The Blabbermouth Podcast: Al Franken Discusses the Shift from SNL to the Senate, and Congressional Balancing Tactics

Senator Al Franken: Fighting the system one numbskull at a time.
Senator Al Franken: Fighting the system one numbskull at a time. COURTESY HACHETTE BOOK GROUP

Al Franken is on Blabbermouth this week, talking with Eli Sanders about his journey from Saturday Night Live to the US Senate. The Senator also shares the best tactics for getting a member of congress to do what you want (like, say, not repeal Obamacare) and answers both an urgent “millennial” question from Rich Smith and a future-focused, “barely-a-boomer” question from Dan Savage.

Also: Dan, Rich, and Eli talk about the sad defeat of Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District and what it means for Democratic strategery going forward.

Plus...

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RuPaul's Drag Race Recap: A Very Inspiring Finale During A Very Uninspiring Time

Note: I wrote this last night and then went out to party for Pride. I left it for morning to make sure it's not a belligerent rant. It's pretty much a belligerent rant, but I'm okay with it, so here goes...

It's over folks, and I have to be honest: I'm feeling uninspired writing this recap. RuPaul Andre Charles has given the show's small, smarmy group of recappers a unique challenge by presenting his finale during Pride weekend. Yes, season nine of RuPaul's Drag Race has come to a splashy end. It was stunning. But if you're a Seattleite reading this recap, you're probably doing so while scurrying between gigs, parties, or trade. As I type this from the Stranger's office, I'm watching half-naked hotties stretch on Cal Anderson Park's green turf as the Trans Pride March is just now kicking off. As Peppermint said tonight, "Trans women have always contributed to the wonderful art form of drag," but the trans women in front of me DGAF about this season's finale because there's a march happening, it's nice outside, and PRIDE COMMUNITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN RPDR.

I want to enjoy Sasha Velour's crowning achievement tonight but I can't help but be consumed by Charleena Lyles and healthcare and how most of the commenters on these recaps felt it was A-OK for the queens to appropriate Native American culture for cheap, shitty laughs. Commenters who said, "Drag was so much more compelling before the PC Nazi's took it over." (Yes, I have a liberal arts degree, but I'm not a PC Nazi. I too think people overuse the word "problematic." And no, I'm not over that whole Village People mess. The Pride flag debacle happened right after that episode, and my faith in the G of LBTQIA+ continued to wane.) I had one friend wonder "if I really hated RuPaul's politics" then why do I keep watching? And they're right: I like RuPaul. I like RuPaul's Drag Race. I come back to watch even when it's a shitshow because somehow RPDR has become synonymous with Pride. And the show will hold precedence in my life even when so many other things deserve my attention and activism. Fuck. So here I am, watching RPDR instead of marching with the Trans Pride March.

But you came here for a recap...

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Souvenir Stories from the Pride Picnic

An open air market in Morocco

Whether it’s fantastic or disastrous, travel tends to be memorable. So it’s no surprise that people have been bringing home objects to represent those memories for pretty much as long as humans have been going places. Sometimes it’s a hand-carved figurine that’ll always remind you of a particular local culture; sometimes it’s a shot glass with “TAHITI” printed on it so you can passive-aggressively remind your friends you got to go there and they didn’t. The range of things that can be souvenirs is wide and delightfully weird.

From my own life, one of my personal favorites is something I brought a friend from my honeymoon in Iceland. It’s a few-inch-high windup toy of…a hopping erect penis. It’s a really good windup toy, too—it hops proudly and energetically. I purchased it in the gift shop of the Iceland Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, which is exactly what it sounds like. (Full disclosure: This was not the only penis-related souvenir I brought back for someone from that trip. I might not be the best friend/daughter.)


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Officers Say They Feared for Safety Before Shooting Charleena Lyles, One Did Not Carry Taser Despite Department Policy

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Nate Gowdy

In a Friday evening news dump, the Seattle Police Department released transcripts of interviews with the police officers who fatally shot Charleena Lyles, revealing the officers’ version of events in a case that has raised questions about racial bias, use-of-force, and mental health training among local cops.

Two white Seattle police officers shot Lyles, a black mother of four, to death on Sunday in her Sand Point apartment. Officers Steven McNew, a crisis intervention specialist, and Jason Anderson have been placed on administrative leave, per department policy.

