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Slog PM: U.S. COVID Death Toll Surpasses 600,000; King County Is 70% Vaxxed; Senate Approves Bill to Make Juneteenth a National Holiday

A community COVID-19 memorial at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
A community COVID-19 memorial at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Spencer Platt/ Getty
The U.S. hits 600,000 dead from coronavirus, more than any other country in the world: After more than 15 months since the first recorded COVID death, we've lost 600,000 souls to the virus. Since the widespread availability of the vaccine, our country's virus death toll has slowed dramatically, as have reports of new infections. Worldwide, the COVID death toll stands at 3.8 million. We will be sorting through this trauma for decades to come.

And here in King County: YahOOOooOoOo motherFUCKERS!!!! 70% of county residents age 16 and up are fully vaccinated—nice! Meaning in two weeks, King County's mask mandate will be rescinded. Here's a snippet of what Dr. Jeff Duchin had to say about the milestone courtesy David Gutman at the Seattle Times:

“Two weeks from today my local mask mandate will no longer apply and everyone will be following the CDC and Washington state guidance,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County health officer said. “The vaccines have put us in a very good place, currently, compared to any other time in the pandemic. We have drastically reduced the numbers of deaths, hospitalizations, and the number of cases, and we can continue to do that to the extent that we continue to improve our vaccine coverage.”

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Seattle Band Mr. Dinkles on Burning Flags and Filming "Coochie"

Mr. Dinkles is a power punk duo from Seattle made up of Lanie Rettig and Gretchen Elliot. The two have no idea what they’re doing, so they linked up and started writing songs about it, notes their bio.
Mr. Dinkles is a power punk duo from Seattle made up of Lanie Rettig and Gretchen Elliot. "The two have no idea what they’re doing, so they linked up and started writing songs about it," notes their bio. Courtesy Mr. Dinkles

In the latest music video from Seattle power punk band Mr. Dinkles, the group ventures to downtown Seattle to perform their track "Coochie," traveling around the city with army helmets, a giant flag plastered with their Titled Self album cover, and a sex doll. The crew cruises the streets in a mini Mercedes, running around the 3rd and Pine McDonalds, Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall, and the city's light rail.

The video reflects the chaotic and infectious energy of the band, while lead singer Lanie Rettig’s powerful vocals boom over the track as she sings about being undermined and projected upon by an insecure man. Gretchen Elliot’s drums roar in the background. By the end of the video, they reclaim their confidence, standing with their flag up in flames, leaving audiences with the line: "I’m the best fucking human ever."

The duo met at School of Rock in Seattle and released their first album Self Titled in March 2020. They dropped their second album, Titled Self, shortly after. They say bands like Tacocat and Dead Kennedys influence their sound, and their Titled Self album is currently available on all platforms.

Seattle's Ra-Ra Rebel Zine had the pleasure of sitting down with these firestarters and chatting about their inspirations for this new record, bringing a sex doll on the light rail, and dealing with shitty men.

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Another Summer of Smoke Is Coming — Here’s How to Be Ready

Summer fun
Summer fun mack2happy / Getty Images

There’s a week of hot, dry weather headed our way. Not just our way, in fact, but to the entire west. Parts of the country are already struggling through a heatwave, and high temperatures are likely to arrive in Washington around Thursday. That doesn’t just mean lovely weather for a picnic; it also means prime conditions for major wildfires and a nice thick blanket of smoke descending over the city. (And into your lungs.)

Now that smoke and fire are a normal yearly feature of Washington summers, we’re all going to have to get better at preparing for them — preferably before the smoke arrives and you can’t get the supplies you need because all the idiots (non-Stranger readers) waited until the last minute and cleaned out the local hardware store’s shelves. (Side note: Here's what you should do once the air is actually bad.)

