Scene In Passing: Carson City needs real, magical fool’s gold

In the esoteric tradition of Tarot, the magician and the fool represent the paired persona of any protagonist traveling through life’s tantalizing temptations.

Each of us is hero and ghost, or goat sometimes, of our own existence. Individually, we suffer the slings and arrows of outraged or assuaged fortune, but it’s how we handle the good, the bad and the ugly that counts. In modernity, some of us get caught up in the optimistic, bright and sunny side while others see the pessimistic underbelly of existence. It’s best, however, to strive instead for equilibrium.

Let’s rely first on H.L. Mencken, that old friend of this column and writer who crafted thought-provoking verbiage in the last century.

“The difference between an optimist and a pessimist: A) an optimist believes this is the best of all possible worlds; B) the pessimist is afraid he is right.”

Such HLM insight came to mind as Mayor Robert Crowell rolled out the #CarsonProud campaign that is the social media Mad Men-style creation of The Impetus Agency in Reno. It’s a campaign to get the community behind spending upward of $18 million in city sales tax money and more, when you dip into other city fiscal resources, to spruce up a creaking capital city.

Nada problem, except perhaps the $40,000 tossed into T-shirts and social media hype. But as I told City Manager Nick Marano once, government has wasted more money on less. It isn’t as big a deal as, for instance, having to pay more than $40,000 to a dead dog’s owner because you couldn’t follow the ordinance you had just written on euthanasia procedures (which happened before Marano got here to help fix that type of mess).

No, there’s not a lot wrong with putting an optimistic bow on things. Heck, my new pal Jim Shirk showed us all how far optimism can get you with his successful “I love Carson City” campaign for supervisor. Yet I still caution it’s a mistake just to sell sunny side up ad nauseum without checking the kitchen to see whether the cook keeps things clean or lets ‘em grow rancid. Remember, we’re all magicians and fools here.

Relying once more on HLM for an addendum to his optimist/pessimist lesson, let’s shift focus slightly: An idealist smells roses and thinks they’ll make a great soup while a cynic smells flowers and looks around for a coffin. My point? If we’re not already proud of Carson City we’re idiots, fools who can’t see the magic, too self-involved, lost in some nit-picking limbo. Not my style.

For me the bottom line is it could be better, but it’s also a damn fine here. Some are certain there’s a coffin in the city’s darkest corner and know this would be the best of all possible worlds if we could find it, inter it with the body politic inside, and let it moulder throughout eternity. Fortunately, the magician and fool in the rest of us won’t go there.

The optimist and pessimist alike in each of us prefers taking action, moving forward, finding excitement, being both foolish and magical. The nice thing about the body politic is it’s alive, we hired our leaders to lead and we can fire them if we don’t like where they take us. Until we do, however, we must stop second-guessing their every move. This isn’t government commentary, it’s political observation.

If you want to be CP (CarsonProud) of CC (CarsonCritical), that’s fine, but avoid the “pride goeth before a fall” syndrome that stems from BS (back stabbing). Let’s play the Tarot cards we’re dealt with civility.

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


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