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truth to power Dennis Myers, 1948-2019 s e rv i n g n o rt h e r n n e va d a , ta h o e a n d t r u c k e e


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EMAIL LETTERS TO RENOLETTERS@NEWSREVIEW.COM.

The Dennis Myers memorial issue Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review. In this week’s paper, we honor Dennis Myers. Dennis was the news editor of this paper for nearly two decades, just one chapter—but an important chapter—of a long, prestigious journalism career. He died after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was, arguably, the best reporter in Nevada. I wrote about him in this column last week, as did many of our other regular columnists. This week, we’re reprinting some of our favorite Dennis Myers articles and essays from over the years, and publishing remembrances from folks around the community—fellow journalists from other media outlets, folks who used to work here at the RN&R, and public officials who were often the subject of Dennis’ stories. And more. Huge thanks to everyone who contributed a memorial essay. We had to edit them all down a bit, but I love the multifaceted portrait that emerges from reading them—each writer describing a different part of the elephant. It was tough to decide which of Dennis’ thousands of stories to publish. I’m happy with the pieces we’re printing here, but there are 150 or 200 other articles that we could have chosen from among his top-tier work. Not to mention the award-winning editorials he wrote, or the pithy emails. A few readers and community members have suggested that we should publish a big fat hardbound book collecting some of Dennis’ finest pieces—to which, I say, “Sounds great!” Not sure how we’re going to pay for it, but let’s make it happen. Seriously. Let’s make it happen. Send me an email if you want to help. The other question we’ve heard a lot lately has been about memorial services. Here’s the scoop: The memorial will be at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center, 925 Riverside Drive, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15. Hope to see you there. I’ll be the long-haired crying guy.

—BRAD BYNUM bradb@ ne ws r ev i ew . com

Dennis Myers Dearest Dennis, a friend for decades, he stood with us on the Equal Rights Amendment push since the 1970’s. Now I push for honesty in media reporting because I watched how hard it was for Dennis to find reporting work after he exposed a Reno car dealership for wrongdoing. Because of Dennis I speak out about the Global Elite ownership of the media. His face haunts my memory in a good way. Jan Chastain Silver Spring, Maryland When folks in my generation pass, it becomes an existential reminder of my own mortality, but this sudden loss of Dennis Myers hit me with a special gut shot. I had corresponded with Dennis infrequently over the years, and, on a number of occasions, we chatted in the RN&R office. Pardon my display of extraordinary grasp of the obvious, but Dennis and his legacy of community service via RN&R is a blow to all his gentle readers as well as Northern Nevada. Steve Waclo Carson City An icon has passed. Without the presence of Dennis Myers and his informative, spot-on and generous voice, our state has experienced a great loss. Dennis knew and cared more about Nevada history than anyone I know, and I will greatly miss reading his excellent historical, cultural and political commentary. We didn’t always agree, and often sparred a bit, but I have always held him and his activism, diligence and obvious love for the Silver State in the highest regard. I miss him already. Diane Rugg Reno Dennis Myers was the reason I looked forward to each issue of the News & Review. A true Nevada treasure. This is a loss to us all who value journalism. In an era where it is fashionable to deride the news outlets, he proved what in-depth reporting meant in a

Penrose, Jessica Santina, Todd South, Luka Starmer, Kris Vagner, Bruce Van Dyke, Allison Young Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Editor Brad Bynum Associate Editor Jeri Davis News Editor Dennis Myers Special Projects Editor Matt Bieker Calendar Editor Kelley Lang Contributors Amy Alkon, Mark Earnest, Bob Grimm, Oliver Guinan, Andrea Heerdt, Holly Hutchings, Shelia Leslie, Eric Marks, Kelsey

Creative Services Manager Elisabeth Bayard Arthur Art Directors Maria Ratinova, Sarah Hansel Publications Art Director Serene Lusano Publications Designer Katelynn Mitrano Publications & Advertising Designer Nikki Exerjian Ad Designers Naisi Thomas, Cathy Arnold Office Manager Lisa Ryan RN&R Rainmaker Gina Odegard Advertising Consultant Caleb Furlong

SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 | VOL. 25, ISSUE 30

state that settles for sound bite journalism. We should all be afraid that he may be the last of his kind. Michael Mirich Reno Dennis Meyers impressed me for many decades as a person and newsman. I was a source for him on stories involving both the ACLU of Nevada and University of Nevada, Reno. No other writer was as thorough and resourceful. Much has already been said about his encyclopedic knowledge about the history and current politics of this state. He was in league of his own. Some 30 years ago, I introduced him to the UNR Political Science honors society as the best journalist in the Silver State. He kept getting better and better. One knew that Dennis would ask more probing questions than any other newsperson— and how he could connect the dots for major stories that he alone covered. What mattered most to me were the values that Dennis held and the ways that he could advance good causes by concentrating on what mattered most. And, for me, Dennis was a good friend who always had time to discuss matters large and small. I will miss him very much. Rich Siegel Reno Almost exactly a year ago (Sept. 6, 2018) I sent a note to Dennis Myers, thanking him for his article “Savior” in the previous week’s RN&R. Like all of his stories, I thought it was very well written, but it also spoke to an opinion I have long held. A few days later, while on the sidewalk outside a post office in Truckee, I ran into a friend who said “I saw your article in the newspaper.” At first I had no idea what she was talking about. When I asked her to clarify, she said “I saw what you wrote in the Reno News & Review.” I was shocked because I never intended my “thank-you” note to be published (and it also I included mild criticism of a friend)! Shortly afterward, I received an email from Dennis Myers telling me that he didn’t Distribution Director Greg Erwin Distribution Manager Bob Christensen Distribution Drivers Alex Barskyy, Corey Sigafoos, Gary White, Joe Wilson, Marty Troye, Timothy Fisher, Vicki Jewell, Olga Barska, Rosie Martinez, Adam Martinez, Duane Johnson President/CEO Jeff VonKaenel Director of Nuts & Bolts Deborah Redmond Director of People & Culture David Stogner Director of Dollars & Sense Debbie Mantoan Nuts & Bolts Ninja Norma Huerta Payroll/AP Wizard Miranda Hansen Account Jedi Jessica Kislanka Sweetdeals Coordinator Trish Marche Developer John Bisignano

System Support Specialist Kalin Jenkins N&R Publications Editor Debbie Arrington N&R Publications Associate Editors Derek McDow, Thea Rood N&R Publications Editorial Team Anne Stokes, Nisa Smith Marketing & Publications Lead Consultant Elizabeth Morabito Marketing & Publications Consultants Steve Caruso, Joseph Engle, Sherri Heller, Celeste Worden, Rod Maloy Cover design Maria Ratinova

often hear from Truckee folks and asked my opinion of the potential for hosting the Winter Olympics again at Squaw Valley. Being a long-time employee of Alpine/Squaw, I gave him my full criticism of that issue and told him he was welcome to publish what I said but that he couldn’t use my name (for obvious reasons). Of course, being the noble reporter that he was, he wasn’t going to publish a story without quoting the source. He didn’t! There are numerous reasons why I faithfully read the RN&R every week, but top most has been the brilliant and balanced reporting by Dennis Myers. We have been so fortunate! He will indeed be missed. Michael Fournier Truckee

CONTENTS

05 07 09 24 25 26 27 28 32 33 34 35 35

OPINION/STREETALK SHEILA LESLIE FEATURE ART OF THE STATE FILM FOOD MUSICBEAT NIGHTCLUBS/CASINOS THIS WEEK ADVICE GODDESS FREE WILL ASTROLOGY 15 MINUTES BRUCE VAN DYKE

760 Margrave Drive, Reno, NV 89502 Phone (775) 324-4440 Fax (775) 324-2515 Website www.newsreview.com Got a News Tip? Fax (775) 324-2515 or pressrelease@newsreview.com Calendar Events www.newsreview.com/calendar Want to Advertise? Fax (775) 324-2515 or rnradinfo@newsreview.com Classified Fax (916) 498-7910 or classifieds@newsreview.com Job Opportunities jobs@newsreview.com Want to Subscribe to RN&R? renosubs@newsreview.com

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Editorial Policies: Opinions expressed in RN&R are those of the authors and not of Chico Community Publishing, Inc. Contact the editor for permissions to reprint articles, cartoons, or other portions of the paper. RN&R is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or review materials. Email letters to renoletters@ newsreview.com. All letters received become the property of the publisher. We reserve the right to print letters in condensed form and to edit them for libel. Advertising Policies: All advertising is subject to the newspaper’s Standards of Acceptance. The advertiser and not the newspaper assumes the responsibility for the truthful content of their advertising message. RN&R is printed at PrintWorks, Ink on recycled newsprint. Circulation of RN&R is verified by the Circulation Verification Council. RN&R is a member of CNPA, AAN and AWN.

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BY MATT BIEKER

Where do you get your news? ASKED AT THE HUB COFFEE ROASTERS, 727 RIVERSIDE DRIVE

KE VIN SE A Professor

I get local news from the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa—I’m from Santa Rosa. … I get the paper version because I like the fact that they’ve curated the articles that are important to me, and they appear on opposite pages.

SPENCER KOVA Student

Honestly, I get most of my direct news from Twitter. I have five or six accounts that I follow, and, when I wake up and go to bed, I check them to see what’s up. Once a week, I’ll either read the New Yorker or the [New York] Times, and I’ll skim that for more in-depth stories.

SANDY CURTIS Executive director

Picture perfect Every week, the newsroom decides on a question for result, women who, for any number of reasons, which we’d like to solicit answers from the public for seem to equate their opinion with their appearance our Streetalk column—usually but not always relating go unheard. Obviously, this is problematic for civil to the week’s feature story or current news. It’s a discourse, and men are far from blameless here, too. valuable column, providing feedback and opinions However, as we witnessed once last fall, not everyone from the citizens we aim to inform, and we apprecienjoys the choice to publicly state one’s thoughts. ate their time and willingness to share their While asking patrons at Reno Town Mall thoughts. But there’s usually a sticking about who they were planning to vote point: when they’re asked to stand for a for in the local elections, we received photo. enough answers like, “I don’t know, People People otherwise content to chat but they’ll be [insert political party otherwise all day suddenly clam up tight. here],” “I don’t follow politics,” or content to chat all Those who hadn’t given any thought “go away.” However, we talked to to local issues will demand minute one young woman walking with an day suddenly clam up changes to lighting and hair. Some older man. The older man made it tight when asked to insist on posing with their friend or clear he didn’t want to answer, but pose for a photo. pet or other visual distraction. But, the young woman proceeded to list most disheartening when it happens, her thoughts on local policy, candidates people will completely abandon the and women’s health—a topic that was chance to share an intelligent, poignant important to her. response because they don’t feel “camera ready.” As she began to give her name, though, the man Of course, no one wants to risk looking silly as suddenly barked “No!” and interrupted, insisting our a matter of public record, especially on a moment’s reporter use a fake name for her. After he declined notice. However, from a journalistic perspective, this to take the false name, it was clear the interview was creates a problem of representation. over, and the young woman followed the man wordAnecdotally at least, men are more willing to say lessly out of the mall. Perhaps the man was a family “whatever, fine” when the camera’s pointed at them. member simply doing what he believed was best to It’s unfortunate, but women have been more likely protect her, but it was clear this woman’s opinion to back out of an on-the-spot photo, simultaneously wasn’t hers to share—and as for her preference on the requesting that we not print their thoughts. As a photo, we’ll never know that either. Ω

I get my news from the radio, National Public Radio, and the New York Times online. But my preference is to actually buy the New York Times and sit with it, particularly the Sunday. I’m old fashioned. I like it. I read their in-depth investigative work.

EMILY EGELHOFF-WHALEN Student

I usually get my news from a podcast called the Daily. It’s like a 20-minute New York Times podcast. Other than that, mostly just, like, friends or my roommate. Sometimes I go to Reddit, but lately that’s been failing me. I don’t dedicate more than an hour a day to anything that’s current news.

CESAR LOPE Z Photographer

Flipboard’s an app. It’s like a magazine app, but you personalize it yourself. So you put in “photography,” and then you can start picking categories, and it takes from other magazines and stuff like that … and then just Google sometimes.

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BY SHEILA LESLIE

Dennis speaks What has been missing from most of the much-deserved tributes to Dennis Myers is his unfiltered voice reflecting his personal sensibilities and his uncanny ability to analyze the political noise of the day and still remain upbeat and optimistic about our country and its people. I offer these snippets from my emails with Dennis in 2019 during the editing process of Left Foot Forward so those who didn’t have the opportunity to know him on a personal level can get an idea of what made him so special to so many, even beyond the superb body of journalistic work he left behind. On the lack of bold and significant proposals to address the current affordable housing crisis during the 2019 Nevada Legislature, Dennis wrote: It drives me crazy that so little is being done for renters in this awful Washoe market. Even if all the proposals introduced had passed, it would have been a weak response to a predatory situation.

All across the country legislatures are processing bills to curb a cute new scheme—landlords charging “processing fees” to accept rent payments, and additional fees to penalize paper payments (check, cash, money order) instead of electronic payments. New Jersey has done the best, outlawing these practices altogether. Nevada, of course, has not even had a bill introduced though these scams have swept through the valley. I know of one agency in town that charges both fees, adding a total of $15.90 to a rent payment. In Idaho there is a problem with landlords or rent agencies charging ever-increasing amounts to get a credit check on a prospective renter, and there is no guarantee that the checks are actually made. On the veto of AB 186 (National Popular Vote for President) by Governor Steve Sisolak: I wonder if anyone has told Sisolak that the only candidates EVER hurt by the presidential electors were all

Democrats—Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton all won the election and lost the appointment. On state level bills to protect abortion rights: I hope that one of the things that comes out of the flurry of state abortion votes is that younger women will get alarmed and involved. That happened after the Casey ruling in 1992, but then they only stayed active for a year or two and then everyone fell back into their customary lassitude. On the timidity of Nevada’s Democratic majorities to advance progressive legislation: I agree. The public reacted against one session of Republican control, and yet the Democrats think they still have to walk on eggshells to avoid offending anyone. There are issues that are worth taking some chances for, and this timidity does nothing to turn out the base when elections come. On a draft column that excoriated Trump supporters who refuse to

acknowledge the President’s racism, misogyny and lies: I want to ask you to consider dropping the phrase “a disgusting revelation” in the first paragraph. People can be in error without being disgusting. I always think it is a mistake to use a broad brush on large groups, given the ability of people to evolve and change. I also think it is a mistake to use language that makes people get their backs up and resist evolving and changing. Faulting leaders as disgusting is one thing. Doing so with large swaths of the populace is another. What you write in the seventh paragraph illustrates this. People can be so decent, using their better natures to teach politicians lessons, and it’s helpful to keep their minds as open as possible. On a column explaining Oregon’s new mandatory rent control law to protect renters (a response I’ll always treasure as the highest praise he could bestow): Excellent. I wish I’d written it. Ω

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TruTh To power

Here are some  of our favorite  stories by the late,  great Dennis Myers

But that’s a different thing from local officials intentionally luring chains to Nevada and giving them tax dollars to help drive local merchants out of business. What’s worse is that all the supposed circuit breakers that were supposed to be built into the system to protect local merchants and the public failed to trip when they were needed. State legislators who created the tool that local officials are using to lure chain competitors—Sales Tax Anticipated Revenue (STAR) bonds—didn’t closely examine how it would work and failed to ask important questions. Local government officials were panting so hard after the payrolls chain stores would bring that they supported outside businesses against local merchants. Journalists barely covered the issue at all. “I objected, and nobody wanted to listen,” Piccinini said. The allure of those payrolls was so great that even other entities that would be damaged by the program went along. Piccinini has little sympathy with those officials who belatedly learned that what appeared to be progress was only change, because they were too willing to buy into STAR bonds in the first place. “The school district—and now, those are educated people—they signed off on the program: ‘Oh, yeah, this is great. We love it; we love it.’ Now, two weeks ago, they had a deal in the newspaper—‘Oh, we’ve been screwed.’ Well, it’s too late.”

Falling STaRS

April 23, 2009:

Death STaR How STAr bonds can kill Northern Nevada  businesses  “it’s a little late to get on that horse. …The horse is out.” Marty Piccinini has a point. He’s one of the local victims of the Sparks city government’s successful effort to lure the Scheels sporting goods chain of North Dakota to the Rail City, where it built a store mostly at taxpayer expense.

Piccinini’s Mark Fore & Strike sporting goods, which opened in Reno in 1963, is feeling the pinch from Scheels. Businesspeople like Piccinini know they are always at risk from chain stores. He believes Mark Fore & Strike is the last non-chain sporting goods store in the city.

The bill that enabled STAR bonds, Senate Bill 306, was introduced in 1995 by Washoe County Sen. Maurice Washington, and provided for companies to keep threefourths of the sales taxes they collected to pay off construction bonds—if they could convince state tourism officials that half of their customers would be tourists. In other words, taxpayers would pay for most of those companies’ building costs without gaining a piece of the action. And there was no way for the corporations to be penalized for not attracting enough tourists or bringing in enough sales tax money because the law imposed no performance goals and provided for no penalties. Legislators didn’t foresee the snakeskin problem—the way businesses could use

STAR bonds to shed old stores where they paid full sales taxes in order to build new stores at taxpayer expense and pay only a fourth of the sales tax. The legislators didn’t anticipate how easily chains would be certified as tourist magnets. They didn’t realize how badly entities like schools that depend on sales taxes would be hurt by STAR bonds if a recession combined with businesses that failed to attract promised customer traffic. If legislators had engaged in the kind of rigorous, even adversarial questions they should, some of these failings of STAR bonds might have been foreseen—and might have triggered alarms among representatives of other businesses, business groups, journalists and local governments. The lawmakers designed a mechanism that can only be used by certain corporations. Local merchants like Piccinini can’t take advantage of it. They don’t have the capital for giant complexes, even if they wanted to run those kinds of stores, and they aren’t tourist magnets. They serve the community, something that is not valued by officialdom. There are no STAR bonds for them. STAR bonds are only the latest wrinkle in a web of business incentives that permeate every level of government in every community and state. Many have been around for years, while others (like STAR bonds) are new and relatively untried. They serve to reinforce each other. By playing states off against each other, corporations can get mind-boggling giveaways. When Mercedes-Benz parlayed rivalry among southeastern states into a $300 million Alabama package in 1993 at a time when the state was under court order to improve its schools, it became a major scandal and campaign issue. But that usually happens in only the most blatant cases. Even some who believe business incentives have a place say that incentives for retail are foolish because incoming businesses simply displace those already there while damaging the locally-based business infrastructure. (The shutdown of locally owned Gilly Fishing Store in Sparks is credited to STAR stores.) “Retail is an important part of the economic system, but it doesn’t create

“T r u t h t o p o w e r ” continued on page 11

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wealth,” wrote columnist Rick Casey in the Houston Chronicle. “It collects it, for a cut, from the consumer for the manufacturer. If the fisherman doesn’t buy a rod and reel at Cabela’s [another STAR bonds-subsidized store], he’ll buy it somewhere else. And even if Cabela’s makes him want to fish, it just means he’ll spend money on fishing equipment that he would otherwise have spent elsewhere. So if Cabela’s is wildly successful in Buda [an Austin, Texas, suburb where Cabela’s was given corporate welfare but performed far below promised levels], it means some retail jobs in nearby towns and cities will disappear.” When something does go awry, as in the Alabama case, so many people are involved that they reinforce and protect each other. In a recent speech, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini pointed out that he had a lot of company in promoting STAR bonds: “We worked tirelessly with Washoe County, the School District, and other agencies, and all agreed to move forward on financing STAR Bonds to see this project come to fruition.” Not surprisingly, STAR bonds tend to attract chain stores.

Chaining up CommerCe It’s not as though local officials haven’t seen the consequences of chains. When Barnes & Noble opened in Reno, two local bookstores went out of business (“Chain reaction,” RN&R, Aug. 28, 1996). Local office supply stores like Siri struggled and then died after Office Depot and Office Max came to town, though a survey by RN&R in 1996 showed the selection in the local stores was greater. When Tower Records on South Virginia Street opened, the CD Store on Keystone closed. Tower later went out of business, so the area lost both the local and the chain merchants. But the danger from chains is not just that they can put local merchants out of business. Chain stores also drain communities of capital. That’s why some critics say that local officials have an affirmative obligation not to encourage chains—and to closely regulate and control them when they do arrive—because they are so damaging to local economies. In his book The Chain Gang, about the Gannett newspaper corporation (publishers of the Reno Gazette-Journal), Richard McCord describes the way chains drain localities of capital: “Perhaps no single action better illustrated Gannett’s imperial attitude than a 1979 directive that came straight down from the top. From now on, the order stated, all bank deposits except daily operational funds would be transferred by local papers to national headquarters every night. The drain on local economies around the country was considerable—about $1.5 billion a year when the order was issued, and more as the chain kept growing. The day Gannett [received the moneys], all this homegrown wealth ceased to nourish

going out of business or withdrawing from the market is an old story in the Truckee Meadows—Fantastic Fair, Gemco, Circuit City, Wherehouse Records, Weinstocks, Shopko, Liberty House, etc.

