On the Cover of The Daily News

To the tune of, well, you get it.

I’d say I’m as rooted in my new job as the hops vining up the side of my house, and the clips keep climbing likewise.

My official beats now are the city of Longview (where I get to do stuff like this); Lower Columbia College (graduation tomorrow); and Cowlitz PUD, our ever-scandalous public electric utility (here’s this month’s quagmire).

It’s fantastic getting to meet people I might otherwise never even see — like Dr. Fuesler —and be the mighty check on governments that, even at the local level, have plenty to hide.

And then there are the squirrel bridges:

The Longview Sandbaggers and Squirrel Fest mascot Sandy B. McNutt unveil Longview's fourth squirrel bridge during opening ceremonies of the 2013 Squirrel Fest. Photo by John Markon.
The Longview Sandbaggers and Squirrel Fest mascot Sandy B. McNutt unveil Longview’s fourth squirrel bridge during opening ceremonies of the 2013 Squirrel Fest. Photo by John Markon.

It’s a strange place, Longview.

Of course I’m still working toward getting my byline on the cover of the Rolling Stone (see what I did there?) so I popped out a review of the ramblin’ Jonathan Warren and The Billy Goats for the Indy this week, alongside Bozeman, Mont.’s surprisingly solid Panther Car.

In other news, Americans are using the word “nil” with increasing frequency, though experts predict a drop-off by mid-July. Cheers.

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Whirlwind week

Or, week and a half.

I’ve been everywhere, it seems, meeting just about everyone I’ll need to know and seeing everything I need to see to cover Longview, Lower Columbia College and Wahkiakum County. I’ve got the stories to prove it, too.

My first cover story also became my first owned issue, and I even claim credit for the headline:

FirstA1 It’s always nice to see a packed Parks and Rec meeting following a real ball-breaking issue like this.

And don’t miss my favorite lead I’ve written so far: “Jesus came to town in a gray Honda Civic with Oregon plates.”

But I’m still a music man, too, so I got to write up the review for Missoula’s psych-pop “scuzz rock” quartet Skin Flowers.

And don’t miss photographer and close friend Tim Goessman’s 2011-2013 Missoula DIY reflections. He unveiled the little-before-seen archive of photos from the scene we were both very invested in, and the results are a good look at what makes it tick. Even got a shoutout on the Indy’s arts blog.

Off to a City Council meeting; is my tie on straight?

Sound Start to the Year

This week I was asked to churn out a quick review of Lavoy, the Spokane-via-Alaska synth pop group in Missoula tonight, and a complete reversal of that description in my general praise of British producer Burial. While the former had better criticism (at times I just wanted to help the band more than the reader), I had good fun in a few lines in the latter. Go forth and read Brooks!

On the Headwall front, Facebook has a new algorithm, and I think it targets scheduled posts, especially those with links. In other words, Facebook wants money for exposure. So if you’ve been missing my clever posts, blame Mr. Zuckerberg. I’ll be decoding the way into your feed all month. Or year, if I must.

Oh, and the newest issue is available online, in addition to an e-edition I’ve linked to in the cover below. Cheers.

5.4 Headwall template - final-real_Layout 1

Fires and Smoke

It’s been a few Augusts since I was able to breathe deeply outside — though the air is clear in Idaho Falls, back in Missoula the Lolo Creek Complex has shut down part of Highway 12 and smothered the city in smoke. In central Idaho, the Beaver Creek Fire has also gained national attention for its size (bigger than the city of Portland) and unpredictability. Which all means it’s a very exciting time to be a journalist. Even sitting at the copy desk, I scan county twitter feeds, police scanners and inciweb.org with this untouchable thrill. Because I know I should be out there. My job isn’t done until you can’t wash that campfire smell from me.

The real point of this post was to share my story (essay really) from the 2013 Fresh Facts, a funny piece on activism in Missoula. Online it’s only available as an e-edition, so head on up to page 28 or, in the case you live in Missoula, pick one up off a stand near you.

