Editor’s Note: In the recently of January, Jay Nordlinger attended the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev. His journal started yesterday, here
I‘m strolling down Main Street, which, here in Elko, is Idaho Street. A man tips his hat to me and states “Welcome.”
Well, I never ever.
– Earlier, I was quoting some main literature– which said the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is “six days of poetry, music, dancing, workshops, exhibits, conversations, food and fellowship, rooted in tradition but focused on today’s rural West.” Among the workshops happens in a Presbyterian church– whose office has a check in the window: “No Money on Facilities.”
I’m a little unfortunate to see it. (Not that I desire any money– but that such an indication is, seemingly, essential.)
– The workshop is Street Tacos, gave us by Valentina Ortiz. Did I say the activity is in the church’s kitchen? It is, in case that was a bit complicated. Valentina Ortiz is as appealing as her name. In addition to being a cook, she is the director of the Elko Mexican Ballet Folklorico. It seems to me she is a natural trainer.
Among the things she teaches her trainees in the workshop is how to judge the hotness of a jalapeño– without tasting it, that is. You go by smell. The nose knows (or a minimum of hers does).
– As I have actually pointed out, the poetry event is a production of the Western Folklife Center. They are housed in Elko’s old Leader Building, which is kept in very good-looking shape. It has a theater (2, in fact), an exhibition gallery, offices, a present shop– and a saloon. One thing about this saloon: no smoke. That makes it a little inauthentic, possibly, but pleasant, too.
Many of the guys in the saloon– at any offered time– are wearing a cowboy hat. Concern: Are they cowboys or simply hat-wearers? There is a mixture, is my impression.
By The Way, there are many ways to state “cowboy”: I hear “cattleman,” “cowman,” “cowpoke,” and most likely more, if I thought of it. Also, I hear “cowboy” as a verb: “to cowboy.” “I cowboyed for about 15 years and after that entered into driving truck.”
That is an American language: “to drive truck.” I heard it way back, in Michigan, where I grew up: “What’s your father do? Work over to Ford’s?” “No, he drives truck.” Here in Elko, I hear a phrase that’s new to me: “to repair fence.” “… whether it’s ropin’ steers, brandin’ calves, fixin’ fence, or what have you.”
– On the walls of the Leader Structure, images by Elko High trainees are shown. I take a look at the names of the trainee photographers– and they are truly an American stew: Holly Lindskog, Germaine Acacio, Radhika Bhatka, Andrea Rodriguez, Phoebe Fagaoga, Jacob Kath, Pantera Kivisto, Brooklyn Bogue, Hank Tabor …
What a country, huh? (Yes.)
– The name “Tabor” makes my ears prick. I know we’re in gold-mining nation– however Nevada is the Silver State. And who was the Silver King? Horace Tabor– who is commemorated in The Ballad of Child Doe, the opera by Douglas Moore. Among the highlights of this opera is the Silver Aria. Not far away from the Leader Building, and the image exhibit, is Silver Street.
Anyway, I wonder if Hank Tabor is a descendant …
– You will desire to check out the shop of J. M. Capriola, when you come here– 2 floors. They have actually been making saddles considering that1929 The shop smells truly great, with all that leather. You can get a lot more than saddles, naturally: spurs, lassos, blankets– whatever your requirements may be.
– You got gambling establishments and whorehouses and all that nasty stuff. One of the whorehouses is Inez’s Dancing & Diddling. Well, you need to credit Inez with uncomplicated marketing, if absolutely nothing else.
Among the casinos advertises “Free Pie” and “Free ATM.” Well, isn’t that unique? When you offer ’em your money, you can eat their pie, and when you run out cash, you can use the ATM, at no extra charge, up until there ain’t no mo’ …
– In Elko, you have First Street, Second Street, and so on. You likewise have streets named after trees. From a little bit of a range, the sign for “Fir St.” makes you think of “First” …
– Stay, if you want, in the Stampede Motel. Have you ever heard a better motel name, in the American West?
– There is a stew of ethnic restaurants in Elko. (We used to state “ethnic.”) At the Blue Moon, you can get all-you-can-eat sushi. Sticking with the Far East, you can attempt Chef Cheng’s Chinese. How about something Cornish? Pasties. As the sign says, they are “The Original Portable Mining Food.” (Individuals understand about them in northern Michigan.)
Likewise, you have Basque dining establishments– yes, plural. Nevada is where Basque sheepherders came. Amongst them were Paul Laxalt’s moms and dads. I think about the late guv and senator– and buddy of Ronald Reagan– while I’m here.
A fast linguistic aside: Great deals of Basque individuals have an “x” in their name.
One restaurant is Toki Ona. I’m told the name indicates “Great Location.” Then there is the famous Star Hotel. A local tells me it was named the best dining establishment in all of Nevada– consisting of Las Vegas, Reno, and whatever. Pretty Basque women are still waitresses at the Star. And it’s type of a thrill, for me, to hear Basque spoken by two old guys, having lunch. I did not anticipate to hear that.
Speaking of lunch– mine: big salad; buttery, tasty ham sandwich, with green chilis; French fries; pistachio ice cream– $15
The semi-acceptable salad I habitually have at lunch, in Midtown Manhattan, has to do with that.
I go back to the Star, with a pal, for a steak supper, basically– which is tasty, generous, and (I understand this is a relative thing) low-cost.
– The local who was applauding the Star to me? I ask him, “Where’s the very best chili in town?” He states, “Truthfully? Wendy’s. I believe they have great chili.” I think him.
– In a park, along Idaho Street, is a statue called “Artzaina Zain,” or “The Watchful Shepherd”– a tribute to the Basque individuals. Here, wish to see it?
– Beside the park is a museum– the Northeastern Nevada Museum. “It’s a hoot,” an Elkan has told me. Yes, and it’s a great museum, too. Let me begin with an indication out front– a check in a flower garden (not that there are flowers this time of year). I just love this sign, for factors I will describe:
You see and hear “Do not Tread on Me” a lot. But the “Please” includes a fascinating twist. Typically, “Please” and “Do not Tread on Me” don’t go together. Likewise, the lack of a contraction: “Do Not,” instead of “Don’t.”
Anyway, the indication tickled me (as we ‘d state in the Midwest).
– Also out front is a cabin– a cabin that once functioned as the Ruby Valley Pony Express station:
– Inside the museum is a giraffe. Stuffed. Is it genuine? I do not know and I ain’t touchin’ (not that touchin’ would help me understand).
– Continuing on the topic of animals: There is a substantial wildlife wing, and I like how the animals are displayed. They aren’t all cuddly– they are tearing the hell out of each other. The museum is revealing the ferocity of nature.
– There is a parlor– a replica of one– which entertains me. It has old-timey things in it: couch, ottoman, piano, sheet music, and so on. Why my amusement? Well, since I knew all this stuff– in my great-grandmothers’ homes, for instance. And now they are in museums?
– With the gun display screen, I am taken– mainly since of a note, accompanying the screen: “It’s stated that the gun won the West and maybe that holds true. Guns were utilized for combating, killing, searching, protection, law enforcement, and crime. Times have not altered– firearms are still utilized for the exact same functions.” True, true (and direct).
– Had enough? Another item, before I knock off and prepare Part III. The slogan of the state is “Fight Born”– since Nevada came out of the Civil War (admitted to the Union in 1864).
All right, we’ll have some poetry and some music tomorrow– a lot of it. Thanks and see you.