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Seattle's #1 Weekly Newspaper. Covering Seattle news, politics, music, film, and arts; plus movie times, club calendars, restaurant listings, forums, blogs, and Savage Love.

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    by Dave Wheeler

    sober.jpg
    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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    by Charles Mudede

    GettyImages-522785736_Cars.jpg
    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."

    Lynn Thompson writes:

    The Issaquah High School student clocked doing 102 mph on Interstate 90 in December told the state trooper who pulled him over that he was trying to reach a friend stranded at Snoqualmie Pass.

    Rather than pay a hefty fine and get the speeding citation on his driver’s record, the student elected to have his case heard in Issaquah Student Traffic Court in March. A jury of his peers — fellow high-school students — sentenced him to 36 hours of community service to be performed at a local nonprofit.

    If he completes it, the case will be dismissed. The speeding ticket won’t go on his driving record and so likely won’t be reported to his insurance company. And he won’t have to pay a fine.


    Thompson also mentions a case that was sent down to kids court, despite the fact the young man was caught driving 61 mph over the speed limit, driving without a driver's license and a learner's permit, and driving without any kind of instruction. More amazing still, the rationale for youth courts is that young people just do not listen to adults, they listen to their peers. But here is ideology doing its thing so perfectly. It makes driving 4000 pounds of industrial-grade materials at a speed that could wipe out a whole family the same as a teen coming home late or some such transgression.

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    by Sydney Brownstone

    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.

    Just Want Privacy campaign chairman Joseph Backholm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The letter sent to the Secretary of State claims that Just Want Privacy petitions use ballot title language different from the language approved in court. For example, instead of restricting transgender students' access to "some facilities" based on "sex at birth," the letter claims Just Want Privacy used "specific facilities" on its petitions.

    The letter also highlights the state law requiring initiative petitions to include the full text of the proposed initiative be included on the back of the petition sheets.

    "In light of the constitutional requirement that petition sheets must include the full text of a measure, we would expect the Secretary of State would reject any petitions that include the errors noted above in Sections 4(1)(c) and 4(1)(d) of the measure, or which otherwise fail to include the full text of I-1552," the letter reads.

    But one other thrust of the letter's argument deals with behavior that hasn't allegedly crossed the line of legality. In the letter, the trans rights groups say that Just Want Privacy has presented its argument as advocating for "Safe Spaces for Women and Children" and that it's claimed I-1552 would reject an "open-bathroom rule" from the state Human Rights Commission.

    "None of those assertions are true," the letter reads. "There is no so-called 'open-bathroom' rule in Washington, nor are businesses or schools prohibited under existing laws and rules from maintaining 'gender specific facilities.' As the ballot title itself correctly reflects, I-1552 seeks to 'override state/local protections against gender-identity discrimination in certain public-accommodation facilities.' Those anti-discrimination protections allow transgender people to use bathrooms and other facilities that are consistent with their gender identity."

    A fake human rights commission flier found at the Mariners stadium.
    A fake human rights commission flier found at the Mariners stadium.Washington State Human Rights Commission

    The letter notes that the state Human Rights Commission also found copies of a false commission advisory that was distributed at a Mariners game. The flier claims that "all public restrooms and locker rooms must be mixed gender" and that "anyone made uncomfortable by the gender of another person in a restroom or locker room must leave the room." Backholm, of Just Want Privacy, did not respond to a request for comment on whether his group had anything to do with these fliers.

    Washington Won't Discriminate has also accused a Just Want Privacy signature gatherer of harassing a woman last month and has criticized Just Want Privacy for using children as signature gatherers.

    Last week, Just Want Privacy reported that it received a $50,000 donation from an anonymous donor. The campaign document on the $50,000 is expected to be filed by Monday at the latest. Other than that contribution, the group's largest donors to date are the Cedar Park Assembly of God Church, which has contributed $36,000 to the ballot initiative, former Mariners player John Olerud and his wife Kelly ($50,000), and the anti-marriage equality Family Policy Institute of Washington ($10,000).

    Just Want Privacy has until July 7 to gather 260,000 signatures it needs to put I-1552 on the ballot.

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    by Julia Raban

    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.

    She falters slightly in her portrayal of a homeless man, which comes across as less polished and nuanced than her other personas. (It’s also her only male role.) But generally her performances are impressive, and she manages to retain a mixture of intellectual curiosity and close-minded certainty (the driving forces behind people who think they’ve figured out what truth is) throughout more than a dozen unique characters.

