Wealth And Poverty In Zoom Town

by Travis Mateer

In this land of stark contrasts, celebrities of popular shows–like Luke Grimes of Yellowstone–get to tell the rest of the world what Montana is really all about. Here is a quote from an article that popped up on every Lee Enterprise Montana newspaper outlet:

How close is “Yellowstone” to the real Montana?

“There’s a lot less murder and it’s a little less dramatic,” says Luke Grimes, the actor who plays Kayce Dutton, the laid-back son of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton.

“Kevin Costner doesn’t live there,” he adds. “But Taylor (Sheridan, the show’s creator) tries to be really authentic to the western way of life. He’s kind of making the world its own and raising the stakes. All the cowboy stuff and cattle ranching stuff they try to make as real as possible.”

I’ve been covering the local impacts of Yellowstone’s production in Missoula with posts like this one from last August (more links at the end of the post). Here’s a screenshot from that post about a local house owned by a guy who works at the Washington Corporation, the company owned by billionaire Denny Washington, and the compensation I heard he received for use of his home:

On the morning of Yellowstone’s season 5 premier I was scanning the local jail roster for familiar names and when one popped up that I was curious about, I searched online, but instead of finding anything about Kevin Washington, the guy in jail, I came across an article about a VERY EXPENSIVE home purchased by a different Kevin Washington, this one the son of our local billionaire, Denny.

Here’s some insight into how wealth hides what they’re up to with LLCs. You know, kind of like what happened with Spencer Properties LLC.

We know y’all are probably dying to hear about the buyer and seller and see interior pics, right? Unfortunately, Yolanda would love to see pics, too. The house is less than two years old, and the sale was totally off-market, so there ain’t nothin’ we can show y’all. And trust us, we’ve tried everything and everyone with no luck.

And both the seller and buyer’s names do not appear in public records — the seller’s identity is obscured behind a blind trust, the buyer’s is shielded behind a corporate entity — an LLC, if you will. However, Yolanda happens to know that the seller is Krista Levitan, the estranged soon-to-be ex-wife of Modern Family show creator Steven Levitan. Our Mr. & Mrs. Levitan bought the property together — in happier days, back in 2012.

We also happen to know that the spendthrift buyer is a still sorta-young but hardcore real estate baller named Kevin Washington. Our Mr. Washington is the younger son of Montana-based business tycoon Dennis Washington, the 83-year-old owner of the conglomerate known as Seaspan Marine Corporation. Papa Washington makes do with a current net worth of $6.1 billion, per the beancounters at Forbes. That’s good enough to make him the 239th richest person in the world. Chew on that!

Who cares why a rich guy bought an expensive house? Because, according to the article, the purchase-price of this home was such an insane outlier, local interest was piqued (emphasis mine):

We barely bat a primped eyelash when we see a $10 million pricetag hung on some silly shitbox that happens to sit on a semi-decent quarter-acre of land. Yet even so, there are still some truly insane outliers that can shock us. Example: this house.

You see, Yolanda was sittin’ on her behind, doing normal people things: yelling at the maid to pour us more coffee, phoning our attorney to get the restraining order extended on our nasty second ex-husband George, and poring over property records.

Then we spit our dentures right into our big bowl of Quaker Oats, right when we saw that a house in Santa Monica — a very nice house but a standard single-family house nonetheless — sold for an utterly illogical $41,082,000. For about five minutes, Yolanda was certain that figure was a mistake. But we confirmed with taxes that yes indeed — a very quiet $41 million sale did go down.

To put that figure into perspective, kiddies, $41 million is more than any house in Beverly Park has ever sold for. It’s more than any house in the Hollywood Hills or the Bird Streets has ever sold for. It’s even more than Dr. Dre paid for Tom Brady & Gisele’s insane Richard Landry mega-mansion. (But it’s less than the ludicrous $52.8 million mortgage (!!!) that Beyonce & Jay-Z are carrying on their new Bel Air compound. Oh, but we digress…)

Why are these ginormous numbers worth thinking about? The answer can be found in the dismay and alarm from our elected leaders that voters said NO to a $5 million dollar mill levy. Since it’s clear they suffer from a severe poverty of the imagination, I’m hoping pointing out where wealth exists in this community might give them some ideas instead of more complaining about how they are running out of money. From the link:

The levy sought to raise $5 million by increasing property taxes $27 a year per $100,000 of assessed home value.

29,215 people voted against the levy, and 24,908 votes were cast in favor of the measure Tuesday.

