A Facebook post about “faggots” in Great Falls

This screenshot is making the rounds in Great Falls today:


Did Big Mike really post this on Facebook? Let’s consider some of the possibilities.

1. Big Mike left his computer (or phone, tablet, etc) unattended somewhere, and one of his buddies did it as a joke. Hey, it happens. People do that sometimes when a friend leaves their phone on a desk or table and steps away, or is distracted for a few minutes. I’d put the likelihood of this at about…25%

2. Big Mike’s Facebook account was hacked. This is within the realm of possibility. Likelihood: 10%

3. Big Mike did indeed post this, but he meant it in a joking way; you know, making fun of haters, mocking them. But if this is true, then he forgot to give any clue that it was a joke. Likelihood: benefit of the doubt here – let’s say 35%

4. Big Mike did post it, and absolutely meant every word. Odds: 30%

5. ISIS created a fake Facebook profile for someone named “Mike Lenahan” in Great Falls several years ago, and is using this weekend’s Big Sky Pride event to finally launch a hateful attack. Likelihood: Nope.

The screenshot has been passed around to several people on Facebook, and someone sent it to Joe Briggs, one of the Cascade County Commissioners, and also to the Cascade County Undersheriff. That’s because Big Mike apparently is an officer at the Cascade County Detention Center.

If Big Mike really did post this, and meant it, then it is indeed disturbing: someone who uses the words “faggots” and “homo” in this manner who is in charge of supervising inmates…um, that is not good. Imagine a jail employee (or any public employee, in fact) posting something similar about (for instance) black people: “Damn niggers all over Great Falls…”

Is Mike entitled to his opinions? Absolutely! Is he entitled to voice them or share them online? Of course!

I get it: some people don’t like gay people, for some reason(s). Maybe fear, maybe disgust, maybe repressed homosexual desires – whatever.

But bashing gay people and calling them names simply because they exist? Sorry, but this is the year 2016, and the days when that was acceptable thankfully are long, long gone.

BUT. Public employees – paid with tax dollars, working for and on behalf of all citizens – are usually held to higher standards of public discourse. So people being outraged by Big Mike’s post (assuming, of course, that he is responsible) are justified in their anger. If someone saw a similar Facebook post written by, say, a barista, or farmer, or insurance agent, well…the reaction might have been disgust, or anger, or sadness, etc.

But a public employee in a law enforcement role posting something like this…that’s a bit different – as evidenced by what appears to be the reply from Joe Briggs, according to this screenshot:


IF this is all true. Remember, this is just a screenshot – we don’t know what kind of comments or explanation exist below that post.

PS: And whether this specific instance is true or not, it highlights the importance of Pride events. Similar to the civil rights movement in the 60s – an entire group of people who have been marginalized, de-humanized, criminalized, attacked, harassed, beaten, and literally killed, finally standing up to say “No more!” And joined in their struggle by people who were/are not black/gay/etc.

The word “pride” does not necessarily mean “pride” in the sense that someone is literally proud of something they have no control over (being black, being gay, etc), but rather as a counter to the word that society has used to label them for so long: shame.

(UPDATE: in response to some of the comments on my Facebook post about this — even if this is true, I don’t think he should lose his job. Education/training, yes, but not fired)

UPDATE: I have confirmed a couple of things: first, that he posted this NOT out of hatred, bigotry, etc — he meant it in a joking way for someone who is close to him who is gay. Second, his employer did look into it and found no evidence that any laws or personnel regulations were broken. I have also been assured that he is an outstanding detention officer with no reported incidents of unfair treatment to any person or group.

Great Falls Cosplayer: Marlesa Popp

I had the pleasure of meeting Marlesa Popp today – some of you may know her (or of her) from her “Miss Mouse Cosplay” page on Facebook, or have seen her at events dressed as one of her creations.

Great Falls Cosplayer: Marlesa Popp

Great Falls Cosplayer: Marlesa Popp

She was delightful to talk to — very passionate about her craft!