    Wading through the references is fun, but even those unfamiliar with the quoted works will appreciate the thoughtful script that seems to recognize its own absurdity and pretentiousness. It’s hard to tell exactly how tongue-in-cheek this movie is, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter: it works. Some people will walk out of the theater invigorated, clinging to this version of the world in which every one of us is full of art, fury, and self-righteousness. And hopefully everyone will enjoy the deeply funny Dadaist nonsense sprinkled throughout.

    Manifesto opens today at SIFF Film Center. For more information, see Movie Times.

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    by Tess Riski

    Charleena Lyles
    Charleena LylesCourtesy 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.

    The petition reads, “We, the undersigned, have no confidence that an internal police investigation will find justice for Charleena.” It demands the mayor and Seattle City Council appoint an independent, community-based committee with “full access to case evidence, witnesses, and department policies.”

    The petition seeks to challenge the investigative process of officer involved shootings, which rarely lead to a conviction of the officer.

    According to a 2016 study conducted by police accountability organization called Campaign Zero, “of at least 4,024 people killed by police since 2013, only 85 of these cases have led to an officer being charged with a crime. Only 6 cases have led to convictions – fewer than 0.2% of known police killings.”

    Sawant didn’t respond to inquiries about the petition, which doesn’t address how many signatures are needed, the intended goal of the petition or its deadline.

    SPD’s investigation into the killing of Charleena Lyles has already begun. Following an officer involved shooting in Seattle, the SPD Force Investigative Team (FIT) begins analyzing the incident and looking for officer noncompliance with SPD policies, such as biased policing, use-of-force and de-escalation polices.

    This initial investigation can take approximately 60-90 days, depending on the complexity of the case. After that, FIT’s findings are passed to the Force Review Board (FRB) which then determines if there was officer misconduct. (A spokesperson was unable to specify the amount of time the decision sits in front of the board.)

    If the board determines that there was officer misconduct, they then pass the investigation onto the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). According to OPA administrative specialist Beverly Kikuta, OPA is an independent office within SPD, and its director, deputy director and auditor are all civilians.

    If OPA determines the complaint is sustained, they then launch a 180-day investigation.

    “It takes kind of a while and there are extensions that can always be granted,” Kikuta said.

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    The good, the bad, the queer AF. by Anonymous

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

    Hey ya’ll, how[’s] [was] PRIDE?

    Want to tell us about it?

    Now is your CHANCE to give us the dirt on all your Pride fun in the summer sun—the missed connections or sexual escapades with attractive strangers, the fabulous drag shows, the terrible heat and/or traffic, the annoying straight people, the Grindr adventures, how you danced until dawn (or even how you fell asleep watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and missed all the action). Or anything that’s on your mind, really!

    Email your stories/rants/raves to:

    ianonymous@thestranger.com

    And remember, it is always and forever COMPLETELY anonymous…so your red state relatives will never know what you’ve been up to!

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    by Erik Henriksen

    hero.jpg

    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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    by Charles Mudede

    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

    The-Color-Purple.jpg
    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).

    I will even go as far as to say that Steven Spielberg.'s adaptation is actually better than the book—which lacks the blues, the slow poetry, the pastoral beauty of the film. I will even go as far as to say that The Color Purple is (in terms of a work of art) Spielberg's best film. Banks' line of attack exposed her ignorance (and, according to The Root, privilege).


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    by Rich Smith

    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."

    Principled stance? Hardly. He's like every other Republican in his disdain for covering more children, more elderly, and more working poor.

    He's just scared he'll lose his seat in '18, a fate that former Trump campaign lackeys are hastening to secure. Per Politico, a pro-Trump group called America First Policies plans to slam Senator Heller with a series of attack ads for his offense to their king as early as Monday. This bit of reportage from that piece sent a shiver up my spine.

    "You do not want to mess with Donald Trump’s base in a primary, particularly in a place like Nevada,” said one America First official. “This kind of money in Nevada is real. … This is a beginning.”

    To explain this strategy, I turn to a representative from Saruman's army:

    But don't get too excited: Heller's opposition is meaningless unless he is joined by two other Republicans. The four hyper-conservatives who came out against the bill yesterday are decoys. But there are three Republican Senators who seem at least a little hesitant: Alaska's Linda Murkowski, West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, and Maine's Susan Collins. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is up for reelection in 2018, too, but right now he seems more worried about Johnny Depp than he does about his position on a bill that regulates 1/6 of the U.S. economy.

