It’s that time of year again, when Indy staffers and contributors draw on their vast experience and accumulated wisdom to offer a peek into Missoula’s future. Because accountability is everything, we’ve also got a report card on how our 2017 predictions turned out. And, for the first time this year, we try to escape our own information silos by consulting a real, live Missoula Tarot reader. You can see what she has to say about the next 361 days in Missoula on page 15. But for now, and without further adieu, our predictions...
Missoula’s long-running Festival of the Dead, under intense fire last year for allegations of cultural appropriation, will be purchased and trademarked by Logjam Presents and repurposed as an annual two-day summer festival at the KettleHouse Amphitheater featuring a line-up of local and touring jam bands recreating classic Grateful Dead sets. In 25 years, someone will finally notice the preponderance of dreadlocked white concertgoers hitchhiking toward Bonner and launch a campaign decrying the Anglo appropriation of Rastafarian religious practices, and the circle of festival life and death will continue. (Brad Tyer)
This year, we’ll see another battle between musician-turned-politician Rob Quist and Rep. Greg “Slammer” Gianforte, who body-slammed a reporter and still won last year’s special election for Montana’s at-large congressional seat. This time, Quist won’t be running for office—he’ll be the soundtrack to whichever Democratic campaign decides to take up the challenge. Quist’s most dangerous weapon is his guitar and to prove it, he will reform his once extremely popular (so we’re told) Mission Mountain Wood Band. Like superheroes or secret agents who decide to come out of retirement for “just one more job,” the bluegrass/country-rock band will grab their vintage cowboy boots, wipe the dust from their instruments, jumpstart their refurbished 1955 Greyhound Scenicruiser and take the group on a cross-state tour to stump for the Dems, charming small-town Montana audiences with tunes like “Mountain Standard Time,” “Fountain of Love,” and “Take a Whiff on Me.” Sorry, we’re not predicting who’ll win. (Erika Fredrickson)
I boldly predict that single-family houses in Missoula will get a little cheaper in 2018. I recognize that this is like predicting a bottle rocket will come down any second now. Having seen the trajectory, though, I think a drop is inevitable. For one thing, conditions in the national housing market strongly resemble those before the 2008 crash, including a high ratio of cost to wages and a soaring Dow, plus the bonus volatility of a berserk celebrity president. Students of the Missoula market, however, will remember that it was relatively unaffected by the last crash. That’s why I’m more interested in local conditions. Enrollment at the university is down more than 25 percent, even as an enormous student housing complex goes up on Front Street. I think these changes in the rental market will encourage some small investors to sell houses they used to rent to students, and those fixer-uppers will undercut prices on the east side of town. To this I say: Good. Missoula needs a housing crash, because the employment boom does not appear to be forthcoming. There are plenty of families willing to buy what the landlords will sell. (Dan Brooks)
University of Montana President Seth Bodnar has his work cut out for him. The former General Electric executive is taking the wheel of a university fraught with decreased enrollment and an uncertain future. Bodnar, however, wasn’t hired for his extensive background in education. He doesn’t have one. He was hired to make the tough, innovative decisions that can only come from the cutthroat world of corporate business.
What outside-the-box thinking will Bodnar implement? The answer is both simple and brilliant: UM is going to get a second football team. The beloved Grizzlies will continue their long tradition of gridiron excellence, of course, but a second UM team will not only bring dozens of fresh-faced student athletes to the Garden City (offsetting declining enrollment), but it will create more jobs for coaches, trainers and lawyers who want to be part of the (second-)greatest football program in the country. And what red-blooded Missoula sports fan wouldn’t want to buy a whole new line of merchandise to show their support? To ease confusion, the extant Grizzlies and UM’s new squad will share the school’s iconic maroon color, but the new team will have its own distinct identity, wholly separate from the Griz, as well as its own game schedule and billion-dollar training complex. Toss in some local sponsors to cement community ties, and soon UM will be back and better than ever. So next year, show your school spirit by coming out and supporting both the Grizzlies and the new University of Montana presents: Seilzzirgs, brought to you by China Buffet! (Charley Macorn)
With Conflux Brewing Company opening its doors next to the Union Club this spring, possibly followed by another new brewing outfit on the Hip Strip soon after, the people of Missoula will come together as one this year to finally cut down on the growing microbrew confusion. A 2018 city ordinance will declare that all breweries in Missoula shall henceforth be assigned numbers instead of names. We look forward to the fall opening of Brewery #13, which will serve two flagship beers, IPA #68 and Amber #37. We hear its seasonal winter ale, Snow Pun #7, is a real standout (check our Happiest Hour feature in a few months).
