Tales of Jethro Bodine and true Nevadians
Let me see if I've got this right. The Dukes of Castle Eldorado
want a quonset hut convention center at their front door and the Reno
council can't approve it fast enough. The town is hurting, we need the
business. Ramshackle away.
Actor Max Baer, Jr., wants to build a $100 million theme casino
the brahmins of the bistros get all over him. The mayor poo-poos the
Might increase auto traffic.
The Reno Gannett-Journal casino newsletter raises serious
about such an outlandish contraption. Not classy enough for a town which
just approved a tourist facility better suited for one of Sheriff
Kirkland's concentration camps for the homeless.
The Reno-Sparks Convention Center, depending on who you talk to
the whim of the moment, is overbuilt, too small, underutilized, obsolete
all of the above.
A closer look reveals the true design for downtown: waste tens
millions, but do nothing which might take foot traffic from the N.
casinos to the riverfront.
The block upon which sits the Citifare bus station will become
site of a new downtown convention center. With skyways in all directions
like the arms of some plug-ugly octopus, the Carano-Circus orbit will
put together a self-contained, above-ground resort at great public
The street-level wind tunnels below will act as de facto
shelters, heated in winter by car exhaust providing cold warmth for
with nowhere to go but Kirkland Land.
A recent Las Vegas survey attributed 20 percent of the homeless
population of Gomorrah South to gambling addiction, a subject rarely
discussed in these parts.
The North Virginia gang even wants the Reno arch moved to their
front doors if railroad trench construction ever starts.
Reno had two chances to become a world-class resort. The first
in 1974 when Bill Harrah killed the idea for AutoLand after citizens
down the crosstown interceptor sewer line. Harrah wanted the corporate
welfare so that he could move his fabulous auto collection west of town
make it the centerpiece of a world class resort.
The voters were not convinced. Harrah folded the idea and died
years later. His corporate descendants sold off the cars for more than
We got a second chance to escape mediocrity in 1983. The
Plaza was to have been a 3,000 room theme casino with a skyway across S.
Virginia St. to the convention center. We would have upstaged Vegas,
of Harrah's best cars.
The project became a political football, painted by opponents as
the symbol of uncontrolled growth. Nearby residents screamed about all
That property on Kietzke extension is now peppered
boxy strip shopping centers which take more in city services than the
property taxes they pay. They brought tons of traffic right to the
backyards of the protestors.
To prevent formation of a Vegas-style strip, downtowners have
always owned huge tracts of land on S. Virginia. Meadowood Mall sits on
the old Smith family ranch, once owned by the proprietors of Harolds
Their industry descendants still fight any new southern
The Peppermill and Atlantis grew by slow encroachment and an occasional
Which brings me to Jethro Bodine's Beverly Hillbillies theme
at Park Lane Mall in a heavily commercial area.
Baer is dead meat in Granny's smokehouse.
The dons have spoken in truly Nevadian fashion.
A TRUE NEVADIAN LOST: Harry Copelan, 69, bought it in a
rollover in Elko County on May 7. On the surface, the Jewish guy from
York was an unlikely candidate for Nevada cowboy. But in a stetson and
boots, Harry fit perfectly.
He was a salesman born with ink under his fingers. About 20
ago, he started a monthly tabloid called "Nevadian," one of the best
publications this state has ever seen. Its title placed a new word into
Had the Territorial Enterprise survived to the modern day, it
looked a lot like Harry's Nevadian. A mutual friend called him the dark
genius of Nevada newspapering. He could be funny, charming, abrasive,
pushy, warm, cold, generous and downright cantankerous. Truly Nevadian.
Salesmen love the road and Harry was happiest hitting the
of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream to put out his papers.
Like the Nevadian before it, his award-winning Wendover-based High
Advocate weekly became ubiquitous in eastern Nevada.
I always harbored a vague fear that Harry's salesman compulsion
highway mileage would one day do him in. And that's how he went, a
day version of dying in the saddle. I'd bet my bottom dollar that his
was filled with newspapers.
I'll say kaddish for you, old friend. We'll meet again in the
Nevadian newsroom in the sky. Until then, I'm pulling out my file
collection to remind myself how good you were.
Be well. Raise hell.