Community self defense

its own communities.” (Emphasis in original.) Excesses in business incentives have helped drive a movement called “re-localization,” turning communities away from national chains to stances of protection for local businesses and businesspeople. So have new findings about the contribution local merchants make. An analysis by Civic Economics in 2002 indicated that every $100 spent at a chain store makes a local impact of only $13. The same figure for independent merchants is $45. Civic Economics names factors that drive “the enhanced economic impact of locallyowned firms”: 1. Labor costs, which directly inject money into the local economy through payments of wages and benefits to local residents; 2. Profits, which remain in the community in proportion to local ownership; 3. Procurement of local goods and services for resale and operations; and 4. Charitable giving, when local firms contribute a greater share of revenue to local causes. In a speech to the American Planning Association in 2000, Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance said, “Chain store proliferation has weakened local economies, eroded community character, and impoverished civic and cultural life.” In addition, the dominant market position of many chains allows them to charge inflated prices free from major competition. (Gannett advertising is less expensive where it faces competitive dailies.) To cool local resentments, chain corporations—like foreign mining corporations operating in Nevada—make contributions to local charities and schools. Sometimes they don’t even necessarily use their own money. Next Sunday, Scheels in Sparks—built with STAR bonds—will hold a 5k run, charge participants $30, and give the money to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Local organizations who come to depend on chain support often regret it. Chain stores

Where local officials will not defend the public from chains—and, indeed, encourage them with devices like STAR bonds—there are ways for members of the public to protect themselves. When the Washoe County Commission was unresponsive to citizens who wanted to protect the balance between water and development, they used a county initiative petition to impose such a policy. When state legislators let the interests of gambling lobbyists prevail over citizens who asked for anti-smoking health policies, a statewide initiative petition imposed the policy over the heads of the lawmakers. In Belfast, Maine, voters voted 2-to-1 to limit new retail stores to no more than 75,000 square feet. “The law will keep Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and other ‘big box’ retailers out of the community,” Mitchell observed. Such a move goes around the incentives that officialdom inevitably offers. More than a hundred communities around the nation have approved such ballot measures to curb or reject chains. Nothing can be done about existing chain stores and the drain they cause on the local economy. But additional chain activity can be restricted as long as it is applied fairly. Some local merchants have found ways to compete with the chains. Sundance Bookstore was hard-pressed when Barnes & Noble first opened in Reno but was able to hang on until it sank in to the store’s longtime customers what the differences in selection were—after which it won back almost all of its lost customers. While Barnes & Noble’s stock is huge in square footage, it is limited in areas of interest. Sundance customers had come to expect the kind of esoteric titles they found there, while Barnes & Noble principally sells mainstream titles with broad appeal. “We did feel some effect for the first year,” said Dan Earl at Sundance in 1996. “Now that they’ve been here close to two years, we’ve recovered 80 to 90 percent of that loss.” Piccinini had a similar experience when Sportsman’s Warehouse opened just up Kietzke from Mark, Fore & Strike. He felt the impact of the opening but hung in there. “It took the Warehouse about nine months to level out,” Piccinini said. In that case, like Sundance, he wasn’t fighting both a competitor and his municipal government. Independent bookstores in 10 states formed the Midwest Booksellers Association to take group action to protect themselves from the chains. Coronado, Calif., limits the number of chain restaurants to 10.

Last month, 80 percent of Plaistow, N.H., residents voted against a zoning change that would have allowed a Wal-Mart “supercenter.” Thirty miles west of Reno and Sparks there’s a great example of re-localization to follow. Residents of Truckee formed the Sierra Business Council to lobby for federal and state policies that recognize the worth of local economies and demand public policies to protect them. It also conducts a “Think Local First” campaign, encourages community discussions of what’s at stake for residents, helps locals get their names off national catalog and advertising mailing lists, and holds conferences with other community groups in the state doing the same thing so they can swap ideas. It helps that Truckee residents have had the support of some of their municipal officials. Former mayor and town council member Beth Ingalls recently wrote about the chains that have gradually arrived in Truckee: “Many will argue that if we choose not to support local chain stores, we will also be contributing to the loss of local jobs and tax revenue, and that’s a fair assertion. But these giant corporations have a much better chance of surviving without us. Safeway is the third largest grocery store chain in North America with more than 1,740 stores, over 200,000 employees and $42 billion in annual revenue. Savemart, a considerably smaller corporation ranked in the top 75 of supermarket chains, still managed to rack up $5 billion in revenue in 2007. The independent retailers that have set up shop in our communities will never make the Fortune 500, but they are [an] integral part of our community character and vitality. … As an added benefit, local merchants have a track record of being more involved in the community decision-making process, more committed to quality of life issues and more supportive of local charities and youth organizations.” When the STAR bond legislation was being processed by the Nevada Legislature in 1995, Marty Piccinini and his wife tried to stop it, but found no one in officialdom willing to listen, and members of the media were disdainful. Mark Fore & Strike had served the valley for more than four decades, but now officials were more loyal to North Dakota and Nebraska than to locals. A few weeks ago, referring to a Cabela’s plea for corporate welfare, the governor of South Carolina spoke the words not one public official was willing to speak for the Piccinini family in Nevada in 2005: “[G]overnment shouldn’t be picking the winners and losers in the business marketplace and, therefore, government should treat businesses the same. Too often government will hand incentives to the new business in town, but offer no help to the business producing the exact same product while that business has been paying taxes for years here in the state. Too often if you’re a big business you get the red carpet rolled out in incentives, but if you’re a little business you get nothing.”

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At the Nevada Legislature, state lawmakers rattled by complaints about STAR bonds are trying to decide what to do about the law. While some want them to repeal it outright, Assemblymember Debbie Smith says there is no appetite for that much change, so the law will probably only be amended. When Cabela’s opened in Verdi, Mark Fore & Strike barely felt it, to Piccinini’s surprise. But Scheels in Sparks was another matter. It hurt. “To be truthful, I didn’t even know Cabela’s opened,” Piccinini said. “I was really worried about it, and when they opened, our business—it increased. But yes, I felt the [Sportsman’s] Warehouse. … And I did feel Scheels.”

January 13, 2011:

Evolution republican Bill raggio  went from militancy to  moderation. The GOP  went the other way. The announcement was made just before 11 o’clock the morning of Jan. 5. In politics across the state, a mixed metaphor described the reaction: The news spread like wildfire and landed like a sledgehammer. At lunch in Reno’s Gold ’n’ Silver Restaurant, a favorite café for long-time Nevadans, including local government officials, the news could literally be seen spreading from booth to table to booth. That evening at Casale’s Halfway Club, a favorite Italo-American hangout since 1937, a few people still hadn’t heard. A bartender turned from a chattering crowd to “Mama” Inez Casale and said, “Bill Raggio quit.” There it was, the news that, in an instant, changed Nevada politics. Plagued by a severed tendon that followed back surgery, Washoe County Sen. William Raggio announced his resignation, effective Jan. 15, after the longest senate tenure in state history. This is one of the few instances when a public figure’s retirement for health reasons was taken more or less at face value. “I don’t think anything else would have made him do this,” said one legislator. There were reminders of the way the state’s turnover leaves fixtures like Raggio behind. On KRNV, an anchor and a reporter mispronounced Raggio’s name (Rawggio, akin to Nevawda). But the real meaning of Raggio’s legislative career, beyond his specific accomplishments, was the evolution in his political style from militant to moderate and the deterioration in dialogue and civility over four decades while he became a leader of resistance to those trends.

12   |   RN&R   |   09.05.19

ThE hardlinEr Raggio himself began his public career in a mode that would have fit neatly into today’s politics. As a hard-right district attorney with a law-and-order orientation, he was like chalk squeaking on a blackboard to liberals. He had a take-no-prisoners style in both law enforcement and politics. His law-and-order orientation was so pronounced that President Nixon and Vice President Agnew—running a 1970 midterm election law and order campaign against what they called “radiclibs” (radical liberals)—recruited a reluctant Raggio, who was already running for governor, into an unsuccessful U.S. Senate race. Among the state’s major political figures, he was probably the most polarizing. After taking that style into two unsuccessful statewide campaigns, an opinion survey showed he had a very high “antipathy quotient” among the public. But when Raggio entered the legislature, he learned quickly that he needed Democrats and interest groups he had previously demonized. At his first legislature, there were only six Republicans in the Senate—and that number went down in the next election. If he wanted to get anything done, he would have to learn to work with the other party—and he did. His evolution into the legislative process was probably eased by the fact that the majority floor leaders in his first sessions were Democratic conservatives. And once he started dealing with Democrats as actual people instead of as vague others—something he rarely had to do as a prosecutor—politics for him became easier and more congenial. That didn’t mean Raggio wasn’t still capable of getting rough. He once sponsored legislation to damage an old adversary from his district attorney days, brothel lord Joe Conforte. The Senate did him the favor of killing the bill. Many of the comments that followed his resignation announcement focused on him as a defender of Washoe County, which obscured the fact that it was Raggio himself who provoked the biggest financial setback the county suffered during his terms. In 1990, he stirred up northversus-south feelings by telling voters in Washoe County that a Democratic majority in the Senate would hurt the north. It was no longer an age when something said in one region was not heard elsewhere, and his comments exploded in Southern Nevada, where he had effectively cast his southern Republican candidates as defenders of the north. He ended up losing Senate races at both ends of the state and the Southerners headed north determined to punish him. They enacted “Fair Share,” which forced Washoe to repay subsidies it had been receiving from the rest of the state. But Raggio also learned from these episodes. Thereafter he defended the North without demonizing the South. It was another step in his learning to value amity and respect for an adversary’s point of view. (And Conforte did himself in.)

dEvoluTion But as Raggio was tempering his style, his party was headed back to where he started. Politics was changing, though national trends took a while to bleed down into state legislatures. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president, which moved the political frame of reference to the right and set in motion more meanspirited politics. This was in defiance of Reagan’s own example. Reagan reached out to Democratic leaders like Edward Kennedy and cultivated Democrats in both houses of Congress. His first budget was opposed by Republican “new right” senators but supported by “blue dog” House Democrats. Reagan is the Republican president with whom Raggio most closely identifies, but many of Reagan’s followers, such as the National Conservative Political Action Committee and evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell favored a more confrontational, adversarial politics than the president. Leading figures like Robert Dole, Barry Goldwater and Jack Kemp increasingly became targets of rightists. Raggio probably did not realize initially that this new harsh tone of the party was anything but temporary, a burst of venting after years in the wilderness. But over time it became apparent that it was here to stay. Raggio had once used his share of vituperative rhetoric—after he condemned in acidic language the reversal of a death sentence, the Nevada Supreme Court opened an investigation of his use of free speech—but as a legislator he had learned how to make his case without questioning the motives or good will of his opponents. Year by year, the temperature level of politics rose, and the rhetoric became harsher. As these trends moved into state GOPs, Raggio himself became a target. In 2000, a conservative activist circulated a CD of a song called “Won’t You Come Home, Bill Raggio?” along with some printed matter calling him a RINO—a “Republican in name only.” The claim was preposterous—Raggio had been the party’s

candidate for U.S. Senate in 1970 and for lieutenant governor in 1974 and had taken the Senate Republican caucus from 3 out of 20 senators in 1975 to regular majorities in the 1990s. But the newcomers to the party—Reno Mayor Bob Cashell calls them the RINOs— were increasingly intolerant of bipartisanship, and Raggio was an exemplar of it. (During the same period, Nevada’s current lieutenant governor and new governor both were branded with the RINO label.) It took time for these trends to catch up to Raggio. His consistent success at both legislative accomplishment and building up the party kept him unassailable. Rarely has an elected official who did not hold statewide office so dominate the state’s politics. One deft move that fueled Raggio’s rise to statewide power came after 1982, when Republican governor Robert List was defeated for reelection, leaving a vacuum in the in-state leadership of the party. Raggio made it clear he had no interest in filling that vacuum and foreswore any further statewide races. It meant he was no threat to other rising Republicans and freed him to concentrate on building the GOP’s fortunes in the Senate, which he did with enormous success.

ThE nEw hardlinErs In 2003, the Assembly Republican caucus held the legislature hostage for weeks, using a minority control provision in the state constitution to halt all business and keep the legislature meeting through the regular session and two special sessions in order to get its way on a tax hike package. Raggio was appalled, less by the tactics than by the attitude of disrespect for majority opinion. It reminded him of the polarization of the Republican Party during the mid-1960s, particularly the 1964 presidential campaign when the John Birch Society and the GOP were linked. “If the Republican Party continues to be the party of the far right, rather that what I term ‘Reagan-type conservatism,’ the party will never elect people,” this one-time far rightist said. “We cannot be the party of the far right. That doesn’t sell. And if that means moderate or RINO in some people’s eyes, so be it. … I believe in free enterprise, I believe in limited government, and I believe in fiscal responsibility. But in Reagan’s eyes, that meant a lean government, not a mean government. And it also, if I recall, meant everybody was welcome under the Republican tent, even if you didn’t agree on everyone’s social issues. And I want to emphasize that. I helped resurrect this party with a fellow named Paul Laxalt in the early ’70s when the John Birchers had taken over this party. Took us 10 years to dig out. I’m not going to let all that effort fall by the wayside and let radicals take over the Republican Party. Not while I’m in it.” That was outside the frame of reference of his critics, many of whom were children or unborn in the 1960s.


Raggio argues that his views have not changed over the years. Though there are some demonstrable exceptions, there is merit to his assertion. He has been a solid conservative throughout his legislative years, though he never had much in common with those lawmakers who—as the late former governor Kenny Guinn described them—“do not believe in government” and latched onto the GOP as their vehicle. Raggio never confused their stances with real conservatism. Raggio is not well known for specific bills he got passed because he tended to work on issues and policies through the budget process. (He was a member and usually chair of the Senate Finance Committee.) But he occasionally did sponsor significant bills, one establishing the regional planning process in Washoe County, another creating the Washoe County Airport Authority.

Reno attorney Thomas “Spike” Wilson, who served in the Senate for 16 years, some of it with Raggio, has said, “I don’t think we ever had a party caucus when I was there.” “It seems like they caucus on every vote,” Raggio said. “You know, we didn’t do that in the past. … Once the election was over, everyone was willing to sit down and compromise and now that’s a four-letter word to some of these extremists.” Those who obstruct, he said “don’t belong in the process, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats. Legislation is still the art of compromise, and over the years that’s been my mantra. You know? I’ve had to deal consistently with a house of the other party. And we would have gotten nowhere if we weren’t willing to compromise, and if we were going to put good and evil labels on things, we might as well not have shown up. Now, there’s some that still feel that way. I think they’re an impediment to accomplishment.” If some Republicans did “they were generally supportive, but they not like their leader’s style, were very reistant to any kind of reform.” Democrats watched it with -Bill Raggio envy. In 2009, shortly after Raggio forced Democrats to reduce planned tax hikes, former One of his bills, an education accountability Democratic senator Terry Care told the Las and standards measure for kindergarten though Vegas Business Press, “Bill Raggio is a high school enacted in 1997, is noteworthy pleasure to watch. I could tell you all kinds of for the way it demonstrates how he worked. Bill Raggio stories. You know, he’s been in the Democrats and the powerful teachers union majority, I think, since the 1991 session, maybe were suspicious of it, and Raggio did not get the 1993 session. He’s 82 years old. You everything he wanted in it. But because he had a wouldn’t believe it to watch him because he history of cooperation on other issues with both has a lot of energy that people that age, if they groups, and they had come to trust him—and ever get that far, don’t come close to having. because he was able to bring the Democratic He’s very bright. He’s shrewd. He is about five governor on board—he was able to get most of steps ahead of you on everything, and even as what he wanted. He had advanced a conservative we know from this last session, when he’s in initiative with support from the teachers and the minority, he still has a way of being very Democrats. effective and, in many cases, getting what he “I obviously had, over the years, to work wants. … We’ve had our shouting matches and with the teachers union,” he said. “They were our debates, but man, I hold deep, deep respect generally supportive, but they were very for him.” resistant to any kind of reform, and so I had As the years passed and the benchmarks to get them involved, and I had to get Gov. of age appeared and passed—heart surgery, [Robert] Miller involved. And so we were able the death of his wife—Raggio still seemed to do that, come together. You know, there was indefatigable. There was a point when his some give and take there. We had to agree to weight fell alarmingly because of his heart some class size reductions. But overall, I think problems, but he continued to hold the twin posts it was a giant step in the state for K-12 because that were as much reflection as source of his it paved the way for a lot of reforms, and power—Republican floor leader and member they’re still ongoing.” of the Senate Finance Committee (which he chaired when the GOP held the majority), where LegisLative devoLution he developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the state budget. And he still practiced law full time But it was just that kind of cooperative relationwhen the legislature was out of session. ship with Democrats that drove Raggio’s right The notion that Washoe County will be at the wing critics crazy. They didn’t want Republicans mercy of Clark County, which has received so to “come together” with the enemy. And they much attention since Raggio’s announcement, were having impact. The parties started using is overstated. The alliance between Washoe and huge swaths of legislative time to hold regular the small counties against Clark is outmoded. caucuses behind closed doors to enforce party In recent years, legislators from the two urban policy. This was a sharp break from the past counties have formed close alliances because of when partisanship at the legislature was underthe common problems of both their areas. There stated and party discipline unknown.

will always be competitions for funds among the different parts of the state, but that is as much urban-versus-rural as it is North-versus-South. Raggio’s departure from the legislature is a substantial setback to the state’s new Republican governor. The Washoe senator has always been a legislative leader who is very oriented to governors’ programs, even when—as in the case of Jim Gibbons—the governor did his best to alienate him. He has done his best to get their programs enacted. Some legislators felt he was too willing to serve as a cat’s paw for GOP governors. Raggio even supported Gov. Robert List’s now-infamous “tax shift” from property to sales tax reliance that has led the state into chronic budget crises. After a lifetime of service to the Republican Party, Raggio does not expect to play much of a role in it now. In November, time finally ran out for him with the far right of his party, when he was forced out by his Republican colleagues as floor leader after he grudgingly endorsed Democrat Harry Reid’s reelection as U.S. senator against putative Republican Sharron Angle. After he announced he would resign, Raggio said, “I’m not in favor very much with the party leadership at this moment. … They’ve been passing resolutions around the state in the last year that are very critical of me, so I’m not sure that I would have a role in the organized party.” But that doesn’t mean he won’t speak out if he sees something that particularly interests—or bothers—him. “And on occasion I might even pop off, which I have done in the past occasionally.” Raggio is at relative peace with his legacy. After he announced his retirement he found himself giving some thought to things he might have done differently as a legislator. He thought open meetings had been extended too far, and that the Nevada Ethics Commission—which he helped create—has gotten out of control “to the point where good people just don’t want to subject themselves to some of these requirements.” But he said, “Otherwise, I think there’s very little I would have done differently, in reflection.”

January 19, 2017:

exit Reid End of an era in december 1935, the nevada Colorado River Commission reported to Gov. Richard Kirman that if the state built transmission lines to supply power to western and northern Nevada, the cost of electricity to consumers would be reduced. It didn’t happen. Not until three quarters of a century had passed, in February 2009, did U.S. Sen. Harry Reid pledge to support building a major transmission line linking north and south

for the first time. As it happened, the same month—in a reaction to the Great Recession and the Wall Street meltdown—Reid and his fellow Democrats pushed stimulus funding through Congress, providing a source of funding for the line. The next month, President Obama signed a public lands act freeing up 70 acres for a transmission line corridor near Sunrise Mountain in Southern Nevada. Construction began in 2010. That same year, Reid pushed through a measure to shift the line to avoid sensitive historic and wildlife sites. Another year later, a federal $343 million loan guarantee was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2011 and 2013, the Energy Regulatory Commission—chaired by Reid nominee Jon Wellinghoff of Nevada—eased regulatory obstacles to the transmission line. In 2015, Reid won enactment of a measure assuring a corridor through an abandoned manganese mine and mill site used in World War I. The 235-mile, 500-kilovolt, 600-megawatt line is now in place. Cost: $510 million. Reid shepherded it along, removing roadblocks, clearing the way. And he insisted that part of the deal would be reduced coal use and increased renewables. The hatred that found its way to Reid during his Capitol Hill years cannot argue with his record of accomplishment. In fact, it sometimes seemed his congressional tenure was devoted to unblocking old projects that had been proposed by earlier legislators but never reached fruition. On Nov. 4, 1986—the night he was elected to the U.S. Senate—he promised to win enactment of a Truckee River operating agreement, badly needed for decades. Indeed, his Senate predecessor Paul Laxalt was at that moment making a last, unsuccessful stab in his final weeks in office to push a Truckee agreement through Congress. It’s unlikely that even Reid had any idea how long the agreement would take—nearly his entire Senate service. It’s a separate, three-decade story that needs telling, but for our purposes here it’s useful to show Reid’s history of achievement that had eluded other state leaders. As a member of the U.S. House, Reid took on the task of creating Great Basin National Park, an idea that had been kicked around during the 20th century without success. In 1934, landscape architect William Penn Mott surveyed the area for the National Park Service and recommended creation of the park. It didn’t happen. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson supported the idea in the 1960s. Still no luck. Reid succeeded, pushing through legislation creating a park with 76,800 acres (about 120 square miles), including Wheeler Peak and the Lehman cavern. Reid went after wilderness areas, which Republicans had held to a minimum in Nevada. There was no reason for him to win. The state’s then-four person congressional delegation was anti-environment, with Reid the only Democratic member. He outlasted them. The two Republican senators departed, to be replaced by Reid and his

“t r u t h t o p o w e r ” c o n t i n u e d o n p a g e 15

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friend Richard Bryan. Nevada got 700,000 acres of wilderness, and Reid has been adding to it ever since. Not all of his legislation concerned oncestymied projects, of course. He developed a terrific dislike of coal power, a factor in asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, hospital admissions, premature deaths and lost work days. Reid worked on shutting down Reid-Gardner, one of the nation’s dirtiest coal plants. Most of it was finally closed, and a $4.3 million settlement was paid to the nearby Moapa Band of Paiutes for health problems. Reid also prevented construction of two coal plants in eastern Nevada, infuriating local leaders who wanted the jobs. In the Truckee Meadows in the 1990s, there was an unpopular plan to import water for growth from the Honey Lake area that straddles the Nevada/California border north of Reno. Reid helped kill it (though it later came quietly back to life). Paradoxically, in southern Nevada where water officials are trying to import water for growth from areas along the Nevada/ Utah border, Reid has aided the importation plan. There are those who say Reid gets more credit than he is due for stopping the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, that three governors kept the federal government chasing its tail for a couple of decades. That is certainly true. Reid did change the dynamic when he won for Nevada one of the first presidential nominating events in the nation—the early caucuses. An entire generation of political leaders came to Nevada and took a pledge against Yucca, akin to the Iowa pledge on ethanol.

