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When nature malls

Red rock canyon NEEDS better RETAIL Life is shell

On the road (and in the dirt) with the tortoise TRACKERS

s! ive tip g s o r P

ant to w u o y So t a wine star ection coll


of the valley's best beverages, from suds to smoothies


cocktail time Machine

Drink your way through history at classic drinking (and eating) spots that span the decades page 43

Dr. Goesel Anson Dr. Terry Higgins Dr. Alison Tam Anson & Higgins Plastic Surgery Associates Las Vegas, Nevada

Names you can trust Dr. Goesel Anson hung her shingle in Las Vegas in 1997. She joined forces with Dr. Terry Higgins almost a decade ago. The pair has been dedicated to creating a center of excellence for aesthetic surgery, where artistry, integrity and excellence prevail. When asked for their key to success, Dr. Higgins replies “it’s simple: we deliver the very best care we can for our patients.“ They each have been recognized on both the local and national levels in Top Doctors lists and have been featured on Discovery and The Learning Channel. Drs. Anson and Higgins are well known in the community for their natural looking results in a city where over-exaggerated enhancements are commonplace. “I want my patients to look lucky, not, done. Most of my patients want to look as good as they can for their age, not look like they’re trying to be 20 again,” says Dr. Anson whose expertise is in aesthetic surgery of the face. Dr. Higgins, who specialty is breast and body surgery, says “we both share the same aesthetic philosophy. Most of my patients are sophisticated and want to have a natural appearance.” Skin care and non-surgical options are as important to the doctors as the surgical techniques themselves. “It’s not, either, or” says Anson, “but rather, which and when.” Towards that end, they offer Botox and a variety of fillers. In fact, Allergan, the maker of Botox and Juvederm, has awarded them ‘Black Diamond’ status, reserved for the top 1% of practices in the US for their volume of injections.

Leftt to right: Dr. Alisson Tam m, Dr. Terrry Higgin ns, Dr. Goesel Anson n


To further their vision, Drs. Anson and Higgins have welcomed a Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr. Alison Tam. Dr. Tam brings the latest in laser techniques and hair transplant to the practice. On staff at Anson & Higgins are three full time medical aestheticians who guide their patients through the myriad of skin care products. Anti-aging cosmeceuticals and new research in topical therapies make skin care more effective than ever, but also more confusing for the patient. Drs. Anson and Higgins have an elegant, boutique practice that reflects their aesthetic sense and attention to detail. “We are fortunate to be able to blend all the tools available today, the latest in skin care, lasers, Botox, fillers AND surgery. Having all this available in one practice allows us to provide a coordinated, comprehensive aesthetic plan for each patient “says Anson. Adds Dr. Higgins, “We have something for every age group. We want our patients to stay with us for life!

MEDICAL DEGREE DR. ANSON: University of Illinois, Chicago DR. HIGGINS: University of Texas at Houston DR. TAM: Western University of Health Sciences

LOCATION Las Vegas, Nevada

CONTACT 702.822.2100

To learn more about the practice visit


The doctors have developed their own skin care line, aptly named Anson + Higgins®, out of frustration with costs and lack of information in available product lines. Anson + Higgins® focuses on affordable, PABA free ingredients, active peptides and phytonutrients.

editor’s note

Liquid assets

T Next Month in Desert Companion

Celebrate the giving season with our Holiday Guide

There’s nothing I like more than commandeering a table at The Beat downtown for an epic rot — that is, a long, caffeine-fueled hangout session that is only incidentally (and therefore happily) productive. Surely you do this too at your fave coffee spot, unloading books, magazines, pens, notepads and laptop for a bout of aimless creative ferment or a little restorative catch-up. It’s deliciously un-American, in a way; it’s the rigorous inverse of the purportedly productive weekday grind. Much of our work lives entails doing somethings of questionable consequence in cubicles and under fluorescent tubes; the cafe invites us to do serious nothings in windowed view. I have to credit much of my modest success in the writing life to this brand of slyly productive lassitude. I’m thinking of the Las Vegas cafes I’ve inhabited — and inhabited is the right word for it — over the years, from the old Cafe Espresso Roma on Maryland Parkway (the generous marble tables making the perfect instant office for creating cut-and-paste skate ’zines) to the dusty, couch-filled cavern that was Cafe Copioh, which by night was transformed into a bustling salon of artists, writers, goths and gutterpunks. And I’d be remiss not to mention downtown’s Enigma, that garden paradise of Fourth Street, where musicians and poets gathered for songs and readings

2 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

in the shade-dappled backyard. It was at Enigma that I learned pithiness of expression and concise branding strategy via whole afternoons scribbling Enigma Cafe slogans on their blank matchbooks. (As you can see, the lesson in pithiness didn’t exactly stick.) In every case, the caffeine jones was incidental; coffee was means to a meandering end. My point: Don’t be fooled. This issue isn’t about drinking. Instead, it’s a celebration of alchemy, of how liquids are transformed into culture, community and conversation. Who among us hasn’t hatched a great idea thanks to a second cup of joe with a fellow creative? Cocktail mixers, we know, are popular for a reason: The buzz makes for great connections. I’m convinced, too, that there’s at least one defensible idea rattling at the bottom of most bottles of wine, particularly when shared. And if you’ve ever braced yourself for yet another despair-fogged day at the office with a hurried, furtive nip of Wild Turkey from a brown bag slipped from beneath your car seat as you guiltily scan the company parking lot … well, actually, can’t help you on that score. Desert Companion has been walking this talk for several months now. Chances are I haven’t seen you at one of our Desert Companion on Tour events, the perfect synthesis of coffee and community. It works like this: Every month, we do a live Q&A

with a Desert Companion contributor or subject at a select location in town. Think of it as an intimate, live talk show with some substance. Since we launched the series, we’ve featured Review-Journal political columnist Steve Sebelius, journalist Steve Friess, aging management guru Dr. Jeffry Life and urban historian Brian Paco Alvarez. Save the date of 9:30 a.m. Oct. 15, and watch the Desert Companion website or friend us on Facebook to learn about this month’s guest and location. You’ll wet your whistle on some good coffee — and whet your appetite for some brain food. Andrew Kiraly, Editor



desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People Pair it up!



The bookfest’s keynote authors By Jarret Keene and Joseph Langdon




Partisan all the time By Andrew Kiraly



Tequila as a family business By J.J. Wylie

34 features 34


Sip the valley’s strongest, tastiest and strangest drinks

Drink your way through the decades

Drink up!

From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture



Last word

Welcome to NatureDome‰ By Dan Kennedy

Cocktail time machine



You drink it, so why not start a wine collection?

The rich loneliness of the field biologist

Oh yes you decant



The searchers

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on the cover Photography Christopher Smith

L I M I T E D T I M E O N LY 2 0 11 R A N G E R O V E R S P O R T H S E



$999 cash down including 1st payment. 48 month term. 10,000 miles per year. Based on approved credit. MSRP $62,745. While supplies last. Offer ends 9/30/11.

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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

n Young Tree Development n Cabling & Bracing n Tree Inventory & Assessment n Tree Rescue & Repair n Evaluations & Estimates n Transplanting

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

Providing thoughtful, high-quality tree care backed by education, experience, & certification

Marketing Catherine Kim Marketing Manager

Mention this ad for 15% Off Tree Service Offer expires February 29, 2012

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, John Curtas, Cybele, Alexia Gyorody, Jarret Keene, Dan Kennedy, Heidi Kyser, Joseph Langdon, David McKee, Brock Radke, Lissa Townsend Rodgers, Thomas, Gregan Wingert, J.J. Wylie

Contributing Artists Sabin Orr, Aaron McKinney, Ryan Weber

OnLine Danielle Branton Web Administrator

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Design | Installation | Renovation | Consultation | Maintenance | Tree Care Hardscapes | Small Jobs | Irrigation | Lighting

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3433 Losee Road, Suite 4 North Las Vegas, NV 89030 Licensed, Bonded, & Insured 6 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

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.

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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 express written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio.

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

the legend lives on the legend lives on

Written and directed by Jamie King Written and directed by Jamie King

las vegas lascenter vegas mandalay bay events • december 3 – 27, 2011 mandalay bay events center • december 3 – 27, 2011 tickets on sale now at tickets on sale now at venue

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


p u blishe D B y nevada p u blic radio

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

Orthopedic Surgery

at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center What makes our orthopedics great? Navigation technology. Minimally invasive procedures. Reduced pain. Faster recovery. Knowing all of this should reassure you and give you the courage to reclaim your active life. Fracture repair, total shoulder and hip and knee replacements and spine, foot and hand surgeries.

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

Feel comfortable in your choice of Centennial Hills Hospital.

Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil

Contact an orthopedic surgeon: 702-388-4888

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

Centennial Hills Hospital is a tobacco-free campus. 6900 North Durango Dr. • Las Vegas, NV 89149-4409 702-835-9700 • Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.

8 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

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The Childrens Heart Center Client Since 2010

MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN’S HEART CENTER Children’s Heart Center has provided quality medical care to children with heart disease since 1980. But more than that, they go the extra mile for patients who need help paying for medical expenses. When they needed a banking partner, they chose Nevada State Bank because we share their dedication to helping Nevadans. We found innovative solutions to help their practice lower its operating costs - so they could pass on the savings to the children who depend on them. As Nevada’s largest state-chartered community bank, we’ve been making a difference in the lives of Nevadans for over 50 years. | 1.866.618.3574

Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

The Cleveland Orchestra




Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott with The Assad Brothers

David Sedaris

THE SMITH CENTER PRESENTS THE DESIGN YOUR OWN SERIES. Experience The Smith Center’s very first season in a spectacular way—your own way. With the Design Your Own series, you can choose from 19 must-see shows and save up to 15% off each ticket. The more shows you add to your series, the more you will save. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, and you can make it all your own. Visit to see the full lineup and purchase your Design Your Own series package.

Debuting, March 2012






Pairing dinners are becoming more popular — with beer, wine and beyond.


