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The Creepy Koch Brother


Am I the only one who finds the lesser known billionaire Koch Brother Bill Koch even creepier than the pair trying to buy the 2012 election?

KEBLER PASS —There’s a new town in Colorado. It has about 50 buildings, including a saloon, a church, a jail, a firehouse, a livery and a train station. Soon, it will have a mansion on a hill so the town’s founder can look down on his creation.

But don’t expect to move here — or even to visit.

This town is billionaire Bill Koch’s fascination with the Old West rendered in bricks and mortar. It sits on a 420-acre meadow on his Bear Ranch below the Raggeds Wilderness Area in Gunnison County. It’s an unpopulated, faux Western town that might boggle the mind of anyone who ever had a playhouse. Its full-size buildings come with polished brass and carved-mahogany details and are fronted with board sidewalks and underpinned by a water-treatment system. A locked gate with guards screens who comes and goes.

Koch’s project manager has told county officials that the enclave in the middle of the 6,400-acre Bear Ranch won’t ever be open to the public. It is simply for Koch’s amusement and for that of his family and friends — and historians. It is the ultimate repository for his huge collection of Western memorabilia.

His mansion overlooking the “town” clocks in at only 21,000 square feet so that’s, um, something.

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  • Marek

    Great, now I have to watch WestWorld again.

    • Patrick

      I was just thinking “but wouldn’t he want historical recreators to populate the town? No, he’s probably too controlling for that”. I totally missed the next logical step of robots!

      • mark f

        You’d think you’d at least want an E.B. Farnum and Richardson traipsing around for your amusement.

    • thebewilderness

      That was my first thought too.

    • Kurzleg

      OK, but in a remake, who plays the Yul Brynner role? Daniel Craig?

    • I was thinking, “My Own Private Alamo“.

  • Peter Hovde

    It’s like when Cartman got his own amusement park! (I couldn’t find a good clip on YouTube).

    • Is Koch even gonna enjoy it if he can’t see some poors lynched in the town square? This seems like a waste of money to me!

      • Bill Murray

        he probably made it a Sundown town for that very reason

      • Mr. Potter

        Assume he already foreclosed on the homesteaders and is about to pounce on both the dry goods store, livery and laundry.

    • It’s one of those Mitt Romney “Everybody should live like this” moments, which means “everybody except people like Michael Jackson” because… that’s different.

  • Sounds like a man in need of a tax break to me.

    No, but seriously, I just watched “The Hunger Games” this weekend I can totally see wingnuts trying to create such a dystopian world. Mostly because they wouldn’t recognize it as dystopian.

    • Dirk Gently

      Indeed–same part of the brain that thinks that being an insurgent on the verge of starvation, whose parents are in concentration camps, whose childhood friends all die violently, and who is going through all this in order to undermine the efforts of foreign occupiers of one’s home, would be GREAT FUN.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    So, we now have our own Hameau de la Reine.

    • Davis X. Machina

      or Rock Ridge…

      • GFW

        I think I’ve read that script. It went something like

        Hey, the sheriff’sObama’s a nig …[Clock bell chimes]
        What did he say?
        He said the sheriff’s near.
        No, gone blame it dang blammit! The sheriffObama is a nig…
        [Clock bell chimes again]

        At least that’s how I remember the last four years.

    • GFW

      I wonder how long Bill thinks his little town will exist for the amusement of his family and friends.

      I figure it won’t get beyond 2050.

      • Warren Terra

        On the assumption this is a Social Security / Catfood Commission joke, well done. Had me laughing, anyhow, even with my uncertainty. Something could be done with the phrasing to remove such doubts, though. “Remain secure” until 2050, maybe?

    • Grrrrr. I had the Wiki link locked and loaded, praying that no one had beaten me to it. Oh, well, here it is anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hameau_de_la_reine

    • DrDick

      That reminds me, I need to grease the tumbrel wheels and sharpen my pitchfork.

      • Dirk Gently

        Despite Obama’s business-killing policies, I think I may do well with a startup selling premium and discount torches.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like a guy who hasn’t outgrown adolescence. So pretty much exactly like any other wingnut. He just has enough money to build himself life-size toys.

  • mark f

    Charles Koch: My brother David and I share the same interests, the same libertarian principles. Sometimes it’s like we share a brain, I mean we’re —

    David Koch: Always finishing each other’s sentences!

    Bill Koch: And I’m always staring a new sentence after that!

  • Sly

    It’s not like Bill Koch hasn’t been funneling millions of dollars into Romney’s assorted Super PACs, both from his own funds and from Oxbow.

    And I don’t see much of a difference between the megalomania that impels someone to build a scale Old West town for their own role-playing fantasies, chock full of antiquities that they vow will never be accessible to the public, and the kind that makes someone plaster their name over every wingnut welfare front in the United States.

    That whole family is a blight. Daddy was a founding member of the John Birch Society, and he disowned the only son who didn’t turn out to be a raving lunatic.

  • Malaclypse

    In Now Wait for Last Year, the untra-wealthy spend their time and money recreating scenes from the past. The protagonist works for a billionaire who has recreated his childhood of 1930s Washington, DC with as many details as possible.

