Letters for April 7, 2016

Venue blues

Re “Factory closes” (cover story, March 24):

So the Reno Nightclub Graveyard squeezes in one more hulking inhabitant, the 600 “seat” Knitting Factory. I went to only a few shows in its five years. As an ex-touring sound engineer, my first impression was, “’Oh shit, this is gonna suck no matter what.” Not that it wasn’t fine for the mosh pit slamdancers. It was. But Knit management, a very pro team, seemed to think Reno wouldn’t mind paying to stand up and listen to Martin Sexton in a concrete shoebox with a horrible bass trap of a “balcony.” Wrong. And whaddya know, the next time an act like that came around, the tickets don’t sell and down it goes into the cultural vortex that drains into the aforementioned graveyard. Horrible aesthetics and the speed-death-metal roster aside, the Knit faced the same major impediments all Reno live music venues face—the massive spending of casinos on their entertainment offerings (not that there’s anything wrong with that …), and the absurdly regressive (10 percent) state entertainment tax on all non-casino venue ticket sales which was pushed through by—drum roll—the gambling lobby. YAY! Welcome to Nevada.

Lastly, I don’t know what touring maps the Knit staffer is thinking of (“traveling here is a pain in the ass”). Reno is superbly routed, esp. compared to other Knit properties in Boise and Spokane. But nationally there is an entire genre of musicians that simply never play Reno because there has never been a host venue that has lasted long enough to establish routing. I am hopeful that the unprecedented renaissance we’re seeing in Reno points to a horizon where the greatest little city can emerge as not some vapid Vegas-stepchild but as the regional epicenter of quality living and culture.

Jeff Cotton


Rock is dead?

Re “A little bit country” (Music, March 24):

Reno is becoming a great country venue, quite a few new country bands popping up and getting a following. Since rock is dead, and “pop” is Auto-Tuned and electroniced to death, the only good live music is country. OK, lots of good classic rock bands about—but it’s the same music for the past 30 years. Glad to see country getting a go.

C.L. Dickinson


The unfascist

Re “Bernie Sanders, fascist” (Let Freedom Ring, March 10):

Fascism is almost always characterized by corporations heavily influencing government decisions, since only a few select individuals control the means of production, which is what we have now. It is true that fascism has historically meant that the government plays a large regulatory role in the means of production—even down to relocating workers and fixing certain market prices in order to control inflation. However, every “-ism” is characterized by stronger government regulation, making socialism no different than fascism under this characteristic.

What does separate socialism from fascism is, of course, one key characteristic—fascism seeks to create a strong nationalist pride and does not promote welfare programs directly the way that socialism does. Or in other words, fascism supports society from the top-down, whereas socialism supports society from the bottom-up.

To say that Bernie Sanders would create a fascist state is either very ignorant, very politically motivated, or both. Mr. Sanders advocates wealth distribution, which is not a typical fascist agenda.

Wanting a better health care system and better college opportunities is not a radical idea when Canada and much of Europe offer the same systems. Furthermore, Mr. Sanders is not seeking to “restrict political rights” of corporations, he is trying to wrangle them down from all-out-control. Corporations have all but taken over the democratic process of the United States, and they lobby heavily for their agendas which are almost never in line with the welfare of the population.

Net neutrality, for example, is central not only to a fair tech industry and entrepreneurs creating new products, but it is also central to a functioning democracy as it ensures that ISPs and governments could not restrict the flow of information by charging people more money to access news. Companies like Comcast lobby the government to destroy net neutrality because they want to create a monopoly—and monopolies by the way, always flourish under fascist states.

In fact, the United States shares more line items in common with a fascist state today than people realize. Strong corporate control over government policy, weighted and extreme military budgeting, invasive foreign policy measures, privately owned and operated mainstream media sources promoting their political candidates of choice, shallow and restricted public education that pushes strong nationalist teachings and biased historical viewpoints, strong law enforcement agencies with powerful surveillance tools, corrupt and racist local police agencies, the use of terror and fear to justify the vanishing of human rights, and the oppression of labor groups and intellectuals.

In closing, I believe that if you were to compare Mr. Sanders’ view of how the United States should look with how it actually functions today you will find that he is quite the opposite of a fascist.

Basil McKeon

Milwaukie, Oregon