I started this blog in 2008, a few months after I had surgery to reattach my labrum, followed by a second surgery to clean out scar tissue from the first. The labrum is the ring of cartilage that holds the head of the humerus in the shoulder socket. Mine popped off during the 7:30am class at Renzo Gracie Academy, when one of the bigger boys inadvertently dislocated my shoulder. It made a bad sound. I lay on the mat with my arm a dead thing. “Don’t put it back in,” the instructor counseled me, in his hilarious Brazilian accent. I nodded, adjusting my hips and turning my wrist in such a way that it popped back in. It felt like getting hit in the face with a hammer. For the next ten days or so, until I got surgery, my arm would fall out of the socket whenever I leaned forward.
The big news out of Helena today is that Montana’s State House has voted down an $80 million dollar infrastructure bill, again. The proposal to fund roads, schools, and water systems asks for less money than some county school districts bonded out this year, but this morning it failed by two votes on its second trip to the floor. Take that, roads, schools, and water systems! The forces of fiscal responsibility are screwing their hats down tight against this expenditure, which amounts to $8 for every person in Montana. The conservative wing killed it in 2015, too.
If the infrastructure bill dies again, it will join such lost causes of the 2017 session as Daniel Zolnikov’s attempt to legalize drinking beer while driving or Keith Regier’s (R-Kalispell) bill to prohibit Montana courts from applying Sharia law. The legislature also failed to lift burdensome regulations on the keeping of domestic foxes. It seems like those assholes can’t pass anything, but then along comes Rep. Kim Dudik. The Democrat from Missoula went 13 for 19 sponsoring bills this session—most of them related to criminal justice or child and family services.
Those happen to be her areas of professional expertise. While various of her colleagues were fighting for the Second Amendment rights of fetuses and whatnot, Dudik drew on her experience as an attorney to make subtle but significant improvements to the Code of Montana. That might be the kind of citizen governance Montana’s framers envisioned when they constructed a legislature that met for 90 days every other year. Or they just wanted the state to stay out of the way of the mining companies. Regardless, Rep. Dudik got more done, in terms of sponsored legislation, than anyone else in Helena this spring. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
As you may remember from late last week, scrappy media conglomerate Lee Enterprises has purchased the Missoula Independent, saving Lee from bankruptcy. Lee was already in bankruptcy back in 2011, because it spent $1.5 billion to buy Pulitzer, Inc. in 2005—a dark horse candidate for deal of the year, since News Corp. paid a mere $580 million for Myspace. Anywhom, Lee went broke buying newspapers. Now, like a fun and informative vampire, it must keep buying more newspapers to stay alive. But its waking nightmare of debt-service undeath is finally over, because it bought my newspaper.
The immense profits that the Indy generates will wipe out Lee’s debts in no time. After a few months of alt-weekly income, the Missoulian can stop writing rapturous features about Cabela’s, and the Beatrice, Nebraska Daily Sun can settle with the families of those kids from last year’s Thresher Days. We’ll all be rich—rich as newsmen!
By we, though, I mean everyone but me. Even a corporation as showered in gold as Lee Enterprises cannot justify my exorbitant fee. And don’t ask me to take a pay cut out of consideration for a mom-and-pop paper chain. My lifestyle simply could not bear it. Although nothing is certain now, I fear my days of making money hand-over-fist-over-emerald-strewn-coke-mirror might be headed to a halt. For all I know, this could be my last column. I excerpt here for posterity:
I know that when I got into this business, it was strictly for the cash. But over the last few years, I have developed an affection for you, the seemingly useless reader. Although writing this column provides me with enough money and drugs to deaden my connection to ordinary people, I cannot help but feel that we are in this together. We live in the same region, after all. Might it be too much to say that we belong to the same community?
I was too temperate to say so in print, but I’ll say it here: we do belong to the same community. That community belongs to Lee Enterprises now. May their two Missoula newspapers, the Missoulian and the Independent, remains as keen and incisive as the heads on a two-headed snake, and may that snake poop money for the rest of our wonderful lives.
Next week, Missoulians will put on skeleton costumes and parade down Higgins Avenue in one of this town’s oddest observances: the Day of the Dead parade. They’ve been doing it for 24 years, despite the fact that approximately 0.0% of the local population is Mexican. We love parades, though. This one concludes the Zootown Arts Community Center’s monthlong Festival of the Dead, which the ZACC describes as an “all-inclusive multicultural event that honors life and death through community involvement in the arts.”
Again, this all-inclusive multicultural event mostly includes white people. Is it therefore not a little problematic? Might the good people of Missoula not be appropriating someone else’s culture by celebrating this holiday? I agree Missoula’s Day of the Dead festivities stray unconscionably from cultural tradition. They make no mention of Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of death. In fact, when it comes to appropriating the culture behind the Day of the Dead, the only people worse than Missoulians are Mexicans.
You can read all about in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, in which we chart the fine line between resisting cultural appropriation and enforcing cultural segregation. Centuries from now, when ape-robot cyborgs are marching through the ruins of Washington-Grizzly Stadium in skeleton costumes, people who are a quarter Missoulian will lambast them for stealing our culture. Fortunately, I will be dead. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
I work from home, so when the internet stops working, I have a bad time. One such bad time was had throughout Missoula yesterday, when Charter internet service went down for the whole damn town. The Missoulian confirms the outage, but it doesn’t offer much else. Maybe that’s because even reporters can’t communicate with Charter except through their customer service call center, where a representative from the company would not say why the outage happened, when it would be fixed, how many customers were affected or what her own name was. Later in the day, a company spokesman declined to say most of the same things, although at least he offered his name. I hope the negative publicity from this failure doesn’t affect Charter’s busine—oh, right. They have a monopoly.