Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday--Reno, "The Biggest Little City in the World"

As long-time readers of Writerquake know, Reno is my hometown -- where I spent the first 25 years of my life. When I found this old postcard for sale online I bought it because I so remember the downtown looking exactly like that, and I thought it was ironic that the postcard was mailed to someone in Portland, Oregon, 40 miles from where I now live (and I did live in Portland for one year).

Crime in downtown Reno was not much of an issue when I was growing up there but, as nearly everywhere, it has become a concern. This article was posted on November 16, 2011, by KRNV in Reno:
Reno, Nev. ( & KRNV) - Over the past year, Officers from the Downtown Enforcement Team have completed training to be drug recognition experts, also known as D.R.E.'s. The Downtown Enforcement Team has used this skill set to combat crime and develop information about crime trends occurring in the downtown corridor. This year, the Downtown Enforcement Team has conducted 49 drug recognition exams.

These exams have led to multiple criminal arrests from contacts and information obtained during the drug recognition exams. To date, there have been 32 arrests for felony unlawful use of a controlled substance, 15 felony possessions of controlled substance arrests, 2 felony possessions of stolen motor vehicle arrests, 4 arrests for trafficking or sales of a controlled substance and 16 other felony arrests.

The misdemeanor arrests stemming from the exams have led to, 13 arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia, 5 arrests for DUI drugs, and 23 arrests of other misdemeanor crimes.

The Reno Police Department is dedicated to creating a safe environment for residents and visitors to our city.

I was thinking recently about the Paiute people of Nevada, and of some who were classmates of mine in Reno. They stayed apart from the other students (with the exception of the few who played high school football) and I regret not ever having formed a friendship with any of them.  In doing some reading I discovered a Paiute poet, Adrian C. Louis, who is originally from Lovelock, a small Nevada town. His poem Getting a Second Opinion really moved me. I'm following the poem with his bio and a Bruce Springsteen song that always makes me cry inside, hoping we all might care a bit more about, do a bit more for, our home downtown areas.

Getting a Second Opinion -by Adrian C. Louis

I've just bought you a new winter coat
and we're temporarily sane,
cruising two blocks down the street
from K-Mart in Rapid City.
Three young Indian boys,
fourteen, maybe fifteen years
old and living the thug life
are strolling across the busy street
making cars stop and I slam on
the brakes and give them the finger
and they flash gang signs and one pulls
a small, silver gun and I stomp on the gas
and in the rearview mirror I see them
laughing and I know positively
by the fear in your eyes that
not only is the white man's God
dead, but the Great Spirit is too.

From Wikipedia:
Adrian C. Louis (1947?-) is a Lovelock Paiute author from Nevada now living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He has taught at Oglala Lakota College. His novel Skins (1995) discusses reservation life and issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and social problems and was the basis for the 2002 film, Skins. He has also published books of poetry and a collection of short stories, Wild Indians and Other Creatures (1996). His work is noted for its realism.

Born in northern Nevada in 1946, Louis is the eldest of twelve children. Of mixed heritage, Louis is of Lovelock Paiute descent. He moved from Nevada to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation.

Louis graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor's and MA in Creative Writing. Louis was also a former journalist and along with being editor of four tribal newspapers, he was the managing editor of Indian Country Today and a co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association.

Louis has ten published books of poetry and two novels. His poetry and fiction have garnered him much recognition and awards. His work has been praised by some of the other notable modern Native American writers, including Sherman Alexie, N. Scott Momaday, James Welch and Leslie Marmon Silko. In 1999, he was added to the Nevada Writer's Hall of Fame. In 2001 he was awarded the Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and the Cohen Award for best published poem in Ploughshares. He is also the recipient of the Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the South Dakota Arts Council, the Nebraska Arts Council, the National Endowment of the Arts and the Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Foundation.

Louis taught English at Pine Ridge's Oglala Lakota College from 1984–1997; since 1999, he has taught in the Minnesota State University systems.



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

ah lydia - immediately i'm reminded why i feel affinity towards your site and enjoy your posts so much, as the first thing i thought when i saw a postcard about Reno was "its the kind of place that Springsteen would sing about coming from" - and there you are at the end with My Hometown :)

I think REM did a song called "all the way to (or possibly from) Reno"

the report from the crime team is fascinating and gives you a glimpse of what kinda battles they must be up against

The postcard, btw, is exactly how my image of the modern American city should look - lots of bright lights. I'd love the chance to wonder around and photograph some of them one day

fus said...

