This is the story, from the AP as filed by Matt Gouras, which was top center in the fish-wrap copy of the Bozeman Chronicle today. You won't find it on the front of the Chronicle website, but rather only in State News. It details how the Montana House of Representatives Judiciary Committee sent HB 516 on to a full floor vote. If any are unfamiliar, that would be the bill that would strike down any anti-discrimination ordinance that deviates from the statewide version. It's passage would be a victory for the Montana Talibangelicals.
I'm not bringing this up solely because this a blow to universal human rights, which it is. Jamee Greer and others make that point far better than I. No, I bring this up because not once in the article does it mention the city of Bozeman. "So what?" you might ask. Allow me to respond. There's two reason's actually. The first is that the Bozeman city commission has a city wide policy statement of anti-discrimination similar to Missoula's ordinance. That too would be struck down by HB 516. One would think it significant to mention that in the home town Bozeman newspaper.
Second, look at the headline: Montana GOP targets Missoula Gay Rights Ordinance. Accepted that Matt Gouras may not be the writer of the headline, there is still something chilling and instructive about it, and the actions taken by the Montana Republican representatives. Though the bill's text speaks clearly of 'protecting classes' of people, this is all about teh GEY, and how they must not be "protected". In other words, this is a direct attack against the rights of GBLT people, the very rights the rest of us enjoy as being protected in one manner or another. Simply put, they are not worthy of protection. It's also rather pointed that this is aimed at Missoula, and only at Missoula. Bozeman's fair policies are only collateral damage to the hippy punching of putting Missoula in it's 'proper place'. And this coming from the same bunch of folks who bristle at the fact that the Federal Government can tell them what to do. I invite you to consider the bitter irony of that on your own.
I recently had a terrific conversation with an individual in the know who stated something that I've recognized for some time. Bozeman is not well liked in Montana. We are seen as 'snooty'. But having grown up in the Bitterroot (almost spelled it Bitterrot ... wouldn't that be pointed) I recognize that whatever disdain is directed at Bozeman pails in comparison to the bile reserved for Missoula. It does not speak well of us as a state when our GBLT friends and family are used as disposable pawns in games of civic rivalry.
I just got around to reading the Friday Comical and saw both the letter from confirmed wingnut Mike Comstock and the editorial from Allana Brown. My first thought was "matter-anti-matter". Such class of ideals in confined space could be worse than the Large Hadron Collider, for rending the fabric of space-time. (The Comical doesn't post their Letters to Ed or editorials online any more. Link goes to a former post of mine about Comstock.)
When Gregg posted a favorable review of a local Great Falls eatery, it clarified something that's been rolling around in my noggin. As bloggers, we have no obligation to post about anything in particular, but we really should post about what we like about where we live, especially food. I haven't made such effort for a variety of reasons; I'm not terribly well read locally, I don't eat out much any more, and I don't give the weight to my opinion that others seem to. However, this case is one in which I will make the effort, because the Mezzo Matto Bakery deserves it.
The name means 'half crazy bakery'. Whether the owners see this or not, to me, that means a split personality for this fine place. It is an Italian bakery with all manner of tasty cookie confections. The chocolate caramel puffs are extremely seductive. But what really sets this place apart from most others is the Louisiana flavor that the owners bring to Bozeman. Their story is awfully compelling, but not nearly as compelling as the food they offer from Louisiana roots. Their Muffulettas were a big hit at our Super Bowl get together, even though I didn't know the place existed at the time. Fortunately, my beloved did. They offer beignets in the morning, and I am thankful that I go to work well before they open; otherwise I would be more portly than I am. Lately they have taken to cooking up Gumbo on Mondays and Red Beans and Rice on Thursdays. I can't wait to try the latter. The owner calls it the 'working man's meal'. I tend to agree.
This really is a mom'n'pop kinda place, so everything I've said here is subject to change. I have been led to believe that they will close the doors during Louisiana State football games, so be warned. They exist in a hole in a wall former garage type dealio at the intersection of Wallace and Peach. If you're in the area, or live here, please check them out.
Proving that the right and the left can sometimes see eye-to-eye, Tammy Hall actually agrees with me about closing Main street for the teabaggers parade on July 4th. (Bozeman Comical, so no link to her column is possible.) She thinks it shouldn't be done, as do I.
Of course, her view is smothered in Wingnut sauce. She feels that because Independence Day is a celebration of democracy, it would be contrary to the purpose for the marchers to block access to the highest expression of democracy, our downtown businesses. I'll let the reader suss out the deeply illogical issues with that claim all on their own; but I will point out that most of the downtown business traffic is foot traffic, and the marchers will do every bit as good a job of blocking those businesses on the sidewalk as they would if the street is closed. Leaving that slightly to the side like, it should be noted that Tammy disagrees with closing Main Street because it would appear to be hypocritical on the part of the protesters. I accept that it would be too much to expect Tammy to recognize that it actually would be hypocrital, so I'll take what agreement I can get.
