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Fourth Street

24 Jan

Now that the website Dicey Weather is completely defunct and no longer on the internet, I am posting some of my articles here, just in the name of having it all in one place. This article was written collaboratively with my co-editor Danguole.

Growing up in Reno, memories of Fourth Street mainly consist of the first time seeing a real-life hooker and being told to not go there after dark. To be fair, there will always be areas of that long strip that are acceptable. Sundance Books is kind of adjacent, and Jack In The Box isn’t so bad as long as you stick to the drive-thru and under no circumstances leave your car.

In 2010 though, Reno has drastically changed. It is no longer the town that only has gambling and quick marriages/divorces. It is an evolving town that is America’s Adventure Place and now officially Far From Expected. So the Dicey Weather staff decided to take the Reno tourism board up on their claim and put one of Reno’s most notorious streets to the test. We all knew what we expected from Fourth Street (one of our editors brought a small vial of pepper spray), but we were also ready to be surprised by the bars and restaurants we visited. What is truly amazing is that this is only a sampler of the locales on Fourth Street to visit. We will most definitely be winding our way down that street again sometime in the near future.

4th Street Bistro
3065 West Fourth Street
Reno, NV 89523-8808

In a twist of irony, Reno’s best (arguably–we agree) burger is served at a quaint, classy-yet-laid-back joint, way on the west side of Fourth Street, where the customers seem to consist almost entirely of couples and groups of girlfriends.  The menu is eclectic, contemporary, and innovative, and everything we’ve had a chance to try is absolutely delicious.  On this particular venture, we went for said burger (the turkey-and-smoked-gouda version) and fries, as well as organic brown rice pasta with roasted cauliflower, piquillo peppers, pine nuts, capers and parmesan ($20).  The folks behind the food are also environmentally and socially conscious; much of the offerings and all of the meat products are local, organic and sustainable.  The wine list is extensive, as is the cocktail menu, but the beer selection is much more limited, although carefully selected.  Single boys, you really don’t have to wait for a date; you really are missing out on that burger.  Grab your bros and go.  It’s a great way to start your journey down Fourth.

Gold ‘n Silver Inn
790 West Fourth St.
Reno, NV 89503

If cheap stick-to-your-ribs fare is more your speed, or if you meander around Fourth Street long enough to get hungry again for some “Frrrrench toooaaast” a la Nicky in the 40-Year Old Virgin, there’s no better spot than Gold ‘n Silver, a true Reno classic and landmark for over 50 years.  Most of us have frequented it since at least high school, back when you’d still reek of smoke after every visit.  Everything on the menu is available 24 hours a day, from breakfast to sandwiches and burgers to old-fashioned diner entrees.  We ended our night here and stuck to water (lots of it) along with fries ($2.45), mozzarella sticks ($6.85), jalapeno poppers ($6.85) and nachos ($7.95).  Although the veggie club sandwich ($8.75) is quite good, generally none of Gold ‘n Silver’s food is outstanding.  But, it’s not about that here; it’s about being there for you and your drunken hooligan friends, no questions asked, 24/7, for over 50 years.

Davidson’s Distillery
275 East Fourth St.

Biker bar. That’s what we said. Biker bar. If you need a bit more description, here’s the painted picture. We walk up to the bar with murals of motorcycle brands on the brick walls and a couple of Harleys leaning on their kickstands like it’s nobody’s business in the parking lot. Once we walk inside, a wall of cigarette smoke slaps us awake. To the left, a stripper pole, to the right, a mediocre live band playing the blues. The pool tables were being held hostage by a gruff-looking group of older men, one holding a tiny chihuahua in the crook of his arm. The bartender was short with us, and her breasts were spilling out her top. There was a very poor beer selection, mostly worthless domestics such as Budweiser and Coors. There is only one decent beer on tap, which we all decide to order, but none of us finish because the beer tastes more like stale cigarettes than hops. We dance a bit to the music with a couple of the other patrons, but ultimately decide to leave. It wasn’t such a bad place, but it wasn’t our cup of beer.

