Unapproachable

Words and empty glasses

Empty hallways

Minds full of conversation and argument

Dissonance despite removed cobwebs

Depth of feeling, kept to quiet corners of busy minds

Because questions take too much time to ask,

And too much thought to answer

So, it goes, down that brown road bound with a load of unspeakables

Why did I cry?

No voices care to ask, in drunken silent nights,

Where background noise plays precedents in  pounding eardrums

Speaking only of intimacies enticing intertwine through some flesh

Divine with Nudity

The Mind though, and the Heart; The Body of this Self

Not so intertwined in Divine Divinity, in that moment

Still writhing with expectations of innocence.

So plays out that old game.

For perceptions of pleasure and intent are squandered

A disillusion through the fine filter of Experience

So, and still, caught in the past

A cycle recycled

A writing of turmoil inside from the Unspeakable.

Avoidance and You clumsily stumble to sleep alone.

And I stay awake, and continue to question.

An Open Letter To All the People Who Wonder Why I Shy Away From Intimacy

Dear Loved Ones,  those I continually shy away from emotionally and physically.  To those I have run away from, and have run away from me;

I apologize that at times I can’t seem to escape the nauseating feeling that builds in me when I come into contact with physical intimacy; whether it be between parents and children or lovers and friends.  I find it hard to watch; to stomach the outward affection people are able to show toward one another.  I don’t quite understand it, but I crave it.

I find myself caught in a steady state of loneliness, confusion and hopelessness, that I will never be able to “feel” and express “feeling” like others seem so comfortable doing.  Something in my second nature has atrophied.  Will I ever be able to truly share and savor those aspects of emotional camaraderie, that should come with love and intimacy?  The seemingly one thing, keeping me chained to isolation caught in stagnant aspects of my emotional world.

I often cringe away from physical touch, as a completely unconscious response; I find myself jump in surprise when touched affectionately.  I find this to be upsetting for both parties.  This leaves me further feeling untouchable, misunderstood and lonelier, still.

This is not a matter of not wanting to be touched at all, but rather, I do remember that I like to be touched.  The ability to be touched starts in my brain.  I don’t just go around touching people, and people certainly don’t just go around touching me.  I have spent more of my life being untouched, than touched.   I don’t have normal daily excretions of Oxytocin.  I get a good hug in, every few months.  Seasonal hugging.  In my mind, I think, if I could just surrender, then I know I would want to be held forever.  But, for some reason that cognitive dissonance sets in and I can not surrender.

Everyone knows about the wall around my heart, and some even believe that they themselves, are enough to beat it down.  No one wants to break it down together, and I am not just going to give hammers out, willy-nilly, with out at least being able to supervise the progress.

The ability for me to start to surrender,will always be, when I feel a foundation of trust. I need to know that I won’t be left to the wolves again, by this obvious distraction that exists within my brain spaces.  I don’t need extra isolation, I can provide that plenty on my own.  I don’t need harsh emotional critics, I have that covered as well.

I would be happy enough with compassion and understanding.

 

 

Photography courtesy of Pat Kight.

 

 

 

Joe Shogrin: Not a Douche-bag

 

The weather and the campaign trail are getting hot this July; and the heat radiating from Cheyenne City Council Candidates canvassing neighborhoods, is no exception. This 2016 election brings out twenty-eight candidates between three City Wards. It appears that Individuals are crawling out of the woodwork this year, inspired to step up and serve their local community.
One of these candidates is Joe Shogrin campaigning for Ward 3.
A local political supporter wondered why I hadn’t interviewed Joe, yet, based off of my unprompted interview with Mayoral write-in candidate, Richard Johnson; and I said “If Joe wants to talk, I will sit down and listen, and write something up.”

Well, Joe Shogrin DID express an interest to sit down and talk with me about his campaign and his visions for Cheyenne’s future; double bonus win for him, I live in Ward 3, as well. So, we had an impromptu and rather casual meeting over a beer in my humble garage.
Joe stands at about six foot four inches. He is a man who looks like he can lift some heavy equipment with agility… which all makes sense, when I find out he is a High Voltage Lineman. As I understand it, this isn’t easy work for the weak of heart, fear of heights type. This is work that transcends seasons, and jumps straight to badass modern necessity; a-no-one-likes-being-left-without-power-during-a-snowstorm-kind-of-labor.
In 2010, Joe Shogrin left Altus, Oklahoma (population 22,000) for the fine (if not larger) town of Cheyenne, to continue his work as a lineman.

Now, personally, electricity scares the dried fecal matter out of my colon. I don’t really understand how it works.  I know that it is especially dangerous when prefixed by the words “High” and “Voltage”. This isn’t the case when it comes to Shogrin. Joe isn’t scared of electricity or heights. Joe loves his job. Beyond that… Joe LOVES helping people.

“You know the thing that really drives me, is being out there in the middle of an ice storm or a lightening storm, and there are all these people out there who are out of power and suffering… and, I know, we gotta get that power back on.”

