Friday, December 30, 2011

Missoula County Blames Shit on Occupy

Mea culpa: I should have been blogging this from the beginning, because now I am way behind.

It seemed after the Vietnam War ended, most people thought war had ended. Few realized war is necessary to keep our system going, and plans were already made to move military operations into the Mid-east. Today, few realize our nation has been bought by rich and powerful corporate interests, who don't care how many die in their wars, or starve, or suffer due to lack of medical treatment, as long as profits go up.

Most people don't know this, because corporations own the media. You already knew that, and I'm preaching to the choir. My question is: How do we wake more people up to reality?

It seemed around the world, people had resisted tyranny and fought for freedom, while this nation's citizens slept in front of their televisions. When OWS sprang up in New York, spreading quickly coast to coast, I was amazed and excited. A fervor against greed, war and empire fervor seemed to fill the air again, as it did in the 60s. Maybe we could stop the giant earth-raping machine we had become. We can always hope, right? Seems like I heard that somewhere.

While the hip realize Gil Scott-Heron was right about the revolution not being televised, many think it is now streaming live.

The initials of the occupy movement, and it's local rendition, Occupy Missoula, form an ancient, universal peace chant. Try it sometime. You might like it. OM

I am not camped on the courthouse lawn, because I think it would probably kill me. The people still camped on the lawn in, spite of increasing pressure from the county, are my heroes. I couldn't do it.
That is a Korean War issue army tent, purchased and raised by volunteers.

Personally, I think it looks good, better than empty lawn, which is a waste of space. Let's plant vegetables and flowers all over the place.

I swear if I hear one more time about the poor county employees who have had to pick up human feces from the Missoula County Courthouse lawn, since the Occupiers arrived, I shall scream. Houseless people and late night revelers leaving the bars finding no public bathrooms have been using that space for a toilet for years. When Occupy Missoula first marched from the fish sculpture to the courthouse, a team was formed to police the grounds. They removed human shit, toilet paper and other debris hidden by the bushes. With the assistance of local sponsors and donors, Occupy Missoula arranged for porta-potties to serve the encampment. The vandals who turned over those outhouses, stirred up a shit storm.

The porta-potties had to be returned. The county claimed their employees had to be vaccinated for protection from shit now on the lawn. The county claimed the cost of vaccinations was caused by Occupy. Haven't those employees been getting vaccinated, since there has been shit on that lawn for years? 

Pathogens is a buzzword the county has thrown to the media in an effort to raise fears about the Occupation's threat to health and welfare. How many noticed that a proud local health institution had a pond and plaza full of bird shit, with possible pathogens tracked into the cafeteria and on into the food preparation and service areas? Did surgeons walk through duck shit on the way to operating rooms? Did any city or county staff want to talk about that issue?

One fact which became obvious was that downtown Missoula needs more public restrooms. When the bars close, many people are stuck with bursting bladders, or worse. During peak events, homecoming, the rugby fest and the like, it is best to stay out of downtown alleys where there is much pissing and breaking of glass. Occupy didn't cause those messes either.

Another issue Occupy made plain is in spite of Missoula's reputation as a liberal, enlightened Camelot, there is a small elite making most of the major decisions for the community. Guess what? They aren't always guided by what would be best for the largest number of local citizens, but what would best serve their career goals and profit their friends. We knew this was true on a federal level, and this year we saw the Montana state government veer into insanity. Now we know Missoula city and county governments aren't as clean and shiny as we thought.

Media is full of glowing accounts of the local non-profits serving the less privileged, and, of course, the local politicians brag about all their good works. Behind the facade is a cold outlook and a callous approach to handling the houseless, the mentally disabled, physically disabled and substance abusing street population of Missoula. Sweep them under the rug and out of sight sums up the basic policy with big doses of harassment and intimidation thrown in.

Three weeks ago Missoula County commissioners sent a letter to Occupy Missoula saying they "...would like to request that Occupy Missoula relocate their camp or use the Gazebo without tents during the day."  

They wanted a response the following Monday, December 12. The letter was, of course, sent to dozens of media outlets also and provided a preview of how the county would handle it's PR. 

Presented with that letter, the General Assembly of OM met on a Sunday to discuss a response. Assemblies operate by consensus, which is harder than democracy. While democracy produces winners and losers, consensus strives for agreement among all concerned. It's a slow and difficult process. Four and half hours of discussion failed to produce a communication back to the county. 

