1. “Lifelike,” our September profile of a local family’s taxidermy business, prompted a couple of strong reader responses, including one from Annoula Wylderich, excerpted here (see the full text at desertcompanion.vegas):
“We have few really good publications in the valley that actually provide newsworthy articles rather than superfluous pages of ads and useless information. I consider Desert Companion to be among them. However, I have been disappointed lately to read articles that help glorify and perpetuate the exploitation of animals.
“… The public may not have the foresight to look past the cuddly animals, photo opportunities or trophy heads adorning walls to ask some pointed questions. However, journalists who report about these businesses do have the responsibility to look at all sides of the issue when they decide to write these stories. Your recent ‘Lifelike’ article in the September issue was one such example. The Werner family, like many other ‘avid hunters’ and trappers, professes to ‘love animals.’ Many of us love our families and friends; that doesn’t mean we want to see their heads on our walls.
“The 5 percent of Nevadans who hunt usually show up at meetings where wildlife issues are discussed, to oppose any measures of more humane ways of trapping and treating wildlife. Any attempts to alleviate the needless suffering of animals are vehemently fought against by these people, and the Werners are at practically all of these meetings. …
“If publications choose to continue printing stories which include self-professed ‘experts’ on the issue of wildlife, at least include the input of those educated and trained individuals who can speak intelligently about this issue.”
Editor Andrew Kiraly responds: Thanks for writing, and sorry you were disappointed by the taxidermy article. I suppose I would agree with some of your assertions if the article purported to be some thorough investigation into the ethics of hunting and its arguable role in conservation. It wasn’t that kind of article, quite obviously. It was a profile of an unusual family business that many people are curious about (and, yes, that some find distasteful). The fact that we wrote about it doesn’t imply editorial endorsement or approval, or that it meets some Desert Companion value test. It’s journalism. It doesn’t condone, condemn or glorify. But it does acknowledge that people different than you live and work here, and that they might be interesting. That’s the value test, if any. I like to think our readers are mature, educated and broad-minded enough to understand that these subjects may not always comport with their sensibilities and values — and, moreover, that our readers even enjoy encountering such diversity in our pages.
2. Now let’s hear from a website commenter named Emily, responding to September’s story about developments in the solar-power industry: “How can miles and miles of solar fields be considered environmentally friendly? In our fragile desert habitat, where destroyed soils will never regenerate in our lifetime, and where plants and animals have evolved specifically to survive in this harsh climate, it must be acknowledged that solar fields are destructive. … It is misguided to assume that solar energy is ‘green’ energy, especially out here where the destruction of desert land means permanent destruction.”
3. Saying “It is a big deal to some of us,” reader Brian Forbes wrote in to correct a fact in our “Stirring tribute” cocktail story from September: “Jack Daniels is Tennessee whiskey, not bourbon. Bourbon comes only from Kentucky.” Duly noted; into the Desert Companion style guide it goes!
4. The September issue’s 24-part all-Vegas hoedown — in which we chronicled a day in the life of the valley — was so wide-ranging, so inclusive, that even some of the participants learned from it. Poet Lee Mallory, for example, who contributed a poem inspired by spending the 3 a.m. hour in a North Las Vegas Denny’s, told Facebook the following: “Well, after barely two years in Vegas, I learned more from this virtual ‘tour’ than from anyone, anywhere.” And Stacy J. Willis, while stationed at Sunset Park for the sizzling-hot 4 p.m. shift, tells us she picked up a receipt dropped by a man racing through the park on a kid’s bike: “It was from Walmart, and here’s what it said: 5 pounds of rice, 2 calzones, 2 pickles, and 1 ‘MC SS Choc’ — whatever that is. I sat under a tree for a few seconds, trying to put together that meal: rice, calzones, pickles and chocolate.” All that’s missing is a little bourbon.