The new microbrewery ordinance will also contain several other beer-related decrees:
• You cannot open a brewery in a location that can be seen from the patio of another brewery.
• You can wear a rival brewery hoodie into another brewery, but only inside-out.
• When out-of-state visitors refuse to sample any local brew other than Moose Drool, you are allowed to slap them without legal consequences.
• The next KettleHouse location must be more like a KettleHome.
If the ordinance is successful, the city might consider numbering other local entities that are getting a bit confusing to keep straight, including podcasts, coffee huts and men with beards. (Sarah Aswell)
Coach Shane will launch a podcast and all people who love children and sick beats will listen. The ginger-bearded Professor of Fun must know by now he’s wasting his talents trying to be a video star. How can there be only 13 YouTube views on “Coach Shane Park Jam,” where he lays it down on some playground xylophones at Wapikiya Park? Is it because the vid description spells Wapikiya wrong? We appreciate our man about town for his multiple entertainments. He never fails to humor our questions about his love life and authentic Philly cheese steaks while watching our preschoolers fall off balance beams. As an emcee of the gorgeous ladies of arm-wrestling match at the Northside/Westside Block Party, no one is more enthusiastic. We dig his super-awesome summer camps, and we’re mostly not opposed to getting slap-handed when we see him in parades or randomly at the UC. Plus, we know he knows audio, because we’ve possibly heard “Coach Shane’s Party Time America” on KBGA. Or possibly we have not, because that’s terrestrial radio, dude. Missoula of 2018 is totally positioned to get that podcasts are a thing now. So c’mon, Coach. Plug in that mic. Line up some guests. Download GarageBand and holla at ya boys and girls. Because “The Pea Green Boat”? So 2017. (Jule Banville)
Us too! The Indy will find its voice in 2018—with its own new podcast. Seriously, we’ve been talking about this for most of 2017, but something—life, mostly—kept getting in the way. Think of this prediction as a promise marker—maybe we just need to make the ambition public to get us over the hump. Besides, we don’t want to bear the indignity of another “F” on next year’s report card. (Brad Tyer)
When glamping comes to the Riverfront Triangle, no longer will Missoula think of the river banks that run through it as where the bums live. The Riverfront Triangle will transform a certain part of town—the part where Mayor John Engen once quipped he learned to drink Sterno. Development at the site will bring a luxe hotel, conference center, sky-kissing condos and all the espresso machines needed to supply the glamping lifestyle. Sure, the Triangle won’t have the wide-open wilderness that surrounds Paws Up or the Ranch at Rock Creek, but the riverfront oasis will offer those who want an oriental rug under their feet and canvas above their heads something those places don’t: Nightlife! Sip a fine whiskey, swirl a superior red, go ahead and try all the local microbrews (we dare you) and then stumble/Uber on back to your king-size bed, lulled into lucious slumber by the soft waves of the Clark Fork. In the morning, ring the butler, who’ll hustle on over to your tent patio with four ibuprofens and, of course, the drink that defines you: the finest Americano. (Jule Banville)
“More losses than arrests” is one of the unspoken hopes of UM’s athletic department for Griz football in 2018—obviously, the ideal number of either would be zero, but just keeping them in proper proportion would be good. Griz fans are optimistic about the next season, the first of the Bobby Hauck era, Part II. At the beginning of the season, at least one sportswriter from a national outlet will come to town to write an atmospheric reported essay about Hauck and the Griz. The team will open the season with big home wins over non-conference opponents Northern Iowa and Drake before losing to Western Illinois on the road. Things will take off from there, though, and with the exception of a disappointing Homecoming loss to the Portland State Vikings, the Griz will steamroll opponents. That includes a rousing defeat of the Cats. The Griz will make it to the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2018, reinvigorating their fanbase and ensuring at least a few more years of fat booster checks. Off the field, the team behaves impeccably out of sheer fear of their coach. Final scorecard: one misdemeanor arrest and three losses. (Susan Elizabeth Shepard)