Before working in the electricity business, Joe was humbly working as a janitor; however, when he found out that his first baby was on the way, he realized he needed a real career in order to support his growing family.
As luck, God, or good grace would have it; Joe found himself at the right place, at the right time when he went into the Altus City Building to ask about available jobs. He was presented with the opportunity for an entry level, seasonal meter reading gig that would be laid off in six months. He took the job, reading meters for six months, and at the end of it promptly joined the Linemen Apprentice Program.
Joe credits most of his career longevity and advancement with his ability to self teach and seek out knowledge in his chosen field. I make a mental note that these are great attributes for individuals to possess when running for public offices that represent widely varied demographics.
“Cheyenne is an interesting market because a lot of our Councilmen (people) are small business owners, so they look out for small business interests which is an important dynamic that needs to happen, but I feel like the council today isn’t really for the people. Politics shouldn’t be that way at any level. They are there for us, there to serve us. That is what I want to get back to. That is why I want to be on Council. I feel like we have a problem here; a disconnect from the people to the Council; the Council to the people, right on up into the State house and the Senate, upward. We basically have disconnects on every level of Council right now, which is dangerous.”
These are potent observations, that should not be taken lightly; especially from someone willing to put their name in the hat to play a long standing local political game. I think about Rich Johnson’s comments about his beginning attitude in politics being idealistic and optimistic, and how much has changed in his perception of what he could change during his first year in council.

Politics is like High Voltage line work… it isn’t for the weak willed, and easily battered. Maybe Joe really has a chance at winning a seat and assisting in some much needed changes.
I want to know why Joe thinks he would be a good fit for City Council.
“I’ve worked for the city (as a lineman) and one of the biggest strengths I bring to the table is moderation. Mediation is where it is at. I am some one who is willing to moderate and work in the middle. You give a little bit here, you take a little bit there, and after a while you have a compromise.”

So, Joe Shogrin is a willing mediator in favor of compromise. He comes across as open minded and level headed, not to mention brave, with functional risk taking. (Heck, you have to possess those attributes to get that far off the ground to deal with electricity in treacherous weather….)
“I am very supportive of our local economy, but our economy goes through these boom or bust cycles every 10 years with oil. We have good employers; (it just seems) when we are comfortable making money, we crash. We don’t plan ahead, we don’t set anything aside for when the bottom falls out. You can’t base your economy off of two or three (major income) issues with a city this size; we have to diversify our income sources and work load as well as the types of jobs we have. I am kind of disappointed because I see our Council and Candidates, and when I talk to them they are like ‘ We have to support small business!’ And I agree 100%, BUT, we also have to support moving forward to the next level so we can (as a community) support small business. If people have money in their pocket, they are going to spend it and they are going to spend it here, mostly. Now they may go to Fort Collins, but we could build up our down town area; do stuff that will keep them ( local money) here.”
We talked for awhile about Keith Coombes recent Facebook post for Ernie Novembers’ Record Store, calling out downtown business owners for having such short business hours; especially in the summer time, on the week end. Just a few weeks ago Keith kept the business open an hour later than their usual 9 pm closing down. Ernie November, already stays open later, every day of the week, than any other non food related walk-in place of commerce in down town Cheyenne. By keeping the doors open for interested patrons, beyond the posted closing time, thereby engaging the community; the business was able to make an extra $500 bones on the books. This is great for one small local business… and it should be inspiration to other small business owners to take heed and ride the periodic tides we have when it comes to downtown interest and seasonal shopping. (Here is a link to Keith’s post if you want to check it out for yourself.)