The Lincoln Lounge
303 East Fourth St.
Reno, NV 89512

The Lincoln Lounge is arguably the most posh bar on Fourth Street. It follows all the rules of a fun, trendy bar. Dimly lit, somewhat rustic, wide and delicious beer selection, low music, historical motif themed through an artsy décor. They feature a mug club, which dares its patrons to try all of the beers they offer, a room with shuffleboard, and an outdoor patio which we hear is lovely in the summer. Unfortunately we were there when it was in the negatives outdoors. But we were more than happy to snuggle up with one another on the ultra-comfortable couches nestled in a dark corner. The crowd was unexpected. It seemed to be made up of mostly college students of the Greek variety fresh out on the town with their freshly horizontal IDs. It was still a good place to sit back with a good beer and have a conversation.

Abby’s Highway 40
424 West Fourth St.
Reno, NV

From the outside, Abby’s seems to be the perfect dive bar. Tucked away in a brick building with neon lights advertising the PBR on tap within, this bar is irresistible. The first couple of times we visited was on weeknights when there were a few people perched up at the bar, a lonely girl gazing into the bountiful jukebox, and a couple of young friends playing a game of pool. We sat at the bar, talking to the amiable bartender, sipping on some strong whiskey gins, watching the Fall Classic games on the big screens. There was an adjacent room curtained off, but we didn’t ask questions. It was an ideal belly-up-to-the-bar situation; so much so that we decided to come back on a Friday night. Much to our surprise, the curtain had been pulled back to reveal a stage and a modest dance floor. A local band blasted cover songs, and a rather large crowd for such a small venue danced their hearts out. The only complaint lodged by our group of editors was that when our designated driver kindly asked the bartender for a cup of water, he gave her a bottle and charged her $3. He had been so courteous on the weeknights, but the weekend rush had apparently turned him sour.

Alturas Bar & Nightclub
1044 West Fourth St.
Reno, NV 89512
(775) 324-5050

This only looks like a classic drink-away-your-sorrows biker bar.  Its walls and ceiling are covered with cheeky posters and t-shirts, there’s a pool table, darts, and at least a couple decent beers on tap.  And no one seems unhappy, from the quiet lady focusing on her video poker game to the super sweet bartender who sings and dances along to the jukebox and doesn’t at all seem to mind changing your Abe Lincoln to quarters or assembling a set of non-screwy darts for you. It’s definitely a smokers’ bar; if you have an issue with that, take it up with the taxidermied deer head watching over the bar, the one with the cigarette hanging out of its mouth and a cross around its neck.

Dilligas Saloon
1303 West Fourth St.
Reno, NV‎ 89512

Okay. We will admit it. We were major league fooled here. Two girls cruising Fourth Street, trying to find the spots with delicious beer and a bit of character, we were naïve enough to look up at a sign saying “Saloon” and think, “Awesome, classic country Reno-style!” We walked right up to the door to see a sign advertising “Couples night” with a picture of a couple dancing. It’s a dancing place! Fantastic! Wrong. We walked straight into a swingers bar. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it definitely was not what we were expecting when we happily knocked upon that door. We were quickly pulled inside by a very kind and understanding woman in bondage lingerie. She was signing up two young men and said she would help us in a second. We looked around to see porn on the television and people in costumes tucked into a dark corner. Our host returned to us, saw our faces and realized what was happening. She kindly explained to us exactly what kind of place we had wandered into. She told us single women were free, but she would need to sign us up for a membership. The young men she had just signed up offered to buy us drinks, which was tempting. We said thank you, but no and headed out, never to think of the word “saloon” with such naivety again.

Fat Daddyz
2061 E Fourth St
Reno, NV 89512

So, yeah, there are rows and rows of X-rated photos of female rear-ends and boobs to greet patrons.  In fact, boobs comprise some element of most of Fat Daddyz’s “pieces of flair,” so to speak.  We expected a biker bar, but with the decor, the loud party music (Limp Bizkit, and then that one song about shots), and the other patrons being a friendly bunch celebrating someone’s 21st, it felt more like a college hangout–the kind with lots of testosterone.  That’s why we also expected to be uncomfortable, but although we left rather quickly, we found the bartender (perhaps the owner?) and the patrons very cordial–maybe even…  sweet. The beer selection isn’t the best if you’re into something more substantial than Coronas, but the special that night was $1 Jell-O shots.  We got some–to go.

Concert Etiquette

24 Jan

Now that the website Dicey Weather is completely defunct and no longer on the internet, I am posting some of my articles here, just in the name of having it all in one place.