Missoula likes to have a beer with just about any activity, so when word hit town that a new grocery store would allow shoppers to have open containers in their carts, there was much joy. On Lucky’s opening day, a line will stretch clear around Southgate Mall as residents head in to buy knockoff Trader Joe’s junk food and slightly cheaper organic produce than they could find at the Good Food Store. But it doesn’t take long to discover that the whole drinking-while-shopping thing simply doesn’t jibe with Montana’s liquor laws. An apologetic beer clerk stops a group of stay-at-home dads from cracking open their cans of Cold Smoke in the aisles. They grumble for a while and, overwhelmed by the injustice, start stomping and shouting, “SHOW ME WHAT A COLD ONE LOOKS LIKE! / THIS IS WHAT A COLD ONE LOOKS LIKE!” Fellow shoppers join in, storming past the store’s meager security and are soon tearing apart six-packs and sucking wine straight from the box to protest the walked-back promise of buzzed grocery shopping. Missoula police are forced to kettle the entire store. Multiple charges of disorderly conduct are dropped when no store personnel are willing to testify in court, and the groundwork is laid to pass the Lucky’s Riot Law, a new state statute that allows shoppers—finally—to drink beer in grocery stores. (Susan Elizabeth Shepard)
Two Montana State graduates, fleeing high housing prices in Bozeman, relocate to Missoula to take advantage of its cheaper rents and a larger market for their new business, a cat cafe. The Japanese-inspired trend has made its way up and down the West Coast from Oakland to Portland to Seattle, and is a natural fit for Missoula. Cat lovers and people whose landlords don’t allow pets are excited to go to the Old Scratching Post when it opens in the former Desmond’s location on Higgins. But shortly before opening, the owners reveal that their business plan has a major twist—they’re actually populating the cafe with bobcat kittens, after becoming convinced by a Bitterroot business that the domesticated bobcat makes a great pet. And they also want to rankle Griz fans.
Finding that there’s no law against it, the city issues the Scratching Post all its permits and a $50,000 grant for facade improvements. Business gets off to a great start until the end of the summer, when a pair of young bobcats escape—before they’ve been fixed, but after they’ve been socialized as 35-pound lap cats who associate people with food. They set up housekeeping at the edge of the Rattlesnake and start a family, bringing their kittens into town when they’re old enough. The emergence of half-domesticated bobcats in Missoula’s streets confuses locals and tourists alike. Betty’s Divine takes one in since it’s smaller than Jethro, but the rest have to be captured and returned to the catfe before they can interbreed with the Rattlesnake’s native bobcat population. (Susan Elizabeth Shepard)
With Montana reeling from a state budget crisis and the nation waking up to the long-term implications of the federal tax bill, voters channel their frustrations at the polls in 2018. A hard-fought Senate race rife with third-party attacks and featuring a sold-out Pearl Jam benefit show at the KettleHouse Amphitheater culminates in incumbent Jon Tester trouncing his Republican challenger, Matt Rosendale. Congressman Greg Gianforte’s 2017 assault on a reporter haunts his reelection campaign, as his mugshot is plastered on opposition material and serves as the profile image for at least two Gianforte parody accounts on social media. After Democrats sort out their differences in a five-way June primary, they launch a full-on assault backed (finally) by the national party and succeed in ousting the former tech mogul. Unable to accept defeat, Gianforte cries voter fraud, then assaults an election official after being told he didn’t even get enough votes to trigger a recount. (Alex Sakariassen)
