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September 20, 2014

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j. patrick coolican:

Hey, Reno: Cry it out with a tire fire and a keg

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

Reno joke at 09:06 to 09:15

I feel a bit of guilt making fun of Reno, which has recently endured an air show crash and a bad fire.

But Reno gives me no choice, being so Reno and all.

In the new Muppet movie, Reno appears as a sad sack dump for Fozzie Bear's failed solo career. The TV show “Reno 911” has long mocked the city’s police department, and to add insult to injury, the show isn’t even filmed in Reno — where this week two bins of “Toys for Tots” were stolen from a Walmart only to be returned.

And then on “Saturday Night Live” last week, “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers had this to say: “According to a new list, the least happiest city in America is St. Petersburg, Fla. But that’s only because Reno, Nevada, finally killed itself.” (Las Vegas is actually the suicide capital of America, but moving on ...)

Well, Reno is fighting back!

Some genius in an editors’ meeting of the Reno Gazette-Journal decided he’d had enough. (Somehow I know it was a he.) The paper asked its readers to contribute to an “open letter to Seth Meyers” that will be published Sunday from the people of Reno, a city known for the purity of its methamphetamine.

“It just needs to be funny,” says the newspaper of Reno, where the five food groups are venison, fish, berries, beer and Marlboro Reds.

Here are some examples the editors provided:

• Seth Meyers: Making David Spade look macho since 2001.

• Hey Seth, washing Tina Fey’s Mercedes is not the same as “I worked with Tina Fey at SNL.”

• Wow, Seth Meyers made fun of Donald Trump. Even Donald Trump makes fun of Donald Trump.

The problem here is that these aren’t funny. In fact, the whole flaw in this plan, as I noted on Twitter on Tuesday (@jpcoolican), is that Seth Meyers is funny. Whereas the people of Reno — where the dirt flooring of the homes serves for both sleeping and eating — and the editors of the Reno Gazette Journal are not funny.

If they were funny, they wouldn’t be living in Reno, where we all hope girls will be permitted to go to school someday. They’d be in New York City getting paid to be funny. (Same goes with me, s’pose.)

Then after they got famous they’d come back to Reno and be VIPs at the Reno Rodeo and be served Reno’s famous delicacy — equine tartare.

No, see, there’s nothing more Podunk, nothing more Reno, than shaking your fist at the big-city snob, who I assure you doesn’t know or care.

Do you think it ever worked for Cleveland? Just ignore the guff and get busy bringing modern conveniences like electric light and running water — preferably fluoridated water — to the good people of Reno, whose outhouses are filling to capacity as we speak.

In fact, the editors might take note of Brian Duggan, the paper’s city reporter, who takes a far more droll and knowing tone to the recent cultural embarrassments.

He suggests an excellent motto: At least we’re not Detroit. (Reno may have to fight Vegas for that one.)

Or better yet, make lemonade out of lemons, or in terms Reno would understand, make “purdy” flowers out of manure. When Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post named Battle Mountain the “armpit of America,” the rural Nevada town ran with it. In 2003, Old Spice sponsored the city’s new event, the “Festival of the Pit.”

Is there an equivalent for Reno and its marker as the “saddest city in America”? A “Festival of Sadness”? Perhaps a film festival celebrating — or mourning? — the movies of Ingmar Bergman? Sorry, I forgot who I was dealing with. Just get some kegs and start a tire fire and call it a party.

Finally, I’ll stipulate that there’s nothing more suspect and pathetic than the metro columnist for one failing city making fun of another (smaller) failing city. Reno readers: Let us have it. In the comments, tell us why you hate Vegas.

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  1. Reno has UNR. Enough said. No really, I remember when Las Vegas was Great, just like Reno. Reno has managed to keep all it's cousins on the same bus, so you still have to go through a cousin to play with your lego's, to even get a permit to play with them. I can't believe the locals don't know that there are parks in Las Vegas, that the Ski area is not that far away, and while the Colorado River does not flow through town, and we have to "pay" to get to it, we do have a river..I love Reno, but I have been in Vegas to earn the title "southern slut of Nevada"..

  2. It's more a sign of the decline of the Reno papers. There are good people there, even some very good ones, but not enough of them to squelch every bad idea that comes bubbling up in the desperate effort to stay relevant. Newspapers lost the battle long ago (Craig's List won it), but like the cartoon character sliced by a scimitar, seem not to know it and carry on as usual despite their impending doom. Hilarious onscreen maybe, but in real life a vital community resource slowly ebbs, until the day it falls to pieces.

  3. Having spent a lifetime living in Toledo, Ohio one year, I sympathize with the good citizens of Reno.