Editing, Travelling and Opining

I never thought my last semester of J-School would be this busy! Wait, no, this is right on par. Sorry I’ve been away for so long, there have been a few developments:

I’ve been hired on as the (interim) copy editor for the Missoula Independent, a weekly Tuesday shift of slinging AP style and slaying comma splices. Believe it or not, it’s actually pretty thrilling. Or, at least it thrills me. I’ll be there until I start up in Idaho Falls this summer.

Indy Masthead

My Native News project — a yearly capstone class that teams writers with a photo/videographer for a week on one of Montana’s reservations — is well under way. I’ll be on the Fort Peck Reservation over spring break with Samuel Wilson to produce a 3,000-word piece on… actually, it’s a surprise. But you can find it online and in print in the Missoulian and Billings Gazette in June. We’ll have a running Twitter feed and photostream when we get up there, hopefully that will quell some of your curiosity. Just two weeks till showtime.

I’m still writing music too! Here are some of this week’s album reviews: Lo-fi locals Needlecraft have a new lineup and vinyl out and Minneapolis punks Off With Their Heads get a little too clean for their own good.

Finally, there was some fallout from my most recent Keep Missoula Weird column. Which is exactly what a good, opinion-filled column needs to do. Not to mention I wouldn’t trust an arts editor that didn’t have strong opinions about music. I would Storify the Twitter backlash from jam band fans that proved my point, but it’s not exactly Rated E for Everyone.

Oh, and my Twins commentary — we’re a seven-inning team thus far. We’ve blown it in the eighth more times than I care to remember. But at least our records get wiped clean again when we start the real season against the Tigers (gulp) April 1. Until then~

It’s Hard to Mention the Group WHY? Without Extra Explanation

Yet if you read my review of their latest album you won’t worry much. While I first heard Yoni + Co years ago I never thought they would actually remain relevant. But leave it to some clever songwriting and a pretty steadfast musical ethic (get in, make a scene, get out) to create some noteworthy records. They’ve grown. Speaking of…

The first line in my quick review of Missoula’s King Elephant references “growing up.” Can I just clarify that it’s a time (and many places) that I love, and the end result is irrelevant. Really, when are we done growing up? I could go deeper but if you listen to the band you might get what I mean. The DIY ethic in King Elephant is as infallible as my yearning to remain young and I can’t wait to see Tim Goessman’s documentary about their tour.

Wait! Before you go pour another cup of coffee, read about how it affects my little Montana village in this week’s arts column.

As for the Twins, I think they traded some good infielders for a crapshoot of pitchers. Grapefruit League starts on Saturday, so we’ll see what surprises they might have…

Copper Kings (And Queen)

After a few months sitting on this massive feature story, it finally grew legs and ran in the Independent this week. Less massive (cut in half) but more poignant, my final piece from Hank Stuever’s Reporting Pop Culture class tells the story of a successful bar band in the context of the only country bar in Missoula — the Sunrise Saloon. But no more spoilers, read it here.

"Someday I'll be living in a big old city," sings the band from Troy, Mont.
“Someday I’ll be living in a big old city,” sings the band from Troy, Mont.

I should also tell you about our college station KBGA’s Radiothon, as I somehow ended up writing a decent press release for them we ran with in today’s Kaimin. They go about their annual fundraiser pretty cleverly. “We’re asking for money from college students and we understand that’s crazy,” said Ruth Eddy, KBGA News Director. “But you can pledge five dollars, and that gets you a ten dollar gift certificate. It’s not really a donation — you’re making money.” To top it off their efforts they host a party, usually headlined by an out-of-town band, at the Badlander complex downtown. This year’s choice cut is the Toronto hardcore/indie band Fucked Up (whose name I appreciated seeing uncensored in the paper today, as it is a proper noun).

I’ve fixed the broken links on my Kaimin clips: since we changed our CMS the archives have been slowly trickling in (and changing URLs). I may be shuffling them around a bit too, so keep an eye on ’em!

One last important piece of business: The Minnesota Twins start their Spring Training games very soon. Expect commentary.