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Uber Proves Itself Not Completely Evil By Offering Free Drag Shows On-Demand For Pride

Drag Queens on-Demand Stacey Starstruck, Amora Dior Black, and Robbie Turner.
Drag Queens on-Demand Stacey Starstruck, Amora Dior Black, and Robbie Turner. Photo courtesy of Uber

This Saturday, Uber will be teaming up with Seattle Pride to offer Drag Queens on-Demand - if you’re in Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, or Downtown from 2 to 6 p.m. tomorrow, you can tap the “PRIDE” option and get an exclusive drag performance at the location of your choosing along with your ride.

Uber will also be donating $1 to Country Doctor Community Health Centers (CDCHC) each time someone posts the hashtag #INDIVISIBLE (the theme of Seattle’s Pride March) on social media this weekend.

This is undoubtedly, awesome. But wait! Isn’t Uber that ultra-evil company steeped in sexism, icky labor practices, and toxic masculinity that we’ve been writing about a lot lately? Well…yes. But.

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Charleena Lyles' Public Defender Raised Concerns About Police Treatment Two Weeks Before Officers Shot Her

Charleena Lyles
Charleena Lyles Courtesy of Family

Two weeks before two Seattle police officers fatally shot Charleena Lyles after she made a 911 call reporting an alleged burglary, a public defender criticized police in a Seattle courtroom for "pulling their guns" on Lyles during a domestic violence call she made on June 5, according to audio obtained from the hearing.

At a bail hearing for harassment and obstruction charges against Lyles, public defender Ashwin Kumar pointed out that the charges filed against Lyles resulted from a 911 call she made for help.

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The Legend of Georgia McBride Is the Play to See This Pride

It’s light and funny and it involves a straight guy (on the right) learning to do drag.
It’s light and funny and it involves a straight guy (on the right, played by Adam Standley) learning to do drag from a queen who's seen it all (Timothy McCuen Piggee, on the left). Chris Bennion

The Legend of Georgia McBride opens on Casey (Adam Standley) trying and failing to make it big as an Elvis impersonator, and struggling to provide for his wife Jo (Nastacia Guimont). We’re treated to a glimpse of their private lives, but as is often the case, things don’t really start getting interesting until the drag queens show up. Tracy Mills, played by Timothy McCuen Piggee in full face and drag, and Anorexia Nervosa, or Rexy for short (Charles Smith), come in to shake up the show at the club where Casey has been performing as Elvis, and end up costing Casey his gig.

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Don't Get Excited About Senator Dean Heller's Opposition to Trumpcare

This guy needs to multiply by three.
This guy needs to multiply by three. David Calvert / Getty

Nevada's Dean Heller, one of two vulnerable Republican Senators up for reelection in 2018, has announced his opposition "in this form" to Trumpcare. Holding up a copy of the bill, he backed up his tentative position by citing his reluctance to support a bill that "takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans."

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Spielberg Not Only Directed a Film With Black Female Leads, It's Also One of the Greatest Black American Films

Here are best films made about black American worlds, and in this order:

To Sleep With Anger - Charles Burnett

Devil In A Blue Dress - Carl Franklin

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Moonlight - Barry Jenkins

Do The Right Thing - Spike Lee

The Color Purple - Steven Spielberg

Daughters of the Dust - Julia Dash

Killer of Sheep - Charles Burnett

She's Got to Have It - Spike Lee

Eve's Bayou - Kasi Lemmons

Fences - Denzel Washington

As you can see, there is only one white director in this list. It's Steven Spielberg. Elizabeth Banks apparently has never heard of his film The Color Purple, otherwise she would not have made the statement that Spielberg had never made a film with a female lead. Indeed, not only does the film have females in starring roles, it launched the career of a black woman, Whoopi Goldberg; claimed the best performance of an American (and black) icon, Oprah Winfrey; and is based on a book by one of the three black women writers (Alice Walker) who revolutionized black American literature in the 1970s (the other two being Toni Cade Bambara and Toni Morrison).

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Sad Sam Elliott: Growing Old with The Hero

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This week's entry into the illustrious genre of Indie Movies About Sad Old Men, The Hero follows Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott), a 71-year-old movie star who's keenly aware that he's about 40 years past his prime. Pros: Lee gets to hang out all day getting stoned and watching Buster Keaton movies with his buddy/pot dealer (Nick Offerman). Cons: Aside from shilling for barbecue sauce, he's not getting much work, and he's got a nearly nonexistent relationship with his daughter (Krysten Ritter, at her Krysten Ritteriest). So, you know: pretty old, pretty sad.

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I, Anonymous: Give Us Your Pride Stories!

You know you want to.
You know you want to.

Hey ya’ll, how’s PRIDE?

Want to tell us about it?

