The Crown Jewel Of Missoula Gentrification Will Break Ground Next Summer–ALL HAIL LORD CHECOTA!

by William Skink

It’s official, with the announcement of Nick Checota as savior investor, development at the Riverfront Triangle is finally set to break ground next summer. I’m sure there are plenty of people in Missoula excited about this news. I think those people are suckers.

In the reporting on City Council’s vote today I don’t see any mention in Kidston’s piece about the public money that will be used for this hotel/civic-event center/private condo project, but in this article the amount the city expects to pony up for this project is 16.5 million dollars.

Missoula, how excited are you about all this? 16.5 million of your public money will go to developers instead of the general fund to create more service sector jobs and private real estate VRBO opportunities, which look mighty attractive to the west coast urban refugees fleeing inland from their unsustainable cities.

The first link may not have mentioned the publicly subsidized cost of this project, but it did quote a much larger project Nick Checota toured before staring deep into Mayor Engen’s eyes and sealing the deal. Here’s Checota:

Checota recently toured a similar project in Washington, D.C., dubbed The Wharf. That project, valued at $2 billion, also embraces the waterfront, similar to plans for the Missoula venue.

“It also has a lot of commercial, residential and hospitality space,” Checota said of The Wharf. “Ours is nowhere near $2 billion, but it’s a very similar use and there’s a lot of basics for us to learn from that development.”

How much is there really to learn about raiding public coffers for private gain? The learning curve is on we, the citizens, to understand how the financial engines of gentrification function.

And that Wharf project? You better believe they’re hitting the TIF pipe. Here’s a press release worth considering as Missoula gets ready to repeat this on a smaller, but no less offensive scale:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS: Simone Holzer (202) 325-8775 sholzer@dcfpi.org or Michael Blain (240) 460-3250 citizenblain@gmail.com

The District of Columbia’s economic development efforts – including the enormous Wharf project – too often support creation of low-wage jobs with minimal benefits, because they do not link large public subsidies with requirements to create high-quality jobs, according to a new analysis by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. This means that DC is failing to use its substantial economic development investments to reduce the city’s large income gaps or to ensure that benefits of DC’s growing prosperity are shared widely.

The redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront is one of the largest real estate development projects in the history of the District. It is transforming an historic area of the city’s waterfront, while creating new retail, dining, entertainment and housing options within walking distance of the Mall.

Yet the project faces growing questions about the type of jobs it is actually creating, and who truly benefits from large taxpayer subsidies for such developments. The District approved $300 million in public subsidies for the Wharf project, including public land and cash subsidies through DC’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and PILOT economic development subsidy programs.

“Unfortunately, neither the developer nor the District’s economic development leaders took meaningful steps to ensure that the Wharf resulted in good-quality jobs or other benefits for DC residents,” said Ilana Boivie, author of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute analysis.

Before Nick Checota swooped in to save the day, there were Union efforts to get some concessions out of this project. Will Checota learn that the way to get this project done is to please investors and perpetually fuck over labor the way the city has been doing? I should also include the County, considering Missoula County will probably be getting sued for spying on public works union members.

Here’s an article from 2017 about the contentious relationship that has developed between labor and the city over this project:

There’s been some heated debate recently about how to proceed on one of the city of Missoula’s largest construction projects: The Hotel Fox,to be located downtown on the riverfront triangle.

“Right now we’re at loggerheads, as it were, on a few things including labor issues and also affordable housing,” said Missoula Area Central Labor Council President Mark Anderlik. “It has to do with the developers signing an agreement essentially remaining neutral and a voluntary recognition of the union if the workers decide they want a union.”

This would likely be the first neutrality agreement in Montana if it were drafted, the agreement would make the formation of employee unions at the new location much easier, and Anderlik says because public money was put into the project such an agreement should be signed to help benefit the public with higher paying jobs.

“The question remains on the the labor side: is this going to be a net-benefit to Missoula or is it going to be another bunch of low-wage jobs, which Missoula is already swimming in. We don’t need any more of those less-than-living-wage jobs in Missoula,” Anderlik said.

Well said, Mark.

