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Great gifts! holiday events! charitable stuff for your inner saint! the giving season starts here

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A little give

Next Month in Desert Companion

We serve up our 15th annual Restaurant Awards

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means: It’s the season of the usual rash of articles about how Southern Nevadans have all the charitable spirit of a cold sore. Yeah, thanks for the total downer, media, by reminding us that Nevada ranks last in the nation for volunteerism — oh, and that we’re pretty awful, too, when it comes to philanthropic giving. I can’t dispute the symptoms, but I can take issue with the disease. See, the usual culprit fingered for the cause of our collective Scroogeosity is the lurid secret that we’re not even really people here in Southern Nevada, but rather an inherently selfish strain of jerkface pirate who’ll shiv anyone dumb enough to stand between us and our $4 latte, our smartphone and our Netflix queue. Come on! Are we really that bad? In my own little optimist’s heart, I’ve got to throw out an alternative explanation. Maybe it’s not because we’re a bunch of viciously solipsistic consumatroid zombies; maybe it’s because of a lack of information. Maybe it’s because we’re not aware of how many excellent opportunities there are for volunteerism, for charity, for giving — opportunities that tie in to our own unique passions and pastimes. So, when we were putting together our Holiday Guide, in addition to the eye-popping parade of gift ideas and gotta-go holiday events, we also included a Get Involved guide (page 46). There, you’re sure to find something to nail the bull’s-eye on your do-gooder sweet spot. Some of the organizations in need of help are novel and innovative — for instance, check

2 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

out Nevada Women’s Philanthropy. Its model is powerfully simple: Members pay $5,000 a year each, annually dropping their pooled money in one gigantic chunk of happiness on one very lucky nonprofit after a grueling application process and some pretty intense debate (this year, the Salvation Army won out, getting $325,000). Or maybe you’re into something more warm and fuzzy — literally. Consider helping White Horse Youth Ranch, which teaches basic horsemanship to at-risk kids, encouraging responsibility and building character along the way. Sports nuts should consider the Miracle League, which needs volunteers and team sponsors to continue helping mentally and physically disabled children feel the satisfying crack of a home run hit. We often imagine volunteerism and public service as a form of drudgery detached from our own tastes and likes. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong — in fact, there’s everything right — with picking a cause that’s personally relevant or that ties in to a passion of yours. So, when you’re done shopping for the perfect gift, consider giving of yourself this season as well — the real perfect gift. We won! Not to brag or anything, but — actu-

ally, yes, let me brag a little bit: Desert Companion took home several prizes from the Nevada Press Association awards, held Oct. 15 in Virginia City. The annual contest celebrates excellence in journalism in all forms. This year, Desert Companion won 13 awards, including four first place

prizes. Desert Companion Art Director Chris Smith — who isn’t so much a person as a high-intensity beam of pure productivity, not only designing Desert Companion every month, but also creating ads, promotional graphics and reports for the entire Nevada Public Radio mother ship —  was responsible for three of them, including Best Overall Design, Best Portrait and Best Cover Design (an honor shared by photographers Sabin Orr and Madison Alexander). Little ol’ me won a first in Best Feature for a story on antiquarian book dealer David Bauman. Writer Pattie Thomas took second for Best Investigative or InDepth Story for her piece exploring the importance of adaptable housing for Southern Nevada’s aging population, and David McKee took second for Best Entertainment Writing for his insightful profiles. Congratulations to all the winners. The biggest winner of all: You, the reader. Your trophy? You’re totally holding it! Andrew Kiraly, Editor


desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People

The gift of kindness



Discomfort Zone

Can this lover become a fighter? By Pj Perez



Kids: Jump! By Heidi Kyser



The new classic, The Barrymore By Brock Radke



From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture

features 35 The Ultimate

Holiday Guide

Give, go and get involved this season



Last word

Everybody eats By Sarah Schmelling



High on drums

For pure musical rush, you can’t beat Brazilian drums

on the cover Illustration Christopher Smith

4 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1


We Proudly Support: USO Las Vegas Center, providing a home away from home for nearly 30,000 servicemen and women since opening in November 2010 Operation Rebound, inspiring world-class athletic achievement by servicemen and women with permanent physical disabilities Veterans Across America, providing business and employment opportunities for returning soldiers

速 The will to do wonders速


p u blishe D B y nevada p u blic radio

Mission statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. Editorial & Art Andrew Kiraly Editor CHRISTOPHER SMITH Art Director Advertising CHRISTINE KIELY Corporate Support Manager laura alcaraz National Account Manager Sharon Clifton Senior Account Executive allen grant Senior Account Executive elizabeth guernsey Account Executive Markus Van’t Hul Senior Account Executive Marketing Catherine Kim Marketing Manager Subscriptions Chris Bitonti Subscription Manager

SENIOR STAFF Florence M.E. Rogers President / General Manager Melanie Cannon Director of Development Cynthia M. Dobek Director of Business, Finance & Human Resources Phil Burger Director of Broadcast Operations Contributing WRiters Maureen Adamo, Cybele, Gigi Generaux, Alexia Gyorody, Heidi Kyser, Monera Mason, David McKee, Pj Perez, Brock Radke, Kimberly Schaefer, Sarah Schmelling, T.R. Witcher, J.J. Wylie

Contributing Artists Bill Hughes, Aaron McKinney, Sabin Orr, Hernan Valencia

OnLine Danielle Branton Web Administrator

To submit your organization’s event listings for the Desert Companion events guide, send complete information to Feedback and story ideas are always welcome, too. editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856; Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813; Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; website: Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free of charge at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photographs, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

ISSN 2157-8389 (print) ISSN 2157-8397 (online)

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nevada public radio BOARD OF DIRECTORS Officers Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair City of Las Vegas Susan Brennan, vice chair Brennan Consulting Group, LLC REED RADOSEVICH, Treasurer Northern Trust Bank Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio DIRECTORS shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp Cynthia Alexander, Esq. Snell & Wilmer Louis Castle, Director Emeritus Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus KIRK V. CLAUSEN Wells Fargo sherri gilligan MGM Resorts International jan L. jones Caesars Entertainment Corporation John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus William mason Taylor International Corporation Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation Curtis L. Myles III Las Vegas Monorail Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation

nevada public radio COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD Mark ricciardi, esq. Chairman Fisher & Phillips, LLP David Cabral American Commonwealth Mortgage DENNIS COBB President, DCC Group Richard I. Dreitzer Fox Rothschild LLP Al Gibes Al Gibes Enterprises Carolyn G. Goodman Meadows School Marilyn Gubler The Las Vegas Archive Kurtis Wade Johnson Absolute Auto Care Megan Jones Friends for Harry Reid edmÉe s. marcek College of Southern Nevada Susan K. Moore Lieutenant Governor’s Office JENNA MORTON Steve Parker UNLV Richard Plaster Signature Homes Chris Roman Entravision Kim Russell Smith Center for the Performing Arts CANDY SCHNEIDER Smith Center for the Performing Arts Stephanie Smith Bob Stoldal Sunbelt Communications Co. kate turner whiteley Kirvin Doak Communications Brent Wright Wright Engineers bob gerst Boyd Gaming Corporation

MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming TIM WONG Arcata Associates

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An in-kind donation In 2009, 12-year-old Josh Stevens was

Pedal power peddlers

killed in a golf cart accident in Henderson. Henderson and SumBut from that tragedy, his parents created merlin may have all the a powerful gift in his memory — powerful bike lanes, but that doesn’t because it’s so simple. Drew and Barbara Stevens created a foundation to promote mean they have all the their son’s shining attribute: kindness. As cyclists. It’s only fair that anti-bullying campaigns become increasdowntown should have its ingly popular, the Josh Stevens Foundation own bike shop, too. And focuses on the flip side: Promoting kindness now it does, at the Bonninstead of preaching against cruelty. eville Transit Center on “We’re encouraging you to be kind instead of, ‘Don’t bully, don’t bully, don’t the corner of Bonneville bully,’” says Barbara. “Suddenly everyStreet and Casino Center body goes, ‘Whoa, that’s really simple, Boulevard. Owned by the that’s really easy to do, that’s really easy Regional Transportation to implement.’” Commission of Southern Through partnerships with local The Stevens family turned a tragedy schools and sports teams, the foundaNevada, the RTC Bike into a movement to tion’s lesson of performing sincere, ranpromote kindness. Center shop is operated dom acts of kindness is spreading rapidly. by the folks behind Las This 2011-2012 school year, Drew will Vegas Cyclery, whose put the foundation’s message into practice in other speak at nearly 100 schools about how acts of more familiar location is ways. The proceeds from their recycling program will kindness can change the world. on West Charleston. contribute to the building of a memorial garden for “Josh knew … this gift that you receive in your Josh. The school also has an annual Kindness Week, heart when you are kind to someone else,” says The RTC Bike Center during which students learn the “Be Kind” message Drew. “We just believe that he was doing it over shop has all the and participate in kindness activities. and over and over again, filling himself up with this continued on pg. 12 The foundation’s message is spreading rapincredible, empowering gift inside.” idly. It has awarded 25,000 Kindness Cards The program has a number of components. Visit Desert Companion Daily for a and distributed 40,000 “Be Kind” T-shirts. When students are “caught” being kind, they are mind-crushing blast of Organizations and companies outside of valawarded a Kindness Card. The bright card inlinks to all things ley schools are starting to adopt the message, cludes an illustration by Josh, a poem about the Las Vegas at as well. Barnson said that in February Drew importance of kind acts, Josh’s story, a shoelace will be the keynote speaker at the conference charm and shoelace, as well as a gift card donated for Nevada school counselors and excitement is by a sponsor. At Dean Allen Elementary School, the already growing among those who will attend. faculty and staff have gone so far as to integrate the “It’s crazy, because Josh died in September program into their very identity. of 2009 and by December of that same year, the “Our whole school has embraced this message, foundation was already in motion, and the rate at and it has made kids, parents and staff be kinder to which we’ve grown has been astounding and takeveryone. We already expect pristine manners from en us all by surprise. We welcome the growth, but our children, but this is requiring them to be kind on we’re still in awe of it all. It’s all very amazing,” a whole new level,” says Kristin Barnson, the school says Barbara. — Alexia Gyorody counselor at Dean Allen Elementary. Dean Allen has



Hear More

Learn how a martial arts program prevents bullying on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at


d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 11

“Vegas! The Show” sings and dances entertainment history on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore

N ews

continued from page 11

Give the gift of thought-provoking discussions with a membership to the Modern Council.



12 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

Keeps on giving Some of the best gifts can’t be wrapped We’ve all had the joy of shopping for a kvetcher moaning about the wasteful nature of human

beings, the coming apocalypse courtesy of peak oil and the moral outrage of importing plastic goods from China. As for that purist who eschews the notion of all material goods, consider the gift not of a thing, but of an experience. Insurgo Theater ( There’s something incredibly Vegas about watching “Waiting for Godot” in the midst of The Plaza Hotel, and Insurgo is where it all happens. Complement your tickets with some vintage duds from The Gypsy Den (www.thegypsyden. and dinner at Bar+Bistro ( Modern Council: A piddling $250 ($400 for couples) annual membership is the price of admission to exclusive monthly events run by The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. Hang with the artistically educated — and feel good about it, because 20 percent of your membership fee goes toward economically disadvantaged schools. Email for more information. The Erotic Heritage Museum (

The provocateur needs a place to call home, and where else but one adorned with a five-foot guesswhat. Attendees are encouraged to leave their “mark” in the bathroom — think artistic. Memberships start at $50. Dig This ( For the ultimate testosterone high, you need seriously heavy equipment, and at Dig This, anyone can master their own life-size Tonka trucks, driving real Caterpillar bulldozers and excavators. Dig ditches, lift and crush boulders, and bury … well, we’ll leave that to your imagination. The “Dig & Destroy” package lets you combine the awesomeness of excavation with the Rambo-ness of shooting fully automatic submachine and machine guns. Prices for bulldozing and excavating start at $210 for 90 minutes. Theater 7 ( Step into the underground world of film at Theater 7. Kinky, visceral and even a little grind (house, that is), Theater 7 serves up film festivals at wallet-friendly prices that challenge the cerebrum. Bricks 4 Kidz ( Parents raising the next generation of mad scientists poised to take over the world via a robotics revolution should take note of Bricks 4 Kidz’s Advanced LEGO classes. Doubles as a perfect way to bring that gamer out of his or her command center. Or how about changing the world? At, a gift is not a gift, but a microloan that will fund an entrepreneur in a developing nation. Once the loan has been repaid, the original capital is upcycled into another venture of your own choosing. Now there’s a gift that keeps on giving. — Monera Mason

B I K E C E N T E R C O U R T ES Y O F T H E R TC ; B E l l a g i o g a l l e ry of f i n e a rt C O U R T ES Y O F M G M R E s ort s Int e rn at i on a l

stuff pedal-pushers dream of — replacement tubes, chain lube, reflective lights. For the clean-fingernail crowd, it’s also staffed with trained mechanics who can do everything from fixing a flat to tuning up your ride. Jared Fisher, owner of Las Vegas Cyclery, is urging downtown dwellers and bike commuters to stop by and give his boys an assignment. “It’s not super busy,” he says, “and bike shop employees like to be busy.” Housed in a large, glass facility designed to LEED standards, the RTC Bike Center contains more than just the shop, boasting other amenities to encourage alternative commuting. There’s parking, bike storage and showers for people who might want to, say, ride from Green Valley to their job at a downtown law firm, stow their Trek and freshen up before hopping a bus to work. “We’ve seen an increase in bikes on our transit vehicles, and we wanted to support that,” says RTC spokesperson Tracy Bower. The RTC Bike Center is open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more info, check out: – Heidi Kyser


Harold Weller is putting violins in kids’ hands.