“One of the constituents (running with me) is big on down town. His platform is ‘Bring Back Downtown.’ He says that he goes down there at night, and it’s dead except for the bar scene. You have a couple of beers and walk around, but there is nothing to do. It makes you wonder, what is there to go down there for? The bar scene? That may not be what the Councils’ job is, but, it’s also (what adds to) a perception of the community. Everyone is struggling to make a living, and so as a Council, what can we do to help them? I know that business owners are making their own schedules and want their time… not everyone is willing to work 12p-9p; and it isn’t the Councils job to impose that… but as a friend of the community, working to be in the Council; I would suggest that they really look at that and consider adjusting. Maybe try working some different hours and see what you get in the results. Downtown is essential to so many activities in Cheyenne. We have the Plaza, the Depot and space; sadly, it is underutilized. Bring the people in like we do on Friday’s. If I am to be a steward of peoples money, I’m not just going to spend it (willy nilly). I am not going to spend it on something that I wouldn’t spend my own money on.”
Joe is a blue collar guy, working blue collar work. He has to get his pants dirty and his hands callused to do what he does. He has to challenge his fears and step into the unknown in order to help strangers. He finds satisfaction in a job well done. I admire these attributes in general, and especially when it comes from those who feel invigorated enough to step from their obscure silence into a cooperative community position; willing and excited to help tow the line.
I shared my concern about certain ambitious projects in the city that seem to be rising to the top of discussions without real priority; for instance, the Sky Bridge. It is a very large scale project that was introduced to the town as “a way to make our skyline unique”, yet it doesn’t seem that this project should be any priority; especially when taking into consideration that there are so many defunct properties in down town… It seems like an over ambitious project with no real connection to realistic priorities as it pertains to actually improving Downtown Cheyenne for its residents. Another example is the Children’s Museum that started as a granted project, and is now being presented as a building that will be paid for with tax dollars, under the guise that it will invigorate a down town that already has a parking problem, and few options for kids. (On a personal note, I think the Museum is a great idea, but it belongs closer to Lions Park with other kid/family friendly activities; perhaps in the existing old terminal of the Regional Airport, which is historic in itself.) I also share my concern that we are wasting resources with all of these surveys that cost money to assess, in order to figure out a consensus for the direction of down town.
“A project like the Sky Bridge should be funded by grants on a Federal level. And if they try and make us pay for it through taxes, I am going to fight it. I will dress up as Darth Vadar with my friends dressed up as Chewbacca and everything, and I will say ‘DO NOT PASS’ and have some fun with it. Most of these surveys are coming from the State level. I have been talking to some of the candidates I am running with, who are interested in interacting on that level, and I think I can smooth a road over between State Statutes and City Council. If that could happen we could make a positive impact in Cheyenne and Casper, because (State statute) it effects them too. “
Joe is a big proponent of calling out what doesn’t work, and then figuring out solutions that work best for everyone. He has a soft heart for those around him that are suffering from circumstances that are out of their control. He asserts his compassion by volunteering community service, coaching soccer and mentoring children who have no fathers.
“I could be at home watching night shows like everybody else, but instead I choose to invest my time in the future. I have been watching City Council meetings for about two years. I get upset about it because they are suppose to be the voice of the citizens and some of the things they vote for are not Citizen Friendly. It’s like, if I started ‘Joe’s Lawn Mowing Business’ or ‘Joe’s Tiki Hut Stand on The Corner of Joe Rd.’ Then my interest would be ‘well I gotta make sure they don’t close that little loophole, so I can keep my business.’ That is how they (City Council) work, they protect only what serves them. I serve people. That is who I want to serve. I care about everybody, including them. So far as I can tell, there is no real Leadership on Council.”
Joe is quite the people person, and he aims to lend a helping hand whenever the opportunity arises. This is an attribute more leaders should have.
“I am the type of person that will pull over and help you if I see ya stranded on the side of the road… or if I see ya struggling with something. If I see you struggling with your lawn mower, when I am driving by, I will stop to help you because I am pretty good with stuff like that.”
Shogrin’s goal in acquiring one of the Ward 3 Council seats, is to bring together the community of Cheyenne. He understands that many hands working together, can accomplish more in less time. He believes that some of the beautification that needs to happen in the city, could be accomplished quickly if we could set a time and date to get together to get things done. He notices that people are some what “shelled off” in this city, and he wants bring them out of their isolation. He wants to have a strong community that cares for the welfare of one another.

“We have to take care of ourselves. Not just our house, but our community. That is hard to talk people into doing because people are so introverted and shelled off from the world with their face in their cellphone on Facebook.”

Joe has a unique perspective on running for City Council, he doesn’t view it as a competition and he doesn’t view the other constituents as opposition.
“I can’t say enough nice stuff about the people that I have met who (are also) running. I mean they all seem like really nice people. I am not running against them; I am running WITH them. In all honesty, if I get in, and they don’t all they gotta do is call me and say ‘Hey, Joe. Watch out for this. Can you help me with this? ‘ In my mind I am running with seven other people. We all want the same thing; we want to make Cheyenne stronger, bigger, and better. Basically I am surrounded by seven other people that have the same heart for the City that I do; so why would I make an enemy instead of a friend? I care for those people. Win or lose, we are in it together.”
Team work and compromise,is not a platform many actually run on… in fact, to some it may not even seem like a platform at all. The truth speaks loudly in this moment; if we truly love our City and desire to make it better, we have to work together and prioritize our compromises. Is Cheyenne mature enough to be progressive and thoughtful in it’s evolution? Cheyenne is large enough, to start carving out it’s own unique image in the comparative landscapes of other cities. What do we want to represent to ourselves and prospective future residents, and visitors alike?

As the cost of living continues it’s incremental increase across the boarder in Colorado; Cheyenne is bound to be a destination for those who can’t afford to live in Colorado’s changing economy. How can we encourage those who move here, but retain work in Colorado, to spend their money in Cheyenne with local business’? Especially when the heart of the city is in somewhat sad disrepair? What can we do to beautify our town and effectively diversify?

