Sights of Reno

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A Reno slot machine drawing on the magic of Aladdin, with a complicated pay-out scheme.

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These days there’s a slot machine theme for every taste, from marine mammals to Sex and the City. (I’d have more photos of them, but photography inside the casinos is verboten.) The vast majority are standard, though, since it seems most people simply want to stuff their money in and push the buttons.

Coin-operated slot machines are passé (you put in folding money now, or your credit card) and there’s no need to pull a lever, just push a button. I wondered how much of the “process”, the “theatre”, can be removed before reducing the devotees’ dedication. No more levers, no paper bucket of coins measuring your success by its weight, no shower of coins sounding for every 10-nickel jackpot, shorter and shorter times for each spin of the reels… Can I just phone it in, say “I’ll bet $1000 on the quarter slots, here’s my credit card number and let me know if I won anything”? I used to think that the external signals (such as the sound of jackpot coins hitting the metal tray) were part of the conditioning to make a gambler keep going, but perhaps it is really internal rather than external; perhaps it’s all in the thoughts of the individual.

Walking around downtown Reno, I couldn’t believe that the city has over five million visitors each year. Where are they all? Where are the restaurants, tourist attractions, and services for them? Answer to both questions: in the casinos, which do their best to provide food and entertainment so guests never stray outside. The big hotel-casino where we stayed (the Nugget) didn’t even have free wi-fi in the rooms; they don’t want people relaxing in their rooms, no money to be made that way! In an open alcove adjoining the casino there was an in-house Starbucks that promised free wi-fi. Carrying my laptop down there to use it, then back up to the room, seemed irritatingly inconvenient, but then I’m not the “demographic”, psychologically speaking, for whom the Nugget is designed. My fun came from walking around taking photos of odd stuff one morning until it was time to head home.

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The Truckee River runs through town and has been cleaned up quite a bit in recent years.

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It was running shallow at this time of year. One area had been tarted up with faux gazebos and uncomfortable places to sit. It looked like a bit of alternative universe spliced into Reno’s dusty lower middle-class stay-in-and-gamble environment.

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Kind of like putting London Bridge in the Arizona desert—oh wait, we did that, and it isn’t too bad.

Reno has its share of odd architectural (and other) juxtapositions.

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I don’t know who the statue in the alcove is meant to represent, but certainly she’s from a different era.

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Then again, she’s going somewhere holding a sheet around herself in lieu of clothing, so perhaps she has been to modern Reno after all.

No trip to Reno could be complete without featuring a Wedding Chapel, and here’s one that multi-tasks. Or so it seemed from across the street, and in this town, it could be true.

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We saw two intriguing old fortune telling machines, relics that will soon be snapped up by collectors no doubt. Place your hands on the crystal ball (which has two electrodes visible, to gauge your temperature and sweat level, I’d guess)

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and the Great Zambini will tell you all about yourself.

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After that, if you’re wondering whether to proceed to the Wedding Chapel, stop first for a personalized answer to the perennial question, “What should you look for in a mate?”. The choices are Personality, Wealth, Looks, Shape, Brains, Height. Does it go on the principle of “opposites attract”, or “birds of a feather”? It was out of order, maybe overworked here in the one-time US capital of divorce, so we’ll never know.

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I’m not really up on the souvenir biz but it is hard to imagine tackier products than we saw here.

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Purses were big, and big sellers, with design motifs using tattoos, religion, faux fur, and celebrity worship (an entire Marilyn Monroe section).

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Why someone would want to proclaim “Love…passion…Hate” on a handbag is a mystery to me. Well, enjoy!

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For the retro crowd there was a t-shirt with this on the front,

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perhaps for the foreign tourists. It’s a Western town, after all, with car shows, air races, and legal brothels outside the city limits.

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I didn’t see that painting in Reno; it is Albert Bierstadt’s Last of the Buffalo, 1888 (cropped). It might sell well on a t-shirt though.

More than one souvenir emporium promised moccasins as part of the bill of wares painted long ago on their front windows, but the only ones I found were these, made of course in China, for $19.99.

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One more odd photo: this building had circles of reflective material in its glass façade and I liked the combination of light standard and reflection.

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Then again this circular object could be one of those wormholes between alternate universes, which would account for much in Reno and elsewhere these days. I did find evidence that at least part of our Congress is active.

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Bipartisan bowling! Congress on tour, rubbing elbows with the common folk over cigarettes and beer! Move over, Tea Party, here comes Your Elected Representatives, Bowling for Dollars!

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One thought on “Sights of Reno

  1. The inhospitable faux-stone river viewing esplanade and veranda is collecting the alkali dust from the near-by dieing lake-beds and bombing ranges, and is as well composed of broken hearts and broken dreams and broken glass – and is everywhere. The Aladdin lamp mists me to shattered Mesopotamia and intuits a karmic cog, the oldster’s savings being extracted by the Bidnez Boys, with The Great Zambini programmed to tell you the lie you most want to hear. All that dust gives me a cough; I can sense the onset of rales.

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