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Franken on Winning Ultimate Bracket: 'It's Secretly Gratifying'

The Minnesota senator was recently named St. Louis Park's most famous person by Patch readers.

Sure, he's been on "Saturday Night Live," written several best selling books and won a seat in the U.S. Senate.

But Al Franken is pretty doggone proud of being named in our "Ultimate Bracket."

"It's right up there," he said of the accomplishment. "It's like winning the recount all over again. It's vindication."

The funnyman was being sarcastic (he dryly noted that a celebrity is someone "famous for being well known"), but Franken wasn't kidding when he said St. Louis Park played a big role in where he is today.

"Absolutely (it did)," he said. "I grew up with great teachers. I value that kind of education."

Famously, Franken featured his fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Molin, in his first campaign commercial during the 2008 election. He said after that aired, he received a number of letters praising his teacher. The senator said this really left him with a profound respect for the job done by Mrs. Molin and other teachers he had growing up—teachers who didn't have to deal with the pressures of standardized testing, he added on a political note.

"They were just teaching, and we were really engaged," Franken said.

With that kind of school system, as well as a community that just generally encouraged creativity and expression, Franken said it's no surprise that St. Louis Park produced the likes of himself, Thomas Friedman and the Coen brothers.

"It's a pretty august group," he said. "It's secretly gratifying (to win).

"Well, I guess it's not a secret now that I told you."

In analyzing the rest of the "Ultimate Bracket" field, Franken said he caught a break when the Coen brothers were separated. But had a Coen film been released recently, he conceded that one of them might have taken him down (Franken beat Joel in the semifinals, then beat Ethan for the crown).

He said Norman Ornstein—a noted scholar at the American Enterprise Institute—was the biggest snub from our field. Though both grew up in St. Louis Park just a few years apart, Franken said they first met—and learned about their shared history—at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. The two have been friends since.

Despite a busy congressional schedule, Franken said he tries to get back to St. Louis Park when he can, occasionally stopping at the for a movie, or at for a game of bowling. Growing up, Franken said he and his father bowled at Texa-Tonka a lot, and when he was a bit older, he joined a team there (Franken said his average score during these teenage years was in the 150s, with a high around 200).

Now in his 60s, Franken said he looks back fondly at growing up at 7931 West 25th St.

"I remember having fun in school, and I remember having fun in my neighborhood," he said.

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strangedub April 10, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Nice.......very nice. You have the full interview recorded? If so, would be good to run the whole thing as an embedded audio file if possible.
George P. Burdell April 10, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Hmmmm. apparently Al does not remember going to a Private school ( Blake) I sure remember him... He was a jerk back then, but that could have partially been because of typical High School behavior ( I am several years younger than him)
Michael Rose April 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Unfortunately, I do not have audio. I have yet to figure out how to record a phone call on the iPhone. Do you know if there is a way to do that (perhaps via an app)? The only interviews I record are those I do in person, and then I use my phone's voice recorder app.
strangedub April 11, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I don't see where Al mentioned going to private OR public school. Not sure what your point is George.
George P. Burdell April 12, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Al was making the point that public schools helped make him who he is....( see below copied from article) ..however a Private school played a bigger part in his education.. With that kind of school system, as well as a community that just generally encouraged creativity and expression, Franken said it's no surprise that St. Louis Park produced the likes of himself

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