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Kshama Sawant's Petition For a 'Community-Based' Investigation of the Charleena Lyles Shooting

Charleena Lyles
Charleena Lyles Courtesy of Family

Following the death of Charleena Lyles, the pregnant mother of four who was shot and killed by two Seattle police officers on Sunday, Councilmember Kshama Sawant created a petition yesterday seeking an independent, community-based investigation of the incident.

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Manifesto is Full of Entertaining Dadaist Nonsense, Self-Righteous Conviction, and Cate Blanchett's Transformations

Cate Blanchett plays more than 13 characters in Julian Rosefeldts Manifesto.
Cate Blanchett plays more than 13 characters in Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto.

While watching Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto, a film that began as a 13-screen art installation, the audience is lectured at and berated for an hour-and-a-half—but the result is surprisingly entertaining. Rosefeldt describes the script as a series of "text collages," each of which is made up of one or many artistic/political manifestos. The words of Marx and Engel are presented alongside filmmaking rules by Lars von Trier; the result is a passionate hodgepodge of art, politics, and philosophy that doesn’t make any narrative sense but instead serves as an ode to expression and conviction.

A major draw of this movie is watching and hearing how Cate Blanchett can transform herself. She plays more than 13 characters and when she appears on screen in a different role, she has a new voice and face, made even more dramatic by expert hair and makeup alterations.

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Trans Rights Activists, ACLU Ask Secretary of State to Investigate and Reject I-1552 Petitions

Seth Kirby, chair of trans rights group Washington Wont Discriminate, which is challenging Just Want Privacy petitions with the state.
Seth Kirby, chair of trans rights group Washington Won't Discriminate, which is challenging Just Want Privacy petitions with the state. Washington Won't Discriminate

Just Want Privacy, the group behind a proposed initiative that would repeal state human rights protections for transgender adults and students, has just two weeks to submit the petition signatures it needs to get I-1552 on the ballot. But trans rights and civil liberties activists fighting the initiative say Just Want Privacy's signature-gathering tactics have run afoul of the law and deserve a closer look.

Today, Washington Won't Discriminate (the trans rights group), Legal Voice, and the ACLU submitted a letter to Secretary of State Kim Wyman asking the state to investigate Just Want Privacy's practices. The groups contend that Just Want Privacy has incorrectly stated the court-approved ballot title and summary on two of its petitions, as well as omitted the full text of the measure on the back of the sheets. The groups have asked that Wyman reject petitions with those flaws, and the same letter alleges that anti-trans activists have used false and misleading tactics to get people to sign their names in the first place.

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Issaquah to Its Young Drivers: Excessive Speeding Is Something to Yawn About

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XXLPhoto/Getty

There are low-density ideologies and high-density ideologies. When the latter kind of ideology reaches a climax state, it generates its own problems and solutions. Private car ownership in the US is at the center of one of the densest ideologies history has ever known. And there is a good reason for this density, which is almost in a climax state: if car ideology were thin, then all of the absurdities of this mode of transportation would be too obvious.

American car ideology is reinforced by powerful private enterprises (advertising agencies, car manufactures, oil companies) but also by public institutions (transportation departments, and courts). An example of the former is found in this excellent Seattle Times' piece: "Issaquah student was doing 102 mph — and didn’t get a fine. Should fellow students be the judges?" The reporter, Lynn Thompson, explains that in Issuaquah and other parts of the Eastside, excessive speeding by young drivers is not considered a serious enough matter for adult courts. It's something that youth courts can deal with. If a young person is caught driving under the influence, then he/she will have to face a real judge. But if the young person is caught driving even 60 miles above the speed limit, that is a matter for the teens to judge and punish. And the punishments are considered to not even be a "slap on the wrist."

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My First Time Being Sober in a Gay Bar

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KREMWERK

I'm painfully early and alone. Cucci's Critter Barn at Kremwerk, 7 p.m., the invite said. I should have known drag queens wouldn't start until at least 8:30. The room is empty, but sultry crimson and lavender LEDs keep me company. The music is a presence, but I don't have to shout when ordering a tonic and lime at the bar. As if not to offend, I add "for now," and the bartender laughs. "I like that. You'll get to the liquor eventually," she says, and tells me no charge. For a moment I'm flustered and feel conspicuous. I find a seat in a corner and wait.

Sobriety came to me first as an exercise in financial restraint. I had been spending roughly $200 a month on alcohol—not an outlandish amount, but it adds up. There were other reasons to experiment with being dry, too, like physical and mental health, but when it came to telling friends, frugality seemed like the simplest rationale.

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