The bad new days Reid’s career in Congress more or less parallels the Era of Bad Feeling, when Republicans stopped working with Democrats and learned to parlay polarization into election successes—if not legislative accomplishments. In 1999, Reid became the assistant Democratic leader in the Senate, informally known as the Democratic whip. In that post, he made allies in both parties by accommodating and servicing the needs of members. His cooperation coupled with his relatively conservative voting record made him the Republicans’ favorite Democrat. Trent Lott called him “soothing,” not the kind of term normally applied to a partisan fighter. But then in 2005, Reid became Senate Democratic leader. There is substantial reason to question whether Reid was ever the person for the job. Today’s party congressional leaders must also be national party leaders. Rank-andfile party activists did not want him, preferring Richard Durbin of Illinois as more media-savvy and a better salesperson. Six months into the job, Reid was asked if, given his conservative voting record, he was miscast as Democratic leader.

His answer was a Capitol Hill one—“Well, 44 [Senate] Democrats don’t think so.” But senators want a leader who makes their lives easier. That doesn’t necessarily mean they know to choose the best person to sell their policies, either in substantive or public relations terms. The first thing that started happening to Reid was that, under the dogma of today’s Republican politics, people who had never heard of him before began hating him. It wasn’t rational. If Reid had stayed in the more belowthe-radar post of whip and Durbin had become leader, it would have happened to Durbin. But

soon, Reid was learning more about this new world of polarized, mean-spirited politics. He did not thrive in it. Probably no other single member of Congress changed so much in the polarized climate. His demeanor changed. His personality changed. His looks changed. At any time during Reid’s tenure, it was possible to run a Google image search for photos of him and get mostly frowning, scowling portraits. It did not go unnoticed. In 2013, Conan O’Brien had a visual aid that cast the dour farmer in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” as Harry Reid. In 2014, a site called Red Alert Politics posted some freeze frames from a 1986 C-SPAN interview with a smiling, friendly U.S. Rep. Harry Reid and contrasted them with recent shots of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid: “This video reveals a different side of Reid that modern America has rarely, if ever, seen, a once happy warrior who smiled amid the discussion of politics and local issues and spoke with respect and praise of Republicans. … From appearances, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid derives little pleasure from his job. … Bitter, bitter man.” Reid tended not to say anything when he encountered the hardball tactics of the period, instead letting tension build inside of him. It’s where some of his gaffes came from. When he finally blew, it was on something unrelated to what was really bothering him. Thus he

made impolitic comments on the hygiene of summer tourists visiting Capitol Hill or Clarence Thomas’s poor legal scholarship. He was aware that his words were now being weighed on a different scale. He once told us that “even when I was assistant leader, nobody really cared what I said. And certainly when I was just a senator, it was rare that anybody even wrote what I said. But now, people are even wondering what I’m thinking about. … I mean, who would think that somebody would cover a high school class I was talking to? Or who would think that somebody would pick up the Ralston—something I may have said on the Ralston show, for heaven’s sakes, and send it across the country? But I’ve learned over the months that that in fact is the case.” But it did not curb his often sharp tongue. It is difficult, indeed, to resist the notion that both Reid and Nevada would have been better off if he had stayed out of the congressional leadership pool. In 2001, Reid—then still serving as Democratic whip—lured Republican Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont away from the GOP. Jeffords changed to independent and voted with the Democrats to organize, switching the Senate from a Republican to a Democratic majority. One of the carrots Reid used was giving up his own expected chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to Jeffords. March 7, 2011: On the anniversary of the historic 1965 Selma march, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid walks across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Senate Environment is a prized committee for any Nevada senator. As its chair, Reid would been a policymaker in areas the state cares about. He might well have accomplished a good deal more for his state than he did as party leader, while making life a lot easier on himself and preserving the cooperative relationship he once had with Republicans.

The dysfuncTional senaTe In 2008, the Wall Street meltdown and the Bush recession gave Democrats one of their great historic majorities. Reid made things much harder on himself by not doing anything about the silent filibuster while he had the power. With a majority of 60 votes, the Democrats were held hostage to any one Democratic senator who threatened a “filibuster.” In 1975, the Senate Democratic majority had amended the rules to reduce the number of votes needed for cloture to 60. Cloture is the number of votes needed to stop a filibuster. A filibuster means talking endlessly on the senate floor until the other side gives up. But that’s not the only thing that happened in 1975. Senate Democratic leader Mike Mansfield and his whip Robert Byrd came up with a plan for preventing filibusters from tying up the floor. In what was called a silent filibuster or

the two-track system, senators would be able to announce their intent to filibuster and the cloture threshold—that is, the 60-vote supermajority used to stop a filibuster—would automatically be applied to the bill at issue. The senators would not actually have to go onto the floor and talk endlessly anymore. This would keep the floor free for other business. The two-track system depended on trust, on senators not claiming they would filibuster when in fact they had no intention of doing so. But as polarization came to Congress, fair play became passé. Senators began announcing filibusters by the dozen, tying up bills with 60-vote cloture thresholds constantly. Soon, the Senate was operating routinely as a house where 60 votes were required to pass any major bill. A 51-vote majority was a thing of the past. The abuse of the two-track system was almost entirely Republican—and grass roots Democrats, members of the House, and a variety of others called on the Senate to get rid of the system. Reid defended it for most of his tenure as Democratic leader, and when he finally yielded, it was only for presidential nominations. The Senate still remains a minority-controlled house. Reid paid a high price. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, Democratic Senators Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman all held up the Senate for concessions, causing health care to be watered down and threatening support by key Democratic groups like labor. In addition, the stimulus bill was far smaller than Democrats had wanted because of filibuster threats. What was striking was how easy it would have been for Reid to end the silent filibuster. When I tried to find the rule under which it functioned, I could not locate it. I wrote to the Senate Historical Office asking for the 1975 rule covering the two-track system. Senate Historian Don Ritchie informed me, “The ’two-track’ process is simply a leadership tactic and is not codified in the rules.” By implementing the two-track system on his own authority instead of with a rule, Mansfield had presciently anticipated that it might one day get out of hand. He had left future successors free to get rid of it on their own authority. Thus Reid had the sole power to reverse Mansfield’s change and put the Senate back on a simple 51-vote majority basis. But he would not do it. A couple of years ago, during an interview with Reid, I found out why. Neither he nor his staff had ever had historical research done on the filibuster. Reid believed—and still believes—that a rule covering the silent filibuster had been approved by the Senate in 1917. He and his staff could not be convinced otherwise. Nothing happened in 1975, Reid told me, except the change in the cloture threshold. One of his aides contacted me by phone to try to convince me. He challenged me to prove my case. I sent papers by several scholars describing the system’s creation in 1975, but never heard anything back. Without the two-track system, the entire Democratic/Obama program could have been enacted in the first month of 2009 instead of

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eating up most of the year. ACA could have been put into effect fast, in the full form sought by the Democratic majority. The stimulus could have been larger and more effective. The Democratic Congress’s public image as efficient and effective would have been stronger. And the Senate would have stopped being dysfunctional.

Judgment History would have been of greater help to Reid in another way, too. He tended to yield to presidents on national security issues, though history demonstrates how untrustworthy they are. We have been unable to find any U.S. military action in Reid’s tenure that he opposed at the outset. This was most glaring, of course, in the case of Iraq. And it took him a long time to learn from the experience. As late as 2007—four years after the war began—he was defending the vote. “That was an easy vote for me,” he told Las Vegas editor Steve Sebelius. He came to resent George W. Bush’s false information given to Congress—but too late. However, senators had contrary information from U.N. weapons inspectors who—unlike Bush administration officials—had actually been on the ground in Iraq. Moreover, of course Bush misled Congress. Every president since World War II has lied about matters of war or peace. It’s a law of nature. Why was Reid not more skeptical? Reid’s own political savvy sometimes ran head-on into his own fellow Democrats. Senate Democrats were often unwilling to take strong action, but they became alert to the party’s Howard Dean-inspired grass roots demands that party leaders get in the Republicans’ faces. At one point, Democratic senators wanted to filibuster against a troop funding bill that had been loaded down with unrelated measures, including REAL ID, a federally required form of personal identification. Dianne Feinstein of California was ready to lead the filibuster, but Reid feared what the GOP would do with it and vetoed the idea. “This was not a time to filibuster a bill that was providing the money for the troops,” he later told us. The senators felt they could use the filibuster—a real one, when people talk endlessly on the floor—to spin it as a case of Republicans using the troops for cover to pass controversial bills that could not pass on their own merits. Reid’s false claim that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for 10 years was another instance that put Democrats in a poor light. News reports often described Reid’s claim as “new Democratic tactics” or some such. Embarrassed Democratic leaders were reluctant to criticize Reid—though John McCain, John Boehner, Marco Rubio and other Republicans had repudiated a Michelle Bachmann smear of an Obama administration official two weeks earlier. So they just lived with it, staying silent in the face of a McCarthyite attack by one of their own. Reid also had difficulty making the case for

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the Democratic Party when it was not doing well. For a period he was citing the Democratic effort keeping Social Security from being a Bush Wall Street investment program as one of their great triumphs. He didn’t seem to understand that the party protecting its proudest legislative achievement of the 20th century was the least that should be expected of Democrats.

Finale Reid has a reputation of having lived on the edge in elections, but in fact once he arrived in Congress, he had only one close call. That was 1998, when he was opposed by Republican John Ensign and a recount affirmed Reid’s narrow 400-vote win. Otherwise, he always won by comfortable margins. He actually talked about running again in 2016, but sight and other problems he suffered after a freak accident with workout equipment made it difficult. (Conspiracy theories of how he actually sustained his injuries were an example of the weirdness of today’s politics.) Many of the Reid achievements mentioned at the start of this article were already accomplished or well under way when Reid became Democratic leader. Certainly a grad student writing about his career a hundred years from now will consider the accomplishments in that time frame among his most important. There are not a lot of Reid measures after that. It’s hard to imagine Nevada politics without Reid in it. He goes out on what he would consider a high note—his state voted Democratic in the presidential race, three of four U.S. House races, gave both houses of the legislature to the Democrats. It also elected a Democrat to replace Reid himself. Moreover, he leaves a Senate that, though he predicts it will someday get rid of the supermajority cloture requirement, didn’t do it on his watch. “One thing we fought for that’s worth defending is a fairer, more open and more productive Senate,” he wrote in the New York Times shortly before leaving office.

OctOber 18, 2018:

missing peace A veteran laments  Veterans Day On the autumn day of nov. 11, 1918, the armistice in the first World War took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Acting Governor Maurice Sullivan of Nevada declared a public holiday, and hundreds gathered in the streets of Reno to celebrate and burn Kaiser Wilhelm in effigy. The relief of peace after a terrible, drawn out war that had nearly been lost was palpable. That was armistice. A year later came Armistice Day.

A few decades later, when another Nevada soldier and I were in D.C. protesting—along with numerous other soldiers—in the aftermath of the attack on Cambodia and the killings at Kent State, we were passing the Army Navy Club at 17th and I streets, and we saw people drinking atop the 12-story building. I heard a protester yell up to them, “The army’s come over to our side.” One of the things I really hated about my service years was the way politicians and other war supporters constantly assumed to speak for “our troops.” So the large number of antiwar soldiers was a source of comfort to me when I was in the service. A few years later, when I was out, a woman who was an American Legion “auxiliary” official asked me why Vietnam veterans seemed reluctant to join the established veterans’ organizations. I wasn’t a Vietnam vet. I was a Vietnam era vet who was spared duty in that unfortunate country, spending my overseas time in Europe. But I told her servicepeople had been split by the war, some traditionalists following what the government wanted without question, others deeply troubled by what our government did. The latter group wanted no part of those veterans’ groups that always seemed to be calling for more war. (Just 37 days after the Korean war armistice, the American Legion had called for another Korean war if those poor people did not toe our line.) James Michener once wrote that he was surprised the nation got through Korea without the kind of disruption Vietnam saw. But Vietnam was a bridge too far for many of us. That split we saw in our own generation kept showing up, with PR people like Merrie Spaeth exploiting it by creating the Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth” and pitting them against the rest of us. Spaeth and others created a climate in which veterans who opposed the war were mistreated when they came home, along with other protesters who were not veterans. In Greeley, Colorado, Vietnam veterans were barred from a Veteran’s Day parade in 1972. In Reno, pro-war veterans prevented antiwar veterans from riding on a Harold’s Club float, and the club let it happen.

FOrever wars If Vietnam was a bridge too far, it is difficult to know what today is. Today’s wars have become known among vets as the forever wars (see Harper’s, “Combat high,” June 2018), and keeping track of them is impossible for citizens. When a squad of U.S. soldiers was killed in Niger, U.S. senators like Bob Casey, Lindsey Graham and Charles Schumer said they didn’t know there were troops there. So how can citizens be expected to know? The Pentagon says it keeps Congress informed, and it no doubt does, the same way it keeps the public informed—using

incomprehensible jargon and putting the information where it’s not easily located. Hedrick Smith, for his book Who Stole the American Dream? found the information in a document with the unilluminating title of Base Structure Report. It tells the number of servicepeople, the number of bases (more than 1,100), the facilities on those bases (there are 172 golf courses). I looked at that document for a story earlier this year, and it took me weeks to decipher what I was seeing. And it was difficult not to recall that saying, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” There are now so many small wars that they now have their own publication, Small Wars Journal, where Erik Goepner of the Cato Institute recently wrote, “America’s war on terror has now entered its seventeenth year. The U.S. has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and conducted military operations in Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and the Philippines. More recently, four military members died in Niger during an ambush, suggesting the war on terror continues to widen. The war has cost the lives of nearly 7,000 service members and between $1.8 and $4 trillion. Despite the heavy toll in blood and treasure, most Americans seem content for the war to continue.” It may be a reach to classify this war as small. Not only do we not know how many wars we are now fighting, none of them are declared. If we’re ever to get our warmaking machine back under control, we could start by using the language more honestly. Armistice Day was changed to Veteran’s Day by Congress in 1954, the same Congress that shoehorned “under God” into Francis Bellamy’s pledge of allegiance. (Imagine Congress using legislation to alter the language of “Amazing Grace.”) Thus, warriors were elevated over peace. The 1949 Congress shut down the War Department and created the Defense Department, an entity that has become accomplished in fighting nondefensive wars. Reversing both those changes would start the process of honesty. Army Ranger Rory Fanning, who served two deployments in Afghanistan and walked across the United States raising funds for the Pat Tillman Foundation, wrote: “In place of what had been a celebration of peace, Congress instituted an annual veneration of those who fought in war. America would ever after celebrate not the beauty of peace, but its purveyors of state violence in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada, Kosovo, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more. Governments had meant to do the opposite in 1919: if you go back and read the newspapers of the time closely enough, you can almost hear the collective sigh of relief and jubilation on the first Armistice Day. Millions celebrated peace and renounced war on that November day, a year after the violence in Europe had


ended: after the mustard gas stopped burning off soldiers’ skin; after Gatling guns stopped mowing down young boys from mostly poor and working class families; after fighter planes stopped streaking the sky; and after bloody bayonets were wiped clean. In the wake of so much carnage, it was then clear to millions of people that wars were not about valour or romantic ideals, but about empire, which benefits a few at the expense of many.” I love autumn, but Nov. 11 is always melancholy. Each year, a few communities around the country mark Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day. Silver City, Nevada, is one of them, and I occasionally attend there.

July 6, 2017:

The painting A work of art gave its  owner a ride through  history In the mid 1980s, I stopped in at Hermitage Gallery on California Avenue on some business. While waiting, I wandered around looking at pieces of art. I noticed a Polaroid print of a painting—a watercolor—on a table. I stared at the photo for a few moments. Something about the painting grabbed me. It was Saturday, and only one employee was in the place. I pulled out a business card and wrote something like “If anyone can tell me anything about this painting, please call me” on it, clipped it to the photo, and left it on the table. The following Monday, I received a call. “It’s by a painter named Burr, and it is a painting of a village in Yugoslavia,” I was told. She had little more information, and the price was well out of the price range of a local television reporter, so I thanked her and forgot it. A month or so later, I received another call from the gallery. “That painting you asked about is on its way through Reno, if you would like to see it.” Later that day, I stopped at the gallery. The painting was propped up on the arms of a chair. I sank to my knees in front of it. The village, with a bridge at its center, appeared frozen in time. It had likely been painted recently, as it looked in the 1980s, but it seemed unlikely the village had changed much in decades, or centuries. If the photo had grabbed me, the feelings stirred up inside me by the real thing were even more powerful. I gazed at the painting for several minutes. But the price was still prohibitive, and I thanked them. Walking out of that store without that painting was very, very difficult, and I suspect the employees had seen it happen before. I did my best to forget it. Time passed. In 1987, I was appointed chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. Along with the

job went a substantial increase in pay. One of the first things I did was call the gallery and ask them to find out if the piece was still available. I told the person I reached that I would commit to buying it then and there if the price was the same. A couple of days later she called back. “The painting never sold. In fact, it has been put into storage. The price is still the same, plus shipping charges.” Not long afterward, 30 years ago this year, the painting was on my wall. To this day I cannot say why it took hold of me so. Art is like that, sometimes.

BrIdge To THe pasT In succeeding years, I began to wonder about the artist, whether he had named the painting, and what village was portrayed. The internet was not yet the resource it is today, but I did learn there were a lot of artists out there named Burr. I was halfway hoping it would turn out to be Bill Burr, my onetime art teacher, but it wasn’t likely—the signature on the painting read JBurr. I found out there were a lot of artists named J. Burr, too. Nor, without the artist, did I learn anything about the subject of the painting or its title. I called the gallery at one point, but did not receive a call back. On Sept. 8, 1993, I was reading my morning New York Times. Then and now, there is a space on the lower left of the editorial page for essays. On this morning, there was an essay by Mary Cantwell, an author and Times editorial writer. The essay was only 728 words long, took up only a few inches and discussed a trip Cantwell took to Yugoslavia 23 years earlier. In the center of the essay, about two inches square, was a photograph she had taken on that trip. There was the bridge and town in my painting. The town was Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Once I knew about Mostar, I was able to research both it and the bridge. In addition, once I knew the names, I began seeing more and more references to them. The bridge was called Stari Most, or Old Bridge. Designed and built by student architect Mimar Hayruddin at the order of Suleiman I, sultan of the Ottoman empire, construction of the bridge began in 1557 and was completed nine years later. In earlier times, before Stari Most was built, towns on the two sides of the river were called Cimski grad and Nebojša. Bridges over the Neretva River and their bridge-keepers—the mostari—gave a name to the united town—Mostar, or Bridgekeeper. The Hayruddin bridge became famous as an architectural masterpiece.

More than that, Mostar was a place where people of different faiths had considerable success in living together amicably. A UNESCO World Heritage Centre report reads, “Architecture here presented a symbol of tolerance: a shared life of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Mosques, churches and synagogues existed side-by-side indicating that in this region, the Roman Catholic Croats with their Western European culture, the Eastern Orthodox Serbs with their elements of Byzantine culture, and the Sephardic Jews continued to live together with the Bosniaks-Muslims for more than four centuries. A specific regional architecture was thus created and left behind a series of unique architectural achievements, mostly modest by physical dimensions, but of considerable importance for the cultural history of its people. The creative process produced a constant flow of various cultural influences that, like streams merging into a single river, became more than a mere sum of the individual contributing elements.” Cantwell described the climate in Mostar, as she had found it in 1970, more simply: “I was fascinated by the jumble of Muslim minarets, Greek Orthodox domes and Roman Catholic spires. Everyone else, or so it seemed to me, took that jumble for granted.”