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‘Musical engagement enhances learning.’ Once upon a time — OK, four years ago — about 80 miniature violins were gathering dust in a Sunrise Acres Elementary School closet. They were the remnants of a discontinued string program at Sunrise Acres, begun under then-Principal Arturo Ochoa. When Las Vegas Philharmonic founder Harold Weller enlisted longtime friend Ochoa in his nascent Foundation to Assist Young Musicians, back in 2007, their thoughts soon turned to those neglected violins. Rescue mission complete: Now for a mere five bucks a month, East Las Vegas tykes have been receiving violin lessons — and a free instrument. “Underprivileged families rarely have money necessary to provide early music instruction for their youngsters,” Weller says. “(The foundation) will offer positive alternatives and open opportunities — magnet school placement, scholarship opportunities and the like — as the child progresses.” Why get ’em while they’re young? “Musical engagement helps brain development and greatly enhances learning and discipline,” Weller says. Call it a string theory with real-world results. The Suzuki Violin Initiative, aka “Violins for Kids,” puts them in the hands of kindergarteners. After two years operating at the East Las Vegas Community Center, the Suzuki program is now extending its reach into the west side, too. In the meantime, the foundation needs to raise $76,000 to run both programs. It’s also trying to find the dollars to have a salaried violin instructor. Currently, UNLV music-education major Amanda Gentile is giving lessons pro bono, twice weekly. Look west, young musician. Weller’s ultimate aspirations for the foundation echo those of Los Angeles’ Harmony Project, which began 10 years ago with $9,000 from the Rotary Club of Hollywood and 36 at-risk youth. It has since blossomed into 900 pupils, seven orchestras (including a hip-hop ensemble), a $1.5 million budget and a working relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Some help from the neighbors? Harmony Project founder Margaret Martin “is extremely excited by the program we’ve begun in Las Vegas,” Weller says. He hopes to bring her here to give the foundation a pep talk and some expert guidance. That should be music to lots of people’s ears. — David McKee

Portrait By Christopher smith



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The Golden touch

hopes to WallsWalls 360 360 makes art for bring life to walls walls, but the designs are everywhere. anything but flat.

C n e w a n d n o ta b l e

Walls could talk

Have you, like us, been thinking: I would kill to paper my exercise room in vintage Soviet-era art? Walls 360 is a locally based business that specializes in stickable wall graphics—er, make that high-resolution, Ultrachrome digital ink prints on “premium self-adhesive re-positionable fabric paper.” That means everything from rose decals for a princess bedroom to life-size Star Trek characters for your socially awkward friend. The collection also includes 1920s advertisements, Art Nouveau prints, works by masters like Vermeer and Renoir, and yes, even vintage Soviet-era art—all of which would look great in


All that glitters

a bohemian café or bridal salon. (Okay, maybe the Battleship Potemkin prints from 1905 would send the wrong message.) Walls 360 is the brainchild of artist Yiying Lu and curators Tavia Campbell and John Doffing. You may know Lu as the designer of the Twitter “Fail Whale,” that painfully adorable mammal held aloft by little red birds that appears whenever the Twitter servers are down. Walls has received the attention from ThinkGeek, Laughing Squid and Conan O’Brien, but its printing presses are right here in town. In November, the company plans to launch additional licensed content. Eventually, they plan to provide custom printing as well. Info:, 1-888-244-9969. — Gigi Generaux

If Old Vegas glamour had a Holy Land, that place would be Du Barry Fashions. Its Queen Sheba? Baroness Rita Bliss David. The former beauty queen and Chanel model’s company is named for Madame Du Barry, the last mistress of Louis XV. Prior to her death during the French Revolution, Du Barry had a reputation for color-matching her outfits to the last detail — from the flowers in her hair to the bows on her jewel-encrusted mules. It’s in that spirit of chromatic harmony that Bliss David organizes her boutique, with jewelry tables and clothing racks devoted to every hue, from vivid aquama-

rine to pale lilac to sumptuous gold. Nestled next to a British specialty shop near Chinatown, Du Barry’s strip mall location (3375 South Decatur Boulevard #14, 257-6085) belies the glamour within it. It’s glamour in serious volume. Costume jewelry covers the walls; there are so many crystal and rhinestone knickknacks and accessories in the 4,000-square foot space (Bliss David estimates about 12,000 pieces), that it’s hard to hold a steady gaze without becoming a little dizzy. Silver and gold headpieces perch near the ceiling in rows. Crystalaccented minaudières fill baskets

Du Barry fashions 3375 South Decatur blvd. #14, 257-6085 16 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

Nancy Golden’s funky, hand-crafted leather jewelry is perfect to adorn the necklines and wrists of youthful downtown denizens and saucy suburban moms alike. Golden creates each piece in her home studio in Summerlin, but her style has caught the eye of buyers from small boutiques in Aspen and the fashion mecca Barneys New York. But Golden’s artistic vision guides her to follow a less commercial path. “I don’t want to be in stores,” she says. Each piece she sells has to go to “the right person. I want to talk to the person. I don’t work for a living. I work for a passion.” Coveting one of her creations? Visit her website or check her out Nov. 15 at a special showing with other local jewelry designers at Mastrioni’s Café in Summerlin. Fifteen percent of the day’s proceeds benefit a host of causes, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Keep Memory Alive. — Kimberly Schaefer

next to glossy compact mirrors and Leiber-inspired clutches. Lush feather boas cascade between colorful beaded gowns and explosively large fans. (And it’s not just jewelry and clothes. Du Barry’s hat customers include attendees of the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot.) “Any occasion you have to go to, we’ve got it,” Bliss David boasts. Around Thanksgiving, for three days only, the store runs its annual 50-cent special for items typically priced at $1—a perfect opportunity to load up on stocking stuffers like lipstick cases, compact mirrors and coin purses. — G.G.




Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell

Lily Tomlin

Savion Glover

Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott with The Assad Brothers

MOMIX - Botanica

The Cleveland Orchestra

David Sedaris

Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

Straight No Chaser

Imagination Movers


The Canadian Tenors

Paco de Lucía

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Pink Floyd Experience

Buddy Guy with Quinn Sullivan

Michael Feinstein The Sinatra Project

S I N G LE TI C K ET S O N SA LE N OV E M B E R 18 AT 8A M . Experience The Smith Center’s phenomenal first season for as little as $24 per ticket. From music and dance, to comedy and Broadway productions, there are 26 must-see shows to choose from. Visit to see the full lineup and purchase your tickets today. Debuting, March 2012 | 702.982.7805 |


discomfort zone

Fighting chance

S by pj perez

So there I was, eating a Cool Mint Chocolate Clif Bar, anxiety forcing my heart into thumping beats, unsure if it was nerves, the green tea in the Clif Bar, or the three cups of coffee (decaf, but loads of sugar) I consumed sitting all day in a social media marketing seminar. I was 15 minutes away from leaving the comfort of my home office to drive to Krav Maga Las Vegas’ Henderson location for my first, free, drop-in class. I had almost no idea what to expect or how to prepare, aside from bringing workout clothes, a towel and water, and asking for a person called “DC” And to eat an energy bar before class.

It all started on Facebook We creative types aren’t typically known for our admirable physical attributes, unless those features include bad posture, poor eyesight or a grayish pallor. But for most of my

18 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

adult life, I’ve tried to buck the stereotype and maintain a healthy lifestyle to offset the rigors of bending over a keyboard for 10 hours a day (and stave off the Grim Reaper): eating right, jogging, weight training, even yoga during my more tender years. I’ve ramped it up over the last few years, with multiple stabs at vegan diets and a successful From Couch to 5k program that turned me into a recreational runner. After the latter, I found myself ready for a new challenge, something more interesting and disciplined than running around my neighborhood or bicycling the Red Rock loop. I don’t remember when I decided some form of martial art should be my next physical recreation activity of choice. Well, that’s not true. The comic book geek within me did figure the first step to becoming Batman might involve learning how to kill with my hands. But as for the moment Krav Maga specifically came

into my sights? It was a Facebook conversation last year provoked by my pal Ryan’s own fighting style contemplation:

The discomfort: Hey! He’s a lover, not a fighter The zone: He takes lessons in the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga

Ryan: Boxing, MMA, or Krav Maga? Pondering if I should mix up my physical training a bit. Pj: I’ve been considering doing something like this as well, but feel kinda intimidated, since I’ve never done any martial or fighting arts and not really any group training sans yoga. Ryan: I have very little tae kwon do experience from back in college, but Krav is geared toward regular civilians. It’s straight up street

Illustration By Hernan Valencia

self defense, not really a martial “art.” Take his gun away from him, fold his knee backwards, punch his trachea, foot to the nuts and run away kinda thing. There’s no sport or scoring or forms in it. I like that you’re proficient in it from the first lesson from what I’ve read/ heard. They still make you work out like nuts though and part of the upper level testing is taking on multiple armed attackers. Level three test is about 4.5 hours long I’ve heard with Crossfit, lower testing, THEN your level test. Pj: Krav Maga sounds like the place to start in my training to avenge my parents’ murder by a low-life criminal. Ryan: And I shall be your sidekick. Pj: Can I call you “The Radiant Kid?” Pj: “Captain Awesome and the Radiant Kid.” S--t, I need to start working on that NOW. Pj: We’ll fight poor grammar and bad composition in the Naked City. Ryan: Armed with Wite-Out, Sharpies and wicked neck punches!

Get in, get done, get out Krav Maga — literally “close combat” in Hebrew — is a defensive fighting style developed by in the 1930s by a man named Imi Lichtenfeld out of pure necessity. The champion boxer and wrestler found himself defending his neighborhood in Bratislava against antiSemitic gangs, and learned the hard way the strengths and weaknesses of both street and sport fighting, later working to develop the basic principles of what would become Krav Maga. “Krav is a reality-based system with few moves to defend against numerous attacks,” says Kirk Offerle, a local Krav Maga instructor. “It is a common sense approach to self defense. When necessary, get in, get it done and get out safely.” It’s so effective in its simplicity, Krav Maga has become the fighting system of choice for the Israeli Defense Forces, and has been adapted for use by a wide range of intelligence and law enforcement organizations around the globe, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, French Special Forces and New York Police Department SWAT units. Hey, you know what I say: Good enough for the

French Special Forces, good enough for me. For the record, I’ve been in exactly three physical confrontations in my 35 years. One, in junior high, was so innocuous I barely remember it, other than it may have involved some shoving or name-calling but never escalated to proper “fight” status. Another was during high school, when I backhanded a kid who was doing something to annoy me from the seat behind me on our bus. And the closest I’ve come to a real fight was a year or two later when I was sucker-punched by the ex-boyfriend of this girl I was seeing. When the world came back into focus, I was on the ground, watching our mutual female interest holding a knife as she shooed him away. All this might lead you to believe I’ve either been very adept at avoiding confrontation my entire life, or I simply have no aggression flowing through my veins. But just ask my ex-wife or parents, and they’ll attest that the latter certainly isn’t the case. I’ve left in the wake of my anger — from a very young age — the crumbled, shattered and tattered remains of walls, windows, doors, knuckles and various household items. It’s not an aspect of my personality of which I’m proud, but it’s one I’ve learned to control over the years. My birth father had a similar rage boiling just under his skin, and it’s made me very consciously move as far into a “zen” place as I possibly can. Maybe a bit too far.

Krav Maga - 2, Pj - 0 Ack. My chest was tight. I hacked up more phlegm than I thought it was possible for a human body to produce. My hands were tingling. My ears ached. My mouth was sore. But most of all? My pride hurt. My first Krav Maga session did not go well, to put it mildly. By the time the class broke for a breather following the warm-up — and bear in mind, when I say “warm-up,” I mean “boot camp drill that Full Metal Jacket’s Sergeant Hartman would find harsh” — my body was spent. My thighs were burning. My breathing was shallow. I tried continuing with the class, but spots were forming in front of my eyes, my breath wasn’t coming back and, with my pride left in a puddle of sweat on the padded floor of the studio, I dragged myself out to my car, feeling like a chump. After some internal wrangling, I returned to the same Wednesday night class the following week. Sure enough, a number of familiar faces from the previous week were there, including a young couple who obvi-