This morning, there was another letter to the Comical from a local noted right winger. His argument was essentially the same as mine. If government spending is the problem, then requesting more goevrnment spending for the protest is, his analogy, 'cutting a hole in the bottom of a sinking ship'. Tammy's response, and the letter today, actually give me some hope that the City Commission will do the right thing, and deny the protesters their request to close Main Street. We'll just have to see.
It's truly depressing to me that so few recognize irony when it slaps them in the face.
Here's the sitch: The teabaggers want to hold a protest parade on the 4th of July. They want to march down Bozeman's Main Street to protest out of control government spending, while displaying their patriotism. Sounds all good, right?
The city of Bozeman, on the other hand, doesn't want this closure to happen, because they haven't the resources on a holiday weekend to provide for the closure of one of Bozeman's busiest streets ... busy even on a holiday. Surely, anyone rational can see the irony by now?
It doesn't appear that the organizers of this protest understand irony at all.
But sidewalks are “like being confined,” says organizer Henry Kriegel,
and now he is ready to go to the City Commission to get Main Street
closed off if city manager Chris Kukulski won’t agree to shut it down.
“He’ll make a really (poor) decision if he does not support us on this,” Kriegel said Tuesday.
You must certainly be seeing it by now? The people who want to protest government spending are begging/threatening the government (the city government) if that body doesn't spend more money to give the 'protesters' what they want. Spend for me, but not for thee.
This is certainly low hanging fruit, but that doesn't make it any less delicious. These teabaggers don't give a damn about *spending!* They wish a private parade that we all will pay for so that they may protest spending for governance; the governance they now look to so as to give them our support through our tax money. Though I sincerely doubt our city commission has the courage to vote this way, I would hope that they point out this flaw in the anti-taxer's ideal, and laugh them out of the city offices.
Though there is strong evidence to the contrary, the tea party folk claim an attendance at there last separatist revival at 700 deluded souls. I know personally that many of those folk didn't and don't live in Bozeman. Yet the taxpayers of this city, which number vastly more than 700, are being asked to spend so that those teabagging asshats might have their day on the street. That's ironic enough to be mildly humorous, but still rather disgusting in its hypocrisy. I say no. I hope with little confidence that the city commission has the wisdom to do the same.
I've been trying to get to posting this for 2 days now, so it might seem a little johnny-come-lately.
I was there when the building housing Boodles blew up. If I had left the house just 1 minute later than I did, I would have been right behind the building when it exploded. As it happened, I was 2 blocks away, waiting to cross Main Street on Wilson. I was idling behind a white truck at the intersection waiting for the light when I heard a 'whoomp-boom' kinda sound. My truck shook like hell, and it weighs about 4 and a half tons. The first thought going through my head was a remembrance of growing up in the Bitterroot, along the flight path of the SR-71s, and the massive sonic booms there that would break windows. I got rolled by a horse once because of those (didn't even break a bone, but I just don't suggest ever having that happen to you.) It probably only took a fraction of a second to dismiss that possibility. My next thought was that someone had hit my truck from behind. I couldn't see anyone there, but given the heavy snowfall and the 6 inches on the bedcover I could have missed a small car coming from behind. So, I opened the truck door and leaned out looking for someone behind me, fighting the seat belt as I did. There was nobody there that I could see.
I had been watching a person waiting on the other side of Main as this pedestrian was agitatedly waiting to cross at the signal light. When the shake happened, they fell backwards on their butt. I remember thinking 'that must have hurt'. Within milliseconds thoughts of my own situation took hold. Having dismissed the thought of being rear-ended, I began to think that someone had thrown a huge snowball down on the truck, but that made no sense. Another person, having come up to the pedestrian on the other side of the street, helped them up, and they both began pointing towards the East. Please notice, all of this took place within a half a minute. Then the waiting started. That seemed like half an hour, though it was probably only another half a minute.
The light changed, and we started moving forward. But the people coming from both sides slowed and stopped in the middle of the intersection. Those coming from the South suddenly changed their turn signals from going East to going West. The truck ahead of me slowed to stopping, and then sped on through the intersection. I stopped to let a white car turning west in front of me through the intersection and then pulled forward into Main Street. I couldn't help but slow to a crawl as I looked in the direction that the pedestrians were pointing. 2 blocks away was a massive brown cloud, the color of dirty buckskin, rolling down the street towards us. There were a few people on the sidewalks, mostly just standing and pointing, but a few were running towards us and a very few running towards the plume. There were objects flying about, but I had no idea what they were. I couldn't really take the time to process what was happening as yet.