Get a pair already

© i S to c k p h oto . c o m / g r a n d r i v e r

Too many people see drinking as little more than the pursuit of an alcoholic buzz, or social lubrication. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But to connoisseurs, the consumption of alcohol is more than just that. Most great chefs realize that the proper wine, spirit or cocktail can add something special to a great meal. And never is that fact more apparent than in a great pairing dinner: a multi-course feast where each course is perfectly matched with the proper alcoholic beverage. And we’re not just



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talking about a glass of red wine with your spaghetti. Here are a few of the most interesting places in town to get a great pairing. But if you’re a true drinker, you’ll want to eat and drink your way though all of them. As the craft beer movement continues to grow, great sommeliers are discovering the joys of offering beer as well as wine with fine dining. In that tradition, Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro in The Palazzo has started a series of late-night beer dinners. Beer-lovers gather at 10 p.m. on the restaurant’s Strip-side patio for four courses of

Chef Jose Navarro’s culinary creations — each paired with an American craft beer. The most recent event, held Sept. 29, featured pan-seared diver scallops paired with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, a grilled endive and romaine salad accompanied by North Coast Brewing Company PranQster, prime sirloin with Firestone Union Jack, and pear and apple pie a la mode — washed down with Unibroue Éphémère Apple. (The events take place every few months. To find out when the next is planned, call Morels at 607-6333.) There’s no better place to learn about sake than Sushisamba in The Palazzo. It boasts the largest sake selection in Las Vegas, with about 130 bottles. And one of the best ways to sample it is with their pairing continued on page 12

Learn wine-tasting tips from experts at “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


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Dunk the bag, add sugar and sip, right? Not on your leaf, say these tea gurus Juanny Romero would be the last person to tell you she’s a tea guru, because she understands better than most people what that truly means: thousands of years of knowledge and tradition, painstakingly practiced, recorded and transmitted from expert to apprentice, again and again. But she’s certainly close. It’s Romero’s appreciation of this tradition, along with her genuine love of good tea, that make Sunrise Coffee a reliable go-to for a cuppa Sunrise’s tea selection in Las Vegas — whether you prefer Caspans the globe. mellia sinensis or some other botanical brew in that cup. Although better known for its joe, Sunrise carries a respectable collection of tea and tisanes (herbal teas), with a variety of blacks, greens, whites and herbals that even a true tea snob would agree hits all the major bases. Touching on highlights of her tea selection, Romero says, “I’ve never had better oolong in my life. It comes from Taiwan, only picked above 10,000 feet. … We get single-estate Assam, and we know about the farm it comes from. … Our Summer Orchard, which is really popular, has to be steeped for 10 minutes, then left in the fridge overnight to slowly release the fruit flavors. ...” Even so-called non-gurus geek out sometimes. Like any good apprentice, Romero gives credit for everything she knows to her teachers — in this case, tea suppliers. She gets her Japanese green teas, the Keiko brand, from Montreal-based Top Taste International, and blacks and other teas from Eco Prima, based in Elmsford, N.Y. Both specialize in organic and Fair Trade tea. While Sylvana Levesque and Anupa Mueller, respective heads of those companies, are great sources of knowledge, Romero says, her closest ally is Keith Ducko, owner of locally based Kachina Tea Company, who focuses on herbal blends. “He’s a bastion of knowledge,” Romero says. “When he comes back from a trip, we’ll say, ‘Hey, what did you find out in China?’ and he’ll spend an afternoon telling us.” Ducko, who says his most recent product development research was done on an Indian reservation near Window Rock, N.M., is a respiratory therapist at University Medical Center by day, and a tea blender by night. He got interested in tea while a student at New York University 20 years ago, when a biochemistry professor introduced him to it. Today, in addition to Sunrise, Ducko supplies health care professionals with tea, making medicinal blends based on the healing properties of herbs. The business has been so successful, he says, that he plans to open his own tea shop soon, with Romero’s help. “I put a lot of time and effort into the tea I blend myself,” Ducko says. “If I’m going to hand it over to a group of folks like the Sunrise Coffee people, I like to pay special attention to their knowing not only how to prepare it, but also the fundamental objective in making it appropriately — the customer’s consumption of it.” Translation: When you order tea at Sunrise, don’t expect to be handed a super-hot paper cup with a string and paper tag hanging over the side. In proper tea preparation, the quantity of dry tea, temperature of the water and amount of time they steep together are not optional. A few degrees or a few seconds can make the difference between a smooth sip and a bitter pill to swallow. Every cup at Sunrise is carefully measured and timed, Romero says. “If you come to our store, we’re going to show you the way we drink it and the way experts drink it,” says Romero. “We’re not going to let you do what you want — and sometimes people get offended, because they think they know tea — but you’re going to have a good experience.” — Heidi Kyser Sunrise Coffee is located at 3130 E. Sunset Road, 433-3304; learn more about Kachina Tea Company at

TEA : C h r i s to p h e r S m i t h

menu. The restaurant is known for its fusion of Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian cuisine. But for the pairing dinner, they stick with Japanese — particularly dishes cooked up on the robata-style charcoal grill. The six-course meal features delicious skewers of filet mignon, pork belly, lobster, squid, eggplant and duck. And each is paired with a different sake — and we’re not talking about the hot sake you throw back at your local sushi joint. These are chilled, junmai ginjo varieties — the second-highest of Japan’s premium sake categories. At Mandalay Bay’s Border Grill, Chef Mike Minor regularly chooses one of his favorite tequilas to serve as the inspiration for a special multi-course meal. In July, his bar staff whipped up cocktails from peligroso blanco, reposado and anejo, and offered a course to match each. And in September, Patron served as the inspiration. The dinners are always — surprise — giant parties. Minor has been known to set up an impromptu kitchen in the patio and don a headset microphone while he cooks so guests can get a glimpse into the chaos of a professional kitchen. And Border Grill owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger usually fly in from L.A. to participate. Plenty of fine French and Italian restaurants in Las Vegas offer tasting menus with wine pairings. But a Creole dinner with a wine pairing? Not quite as common. The only one we know of comes from Chef Carlos Guia at Wynn Las Vegas’ Country Club. Guia is a veteran of New Orleans’ famed Commander’s Palace. So, despite the golf-course setting of his current restaurant, he knows Big Easy cooking. And with his sixcourse Taste of New Orleans menu (always available if you ask), he provides classics such as shrimp remoulade, gumbo, crab cake, pecancrusted fish, Creole-spiced filet and beignets, accompanied by fine wines from France, California, Italy, Oregon and California. We’ll drink (and eat) to that. — Al Mancini

Steep thoughts

Joint Replacement Patient St. Rose Dominican Hospitals

Expect only the highest level of orthopedic care when your joints and body need it most. When the chronic joint pain in Reddy’s knees started interfering with not just his everyday mobility – but his ability to run his restaurant – Reddy turned to St. Rose Dominican Hospitals’ Joint Replacement Centers for surgery. After a double-knee replacement, Reddy is now back on his feet and serving his customers, pain free. St. Rose’s orthopedic program, including its Joint Commission certified unit at the Siena Campus, uses the latest technologies and less invasive surgery techniques to get you back on your feet sooner. We offer a team approach to joint replacement surgery, with rehabilitation taking place in a supportive group setting, aimed at getting patients back on their feet and enjoying a pain-free, active lifestyle. If you are ready to enjoy life free from chronic joint pain, let St. Rose Dominican Hospitals care for you. To learn more about Reddy’s story and our Joint Replacement Centers:

Do you have a St. Rose doctor? Call 616-4508.


Ted Hartwell’s struggles inspired him to help other families.

‘It’s about keeping people from falling through the cracks.’ Born in Spokane and raised in Texas, Ted Hartwell came to Vegas in 1991 for all the unusual reasons — scouring Yucca Mountain for archeological sites as a member of the research faculty of the Desert Research Institute and playing cello in the Las Vegas Philharmonic. However, living in this city excavated something destructive in his personality. A gambling addiction. After relying on the social safety net for treatment, he found more constructive ways to spend his time. Two years ago he became a volunteer for Clark County’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. Why? Paying it forward. “I came close to putting my family through the anguish that some of these families might be enduring.” The mission: Giving kids a voice in the system. With 3,500 abused, neglected kids in the foster care system, being an advocate is critical. His role is to ensure a child’s best interests are represented in court, that every child is placed in a safe home, and that every child achieves permanency in a timely fashion. An advocate often serves as the only permanent figure in the life of a kid, who’s likely bounced from foster home to foster home, school to school. Hartwell’s goal is to reunite the family. But first things first: Not before parents succeed in overcoming their own challenges. “Sharing my story with families is meant to give hope, to inspire them to do the work necessary to reunite.” Courtoom drama. So far he’s worked two cases, reuniting families at the mercy of the 8th Judicial Court. He generates an official report on the child or family in question and offers testimony. Judges weigh this information carefully before making a decision, asking advocates to speak on behalf of the child. Help needed. CASA ( needs volunteers—or rather the children do. Only 20 percent of kids currently in the system have someone in their corner. “You greatly reduce the time a child spends caught in the legal machine,” says Hartwell on the effectiveness of being a CASA volunteer. “You can make a real difference here.” — Jarret Keene

14 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1


Second Annual gOlden nugget’s

all american craft beer tasting October 14, 2011 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. The Grand Events Center $50 Admission plus taxes

• Sample over 300 craft beer selections from 25 of America’s Hottest Award Winning Breweries • Traditional “tapping of the kegs” featuring Seasonal Artisan Draft Beers

OktOberfest POOl Party October 15, 2011 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. The Tank Pool Free Admission

• 200 Different International and Domestic Beers for Sale • Traditional German Oktoberfest Band • Brats, Pretzels and More Great Food!

