Vampires discover Reno
He came. He drank “30 drinks in those tiny little casino glasses.” He gambled.
Renoites were nice to him, telling him about the Awful Awful and, oh no, Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs.
And he sold us out in an Esquire magazine piece.
“I’m in Reno. And I am so fucking happy about it.”
To Esquire essayist Tom Chiarella, Reno is a “city, not an event,” “seedy in the right ways” and “elegant in its own small measures.”
I subscribe to Esquire, generally a guy’s magazine, because women’s periodicals embarrass me. Cosmo? One of my students aptly calls it a contemporary “finishing school” for girls. Woman’s World? Love that juxtaposition of chocolate cake recipes and weight-loss tips.
When I saw Chiarella’s piece in my October Esquire, just a medical marijuana essay away from a pithy profile of Benicio Del Toro, I mistakenly hoped few would see “The Dirtiest Secret in Nevada” and discover Reno as “the deeper adventure, the smaller city, the real deal.”
Real deal. Like Reno, already a refuge for disgruntled Californians, wants to be inundated with New Yorkers, investment bankers and slurring literati roaming our streets looking for something Authentic.
Chiarella came. He ate alongside a cop’s family at Louis’ Basque—"a great dive,” won some, lost some, then went back to DePauw, the Methodist university where he teaches writing to undergrads and writes books.
Chiarella calls Reno “off the grid.” I guess he’s never been to Ely. Hundreds of miles from nowhere in Eastern Nevada, Ely is off the grid. Back-easterners have a hard time grasping that Reno is minutes from the California state line. We’re two hours from Sacramento, three from wine country, less than four from San Francisco.
Chiarella says you can’t deconstruct Reno.
Right. Pour into your cocktail shaker a modified reading of structuralist Louis Althusser’s Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Swap out “repressive state apparatus” for “repetitive substance abusiveness,” as any swaggering postmodernist would after a trip to the Biggest Little. To Althusser, “ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.”
What happens when a person consumes 30 casino drinks, smokes cigars and gambles all night? For most humans, after the booze buzz comes that drained, wasted, wrecked, roiling of gut. The head feels packed with unpleasant wriggling things pushing from within, attempting to escape.
Chiarella’s ideology doesn’t allow space for the big H, as in hung-way-over. He has had an Experience, been slain in the spirit, spoken in tongues of men and angels.
Witty are reactions, as gleaned by an RG-J reporter, of Reno city leaders. Our squeaky clean mayor doesn’t like all the fucking bad language. And, whoa, should folks outside Nevada learn that women can legally sell sexual favors just minutes from the center of Reno? Prostitution, always the naked bull-rider in the living room.
Overall city leaders are “giddy.” Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor Authority officials value the article at $832,000, given ad rates for periodicals the size of Esquire.
I’d say we owe Chiarella another round of tiny free drinks for his glowing account—"incredibly affordable” and “no bullshit at the tables"—if I didn’t fear They will descend like Mormon crickets. We’ll never get a seat at The Nugget. Lines for Peg’s will rival those at Disneyland’s latest coaster.
Reno—trendy? Please no.
Action must be taken to deter the first wave of Esquirians. If you catch sight of a drunken urban vampire downtown, fangs dripping, eyes glowing with joy from having won $500 at Hold ’Em, insert your foot into its walking space. Utter something cheesy, inauthentic and deeply dorky like, “Have a nice trip?” If that doesn’t do the trick, wooden stakes and garlic.