In this increasingly disagreeable country, it’s hard to imagine a majority of people agreeing on anything.
Did U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull commit an unforgivable sin when he forwarded an unseemly email about President Obama, or a minor infraction for which his apology was more than sufficient?
People are no closer to agreement on what looks like a much simpler question: Should Billings residents be allowed to have backyard chickens? One side says they are green, clean and healthful. The other side thinks they are indicators of the collapse of civilization.
That’s why I think we all owe some thanks to Helena resident Todd Harold Schrier. He did something that 99 percent of us will agree was absolutely wrong.
He got a dog, a 20-pound Pomeranian named Arly II, falling-over drunk.
It was all rather confusing, as late-night imbroglios in bars often are, but apparently Schrier gave the dog a go-cup of vodka, which the dog drank in a car parked outside Smith’s Bar in East Helena.
Other patrons reportedly called the cops, and the Independent Record said that “an intoxicated person who claimed part ownership” of Arly was the one who told the police that Schrier supplied the dog with the booze.
A veterinarian did a blood draw on Arly and determined its blood-alcohol level was 0.348 percent. The vet said alcohol affects dogs much as it affects human beings, and human beings aren’t supposed to drive with a level beyond 0.08.
Plus, I’ve heard Pomeranians can’t hold their liquor, so that pitiful pooch is probably still suffering from a hangover. No word on how Arly’s intoxicated part-owner got home.
Anyway, though I’m not normally an eye-for-an-eye type, it would serve Schrier right if officials at the Lewis and Clark County jail, where he is being held on drug charges, were to feed him dog food for a day or two.
Battle of the boxes
While we’re all in an agreeable mood, can we coalesce around another opinion, namely, that the new federal courthouse under construction in downtown Billings is an eyesore?
It is basically a box with a few concrete columns out front and a bizarre collection of wall panels with deliberately uneven surfaces.
It might improve when the Babylonian gardens are added to the roof, but I’m not optimistic.
But can’t we also agree that it hardly brings down the neighborhood? The James F. Battin Courthouse, which it will replace, is even more featureless, a white rectangle with mirrored windows.
Just north of the new courthouse is the sheriff’s office, located in what used to be a bank.
It’s not a box, I’ll say that for it. It is round, and it looks like a flying saucer, or a hamburger so unappetizing that even Arly wouldn’t eat it.
Across the street from the sheriff’s office is the great brown upright shoe box known as the Terrace Apartments, its dullness relieved (just barely) by green balcony fences.
South of the new courthouse is a concrete parking garage and the Wells Fargo bank building, which at best is inoffensive, but nothing more. Then there’s the county courthouse, just west of the new courthouse.
At least the county courthouse’s color scheme is decent and the exterior has some polished granite, but it, too, is a box.
And yet another federal building, which will go up on Fourth Avenue North, is going to be a glorified box.
The new downtown Stockman Bank is twice as attractive as any of the buildings I’ve named, and developers have done a great job of peeling off the boxlike facades and salvaging some fine old buildings downtown.
It’s a shame that their work is overshadowed by all these eyesores. I’d rather see chicken coops. Or a dog house, whether its occupant was drunk or sober.
But you know what? All this peace, love and understanding is already starting to bore me. Like everybody else, I’d rather argue.
Obama! Pipeline! Romney! Contraceptives! Santorum! Islam! Robert De Niro! Atheism! Tebow!
There. I feel better already.