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Beer, Racism Or Politics: An Irreverent Look Back At 2016

Seven Magic Mountains
(AP Photo/John Locher)

Seven Magic Mountains by artist Ugo Rondinone was vandalized in 2016 with the tag "Hella Spiders."

Never have we seen politics take the turn it did over the last 12 months.

We have a president-elect who tweets his anger. Nevada is losing the strongest supporter it ever had in Congress. And who can forget the mystery chair at the state Democratic Convention?

And those are just a few of the political stories.

In the arts, we had a spate of vandalizing of public art, from the stolen pink alligators to Hella Spiders at Seven Magic Mountains.

Then the Review-Journal is firmly in the hands of the Sheldon Adelson family, while a former RJ reporter, Jon Ralston, is hiring reporters for his own online publication.

Graphic designer and artist Brent Holmes said the vandalism of three pieces of public art seemed generated from different motives. One piece was of a golden lion surrounded by pink alligators on a median at Decatur Boulevard and Flamingo Road. Last spring, the pieces were stolen.

Holmes attributed to the theft to a basic lack of appreciation for public art. The pieces were eventually located and returned.

Another piece was part of the Clark County Zap! project to beautify utility boxes. Images of an African-American woman were painted over by the operator of a nearby business.

"That's an educational issue, that's a social issue," Holmes said.

"It might've been a beer issue, as well," quipped Scott Dickensheets, deputy editor.

An unknown assailant also demolished a sculpture of a naked Donald Trump, which was featured in news reports across the country.

The Desert Companion staff also talked about a sense of both hope and despair residents of the Las Vegas Valley felt in the aftermath of the presidential election.

Writer Heidi Kyser said she spoke to people who candidate Donald Trump said would be deported, and described them as being depressed. She said the same of those in the group Students United for Reproductive Justice. There is worry a Trump administration would crack down on Planned Parenthood.

"They're anxious about their reproductive rights being taken away," Kyser said.

At the same time, she found hope.

The Muslim Student Association at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she said, believe other Americans will defend them against Trump's promise to force Muslims to be put on a national registry.

"They believe that their fellow Americans are going to stand up for their, Muslims', constitutional rights," she added.

And U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is retiring after 34 years in Congress; 30 of those were as senator. He rose to become the majority, then minority leader of Democrats in the Senate. Catherine Cortez Masto, also a Democrat, was elected to replace him.

But Dickensheets said Nevadans will certainly feel Reid's abscence, especially if Congress starts to call for revival of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

"We've lost the one guy who ... had the muscle to single-handedly keep that at bay," Dickensheets said. "He won't be there doing that on behalf of Nevada's interest anymore."

Editor Andrew Kiraly said the overall vote in Nevada, which favored Hillary Clinton over Trump, demonstrated a shift in "the myth of Nevada as a libertarian place."

A majority of voters in Clark County voted for Clinton. Rural counties througout the state favored Trump.

Kiraly said that dichotomy shows "a seismic tension between urban progressivism in Clark County against, largely, the rest of the state."


Desert Companion magazine staffers  Brent Holmes, Heidi Kyser, Scott Dickensheets, Andrew Kiraly

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.