The week began on a surreal legal note as the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for 90-year-old civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks to continue with her lawsuit against the universally beloved hiphop duo OutKast. The Associated Press reports that Mrs. Parks first sued OutKast back in 1999, claiming the band's song "Rosa Parks" (included on the 1998 album Aquemini) defamed her and illegally profited from her name; Parks demanded that all references to her name be removed from all future OutKast albums, songs, and videos. At the time, OutKast and fellow defendants LaFace Records, Arista Records, and BMG Entertainment countered that the song--which, aside from its title, makes no explicit mention of Rosa Parks--was protected by the First Amendment. A federal judge agreed and dismissed the suit, and in 2001, OutKast & Co. celebrated by including "Rosa Parks" on the band's post-Stankonia breakthrough collection, Big Boi & Dre Present... OutKast. As for today's decision: While the three-justice panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed that OutKast's "Rosa Parks" does not defame the real Rosa Parks, the judges ordered OutKast to demonstrate why their song was named after Parks and reinstated Mrs. Parks' main charges of false advertising and violation of publicity rights. Who knows who's got the legal upper hand, but here's hoping OutKast and Mrs. Parks reach a quick, harmonious settlement and hush this fuss. (In other OutKast-related news, an independent investigation by Last Days found that area sales of Polaroid cameras and film have only mildly skyrocketed in the post-"Hey Ya!" era.)


The week kicked into high gear today with the publication of a fascinating Washington Post story detailing how Howard Dean, the handsome, shrimpy former governor of Vermont, could feasibly claim the American presidency in November 2004 from George W. Bush, the incumbent prez who used to be kind of handsome but now looks like a furious, retarded monkey. Highlights of the narcotically optimistic article, penned by conservative Weekly Standard editor William Kristol: Bush's status as "the first president since Herbert Hoover under whom there will have been no net job creation, and the first since Lyndon Johnson whose core justification for sending U.S. soldiers to war could be widely (if unfairly) judged to have been misleading"; the historical fact that "the last two times the American people confronted a president and a Congress controlled by the same party were in 1980 and 1994. The voters decided in both cases to restore what they have consistently preferred for the last two generations: divided government"; and Howard Dean's smart political positioning of himself as "a hard-headed, budget-balancing, federalism-respecting compassionate moderate" to Bush's "deficit-expanding, Social Security-threatening, Constitution-amending radical"--all of which, Kristol deduces, could feasibly add up to President Dean.

-- In other good, pre-Saddam-capture news for Howard Dean: Today the Black Commentator offered passionate praise for Dean's December 7 speech in Columbia, South Carolina, which the Internet newsweekly hailed as "the most important statement on race in American politics by a mainstream white politician in nearly 40 years.... Not since Lyndon Johnson vowed to harness the power of the federal government to redress the historical grievances of Black America has a potential or sitting President made such a clear case against racism as a political and economic instrument--and even Johnson failed to indict corporate interests, or anyone in particular, for wielding race as a political weapon. Howard Dean points the finger straight at executive boardrooms, and directly implicates members of his own party in the coded conspiracy." For a transcript of Dean's speech, see (And for a heartbreaking buzz-kill, jump forward to Sunday.)


Today brought a harrowing Hot Tip from Joel, one of several traumatized Metro passengers trapped yesterday with a monstrous little girl, whose mother brought her onto a #5 bus near Westlake Center while the little girl repeatedly screamed, "I want to go on the carousel!" "Not so much a scream as a gut-piercing whine," reports eloquent survivor Joel. "A calculated one. You could tell she knew what she was doing, and she didn't stop doing it, with intermittent pauses for just plain screaming, for 45 minutes." At first, Joel reports, passengers were "chuckling, exchanging looks, and one or two passengers mumbled something like, 'Good grief.' After 10 minutes, people started trying to talk to her: 'I want to go on the carousel too,' 'Maybe you can go tomorrow.' This just made her scream louder. Ten minutes later, the bus driver stopped the bus and tried to give her some candy. No dice. By now, people were starting to yell back at the little girl, whose name was Kelsey. 'Shut up, Kelsey!' 'The carousel's broken, Kelsey.' I'm pretty sure someone threw something at her. As I got off the bus in Greenwood she was still screaming. I have to admit that I have a lot more sympathy now for some of the child torturers I have read about in Last Days."


Sometimes terrible little girls grow up into terrible young women, a sad fact made evident today by police in Auburn, who revealed that a 25-year-old single mother's report of being raped by a thin, hairy, toothless man in Isaac Evans Park was a big fat lie. The Seattle Times reports that the unnamed young woman--who reportedly concocted her elaborate story to guilt her parents into paying her rent--will be referred to prosecutors for a misdemeanor charge of false reporting. In the meantime, the troubled lady who cried rape is being held on an outstanding forgery charge from Oregon and is facing additional theft charges in King County.


In much lighter news: Today Last Days' brain was twisted into knots by a television commercial for Depends, in which a professional opera diva boosts her artistic confidence with adult diapers. "Now all I have to worry about is hitting the high notes!" gushes the bewigged, be-diapered diva. Did Depends arbitrarily select an opera diva to artfully soften the stigma of adult diapers? Or does the commercial address a legitimate concern of the opera world? If anyone knows the answer, please contact Last Days immediately.


Nothing happened today (unless you count the Showbox's dreamy holiday bash with Sleater-Kinney, as well as the 40th birthday of Last Days' one and only brother, Wally, a brainy Virginia businessman five years our senior who's provided us with a lifetime of entertainment, from his teenage yarns about Rusty, the invisible elf who'd sneak into his room at night to take him to KISS concerts, to his adulthood breeding, producing and raising two kids Last Days adores. In between, he introduced us to booze, punk, and pornography. Happy birthday, Big Nose.)


Early this morning, the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom claimed the biggest victory of its $79 billion, eight-month history, as U.S. forces captured deposed Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein, found huddling behind a ZZ Top-ish beard in an underground hole in northern Iraq. Congratulations to the U.S. military and all its military peers on their triumphant capture, and may God have mercy on us all for what today's news means for Dubya's reelection chances.

Send Hot Tips to