Saturday, June 2, 2012

Indy at 21: Riots, rock and roll

Posted By on Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 11:30 AM

The Independent is celebrating its 21st birthday all year long and, about this time next week, we'll host a birthday party under sunny skies in Caras Park.

We're talking food, drinks (including a specially made Indy Red Ale courtesy of Blacksmith Brewing), family friendly activities and live music from:

Jameson and the Sordid Seeds
Sick Kids XOXO
Skin Flowers
Off in the Woods
Baby & Bukowski
Plus sets from the Tallest DJ in America, Aaron Traylor.

It should be a good time and, like our paper every week, the event is FREE. Things kick off at 2.

But there's more to this birthday celebration. In addition to the party, we've been re-running a standout cover from the Indy archives each week in the printed paper. Three of the more recent ones are worth mentioning, in part because the stories appear in our online archives. That means you can re-read 'em and re-live important pieces of Missoula's history.

Here they are:

One of the more notable Indy covers of all time marks one of Missoula's darkest moments: the police riots from August 2000. The award-winning images are not online (we're working on that), but the text is, and along with the cover it gives you a sense of what went down in downtown between Missoulians and police.

Here's the beginning of the intro:

Among the broken bottles and protest flyers that still litter downtown’s streets, you will find what’s left of the Missoula we thought we were. A community that for generations has prided itself on civic involvement, open dialogue and old-fashioned neighborhood unity has, in the past week, seen its pleasant self-image taken to task. Some would say, shattered into splinters. Over the course of two days, everything changed. Everything that we expected to happen, happened in reverse.

In 2007, in honor of Elton John's upcoming Adams Center concert, humor writer and honky tonk extraordinaire Bob Wire made a stunning confession: He's an unabashed fan of Sir Elton.

How could that happen? Wire explains:

During my pubescent Wonder Years, my dad’s Johnny Cash and Buck Owens albums filled our house with hard country. Meanwhile, I was hunkered down in my bedroom listening to Elton John. Hank, Johnny, Patsy and Merle may be stamped on my DNA, but Elton’s music is embedded in my heart and soul.

Were there no Elton John, there would be no Bob Wire.

Why would a gutbucket guitar slinger like myself owe a debt of gratitude to a flamboyant, piano-pounding purveyor of pop? Simple: Elton rocks.

Former editor Brad Tyer wrote one of his first cover stories on the effort to build a new feature in downtown Missoula: Brennan's Wave. When he wrote the article in 2003, the water feature that now draws big crowds along the Clark Fork and world-class kayakers for official competitions didn't exist. It was still an idea in need of $200,000 in fundraising. But a group was determined to build the water park in honor of late kayaker Brennan Guth.

On the face of it, the project calls for the engineering of an effective new weir for a ditch company and a dip in the river for budding Brad Luddens to practice cartwheels—noble, if narrow, goals all. But beyond that, what Brennan’s Wave supporters propose is a rehabilitation of a scarred landscape
into a natural—which is to say conducive—gathering place for people who like to be around rivers, who like the things that rivers do, and who like the things they can do upon them. A place for people to come together.

Brennan would dig it, but he’d be red-faced to see his name on it, Doc Dave insists.

There you have it — some rainy weekend reading. Be sure to check next week's printed Indy for the next classic cover, usually found inside our calendar, 8 Days a Week. And, of course, hope to see you Saturday, June 9, for the party.

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