Inspired by Kevin Costner’s decision to produce his television series Yellowstone partly in Montana—and eager for an excuse to spend more time in the state—actor Leonardo DiCaprio announces plans to shoot a series of his own here. The plot concerns a modern-day romance between a small-town trapper (DiCaprio) and his high-school sweetheart, who returns to western Montana to establish an animal rights group. Casting calls are scheduled for Kalispell and Missoula, infuriating Bozemanites, and the Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon is rumored to be on DiCaprio’s wish-list for a shooting location. Fed up with comparisons to his hit film The Revenant, Dicaprio explicitly states that he will not be shooting any scenes with CGI grizzly bear attacks. Instead, Flathead-linked celebrity John Lithgow is signed to a recurring role as the Sasquatch that plagues DiCaprio’s woodland pursuits. (Alex Sakariassen)
The town and gown crowd finally does something other than sing kumbaya about how important it is for the city of Missoula and the University of Montana to work together. After passing a proclamation of cooperation and launching a $100,000 “You can’t spell Missoula without UM” public relations campaign, the parties quickly figure out how they can kill two birds with one stone. Mayor Engen, riding an election-night high last November, promised during his victory party to solve the city’s affordable housing problem. And UM has housing to spare—its residence halls were nearly a quarter empty this year, and the glamorous, private student apartment complex named ROAM, opening soon on Front Street, can’t possibly help, even if only trust-fund kids can afford to live there. So UM cuts a deal to mothball a dorm and lease the building to the city (which then subleases it to the Missoula Housing Authority, or something like that) to open a new low-income apartment complex. UM decides to sacrifice Pantzer Hall for the cause—its newest dorm, full of renovation-ready suites—because it’s the only one the city will take. The complex is branded UMPH! (Derek Brouwer)
New Missoula City Council appointee Mirtha Becerra will leave her seat less than a year into her term, prompting Ward 2 residents to lose all faith in representative democracy. This prediction is nothing personal, but there’s simply no escaping the curse of Ward 2. Becerra was the third person to occupy the seat in 2017 alone, after Harlan Wells resigned in January and his first appointed successor, Ruth Swaney, dropped out of the November election after it was too late to remove her name from the ballot. The best-case scenario is that the seat is held by Becerra, an unelected appointee, until 2019—but there’s nothing bold about a best-case scenario. Becerra will tell constituents she’s bailing because she got a new job or wants to focus on her family or whatever, but we’ll all know what actually happened: The ghosts that haunt Ward 2’s revolving council seat drove her out. (Derek Brouwer)
Hope for the future
Considering the Indy’s pathetic report card for 2017, we decided this year to concentrate on our strengths—smartass predictions with little-to-no-chance of coming true—and look to professional prognosticators for guidance on the coming year. The good people at Water Lilies at Reserve and South 14th agreed to do a community reading for Missoula.
While we are constitutional skeptics here at the Indy, scoffing at astrology, psychics or religion strikes us as uncharitable in times when people are scrambling to find a framework that makes sense of the world and our place in it. Whether you exhale with a stiff drink and terrible movies at the end of the week or pamper your stressed dog with Reiki, we say go for it—as long as it helps you survive and doesn’t make you picket funerals.
Cora Vincent and Jami Shipp were the two readers at Water Lilies who helped us out. Vincent is a graduate student at the university with several years’ Tarot reading experience, and Shipp has been reading for 36 years. Vincent did Missoula’s reading with a combination of Lady of the Lake oracle cards and a Celtic tarot deck, and Shipp contributed guidance throughout.
Vincent laid out a spread of three oracle cards representing Missoula’s past, present and future. The future card read, “Weave your own destiny.”
“As a community, if we’re weaving that destiny, we’re trying to change things for the better. There’s always challenges with any type of change,” Vincent said. “The biggest takeaway is to defend and stand up for what you believe in. Don’t let someone knock you down to the point where you just give up.”
Switching to the tarot deck, Vincent pulled the Ace of Shields and the Page of Swords. “Know when to step away, know when to take a stand, because you can also see that while the Page of Swords is light on his feet, he’s also ready to defend at a moment’s notice, too,” Vincent said.
