Bring on the H8

The staff at the RN&R has … issues

Photo illustrations by Priscilla Gacria

Traffic obstacles. 100-degree-plus temperatures. Elections. Extraneous apostrophe’s. If you thought you had something to complain about, you should hang around our office for a minute.

For a lark, we decided to let our hair down, pull out the stops and let loose with our most vitriolic hate. Believe us, it’s good to vent sometimes.

Justice Delayed

I hate the Supreme Court of the United States of America. If the purpose of this essay is to vociferously complain about something this essay has no hope of changing in the slightest measure, I can think of nothing more hopeless than the highest court of this land.

You see, first you have to love something to truly hate it. I first became politically aware during the Watergate hearings, not just because my fifth and sixth grade teacher was too lazy to teach, and we watched three hours of Senate hearings almost every afternoon, but because simultaneously I was reading the Hunter S. Thompson classic, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72. The president and Congress were plainly beneath contempt, as illustrated in long, droning tones during that sweltering spring of 1973.

And above all that—when our teacher saw fit to explain how these “hearings” glorified our democracy, and how the checks and balances of our system of government were our very salvation from the sins of our fathers because it made our government better than its parts—stood the Supreme Court.

Mrs. Gilbert could stand there, in her lay teacher but true Catholic sincerity and express her whole-hearted foundational belief that, if asked to, the Court would see through the deceptions of men. The Court was above politics, the manifestation of objectivity and fairness—of God—upon this planet.

And while I didn’t believe anything my teachers told me, I believed that. I had to. Can you imagine what the alternative was in the mind of an 11-year-old boy? Add to the fear of anarchy and the possibility that I did not live in the greatest country on the planet, there were so many examples of proof for my misplaced faith: Brown vs. the Board of Education, New York Times v. Sullivan, Loving v. Virginia. Of course, in the indoctrinative and propagandistic atmosphere of junior high, things like Dred Scott were never mentioned.

But now, almost since that dulcet spring, I’ve watched the Court stand as a beacon of cowardice and ideology. The “truth” that meant so much to that boy has been devoured and defecated by a Court that is no longer about people but entrenching in law the things that no longer allow this country to be of, by and for the people, but of, by and for the government. And since the government is owned by corporations, we see the dignity and rights of human individuals given to corporations.

I hate that corporations are people and that money is speech and if I don’t have the money that a corporation has, I don’t have the voice, either. I can shake my fist while 50,000 of my closest friends rage along, but together, we are still just a whispering wail in the desert.

And I hate it. I hate that the Court had a moment to reaffirm that the U.S. is about people making the choices that allow themselves to pursue happiness, but instead it chose to be washed like ambergris on the tides of future history. I hate that the Court chose money over human dignity, discrimination over equality, expediency over truth.

But most of all, I hate that the Supreme Court of the United States took another swatch of my belief in American exceptionalism away from me, and that’s a quilt that’s worn thin.

—D. Brian Burghart

My clothing, my choice

I don’t like when people tell me what to do. I have an especially hard time with anyone telling me that I can’t wear something. Dress codes—and just the notion that someone else can dictate the clothing I wear—have been my sworn enemy for as long as I can remember. Maybe this stems from the fact that neither of my parents ever really told me that I couldn’t wear something, or maybe it stems from bitterness about never being able to wear shorts to school before getting to college. Either way, this topic always gets me ranting.

I was especially against the dress code in my high school. I’ve been 5 foot 9 since about my freshman year of high school, so any possible dress code violation was more noticeable on my body. I watched as shorter girls got away with dress code violations regularly, and I got in trouble any time I was slightly out of dress code. The same way that today I can wear a dress that hits the same point on my legs as on a shorter girl, but it will look much shorter on me than my shorter counterpart.

I went to high school in Southern Nevada with most summer temperatures upwards of 110 degrees, and I was never able to wear shorts—unless they were those longer, ugly, Bermuda shorts that I despised. So when I hear my mother complaining about my youngest sister struggling with dress code as I did at her age, it really makes me angry.

Why can anyone else tell us what we can wear? I understand the intention is to keep students from dressing ridiculously, but that’s not what it does in practice. It stops girls like me from wearing shorts or tank tops, even when it’s hot out. It tells kids that their bodies need to be completely hidden or they’re doing something very wrong. It breeds people like me who just wanted to dress in a ridiculous manner in order to piss off the dress code gods at my high school. And in the end, it perpetuates a culture that sexualizes us, mostly girls, from a very young age.

That inequality also irks me. There is very little in most males’ closets that dress code would forbid—maybe bro tanks. It’s aimed at girls because society sexualizes women, and that’s not right.

I have a cousin who grew up in a small town on the East Coast and her schools never had dress codes. I envied her like crazy. And guess what? Students didn’t show up in pasties and undergarments. They wore tank tops and shorts sometimes. The horror.

I still struggle with dress codes to this day. I’m not in any settings that really require a specific dress code of any kind, but it’s been an ongoing problem with boyfriends and some friends through the years. I have a real problem with someone telling me I can’t wear that out because it’s apparently too revealing. I don’t understand the logic behind this. So if I’m wearing something that shows a little more skin than you’re comfortable with, what does that matter? The way people act it’s as though I’m trying to seduce each and every person who comes near me. Ridiculous. What a person wears has absolutely no bearing on how a person conducts himself or herself, and I don’t believe anyone to tell me—or anyone else—that it does.

—Sage Leehey

Days of whine and dozes

Since it seems like I’m always ranting about something, when the opportunity came to complain about the topic of my choice, I couldn’t think of a goddamn thing that I needed to rant about, which unto itself annoyed me.

