MONDAY, JULY 20 This week of radio triumph, cinema tragedy, and a judicial review of things done by butts kicked off with a plunge into history—specifically, those 79 hours in early June when American culture was dominated by Rachel Dolezal, the allegedly African American woman who ascended to the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP before being publicly outed as a Caucasian. After inspiring countless minutes of discussion about identity politics, modern minstrelsy, and fucked-up honky bullshit, Dolezal's twisty saga was soon enough relegated to the trivia bin, as headlines turned to fresh racist horrors occurring in Dallas, Charleston, and Donald Trump's mouth. So hurrah for Vanity Fair for sending writer Allison Samuels to provide an update on the woman who temporarily baffled, provoked, and fascinated the nation. "Dolezal's claim on black womanhood still seems to be non-negotiable," wrote Samuels. "Even in conversation with an actual black woman on the other end of the line or sitting in her cozy home, Dolezal unequivocally identifies as black." Dolezal told Samuels: "It's not a costume. I don't know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience." Determined to present herself as a cogent living challenge to existing concepts of race, Dolezal instead comes off as a 21st-century freak fit for My Strange Addiction. Congratulations, everyone.
TUESDAY, JULY 21 The week continued with a legal ruling connected to the communication-related occurrence known as the "butt-dial," wherein a cell phone is placed in a back pocket and accidentally activated by the movement of and pressure supplied by a human butt. Today's subject: James Huff, a Cincinnati man who sued a colleague for listening to his private phone conversation after an accidental butt-dial. "According to court documents, in 2013, James Huff, a board member of a Cincinnati airport, was discussing replacing the airport's CEO when he pocket-dialed the second-worst person possible: not the CEO, but her assistant," reported Time. "The assistant, Carol Spaw, took notes and audio recordings, and shared a summary with the airport's board members." Today, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that Huff lost his right to privacy once his butt invited others to eavesdrop. "[Huff] is no different from the person who exposes in-home activities by leaving drapes open or a webcam on and therefore has not exhibited an expectation of privacy," read the ruling.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 22 Speaking of the accidental evil that butts do, the week continued in the foothills of Boise, Idaho, where today brought a wildfire caused by a bicyclist who had to poop. Details come from NBC News, which reported the unidentified cyclist "thought he was doing the right thing" by burning his soiled toilet paper post-poop. "But an ember flew into some dry grass and quickly spread out of control," reported NBC. "Authorities say [the] cyclist will be fined and could have to pay the full cost of extinguishing [the] 73-acre fire." As for the proper disposal of soiled waste paper in the wilderness: Either pack it out or bury that shit.
THURSDAY, JULY 23 In worse news, the week continued with a nightmare scenario in Seattle's International District, where early this morning police received a call about a shooting at Eighth Avenue South and South Lane Street and arrived to find Donnie Chin, the 59-year-old director of the International District Emergency Center and irreplaceable pillar of the ID community, wounded by gunfire. "[Chin] was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition," reported the Seattle Times. "He died a short time later. Police do not believe he was the intended target of the shooting." "People in the community are shocked, they are in disbelief," said Northwest Asian Weekly publisher Assunta Ng to the Times, noting that the person responsible for the shooting "probably has no idea" of Chin's prominence. Regarding that prominence, the Times wrote: "Chin had patrolled the streets of Chinatown-International District since he was in junior high school after finding that private ambulance companies were slow to respond to 911 calls, according to a 1991 Seattle Times story. The story recounted how Chin had the respect of medics, residents, and business owners and was welcomed when he responded to 911 calls that were relayed over his police scanner."
"We lost a hero," said the Asian Counseling and Referral Service in a statement. "We all loved and respected Donnie... He gave his life for our community, and we will never forget him."
•• Speaking of vital people shoved prematurely from life, today also brought tragedy to Lafayette, Louisiana, where another asshole with a gun opened fire on an audience watching the Amy Schumer rom-com Trainwreck, killing two people and wounding nine more before fatally shooting himself. The victims: Mayci Breaux, a 21-year-old honor student at Louisiana State University at Eunice, who was looking forward to marrying and starting a family with her longtime boyfriend (who was with Breaux at the movie and was nonfatally shot in the chest), and Jillian Johnson, a 33-year-old artist and designer who had created logos "for a generation of businesses, progressive organizations, and performers in the Louisiana city," as the Washington Post reported. As for the dead killer: He was identified as John Russell Houser, a 59-year-old Alabama man with a history of mental illness and ostentatious bigotry (tweets expressing hate for liberals and love for the Westboro Baptist Church, a radio appearance advocating violence against abortion providers).
FRIDAY, JULY 24 Nothing happened today, unless you count the wonderful diversion from yesterday's shitty news provided by KEXP, the independent Seattle radio station that today devoted the whole of its broadcast schedule to the Beastie Boys' sampledelic masterwork Paul's Boutique—providing background info on the record's making, interviewing producers the Dust Brothers, and playing every track sampled on the album in full. The result was a day of the best radio imaginable, with totemic tracks of various genres mingling indiscriminately and Funky Four Plus One's "That's the Joint" being played at least twice in its entirety. Yes, fans have been circulating torrents of the Paul's Boutique song arsenal for years, but hearing it come out of a city's radios for an entire day was something else. Thank you, KEXP, and please get to work on a wintertime deconstruction of DJ Shadow's Endtroducing...
SATURDAY, JULY 25 Back to heartbreak: The week continued in Lisle, Illinois, where today hundreds of people from across the nation convened at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church for the funeral of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old woman who'd recently moved from Illinois to Texas for a job at her alma mater and wound up dead in a jail cell after a traffic stop. "An autopsy report released Friday found that Bland, who died July 13 in a Waller County Jail cell, used a plastic trash bag to hang herself three days after a confrontational traffic stop on a street northwest of Houston," reported the Chicago Tribune. "Bland's family has questioned the findings, saying she was excited about starting a new job and wouldn't have taken her own life." For a final word, we turn to Chicago resident and funeral attendee Hank Brown, who told the Tribune: "I don't know Sandra, and I don't know what happened. But I do know she didn't have to die. There's an epidemic of police terror in this country, and people need to stand up."
SUNDAY, JULY 26 The week ended with a ton of stuff, including a candlelight march through the International District in honor of Donnie Chin, a soggy Sunday at the Capitol Hill Block Party, an end to the suffering of Bobbi Kristina Brown, and the publication of New York magazine's comprehensive dossier of Cosby accusers (which we'll discuss next week).
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