Al Franken's Sense

Fresh Air!

Geov Parrish's article made me smile ["Al Franken's Sense," May 4]. Geov is a straight-shootin' truth-teller, armed with facts and spicing it up with funny, and he cares about us average folks. This is what I read in your paper and what I hear when I listen to Al Franken and the Air America crew.

There is a strong hunger in our society for truth, not lies; empathy, not apathy; and a good laugh. Thanks to Seattle Weekly and Air America for feeding my brain and touching my heart and keeping the sense of community alive. Ahhh! So refreshing!

Roxie Phinn


Limbaugh's Right

In Geov Parrish's story "Al Franken's Sense" [May 4], Parrish asks Franken, "What do you think the differences are between you and [Rush] Limbaugh?" There follows a passage in which Limbaugh is quoted as saying, "Seventy-five percent of all Americans on the minimum wage . . . are teenagers on their first job." Franken then attempts to refute that claim, citing figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He states, "Sixty percent of Americans on minimum wage are 20 and above . . . so you figure, what, 13 percent might be teenagers in their first job." Lesson: Limbaugh lies; Franken is a reality-based truthsayer.

In fact, if readers peruse the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site for 2004 reports, the report finds that "Minimum wage workers tend to be young. About half of all hourly-paid workers earning $5.15 or less were under age 25, and about one-fourth were age 16–19. Among teenagers, about 9 percent earned $5.15 or less. About 2 percent of workers age 25 and over earned the minimum wage or less. Among those age 65 and over, the proportion was 4 percent." Finally, according to the report, "The proportion of hourly-paid workers earning the prevailing Federal minimum wage or less has trended downward since 1979."

While we can certainly hold Limbaugh accountable by insisting his use of the word "teenager" means anyone between the ages of 13 and 19, conservative commentators are closer to the truth than their liberal counterparts when asserting that minimum wage earners tend to be young, new entrants into the workforce. Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed tropes of seniors flipping burgers may be popular fare for listeners of Al Franken, but the figures simply don't support the image.

Jonathan Dowd Gailey


Duped by Deli?

After reading Neal Schindler's divine inspiration/review of Goldbergs' Famous Delicatessen ["The Deli Decalogue," May 4], I braved the wilds of evening 405 traffic (from Monroe) to coordinate a family fix of traditional deli dinner that has been lacking in our Northwest diet. Sadly, things were out of sync in many areas of their operations (opening jitters?) and in their food prep and service. It might be wise for Schindler to revisit and see if he experiences the many faults I did. Here are just a few:

Our server was short-circuiting—there was a long wait to get a menu, silverware, water, etc. Kishka and knishes were not available, sigh, so we settled for latkes (they were so overcooked that they were just a crusty dark-brown shell). The Swankee Frankee was dried out and served with cold fries. The cheese blintzes were barely warm and showed signs of originally having been baked too long. The coleslaw was more sauce than slaw. There were no pickles with the Frankee or the Reuben.

Overall, I think Schindler was duped in the opening gala and the Goldbergs are spending too much time schmoozing rather than observing what is going wrong with the food and service. I had high hopes based on the review, but I saw signs of similar issues among some of the other tables. Hopefully, they will get it down, but one would think that since they had the past experience with Stage & Co deli, it could have been be a smoother opening.

Norm Shatz


Food Editor Roger Downey replies: The ongoing saga of Goldbergs' Famous Delicatessen's attempts to get up and running are being chronicled on (search for "Deli Decalogue").

No Zapping Zappa

In Peter Spencer's review of Zappa: A Biography [This Week's Reads, May 4], he makes some pretty ignorant comments about Frank Zappa and his music. Granted, Frank was in some ways a real asshole, but he made a tremendous body of music and did it entirely on his own terms. Considering the nature of the music business, one cannot accomplish so much without being a bit of a prick.

Regarding his "callous treatment" of the members of the original Mothers of Invention, Frank dumped them in favor of working with more competent professional musicians and, in the process, discovered many new talents. These musicians have consistently expressed how working with Frank expanded them as musicians and, through being a disciplinarian, how Frank helped them develop the necessary professionalism to succeed in the music business. Really, how many of the original Mothers (with the exception of Don Preston and Roy Estrada) went on to do anything significant in music after the Mothers?

But what really compelled me to write was Spencer's comment: "What his fans of the '60s and '70s remember . . . are the dirty words. Zappa's lyrics went beyond offensiveness, misogyny, and cynicism into the realm of genuine cruelty, a lack of humanity that soured his music."

What a load of condescending dreck! Frank's lyrics stood against the dysfunctional sentimentality and hypocrisy that pervade our society both on the left and the right. He was way ahead of punk in this regard. In his sex songs, he was only mimicking what he saw in America's neurotic sexual mores. I hate to burst Spencer's sensitive li'l bubble, but satire is rarely kind, and the content of Frank's words were informed by the bullshit he saw around him. Frank's music was a sardonic, witty alternative to all of the contrived pop pabulum "Oh, I am nothing but navel lint without you" nonsense that continues to infest pop music. Spencer should stick to reviewing bios about Dashboard Confessional and Morrissey instead of making an ass out of himself.

I don't think I will read Barry Miles' book; it sounds more like icon bashing than actual biographical content based on the review.

Michael Tolver


Wimpy Crusaders

I couldn't agree with Tim Appelo's review of Kingdom of Heaven more ["The Fair and Balanced Crusade," May 4]. And it pains me to say that. First, the very nature of the Crusades was controversial. A powder keg. No PC here, nuh-huh. So I was intrigued about how it would all play out. How would Pope Innocent be depicted? What were the underlying motivations driving the Crusaders? What falsehoods were perpetuated by the different sides' leaders?

I guess there just wasn't enough treachery for me. Appelo's right that the battles and the period garb were almost worth the price of admission. I just think Ridley Scott picked the wrong movie to try not to hurt anyone's feelings over. It's noble of him to attempt, but ultimately, it's the movie that suffers. Honestly, you can get more juicy dirt on the Crusades at your local library.

Lee Kershaw


Fair and Balanced History

Tim Appelo has to be intellectually vacant with his criticism of Kingdom of Heaven ["The Fair and Balanced Crusade," May 4]. I loved it. This movie gives the audience a brief glimpse into a pivotal time in history that is still ongoing today: the struggle between Muslim , Christian, and Jew. I believe that the more one understands about the past, the better one understands the present and future.

Appelo's review tells me that he must not have any belief of substance. He must be an empty shell who unfortunately has the ability to write.

Paul A. Poissenot

Metairie, LA

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