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ously liked it enough for a return visit. It seemed like instructor DC Pacheco cut back the intensity of the warm-up, whether or not for my sake. I hope it wasn’t. There were none of the sprints, push-ups or long jumps that did me in last time; just some jogging and about five minutes straight of scissor kicks to work the abs to death. It was still challenging — but just-within-my-comfortzone challenging. After the warm-up, we got right to moving through a series of basic moves built on the standard defensive fighting stance. I was partnered up to practice moves with a stout young man about my height named Raul. But I was skittish, concerned about doing actual damage, especially when practicing groin kicks. “Don’t worry, I’m wearing a cup,” Raul told me. “I always do here.” Oh, good. I wasn’t. But I didn’t have to worry about that much. Raul’s been training in Krav Maga for about two years, and for him, this was pretty basic stuff, so he generously spent the class helping me work on my moves. In a way, though, that almost didn’t help. I already had trouble keeping up with all the stuff Pacheco was throwing out. This wasn’t rocket science. He broke it down into easy-to-digest chunks: Groin kick. Side kick. Jab. Throat grab. But I was over-thinking it, trying to maintain optimal positions while being unnecessarily mindful of my sparring partner’s well-being. I was intellectualizing what should have been a visceral, no-holdsbarred exercise in self-preservation. I was doing exactly what Offerle warned against. “Often people get myopic in their approach to learning Krav Maga by concentrating too much on technique instead of understanding the basic principles of Krav,” Offerle told me. “Learn the principle and the technique will come.” Easy enough for him to say. Pacheco sure as hell concentrated on technique. Why else would he be coming over to me every few minutes to adjust my stance, or punching distance, or kick angle? I felt uncomfortable getting close to Raul, let alone wrapping my hands around his thick, sweaty neck to execute a head butt or eye gouge. I wanted him to do something to provoke me, to force out the inner rage I’d misdirected at drywall and glass and high school lockers my whole life. But with Raul as my ineffective punching bag and not a single clear or present danger nearby, that trigger never manifested itself for me during the class. At the end of class, I approached Pacheco, who was winding down and taking care of

business as usual behind the cash-wrap in the corner of the studio. I perused the class schedule and the rate card. “So what do you think,” he asked me. I mumbled a response. “What was that?” “I’m up in the air about it,” I replied, not only unsure about Krav Maga itself, but also the pricing: $165 a month unless I make a long-term commitment, and my heart just wasn’t in it. Nor was my wallet. “I’m no salesman,” Pachecho said, grinning. “I’ll be here. Unless I get fired.” I thanked him again and walked out the door, feeling physically better than I did after my previous visit, but that’s all. I was hoping to get some sort of charge from Krav Maga, hoping it would stir some sort of inner bad-ass within me — or at least the inner guy who doesn’t want to get his ass kicked. That didn’t happen. I asked Offerle — a former professional dancer and restaurateur — what made him turn to Krav Maga. He told me he had read about the practice in an article on Roger D’Onofrio, the former U.S. Army Special Forces instructor who helped pioneer Krav Maga instruction in Las Vegas. But it was not until Offerle was intimidated by a few guys in his own restaurant (the gone-but-not-forgotten Jazzed Cafe) in 2004 that he took a much more active interest. “After the incident, I could not shake the feeling that somehow I felt guilty for not reacting differently,” says Offerle. “Here were two guys that, for no real reason, accosted me on my property — and I felt guilty? Never again, I decided. I enrolled in Krav Maga with Roger the next day.” Offerle says it was “love at first punch.” For me, it was “meh” at first punch. The promise of Krav Maga is that after your first class, you’re no longer a victim. But fact is, I was never a victim in the first place. Sure, I might have an epiphany like Offerle’s someday, something that will make something like Krav Maga grab me by the short and curlies and never let go, but I don’t think I’m missing out on anything should that never manifest itself. I started running again pretty heavily after taking that second Krav Maga class. And wouldn’t you know: After all that searching for a new challenge (and being subsequently let down by it), the road under my feet didn’t look so bad anymore. The boredom I was feeling had pretty much passed. And best of all, I didn’t have to wear a cup. It’s the little things.


Keep on movin’ on: Jump for Joy’s Anthony Alegrete, left, and Branden Collinsworth

By leaps and bounds


Two young men take on childhood obesity with a free fitness program that’s fun — and fierce by heidi kyser


Oh, great — another initiative against childhood obesity. (Yawn.) No! Jump for Joy is different! Seriously! Just ask co-founder Anthony Alegrete. “What’s the most-hated class in school?” (He doesn’t wait.) “Yeah, that’s right: P.E. Because it’s boring! We make it fun and cool for kids to be active, healthy and fit.” Jump for Joy isn’t trying to up the coolness factor of dodge ball. Instead, it’s reinventing group fitness for kids using two core principles: 1. Incorporate live music, celebrity appearances and other fun into themed programs that are accessible to all; and 2. Get the


Hear more

parents into the game to create a family culture that fosters permanent change. Sounds like a good plan, and it seems to be working. The true secret to Jump for Joy’s success, however, may be the enthusiasm of Alegrete and co-founder Branden Collinsworth. As Helen Goodale, the mother of two regular participants, puts it, “They’re there because they want to be, and it shows.”

Cooler than Facebook The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stats show childhood obesity on the fast train to pandemicville. In 2010, the

CDC estimated that some 17 percent of American kids age 2-19 were obese. That’s nearly three times the rate in 1980 and adds up to around 12.5 million obese children and teens. Here at home, the Trust for America’s Health report, “F as in Fat,” found that 11 percent of Nevada high school students were obese as of 2009, and 15 percent of children as of 2007, the latest data available. The problem isn’t just being fat. Obesity is linked to a range of health issues, from diabetes and breathing problems, to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Oh, and it’s a socioeconomic issue too: The lower the income of

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health the child’s household, the more likely he is to be obese, the CDC found. In reaction, a few years ago, both the public and private sector began bombing the problem with a barrage of programs, such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign — the group behind the “Play an hour a day” ads at bus stops — and, locally, the Southern Nevada Health District’s Get Healthy Clark County initiative. Concerned parties like Alegrete and Collinsworth could hardly miss the need for a sports and fitness program for Southern Nevada kids. As experts quoted in Jump for Joy’s YouTube videos frequently point out, physical education in public schools is on the decline; public parks are considered unsafe for kids without adults; and parents are increasingly unavailable. Kids whose families can’t afford soccer league or gymnastics classes, Collinsworth says, are stuck at home with the electronic nanny. “Who are we competing against?” he says. “Video games, Facebook, the Internet. So, we needed to be cooler than that.”

Family ties Alegrete, 30, and Collinsworth, 26, channeled their barely-inner-children to debut Jump for Joy as a three-station, body-mindsoul-themed fitness day for students at a charter school. Over the past year and a half, that format evolved into Camp Jump. Held every few weeks at parks and rec centers around the Las Vegas Valley, each camp has a theme — say, football. Alegrete and Collinsworth find stars in this field to lead participants in activities and exercises — say, Philadelphia Eagles corner back Gerard Lawson, who taught the fundamentals of football and how to catch, throw and kick at the June 11 camp. “I’ve never seen such great exposure to so many different sports,” says Goodale, whose 4-year-old daughter Hannah and 5-year-old daughter Roben attend Camp Jump regularly. “It gives kids a chance to find out what they might like and be good at.” Camps have featured local firefighters, martial arts experts, soccer players, Strong Man competitors and UFC fighters — all doing their thing to music provided by DJ Miss Joy, cur-

rently appearing at Mix Lounge in Mandalay Bay. And because Alegrete and Collinsworth understood that obesity is a family problem, they brought in nutritionist and lifestyle coach Bill Sifert to work with parents while kids play. “Bill is a very important part of the program,” Goodale says. “A lot of the parents are overweight themselves. In order to conquer obesity, they need this information.” She says Sifert has showed her lots of useful stuff, like how to pack a lunch that’s cheaper and healthier than what’s available at school. Goodale considers Jump for Joy a godsend to her daughters, especially Roben, who was born prematurely and has since suffered from a variety of health problems; notably asthma and Noonan’s syndrome. Hannah has asthma too, and both girls have been excluded from most school and team sports, to their mother’s dismay. “At Jump for Joy, they see (Roben) as a normal kid,” Goodale says. “She can have fun and participate no matter what. If she has to take a break, they help her do what she can, so she’s still part of the team.”

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The program’s impact on the family has extended beyond the time spent at Camp Jump, according to Goodale. She and her husband installed an above-ground pool in their back yard this summer and have been teaching their daughters to swim. “We do a lot more things together,” she says, adding that Jump for Joy will be on their family’s social calendar as long as it’s available. “Anthony assured us they want us to be there, and they’ll never charge us. Kids and parents really need these kinds of things in this economy. We just can’t afford organized sports right now.”

They’re ‘exerpreneurs’ Camp Jump is free for participants. Jump for Joy Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and both co-founders say they’re not in it for the money. They have other businesses for that. Still, keeping a hundred people occupied for a couple hours in a public venue every few weeks takes time and money. How do they do it? The Alegrete-Collinsworth combo is like a superhero duo minus the masks and tights. Ale-

“We make it fun and cool for kids to be active, healthy and fit,” says Jump for Joy co-founder Anthony Alegrete. grete, a self-described team-builder whose mind is always in the entrepreneurial state, won the Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology’s 2011 Governor’s Cup in the college undergraduate category — a $20,000 prize. Collinsworth overcame a tough childhood to earn a GED from Job Corps, an associate’s degree from CSN and bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communication from UNLV. He’s now working on a master’s degree in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a program that he says allows him to attend classes in Philadelphia one week a month, and spend the rest of his time in Las Vegas developing Jump for Joy as a study project.

The two met in 2009 at UNLV, where Collinsworth was Alegrete’s personal trainer. Several years ago, Alegrete had set aside the name Jump for Joy in honor of his childhood nickname, “Jump.” He knew he wanted a business with that name someday, but wasn’t sure what it would be. “Branden was training me,” Alegrete recalls. “I was seeing results, getting healthy. I saw that he had a talent like nobody else. I thought, if he had just the right infrastructure and management behind him, we could take it to the moon. He was doing what we do now, a fitness camp, but for adults. I started helping him with that, his business model, website … and I realized we should be doing it for kids.”

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The Jump for Joy plan hatched quickly. Alegrete says he’d always wanted to start a nonprofit to help children; Collinsworth, for his part, understands from personal experience the importance of sports and fitness in a child’s life. “My family had some hardship, and we became homeless for a while,” he says. “Sports were so important to me during that time. It’s what led me to be a trainer. I realized that through fitness, you can elevate your mind and body.” Besides earning a bachelor’s degree in business from UNLV, Alegrete is running the business that won him the Governor’s Cup, Eighteen At Eighteen, which offers teenagers how-to guides as Smartphone apps. Collinsworth continues to run his adult boot camps and do personal training. The two boot-strapped Jump for Joy with their own cash. They’ve held a couple fundraisers, but efficiency and partnerships are what really keep the operation going, Alegrete says. Clear Channel donated billboard space for advertising; Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas provides space and promotes Camp Jump;

valley schools invite Jump for Joy to family fitness nights; Touro University students do fitness tests and parent programs; and celebrities donate their time to the cause. “What most people do with $10, we can do with $1 and make it look like it cost $20,” Alegrete jokes. After their launch in the charter school, Alegrete and Collinsworth did their first event on their own. Only three kids showed up. Not to be discouraged, the pair plowed forward. “The second camp, it was triple. The third, double that,” Alegrete says. “People started contacting us to be a part of it, and it just started snowballing. Within four months, we had nine directors on our board. ... We built 2,000 friends on Facebook.” He estimates they get as many as 100 kids at their busiest camps now, including a core group of 25 that follow them around the city. Not surprisingly, things change rapidly at Jump for Joy. Camps have a fitness component for parents, and Alegrete is envisioning a holistic wellness experience for the entire family. He’s looking for sponsors to grow the operation. “We could do so much more,” he says. “The possibilities are endless.”

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Khoury’s prides itself on excellence in the preparation of food, presentation and quality of service. serving some of the finest Lebanese cuisine available in Las vegas, Khoury’s restaurant will stimulate and delight your senses. Close your eyes as you savour this fantastic food and drink, and you’ll feel you’ve stepped into the heart of Beirut.

Award-winning smashburger serves 100-percent Certified Angus Beef cooked-to-order smashburgers, as well as smashchicken sandwiches, smashdogs, smashsalads, Häagen-dazs shakes, and sides like veggie frites and rosemary and garlic-seasoned smashfries, daily from 10am-10pm.

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Ferraro’s italian Restaurant experience Italian dining at its best at Ferraro’s, family-owned and operated for over 25 years! enjoy thanksgiving day with your choice of two fixed menus offered from 1p to 9p. Also, it’s not too early to book your Holiday Party. Groups of 20 or more receive a $200 discount. Ferraro’s gift cards are available and perfect for your holiday gift-giving. 4480 Paradise Rd., las Vegas, nV (702) 364-5300

Baja California Restaurant & Cantina serving summerlin at Boca Park! new fall menu and hours! m- F 3pm to close, Weekends 12 to close. Best happy hour in town 7 days a week 3 to 6. BC incorporates the unique flavors of Baja California cuisine in a beach-like resort atmosphere. enjoy the fall evenings on our outdoor patio with bar or our “man Cave” cigar lounge. entertainment Friday & saturday nights. 1050 S. Rampart Blvd. (702) 463-5200

Presidio designed with the class and style of an upscale California establishment, Presidio at the district at Green valley ranch offers an assortment of flavorful and affordable dishes. Appetizers such as ahi tuna chips and artichoke franchaise provide a comfortable, yet gourmet opening to a Californiastyle menu that includes an assortment of treats – from traditional to one-of-a-kind. 2235 Village Walk Drive , Suite 141, Henderson, nV (702) 320-8100



Reviews In t e rv i e w s e at t h i s n o w ! On t h e P l at e

29 The Dish Saving room


32 Eat This Now! Chili fries 2.0

32 On the plate

November’s dining events


Saving room The Barrymore is a throwback to old-school gourmet rooms, but the flavors live in the now by brock radke

The Barrymore’s roast veal loin is one of its modern classics.


The restaurants of the Block 16 Hospitality Group are casual, bold American eateries with obvious mass appeal – the all-encompassing burger universe of Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan, the rambunctious LBS Burger in Red Rock Resort and the iconic L.A. transplant Pink’s at Planet Hollywood. They’re successful, too. But the company’s latest offering starts down a different path, one flanked with creativity and admiration for old Vegas. The Barrymore in the renovated Royal Resort is cool, clever and quiet, and that’s the way they want it. “It’s really a pet project for me,” says Billy Richardson, Block 16 partner. “It’s a small place, it’s not in a big casino or a big building on the Strip. It kind of makes me think about places like Nora’s or Rosemary’s.” d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 29

The Steakhouse Burger has bacon marmalade and Gruyére cheese.

Lobster deviled eggs with caviar, a decadent appetizer.

The Barrymore’s design recalls the gourmet rooms of yesteryear.