So, first things first: Do those DIY air filters, the ones where you buy a cheap box fan and attach a HEPA filter to it, actually work? Yyyyyyyeah, kind of, but there’s a lot of ways to screw them up. Here are four things you should be doing right now to make sure you’ll be ready in time, plus one bonus thing to be pissed about:

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New Savage Lovecast: This Proctologist Gets It

savagelovecast.jpg

Our opening "Sexcess" story should flood all you postpartum parents with optimism.

A married straight couple have an arrangement where she can go outside the relationship, and he remains monogamous to her. All good. But she wants to tell everyone about it, and he wants to keep it under wraps. Who wins?


On the Magnum, meet the elite proctologist and anal surgeon, Dr. Evan Goldstein of Bespoke Surgical. He and Dan talk about centering pleasure and beauty in proctology. We loved Dr. Goldstein, and so will you.

And, a bewildered father would like to recommend good, ethical porn to his 12 year-old son. Got any recs?

Listen here:


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Things Got a Little Heated in a Discussion About Safe Consumption Sites With Reagan Dunn's Challengers

The three candidates who aim to turn District 9 blue.
The three candidates who aim to turn District 9 blue. Courtesy of the Campaigns

In hindsight, it's not surprising that a question about safe or supervised consumption sites slightly derailed our Stranger Election Control Board endorsement meeting with the candidates running for the very suburban and rural King County Council District 9.

That district, currently represented by 16-year Republican incumbent Reagan Dunn, covers South Bellevue, Enumclaw, Kent, Renton, Newcastle, Maple Valley, Covington, and several unincorporated areas. In 2017, after the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommended that Seattle and King County open up facilities where drug users could use their drugs cleanly and safely, Kent, Renton, Bellevue, and some other suburbs enacted local bans against the still-hypothetical sites.

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Juneteenth 2021 Events in Seattle

Educator Delbert Richardson (pictured) will give a virtual talk on Saturday introducing his traveling exhibition The Unspoken Truths, which comes to the Museum of History & Industry June 18-21 with artifacts and storyboards highlighting the Jim Crow South and periods of chattel slavery in the U.S.
Educator Delbert Richardson (pictured) will give a virtual talk on Saturday introducing his traveling exhibition The Unspoken Truths, which comes to the Museum of History & Industry June 18-21 with artifacts and storyboards highlighting the Jim Crow South and periods of chattel slavery in the U.S. Courtesy MoHAI

Propelled in large part by last year's Black Lives Matter protests following the murders of George Floyd and other unarmed Black Americans killed by white police officers, the Washington Legislature finally passed a measure declaring Juneteenth (Sat June 19) an official state holiday, giving extra weight to the anniversary that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States in 1865 and the date when the last enslaved people received the news of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Read on for the virtual and in-person happenings, from the annual We Out Here festival to the Museum of History & Industry's pop-up exhibition The Unspoken Truths, and find more events on our complete Juneteenth calendar. 

MUSIC & PERFORMANCE
Blu Meadows Trio
Head to the backyard of the Central District Black arts space (which recently resumed its drop-in hours!) on Juneteenth for a live performance from Seattle-based "consciousness rock" trio Blu Meadows. Those over 21 can enjoy boozy beverages for purchase from Erudite & Stone. 
Wa Na Wari, Central District (Sat June 19)

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Itty Bitty Titty Committee Is Unstreamable

The 2000s were quite a time!
The 2000s were quite a time! Courtesy of Power Up Films

Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States.*

ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE
United States, 2007, 87 min, Dir. Jamie Babbit
Nice!
Nice! COURTESY OF POWER UP FILMS

Let me start this blurb by saying that I would've been locked into Itty Bitty Titty Committee from the jump if I had seen it as a 15-year-old. Girls kissing???? The mere existence of a terribly named radical feminist collective called "Clits In Action" (CIA)?? Staging political protests that are low-key just a bunch of adults pulling pranks on people in power???? A Jenny Shimizu appearance? Sorry, um, did I say GIRLS kissING????? Baby Jasmyne would have been all IN.

Unfortunately, back here in 2021...