Lessons from a Dylan Show Survivor

Shows seem to these days be things of my past. I used to go see bands a couple of times a month. However, in my old age, I only make it out to see live music once every couple of months, and when I go to a concert I am amazed by the lack of concert etiquette that used to exist. I end up feeling like an old lady hollering sentences that begin, “Back in my day…” But you know what, it isn’t even that I am old and not cool anymore. I recently ventured to Berkeley to see Bob Dylan in concert and couldn’t believe the things that were going on around me. I lived to tell the tale, but also to share what to me seems to be common sense about the things you do and don’t do at a concert.

1. Don’t Sit

The concert we went to was at the Greek Amphitheatre on the UC Berkeley campus. In the theme of antiquity, the theatre boasted elevated stone seats rising from all sides and a general admission area, commonly known by nicknames such as “the pit” or “the dancefloor” or “standing room.” None of these terms imply sitting. Hence my shock when my friend and I realized that the two women behind us had taken it upon themselves to sit on the floor before the concert started. There are seats designed for that very purpose within the venue and when you sit in a standing room only area, you take up more room than your ticket allots, and you run the risk of tripping someone or getting trampled. If you can’t stand at a concert, suck it up and sit in the nosebleeds. A concert is often a communal experience, and the theme throughout these tips focuses on enjoying a concert while not raping the experience for your neighbors.

2. Don’t Shove

Concert migrations are normal and natural. Anybody who has moved up at a concert knows that when you scope the crowd ahead of you, there is often a slight hint of a path guiding you forward, spaces in the crowd that seem open and waiting for you. It is perfectly acceptable to gently move your way through these paths to a free space, always with an obligatory “Excuse Me” or “Coming Through” and that gentle tap on the shoulder to let people know that you are on the move. Just don’t be rude about it. At the Bob Dylan concert, the aforementioned women who were sitting stood up quickly as soon as the lights shifted and the concert began. One of the women was trying to move ahead of me and this other gentleman, but there wasn’t any room for her. Most people would have just stayed put. Instead this woman stuck her arm between me and the young gentleman and yelled “I have to be up closer” to us and shoved us aside so she could be ahead of us.

3. Use Height Responsibly

This woman was shorter than me, so although her approach was rude, I accepted it. However she proceeded to reach back to where she was standing, grab someone’s hand and pull them up also in front of me. This man also yelled “Is it okay if I stand with my lady?” I politely said “No, you are much taller than me.” But that wasn’t the answer he was looking for so he ignored it and shoved his way through. He was a good foot taller than me and double my width. This rule is very grey, because tall people shouldn’t be penalized for their extra inches. They should be allowed to enjoy concerts as well. But there is a responsibility that goes along with that, like not forcing your way in front of someone who is vertically limited.

4. Pay Attention and Blow Up

Once the happy couple was in front of me, the woman (likely in her late fifties) turned around, facing away from the Bob Dylan she just so had to be closer to and proceeded to suck face with the rude man. No one wants to see that. A simple peck on the lips will do. You came to see a concert, not to make out with your aged significant other. In between the spit swap, they also pulled out a joint. I was young and high once in my life, and concerts are definitely a prime place to be smoking. However not everyone in the concert wants a buzz. Most people at concerts take a hit, point their faces skyward creating plumes of smoke emerging from varying areas of the crowd like the industrial sectors of Detroit. Again it’s the responsible way to smoke. This couple was blowing smoke everywhere onto their neighbors. At one point a young fellow standing next to them got so fed up that he moved away. My friend and I shifted into the space that he had vacated. We were fools.

5. No One Paid to Hear You

The worst part was once we were ahead of this couple we were subject to the rude man’s singing for the rest of the concert. Not only was he squealing the lyric to every song, he did it a nauseating second before Bob Dylan would sing it, like a reverse echo. Again, buddy, there are times for this. During the encore, everyone raucously sang along to “Like a Rolling Stone” which was a fantastic, communal understanding. But other than the required concert group sing-alongs, singing should be reserved. The worst part about this man’s singing was the timing, reciting lyrics before Bob Dylan got the chance, almost as if he wanted to prove to everyone unfortunate enough to be around him that yes, he knew the lyrics. No one cares.