” A constituent made a comment about maybe trying to get the homeless people out of that area (downtown), and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle spun it like they’re a homeless hater . I’m like ‘No.’ The press will do that to you.’ But, responsibly, if you get them out of the area, you help give them means and ways to work. You gotta work with them, to have them work with you. There is always a balance, always a compromise to work things out. My friends joke that I could negotiate a deal between the Devil and God. I say, ‘I might be able to’ It’s about compromise, and it’s about working together and that’s my whole agenda.”
One of the big compromises Joe observes that needs some attention, is the wages in our great State. At this point in time, wages for most jobs doesn’t even come close to competitive national averages; which could be one reason Colorado transfers, may choose to keep their jobs and money across the boarder. Joe is concerned that our below average wages need to be addressed as a way of adding to the positive draw for current and future residents.
“If you have a CDL other places you average about $50,000 per year. Here you make about $12.24 an hour, which is about $25,000 dollars a year. And here you have to have a Heavy Machine License, because a lot of these guys have to go unload heavy equipment… so that is additional, but typically a Heavy Machine Operator will make $60-70 thousand a year. Not here. We may pay those guys $18 an hour. Then we have our Fire and Police departments, and we are growing, so we need to think about that because those departments are going to have to grow in the future. Since I have been here, I think we have grown by 6,000, that’s a lot, and now we are short on both Fire and Police. I was talking to both Chiefs, and basically Fire needs another outpost over on the east side of town. Those business’ on the east side of town actually have higher insurance rates because the response time of the Fire Department. That is one of our bigger employment centers over there. There are 2000 plus jobs in that area. “
An area of address Shogrin finds pertinent, is the need for City funding to diversify their support into more of the activities and organizations in town. Joe then referenced the failing Ice and Events Center that was taken over by the City a few years ago. Lack of advertising and promotion of activities at the Event Center has made it slip to the back of most peoples minds when contemplating a fun family friendly social activity.

“The city tends to really support four or five organizations. We don’t promote our business’ well enough. There are local business’ here, that I haven’t even heard of. You can go down off Dell Range into one of the local shops; take my friend who owned Kabob King. When he took over that building down there behind Applebees, and I go in there to have a Kabob Burger, and I look over at Applebees and their parking lot is packed. I look at his parking lot, and there are two cars in it. Applebees is a big box store. 90% of the money they make over there goes back to the corporation and the rest goes to service and bar staff. We have a lot of organizations that can help you promote your business, but a problem  I see, is they are not all under one umbrella and they need not be governed by the City Council because that says corruption. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, or even in eight years; some where down the way, it’s going to get corrupt. Corrupt government pisses me off more than anything. If I see something right or wrong going on, I am going to call it. If it’s wrong, and I am doing it, I am going to apologize and get re-educated. I’m not above that, it’s a strength I have going into Council, if I get there. I’m not above admitting when I am wrong and learning something new. Sometimes I need help too, and I am not afraid to ask for it.”
Observing past candidates and current Council meetings leaves much to be desired in even giving the illusion of working together as a committee for the people. Many meetings run long circles around the issues with little being accomplished with the time spent meant to progress the city and address issues. Members seem unwilling to compromise or budge on their stances, which begs the question, are these representatives REALLY FOR the people and the City, or are they solely fixated on protecting their own personal interests?
“I am like, one percent asshole. Other than that I want to bring people together. At the end of the day I want us all to work together as a team. My first goal in City Council, would be to bring everyone to work together as a team. The first thing we have to realize is the first priority is, we are working together for the same reason; We are for the people, we are for Cheyenne. It’s an easy commitment. If some one is 25% right about something, we don’t have to just shoot them down. You take that 25% and build on it. Without our town having a great future, our business’ will not have a great future. If business doesn’t have a great future, the town isn’t going to have a great future and have a chance to actually become prosperous. “
Joe noted that Cheyenne’s focus has seemed geared toward the tourism that is primarily generated during the summer months in the Capital City, versus prioritizing the actual residents and business’ that run year long that actually supports city programs with tax revenue. He feels that if we invest in the beautification and maintenance of our city, it will be more attractive both aesthetically, and and in functionality.
“You see beer bottles sitting in the gutter for 3 days and no one wants to pick it up. We don’t practice due diligence in picking things up. One of the issues we have with downtown is it just needs a new coat of paint… and if enough people were to help, we could get it done in three hours. It doesn’t have to take a lot to make a place look awesome. If the City were to prioritize, and set aside a few days where city employees just went around helping people get things cleaned up…Can you imagine all these experts in their field with a budget and some grants, and we could clean up downtown nicely. We have beautiful buildings, they’ve just been neglected. “
Every downtown is known for having a ghetto area. How can Cheyenne, revitalize and address the issues that arise from an alcohol infused area that draws homelessness and at-risk adults, effectively? How do we clean up our act with out over gentrifying? How can we assist sub-sectors of our community that are disenfranchised and potentially dealing with chemical abuse and mental health issue, who are drawn to these areas where like minded poverty stricken peers congregate?

“I know why they congregate down there. Both of our Homeless Resources are down there within walking distance. You have the intersection of two busy highways right down there, and on top of that you have three places downtown there that offer free wifi. Then you are also in walking distance of MLK park, in which they sleep in if they can’t find a spot that is safe to sleep at, at night. It’s not about making the homeless people leave downtown, it’s about giving them an incentive to leave downtown. I think that is the problem people have had with downtown ‘Oh, it has to be clean’ and they want to do like they did in Denver. They swept through the homeless parks and rifled through their things, destroyed their things.”

13465971_1745896805657737_3765290143080208362_n Overall it appears Joe Shogrin really is for the people and the City. He is most definitely NOT a douche-bag. His apparent willingness to work with and for others, all while focusing on resourceful solutions that capitalize on the unique expertise and strengths of individuals working as a team, seems profound and exactly what the city of Cheyenne needs right now. With this attitude many positive things can be accomplished over a shorter period of time, thereby accelerating us into a bountiful future for this Magic City.
If you would like to connect with Joe on Facebook, click here.
If you would like to call and schedule a chat with him about any questions or concerns you may have, give him a call at (307)630-8342.
If you haven’t already, you still have time to register to vote; the primary election is in August and the race is heating up. You can register to vote at the County Clerks Office at 2020 Carey Avenue.