It seems odd to compare a flashy joint just off the Strip to those suburban standards, so he explains deeper: “In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, and really, even into the ’80s and ’90s in Las Vegas, casinos basically had one coffee shop, one buffet, and one gourmet room. That room was where you take your wife or girlfriend, or your friends if you want to impress them. That’s what we’re trying to do.” Richardson is a third-generation native, and has a pretty good grasp on what is and isn’t Las Vegas. He’s worked in nightlife and restaurants with the biggest and best in this town, so if he wants to indulge in a pet project, sounds good to me. When I finally got a glimpse of the Barrymore, with its sleek bar, old Hollywood décor, two small dining rooms, and patio space complete with fire wall, it seemed to be the perfect Vegas restaurant.

30 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

Taking a seat in an enormous blue booth — so big there are only six in the more intimate of the two rooms — and admiring the film reelbedazzled ceiling and Rorschach ink blot artwork, I realized just how much of a pet project this is. In his research on old casino gourmet rooms, Richardson discovered Barrymore’s in the original MGM Grand, what is now Bally’s. “I saw that logo and that name and just knew it was right for this.” He browsed through the menu, and tons of others, getting inspired by the memory of Duck a l’Orange, Chateaubriand and other extinct dishes. He knew his culinary team, led by the machine-like executive chef Anthony Meidenbauer, would bring new life to the classics. “We are re-creating something that’s been forgotten. What is Vegas, if it’s not great experiences? We want to get back to that.”

I went back to the Barrymore for dinner. In the evening, seeing the Royal Resort’s stylish lobby bar packed with people, I better understood how well the restaurant fits into the building, which has been around since the early 1960s. Authentic Entertainment Properties took over the resort earlier this year and installed a retro-artsy feel. Now open and attracting neighboring conventioneers for all three meals, the Barrymore should develop into the big draw for the building. This is tiny and cuisine-oriented, and Meidenbauer loves that. “To be able to do whatever I want with the food is exciting and fun,” he says. I order two of the appetizers he recommends, grilled octopus and Vitello Tonnato. The octopus is amazingly tender, and the roast veal loin dish – one of the throwback Vegas dishes the kitchen prepares in its traditional way – is totally satisfying, paperthin slices of meat drenched in crème fraiche and oily Spanish tuna sauce. It’s a crazy timetraveling bite. People used to eat food like this. But most start their dinner here with a classic

M ay w e r e c o m m e n d …

Steakhouse Burger. Before the Barrymore, Block 16 Hospitality was known for its two flavorful Vegas burger joints: LBS and Holsteins. So it’s natural to wonder if the Barrymore’s best burger offering can hold its own against its more established brethren. The biggest difference with the Steakhouse burger, available for lunch or dinner, is that the Barrymore is using grass-fed beef and serving it up on a nice, spongy English muffin-style bun. The chewy texture of the bread is paired nicely with the bold, almost gamey-tasting meat. The toppings bring everything together, including peppery frisée, bacon marmalade, oven roasted tomato, tangy garlic mayo and smooth Gruyère cheese.— Brock Radke

Caesar or the lobster deviled eggs with caviar. After sampling a salad of Bibb lettuce and hearts of palm in a dressing much more savory and substantial than its description of champagne vinaigrette, I eat the Barrymore steakhouse burger, on a fresh-baked English muffin bun with bacon marmalade and Gruyére cheese, and then adoringly devour beautifully braised short ribs. The meat floats on a cloud of carrot mousseline, kind of a vegetable whipped cream that I would like in a big bowl for dessert, with pickled pearl onions on the side. The Barrymore is aiming directly for that right-now-Vegas sweet spot, providing the expected escapism for tourists balanced with enough hip and hype to attract the food-andcocktail happy local crowd. “We are geared toward locals,” Richardson says. He knows we will hit a near-Strip location as long as it brings the goods. “Right now, if you look at what’s happening downtown, people are finding things in that area and coming back because they don’t want it to go away.” His respect and appreciation of downtown’s resurgence is reflected in his creation of the Barrymore, a true urban eatery for his city.

It can be hard to make healthy choices when there are few healthy choices to make, which is why we are working to increase access to healthy foods in our community. There are a growing number of farmers markets across our valley that offer healthy regionally grown produce. And now, some even accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and debit cards. Learn more about farmers markets and what we are doing to make our community healthier by visiting



Breakfast Famous for a variety of Skillets,

Salads, Omelets, Benedicts &Waffles Lunch Las Vegas’ Best Burgers, Sandwiches and Homemade Chili

EGG & I EGG WORKS 4533 W Sahara Ave

9355 W Flamingo Rd. and 2490 E. Sunset Rd. Open 6 am to 3 pm

The Barrymore inside The Royal Resort 99 Convention Center Drive, 702.407.5303

Buy One Entree

And get Second


Up to $8 Off. Not valid with any other offer or coupon. Management reserves all rights. One coupon per table. Expires Dec. 31, 2011 Desert C d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 31


Our favorite recent dishes that have us coming back for seconds


Ox-tail chili cheese fries at Bachi Burger Few would imagine chili cheese fries as a fine-dining appetizer, but Bachi Burger dresses up this lowbrow American classic with sweet ox-tail meat chili, bright green rings of sliced peppers, and a sunny-side-up egg, turning what was formerly known as a gloppy mess reserved for theme parks and greasy spoons into a layered dish of surprising complexity. Each bite provides bursts of contrasting flavors (with the egg and the peppers playing particularly well together), all anchored by a thick bed of fries. It’s a dish big enough to serve to an entire table, with so much going on that no two bites are the same, except for the fact that it’s all kinds of delicious — and just $11.50. My advice: Pierce the egg right away, letting the creamy yellow yolk mix with the warm, sweet ox-tail chili, and make sure there’s at least one slice of green pepper in each mouthful. — J.J. Wylie

Bachi Burger 470 E. Windmill Lane, 242-2244

ComBAO lunch at Great Bao Asian Café Hidden in the center of the Touch Salon & Spa at Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard is a magical place called the Great Bao Asian Cafe, where chef Sheridan Su engages in alchemy, working on a tiny stovetop to hand-craft delicious meals. His best is the ComBAO plate, which includes three bao, chips and a drink for $10. The bao are meat and vegetable fillings wrapped in pillows of white, airy dough. While the roast duck and pork belly bao are succulent beyond reckoning, for sheer flavor, the tofu bao — in which slices of tofu are cooked in sweet soy and then paired with roasted mushrooms and daikon sprouts — is the clear winner, if only for the way its flavors pop on your palate. Of course, the ComBAO plate allows you to get all three (or substitute the no-less delicious beef or chicken bao), so there’s no need for anxiety. For an epic finish, order an “Elvis” smoothie for dessert. — J.W.

Great Bao Asian Café inside the Touch Salon & Spa 4965 W. Tropicana Ave. #105, 900-2168

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Art & Wine: A Perfect Pairing Nov. 10, 5-7 p.m. Master Sommelier Jason Smith and Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Director Tarissa Tiberti host this evening of all thing “fine” when guests enjoy the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art exhibition and the skillfully paired selections from Bellagio’s wine cellar. A conversation about each begins promptly at 6 p.m. $25-$33. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art,

Fresh52 Autumn Harvest Festival Nov. 12-13 This annual event, over two days at two locations, really does harvest right with lots of activities and goodies for everyone. Partake in fresh pressed apple cider, a pie-eating contest, the petting zoo, pumpkin decorating, face painting, and a kid’s arts & crafts area. Nov. 12, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Tivoli Village, 302 S. Rampart; Nov. 13, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Sansone Park Place, 9480 S. Eastern Ave., www., 900-2552

Downtown FEED Farmer’s Market Thursdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The Downtown FEED (Fremont East Entertainment District) Farmer’s Market offers the freshest pickings from more than 15 growers. Every first Thursday, the Yelp booth will give away free Yelp tote bags. Free. Azul Nightclub, 115 N. 7th Street

O x-tai l f ri e s : C h ris to p h e r S m i t h


November’s dining events you don’t want to miss

TOP 5 HOLIDAY PICKS 1. Don’t miss the return of the annual “Believe in the Magic” holiday show. The free show kicks off at 12 noon on Friday, November 25 on the runway at Fashion Show. 2. Santa baby. Santa arrives with photo opportunities galore at Fashion Show, Meadows Mall and The Boulevard Mall. 3. For additional gift giving ideas, check out some of the star-studded boutiques that now call Fashion Show home: Pinto Ranch, Tiffany & Co., Cotton On, Chipotle, Red Velvet Café, Superdry USA and True Religion Kids - to name just a few. 4. Pet Nights with St. Nick are on select Monday nights in December at Fashion Show, Meadows Mall and The Boulevard Mall. Proud pet owners and their furry, four-legged friends are invited to capture a holiday-hugging photograph with Santa, himself. 5. Delectable dining. 'Tis the season to eat and drink. Enjoy some festive fare at more than 30 restaurants and eateries at Fashion Show, The Shoppes at The Palazzo and The Grand Canal Shoppes.

Calling All Shoppers Holiday hours extended! Fashion Show, Meadows Mall and The Boulevard Mall are making holiday shopping even easier with extended holiday hours for shoppers throughout the month of December. After we open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, November 25, shoppers will have even more opportunities to make their lists, check them twice and start shopping! S P E C I A L A D V ER T I S I N G S E C T I O N


niquely FestiVe For those dedicated to Fashion. Fendi chloĂŠ BurBerry michael kors

barneys new york canali 7 For all mankind tory Burch Bottega Veneta christian louBoutin diane Von FurstenBerg salVatore Ferragamo

dress: catherine malandrino

on the strip in the Palazzo - 2nd Level located adjacent to the Venetian 702.414.4500

T h e U l t i m a t e Ho l i d a y G u i d e

Give Go Get Our gift picks for a season to remember

Enjoy the season's events

Involved with great causes

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 35

Give Our must-get gift picks for him and her By Maureen Adamo Home stylish home

The beloved shelter blog has finally been compiled into a vibrant, time-warping print edition, complete with home tours, DIY projects and tutorials. If she ever pokes her head up from its beautiful pages, you’ll enter a wormhole of thank yous. “Design Sponge at Home” by Grace Bonney, $35, Anthropologie, Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and The District at Green Valley Ranch,

Sparkle in stereo

They may not be blasting “Poker Face” like they used to, but audiophiles will still love these glam earbud headphones. Monster Heartbeats by Lady Gaga headphones, $129.99, Best Buy, multiple locations,

Choco Christmas

Max Brenner says chocolate is good for us, and we’re not ones to argue. Think of it as giving the gift of health. Holiday packages, $19.90-$89, Max Brenner, Forum Shops,

You’re lugging good

Bowled over

These porcelain bowls add warmth to any table, and each are finished with hand-cut rims, adding charming individuality to any arrangement. Michael Wainwright gold bowl, $244, Bloomingdale’s Home and Furniture, Fashion Show Mall,

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The people at Jack Spade pay a lot of attention to the science of carrying things, so they designed this bag to age with character. Constructed with latex-dipped industrial canvas and a doublereinforced bottom, the more he uses it, the better it looks. Jack Spade canvas brief, $245, Saks Fifth Avenue, Fashion Show Mall,

Furry and friendly

All-over fur is sometimes a bit much, but this cute little puff is the perfect winter accessory she'd never think to buy for herself — and it's cruelty-free. Faux fur collar, $17.95, H&M, multiple locations

Ale tales

Chock-full of hard-won knowledge of the American beer industry — from best craftsmen to perfect brews and have-to-be-there festivals, organized by region for his fantasy road-tripping pleasure. “The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover's Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation” by Christian DeBenedetti, $20,

Just in case

Ride and shred

He’s not just a guy nostalgic for ink and paper. He likes to look smart, too. DODO Case for iPad, $79.95, J Crew, Fashion Show Mall,

Is it a bike? Is it a skateboard? It’s both, in one confounding syllable. Created by racing brothers Bart and Steve Wilson and manufactured here in Las Vegas, the sbyke debuted this year and was promptly embraced by freestyling BMXers. Played straight or tricked out, the sbyke’s reardriven engineering keep it out of been-there-done-that scooter territory. $249,

Salad from the future Natural high

Handcrafted, organic, sustainable spirits: The Southern Californian producers infuse 14 aromatics in the gin alone, resulting in a floral-yet-savory sip that benefits most from a little tonic water, but also lovely in a champagne cocktail — perhaps under the mistletoe? Greenbar Collective spirits at Whole Foods Market, Town Square, 589-7711 and Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, 9915 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 435-9463

Sleek and silver, these modern pieces serve hosts of every style. Salad doesn’t have to be mundane. Ensalata servers, $42,

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shop local

Bipolar express

When he’s good, he is very, very good. And when he’s bad, he’s even better. Naughty and Nice socks, $19, Barneys, Palazzo,

Right in the kisser

OK, so it's for your sister. Who cares? She'll plant her soft and kissable lips on your cheek for this one. Fresh Kissing Ritual, $25, Sephora, multiple locations,

Magnolia Lane S outh e r n c ha r m i n th e S outhw e st

Stepping into Magnolia Lane is like stepping back in time to an era of garden parties, afternoon teas and ladies who luncheon. Upon entering, you’re greeted with the scent of warm cinnamon and inviting chairs, the kind children settle into on the porch to watch fireflies in late summer. Nooks and crannies are filled with hideaway objects for sale — some so hidden that, upon finding them, you’ll get the sense of a precious discovery meant only for yourself. The space is flush with everything from designer candles and antiqued picture frames to sterling silver charm jewelry, crystal-decorated photo albums, Provençal baking dishes, triplemilled soap wrapped in hand-glittered paper and children’s wooden toy boxes that look as comfortable sitting inside the store as they would have in 1953 — if Magnolia Lane had been around that long. But in fact, the boutique is only four years old, and represents the culminating dream of owner Andrea Owen, who left corporate America to open the shop in 2007. Originally located in Summerlin, Magnolia Lane moved to The District a year after that development opened. Her location at The District is currently the only one of its kind in the United States, so it’s the perfect spot to take visiting friends for unique home accents they couldn’t find anywhere else. The offerings are charming, the staff welcoming and the atmosphere decidedly Southern. (Magnolia Lane in The District, 2260 Village Walk Drive, 233-4438, — Gigi Generaux

