This town is the definition of bum-fucked nowhere. It’s on Interstate-95 between Reno and Las Vegas. I know, just shoot me now, right? The entire state looks like this. There is a suffocating pall of deadness to the place that puts me in a deep lethargic funk. I don’t gamble or go the whorehouses, so that leaves alcohol as the only palliative for my Nevada angst. It works. Booze always works.
Luning, I think, saw its best days during the Hayes Administration (Who didn’t?). It’s being reclaimed by the desert and will probably be a ghost town soon. There won’t be anything there but lizards, snakes, and vinegaroons. Wait, what the hell is a vinegaroon?
This is a vinegaroon:
If you step on one with your bare feet, you will shit your pants, guaranteed, but they are actually harmless. The most they do is pinch you and squirt a vinegar-like substance from their tail. I found the image on Google. No way would I hold one of those nasty muthers!
The nearest real town to Luning is Hawthorne, which is home to a large military base where, I think, geeky Army guys operate predator drones.
That’s right, I called them geeky, so sue me. I don’t reflexively kow-tow to soldiers. I don’t call them heroes and thank them for their service every third word. I find the whole “booyah” “get some” hyper-masculine culture of the military repulsive to the extreme. It is arrogant and violent and anti-democratic. It takes one of the more unpleasant groups in our society — teenage boys, usually poor and ill-educated teenage boys — and cultivates their cruelest and most obnoxious tendencies. I find it personally embarrassing that so many foreigners only know us through the military. I saw an Iraqi on television describe our soldiers as “cowboys with no culture.” Was he wrong?
Ask an Okinawan how noble the U.S. military is, or the ex-inhabitants of Diego Garcia.
Yeah, yeah, I’m generalizing. There are lots of nice people in the military too. Every combat veteran I’ve ever met was really cool, and I usually do spot them drinks. They are also uncomfortable being called heroes.
Incidentally, World War II is the only justifiable war this country has ever fought. Until the advent of George W. Bush, who empowered the morons of America more than ever before, I would have said the Civil War too, but I’ve since changed my mind. Life would be a lot simpler if we just let the South go. Maybe throw in Nevada as a bonus, ha, ha. Perhaps the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska could also be tossed in as an added sweetener. Let them teach their kids that the world is flat and Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs. Let them issue liberal hunting permits and watch NASCAR all they want. Let them atrophy their brains with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Let them listen to shitty country music and vote for Republicans who joyfully fuck them over. I just don’t care anymore. Like Pontius Pilate, I wash my hands of them.
Yeah, yeah, I’m generalizing again. Everyone I’ve ever met from the South was extremely friendly and hospitable. Far friendlier than we Californians, who have a tendency to think our poop don’t stink, when in fact it is quite smelly indeed. I lived in the Bay Area for seven years and never exchanged more than ten words with my neighbors on either side. And don’t even get me started on LA, which is the rudest and most arrogant hellhole on God’s gray earth. It is the exact opposite of everything I value and the concentrated essence of all I despise. Mencken called it Los Angeles the Damned and that was in the 1920s when it was a nice place!
Okay, there. Nobody yell at me for overgeneralizing. We are all unpleasant in our own unique ways.
By the way, I tried to join the military when I was 18, but I was rejected because I have two thumbs on my left hand, just like Anne Boleyn. There is a fancy word that describes people like us, polydactyl. Isn’t that special? So I missed Operation Just Cause, the heroic capture of evil transvestite super villain Manuel Noriega, by a nose. I had to sit out my generation’s great crusade! While my peers were storming the beaches of Panama, I was flunking algebra in college. Yeah, you could say I’m bitter, uh-huh …
But I was talking about Nevada, which is morbidly interesting to me, like a car crash or a natural disaster, or a polydactyl with a deformed thumb, ha, ha. And what is so interesting about Nevada? Well, in a way, it is such a cartoonishly wretched place that it’s almost kind of cool.
Pick almost any index of social well-being, and Nevada ranks at or near the very bottom of the 50 states, though it ranks near the top in personal wealth. Besides having the highest suicide rate (almost twice the national average), Nevada has the highest adult smoking rate and the highest death rate from smoking, the highest percentage of teenagers who are high-school dropouts, the highest teenage pregnancy rate and the highest rate of firearm deaths.
Nevada ranked 45th among the states for overall health last year, just above states like West Virginia and Arkansas, according to rankings compiled by United Health Group, a Minnesota-based health care company.And if it wasn’t for Clark County, which is where Las Vegas is located, the state would be blood red politically.
Question: Why can’t they ever solve a murder in Dayton, Nevada?
Answer: Because there aren’t any dental records and everybody has the same DNA.
Nevada statehood was jammed through in 1864 as a way to ensure Lincoln’s reelection. So I guess you could say Nevada was Lincoln’s greatest error.
When most people think Nevada, they think Vegas, gambling, hookers, crystal meth, and other such debased entertainments, but Nevada is actually a big mining state, and back in the nineteenth century people weren’t too fastidious about where they dumped the slag. Consequently, the waters in northern Nevada are heavily polluted with mercury. But those were the bad old days. Things are better now. The Nevada Department of Wildlife has a helpful guide that tells you what types of fish can be safely eaten, what water sources you can eat them from, and what quantities are non-toxic. For example, you can’t eat carp or smallmouth bass from the Carson River. You may, however, have exactly one 8 ounce serving of carp per month from the Chimney Reservoir, but don’t touch the walleye. Absolutely no carp, Sacramento perch, or white bass from Big Washoe Lake, and no carp, Sacramento perch, or white bass from the Little Washoe Lake either. Got that? You may safely consume one rainbow trout per month from Bodie Creek, four brown trout from the Walker River, four yellow perch from Duffurena Pond, and 16 bluegill sunfish from Virginia Lake. Bon Apetite! And remember, 8 ounce portions only.
Do you want to go to Nevada yet?
You are now leaving Luning: