Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shush up already

Posted on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 1:37 PM

We read with great interest Dan Brooks column on the Ryan Adams concert at the Wilma (see "Earning an encore," Aug. 18). We have attended several concerts at the Wilma and have been dismayed at the lack of respect and attention by audience members. We simply do not understand why anyone would pay money to hear an artist and then spend the evening talking over the performance. It is disrespectful to the artist certainly and is downright rude behavior to fellow audience members.

At a concert this summer we actually requested assistance from the staff to quiet those behind us at the bar who did not stop their chatter once the "warm-up" took the stage. In this case the talkative groups cooperated and we were able to enjoy the main performer. Unfortunately for friends, seated in the prime balcony front rows, even a request from staff and themselves did not silence the nonstop, loud conversation behind them—it continued for the entire concert. At this same seated performance another group of friends were on the main floor, close to the stage, and they could not even see the performers because the table in front of them insisted on standing and dancing through the entire performance. What the hell?

We think good manners should be in play here. The final result for us: We carefully choose who we will pay money to hear at the Wilma, a wonderfully restored venue.

We appreciate the article and the attention it will hopefully draw to this social problem.

Last, for years we have attended most of the performances in the Bitterroot Performing Arts series in Hamilton and have never encountered a problem with a disrespectful audience. Apparently the Bitterroot Valley crowd knows their manners!

Bobbie and Shirley McKibbin


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shared nature

Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 2:46 PM

Missoula is a wonderful place to live. Rich cultural experiences, excellent recreational access and a robust community of outdoor enthusiasts have dovetailed to create unparalleled quality of life in our town. And, well, the secret is out. Since 1990 Missoula's population has nearly doubled, and with that growth the constituency of trail users has exploded.

This increase in trail use by hikers, cyclists, runners and horseback riders has outpaced expansion of trail resources in recent years. User conflicts such as the one described by Ms. Hendricks in a recent letter to the editor (see "A place to walk," Sept. 8) can be mitigated through education campaigns, common etiquette and mutual respect, but a real solution lies in trail supply catching up with demand. The city of Missoula Open Space Program, Five Valleys Land Trust and concerned landowners are working hard to protect and expand public access for recreation of all types in the Missoula Valley. Those groups deserve our support over the next several years.

However, open space protection takes time. Until Missoula sees trail growth to match its population, the entire trail-using community needs to embrace the shared nature of public land. This means riding in control as well as remaining aware of our surroundings as we hike. It means leaving the headphones in the car and keeping our dogs under control. And it means acknowledging that different areas are tailored to different recreational preferences.

No one should recreate in anxiety of conflict, which is why MTB Missoula makes rider education and etiquette central to its mission. With that said, the title, "A place to walk" insinuates the false premise that hikers have no place to remove themselves from wheeled trail users.

Worth noting is that the southern half of Mount Jumbo is closed to bicycles, as is the vast majority of trails on Mount Sentinel and the entirety of the North Hills. The Rattlesnake Recreation Area features several miles of meandering creekside trails that are open only to hikers and horses, and Blue Mountain has many miles of trail that are off-limits for bikes. This is not to mention the 3.4 million acres of federally designated wilderness in Montana alone—including the Rattlesnake and Selway-Bitterroot wildernesses that frame our valley—where bicycles are not allowed.

The vast network of backyard trails is a large part of why we call Missoula home. It rests on all of us to protect this resource for the generations of tomorrow, and that starts with working together today. I encourage trail users of all stripes to get out and enjoy our trails but to be mindful of other recreationists, realistic in expectations of a heavily used trail network and vocal in support of Missoula open space.

Ben Horan

Board member

MTB Missoula


A lot of manure

Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 2:46 PM

The next president will have a big challenge on their agenda. How do they satisfy everyone? Who will get left out? Here are just a few wishes of individuals and groups that want their needs met, in no special order.

College students want less expensive tuition. Women want equal pay for equal work. The military wants more war materials. Big business wants more tax abatements. Ranchers and farmers want higher prices, but consumers want lower prices. Oil companies want more money for oil and gas, but car and truck drivers want lower gas prices. Students want less homework and need more time for themselves. Senior citizens want better and lower medical costs. The war mongers want war so they can make more money but the peace people want no wars. The polluters want less regulations so they can pollute more and make more money, but the environmentalists want more regulations.

Republicans and Democrats have forgotten how to work together. All they want to do is get even with each other and forget about helping the people in the United States. Most citizens want a government that works for all.

Elephants don't forget and donkeys are stubborn. You put them both in a room together and what do you get? A lot of manure. People want less manure and more accomplishments in America.

It seems like many of the politicians in Washington are like a vacuum sweeper. You plug them in, turn them on and you know what they do?

Everybody wants something but usually something turns into nothing! We need harmony and if we have harmony we need a conductor. A conductor needs a baton. A baton is a stick that Republicans and Democrats use to hit each other. We need harmony and progress. What do you want?