I will admit, bringing on Lord Checota and rebranding this project is a brilliant move. Instead of a 160 million dollar convention center, Checota ties his music brand and access to a scaled down 100 million dollar civic-event center. Grafting this jewel of gentrification for King Engen’s crown onto the success of the Wilma/Top Hat/Kettlehouse Amphitheater will probably give this project Teflon armor.

All hail Lord Checota!

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Lord Checota

by William Skink

All hail Lord Checota,

O benevolent Checota, Sultan of Sound, you have pleased Orpheus and Missoula music denizens with the foresight of your investments. Where shall we, you’re loyal devotees, bring you our offerings of milk and honey?

O Lord Checota, when shall we consecrate the sacred Fox grounds on which you have contractually entered? At your direction your loyal devotees shall murmur prayers and spells as you navigate the dark labyrinth of business complexity required to build a 100 million dollar civic events center.

O Lord Checota, does the Mayor’s engorged appendage stiffen at the thought of what your talents shall erect? Does he delight in the semantic PR shift away from the “convention center” concept to your much more seductive event center rebranding campaign?

You brought the high priest to bless your Blackfoot amphitheater. Wilma lies pensive at your feet, wearing a Top Hat and nothing else. The valley is yours, Lord Checota. Command us, Lord. We are yours.

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County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier Is Supporting The Agenda Of The South Street Bridge Obstructionists

by William Skink

On Friday the city of Missoula marked the opening of two access points for the West Broadway Island. While the city touted this unnecessary use of public money to build a bridge meant to increase recreational use with the hope that meth heads and other addicts will decrease their use of the area, Missoula County has a different bridge problem.

The big story in the Missoulian on Sunday is the continued stalling efforts by the small contingent of selfish property owners hell bent on stopping the creation of a new bridge at the end of South Street. Instead of the bridge being built where all the studies indicate it should be built, these obstructionists insist that rehabbing the “functionally obsolete” Maclay bridge is the way to go.

What I don’t get is how a situation where school buses and fire trucks that exceed the 11 ton weight limit of the bridge has been allowed to fester year after year. I suggest reading the whole Sunday piece in the Missoulina. Here is a portion:

The Maclay Bridge is classified as “functionally obsolete” by state and federal standards. Because it is a one-lane bridge on a two-way street, it has a recommended 100-vehicle-per-day limit. In 2010, the state counted an average 2,610 vehicles per day.

The weight limit posted on the bridge is 11 tons. The school buses that drive over it each day, four times a day, as they ferry children to and from Big Sky High School and Target Range School weigh around 11 tons empty.

The Missoula Rural Fire Department’s trucks are only allowed to cross it on the way to emergency situations, at a 5 mph crawl, but must go a different way back to the station, as some of the trucks are more than double the posted weight limit.

The Missoula Rural Fire Department puts their firefighters at risk every time they crawl 5mph across this obsolete bridge. Is Missoula County ok with that? The Target Range school district puts school kids at risk every day those heavy buses go over that bridge. Is the school board ok with that? How about Beach Transportation, are they ok with their drivers crossing a bridge that will be closed this week to patch literal holes?

The Missoulian article goes on to essentially expose Dave Strohmaier for being a deceitful player in this two decade long obstruction effort by his South Street pals. Strohmaier boxes himself in with his own words. Here’s more from the article:

Since Maclay Bridge replacement or rehabilitation options were first investigated in 1994, the South Avenue Bridge project was identified as the best option out of 16 studied, including various rehabs and leaving the bridge as is.

That conclusion came after examining environmental impacts, cost-benefit ratio, impacts to private property, and a whole host of other factors. Three different rehabilitation options were rated the worst projects for investment. The rehab options could cost $14 million if the roads are brought to modern safety standards, and that would have to be paid for by the county and its residents, as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has made it clear it will not fund that option.

Despite this, Strohmaier remains a strong advocate for finding a way to rehabilitate the bridge. He said he would not support any option that forced people from their homes, and that no rehab options would meet federal standards. But he said it’s not accurate for people to accuse the county of stalling the review of studies needed to move the project forward before funding goes away.

“For the most part these documents have been in the possession of the Montana Department of Transportation for the better part of a year under their review,” Strohmaier said.

