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Tony and the big one

Before I launch into the Clark County School Board’s recent randy discussion about its antiquated sex education policy, first let me say a few words about Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh.

Has anyone else, besides me, noticed the exponential growth in printer’s ink spilt about Hsieh this past year?

There seems to be a tacit, though real, evolving journalistic rule in Vegas that all newspapers and magazines must mention him as much as possible in just about every issue: Tony-this, Tony-that, Tony’s people, Tony’s Downtown Project, Tony’s rangers, Tony’s plumbing problems, Tony’s “Praying Mantis,” Tony and Zappos; Tony, Tony, Tony.

Conceivably in the near future all articles in all area newspapers will be all about Tony, all the time.

So, as one who has never been above the rules, tacit or otherwise, let me make sure I cover my ass on this seemingly implicit Tony Hsieh regulation for local writers.

It might be argued that Hsieh’s Buddha-like countenance has been promoted almost as much as Joseph Stalin’s stoic image in Stalingrad in the 1930s.

Hsieh’s photographic portraits in our print media have become ubiquitous. Which, perhaps, is no coincidence. Though reportedly a few inches taller than Stalin, Hsieh seems to share a similar self-image with “Uncle Joe.”

Stalin viewed himself as “the gardener of human happiness.” Hsieh sees himself as a “deliverer of happiness.” In his book, Delivering Happiness, Hsieh states, “Hope is not a good plan.” In Stalinist Russia, hope probably wasn’t much of a plan either.

Stalin, who as a young man attended a Christian seminary, saw himself as Russia’s architect and messiah. A fast-growing, zealous cult based on Hsieh’s personality is fashioning the city of tomorrow from what was formerly known as Glitter Gulch. Furthermore, capitalist/philanthropist Hsieh, as did the Bolshevik Stalin, believes in spreading the wealth around, although their methods of doing so may have varied somewhat.

These comparisons aside, however, who would not want to take their chances laboring in the shadow of Hsieh’s economic experiments rather than those of Stalin?

Tony sounds like fun; Stalin, kind of a drag. In fact, if you read Hsieh’s book, his hip business philosophy is based on life in a college dorm — lots of booze, partying and, since he went to Harvard, making tons of money. And for Tony and his peeps; so far, so good.

That’s why, given all this Tony Hsieh cultural propaganda, I’ve decided to create a different kind of greeting card for my friends this year. A sort of, as I see it, college dorm type project.

At first, I contemplated photo-shopping a bushy mustache under Hsieh’s nose and juxtaposing his picture alongside Stalin’s, each wearing a Santa cap.

Then I wanted to add that quote — “hope is not a good plan”— beneath them. As this holiday card would be opened up, a laughing Jesus on the inside would say: “I beg to differ.”

But somehow that seemed a bit heavy-handed for the holidays. Plus, associating Hsieh with Stalin didn’t feel very appropriate.

Therefore, my actual planned greeting card for this year is a picture of Hsieh photo-shopped as a caricature of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman including that signature grin and missing tooth.

With a Santa hat on his noggin, then, Alfred E. Hsieh is holding a bottle of booze in one hand and, in the other hand, a billion-dollar bill. Outside his high-rise apartment window, a panorama of downtown Vegas stretches out like a large, lazy concrete cat waiting to be coddled. When you open the card, it says, “What? Me worry during the holidays?”

It’s probably better than the Stalin idea, I think. Anyway, enough Tony stuff. Or is it? I can see now how writing about him can be addictive, as reading about him must also be. Which is why, I guess, the local gods of journalism have spilled enough ink regarding Tony to float a battleship.

That said, for this week’s column I’d really been preparing to cover the School Board’s latest comical discussion on the district’s archaic sex education policy, but I got sidetracked with Tony.

Suffice it to say, Carolyn Edwards, the board’s president, as rigid and humorless as a constipated old Pilgrim on the Mayflower, began the sex education debate by saying: “I’m gonna start with the big one.”

About which a female audience member later remarked: “After that promising opening, the board’s 21st century discussion on sex education quickly devolved into the 19th century.”

Nonetheless, after the New Year, School Board followers can look forward to 50 shades of this bizarre debate when board members will continue the ongoing arguments concerning 21st century sex education versus 15th century chastity belts for the students in our schools.

In the meantime, happy holidays, dear reader.

CHIP MOSHER is a simple classroom teacher.