LaVon D. Brillhart



Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 2:45 PM

After reading Dan Brooks' column on rental prices and housing prices I took some issue with some of his statements and the figures used to make his argument seem much more dire than it really is (see "Home spree," Sept. 8).

As chair of the Missoula Organization of Realtors Housing Report I was surprised to see that Dan failed to mention that the expenditures Missoula tenants use on household expenses follows national trends, which is mentioned in the report. Additionally he uses a 20-year mortgage for his mortgage payment on a median house, which is unheard of. Usually it's a 30- year mortgage and, using the same rates that I believe he uses, that lowers the payment by almost $300. Dan also uses a 15- or 16-year span to report how Missoula median prices have changed, which is a factual number but using a very large time span to try to make his argument again seem much more dramatic.

Housing and rentals in Missoula do face major shortage and affordability issues. Our report shows that and it's something we hope continues the discussion to real affordable and attainable housing for more Missoulians. There's no denying that, however Dan's twisting of data, odd use of numbers and leaving out details comparable to national trends does not help with that discussion.

Brint Wahlberg


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Supporting Strohmaier

Posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 2:11 PM

I enthusiastically supported Stacy Rye in the recent Missoula County commissioner primary because of her record, her commitment to bringing greater efficiency and transparency to county business and her willingness to listen to all perspectives before coming to a decision.

Whatever Stacy's differences from her primary opponent, Dave Strohmaier, I believe their basic Democratic values show that they have more in common than what sets them apart. Their records as former colleagues on the Missoula City Council attests to that.

Therefore I'm pleased to endorse Dave Strohmaier for the general election. Primaries can be tough on Democrats, especially in an essentially one-party town like Missoula, but I believe it's important to come together at the end of the day. I've known Dave for nearly a decade and served with him on the Missoula City Council. I supported his bid for Congress and knocked doors for him when he ran for legislature. He's thoughtful, knowledgeable and an unwavering supporter of human rights and social justice. He'll also support continued investment in the things that make Missoula so special, such as a new library and conserving open space.

Please join me in supporting Dave Strohmaier in the general election.

Caitlin Copple

Boise, Idaho

A place to walk

Posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 2:10 PM

As Missoula has grown and more of the surrounding trails have become more crowded with recreational pursuits such as mountain biking, there have been a few places that remained places to walk in peace. Woods Gulch was one of those places until the last few years.

I have been walking the Woods Gulch trail for 20 years now, in all seasons. I know when the tiny calypso orchids bloom in the spring and where to look for them. In the summer I see Swainson's Thrush raise their nestlings tucked away in a blooming mock orange bush not more than an arm's length from the trail. Now, at summer's end the nutcrackers and gray jays are harvesting and catching nuts and fruits for the winter. In a few months, hopefully there will be snowshoe hare tracks in a snow-covered trail. Woods Gulch is a place of serenity and provides us with an opportunity to glimpse the wild. A place where one can walk and practice what the Japanese beautifully call shinrin-yokuwood-air bathing.

But this year Woods Gulch has been different. Mountain bikers are having their impact. There has always been mountain biking on the trail, and until recently walking and biking in Woods Gulch has not been in extreme conflict. Now, it is becoming dangerous to be a walker or animal on that trail. Three times this summer I have had frightening, heart-stopping experiences with bikers suddenly being right on top of me as they come skidding down the trail. Yesterday was the worst I had experienced, with three young bikers speeding over a blind spot in the trail and almost hitting me, and in their efforts to stop nearly colliding into each other. If my dog had been a few steps behind me, instead of in front, she would have been seriously injured or dead. Suffice it to say the benefits of wood-air bathing were out the window and an uncomfortable adrenaline headache took its place for me that day.

Woods Gulch is a steep narrow trail, with many blind curves and dips. It is being impacted by ever-increasing mountain biking activity. As bikers come down the steep trail, breaking and skidding, the trail is getting chewed up. Irresponsible bikers are banking up the sides of the trail and causing denuding of vegetation and scarring. Hikers are feeling less safe. I don't fear bears or mountain lions in Woods Gulch, but mountain bikers.

I am not writing to attack mountain biking as a sport; there are trails galore for mountain biking in the surrounding Missoula area. Many of those trails are far more suited to that activity as long as they are treated respectfully. Some trails should be shielded from mountain biking not only because of their fragility, but also for the wildlife, and yes, for a place to walk. Woods Gulch is one of those trails. Just as some trails have been closed to dogs for the sake of wildlife, so too, if the conflict becomes too great, a trail should be closed to a heavy impact activity such as mountain biking when the "bike print" becomes too great.

If you have experienced similar issues with mountain biking traffic on the Woods Gulch trail I encourage you to write the Lolo National Forest District Ranger Jennifer Hensiek. It is time to speak up to preserve Woods Gulch and create a new use plan for that trail system.