U.S. News and World Report: “And for hundreds of years, the people crossing [Stari Most] weren’t angry Muslims, Croats or Serbs. They were lovers, poets, tourists or intrepid swimmers who tested their nerve by diving into the water 70 feet below.” The bridge was a major tourist attraction.

dIrecT HIT In the 1980s, severe economic troubles in Yugoslavia caused a crisis of confidence in the central government. Politicians were

ready with efforts to whip up nationalist feelings and ethnic resentments. Political instability led to cultural divisions and a proliferation of political parties. Photographs of Stari Most appeared as the front cover art on several books about the Bosnian war while it was still going on. Although both Mostar and its bridge had come to symbolize the ability of competing ethnicities to live together in the town, over time the poisons of ethnic tensions seeped into the town. Many made the mistake of listening to their leaders. Soon there were stories of Croatians in west Mostar and Bosnians on the east bank planning a partition of the city. By 1993, of course, Yugoslavia had come apart as Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo had declared their independence or otherwise gone their ways. And by the time I learned of the setting for my painting, push had already come to shove in Mostar, where the city was divided into religions and ethnicities, and some talked of the town’s end being near. Just a few days after I read Cantwell’s essay, I read a chilling sentence in Time: “But unless peace comes soon, U.N. aid can only postpone the death of one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most beautiful cities.” Four days after Cantwell’s essay was published, the Associated Press reported, “Like many Bosnian cities, prewar Mostar saw Muslims, Serbs and Croats living together in relative harmony. When war erupted, Muslims and Croats teamed up to oust Serb rebels who opposed Bosnian independence from Yugoslavia. Now the Croats are trying to kick out the Muslims. Many now trapped in eastern Mostar were rousted from their homes on the western side by Croat nationalists, who envision the city as the capital of a Croat state. … Streets that run parallel to the Neretva River are relatively safe from Croat snipers. Those rising at right angles to the channel are directly in the line of fire. West of the river, the city is virtually clear of Muslims. For the more than 60,000 people under siege in the eastern quarter, shelling and sniper fire provide a jolting backdrop to relentless hunger and privation.” A restoration of the bridge that took 20 years had recently been completed. When war broke out in 1992, the symbolism of Mostar and the bridge confronted the Serbs, who began shelling the bridge in April. A year later something happened that prompted the Croat military to take over the job. Broadcast producer Michael Linder: “Mostar saw some of the heaviest fighting in all of Bosnia. In 1992, it was Croats and Muslims versus the Bosnian Serb Army. Then, in 1993, for reasons not fully explained, the Croats and Muslims turned on each other and began a new round of violence that must have shocked even the Serbs. Very ugly scenes played themselves out here. The Muslims were again outgunned— this time by their former allies. … The Serbs,

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blasted anthems of the Ustasha, the Croatian Nazi puppet regime that controlled much of Bosnia during World War II. A group of 135 Serb refugees returning Saturday night for the election ran a gauntlet of hostile Muslims as they got off their buses in the Muslim east. Police arrested three Muslims in the scuffle. … The European Union, which has administered Mostar since 1994, registered voters in the precincts they inhabited in 1991 so as not to concede any victory to the policies of ‘ethnic cleansing’ that fueled much of the war. On Sunday, hundreds of Croat refugees in west Mostar boarded buses headed east, as their Muslim counterparts headed west. For some, the neighborhoods they returned to were virtually unrecognizable.” The bridge that had been a symbol of harmony had become a symbol of something very different. CNN: “Its destruction by Croat forces caused international outrage. The broken arch became a symbol of the division of Mostar between its Croat inhab“i have found that when history and art itants in the west and Muslims meet, it can teach—if there are those willing in the east. The two communities are still deeply divided, to learn.” despite intense international diplomatic efforts to reunite them. … The reconstruction of the bridge is expected to cost more than $7 began to look like Dresden. But Mostar and million. Turkey has donated $1 million, and Stari Most still existed. other countries and international organizaThen, on Nov. 9, 1993, the artillery scored tions are expected to contribute to the effort. a direct hit. The bridge fell into the river Rebuilding the rest of historic Mostar is in pieces. Footage taken at the time shows estimated at $35 million.” billows of dust obscuring the scene. The town that had symbolized harmony When I heard about it a few days later, no longer did. The London Guardian I went home and sat down and gazed at my described Mostar as “a city long an emblem painting for a very long time. Against the for the bigotry and apartheid blighting sound of a river—I then lived on the bank of Bosnia,” a breach with the town’s pre-war the Truckee—I wondered how the Mostar reputation. that had existed when it was painted had In 1997, four years after I learned the come to this. Some said the gunners wanted identity of the town in my painting—an to destroy the bridge as a symbol, others that they were trying to wipe out Turkish influence. identity that had since undergone sharp changes—NATO’s Stabilization Force began I suspected they were seeking reasons where raising pieces of the bridge from the Neretva reason did not exist. River. The World Bank and UNESCO joined the effort on July 30, 1998. SymboliSm iS reverSed Los Angeles Times: Mostar’s “survivors The tragedy continued to unfold until the hope that resurrecting the bridge will prove Dayton peace settlement of 1995. It has been that anything is possible—even the vision praised as an effective instance of conflict of Muslims and Croats living together resolution followed by a period of reconstrucagain without fear. The project is a risky, tion. Perhaps, but on the ground in Mostar, $14-million enterprise that could just as well feelings that had run so deep could not be revive old hatreds, raise false hopes and repaired so easily. In the first postwar election, leave Mostar with monumental proof that AP reported, “Hundreds of Bosnians expelled there is no way back. … Experts are just from their homes in Muslim-Croat fighting beginning to determine how much of the crossed to the other side of the divided city of Stari Most can be saved and how many years Mostar to vote in Bosnia’s first postwar elecit’s going to take. Many of Mostar’s people tion. The municipal election in this medieval are in a hurry. They want proof that the valley town, which straddles a river separating multiethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina of old can Muslim east from Croat west, is a crucial test be reclaimed. Now. While they watch and for the Dayton peace accord. … Across from try to will the builders to succeed, others are the polling station where Muslims were voting waiting and praying that the Stari Most—and in Croat-held west Mostar, a Croat cafe owner still on the high ground, were no doubt laughing while the former allies blasted each other into oblivion.” The fighting was so fierce and drawn-out that Wikipedia today has an entry titled “Siege of Mostar” dealing with 1992 and 1993-94. Still, the city’s history of cooperation was a challenge to the forces who wanted both the city and Bosnia and Herzegovina eliminated. Stari Most in particular, as a symbol of amity, was targeted by first Serb and then Croat artillery. What had caused Cantwell to dig out her old photo of the bridge was seeing a Washington Post photo that showed the bridge in 1993. In the Post photo, it was badly damaged, covered with a fragile roof and automobile tires to try to protect it from vibrations and the shelling. Daily bombardment took its toll not just on the bridge but on the surrounding town. It

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the Bosnia it stood for—are gone forever. … After the Bosnian war ended in December 1995, Mostar was reunited—on paper.” The bridge reconstruction took longer, cost more, and was more complicated than originally expected. The large chunks of the bridge in the river may have altered its flow, undercutting the foundations of the two sides. Archives in Istanbul and Sarajevo were tapped. Research into construction techniques of 400 years ago and the nature of the original mortar was undertaken. But all problems were dealt with, and the bridge was rebuilt. On the day it opened—July 23, 2004— the London Guardian said Paddy Ashdown, the British leader who served as the Dayton Peace Implementation Council’s high representative to Bosnia, “has imposed unity” on Mostar. Unity that must be imposed is hardly unity, and the progress has been very slow. On the same day, the BBC reported that the bridge’s “reopening is being seen as symbolic of the healing of divisions between Muslims and Croats”—but gave no evidence for that hopeful view. It seemed more like upbeat spin. “The destruction of this great bridge a decade ago brought home to millions around the world the full force of the evil that was happening here,” Ashdown said. “I hope and believe that its reopening today will be an equally powerful moment.” But from the perspective of 2017, Mostar is still troubled.

Coda News from Mostar this year has not been good. March 19/NBC News: “Bosnian War, 25 Years Later: Mostar Bridge Illustrates Lingering Divide … But despite bridging the geographical divide, reconciliation remains a major challenge for the citizens of Mostar and for Bosnia-Herzegovina. … Nationalist politicians continue to aggressively exploit ethnic and religious sentiments.” June 9/Balkan Insight: “Fascist slogans were chanted at a concert by Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic ’Thompson’ in the Bosnian town of Mostar in support of Bosnian Croat ex-officials on trial for war crimes.” June 15/Balkan Insight: “The monumental Partisans’ Cemetery in the Bosnian town of Mostar, where Yugoslav anti-fascist WWII fighters were buried, has been abandoned to decay, a victim of changing attitudes to history in the 1990s.” I found one site that reported, “Located in southern Bosnia, Mostar has emerged from the traumatic shadow of the Balkan war, and is now being fully appreciated for its stunning natural beauty and unique cultural attractions.” But it was a tourism promotion site. It is easier to break things than to put them back together. In 1993, when Cantwell saw the photo of the badly damaged Stari Most in the

Washington Post, she wrote, “I would never have guessed it was my bridge—my bridge because love confers possession, if only in my mind. And I had loved Mostar.” My painting gave me the same sense of affection, and of sadness, and I hope the time will come when the Mostar that existed in the painting comes to be again. In the meantime, I have found that when history and art meet, it can teach—if there are those willing to learn.

December 28, 2017:

adding to the story earlier this year, i wrote a cover story telling readers about a painting I bought of Stari Most, a bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and the journey on which it led me to find its story. One thing I still did not know when I wrote the story was the identity of the artist. The painting was signed JBurr. I also did not know if the piece was painted from the actual setting or from a photo. And i did not know if it had a title. Not long after we published that article, I heard from one of our North Carolina readers, David Regan. “The artist is James Burr,” he wrote. “My brothers, sister and I called him Grandad. He and my grandmother moved to the United States from England in 1968 shortly after I was born. The bulk of my family, including James’ only daughter (my Mum) live in Northern California, and have many of his paintings.” James Louis Burr for a time traveled around Europe painting local landmarks and selling them. So my painting may have been done by Burr sitting and painting it in person, though we cannot be sure. “He and my grandmother owned a hotel, The Oak, in Feltwell Norfolk where my parents met,” Mr. Regan wrote when I asked him for more information. “In 1968 he and my grandmother moved to the Sacramento, California area where they stayed until he died August 29, 1989. … I only recall seeing the painting of Stari Most, not details of how/ where/when it was painted.” Nor did he know a title, so I may give it one, which of course would be Stari Most. The artist’s widow still lives near us, in Sacramento, and I hope to make contact with her. Mr. Regan said he was given one of his grandfather’s paintings on his 21st birthday, and he calls it “my most prized possession.” Ω

For more than 3,000 other stories by Dennis Myers, visit www.newsreview.com/reno/dennis-myers/author.


Portraits of the newsman Friends, colleagues, rivals and antagonists  remember Dennis Myers

Brian Duggan When I started as a student journalist at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Sagebrush in 2004, I came to know Dennis Myers through his prolific byline. The man knew Nevada. He knew Reno. And he knew right from wrong. In short, it was easy to tell he worked to make this community and our state better. For a young journalist, there were few local bylines better to learn from than Dennis Myers. When I came back to work in Reno in 2011 as a city hall reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal, I’d occasionally run into Dennis while on the beat. It was easy to tell when he showed up to a meeting, since he’d usually introduce his presence by taking a photo with a small digital camera he always seemed to have on his person. My reporting would occasionally get a mention—or sometimes a critique—in Dennis’ coverage of the city. Both were always appreciated. The last time I saw Dennis was this summer when he showed up to a news meeting the RGJ held for the public at Rounds Bakery. First, he took a photo of me with his camera. Then, in his gruff manner, asked if I could talk about my relatively new role as executive editor of the Gazette Journal. I immediately agreed. He turned on his analogue tape recorder and questioned me about the state of the newspaper industry—the uncertainty, the changes, the troubles. I told him I remained optimistic for the future despite everything, because journalism matters. It has to. Dennis is the one who taught me that. Brian Duggan is the executive editor of the Reno Gazette Journal.

Barbara Buckley What makes life richer? Extraordinary people. Dennis Myers was one of those extraordinary people. He

devoted a significant part of his life to his calling: journalism. He loved a good story that made an impact or looked at things in a different way. He hated journalism that was “an inch deep,” so he devoted himself to being the opposite. Whether it was extensive microfiche research or speaking to dozens for a story, his stories were deep, rich and thoughtful. When I think about my best memories in my 16 years in Carson, I think about the people who made the experience richer. Dennis was one of those people. Barbara Buckley served in the Nevada Assembly from 1994 through 2010. She was the first woman in the State’s history to serve as Majority Leader and Speaker.

Jon Ralston Dennis Myers annoyed the hell out of me. He was always around with that camera, snapping shots when I was trying to interview someone. He wrote a very kind review of my book when it came out almost 20 years ago, but, of course, he found an error in my recitation of Nevada history. And he wrote these long, contextual and insightful pieces about the intersection of issues and politics that … I wish I had written. When I heard he had passed away, I was sad—for his friends and family and for Nevada, which lost one of its hardest-working and most trenchant chroniclers. Dennis and I were not friends, but we were friendly, and we had both been around a long time. His pieces in the Reno News & Review were always worth reading, and I regularly would learn something. Often he had a clear point of view, but he always tried to look at both sides. As a friend of mine emailed me after his death: “I didn’t always agree with Dennis’ interpretations but no one could question his love for Nevada.”

I’ve been perusing the few dozen emails I have from him over the years and they really capture who he was. After a legislative column, in which I had used an obscure word, he emailed: “What, did you swallow a book by William F. Buckley, Jr.?” When I took a job as a columnist for the RGJ, he had three words for me: “Good luck, kiddo.” And after The Indy had been around for awhile, he emailed: “I want to tell you, the Independent has really done a good job since it came on the scene. It’s very helpful to me. You should all be proud of your work. Thank you.” Jon Ralston is veteran journalist who has covered Nevada politics for more than 30 years. In 2017, he launched the news website The Nevada Independent.

Dina Titus I’ve known Dennis Myers since my early days in politics and have both enjoyed his company and respected his writing over the years. His acute insight and ability to get the story behind the story were valuable assets which benefited the reading public and policy makers alike. Nevada loses a powerful voice with his passing. Dina Titus is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Nevada’s first district.

Steve Coulter Dennis Myers and I met on August 6, 1969, at Fort Lewis, Washington. I remember exactly because I said goodbye to my parents on my birthday, August 4. I was 22, and the Vietnam War was at its height. I was not confident I would ever see them again. On the 5th, I was sworn into the U.S. Army, a draftee. I flew into Fort Lewis, near Seattle, late at night, and we were told to take any open bunk. So I did, a lower bunk. I heard another

group come in about 3 a.m. We were rousted out of bed before dawn. A stranger jumped down from the upper bunk. We shook hands. His name was Dennis Myers. Dennis and I became buddies during those two months, often pairing for combat training. There were eight of us who were college grads, around my age. The rest were scared 18-yearolds just out of high school. The sergeants loved to terrorize them. Us, sure, but I suspect they knew we were quietly laughing at them and knew their power was limited. Eventually, I was assigned to the television production unit at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. In order to avoid going to Vietnam, Dennis extended his service for another year. I often called him

a “lifer,” and we both laughed. He was assigned to Military Police (MP), absolutely the wrong place for a bookish, sweet-natured pacifist. But this was the Army in war time. He was assigned to Germany where he found high drug use among bored draftees. I got a weekend job at UPI Audio, covering most anything that was happening in Richard Nixon’s Washington. Dennis eventually got assigned to Fort Dix, in New Jersey. When he could get time off, he came and stayed with me at my apartment in Wheaton, Maryland. That proved helpful because the massive anti-war marches were underway. If he put down he was going to Washington, leave would not get approved. But Wheaton seemed safe. I covered the marches as a UPI reporter while

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secretly a member of the military. And he attended as well. At the hospital, I met hundreds of soldiers, their bodies and faces torn apart from a war that should never have happened. He saw Jane Fonda and other anti-war luminaries at small rallies. He wanted me to run for office in Nevada after we got out. Around 1973, Dennis and I were roommates for a time in Reno. I got a job back in my old radio/TV station where I worked during college. Dennis wrote and published, in televi-

They said it would not impact Reno. So I let it out of committee, voting no, as Dennis reminded me recently, and we laughed that politicians in Southern Nevada were now adamantly opposed to such a site. In my first term, a man I dated for a brief period called the Chair of the Washoe County Democratic Central Committee and said I was gay. The Chair called Dennis since she knew we were friends. Being gay was a potential career-ender in that era. He said it was not true and he would know

laughably lamented his falling asleep in the conference chair halfway through said presentation. On my first day back in the Sacramento office after a year hiatus, I was told Dennis had passed away a few days prior. The paper still had to go to print. It’s hard to grapple with—this person who I worked with two hours away always existed as a stalwart figure of good journalism and bad photography, and now he’s gone even further than the far reach of a ringing telephone or a curt email. I’m glad he never changed. I’m glad he was who I knew him to be. I feel affection and respect toward everything I came to know about Dennis, good and bad. And really, there is no bad. Not even bad photography. There’s just the individual way people do things. And Dennis knew art when he saw it.

of adversity. Dennis’ passing is a profound loss for Nevada.

Serene Lusano is a designer for the RN&R and the Sacramento News & Review.

Lisa Ryan is the RN&R office manager.

Gailmarie Pahmeier Dennis was particularly proud of a 2016 interview with Gloria Steinem.

sion news for several years, then in small papers. This proved a difficult time in our relationship because I knew I was gay, yet I found it difficult to discuss with Dennis or even my own family. The 1969 Stonewall riots in New York launched gay liberation but that was in big cities, not little Reno. We split as roommates, and I knew my reasons to him made no sense. And I felt terrible, but I had to figure out who I was. Yet, he guessed, and we eventually resumed our friendship, even if we never discussed it for many years. He offered advice, contacts and encouragement when I ran for the State Assembly in 1974. I beat the Republican incumbent, and he was an unofficial adviser on some of my legislation, such as amending the reporter’s Shield Law, open meeting revisions and even environmental issues. One term, I chaired the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Las Vegas heard the federal government wanted to dump nuclear waste at a site just north of Las Vegas. A resolution urging the government to do that, and bring in lots of jobs, was before my committee. Dennis and I thought it was idiotic, but Vegas had the votes. So we agreed that my questioning would focus on scientists who could give us worstcase scenarios if radiation leaked.

because we had been roommates. A true statement. Even if we had not yet discussed it, he had my back. Sergeant Dennis C. Myers, I salute you. It was an honor to have served together. Steve Coulter served four terms in the Nevada State Assembly, first elected in 1974.

Serene Lusano I loved Dennis’ autobiographical cover story “The Painting.” His intense feelings for the beauty of that piece of art seem to contrast sharply with the snap-happy, oddly framed news photos that he would give us designers to run in print, which always threw us for a loop. We designers affectionately begrudged receiving “a Dennis photo” and never quite knew how best to crop it on the page, only to shrug it off and know it was just how he did things. Us design folk would have serious discussions about giving Dennis a new camera—for years—considering what kind of camera he could wield best, a camera to fit in his pocket, what resolution he would need, and so on. We would chitter to ourselves year after year, until one year we delighted in the fact that Dennis attended our Photography for Journalists presentation in the Sacramento office, but

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Dennis would on occasion drop by my UNR office just to say hello or drop off an article, usually about poetry/poets, something he thought I might find interesting. He cared deeply about people, and he read deeply and widely, was always able to engage in nearly any conversation on any subject. Of course, his work on the political world resonates most with readers—if I saw his byline, I knew I was going to be reading the truth. Capital T. Gailmarie Pahmeier is a poet and an instructor in the University of Nevada, Reno’s English Department.

Abby Johnson I expected to see Dennis at opening day of the Legislature and at presidential campaign rallies, wearing a trench coat, as if from a different era, and with a camera, to document Nevada’s political history in the making. There was no need to explain to Dennis the background of Nevada’s unique issues: MX, Sagebrush Rebellion, Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste, military land and airspace overreach, Las Vegas Water Grab. Dennis remembered those conflicts and had reported on them for decades. He understood the connective tissue that undergirds these great Nevada struggles and gives them surprising resilience and endurance in the face

Abby Johnson consults on community development and public involvement, and lives in Carson City, and part-time in Baker, Nevada, near Great Basin National Park.

Lisa Ryan Dennis Myers was a very private person. I was shy about getting to know him, and I wish I hadn’t been. He let his sense of humor sneak out every so often. I remember for one particularly uncomfortable mass office email regarding a shortage of tickets for an event, he retorted back with, “And here I’ve been handing them out to homeless people.” That was when I realized that Dennis was a funny guy. I’ve always admired people who don’t say much but really say something meaningful when they do.

Alicia Barber In a piece he wrote for Black History Month this past February, Dennis Myers quoted the maxim, “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” adding his own comment, “That is a good reason to learn real history and not the sanitized version given to us by state textbook officials who pressure publishers to clean up the past and make it more palatable and less useful.” It was a rare direct criticism of historical whitewashing from a writer who generally let his choice of subject matter speak for itself. Dennis’ command of Nevada’s political history was legendary. But to those who followed his work, it was clear that Dennis believed even more broadly in the power of historical memory, not only to provide context for contemporary political and social issues, but to help us to better recognize patterns of injustice and avoid perpetuating them. That philosophy shone through in his approach toward historical commemorations. For Nevada’s sesquicentennial in 2014, Dennis chose to compose not a celebratory list of state milestones, but an anecdotal overview of Nevada’s shameful treatment of its tribal communities, who have reason to interpret the state’s history as something other than a narrative of continuous progress. Dennis composed several features in a similar vein on the occasion of Reno’s 150th anniversary in 2018.

In his “Secret History of Reno,” published that April, Dennis wrote of some of the wrongs historically endured by Reno’s African American, Native American and Asian American communities, as well as stories of political corruption and oppression of organized labor. He reflected that while admittedly “today’s Reno is not yesterday’s Reno,” abuses of power still occurred, concluding, “Civilization can be a very thin veneer.” Although professionally devoted to shining spotlights, Dennis was famously private about his own life. But every once in a while, he’d share something personal, usually prompted by some story he was following. Once in 2013, when we were writing back and forth about the history of Interstate 80, he reminisced about growing up in a house at 220 Maple St., one block north of St. Mary’s Hospital. The neighborhood was sliced in two in the mid-1970s by the highway’s construction, but as Dennis wrote, with his distinct brand of rueful humor, “Maple still technically exists for a couple of blocks as the street between the Sierra Street off ramp and the Center Street on ramp next to the News and Review office. In my entire life, I have progressed three blocks.” Through his life and his enormous body of work, Dennis made clear that our success is not measured by the distance we have traveled, but by the good we have accomplished and the lives we have touched. Alicia Barber, Ph.D., is a writer, historian, and founder of the historical consulting firm Stories in Place. For a decade, she taught at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she directed the University of Nevada Oral History Program.

