MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 This week of civic sadness, ostentatious anniversaries, and deep-fried butter kicks off in Texas, where today several dozen wildfires continued to threaten vast stretches of the state. One hot spot: Bastrop County, east of Austin, where a massive wildfire—16 miles long, 6 miles wide—has scorched more than 25,000 acres, destroyed 476 homes, and continues to burn out of control. As Reuters notes, "The Bastrop fire is one of more than sixty fires which have kindled across Texas since Sunday afternoon, fueled by the gusty winds generated [by] Tropical Storm Lee." Not helping: Texas's record-breaking heat and dryness, with 2011 bringing the state its lowest single-year rainfall since 1895 and the hottest June–August period of any state ever. Also not helping: Rick Perry, Texas's climate-change-denying governor, who responded to the threat of dangerous drought by decimating state funding for the volunteer fire departments that serve as the state's primary defense against wildfires and by holding a statewide prayer rally for rain. Tomorrow, the Texas Forest Service will characterize the still-raging fires' behavior as "unprecedented," stating that "no one on the face of this earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions." One week from today, the Texas fires will be 50 percent contained. Condolences to all.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Today brings the week's mandatory bear-related item, which involves no fatal mauling and a lot of Prius-related mayhem. Details come from the Contra Costa Times, which identifies the Prius owners as the McCarthy family of Pleasanton, California, who were asleep in their Lake Tahoe cabin when they heard a ruckus in the driveway. "It seems a bear got into the [2002 Toyota Prius] easily enough, but once inside became stuck, and got mad about it—ripping seats open, biting a chunk out of the steering wheel, and damaging the gear box, which shifted the car into neutral." The McCarthy family watched as the Prius rolled across the street, bouncing over a small rock wall and stopping against a neighbor's porch. Neither man nor bear was injured.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 The week continues with the creepiest creep to appear in Last Days since last month's horny pediatrician: David Allan Scratchley, the 52-year-old Seattle counselor and "renowned advocate on issues of child safety," who was today charged with communication with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted first-degree rape of a child. Details come from Seattlepi.com, which reports that Scratchley served as director of both a Seattle child psychiatric facility and the Matt Talbot Center for drug treatment before he came to the attention of Seattle police on September 1. That's when a 46-year-old woman who claimed to have had a relationship with Scratchley told investigators how he'd allegedly spoken about his sexual desire for children and invited her to participate in his upcoming rape of a young boy at his Seattle home. Then came the sting operation: "Scratchley allegedly told her to come to his home in the 2800 block of Western Avenue, where the boy and cocaine were waiting," reports Seattlepi.com. Sexual-assault detectives arrived to find a 10-year-old boy, who told officers he'd come for a "play date" with Scratchley. Scratchley remains jailed on $1 million bail.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 The week continues with a story that Last Days really wishes we didn't have to write, about someone we are so happy to have met: Brian Fairbrother, the impressively tall and gregarious man who impressed himself upon a generation of Seattleites as a barista at Espresso Vivace, where Fairbrother dispensed coffee and sweet, smart conversation for 20 years. (If you don't remember him by name, perhaps you'll remember him as the smiley guy with the sausage-curl ponytail and air of "I'd rather be dancing naked in the woods" about him.) Which brings us to the bad news: On August 30, Fairbrother was riding his bicycle on Fairview Avenue when he apparently crashed on a set of stairs near the ZymoGenetics building. Rushed to Harborview with a significant head injury, Fairbrother remained in a coma until today, when he was taken off life support and, surrounded by friends, passed away. Fairbrother was 50, many Seattleites are heartbroken, and Last Days has nothing to say except condolences to his many loved ones and we're all lucky to have known him. (Also, confidential to everyone: Please be careful, with everything, forever.)
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 Today, life goes on, ridiculously, in Illinois, where lips were flapping about Janet Hardt, the 63-year-old Homewood woman who yesterday attempted DIY cosmetic surgery and paid the ultimate price. As ABC News reports, Ms. Hardt's home-style beauty regimen involved boiling beef, extracting the fat, and injecting the hot beef fat into her face. Soon after the hot-beef injections, Hardt got herself to the hospital, where she complained that her face felt like it was on fire; soon after that, she died. "The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Hardt had infections and scarring in her mouth and on her lips," reports ABC. "But an autopsy declared her death was a result of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen's inner wall." The moral: Never inject hot beef fat into your face when you're suffering from a mortally inflamed abdomen.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 Nothing happened today, unless you count the Puyallup Fair, where today Last Days reported for four hours of greasy, screamy, dorky fun. Among the highlights: the Extreme Scream, the gravity-exploiting torture device that shoots riders some freakish distance into the air before allowing them to plunge back to earth in real, horrifying time; Hobby Hall, home to carefully displayed personal collections of everything, from gorgeous objects (Lloyd Chase's 1,001 straight razors!) to ridiculous swag (Joseph Tully's treasure trove of all things Joe Camel); and the breathtaking produce showcase of Thurston County Pomona Grange, in which all the fruits and vegetables grown in the region were arranged in a glorious rainbow. Among the lowlights: deep-fried butter, which is exactly as revolting as it should be. The Puyallup Fair continues daily through September 25.
••Also today: Robert Townsend, who never charmed Last Days while serving us coffee but who we're sure was a perfectly lovely person, suffered a fatal bike accident in the University District. For more on the story, see page 10.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 The week ends with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a tornado of memorializing that devoured virtually all branches of the media. In a blessed turn of events, Last Days was able to avoid the majority of this memorial tornado thanks to the largesse of Durandy, aka the world's biggest Duran Duran fan, who resides here in the Pacific Northwest and this evening celebrated his 40th birthday at the Bellevue Skate King with an all Duran Duran skating party. Tracks spanned the band's career, with a preference shown for mega-mixes and room even for a song by the Power Station. Even better, there were a lot of kids, many of them decked out in "'80s new waver garb" as subtle and historically accurate as the "'50s rocker garb" Last Days donned during the Grease boom of the 1970s. It was delightful, and when Americans are no longer allowed to avoid the ugliness of the world by skating around to the 12-inch "Planet Earth (Night Version)," the terrorists have won.
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