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by Scott Dickensheets | posted January 27, 2014
Before we get too deeply into this week, let's extract a little meaning from the news cycle just past ...
History — these days is it tragedy or farce? The answer, of course, is farcedy. Nearly everywhere you looked in the last week you saw long-term issues (education, civil rights, ) treated with the mix of consequential seriousness and effortless parody we've come to expect from Nevada.
For example: The controversial, possibly history-making attempt by the teachers' union to turn around years of worst-in-the-nation school funding with an initiative petition for a 2 percent margins tax on businesses. A serious issue, certain to be battled over. But not so serious that, in opposing it last week, AFL-CIO boss Danny Thompson (“I will say we could support the tax at 0.8 percent,” he told the RJ) couldn't muster some touching and not-unfunny innocence. Lawmakers, he speculated, would probably fix the problem in 2015 anyway.
From the RJ: “Thompson is confident that virtually everyone is aware that education is underfunded, and moves to address the problem … will come in the next Legislature” …
Hold on, history just blew milk out of its nose.
Thompson’s faith in the Legislature’s ability to size up a pressing issue, identify solutions and unite behind a bold, problem-correcting plan is, farci-tragically, contraindicated by history. Indeed, we’ve seen this movie before, and it’s an oldie: The Kick-the-Can Kids in “Education, Smeducation!” It’s revived every two years in a popular entertainment venue in Carson City, where lawmakers congratulate themselves on acknowledging the problem before blaming the other side for failing to to fix it. Luckily for everyone, this only affects the future of Nevada’s students.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some public officials with a long-term moral-historical vision. Let’s say a certain state’s attorney general confronted a situation redolent of unfairness and bigotry — in this case, the state’s ban on gay marriage — and decided to fight it, so as to "be on the right side of history and the right side of the law.” You might appreciate a pol who shows some moral backbone in the face of certain political controversy, right?
Of course, we’ll have to ask West Virginians about that, since it was their AG speaking. Nevada’s, on the other hand, seemed content to let the wrong side of history have its way, unchallenged, a while longer. Last week, Catherine Cortez Masto’s office filed a brief defending Nevada’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, in response to a lawsuit. In the course of defining marriage as occurring between a man and a woman, the brief by Cortez Masto (a Democrat, by the way) cited bigamy and incest as other examples of what marriage isn’t. (As pundit Jon Ralston has noted, she seems to be catching all the blowback on this, not her boss the governor.) If offensive comparisons in the service of a backward agenda supplied the tragedy, perhaps the farce will come if/when Cortez Masto runs for another office and has to answer questions about this. We imagine she's already practicing her hemming and hawing in the mirror.
Mobsters. History finally completed their transition from serious to silly last week. Remember when they were criminals, albeit ones who knew how to run this town in a classy way? After a while they became cultural touchstones, their flagrant and often-vicious criminality laundered and fluffed by pop culture until they merited their own popular and historically rigorous museum. And now? Now we have the Las Vegas Mobsters, a development-league soccer team.
“We thought it’d be an appropriate mascot," owner Geoffrey Hawkins told the RJ, "and we had overwhelming support for the name.” Presumably, the Las Vegas Shallow Desert Graves wouldn't fit on the jerseys.
If this cheesy cutesying-up of the mob is a blow to historical accuracy, the real aggrieved parties probably ought to be actual mobsters — this has to diluate their aura of menace even more than those Bugsy's blinds commercials. After all, it's not even major league soccer; it's development league. Welcome to the shallow pop-historical grave! And how does Tony "The Appropriate Mascot" Soprano sound? Why, farcical, of course.
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