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Chucks for grown-ups

His new favorite shoes will be his old favorite shoes, updated with soft brown leather. Converse high-tops, $110, Saks Fifth Avenue, Fashion Show Mall,

For every body

Bring us your weak, your tired ... your gym rats. This dual-purpose scrub and soak with soothing eucalyptus and rosemary will ease his overworked muscles while Arnica and Epsom salts exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin. Jack Black Body Rehab Scrub and Muscle Soak, $35, Sephora, multiple locations,

You scent me

A six-generation legacy of hand-crafted fragrance in gorgeous, hand-blown bottles. White Flowers ($575) has notes of green apple, jasmine and musk for the romantic Royal Oud ($300) is a rich layering of lemon, bergamot, cedarwood and oud — flattering to both him and her. Creed Royal Exclusives, Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show Mall,

Here’s the dish

For the multifaceted, a dish to match. Surface dish by Rosenthal, $140, Bloomingdale’s Home and Furniture, Fashion Show Mall,

Jacket up, jacket down

Unless he’s the rare man willing to make bold sartorial moves, asking him to embrace fashion-forward velvet or velour might prompt a revocation of your privileges as fashion buyer. But we’re betting he can get behind this season’s softer side with a jacket easily styled up or down. Men’s woolen blazer, $100, Zara, Fashion Show Mall,

Droid you’re looking for

Bendable, poseable: Cubebot comes in three sizes and folds away neatly into what else ... a cube. His hardwood frame is near-indestructible and made of renewable resources. Take that, Transformers. Cubebot by David Weeks, $25, Unica Home, 3901 W. Russell Road, 616-9280,

Hardcore corn

Here's handmade gourmet popcorn with a dash of molecular gastronomy. Beware of instilling intense addiction with flavors like dilly pickle, a nothing-but-cheese-and-salt white cheddar and “choke you” jalapeño. Popped Gourmet Popcorn, 9480 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 998-9234,

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shop local

City Life USA

T h e i r pu r s e s a r e ov e r -th e -top ( but tast e fully so)

Move over, Lady Gaga. A locally owned and operated accessories boutique with three Vegas locations, City Life USA aims for discriminating fashionistas. The store’s trendy purses — designed in town, cruelty-free and typically under $100 — are decorated with fashion-forward accents such as lasercut detailing, hardcore metalwork, boho tassels and chunky chains. Boring old day bag got you down? They’ve got a nude tote with oversized grommets and Victorian lace inlaid against crisscrossed beige leatherette. Feeling steampunk? They’ve got the Tassels and Fringe Tote, featuring heavy black bedroom tassels complete with a guineafowl feather border. Enjoy geometry? They’ve got a white leatherette bag with a black, laser-cut overlay so intricate it looks like a mehndi tattoo. For something classy with a kick, they’ve got a rust- and nubuckcolored tote enhanced with buckles, scalloped embroidery and tastefully placed crystals. “I believe that our purses represent the City of Las Vegas and life in Las Vegas,” says owner Aliza Elazar-Higuchi. “Our purses have identity. We called our brand City Life USA, because we wanted purses which would represent this alive, forever breathing, kicking city.” Eat your heart out, Stefani Germanotta. (City Life USA, multiple locations, — G.G.

Hearts of the matter

Dessert island

clutch gone luxe

I have the powder

She'll wear your heart on her sleeve from morning to night with this pretty pattern of your affection wrapped around her wrist. Floating hearts bangles in ivory and black, $95, Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show Mall

The gourmet in your life is bored. Deliver a swift kick to the toque with recipes from Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry queen. Cereal milk ice cream, compost cookies, crack pie ... need we say more? To sweeten the deal, offer your kind services in licking up the mess. Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, $35,

The color of mulled wine with a snow flurry of sparkle, this exquisite bag embodies the romance of the season — a classic she'll return to year after year. VBH clutch, $2,150, Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show Mall,

The art deco bottle is to-die-for, and the introduction of the Vol de Nuit fragrance to this year’s subtly shimmering holiday powder puts it high on the itgirl’s wish list. Guerlain Vol de Nuit perfumed shimmer powder for face and body, $87, Guerlain, The Shoppes at the Palazzo

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A case of style

Why give her the latest in sleek tech gadgetry only to hide it in a clunky neoprene carry-all? This case is still lined with neoprene, so it protects just like the other, but looks a million times better. Mumbai tablet computer case, $58, Anthropologie, Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and The District at Green Valley Ranch,

Save face Readable edibles

McSweeney’s applies their gorgeous genius to our favorite topic: eating. And you know it’s going to be extra good, because it’s edited by the savory side of Momofuku, chef David Chang. Every issue of the quarterly will explore a single theme with the usual depth and insight, publishing everything from art and photos to rants and essays, and, of course, recipes. Lucky Peach subscription, $28,

If he doesn't use a pre-shave oil under his usual creams and gels, he's missing a closer, more comfortable shave. Essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint cushion against the razor and will help him save face. Anthony pre-shave oil, $22, Sephora, multiple locations,

Heeling energy

She may experience trouble walking — because she won’t be able to take her eyes off these gorgeous heels. In fact, neither will anyone else. Christian Louboutin “Ziggy” heels, $1,395, Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show Mall,

It’s a draw

Why should Spielberg have all the fun? Create artwork in multiple dimensions with a special pen and see it pop to life when viewed through the kit’s 3D glasses. Now all that’s left is figuring out how to draw dinosaurs in spacetime. Incredible 3D doodle kit, $7.50, Unica Home, 3901 W. Russell Road, 616-9280,

Creature cuteness

If visions of sugar plums turn to nightmares of Elmer’s glue and glitter when the words “handmade” and “gift” meet, fret not. Local Etsy-ist Tobie Harris of LuLu’s Woobies makes adorable, animal-eared hats for tykes of all ages. $18-$45, LuLu's Woobies,

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Go Enjoy the season's events

Now if only Ethel M's cacti could sing carols.

Still classic: X marks Christmas Dec. 11 at the House of Blues.

Ethel M. Holiday Cactus Garden

Nov. 16-Jan. 1, 5-10 p.m. Jazzed up with over half a million Christmas lights, the prickly desert-dwellers at the Ethel M. Cactus Garden spread holiday cheer Vegas style: beautiful to look at, and more so at night. 2 Cactus Drive, Thanksgiving meal distribution

Nov. 19, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. If you can lift 15 pounds without keeling over, have a valid Nevada driver’s license and insurance, you can help deliver Thanksgiving pantry bags with Helping Hands of Vegas Valley to homebound senior citizens. The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

Nov. 20-Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m. What’s most magical about The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village is not the beautiful forest, but how attendees help the OV's clientele. 6300 W. Oakey Blvd., Mannheim Steamroller

Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m. Chip Davis directs The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller,

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infusing you with the holiday spirit with art for not just the ears but eyes as well. $35-$85. UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center,

holiday treats. Free. Police Memorial Park, 3250 Metro Academy Way

CSN Fall Dance Concert

Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. There is an abundance of opportunities to hear holiday music throughout the season, but the UNLV Choral Ensembles Winter Concert is a special delight that includes the participation of all four university choirs. $8-$10. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall,

Dec. 2, 7 p.m. and Dec. 3, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Embark on an intellectual exploration of life, death and the ultimate meaning of existence — yeah, heavy stuff — when CSN’s Fall Dance Concert pays homage to composer Gustav Mahler, with choreographer Kelly Roth presenting the composer’s massive Symphony No. 9. $8-$10. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, Holiday Movie in the Park

Dec. 2, 6 p.m. Be a witness to Jim Carey’s criminal inclinations — and subsequent change of heart — in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” along with complimentary pictures with the Grinch himself and

UNLV Choral Ensembles Winter Concert

A Christmas Carol

Dec. 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, 8 p.m. You can imitate him by saying, “Bah Humbug,” but don’t be a Scrooge by opting out of the joyful performance that is “A Christmas Carol.” $20-$30. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, The Las Vegas Great Santa Run

Dec. 3, 10 a.m. Put down the cookies


"Oliver!" runs Dec. 9-18 at Charleston Heights Arts Center.

Rock 'n' yule Christmas music. It’s a tradition right up there with the dog getting sick all over the nativity figurines after eating an entire plate of your mom’s spritz cookies. But there’s nothing wrong with tweaking tradition a bit. Hauling a sack of holiday sounds with some leather, smoke and chords thrown in, proto-roots-punk progenitors X bring their Xmas Traveling Rock & Roll Revival to the House of Blues, with guests Sean Wheeler & Zander Schloss, as well as The Black Tibetans (Dec. 11, 8 p.m.). Does your idea of string music involve bows rather than picks? Check out the widely praised Firenze Quintet, five local female stringmeisters who’ve plucked and sawed in “The Lion King” and with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. They’ll offer sophisticated interpretations of classic holiday tunes at noon Dec. 16 at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse. And of course, classicalized holiday classics don’t get any more classicalized than those proffered by the Las Vegas Philharmonic at its Pops II: A Holiday Celebration! concert Dec. 17 at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, particularly with vocal prowess on loan from Kristen Hertzenberg of “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” and Travis Cloer of “Jersey Boys.” Does very thought of holiday music make you stifle a yawn? Sounds like an allergy. You probably need a wake-up dose of ornament-shaking, toddler-scaring, face-scorching, light-show bombast to exorcise your inner Grinch. We’ve got two servings of just such perfect rocking seasonal noise: Both Mannheim Steamroller (Nov. 26) and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 29) bring their flameballs, spastic lights, manic crescendos, ruffled sleeves and violently flung ’80s hair to UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. If you can’t take the volume, stay out of Santa’s workshop. Welcome to Christmas 2.0. — Andrew Kiraly

night of White Way hits, from “Chicago” to “Wicked,” featuring composer/lyricist Neil Berg. This holiday music will move you no matter your faith. $35-$75. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, The Elves and the Shoemaker It's a Neil Berg Christmas Dec. 3 at Artemus Ham Hall.

and start training. The Las Vegas Great Santa Run is back and, whether you decide to don red threads, this event is worth attending for the mere fact that you get to see neighbors and local celebrities sporting beards. $25-$45. Town Square, Neil Berg’s Broadway Holiday

Dec. 3, 7 p.m. It’s a Broadway holiday at this

Dec. 8, 10-11:15 a.m. The California Theatre Center hosts the offbeat tale, “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” in which two merry elves come to the aid of a very distressed shoemaker in the Black Forest. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall. 1-800-606-0424, One Christmas Carol

Dec. 9, 10 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Kellan D. Baker will test the limits of man’s creative capacity by playing 32 distinct characters — and using only 3 chairs! — for his set in “One Christmas Carol,” based on Charles Dickens’ famous tale. $8-$10. CSN’s BackStage Theatre,


Acting out With their heady topics of justice (naughty vs. nice), desire (“If I don’t get a PS3, I’ll die!”), labor relations (Santa/elves) and genetic engineering (flying reindeer?!), the holidays have always been ripe for dramatic treatment. This year offers a few twists on classic Christmas themes. Fashionistas will appreciate the California Theatre Center’s “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” in which two happy-go-lucky elves lend a helping hand to a capitalstarved shoemaker looking for angel investors in his humble shoe start-up or something like that at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall (Dec. 8, 10 a.m.). Meanwhile, if nothing else, “One Christmas Carol” will be an exercise in brutal efficiency, as actor Kellan Baker tackles 32 characters in this solo version of Charles Dickens’ celebrated story Dec. 9-11 at CSN’s Backstage Theatre. And he’s not using lavish sets as a crutch, either, as Baker employs only three chairs — and, we presume, lots of imaginative generosity on part of the audience — as scene settings. Holiday minimalism: It’s the new normal. The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre’s production of “Oliver!” (Dec. 9-18, Charleston Heights Arts Center) hews to no such self-imposed creative limits — I mean, just look at that luxurious exclamation point! — taking Dickens’ bustling, crowded novel and turning into an ensemble featuring the cutest dirty-faced, petty-thieving orphans you ever scolded. More, please! — A.K.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 43


Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 7 p.m.; Dec. 11, 17, 18, 2 p.m. The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre brings this pint-sized historical literary figure to life in their sure-to-please performance of Dickens’ classic novel. $3-$7. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., Festival of Lights

Dec. 10, noon-6 p.m. Now in their 11th year, the Festival of Lights at The Lakes will attempt to sparkle, dazzle and outshine itself. Bask in the glory of innumerable wattage and then get back to your to-do list. A Goodwill truck will also be there to collect donations. Free. The Lakes on West Sahara, Las Vegas Philharmonic Pops II: A Holiday Celebration

Dec. 17, 2 p.m., 8 p.m. Singers Kristen Hertzenberg (“Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular”) and Travis Cloer (“Jersey Boys”) along with the Las Vegas Master Singers perform favorite Christmas and Hanukkah melodies. $38-$78. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall,

Kristen Hertzenberg joins the Las Vegas Philarmonic Dec. 17 for classic holiday songs.

Santa's arrival last year at The District. That little girl still has that expression on her face.