KPAX showed some snips of that GA, and summed it up saying the occupiers blamed the homeless for the shit on the lawn. Not so. First, the homeless prefer to be called houseless, because they carry their homes with them, and can be at home almost anywhere. Second, these hardy souls are not a problem, just a symptom of the problem. Third, it is likely the drunks who toppled the outhouses were common garden-variety Missoula carousers. 

A small group met the next morning to write a response asking for more time to make a response. Got that? That letter reached the commissioners, and they graciously extended their deadline. 
Letters and communications went back and forth. The General Assembly battled to a draw on the issue of the encampment. The county began to up the pressure against the campers on the court house lawn. Since OM had peacefully vacated for Veterans Day, they asked for a repeat performance on First Night to allow the annual ice sculpture event to take place. Did the Missoula Cultural Council need the whole lawn for ice sculpture? OM arranged to meet with representatives of MCC to discuss an amicable division of the lawn. 

Now comes a major coincidence, as the county staff rousted the entire camp about 5-5:30am, unsettling everyone and claiming a houseless veteran's tent as abandoned property, because he wasn't in it. Later that morning, the county announced to all the usual media outlets that they had removed the porta-potty to encourage OM to remove their tents and to save taxpayers' money. At that point, they had not actually removed the shitter. They performed that act approximately an hour before the meeting between Occupy and the Cultural Council was to take place. 

Executive Director, Tom Bensen, and board member, Pam Walzer, represented MCC, county employees attending were Dale Bickell and Larry Farnes, and several Occupy Missoula participants were there. It was a friendly discussion. Occupy Missoula ceded the entire east side of the lawn for the ice sculpture event,  and the county agreed to provide MCC with electricity at the flagpole.

The county commissioners talk about supporting free speech, but at least one of them would prefer not to hear any. They will be meeting Wednesday, January 4, to change the law to make camping on the court house lawn illegal. Maybe we are better off in Missoula than other places. The federal government now changes laws regularly to make their previous crimes legal. Local politicians are smart enough to change the law first.

2B continued...

Coming soon: Why did city council dump two million dollars on the stadium? Why did the county commissioners approve an elite refuge for McMansions on rare fertile farmland? Who is in bed with developers? Have public funds been misused?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy Missoula, Saturday, Nov 19, 2011

Representatives of the 99% expanded their encampment on the courthouse lawn, Saturday, with the arrival of a large military tent. Occupiers, and other members of the movement, worked together in a convivial tent-raising.

Guess what: There is no Them. There is no one but us humans on the planet, and all those lines dividing us are fictions, created by war-makers to help them sell product. 

Caveat: Plants and animals also share the planet with us and deserve more consideration than they usually get, since western culture conquered most indigenous peoples.

The original Diogenes was searching for an honest man. This Diogenes would be satisfied with a little truth, but hasn't found enough to satisfy. Does anybody out there believe the mainstream media news version of what's happening in the world? This is beyond right/left, conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat. The same rich assholes, who lied us into war and wrecked our economy with their greed, own big portions of mainstream media. One must search for the truth through a wilderness of lies, ads, hype and bullshit to get real news.

Yes, it's obvious O'Reilly and other Fox News talking heads get paid big bucks to lie to the people. It should be added, however, that anyone who thinks CNN is any better is deluded.

There are some bright lights to remember. Since laughter is the best medicine, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, the Colbert Report and others are doing important work in the media. Amy Goodman carries on, shining light in the dark places where most are afraid to go. Amy can be seen on Democracy Now! on Missoula's MCAT cable station, M-F, at 6am and repeated at 10am. The program can be heard on KBGA 89.9 FM, M-F, 11am to noon.

Wikileaks has to be mentioned. This organization gave us more information about how our government and military really operate than most U.S. citizens could handle. The financial arms of the military-industrial complex quickly moved to cut off their funding. Bank of America, my ass, Bank of Pure Unadulterated Greed is more like it.

See that story here:

I want to talk about the Keystone XL Pipeline. The slick campaign to push this boondoggle through must be repudiated. First, the tar sand extraction process is causing the biggest ecological disaster in Canada's History. Second, the pipeline would run from Montana's Canadian border to Texas refineries and to the Texas ports, where they will ship it to international markets.

