GRAB BAG: Wanted: Smart People with Free Time

Talking with attorney Jonathon Forstel, founder of the Intellectual Discussion Group

Aaron Thompson

Why did you create the Intellectual Discussion Group?

Well, I've been living in Henderson for about nine years now, and while I feel all people's interests are valid, I was having a hard time finding people to talk about the kind of things I particularly enjoy. I guess for the lack of a better word, I've been calling it intellectual. I like to talk about art, world music, offbeat books, jazz and things like that, and I haven't found a forum for that.

Do you expect people to show up, considering that Las Vegas isn't necessarily known as a thinking man's paradise?

That's been a big surprise to me. I think I've hit a little niche that has [said] that the time has come [for this]. I've already had over 50 people sign up just in the few weeks. I'm just amazed so far at how much interest there is out there. I think other people are having the same experience I've had, that it's kind of hard to find people to talk about intellectual things with.

You're meeting at the Freakin' Frog Saloon. Do you expect that the influence of alcohol will stifle or enhance intellectual discussion?

Drinking is not the requirement, but I'm sure there's a few who may imbibe. It's definitely going to be a temptation. Certainly lowered inhibitions are always good for enhancing conversation.

Do you plan to imbibe?

No, I'm a teetotaller myself. I'm weird enough when I'm sober.

Who had cooler 19th-century facial hair, Marx or Nietzsche?

I guess it's hard to separate the beard from the ideology. Neither of them are my favorite philosophers. Of course, they did have a profound impact. Even though I have a German last name, I'm not too proud of what happened in Germany in the '30s and '40s, and while Marx is a philosopher of great importance, unfortunately his ideology has led to the massacre of millions of people. So I guess both their beards are mildly repulsive to me. (For more info, visit

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