I’m going to design out the second story I wrote into a graphic, so look for that soon.

Be well and do good work. I’ll see you out there

The Middle

Or at least very close to it. And already I’m putting out A1s:

Holiday covers have to be subtly cheeky, see.
Holiday covers have to be subtly cheeky, see.

Pretty happy about that, as you can guess. Just a few more weeks refining my Quark skills before we switch to InDesign, where I should really shine (what with the 400-level course, 10-day intensive training and general usage).

Speaking of general usage, I updated my resumé, clips and my LinkedIn profile to better reflect, well, the last two months. They’ve been busy, what can I say (see below).

Another reason I named this post “The Middle” was to have some segue into my Jimmy Eat World review, though there wasn’t really a transition there anyway. A good band with a so-so album, a careful balance to strike.

Anyway, not to keep you too long, here’s a photo of Idaho Falls’ Whiskey Sasquatch from a few weeks ago. They play rockabilly this and rockabilly that and cover the Ramones multiple times a set, completely sincere.

The lead singer/guitarist won the 2011 Bukowski Fest costume contest at Missoula's Wilma Theatre. He took Walter to the next level.
The lead singer/guitarist won the 2011 Bukowski Fest costume contest at Missoula’s Wilma Theatre. He took Walter to the next level.

In Case You Missed It

I realize I have yet to post the result of a semester studying and reporting on the personal economy of the Fort Peck Reservation. Well don’t let me put any more words between it and you:

Necessary Alternatives

I would post some of Sam Wilson’s great photos, but go watch the video first and find the photos speckled throughout the best long read I’ve written. Don’t skimp on the other stories, especially Taylor Anderson’s Fort Belknap story with multimedia by Hunter D’Antuono (whom I’m trusting with my wedding photography). I’m happy to have come up with the title of the package that went out in print and online: Vast Expenses. Headline writing is good fun.

Meanwhile, in Idaho Falls: heat. The heat wave that is baking the southwest is definitely reaching its fiery fingers into the northern West. It’ll be in the 90s all week — what better time to be looking for a sea kayak on Craigslist. Also, here’s today’s West cover package:

White space is to design as silence is to orchestration.
White space is to design as silence is to orchestration.

I’ll be in Missoula on my first three-day weekend before working July 4 and after, just in time to catch this band I was lucky enough to review, Ivan & Alyosha. They sound like the subtle sadness of a gray Seattle day in a light folk rock way. Perfect.

Paper Birds and Sky-High Fires

Remember how I set that new goal for myself, “don’t compare reviewed artists to other artists?” Yeah, already broke that one in the first line of my review of Paper Bird. A rugged sort of pop grows in those Colorado hills, it seems. My review mentions the Avett Brothers, and no you will never stop hearing about them, especially with their just-scheduled stop at the Adams Center in Missoula. (!) Glorious.

Speaking of Missoula, I took a bit of a geographic and literary stretch with my new favorite headline on today’s West cover:

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 1.38.07 PM
“A River Runs Through It,” get it?

Fires are going to be pretty bad this summer (already are in parts of the West), made worse by the sequester’s effect on the Forest Service’s budget. Put out your fires, campers. Before you leave, the ashes should be cool enough to dip your, well, parts of your body you wouldn’t normally hold to a fire. It’s the climate, sure, but farmers here pay the same rate for water as the rest of us, which is leading me on an interesting data-collecting adventure… But more on that later, likely much later.

As for tonight off, time for some minor league baseball. The Idaho Falls Chukars, in my beloved Missoula Osprey’s Pioneer League, reportedly have a chance this year after missing the playoffs for six straight years. The Royals spread their rookies over three teams instead of the usual two, but a handshake apparently got I.F. a few top picks this year. But hey, I’m just in it for the hot dogs and beer. Or rather, hot dog and beers. Cheers.