Pues siempre he oido Reno como una ciudad expectacular. Me alegro que tus recuerdos te lleven a esos espacios, que aunque pasen el tiempo nunca lo olvidamos.

un saludo


izzy said...

Nice piece! I was in Reno several times years ago. As I recall once was full of nickle slot machines
the others were chasing Neon with my first husband- photo's- large format-
Dusk, dawn and night.
I grew up in New York City (and various other urban centers) Change in crime styles ? -yup- frequency ?
Well I think daring is maybe
more apropos... thanks!

Hattie said...

That poem is right to the point, as is Springsteen's video. What I find sad as a westerner is that so much was destroyed even well before I was born. Things that can never come back.

Owen said...

Seems like the times I went to Nevada it was mainly while trying to get somewhere else, like over to Death Valley, or down into Arizona, going to Havasu, or across from Las Vegas into Utah to get to Zion or Bryce Canyon area... guess the test site scared me off, though I did once see the Grateful Dead play in Las Vegas, with Santana at the UNLV Silver Bowl... Great, bright postcard, and I love the poem you found to go with this. Native Americans, incredible tragedy, especially if the Great Spirit has expired, amidst a sea of thuggery. Sad, sad, sad...

hedgewitch said...

Our VW bus broke down in Reno on our way back to Chicago from San Francisco in '71--spent a sort of belated honeymoon there with my first husband, and liked the town, it was honest in what it was. One of the best memories of that trip is driving out to a nearby hot springs in the middle of the desert and soaking under the midnight stars--someone had tried to make a resort or something once, and built a little concrete basin sort of thing, but it was all broken down and full of sand and weeds--but the spring was welling from out of the rocks like a live thing.

Thanks for all this, Lydia. That was a helluva poem from Louis, and of course, the Boss is always appropriate--one of his sadder grittier tunes, especially.

Lydia said...

**First, I wanted to let you all know that I had an email from poet Adrian C. Louis thanking me for posting his poem here. What a thrill and an honor to hear from him!**

Pixies~ Interesting you would mention the REM song because I listened to it the other night. I was not aware of it when it was first released. I loved that we were on a wavelength regarding the Springsteen song, and appreciated your comments so much.
I hope you will one day photograph some American cities also. Your eye would catch amazing things.

fus~ It would be interesting for you to visit Reno and then tell of your impressions! Many thanks for your visit and comments.

izzy~ How fascinating to learn you grew up in New York City, etc.! Lucky you, I think! I enjoyed your impressions of your time in Reno and your wisdom regarding the changes in crime in general.

Hattie~ I agree with your comments. When they were destroying the past I guess there was no consideration for those of us who had no say in the matter. I feel the same about the way we now terrorize the planet and its species.

Owen~ Sounds like you had some great trips passing through Nevada! I saw the Grateful Dead in Nevada also, but in Reno instead of Vegas.
Thank you, especially, for the final part of your comment. Poignant and powerful.

hedgewitch~ You added much to this post with your comments and I thank you especially for this observation of Reno:
. . .it was honest in what it was.
I love that.
I love the description of the hot springs and wish I knew what one you found. I know for a fact that I never soaked in that particular one, alas, alas...

Lydia said...

This is a test to determine why HTML tags are not working correctly in my comments box.
Bold print

Rhiannon said...

I would hate to see the native American spirit

Lydia, I hope you'll drop by my blog. It's my 8th year anniversary of my blog. Not that I've been on much or "dedicated" much time to it in a long while. I wrote something on the top right side of my blog about having my blog for 8 years and what's going on with "things" in my life now in general. Hope you'll drop by.

I just wanted to thank my few blog friends I still have, for checking in on my blog from time to time.



Rhiannon said...

I hope your HTML tags are working now...:o)

Lydia said...

Rhi~ Congratulations on Eight Years!! Wow! I just passed four years here at Writerquake. Did not realize you started blogging that long ago. You were one of the pioneers in blogging!
Will drop by soon.

No, my HTML tags are NOT working, and it's driving me crazy trying to figure out what has changed...sigh!

susan said...

I've never been to Reno but I can well understand your love of the place where you grew up. The postcard you've posted this time says much about how things have changed everywhere.. and not often for the better.

Adrian Louis's poem certainly testifies to that. It's wonderful and so very sad.

Amber Lee said...

We once rode the train from Roseville, CA to Reno and stayed at Circus Circus. And we used to stop there pretty regularly on the drive to and from Utah to visit family. Lovelock, as well.

I quite like the scenery in Nevada.

And what a tragic poem - so sad.



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