Sue Wagner Dennis was my only male feminist friend. He was as devastated as I when the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated in the 1970s. The fact that leadership in both the Nevada Assembly and the Nevada Senate played games made it even worse Dennis supported a woman’s right to choose. One of the last articles he wrote, this June, was about Campaign for Choice. He will be remembered as a reporter who was always fair, willing to listen and a beautiful writer. Last week, before the news, I planned to call him about AB 186 (the popular vote bill). I often asked his thoughts about an issue or politician. Dennis


will be missed by those he covered and those who read his articles. Sue Wagner is a former Lieutenant Governor of Nevada and a former member of the Nevada Senate and the Nevada Assembly.

Jenny Brekhus Dennis Myers was more in my inbox than an in-person contact. There were also occasional phone inquiries. When he was in person out in the world, he usually circulated at a perimeter with an obsolete tiny digital camera. I thought that a classic reporter persona. When I learned he passed, I went back through my inbox and below are some excerpts that capture the Dennis I knew and admired: “It sounded like you were saying that if they weren’t paid off on time, then they never have to be paid off. I can’t believe that’s the case, so could you tell me what you were saying? And feel free to explain it to me as though I’m seven.” (August, 2013) “What the heck is the Economic Planning Indicator Committee? Does EDAWN own it? Does the state? Where does it fit?” (Februaury, 2018) “In the mid-1960s, there was a serious cab war going on, particularly in Clark County—drivers being shotgunned in their cars, that kind of thing. I think that may be why the regulatory agency is at the state level. I’ll see if I can find out more.” (December, 2014) “Don’t let it grind you down.” (October, 2018) Jenny Brekhus is a current Reno City Council Member and former city planner.

Frank X. Mullen Dennis Myers should have worn a battered fedora with a press pass peeking from the hatband. The motto “if your mother says she loves you, check it out!” would not have been out of place on his business cards. Dennis, my colleague and friend for 30 years, was a shoe-leather reporter, an ink-stained workhorse who launched his career while a student at Reno High School. He was still chasing tips, taking names, and telling truth to power when he died at age 70. He bounced from newspapers to television news and back again in the course of five decades. We worked for competing Reno media outlets, but if I needed a source or wanted to tap his encyclopedic knowledge of Nevada history and politics, he was always willing to help. Dennis didn’t give a

damn about who got what scoops or who won which awards. He was all about the stories, the community and the impact the truth could have on the public good. Many journalists, me included, have egos the size of Mt. Rose. It comes with the territory. Day after day, we tell people what we think they ought to know. We expect strangers to trust us, and we sign all our work. For scribblers, a high opinion of one’s own ability is a job requirement. Dennis lacked that arrogance. Years ago, I mentioned I used some of his work in my classes at the Reynolds School of Journalism. He asked if I employed his stories as “cautionary tales,” so the students would know what NOT to do. He did not seem to be joking. No, I told him, his clippings were used as examples of “solid reporting and clear explanatory journalism … ya putz!” I don’t think he realized how respected he was, both by his peers and his audience. If you want to know what Dennis was up to at any time over the last 50 years, the sum of his professional life is on microfilm and a matter of public record. Frank X. Mullen was an editor and investigative reporter at the Reno Gazette Journal for 25 years. Like Dennis, he is not on Twitter.

Rebecca M. Thomas The passing of a great person always seems to bring on the serious and the somber, and that is appropriate. Nevertheless, when I think of my friend Dennis, my mind bends toward the less serious. What I will I remember? Sweater vests. Sweater vests that were alternately cringe-worthy and endearing. One of the best things about Dennis is that he really could not have cared less what you thought of him. He was who he was, and that guy wore sweater vests. And loved cats. He would walk half a block in the opposite direction just to bend over and pet a cat. I remember spending many a Sunday afternoon in dark theaters watching movies—old and new—and then having long discussions over dinner, usually at an old Reno staple such as the Gold ’N Silver Inn or the Halfway Club. Dennis loved those places. Dennis was also a great gift-giver. One of my most prized possessions is an original photo of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer meeting in Einstein’s office at Princeton. He bestowed this

gift on me early in our friendship for no reason other than he knew that I revered both Oppenheimer and Einstein as scientists. Every birthday and Christmas over the past 25-plus years, Dennis would hand me a package, wrapped in the same plain green wrapping paper, containing a book. Not just any book, but a book about a topic we had recently spoken about or in which I had expressed interest. He listened. A byproduct of being a journalist I suppose. Anyone who has received a gift from Dennis knows that green wrapping paper. I always imagined a never-ending roll of green paper in a closet in his apartment. Even that is a reflection of his dedication to journalism. He did not have time to keep track of multiple rolls of wrapping paper with just the right holiday print; he had powerful people to talk to and important stories to write, but wanted to make an effort to wrap the gift. Gift bags would have been easier, but the good, old-fashioned way was better. This also summed up his thoughts about cell phones, e-readers, and other modern technology. He was an unapologetic Luddite, which was baffling considering his profession and maddening when trying to make arrangements for just about anything. We will all remember Dennis for the amazing journalist he was, as it should be. But more than that, he was an amazing friend, a true individual, a giant nerd, a gentleman. That guy in a sweater vest following a cat down the sidewalk.

The name of Harry Truman’s biographical play and film is “Give “Em Hell Harry! It’s from a line when President Truman was asked why he gave Republicans so much hell. He replied “I just gave him the truth, and they thought it was hell” That is Dennis Myers, speaking truth to power in Nevada for decades, and many thinking he was giving ’em hell. Bob Fulkerson is the Development Director for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Anjeanette Damon Dennis Myers was always lurking with that camera, documenting everything. Occasionally he would send photos he took of me on the job. They were rarely flattering. But Dennis understood better than most in our profession that flattery is not the realm of journalists. We dwell in the harshness of reality, shining an antiseptic light on the darkness that hides problems that aren’t necessarily seen but are often felt. Dennis worked these kinds of stories with precision, tenacity and a depth of feeling necessary for true meaning. His work made our community stronger and a better place to live. From time to time, Dennis would send me brief and sincere compliments on my work. I always held them dear. In his last email to me, Dennis wrote “there is a special place for those who help unfortunate people and innocents.” I can only think he’s resting comfortably there now.

Rebecca M. Thomas is an Academic Advisor and Social Science Instructor at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Anjeanette Damon is a reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal.

Bob Fulkerson

Wishelle Banks

Dennis valued protest and agitation as a vital aspect of political expression. He rode the bus with protestors to Carson City to get a deeper understanding of our issues and motivation. He was the only reporter to cover our action at a fundraiser for Jim “you want slaves you got ’em” Wheeler after the Eric Garner killing. His TV news stories on Dr. Susan Chandler’s research on casino women and the fight for living wages in Nevada in the late ’90s should have gotten an Emmy. In 2017, I had the honor of introducing him at the 29th annual Human Services Award brunch when he received the Media Representative of the Year award. Here is the introduction to those remarks:

For this Native American journalist, Myers was an ally. He comprehended the unique ethics we face, and was always seeking, researching, going straight to the source and including Native content in the RN&R. That spirit of inclusion deepened our respect for each other as storytellers—and made us friends. So naturally, I notified Dennis when I lost my beloved Uncle Dennis Banks, cofounder of the American Indian Movement, on Oct. 29, 2017. Myers understood the depth of our family’s loss—then, only four days later, Dennis Myers lost his son, David Wayne Myers Dean, at age 47. Last Christmas, I emailed a pair of season’s greetings to Dennis; the

first included quotes from Groucho Marx’s 1953 Christmas letter to Fred Allen, saying, “Now the melancholy days have come ... So you see, the life of a rich man isn’t all beer and skittles. ... We, too, have our troubles, just the same as the lowly commoner and the shepherd in the hills.” Dennis replied with his customary style of sharing the real story behind the story, replying: “About 60 years ago, Groucho wrote, ‘The last days of the newspapers seem to be rushing towards us with frightening speed,’ and added, with first-person perspective, ‘It took a while, but that sentence is now accurate.’” The second holiday email I sent to Dennis was intended to make him laugh: “It just occurred to me,” I wrote, “a sugarplum is really just a fancy prune. Merry Christmas anyway!” In steadfast fashion, even Myers’ emails were likely fact-checked to perfection—and his capacity to memorize voluminous facts, which were likely already in the vault, was a vivid representation of how well-read, intelligent and savvy he was—and he promptly replied with a message that will forever make me smile: “Actually, sugarplums are a type of hard candy.

The term dates from the 17th century. You’re right that it makes a difference what we call things, though.” In my Anishinabe culture, we don’t say goodbye—we say something in the nature of, “See you later.” So to you, Dennis Myers, my honored friend and deeply respected colleague, I say, “Be seeing you” on the other side. Wishelle Banks is a former contributor to the Reno News & Review.

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Kat Kerlin

William Puchert

It was such an honor to work with Dennis during my five years at RN&R. I was first introduced to him at an office party. I arrived all eager and earnest for the job. He told me “I should have gotten out of this business a long time ago.” (Oh ... kay ... welcome to Reno to me, I guess! I thought.) We’re all better off for Dennis having stayed in the business. Far from the grumpy guy I saw in that first impression, I came to find that Dennis Myers was a warm, loyal, dedicated writer and friend. A consummate newsman, yes. But also the man who doted on my daughter when she was a baby. On the occasions when I brought her to work, he would sit right down on the floor with her, talking very gently as he helped her stack blocks. I’ll never forget that image of the two of them. Long after I left RN&R, I’d get emails from Dennis checking in on me and my family, apologizing to my kids for the future we are leaving them. I will miss his Christmas card this year, which has still found its way to my office desk all these years later. Other little memories: Dennis walking across the street with his nose in a book. Dennis inside his office piled high with books. He had a little TV in there and a bunch of VHS tapes. When I saw them, I thought, oh, maybe he’s looking at archival footage for news reports. But no, sometimes he’d just be in there watching Westerns. Or napping. But he was no slouch. Always working, always reading, always writing, always hoping the world would come to its senses.

When I was a reporter for the Sparks Tribune, where Dennis Myers’ column appeared, I was the education reporter. Truckee Meadows Community College was experiencing a budget hole in the beginning of the Spring 2000 semester, which administrators chose to fill by raiding the accounts of student fees. Because I had spent numerous years there previously as a student and served as student newspaper editor and in student government, I was pretty resourceful in developing sources and reported that the root of the problem was due to fiscal mismanagement. Dennis started covering the story for KOLO News Channel 8, which gave the story a wider audience and gave my story attribution. This infuriated the TMCC administrators and led them to demand I be chaperoned by their Public Information Office staff when I came back on campus. When I told him of their requirement, he laughed and told me to ignore them, encouraged me not to be intimidated and told me I was doing my job as a good reporter. Dennis not only set the bar for being a hard nose journalist, but taught by example. The best teachers always do.

Kat Kerlin is a former Special Projects Editor of the RN&R who now works for the University of California, Davis.

Frankie Sue DelPapa When a contemporary dies that one has known for over 50 years, it’s natural, I think, to pause and reflect not only on that person but on one’s own mortality. As for me, I will remember Dennis, not only for his journalistic talents, but for his love of Reno and Nevada; for his smile and slight laugh, and his quirky sense of humor. Dennis was simply one of the best-ever “good guys.” Dennis C. Myers was a prize for us all. He will be missed.

William Puchert is a former staff writer of the Sparks Tribune.

Georgia Fisher Dennis and I had desks next to one another at the old RN&R office, and the closest window was always covered in streams of fresh pigeon shit. The situation disgusted everyone else, but for us, it was worthwhile because we got to see the pigeons come and go, and we really did love them, and it’s not like it was anyone else’s window anyway. Then one day, Dennis was like, “Look up at the nest.” The pigeons had babies! He even took a picture.

Frankie Sue DelPapa is a former Secretary of State of Nevada and a former Attorney General of Nevada.

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After the chicks flew away—and I do hope that’s what happened— whoever managed the property put up those spiky pigeon-diverter things and cleaned the window. Dennis looked completely crushed. I was, too. I know it’s a silly story, but it’s one that puts tears in my eyes. Y’all need to know that this fearless man also saw great beauty and sweetness in everyday things. Dennis had this vibe like he was a loner—it was convincing, too—but then every time we’d walk to lunch or whatever, someone would wave or start hugging on him. One time it was the mayor. Georgia Fisher is a Former Special Projects Editor of the RN&R.

Dan Klaich So sorry to hear of the passing of my friend—sometimes antagonist—and classmate Dennis Myers. Dennis was a brilliant and fearless journalist. When Dennis published a story, folks took notice because they knew that Dennis had done his homework, invariably had his facts right, and reported with professional integrity. Dennis loved journalism and did his chosen profession proud. He will be particularly missed by his profession, which sorely needs more people like Dennis Myers in its ranks. Dan Klaich is a former Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Dylan Riley I worked with Dennis Myers at KOLO and the RN&R. My favorite story about Dennis involved both of us, and both of those news organizations. I had recently applied for a job as a web reporter at KOLO and had just received an offer of employment. On the way home, I stopped by UNR Police Services to find out more about the Brianna Denison investigation. I was greeted

with a great deal of suspicion and interrogated on more than one occasion and even had to submit to a DNA test. That was the climate during that time, and it cost me the new job at KOLO. I told Dennis and Brian Burghart what happened, and they said I should write a story for the RN&R. Dennis anticipated more tension with the police and quickly wrote me a letter of permission on RN&R stationary to be allowed on campus on behalf of the RN&R. It read: “To whom it may concern: Dylan Riley is reporting on campus affairs for the Reno News & Review. Any questions regarding him should be directed to me at DennisM@ Newsreview.com. Thank you, Dennis Myers.” He signed it and put it in an envelope and told me to keep it with me at all times. This helped me write my story “A shadow over campus,” which I probably couldn’t have done without him. Dylan Riley is a former contributor to the Reno News & Review.

Jan Gilbert As an advocate for economic and social justice at the Nevada Legislature for 30 years, I often worked with Dennis Myers. Dennis was always there for the issues least covered by most TV stations. And he always wrote in-depth articles about the plight of single women with children. One time he was covering a bill to change welfare in Nevada and came to the ranch where I lived to speak to a longtime advocate for low-income women, Maya Miller. And he’d brought a camera crew. I greeted him and told him Maya was out of town so he insisted on interviewing me even though I was not prepared and dressed in my most casual costume. He was relentless. I knew if an issue was being covered by Dennis Myers, both sides would be heard. Always professional. Jan Gilbert is a co-founder of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Carol Cizauskas Dear Dennis, I thought you would live the nine lives multiplied by all the cats you’ve rescued over the years. I remember the time your undetected ulcer was bleeding the life out of you. We sat over dinner at our favorite, Mama Casale’s Halfway Club, your face paler than

typing paper. The next day, the ER docs said had you lost any more blood internally, you wouldn’t have made it. But you came back to fight, and to write, another day—another many, many days. You once asked me what I would do with all the money I could ever hope for. I started dreaming aloud of the marvelous trips I’d take and of the freedom I’d have to pursue any career dream. “What would you do with all the money you could hope for, Dennis?” “I’d buy each of my friends a home.” I knew you meant it. Over the years and dozens of stories I wrote under your green editor’s pen, we made it work. Years after our love relationship grew into friendship, you nominated me for the Nevada Press Association best news story of the year. I won that award, one of the finest moments of my life. You were like that, giving many people the finest moments of their lives. Our greatest pain happened when I moved away for a promotion. That final morning together in Richland, January 2006, we sat in a Denny’s. We could barely eat for sobbing. Over the years after I moved back to Reno, you and I continued seeing each other, now friends as deep as before we were lovers. We laughed the same. We thought nearly the same on politics and peace and movies. We fought the same. People thought we were married. Years later, I did marry. You couldn’t have been happier for me and for Don. As my best man, you toasted us unparalleled at our wedding reception. After moving to Madison, my life grew hard. It’s a harsh environment here, as I told you on more than one phone call. The weather is brutal, the culture cold. But worst of all were the deaths. I’ve lost two friends, a cousin and a brother. After my absence by phone and email for nearly a year, I called you a few weeks ago to share all my sadness. Dennis, you weren’t always the best at comforting me, but this time you were there for me. Your heart was full of the tenderness so many of us knew and loved. You spoke words of healing, and once again, I felt as connected to you as before. The years and miles melted away through the crackly cell call, and I was once again at home with you, my dear friend. Now you are gone, but you live in my heart. You are Nevada. You are a journalist’s journalist. You are a friend


to the poor and the powerless. You are a friend to all who knew your heart. I love you. Carol Cizauskas moved to Reno in 1990 and worked as a public radio and print reporter, a corporate trainer, and a political staffer for Bernie Sanders.

Lise Mousel Dennis was increasingly frustrated with the limitations of broadcast news. When he and I were in our more incipient days, we generally had about 1:45 for packages (the stories in which reporters lay down a voice track and edit video over it, complete with soundbites). The only times I ever saw Dennis angry—and really, it was more frustration—was when he wanted more time for his stories and was refused. He argued endlessly about how he couldn’t possibly cover the legislature in such a short amount of time. His stories routinely ran at least :30 seconds longer than their allotted time, and often were longer than that. Plus, as he was running back to the station last-minute to put his stories together, they were turned in at the last possible second, giving the producers no time to hand them back and tell him to shorten them. Dennis was responsible for countless days of shortened sports casts or time stolen from the weather, which did not endear him to our sports or weather teams. His retort was, “How long does it take to say ‘clear and sunny’?” As the news became more and more beholden to advertisers, and Dennis was given less leeway in his story times, he came up with a new idea. If they wouldn’t give him the time he wanted, he’d simply talk as fast as he possibly could. The result were many stories that were barely understandable because his voice track sounded like an auctioneer on amphetamines. It was comical. But Dennis was determined, and refused to give an inch on what he considered important information. It was no surprise that he returned to his great love, print! Lise Mousel is a former local TV anchor.

D. Brian Burghart Dennis Myers only had one boss. Dennis was a genuinely nice guy. He melted around children and small animals. He never forgot a kindness. He liked horrible showtunes. He remembered birthdays. He wrote “thank you” notes. I think everyone who knew him in more than passing

ways are going to have stories about how he’d get down on the floor with their puppy or tickle their toddler’s toes. A lot of friends will tell stories about his naive heart, and a lot of colleagues will talk about his speaking of truth to power. But what about when, by virtue of your title, you were “the power”? What about when, by virtue of your title, you were his “superior”? Dennis Myers had no superiors in the newsroom, factually or metaphorically. And if you were “the power” because you were a rung higher on the corporate ladder, he spoke truth to you. His integrity was his boss. I don’t mean to sound too rhapsodic, because his integrity wasn’t something he ever spoke about. He’d never pound his finger on the AP stylebook or shake the SPJ Code of Ethics at you. His integrity was like gravity: It couldn’t be seen, but its effects were incontrovertible. Dennis’ journalism was forged in the years leading up to the Vietnam War. He learned his craft at the desk of Walter Cronkite. Dennis learned things in those high school and college years that never grew stale for him. News stories’ lengths were defined not by the space allocated to them, but by the stories themselves. News photos were to be candids; smiles into the camera were frowned upon. Deadlines were more than suggestions, but the higher purpose was the quality of what appeared on newsprint. The idea that news could be decided three months in advance so that photographers could be scheduled, covers designed, deadlines met? Preposterous. News happened when it happened. Period. But the boss of a weekly newspaper could put Dennis’ name on the schedule and know that he was going to have something. And a couple of times a year, it would be amazing. He couldn’t take a photo, right? The guy had 20 years as a television reporter. He did his own reporting, camera work and editing. Just look at the photography attached to his news stories. Of course he could take a photo. But he took more shots of the backs of people’s heads than any reporter in history. And he did that because he was documenting “The News,” and “The News” was not concerned with who was taking pictures. He was meticulous about his facts. He chose to express things in a particular manner. His editors were well advised to watch what they trimmed for space up high because Dennis’ logic flowed like lava flows,

and editors who cut early sentences would find themselves adrift farther down the story. Where Dennis was concerned, Dennis’ managers had two jobs. The first was to get between him and those advertisers, politicians and bosses would hamstring his efforts. The second was to enable him to follow his boss’ directions. I’m honored to have been Dennis Myers’ enabler for a time. We all know what happens to nice guys. They may die without a house or a car or a 401(k). But a life serving integrity gets a guy like Dennis one thing at the end of it: the admiration of people who respect integrity. Dennis Myers may have only had one boss, but that boss will be forever proud of him. D. Brian Burghart is the former editor/ publisher of the Reno News & Review. He’s the executive director of Fatal Encounters Dot Org and a research specialist at the University of Southern California.