What Strohmaier didn’t mention is that the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) was spending those months addressing questions and criticisms — 31 pages of them — that he raised about the work.

I am beyond angry over the bullshit pouring from Strohmaier’s mouth because what he is essentially saying is that the status quo of a few property owners is more important than the safety of my kids. I’m not going to stand for that.

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The Dynasty That Destroyed The Democratic Party

by William Skink

I continue to be amazed at Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) and its ability to transform people and institutions who once appeared objective and rational. Finding any kind of sane analysis outside this polarizing madness is difficult.

This piece I read yesterday strikes a nerve in a good way because its author disdains both parties. Only when one acknowledges the total corruption of body politic can one begin to see clearly what’s developing.

Here’s a bit from the piece by Charles Smith that resonated with me describing how Hillary and the Democrats got into bed with the alphabet agencies:

To aid their mono-maniacal campaign, the Democrats partnered with the most anti-Democratic and corrupting force in America, the alphabet agencies of Imperial Pretensions, the CIA et al., who are institutionally bound to view the citizenry’s right to choose its government and its government’s policies with utter disdain: we rule the Empire, and democracy is only acceptable as long as it rubber-stamps our rule.

This aligned perfectly with the Clinton dynasty’s view, and so the unending campaign to unseat The Donald was launched.

For better or worse, this unholy alliance put the Democratic Party’s legitimacy on the gambling table. The Democratic Party, whether it accepts or understands this reality or not, has devolved to an absurdist cable-channel devoted exclusively to unseating The Donald, regardless of the cost and regardless of the sacrifices required to pursue what is increasingly a quixotically misguided venture.

Wittingly or unwittingly, every institution allied with the Democrats has also put its legitimacy on the gaming table, the most important of which is the mainstream media, including the quasi-public Propaganda Broadcast Service (PBS). The corporate media and PBS have been reduced to late-night TV programming, selling the same flimsy gadgets with the same tired pitch: “But wait–there’s more!”

All of which leads us to the question: will the Clintons destroy the Democratic Party, or perhaps even more saliently: have the Clintons already sealed the fate of the Democratic Party?

What happened before and after the presidential election of 2016 needs a total and honest accounting. The problem is all our institutions that provide checks and balances are corrupt. ALL OF THEM.

A great message for the US electorate to send in 2020 if the options are as deplorable as 2016 would be a national boycott of the elections. Don’t vote for them. Don’t give them legitimacy. The public literally has little to no say in the legislative outcomes that govern us, so why give these sociopaths the pleasure of our consent over this sham?

Or not, and hope impeachment gives you the easy way out. Suckers.

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What’s The Plan For Winter Shelter Overflow In Missoula?

by William Skink

As winter leapfrogs ahead of fall this year in Missoula, the final plan on where homeless overflow will be directed has yet to be made public.

Plan A of getting churches to handle the overflow ran into this problem in September:

The City of Missoula’s attempt to keep the homeless population warm this winter may get snagged on the issue of separation of church and state, the city’s attorney warned in an email Monday.

City zoning laws regulate buildings used as emergency homeless shelters, and prevented one long-running winter warming shelter, the Union Gospel Mission, from operating last winter because it wasn’t up to code. When the Poverello Center capped the number of people it could safely house, local officials scrambled to find a temporary solution.

Eventually space was found at the Salvation Army building on Russell Street, and city officials allowed it to be used as a temporary emergency shelter, forgoing the formal review process. Now, the city wants to make it easier for places like churches and other religious organizations to become emergency winter shelters.

If the legal complexities of church and state prevent plan A from being implemented, what is plan B?

Remember, after last winter, the Salvation Army was supposedly a “hard no” on doing a repeat. For perspective, here are notes from a public meeting of the Mayor’s Downtown Advisory Committee held last April about what went down last winter:

The Salvation Army stepped up to provide services for those who could not stay at the Poverello Center. They opened the day after Christmas 2018 and closed at the end of March 2019. The Salvation Army served up to 70 people per night. They were not as strict as the Poverello Center and allowed pets and husbands and wives to stay together. Operationally it was very hard on the Salvation Army staff since they managed a more difficult clientele. There was property damage, people with mental health issues, needles in the bathrooms and items stored outside under bushes. The Good Food Store did have problems but they worked with the Salvation Army.

