Reno 334

We’re embarrassed to say that we’ve spent an inexplicable amount of time in this office talking about whether Reno needs to “rebrand.” We’ve actually gone to experts and asked. We’ve sponsored roundtables to discuss the issue. We’ve read innumerable Facebook fury postings regarding imagined slights by pop culture websites, news sites and G-rated movies. We’ve heard the lyrics in songs that make us either a haven for thrill killing or impossible dreams.

Reno has an image, and we love it.

It’s awkward. It’s tacky. It’s sophisticated. It’s outdoorsy. It’s libertarian. It’s liberal. It’s scholarly. It’s anti-education. It’s spiritual. It’s irreligious. It’s outdoorsy. It’s pristine. It’s polluted. It’s industrial. It’s August through June. It’s Artown.

Artown, which runs through July, is emblematic of what we’re talking about. Very little about Artown is Artown’s. In other words, similar cultural events go on every single day in Northern Nevada. Artown just places them in the shade of its umbrella for the month of July and publicizes them.

But when you go down to those events, you’ll see Reno’s fetid groin, and it’s as beautiful as any plié. You’ll see the homeless, the hipsters, the hippies, the burners, the vaqueros, the soccer moms, the deadbeat dads, the bankers and banksters rubbing shoulders with the hoity and the toity.

That’s Reno. That’s Reno all the time.

But it illustrates the problem with promoting a unified image for Reno. For every single person who knows the real Reno, there is one who thinks Reno has one great art month. Are we saying we think Artown is bad because it fosters an inaccurate view of Reno’s culture? No, although there are those who will, as usual, claim that pointing out an issue is being part of the problem.

It’s sort of like when David Sedaris came to the Pioneer on April 29, 2013. He got the big bucks to be there, and it was a fundraiser for Artown. Sedaris immediately left and took a giant dump on Reno, suggesting that people in Reno who were willing to pay to see his lecture were somehow unsophisticated. And yet, he had no problem returning to take the money of the scores of people who showed up at a book signing at Sundance last week. That’s the truth of the matter: Some people in Reno wear Count Chocula shirts, but our money still spends.

We’ll no doubt continue this image debate here in the office and in the paper because it’s important if ineffectual, and eventually someone will come up with a mulligan’s stew metaphor that not only incorporates the seedy (as in grimy), but the seedy (as in locally grown).

But put this newspaper in the category of fans of Reno who actually like Reno’s image. Just keeping it real.