by Travis Mateer
These are fighting words, I thought.
If County Commissioners and Mayors are allowed to define a three decade cultural shift in Missoula, future generations won’t understand the inversions and manipulations that had to be deployed to enrich the same parasitic takers spreading their soulless development across the entire globe.
Before launching into culture war mode, it’s important to note that no one sees themselves as the bad guy in the story playing in their heads, especially when one is receiving official accolades for the supposedly AMAZING things you’ve accomplished, like rainbow crosswalks and Yellowstone tv show scenes getting shot downtown!
Those specific examples of cultural achievement were recently referenced in a Missoulian article that’s kind of like a pre-obituary for our dying Mayor. This seems quite appropriate coming from the embodiment of the same dying legacy media that spawned both our Mayor and his communication bulldog, Ginny Merriam (provenance is important).
Here’s the sad cheerleading, promoted by Tom Bensen and the failed leadership of United Way’s Susan Hay Patrick:
“John truly believes in, supports and champions a strong and vibrant arts scene. He sees the arts and cultural organizations, not just as amenities and things that are nice to have in one’s community, but they’re essential,” Bensen said.
Engen’s contributions are too long to list here — they include efforts like the rainbow crosswalk at Pattee and Pine streets, the “Yellowstone” TV show location shoots, sitting on many boards, official support for projects, and working with individual numerous organizations.
Susan Hay Patrick nominated Engen. Reading from her letter, Bensen said, “As Missoula’s best-loved emcee and auctioneer, John has donated hundreds of hours over many years to serving in these roles for our local arts, cultural and nonprofit organizations. John Engen exemplifies the term cultural ambassador, enthusiastically championing the arts and culture of the hometown he leads and loves.”
Because history is important, it’s important to understand that Engen and his cabal of enablers emerged from the soup of New Party politics that was being seeded during the 1990’s. Here’s a peek from wikipedia (emphasis mine):
The New Party was founded in the early 1990s by Daniel Cantor, a former staffer for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, and by political science, sociology and law professor Joel Rogers as an effort to break with the largely unsuccessful history of progressive third parties in the United States. Their strategy was to run candidates only where they had a reasonable chance of winning, and to nominate on their ballot line (or where this was not legally possible, to endorse) the candidate they favored more from another party.
After a false start in New York, the New Party built modestly successful chapters in several states. Some of these chapters—such as those in Chicago and Little Rock, Arkansas—had their main bases of support in the low-income community organizing group ACORN, along with some support from various labor unions. Other chapters—such as those in Minneapolis; Missoula, Montana; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Dane County, Wisconsin, received institutional support from a variety of other labor unions and community organizations. These chapters built local political organizations that ran or endorsed candidates, primarily in local non-partisan races but with occasional forays into Democratic Party primaries or (more rarely) traditional third party-style independent candidacies as well. Some New Party chapters introduced the idea of signed candidate contracts (saying the candidate agreed with the party’s principles and would meet with party members after election) before endorsement, to encourage accountability after election—this was criticized by some of the party’s detractors. Party chapters were also active between elections, pressuring elected officials to pass legislation on issues such as living wages and affordable housing.
I’ve been aware of the New Party for years, but never actually looked it up, so this Wikipedia entry is pretty mind-blowing to me. Having a Jesse Jackson staffer involved in the origin story of this political cancer gives me a better understanding of why dead black men don’t seem to negatively impact Democratic political careers in this town.
Hands down the most offensive (and recent) attempt to define the cultural shift of the last 30 years comes from County Commissioner, Josh Slotnick. If you can stomach it, click here for his op-ed, but I warn you, shit like this will greet your brain sponge (more of my emphasis, yes):
For decades we were a lunch-bucket blue collar town. Four mills ran 24/7, and our neighborhood bars, corner stores and elementary–schools–that–kids–walked-to kept the rhythm of a working town’s beating heart. The rotten-egg air and our copper-green river bore the scars of our livelihoods, like the air and water of so many industrial places.
However, alongside that work-a-day nature, we had an artistic vibrancy unlike any Pennsylvania steel city or Pacific Northwest mill town. Writing, ceramics, poetry, theater, music, sculpture, political criticism, the place thrummed with a palpable, almost electric, creative energy. That creativity, spawned at a low-cost, high-quality, classic liberal arts university that attracted people from all over, fueled a cultural shift in the 90’s.
HAD? Maybe if I wasn’t such a VIBRANT poet/journalist/creative Lego Master, I wouldn’t take offense to Slotnick’s use of the past tense, but I am pretty vibrant. So vibrant, in fact, I got to chat to a security dude after being TOO vibrant recording a piece of on-the-ground reporting while Kevin Fucking Costner was nearby filming scenes for Yellowstone.
If you’re not convinced how AMAZING having our town disrupted for a tv show that ITSELF exploits the tension between gentrifying wealth and local wage-slaves, then this tweet will definitely NOT help convince you it’s worth it, no matter how many rushed lifetime achievement awards the sycophants toss our Mayor.
