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Pop Quiz!

1. Pop quiz! Which of the following comments relates to a poem that appeared on Desert Companion’s blog?

(A) “A kiss can change anything.” (Jo Thompson Strong)

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(B) “Wow, that was pure poetry in motion.” (Tony Daniel)

(C) “There are many kinds of poetry. Jerry is a poet.” (Pat Healy)

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(D) “Yeah, but did you hear that there’s naked pictures of Kirsten Dunst online?!” (Dany Panda)

If you guessed (D), you’re probably a hormonal 14-year-old boy. Otherwise, the correct answer is (A). As blog readers have noticed, we’ve begun running poetry on (most) Wednesdays, and Ms. Strong responded favorably to a line in Paul Sacksteder’s “A Couple Purchases a House in the Suburbs.” “Love your work,” she adds. As do we. See more Wednesday poems at desertcompanion.com/Wednesday_Poem.cfm, and, as the spotted cows say in those ads, Eat Mor Pomes.

Meanwhile, comments (B) and (C) were Facebooked in response to Barry Friedman’s September profile of sportswriter Jerry Izenberg, a legend for 50 years and a Hendersonian for seven. Ace R-J sportswriter Ron Kantowski joined in by email: “Jerry has a million stories. Plus, the man still can write. At age 84, he hasn’t lost anything off his fastball …” Facebooker Dave Robinson adds, “Jealous that you got to spend so much quality time with one of our heroes ...” We asked Friedman to reflect on that. “Having lunch with Jerry Izenberg has always been on my bucket list,” he tells us. “Had I known he was going to pick up the check, it would have cracked the Top Ten.”

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As for (D), that was one reader’s way of mocking society’s backward priorities — it was tagged to our September report on the school district’s difficulty attracting teachers. You haven’t lost anything off your fastball, either, improbably named Dany Panda!

 

2. Also in September, writer Misti Yang essayed about Las Vegas and art museums. Her provocative thesis question: Would a traditional museum be relevant to Las Vegas, or would we be better served by something more temporary and ever-changing, a la Burning Man? It prompted a lively debate when Neon Museum boss Danielle Kelly posted the piece on her Facebook page. A sampling:

Barrick Museum Director Aurore Giguet: “I would love a large traditional art institution in Las Vegas but I don’t think it’s a sustainable model (at least at this time) and reflective of the city itself.”

Artist Jw Caldwell: “I’m a nerd. I like museums. I wish we had more. … If you speak out against museums, I will automatically disagree with you. If you no longer have faith in cultural institutions, and offer Burning Man as your recourse, I will be forced to ridicule you.”

Kelly: “Misti is asking terrific open-ended questions about who we really are and what kind of institution best serves us. An unwillingness to consider questions, to ask these questions, is dangerous and fearful.  ... If we ask these kinds of questions and are confident enough to question, period, then perhaps we can create a new kind of institutional model that more accurately reflects the boldness and idiosyncrasy of this wild and wonderful place.”

Artist David Sanchez Burr, suggesting a museum miles out into the evocative Southwestern landscape: “To me it seems futile to grow a museum in front of the spectacle … better to build something further away that can be an ode to the region in a different way … a beacon for contemplation and wonder.”

Arts consultant Michele Quinn: “There are many counterpoints that weaken Ms. Yang’s discussion” — including Yang’s reference to the outmoded Learning From Las Vegas as a source of ideas; invoking Burning Man, which “has no place in any real discussion of art”; and “most importantly — I cannot entertain any discourse on this subject that quotes ‘Joe the Bartender’ as a cultural resource and arbiter of taste. Are these the new ‘tastemakers’?? If so, God help us!”

“Las Vegas provides an opportunity to tell a new story about how people build a great city,” Misti emailed us after the debate cooled. “Of course, that story can’t be told without a narrative or without discussion, so I am happy that the questions I posed about museums have sparked something.”