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Freedom of assembly in the Village

Hanging on the wall above where a men’s group regularly meets at MiYO, this photo includes the founders – including Ken Hamblin wearing his signature cowboy hat. In the center is MiYO “chief introducer” Shelly Miller.

The 80108 ZIP code is a marvelous place to live and socialize.  On any given day, one has only to visit MiYO Café to appreciate the palpable community spirit and cohesion on display at virtually every table.

Not long ago, I careened into what might best be called a meeting of “Ken’s Posse.” This group, an informal assemblage of seasoned men, meets every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at MiYO, conversing and debating in a rather spirited fashion under Ken Hamblin’s watchful eye.

Ken was once known as the “Black Avenger.” Earlier, he was a soldier, civil rights organizer, photojournalist, conservative radio talk show host, motorcyclist and pilot, among other things. A wise man, he is in a category all his own, often swimming upstream in the politics of his race. Bombastic, brilliant and baffling to some, he is a maverick of epic proportions.

One might label the weekly meeting with salty adjectives, but it would be misleading about the quality of discourse. What goes on is a free-wheeling, uninhibited discussion about whatever ails you or, in the alternative, whatever strikes one as bizarre or unusual on a current basis.  Despite men’s inclination to discuss politics, most agree that less than 20% of the seasoned conversation goes in that direction.

The participants are a potpourri of professions and characters, some both: athletes, law enforcement, professors, chemists and ranchers, to name a few.  One common denominator though is a desire to weigh in on meaty topics which impact everyday lives. Another is that generally speaking, members contemplate their mortality as an inevitability that is sooner rather than later. Perhaps most significantly, these men are staunch in their beliefs and occupy their own comfortable space on the right with libertarian and conservative values.

This posse communicates with gusto, tossing the raw “meat” into the ring and then going at it with uncommon vigor, often violating most, if not all of Robert’s Rules of Order. Woe betide someone in hearing distance, as it can happen that some invariably emotional discussions can lead to locker room outbursts and coarseness.

Hamblin’s combative spirit, attitude and wit suffuses the gathering of these men.  Not hard to understand as an unspoken membership requirement is individuality, all members being anything but “average Joes,” egos born of significant success in life. Notwithstanding, there is respect among the members.

Those who show up every Thursday are part of a shrinking base of loyal Americans proud of their country’s history and on a generally unaltered basis. That they can sit as our forefathers did in the taverns of New England, discussing life, love and everything in between without beer is a tribute to them all. The bond of camaraderie and respect that prevails is especially priceless at this stage in all their lives.

Article and photo by Joe Gschwendtner



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