The Reno Crackhead Love Affair


Reno Bill, his girlfriend and I enter the Cal Neva where there appears to be a well attended crackhead chic karaoke night going on. The entire time since I’ve met these two I’ve been on the brink of just fleeing into the night. Not because of them — they’re actually good people. The kind of people I’ve driven some 700 miles away from Los Angeles to find. People who say hello to strangers and interact with other human beings, instead of staring down into a phone or dutifully glaring directly ahead when passing another soul. In fact, these two haven’t looked at their phones once the entire time since we began this ramble. It’s in this moment I realize there is a good America out there. A place for people with personality.


“Ey man, you need to help me. I need a cigarette,” a squinty eyed man who looks like me in 25 years demands.

“I don’t smoke,” I say curtly.

“Man, you GOT a cigarette,” he says, gesturing towards my drink and then running his index finger below my chin. Had he not immediately drifted off the situation probably would of escalated very quickly.

Then a sequence of events that alcohol and the shear vaudevillian insanity prohibit me from coherently recalling occur. Fortunately, I managed to capture some of these moments in the following video.


I’m back in my chair watching the line dancing wondering how the hell all these strangers know exactly how to execute this well choreographed shuffle. I then glance over to a gentleman sitting beside me. At the corners of his mouth are white a white substance that Reno Bill asserts to the man’s face are, “Crack rocks!” to which the gentleman throws his hands in the air and swats away at the comment.

Then, the gentleman, noticing me drinking a beer taps me and says, “Gimme a budweiser!”

I smile and laugh. “Nah man.”

“Give me a bud!”


After some condescending remarks from Reno Bill and I, the gentleman wanders over to his female crackhead cohort. Initially, I think some fracas is about to erupt between them, but as I watch I see a sort of decrepit courtship bloom. A bond that had they lived anywhere else wouldn’t of existed. She, with her ghoulish countenance, reluctantly denies his advances until eventually they share a drink together that he makes her buy. I’m beside myself as I witness this racial utopia in the one of the most depraved places I could possibly fathom.


Later, I find myself at a country themed bar nestled within the casino complex. My recollection involves people wearing cowboy garb in earnest and in depth conversations of how to spot a Real Special Forces guy. At this point, having been completely consumed by alcohol, I bid my companions farewell. There is a genuine moment of emotion where Reno Bill says to me, “You’re a good dude. I mean that.” The feeling is mutual.


We part ways and I slip out of the country bar back to the now empty corridors of the casino. My stomach pokes at me and I’m driven towards an empty restaurant where I order the chicken fried steak. I eat it alone in the farthest corner I can find. Somehow, I get back to my hotel room with the Chinese soap.