Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Native Missoulian reports in from Katashina, Japan

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Since the record-breaking 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11, a number of interesting local connections have come to light. A group of local residents have even raised funds to get Missoula homeboy and Hellgate High grad Brandon Palmer and his family to the Garden City, away from the disaster that continues to unfold half a world away (the Palmer family is due in to Missoula this evening, according to fundraising leader Rick Heilman). News organizations are now reporting this as the costliest natural disaster in history.

Another native son has opted to remain in Japan, however, continuing his work as an English teacher and helping aid efforts in whatever way he can. The Indy contacted Brian McGrath yesterday via Facebook for a quick question-and-answer session on what he saw, and he plans to do next. We also spoke briefly with his father, Tom McGrath, who described the hours between when he heard about the quake and when his son finally phoned home as "stressful." Here's the news from Katashina, a small village of 5,000, two weeks after the quake from the eyes of one of Missoula's own.

Indy: What was the scene in your area like immediately following the earthquake?

McGrath: I live in the village of Katashina located in Gunma Prefecture. Besides the initial shaking of the earthquake, my area sustained minimal damage. Older architecture may have received slight damage in a few locations around me, but other than that nothing of real consequence. People were scared by the force and length of the quake, but at the time no one realized how unique it was.

Indy: When did your thoughts first turn to contacting family in Missoula?

McGrath: I attempted to reach my family soon after the quake. I was aware that it had been fairly strong, and I wanted to let them know I was okay before things were picked up by the international media. I wasn't aware of the damage it had caused or the impending tsunami. I just wanted to contact them and let them know I was fine.

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Were you under the impression that the sky is completely mapped? It’s not. Advances in technology are unveiling a nonstop flow of new mysteries. In a recent lecture, astronomer Joshua Bloom of the University of California described the explosion of wonder. One particular telescope, for example, detects 1.5 million transient phenomena every night, and an average of 10 of those turn out to be previously undiscovered. Reporting on Bloom’s work, Space.com compared astronomers’ task to “finding a few needles in a giant haystack night after night.” I see this challenge as resembling your imminent future, Aries. Mixed in with all the chatter and hubbub, there are some scattered gems out there—rich revelations and zesty potentials. Will you have the patience to pinpoint them?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: fun with guns, inhaling food (literally) and the 575-pound spokesperson for the Heart Attack Grill drops dead at age 29.

Curses, Foiled Again
Robert Michelson, 21, called 911 wanting to know how much trouble he could get into for growing one marijuana plant. When the dispatcher told him he could be arrested, Michelson said thank you and hung up. The dispatcher promptly notified police, who went to Michelson’s house in Farmington, Conn., and arrested him for marijuana possession. (Associated Press)

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Headline news

Posted By on Sun, Mar 20, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Today's Missoulian included a story with a particularly eye-catching headline: "Poll: Majority of Montanans favor repeal of medical marijuana law."

That sounds like big news.

The first sentence, however, offers a little context: "A slim majority of Montanans favor repealing the law legalizing medical marijuana, but in response to another question, a much larger percentage support tightening regulations on the industry rather than terminating the law, a new Lee Newspapers poll shows."

Basically, when asked if they'd repeal the 2004 law that legalized marijuana, 52 percent of those polled answered yes, hence the headline. When asked a different question, 83 percent said they preferred the state enact stricter regulations to the current law rather than leaving it intact. Reporter Chuck Johnson (who, it should be noted, doesn't handle headlines) went on to explain perhaps the most notable part of the poll:

Another question asked voters to choose among three options: repealing the medical marijuana law, enacting stricter regulations or leaving the current law intact.

The poll showed 57 percent backing stricter regulations and licensing requirements, while 31 percent wanted to repeal the law and 11 percent favored keeping the current law intact. The remaining 1 percent were uncertain.

This answer would appear to raise questions about the headline. So, how did other Lee newspapers handle the same story? They took a decidedly different approach than their Missoula colleagues.

Helena I-R: "Cannabis: Most polled prefer regulation to repeal."

Billings Gazette: "Gazette Poll: Tightening up medical marijuana law preferable to repeal."

Montana Standard: "Lee newspaper poll: Tighten up law on pot, don't repeal."