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Richard Johnson, Renegade Politician Pt. 2

(If you missed part one, CLICK HERE)

Like Neo in the Matrix; Richard is well aware that many people like the idea of being in the (political) game, and most of them agree to the rules already in place. In that knowing, there is a systemic conformity of illusions that this guy seems to be willing to entangle with for the sake of curiosity of his own logical power and the power of the logical people.
Richards greatest power, is his broad range of interests, and his ability to speak for the under spoken and disenfranchised. He is highly researched in history; wars, and all topics relating to social study. His own inquisitive and rebellious nature gives him inquisition into laws, ordinances and how governments influence societies.
Rich has had more than one friend who has been homeless, and seemingly lost in hopeless drug problems. He cares about people and quality of life, but not in mainstream “One Up Your Neighbor with Meaningless BS for The Sake of It” kind of way.

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He speaks kindly of Mayor Richard Kaysen, whom he has had the ability to get to know through these socio/political events. Rich appreciates Kaysens’ passion for children and vets, and enjoys how Kaysen asserts his passion for these demographics publicly. Richard speaks out lovingly toward our current Mayor all while admitting that they agree to disagree on some of the finer points when it comes to things politically.
Perhaps an example of how Richard speaks for the underdog, is that he knows a community worth of reformed felons; basically people who did something stupid in their late teens to early twenties that they have since, and will continue to pay the price for with an unsavory label. Individuals, who are now older, wiser, productive assets in our little society. Individuals who now have kids that they care about.  Children whose futures matter, and hopefully not lost in some stupid legal red tape that they can never cross.Johnson makes a clear fact that, certain labels come with a “keep out” sign when it applies to a voice in the voting booth.

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Richard has been the voice of the under spoken community of Cheyenne, and the greater state of Wyoming by going to local business’ and public hang outs, to petition for Medical Cannabis. His ability to get signatures was some what squashed by the fact that those who would like a vote on the Medical Cannabis platform, are unable to, because of said previous felony status.

You know what? The only people I represent are the people who never had a fucking voice, ever. And literally, yesterday when I went and wrote (to the public) about what I stand for in my campaign ;  and it’s ‘no signs, no money, no this, no that,’ People, were like, ‘shit, I don’t know if I would really support you for Mayor, but Jesus Christ, did you read my fucking mind when you wrote that shit?’ People are pissed…but you know the (one) thing that sucks is, I would have a lot more voters if felons were allowed to vote. When I was doing the Medical petition and I went to the tattoo parlor, I was like ‘ Ah shit, I will probably clean house! Probably get 50- 60 signatures,’ and yet everyone had to turn me away because, everyone was a fucking felon. So literally everyone I hang out with.  I said it in the debate for City Council, ‘Where do you get your feedback from?’ I get it from felons…ya know? People who usually screwed up sometime between 18 and 25, and now they are paying for it…and they can’t vote for me because of something they fucked up in the past. I mean who would have thought that I would be the candidate to work with the police the most? I talk to the Chief of Police, every week. I never would have thought that.”

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Richard speaks well of Chief Kozak, and how he has done great things for the police force and the city of Cheyenne.  Rich was empathetic toward Kozaks’ desire to get hired closer to his family in Minnesota while simultaneously being  glad that we get to keep the Chief for a while longer . Johnsons’ greatest fear with the transfer of  Kozak, being that Kozak would be replaced with a person who is “a cop first and foremost” running with a “good ole boy” mentality, stuck on archaic laws and ways of asserting them. According to Rich, Kozack comes across as a family man who is interested most in serving the safety and well being of this town; willing to work with various individuals and entities in order to do the job well.
I have a great Chief of Police. I couldn’t ask for a better one. He listens to me when I speak, and together we are looking at (the laws and ordinances for) spitting, weapons, chickens, electric fences, and food trucks… I have to work with the police… so I have to ask ‘ okay, what do you do?’ And I told them, I know Wyoming is in a budgetary crunch, so when I go to Kozak, I ask ‘ What do you need me to do, to make you and your guys’ lives easier; with the resources we have, and maybe, actually solve some crime?’
Richard wants to seek out our weak spots as a community and fix them, or at least call them out so they can be put on a path to fixing. He notices that we have plenty of “fluff laws”… just words in a book,ready to be used by lawyers in the right situation… however many are no longer enforced due to stipulations within certain licenses and ordinances.
Recently Rich, attacked the broad legal definition of “weapon”; siting to Kozak that one can legally walk around the State with a 9mm, but brass knuckles and pocket knives were subject to citation. Meanwhile in this argument, Johnson has been fed some backlash by those who believe the language will somehow save their loved ones; to which Rich responds;
“This is what I literally wrote to Kozak when I brought up this weapons thing… I was like ‘ I can carry a 9mm anywhere I want to go, in the state of Wyoming; but if I have brass knuckles or a knife in my pocket… I can get a citation? I asked, ‘how the hell is that right? If I have a gun… am I not at the top of the fucking food chain? What’s in my pocket, doesn’t fucking matter. And then another councilman brought up that I am putting his wife in danger because of my desire to repel all this language on weapons. He said “Richard, my kids and my wife might be in danger because some kid might have brass knuckles in their pocket… and that puts them in danger.” And I am like, ‘ here is the thing, let’s take the nursery rhyme about schools and books and pencils and dirty looks’. I could take a sharpened pencil and stab you in the fucking throat, or I could take a textbook, (if kids even use textbooks anymore… most likely a tablet,) but I could take a tablet and smash your fucking face. And, so, that is blunt force trauma and injury from a stabbing utensil… but guess what? I am not repealing assault and battery. If I assault some one, it doesn’t matter what I use; it’s still assault and battery. If you get an assault charge, what matter does it make, what utensil you used?
Richard Johnson appears to be logically taking language into consideration when it comes to real life situations regarding the law. He is actively working with law enforcement to make laws more accessible to the community, all while challenging the establishment, in one broad, albeit rather nonthreatening swoop.
I make a mental question as to why any one is complaining or refuting his stance in a primarily Republican state that likes to keep the law at bay.

