Who wants to be a cowboy?

Starved for a new generation of celebrities (it’s getting harder and harder to work up a good head of hype over Huey Lewis) Bitterroot residents feasted their eyes on music heavy Kid Rock and pop-culture vixen Pamela Anderson during Thanksgiving weekend. Local scuttlebutt had the couple in town to visit country legend Hank Williams, Jr., at his place in Victor. Rock appeared on Williams’ current Almeria Club album, and the two have performed together recently.

“I don’t actually know who Kid Rock is,” Bitterroot Market and Emporium owner Jim Wood said. “But people under 35 were really excited.”

A pancho-wrapped Anderson and Rock bought breakfast and a couple bottles of wine at the Emporium, then it was off to Ford’s department store to stock up on flannel shirts for Rock. Beach bunny Anderson adjusted to the Rocky Mountain climate by buying a pair of gloves and some thermal underwear.

But perhaps the largest largesse of the day was bestowed upon the Music Box, ground zero for musical accoutrements in the Bitterroot. After warming up with a few Bob Seger tunes, Rock bought an acoustic guitar crafted by Bittersweet Guitars, a local manufacturer.

“He liked the tone,” Music Box owner Jim Hayes said. “It was a pine guitar. Probably something you won’t find anywhere else.” Hayes also discovered that Rock doesn’t read music. “He doesn’t read a single note. Neither one of us really read. We both play,” he said.

Word on the street? Locals say the famous couple came across kind and humble, adding to speculation that they might actually be real people, and not just phantasms of the popular imagination, as many have long assumed. Rock and Anderson were last spotted at Missoula International Airport on Monday, flying off into the sunset. •••

With friends like Bocephus, Kid and Pam probably needn’t worry about it, but one thing about being homeless in Montana: It gets you reacquainted with the hierarchy of needs. Oxygen and water are still free to the indigent (for the time being) and food is easy enough to score for most, but finding a warm place to sleep can be a problem. Fortunately, many regular clients of the Poverello Center have talents on par with Roald Admunsen when it comes to spending an arctic night outdoors.

The affable California surfer-type, who calls himself “Blondie,” tried to convert heat-seekers to a business proposition last winter: He owned two junker cars parked downtown, and rented them out to fellow tramps for a buck a night. It wasn’t exactly toasty in the backseat of Blondie’s Buicks, but at least they kept the snow off. Blondie rented on credit, and said he was ultimately too soft-hearted to collect from his friends come spring. Bye bye business.

More suggestions from the frontlines: Buy a cup of coffee at The Oxford, one of Missoula’s few all-night joints, and make it last until dawn. When the bartender turns hard-hearted and kicks you out, huddle in an enclosed bank ATM, or try to pass as an inconspicuous shopper in a 24-hour convenience store. The last refuge is to walk in circles all night long, employing the warmth of motion to ward off hypothermia.

One resourceful traveler named James, a veteran of the Alaska oil fields, recommends digging a small cave in the snow to keep the wind off. “Roll your sleeping bag out in that hole,” he says, “and you won’t even get cold.” A country boy will survive, indeed.

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