• Chef-inspired Sliders, Wings and Sausages • Commemorative Sampling Glass • Live music

Plus! Ask how you can get discounted food & beer tickets with your paid admission to friday’s Craft Beer Tasting.

sponsored by

sponsored by

Tickets may be purchased by calling 702-386-8100 or at Samuel Adams New Belgium Pyramid Dixie Brewing Co Rogue Dogfish Head

• PARTICIPATING BREWERIES • Ommegang Tenaya Creek Alaskan Brewing Co Shiner Kona Brewing Co Blue Moon

Big Dog’s Brewing Co Lagunitas Brewing Co Deschutes Brewery Stone Brewing Co Magic Hat Paulaner

Good as gold The warm burnish of the glass swirls in tandem with your favorite vintage — engaging your sense of sight to elevate your sense of taste. Midas carafe, $70, and wine glasses, $60, by Front Design Within Reach in Town Square, 947-8100,


Drinking it in

Garnish the timeless pleasures of entertaining with a few personal touches by maureen adamo

You’ll love this “Bar” He may not feature the hands-down, definitive version of every cocktail, but Charles Schumann offers cocktail lovers more than 500 recipes from his famous American Bar in Munich — along with a guide to and history of ingredients that make it an attractive bar-side reference. “American Bar” by Charles Schumann, $78 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall

Shake it like a pro You’ve watched the gurus masterfully work a muddle, now show your mom four years of college wasn’t a complete bust. Three-piece cocktail set by Sagaform, $40 Unica Home, 3901 W. Russell Road, 616-9280,

Host with the coasters When the party gets a little out of hand, subtly remind your guests to mind their manners with personalized accessories. It’s your house, after all — look, the coasters prove it. Dabney Lee monogrammed coasters, $80 for a set of 125 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall

On ice Keep spirits purer, longer with the king of all cubes — use fresh spring water, and not the stuff from the tap. Silicone ice trays, $7.95 Sur La Table in the Fashion Show Mall

16 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n

“During mating season,

I can have up to 200 babies.



THEIR NAMES.” After a lengthy mating ritual in the water, the female Sea Turtle leaves the comforts of the sea and picks out a suitable beach spot to deposit her eggs. Although there can be up to 200 eggs per clutch, many of the baby turtles don’t survive the post-hatch trip back to sea. Come see over 2,000 predators and our endangered Green Sea Turtles. Want a closer look? Come Dive with the Sharks at North America’s only predator based aquarium!

For more information about Shark Reef Aquarium, the Dive with Sharks program or to purchase tickets, visit the Shark Reef Box Office or go to


The private lives of zombies Conversations with the Vegas Valley Book Festival’s two keynote authors, Max Brooks and Jane Smiley


Max Brooks: Don of the dead If it seems you can’t swing an (un)dead


cat without hitting a zombie novel, zombie TV series, zombie movie, zombie comic book or zombie videogame, well, it’s because you can’t. But the writer most responsible for the current trend of apocalyptic horror doesn’t deal in straightforward B-movie clichés. Instead, his acclaimed, best-selling novel, “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War,” takes the living dead idea into a superrealistic, ultra-historical direction. “World War Z’s” nameless interviewer, a member of the United Nations Postwar Commission, documents stories of Zombie War survivors. They’ve endured everything—seeing friends being devoured in the shallow waters of an Indian shipyard to experiencing a gut-wrenching moment when their Air Force transport plane crashes into a Louisiana swamp infested with flesh-eating monsters. Pick up the book, and you’ll turn sweaty pages as if caught in a fever dream.


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“Everyone else was doing formula,” says Max Brooks, author of zombie novel “World War Z.”

Deemed the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism, Brooks wasn’t initially considered a horrorist. His 2003 debut, an imaginative how-to tome called “The Zombie Survival Guide,” was filed under “humor” in bookstores. “The marketing department at Three Rivers Press just didn’t know what to make of it,” says Brooks during a recent phone interview. “They figured since I was Mel Brooks’ son, which automatically means I’m just like him, and since I’d just done two seasons writing for Saturday Night Live, where I got fired, then naturally this weird book must’ve been intended as a joke.” Brooks dug himself out from under that proverbial rock by doing everything possible to tell

his side of the story. He claimed a spot among the horror elite with his follow-up, 2006’s “World War Z.” Rather than dispense a plot-by-numbers, the book immerses the reader in a world where zombies are serious, their existence documented in an oral-history format. “Everyone else was doing formula,” says Brooks, when asked why he didn’t deploy a simple third-person narrative. “Why go through the trouble of writing something I could just read? The whole point of ‘WWZ’ was to answer questions I had when reading or watching traditional, small-group, first-person, zombie stories.” “WWZ” involved tons of research—tech manuals, newspaper articles, stacks of books.

Max Brooks discusses zombies, the film business and more on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore

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Still, half his research came from interviews with friends possessing fascinating jobs and “actual usable skills.” “I asked them big questions,” says Brooks. “Like: ‘What kind of heart condition would allow me to frame a story that requires a special organ transplant?’ Some questions were small but important details like: ‘Does a C130 have a bathroom?’ Turns out some do, some don’t.” Brooks insists there’s nothing zombies can do to us that we haven’t already done to each other. Before he was a sci-fi/horror nerd, he was a history geek. He has always been fascinated with what he calls “a life story of the human race.” “When WWZ was in its final draft, I asked Random House to hire a fact-checker because I didn’t trust my research,” he confesses. “I nailed the really hard stuff — place names in India, Chinese slang words for peasants, technical aspects of the International Space Station. But I totally failed on some of the easy stuff, like putting the address of a sporting goods store in my very neighborhood on the wrong street.” Brooks has also been labeled patriotic. In “WWZ,” Americans come out looking slightly better than the rest of the world. “I’m an optimist,” says Brooks. “I have to be. Real life is pretty damn dark. I’ve lived and worked and traveled in countries where most people think life is crap and anyone who thinks otherwise is a child who needs to grow up. No thanks. I’ll take ‘Yes, we can’ any day.” How does Brooks imagine Vegas might fare in a “real-life” zombie attack? “Depends on your city’s history. Have you ever suffered a catastrophe? If so, how did your city weather it? I’ve divided most of my life between New York and L.A. I was in New York for 9/11 and the blackout of ’03, and I can tell you the Big Apple’s ready for anything. I’ve also been in L.A. during floods, fires, earthquakes and the Rodney King riots, and I can tell you that the City of Angels is toast. Examine Vegas’ history and decide for yourself.” — Jarret Keene

Jane Smiley: The realist, the reader When novelist Jane Smiley was researching her biography of Charles Dickens she found that the great writer fancied himself something of a thespian, too. “He transformed his readings into melodramatic one-act plays. People would scream and faint while he was reading, and his blood pressure would shoot into the stratosphere. It was quite dangerous for him to read certain scenes.” Smiley may not hit Dickensian histrionics, but she will aim to entertain when she reads to close

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 19




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Jane Smiley is known for bringing energy and passion to her readings. “I like a reading to be a little bit like a production.”

out the BMI/Vegas Valley Book Festival. “I like a reading to be a little bit like a production,” she says. “The pleasure is in gathering together in the good-humored energy that can come into a room if a reader is up there actually performing.” Smiley knows the value of a good reading. After growing up in St. Louis and doing a turn at Vassar College in the tumult of the late1960s, she decamped for Iowa City to study Old Norse and attend the Writers’ Workshop. Her most important literary influence there may have been a reading by E.L. Doctorow. “He used an accessible, realistic (narrative) voice to tell amazing stories,” she says of the sections he read from “Ragtime” — Houdini dangling beneath a plane; Freud and Jung in the Coney Island Tunnel of Love. “It was amazing to me that someone could make stuff up like that and have it be so delightful. That reading was a revelation to me.” Those characteristics — gripping stories wrought in down-to-earth prose, with historical and allusive elements turned loose in realist fiction — have become hallmarks of Smiley’s work. Through stories, essays, nonfiction books, and 13 novels — including “A Thousand Acres,” the transplant of King Lear to an Iowa farm that captured the Pulitzer in 1992 — Jane Smiley has carved an enviable plot in the landscape of contemporary American letters. Her latest, “Private Life,” (lauded by The Washington Post as a “quantum leap” for an already virtuosic writer) takes us from Missouri in the aftermath of the Civil War to San Francisco during the descent into World War II. The cast

features a cosmologist with a paranoid vendetta against Einstein, a trailblazing female journalist who pals around with the likes of Ezra Pound, and a name-and-accent-shifting schemer with a murky role in the Russian Revolution. The central character, however, is paralyzed by the expectations placed on a turnof-the-century Midwestern housewife and by the domineering personalities around her. Margaret Mayfield is so closed off from even her own inner life that Smiley was forced to re-write the novel from first- to third-person “in order to get more access to what’s going on in her than she would actually have.” Smiley does not consider her main character passive, though. She’s just normal. Margaret doesn’t drive the plot, she copes with it, and that, Smiley says, “is a more normal way for a person in our world to be: not to seize the day, but to have to deal with it every day.” — Joseph Langdon

Max Brooks delivers the Vegas Valley Book Festival opening keynote address 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Clark County Library Main Theater. Jane Smiley delivers the closing keynote address 3:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Historic Fifth Street School, followed by a conversation with Carol Harter. The Vegas Valley Book Festival is Nov. 3-6 at the Historic Fifth Street School and other venues. Info:

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Are you a wingnut or a moonbat, a fiberal or a dittohead? Pick a side, because in this politically polarized age, the middle ground is nowhere to be found. Or maybe we just to have to work harder to find it. National Public Radio senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer thinks we need to turn off the snark, stop jerking our knees and return to a saner time when compromise and common ground were the tools of political discourse. She shared her thoughts in a recent interview in advance of her Nov. 6 talk at UNLV. American politics have always been wild. Are we really living in a more partisan, politically polarized age? It certainly is if you compare the current age to my long, long, long experience of observing Congress in action. It seems to be that it’s just about as bad as I’ve seen it. Compromise has gone out of style, as has the idea that the leaders of the House and Senate and two parties should be friends, should know and respect one another. That idea died with Tip O’Neill. The general tone of presidential politics has changed to more of a “my way or the highway” atmosphere. How did we get to this point? It’s hard to put a mark on where it began, why it began and who started it, but it seems to me it had something to do with 1994 and the Contract with America. It was then that one began to sense there was no longer an appetite for solving problems and much more of an appetite for holding onto power.