    Once again, Dick was right. Completely insane, but right.

    • Did he also recreate the Bonus Army? Wouldn’t be too hard these days….

      • Malaclypse

        No, the novel has people searching for original emphemera like original cigarette packaging.

        • Kurzleg

          Reminds me of the androids collecting and selling science fiction novels in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” I guess Philip Dick understood the nostalgic instincts of humanity.

  • md rackham

    If it doesn’t include a narrow-gauge steam train, the guy’s a poser.

    • James E. Powell

      The only way to get there is by taking the LePetomaine Thruway. Remember to bring a shitload of dimes.

      • Kurzleg

        Fuck you, Powell! I just spit a shitload/mouthful of win all over my computer.

        • Kurzleg

          Or wine, even!

          • Left_Wing_Fox

            No, no… I think you had it right the first time.

            • Kurzleg

              It didn’t seem that way when I went scrambling for a towel.

    • mds

      Yeah, seriously, it’s been years since I read Diamonds are Forever, but I immediately thought of Seraffimo Spang’s Wild West town of “Spectreville,” complete with authentic steam train. Too bad Ian Fleming thought small, as Spang was merely a violent mobster.

    • Dirk Gently

      Not necessarily: that’s very rugged country, so in effect it would be a re-creation of an old mining town. The problem I see is that I doubt he’d put in enough whore houses.

      • Dirk Gently

        Oh. I see there’s already a train station. I wonder how far out the tracks go, and what happens when they end.

      • He can’t have whorehouses. He’s afraid Petaline will shoot him.

        • witless chum

          Plus eleventy

      • DrDick

        Or saloons. If there is not one on every block it is not accurate.

      • Hogan

        Eh. You never know with these guys. The whole thing may be an excuse to build whore houses near his home. It’s the quiet ones you have to look out for.

        • DrDick

          It is the boot hill cemetery that concerns me.

  • Cheap Wino

    Impressive, just imagine the number of jobs created!

    • Kurzleg

      It mentions the physical structures, but it doesn’t mention employees inhabiting them.

    • Furious Jorge

      I imagine that number is zero.

  • somethingblue

    It is simply for Koch’s amusement and for that of his family and friends

    Like the whole country.

    • Kurzleg

      FTFW based on word economy. Though in fairness, Powell made me spit wine on my computer screen.

  • We just saw the movie “Queen of Versailles” yesterday, so this doesn’t shock me. Let me just ay: the uber-rich defy all explanation.

    But … JOB CREATORS!!!! Give that guy a tax cut cuz that faux Wild West town didn’t build itself!

    • Kurzleg

      Who says?

  • He’s the one with the tanks in the July 4 parade, right? Creepy doesn’t begin…

  • The sickness that causes, hell ALLOWS, someone to build an entire gated community for exactly NOT ONE LIVING PERSON is staggering.

    And we can’t have universal healthcare?

    90% is too low a top marginal tax rate for these kinds of monsters.

    • Will it be gated? I know that if I lived within 100 miles, I’d go loot that place. And I am, like, the most goody-two-shoes person in the world. But, seriously. LOOT IT. BRING HOME THE COPPER PLUMBING.

  • efgoldman

    The post title implies that there is a non-creepy Koch brother. Assumes facts not in evidence.

    • DrDick

      It would seem that insanity runs in the family.

      • NonyNony

        You ever read about their dad?

        Yeah – there’s a reason those guys are fucked up. And I’m doubtful that it’s actually genetic rather than psychological.

      • Gabriel Ratchet

        To quote Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace “It practically gallops!”

  • diogenes

    I’m thinking Migalitto Loveless in The Wild, Wild West

  • heckblazer

    I’m reminded of J. Paul Getty, who built a replica of a Roman villa next to his home to display his collection of antiquities.

    • Or Michael Jackson.

      • mds

        J. Paul Getty displayed Michael Jackson in a replica of a Roman villa? That explains so much.

        • He died muttering “ROSEBUTT”.

          • Dirk Gently

            Citizen Kane and alleged pedophilia–together at last. Holy crap, laugh tears are streaming down my face.

    • Stag Party Palin

      Ah, but that has been open to the public for almost its entire life. It’s a museum that is free to visitors ($15 to park). Methinks we do conflate too much.

  • Leeds man

    Obscenely rich arsehole builds folly. Yawn. What I find weird and unsettling is that David Koch gives funding for PBS’s Nova.

  • ajay

    It’s an opportunity cost argument, though. Given what else a Koch brother would do with the money, is this really so bad? It brought employment to lots of construction workers, and god knows they need it, and it hasn’t harmed a single living soul. And maybe it’ll be a museum in 20 or 30 years time.

  • Nick Z

    The only thing left for Wild Bill to do is hire some actors to work in the town and pay them in scrip. That should amuse his friends.

    • Spuddie

      Maybe they can stage gunfights using real bullets.

  • Spuddie

    I am definitely getting a Michael Jackson Wonderland creepy vibe from this.

    “Hey kid, do you like cowboys?”

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