Santanic rites Kids are usually stuck with morning-after forensics to establish the existence of Santa Claus — the cookie crumbs, the gifts signed “St. Nick” in swirling script, the silvery hairs that don’t match any profiles in the national DNA database — but at two local events kids can witness his arrival firsthand in what’s quaintly known as Southwestern U.S. Gift Distribution Subsector B7. “Santa” “arrives” — what’s with the cynicism? okay, we’ll play along — Santa arrives at The District in Green Valley to reward the righteous and punish the wicked 5 p.m. Nov. 26, after which the outdoor mall/themed urban consumer walking experience’s 50-foot tall tree will light up with more than 14,000 lights. Then after that, live musicians and strolling holiday characters will delight children over 5 (and simultaneously send children under 5 into abject, Pull-Ups-soiling terror). Santa will pull the same publicity stunt Nov. 18 at Town Square, where he’ll lead a procession of local school children and holiday characters as he lords it over everyone from a horse-drawn carriage. After the lighting of the grand Christmas tree, the press material predicts, cryptically and perhaps ominously, “snow will fall.” Oh, it will fall. It will indeed. — A.K.

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Walt Boenig Big Band Holiday Concert

Dec. 18, 2 p.m. The Walt Boenig Big Band will knock your candy-cane stockings and Santa hat right off with their bone-rattling big sound. Sit up close — if you dare. Free. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre.


Bright ideas The tangled wires, the shaky ladders, the spilled beer, the electrical burns: Save yourself a very merry emergency room visit and skip putting up Christmas lights this year. Besides, with so many other displays for your eyes to mooch off, why bother? For a classic, desert-themed light display, there’s Ethel M

Chocolates’ Holiday Cactus Garden, in which the usually sere, forbidding landscape filled with barbed alien plants is transformed into a glittering wonderland Nov. 16-Jan. 1 (2 Cactus Drive, Another uniquely Vegas-style watt-fest: Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Speedway, a drive-through (natch) light-park course-type thing 2.5 miles long that boasts 400 animated displays (www. Nov. 18Jan. 1. Before you slip on your driving gloves, though, stow something awesome yet gently used in your trunk (like that hideous sweater you got last year) for the benefit of Goodwill. At the other end of the valley, the Lakes Festival of Lights kicks off its 11th annual bash Dec. 10 (www. The finale is always the Electric Light Boat Parade, in which electrified watercraft take to the open water in a breathtaking ritual of flirting with eletrocution. But suburban streets have nothing on the true granddaddy of holiday theme park/charitable event blasts: The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, Nov. 20-Dec. 31, has yet to be outmagicked, with its quaintly claustrophobic Forest Express train ride, classic carousel filled with troublingly unblinking fiberglass horses, festively greasy fair food and locally made gifts, all to benefit Opportunity Village (6300 W. Oakey Blvd.). — A.K.

The Nutcracker

December 17-24. The only nut I’ve ever seen at “The Nutcracker” is my emotional mother bawling at the sight of the sugar plum fairies — and she’s Jewish. Bring your nuts, er, family members to experience this holiday classic. Nevada Ballet Theatre’ performs “The Nutcracker” Dec. 17-24 at Paris Theatre. Info: 946-4567. Las Vegas Ballet Company’s runs Dec. 20-23 at Summerlin Library Theatre. Info: 240-3262 Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Dec. 29, 4 p.m., 8 p.m. The renowned progressive rock ensemble takes holiday classics and gives them the full-blown rock-opera treatment, complete with pyrotechnics and tight pants. $32-$59.50. UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

The season isn't complete without "The Nutcracker" — whichever production you see.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 45


Involved with great causes

A Lift Up Org (

What they do: Provide furniture and household goods to families What they need: Able-bodied humans who can lift in the Furniture Bank Warehouse, and for delivery and donation pick-up service. Donations such as furniture and household goods are also welcome. Who to call: Volunteer line, 457-0700 Adult Day Care Center of Las Vegas (

big gifts

What they do: Support senior citizens. What they need: Sociable volunteers; donations, including food items, paper supplies, office supplies, and arts and crafts items Who to call: Volunteer line, 648-3425 Aid For AIDS of Nevada (www.afanlv. org)

What they do: Provide support and advocacy for adults and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada What they need: Children’s toys and games for their holiday toy drive and volunteers to assist with wrapping gifts and toys Who to call: Volunteer line, 382-2326 Baby’s Bounty (

Big impact N e vada Wom e n ’ s P h i lanth r op y Made up of: Local women interested in making a huge, targeted impact. How they do it: Members pool their $5,000 annual membership dues into one ginormous grant. Each member gets one vote to decide who the grant recipient will be. This year’s winner, the Salvation Army, bagged a cool $300,000 to remodel its intake facility and overnight shelter for homeless clients. The runner-up, Community Counseling Center of Southern Nevada, got the non-restricted $30,000 Founders’ Grant. Since its founding in 2006, NWP has granted $1.9 million to valley charities. What they need: The new cycle for memberships and grant applications started Nov. 1. Anybody with five Gs burning a hole in her pocket is welcome to join, and organizers say it’s a great way to get closer to those who make a difference in the community. On the flip side, nonprofit reps are invited to an informational session this month, where they can learn whether their cause has the chops to compete for the 2012 grant. In their words: “We’re a diverse, dynamic group of women of all ages. We have a very simple process for making large-scale, large-impact grants. We’re efficient, all volunteer-based, and it’s immensely satisfying. … Most of our grants have had an impact on children and education, which rely on quickly evaporating government funding.” — Dana Lee, founding member and former president. Get involved: — Heidi Kyser

What they do: Provide new and gently used infant clothing and gear (strollers, port-a-cribs, car seats) to babies born into families living in poverty. What they need: Infant strollers, bassinets, swings, bouncers, port-a-cribs, bath tubs, diaper bags, infant clothing and infant car seats; volunteers to sort infant clothing and fill diaper bags for distribution. Who to call: Main line, 810-5180 Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Nevada (

What they do: Professionally supported mentor programs for youth What they need: Used clothing, small household items; volunteers 19+ years old Who to call: Main line, 731-2227 Blind Center of Nevada (

What they do: Provide a place for socialization, personal development and meaningful employment for people who are blind or visually impaired What they need: Food, paper goods and items for arts and craft classes; volunteers Who to call: Main line, 642-6000 Boys Hope Girls Hope of Nevada (

What they do: Provide value-centered, familylike homes, opportunities and education

46 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1

small wonder

Help with the little things N e w V i sta Gives a new lease on life to: Intellectually challenged people of all ages. How they do it: Each client gets a case manager who helps them with the life skills they need. Support levels are tailored to clients’ needs, from a hand with bill-paying and grocery shopping, to a home to live in. Each year, New Vista takes a group of clients on vacation, giving them a chance to experience travel and giving their caretakers a much-needed break. What they need: Volunteers. The organization holds eight wine walks a year to raise funds, and each one requires 50 people. Funding is critical, since New Vista is in hyper-growth mode. In 2004 it had 32 clients and 5 homes; now it has more than 450 clients and 17 homes. Plans are under way to build a new facility on 15 acres it owns in North Las Vegas. And that’s not all: “We also need holiday gifts and sponsors for our annual Christmas Party. … We host dinner, Santa and gifts to about 150 to 200 of the individuals we support that otherwise would not have anything to look forward to at this time.” — Michelle Jackson, director of development. Get involved:, 457-4677. — H.K.

through college to academically capable and motivated children in need What they need: Volunteers for committees, tutoring and cooking; specific furniture needs for future homes can be obtained at Who to call: Main line, 839-9455 Best Buddies Nevada (

Computers4Cause (

What they do: Technologically update local schools, churches and foster homes with refurbished unwanted computers What they need: Computers, Pentium 4 and up, and flat-screen monitors Who to call: Main line, 940-8038 Foundation to Assist Young Musicians (

What they do: Establish one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities What they need: Buddies for their clients, opportunities to be a buddy begin at 10 years old Who to call: Nicole, 822-2268

What they do: Encourage and support gifted young musicians in early training, advanced study and professional career development What they need: Used musical instruments; volunteer instructors and office assistance Who to call: Main line, 279-6858

Children’s Heart Foundation (

Goodie Two Shoes Foundation (

What they do: Provide camp experience for children with heart conditions; family support and community education What they need: Donations of diapers, wipes, formula, gas cards and grocery cards Who to call: Main line, 967-3522

What they do: Provide children with new shoes and cushioning (socks), as well as other items deemed essential for good health and positive development. What they need: Organized volunteers to help keep shoes sorted, and anyone handy with a foot measurer Who to call: Main line, 349-3063

Clark County READS (

What they do: Provide literacy programs to children and families in Clark County What they need: Literate volunteers to read to elementary school students Who to call: Roxy, 799-5437

good neigh-bors

Riding to new horizons White Horse Youth Ranch Who wants to be a cowboy? Kids who, due to social or economic disadvantages, have no chance to experience horseback riding or outdoor adventure otherwise. What they get out of it: Besides fresh air and exercise, healing. The therapeutic effects of horseback riding — long extolled by riders — have been formalized in the practice of hippotherapy. Teaching a kid to ride a horse instills self-confidence, trust and a stable full of other virtues. What they need: Money. The organization lost its initial land grant from the Paul E. & Helen S. Meyer Foundation (granddaughter Amy Meyer is WHY’s founder) when neighbors booted the ranch serving at-risk kids from their back yard. After five years in operation, WHY is hitting reset, with a $1.5 million donation from the Meyer Foundation kicking off a capital campaign to raise the $5 million they need to hit full gallop. In their words: “We’re looking for a fresh wave of people who will embrace us. We are able to continue operating with the help of our partners, like Cowboy Trail Rides and 4 Views Equestrian. So, for now we can take the kids we work with and do rides with them there.” — Peggy Paullin, Executive Director. Get involved: or call Paullin at (702) 644-9177. H.K.

What they need: Prepackaged snacks and drinks, personal DVD players, ear buds and other items Who to call: Main line, 362-2475

Janet Sue Mason Foundation (

Las Vegas Little Theatre (

What they do: Assist in making cancer treatment sessions more comfortable for patients

What they do: Increase support of the arts; provide theatre education and quality entertainment.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 47

What they need: Cast, crew and concession supplies always in demand Who to call: Main line, 362-7996 National Multiple Sclerosis Society (

What they do: The Division funds research, furthers education, advocates for people with disabilities and provides referrals to healthcare providers and other resources within the community What they need: A computer wiz to help customize already created CS3 projects. Who to call: Main line, 736-1478 The Problem Gambling Center (

What they do: Help clients identify and treat gambling addiction What they need: Volunteers who are reliable and kind Who to call: Krista, 363-3633 Ronald McDonald House Charities (

What they do: Provide lodging, transportation and support to families while their children receive medical treatment What they need: Ronald only hosts, so volunteers are always needed to help clean up. Target also has an ongoing registry of suggested items for the house. Who to call: Julie, 252-4663

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What they do: Make sure that patients are comfortable during their stay What they need: Compassionate volunteers for their office and companionship to patients Who to call: Shari, 870-0000 Spread the Word Nevada (

What they do: Fill the empty bookshelves of underprivileged children What they need: Reading mentors, pre-K through 5th grade gently used or new books Who to call: Main line, 564-7809 Wish Upon a Wedding (

What they do: They turn wishes of saying “I do” into realities of saying “We did!” for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation What they need: Any and all wedding related items and services Who to call: Main line, (877) 305-WISH

h Kurt Rasmussen started a drumming class — but ended up building an intense, intimate musical community.

50 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1



drums It’s more than a Brazilian drumming class. It’s a (very loud!) community story

Words can’t capture the sheer

wall of sound of a samba bateria live, but they’ll have to do. If rock drums are the muscular growl of a Ford Mustang, then a bateria is like a fleet of trucks that can start and stop — together — on a dime. The bateria is beyond loud. It is a cosmology of sound, a real-time manifestation of an entire culture. It is, one supposes, the entire world. Or life itself. It doesn’t make you tap your feet. It doesn’t make you shake your hips. Rather, it wraps up your entire being, body and soul, in an ecstatic wave of sound, and turns you inside out. To absorb it all — its thundering rhythms, its intricate syncopations, its flamboyant excess and its marvelous exactitude and precision — is as exhausting as it is exhilarating. It requires everything you have as a listener. This is Kurt Rasmussen’s day job.

The beat goes on In

2004, Rasmussen


Mocidade Rebelde at UNLV, a class on Brazilian drumming — basically a small-scale bateria — and over the years word has gotten out about Rasmussen’s spirited course — though spirited might be an understatement. Last year, the university listed it in its continuing ed curriculum, and non-students began showing up. Today there’s a mix of drumming students and professionals; this semester’s class is expected to have more than 50 people, bringing a taste of the ripe rhythms of samba to Las Vegas. His class is unusual in that it draws both seasoned professionals and non-musicians. Rasmussen

writes the charts out for those who can read music — those who can’t, he teaches by rote. “He has an amazing level of patience,” says Jack Steiner, a former student who is now a music teacher in Pennsylvania. “He has an amazing level of understanding.” Rasmussen’s group rehearses a new piece every semester, at the end of which they put a video on YouTube demonstrating their work. While the music is important to Rasmussen, so is the sense of community — which makes Mocidade Rebelde so much more than just a class. “There’s a camaraderie,” Rasmussen explains. “If you come to the class you will have fun. That’s the point.” “The music is very good, but for us it’s also a good social thing,” says Dina Emerson, a vocalist at Mystère who took Rasmussen’s class last year and is coming back for more. “We’re so wrapped up in our jobs we don’t always get to meet people.” For her, Mocidade Rebelde is a “tight knit group that can also play kick ass music.” That’s the idea. “I try to instill in my students the honor of what we do,” says Rasmussen. “I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with drumming.” And to think that when Kurt Rasmussen began teaching percussion at UNLV, he had no background as an educator. But he certainly had a musical background. He’d spent decades as a touring percussionist traveling the world, backing artists such as Brazilian musical pioneer

T.R. Witcher

photography Bill Hughes

Sergio Mendes and other pop luminaries such as Paul Anka, Diana Ross, Tania Maria and Quincy Jones. He was particularly drawn to the mesmeric drum baterias, large percussion ensembles hundreds strong, that lay at the heart of Brazilian samba parades. He’d made several trips to Brazil and had acquired enough drums from friends there to outfit a 60-piece bateria. In São Paulo, they’d never seen an American play Brazilian rhythms so well, and he was invited to participate in Vai Vai, one of Sao Paulo’s largest samba schools. It was a rare honor.