Funding remains for these programs through July 2023 — with the exception of the TSOS, which is funded into 2025 — but their long-term sustainability is in question now.

“I’m not quite sure what it will all look like in the long run but I know it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of hard choices,” said Jones.

Yes, lots of hard choices exist for lots of people, like whether or not to extend leases. My landlord made their decision on November 1st and I’m sure it must have been hard, kind of like when Barbara Koostra made the decision to end Daniel Carlino’s lease. Here’s a screenshot from that post:

Gee, it almost seems like this is a TACTIC being deployed to put trouble-makers in their place. I’d like to say more, but there are processes that need to play out first.

Returning to the show Yellowstone, that article I wrote back in August drew attention to the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan, becoming a partial owner of 266,255 acres in Texas after the historic sale of the Four Sixes Ranch. This smacks of Ted Turner style land-grabbing, and should be of concern to any peasant not subsisting on passive income.

Also of concern, how the rich and wealthy use their influence to impact politics.

While it’s difficult to measure the impact of a celebrity wearing a t-shirt, a more measurable factor of political influence is emerging in the FTX implosion, like the money that went to Democrat candidates this last cycle.

Here’s some perspective on the crypto-scammer second only to George Soros in political funding:

And here is an article from March that is now VERY relevant to what’s happening with FTX and the war in Ukraine. From the link:

The Ukrainian government launched a new crypto donations website on Monday, streamlining its multimillion-dollar effort to turn bitcoin into bullets, bandages and other war materiel.

“Aid for Ukraine,” which has the backing of crypto exchange FTX, staking platform Everstake and Ukraine’s Kuna exchange, will route donated crypto to the National Bank of Ukraine, Everstake’s Head of Growth Vlad Likhuta told CoinDesk. Ukraine’s crypto-savvy Ministry of Digital Transformation is also involved.

The claim being made is that money sent to Ukraine for “military aid” got invested in the FTX crypto exchange instead, then returned to the states to pad the coffers of Democrats. And now FTX is collapsing.

Meanwhile, our President with the crack-smoking compromise operation known as Hunter Biden, literally said he thinks Elon Musk’s relationships with other countries is worth looking into. Wowzers.

While immense wealth plays games with world politics like WWIII is just some LARP for kicks, locals in Zoom Town are empathy-trolled with stories like this:

I know this individual quite well, especially the energy it’s taken over the years to mitigate the consequences of her hoarding tendencies, and knowing these things means I’m inoculated from the emotional manipulation of conventional media’s human-interest blurbs.

To wrap all this up, here’s a crazy idea: maybe we should stop venerating wealth and allowing our elected leaders and influencers to uncritically push the assumption that PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS are the inevitable future of how communities WILL BE and SHOULD BE shaped.

If you would like to help financially assist my efforts, the donation button can be found at my about page. Don’t underestimate the impact of a contribution, like the one that brightened my morning upon waking up Sunday. You never know the ripple effect a positive act can have. It might even help inspire songs like this one. Enjoy!

Yellowstone coverage:

A Question Of Worth And Cost As It Relates To Selling Our Community Out To Costner’s Yellowstone (June 23rd, 2022)

Talking With Some Missoula Cops About Keeping The Yellowstone Production Safe (July 7th, 2022)

A Message To The Myth Makers: You Will Not Win This War (July 17th, 2022)

Here’s What Ross Douthat Thinks Of Montana In His New York Times Yellowstone Op-Ed (July 29th, 2022)

A Yellowstone Skirmish On West Main Street As The Larger Narrative War Continues (August 11, 2022)

A Morning Beer And An Extra Story About Yellowstone (August 11, 2022)

On-The-Ground Yellowstone Reporting…But Who Owns The Ground? (August 18th, 2022)

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wealth And Poverty In Zoom Town

  1. webdoodle says:

    The Gomer-Koostra eviction team sounds just like the type of tactic Engen would have used to silence at political rival. Economic sanctioning paired with landlord harassment. Gomer really has become the Talbot of the day, meddling in all sorts of political affairs. Didn’t you mention that Engen got his start under Talbot at the Missoulian?

    When Gomer first started writing at the Missoulian, his heavily left leaning drivel and complete absence of unbiased reporting was pretty obvious. When his propaganda started running on KPAX and he later started the Missoula Current, it was pretty obvious he was the new CIA station chief for Missoula.

    Keep up the great reporting!

Leave a Reply