John Barrette

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September 8, 2013
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Scene In Passing:

Life brings treasure only on occasion, particularly if you look for it just as coin of the realm.

It is people who make up true treasure, though at times people in general can fall into another category identified by French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre. In Sartre’s short play “No Exit,” the basic message is that hell is other people. Of course, the opposite then is true as well; heaven is other people. You know them as true friends.

This morning one of my truest friends is in Carson City for his first visit to this wondrous community and region. He is my older brother, Tony.

Usually this space is used for serious or humorous looks at government and business matters. My life invades it only minimally, which makes good journalistic sense. Most self-indulgent columns are what we in the business call thumb-suckers. The words mainly just take up space.

So even though my joy with a family conclave is included here today, thus ignoring normal attempts at detachment, let’s still strive to find a point related to this community, state, the value of brotherhood and how we all manage our group affairs.

Anyone who reads this column with regularity knows Samuel Langhorne Clemens, alias Mark Twain, crops up on occasion along with the likes of H.L. Mencken and others who wrote with a jaunty but jaundiced eye directed at humanity. Clemens had a beloved brother, as did Mencken by the way.

Clemens’ older brother was Orion, Nevada’s first and only territorial secretary of state, who in the mid-19th century brought the future Mark Twain to the area. The elder Clemens had been appointed to his territorial post by President Abraham Lincoln at the princely salary of $1,800 annually.

A journalist and lawyer, his Carson City home proved a base from which the budding Twain could forage for work, fun and future in places like Angel Camp in California and Virginia City on the Comstock. The Clemens brothers later left the area but their imprint here lives on, as do their legacies.

Orion represents government, which — like it or not — is a major employer. Sam represents private sector enterprise. like it or not the engine of a solid economy. Community members can venerate both, castigate both or choose up sides. Sometimes in this fine place, it seems from this perspective, people choose up sides. Often it’s counterproductive.

Coin of the realm, by the way, is great but mainly a means to reach goals. One goal emulates the Clemens pair: practice brotherhood, or at least civility, building community.

And welcome, Tony, to this high desert heaven hugging the magnificent Sierra Nevada.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Sep 8, 2013 01:19AM Published Sep 8, 2013 01:19AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.