"I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with drumming." He played in Carnaval competitions from 1998 to 2001. Rasmussen’s Brazil was a heady, sensual, always magical and sometimes dangerous place. But what really shook him was the sense of community at the samba schools. The schools were social clubs, communities, places where all sorts of people could come together and work toward a common goal. Many of them were “economically and socially beat-down people.” Artists and artisans worked for months on crafting elaborate floats and costumes, choreographing dance movements and writing and performing d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 51

Walk. Sit. Lift. Work. Play … in comfort, again.

You don't have to be an official student to take Rasmussen's class — but you have to love a good beat.

sophisticated samba songs — all to present at yearly Carnaval parade competitions. Loyalty and passion for particular samba schools run deep — it is, as author John Edgar Wideman has noted, a moment where the poor in a country such as Brazil take center stage and the well-to-do become spectators.

Got that swing Rasmussen grew up in Latino East

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52 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 1

L.A. He remembers drummers playing rumba in the park when he was a kid. He didn’t know he was not Latino until he was 8. But he always knew he’d be a drummer. He got into Afro Cuban music at 13, and gravitated to Brazilian music at age 17. He’s spent his whole life, basically, playing percussion. There was a lot about the Brazilian rhythms, particularly the samba, that drew him in. He liked the instruments — the snare-like cuica, the otherwordly, string-like berimbau. “The slaves that were brought from Africa, the Bantu and Yoruba tribes, were also brought to Cuba,” he says. He found he could play Brazilian rhythms on Cuban instruments, and vice versa, and get a similar vibe. But the Brazilian music had an extra quality of swing — that subtle, hard-to-grasp, sense of propulsion that makes a piece of music come to life. And the baterias could swing with the best of them. “Three hundred to 500 guys playing together,” Rasmussen marvels. “You just don’t get that in any culture. It called to me.” That many players could fill several orchestras. The sound is tremendous — it’s like the cannons at the end of the 1812 Overture. Only louder — and swinging harder. (“You have to be fit,” Rasmussen says of the demanding, 90-minute song cycles that are common at a samba parade.)

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“Most people here, especially in the collegiate system, are familiar with marching corps,” says Jeremy Meronuck, a graduate percussion student at UNLV. “With the samba school, it’s basically all drums, too. ... It has a certain type of unique funkiness to it, a swing, that really draws you in. It’s really different. It’s something you want to know better.”

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‘A celebration of life’ Now Rasmussen’s



going full circle — and exporting the sound they’re creating at UNLV. Last year, several of Rasmussen’s students went to Rio and participated in the Carnaval parade inside Rio’s legendary 90,000-seat Sambadrome. Rasmussen had a connection with a samba school there. True, no one gave them drums to play — just little shakers that weren’t loud enough for discriminating judges to hear (after all, competitions often come down to tenths of a point, and millions of dollars and pride to last a lifetime are on the line). Nevertheless, percussion student Daniel Alameda describes the experience as “almost unworldly — especially going down the middle of that aisle that is amplifying the bateria.” What opened his eyes, he says, is that everybody sings. Dancers, drummers, audiences. “It’s like a celebration of life. They have what they have and on those particular weeks it’s a big celebration of life. It’s hard to explain. The sound is ... thousands upon thousands of people ... it puts off this mood, and that’s projected in the music as well.” That’s a lesson that can’t be taught in the classroom. “I want these guys to feel connected to this ancient lineage,” Rasmussen says. “It’s something you have to uphold.”

Desert Companion on Tour Have coffee and conversation with Desert Companion Editor Andrew Kiraly and a special guest from the current issue.

November 19

Visit us online for more information at

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 53

Something feathered. Something new. Something woolly. And some poo. Check out our four new additions. Nevada State Museum – See woolly mammoth bones and other treasured artifacts from our state’s past.

Springs Cafe – Enjoy culinary creations with a view overlooking the Springs and Las Vegas.

Wings over the Springs – Feel the breeze from mighty raptors as they swoop over your head.

Scoop on Poop – Every animal does it. Now kids can learn everything about it.

Exhibits $9.95 for adults, $4.95 for kids 5 yrs. and older. Open daily, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 702.822.7700 U.S. 95 and Valley View Blvd. For our calendar of events, visit


A rt Music

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

T h e at e r Dance FA M I LY



Ain’t no party like a Morrissey party ’cause a Morrissey party don’t stop! Okay, actually, the party will probably end around 11 after two hours of drily maudlin pop and a sensibly rousing encore and Morrissey blurting out something that’s simultaneously cryptic and outrageous. What’s that smell? Dude, sweaty cardigans. He performs 8 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Chelsea Pool at the Cosmopolitan. Tickets $66. Info:


In case you haven’t heard, First Friday is undergoing a facelift. Oh, sure, you’ll still have art and conversation and food and wine and music and the occasional sight of a cop carrying a drunk teenager over his shoulder, but you’ll also get better parking, a bigger artsy downtown footprint and longer, richer, juicier hours. It happens Nov. 4 and Dec. 2 from 6 p.m. to midnight downtown. Info:

A detail from Noelle Garcia’s “Dad Regalia”


4 AlmaNova


You’re familiar with the guitar, but have you heard of the flute? It’s like a guitar, but smaller. And with no strings. And with holes you blow into. And if you dip it in soapy water it can make bubbles filled with the magic of song. See this flute thing in action when American flutist Jessica Pierce and Bosnian guitarist Almer Imamovic perform as AlmaNova. It happens 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Winchester Cultural Center. Tickets $10-$12. Info: 455-7340

Oh, how I used to jig madly in the living room to “YMCA,” blissfully unaware in my kiddie dance high that the Village People were so much more than just a novelty disco band of fanciful characters. They were, in fact a sly agitprop act secretly spreading their lurid agenda of understanding and diversity. Does the fact I loved them so much mean I’m secretly … tolerant? I’ve been outed! The Village People perform Nov. 9-13 at The Riviera hotel-casino. Tickets $39.95-$59.95. Info:


Art and literature: Sworn enemies from time immemorial, each seething with a mutual hatred born of an ancient enmity older than history itself. Not really — I’m just trying to capture the excitement of the art and lit mashup that is “10 x 10,” a collaboration between Vegas artists and writers marking the 10th anniversary of the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Catch the exhibit through Dec. 2 at the Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery; catch the kickoff reading there 6 p.m. Nov. 4. Info:

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 55




First Friday Nov. 4 and Dec. 2, 6 p.m.-midnight. Now in its ninth year, downtown’s monthly arts festival features art, exhibits, crafts, food, live music and more. Free.


$114 for 2!

• Approximately 8 - 10 minutes • Views of Las Vegas Strip • Transfers not included

Art Coming to Life

$160 for 2!

• Approximately 14 hours • Roundtrip tour to Grand Canyon South Rim • Meal included • Park entrance fees included

Through Nov. 5. View the art of Nja One as she captures the world’s diverse cultures in her works. West Las Vegas Arts Center

$229 for 2!

Recent Works by Larraine Kaiser Through Nov. 8. Larraine Kaiser has a secret life: The Las Vegas Philharmonic musician also paints. Her recent work of oil on canvas ranges from classical reproductions to abstract originals and surreal styles. Spring Valley Library

• Approx. 1 hour narrated tour • Views of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam & Grand Canyon West • Free roundtrip hotel transfers

CaLL: 702.736.7243

We Will Survive

Terms and CondiTions:

Must call 702.736.7243 and mention DESERT. Valid on PLS-2 (1st Passenger: $104, 2nd Passenger: $10). Valid on CLG-4 (1st Passenger: $150, 2nd Passenger: $10). Valid on GBW-1 (1st Passenger: $199, 2nd Passenger: $30). Limit 2 people per offer. Void with other offers and promotions. Additional fuel surcharges or fees may apply per person. Limited time only. Management reserves all rights. 11

LibraryTree Lane

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Works by Erik Beehn Through Nov. 14. Local contemporary artist Erik Beehn’s work is featured in the next installation of its “Locals Only” rotating exhibition series. He conveys a tone of disquiet and a certain moodiness in his photorealistic illustrations of urban interiors and exteriors. CENTERpiece Gallery

10 x 10


December 2, 2011

7 to 10 p.m., $25 per person FooD - Music - Wreaths - DraWings James & Kelly green

Honorary Chairs

Père noel aka

Santa Claus

andrew Kiraly

Guest Author at the Gala

Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Pkwy., Henderson, Nevada P r e s e n t e d by

Through Nov. 9. Closing reception and silent auction on Nov. 9. The exhibition consists entirely of works by local artists donated to the museum. UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum

Festivities Begin nov. 15

For complete details or to purchase tickets please visit or call 492.6584 SponSoRS: A+B Printing and Mailing, American Nevada Company, BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Boyd Gaming, Capitol North American, Cash America Super Pawn, R&S Investment Properties, Stephens Press, Unilever, United Studios of Self Defense

56 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

Through Dec. 2. Visual artists of every medium and writers whose work is inspired by Southern Nevada collaborate to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Vegas Valley Book Festival. The artist reception will feature a spoken word event during First Friday, Nov. 4, 6-8 p.m. Free. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery

Affect/Effect Through Nov. 19. Scott Carter challenges our ideas about spatial organization in this exhibit in which the walls are the art — or the lack of them. Carter has cut away at the walls of the gallery and assembled the pieces to give viewers a new sense of space. Contemporary Arts Center

A Place in Paradise Through Dec. 31. A slate of historic photographs showcases the Mid-Mod throwback neighborhood, Paradise Palms, the city’s first master-planned community. Situated around the Boulevard Mall, it is now seeing an influx of professionals who are attracted to its historic charm. Free. Boulevard Mall food court,

Rumor de Lobos Grandes: Endi Poskovic Selected Prints Through Jan. 9. Endi Poskovic’s prints are like posters from bygone eras that seem at once familiar and remote, ordinary yet magical. That’s because those eras exist largely in Poskovic’s mind. Taking influences as diverse as movie posters, Japanese woodcuts and Eastern European propaganda posters, Poskovic’s pieces explore cultural identity, alienation and social history. But above all, they’re a pleasure to look at. Free. Historic Fifth Street School.

The Rachel identity Will the real Rachel Barton Pine please stand up? The acclaimed musician is known for her mastery of one instrument in particular — the violin — but she’s built a multi-faceted career out of it. In addition to her feisty interpretations of classical mainstays, she also shreds on the side as a member of metal band Earthen Grave. At this concert, she’ll perform Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Robert Schumann’s “Symphony No. 3” as well as others, but who knows — her edgy alter ego may just rear its bow. She performs 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall. Tickets $34.25-$78. — Andrew Kiraly



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Vegas Spectacular: From the Stage to the Strip Through Jan. 22. A photographic retrospective from the Las Vegas News Bureau that explores the relationship between the spectacle of the stage show and the mid-century marquees of the city. Free. West Charleston Library

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When the walls come down


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58 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

Imagine a huge piece of dough that’s been dissected by countless cookie cutters — that’s what the walls of the Contemporary Arts Center look like, except much more artful. Chicago-based artist Scott Carter has cut pieces from the walls of the Contemporary Arts Center gallery, stacking and assembling them into new forms. This slicing and dicing creates a pattern of negative spaces left from the original gallery walls. Construction details usually considered ugly, such as insulation or wall studs, peek through and take on a whole new meaning. In addition to this artful dissection, Carter has assembled pieces of furniture from the removed portions of wall, which decorate the room. Somewhere between sculpture and architecture, this exhibition asks Carter’s ultimate question: How does spatial organization affect us? “Affect/Effect” is on exhibit through Nov. 19 at the Contemporary Arts Center, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., www. — Alexia Gyorody

First Annual Las Vegas Self Guided Art Studio Tour Nov. 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Nov. 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Come meet 25 professional artists from Greater Las Vegas who are organizing an Art Studio Tour. Enjoy demonstrations, discuss current work, and learn what inspires each artist to create. The tour spans the valley from the Centennial Hills to Henderson.

To The Neon Gods They Made Nov. 26-Jan. 20; reception 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Michael Monson and Tony Flanagan present photos of stalled and abandoned construction projects in Las Vegas, from the Strip to the suburbs, using HDR imaging to give the projects a sense of the life and promise they once had. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery


We Dig Plants

Vespers Nov. 4, 7 p.m.; Nov. 5, 6, 1 p.m. The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre launches its fall season with “Vespers,” a piece that celebrates the power of family ties and deep religious faith. $30-$40. West Las Vegas Library Theater,


Mexico, Tradicion & Folklor Nov. 18-19, 6 p.m. The more than 60 members of Ballet Folklorico Xyachimal celebrates the group’s ninth anniversary, featuring dances from the diverse states of Mexico such as Jalisco and Veracruz. Special guest Mariachi Azteca kicks off the show. $6. Desert Pines High School Theater, 3800 Harris Ave.

