Previous: Thoughts from Places: Small Town America



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Yes, I really did call my Mayor's office and ask if I could talk to him on camera and, yes, I really did do it. Started out as brain crack, as these things generally do, and then I had to make it real in order to get it out of my head.

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A Bunny
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Good morning, John; it is Monday. Your "Thoughts from Places" video on Friday was absolutely amazing. Thank you very much for that. Nerdfighters, if you did not watch that video either because you were, uh, away from your subscription box, or because you did not want to click on the tombstone of Valva Couch, here is your opportunity to click on the tombstone of Valva Couch and that will take you to John's "Thoughts from Places" video. At the end of that video, there will be a link back to this video, and you will get to watch it. So, John, it occurred to me a little while ago that you and I are a little bit like the presidents of Nerdfighteria; possibly, the enlightened despots. But then, for several reasons, that analogy broke down. Because it's not really a country-sized place, if you can call this place that isn't a place "a place," and nerdfighters already have their own national governments, so it's more like a town or a small city, and so, thus, we are more like co-mayors. And so I wanted to talk to a mayor about what being a mayor is like, and so I did this... [to John Engen] Good morning, John! >>JOHN ENGEN: [chuckles] Good morning, Hank. >>HANK: [chuckles] This is Missoula's mayor, John Engen, and I had a chance to talk to him, and I feel like if you have a chance to talk to your mayor, you should talk to your mayor. >>ENGEN: Generally speaking, everyone should have a chance to talk to their mayor. >>HANK: But you've never lived in a very large town. >>ENGEN: I have not. Local government's kind of the front line. This is your opportunity, really, to interact. >>HANK: So I'm wanna ask you a couple, uh, hard-hitting questions... >>ENGEN: Yes. >>HANK:, below the belt. >>ENGEN: 'Kay. >>HANK: Do you have any pets? >>ENGEN: We have a rescued Labradoodle named Odie, uh, we have a Humane Society cat named Moose, and uh, we just lost our 13-year-old greyhound, my beloved Patches. >>HANK: Oh. I have a greyhound. >>ENGEN: Do you? >>HANK: Yeah. >>ENGEN: Yeah, they're fantastic dogs. >>HANK: She's a sweetie; she's pathetic. >>ENGEN: Yeah. Patches was what we call "food-focused," which is really unusual in our family. >>HANK: [laughs] What did you do before you were mayor? Jobs? >>ENGEN: Golf Land, which was... >>HANK: Golf Land! >>ENGEN: indoor miniature golf course... >>HANK: And that's here. That was here. >>ENGEN: It was. >>HANK: We lost Golf Land! >>ENGEN: Yeah, quite some time ago. >>HANK: Ugh. We just lost Qwivals, too. I feel like we're lacking for family fun centers. >>ENGEN: I didn't know that was a... that's the maze... corn maze? >>HANK: Go Karts, corn maze,... >>ENGEN: Yeah? >>HANK: ...arcade games,... >>ENGEN: Generally, I don't like to be... >>HANK: ...bouncy castles! >>ENGEN: ...around that much... corn, and I'm not allowed in bouncy things, so.... >>HANK: [laughs] >>ENGEN: ...there's a restraining order. Golf Land, Hansen's Famous Ice Cream Store, and then I worked for the local newspaper; I worked for the Missoulian for a long time... >>HANK: How does mayoring compare with all of your other jobs? >>ENGEN: Best job I've ever had, love the job, uh, very challenging,... >>HANK: Yeah. >>ENGEN: ...just, uh, a fantastic education, a real opportunity to... to get things done. >>HANK: As a mayor, what do you actually do? >>ENGEN: Oh. >>HANK: Just this? This is what you do? You talk to people on couches? >>ENGEN: I didn't think we'd get to that question, uh... >>HANK: [laughs] >>ENGEN: I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city of Missoula. We have about 500 full-time employees. >>HANK: You're basically the chief executive of a 500-person corporation that runs a city. >>ENGEN: ...which I try not to think about too much, because it scares me. I know, right? >>HANK: [chuckles] >>ENGEN: Really. Uh, I get my own firetruck. >>HANK: Oh, I didn't know that. >>ENGEN: Few people do. >>HANK: Can you loan it out? >>ENGEN: Oh, sure. >>HANK: [chuckling] Great.... >>ENGEN: We do a lot... prom night, in particular. >>HANK: Probably your primary income source. >>ENGEN: [laughing] Yeah. >>HANK: Firetruck rental! [laughs] >>ENGEN: Yes. It's all about new revenue schemes. >>HANK: [laughs] I mean, most of the time, they're just sitting there! >>ENGEN: And there's noth... there's nothing like a ladder truck on an April evening, Lady Gaga in the background. >>HANK: Oh, man. >>ENGEN: Yeah. >>HANK: My wife is... would love me forever. >>ENGEN: Yeah? >>HANK: No she wouldn't; she hates heights. >>ENGEN: [chuckles] >>HANK [to camera]: I didn't get the end part where we shook hands and I said, "Thank you, Mayor Engen," because my camera ran out of card space. I had a great time talking to him; if you live in Missoula, you should vote for him. And again, are you a Seattleite or a Portlander? I'm going to be in your city, playing music with funny people like Mike Phirman and Paul and Storm at the end of March. It's going to be fun; tickets are $20 each and they're selling out fast. And finally, Nerdfighteria: Sincere apologies for never letting you challenge us to do something in return for you figuring out the space pasta mess. Please leave us challenges in the comments; they can be things like, "Interview your mayor," which... I wish somebody had challenged me to do that, because I just did it. Gah! That is all. I need to go eat Chinese food. John, I'll see you on Wednesday. >>[Music from DR NOISE'S "Crazy Town"]: ...a twisted little place called Crazy Town, where a horse is the mayor of all of us...