Reno, Nevada

Thought I'd share a few facts about Reno that I learned last night talking to a guy who recently moved from there. It is one of his least favorite places in the U.S.

The gang scare is a media construction. The local news used to speak of the gang threat and show video footage from Southcentral LA. They say Reno's gang situation is comparable. The guy I talked to said this is completely bogus, in his words it's supplying the demand of the locals' racist hysteria. My buddy (the guy) said that the gang situation in Reno is much more tepid than, say, here in SF, in the Mission, or in the East Bay at Hunter's Point. I'm not sure about Hunter's Point, but the Mission sure isn't Compton.

Reno's economy runs on mining (gold, silver, copper) and gambling. A lucky combo! In the deserts of Reno are pools of water full of cyanide for leaching gold from ore (there's pools at Blackrock, just over the hills from the playa where "Burning Man" is celebrated--watch those hot springs revelers!). The pools are not fenced in, although nets cover them to reduce the number of birds killed by cyanide. Instead of tunneling, new mining practices involve the production of huge holes in the earth. Other environmental costs: the use of mercury, also, in leaching gold from ore, which settles in the water table. Mercury was used back in the 19th cent, not only in mining, but in the production of, say, beaver hats. The workers inhaled fumes from the heated mercury. This is where we get the phrase "mad as a hatter", for many workers suffered neurological consequences from lack of ventilation.

Anyone who's lived there care to add to or correct these observations?

-Alec Ramsdell