This project is NOT about creating jobs and securing energy independence. It's about health of citizens and mother earth taking a back seat to profits for oily Texas millionaires. If the pipeline goes through, more money will flow to the elite few, who already have too much.  

Obama says he personally will make the decision about the pipeline rather than leave it to the State Department, and will delay his decision 12-18 months. Some folks claim this as a good thing, since the State Department seemed ready to rubber stamp the deal. Obama has sold out to the rich and powerful so many times, after promising to be a president for the people, I don't trust him on this. Delaying the decision until after the election, will let him promise both sides of the issue a good result in return for their votes. One side will get hollow promises, and I suspect that's the people who oppose the pipeline. We must pressure him every way possible to say no this hideous scam.

OK, I have many subjects I could rant about, but I will stop there. There is going to be more of this type of thing on this blog. I hope so anyway, because I haven't blogged or flickr'd much lately. The movement and a woman have taken most of my attention and time. I do have some music photos taken and never even downloaded. Maybe, soon...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mudslide Charley charges into September

Where, When...

The moon struggles out of the clouds, as the Boone and Crocket bear looks on.

A little later, the moon would shine down on Mudslide Charley, as they brought the annual Hip Strip Block Party to an end, on Sunday, September 11, 2011. That's a street lamp above Tahj; the moon is above Marco.

Charley was hot as the weather to begin September. First Thursday was also the first day of this month, and Mudslide Charley played Blues and Bread at Bernice's Bakery.  A week later, on the 8th, they were at the Blues Alley, followed by the Pig Roast at the Old Post on Saturday, and then the Hip Strip shindig.

 Roger howls.

Charley, who missed the earlier events, while mushroom hunting in Colorado, reappeared in ghostly fashion under the stage lights.

Mudslide Charley at the Pig Roast

In August, Mudslide released their CD, RamShackle Soul, on the other side of the Old Post parking lot. It all adds up to a hot summer run for Mudslide Charley.

Mudslide Charley at the Blues Alley Block Party

Blues Alley produced a lot of fun and an abundance of photographers.

Blues Alley started an end of summer hurrah, which carried through the Hip Strip Party, with Hempfest, the Pig Roast and Sundays Streets among other events in the sandwich. I'm hoping Blues Alley will become a regular event like the others. Maybe it could be monthly next summer, instead of just an annual event. Put in your two cents with the sponsors: The Rhino, Redbird, Top Hat, Catalyst and Two Sisters.

Hempfest and More...

 Dodgy Mountain Men @Hempfest

Chele Bandulu @Hempfest

Beyond the Pale @Hempfest

Last Internationale @Hempfest

The Last Internationale (NY) played at Hempfest, and later at the Top Hat to end their latest western tour.  

Last Internationale @the Hat


Time flies, when you're having fun. It's been three weeks since I posted here. I must have been having a hell of a time. That's easy to do, living in paradise. With a truckload to catch up on, I hardly knew where to start. Please note, the image above of me wasn't captured by me, but my friend, Teri Llovet, who does a good job with my camera. Also note: I don't let most people touch my camera.

Teri Llovet

How can there only be three days left in September? Am I in a time warp? I take it as proof that I am even slower than I was when I was complaining about being old and slow. Not a bad thing, possibly, as I want to slow even more, becoming so slow no one can see me move. That would be a coup.

Zootown has seen a burst of events, activities and performances as everyone senses the last gasp of summer somewhere in the near future. Here come the holidays, and no one wants to face them.

More images from all of the events covered here can be seen on my flickr archive.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Roots with Epilog

Roots Fest in Missoula was a stop on the Leftover Salmon reunion tour, Saturday, August 27, 2011. They proved the biggest draw of the weekend, and the packed crowd in front of the stage resembled a mosh pit at times. It was dangerous in there, as bodies bumped and banged, elbows flew, and beer showered.

There's plenty of bluegrass around Zootown, while zydeco is an occasional treat. Bennie and the Swamp Gators provided a romping finale to the festival on Sunday afternoon.

Bennie's daughter plays washboard with the band, and his grand daughter is being groomed to follow the tradition.

Shooting into the sunlight was almost a complete waste of time. I wished I had left my camera home, and arrived ready to dance, because this was fun dance music.

