The week got off to an excessively creepy start this morning as an expelled student from Snohomish County's Lakewood High School burst into a sophomore English class armed with two huge kitchen knives, which he brandished threateningly at his former classmates before being apprehended by the armed sheriff's deputy stationed full-time in the rural high school. The Seattle P-I offered the gritty details: Two months ago, the unnamed 17-year-old male student was expelled after leaving six threatening letters in the locker of a 16-year-old female student, to whom he promised everything from rape to evisceration. At 9:36 this morning, the expelled boy returned to his alma mater, this time dressed from head to toe in black (the de riguer couture of criminally malevolent youth) and wielding the aforementioned knives, which he clanged together "Ninja-style" before pointing them at the aforementioned 16-year-old girl, whom he backed into a corner before being foiled by the aforementioned deputy. In regard to the knife-wielding boy's past, fellow students identified him as a member of both the junior varsity and varsity wrestling teams, with a penchant for "zany stunts," such as leaping upon cafeteria tables and yelling, "Lend me your ears!" In regard to the knife-wielding boy's future, Snohomish County police have charged him with a number of felonies.
TUESDAY, MAY 14
Today brought the deeply unfortunate story of Amanda Bourassa, the zookeeper in Tampa, Florida, who was giving her family a private tour of the zoo at Busch Gardens when she innocently wrapped one of her fingers around one of the bars of the cage holding an African lion named Max--only to have the 364-pound lion grab her finger with his paw, clamp down on her arm with his jaws, and sever her arm at the elbow. The Associated Press reports that 21-year-old Bourassa and her severed arm were rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where surgeons were unable to reattach the limb. Despite Bourassa's grievous loss, the zoo has no plans to exterminate its arm-chomping attraction. "These are still wild animals," said zoo spokesperson Glenn Young. "They behave like that." Amanda Bourassa is listed in good condition at Tampa General Hospital.
··Speaking of biting the hand that feeds: For nearly a year, journalist Andrew Sullivan has lived a fascinating double life, spending his days penning passionate and thoughtful essays for such mainstream mainstays as the New York Times and its weekly magazine, and spending his nights documenting and denouncing the too-frequent liberal bias of these very news outlets on his website (www.andrewsullivan.com). But today the Washington Post announced that Sullivan's days on the New York Times payroll are officially over, thanks to a "no more Sullivan" directive from NYT Executive Editor Howell Raines. (In a suspicious and wussy-looking move, both the Times and its magazine have met questions about Sullivan's dismissal with no comment.) But don't worry about the NYT's latest persona non grata: "When you bite the hand that feeds you, sometimes you'll get a good slapping," wrote Sullivan on his website. "But don't worry, I'll keep biting."
WEDNESDAY, MAY 15
Today Last Days turns to the question that has echoed in the hearts and minds of Capitol Hill scenesters since last month: Is the name and thematic design concept of the hot new nightclub Chop Suey insulting to Chinese people? For those out of the socially responsible hipster loop, the dilemma began the minute Chop Suey opened its Chinese-character-emblazoned doors, with what seemed to be an inevitable cry of "racism!" from the easy-to-dismiss usual suspects (college students flexing their freshly acquired powers of Awareness and Sensitivity, incurable indignation junkies bored of protesting war with puppets, rock musicians hoping an impassioned political stance will help rope in the pussy). This unfocused charge of racism led to an eloquent response in the letters page of this very paper, with Chop Suey booker Kerri Harrop decrying the hypocrisy of those who would denounce her club for its cross-cultural kitsch appropriation while dismissing similar maneuvers by a variety of other local businesses (the Mexi-riffic Cha Cha Lounge, the Eurotrash Baltic Room, not to mention a little something called Taco Bell). Ultimately, Harrop called bullshit on the assumption that any use of another culture's totems is racist--a stance Last Days wholeheartedly supported, until we read a letter thoughtfully detailing why the Chop Suey nightclub might strike some folks as offensive: An American dish concocted to appease migrant Chinese workers, "chop suey" remains to many people an ugly reminder of segregation and exploitation. After reading this letter, Last Days was struck by an uncomfortable thought: Is calling a club in Seattle "Chop Suey" any less offensive than calling a club in Georgia "Sharecroppers"? For answers, we turned to the smart people around us, whose responses ranged from "Yeah" to "Yeah, but...," with more than one person attesting to Chop Suey's lack of intention behind any offense, and exactly one person voicing the wise opinion that one of the best ways to stop feeling victimized--whether you're Chinese, Japanese, gay, or differently abled--is to stop identifying as a victim. But in a free fucking country, who has the right to tell anyone to "stop being offended"? For a final answer, we turned to a real live Chinese person, who said, "I understand why some people might take offense, but... I just can't." As for the Chop Suey club owners, the choice is clear: Either stand firm in your "we meant no offense" stance and prosper as Chop Suey, or give in, change the club's name to "Honkytown," go nuts with a middle-class Caucasian motif (nubby beige sofas, Rice Krispies treats), and watch the crowds pour in.
THURSDAY, MAY 16
Today brought the second suicide of 2002's pervy priest bust, with defrocked Connecticut reverend Alfred J. Bietighofer found hanged in his room at St. Luke's Institute, where he'd been sent for "psychiatric evaluation."
FRIDAY, MAY 17
Tonight a huge-ass fire tore through the North Lake Union marina, ravaging dozens of boats and injuring no one.
SATURDAY, MAY 18
Not often does this column live up to its title. However, today brought the real-life last day of Mrs. Alice Schmader, a woman of exceptional strength, faith, and character who happened to be Last Days' paternal grandmother. Over the course of 96 years, Alice Gatesman Schmader raised six children with her coal miner husband in Lucinda, Pennsylvania. After seeing her husband through a long battle with Alzheimer's, Grandma Alice flourished for another 20 years, spending her days attending church, reading mysteries, and visiting family members across the country. When Last Days turned 10, our grandma gave us a handmade leather wallet embossed with the word MACHO, which she pronounced "may-cho." Rest in peace, Grandma Alice.
SUNDAY, MAY 19
The week wraps up with a Hot Tip from Mindy, who alerted us to the most amazing bit of TV movie censorship since those amazing hover-bras in VH1's Showgirls. Today's delight comes from the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski, in which John Goodman smashes up a car while screaming, "You see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass?" "But in the TV edit," writes Mindy, "Goodman's outburst loses much of its punch"--as the network edit job recasts Goodman's exclamation as a loud inquiry into the consequences of having fun with a stranger in the Alps.