Al & Annie Olsen Our kids have known “Uncle” Dennis Myers from day one of their lives. Perhaps you know them from his Christmas cards as the “Pals.” Many days, when Uncle Dennis came to visit, the real reason was to take one or more of them for a walk. One of his favorite destinations was Manzanita Lake at UNR. In 1990, our family moved to Algeciras, Spain, and visits to Manzanita Lake were no more. In December 1991, Dennis decided to visit us and spend time with his pals around Christmas. That was one of his favorite times and we always looked forward to what gift he would find for us and wrap in his trademark green wrapping paper. One morning during that visit, he asked if he could use Al’s mountain

bike. He knew that Al would often use it to ride into town to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Lunch time came and went with no word from Dennis. This wasn’t unheard of, but it got us concerned as to where he might be. To our knowledge, he had zero Spanish language skills to help him if he got into trouble. By the time the last rays of the day shone over the hills, we had visions of Dennis being either locked up in some Spanish jail or in a hospital somewhere. Just about then, he rolled up the street without a care in the world. “Where have you been? We’ve been really worried about you!” “I rode to Gibraltar so I could get my passport stamped. Why were you worried?” It was about 13 miles each way just to get to the border of Gibraltar. Annie Opitz Olsen first met Dennis around 1975 while at UNR. This friendship later expanded to include Annie’s husband, Al Olsen, and eventually their three children, who appeared on Dennis’ Christmas cards. As in, “Dennis Myers and pals.”

Carolyn Olsen-Landis I don’t remember meeting him because I was only a few hours old when I met him. He’s always just been there. For everything. The graduations and weddings. The funerals and memorial services. The birthdays and holidays. Every birthday, we’d each get a gift from him so we could all participate. Wrapped in green paper. Addressed in green ink. From Uncle Duck. He never missed a single birthday. I always knew he loved me and my siblings. I knew we meant a lot to him. But it wasn’t until he was gone that I understood more fully how much we meant to him. How much I meant to him. There were photos of us everywhere: at his apartment, at his desk, on his filing cabinets. He kept anything that would help him stay connected to us. Every time I saw him, he always reminded me that “There’s still room for a few more in Reno.” Sometimes it felt like guilt. Other times, it felt like longing for one of us to move back.

Other times, it felt like it was the thing he was always compelled to say. Now I know he was simply stating what he wanted to happen. I don’t know how we got so lucky that he chose us, but we did. Because we moved around a lot, we didn’t have lasting childhood friends. We had Uncle Dennis, who’d been there with us emotionally through every move. He made effort to connect with us that even our grandparents didn’t. He was a childhood friend. He was our sibling, another parent, an uncle, a grandparent and cousin all rolled up in one. He taught me through his actions. I’ve learned so much about integrity and doing the right thing from how he lived. He is one of the most ethical people I have ever met, without being preachy or endlessly philosophical. Simply practical and grounded in how he approached life. The right things were fixing injustices against women and minorities, standing up to powerful people and institutions, speaking up for those who had been silenced, being kind to others, caring for animals, seeking the truth in complex situations. He lived those beliefs. He didn’t have to say he believed in them to teach me. I felt like a celebrity when he was around because he documented everything from airport arrivals to Thanksgiving meals. And he never missed an opportunity to get a photo together. During those times we were together, he’d take time with each one of us. Every walk we went on like that, he always asked me the same question, “Are you happy?” Even though I knew it was coming, it always caught me by surprise and made me think. He always made me think, though that wasn’t why he asked. His primary concern was always my well-being. He was a very private person, so private that I rarely got many stories about him out of him, either in person or over email. So when I learned that I was one of the subjects he frequently talked about, that everyone knew about, I felt humbled and overwhelmed. Humbled that he chose us. Humbled that he so frequently thought and spoke so highly of me, when I had simply taken his presence for granted. I’m overwhelmed by his consistent care and love for me throughout my entire life. I’ve never met anyone like him. There will only ever be one Dennis Myers. Carolyn Olsen-Landis was one of Dennis Myers’ pals. Ω

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by MaRK EaRnEST

The St. Anthony Greek Dancers have been around for 20 years and are always a top feature of the annual Reno Greek Festival. COURTESY/KIRSTI SETTaS

In step Saint Anthony Greek Dancers Kirsti Settas, dance coordinator for the Saint Anthony Greek Dancers, was talking about the full performance schedule her 11-dancer troupe is going to tackle this weekend. Their work is one of the established highlights of the Reno Greek Festival, and she got out her schedule to see how many times they’ll be dancing. “There are 11 total,” Settas said of the performances, which caused one of her fellow dancers, Nick Schaffer, nearby to wince a little bit, much to the laughter of his fellow dancers. It’ll be Schaffer’s first time dancing with the group. “I never counted how many there were before now,” he said. Still, Schaffer and the other dancers feel confident about their busy weekend showcasing Greek dance to hundreds of festival-goers. “We start practicing in June,” said Bebis. “When it’s down to the last two weeks, the stress and the anxiety can kick in, but we always manage to work together to get the timing right and everything.” The Saint Anthony Greek Dancers have been together for 20 years, while the festival itself has been around for 32 years. The festival features Greek food and drink, live music and tours of its host church, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church. The seven women and four men in troupe range in age from teens to 30s. There are also three middle-school-age dancers who will join the larger group for several dances during the event. 24

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Bebis has been doing Greek dance for five years, while Settas and Rocha have been dancing for four years each. Bebis and Settas are from Greek heritage and attend the church, while Rocha and Schaffer do not. The latter two were drawn into the dance troupe via friends. “Last year, I went to the Greek festival in Tahoe [at Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort], and I did one of the dances where everyone joins in, and that was a lot of fun,” Schaffer said. “And then, one of my friends is part of the group here, and he kind of convinced me.” As it happens, it didn’t take much prodding. “I’ve always wanted to learn some sort of dancing,” Schaffer said. “I’m not very good at it, but this is a chance that I can actually try to learn it. I think I’m getting better.” The rest of the dancers confirmed Schaffer’s progress, including Rocha. She is a Catholic and said she’s grown to love being involved with Greek Orthodox tradition. “Even though it’s a different religion, it seems relatable,” Rocha said. “The dancing part of the traditions here are super fun. They don’t care if you are Greek or not. You are welcome to dance.” “Other people learn how to dance oneon-one, but I like how everyone can join in Greek dancing,” Bebis said. “The steps are really simple, and you can learn just by watching them for 15 minutes, and you can get the hang of it as you go along. Greek dancing is so welcoming.” While Bebis often visits Greece to see her family, Settas said she’d like to go there someday. “I don’t really speak Greek, so this is my way being touch with part of my heritage,” she said. Settas said the group performs two styles of dance—traditional and modern Greek dances like you would see in Greece today. The dancers are also hoping to compete next year in a Greek dance competition in California. Ω

The Saint anthony Greek Dancers perform throughout the day during the Reno Greek Festival. It takes place from 5-10 p.m. Sept. 6, noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 7 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 8. Learn more at renogreekfest.com/ greek-dancing.


BY BOB GRIMM

b g ri m m @ne w s re v i e w . c o m

SHORT TAKES

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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

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Good Boys

While the poster for Hobbs & Shaw declares it is presented by Fast & Furious, it has very little in common with that franchise other than the participation of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their characters from the Furious films. In other words … rejoice! … the leaden, dreary Vin Diesel is nowhere to be seen in this movie! Hobbs & Shaw is a bizarre hybrid of spy thrillers, action pics and science fiction. While Fast & Furious movies are certainly outlandish, they remain somewhat grounded in reality, except for my personal favorite sequence of a car jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper. This movie goes totally off the rails of realism. It’s too damn long, but when it works, it works well. It also functions as a comedy in that Johnson and Statham have great timing and work really well together. Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) find themselves protecting Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby of Mission: Impossible – Fallout), after she injects herself with something that will have worldwide consequences if she’s captured. It all comes together in a big, dumb summer fun kind of way.

Soaped up I cried like a damn baby watching this movie. So, there you go. After the Wedding has the dubious distinction of having the lion’s share of its dialogue delivered by Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup. That’s a solid pedigree for starters. This remake of a 2006 Swedish film has a soap opera plot for sure, but you won’t care when it gets a little melodramatic. Williams does so much with facial expressions in this movie, it’s otherworldly. As Isabel, a woman visiting New York in an effort to raise funds for her charity, she reminds us of the power of simple expressions. She also reminds us that she’s a master at blowing the roof off the house with volume if the script calls for it. As Theresa, the businesswoman who might find herself cutting a big check for Isabel and her overseas orphanage, Moore doesn’t just match Williams’s power, she merges with it and blows the shit out of the acting meter, if such a thing exists. (It doesn’t. … I made it up.) Moore simply destroys in the role, whether her character is quietly closing a deal or getting super drunk at lunch. (Moore is also good when the script calls for volume.) This is one of those movies where I really can’t tell you too much about it. Yes, it has a wedding in it, as the title implies. Grace (Abby Quinn), famous artist and daughter of Theresa and Oscar (Crudup), is getting married to lame guy Frank (Will Chase). Circumstances call for Isabel to attend the wedding, and, well, lots of things happen after the wedding, as the title implies. The movie gets progressively nutty, blasting right off the reality train tracks and going off into the land of “This only happens in the movies.” And, yet, I couldn’t help but be deeply moved by what transpires, silly as it was. Again, credit Williams, Moore and Crudup for that. It bends logic, has plot holes and throws a mystery at you that seems a little more than implausible. And, yet, I wept watching this thing. I’m not saying you

“Hello? ... No. For the last time, this is not Justin Bieber.”

will weep. You might watch this movie, and at those moments where you get the cue to weep simply say aloud, “Grimm, you are a stupid pussy!” Well, I accept your pussy remark, and stand proudly by the fact that this movie made me cry like a kid who had his Etch-a-Sketch taken away. I realize that the toy reference is a bit dated. I was a child of ’70s. Piss off. Sorry … after a good cry, I can be a little cranky. I watched this on a home screener, and so I am literally writing this while the tears are still drying on my stupid, fat face. My dog is looking at me all like, “Come on, dude. You have to have bigger balls than that. You are a pussy. Give me food.” Come Oscar time, I’m not too sure After the Wedding will get a lot of fanfare. While the performances are as good as anything that has hit screens so far this year, the script is straight out of Days of Our Lives. And, yet, cry I did. Have I told you that this movie made me cry? I think I did. Oh, yes, I most certainly did. OK, I’m almost to the end of my review and I think I’ve done a damn fine job of not revealing too much about the plot and stuff. This is the part where I will talk about the fine camerawork to kill off some extra word space. The camerawork is really good in this movie. Actually, I’m not just saying that to eat up words in my review even though that is actually what I’m doing. The camerawork really is top notch. All right, so this is the final paragraph, and I do realize that most of this wasn’t really a review. Go see After the Wedding if you want to cry, or you simply want some extra fuel to make fun of me with in the event that it doesn’t make you cry. Go ahead. Call me names. I’ve had a good cry, and I’m feeling mighty vulnerable. Ω

After the Wedding

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You have to have big balls to release a movie like Good Boys in today’s PC environment. Kids swear like sailors, unknowingly sniff anal beads and run across busy highways without looking both ways in this movie. It might just be the winner for child-delivered profanity when it comes to cinema, easily topping the likes of the original The Bad News Bears. Actually, delete the word “might.” It’s the winner for sure. Sweetheart Jacob Tremblay, the cute little dude from Room, goes full stank mouth mode as Max. He’s a member of the Beanbag Boys (they call themselves that because, well, they have beanbags), along with pals Lucas (scene-stealing Keith L. Williams) and Thor (wildly funny Brady Noon). Their junior high social activities consist of bike rides and card games, but things are taken up a notch when they are invited to a party that will include a—gasp—kissing game. The Beanbag Boys get themselves into trouble involving the ruination of Max’s dad’s (Will Forte) drone, a predicament that involves a stash of Molly/ Ecstasy pills and two older, meaner girls, Hannah and Lily (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis). The goal to reach the kissing party unscathed, and with a bottle of beer so that they look cool, is blocked by many tween drama obstacles.

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Ready or Not

After some strong but smallish roles in Ash vs Evil Dead and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Samara Weaving gets a lead role and totally kills it in Ready or Not. As Grace, a newlywed who has one of the worst wedding days in cinema history—right up there with Uma Thurman in Kill Bill—Samara is so good it makes you wonder how she hasn’t had more big starring roles in the 11 years she’s been acting. She commands the screen with a fierce, comedic energy that helps make Ready or Not a memorable, if predictable, horror/thriller show. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, the movie is a scathing indictment of the rich and the institution of marriage, all in good fun, of course. When we meet Grace (Weaving, niece of Hugo), she’s about to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), and enter into a very rich family. That family, led by Tony (Henry Czerny) and Becky (Andie MacDowell), has built its empire upon board games and sports teams, so their requirement that Grace play a game with them on her wedding night, while wacky, does make a little sense. As part of tradition, Grace must draw a card from a mystery box and determine which game she must play with her new in-laws. The card she draws: Hide and Seek. As it turns out, she would’ve been much better off drawing chess or checkers.

5

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Spider-Man: Far from Home

The ninth movie from Quentin Tarantino is a dreamy doozy, his most unapologetically Tarantinian film yet. History and conventionality be damned, for QT is behind the camera, and he favors mayhem and a little thing called artistic license. Set in 1969, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood captures the ’60s film scene and culture as they are dying, and they most certainly die hard. Making a run at Newman and Redford, we get Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as insecure, has-been actor Rick Dalton and his trusty stuntman, Cliff Booth, respectively. Dalton’s career has devolved into playing the bad guys on TV’s The F.B.I. while past-his-prime and blackballed Booth is relegated to driving him around and being his confidante. The setup allows Tarantino to go hog wild with the ’60s visuals and soundtrack. Hollywood is a monumental achievement on the art and sound direction fronts. Some of Tarantino’s soon-to-be most famous shots are in this movie. The looks and sounds are so authentic that you might wonder if Dalton and Booth were real people. They were not, but they’re based on folks like Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood and Hal Needham. The end of the ’60s was bona fide nutty times, and this is a nutty movie. It also manages to be quite heartfelt and moving.

Alvin Schwartz’s collection of short horror stories for kids gets a big-screen attempt with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, directed by Andre Ovredal and produced by Guillermo del Toro. The three original books gathered together some stories from folklore and urban legend, with Schwartz putting his own spin on them, even instructing young readers on how to scare their friends while reading them aloud. They were micro-short, they were sometimes grisly, and they had no connective thread. Rather than do an anthology movie, like a Creepshow for kids, Ovredal and del Toro opt for a framing device that is a direct nod, one could say rip-off, of the Stranger Things/Stephen King’s It nostalgia genre involving plucky kids dealing with various horrors. The resultant film feels derivative, disconnected and quite boring, a bunch of decent ideas crammed into a storyline that just doesn’t work. The gimmick attempting to hold everything together is the story of Sarah Bellows (not a character in the books), an abused, long-deceased girl whose journal of stories is discovered by the aforementioned plucky teens led by Stella (Zoe Colletti) in 1968. Others in the group include Auggie, the slightly intellectual guy (Gabriel Rush); Chuck, the goofy guy (Austin Zajur); and Ramon, the mysterious newbie (Michael Garza). All the group really needs is a young, quiet girl with a short haircut and an affinity for Eggos, and the Stranger Things circuit would be complete.

Tom Holland cements his status as bestever Spider-Man with what amounts to the goofiest, but still major fun, Spider-Man movie yet. Jon Watts once again directs as Peter Parker looks to vacation with his friends after the events of Endgame, traveling to Europe and leaving his superhero responsibilities behind. When a strange breed of elemental monsters start striking the planet, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) interrupts Peter’s sojourn and gets him back into the swing of things. Jake Gyllenhaal gets into the shenanigans as Mysterio, a crime fighter from another dimension that slides right into the Tony Stark mentor role. Holland is good fun as Spidey, giving him a nice, youthful effervescence to go with his comic timing. Zendaya rules as MJ, Jon Favreau gets a lot more screen time—it’s a good thing!—as Happy, and the film doesn’t have nearly enough Marisa Tomei. It’s a bit lightheaded at times, but it’s the sort of breezy affair that the Marvel universe needed to get things revved up again.

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by ToDD SouTh

Thai Chili serves a Drunken Fried Rice, loaded with tofu, peppers and broccoli.

Fit to be Thai’d Most independent restaurants are fortunate to survive more than five years, and location famously matters. Defying the odds, and well before south of downtown Virginia Street became “midtown,” Thai Chili opened in what could be considered the seediest part of the neighborhood. Honestly, how is there still a XXX theater anywhere in 2019? Ahem. Lasting 15 years and now a part of what has become the trendiest zone in town, my daughter and I set out to discover the reason for Thai Chili’s longevity. The menu is pretty expansive, taking us a moment or two to peruse. My daughter said she can’t do Thai without spring rolls ($5.95), which were fat with shrimp, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, carrot and rice noodles. The warm peanut sauce was plentiful, chunky and mild, and the rice paper had the right amount of give without being chewy or gummy. Similarly, I can’t skip ordering satay ($6.95)—skewered and grilled chicken breast meat marinated in spices and coconut milk, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad. Both were a great start. I’ve experienced both good and marginal Thai “stuffed chicken wings,” but the angel wings ($9.95) were aptly named. Golden breaded exterior stuffed with shrimp, chicken, bean thread noodle, carrot, onion, mushroom and cabbage, served with a slightly spicy tamarind marmalade. A bone sticking out of one end was the only thing indicating these loaves of tasty, reconstructed crispiness started out as a wing. With Thai or Indian, it’s common to be asked how spicy you want your food to be, as in “one to five,” but we weren’t given the option on this occasion. An order of combo pad Thai ($14.95) with rice noodles pan-fried with egg, red onion, scallion, bean 26   |   RN&R   |   09.05.19

PHOTO/ALLISON YOUNG

sprout, peanut, shrimp, chicken, pork and beef was pretty good, but tamarind sweet and a little bland. To my taste, it was much better punched up with some chili sauce. Drunken fried rice with tofu ($10.95)—a mix of pan-fried rice, garlic, onion, bell pepper, chili paste, basil, mushroom, baby corn, cabbage, broccoli and firm tofu (or meat of your choice)—was on the other end of the spectrum, full of fire and flavor. I loved the spicy rice and its constituents, but the marinated tofu was tough, flavorless and unappealing. I enjoy firm tofu done well, but this wasn’t it. I’m lucky to have gotten a few bites of the seafood ginger ($14.95), because my daughter loved it so much. Who can blame her, with a delicious, perfectly cooked mix of shrimp, scallop, mussel, krab, squid, ginger, garlic, onion, bell pepper, scallion, white and straw mushroom in a savory gravy. It had the right amount of fire, excellent ingredients and was an all-around perfectly enjoyable dish for a seafood fanatic. My “Hail Mary” choice was duck curry with pineapple ($15.95), because duck can be a real shot in the dark, and I’m infrequently fond of pineapple in savory surroundings. Color me pleasantly surprised. Despite the canned-tasting pineapple, the tender roasted duck had not a hint of gaminess—and the tomato, bell pepper and Thai basil simmered in medium spicy red curry sauce was excellent. Despite myself, I took to dipping chunks of pineapple in the sauce to enjoy on their own. It’s perhaps my new favorite use for pineapple, and a flavor combination that would stand on its own as either dessert or breakfast. Ω

Thai Chili

1030 S. Virginia St., 786-7878

Thai Chili is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Learn more at thaichilireno.com.


by MaTT BiEkEr

m a t t b @ne w s re v i e w . c o m

“We love our friends and we love our audience,” said Mac Esposito, one-third, alongside Greg Lewis and Chris Sexton, of the Peanuts Gang Trio. Photo/courtesy chris sexton

Good grief Peanuts Gang Trio The Peanuts Gang most people know includes the likes of Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Charlie Brown and his dog, Snoopy. The one you might not be familiar with includes Nick Sexton—instead of Schroeder—on keyboards, Greg Lewis’ percussion, and Mac Esposito on bass. Both groups are known for their love of jazz, but only the latter is set release its debut album Welcome In on Oct. 20. “Back in 2015, we all kind of shared our love for Vince Guaraldi and the music that he wrote for Charles Schulz’ Peanuts Christmas cartoon series and decided to get together and learn all of that music and play during the month of December,” Sexton said. “It kind of just blew up since then.” Lewis, Sexton and Esposito met while studying in the University of Nevada, Reno’s jazz program and kept in touch throughout their individual music careers. They formed the Peanuts Gang Trio as a passion project and played a single show at the Holland Project they promoted as a Charlie Brown Christmas Concert—complete with milk and cookies. The trio chose Guaraldi’s work as a standout in a sometimes clichéd genre. “Just in general, like aside from all the ‘Jingle Bells’ and the Christmas standards, I feel like the

Vince Guaraldi Christmas music is very authentic because it’s original Christmas music,” Esposito said. After the Holland show in 2015, the Gang found its rhythm and started booking seasonal shows around Tahoe and the Truckee Meadows every year between Black Friday and the end of December. Through steady rehearsal, timely invoicing and ironclad scheduling, they found their passion project was becoming profitable and decided to do shows throughout all of 2019. “I think one of the reasons why we started taking it very seriously this past year was because it was the first year that all of us were out of school, and we were able to focus in, make that online presence and just communicate,” Sexton said. All three members see the Peanuts Gang Trio as a potential career band, filling a hole in a Reno market that is saturated with talented jazz musicians but lacking in formal arrangements. Making that transition away from a holiday band, though, meant diving deeper into the members’ repertoire for their original compositions, and their emphasis on variety became the foundation of Welcome In. “I wanted every song on the album to be its own thing and be a little bit different from the first track and kind of demonstrates each corner of what we can do,” Lewis said. “It’s like a little taste of everything,” Esposito added. “We have Latin, we have swing, blues, rhythm. We have straight-eights, kind of—I hate to even call it modern. It’s almost kind of like a rock feel.” Instead of a stuffy, technical performance, though, the trio said they want the album to replicate the live shows they’ve become known for over the past few years. “We love the audience,” Sexton said. “It’s all about being entertaining, and we wanted our EP to come across as very entertaining, almost like you’re in the room watching us play all these songs. Just the way that it’s produced, I feel like the album really captivates that feeling.” As is common in the jazz, though, the Peanuts Gang Trio is planning to improvise a little for this year’s holiday season as Lewis’ graduate studies took him to Los Angeles at the end of August. He still plans to play shows when he can though, at which point they might perform as a quartet with his yet-unnamed replacement. Ω

the Peanuts Gang trio will release their debut album Welcome in on oct. 20.