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Why King County Needs Ranked-Choice Voting

1510946459-gettyimages-138711481.jpg
Hill Street Studios / GETTY

In our nation’s first elections, only 6% of the public—property-owning white men—were eligible to vote. Since then, one of the most inspiring features of our democracy has been every successive generations’ movement to expand the right to vote, moving us closer to a fair, just, and multiracial democracy that is of, for, and by the people. 

But just as we’ve recognized the need to expand who votes in our democracy, we also need to address how we vote. In the “either/or” electoral system we’ve inherited, voters are limited to just one choice, and, too often, candidates win despite a majority of voters choosing someone else.

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North Bend Film Festival Reveals an Impressive Hybrid 2021 Lineup

Ive been DYING to see Cryptozoo.
Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski's expressionistic animated feature film Cryptozoo is an affectionate tribute to Earth's most mysterious beasts. Courtesy of North Bend Film Festival
Something I miss from pre-pandemic times is going to film festivals. I love settling into a cool theater, laminated pass in pocket, watching movies before they get official distribution. It's a thrilling communal experience that's slowly coming back to life as we edge closer to a fitful "normal."

And with that, the North Bend Film Festival is back in action this summer with a hybrid approach to the year's festivities. From July 15-18, you can catch independent films, shorts, and programs hosted by NBFF either in-person at the art deco North Bend Theatre OR from the now overly familiar comfort of your computer screen (geo-blocked to Washington, Oregon, and Idaho). According to a press release, there will be very little title overlap between their virtual and in-person programs, encouraging people to DJ their own unique festival experience.

Many of the biggest features in the festival will be in-person, such as their opening and closing films: Todd Stephens's Swan Song starring Udo Kier and Carlson Young's debut The Blazing World. Excitingly, Dash Shaw's truly fantastic Cryptozoo, which Stranger editor Chase Burns wrote up during our coverage of Sundance, will screen IRL up at North Bend.

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Slog AM: Bezos Thinks You're Lazy, School Board Candidate Explains Why She Moved to Run, and SPD Voter Registration Issues Referred to County Prosecutor

This guy created a bunch of apps and chatbots to manage his employees and somehow youre the lazy one.
This guy created a bunch of apps and chatbots to manage his employees and somehow you're the lazy one. Phillip Faraone / GETTY

Bezos thinks you're lazy: And just to prove how NOT lazy he is, he built a company "heavily reliant on metrics, apps and chatbots" to manage people. That system "burned through workers, resulted in inadvertent firings and stalled benefits, and impeded communication, casting a shadow over a business success story for the ages," the New York Times reveals in a close look at an Amazon warehouse in New York during the pandemic.

The money shot: "Mr. Bezos believed that people were inherently lazy. 'What he would say is that our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need.'" How did that manifest as company policy? "Guaranteed wage increases stopped after three years, and Amazon provided incentives for low-skilled employees to leave." All because he expected peoples' interest in the job to naturally wane.

King County Elections refers two SPD voter registration issues to county prosecutor's office: According to a spokesperson, the elections department referred the matter to prosecutors after two cops who registered to vote at precincts failed to respond to two letters asking them "update their address" or else "possibly face a voter registration challenge." County prosecutors will now determine whether to file a voter registration challenge, a quasi-judicial hearing to determine the facts of the case and to then "make a decision on the voter registration."

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Elections Department Will Refer Two SPD Voter Registration Issues to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

No longer a crime scene.
A possible crime scene. DAVID RYDER/GETTY IMAGES

In an email, a spokesperson for King County Elections said the department referred two "voter registration challenge" cases to the prosecutor's office after two cops who registered to vote at precincts each failed to respond to two letters asking them "update their address" or else "possibly" face a challenge.

County prosecutors will determine whether to file the registration challenge, which is just an administrative hearing to determine the facts of the case and then "make a decision on the voter registration."

