Letters for May 23, 2002

Start digging now
Re “Giving the Trench Some Love” [RN&R View From the Fray, May 2]:

For several years I lived at Jack London Square next to the Port of Oakland prior to coming home to Reno. I watched as the port spent over a billion dollars to expand and modernize the gateway for increased traffic. Over a period of years, my sleep was disturbed on an increasing basis by freight trains rumbling out of the port loaded with cargo for the American heartland. Those trains travel through Reno. I have seen firsthand what is on the horizon for the city of Reno and its downtown if the trench is not built.

While I lived near the port, I worked for Bay Area Rapid Transit and was part of a $1.2 billion expansion of the system. I also saw firsthand the economic benefits of major public works. Tens of thousand of well-paying construction and related jobs were created. These jobs paid good union wages, as will the local trench project. The community of the Truckee Meadows deserves those good jobs. The families of our community deserve those wages.

Reno can and must compete for the tourist dollars that serve as its lifeblood. Over 40 states have some form of casino gambling. We are not unique with gaming any longer. Why would a tourist want to travel to Reno to stay where freight trains dissect the heart of the community? Why would you want to pay to be kept awake at night by freight trains?

I live in downtown Reno. I love its burgeoning community—the galleries, coffee shops, the arts and the developing urban environment. Reno has planted the seeds of a unique and wonderful Nevada urban community.

The trench deserves our support.

Anyone who opposes this public investment is short sighted and does not recognize the writing on the wall.

Jim McGrath
Reno

Nice shift, Pike
Re “Giving the Trench Some Love” [RN&R View From the Fray, May 2]:

Just finished reading your column on “da mayor” and “da trench.” I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated your objective view. I have noticed in the past that your sarcasm can get the better of you. Most the time I appreciate that. You see, I’ve been told I ooze sarcasm. Anyway, I found this column to be refreshing. I am not a big supporter of Griffin, but nor am I a detractor. Yes, downtown is better, along with the roads (well, some of them), and Reno certainly formed a direction and, for the most part, has stuck to the plan.

Really though, I just wanted to let you know I appreciated the tact you took. After all, it would have been so easy to use Griffin’s State of the City address to take yet another shot at him.

Name withheld
Reno

Pagans rewrite history
Re “May Day! Fornicating Thingies Ahead!” [RN&R Essay, May 2]:

Just wanted to drop you a line regarding Guy Richardson’s “May Day” editorial. I can’t speak for all of the points he brought up, but on those concerning areas with which I am familiar, i.e. Christianity and the Middle Ages, it seems he’s been misled by the pious myths of our neo-pagan counterculture.

First of all, the image of a happy, promiscuous pagan pre-Christian world turned dour under the primacy of prudish Christians is false. The truth is that the pagans’ orgiastic festivals had fallen into disrepute regardless of Christian preaching. St. Augustine, who you mentioned, was no prude, as anyone who’s read his Confessions knows, and when he fulminated against hedonistic pagan festivities, he did so not with the shock and indignity of a stereotypical American preacher, but with an apparently persuasive mockery and derision. His preaching worked because so many pagans were already embarrassed by these practices. One of the reasons the Emperor Constantine met with relatively little difficulty in Christianizing the Roman Empire is that so many were already prepared to leave such things to the past.

Then there are May Poles. Last I heard, their use hasn’t been traced back any further than 18th-century England, when they were used at fertility celebrations but had little conscious phallic connotation.

You could have at least treated Joan of Arc’s death with some historical realism. Doing so would make it plain that the ostensible reasons for her death—sorcery, self-identification with Christ and the Virgin Mary, etc.—were really beside the point. She was killed by her political opponents.

Sean Hansen
via e-mail