You know what’s been the best part of reading the Entertainer this year? Not having to! We already scored ace arts writer Susanna Sonnenberg in the fallout of the Missoulian’s latest de-localization, and with reviewer Bryan Di Salvatore’s byline MIA in the weakly, er, weekly since December, it’s been like having a permanent note from our parents excusing us from reading the rag at all—there’s nothing worth the effort left in there.

Perhaps we should clarify what we liked about Di Salvatore’s movie reviews—more to the point, what we liked about his alter ego, Cine-Man. It wasn’t Cine-Man’s judgement or taste in movies, that’s for sure (like we’d trust a reviewer who gave four stars to Bicentennial Man!). Nor was it the dashed-off, shabbily-edited quality of most of the reviews—although in fairness, the latter was probably beyond Di Salvatore’s purview to correct, and to a certain degree the sloppy copy treatment accentuated what we did like about Cine-Man.

Namely the bluster, the preening self-importance, the lopsided sense of proportion, the easily-bruised vanity trembling behind the raging-bull persona trying like hell to show that he didn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thought of him. Essentially everything that’s supposed to turn people off in a writer—that’s what we liked about Cine-Man.

Also the contrast between Di Salvatore as Cine-Man and Di Salvatore the contributor to Outside and The New Yorker, the mild-mannered Clark Kent to Cine-Man’s hilariously vain Superman, fond of words like “puling” and “flinty-eyed” and given to a gruff but genuine, cock-eyed optimism.

With no more Cine-Man in the Entertainer (and to read his swan-song piece in last week’s issue, you’d think that no one had ever reviewed a movie before Cine-Man or since!), which Di Salvatore can we expect to find scribbling the new what-ever-he-feels-like column the Missoulian has planned for him?

If it’s any indication, we count at least three regular Entertainer contributors who have started writing about their pets in recent months—a reliable sign of columnar desperation. But desperation and despondence seem like all Lee Enterprises has to offer its Missoulian employees these days, poor buggers. Personally, we think Di Salvatore should have hung it up at the Entertainer with Cine-Man’s cape, but at least for now, it looks like we’ll have to keep reading.

•••

A debate over nudie dancing is hot stuff to start with, but it seems Montana’s judiciary committees are insistent on making it even hotter.

First the Senate Judiciary Committee pulled the plug on public broadcast of a hearing on two bills concerning strip clubs (one seeks to ban boobs in clubs that serve booze, another would give local governments more authority to regulate what they consider indecent exposure). Then the committee employed security guards to ensure that no children or senate pages under the age of 18 entered the room during obscene discussion—of which, it turns out, there was none.

Haven’t these people heard of 2 Live Crew? Marilyn Manson? Madonna? Aren’t they aware that banning things makes them intriguing? Don’t they know that man’s carnal nature demands flesh most when he’s prohibited from viewing it? Apparently not.

Across the building, the House Judiciary Committee is taking a decidedly different approach to the public’s access to nudie bill wrangling. In a last-minute scheduling change, the committee ended up hearing testimony on a bill to establish what is and is not permissible entertainment in premises with alcohol licenses on the same morning that testimony was to be heard on a medical marijuana bill.

Montana NORML director John Masterson and a few of the marijuana bill’s supporters had a theory on why the committee heard both bills in a single morning: Come to protest the lascivious dancing, stay to protest the devil’s weed. But apparently none of the Charlie Church types stuck around to rail against the evils of marijuana.

“The worried-looking church ladies all left after the nudie bar thing was over,” says Masterson, and the medical marijuana bill passed the Judiciary Committee 15-3.

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