While the above Missoulian reporter throws shade on members of the “Yellowstone” crew, here’s NBC Montana reporting on the public’s “mixed reviews“:
Stores like the Import Market across from the courthouse told us the limited parking is slowing down business because customers can’t reach the store.
Other local businesses told us they’re seeing a surge in business thanks to the project.
“There’s a lot more foot traffic and spectators because of it, and the crew over there did support our business and placed an order for their crew for lunch, so we definitely got some increased business from them, which we definitely appreciate,” said Jeremy Delano, the general manager of Bagels on Broadway.
The filming for the show has brought in more than $10,000 in revenue for the county alone.
After reading that article I’m left to wonder, how much of this revenue is coming from things like paychecks for private security?
The reason I’m asking this question is because of two run-ins I’ve had with the same security dude. The first interaction happened during the day of the Yellowstone filming that shutdown the Courthouse. I was wrapping up my journalistic documentation of the event when a plain clothes guy stopped me, acting like he had some kind of official jurisdiction to halt my progress on a public sidewalk.
I was going to include a picture of this alleged security dude, which I took with my phone on Friday night, sparking an incident that resulted in my having to call 911, so until I can better understand the dynamics at play, I’m holding back for now.
Maybe this security guy is just seizing opportunities in order to live in Zoom Town. Let’s return to Commissioner Slotnick’s perspective on the rapidly accelerating cultural changes to see if any insights can be extracted.
In the 90’s and 00’s, our low-budget economics allowed for young people to make this cultural/economic shift happen; to live on little, so they could use their energy to spin dreams into viable realities – cultural, artistic and entrepreneurial. Much of the fruit of that labor exists now in businesses, non-profits and personal careers that seem so well established it’s hard to imagine they were once merely the passions of scrappy young people with no real money. They were. We bounced back from the end of our mill-town era because you could rent a place for not much, get by, and throw your efforts toward your dreams. And when those dreams grew, we all benefited, not just the folks who did the work. We left the 00’s far economically stronger and culturally richer than we went into the 90’s.
Through all of that, two economic arcs remained roughly parallel – wages and house prices. When those lines move in parallel, it means people who work here can afford to live here. Like so many have noted, Covid both shined a light on an existing reality and simultaneously exacerbated it. The parallel rise in wages and housing costs had already begun to fall apart pre-Covid, but when remote work made Missoula a possibility for people from all over the country, the two lines went in different directions.
This statement from one of our County Commissioners is a great reminder that WITHOUT COVID–or, more specifically, the retarded policies and experimental “vaccine” solutions that Big Pharma used every trick to impose on us–today’s inequality might land FULLY on intentional policy decisions, and not the THE SCIENCE of the convenient pandemic.
If my use of militant war language makes you squeamish, try absorbing the reality of what the families of Sean Stevenson and Rebekah Barsotti have been experiencing in this upside down world, where the helpers are so actively hurting and hiding what’s actually going on. I guarantee what is at stake will become more clear if you truly open your eyes to seeing the systemic re-traumatizing as part of an intentional pattern of control.
In my NOT humble opinion, officials like Commissioner Slotnick are intelligent idiots who cannot see how their good intentions have been hijacked, so they say shit like this:
Essentially, that’s the backdrop to our current shift, and the reality Covid’s light illuminated; inequity has become The Socioeconomic Problem of this historical moment. Turns out, our relaxed, genuine and creative culture, and easy access to beautiful public land, have mass appeal. And now, you too can get a slice of it without having to find a job here (or, better yet, make one), because you can bring your current job with you! People have left the madness of overpopulation on the coasts, trading the bovine feel of mass-transit commuting and paying to park at overused trailheads for biking from the lower Rattlesnake to a coffee shop downtown and hiking in the Swan Valley on the weekend.
Can you blame them?
No, Josh Slotnick, if blame is going to be directed anywhere, it should be toward POLICY makers like you and our “auctioneer” Mayor who obscure gentrification behind woke buzz words, human shields, and fat jokes (sorry, now they’re “retirement” jokes, I hear).
I also blame myself for spending so many years believing and promoting the stated intentions of serial liars and skilled manipulators while putting myself in harms way during the 7 years I worked at our local homeless shelter, the Poverello Center.
I’m not sure how productive blame is, since it tends to keep one’s perspective looking back toward things that have already occurred. And the forward thinkers seem more adamant than ever, despite current indicators their policies aren’t producing the desired results of unity and harmony, that it’s full steam ahead to progressive Wokeville.
The war I see being waged is a narrative information war, and there’s no clearer disparity in my mind than a progressive liberal town like Missoula in near total ignorance of the things happening in their own backyard.
I’m working every day to change that ignorance into action. If you want to help me, stay tuned for some opportunities I’m working on that might even be FUN to do!
Until then, thanks for reading!