Editors’ choices

Illustration By Rick Sealock

The best weird personality lore about Nevada this year

There’s something about this state. It generates some pretty off-the-wall situations—like the cathouse madam who ran for the Legislature (Beverly Harrell) and the legalization of bogus youth and anti-cancer drugs (Laetrile). Here’s another one. There’s a newspaper column in Chicago called “The Straight Dope” that answers people’s weird questions (“If all billion Chinese got up on chairs and all jumped off at the same time, would the earth be thrown out of orbit?”), and recently a North Carolina reader asked him what’s up with the term Chevy Chase: “Who, or what, is Chevy Chase? There is a Chevy Chase bank, city, a bad comedic actor (except in Fletch), numerous streets, lakes, etc. Why does this person/thing get such attention and national recognition?” Who woulda thunk it? Nevada’s responsible. According to author Cecil Adams, U.S. Sen. Francis Newlands of Nevada went back to Washington and while serving as our senator was also hustling land development in the boonies outside D.C. “Senator Newlands came to Washington, D.C., with the dream of building a planned settlement outside of the nation’s capital. Over several years, he purchased more than 1,700 acres of land from Dupont Circle to Jones Bridge Road, along what is now Connecticut Avenue. He named the area Chevy Chase after the Cheviot Hills, his ancestral homeland.”

This is not to say that Newlands invented the name—it existed in a ballad before that—but that Newlands popularized it.

People most likely to take the best care of your family when you go outside to smoke

Roberto and Mindy Gulizia
Mario’s Portofino Ristorante, 2740 S. Virginia St., 825-7779
What’d’ya mean they didn’t win best Italian restaurant? I don’t know, Mike, sometimes you gotta think maybe these readers are voting for places they’ve heard of instead of places they actually think are the best. Obviously, Luciano’s and even La Vecchia can be considered among the best Italian restaurants in Reno, but Olive Garden? These are the people who think the greatest cook in Reno is Chef Boyardee, and who want their bread to “taste just like Boboli.” Why don’t we step outside for a moment to talk about it? Oh, Roberto and Mindy will take care of them. Have ’em order some tiramisu.

Best-dressed bookseller

Ann Malson
Paperback Exchange, 131 Vesta St., 322-8822
Vesta Street seems to be experiencing a kind of Renaissance in business, and at the head of this growth spurt is the Paperback Exchange. OK, maybe Paperback Exchange was at the head of the last Renaissance, too, 31-plus years ago when it opened, but who keeps track of such things? Ann Malson didn’t arrive at the store until it had been around for five years, but in the 26 intervening years, she’s made up for lost time. As one of Reno’s most stylishly clad booksellers, she’ll help seekers locate books in the store’s overflowing shelves, offer advice about authors or even keep mental notes of the books her clients have purchased.

The clerk you always want but seldom get

Chris Williamson
Whenever dealing with a bureaucracy (public or private), a client/customer always hopes to find that one friendly, helpful clerk, the one who makes life easy and unsnarls problems. This is especially important in stores where every clerk seems unfamiliar with the merchandise he or she is selling and hostile toward inquiries. One of the good guys works at Albertson’s on Oddie Boulevard. His name is Chris Williamson, and he has become famous throughout the neighborhood for his friendliness and willingness to help. When we describe friendliness, we’re not talking about the aggressive Safeway-style friendliness that generated lawsuits. We mean actual friendliness that comes from within—not from an order by management. Williamson quickly solves price checks without holding up lines, and he gets spills taken care of right away. To put it succinctly, he deals with complaints with composure and complainants with respect. Shoppers get the feeling that if the world were going up in smoke, Chris would keep everyone calm.

Radio jockey most likely to use the words “Gettin’ it done”

Mat Diablo
Also, most likely to use the words “butt rock,” which isn’t a nasty thing at all. The host of Reno’s best 5 o’clock drive-time radio show, “Road Riot” on 100.9 FM, isn’t likely to pull out the latest news from the NPR Web site. Diablo may, however, pull out the Sun Valley bell or the Carson City bell to salute his callers. While Music Director Diablo shouldn’t be expected to lead up the KRZQ 5 o’clock news team, he can be expected to play the top requested songs of the week. The tunes are apt to blow a conscientious driver’s ears off, and while it might make them angry, it would be appropriate to call the feeling “road rage.”