“Compromise has gone out of style” in politics, says Linda Wertheimer.

Meet in the middle NPR’s Linda Wertheimer on Tea Parties, missing Tip O’Neill and why we can’t all just get along by andrew kiraly



Hear more

Why is partisanship a bad thing? Doesn’t it signal that there’s an actual difference between political parties? There are times when people can play at politics and it won’t matter much. When the country is prosperous, they can try out theories, try to solve problems everybody thought were insoluble. But if you’re talking about the time we live in now, this is not the time to play politics. This seems to me to be to be an “all hands on deck” kind of time. There’s no question we went through a long period of time when people were upset with members of Congress, when they would say they’re all alike — that’s something you would hear over and over — but it was never true.

Will redistricting be a partisan nightmare? Hear a discussion on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore

22 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

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That’s always a fallacy. Politicians are not alike and they’d never be alike — in fact, trying to get into office by stressing that you’re not like the other guy is the time-honored way of doing it. But what we’re left with is the idea people are still carrying in their minds that they are all alike. When you don’t like the ones who are in power, though, you don’t necessarily want to take on board all the philosophical baggage coming with the new person you’ve elected. Is there any upside to partisanship? It certainly makes elections more interesting, no? I don’t think it makes elections more interesting. But what it does seem to do is turn the whole enterprise into being about conflicts and elections and not about governing. It makes it hard for people who are elected, makes it difficult for them to run the country and the state. There are exceptions to this. Take New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He’s a Republican and a he’s a very pragmatic man. He looks at something, sees it isn’t working, and he does something about it. Do we even have a political center anymore? I think we do have a viable political center. What people are doing, though, they’ve handed off the nomination process to the edges of their parties. You get very right-wing nominations in the Republican party … the process has a way of generating these very one-note candidates. The Democratic party does it, too, but to a lesser extent. Is a more open primary the answer? That way, independent voters would ideally bring a moderating factor to the primary process. I don’t have a quarrel with primaries. What’s important is that even earlier in the process, people need to be eyeballing their candidates. It can never hurt to take a long look at who you’re voting for. Is this polarization a distinctly American problem? As long as we don’t have a parliamentary system, we’re not going to be like the other guys. Nations with parliamentary systems deal with trends in a different way. They don’t have the starmaking capacity we have in this country. They bring everyone up through their own system when they feel they’re ready to work with the electorate. They bring them up from within the system. We don’t always do that. President Obama, for example was a Senator, he was young and didn’t have all that much experience. Then all of a sudden, he’s something very different.

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What’s been the media’s role in creating extreme partisanship? Lots of people feel that the media are more sort of tearing down than building up, accentuating the negative versus the positive. But I don’t see buying into the argument that press negativity is the problem. As a journalist, I try to spend my life trying to show up to see clearly and say what I say. Hasn’t the Internet played a big role in this process? It was supposed to usher in an age of information and understanding, but it seems like people use it to reinforce their own views and biases. I call that the “information versus affirmation” quandary. I have a very hard time believing that more information can be a bad thing. It seems to me that any time people have the capacity to find things out, that’s got to be a good thing. Some of the most interesting things going on in the political season was how citizen reporters will put something on YouTube, something a candidate says or does something that you would think would go unnoticed. Former Sen. George Allen from Virginia lost an election because of a clip on YouTube. In another era we would never have envisioned that in a million years. I think we’re stuck with that. I don’t see anything particularly wrong with it. I think that everybody in public life should have to answer for everything they say in public life. That said, it’s an incredible revolution. It’s easy to see how the Internet could contribute to a polarizing effect, but consider the upside: That you have an amazing resource with which to do research on a candidate and find out what they believe. As campaign season heats up, do you see the political landscape getting more partisan or less partisan? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? I’m mostly mystified. I think we should all hope and pray that we will come back to a period when we have a more temperate and more cooperative view of politics. We had periods in America when the southern Democrats were more conservative than anyone and were very hostile to civil rights. There

was a great tension, and we recovered and moved on. What I basically think is we have seen enough periods when the American people look at what’s going on with leadership, and they’ve said enough of that, we need to fix that. They’ve risen up with all the power the Constitution has conferred upon them and made change happen. Wait. Isn’t that what the Tea Party did? We have to wait and see what the Tea Party actually is. It made itself felt in an off year. When the American people get thoroughly sick, they will change it. My experience is that candidates can raise zillions and spend zillions in order to get and stay elected, but they can still be trumped by voters. Is there anything we can do to counteract this trend of partisanship? If you feel like cooperation is necessary — because some people don’t think it is — if you think partisanship has gone too far, the most useful thing you can do is exactly what the Tea Party is doing — go into the smallest unit of the electoral process, the primary, and make yourself felt there. And I’d say pay attention to whom you’re electing. Make sure this is what you want. Most Americans are not in charge of nominating their candidates. A very small sliver is. You may find you don’t have any good choices, but you have to shop around, figure out early enough in the process who’s a good guy, who matches your idea of how policy should be carried out. It sounds silly and almost Pollyanna-ish, but people do really have the last word if they choose to. We are about to embark upon a political campaign that is about as important as anything could be. It’s incredibly important that the people who are in charge of our fate make sensible decisions from here on out. Has observing this polarization affected the way you cover politics? I generally think leaping into the coverage of a political campaign is a joyful thing, but I’m not sure about this election. I have a feeling this is going to be an unpleasant experience.

NPR senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer delivers the Saltman Center’s annual Peace in the Desert lecture, “Cooling the Partisan Fires,” 1 p.m. Nov. 6 at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall.

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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



The Dish

P H oto c o u r t e s y o f D ava l o s T e q u i l a

Smooth operator


Eat This Now!

Hangover, away!

Land of plenty: When Jose Davalos wanted to launch a tequila company, he looked homeward.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 29

Davalos añejo tequila

bustling haciendas that, among other things, grew agave as a cash crop. “My father and my uncles made a name for themselves for their hard work and dedication,” Jose says. “I’ve been to neighboring towns where people find out I’m the son of one of the Davalos brothers, and I get welcomed with open arms.”

Jose Davalos at the Royal Resort’s Barrymore restaurant, which carries two specialty cocktails based on his tequila.

Smooth idea


Back to the land Jose Davalos distilled family heritage and do-it-yourself drive into a new tequila brand by j.j. wylie

“I want my tequila to speak for itself,” Jose Davalos says. He says this after he talks for a couple of hours about the history of his family and how they came to be creators and purveyors of the liquor that bears their name. But that history is crucial. Davalos Tequila may be new to the market, but it’s also the culmination of generations of family commitment, currently led by this soft-voiced, unassuming Las Vegan who has a day job with Klai Juba Architects.

30 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

“I had a whole list of possible names when we were developing our tequila,” Jose says. “But a friend told me that my family name would mean so much more than any brand I could make up.” The short version of the Davalos Tequila saga begins in Mexico, in the highlands of the state of Jalisco, where Jose’s grandparents bequeathed parcels of land to Jose’s father and uncles. They soon parlayed those parcels into

But even the most enterprising of ranchers is still hostage to the ups and downs of the marketplace. As the commodity price of raw agave fell, Jose and his family cast about for ways to keep their haciendas in the black. “We realized that we were experts at growing the agave, and we had great relationships with local processors and distillers,” Jose says. “So, in 2007, we decided to develop our own tequila.” By then, Jose’s own personal career path, which included graduating from college and become a U.S. citizen, had brought him to Las Vegas, which he feels is the perfect launching pad for his tequila. “This city hosts millions of people from all over the world every year, all looking for the best way to enjoy themselves,” Jose says. “What better place to introduce them all to the affordable luxury of Davalos Tequila?” Issa Khoury, of Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, agrees that “affordable luxury” — salesy as it sounds — is an apt catchphrase for Davalos Tequila. “It has a taste that is smoother and more


flavorful than more well-known tequilas,” Khoury says. “And Jose has set its price point below that of established brands like Patrón. That combination makes it easy to recommend.” Chef Beni Velázquez of Bar+Bistro in the Arts Factory concurs, so much so that Velázquez recently hosted a “Tequila Pairing Dinner” that featured the liquor as an ingredient in every course, from the appetizer (Carpachio Scallops Tepache) to the dessert (Davalos Tequila Flamed Smores). “Because it doesn’t have the harshness that most people associate with tequila, Davalos lends itself to a wide variety of combinations,” Velázquez says. (My taste test results: They’re right. Both varieties of Davalos Tequila are indeed smooth, settling warmly on the tongue and having virtually none of that back-of-the-throat, ethanol burn you associate with hard liquor. The Blanco variety offers an initial, bright flash of flavor with notes of citrus, but I prefer the Añejo variety, aged in oak bourbon barrels for 16 months. This aging makes the Añejo deeper and darker, with a flavor that carries tones of pepper and smoke.)

“We’re proud of our work . . . our reputation and the company we keep. Thanks for the opportunities.”

Hold your drinks “I’ve been accused of adding sugar to the tequila to reduce its edge,” Jose says. “But the fact is, since we control every step of the process, from growing the agave to processing it to distilling it to bottling and distributing it, my family can ensure the quality of the product that bears our name.” This focus on quality control is one of the main reasons that Davalos Tequila is currently not being carried by one of the large local liquor distributors. Instead, Jose Davalos went through the grueling and expensive process of becoming an independent distributor himself. “I couldn’t be sure that a large distributor would do anything more than just put our tequila on a crowded shelf next to the dozens of other tequilas that they sell,” he says. “And I don’t want to spend a lot of money on marketing, trying to become the next trendy drink.” Indeed, Jose Davalos seems content to ply his family’s signature product himself, going from store to store in the only city where Davalos Tequila is sold, getting individual operators and drinkers to taste his tequila and decide for themselves whether or not to carry it. “We’re building our brand organically, one relationship at a time,” Jose says. It’s an approach as personal as the origin of the tequila itself.