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Many of Wyoming’s citizens are hands off when it comes to delving in legal matters; unless absolutely necessary.  However, Richard is directly attacking those issues with his own confrontational questions and comparisons. These seemingly inane issues have become very relevant, given his close interaction with people who have criminal records. People in our own community that would like to get on with their lives as productive people.
A highlight of one of Rich’s recent trips, landed him in a five story museum dedicated solely to weapons and their use through time. He was able to see, historically, how people have used the most rudimentary and accessible items, to create weapons meant to hurt another human. Whether it is a pointed stick; a rock tied to a stick, a back pack of shrapnel and marbles in pressure cooker all to drones and laser guided missiles; one doesn’t have to seek out a license or distributor of “weapons”, in order to create destruction… language isn’t going to change that. What matters most; is holding those who do harm, accountable for their actions. Richard then reminds me of the Oklahoma City bombing that was the byproduct of a fertilizer explosion in a rented van.

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The internet is rife with content, and one need not venture out to the local library, anymore, for a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook. Every avenue of destruction a vengeful being may seek, is right at their finger tips.
You should be a little afraid of what you are seeing. Outward appearances are everything. I wear a costume, people don’t think it’s a costume but it’s a costume to wear a fucking suit. But people say that is what you have to do to be taken seriously. You wear a fucking suit.

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Richard Johnson puts the suit on when required, and to a certain degree, I am sure he is afraid of it. Afraid that it will have a power over him much like the Stanford Prison Experiments had over those students back in 1971… where the lives of some kids changed quickly and forever based off of some uniforms and supposed positions of authority, or quite simply put, a series of imposed labels. This seems to be the one of the ways our local representative Richard Johnson, is peeling back the layers of onion that is our own micro Matrix.

Richard Johnson, Renegade Politician Pt.1

If you are a Cheyenne resident voter that follows local politics, the name of Richard Johnson, has probably popped up in conversation more than once around the water cooler.

In all seriousness, it appears that he has a completely diametric effect on those who have taken notice of his politics; whether from the outside looking in, or first hand. You either love him, hate him or find yourself completely confused by him and his presence in the political arena. Some may say, though, that “that’s par for the course when it comes to politicians.” Rich, however, is far from par for the course when it comes to politics.

And, now, our Black Sheep Councilman, is running for Mayor, on a write in campaign.

Richard is a life long resident of Cheyenne. Being labeled as “subversive” or “controversial” is nothing new when it comes to how he chooses to play his role in the game of society. Even from a young age, Rich was getting things done in a manner of hard grit sandpaper. Ruffling feathers with his ideas; all the while making strong attempts to bring sub-sectors of our community, places and ways to feel involved.

Take for instance, his involvement and passion to help get the skate park built.

I remember this town before there was a skate park.
Though I didn’t skate, many of my friends did and I knew how badly they wanted a place to go; a magical place where they could do what  they wanted to; a place where they weren’t going to get yelled at or cited for “illegal skating.”

Rich was just a few years older, and cared about skating AND politics enough to jump in; because, even when building a skate park, it all comes down to politics and support of the community.

At a first and superficial glance some may assumed that Rich is just out to break things. Breaking the systems and people who view him as obstructive or destructive… but can One individual really break something that is already blocked and/ or broken? Can One individual use their own transparency to show others that they need not pretend that superficial fixes and ignorance will alleviate a certain history of systematic dysfunction, that no longer fits our growing and changing economy?

I suppose Richard is out to challenge that in a very direct way that will yet again ruffle feathers.

This is not to say that in the process of his involvement, officially with the City Council, that he hasn’t himself changed, and noticeably so….

It’s a moody spring day in Cheyenne, Thursday in the Third week of May; we decide to meet up at the new Danielmark’s Brewpub, to discuss his effect on the community, and the reasons for the write in campaign.

Rich looks like I feel; tired, and perhaps retaining some water. On his head is a black ball cap that proclaims “DON’T ASK ME 4 SHIT!”… ironic accessory to wear to an interview… when all I have is answers to ask for.

