MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19 Ninety-two-year- old painter Balthasar Klossowski, known to the world as Balthus, started out the week by dying, UPI reported today. The reclusive Polish French artist, best known for his chilly, enigmatic paintings of pubescent girls flashing hairless pudenda in shockingly provocative poses, cagily insisted to his death that there was nothing erotic in his work. "My little model is absolutely untouchable to me," he stated in an interview in 1996. "I've never made anything pornographic." Anyone who ever saw his lurid painting The Guitar Lesson understands why this staggering talent (and consummate dissembler) will be missed by art lovers and pedophiles alike.

··Also today: Reuters reported that Tyson Foods Inc. will recall 1,150 tons of cooked chicken that may have been under-processed and could cause food-borne illnesses. The offending bird bodies were manufactured between December 19, 2000 and February 16, 2001 at Tyson's Chick-N-Quick plant in Rogers, Arkansas, and can be identified by the number "P7221" on the packaging. Despite the very serious possibility that these products might contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, Last Days can't stop wondering what 1,150 tons of chicken would look like. Could a person climb to the top of it? Or would it be too slippery? Wow, we're getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20 Today Reuters helped us segue seamlessly from a lot of chicken to "Chicken Little, the sky is falling!" by announcing the release of the United Nations' 1,000-page report on global warming. Drafted by 3,000 experts in dozens of countries who have been studying the problem for 10 years, the new report gave irrefutable evidence that the use of fossil fuels, the effects of industrial pollution, and the destruction of forests and wetlands will lead inevitably to lethal consequences. We can look forward to the polar icecaps melting, countless species of animals, birds, and plants dying out, farmland turning to desert, and small island states sinking dramatically beneath the sea as the human species rushes to meet the trilobite and the triceratops in the great beyond.

··Also today: Reuters reported that Robert Philip Hanssen, the FBI counter-intelligence expert charged with selling secrets to Moscow, had access to some of the "most sensitive and highly classified information" in the U.S. government, according to FBI director Louis Freeh. Fifty-six-year-old Hanssen, whose entire life appears to have been lifted straight from a dog-eared John Le Carré novel, was alleged to have been paid $1.4 million in cash and diamonds by the Russians for his double-agent services. As a bloody bonus, Hanssen could face a possible death sentence.

Today the absolute irrelevance of the Grammy Awards was made crushingly apparent as Steely Dan, not Eminem, won Album of the Year at tonight's Grammy ceremony. All 16 of the fans who purchased and listened to Two Against Nature, the jazz-rock duo's first album in 20 years, are doubtlessly overjoyed.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22 One person was killed and more than 115 were hurt today in a Virginia highway pileup involving 116 cars and trucks, reports Reuters. We assure you that is not a typographical error. One hundred and sixteen vehicles collided in a blinding snowstorm, creating a pileup that stretched for several miles. "Our interstate highway system is all clogged up. We're handling about 500 million accidents," said Maryland State Police Lt. Bud Frank. Five hundred million accidents in Maryland? Enough is enough. Last Days is afraid that Lt. Bud Frank might have gotten a little flustered and started making shit up.

··Also today: Hot Tipper Gary e-mailed us this disturbing report. "At the corner of Second and Pike, I saw an elderly man 'unburdening' a Stranger box of all of the copies of this week's paper. When I asked if I could take a copy, he pointed to the cover art (Bride Undone by Amy Died) and muttered, 'Filthiness.' Then I stepped backed and watched as he gathered up the entire stack of Strangers (quite a feat for an old guy), hobbled across the street, and deposited them in a dumpster." Last Days is appalled at this blatant disregard for the importance of placing blasphemous issues of The Stranger in the recycling bin, not the trash dumpster. Thanks for the tip, Gary!

··Also today: We bombed Iraq.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23 To be frank, events unfolding in the media this week have filled us with an unprecedented mixture of dread and boredom. But instead of marching onward, trumpeting the foul facts about Gulf War II, the Sequel, or regurgitating the mainstream media's unhealthy obsession with everything (and nothing) related to the non-news of Clinton's last-minute pardons, we have chosen to turn our white-hot lamplight of insight outward--to the people. Perhaps this collection of dialogue (heard this week at bus stops, bars, and bathhouses) will help us understand ourselves and our neighbors (and therefore, the world!) more clearly. At the very least, it's better than reading about Dubya.

Overheard: A twentysomething guy wearing polar fleece and New Balance sneakers in Rain City Video said, "I don't want to see the comet movie. I want to see the new comet movie."

Overheard: A fat, red-faced man sporting a cheap suit and blow-dried hair at Tini Bigs cocktail bar expounded, "We had this 19-year-old intern who was pregnant, and she never got all bloated and disgusting like some women. She never went 15 pounds over her peak weight, and when it got cold, lemme tell ya, her nipples could cut glass."

Overheard: A teenage girl all dressed up on a Metro bus said, "Wanna hear sumpin' hella cool? My aunt said she's going to get me a tattoo for my birthday." A second girl seemed thoughtful for a moment and then responded, "Awww... tha's cool. But I think you oughta ask for a cell phone instead."

Overheard: A very small girl in a 99-cent store ran up to her mother clutching a colorful tchotchke and blurted, "I think I found what I like that you might let me have."

Overheard: A local stage actor confided to a woman sitting next to him in a booth at the Canterbury, "I know what I want now. I want a little pug dog that wanders around the house all day long talking like Billie Holiday."

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25 Overheard: A chimney repairman climbing a ladder onto a roof muttered, "I'm giving up all this bullshit and becoming a greeter at Wal-Mart."

Overheard: A bartender at a Ballard bar tilted his head toward a table of unruly, drunken yuppies and muttered, "I'd like to buy those guys a round of water."

Overheard: A handsome shoe salesman at Nordstrom whispered, "We had to take down the thigh-high platforms because every single day some housewife or grandma would try them on and fall over--usually taking the whole display with them. It was sad, really."

Overheard: A middle-aged woman walking down the street hissed to her friend, "He had the sex organs of a Sears mannequin."

Last Days hopes that you found this public airing of private thoughts as enlightening and entertaining as we did. We promise to return you to our regularly scheduled program of global devastation and entrenched political corruption next week. Until then, remember: If you can't say something nice about somebody, at least have the brains God gave an opossum and lower the volume, will ya?

Send your flaming Hot Tips to lastdays@ or phone the 24-hour Hot Tips hotline at 323-7101 ext. 3113.