at him like demons." Ressa remains jailed on suspicion of murder (two tourists struck by Ressa died) and attempted murder (12 others were injured), while the Associated Press reports Ressa "may have been under the influence of methamphetamine."
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 Nothing happened today.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 The week continues with another beguiling Hot Tip, courtesy of Hot Tipper Drew, who was heading up I-5 north past the Tulalip Casino when he saw a twentysomething guy with long, spiky hair and huge sunglasses execute some bladder-based performance art. "It was rush-hour traffic," writes Drew, "and he was pissing into the road from the traffic side of his car!" Even better, Drew reports that the proud public urinator was actively head-banging, holding his wang in one hand and thrusting devil horns into the air with the other. Thanks to Drew for noticing and sharing, thanks to the pee-friendly metal-head for being.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 When it rains, it pours: "Dear Last Days," writes Hot Tipper Sarah. "This afternoon I was waiting for a friend to pick me up by the Crescent Tavern on Capitol Hill. A little boy, who couldn't have been more than 8, came and stood next to me. Like, almost touching me. I asked what he was doing and he said, 'Hanging out.' We stood in silence for a minute, then he disclosed that he had a 'crush' on me. I told him that was sweet but I was too old for him. He said I was the prettiest girl he'd ever seen, and that he liked my hair. We stood in silence for another minute, and then he slapped my ass. Not knowing how to respond, I said, 'You shouldn't do that kind of thing to strangers.' He just laughed, and then my ride showed up." Still, days after her NAMBLA-riffic encounter, Sarah remains haunted: "Where the hell are his parents? And why is the only action I'm getting a slap on the ass from an 8-year-old? I hate my life."
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 Nothing happened today.
Hello all: OnWednesday, October 5, at the Triple Door, I'll be presenting a one-night-only encore screening of the legendary cinematic disasterShowgirls, featuring live annotation by yours truly. Because one horrible tragedy deserves to benefit from another, profits from the evening will go directly to the Red Cross, to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina. For tickets and info, call 838-4333.
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