We talked about the increasing popularity and acceptance of cosplay – it used to be kind of a purely geek thing, in terms of public perception, but thanks to the surge of super-hero movies and TV shows (Batman, Wonder Woman, Dr. Who, even Big Bang Theory), the explosion of video games, and the massive cultural phenomenon of comic and sci-fi conventions, cosplay is pretty much everywhere now – even right here in Great Falls!

We also talked about some early influencers on her love of cosplay, and threw around some names such as Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, etc.

She was also very passionate about explaining how supportive and positive the cosplay community is; she thrives on the positive vibes.

I was happy to see her response to my half-baked idea for a “Halfway To Halloween” party held every year on the last Saturday in April. Seriously – why isn’t this a thing yet?

Here’s the article I wrote up about Marlesa — and if you feel inclined, you can vote for her in the “The Next Level of Cosplay” contest that she is competing in.

It would be cool to see her win!

One Stop Video

One Stop Video in Great Falls

One Stop Video — just a few blocks away from where I live — is going to close in a few weeks.

I had never been in there until last week, but occasionally when driving by over the last few years, my wife would mention that she wanted to stop in and rent a movie, primarily for nostalgic reasons.

And that’s what a video store is in the year 2016, pretty much, for a lot of people. Roku, Netflix, Hulu Youtube and other online/streaming services make it so easy to watch a movie without ever even getting up from your couch,

And if you actually want a physical DVD, there’s a Redbox vending machine in front of or inside several grocery stores in town.

The last time I went into a video store to actually rent a movie was (IIRC) 2003, when there were not one, not two, but THREE video stores clustered near each other in Great Falls: Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video, and Hastings. If memory serves, it was an X-Men movie, and to be honest, I’m not even sure I ever returned it. If I didn’t – sorry Blockbuster!

All within a few hundred feet of each other near the intersection of 10th Avenue South and 9th Street. You know – the area now known as the “Mattress District:-) .

The Blockbuster spot turned into Salad Creations, and is now zPizza. Hollywood Video is now Cafe Rio. Hastings moved to a new location just down the road.

The good news is that Paul Dockter – the very nice man who owns One Stop Video – told me that it isn’t economics and competition from streaming services driving his decision: he simply is ready to retire and relax a bit, after 28 years of running the business.

He was really grateful for all of his customers over the years – he said that many of them became friends, and he really enjoyed getting to know so many wonderful people.

A lot of people left fond memories of the store on the KRTV Facebook post about it.

If you want to add to your video collection, head on down there soon – he’s selling it all!

He owns the building, and has already lined up a new tenant for the spot. I’m not at liberty (yet) to say what the new business is, but just in case you’re wondering: no, it won’t be a casino.

Here’s my write-up at KRTV.com.

One Stop Video in Great Falls

One Stop Video in Great Falls

“Eye On Great Falls”


Here’s a look at some of the changes happening in Great Falls, including new/relocating businesses, construction in progress, and other tidbits.

I love the “dynamics” of seeing change in our community. Sometimes it’s tinged with sadness, such as when Goode’s Q & Bayou Grill closed, or a building filled with “memories” is torn down, but it’s exciting to see new things springing up.

The Great Falls offices of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management will soon move to a new facility near the intersection of 38th Street North and River Drive North. It’s a pretty cool looking building, as far as government offices go.

The former Ryan’s Station restaurant is now home to several small businesses. Texture Salon & Spa recently opened in the west side of the building, and the Pay Station casino is open in the center area. It’s a nice shop – friendly people. The area on the east side of the building will soon be home to a new Amy’s Morning Perk location; it is expected to open on Friday, April 1st, and will feature both an indoor dining area and a drive-thru. I met Amy – she’s very excited about the new spot. She recently closed her location in the mall, but the original “log cabin” spot on Northwest Bypass is still going strong.

The west-side McDonald’s has been demolished, and construction of its replacement is underway.