6. Shut up and Dance

Most of the songs Bob Dylan played were upbeat, jazzy numbers which caused a great sway of the crowd as everyone danced around. I myself was still cold, so had my arms crossed in front of me and was swaying my hip slightly. After a particularly fun song, the man grabbed my arm. Startled, I turned to see what he wanted. “You need to knock it off!” I giggled nervously since surely he must be joking. He wasn’t. “You just elbowed me in the stomach and shoved me two feet!” he proceded to yell at me. “I was hardly dancing. I don’t think that could be true,” I explained to him. He continued yelling at me, saying that I needed to calm down. This man had been persistently ruining my experience and was now asking me to not even sway my hips. At this moment, I felt rather low. Until, “Hey man! Leave the girl alone.” I looked up to see my knight in shining hipster clothes. Rude man: “Stay out of this! She shoved me.” My knight: “She was dancing. This is a concert. If you can’t handle dancing, go back to the old man section.” My knight grabbed my hand and pulled me forward to stand with him and his friends who were all dancing, smoking and blowing up.

The moral of my Dylan story is that when you go to a concert, it is not a private performance. You are one in a crowd of many. So don’t piss off the people around you, and if you see someone like me in trouble, help them out. If the entire crowd is having a good time, it is always a more memorable experience. And, hey, if you are reading this my knight-in-shining-hipster, I owe you a beer sometime.

Dicey Origins

24 Jan

Now that the website Dicey Weather is completely defunct and no longer on the internet, I am posting some of my articles here, just in the name of having it all in one place.




“What are you going to do in Reno?”

That’s the question I repetitively faced when I told my college friends and fellow Seattlites that I was moving back to my hometown. There really was no answer. I was a recent college graduate with a prestigious yet ambiguous degree in the all-encapsulating English department. After getting out of college, I struggled as a waitress, an intern and a salesgirl and ended up not finding that post-college job with the holy grail of benefits. I was broke and tired of eating Ramen and freezing to death in my subterranean apartment that had black mold growing underneath the carpet. So I gave up the jig and decided to move home.

I came back to Reno and quickly got a 9-5 job where I have my own cubicle, and I sound like a robot all day. In this economic climate though, it is impossible to complain. I bring home a paycheck, and that is really all one can ask for at my age. But, the frustration never left. What happened to being a kid and following a dream? Or being in high school and being the change you want to see in the world? Even in college, weren’t we told that first come the passions, and a paycheck will soon follow? No longer. We grow up and realize that before dreams and passions come shelter, food, and loans.

I was quietly feeling like a failure when my old friend Danguole and I took a road trip to Las Vegas. We talked about how much we wanted to explore our passions: photography, writing, poetry, music, art, nature. We didn’t want to be trapped in our day to day. We also spoke a lot about how awesome Reno is. It’s natural to rebel against one’s hometown. But now that we are older and wiser and have seen more of the world, Reno is an awesome place to be from, no matter what Comedy Central says.

There was no outlet for people like us, our age group, trying to figure out a way of life in the biggest little city. There was no publication we could really embrace. So we got to thinking about starting our own. What is truly unique and amazing about our generation is how technology has allowed us to embrace the American dream like never before. Anyone with a computer or even a library card can start their own website, their own business, do their own thing. We went from a country with local/national newspapers to a country with millions upon millions of blogs. We went from record companies and radio stations to home recordings on iMacs. You can even publish a novel at Kinko’s.

So why not us? Why not here in Reno? As Sean Astin put it in Goonies, “Up there it is their time; down here it’s our time!”

Our next step was to recruit other quarter-life crisis folks that we thought might be interested. We wooed them over casino buffets, returning from each buffet trip with more ideas to spring on them, to get them involved. So we had a handful of people who were just as excited as we were and many more who were hesitant.

How do we describe ourselves? What are we trying to accomplish? While considering a variety of names including “Hookers and Dice,” “The Legit,” and something along the lines of “Illegal Centaur,” we settled on Dicey Weather. Why? It felt right. It felt like a perfect metaphoric description of not just Reno but of our lives. You never know what the weather will be like in this town, and we do not understand or know what our lives will bring us. Maybe we’ll end up on some reality show or maybe we’ll die of swine flu. Plus, you know, Reno has gambling, so like dice. Yeah? Get it? We were tired and thought it was clever.

So similar to playing house as kids, we set up a headquarters complete with not one whiteboard, but two. We designed a logo and began to dream big. Launch parties, bumper stickers, special editions. Our lives were back on track dreaming big, and we were getting ready to rule the world.

So here we are, fellow Renoites.