MONDAY, DECEMBER 12 The week began with anxious waiting and creeping dread as the State of California began the countdown for its execution of Stanley Williams, the convicted quadruple-murderer scheduled to die by lethal injection at midnight tonight. For those just tuning in, as well as those who understandably assumed they needn't pay attention to a crisis involving a man named "Tookie," Stanley "Tookie" Williams first came to public attention for his aggressively bad deeds—cofounding the infamous Crips gang, fatally shooting at least four people, seemingly for kicks, and landing on death row in 1982. After his incarceration, Williams reintroduced himself as a rehabilitated man ready to do imaginative good deeds—writing anti-gang books for children, inspiring multiple nominations for Nobel prizes in peace and literature, refraining from murder—and to many, Williams seemed the very model of a healthy former criminal, with his transformation in word and deed considered cause enough to commute his death sentence to a bleak-but-not-hopeless life in prison. But led by its rightfully elected governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (it's always funny till someone gets hurt), the State of California stood by its sentence, and just after midnight, 51-year-old Williams was executed at San Quentin State Prison. In denying Williams clemency, Governor Schwarzenegger referenced testimony from Williams's murder trial, where witnesses told of Williams's post-murder boasting, mimicking of a victim's pain, and "five to six minutes" of uninterrupted laughter. During a recent interview with the Associated Press, Williams said, "There is no part of me that existed then that exists now." Thanks to California, he's officially right.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13 In much lighter news: Today brought a world-class Hot Tip from gifted Hot Tipper Ismael, eyewitness to an extraordinarily rich collision of humanity on that celebrated petri dish of human freakishness, Seattle Metro. But as Ismael makes clear, Metro-based lunacy isn't limited to riders, but occasionally strikes drivers as well, with driver-related psychosis typically taking the form of fierce bureaucratic hostility dished out by hair-trigger taskmasters ready to pounce on every perceived slight to their necessary but arbitrary superiority. Case in point: Today's driver of a midday #43 heading from downtown up Capitol Hill, a 40-something man whose slow-burning spite flared to life with a dose of itchy racial tension. "At Sixth and Pike, the bus stopped to let on a gentleman in a wheelchair," writes Ismael. "To prepare for the boarding, the bus driver 'asked' an older lady to move from her seat in the handicap area up front. (I punctuate 'asked,' because all I heard him say was, 'Move.') The older lady, who was African-American, said, 'I'm moving!' and the driver—who was also African-American—said it again, 'Move!' As the older lady obeyed, she asked, 'Why didn't you pick that side?' indicating the handicap seat opposite her own, occupied by a Caucasian woman. 'I'll pick whatever side I want,' the driver said, 'Now move.' 'You don't wanna disturb the white lady,' the older lady said, reportedly sending the driver into a tizzy: 'That's it. Either you get off, or this bus ain't moving.' The older lady replied, 'I ain't gettin' off the bus.' You can guess the rest," writes Ismael. "A trickle of exiting passengers soon became a mass exodus as everybody got off that damned bus—including the driver, who made a show of disconnecting the bus poles from their electric cables. One relocated on a #14 bus, I looked into the near-empty #43 and saw the guy in a wheelchair, who looked despondent. All he wanted was to get up the hill, for Christ's sake. Bonus irony points: The older lady was sitting in one of those seats recently designated In Honor of Rosa Parks."
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14 Just in time for the holidays, today the Seattle Times published a story from the Baltimore Sun, exploring the etiquette of a relatively new but increasingly common Western experience: Getting a new head. "Expect a few upturned noses after your face-lift," warns writer Stephen Henderson, who reports that the past eight years have brought a 465 percent increase in the number of cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. annually. But as Henderson reports, such procedures involve a number of underreported risks, from the judgment of loved ones (particularly if surgery "corrects" a perceived ethnic trait) to "copycat spouses," with husbands reportedly "much more likely to get work done after seeing how much a cosmetic procedure improved his wife's appearance." Henderson's piece reaches its zenith with this kid-friendly tip: "Young children can be upset at seeing a parent with facial bandages. It's best to let them know in advance, and in a general way, what's going on ('A doctor is going to help Mommy see/breathe better'), rather than surprising them."
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15 Speaking of surprise: After years of reporting the awful things God allows his children to do to their children, today Last Days has the great pleasure to report on the pregnant skydiver whose failed parachute sent her plummeting 50 mph face-down into a parking lot—and both she and the baby are fine! Details come from the Associated Press, which reports that 21-year-old Shayna Richardson of Joplin, Missouri, was making her first solo skydiving jump when the aforementioned 50 mph plummet-onto-asphalt took place. After undergoing surgery for her broken pelvis and leg, Richardson learned she was pregnant, telling the AP she never would've jumped had she known. "To hit the ground belly first—that's dangerous," said Richardson. "I mean, at any stage of pregnancy that's dangerous." But two months and four surgeries later, Richardson says she and her fetus are doing fine: "We've got arms, we've got legs. We've got a full face. The baby is moving around just fine."
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16 Today brought the close of the fourth annual Strangercrombie Holiday Gift Auction, which clobbered expectations by raising a Stranger-historic $39,314.31 for the hunger-fighting do-gooders at Northwest Harvest. For auction details—priciest items, best bargains, fiercest bidding wars—see page 19. But tonight it was all about celebration and, perhaps, obliteration, as the Strangercrombie Holiday Blowout landed at the Showbox for an evening of live entertainment (Fruit Bats! Band of Horses! Vladimir the Polar Bear!), booze, and rummy holiday figureheads (to give Santa Claus some company, we also invited Korny the Kwanzaa Korn and the Hanukkah-hyping Dr. Dreidel). Last Days' favorite moments: The opening set by Seattle hiphoppers Common Market, who made good on the promise of their exemplary debut CD (which you should've bought yesterday); the closing set by Wheedle's Groove, the stage-filling collective of superstars from Seattle's funk and soul scene of the '60s and '70s; and the special guest appearance of Dina Martina, who trekked over from Re-bar to perform a couple Christmas chestnuts. Bonus delight: Experiencing Ms. Martina's cohabitation of the Showbox green room with the women of Wheedle's Groove, a half-dozen well-appointed ladies who had every right to be creeped out by the weird, lumpy drag queen who kept exclaiming, "My shoes smell like Chinese food!" but who were perfectly sweet and polite about the whole thing.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17 Nothing happened today, unless you count the wonderful performance by Kiki & Herb, the peerless psycho-cabaret act who thrilled the masses tonight at the Moore, and whose obsession with death makes Last Days' seem like child's play.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18 Nothing happened today.
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