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


Mr. Tofu’s Dolsot bibimbap

Dolsot bibimbap at Mr. Tofu

We’ve all got our secret-weapon drunk food to help stave off the slurs and wobbles. But how secret is it? Cheeseburger, eggs ‘n’ toast, nachos. Yawn. Hey, you’re already buzzed — be as bold as you were earlier when you were positively owning that karaoke machine with a larynx-stretching rendition of “More Than a Feeling.” The dolsot bibimbap at Mr. Tofu will sponge up those Heinies and quench your thirst for adventure. Bibimbap is essentially a Korean one-bowl scramble, except you do the scrambling, churning up the rice, meat, pickled vegetables and egg in the sizzling hot stone bowl — and don’t forget liberal spatterings of hot sauce. At $9.95, the bibimbap at Mr. Tofu is hearty, filling and unfussy, the perfect bookend to a night of bar-crawling. Craving something more exotic? Peruse the small menu, but it’s not like you’re going to remember. — Andrew Kiraly Mr. Tofu 3889 Spring Mountain Road 388-7733

Tuna melt with egg The humble tuna melt is often overlooked as a hangover cure, fighting off the morning quease you began investing in last night with the help of a Bon Jovi-rich jukebox and two-for-one Jell-O shots. The thing about a tuna melt is how it sits in the stomach with a polite but anchoring heft — that much-needed a.m. ballast — without, say, the chunky, vaguely damning bloat of a hamburger/fries combo. The egg? That’s a bonus, a hug. Any eggs ‘n’ bacon joint can bust this plate out, but the folks at Omelet House seem to know what ordering a tuna melt with egg truly is: A telepathic cry for morning-after mercy in what studied drinkers call the nervous light of Sunday. Thus your bread will be gravid with, happily unbidden, an extra dose of stomach-settling butter. You will be whole again. — A.K. Omelet House Multiple locations

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BI b i m b a p : Ch r i s to ph e r S m i t h

at Omelet House


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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.

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.

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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

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From martinis to milkshakes, here are some the valley's sweetest, strongest (and strangest) drinks. Bottoms up! photography by

34 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1


Talk about cups runnething over. For our inaugural Drink Up! Issue, we trekked (and sometimes stumbled) across Las Vegas to find the strongest, tastiest, most exotic beverages in the valley. We’ve got champagne supernovas and bacon martinis and plenty of beer. ¶ Don’t partake of spirits? Fret not. We cover sodas, smoothies, coffee and tea, too. Prepare to be quenched! Holstein’s malts

They have you at the teeny-weeny chocolate and vanilla malted milk balls sprinkled on a four-inch-thick cloud of whipped cream. Then, there’s the first sip of white shake with its unmistakable explosion of malt flavor, followed by sweet ribbons of black chocolate, streaming down your throat. It has to be so thick your eyes pop out trying to suck it up the straw; anything this good is meant to last a long, long time. (In Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S., 698-7940) Heidi Kyser

World Famous Mt. Charleston Coffee

As much a ritual as a drink, the Mt. Charleston Coffee is a creamy number dosed with Drambuie and brandy, perfect for calling a fireside truce after extended snowball conflicts up the mountain. In cozy dessert mode? Hold off on the sugar packets and ask for an extra shot of Drambuie. (Mount Charleston Lodge, 5375 Kyle Canyon Road, 872-5408) Andrew Kiraly The avocado smoothie

A diagnosed avocadoholic, I’d drink guacamole from a squeezebag if the attendant yellow-green froth-mustache weren’t so unseemly. So my heart leaped when I discovered the avocado smoothie: At last, a socially acceptable avocado-drinking vehicle! Don’t worry, though; Volcano Tea’s avocado smoothie isn’t like glorping down liquefied 'cado. This creamy, well-balanced blend is a novelty drink with populist appeal. Diplomatically sweet with notes of green tea, the avocado essence of Volcano Tea’s

smoothie emerges more as an insistent hint than an eruption. (Volcano Tea, 4215 Spring Mountain Road) A.K. Platinum Candy

At first, it’s kind of like the Kool-Aid Man has wrenched your tongue from your head wedgie-style and he’s spanking it with his big ol’ spatula-hands: Blunt, cartoonish, vaguely frightening. Give it time, though, and you’ll give this drink some credit. Monolithically sweet at first sip, the Platinum Candy goes on to reveal other treats: Lots of foreplay between tart and sweet, with raspberry, cranberry and apple; the peach schnapps and melon liqueur lend some fruity assist. As the big red man says: Oh yeah. (Platinum, 211 E. Flamingo Road, 365-5000) A.K. Kiuchi Hitachino Nest Weizen

You might not expect to find interesting beers at a Japanese noodle house in a casino, but it’s part of the deal at Dragon Noodle Company. This ultralight hefeweizen is mad apple cidery with lots of bubbles and a crisp, slightly sour, tangy finish. Summer might be over, but you can hang on to the season with this tingly beer. (In Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 730-7965) Brock Radke

Champagnes at Laguna

You would think champagne and Vegas would go together like D-list celebrities and nightclubs, but strangely, there is only one bar in town dedicated to the art of the world’s greatest fizzy wine. Whether your poison is a classic Kir Royale (made properly with Marie Brizard Crème de Cassis de Dijon), or a sip of Gosset Grand Rose, this elevated perch off the Palazzo casino lets you do it style, while you wonder what in the world the hoi polloi is sipping from those plastic guitars. (Palazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 607-7777) John Curtas


Vanguard offers a black-tea infused version of this Prohibition-era classic, and it’s appeared in Downtown Cocktail Room’s repertoire, but I prefer the drink as it was invented — made with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and the crème de violette that gives the drink its dreamy pale blue hue and delicate floral notes. (Herbs and Rye, 3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036) Maureen Adamo

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Pear cider

Crown & Anchor has its own version of V8 — the Pear Cider. Ideal for cooling off, it doesn’t skimp on content either, offering a nice 6 percent alcohol kick. The crisp, refreshing and slightly sweet brew satisfies without bogging you down with a typical beer bloat. Sustenance with a buzz? Sounds like a fruitful investment. (Crown & Anchor, 1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8676) Alexia Gyorody North Coast Brother Thelonious

Another boozy, dark drink, this California brew also tastes of bourbon with a sour smash of cherries and a creamy finish. It’s another pale ale made more palatable with a balance of sweetness, but this one’s more violent … like the Incredible Hulk punching pastry. It’s one of the bolder options among Yard House’s seemingly never-ending beer menu. (In Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 734-9273) B.R.

Jean Georges’ virgin sodas

Who needs Canada Dry or Dr. Pepper when fresh fruit syrups are waiting for a spritz of seltzer, like they are every night at Jean Georges, the top-flight steakhouse in Aria? Twice as refreshing and half the cost of a cocktail, there’s no beating a cherry-yuzu, calamansi (tasting like a tangerine crossed with a lime) or passion fruit-chile soda on a warm summer’s night — or after a cold day at the tables. And just think of the hangover you’ll save. (In Aria, 3734 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 877-230-2742) J.C.

other-worldly, chocolate cake-like nose that impels you to keep sipping. (Aria at CityCenter, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd., 877.230.2742) J.C. 2007 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon

I call this recipe Upscale Trail Mix. Do this: Sidle up to the bar at Sonoma Cellar, order a glass of the Nickel & Nickel ($23). That and the complimentary nuts — almonds, cashews, Brazils, peanuts — are your dinner. This big, flashy, meaty, flourishing cab is your fruit. (In Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Road, 547-7982) A.K. Champagne Supernova

Shirley Temple

The early 20th century décor of the new restaurant inside the Royal Resort, The Barrymore, provides an idyllic location for this timeless drink. The Barrymore’s is a flawless blend of Sprite, ginger ale and grenadine syrup, best sipped in one of their plush, oversized booths. (The Royal Resort, 99 Convention Center Drive, 407-5303) A.G. “Cellos” at Sirio

Home- and house-made is all the rage these days, whether it’s salumi, sausage, cheese or liqueurs. Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia takes infused-booze to “11” with a trio of housemade “cellos” – lemon, mixed berry and black truffle – that could make a tippler out of Carrie Nation. It’s hard to argue with the tart freshness of his limoncello, or the smoothness of the mixed berry, but the yearlong maceration of truffle shavings gives it an

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The black-shirted calorie-pushers at Hash House will brag about their Bloody Mary and strawberry lime margaritas, but I like the Champagne Supernova. It tastes like the sweat of an intergalactic courtesan, this alt-mojito made with mint, lemonade and rips of dry and sweet Rieslings. Much smoother and subtler than the roster of drinks and dishes designed to send your pancreas into shuddering hyperdrive, the Champagne Supernova makes for a quiet counterpoint to the edible rock concert that is the Hash House menu. (Hash House A Go Go, multiple locations) A.K. Tarot Fruit Snow

Anybody can toss some acai berries, bananas and wheat grass into a Vitamix, but just try to recreate Boba City’s Tarot Fruit Snow. Boba City interprets “snow,” the East Asian term for cold, slushy fruit drinks, as “smoothie,” and they take it seriously. The owners chop fresh mango,

honeydew melon, strawberries and other fruit and freeze it for blending with soy milk and a proprietary flavor blend to create the creamiest thing that never came from a cow. (Boba City Café, 4126 S. Rainbow Blvd., 220-5273) H.K.