The Kaimin Continues…

The first week of the last semester of my beloved college newspaper has come and gone too quickly, but with a few obvious successes. The first, of course, being the relaunch of montanakaimin.com. Redesigned with duties re-assigned, I’m now both the Arts Editor and 1/3 of the web/social team. I never thought analytics could be so exciting, but here I am poring over them obsessively. I need to both post stories at the right time but promote them in a timely and appropriate way. Still on my training wheels (as are my co-webbies) but we had a great week, hits-wise, so I can’t complain (except about the extra work, of course).

MK Site Preview


The other great part of our new website is the ability to blog regularly (and promote it in an accessible way). My section’s first few entries have been simple satire and an upcoming-events blog, but I expect event coverage and previews to ramp up as the students awake to find themselves, yes, here in Spring Semester.

I started off the Keep Missoula Weird column this year with a how-to-be-weird. Hope it finds your funny bone, or at least convinces you of Missoula’s cliquishness once again.

Stay tuned for a big story in the Independent next week!

Weeks by the Wayside

When the last Kaimin issue of 2012 went to bed last week, I couldn’t. I stayed up going over all the great stories and missed opportunities. Of course good papers, stories and graphics don’t grow like weeds. We have to tend to every aspect like a seedling in the spring. But what luck, we’ll be back again the last week of January with some new leadership, fresh faces and renewed focus. Plus, social media is now in my job description. We’ll hold a few winter break meetings about strategy but I’m pretty sure it will have something to do with HootSuite. Stay tuned.

In the xmas spirit, I crafted a clever column tying holiday music to attitudes and celebrations in Missoula.

Keep Missoula Weird: The most wonderful time of the year

Now for something completely different. While we’re taught a comprehensive curriculum at UM, it doesn’t mean all broadcasters can write or all writers can shine on audio tracks. It does mean that I should try when I get the chance, of course. For our last elections assignment, I teamed up with Patrick Record once more to explore the environmental vote. Whether it makes it online to Montana Public Media or stays hidden on YouTube doesn’t matter. Interviewing for camera quotes and presenting a wide array of views in a short time is a challenge worth undertaking. We called it “The Green Vote.”

Expect a story (and photo!) in the Missoula Independent Thursday on this amazing woman.

All Quiet on the Zombie Front

We dream, you decide.

My Keep Missoula Weird column this week declares Missoula as the unequivocally best place to survive the zombie apocalypse. Well, I tried to make that come across, at least.

Zombie Tools’ “Mack Daddy-O”

Zombie Tools is an easy springboard into all things absurd. I mean, these guys make a living off of tempering steel blades specifically designed to destroy legions of undead. Sweet and/or ridiculous, right? But then it became about location, location, location.

Which is hard to do without sounding at least a little jaded, judgmental or just plain mean (sorry, folks in the Bitterroot and Northern Idaho).

Wrapping up with funny lists of culture to retain should the apocalypse finally demonize the bulk of humanity seemed more like a cop-out than a definitive ending. It wasn’t related to Missoula, and frankly I could easily write 500 words worth of lists of cultural artifacts to preserve after the zombie hordes arrive. I should have closed with “what a great support group we have, all these wacky zombie believers living in one confined space, so seemingly prepared for utter doom.”

For the record, I don’t believe in zombies any more than they believe in me.

Paging Michael Pollan

This week in my Kaimin arts column, Keep Missoula Weird: Food!

I’ve long held fantasies of paying the bills with food writing, but a food writer’s thesaurus is about as thick as the space between these paragraphs. And I adore variations in typed thought. Rather, I admire with ardor all the bright, matte and muted colors of the adjective palette.

Still, scratching out an existence by constantly eating and writing about it sounds like a dreamy, hedonistic life.

This column also brings up my constant reminder for my writers: there’s a difference between advocacy and advertising, and if you have to ask, don’t do either. Toward the bottom I write “I haven’t mentioned corporate fast food joints like (your ad here) or (your advertising money in my pocket),” yet I have no qualms name-dropping local joints like Flippers, the Silk Road and the Old Post (cripes I did it again!). But don’t restaurants without million-dollar advertising campaigns deserve media space too? Isn’t that fair?

I guess Michael Pollan staked a space inside my brain long ago and built a fortress of food snobbery, despite my occasional corndog siege.