Love it or hate it, we agree with what Vice President Joe Biden said after introducing President Obama at this morning's historic health care reform bill signing. This is a big deal. (You can watch the video below, but Biden thinks it's a really big deal.)
Both Montana senators released statements supporting the legislation. Max Baucus, a key component of the debate for years, said, "After nearly a century of attempts and close to two years of effort, we have finally passed meaningful health care reform." Then he went all speech-y: "Tonight, a parent in Glasgow can sleep well knowing insurance companies won’t be able to deny their child coverage, or rip it away when they need it most. Tonight, a senior in Sidney can sleep well knowing that soon they won’t have to choose between food or prescription drugs. Tonight, a small business owner in Hamilton can sleep well knowing that providing well deserved benefits for hard-working employees won’t decimate their bottom line. It is a new day in America. A day that Presidents from Roosevelt to Clinton had worked to accomplish. A day that families saddled with medical debt have dreamed would happen. Working together we have been able to achieve health care reform to help put our fiscal house in order and provide a cornerstone for generations to build on.”
Tester kept it simple. "Montana families, small businesses and most importantly, our kids and grandkids, can’t afford Congress doing nothing," he said. "Doing nothing to fix health insurance and control costs has broken too many families.”
Rep. Denny Rehberg, who voted against the measure with fellow Republicans, felt a little differently about today's historic bill signing. "The House of Representatives today failed to heed the public outcry against this bill," he said. "I support true reform that would lower the cost of health care. Merely shifting the cost from the patient to the taxpayer isn't a solution; they're the same person."
Find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology online, every Tuesday, two days before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): All but one of our planet’s mountain ranges have been mapped: the Gamburtsev Mountains, which are buried under 2.5 miles of ice in Antarctica. Recent efforts to get a read on this craggy landscape, aided by a network of seismic instruments, have revealed some initial details about it, including its role in forming the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. I recommend that you regard the Gamburtsevs as an iconic metaphor in the coming months, Aries. They’ll be an apt symbol for one of your life’s featured themes: the discovery and exploration of a massive unknown territory that has been hidden from view.
In this week's installment of odd news happenings: A man admits to punching children in an Ohio Wal-Mart and Montana makes the list after a muzzleloader discharges in a Reed Point classroom.
Curses, Foiled Again
A woman who police said tried to rob two credit unions in Memphis, Tenn., fled empty-handed both times because tellers couldn’t figure out what she wanted. The first attempt ended with the frustrated robber throwing her holdup note at the teller and running away after the teller couldn’t understand her mumbling. A few hours later, a teller at the second credit union kept asking the woman fumbling in her purse what she wanted. Finally, she produced a note. When she also pulled a gun, the teller left. The woman ran outside, tripped and fell, dropped her gun, then got into a car and drove off.
Five students from the University of Montana were arrested in Helena during a sit-in protest of the state Land Board's proposed leasing of Otter Creek to Arch Coal Inc. for $85.8 million. The board approved the lease after the students—all members of the local environmental activist group Northern Rockies Rising Tide—were handcuffed and removed from the meeting room.
We caught up with Shelby Cunliffe, one of the Otter Creek Five, late this afternoon for a quick Q&A. Here's what the 24-year-old activist had to say.
Independent: Why exactly did you get involved with the protest over the coal bid for Otter Creek?
Cunliffe: I personally got involved with it because I'm just a huge advocate of environmental justice and social justice. This Otter Creek thing is a huge deal, and it was at first being totally overlooked by the general public and people higher up. I don't think people's voices in opposition were being heard clearly enough.
Claim to fame: Probably the fact that it’s a Maui-themed casino located in Missoula and connected to a Mexican restaurant. You just don’t see that combo very often.
Atmosphere: Very cabana-at-midnight, if that cabana had an abundance of video poker machines. The walls are airbrushed to look like rolling waves in the middle of the night, and the ceiling is dotted with tiny lights meant to look like stars. Thatch overhangs line the rows of gaming machines, and a cluster of Keno machines ring a palm tree in the center of the casino. Even the bamboo-accented bar has little beach trinkets—is that a turquoise seahorse?—along the wall. Naturally, the bartenders wear Hawaiian shirts.
Surf report: If you’re ranking a beach on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a syringe-infested Jersey shore (with or without Snooki) and 10 being a private spot on Bora Bora, Maui Nites feels like a solid 4, maybe 4.5. It goes out of its way to not feel like just another casino, and receives bonus points for the friendliest staff this side of a Sandals Resort. Downgraded for not actually being on the water.
What you’re drinking: Beer and wine only. Unfortunately, the lineup doesn’t feature a single local brew. It should also be mentioned that the absence of fruity drinks with umbrellas hurts the overall island vibe.
Who you’re drinking with: Gamblers.
What you’re eating: Fiesta en Jalisco connects to Maui Nites and offers a full menu of authentic Mexican cuisine. Absolutely everybody—bartenders, regulars at the bar, wait staff in the restaurant—swears by the enormous carne asada burrito ($11.95). “That thing is lunch and dinner,” beams bartender Jesse Lund.