The Ragin’ Cajun, Bloody Caesar, Bloody Bull

Two of the newest twists on the Bloody Mary can be found at Society in Encore, which has a dedicated Bloody Mary menu, all $12. Despite its billing, the Ragin’ Cajun will not turn the drinker into James Carville. Despite the presence of Absolut Peppar and “bayou seasoning,” it’s surprisingly mild. A lightly spiced tiger shrimp takes the place of the traditional olive. More flavorful — and equally creative in its garnish — is the Bloody Bull, which augments Skyy vodka with beef broth and a Slim Jim, plus two very firm and tasty olives. The ensuing taste is beefy in more ways than one. The heartiness of the broth makes this a drink to savor at leisure. For those who don’t want a peppery “afterburn,” old reliable Bloody Caesar is a mellow alternative. The combination of Clamato and Absolut Peppar (plus two olives) is unexpectedly effective. Careful: You’ll knock this back right quick. (In Encore, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 248-3463) David McKee

Liquid high

Our writer [hearts] trying energy drinks, but almost lost his liver testing these Neuro Sonic Packaging: Voluptuous 14.5 oz. dark pink plastic sex cylinder Tastes like: Flintstones chewables and VagueBerry Kool-Aid Payload: Phosphatidylserine, L-theanine (“supports memory and cognition”) Effects: Persistent memory of forgotten cell phone; effortless cognitive superimposition of sexy “Honky Tonk Woman” drums over steady beat of crosswalk blips at corner of Charleston and Casino Center boulevards RACE Fuel Packaging: Soothing blue 12 oz. can, quaintly unironic retro-modest design and mission statement: “help(s) you concentrate on being your best”; disappointment when first-glance reading of “RAGE Fuel” found to be inaccurate Tastes like: Squirt, with lingering lipsmacky ginger notions Payload: Unspecified, miniscule amounts of caffeine, Panax Ginseng Effects: Noticeably more “pep” while whistling and doing quick, shallow knee bends with hands in trouser pockets; did not fall asleep

Widmer Brothers Barrel Aged Brrbon

The Pub at Monte Carlo was once one of few local microbreweries; today it isn’t making its own stuff but it does offer a recently revamped craft beer list that ranks among the most varied in the city. This winter beer was brewed once, part of the Widmer Brothers Reserve Series, and it’s mighty strong. But for its high alcohol content, it’s a highly drinkable dark amber beer, light and crisp with — obviously — bourbon undertones. (In Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 7307420) B.R. Root Beer Float

Also called the Brown Cow, this libation is a real masterpiece of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Aside from their generous serving of ice cream, the root beer is brewed on site. You might think the root beer float contains some secret, third ingredient. But

no. That’s the smooth taste of homemade root beer. (BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, multiple locations) A.G.

Saxby’s Cappuccino

Neither downtown nor independent — two death-kisses in the minds of most java hipsters — Saxbys Coffee nevertheless makes microfoam you could rest your head on. Their velvety espresso, from Central America and Indonesian beans, disappears in the froth, which baristas take their sweet time making. The smallest Cappuccino on the menu is 12 ounces, but purists can ask for the “dry cap” and get a single shot of espresso, the rest foam. (Saxbys Coffee, 72 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway #155, 558-1838) H.K.

Spike Shooter Packaging: Frantic, 8.4 oz. can splashed with terrifying, emotionally confusing mix of goads (“GET SPIKED!™”) and dire warnings to consumers with pre-existing pulmonary, thyroid or psychiatric conditions. Taste: Pre-GI scan cherry isotope jubilee Payload: Caffeine (300 effin’ milligrams), B vitamin megadose, Yohimbine (tree bark-derived stimu-toxin) Effects: Skin flush; insomnia; at 4 a.m., moon appears more disheveled, selfabsorbed than usual; bread items taste like the number 6 ZizZazz Explosive Energy Mix (tangerine flavor) Packaging: Elongate powder pouch with kinetic script, Chinese fireworksstyle starbursts and fluttering American flag icon: “MADE IN USA” (and headquartered in Las Vegas) Taste: When dissolved in 16 oz. water, sweet citrus-y, vitamin-y sweetness with sweet aftersweet Payload: Caffeine, B vitamins, ginseng extract, Rhodiola Rosea extract (sweetnamed, anti-anxiety, anti-fatigue herbal “adaptogen”) Effects: Relaxation with elevated alertness; increased sensitivity to sweetness: went “Awww!” when just the cutest widdle kitty in the world rolled over and wiggled her widdle paws — Dave Surratt

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Drinking dates Local celebrity Keg Tappers Though October, 7 p.m. No Oktoberfest is complete without a visit to the Hofbrauhaus and the slew of events in October is sure to please anyone hoisting a stein. Celebrity keg-tapping events feature Oscar Goodman on Oct. 1, Holly Madison Oct. 7, Robin Leach on Oct. 8 and others. More info at 5th Annual Taste of Spirit Winetaster Oct. 7, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Features wine and beer tastings, dinner, local musicians, a live auction and raffle. All proceeds benefit the Spirit Therapies, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with special needs. $50-$75. South Point Casino, 219-1728, Fall Beer Festival Oct. 14, 7-10 p.m.; Oct. 15, 3-9 p.m. Hundreds of craft beers will be at the mercy of Oktoberfest patrons during this beer festival. The first event kicks off with the All American Craft Beer Tasting, with 120 craft beers and award-winning brew masters. $50. The second day offers an Oktoberfest Pool Party, 200 international and domestic beers and a German band. Free. The Golden Nugget Hotel, 386-8100, Cheers to Chocolate Oct. 15, 5-8 p.m. Forget cheese. Tivoli Village is pairing wine with something more decadent. “Cheers to Chocolate” is a wineand chocolate-tasting that will satisfy any wine snob’s sweet tooth. Proceeds from the event benefit Easter Seals Southern Nevada. $35-$45, Tivoli Village, All-Star Weekend Oct. 21-23. Beer, wine and cocktails will be in abundance at FOOD & WINE magazine’s All-Star Weekend. Party with culinary masters and celebrities with an appetite. This epicurean event features interactive cooking demonstrations and a one-of-a-kind walkaround tasting. $75-$150, various locations, Single Malt Scotch Dinner Oct. 24, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Chef Jose Luis pairs a seven-course meal with seven single malt scotches. Limited seating, reservations suggested. $89. Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar, 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100, 750-2991, Town Square Wine Walk Oct. 22, 4-8 p.m. Whether your name is Roxanne or Bob, you’re going to want to wear your red dress to this. It’s a Red Affair at Town Square, meaning all red wines, along with sake, cocktails, beers and food. Attendees dressed in red are entered into a raffle. Proceeds benefit New Vista Community,
$50-$60, New Vista Community’s Brew’s Best, Hand-Crafted Beer Festival Nov. 12, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Listen to live music and sample more than 70 brews from local and regional breweries. All proceeds benefit New Vista, a charity that supports adults and children with intellectual challenges through programs that target teaching independence. $25-$30, The Village, Lake Las Vegas,, 457-4677 ext. 33.

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Durian smoothie

To an unaccustomed palate, the first few sips of durian smoothie aren’t completely unpleasant. That strong smell, a mix of sugary melon and astringent onions, is reflected directly in the smoothie’s taste, but it’s suspended beautifully in a thick, cold, lemon-colored custard with its own notes of sweetness. But then you realize that the aftertaste, like onions on steroids, never fades. Indeed, with each subsequent sip, it just keeps building. Sure, each new mouthful brings a refreshing frisson of sweetness and cold, but it also feels like the onions are actually building up in the back of your throat and filling your sinuses. The mounting power of this aftertaste morphs from onions to something approaching turpentine. And so you surrender. The result is that two-thirds of your durian smoothie ends up in the trash as you stumble out of Lee’s Sandwiches, gripped by nausea and shame. But you’ll be back. (Lee’s Sandwiches, 3989 Spring Mountain Road, 331-9999) J.J. Wylie

The Steak & Eggs shot

The shot itself is bright red and accompanied by a slice of lemon that’s been dipped in something. “Just close your eyes, down the shot, and suck on the lemon,” says Rocco Russo, the manager. “And, I swear, you’ll taste steak and eggs.” The shot goes down easy, a nice blend of warmth and flavor. It’s whiskey and tomato juice. Then I suck the lemon slice, which delivers a clean wash of citrus mixed a bewildering array of spice. I take a moment to let it all sink in. Then I open my eyes. “I got it,” I tell Rocco. He smiles and tells me the ingredients. The smokiness and heft of the Jameson whiskey mixes nicely with the acidity of the tomato juice, and, when followed by the lemon slice that’s been dipped in a mix of Worcestershire and steak sauce, it creates an aftertaste that recalls the flavor of steak and eggs. And not just any steak and eggs, but the kind of steak and eggs you eat after a long, late pub-crawl that ends in a casino coffee shop. (Mango’s Beach Bar, 6650 Vegas Drive #140, 631-4711) J.W.

Fink Bomb

Frankie’s mai tais are my standard racing fuel when on a rum kick, but when I want to methodically build an overarching alcoholic superstructure from which to launch a night

of near-misdemeanors, I start off with the Fink Bomb, a potent brew of coconut rum, rum and melon liqueur. Supernaturally sweet and deceptively strong, it’s like drinking suntan lotion off a feverishly horny witch. (Frankie’s Tiki Room, 1712 W. Charleston, 385-3110) A.K. Bacon Martini

No special glass with a pig etched into it, no tossed-in handfuls of gourmet bacon bits. Rather, they stuff three or four slices of cooked bacon into the bottle of vodka and let it sit for a couple of weeks before serving. Upon sipping the bacon martini, what hits you first is the emulsified bacon fat, which coats the tongue and mouth, sending your brain into a bacon-drenched universe from which you’re unlikely to return for at least an hour. You’ll also fight the urge to constantly lick your own mouth like a dog eating peanut butter. And when you finish, resist ordering another. Or maybe not. Because only a pig would do that. (Double Down Saloon, 4640 Paradise Road, 791-5775) J.W. Ellis Island Hefe Weiss

I’m not a big Hefe drinker, but this one is local, highly effervescent, with a little citrus and a lot of wheat flavor. Fact is, I’m a big fan of the Ellis Island Casino Brewery, a longtime locals’ hangout just off the Strip stocked with barbecue, karaoke, Metro Pizza and cheap Vegas fun. And the beer ain’t bad. If you don’t like it, try the house-brewed root beer, definitely an oldfashioned treat. (Ellis Island Brewery, 4178 Koval Lane, 733-8901) B.R.