Epilog: Serendipity and Synchronicity

The guitar player above, Gene Williams, appeared at Sean Kelly's weekly open mike the next night. He stumbled onto the Monday night affair, and arrived without an instrument. Beau loaned his, and Gene filled the last spot with a mix of original tunes and a few covers. He nailed Long Black Veil, and that is an easy one to mess up.

 Gene Williams

Beau offers up the guitar

On the flickr archive, you will find a set for Leftover Salmon, another for Bennie, and one for the open mike at Sean Kellys.

Butter and Fiancee, who performed at the Palace and Top Hat respectively late on First Friday, also have new sets. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Food Updates

Two New Missoula Eateries

The latest entry on the Zootown food scene is Philly West, now open less than two weeks. These guys claim to be the only authentic Philly cheese steak in the area, and that is evidently not an idle boast. I base my opinion on the rapidly growing, and happily munching, lunch crowd I've seen.

I had the mandarin salad with chicken, which was a tasty combination of, "mixed greens with toasted almonds, mandarin oranges, red onion, chow mien noodles & balsamic vinaigrette." Next time, I hope to have a bigger appetite and try the namesake cheese steak sandwich.

Where is it? Next to Fedex, where La Parrilla used to be.

Being prepared to discuss some aspect of the Philadelphia sports scene will help you fit in. The place is closed on Sundays, open 11am to 10pm Monday through Thursday, and 11am to 2:30 am on Friday and Saturday. The weekend, wee hours gotta eat something now people will find this a convenient addition to their late night resources.

A tourist asked me where he and his wife could get a "buffalo burger." I didn't lecture him about the proper use of buffalo/bison, but I did embarrass myself by my ignorance. The only place I could think of with bison on the menu was the Pearl, which is too pricey for me to sample, and out of the price range our visitor was looking for.

Only later, did I find the Blue Bison Grill, which includes bison on its menu. Feeling guilty about giving that tourist a bum steer, I promptly had a bison dish served with frybread, Flathead cherry BBQ sauce, purple cabbage coleslaw and soup.

Other bison dishes available included soup, bison with rice, sandwiches, burgers and bison chili.

Where is the Blue Bison? Look for the sidewalk sign, above, on Front Street 1/2 block west of Higgins, or for this sign on the south side of the street.

It's been right there in Stockmans for about two months, and let's hope it stays.

Hours are 11am to 10pm Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bon Voyage, Angie

Angie Biehl has left Missoula for Kalamazoo, Michigan, to work on a master's degree in musical therapy. As a farewell party, several of the bands she plays in appeared at the Top Hat, on Monday, August 15, 2011.  The symphony probably wouldn't fit, but she had just played with them the night before down in Caras Park. Did you hear her play the glockenspiel?

Tom Catmull, John Sporman

The one band not featuring Angie was Tom Catmull and the Clerics. Bands which included Angie were Stellarondo, the Tulis, New Hijackers, Slowly but Shirley and Broken Valley Roadshow.

New Hijackers: Caroline Keys, Angie Biehl and Travis Yost

 Angie and brother, Nate Biehl

Angie with Broken Valley Roadshow

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Music Night

I usually start Friday mornings with KBGA listening to Swim Lesson with the Mermaid. This morning's show featured an interview with 10yoGF (10 year old Girl Friend), who will appear tonight at the Badlander as part of the Total Fest program. This may be one of your last opportunities to see this band,

because the drummer is leaving town. 

What these other creative folks will do without him, only the future will tell.

These images came from their Endathon performance on February 18, 2011.

Total Fest is the biggest event of this weekend, and expands beyond the Badlander/Palace complex to fill some other venues with the multi-faceted music its famous for. The complex will be jamming tonight from top to bottom, the Palace, the Badlander, Central, Golden Rose, the Savoy Casino, music, food and alcohol.

Japanther returns to Missoula, tonight, and will be over at Zoo City Apparel with four other bands, including Goddammitboyhowdy.  This, too, is Total Fest.

Goddammitboyhowdy is another local (or are they back in Browning again?) band I've enjoyed listening to and photographing.

Zoo City Apparel, in addition to iconic t-shirts, is making a name as an underground music venue. They are providing space lost with the closing of the BSMT and other shifts in the local scene.

This is one of those days when there is too much available in Zootown, and hard choices must be made.

Tom Catmull will be on the Union Club Stage tonight, beginning at 9:30.

Mudslide Charley will be at the Top Hat, along with the Frederico Brothers and Full Grown Men.