Still no official word on if/what might go into the space in between TJ Maxx and Staples on the NW side. I’ve heard two persistent rumors: Ulta and Harbor Freight. But still nothing official. Until the rumors started a few months ago, I had never heard of either. But holy cow – some of my friends and co-workers get positively giddy at the mere thought of an Ulta store in Great Falls!

The Townhouse Inn on 10th Avenue South in Great Falls has closed its doors and the process of tearing down the building has begun. New convenience store and casino coming to that location, and I believe a new hotel will be built in between Dahlquist Realty and the Holiday convenience store on the far west end of 10th Avenue South, where a long time ago the Kanga Inn used to be.

The building that once housed TJ’s Lounge and Godfather’s Pizza in Great Falls is being torn down, and construction of the “Cash Out Casino” is underway at the corner of 10th Avenue South and 13th Street.

Crews are continuing work on the Voyageur Apartments building on Division Road, between 16th Avenue NW and Smelter Avenue. The Voyageur Apartments will be a multi-story complex designed for people age 55 and older. 

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen will soon open a new location on the 400 block of Smelter Avenue NE on the lot that once housed Burger Master. I expect that traffic in and around this already-wonky intersection will be fairly intense, initially. Looking forward to it — I like their chicken, but having it so close instead of having to go on base (Malmstrom) will be pretty sweet!

Renovation and construction continues at the site that once was Vans grocery stores at 10th Avenue South and 32nd Street. The space is being turned into a Super 1 Foods grocery store. The project includes improvements to parking, landscaping, building facade, and expansion of the existing structure. I’ve heard lots of good things about Super 1 from folks who have shopped at their other locations.

Ground has been broken for the East End Retail Center near 10th Avenue South and 57th Street. The project will include a second Walmart for Great Falls. No idea yet what other shops will be in this space. I only hope that once it opens, traffic along Smelter in front of the existing Walmart will decrease!

The Sleep Number mattress store recently opened at 10th Avenue South and 9th Street. Just a few hundred feet away from the also recently-opened Mattress Firm. In the Great Falls Mattress District. Where people can buy mattresses.

I’m a little confused that both stores opened so close to each other in such a short amount of time, but other than that – more power to ’em. I’m very happy with the “Durango” bed that I sleep on every night – we bought it about five years ago at Denver Mattress. But when it comes time to buy a new bed, we likely will check out one or both of the new stores (prolly Mattress Firm first, because the manager is a nice guy). I appreciate having choices.

As for the casinos — I just don’t care. I’m fine with casinos, got no problem with them. I figure I spend about…maybe $50 a year or so playing games in a couple of restaurants after a meal. Other than that – I basically don’t think of them at all. But it always baffles me when I see SO MANY people complain about them and rant about there being too many casinos in Great Falls.

Seriously – why so upset? Why not rant about the number of retail locations that sell lottery tickets, too? Why get so worked up about something that not only probably doesn’t directly affect you negatively, but helps Montana retain its “no sales tax” status?

RIP, Hoagieville

Very sad news — Hoagieville has closed its Great Falls location. I saw an awful lot of hate on social media when it was announced — a lot of people didn’t like it, for some reason.

I did like Hoagieville — was rarely my first choice, primarily due to location, but the burgers, chicken, breakfast tacos, and fries were pretty darn good. And contrary to what I heard from so many people, the service was pretty awesome – super-friendly staff.

But I know the restaurant struggled during its 18 months in Great Falls — they tried advertising, they tinkered with the menu, they lowered some prices, but it just never worked.

Hoagieville was and is a big deal in Missoula, but just couldn’t catch fire here in Great Falls.

Thanks, Hoagieville – you tried, and I appreciated it!

So the next question is…what will move into the space? Before Hoagieville, it was a KFC. And given KFC’s summer-time re-opening on the west side (and much better than before!), could it once again be a KFC?

Hoagieville in Great Falls

Dog Park!

Saturday was a good day for Ziggy and I to visit the dog park! Even pretty early in the morning, it was pretty packed full of pups!

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