As I pulled through the street towards work, I did notice that other drivers were being remarkably polite, allowing people to turn in front of them against the flow of traffic and acting in ways that were remarkably helpful. That, more than anything, let me know that something major had just happened. And in an instant, I knew with clarity that they were as remarkably confused as I was but were behaving well. That part of human spirit alone will live with me until I die.
I was anxious, no, rather desperate to get to work at that point. I knew that the guys in our Receiving department would have the radio on. But I can't even begin to describe how awful the streets were at that point. 'Slick as snot' just doesn't convey the danger. About 3 blocks South of Main, an older man ran out into the street right in front of me. He didn't look right at the time, and I screamed many profanities at him as I tried to stop the truck. I turned into the curb, and almost went sideways into the traffic. I was able to stop well before hitting him, and I realize now that he was probably vastly more panicked than I was.
From the time of the explosion until I was able to make it to the University, park the truck, and make my way into the store was about 15 minutes. As I stomped into the receiving area, the first words out of my mouth were "What the fuck just happened"? On the radio, they didn't know what blew up, but they were already saying that something downtown had gone boom. I'd like to say that that calmed me down, but it didn't. From the time I'd almost hit the old guy until we knew that it was likely a gas explosion, what was going through my mind was that some militia asshole, or disgruntled Bozemanite, had deliberately blown up the new city offices. I was equal parts pissed-off and scared, and definitely running on a serious adrenaline burn. Almost right after I got to work, we had a long meeting and then a long day. I was able to talk to my beloved (we live on the East side of town) and make sure that she was okay about 12:30. Probably more important was that she was able to make sure that I was okay. That night, after spending many hours on the phone with friends and family, the adrenaline burn gave way, and I crashed ... hard.
I'm not writing this as a serious addition to the news of what happened. Others have done a vastly better job of documentation then I could have done. I write this only such that my tale be told in the record of that awful Thursday morning.
I want to state again what I have stated elsewhere. I am terribly proud of those who responded to this tragedy with effort and aplomb. The Fire Fighters of Gallatin county, City Fire Unit One, Governor Schweitzer, and the entirety of the city administration. You did us right, and made us proud. I also want to thank the bloggers who paid heed to this event: The good folks over at 4 & 20 Blackbirds and especially the commenterGoof, the notorious Mark T. and his commenter Bob, and Jay at Left in the West.
We done okay, Bozeman, and we will get through this.
Pete Talbot has a terrific little ditty to sing about growth in Bozeman, Big Sky and possibly Missoula (though I think he'd have been better to focus on the Bitterroot). It might be obvious, but I will confess anyway; Bozeman is not the town I loved 20 years ago when I first moved here, and it likely will never be again. It's becoming crowded, noisy, pretentiously suburban and self-absorbed. We have traffic problems, violent turf wars over drugs and an overcrowded mall where everyone is unhappy but no one will leave. It's Billings without the stink ... yet.
As Pete points out, the very thing that keeps us growing will kill that growth. I would be interested to hear the views of free-marketers concerning Talbot's article. Bozeman is a commodity, highly desired. It isn't the land and it isn't the jobs, per se. It's the life style that attracts people here; the almost shallow acceptance that the Bridgers are your playground, and those mountains will cure all the urban/rural ills that people flee to come here.
Ya' see, it isn't a facet of free-market norm that the commodity loses value as it becomes more desired, because it isn't a part of free-market thinking that the commodity might be so easily attained. Yes, property values are rising at a parabolic rate, but so are wages for many jobs. It's a circular system of increasing complexity. A parabola reaches no defined limit, yet obviously Bozeman's value will. There will come a point where the very reason folks have to move here will be a reason to move out.
Perhaps that's some kind of market equilibrium, and I've no doubt that those who feel comforted by free-market thinking will embrace that idea. Except, the value of the commodity will continue to degrade even after the demand subsides. No jobs, no influx of people, regardless of the desire to "possess" the commodity. Yet there is no discernible limit to the possession. All can have it, because all can buy the image in lue of actually owning a discernible piece of the whole commodity. The image can't sustain the facts. The damage will have been done. The path around Fairy lake will still resemble a city sidewalk full of people. Highlight canyon will still be a garbage dump. People will still accept the minimum required for the valuable commodity that was Bozeman.
So, if anyone has a rosier picture to paint, please do so. I'd actually like to read such at this point in time.
This morning I was cruising by a certain website (that must not be discussed) and clicked on picture called "Swallow". When the image came up, I had a hearty laugh at the double entendre. But below in the pics was a link that caught my eye given that it contained the word "montana". "Curious", says I, so clicked the link taking me to the display page of a Bozeman, Montana artist who works in ceramics. The artist is Dean Adams, and though I like his pieces that celebrate structure, I found this gallery of his efforts to be ... unique.
And I assure you, most links in this post are somewhat NSFW. Click at your own risk.