I’m headed to the biggest little city in the world this weekend (Reno, for those of you with a whimsy deficiency), and it’s been fun talking to people about their concepts of the town. Rae, my cohost on Mandatory Happy, compared it Vegas saying that Vegas is “trashy but it’s trying” and Reno is “just trashy.” She said this as a reason for why she loves Reno, by the way. I’ve heard “Vegas’s dirty little brother,” and came across an amazing Trip Adviser review of the city titled “Filthy, Unfriendly, Nothing but speed traps, and crime.” If that’s not the start of a beautfil Reno themed crime anthology, I don’t know you people anymore.
Personally, I haven’t been to Reno in at least ten years, if not longer. But I have family there and one summer’s break worth of memories roaming Sparks (Reno’s suburb) with my cousins. I’ve never been a gambler, so the assorted gambling towns in Nevada have never been overly tempting to me. I love Vegas for it’s kitsch, but I still don’t want to spend more than a weekend there. But Reno is this whole different animal. A place that tried to be Vegas but turned into it’s own little unique heap of casinos, cigarette smoke, and cheap shows. Perhaps the warm feelings I have for the city are purely nostalgia based, or maybe it is a deep knowing that the jokes about how trashy, dirty, and sad the town is are completely true.
Vegas may be full of sparkle, but Reno knows what it is. Vegas hides the broken dreams and empty wallets behind flash, bright lights, and showgirls, but Reno doesn’t hide it at all. I respect that.