Red Fox Russian Imperial Stout

At first sip, locally brewed stout Red Fox presents a bright flash of flavors, including notes of coffee and chocolate and even fruit. As it warms, this stout’s flavor settles into maltiness, and its alcohol content becomes more prevalent. This is strong stuff that requires a certain commitment from its drinker. No one’s pouring Red Fox into beer bongs at a frat party. If you do get a hankering for a stout, this is a homegrown alternative to the Dublin-born brew everybody already knows. (Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, 9915 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 435-9463) J.W.

Fantome Saison d’Erezee Printemps

Okay, this is some serious stuff. I’m not even sure if this beer exists, and that’s after I drank it. It was an ethereal experience, a possession more than a tasting. That’s what you get when you go roaming the beer cooler’s Belgian section with owner Adam Carmer at the Freakin’ Frog. Heavenly orange like your favorite sunset, it comes on strong and sour, then blossoms into an earthy, well-spiced masterpiece. I tried it among many other beers one Saturday, and nothing was as memorable. (Freakin’ Frog, 4700 S. Maryland Parkway, 597-9702) B.R. Deschutes The Dissident

Horchata at Los Antojos

Is there such a thing as an adult-friendly horchata? Yes, and it’s here, friends. You can tell, because it doesn’t come out of a box, and isn’t made mostly of sugar or served from a machine that churns it all day like a 7-Eleven slush. This is the real deal – homemade from a family recipe, with just the right amount of cinnamon. (Los Antojos, 2520 S. Eastern Ave. #B, 457-3505) H.K. Amaros at Carnevino

Formerly enjoyed only by the adventuresome, or bocce ball players and the occasional euro-trash jet-setter, amaros, aperitivos and disgestivos are as hot as a Calabrian chile pepper these days. Carnevino, boasting more than 30 of these pre- and post-prandial libations (and its own green almond, green walnut and apricot liqueurs), is the perfect

place to get your herbaceous alcohol education. They function as an appetite boost (aperitivos — sipped before the meal) and digestive aid (amaros — afterwards), and work splendidly as long as you lay off the grappa. (In Palazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 789-4141) J.C. Unibroue Raftman

The Quebec brewery Unibroue is a personal fave, and fortunately there are several bars around town that share my great taste in beer. But the coolest place to drink it is at Sage, known more for its gourmet grub and fancy cocktail program. This modern bordellostyled bar designates one tap for a seasonal Unibroue offering, and last time I checked, it was spewing the smokey, whiskeyish Raftman. If this is a summer beer, I hope the heat never goes away. (In Aria, 3734 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 877-230-2742) B.R.

The Dissident’s complex flavorings only begin with sourness. From there, things move quickly into a richness imparted by the pinot and cabernet barrels it’s fermented inside at Deschutes’ headquarters in Oregon. Also unlike other sour beers, there’s little sweet to offset that first taste. This one goes deep. The fact that it rotates on the taps at Aces & Ales is one of the factors that makes this Boulder Highway area bar special; The Dissident is hard enough to find by the bottle. (Aces & Ales, 3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 436-7600) B.R.


Thirsty for more? Read about us tackling some of the most outrageous drinks in the valley and more of our favorite libations at

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 39



you decant You love drinking it, so why not collect it? Budding wine-lovers, take note

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story by Heidi Kyser

You dip the tip of your nose just inside the rim of your glass. Mm… a slight whiff of pomegranate shot through lush notes of cocoa. No doubt about it; you’ve fallen in love with wine. ¶ Nothing would make you happier than having your own collection to dote on and show off. Trouble is, you have no idea how to go about it. Take heart, budding oenophile. Starting a wine collection is not as hard as you think. Crunch the numbers

The Experts

Tim Wilson Director of beverage for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group

Chris Hammond Founder of Rock & Roll Wine Guys

William Sherer Master sommelier at Aureole

How much do you want to spend? You don’t need an enormous amount of expendable income to start a wine collection; you just need to know how much you’ve got to play with. Tim Wilson, director of beverage for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, suggests asking yourself, “What’s my goal? Is it for investment purposes or personal consumption?” This will help you budget. Say you can afford to invest $50 a week in wine — that’s $200 a month, $2,400 a year. When you start to identify the wines you want to buy, you may find some great bottles for $25; you can get two of those a week. Or, you may find a bottle you really want for $200. You can only get one of those a month. And, although investment-quality wines will come with a price tag, beginning collectors need not limit themselves to bottles that fetch a week’s salary, says Chris Hammond, founder of Rock & Roll Wine Guys. “The most obvious beginner pitfall is judging a wine’s quality by its price,” he says. “You can have some fabulous wines at around $20 a bottle.” Extra credit: Track your investment. Record what you bought, when, and how

much you paid for it. It will help you valuate your stock should you ever decide to insure it, or re-sell some of it. Drink — a lot

You don’t know what to collect until you know what you like, and you don’t know what you like until you’ve tasted it. “Don’t limit yourself,” Hammond says. “The more you taste, the more refined your palate will be, and the broader your range will become.” Beginners beware: Your tastes will change. Don’t buy $1,000 worth of a wine that’s best aged for a while unless you are prepared to sell half of it a few years down the road — when you will have moved on to another favorite. “As you start to taste more wines, you’ll be surprised how much less the wines you used to like will mean to you later. You understand how expensive they are,” Wilson says. The good news is that wines can be resold, if they’re good to begin with and stored well. Extra credit: Go to the source. There are plenty of wineries within driving distance or a short flight. Tasting wine in a store or at a club is one thing, but tasting it in its native environment creates an emotional collection and deeper knowledge.

Chill out

Good storage is nonnegotiable. In the ideal world, every collector would have a cool, dry wine cellar. But considering the dearth of new-home construction in Southern Nevada, most of us will have to settle for a wine refrigerator for now. “You need to have conditions that are 55 degrees with 70 percent humidity,” says Wilson. “That’s the most important thing. Without that, it’s pointless. You’re wasting your money.” Suck up

Get to know your vendor, says William Sherer, master sommelier at Aureole. “A hit list of them would be Marché Bacchus, Khoury’s, Green Valley Wine & Cheese, Lee’s Discount Liquor and Total Wine and More,” he says. Particularly in the current market, this relationship is key to collecting. In the recession, Sherer explains, both distributors and retailers have stopped stocking any inventory that they are not sure to sell, so you will not be able to get your hands on anything special if you don’t have access to the back of the house or get notifications of good wines coming in so you can pre-order them. Keep on learning

So, you’ve got your fridge, you’re attending tastings, cultivating your palate, spending $200 a month on wine. Look at you: You’re an expert! Not so fast, Eddie Osterland. The more

you learn, the more you should realize how little you know. Read up, join clubs, have conversations – whatever it takes to keep improving your knowledge. It can only refine your palate, which enhances your investment. “I’m not a huge fan of just going by scores of any wine media, but I am a big fan of the articles and references that wine media does, especially Wine Spectator,” Sherer says. “They give good references about what makes a particular wine tick.” Extra credit: Read “Great Wine Made Simple,” by master sommelier Andrea Immer. Know when to hold ’em

As the definition of collecting suggests, you have to buy more than you drink. Whatever you budget for your collection, it should be on top of what you’re already spending on wine for regular consumption. Sherer recommends collecting in threes. “One bottle to try within the year, one to give away as a gift or save for a special occasion, and one bottle to taste later, when it’s aged.” However, Hammond believes there is no reason to collect if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy a good bottle from time to time. “The key component to a good wine cellar is a mix of stuff that’s inexpensive, that you can pop open on a Tuesday night, and other stuff that’s a little more expensive that you’re saving to have for a special occasion,” he says.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 41

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

1900s Caribbean queens The Golden Gate Casino (1 Fremont St., 385-1906) is Las Vegas’ oldest hotel. How old? It opened in 1906 and the telephone number was 1. Originally the Hotel Nevada, the Golden Gate has renovated, but remains distinctly old school: wood moldings and wainscoting, ceiling fans spinning, blackjack dealers in suspenders and sleeve garters. Today, the baby grand player piano is preempted by Michael Jackson remixes and the go-go girls in fringed bikinis were definitely not here when Theodore Roosevelt was president. Actually, Roosevelt had a slight hand in the birth of new rum drinks during the aughts: Both the daiquiri and the Cuba Libre were invented in the Caribbean around the time of the Spanish-American War, and the recipes were imported stateside along with the bottles and cases of booze. After a nice period cocktail, you can saunter over to Du-Par’s and partake of the era’s other new flavor sensation, the French dip sandwich. Maybe even have a nice slice of pie — thankfully you’re not being choked by a celluloid collar or steel-boned corset, so chow down.

1920s Gimlet eye

1910s Rustic exotica Las Vegas was officially incorporated in 1911: The beginning of the city, but the beginning of the end of the Wild West mining town. However, if you want an idea of what it was like to hit the bars back then, take a trip to Goodsprings, where the Pioneer Saloon (310 W. Spring St., 874-9362) has been serving drinks at the top of the hill for nearly a century. It’s exactly as you’d imagine it, too, from the pressed-tin walls and ceilings to plank floors and cast-iron stove. Even the bullet hole in the wall is authentic 1915 with a coroner’s report to prove it (cheating at cards, don’tcha know). But these were also civilized times. Drinks went proto-exotica like the gin-brandy Singapore Sling. Or they paid homage to man’s newfound ability to fly with the Aviation, a gin-based potion whose pale hue evokes clouds and sky. However, the Pioneer Saloon isn’t exactly the bar for drinks that require a cocktail shaker — but don’t worry, both Budweiser and Pabst were in business back then. Conveniently, refrigerators had just been invented.