As per usual, he has also accessorized with one of his favorite black metal band t-shirts; today it’s Panzerfaust. According to Wikipedia “Panzerfaust is an inexpensive, single shot, recoil-less German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consists of a small, disposable pre-loaded launch tube firing a high-explosive anti-tank warhead, and was intended to be operated by a single soldier. ” This could be the end of this article. Whether or not he realizes it (and I guess that he does), he sums himself up consistently, without the help of others.

My hope for this series of pieces, is to give you a more clear view of where Rich stands on topics effecting this town.  For those of you who may be on the fence, or just on the side of the fence where the haters hang out; This is for you.

We grab our brews, and head out the the nice new Danielmark’s patio, and jump straight into it.

“Well, Rich, tell me about how you have become who you’ve hated?”

Basically over the last month I have done a huge paradigm shift from who I was before January 5, 2015. Pretty much before that I was an idealist, and now I am the fucking worst pessimist you’ve ever fucking met.

“So you basically skipped realism, and jumped straight to pessimism?”

Yeah, it’s pretty much, this whole escapade is total fucking failure. At least my site lives up to it’s name now. (The infamous FaceBook page “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City)

“Why are you feeling so disappointed?”

Well, because I know that there are ebbs and flows, and right now it’s on a flow, and soon it will be on an ebb…and we’re going to get another old man as Mayor. And I bet you that this year the status quo is going to go out in droves and kill everything (progressive.) I was actually waiting for more candidates to run against me, not because of who I am, but basically because of what I stand for. So I thought there would be a lot more opposition candidates. I mean they have nine more days to file… I figured they would come in a put the kibosh on it. I mean if they really look at it, I haven’t done anything except repeal some laws and ordinances. Like spitting is coming up, and weapons. Basically chickens was a thing that nobody thought should happen, but I just did it to piss people off.

“Are you maybe just being a little too hard on yourself? I mean, you have only been in the position a year, and it probably takes at least a year to figure out what you are doing, since you hadn’t done it before.”

No, I knew exactly what I was doing. I did it with the skate park. I knew what government was all about, that’s why I thought I could just, kind of, mesh in. But, you know, really, it’s just smoke and mirrors. I don’t really feel like anything has really been accomplished in seventeen months.

“But, you didn’t have a clear plan, right?”

No. And I never do. I never run on that type of shit. I told them, that I have no agenda. For my write in, let’s just say that this community better hope I’m never elected for Mayor.

“What does that even mean?”

I will raise impact fees for developers. I will never have a six penny or seven penny tax, where you have to pay for a fire station because a developer wants to keep a couple of million for themselves. I WILL RAISE IMPACT FEES, and I WILL make developers pay for fire stations and more police officers. And I know, the Chamber of Commerce is going to come after me and tell me that I am not supporting local business. Then the Council is going to flip flop on me because they are a bunch of cowards. They are going to get scared that suddenly local business’ that hires local employees, is going to get the shaft again. If you look at inflation rates the Walmart on Livingston paid $125.00 for their final flat.”

Richard then explains his observation of wasted funds on spaces, with things like landscaping, in the name of “beautification” with plants that are having a hard time surviving in our climate at the times of year that they are planted. At the same time he is addressing his experience with the community complaining about the overgrown Green Way, that is justified to not be trimmed as a means of “trash mitigation and purification of waters with natural grasslands.”

Johnson makes note that Cheyenne lacks a specific beautification plan that is symbiotic with the climate and environment of the city and surrounding areas, and that citizens and business’ are wasting funds yearly on everything but long lasting beautification solutions that can also add to the the potential uniqueness of Cheyenne.

Maybe it was the topics of trash, and  monetary waste; that the conversation led next to the other Mayoral Candidates running for office.

As you may have heard before this article, Johnson, is running on a write in campaign. No signs, no banners, no $25.00 entry fee to put his name in the hat. He doesn’t think you need to spend money for a campaign, and he is out to prove it in his own renegade way. Some people are laughing, I know… and maybe I am giggling a little on the inside, too. My reason is, “you never know until you try, and if you don’t put any money in… what do you have to lose?” Right?

A slight controversy recently came up online, after Marian Oor announced her Mayoral bid with videos, balloons and bright orange posters. Richard boiled it down to gimmicks and things that would end up as trash in peoples yards.   In turn he encouraged  voters to avoid posters on their lawns and in their business’, and instead, actually investigate what the constituents were currently doing in the community that would prove they should have a seat ( whether City Council, Mayor, or beyond.)

Social Media followers of Richard Johnson, and active participants in the community eager to try their hand at city council agreed with his logic. Gabe Pina of Pina Accounting and the Downtown Cheyenne Business Coop is running for a seat in Ward 3 City Council.  He  was inspired to ask his supporters to donate to one of several community charities in lieu of campaign donations.

I almost feel like an asshole now, every time I go into a new business opening, because I am surrounded by fake assholes. I am surrounded by ‘candidates’. It’s almost like everything I have done for the last year and a half on my own was “Oh I am elected, now I have to really go out and support my community. “

And support his community he did. “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City” has been just as abuzz with community events as it has been with Johnson’s personal rants; raves, observations, controversial pictures and not so rhetorical questions.