Aside from the defense and strength themes, the reading suggested that while Missoula is great at contemplation and looking inward, the coming year is a time to move from contemplation to action. (Did the cards just call us navel-gazers?) Clear communication was recommended as a strategy for averting crisis and violence, and the community should be mindful of the intentions of those in its midst. “When the community is wanting changes, you have to make sure the people who are involved aren’t doing it for the wrong reasons,” Vincent said. (The cards definitely aren’t talking about us. You, maybe?)
“So the biggest takeaway is there’s a lot of changes happening, and we need to unite as a community to make sure that when these changes happen, they happen in a positive way. We need positive focus and attention. There’s so much negativity [that] it’s hard for people to have hope, to keep going. We need to start bringing that hope out,” Vincent said.
Most striking was the absence of any cards predicting calamity or difficult tests for the city. Does that mean a smooth-sailing 2018 for Missoula? Only if we remain on track, Vincent said. “Right now, the path we’re going on, there’s not going to be huge calamities. But free will can change the outlook of a reading. You can change, because you’re the creator of your own destiny.”
Not going to be huge calamities is vague but definitely bold. Here’s hoping we’re marking this one an “A” on next year’s report card.
—Susan Elizabeth Shepard
The 2017 Report Card
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.
by the Indy staff
How did our predictions for 2017 stack up to reality? The short answer: not well. The shorter answer? A big fat “F.” Maybe “F+.” Either way, the past year went far, far differently than we’d envisioned, even if a good number of our 2017 predictions were more wishful thinking than earnest prognostication. Oh well. It’s not fake news if you’re just guessing.
Prediction: The city takes over management of the University of Montana, a la Mountain Water. Nope. But 2018 is another year, and if the dynamic duo of new President Seth Bodnar and returning coach Bobby Hauck can’t right the ship, we may revisit this one.
Prediction: Denise Juneau gets a job. Specifically, we speculated that the former congressional aspirant and whisper candidate for the presidency of UM would open a Missoula brewery. Did it happen? Nerp. Too bad. We’d drink there.
Prediction: The Missoula Mercantile gets new life as a holographic laser projection. Nawp. That was a really cool idea, though. Someone should totally make that happen.
Prediction: The city finds an affordable housing fix. Umm, not yet. We may have jumped the gun on that one. It’s one of Mayor Engen’s top priorities in his coming term. Hold tight.
Prediction: Bruce Springsteen finally plays Missoula. Nein. We predicted this in 2014, too. We’re done. Go play Spokane. See if we care.
Prediction: Reserve Street gets a big ol’ bag of Dick’s. That’d be the Washington-based chain Dick’s Drive-In, beloved of certain road-tripping Indy staffers. The answer, so far, is nyet.
Prediction: Lily Gladstone wins an Oscar for Certain Women. Result: She got robbed.
Prediction: Missoula gets its first medical edible bakery. Why has this not happened yet?
Prediction: “Fake news will turn out to be the salvation of the news industry and of our democracy.” The thinking here, in the early days of the End Times, was that Peak Fake News was bound to generate a backlash of fact-checking and conspiracy-debunking, and reporters would become heroes to an adoring and grateful public. Well, the New York Times and Washington Post did see huge subscription bumps, and Steven Spielberg’s The Post resuscitated a long-dormant lineage of movies valorizing reporters, so maybe?
Prediction: “Montana Republicans will become staunch defenders of expanded Medicaid during the 2017 session.” Hardly. But since the state’s Medicaid expansion is significantly reliant on the federal Affordable Care Act, and Trump failed this year to repeal the ACA, can we call this one a partial win? At least until 2019, when the state’s expansion plan has to be renewed—or expire?
Prediction: Missoula hosts a reality TV hit. Our forecast was so granularly specific—the show was to be titled “Hat-Trick Hazards” and would follow contestants as they attempted to take in shows at the Wilma, KettleHouse Amphitheater and Top Hat in a single calendar day—that it was virtually guaranteed to fall short. But Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone, filmed partly in the Bitterroot and mostly in Utah, will have its Paramount Network Debut in 2018. Does that count? Yeah, we didn’t think so.