How to find it: Look for the large sign at 3701 Brooks Street, on the south side of town.
Happiest Hour is a new column that celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We received this unsolicited show review from Jason Cohen, a longtime freelancer for various newspapers and magazines (Rolling Stone, Texas Monthly, Austin Chronicle), who's currently, if only temporarily, put his roots down in Missoula. Enjoy:
SXSWhat? While half the music world is down in Austin, the Brooklyn trio A Place to Bury Strangers are on tour with The Big Pink, and given two full days to drive 1700 miles from Portland, Ore., to Minneapolis, they grabbed an extra headline gig along the way here in Missoula—more like a house party, really, as the BSMT venue is an actual basement full of exposed pipe, spotty lighting and a washer-dryer near the merch table. It was almost as if the band got off of I-90, ran into some punk rock kids and asked if there was anywhere to play a show.
In truth, it was a booking by a University of Montana BFA student named Dane Hansen, who saw APTBS in Portland several years ago ("I was literally screaming in my hands the whole time") and vowed to bring them into town. "They've essentially done this show for nothing, comparatively speaking," he says. "They didn't have any guarantee or anything. They said, give us some food and give us some beer and we'll do it. I told them to take whatever they wanted from the door." (admission was $5, with around 100 people in attendance).
"I didn't necessarily know what kind of show it was going to be, but it's always good to take a gamble," A Place to Bury Strangers frontman Oliver Ackermann said. "And it turned out to be the kind of show I really like."
Given that the band's stage amps probably put out greater wattage than the venue's pair of hanging speakers, the trio couldn't quite live up to its reputation as "the loudest band in New York City," but there were still plenty of sonic fireworks. The pedal-hopping Ackermann builds and sells his own effects, and they were pretty much the evening's star, as he cranked out extended, feedback-laden jams in the best Velvet Underground/shoegazer/Jesus and Mary Chain tradition, while bathed in smoke and strobes and sometimes total darkness. By the end of the night, he was lying on the floor with his guitar, assaulting all the strings until they popped, the feedback and distortion keening on.
"There were times when I couldn't tell what was going on," Ackermann said. "But that's always the case."
- Jason Cohen
A lot has been made of Missoula's bid to win the love and affection—and experimental high-speed broadband network—of Google. To help spur this burgeoning effort, a grassroots effort called Google Fiber for Missoula has scheduled a noon rally for Saturday at Caras Park.
Attendees are encouraged to bring signs. Someone will video the event for posterity — and to support the city's campaign.
In the meantime, Mayor Engen's holding a forum on the topic tonight, Thursday, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at City Council Chambers, 140 W. Pine St.
This music video is the perfect morning picker-upper. It's better than a shot of espresso.
Bitch, of the duo Bitch and Animal, recently released her second solo album, Blasted, and is now on tour in support of the Indigo Girls. No doubt the Indigo Girls are a couple of the most popular folk heroines—and deservedly so. "Closer to Fine" is a brilliant tune. And the duo's most recent album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, is pretty—but a bit tame.
Not Bitch. The video for "Kitchen" proves she's a powerful force, but more on the playful side than the bitchy one.
She opens the show this evening, March 17, at the University Theatre, at 8 p.m. The concert is being put on to raise awareness for the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project.
He's coming around fall 2011, or once the remaining 570 Buddha statues are finished at the Ewam Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Arlee. That's according to Georgia Milan, coordinator for the Dalai Lama’s pending Montana appearance.
Milan also recounts how the planned visit came about:
In fall 2009, Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche joined a delegation before the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled political and spiritual leader, in Washington, D.C. The Dalai Lama, having heard of Rinpoche’s efforts to establish a Buddhist garden north of Arlee, called Rinpoche forward and asked when he would be invited to Montana for the consecration.
“Rinpoche, in his infinite wisdom, said, ‘When it’s done,’” says Milan. “His Holiness told him, ‘Let me know.’”
Other details, courtesy of Alex Sakariassen's reporting today:
- Raquel Castellanos with Ewam International says she hopes to finalize fundraising plans for the garden by April to keep the project on track for next year.
- With the Dalai Lama’s blessing, the garden will become an international peace center.
- Simone Ellis, a member of Rinpoche’s sangha, or local community of practicing Buddhists, says logistics will be challenging. "One of the last times I covered him was in Idaho,” says Ellis, who also works as a journalist. “Boy, those 10,000 tickets for his public talk went literally overnight. We really need a big space for him to do a public talk so everybody can go, and it’s customary to have the tickets be free. He doesn’t like to make profit off his appearance.”
Look for more in Thursday's Indy.
As the AP's Matt Gouras reported Monday, an investigation by Montana prison officials has revealed that former Deer Lodge inmate Michael Murphy seduced multiple female prison employees into having sex with him.
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