The two officers involved are John Girtch and Terry Dunn. Elections lists Dunn's registration status as "inactive," which means he doesn't get a ballot mailed to him. According to a July report from the South Seattle Emerald, which broke the story last summer, Girtch registered at the West precinct and Dunn registered at the North precinct.

Girtch & Dunn, maybe the worst Western ever.

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Slog PM: Edouardo Jordan's Staff Quits, Fentanyl Deaths Flood California, Batman Doesn't Give Head

Jordan briefed his staff that the Seattle Times article was coming, but did not tell them how severe the allegations were, the Times reports.
Jordan briefed his staff that the Seattle Times article was coming, but did not tell them how severe the allegations were, the Times reports. JONATHAN VANDERWEIT

Edouardo Jordan's staff quits: Following a Seattle Times report that detailed the JuneBaby's chef's history of sexual harassment, nearly all of the staff at his restaurants quit.

In the Seattle City Council briefing this morning, council members gave their condolences to Seattle Police Department officer Alexandra Brenneman Harris who died on Sunday after a car hit her on I-5. Harris, who was off-duty at the time, had stopped to help the Washington State Patrol deal with a three-car pileup. When she exited her car, a fourth vehicle struck her. Then, one of the drivers involved in the three-car collision stole Harris's car. Councilmember Andrew Lewis said he felt an "extreme sense of loss and grief at losing a public servant under such horrible circumstances."

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Who Will Save Us from Kathy Lambert?

Tell me without telling me youre running to unseat a Republican on the Eastside
Tell me without telling me you're running to unseat a Republican on the Eastside Courtesy of the Campaigns

The fact that Republican King County Councilmember (and children's book author) Kathy Lambert represents any group of people in any capacity at all is wild, but the fact that she represents King County District 3 is flatly ridiculous.

Her district—which represents Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah, and large swaths of unincorporated areas in the northeast—has been turning a bluer shade of purple over the years thanks to changing demographics and shifting suburban sensibilities.

In the 2020 presidential primary, more people here voted for Bernie Sanders than for Donald Trump. In the general, Joe Biden beat Trump by nearly 60,000 votes. Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman only won the district by 1,500 votes, and Tim Eyman's transit-killing initiative failed by over 3,000 votes.

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The Gita Robot Might Save Seattle's Unloved Sidewalks

Will the Gita robot finally bring SDOT love to our sidewalks?
Will the Gita robot finally bring SDOT's love to our sidewalks? Bellen Drake

To get a sense of how unloved our sidewalks are, we only need to visit the website that the Seattle Department of Transportation devotes to them.

Though sidewalks are the "building blocks of an effective pedestrian network," and though Seattle has 2,000 miles of them, SDOT admits that "many areas in the city do not have sidewalks at all."

In the first paragraph, we already have a sense of gloom and doom.

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Who's Responsible for Those Little Robots Rolling Down Seattle Sidewalks Lately?

Seattle chef Tarik Abdullah and a friend.
Seattle chef Tarik Abdullah and a friend. Piaggio Fast Forward

The Stranger would like to hereby extend our greetings and pledge obedience to our coming robot overlords. If you’ve been out and about lately in any of Seattle’s flatter neighborhoods, you might’ve seen brightly-colored two-wheeled robots tootling down the sidewalk like they own the place — and perhaps, someday, they will.

The robots are called "Gita" (with a soft G, so get ready for pronunciation fights reminiscent of the GIF wars), and Piaggio, the company that makes Vespa scooters, makes them. They’re basically simple cargo-bots, capable of lugging 45 pounds of stuff and then following a human companion — all for the reasonable price of $3,250.

Here at The Stranger offices we’re obsessed with these weird little things — keep your eyes out for a Mudede piece later this afternoon about the robots, as we’ve been puzzling over them together for the last week. One of our biggest head-scratchers: How is this three thousand dollars better than pushing a cart by hand?

“We’re doing something new for the first time so, I understand why people are unsure,” says Lisa Bagaco-Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer of Piaggio’s Fast Forward division.

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