Plans are already in the works to discuss warming efforts for winter 2019. The Salvation Army decided not to participate this winter since they had issues managing the daytime hours. The transfer center was used as a temporary warming facility winter 2018. Eran explained that they are now looking locally for a place to house people 24 hours per day and that plan will be taken to the council and the commissioners in the future.

Ethan Smith said that the police were called to the Salvation Army every night and staff was overwhelmed. Ethan recommended that whomever housed people this next winter should have training.

Bryan asked if the Salvation Army gave a hard no or if they might be willing to house a few people. Eran thought that was a good question and it was possible that they would be open to that. They were doubling or tripling their staff this winter when they typically only had four people working.

Bryan saw the value of a central facility but wondered if several organizations could work together. Churches could be an option. Transportation was an issue though; each facility would have to find a way to transport people to their facilities.

Despite all the talk of hopes and plans and churches saving the day, from what I’m hearing, it’s all fallen through, and a mad scramble is on to repeat the shit-show of last winter. If the Salvation Army is once again the host site for homeless overflow, I’d be very curious to know how that came to be.

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WTF Is Up With Montana Democrats?

by William Skink

It may not seem like I want Democrats to be successful, considering all the derision and scorn I have heaped on the national brand over the years, but at the state level, I would like Democrats to at least make a minimal effort to succeed. Doing so could mean saving the veto power of the Governor’s office and keeping some legislative sanity so another Medicaid slaughter doesn’t go down.

Were blog posts more widely read, two recent ones would be raising serious questions about what the hell Democrats in Montana are doing to be successful.

One of the only things I appreciate about blogger Greg Strandberg is his digging into the numbers, and when it comes to Democrats in Montana, it’s clear they know how to raise and spend money, but to what end? From the link:

The GOP raised $20,000 in September and spent $28,000. They now have $27,000 in the bank.

The Dems raised $113,000 in September and spent $72,000. They now have $123,000 in the bank.

Later in the post Strandberg breaks down how much money Montana Democrats pay their seven paid staffers to run the Democratic show in the state. When you contrast what Democrats are spending to what the GOP is spending, you might assume spending more money on more staffing would translate into more political activity, but thanks to this surprisingly candid blog post from the Montana Post, that is apparently not the case:

The most pressing problem should be the easiest to fix. The Party needs to stop being silent. A look at the press releases page on the party’s web site shows the latest post was added over three weeks ago. The Facebook page? Other than posts about fundraising events, it’s a ghost town. Twitter? About one post a week.

And these have been pretty damn momentous times. Where was the Montana Democratic Party when thousands of Montana kids were out on the streets demanding action on climate change? The Party couldn’t offer support for these future voters even though our Party platform demands action on the climate?

Where has the Montana Democratic Party been on the latest wave of Trump scandals and his potential impeachment? While Republicans are gearing up their predictable attacks on the rule of law and their specious defense of the President, where is the voice of the Democratic Party defending the inquiries that will take place in Congress?

Parties play a unique role in our political system and some of that role must be to be the cudgel of the party, to take swings at Republican candidates for office that might be too difficult for candidates to take. Given the copious ammunition their voting records and public statements provide, Republicans should be taking hits from the MDP almost every week, if not every day. That’s just not happening.

Summer is over, and these people can’t muster more than a tweet a week? Really?

Is it laziness? Is it a strategic stand-down because Montana is considered a lost cause to the national party?

It’s inexcusable for the Democratic party apparatus in Montana to be taking in so much money with so little to show for it. Even the most doggedly loyal Democrat blog in the state is getting tired of this feeble refusal to fight for anything beyond financial contributions.

Change or keep losing, Montana Democrats. The choice is up to you.

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Is The Right Deluding Itself Over The True Nature Of Trump?

by William Skink

When I talk about half-blind partisanship my criticism has largely been directed toward Democrats, but Trump supporters who think their orange-faced demigod is some anointed anti-globalist indicates more than half-blindness is going on; I sense a deeper delusion at play.