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THURSDAY 9/5

FRIDAY 9/6

1UP

132 West St., (775) 499-5655

Karaoke, 9pm, no cover

ALIBI ALE WORKS

10069 Bridge St., Truckee, (530) 536-5029

ALTURAS BAR

Will Clarke

1044 E. Fourth St., (775) 324-5050

Sept. 7, 10 p.m. BAR OF AMERICA 10040 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee, (530) 587-2626 1up 214 W. Commercial Row CARGO CONCERT HALL 255 N. Virginia St., (775) 398-5400 813-6689

Live music, 5pm, no cover

CEOL IRISH PUB

Comedy

COTTONWOOD RESTAURANT

10142 Rue Hilltop, Truckee; (530) 587-5711

DAVIDSON’S DISTILLERY 275 E. Fourth St., (775) 324-1917

Dance party, 10pm, $5

Karaoke, 9pm, W, no cover

Kayla Meltzer, 8pm, no cover

Cowboy Indian, The Grimtones, 9pm, no cover

Open Mic Night, 7:30pm, M, no cover Ike & Martin, 7pm, Tu, no cover

The Sun and The Mirror, Ozymandias, Hired Fun, 8pm, $5

Voodoo Cats, Wabuska Yachting Club, 8:30pm, $5

Deck Heads, 9pm, no cover

Deck Heads, 9pm, no cover

Kelly Bentson & Jeff, 6pm, no cover

Richard Blair, 6pm, no cover

Karaoke with Nightsong Productions, 8pm, no cover

Ritual (goth, industrial, EBM): DJs David Draven, Rusty, Davey Bones, 9pm, $3-$5

FACES NV

Girls Night Out with DJ Heidalicious, 10pm, $5

432 E. Fourth St., (775) 409-4431

239 W. Second St., (775) 470-8590 599 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City; (530) 583-3355

Karaoke Night, 9pm, no cover

Ryan Cassata, Jonny Rolling, B/P/D, Cole Adams, 8pm, $5

Young Blood, 6pm, $1

Reno Tahoe expRess neTwoRk InvITes you To Join the annual celebration recognizing the achievements of business women. • Network with northern Nevada professionals

• Enjoy lunch, raffles and a grand prize drawing

Proceeds help fund educational scholarships Presentation:

So Long Stress…We’re Breaking Up! Winning Your Battle against Stress There is only one person responsible for your life, and that’s YOU! Taking ownership of where you are today, gives you the authority to get where you aspire to be in the future. True success (at home, at work, or within your community) comes once you can confidently embrace your authentic story, welcome change, and advance forward. Staying on top of your emotional health in a high-stress environment is attainable and together we will explore the 8 steps it takes to get there – and stay there.

Thursday, 9/26/19 Mistress of Ceremonies Arianna Bennett Anchor & Reporter, Channel 2 News

1 1 a . m. -1 p. m. R e n o -Spa r k s Co n ve n t i o n C e nte r T i c ke t s $ 4 0 e a c h o r $ 3 0 0 ta b l e o f 8

Register now at www.renotahoe.abwa.org

sponsoRed In paRT by

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Wade Bowen, Dalton Domino, 8:30pm, Tu, $18 Traditional Irish session, 7pm, Tu, Wed. Night Showcase, 7pm, no cover

Scott Scheuerman Quartet, 7pm, no cover

846 Victorian Ave., Sparks; (775) 355-7711 140 Vesta St., (775) 448-6500

Post shows online by registerin g at www.newsr eview. com/reno. D eadline is the Frida y before public ation.

Panda, 8:30pm, no cover

GREAT BASIN BREWING CO. THE HOLLAND PROJECT

Sounds of the City: Scott Parsons, Phatman & Robin, 5pm, no cover

Reverse the Cycle, 9pm, no cover

2019 american Business Women’s day

keynote speaker Robin Brockelsby

Cole Adams, 9pm, no cover

DEAD RINGER ANALOG BAR

FAT CAT BAR & GRILL

MON-WED 9/9-9/11

Dance party, 10pm, $5

Solo Mash Confusion, 9pm, no cover

538 S. Virginia St., (775) 329-5558

Carson Comedy Club, Carson City Nugget, 507 N. Carson St., Carson City, (775) 882-1626: Bobby Tessel, Fri-Sat, 8pm, $15 Laugh Factory, Silver Legacy Resort Casino, 407 N. Virginia St., (775) 325-7401: Murray the Magician, Thu, Sun, 7:30pm, $21.95; Fri-Sat, 7:30pm, 9:30pm, $27.45; Jerry Garcia, Tue-Wed, 7:30pm, $21.95 LEX at Grand Sierra Resort, 2500 E. Second St., (775) 789-5399: Kabir “Kabeezy” Singh, Fri, 6:30pm, $10 The Library, 134 W. Second St., (775) 6833308: Sunday Night Comedy Open Mic, Sun, 8pm, no cover Pioneer Underground, 100 S. Virginia St., (775) 322-5233: Kabir “Kabeezy” Singh, Thu, 7:30pm, $10-$15; Fri, 9pm, $12-$17; Sat, 6:30pm, 9:30pm, $12-$17

SUNDAY 9/8

Will Clarke, Creedence, Zasz, Obi Wan Solo, 4 Bang, 10pm, $17-$20

214 W. Commercial Row, (775) 813-6689

5 STAR SALOON

SATURDAY 9/7

Anapathic, Edens Sleeves, Endless Rivals, For Your Health, Tolls, Opposite Ends, Hamma Sekki, Radiometric, 7pm, $5 TRVSH BXVT, 8pm, $5

OVER, Skew Ring, 8pm, W, $5


THURSDAY 9/5 JUB JUB’S THIRST PARLOR 71 S. Wells Ave., (775) 384-1652 1) Showroom 2) Bar Room

FRIDAY 9/6

SATURDAY 9/7

SUNDAY 9/8

MON-WED 9/9-9/11

1) J. Stalin, 7:30pm, $20

2) Hypnotic Death, Contortion, Qarin, 9pm, $5

1) Reno Hip Hop Community BBQ, 1pm, no cover

2) Principles, Doc Hammer, 8pm, M, $5 Daikaiju, 10pm, Tu, $5

LAUGHING PLANET CAFE

941 N. Virginia St., (775) 870-9633

Jazz Jam Session Wednesdays, 7:30pm, W, no cover

THE LOVING CUP

Motown on Mondays, 9pm, M, no cover

188 California Ave., (775) 322-2480

MIdTOwN wINE BAR

1527 S. Virginia St., (775) 800-1960

Gutter Demons Unplugged Thursdays, 6:30pm, no cover

MILLNENNIUM

La Sonora Dinamita, Banda Salvaje, 10pm, $TBA

2100 Victorian Ave., Sparks, (775) 507-1626

PIGNIC PUB & PATIO 235 Flint St., (775) 376-1948

LAF: Huckleberry Road, Chris Wyatt Scott, Stevi Cooper, Tim Styles, 8pm, $5

MagNicoSynth! First Friday Funk Fest, 9pm, no cover

THE POLO LOUNGE

DJ Trivia, 7:30pm, no cover

’80s Night with DJ Bobby G, 8:30pm, no cover

1559 S. Virginia St., (775) 322-8864

SHEA’S TAVERN

340 Kietzke Lane, (775) 686-6681

VIRGINIA STREET BREwHOUSE 211 N. Virginia St., (775) 433-1090

Poprockz ’90s Night with DJ Zive, 10pm, no cover

Frat Row hosted by Empress Sharpay, 10pm, no cover before 10pm, $5 after

Silent Disco, 10pm, $5

First Friday Funk, 8pm, no cover Ladies Night, 10pm, $0-$5

wHISKEY dICK’S SALOON

17. S. Virginia St., (775) 284-7455

Spaghetti Western II: Leroy Virgil, 5pm, $5 for spaghetti dinner, free for show

Dave Manning, 6pm, no cover

Mel Wade & Gia, 6pm, no cover

Sept. 7, 9:30 p.m. Shea’s Tavern 715 S. Virginia St. 786-4774

DJ Trivia, M, 7:30pm, no cover

DG Kicks, 8pm, Tu, no cover Chris Costa, 7pm, W, no cover Seax, Roadrash, Coffin Raid, 8:30pm, W, $5

Karaoke, 9pm, Tu, W, no cover

OVER

Wily Savage, The Will Shambergers, Greg Gilmore, Lauren Kershner, 9pm, no cover

2660 Lake Tahoe Blvd., S.L. Tahoe, (530) 544-3857

wILd RIVER GRILLE

Voted Best Bar—Voted Best Camp Takeover, 9pm, no cover

Gutter Demons, Drinking Machine Guns, The Sonic Dead, 9:30pm, $10-$12

715 S. Virginia St., (775) 786-4774

SPLASH RENO

Bingo w/T-N-Keys, 6:30pm, Tu, no cover Dave Mensing, 6pm, W, no cover

Deception, 8pm, no cover

Colin Ross, 6pm, no cover

Local Love (hip-hop open mic) with host Get Moneyyy, 10pm, W, no cover Eric Andersen, 2pm, no cover “Brother” Dan Palmer, 6pm, no cover

Sept. 11, 8 p.m. The Holland Project 140 Vesta St. 448-6500

Milton Merlos, 6pm, M, no cover Mel Wade & Gia, 6pm, Tu, no cover Erika Paul Duo, 6pm, W, no cover

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CArSON VALLEY INN 1627 Hwy. 395, Minden, (775) 782-9711 CaBaret NEON PLAYBOYS: Thu, 9/5, 7pm, Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 8pm, no cover

JAYSON ANGOVE: Tue, 9/10, Wed, 9/11, 8pm, no cover

SEP/6:

CIrCUS CIrCUS rENO

HOGS FOR THE CAUSE

Crystal Bay Casino presents the two-day event featuring New Orleans-inspired food and souful tunes. The original Hogs for the Cause began in New Orleans in 2009 as a benefit for the family of Ben Sarrat, a young boy with an incurable form of brain cancer. The charity event continues to financially aid the families of these children who have been afflicted with this disease. Hogs for the Cause is now one of the largest barbecue competitions and music festivals in the country. In 2014, Crystal Bay Casino General Manager Bill Wood met members of Silence of Da Lambs, one of the teams that compete in the annual event, while he was visiting New Orleans. He and crew stayed in touch and decided to bring the event to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in 2016. Now in its fourth year, Hogs For The Cause West will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, with a Steakhouse Gala, and will continue at noon on Saturday, Sept. 7, with the Hogs for the Cause BBQ Competition, featuring local teams smoking whole hogs and cooking other barbecue fare. There will also be a silent auction and music by funk-rock band Collectivity. Tickets for the Friday night gala are $125. Admission is free to the barbecue competition on Saturday. Proceeds from these events go to the Hogs for the Cause charity. The celebration wraps up with a concert featuring San Francisco’s Con Brio (pictured) and The Stone Foxes at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, in the Crown Room at the Crystal Bay Casino, 14 Highway 28, Crystal Bay. Tickets for the show are $20-$25. Call (775) 833-6333 or visit www.crystalbaycasino.com/hogs-for-the-cause.

500 n. sierra st., (775) 329-0711 eL JeFe’s Cantina

Patti LaBelle

SKYY HIGH FRIDAY WITH DJ MO FUNK: Fri, 9/6,

Sept. 6, 9 p.m. Grand Sierra Resort 2500 E. Second St. 789-2000

ATLANTIS CASINO rESOrT SPA 3800 s. VirGinia st., (775) 825-4700

10pm, no cover

REVEL SATURDAYS WITH DJ CHRIS ENGLISH: Sat, 9/7, 10pm, no cover

BOOMTOWN CASINO HOTEL

CaBaret

2100 Garson rd., Verdi, (775) 345-6000

CrYSTAL BAY CASINO

Grand BaLLrooM

14 HiGHway 28, CrystaL Bay, (775) 833-6333

QUEENSRŸCHE: Thu, 9/5, 8pm, $60-$100

CArSON CITY NUGGET

CaBaret AMERICAN MADE BAND: Thu, 9/5, Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 4pm, no cover

KICK: Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 10pm, Sun, 9/8, 8pm, no cover

THE VEGAS ROADSHOW: Mon, 9/9, Tue, 9/10,

Crown rooM CON BRIO WITH THE STONE FOXES: Sat, 9/7, 9pm, $20-$25

507 n. Carson st., Carson City, (775) 882-1626

FOZZY WITH JARED JAMES NICHOLS: Wed, 9/11,

tHe LoFt

red rooM

BLACK ROSE: Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 9pm, no cover

8pm, $20-$23

THE HUMIDORS: Fri, 9/6, 10pm, no cover

subm

b

a

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www.newsreview.com

ON YOUR SHOW OR EVENT

GET MORE EYES

post it on RN&R’S ONLINE CALENDAR

cal

en

da

r

c

it eve

nt!

Wed, 9/11, 8pm, no cover

LIVE MUSIC: Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 9pm, no cover


Post shows online by registering at www.newsreview.com/reno. Deadline is the Friday before publication.

HARRAH’S LAKE TAHOE

NUGGET CASINO RESORT

SiLVEr BaroN LoUNgE

15 highway 50, StatELiNE, (800) 427-7247

1100 NUggEt aVE., SParKS, (775) 356-3300

TAHOE BILTMORE

caSiNo cENtEr StagE

cELEBrity Showroom

TUESDAY NIGHT BLUES WITH THE BUDDY EMMER BAND: Tue, 9/10, 8pm, no cover

SIMPLY SHANIA: Sat, 9/7, 8pm, $25-$35

caSiNo FLoor

PEPPERMILL RESORT SPA CASINO

CHRIS COSTA: Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 8pm, no cover

HARRAH’S RENO 219 N. cENtEr St., (775) 786-3232

ELDORADO RESORT CASINO 345 N. VirgiNia St., (775) 786-5700 Showroom THE ILLUSIONISTS EXPERIENCE: Thu, 9/5, 7pm, Fri, 9/6, 8:30pm, Sat, 9/7, 5pm & 8:30pm, Sun, 9/8, 5pm, Tue, 9/10, Wed, 9/11, 7pm, $39.95-$59.95

GRAND SIERRA RESORT

Yo Yolie Sept. 7, 10 p.m. Peppermill Resort Spa Casino 2707 S. Virginia St. 826-2121

LEX FRIDAYS: Fri, 9/6, 10pm, $20

KEYSER SOZE: Thu, 9/5, 7pm, Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7,

karaoke

8pm, no cover

HARVEYS LAKE TAHOE

MAX MINARDI: Sun, 9/8, Mon, 9/9, Tue, 9/10,

18 highway 50, StatELiNE, (775) 588-6611

EdgE

Wed, 9/11, 6pm, no cover

Fat Cat Bar & Grill (Midtown District), 1401 S. Virginia St., (775) 453-2223: Karaoke with Chapin, Tue, 9pm, no cover

LATIN DANCE SOCIAL WITH BB & KIKI OF SALSA RENO: Fri, 9/6, 7pm, $10-$20, no cover

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND: Fri, 9/7:30, 6pm, $105.50

YO YOLIE: Sat, 9/7, 10pm, $20

harVEy’S caBarEt

SILVER LEGACY RESORT CASINO

HARD ROCK LAKE TAHOE

Thu, 8/29, 6pm, no cover

tErracE LoUNgE

wiLLiam hiLL racE aNd SPortS Bar

graNd thEatrE

THROWBACK THURSDAY WITH DJ SWERVE-1:

Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 7:30pm, $27-$37

2707 S. VirgiNia St., (775) 826-2121

LaKE tahoE oUtdoor arENa

2500 E. SEcoNd St., (775) 789-2000

LEX NightcLUB

THE GREAT AMERICAN VARIETY SHOW: Thu, 9/5,

5 hwy. 28, cryStaL Bay, (775) 831-0660

LEX SATURDAYS: Sat, 9/7, 10pm, $20 COUNTRY MUSIC NIGHTS & DANCE LESSONS: Thu,

PATTI LABELLE: Fri, 9/6, 9pm, $39.50-$105 JUANES: Sat, 9/7, 8pm, $47.50-$135

Sammy’S Showroom

DJ MO FUNK: Thu, 9/5, Sun, 9/8, 9pm, no cover

9/5, Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 10pm, no cover

50 highway 50, StatELiNE, (844) 588-7625 cENtEr Bar DJ SET: Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 9pm, no cover

AMIR K WITH JASON LAWHEAD: Thu, 9/5, Fri, 9/6, 9pm, $25, Sat, 9/7, 8:30pm & 10:30pm, $30, Sun, 9/8, 9pm, $25

FRANCISCOS RAMOS: Wed, 9/11, 9pm, $25

before 8pm

407 N. VirgiNia St., (775) 325-7401 graNd EXPoSitioN haLL RON WHITE: Fri, 9/6, 7pm & 10pm, $54.59-$63.76

rUm BULLioNS DJ R3VOLVER: Fri, 9/6, Sat, 9/7, 9pm, no cover

Pizza Baron, 1155 W. Fourth St., Ste. 113, (775) 329-4481: Wacky Wednesday Karaoke with Steve Starr & DJ Hustler, 9pm, no cover The Point, 1601 S. Virginia St., (775) 322-3001: Karaoke, Thu-Sat, 8:30pm, no cover Spiro’s Sports Bar & Grille, 1475 E. Prater Way, Ste. 103, Sparks, (775) 356-6000: Karaoke, Fri-Sat, 9pm, no cover West 2nd Street Bar, 118 W. Second St., (775) 348-7976: Karaoke, Mon-Sun, 9pm, no cover

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FOR THE WEEK OF sEpTEmbER 5, 2019 For a complete listing of this week’s events or to post events to our online calendar, visit www.newsreview.com. GEORGIA O’KEEFFE’S SKY: Brett M. Van Hoesen, associate professor of art history at the University of Nevada, Reno, will discuss O’Keeffe’s representation of the southwest sky in her paintings and fashion, as well as in photographs of the artist. Fri, 9/6, noon. $5 students, $10 general admission, free for NMA members. Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., (775) 329-3333, www.nevadaart.org.

GROW YOUR OWN, NEVADA!: University of

sEp/6:

GREAT RENO BALLOON RACE

About 100 colorful hot air balloons will fill up the morning sky this weekend as part of the 37th annual event. Thousands of bleary-eyed attendees will wake up in the chilly, predawn hours to attend the colorful spectacle, which includes highlights such as the Glow Show, Dawn Patrol and the mass ascension of hot air balloons. The event kicks off at 5 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, with the Super Glow Show, which showcases more than 35 balloons glowing and twinkling to music across the field, followed at 5:30 a.m. by Dawn Patrol, in which experienced pilots navigate their balloons in the dark. All balloons will take to the sky as the sun rises during the mass ascension at 7 a.m. The schedule repeats on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7-8, starting with the Glow Show at 5 a.m., Dawn Patrol at 5:30 a.m. and mass ascension at 7 a.m. The weekend festival will also feature tethered hot air balloon rides, competitions and food and craft vendors. The fun takes place at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra St. Admission is free. You can park at Rancho San Rafael for a $10 donation to the event. Free public parking near the park is limited, so visitors are encouraged to park at the University of Nevada, Reno’s north parking lots or take advantage of free RTC RIDE park-and-ride pickup points at Reed High School in Sparks, the RenoSparks Convention Center—Parking Lot C and the RTC Fourth Street Station in downtown Reno. Visit renoballoon.com.

EVENTs

CALEB S. CAGE READING AND SIGNING: The author reads from his latest book War Narratives: Shaping Beliefs, Blurring Truth in the Middle East. Thu, 9/5, 6:30pm. Free. Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Ave., (775) 786-1188, www.sundancebookstore.com.

AFTERNOON BOOK CLUB: The group meets to discuss This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Wed, 9/11, 2pm. Northwest Reno Library, 2325 Robb Drive, (775) 787-4100.

BOMBSHELL: Artemisia MovieHouse presents a screening of Alexandra Dean’s 2017 biographical documentary about the life of actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Sun, 9/8, 6pm. $5-9. Good Luck Macbeth Theatre, 124 W. Taylor St., artemisiamovies.weebly.com.

FALL FILM SERIES—BASEBALL: Churchill Arts Council’s fall film series kicks off with a screening of the 1984 film The Natural starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger and Robert Duvall. Fri, 9/6, 7:30pm. $10 general admission, $7 for CAC members. Barkley Theatre, Oats Park Art Center, 151 E. Park St., Fallon, (775) 423-1440, www.churchillarts.org.

CAMEL RACE TRAIN: Rediscover Nevada’s rich history in mining and mills on the V&T Railway Carson City-Virginia City route as you meander through tunnels, canyons and mining towns. The 24-mile round-trip tour includes a 5.5-hour stopover in historic Virginia City. Sat, 9/7, 8am-4:15pm. $35-$55. Carson City Eastgate Depot, 4650 Eastgate Siding Road, Carson City, (775) 291-0208, vtrailway.com.

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09.05.19

holds its monthly social event featuring live music by Guitar Woody and the Boilers, specialty refreshments and gallery viewing. Thu, 9/5, 5pm. $10, free for NMA members. Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., (775) 329-3333, www.nevadaart.org.