    If only Flake and Heller come out against the bill before the vote, which may happen next Thursday, the four ultra-conservatives will probably sign on and the bill will pass with a tie-breaker from Pence. But if Murkowski or Collins or Capito also comes out against the bill in the coming days, that would be...interesting. It would indicate that Mitch McConnell's grip on the so-called "moderates" is looser than it appears, and/or that he just really doesn't care if this bill lives or dies, as some have speculated.

    Anyhow, if you've got friends in those states, direct them to TrumpCareTen.org, where they will find plenty of tools to put what few screws they have to their Senators.

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    by Anthony Derrick

    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.

    After a series of unfortunate, vodka-fueled mishaps, Casey, who has never dressed as a woman before, is stuck covering for Rexy. We are treated to a Rocky-style montage where the newly christened Georgia McBride gradually learns to dance in heels, lip-synch to Edith Piaf, and even throw shade. Just like a real drag queen.

    There’s some drama along the way in this play written by Matthew Lopez—Casey lies to his pregnant wife about where his substantial paychecks are suddenly coming from, and it predictably comes back to get him later—but it mostly takes a backseat to a string of musical performances and an increasingly fabulous series of dresses, designed by Pete Rush. That one on the right in the image above began as an Elvis outfit.

    I kept waiting for The Legend of Georgia McBride to ask its big, central question. As a play about a straight man abandoning his career as an Elvis impersonator in a small backwater bar on the Florida coast and finding success as a drag queen, it would surely have something big to say about identity politics—right? But it never really dwells on any of that.

    Instead, it's a show about entertainment, and even though it stays light, the cast all turn in wonderful performances, expertly paced and staged by director David Bennett. Standley strikes quite the figure in drag as Georgia McBride, and Piggee turns even everyday dialogue into genuinely funny lines.

    Late in the show it does hit on a poignant truth: Drag can be a powerful escapist experience that allows you to reinvent yourself on stage. To put on your rhinestone armor, and become someone braver and bolder and capable of doing things you never thought you could do.

    The Legend of Georgia McBride flirts with a few underlying questions—who gets to be a part of the drag community? Is drag something you do, or something you are?—but ultimately, it’s less interested in exploring those questions than it is joking about shoe size, tucking, and nailing that Lady Gaga dance number.

    And that’s just fine.

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    by Sydney Brownstone

    Charleena Lyles
    Charleena LylesCourtesy 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.

    "[Police report] notes indicate this was an investigation where she is the victim of domestic violence," Kumar told the judge. "The response here is she calls for help and she gets arrested. That sounds like a big problem."

    Kumar specifically took issue with police "pulling their guns" on Lyles during the domestic violence call. He added that Lyles may have been experiencing a mental health crisis at the time. 

    "Perhaps we'd be seeing different allegations if there had been a domestic violence investigation into whoever was there and who had been called about, rather than just focusing on pulling their guns on Ms. Lyles who is evidently alleged to have been in crisis at the time," Kumar said. "That doesn't seem like a healthy response at all for someone who calls for help."

    While the incident on June 5 bears some similarities to Lyles' encounter with police two weeks later, they had wholly different results. In the police call earlier this month, an officer says he convinced Lyles to drop a pair of shears before arresting her. This Sunday, a police call to Lyles' home ended in her death.

    "In our society, we are often too quick to use firearms to address our issues and that includes police officers. Ultimately, what you see is the perpetuation of an archaic system of policing, when guns are what we resort to," said James Bible, an attorney representing Lyles' family, after reviewing excerpts from a transcription of the hearing. He also took note of he took note of comments from the judges saying the incident raised mental health issues and also the concerns from the defense attorney about "pulling out guns on someone who is mentally ill."

    A spokesman for the Seattle Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.

    The police report of Lyles' June 5 arrest states that she allegedly threatened two police officers with “a pair of extra-long metal shears” while they responded to a domestic violence call she made at her home. The report, written by responding officer Davidson Lim, says both officers were "eight to ten" feet away from Lyles, who was sitting on a couch, and had their weapons drawn to the “low ready position” when he arrived. The suspect, allegedly a former partner of Lyles, according to her lawyer, had already fled. Lyles allegedly told the two officers that they would not be able to leave the room.