Love 2 Dance Nov. 27, 3 p.m. Professional dancers from celebrated Strip shows, including “The Lion King,” “Jubilee!” and “O” come together for a program that celebrates life’s struggles and triumphs through dance. $25. The Showroom at the South Point hotelcasino,

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license 0057280

Nov. 5, 8 p.m. This dance troupe from New York features former Alvin Ailey company members who are known for creating intense, challenging work in a variety of dance styles. $35-$75. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall

Family & Festivals Life in Death Festival Nov. 1-2, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Celebrate Day of the Dead at a festival that addresses death and dying with both respect and a sense of humor. View traditional Mexican ofrendas (altars) and dance to festive music. Free. Winchester Cultural Center

Vegas Valley Book Festival Nov. 3-6 The city’s largest literary festival brings more than 100 authors for panel discussions, readings, book signings, workshops, poetry readings, spoken word performances, exhibitions and other special programs. Free admission to most events. Historic Fifth Street School and other locations, 229-5431,

Vegas Valley Children’s Book Festival Nov. 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bring the kids out for story time — several, in fact — at

the largest Las Vegas children’s literary event. The festival features local authors, educational activities and stage performances. Free, Centennial Plaza at the Historic Fifth Street School, 2293515,

Dia de Muertos Nov. 5, 4-10 p.m. Celebrate remembrance of the dead at Springs Preserve during a traditional Mexican holiday that honors the deceased and the impermanence of life. The event is complete with mariachis, storytelling and sugar skull decorating. $5-$8. Springs Preserve

Lectures, Readings and Panels Max Brooks Nov. 3, 7 p.m. The acclaimed “Studs Terkel of zombie journalism” is author of “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z,” infusing his works with a sense of deeply researched realism. He delivers the opening

Michael Monson and Tony Flanagan’s photo of the stalled Echelon project.

Ghost resorts Where you see stagnation, decay and failure, photographers Michael Monson and Tony Flanagan see eerie beauty. They snapped photos of stalled, abandoned and what-the-heck-ever-happened-to-that? casino projects, employing high-dynamic-range imaging — that’s camera geekspeak for “ultra-detailed and polished ninja technique” — to imbue them with a strange sense of life. Their exhibit “To the Neon Gods They Made” is on exhibit Nov. 26-Jan. 20, with a reception 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2, at the Winchester Cultural Center Gallery. Info: 455-7340 — Andrew Kiraly

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keynote address of the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Free. Clark County Library Theater

An Evening with Poet Martín Espada Nov. 4, 8 p.m. Martín Espada, who has been called “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” will read from and discuss his work, moderated by Nevada Humanities. Espada has published more than 15 books, and his poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review and The Best American Poetry. Free. Winchester Cultural Center, 

W E ’ R E AT TH E H E A D O F TH E C L A S S A N D AT TH E H E A R T O F TH E CO M M U N IT Y. As Southern Nevada’s only public hospital, our role i n y o u r h e a l t h i s m o r e i m p o r t a n t t h a n e v e r. To g i v e the community the highest possible level of care is a mis sion we take , if you ’ll forgive the expre s sion , to hear t .

Jane Smiley Nov. 5, 3:30 p.m. As part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival, Jane Smiley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will read and discuss her work. Smiley is author of “A Thousand Acres,” “The Age of Grief” and “The Greenlanders,” among others. Free. Historic Fifth Street School Auditorium

Extreme Couponing 101 Nov. 5, 2-4 p.m. Learn how to save money on groceries, clothes, airline tickets, dining, and more by cashing in on the extreme couponing craze that’s sweeping the nation. Double and triple your discounts by stacking coupons, hunt for hidden bargains online and in the media before you step foot into a store, take advantage of last-minute specials and Groupons, and find out where to get comps for products and services for you, your family and your co-workers in this introductory series of workshops. Free. Centennial Hills Library, 507-3458

Linda Wertheimer: Cooling the Partisan Fires Nov. 6, 1 p.m. NPR’s senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer delivers the Saltman Center’s Peace in the Desert lecture. She’ll discuss today’s highly charged political atmosphere and whether strident partisanship in political discourse is here to stay. Free. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall

Talking Trash: Listening to What People Leave Behind Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m. Illinois State University anthropologist James Skibo will discuss

We’re especially proud of our Cardiology department, the most highly awarded in Nevada. UMC is the only hospital in Nevada to r e c e i ve d i s ti n g u i s h e d G o l d Pl u s awards this year from the American Hear t Association, specifically for the c a re of he a r t fa ilure a nd stroke patients. More than that, UMC also received a Gold award for high performance in the “ACTION Registry – Get With The Guidelines” program for acute cardiac care. The Joint Commission accredited UMC as a Primary Stroke Center, recognizing our dedication to offering the fastest, most sophisticated treatment available, resulting in the best possible outcomes f o r o u r p a t i e n t s . A t U M C, a s t r o ke patient can be treated in among the n a t i o n’s f a s te s t t i m e s—r i g h t w h e n eve r y minute c ounts. A nd we’re here, for that ver y reason, 24 hour s a day. UMC Cardiology has received accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers, an international organization dedicated to eliminating heart disease as the number one

worldwide cause of death. We were recognized for our timely assessment

of cardiac patients; physicians, nurses and support staff with an i n t r i c a te u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f c a r d i a c care; a monitoring program to ensure thorough assessment of low-risk patients; PCI (angioplasty procedures that unblock arteries) and community outreach efforts. And we have our Marlon Cardiac C a t h e t e r i z a t i o n L a b o r a t o r y, t o investigate, diagnose and treat heart ailments. This new lab is yet another way to b r ing the b e s t he a r t c a re to our community. The awards all have a reason: we save r e a l l i ve s h e r e, eve r y d ay. We h e a l the hear ts of your friends, neighbors and family. We are here for you, and because of you. Which makes UMC’s Cardiology and Stroke Program a community achievement—something we all can be proud of.


d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 61

how what he calls historic Dumpsterdiving, a.k.a. anthropology, can yield real treasure — in terms of valuable insights into prehistoric cultures. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Elena Papandreou Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. Famous for her insightful, sensitive interpretations and poetic musical phrasing, this Greek guitarist is not just a performer but also a real charmer of her audiences. $40. UNLV’s Doc Rando Recital Hall

Changing People’s Lives While Transforming Yourself Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. They say you can’t change the world. Wanna bet? Jeffrey Kottler is here to show you how. The founder of Empower Nepali Girls, an organization dedicated to ending sex slavery, will discuss how students and professionals have impacted their communities — and how you can, too. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Music Eagles Nov. 5 & 19, 8 p.m. Although these classic rockers may be traveling away from original sin on their “Long Road out of Eden” tour, they will land right in the middle of it in good old Sin City. Oh, the irony. MGM Grand Garden Arena,

Village People

It’s all connected. With smart grid and smart meter

technology, your home will have loads of new tools to help manage energy use and lower costs. Soon, they’ll all be right at your fingertips.

The future of energy. It’s right in our backyard. Learn more at

62 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

Nov. 9-13, Nov. 16-20, 7:30 p.m. nightly. This seminal disco group will throw on their legendary threads for 10 shows inside the Starlite Theatre at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. A series of contests are also being held in conjunction with the performances. $39.95-$59.95.

AlmaNova Nov. 18, 7 p.m. The duo of American flutist Jessica Pierce and Bosnian guitarist Almer Imamovic plays a wide range of chamber music, including original compositions. The duo has performed its haunting and beautiful music in Paris, London, Sarajevo, Stockholm, Tijuana, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Kansas City,

and San Diego. $10-$12, Winchester Cultural Center

Masterworks II Concert Nov. 19, 8 p.m. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine is the special guest in this Las Vegas Philharmonic Concert. Together they’ll perform Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” Alexander Glazunov’s “Violin Concerto in A Minor” and Robert Schumann’s “Symphony No. 3.” $34.25-$78. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall

Sweden, the daughter of the count, attempting to escape an existence cramped by social mores, dances at the servants’ annual party, where she is drawn to an urbane footman name Jean. In the kitchen of Miss Julie’s father’s manor, Jean and Miss Julie engage in a shocking and sometimes brutal battle between the sexes. $10$15. UNLV’s Alta Ham Fine Arts

Fundraisers Dinosaur Ball Nov. 11. To celebrate its 20th birthday, the museum is throwing a Dinosaur Ball with dinner, dance and silent auction. Proceeds will help further the museum’s mission to educate the community about the natural sciences. $250 per person, sponsorships available. The Mirage hotel-casino.

“Love 2 Dance” features Strip performers making moves Nov. 27 at the South Point hotel-casino.

Morrissey Nov. 25, 8 p.m. The pompadoured king of pain performs songs from his formidable catalog of drearily witty pop and — if you’re lucky — a few tunes from his Smiths years. $66. Chelsea Pool at the Cosmopolitan

Ingrid Fliter and Julian Schwarz with the UNLV Symphony Orchestra Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m. Two virtuoso soloists in one big night: Argentinean pianist Ingrid Fliter and 19-yearold cellist Julian Schwarz join the UNLV Symphony Orchestra. Fliter tackles Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, while Julian Schwarz performs Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major. $35-$70. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall

Encore Youth Choir Nov. 30, 6 p.m. Winchester’s Encore youth choir show presents an evening highlighting the talent of its youth singers performing hit pop songs. Clark County Winchester Cultural Center

Theater Deadman’s Cell Phone Dec. 2-18. When a diner patron witness another one drop dead and answers his mobile phone as it insistently rings, she becomes tangled up in his mysterious life and dramatic family … with whistle stops in both the underworld and the hereafter. $13-$15. Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive.

Miss Julie Nov. 11-13 and 16-20, 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Set on a midsummer night in 1874 on the estate of a Count in

VENUE GUIDE The Cosmopolitan 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 698-7000,

Historic Fifth Street School 401 S. Fourth St., 229-6469

The Orleans Showroom Inside The Orleans 4500 W. Tropicana Ave.,

CENTERpiece Gallery In CityCenter 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 736-8790,

House of Blues Inside Mandalay Bay 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,

Reed Whipple Cultural Center 821 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 229-1012

Insurgo’s Bastard Theater 900 E. Karen Ave. D114,

The Springs Preserve 333 S. Valley View Blvd., 822-7700,

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Centennial Hills, Clark County, Enterprise, Rainbow, Sahara West, Summerlin, Sunrise, West Charleston and Whitney libraries, 734-READ,

UNLV Artemus Ham Hall, Judy Bayley Theater, Beam Music Center Recital Hall, Barrick Museum Auditorium, Black Box Theater, Greenspun Hall Auditorium, Paul Harris Theater, Student Union Theatre. 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 895-2787,

Charleston Heights Arts Center 800 S. Brush St., 229-6383 Clark County Government Center 500 Grand Central Parkway, 455-8239 College of Southern Nevada BackStage Theater, Nicholas J. Horn Theater, Recital Hall, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, 651-5483,

MGM Grand Garden Arena In the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,

Winchester Cultural Center 3130 S. McLeod Dr. 455-7340

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last word

Everybody eats

N by sarah schmelling

News item: Continuing the trend of rock ‘n’ roll eateries, an R.E.M.-themed restaurant recently opened on the Strip. Hello. I saw you. I know you. I knew you. I think I can remember your name. I apologize for that. But if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish that line: Name. Okay. Force of habit. I’ve been a server at the R.E.M.-themed restaurant, “Athens (The One in America),” for a few months now, and the management likes us to incorporate lyrics into what we say. At first we were asked to mumble and turn our backs to the customers while reciting the specials because it’s more honest and unaffected, but then they realized no one could understand us. So now we kind of wiggle around and throw our hands in the air and sometimes use a megaphone. What specials do we have? Oh, you know. Talk About the Passion Fruit Salad, that was a hit. Near Wild Mushroom Heaven Risotto. Automatic for the Cheese Fries. We’re all about having a wide, eclectic menu, though there will always be customers who don’t want us to try anything new. They get all, “You’re a sellout, man” and, “I liked this place better when there was no menu or signs outside or any mention of it anywhere and no one could find it but me.” But what can you do? I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Wow, I need to stop doing that. So you’re wondering about the restaurant’s name? It was originally just “Athens” but then a gladiator from Caesars took his job too seriously and came over here, charged through our Southern-Gothic-themed entrance, speared all the kudzu, knocked over our Everybody Squirts condiment bar, and then started screaming in Latin and threatening to decapitate our Elvis impersonator. Or, I should say our Andy-Kaufman-impersonating-Elvis impersonator. Anyway, it was a big misunderstanding. So now we want to clarify we’re “Athens, not the Greek one,” which was another potential name for the restaurant.

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What else can I tell you? We have fun stuff to do: Stipe Poker, capes and X-ray specs for playing “I am Superman,” a free sandwich if you can name any song off the album “Reveal.” We’ve got this contest sort of like limbo, except you just stand … stand! ... wherever you are and try to move around only using your head. We like to be friendly, though we no longer wear name tags since our DJ, Kenneth, got asked “What’s the frequency?” too many times and kind of lost it, started going off about ’80s politics and dedicating every song to the one he loves— some girl back in Rockville? Yes, we do have our critics. Like Prince’s restaurant, “_”, and Sting’s “Lugubrious,” people complain that our best stuff is at the start of our menu, while the later entrées get quirky and are only good in spots. Lots of times our experimental stuff gets laughed off or ignored. During the holidays last year we shaved our heads, doused ourselves in Vaseline and had

constant tickle fights to look like “shiny happy people,” but I don’t think everyone understood. Here’s a picture from Christmas. That’s me in the corner. We just can’t wait for the day R.E.M actually stops here on their next tour because … They did WHAT? Oh god. It’s the end of the world as I know it. And I don’t feel fine! Where am I going to go now? I refuse to go serve Achtung Baby Back Ribs and Bloody Sundaes over at U2’s “All I Want is Food”! I’m meant to serve cuisine with jangly, playful-yet-melancholy undertones and subtle introspection making you think while also going on a journey and … I’m sorry. [gasping] Obviously I should take a break. [loud sobs] I’ve been on this shift too long. I need to talk to Kenneth. Writer Sarah Schmelling is author of the social networking literary parody, Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float.



Desert Companion - November 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada.

Desert Companion - November 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada.