MONDAY, AUGUST 10 This week of struggling campaigns, introspective comics, and an Amazon story for the ages kicked off near the back bar of the Seattle performance venue the Showbox, where tonight Last Days had the pleasure of standing throughout the performance of D'Angelo and the Vanguard, who created one of the most impressive nights of live music we've ever experienced. D'Angelo, of course, is the standard-bearing R&B singer-songwriter whose languorous creation cycle (five years between albums one and two, 15 years between two and three) has produced nothing but classics. The Vanguard are D'Angelo's 10-piece band, with which he recorded last year's rock/funk/soul stunner Black Messiah, and which supplies the audio body of water (sometimes it's a river, sometimes it's a swamp) that D'Angelo submerges himself in on the tour he's officially calling "The Second Coming." As fans know, D'Angelo is a singer who can come off slightly coy on record, with vocals multitracked into murkiness and buried in the mix. But Showbox attendees were rewarded with a feast of unadulterated, unobfuscated D'Angelo, who languorously made his way through the stations of the R&B cross—rocking out on guitar! Supporting himself on keyboard! Drilling the band into razor-sharp funkiness à la James Brown! Singing like an angel who loves to fuck! Acting chill as shit while wearing an outfit eloquently described by music writer Andrew Matson as "sexy Hamburglar"!—before going out on his signature song, "Untitled (How Does It Feel?)." The song was preceded by a wild, extended drum solo (!) that infused this slowest of slow jams with a tension that crackled throughout its nearly 20-minute (!!) running time. "Untitled" (and the concert) ended with D'Angelo, having dismissed his bandmates one by one, finishing the song alone onstage. He could not have given us anything more. Thank you, Showbox at the Market, and come back soon, D'Angelo and the Vanguard.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 11 In other news, the week continued with some hilarious news about Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and two-time GOP presidential wannabe who remains best known for the pratfalls he performs with his mouth, most recently spicing up last week's kids' table/losers' circle/not-yet-ready-for-prime-time GOP presidential debate by name-checking "Ronald Raven." But today, Perry's problems extended beyond his low-functioning face parts, as the Associated Press reported, "Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stopped paying his presidential campaign staff amid slow fundraising that has left his 2016 bid starving for cash barely two months after it began." According to the AP, Perry-friendly super PACs can keep his campaign afloat though the Iowa caucuses. But according to common sense, why would they?
•• Speaking of struggling-to-connect politicians: Tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will attempt to engage young voters with the following tweet: "How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojisor less." Speaking of Clinton's klutzy computer habits and iffy engagement with her own candidacy, her campaign continues to be dogged if not overshadowed by her stupid e-mail scandal. As for today's call for emojis, Time noted that the most frequently submitted images were the skull, the pistol, and the pile of poo.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12 Meanwhile, at the intersection of Seattle and reality television, tonight brought the broadcast of a fresh episode of Last Comic Standing, the NBC reality competition featuring 100 of the nation's top up-and-coming comics battling it out to be the you-know-what. Why Last Days suddenly gives a poop about this show: Emmett Montgomery, the beloved Seattle comic and the Northwest's sole representative in this season's LCS. Tonight brought Montgomery's time in the spotlight, which was delightful if unfortunately abbreviated—thanks to the magic of editing and speed of TV, Montgomery got to tell one full joke before being revealed as a contestant who would go no further in the competition. This was disappointing, but out of this disappointment came a most lovely textual flower: "15 Seconds," a short essay posted by Montgomery on his website after tonight's broadcast, in which the now-liberated comic was finally allowed to hold forth on the weird lie-life reality TV contestants are contractually obligated to live during the time between filming and airing. "I made the decision to let people be hopeful for me even though I knew that I didn't advance and had no idea what would be shown," wrote Montgomery. "With every newspaper article, radio interview, or kind personal note there was a feeling of guilt that I was tricking people into betting on the wrong horse." Confidential to Emmett: Whatever "tricking" was going on involved fully willing participants thrilled to root for a hometown talent no matter how the competition played out. Thanks for allowing us to watch you put yourself through LCS's mindfucky, time-delayed obstacle course, and good work.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 13 In much, much worse news, the week continued with more heartbreaking evidence of 2015's epidemic of deadly violence against transgender humans in the United States, with today bringing news of Shade Schuler, a 22-year-old trans woman in Dallas whose decomposing body was found dumped in a field on July 29. "While police don't yet know the motive for her killing, she is the 13th reported transgender homicide victim in the United States so far in 2015, already surpassing the 12 known trans murders in all of 2014," reported Al Jazeera. "This year, 11 of those victims have been women of color—including Schuler, who was black." Saturday will bring a shocking update from the gay news site Towleroad: "Since [Wednesday], three additional murders of transgender women have been reported, bringing the 2015 total to a horrifying 16—including five whose deaths were first reported in the last week." This is fucking unacceptable. For a path forward, we turn to the words of Nell Gaither, president of the Trans Pride Initiative in Dallas, who told Al Jazeera that the persistent discrimination faced by trans people in matters of employment, housing, and public accommodation often leaves them unable to find safe, secure work, education, and proper medical care. "That forces us into the underground employment community, including sex work," Gaither told Al Jazeera. "It's the discrimination in society that puts people in more violent situations, and that needs to be addressed." Tiny ray of hope: Next week will bring news of Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first openly transgender official hired by the White House. Onward.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14 Nothing happened today, unless you count the rescinding of the declaration of emergency that had been in effect in Ferguson, Missouri, since Monday, due to the "criminal unrest" sparked by the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 15 The week continued with the arrival of a chunk of media that will help define Seattle for years: "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace," Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld's epic exposé of the take-no-prisoners workplace culture of Amazon, which arrived online today in advance of its above-the-fold placement on the front page of tomorrow's New York Times. "Even as the company tests delivery by drone and ways to restock toilet paper at the push of a bathroom button, it is conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable," reported the Times, fleshing out its thesis with a cornucopia of white-collar torture porn, complete with weeping employees, abusive higher-ups, and a Stasi-like culture of ratting out coworkers. The piece was designed to shock, and it did—but don't think that it won't inspire as many people as it offends. Expect a generation of aspirational "Amabots" who view themselves as the Navy SEALS of the tech world. (P.S. to forthcoming aspirational Amabots: Don't be homophobic dicks.)
SUNDAY, AUGUST 16 The week ended on Seattle's Capitol Hill, where early this morning, a gunfight broke out in the street near the Baltic Room nightclub, with a security guard from the club getting in on the multi-player shooting party that sent bystanders ducking behind cars and left one person dead.
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