Brandon Smith has been one of the few consistent critics of Trump from the right, and his latest piece continues pointing out the fact that Trump cannot be anti-globalist while working with global elites. From the link:

In 2016 Trump offered positions in the White House to a vast array of global elitists, some of them from the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank whose stated goals include the erasure of borders and the end of national sovereignty. These members include:

Elaine Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation

Jamie Dimon, Member of Strategic and Policy Forum

Jim Donovan, Deputy Treasury Secretary

Larry Fink, Member of Strategic and Policy Forum

Neil M. Gorsuch, Supreme Court Justice

Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward, National Security Advisor (declined appointment)
Trump then went on to bring in long time elites with ties to the globalist establishment and the Federal Reserve such as John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Robert Lighthizer, Larry Kudlow, and Steve Mnuchin, etc. The list goes on and on…

During the campaign, Trump consistently (and rightly) criticized Hillary Clinton’s many ties to the banking cabal, including her close relationship with internationalist banks like Goldman Sachs. He also made multiple criticisms against globalism. Then, he argued that the economic recovery under Obama was actually a massive financial bubble – the markets were artificially propped up by the Federal Reserve’s stimulus and low interest rates, and indicators like unemployment stats were rigged. Again, this was all true.

Yet, after his election Trump proceeded to saturate his cabinet with the same banking elites he once attacked, and then he took FULL CREDIT for the markets and the fake employment and GDP numbers only months later.

Once in office, Trump suddenly abandoned his promise to indict the Clintons, and any pursuit of fighting the globalists fell by the wayside. Instead, Trump turned all his attention on China, opening the door to an economic war as a useful distraction for the globalists while they continued to pull the plug on financial life support. If Trump was going to do battle with the globalist establishment, why would he surround himself with so many elites and why would he hold up China as a primary threat instead of global banking institutions?

There is an assumption that only Democrats are susceptible to TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), but unfortunately it appears TDS is an equal-opportunity mindset that makes objective analysis from either side of the political spectrum nearly impossible.

Sad.

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Americans Won’t Understand What The Houthis Are Exposing Until It’s Too Late

by William Skink

While Americans obsess over 24/7 Trump impeachment coverage, the poorest nation in the Middle East, Yemen, has significantly altered the dynamics of global warfare and geopolitics.

After crippling Saudi Arabia’s oil processing capacity, the Houthis have reportedly destroyed three Saudi brigades in a conventional military offensive against the 3rd largest purchaser of military hardware in the world. From the link:

On Saturday 29 the Houthis and the Yemeni army conducted an incredible conventional attack lasting three days that began from within Yemen’s borders. The operation would have involved months of intelligence gathering and operational planning. It was a far more complex attack than that conducted against Aramco’s oil facilities. Initial reports indicate that the forces of the Saudi-led coalition were lured into vulnerable positions and then, through a pincer movement conducted quickly within Saudi territory, the Houthis surrounded the town of Najran and its outskirts and got the better of three Saudi brigades numbering in the thousands and including dozens of senior officers as well as numerous combat vehicles. This event is a game changer, leaving the US, Mike Pompeo and the Israelis and Saudis unable to lay the blame on Iran as all this took place a long way from Iran.

The large-scale operation was preceded by Yemeni rocket artillery targeting Jizan airport, with 10 missiles paralyzing any movements to and from the airport, including denying the possibility of air support for the encircled troops. The Houthis also hit the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh in a key operation that targeted Apache helicopters, forcing them to leave the area. Nearby military bases were also targeted so as to cut off any reinforcements and disrupt the chain of command. This led to the Saudi forces fleeing in disorganization. Images shown by the Houthis show a road in the middle of a valley on the outskirts of Najran with dozens of Saudi armored vehicles trying to flee while being attacked from both sides by Houthi RPGs together with heavy and light weapons. Visual confirmation of the debacle can be seen in the number of casualties as well as in the number of prisoners taken. Images show lines of Saudi prisoners walking under Yemeni guard towards prison camps. This is something extraordinary to behold: the Saudi army, the third largest purchaser of weapons in the world, getting comprehensively walloped by one of the poorest countries in the world. The numbers say it all: the Houthis were able to control more than 350 kilometers of Saudi territory. Given that the Saudi military budget is almost 90 billion dollars a year, this achievement is made all the more extraordinary.