Anything having to do with Cheyenne; issues within the community have been posted to his social media participants, by Richard himself. Concerns by the public have been emailed to him, and he has posted them anonymously to gauge the interest of the community with topics raised. Overall, Rich has made a pretty concerted effort to attend as many events as possible regardless of  niche or perceived “cool” factor.

More than once, Richard, has arrived unannounced, and not specifically invited. And, perhaps to some onlookers, who may have been self placated in their own perceived superiority; were the least impressed with the effort in which Mr. Johnson was asserting himself into political circles concerning this community in the fine state of Wyoming.

So, though perhaps not out to impress, Richard Johnson is more willing than others to play the game and attempt to beat it by breaking the status quo.  Whether he  breaks it, or perhaps just overloads the system; there is bound to be an impact for Cheyenne.

(To go to Part 2, CLICK HERE)

I am you and you are me

I can’t stand it any more. I have to call out these lies we continue to perpetuate, adding in our own misery. And maybe, it’s because I saw your face in me, when I looked back at your portrait.

Maybe it’s the fact, that I have sat back for years, feeling the sorrows of my human man, despite the color of his skin… because I can not escape feeling.

Perhaps it’s just my passion for knowledge and the un-ending question that is bigger than any subsector of profession can claim name to…Who are we? And, Where did we come from.

Because I am seeing this world in a tizzy and dissonance of depravity vs. righteousness… and I wonder who creates the ladder, or wall between these two polarities that seem to exist, both within me, and with out.

I am just digging a route, in order to figure out why this polarity lies so quietly beneath all our transactions… whether they are of the spirit of of earth again.

Do we, NOT yet KNOW, that this is but a playground, and we are all playing around in hopes of figuring the Big Truths, out?

My brothers, and sisters of every color and creed… it will most likely be agreed that “Live and Let Live”, IS the creed.

It is only anger, abuse, and greed that makes us bleed from many metaphorical levels.

It is our reliance on some sort of savior; be it law, God or some other, that justifies unjustifiable response.

One can not be more in any way than the other. The key is service to each other. And that in and of itself is hard enough… tough enough to be a wary weather…

And yet… we fight ourselves from the inside, out.

Our choices of polarity are based in bianary; one OR the other.

Why must it all be so mutually exclusive?

Why do we not realize our entire usage of being?

We can have both, and more.

We are smart enough, we are bold enough… but distraction takes it’s toll, and soon no one knows or understands their own worth as a piece in the puzzle… and so then we have brilliance that maybe left in a puddle, and those who never knew better are in a struggle, and every middle man left to make a decision is left in a place where he is given NO CHOICE but ONE, or THE OTHER.

We can have it all… but we can’t just wish for it, (though that may help) … We have to actively realize it for ourselves, and act in accordance to that knowing.

So if you want… keep on hating people you don’t know, and never met.. place a bet the whole country is like that… but what if the tables were turned AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE… you aren’t that dick… building clocks or biowarfare doesn’t make you tick… It’s when you actually, deeply meet with another human being, that your time line shifts into appreciation.

Not enough people have an oppertunity to realize that sensation, brain washed again and again that fear is the remedy to our over all situation with humanity. Again, I disagree.

No one wants to get into a gun fight for fun, unless they are young and dumb… and then I ask why we allowed the youth to be so shallow… because it is ourselves and fellow humans who can encourage or distract this sort of attack on ourselves.

Do we need help? Yes.

But it isn’t help you will find from a doctor, or some sort guru urging you to pay money for truth… it is innate and inborn with intuiton. It is our only solution to get along.

Just put yourself in another person’s situation… and try not to judge it through your filter. Just sit there and think of all the things they had to do, hear, and see, to be the person they are now… Shit’s hard. The world is against us, until we learn our lessons, and part of the lesson is looking toward others, taking that brick off our shoulders and loving one another… cause life sucks, it is rough… we have to get tough to brush it off….

I don’t know about you, I would rather talk it out… and then go from there.

Funny, that is what we think our politicians do… but they are talking about themselves to each other, not me and you…

How could a leader of a country speak for you and me, when the votes are tallied and we are still at polarity with extremes? Doesn’t make sense to you? Me neither.

Our government won’t save us, because Kings Write History… so who ever conquers, see’s and writes it the way they want it to be. While you and me pay consiquence, as we re-write history books. Letting our brains be rearranged by those we called Leaders… then realize, it was those puppets that led us HERE… to now.

So, how do we combat this misrepresentation of humanity, how do we reclaim our dignity straight from our own DNA?

Be bold enough to ask questions. Be intelligent enough to look further. Use your intuitive heart to figure out what you stand for. Replay roles from history where something about you is bound to be victim to some one’s tyrrany. Look at me and see yourself. Ask, first, “how can I help?”

In one moment you may change the world. Call it “butterfly effect” or something conducive to your thinking. We have all been led to believe we have our place, and job; the definition of who you are… but who are you, when you sign out?

Creative? Brilliant? With out a doubt that you have something to offer… ponder that. No one is totally worthless.

 

A portal of inner exploration

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