Lisa Hendricks


The Hag

Posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 2:09 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Erika Fredrickson's interview with Rodney Crowell (see "Star on the water," Aug. 25), once I finished choking over the first paragraph. To merely reference the lyrics quoted to kick off the article like they were just some random song, especially in an article about a country singer-songwriter, is an injustice I just couldn't pass over. A simple Google search of those famous lines about loving Montana would have led straight to the classic country song, "Big City," by the legendary late Merle Haggard. Why is there no mention of this, when it would have only made the introduction that much more meaningful?

Although the article doesn't specify, after several readings I can only assume the author was hearing a cover band and not listening to a recording of the original version, in Haggard's unmistakable voice. Otherwise, referring to Haggard himself—with that unmistakable voice—as an anonymous musician would be another grievance in and of itself. I have to go with the benefit of the doubt.

I get that the article was about Crowell, but few are the country artists who wouldn't cite the Hag at the top of their list of influences. Whether the omission was conscious editing or simply oblivious, in an article dedicated to country music it was so glaring that I felt compelled to set the record straight.

Jessie Lundberg


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Safe, happy place

Posted on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:34 PM

I've enjoyed smoking weed since my Griz days. I couldn't take the college drinking hangovers with a full class load and a part-time job. I smoked. I graduated in four years.

Twenty years later I've returned to my beloved Montana after years in Pennsylvania, a non-medical marijuana state. My posh Pennsylvania birth center midwives commended me for trying organic marijuana for severe morning (read: all-day) sickness. They told me they were so happy I told them, because they couldn't recommend it for me even though they knew it would stop my rapid weight loss. They marked it in my chart and seven out of seven midwives told me as long as I'm getting it from a clean source it is perfectly safe. I could have a joint before meals. Ten years later, I moved back home with chronic pain from a ruptured disk and got my card.

I switched six times to find the provider that grew the strain that worked best for me. It was hard not to be able to comparison shop, so this process took eight months. Then I found Lionheart. The quality and the customer service was excellent. I jumped on the first job opportunity and became a budtender. Because of the legislative and judicial undoing of the 2004 vote by our citizens to make this a pioneer medical marijuana state, I'll now be laid off (see "Etc.," Aug. 25).

Every day at my job is a positive medical experience. Our members are your grandparents with cancer and your neighbors with shingles. People who have horrible seizures have none on cannabis. Zero. They don't want to grow their own. They need our organic salves and edibles. They want to come see us in a safe, happy place. Vote YES on I-182 in November.

Erica Siate


Turn it down

Posted on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:33 PM

As a long-time music festivalgoer and lover of music of most kinds, I must pass along a comment and request to the River City Roots Festival promoters, the Missoula Downtown Association and sponsors. My wife and I went to hear Darrell Scott Friday evening. We could not stay, despite Darrell's guitar virtuosity.

We were reminded why we'd stopped coming to recent River City Roots Festivals. The volume the sound system was set at was a nigh-painful level. It is permanently costing listeners within a block-and-a-half, I estimate, elements of their hearing—hearing losses they will never recover. It's louder near the buildings on Main Street where there's a canyon effect, and we could hear the music well a full four blocks away, by the library. Whether in the middle of the streets nearby or on sidewalks, though, there's widespread hearing loss happening at this festival. The sound system guys don't appreciate this (I asked). They've no doubt lost hunks of their hearing long ago.

I know this level of volume is currently popular at some music festivals. Still, it's dangerous to people's health—something most festivalgoers won't realize for several years, since hearing loss accrues gradually.

Audiologists and hearing aid sellers no doubt appreciate the business you're helping to send them. Did you, however, notice the wide swathes of empty street between the craft booths and the stage, where listeners in other years have stood at the same hour? I wonder if many people, like ourselves now, stay away to save their hearing.

You've turned up the volume in recent years. Maybe it's good for beer sales, but you're costing Missoulians and other attendees parts of their hearing. Please turn it down.

Eric Mendelson


Bernie and Jill

Posted on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:32 PM

In Derek Brouwer's story in the Aug. 11 Indy (see "Missoula for Jill"), he reports that Danielle Breck, a UM law student and staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders, is now volunteering in Jill Stein's candidacy for the upcoming presidential election.

Bernie himself made a vigorous and eloquent statement on behalf of Hillary Clinton shortly after her acceptance of the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, based on their many years of shared public service. He emphasized that failure to vote for her would increase the risk of a Trump presidency.

I realize that most who've "felt the Bern" were not around when Hitler and Mussolini were in charge of their fascist dictatorships, but I find Trump's style chillingly similar to those authoritarians. In addition, I've been a long-time advocate of the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, and I feel I must do what I can to keep Trump's finger off the nuclear trigger.

I understand that soon Bernie will make clear his plan to continue the political movement he started and that it will include voting for Hillary, electing more progressive democrats and making sure that conservatives and the GOP generally stop their obstructive tactics.

Welcome aboard!

Mike Chessin


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