Scene In Passing: Make no mistake; find a muse or snooze |

Scene In Passing: Make no mistake; find a muse or snooze

John Barrette

In the last decade while working in news for Reno’s Channel 4 TV station, I was disconcerted to learn people there thought Carson City a boring, backwater town.

It isn’t surprising, however, given that most smaller cities marked by stars on maps — state capitals are designated by cartographers with Star City status — aren’t stars in peoples’ minds. Unless a state capital is the largest city in a state — a Denver, Indianapolis or Atlanta — people think the sidewalks get rolled up at dark each night, even on weekends.

Living in Carson City and commuting to my Reno job back then, on one occasion I made the mistake of pitching a story idea in a 2008 news meeting about my new community of choice. Lack of enthusiasm was palpable. The idea virtually died aborning. Perhaps the idea was to blame, but it also was obvious the usual city slicker disdain for hick towns had kicked in.

Nevada’s capital, having been at one point the nation’s smallest state capital, still was being written off as a haven for bureaucratic administrivia and only worthy of attention when lawmakers came here to carve up state spoils. The nice thing is, however, such a notion is on the ropes and Carson City is on the move. Actually, it’s been on the move since the 1970s, but old assumptions die hard.

Carson City is the best Carson City in the world, and yet can get even better. It’s doing so, naysayers and their naysaying notwithstanding. It’s coming out of the recession bustling with plans and activities, not just survival strategies. Consequently, high on my own disdain radar screen are folks who attack those plans and throw in the arts are unworthy of public support. Are library services unworthy of public support? Are trails networks unworthy? Is Carson City’s Nevada Fair unworthy? They all get some support. The arts do, too, though it hasn’t been much. It’s time to change that.

Public safety is important, as are sanitary conditions, navigable streets, pretty parks. But life without books and tech links to outside thought, without outdoor trails along with pretty parks, without a statewide fair that doesn’t require going to Reno, without arts and culture minus big city price tags — such life is unimaginable. It’s like dinner without dessert, champagne without bubbles. It’s incomplete, even flat.

So for starters: Get your kids into the library’s Habits of Mind (craft), computer creativity for kids, which began Saturday and runs three Saturdays monthly through May; go to a meeting of trails network stakeholders next Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. or on Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Carson City Community Center to provide public input; go to the Board of Supervisors Nov. 19 meeting to give testimony on the Nevada Fair if you want one beyond 2016.

And let me urge you go to Brewery Arts Center’s performances next weekend. The play Arsenic and Old Lace is at the BAC Performing Arts Center all weekend (Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.), and guitar maker/player Leonard Paschini’s one-man rock and blues show is Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the MHJ Black Box theater. These are stellar offerings at reasonable cost.

Don’t just patronize local arts and culture, however, or other fine local options that are like dessert and champagne. Let public officials know how you feel. It’s your city. Let your muse move you to action.

Public officials need to know, for example, 19th century philosopher, philologist and author Friedrich Nietzsche was correct when he wrote: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

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