But then this morning, I woke up and knew immediately what I needed to whine about: sleep. And the lack thereof.

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with sleep. That’s partly because my natural bodily rhythms tend toward nocturnal. Left to my own devices, I like to go to sleep around 2 or 3 a.m., or later, and sleep til 10 or 11 a.m. I say “natural” because my parents tell me I was like that even as a baby. But that rhythm tends to be at odds with the modern world, which is populated by birdbrains who like to rise early and eat worms.

I’m still pissed that I had to get up so goddamn early all during school, despite all those studies floating around that claim that most teenagers don’t get enough sleep, and that they need to sleep in later. The schools make the kids get up at some ungodly hour, disrupting our dreams, just so the fucking jocks have enough time to practice playing with their balls in the afternoon. I know I would have been a better student—and I was still pretty good—if I’d been able to get more sleep. I probably also would have been a better student if I’d done less drugs, but fuck that.

My problem is often that when I’m awake, I don’t want to go to sleep, and then, once I’m deeply immersed in beautiful, magical dreamland, I want to stay there. And woe to all those who would dare to fuck with my sleep. I love my dog, but I don’t know what was so goddamn important that the little bitch had to start barking up a storm at 5:30 a.m. this morning.

I hate having morning obligations, like school or work or going to the dentist or anything at all really. That’s partly because I feel like anyone who sees me before noon isn’t getting a representational sample of who I am. I’m not really just a monosyllabic, unwashed brute. Yeah, sure, I guess monosyllabic brutality is part of my personality, but come back and talk to me around dinner time, and I’m a virtuoso conversationalist.

So, in order to present a close approximation of a normal human being before noon, I’ve had to develop an addiction to a stimulant that inspires the groggy, bleary-eyed Morning Brad to at least partially resemble charming Evening Brad. I’m of course talking about caffeine.

Until I’ve had a couple of cups of coffee, I can’t carry on a normal conversation. I love the taste of coffee and love the stimulated feeling of caffeine, which inspires me to focus and work hard. But it also gives me stomach problems, like acid reflux. And then, if I don’t drink coffee in the morning, I get a headache in the afternoon.

That’s what you goddamn Morning People have done to me: forced me to become a drug addict just so I can function in your stupid sun-worshiping, worm-eating world, with all its bullshit paperwork and small talk. And that’s the real problem, not just that it’s hard for me to find the time to get the sleep I need, but that I don’t get to choose when I get to sleep. That’s been dictated to me by you chipper-ass early risers.

But don’t worry. Us nocturnal folks are way more fun at parties than y’all bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, shiny, happy people who hop out of bed every morning excited to be part of the world. You fucking Morning People might own the shitty part of the day where we all have to do things we don’t want to do, but we have the night.

—Brad Bynum

City of concrete slabs

There was a beautiful park on Virginia Street between Mill and Court streets until 1963. In front of the State Building, which contained the county library, an auditorium, and the Nevada Historical Society, were tall trees, walking paths, drinking fountains, old men playing chess, the whole urban refuge thing.

Then officialdom decided to tear it all out. Reno women’s organizations organized to try to stop it, but officialdom had long since defined tearing things down as Progress, and the casinos wanted nothing on downtown Virginia Street to draw people away from gambling, so both the State Building and Powning Park were destroyed.

The property had been turned over to the city on the condition that it always be used for a park, but soon it held a gold colored geodesic dome in place of the State Building and a slab of concrete in place of the park. The site remains that way today, right in the center of the city, sterile and uninviting.

For a half-century, Reno has been drifting from real parks to artificial parks. Walter Van Tilburg Clark wrote in 1945 that there was no place in the city where a person could stand and not see leaves. That’s no longer true. In the 1950s, the city used to brag that there was more park acreage in Reno than in any other city. It probably wasn’t true, but it gave a sense of where their heads were at—not a place they are today.

The notion that Reno should look like the Pacific Northwest has always been crazy. Miles of residential lawns are a waste of water in a desert state, and fortunately more homeowners are turning to water-efficient landscaping. But there should be common arboreal sites that provide relief for all from desert country—parks, the university, museums.

The entire University of Nevada, Reno should look like the campus quad—tall trees, broad lawns, flowering plants. But slowly over the decades, the shift has been on to more spartan landscaping. When the first student union was built, it had a lawn and no trees. The new student union is the same. Walks have been widened, shrinking the size of lawns, concrete and bricks becoming the rule of the day. There should be dozens of trees lining the walks in front of the lineup of new structures on north campus—the library, student union, and education college. Concrete and asphalt slabs are everywhere.

The Harrah’s auto museum should have been designed with park space entirely surrounding it, not just landscaping on the river side where the river walk is. The Nevada Museum of Art should be a burst of lush green in the city, trees, lawn, not just shrubs. For that matter, paint the building green. Who wants a monolithic Palace of Black Arts?

When the Mapes Hotel came down, nearly all Reno residents wanted a park, a real park, with trees and picnic benches and so on. It was an opportunity to make up for the destruction of Powning Park. The city got another concrete slab.

The original parkland around Belle Isle—Barbara Bennett Park, Wingfield Park—is more or less intact. Locals have fought off official efforts to lard on features like an aquarium and an amphitheater that would compromise the calm and serenity of the scene, and have been only partly successful, but it has remained mostly a real park. Unfortunately, it has been expanded to include another concrete slab that is actually named Brick Park. Any city should be ashamed of that name—and city officials seem to know it, given that they have taken to calling it West Street Plaza. But they’re not so aware of it that they are inclined to turn Brick Park and other concrete slabs into parks, or to begin changing the city’s atavistic parks policies.

Some city of trembling leaves. We owe Clark an apology.

—Dennis Myers