There’s something about the State of Nevada.  Something about the of gnarled hills the relentless sagebrush flats, the Ghost Towns, Caesars, MGM, the neon, the noise.  It feels like the state of Nevada has something to teach me, something important.

When I think of Nevada I think of prospectors and burros, gold and silver, boom and bust, Eureka, Pioche, Tonopah, Carson City, Virginia City, the Comstock Lode.  I think of a false-fronted Emporium with empty window frames, sand blowing through doorways, snow drifting over boardwalks.  I think of tumbleweed rolling down empty streets, biting winter, scorching summer and the sweet pungency of sage after a thunderstorm.

When I think of Nevada, I think of an islet of light and gas pumps beside Route 50, “Loneliest Road in America.”  A sadly heroic outpost hunkered down in the drab, silent land, a shameless spark of life impossibly far from anywhere else on Earth.  I think of Corollas, Mercedes, Harleys and semis racing past grimy windows where “Budweiser” flickers and chrome-faced slot-machines beckon like prostitutes.

When I think of Nevada I think of “The Biggest Little City on Earth,” “The Strip,” the Mob, “Bugsy” Siegel, con-artists, and hit-men.  I think of the Flamingo, Stardust, Dunes, Sahara, MGM, Caesars, green felt, Blackjack, Roulette, Craps.  I think of Lounge Shows, Extravaganzas and bare-breasted show girls.  I think of the mawkish kerchunk of slot machines and the clatter of nickels in tin bowls.  I think of a million lights winking all night every night, of giddy winners and suicidal losers, of mechanical dealers and bionic pit bosses and the Eye-in-the-sky.

When I think of Nevada I think of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Mustang Ranch the Cottontail Ranch, pimps and whores.

As if feeling overwhelmed by hills rolling on like gray-green velvet over mounds of mashed potatoes, carpets of sagebrush hung hammock-like between decaying stony spines, shimmering heat, killing cold; as if intimidated by the boundless sapphire dome, the Bigness, the Stillness, to buck up our courage, to fool ourselves into believing we matter at all, we turn on the lights, turn up the volume, raise a ruckus.  Secretly knowing all the while, the neon, the noise, the clatter, the glitter, the ten million dollar jackpots, the Extravaganzas, bare-chested beauties, the ninety-nine cent ham and egg breakfast, the five-ninety-five steak and lobster dinner, are apparitions in the window of a sad cafe in a lonely outpost beside I-15, I-80, an evanescent fairy-dust mirage in an empty silent land.

The Desert nurtures and consoles me.  I absorb the dirt, rock, sage, the jackrabbits and wild horses, the shimmering heat, the stunning cold, the vast dry land, the endless robin’s-egg blue, the stillness.  Alone.  Emptiness, silence are vital.

Then, suddenly, I yearn for an oasis, the indecent clatter of nickels in a tin dish, the garish light, the noise and motion.  I crave a hot shower, air-conditioning, steak and lobster, green felt and One-armed Bandits, pimps and whores, cons and hit-men, Pen and Teller, bare-chested showgirls.  I need music, laughter, curses and tears.  To survive, to exist, I demand people!  Without a café and gas station beside the Freeway I can not survive.

For me the State of Nevada is Yin and Yang, paradox, diametric opposites inconceivable without the other.  Think about it, light without dark, summer without winter, noise without silence, solitude without community, male without female, life without death.  Inconceivable.

The state of Nevada’s emptiness and glitter fascinate me.  Without The Strip, The Biggest Little City on Earth, the lonely parched land feel hopeless.  Without the lonesome desert Vegas and Reno are absurd.

Under the Bus

I cant’ believe it!  Obsessed by financial profit, Republican legislators would throw Oregon children under the School Buy.  While teachers, perhaps the most crucial, underpaid and unappreciated profession, knock themselves out in outrageously oversize and extremely hard to manage classes, Conservatives who lay out $3 for a latte, $50 for lunch, $100 for Cabernet, or $100,000 for a month on St Kitts are loath to part with pennies for Oregon’s kids and future.

To properly fund a Public Education System variously ranked between thirty-third and fortieth of the fifty states and a graduation rate of seventy-seven percent, Oregon Democrats proposed a tax of 0.057% on business sales over $1 million, with subtractions for labor, capital costs and some businesses exempt.  Consider this: After a $1 million exemption and write offs, 0.057% of the remaining $100,000 is $5700 or 0.0052% of the original $1.1 million.  Pocket change for the effected businesses.  Republicans boycotted the bill.

With profit sacrosanct, they argue that business taxes inevitably pass to consumer.  Fair enough!  As beneficiaries of an up-scaled educational system, it is appropriate we all help pay the bill.

A couple of consequence to our failure to properly fund Oregon Public Education:  A half-century back, each fall my Mom, a widowed elementary teacher, drove two hundred miles to Utah-Idaho School Supply and spent her own meager income for educational material she considered necessary to supplement the bare-bones note book, pencil, crayons, and reading, arithmetic, spelling books supplied by the District.  Apart from a four hundred mile round trip, for many Oregon teachers this is still the case.

As we, the Public, abrogate our commitment to properly educate children the burden falls on parents.  Have you seen the list of school supplies they are expected to provide?  Oregon kids are barred from programs as fundamental as music, art, and athletics because parents can not afford to pay for them.

It’s Public Education folks!  Failure to prepare out children to contribute, indeed to survive as adults, leaves their and our future at serious risk.

Clear and Present Danger

We were warned.

In The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.  .  .  conclude, “President Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and that he presents a clear and present danger to the nation.  .  .  .  From the trauma people have experience under the Trump administration to the cult-like characteristic of his followers, he has created unprecedented mental health consequences across our nation and beyond.  It’s not in our heads.  It’s in his.”

These expert agree Donald Trump exhibits symptoms of “Narcissistic personality disorder  .  .  .  a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance (remember “stable genius”?), excessive need of admiration and lack of empathy.” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM)  Into the third year of his Presidency, Donald Trump’s ever-expanding record of delusional thinking, ill-conceived acts and policies, factual inaccuracies, and outright lies is uncannily constant with this definition.