It’s a pleasure in its own right to research, write and publish an in-depth story about a mysterious death that went largely unexamined in a city like Missoula. It’s even more satisfying when that story finds its way between the covers of an actual book like Notes from the Underground: The Most Outrageous Stories from the Alternative Press and is catapulted into the wider world—maybe even libraries—along with stories from renowned weekly newspapers like the New York’s Village Voice, LA Weekly, Portland’s Willamette Week and Denver’s Westword. “An Unresolved Death,” written by former Independent reporter Mike Keefe-Feldman and published on Sept. 11, 2003, recently got that honor. Keefe-Feldman’s story delved into the life and death of Jennifer Pate, whose birth certificate identified her as a male, Buddy Jo Rishel, though everyone—including her family—knew her as a vibrant 27-year-old female who loved to party. Pate died at St. Patrick Hospital after being transported from a bloody scene on Pattee Canyon Road. After initially saying they found Pate on the side of the road, her two male companions claimed she’d fallen out of the back of their truck. A juried coroner’s inquest that raised more questions than it answered recused Patrick Lawson and Christopher Brown of any wrongdoing. Keefe-Feldman’s story looked deeper into the victim’s life and death, interviewing Pate’s mother and a friend who had been with Pate hours before her death but was never interviewed for the investigation.
Keefe-Feldman’s article joins a slew of stories—about a fundamentalist Mormon colony, the life of an upscale call girl, a family broken up by the drug war—that went unexamined in mainstream media. We’re proud of the placement, and proud of Mike for putting us there.
Speaking of pride of place, Missoula’s own theatrical clown duo, Kevin Wall and Justin Rose, aka The Candidatos, have been making a splash on the festival circuit with their performance of I’m Sorry & I’m Sorry. Locals may remember the tale of acrobatic drunkenness and willful deception that debuted to sold-out showings at the Missoula Children’s Theatre in early June. That three-hour show has been whittled down to a festival-friendly 60 minutes, and played to standing-room-only audiences at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival in early August. Out of more than 160 shows at the festival, three official festival bloggers anointed I’m Sorry & I’m Sorry “Best-of Festival,” and it tied for the highest number of audience online reviews on the festival’s website (www.fringefestival.org). The performance is currently at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and due to popular demand three additional shows have been added to the two-week event.
But don’t fear missing out, local fans, The Candidatos have announced they will put the shortened show up at MCT once they return to Missoula. An early heads-up for your calendar: Sept 30, and Oct. 2, 6, 7 and 9. Stay tuned for more details.