    At one point, her 4-year-old daughter climbed into her lap. During this time, Lyles allegedly made statements about turning into a wolf and cloning her daughter. Lim says he eventually convinced Lyles to drop the shears and called her family, who later arrived. He arrested her and took her to the King County jail.

    “After talking with Lyles' family, we learned that Lyles has experienced a recent sudden and rapid decline in her mental health,” Lim wrote. “When we explained to her family the behavior and statements Lyles made to us, they were surprised and informed us she has not had any behavior similar to this in the past.”

    At the bail hearing, Kumar asked the judge to release Lyles and divert her case to mental health court. Even though the judge agreed that the incident resembled a mental health crisis, she also said she had concerns about community safety and the presence of Lyles' 4-year-old child during the incident.

    Kumar responded by saying that Lyles had just been allegedly assaulted, and was likely trying to protect herself and her family. "And officers respond with force by pulling out their guns," Kumar continued. "If that's immediately following allegations of having just been assaulted, I think that's..."

    "And she refused to put down the shears when they were there and told them they weren't getting out alive," the judge interrupted.

    Lyles' defense attorney also pointed out that if she didn't receive bail, she wouldn't be able to pursue mental health treatment and would be at risk of losing her kids to Child Protective Services. The judge set bail at $7,500, finding that she likely to commit a violent crime based on the behavior exhibited in the police report. She also cited past fourth-degree assault cases.

    Kumar did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Stranger.

    Lyles’ encounter with police on June 5 triggered an “officer caution” flag when officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson responded to a burglary call at her home two weeks later. Typically, one officer responds to burglary calls, but the flag called for two officers to the scene, police officials have said. In a dash cam audio from that afternoon, the two officers can be heard referencing the incident on June 5. “So this gal, she was the one making all these weird statements about how her and her daughter are gonna turn into wolves,” Officer Anderson said.

    The dashcam audio continues as the officers walk into Lyles' apartment. She says her Xbox went missing in a calm conversation with the two officers. Suddenly, things take a turn and Lyles can be heard saying, "Get ready, motherfuckers."

    Seconds before the fatal shots go off, McNew can be heard telling Anderson to tase Lyles. Anderson responds that he does not have a taser on him. McNew can also be heard calling for backup, saying that Lyles is brandishing two knives.

    Lyles’ family has questioned why police resorted to deadly force on Sunday, especially considering they had prior knowledge of the June 5 incident. Lyles’ sister, Monika Williams, has also criticized police officers’ response to her domestic violence allegations.

    “She was asking them for help, and she wasn’t giving them none,” Williams said during a vigil on the night of her death. “That’s why the mental breakdown came into play.”

    Officer McNew is a crisis intervention specialist. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy.

    UPDATE 6/24/2017, 1:10 p.m: A previous version of this article stated that the judge denied bail for Charleena Lyles. In fact, she set it at $7,500.

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    Undelete, watch a sick drag queen show, then re-delete on Monday. by Amber Cortes

    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.

    R Place regular Stacey Starstruck will be one of five queens performing for Drag Queens On-Demand tomorrow, along with Amora Dior Black, Lasaveona Hunt and RuPaul’s Drag Race queens Robbie Turner and Latrice Royale.

    “I know I've heard some backlash, a little bit, because of Uber and the current… political events,” she says. “However, I see absolutely none of that with what I am doing.”

    So far, Starstruck says, Uber has been “great to work with” and they “treat the people that they hire for events amazingly,” taking care of the queens with snacks during and after the four-hour performance, and paying “a very fair rate”– a full Pride price that’s double to triple the rate of what she would normally get paid for an evening at a regular venue.

    “What's going on, at the very top of the company doesn't always dictate what the people working under them are doing,” Starstruck says. “The current employees -like my driver, that people volunteering that are working, and then Corporate - some of the people who are putting this event on, they have a completely different point of view, then let's say like, the owners.”

    So, at least this weekend, you may want to undelete Uber, see a LIT drag performance from a talented local queen for a good cause, and then…delete it again when Monday comes around!

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    by Steven Hsieh

    1498249383-1498080767-062017_sayhername_march_for_charleena_lyles_cre.jpg
    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.

    McNew said he feared for his life before firing the fatal shots, adding that he felt like he did not have any alternative to using lethal force. Anderson said he also feared for McNew's life. Both officers also said they did not carry Tasers when the shooting happened.

