The Week in Review
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 The week began with every news source in the country reporting on George W. Bush's accidentally amplified dissing of New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, whom the Republican Presidential nominee referred to as "a major-league asshole" during a Labor Day rally in Naperville, Illinois. By now, the story of Bush's public potty mouth is old news; still fascinating, however, is the variety of euphemisms used by mainstream news groups to suggest the forbidden "a" word. The majority of print media used the standard "a----," while newscasts opted for the anonymous phrase "an expletive," and sassy editorial writers (such as Seattle Times' Cal Thomas) offered such inspired winks as "a name that... would be familiar territory to a proctologist!" Most interestingly, while nearly every mainstream news source blanched at printing the word "asshole," none showed the slightest hesitation in making repeated references to "Bush's off-color crack."
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 Is that a pharmacy in your bike shorts or are you just happy to see me? Today, Reuters reported the story of two bicycle shorts-wearing Ecstasy smugglers arrested this weekend in Miami. Customs agents seized 13 pounds of the wonder drug from a man and woman who reportedly smuggled the pills from Paris inside their stretchy Lycra biking shorts. The dingbat couple now face extended jail time for drug smuggling, as well as possible death sentences for wearing bike shorts in an airport.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Speaking of repulsive: Despite Last Days' recent vow to cease issuing updates on the much-beloved war on public grooming, today our eyes were scalded by a grooming offense so brazen we were forced to reject our vow, along with most of our lunch. The culprit: a white, middle-aged man in casual wear standing at the bus stop directly opposite Last Days' office windows. The crime: the most violent, two-fisted public tooth flossing Last Days (and the small crowd who soon gathered in our office in response to our anguished cries) has ever had the misfortune to see. Truly, the man seemed to be digging for a shard of something he ate in a past life, his head thrown back like a Pez dispenser, his knuckles white with effort (we had binoculars). Worst of all, when the modern-day barbarian had finished his excavation (after three and a half excruciating minutes--we counted), he threw his shredded floss on the ground. Public grooming is one thing; public grooming followed by littering is something else. Where's a lynch mob when you need one? (Belated thanks to Hot Tipper Marla, who shared her story of a co-worker who clips his big yellow toenails at his desk, leaving the clippings on the floor for others to pick up with "too-thin napkins." Our condolences.)
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 Speaking of aesthetic crimes: Tonight brought the live-from-Radio-City-Music-Hall broadcast of the MTV Video Music Awards, the annual bash featuring the hottest pop stars crammed into the tightest clothes to vie for the world's most meaningless award (sorry, Grammys!). In years past, the VMAs have provided some of the finest hours of trash TV ever viewed by stoned eyes. This year, however, the broadcast offered little more than conclusive evidence that we all would have been better off if Earth had exploded at Y2K. Hosted by a couple of deeply unfunny Wayans (who make the Baldwins look like the Barrymores), the show staggered from low point to lower point. Among the more morbidly entertaining: the long shots, ferocious back lighting, and face-covering hairdo designed to hide Janet Jackson's inability to lip-synch to her own songs; the painfully embarrassing skit performed by pro wrestler Chynna and Survivor's Richard Hatch; and the discovery that Robert DeNiro is illiterate. What's happened to pop culture when the live performances of today's most beloved stars (Britney, Christina, 'N Sync) look like Vegas-styled halftime shows, when a pop-punk ripoff band as noisy and fun as Blink 182 is compelled to litter the stage with midgets to hold the audience's attention? We don't know, but Last Days imagines a similar question was bounding about the brain of Rage Against the Machine's bass player when he stationed himself (dangerously and illegally) on top of a towering set piece, refusing to come down until the edgy, in-your-face MTVers had him arrested for disturbing the monotony.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 Here's something to put our petty gripes in perspective: Today scientists from NASA announced their discovery of the biggest ozone hole in history, reports Reuters. Measuring 11 million square miles (three times the size of the U.S.) and covering all of Antarctica and the tip of Latin America, the monster hole is graphic evidence that ozone-destroying chemicals are continuing to increase in the stratosphere. "But weren't ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons banned in 1987 through international agreement?" you ask. Yes, but apparently the damaging effects from humanity's previous hairspray-and-Lysol indulgences will take years to show up, and NASA folk say the peak years for the ozone hole will continue until 2010 or so. As for this year's hole, Paul Newman of the Goddard Space Flight Centre says its unprecedented size may be the result of a change in high-level air currents over Antarctica, which swirl around the Pole like a whirlpool, trapping air and allowing the hole to form. Whatever. What matters is that the closest the hole has ever come to this size was in 1998, when it covered a mere 10.5 million square miles. So be nice to everyone; Judgment Day may be closer than we ever thought.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9/SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 Speaking of the end of humanity: This weekend brought the premiere Seattle engagement of Topeka, Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church protesters, led by the legendary Fred Phelps, Sr., perhaps the worst human being in America today. (Hand over your crown, Lenny Kravitz.) For those out of the lunatic bigot loop, Fred Phelps, Sr. is the much-reviled Baptist reverend who gained national attention by picketing the funeral of the fatally gay-bashed Matthew Shepard with signs reading "FAG MATT IN HELL." (Delightful!) According to their e-mailed battle plans, Phelps and Co. planned to picket four gay-friendly Seattle churches (St. Joseph's, St. Patrick's, St. Mark's, and Seattle First Baptist) and one leather-friendly gay bar (the Eagle). And while visits were paid to each of the aforementioned locales, Phelps himself was nowhere to be seen, having ditched out at the last minute to protest a rally led by Phil Donahue (?!). In his place were a paltry six protesters, who, by all accounts, were very young and very well behaved as they stood clutching their carefully laminated signs proclaiming God's eternal hatred of homosexuals. Much more interesting were the passionate counter-protests, which ranged from church services packed to the rafters with anti-Phelps sympathizers to a hollering mob of 400 homosexuals and the people who love them filling Pike Street outside the Seattle Eagle. (Unfortunately, Last Days missed out on all of these demonstrations, so to quench our thirst for righteous indignation in the face of fascism, on Sunday we went to see The Sorrow and the Pity, the greatest four-hour documentary about the Nazi occupation of France we've ever napped through.)
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