Desert Companion

Letters to the editor

1. Let’s open with some random burbles of feedback: In response to Launce Rake’s September report on the school district’s new bullying policy, former teacher Wendy Goldstein Gelbart took to Facebook to remind us that teachers aren’t ignoring the issue. “It is not that teachers have not wanted to act,” she insists. “Writing incident reports is seen as a sign of poor classroom management by many school administrators. When I was a classroom teacher, I was pulled in and asked to cut down on my disciplinary reports.”

On a cheerier note, Jill Bernacki, CEO of the Trauma Intervention Program of Southern Nevada, praised Dan Hernandez’s October profile of her group, which trains volunteers to assist families of victims at trauma scenes. “I appreciate you taking the time to research, listen and understand what it is that we do,” she writes. “That’s a rarity. Thank you for presenting our program to the community in such a powerful way.”

Bernacki’s kind words will echo in our ears even as we gobble this fresh slice of humble pie: Our September Fall Culture Guide reported that the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s performance of The Snowman will take place in January, when in fact it happens December 5 and 6. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope readers can still make time for this family friendly event. Deets at

Support comes from


2. Reader Natasha Pace seemed to like our October “Passages” edition, which dealt with aging and end-of-life questions: “Thank you so much for publishing this issue,” she posted on Facebook. “As an estate liquidator I try to help my clients find the ‘silver lining’ every day. As I went through the issue I was so pleased to see all of the advice, resources and help you had to offer. But I couldn’t help but notice that estate liquidation was not mentioned, nor offered as a resource.”

Excellent suggestion, Natasha. We’ll keep that in mind for any future iterations of “Passages.”

A key pillar of “Passages” was Heidi Kyser’s absorbing report on the aftermath of a death, that of Vegas-based Japanese socialite Reiko Kawasaki. What ensued was a hard-to-believe series of revelations and probate actions. It was enough to keep a reader named Diane on tenterhooks. “True stories are the most compelling, and this was a good one,” she wrote in a note emailed to Kyser. “The details were complicated, though, so I figure you had to put in a lot of work to get the many details straight.” Indeed, Kyser spent months interviewing subjects and combing through masses of documents in order to assemble her narrative. “This particular issue of the magazine with a variety of topics was one of my favorites.”

Meanwhile, here’s a sampling of the comments that bloomed when John Kawasaki, Reiko’s son and protagonist of the story, posted the piece on Facebook: “Wow. Truth can be stranger than fiction.” “This story is sickening. People will stoop to anything for greed.” “I’m speechless. What a rough journey.” “This is some crazy story.”


3. Where does creativity come from? While there are shelf-loads of books attempting to plumb that question, we thought we’d go straight to a first-rate source: author David Armstrong, who wrote the unusual and entertaining piece of fiction that begins on Page 44. (Note to Diane, above: It’s not a true story, but it’s still pretty compelling.) It features a mysterious duffel bag and some audio tapes — and it turns out there’s a good reason why.

“I’d been working at a hospice facility in North Las Vegas,” Armstrong tells us, “where an elderly resident kept a duffel bag in a closet. No one ever looked in the bag, and its contents were the subject of a good deal of speculation. When the man passed away, I thought I’d satiate my curiosity by peeking inside — but the duffel bag was gone, replaced with two audio tapes, apparently by the last visitor to have seen the man alive.” Thus a story was born. In the spirit of the month, we’re thankful we can give it a home.


If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

KNPR and NPR Thank-You Gifts including t-shirts hoodies and cap

More Stories

Reiko Kawasaki
Desert Companion
Andrew Kiraly
Desert Companion
Editor's Note
Sep 24, 2015

Silver states