    Anderson is a Taser-trained officer. He told interviewers that he had stopped carrying his Taser for a week and a half to two weeks because the battery had died. He hadn't contacted anyone about replacing the battery yet, he said, and had replaced the Taser with a baton and pepper spray—both "less lethal" options.

    Seattle Police Department policy requires that officers who are trained to carry Tasers must carry "less lethal tools," and that any officers trained to use a Taser must carry one as a less lethal option.

    In dash cam audio, McNew can be heard telling Anderson "tase her" seconds before the officers fired. Anderson responded that he didn't have one.

    Still, Anderson claimed, even if he had a Taser, he would not have used it. He claimed that the situation in Lyles' apartment amounted to a “lethal force encounter,” and that his training taught him to “rid of your Taser and go to your firearm” in such situations.

    Lyles' family has questioned why the officers did not use less lethal force in their encounter. A lawyer for Charleena Lyles’ family, James Bible, did not immediately respond to The Stranger’s request for comment.

    McNew’s testimony appears to corroborate parts of what happened in the minutes leading up to the shooting, as heard in previously-released dash cam audio of the encounter. The officers went into Lyles’ home to respond to a burglary call. She says that she is missing an Xbox. (According to the transcript, McNew said she also was missing a Playstation.)

    McNew described a calm conversation that took a turn when Lyles produced a knife. McNew said he couldn't remember what exactly he said after he saw the knife, but believed that he said “stop” several times. The officer continued to say he ducked behind a counter after determining that Lyles was carrying the knife overhand, appearing as if she was about to throw the weapon in his direction. "She draws her arm back and I’m thinking, shit, you know she’s about to throw this thing,” McNew said in the interview.

    McNew said he ducked, “expecting to feel this knife any second” before reemerging to see Lyles moving towards him. "I’m starting to think in my head, you know when she was on the other side, you know the question is, you know, do you run out?” McNew said. Ultimately, he told interviewers, he decided to stay out of concern for the children in the apartment.

    McNew said that Lyles moved to a position that he felt would block him from escaping the kitchen. "And at that point fearing for what was about to happen, what she would do to me um, being stuck in that spot, I fired my handgun,” he said.

    Officer Anderson, meanwhile, said that he felt like Lyles attempted to stab him. “I saw the knife coming and I sucked my body back and tried to kinda fold to avoid getting stabbed in the abdomen with the knife,” he said. He said he felt like there was no time to de-escalate the situation. “We verbalized her to get back and, um, but based on the, you know, the timing, how much time there was, there was a second or two is all," Anderson said.

    City council member Lorena González today announced that the council’s public safety committee will hold a public hearing over the shooting of Lyles on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the University of Washington's Kane Hall.

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    RuPaul's Drag Race ended on a high note... but did anyone watch? It's Pride! by Chase Burns

    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...

    SASHA VELOUR IS A GIFT

    Sasha Velour is one of the most spectacular winners in the herstory of RuPaul's Drag Race. So why did it take so long for the show's formula to show her off? Surely, if the show would have gone its normal route (sans lip sync finale), Shea would have won. Shea had the most challenge wins. Shea was beloved by the judges. Shea couldn't do wrong. But she didn't win. It's like RuPaul watched the American election go down and was like, "Oh honey, I'm gonna give them the biggest twist. They're gonna think Russia's sponsoring this show OH OH OH and I'm gonna make a half-hearted reference to Trump's ties to Russia AND make 'America' the theme for the season finale because THAT MAKES SENSE?"

    Sasha Velour didn't show off half her majesty this season and she won. At the very end, she was given a stage and an audience - a real audience, not a judging panel - and we were all left transformed. Truly, each of her lip syncs was among the best in all nine seasons of the show. I want to watch them over and over and over again. They are master classes in acting, drag, storytelling, gender... Ugh. But the show couldn't demonstrate Sasha's skills because the show is small and Sasha is big. Or rather, the world is small and Sasha is big. The world wants Sasha to wear a wig, and she comes bald. The world wants beauty, and she gives a unibrow. Sasha continuously showed us that in drag the highest beauty is not the illusion, but what inspires the illusion. It's not about the wig, but the imagination underneath.

    Other things: Kimora's dress is gorgeous. Charlie Hides can't stop reminding us that her name is Charlie. Eureka's an elephant? Oh shit, Cynthia looks good as fuck. All these looks are great. Oh, and Wintergreen is fucking back. Cool. See you next year.

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    by The Stranger

    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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