MONDAY, OCTOBER 26 The week begins exactly as it will end: with a crime so horrifying it will make otherwise sane and law-abiding citizens crave booze for breakfast and vigilante justice for lunch. The locale of this first horrifying crime: Richmond, California, the north-of-Berkeley Bay Area town doomed to be remembered as that fucked-up place where a bunch of guys brutally beat and gang-raped a 15-year-old girl for over two hours while a whole bunch of other guys watched, snapped cell-phone pictures, and never called for help. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the attack took place on Saturday, October 24, when the victim—a Richmond High School sophomore—was leaving her school's annual homecoming dance. Before exiting campus, the girl was accosted by a group of boys and young men drinking in the school's courtyard. "What ensued was two and a half hours of beatings and raping, at times with a foreign object," reports the Chronicle. "The scene attracted onlookers, some calling others over by cell phone, and eventually there were as many as 10 men or boys sexually assaulting the girl while another 20 looked on, laughing and snapping pictures." The victim was found unconscious under one of the school's picnic tables just before midnight and airlifted to a hospital, where she was admitted in critical condition. By tomorrow, she'll be listed in stable condition, and on Wednesday, she'll be discharged, with what Last Days hopes is around-the-clock police protection. (Gang rapists typically don't like living eyewitnesses.) As for the attackers: By midweek, ABC News will report the arrest of four alleged participants—Manuel Ortega, a 19-year-old former Richmond High School student charged with robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, causing great bodily injury, rape in concert, and rape with violence; and three unnamed juveniles, ages 15, 16, and 17, who are charged with rape in concert and penetration with a foreign object in concert. All four suspects face the possibility of life in prison. As for the onlookers: As the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office told the Contra Costa Times, those who witnessed the alleged rape and did not report it could face aiding and abetting charges. "These suspects are monsters," Richmond police lieutenant Mark Gagan told San Francisco's KGO-TV. "I don't understand how this many people capable of such atrocious behavior could be in one place at one time."
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27 Right when we need it most, here comes some good news, delivered from beyond the grave by the one and only Bea Arthur, the recently dead, eternally beloved American television actress who was revealed today to have left $300,000 in her will to an organization providing emergency services to homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. Details come from the New York Daily News, which identifies the recipient of Ms. Arthur's largesse as New York City's Ali Forney Center, which provides emergency shelter and transitional housing—along with food, clothing, medical and mental-health treatment, and vocational and educational assistance—to more than 1,000 homeless LGBT kids each year. "We work with hundreds of young people who are rejected by their families because of who they are," said executive director Carl Siciliano. "We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person." Up next for the center: the acquisition of a new housing building, which will be named in honor of its new benefactress. Bless you, Bea Arthur. Even dead, you are superior to 98 percent of the living.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28 Speaking of extinguished stars: Today Michael Jackson was resurrected as a formidable box-office draw as This Is It, Jackson's posthumous concert-rehearsal film, continued its trek to become the week's highest-grossing film, with yesterday's opening day bringing in $20 million worldwide—a sum that will grow to $101 million by the end of the weekend. As a lifelong Jackson scholar, Last Days raced out to see This Is It as soon as humanly possible; as a lifelong realist, we couldn't have entered the theater with more trepidation. We feared it would be nothing more than a ramshackle collection of rehearsal moments cynically cobbled together to wring all possible commerce from the aborted-by-the-grim-reaper This Is It tour. Instead, we ended up witnessing a truly revelatory music documentary. The film is indeed a ramshackle affair—this is all rehearsal footage—but it's also the most humane portrait of adult Jackson the world's yet been given. A recurring question in the This Is It discussion: Would the notoriously perfectionist Jackson have wanted his rehearsal footage released as a film? Probably not, but that's what makes This Is It valuable. When Jackson was controlling his image, we got the increasingly joyless militaristic/messianic vanity exercises of his videos and live performances, offset by the increasingly unsettling "real life" glimpses of Jacko dangling his baby from a balcony or telling Martin Bashir how sharing his bed with a child is the most loving thing in the world. But This Is It presents Jackson as an earthly creature—a smart, driven working artist using a palette of talents he's been honing to otherworldly perfection since childhood. Judging by postmortem toxicology reports, Jackson was likely doped to high heaven during the entirety of This Is It, and is it really that surprising that the world's most extraordinarily accomplished pop star would prove to be an impressively high-functioning junkie? Whether he was plying his trade in the midst of child abuse at the hands of his father or drug abuse at the hands of various Drs. Feelgood, Jackson was a fucking pro, and, ironically but not morbidly, This Is It finds him more alive than he's been in years. (It's also obstinately sloppy and too long by half.)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29 Nothing happened today, unless you count the first of three screenings of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho at Benaroya Hall, with Bernard Hermann's soundtrack performed live by the Seattle Symphony. Last Days had the good fortune to attend tonight's performance and was very happy to learn that in 2009, Pyscho plays like a David Lynch–y comic shocker (the wig drew laughs, the knife drew screams) and movie soundtracks performed live by symphonies are ridiculously exciting. Congratulations and thanks to the Seattle Symphony, which should please do Vertigo next.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30 Nothing happened today (unless you count another Psycho-plus-symphony screening).
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31 We continue with the week's second crime so horrific it makes the death penalty seem reasonable, which transpired tonight in Seattle's Central District, where a Seattle police officer and police trainee were sitting in their parked patrol car when another vehicle pulled up and at least one passenger started shooting. Killed at the scene: Officer Timothy Brenton, a 39-year-old father of two and a nine-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. Nonfatally wounded: 33-year-old trainee Britt Sweeney, whose back was grazed by a bullet.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1 The week ends with the first of many days devoted to freaking out over the events of last night, in which a police officer was murdered in cold blood, apparently for no other reason than the fact that he was a police officer. To paraphrase Chris Rock, Last Days does not approve of state-sanctioned executions... but should whoever did this earn the ultimate penalty, we'll understand.
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