Friday, March 18, 2011

A sorta Missoula-related March Madness story

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 4:00 PM

It's hard to find local March Madness stories since UM missed the Big Dance and former Griz coaches Stew Morrill and Blaine Taylor were bounced in yesterday's games. But we do have this:

In an interview posted yesterday on ESPN.com, Missoula resident and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament talked about his new music project, skateboarding and, since it's March, college basketball. For those who don't know, Ament is a huge sports fan; he's long sat courtside at Griz basketball games and he donned a Griz hoops jersey at the end of PJ's last Missoula concert. During the course of the ESPN conversation, Ament was asked about the best college basketball games he's ever attended. That led to the unlikely story of Ament fetching Coke for CBS commentators Jim Nantz and Billy Packer during the 2003 Final Four.

I've seen a couple Final Fours. The last Final Four I saw was [2003] in New Orleans when Syracuse won. Billy Packer's kid is a big Pearl Jam fan and during the games Billy's kid was like his runner so he got to basically sit kind of right next to him at half court. And he let me be the runner for the championship game. So twice during the game I had to get Billy and Jim Nantz Cokes just to make it seem like I was doing something.

Why was Ament talking to ESPN's "The Life"? Mostly to promote Tres Mts., his new side project. The band just released its first album and is currently on an East Coast tour. Look for more about Tres Mts. in an upcoming issue of the Indy.

Happiest Hour: The Iron Horse Brew Pub

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 3:30 PM

The sun made another appearance today, bringing the temp in Missoula up to light-jacket levels. Didn't help our desire to get the weekend started fast, so here's your drink-time preview. See you at the taps.

This week: The Iron Horse Brew Pub, a.k.a. the I-Ho

What you’re drinking: In honor of Missoula’s impending spring fever, the Tulip seemed like a solid choice this week. Billed as “an Iron Horse favorite,” this refreshing little ditty blends Absolut Vodka with Bols Black Raspberry Schnapps and a decent helping of lemonade. The Tulip balances out some of the Iron Horse’s hotter menu items, like the Kansas City BBQ sandwich, without losing its springtime flavor. Sorority girl connotations aside (the mixer proves a welcome alternative to the standard vodka-cran), the Tulip hits the spot when the sun starts its annual teasing routine.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Catlin Trail opponents win battle, but fight not officially over

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Opponents of the proposed Catlin Trail development declared victory yesterday after nine members of the Missoula City Council unanimously voted against investor Steven Sann’s request to increase density on his two-plus-acre property behind the Good Food Store.

“I just started smiling and I couldn’t stop,” says Jeremy Watterson, who lives close to the proposed project.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Al Jazeera hits Helena to cover wolf debate

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 3:10 PM

The global news network Al Jazeera stopped in at Montana's capitol recently to get the skinny on the state's debate over gray wolf management. Featured in their coverage were ranch couple Richard and Druska Kinkie, Defenders of Wildlife Rocky Mountain Region Director Michael Leahy and Montana Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon. Barrett introduced three bills this session aimed at revising state management procedures regarding large predators.

Looks like the question of handing wolf management responsibilities over to state agencies is gathering international attention. Check out the video.

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This week's protest: protecting medical marijuana

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

In the aftermath of Monday's federal raids of medical marijuana providers across the state, Montanans for Responsible Legislation (MRL), Garden Mother Herbs and Zoo Mountain Natural Care have planned a unity march in Missoula for Saturday, March 19, at "high noon." (Their words, not mine.)

The march, titled "Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets," will start at Caras Park and end up at the county courthouse. MRL founder Doug Chyatte and local herbalist Katrina Farnum will address the crowd, calling for officials to respect Montana voters' rights.

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Like Bob Dylan in his 1962 song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” you’ve done a lot of rough and tumble living lately. You’ve “stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains.” You’ve “stepped in the middle of seven sad forests.” You’ve “been out in front of a dozen dead oceans.” Maybe most wrenching of all, you’ve “seen a highway of diamonds with nobody on it.” The good news is that the hard rain will end soon. In these last days of the downpour, I suggest you trigger a catharsis for yourself. Consider doing something like what Dylan did: “I’ll think it and speak it and breathe it / And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it.”

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