Houthi forces employed drones, missiles, anti-aircraft systems, as well as electronic warfare to prevent the Saudis from supporting their troops with aviation or other means to assist their trapped men. Testimony from Saudi soldiers suggest that efforts to rescue them were half-hearted and of little effect. Saudi prisoners of war accuse their military leaders of having left them prey to their opponents.

This David vs. Goliath military showdown has done much more than undermine Saudi Arabia’s military prowess on the battlefield, it also calls into question America’s military dominance in the region. Considering the US already has a deplorable track record of military failures in the region, the fact that its client state can’t even stop the rag-tag Houthi rebels with purchased US military might from hitting them where it hurts, well, that says something.

To further this line of thinking, here’s Conn Hallinan in Counterpunch yesterday with a piece titled How the Saudi Oil Field Attack Overturned America’s Apple Cart. From the link:

Since 1945, Washington’s policy in the Middle East has been to control the world’s major energy supplies by politically and militarily dominating the Persian Gulf, which represents about 15 percent of the globe’s resources. The 1979 Carter Doctrine explicitly stated that the U.S. reserved the right to use military force in the case of any threat to the region’s oil and gas.

To that end, Washington has spread a network of bases throughout the area and keeps one of its major naval fleets, the Fifth, headquartered in the Gulf. It has armed its allies and fought several wars to ensure its primacy in the region.

And all that just got knocked into a cocked hat.

On top of this rapid deflation of US imperial influence we also stand on the precipice of an economic collapse that will dwarf the trouble that emerged in 2008. Here is how one trader frames it:

We’re in the middle of an existential crisis. We must be. That’s what central bank policies are telling us. After all the ECB cut rates to the lowest ever with its balance sheet being at record highs and expanding. The central bank of Australia today cut rates to their lowest levels ever. These are policies of absolute panic crisis levels are they not? The Fed is intervening in repo markets every single day barely able to keep the effective Fed funds rate at target. They’ve already cut rates twice and are already expanding their balance sheet. Without these interventions markets and the economy would fall apart. That’s the message that is being sent.

In any other time in history all these policy actions and their levels would be regarded as commensurate with a great crisis unfolding.

How is this not a crisis?

So far the military failures and inevitable economic crisis has been distant enough to effectively ignore. It won’t remain that way forever.

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The Partisan Threat

by William Skink

If partisans can’t leave behind their half-blind attacks on the totally corrupt body politic, then democracy is already dead.

And that’s a good thing.

There are better ways of doing things then centralizing power and control for a minuscule minority of global sociopaths.

Partisans aren’t just wasting our time, they are actively torturing the body politic we call representative democracy with their willful half-blindness to their own team’s obvious corruption.

Once upon a time during the last presidential election cycle a Bond-like (former) UK spook used his mother Russia contacts to concoct a dossier. Campaign people with cool names like Papadopoulos even had honey traps set for them. This stuff was used by FBI bumblers and DOJ dunces to get FISA access.

Fun times for democracy in America.

Bob Mueller did a bang-up job looking in all the wrong places, and now, Act II: Ukraine.

Will the half-blindness hold? Will that side, and that other side, continue maintaining their selective ignorance, or can we step the fuck back from this shit show and finally acknowledge how mob-like our government institutions have become?

Wake up, people. Stop defending grifters because they’re wearing your colors and get ready for a very bumpy ride when the everything bubble goes bang.

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Feeling Peachy

by William Skink

fancy bear, fancy pants
strike the crowd with pundit rants
fill them full with peachy hope
crowd control, they’ll beg for rope

help the man no average joe
help his mind on where to go
help the hunter’s nasal lift
then give that lady’s hair a sniff

fan base morale will break the team
fancy bear knows what I mean
Crowley sighs eleven times
blood begins a tie that binds

mocking makers, their wizard eyes
squint to see who brings the light
a wicked process grafts the tech
upon the contour of your neck

to reach perfection, they will say
alchemical methods rule the day
and for a future bright and blue
there’s just one thing you’ll need to do…

sign here:

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