MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 The first week of the post-Katrina era began, appropriately enough, with news of major shit going down in Iraq. Specifically, in the town of Qaim, where insurgent fighters loyal to the militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi have seized control of the Iraqi border town—posting a sign announcing "the Islamic Republic of Qaim," enforcing strict Islamic law, and executing officials and civilians who they consider to be anti-Islamic or allied with the Iraqi and U.S. governments. Details come from the Washington Post, which characterized the seizure of Qaim as "one of insurgents' boldest moves in their cat-and-mouse duels with U.S. Marines along the Euphrates River." Witnesses in Qaim say Zarqawi's fighters have executed nine men in the town square since the start of the weekend; on Sunday, locals discovered the bullet-riddled corpse of a young woman left in the street with a sign reading, "A prostitute who was punished." Those not being actively murdered remain hounded by fear, as Islam-enforcing insurgents torch CD shops and beauty parlors, and dozens of families flee the town every day. Most oddly, Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman stationed in the western province that includes Qaim, told the Post he had no word of any unusual activity in the town. However, by tonight, U.S. forces will know enough to drop leaflets from helicopters over the insurgent-hotbed neighborhood of Sarai, warning noncombatants to evacuate the area before U.S. jets bomb the shit out of the area tomorrow.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Meanwhile back in the States: Just as the soul-numbing horror of last week's Katrina fiasco was beginning to recede, today brought a full-on resurgence, courtesy of Oprah Winfrey, who devoted the whole of her Tuesday broadcast to an on-the-scene report from the wreckage of New Orleans. From Winfrey's first encounter with the chief of police (who broke down sobbing while reporting of the Superdome's raped babies) to the harrowing footage of the city's makeshift triage areas (where patients deemed too far gone for treatment were preemptively placed in refrigerated "morgues" to "die in peace"), Oprah's show was an hour-long incrimination of the Bush administration and an unprecedented American sobfest. The scene that will never be purged from Last Days' mind is Winfrey's showdown at the Superdome: Upon being forbidden entry by both a military guardsman and the mayor of New Orleans, Winfrey pitched a calm-and-collected fit, pointing out that if thousands of American refugees had lived in the dome for five days, one American talk-show host should be allowed to see inside for five minutes. After requiring Winfrey to release the city of any and all liability, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin escorted her inside. The shocker wasn't what she saw, but what she didn't see: The place was pitch-black, even in the daytime—a state of affairs that makes sense (the city had no electricity, and domes don't have windows) while making the fact of the five-day internment all the more horrifying. Knowing that all that animalistic shit—shootings, rapes, murders—transpired over five days of desperate darkness makes us ashamed to have skin. Even Winfrey's parade of concerned celebrities couldn't lighten the horror. (When Matthew fucking McConaughey gets to the sick and wounded faster than the federal government, things are seriously fucked up.)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 In far lighter news: Today brought a bang-'em-up Hot Tip from the wilds of Woodinville, where last night a friendly trivia competition apparently turned into an all-out brawl following a politically charged debate. Details come from Hot Tipper Korby, who was attending the popular Tuesday trivia night at Woodinville's Redhook Brewery when he heard the host ask the question, "What state does John Kerry represent in the Senate?" "In response," writes Korby, "a woman in the crowd exclaimed, 'I'll leave that question to my team because I didn't vote in the last election.' Overhearing this, two women on an opposing team exclaimed, 'You didn't VOTE?! We're women! We vote!' then proceeded to call the non-voting woman a dumbass. While the woman defended her right NOT to vote, the men on each team—which were seated about three feet from each other—started trash-talking, and as the trivia night wrapped up, a fight broke out between the boyfriend of the non-voter and an angry bald man from the opposing team." Pressed for physical specifics, Korby claims he saw the angry bald man reach over the head of an intervening staff member to land a solid punch on the boyfriend of the non-voter's forehead. "That's not a great place to hit, so it probably hurt the angry bald man's hand more than the boyfriend's head," writes Korby, who reports the brawl was soon ended by the arrival of three cop cars and the subsequent 86ing of the instigators. "It's Woodinville, for Pete's sake," writes Korby. "Stuff like this shouldn't happen."
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 Nothing happened today, unless you count Laura Bush's circular-logic defense of her husband against criticisms that race played a role in the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina. "I think all of those remarks are disgusting," the first lady told American Urban Radio Networks. "Because of course President Bush cares about everyone in our country."
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 Speaking of famous last words: Today brought a new issue of Rolling Stone, featuring the de facto suicide note of Hunter S. Thompson, the legendary gonzo journalist and lifelong Rolling Stone contributor who ended his 67 years on earth with a gunshot blast last February. Entitled "Football Season Is Over," the note reads: "No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun—for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax—This won't hurt." Four days later, Thompson shot himself at his home in Aspen. Six months later, his ashes were shot out of a cannon in nearby Woody Creek. RIP, HST.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 Speaking of self-administered deaths: Today marked the penultimate day of existence for the Timberline, the beloved homosexual nightclub that will forever shut its doors at the close of tomorrow. Despite Last Days' limited affinity for the nightlife, the Timberline earned a permanent place in our heart, thanks primarily to its devotion to country-and-western line dancing, an activity that effortlessly rendered any and all attempts at coolness and aloofness moot, as everyone who line dances—no matter how experienced—looks goofy. From this great equalizing goofiness, the Timberline spun a charmingly eclectic scene, marked by a wide variety of "types"—from bears to bull dykes to drag queens—and an impressive gender balance. In the new millennium, the Timberline moved from its longtime home in what is now the Raisbeck Performance Hall to its new location at Yale Avenue and Denny Way, where it hosted a wealth of karaoke, a number of theatrical extravaganzas, and the wedding of Stranger editor Dan Savage to Stranger news writer Amy Jenniges. But an extended livelihood was not in the cards, as tomorrow's sad closure makes clear. RIP Timberline Spirits, and best of luck to all the homeless homosexual line dancers left to wander the streets to the distant echo of "Boot Scootin' Boogie."
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 The week ends with the four-year anniversary of 9/11, a tragic act of terrorism shamelessly parlayed into an ever-more-tragic war.
Send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.