Prairie Lights

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: In Philadelphia, a hero for our times

Catto

On my first visit to Philadelphia last week, I was overwhelmed by history. I gawked at the Liberty Bell, stood in the hall where the founders created the Constitution, admired the house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and even stumbled upon a little Jewish cemetery where the honored dead included the man whose ship brought the Liberty Bell to America. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Does it matter if vote-seekers vote?

vote

After almost 40 years in the newspaper business, I am used to being criticized for what I write. But I have to admit to being caught off guard by the people who thought my recent story on the voting habits of Billings City Council and mayoral candidates was somehow unfair, or even unnecessary. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Still learning from the Vietnam War

Danang

My uncle had a lot of books in his library, but the one book I was drawn to every time we visited his house contained a collection of photographs of World War II. It was a large, heavy book, so I usually placed it on the floor and lay in front of it, propped up on my elbows. I would slowly page through it, looking at pictures as vivid in my mind now as they were on the page then: (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Church book sale now has bragging rights

Sale

The best things in life, I’m convinced, are completely unplanned. If they are meant to happen, they will, and if they are good they will continue and get better. So it has been with the twice-annual used-book sales at Central Christian Church, at 1221 16th St. W. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A second chance for Salt Lake City

Square

SALT LAKE CITY — Not counting all the hours I’ve spent in purgatory, also known as Concourse E at the Salt Lake City airport, or the two-hour layover during which I went to a Mexican restaurant with a friend who lived here, it had been more than 40 years since I’d spent any time in SLC. I am here for Labor Day weekend, visiting Daughter No. 3, and this time I have a car and some money and at least a faint aura of respectability. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Did someone say ‘political hack’?

Confer

Having lost in District Court and now at the Montana Supreme Court, former state Sen. Art Wittich has appealed again to the court of public opinion, airing the same old grievances and portraying his lawless self as the victim of a dastardly conspiracy. Before the start of his trial on charges of breaking campaign finance laws, Wittich said then-Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, who filed the charges, had no case. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: No easy fix for monumental dilemma

Shrine

Searching for a voice of reason in a country up to its chin in unreasonable passion, I called Ken Robison, a historian who lives in Great Falls. His words were the tonic I needed. Ken is a native of Montana who grew up near Geraldine and who, since retiring from a career in Naval Intelligence in 2001, has been doggedly doing research into forgotten corners of Montana history, resulting in a stream of books and numerous articles in the Great Falls Tribune and the River Press in Fort Benton. (more…) Continue Reading →

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City Lights: Voter fraud is just the tip of the iceberg

Voters

Last month, I had occasion to criticize Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who seemed to be determined to cast doubt on the validity of our election processes. I thought it was a strange goal, given that the secretary of state is the chief elections officer for Montana. I wondered, was it something like having Scott Pruitt lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which he seems bent on dismantling? (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: ‘Montana Noir’ captures state dead on

Map

Who would have imagined that murder and mayhem could be so much fun? In “Montana Noir,” a new collection of  hardboiled short stories, 14 writers jump with evident joy into tales teeming with dead bodies, guns, strippers, booze, meth, weed and problematic stores of cash. And they take us to unexpected places, from the rough parts of Great Falls to a depressing corner of Billings Heights, from the loneliest stretches of the Hi-Line’s Highway 2 to the vomit-stained sidewalk in front of the Party Palace in Butte. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: No bad days on Montana rivers

float

I don’t imagine that my obituary will say I was an avid outdoorsman. I’m more of a midsize-city slicker who occasionally ventures into the nearer reaches of the wilds for a day or three. This weekend is supposed to be one of those occasions. By the time people are reading this I should be on a Montana river somewhere, on a short hike just off the river or passing tall tales and a flask around a campfire. (more…) Continue Reading →

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