Nevada Cooperative Extension offers four classes from Sept. 10-Oct. 1 to help Nevadans who want to get on a path to more sustainable, local and healthy living by growing and preserving more of their own food. Classes are held live in Reno and via interactive video to Cooperative Extension offices statewide. Tue, 9/10, 6-8pm. $15 each class or $30 for all four classes. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 4955 Energy Way, www.growyourownnevada.com.

GUITAR STRINGS VS. CHICKEN WINGS: Six restaurants and six bands face off in their quest to win the “Best Wings” and “Best Band” categories. Restaurants will battle for the Wing vs. Wing Champion Trophy and bands will battle for a $500 cash prize. All proceeds from the event benefit the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science. Fri, 9/6, 4:30pm. $5-$80. The Village at Squaw Valley, 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, squawalpine.com.

INTERNATIONAL CAMEL & OSTRICH RACES: The 60th annual event features jockeys precariously perched on top of camels and ostriches as they maneuver the track at high speeds. Fri, 9/6, 3pm; Sat, 9/7, 10am & 2pm, Sun, noon. $8-$55. Virginia City Arena & Fairgrounds, (775) 847-5700, visitvirginiacitynv.com.

MYSTERY SLEUTHS: If you love mystery books, join this group and solve some popular mysteries. Call the North Valleys Library for this month’s title. Pick up a copy at the library and come to discuss it. Wed, 9/11, 5:45pm. Free. North Valleys Library, 1075 N. Hills Blvd., (775) 972-0281, events.washoecountylibrary.us.

PLUMAGE, COLORATION AND MATE CHOICE IN BIRDS: This talk will cover different types of feather colorations with examples of iconic birds of the western United States, such as the sage grouse and the mountain blue bird, and encompass the most recent theories in biology for mate choice such as the “honest signal” theory, the “ornament/armament” theory and sex role reversal. Sat, 9/7, 2pm. Free, $5 suggested donation per person. Galena Creek Visitor Center, 18250 Mount Rose Highway, (775) 849-4948.

RENO STREET FOOD—FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY: The weekly food truck events features over 30 rotating gourmet food, craft desserts, beer, wine and mixed drink vendors. Enjoy live music, free parking, a large playground and train rides for the kids. The event takes place every Friday night through Sept. 27. Fri, 9/6, 4pm. Free. Idlewild Park, 2055 Idlewild Drive, (775) 825-2665, www.facebook. com/RenoStreetFood.

SCIENCE DISTILLED—WATER, SCIENCE AND JUSTICE: Todd Robins, an attorney specializing in environmental law, will describe the legal tools he’s used to help drinking water providers in California’s Central Valley recover the costs of treating contaminated groundwater from responsible parties. Hydrologist Rina Schumer of the Desert Research Institute will explain the physics and chemistry of how contaminants move through groundwater from field to tap. She will describe the site-specific data and methods she uses to estimate how long pollution may persist in drinking water supplies. Wed, 9/11, 7pm. $10-$15. Patagonia Outlet, 130 S. Center St., (775) 786-1000, nvdm.org.

SHIRLEY’S FARMERS MARKET: A weekly farmers’ market with fresh produce, specialty foods, arts and crafts and more on Saturdays through Sept. 28. Sat, 9/7, 9am. Free. Tamarack Junction Casino, 13101 S. Virginia St., (775) 7465024, shirleysfarmersmarkets.com.

SUMMER VIBES: Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with some of Nevada’s most well-respected product manufacturers, state licensed cultivators and master growers with over 60 vendors rotating throughout the series. Programming will vary each week with different areas of focus. Summer Vibes runs every Saturday through Sept. 28. Consumption of cannabis is prohibited on event grounds. Sat, 9/7, 4pm. Free. Summer Vibes Festival Grounds, 1605 E. Second St., www.summervibesreno.com.

WHEELED FOOD WEDNESDAYS: The BAC hosts this food truck event every Wednesday through Sept. 19. There will also be kids’ activities and live music. Wed, 9/11, 5:30pm. Free. Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St., Carson City, (775) 883-1976, www.facebook.com/Breweryartscenter.

NORTHWEST RENO LIBRARY: Remains. The work of landscape oil painter Ron Arthaud is on display, Sept. 7-Oct. 26. There will be a reception on Oct. 26, noon-1pm. Sat, 9/7, Mon, 9/9-Wed, 9/11, 10am. Free. Northwest Reno Library, 2325 Robb Drive, (775) 787-4100.

ONsTAGE ARGENTA TRIO—VIENNA IN C: University of Nevada, Reno’s faculty chamber ensemble performs piano trios by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Sun, 9/8, 3pm. $20 general admission, free for students. Hall Recital Hall, University Arts Building, University of Nevada, Reno, 1300 N. Virginia St., (775) 784-4278.

ELECTION DAY: It’s Election Day, and Adam knows his over-zealous girlfriend will never forgive him if he fails to vote. But when his sex-starved sister, an eco-terrorist and a mayoral candidate willing to do anything for a vote all show up, Adam finds that making that quick trip to the polls might be harder than he thought. Election Day by Josh Tobiessen is a dark comedy about the price of political (and personal) campaigns. Fri, 9/6-Sat, 9/7, 7:30pm; Sun, 9/8, 2pm. $8$20. Restless Artists Theatre, 295 20th St., (775) 525-3074, rattheatre.org.

GENOA CONCERTS ON THE GREEN: Groove Foundry closes out this year’s summer concert series. Sun, 9/8, 5pm. Free. Genoa Town Park, 2285 Genoa St., www.genoanevada.org.

MASON FREY EP RELEASE SHOW—LET IT RAIN: The singer-songwriter’s music meshes blues, jazz, folk and country with a jovial twist. Fri, 9/6, 8pm. $10. Mountain Music Parlor, 735 S. Center St., (775) 843-5500, mountainmusicparlor.com.

SUNDAY MUSIC BRUNCH: Chez Louie hosts

ART ARTIST CO-OP GALLERY RENO: Loving Nevada—Carson Valley. The Artist Co-Op Gallery presents its showcase of Carson Valley as portrayed by local artists. The shows runs through September. Thu, 9/5-Wed, 9/11, 11am-4pm. Free. Artist CoOp Gallery Reno, 627 Mill St., www.artistsco-opgalleryreno.com.

CARSON CITY COMMUNITY CENTER SIERRA ROOM: Fast Lane/Slow Bake. The Capital City Arts Initiative presents an exhibition by artists Cyndy Brenneman and Tom Drakulich. The show runs through Oct. 24. Thu, 9/5, Mon, 9/9-Wed, 9/11, 8am-5pm. Free. Carson City Community Center Sierra Room, 851 E. William St., Carson City, www.arts-initiative.org/ brenneman-drakulich.

THE HOLLAND PROJECT: Young Blood. The Holland Project presents its one-nightonly, pop-up exhibition showcasing work by Reno’s up-and-coming artists under 21. Fri, 9/6, 6-8pm. $1. The Holland Project, 140 Vesta St., (775) 448-6500, www.hollandreno.org.

brunch and live music by Carolyn Dolan. Reservations encouraged. Sun, 9/8, 10am-2pm. Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., (775) 284-2921.

spORTs & FITNEss GUIDED HIKE: Enjoy a guided hike through Galena Creek Park with a local specialist. Please bring appropriate clothing and plenty of water. The hike intensity varies. Sat, 9/7, 10am. Free. Galena Creek Visitor Center, 18250 Mount Rose Highway, (775) 849-4948.

RENO 1868 FC: Reno’s professional soccer

team takes on the Fresno FC. Sat, 9/7, 6:45pm. $15-$75. Greater Nevada Field, 250 Evans Ave., (775) 334-7000, www.reno1868fc.com.

RENO 1868 FC: Reno’s professional soccer

team takes on the Tacoma Defiance. Tue, 9/10, 6:45pm. $15-$75. Greater Nevada

Field, 250 Evans Ave., (775) 334-7000, www.reno1868fc.com.


BY AMY ALKON

Nurse case scenario I have to go visit my mom, who’s in the hospital in another state. She’s really ill. Her boyfriend told me she’s lost a lot of weight and it might be shocking to see her initially. I want to be strong for her, but I’m a big crier. I cry on every phone call, and it’s awful. How do I show up for her and not let my feelings overwhelm me so she is not sad or worried about me and can concentrate on getting better? It’s scary seeing someone you care about all small and frail in a hospital bed. And this is your mom who’s really ill. If something happens to her, it’s not like you can just run out and pick up another one at Costco. Even so, the level of fear you experience when you see her is something you could have some control over. Neuroscience studies find that novel experiences are the most emotionally powerful, having the most intense effect on us. Additionally, psychology research finds that people quickly become acclimated to both positive and negative changes in their lives. Accordingly, seeing your mom for the first time will have the most gut-punchability. To dial down the intensity of your reaction when you first see her, you could ask her boyfriend to take some video of her and send it to you. He should ask your mom first, of course, so it won’t violate her privacy, and perhaps cast what he’s doing as sending you a hello. If she balks at letting him, he could then tell her the real deal—that it’s to emotionally prepare you for seeing her. The other major player in how you react to your mom’s condition is empathy. Neuroscientists Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer note that empathy involves our observing or even just imagining what another person is feeling and having that trigger the same sort of feeling in us. They give the example of hearing that a friend is sad because her grandmother is dying: “Our first reaction would be empathy, which means we would share the feeling of sadness and thereby know what our friend is going through.” This initial bolt of empathy rises up automatically. But once you experience it, Klimecki and Singer explain, there’s a fork in the road,

which is to say you can go one of two ways with your empathy—into unhealthy empathic distress or healthy empathic concern. Empathic distress is a me-focused response—empathy that turns into emotional quicksand when we just keep “feeling with” a person (feeling and feeling and feeling) without doing anything to try to change their situation. In time, we get overwhelmed by the distress we’re experiencing at their distress. This often leads to what Klimecki and Singer call “withdrawal behavior”—our trying to escape our uncomfortable emotions by ducking out and leaving the other person alone with their suffering. Empathic concern, on the other hand, is an other-focused response. It starts with our experiencing that initial bolt of “feeling with” a person who’s suffering, but then we shift into “feeling for”—as in “What can I do for you?” Empathic concern is basically empathy with an action plan, motivating us to try to make things better for another person. The important takeaway for you is that you don’t have to let your feelings run the show. You can instead control your feelings by shifting from me-driven empathy, empathic distress, to mom-centered empathic concern. This simply takes redirecting your focus from how sad you are to how helpful you can be—emotionally and practically. Think Warrior Nurse instead of Drama Queen. One of the kindest things you can do for a very sick person is make their life boringly normal. Distract them from their illness by watching their favorite streamed show with them, playing Scrabble or telling them the latest gossip about the slutty neighbor. Really, your just being there is huge. And, once you leave, you can start sending her cards a few days a week. This will help keep you from falling into the swamp of me-focused pointless distress, and it’ll be comforting for her. Ultimately, it’s feeling loved—not laughter—that’s “the best medicine.” Ω

ERIK HOLLAND

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com).

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Free will astrology

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For the week o F September 5, 2019 ARIES (March 21-April 19): John Muir (1838-1914) was

skilled at creating and using machinery. In his 20s, he diligently expressed those aptitudes. But at age 27, while working in a carriage parts factory, he suffered an accident that blinded him. For several months, he lay in bed, hoping to recuperate. During that time, Muir decided that if his sight returned, he would thereafter devote it to exploring the beauty of the natural world. The miracle came to pass, and for the rest of his life he traveled and explored the wilds of North America, becoming an influential naturalist, author and early environmentalist. I’d love to see you respond to one of your smaller setbacks—much less dramatic than Muir’s!—with comparable panache.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Of all the children on

the planet, 3% live in the United States. And yet American children have 40% of the world’s toys. In accordance with astrological omens, I hereby invite you to be like an extravagant American child in the coming weeks. You have cosmic permission to seek maximum fun and treat yourself to zesty entertainment and lose yourself in uninhibited laughter and wow yourself with beguiling games and delightful gizmos. It’s playtime!

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The ama are Japanese

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women whose job it is to dive to the sea bottom and fetch oysters bearing pearls. The water is usually cold, and the workers use no breathing apparatus, depending instead on specialized techniques to hold their breath. I propose we make them your inspirational role models. The next few weeks will be a favorable time, metaphorically speaking, for you to descend into the depths in quest of valuables and inspirations.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Renowned Cancerian

neurologist Oliver Sacks believed that music and gardens could be vital curative agents, as therapeutic as pharmaceuticals. My personal view is that walking in nature can be as medicinal as working and lolling in a garden. As for music, I would extend his prescription to include singing and dancing as well as listening. I’m also surprised that Sacks didn’t give equal recognition to the healing power of touch, which can be wondrously rejuvenating, either in its erotic or non-erotic forms. I bring these thoughts to your attention because I suspect the coming weeks will be a Golden Age of non-pharmaceutical healing for you. I’m not suggesting that you stop taking the drugs you need to stay healthy; I simply mean that music, nature and touch will have an extrasublime impact on your well-being.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): If you visualize what ancient

Rome looked like, it’s possible you draw on memories of scenes you’ve seen portrayed in movies. The blockbuster film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott, may be one of those templates. The weird thing is that Gladiator, as well as many other such movies, were inspired by the grandiose paintings of the ancient world done by Dutch artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912). And in many ways, his depictions were not at all factual. I bring this to your attention in the hope that it will prod you to question the accuracy and authenticity of your mental pictures. The coming weeks will be a favorable time to get fuzzy and incorrect memories into closer alignment with the truth, and to shed any illusions that might be distorting your understanding of reality.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I don’t know if the coming

weeks will be an Anais Nin phase for you. But they could be if you want. It’s up to you whether you’ll dare to be as lyrical, sensual, deep, expressive and emotionally rich as she was. In case you decide that yes you will, here are quotes from Nin that might serve you well. 1. It is easy to love and there are so many ways to do it. 2. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. 3. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. 4. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. 5. It was while helping others to be free that I gained my own freedom.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “When you’re nailing a

custard pie to the wall, and it starts to wilt, it doesn’t do any good to hammer in more nails.” So advised novelist Wallace Stegner. I hope I’m delivering his counsel in time to dissuade you from even trying to nail a custard pie to the wall—or an omelet or potato chip or taco, for that matter. What might be a better use of your energy? You could use the nails to build something that will actually be useful to you.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “I hid my deepest feelings so well I forgot where I placed them,” wrote author Amy Tan. My Scorpio friend Audrey once made a similar confession: “I buried my secrets so completely from the prying curiosity of other people that I lost track of them myself.” If either of those descriptions apply to you, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to secure a remedy. You’ll have extra power and luck if you commune with and celebrate your hidden feelings and buried secrets.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “No Eden valid

without serpent.” Novelist Wallace Stegner wrote that pithy riff. I think it’s a good motto for you to use in the immediate future. How do you interpret it? Here’s what I think. As you nourish your robust vision of paradise on earth, and as you carry out the practical actions that enable you to manifest that vision, it’s wise to have some creative irritant in the midst of it. That bug, that question, that tantalizing mystery is the key to keeping you honest and discerning. It gives credibility and gravitas to your idealistic striving.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The coco de mer is a

palm tree that grows in the Seychelles. Its seed is huge, weighing as much as 40 pounds and having a diameter of 19 inches. The seed takes 7 years to grow into its mature form, then takes an additional 2 years to germinate. Everything I just said about the coco de mer seed reminds me of you. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you’ve been working on ripening an awesome seed for a long time, and are now in the final phase before it sprouts. The Majestic Budding may not fully kick in until 2020, but I bet you’re already feeling the enjoyable, mysterious pressure.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): If you throw a pool ball

or a bronze Buddha statue at a window, the glass will break. In fact, the speed at which it fractures could reach 3,000 miles per hour. Metaphorically speaking, your mental blocks and emotional obstacles are typically not as crackable. You may smack them with your angry probes and bash them with your desperate pleas, yet have little or no effect. But I suspect that in the coming weeks, you’ll have much more power than usual to shatter those vexations. So I hereby invite you to hurl your strongest blasts at your mental blocks and emotional obstacles. Don’t be surprised if they collapse at unexpectedly rapid speeds.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In the 13th century, the

Italian city of Bologna was serious about guarding the integrity of its cuisine. In 1250, the cheese guild issued a decree proclaiming, “If you make fake mortadella … your body will be stretched on the rack three times, you will be fined 200 gold coins and all the food you make will be destroyed.” I appreciate such devotion to purity and authenticity. And I recommend that in the coming weeks, you commit to comparable standards in your own sphere. Don’t let your own offerings be compromised or corrupted. The same with the offerings you receive from other people. Be impeccable.

You can call Rob Brezsny for your Expanded Weekly Horoscope: (900) 950-7700. $1.99 per minute. Must be 18+. Touchtone phone required. Customer service (612) 373-9785. And don’t forget to check out Rob’s website at realastrology.com.


BY BRAD BYNUM

Director

how it becomes harder and harder to hide within the modern world. And something that fascinates me is the idea of this being being trapped as a child forever, and always being perceived and talked to as if they’re a child. And how does that affect them cognitively?

Joe Atack is the producing artistic director at Good Luck Macbeth Theatre. As a director, he’s currently leading rehearsals of GLM’s next production, the stage adaptation of Let the Right One In, the 2004 novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, about a child vampire named Eli. The book has also been adapted into two films.

Tell me about your cast.

You’re doing Let the Right One In. Why that? We really like doing things that have a sort of cult following in some ways. But we also—especially when it comes to the Halloween time—we like to give our audiences an opportunity to see something kind of scary and interesting and different. And we came across the script for it and realized it had been on Broadway and on the West End. And it’s a really challenging script. That’s what really finally caught our interest is that it’s very challenging. It’s got a lot of technical elements to it. But it’s also, at heart, a love story.

When does it open? How are rehearsals going? It opens on Oct. 4, and it runs pretty much through the entire month, and it’s mostly Thursday through Saturdays, but we have a couple of Wednesdays in there, too. Rehearsals are going great so far. We’re still in the early stages, getting on our feet, and coming to grips with all the characters and relationships. And figuring

out the tech elements for blood and snow and water and sand. … There’s a lot of different locations, so the set design is very conceptual as opposed to trying to recreate the full locations of each spot. There’s 25 different locations in the play. … The stage adaptation—the written adaptation of it—it particularly draws on the book and the Swedish film. … I loved the Swedish movie. There’s barely any dialogue in the movie of course. It has that sort of old, classic movie vibe to me. It’s not all instant gratification. You’re sort of led through the story in a really interesting way that also makes you, the viewer, do some of the work. … There’s so many interesting things about it, like, how the vampire folklore interacts with the modern world, and what that really means—the lack of privacy in the modern world—even though it’s set a few decades back. The creeping modern world, and

It’s a great cast. Some people who are new to us at GLM and some people who have done a few things for us before. Our Eli is played by Courtney Ropp. Courtney is really interesting. This is the first time she’s played a lead for us. … She is really fantastic. She’s actually a photographer and videographer, and she actually came out of the military. She was in the military for a number of years. She’s a veteran.

How old is she? I want to say she’s 28?

So, late 2Os—so she’s going to be playing a much younger character? Right, exactly. And we’ve done that—there are no children in it. This is a big difference with the stage and the film adaptation. And I think it’s very true of stage and film and the difference between the two. When you’re sitting in the audience and there’s violence, when you’re watching a film, you’re kind of one step removed from it, but when you’re watching it in a play, it’s generally—audiences give you a lot of feedback—it’s generally a lot more shocking to see blood and violence and things of that nature. And so there’s some stuff that we couldn’t really do with children. Ω

BY BRUCE VAN DYKE

Fire it up Imagine the buzz coming off The Playa—as usual. “Oh my god that was fucking amazing!” It’s Burning Man’s most powerful, lingering, brain Burn, installed thousands of times every year. “OMGTWFA!” In fact, B Man just might lead the planet in OMGTWFAs every doggone year. What else comes close? What other major event has the audacity to say, “Hey! You! Yeah, you! How would you like to have a life-changing curveball sideswipe you into Desert Oblivion for a few days? Wanna see what happens to you and your mind? You and your attitude? You and your hair?” Burning Man’s balls and humor have consistently served it well, from the very beginning until the very now. There’s really nothing like it. How cool and convenient that it happens about 100 miles from us!

Imagine a meeting of the Reno Sparks Convention Authority in 1988, and some of the fellas are spitballing a little, trying to guess what kind of events will be popular in the future of Northern Nevada. You think any of them envisioned something like … freaking Burning Man? Where things have seemed to be fairly dark and quasi-insane the last 32 months, I have to admit that it’s delightfully mellow that we now live in a land where one can stop by the local pot shop on the way out of town to load up on brain-spinning goodies to take to an ecstatic mega-hoedown in the naked desert called Burning Man, an event which is, fortunately, not hostile to the THCladen gummy bear experience. How nice to live long enough to see this pleasant dream from long ago finally realized. And we were right about the effing pot, all you

Puritan bastards who oppressed us in the ’60s! It’s amusing to muse about what happens to people from Germany, England, Paraguay and New Zealand when they first visit the Black Rock Desert. I can’t help but wonder how totally blown away they’ll be by the staggering beauty of The Great Elemental Circus of Air, Light, Heat, Stars and Dust, and then how truly freaking agog they will be when some burn buddy hands them a mushroom cloud margarita and be bop a lula they get right properly introduced and christened into this most mind-wobbling municipality. At that point, if you’ve got any game at all, you suck it up, get your shit together, and realize that you’re in one swingin’ slaphappy town, one that’s ready for you and your dancing, dilated eyeballs. Really ready. OMGTWFA. Ω

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