Archive for June 18th, 2010

by Pete Talbot

(When interviewed in the Missoulian years ago, 4&20 founder Jay Stevens said that to be a successful blogger, one should blog daily. Well, we’ve certainly missed that deadline. Time for this slacker to take up the slack. I have no idea where jhwygirl or JC are, which should reinforce, gentle reader, the autonomy of 4&20’s writers.

Thanks to problembear for stepping back in and providing a few posts.

Here are some underdeveloped thoughts bouncing around my brain. Consider this an open thread.)

Is downtown dying?

Missoulian reporter Betsy Cohen paints a rather rosy picture of Downtown Missoula. Despite the loss of downtown’s last drug store (A&C), Pipestone Mountaineering, Moose Creek Mercantile, et al. — and, of course, Macy’s — downtown retailers are saying everything is OK. What are they going to say, “Hey, we’re dying here.”?

I don’t have the solution. I know we welcomed every big box store, chain store and franchise imaginable out on Reserve Street. Built them big, new roads and everything.

I also know the economy isn’t helping but I’ve watched downtown survive (barely) Missoula’s economic ebb and flow through a few of these cycles.

One thought: Macy’s should give its old Missoula building to the city. It’s not like the company put a lot of money into it. Folks in the know say Macy’s sank a bunch of bucks into various suburban malls around the country but sort of ignored its downtown stores (example: the dozen pre-World War II swamp coolers on the roof of our Macy’s, meant to cool the place).

Over the last century, Missoulians have paid their dues and supported the businesses in that building. C’mon, Macy’s, you owe us. Sound like socialism? I suppose. But really, I’m all in favor of entrepreneurship and making a profit and all that, but the (Missoula Mercantile, Bon Marche) Macy’s building is more than brick and mortar, it’s the heart of downtown. We deserve it.

(I also believe that Smurfit-Stone should give the Missoula Community its mill in Frenchtown but that’s the subject of another post.)

Of oil spills and tar sands

The BP oil spill is world-wide news and an environmental disaster. Closer to home, massive rigs will be rolling through some of the most primitive and beautiful country in the nation, headed to the tar sands fields in Canada. Then there are the even bigger drums, departing Lewiston, Idaho, in the next few weeks for the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings. Is there an end, in the near future, to these affronts to Mother Nature? No. All are inexorably connected to our addiction to oil. We are as responsible for these assaults on our environment as are ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP.

What to do? David Sirota has a few tips for decreasing demand – nothing earth shattering but every little bit helps.

Then there’s this suggestion: a higher fuel tax. Now what sort of tree-hugging Commie would suggest this? None other than Car and Driver columnist Aaron Robinson. Car and Driver is a car enthusiast’s magazine dedicated to, for the most part, high performance vehicles (I’m a closet motorhead and have fantasies of 12-cylinder Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston-Martins). A higher gas tax, according to Robinson, would lead to better designed, more efficient vehicles; a reduced demand for petroleum and a corresponding cleaner environment; and more money in this country’s coffers.

Some (Democratic) humor

Let’s end this on a humorous note, courtesy of my cousin, Laura Mae:

“Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and said, “Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?”

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires. So my wife called him a shit-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote. Personally, we didn’t care. We came into town by bus and saw the car had a Sarah Palin bumper sticker. We try to have a little fun each day now that we’re retired. It’s important at our age.”


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