Slack-jawed Renoites?

A few months ago, I got a tad defensive about Iowa’s first lady, Christine Vilsack, who said, “The only way I can speak like residents of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania is to let my jaw drop an inch and talk with my lips in an `O’ like a fish.” [Read more here] But now, it seems that South Jerseyans are not the only ones accused of wandering the streets with our mouths agape, in perpetual wonder at the mysteries of the universe, like cheese whiz.

No, according to one reporter, Reno casino executives and tourism officials are also a bunch of drooling half-wits. At least that’s what “slack-jawed” means to me. From the RGJ:

Harrah’s Reno will have a return engagement of the Northern Nevada Gaming Summit, which stirred emotions in February when a California analyst delivered a stunning rebuke to the region’s gaming environment.

The second summit, entitled “Northern Nevada: Fighting Back,” will be Feb. 22-23. Raving Consulting Co. of Reno and Ascend Media Gaming Group of Las Vegas are sponsoring the event.

International gaming analyst Michael Meczka told a slack-jawed crowd at the first event that Northern Nevada’s reputation was increasingly one of “a great place to live, but who wants to visit there?” and said the region’s new emphasis on outdoor recreation was hardly unique.

Meczka illustrated that the number of casino-resort hotel rooms in the area was grossly over-supplied, and that the revenues of just three tribal casinos in three Northern California counties equaled the total gaming revenues for all of Washoe County.

Gambling summit to return to Reno in February

More than anything right now, I want to be at that summit. As an experienced conference speaker and panelist, I think I have something to contribute.

At heart, all the anxiety is over whether Reno is a national, regional, or locals destination. When only Nevada had casino gaming, Tonopah or Mesquite could qualify as a “international” gaming destination. Now, with casinos most everywhere, there is obviously more competition. Meczka seems to be rather vicious in his insistance that Reno is “locals only.”

Perhaps the truth is somewhere between the lofty dreams of the convention and visitors authority and Meczka’s pessimism.

This article struck me as interesting because I rarely see a group of people descibed as “slack-jawed” except in a purely pejorative sense. I thought that being a “yokel” was a necessary pre-condition of being slack-jawed. You never hear someone called a “slack-jawed genius,” but you always hear about slack-jawed yokels, and their cousins, drooling vapid half-wits.

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