With Prohibition running from 1919 to 1933, there isn’t much in the way of surviving bars from this decade — but not because Las Vegas lacked them. There were plenty. In Vegas’ notorious Block 16, an area between Ogden and Stewart avenues from 1st to 3rd streets, drinking went the way of gambling and prostitution — to the back room. The Arizona Club was the area’s foremost saloon, with

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an ornamented brickwork façade and long oak bar. The Arizona was known for its sloe gin fizzes, but gimlets were also popular: Just make certain yours is mixed with both Rose’s lime juice and fresh lime juice — taken singly, the former will make it too sweet and the latter too sour. All the buildings are gone now (parking garages), though there are still a few bars in the area. Pull up

a seat to the enormous horseshoe bar at Triple George (201 North 3rd Street, 384-2761) and sip a neat Scotch while paging through Dorothy Parker, or perhaps go proletarian and peruse your Sinclair Lewis over some suds in the white tile-and-copper vat setting of Main Street Station's Triple 7 brewpub (200 N. Main St., 387-1896). Either way, make sure you’re wearing a hat.

1930s True margaritaville Boulder City is the closest thing we have to the ’30s preserved. It’s about a half-hour drive from Vegas, but worth the trip. And go ahead and eat all the junk food you want on the way: This was the decade of Twinkies, Fritos, Snickers, Lay’s, Carvel … The center of the hamlet’s historic district is 1933’s Boulder Dam Hotel (1305 Arizona Street, 293-3510), whose white-pillared “Dining – Cocktails” splendor has hosted royalty such as the Mahajara of Indore and Bette Davis. There’s even a mini-Grand Hotel shopping arcade with a tea room and a jewelry store peddling paste replicas of Bette’s canary diamond ring or, if you prefer, Marlene Dietrich’s rubies. The hotel dining room closes mid-afternoon, but that’s still plenty of time for a chicken salad sandwich and a sidecar or two. Afterward, cross the street to the Big Horn Restaurant (1300 Arizona St., 293-0273), housed in one of the Edward Hopperesque storefronts, and pull up to the mirrored deco-style bar for a margarita — on the rocks, not that Slushee stuff. The margarita was invented in the 1930s — there are more than a dozen pretenders to the originator’s throne, but it seems to have been the concoction of some hotel bartender somewhere in Mexico. If tequila can make memories of last night hazy, imagine what it does to recollections of the previous century.

1940s Manhattan project Bugsy Siegel’s brief and explosive Las Vegas legacy began downtown at the El Cortez Hotel and Casino (600 Fremont St., 385-5200). He basically picked the joint up as a headquarters for his racing wire operations but, as we all know, he soon got bigger ideas. The hotel’s exterior remains pretty much in period, a low brick building with fire escapes worthy of a hood’s quick getaway and some of the finest vintage neon signs downtown. However, the interior has been redone several times, with echt-’70s chandeliers and über90s upholstery putting a wrinkle in the circa 1941 aesthetic. But some corners are still flush with MGM/RKO glow: The low-lit, halfspiral staircase by the front desk is perfect for slinky femme fatale entrances — and the bar below is a fine spot for an appreciative audience. The Flame Steakhouse sometimes offers a “vintage” menu of dishes like oysters Rockefeller and strawberries Romanoff. Or just pull up a stool at the lounge, but be aware that if you’re going to do full period, you’ll have to smoke cigarettes — filterless cigarettes — but ordering a Manhattan or a Mai Tai should be enough.

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1970s When we were lurid

1950s Steer and stingers The ’50s has a set of neon bookends, with Vegas Vic going up in 1951 and the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign arriving in 1959. In between, the Sahara, the Sands, the Stardust and a half-dozen other casinos swung open their doors. Still, nothing says old-school like a steakhouse, and no steakhouse is more oldschool than the Golden Steer. The Steer (308 W. Sahara Ave., 384-4470) has served kings from Sinatra to Elvis and maintains the classic red plush/dark wood machismo that’s so swell with a T-bone and an iceberg wedge. For cocktails, try a stinger, the brandy/Crème de Menthe drink favored by ladies from Jayne Mansfield to Peggy Olsen. The look of the era should be easy to come by: Banana Republic’s “Mad Men” collection has plenty of floral-print sheath dresses and narrow-lapeled gray suits. The Golden Steer is also open in the afternoon — go ahead, ask for Dean Martin’s booth, then slide right into that two-martini lunch. How did all of these people get in your room anyway?

1960s Bourbon comfort When they opened, both Caesars Palace and the Las Vegas Hilton were examples of over-the-top ’60s glamour at its finest, although both have been stripped virtually all of their swinging glory. But if your vision of the era is more John Cassavetes than James Bond, Decatur Liquors (46 S. Decatur Blvd., 870-2522) is in near-pristine, early-’60s condition, from woodgrain formica to groovy primary-colored fonts. It was a big time for White Russians, and this is the sort of comforting, off-the-path bar you could

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down a few in. Or order a bourbon, which Congress declared “America’s Native Spirit” and our national drink in 1964, punch up some Motown on the jukebox and see if the Munsters are on TV. Still not sufficiently bathed in authenticity? Step through the side door to the adjacent lunch counter, where there’s still floral vinyl on the booths and Swiss steak on the menu … or the drugstore, where rows of bull’s-eye greeting cards and pink foot pumices take on a pop art all their own — and try to tell me that packet of disposable rectal thermometer sheaths hasn’t been there since the Kennedy administration!

In Vegas, the ’70s seem as well-preserved as a showgirl who married well, with a number of spots firmly stuck in the Bailey’s and Quaaludes decade. Naturally, the Peppermill (2985 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 7354177) is at the top of the list: Burgundy plush, pink neon, fake trees and, of course, that bubbling fire pit and those waitresses in backless dresses. If it wasn’t for those infernal plasma screens, it’d be perfect — order yourself a Harvey Wallbanger off the extensive and lurid drink menu and try to ignore them. If not, hit the Las Vegas Hilton, where you can still imagine Elvis on the marquee and James Bond scaling the side to break into Willard Whyte’s penthouse. If you prefer something more serene, head for the Dispensary Lounge (2451 E. Tropicana Ave., 4586343) with its shag carpeting, shiny wood, hideous upholstery, waitresses in leotards — did I mention the giant mill wheel with real water and fake plants? Suck down a Long Island Iced Tea, peruse your copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and wonder where all the good times have gone if the places we had them in are still here.

1990s Smells like spirits

1980s Absolut excess In a way, the ’80s have to be the Mirage (3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 791-7111). When it opened in 1989, it was the first major casino to open in almost 16 years and the harbinger of new, slick, high-rise tower Vegas. And, well, what’s more “Miami Vice”-era than being under a glass dome, surrounded by oversized tropical foliage, contemplating a sushi menu while the Bangles blare over the sound system? How about the Sports Bar, with its Sharper Imagestyle signage, brass horse head railings and endless acres of digital sports scores dancing above your head? Pay gustatory homage to the era by ordering anything made with Absolut — bonus points if it’s a blue kamikaze — and getting a barbecue chicken pie from the adjacent California Pizza Kitchen. Even the new areas feel retro. The Rhumbar may be Palm Beach chic, but the glossy white finish on everything and abundance of sunglass-wearing, cigar-smoking males are still kinda, “Say hello to my little friend.” If you want to escape the casino and favor vibe over authenticity, there’s always downtown’s video game bar, Insert Coins (512 Fremont St., 477-2525), where every night is ’80s night. Sip a fuzzy navel while dividing your attention between Tetris on the little screen and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” on the big one.

The ’90s brought a slew of new casinos: The Excalibur, Treasure Island, New York New York — but let’s ignore that brief and foolish attempt at making Vegas “family-friendly.” No, head straight for the high-end that started this whole luxury casino ball rolling: The Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 693-7111). Stride boldly across the gaming floor, whose vaguely haute Euro style also set the trend in resort design until the current fad for MidCentury Meh took over. Hit the Baccarat Bar at the Bellagio, sink into a beige velvet couch and call for a Cosmo. People-watch and debate whether that woman is a hooker, or just another tourist who thinks everyone in Vegas is supposed to dress like a hooker. Eavesdrop on the Johnnie Walker Blue-swilling stock brokers behind you, and recall that this was the decade that originated luxury liquor, the luxury casino and, well, Johnnie Walker Blueswilling stock brokers. But we were more tolerant then, back in those innocent days when we thought the boom would never have a bust.

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the s e a r c h e r s

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The "Knight Viper" team, from left: James Miller, Kirsten Dutcher, Simeon Caskey, Daniel Leach, Corrine Michaud and Dave Ellis

Low pay. No benefits. Long days in the lonesome desert. Why do field biologists do it? A thirst for adventure — and a sense of purpose BY Joseph Langdon I mistake them at first for street kids bumming on the sidewalk outside the Rosewood Apartments, a well-worn complex over in Winchester. Then I notice their bags are a bit too full, too well-packed; their sun-battered skin and dusty boots have an aura of purpose. These are the people I’ve come to meet, a team of field biologists about to head deep into the Mojave to monitor the rare and threatened desert tortoise. Kirsten Dutcher, the crew’s leader, pulls up in a massive truck emblazoned with their hand-painted insignia — “Knight Viper” — and stamped with carapaces, like kills on a cockpit, to commemorate each tort they’ve spotted. “You’re lucky,” Dutcher tells me. “Most days we start out at three or four in the morning.” The waiting crew members fling their heavy packs into the truck, scan maps, and assess water and provisions. These are the foot soldiers in the struggle to defend the environment. Field biologists do the dirty work that provides much of the raw data that guide preservation and recovery plans around the planet and help shape local, national and international law. They’re also the bohemians of the science world. Their jobs are generally low-paying, itinerant and rarely last longer than a couple of months, so they routinely camp out on each other’s floors and crowd into cheap apartments. Like members of a band, they travel the country in run-down vans, heading to whatever gig they can find. When Dutcher was getting her master's

P H oto : J o s e ph L a n g d o n


degree in ecology, one of her advisors warned her that field research is “the bottom of the barrel of biology.” “It’s the most physically demanding,” Dutcher explains, “definitely takes the most of your time, still requires the same amount of education (as laboratory work), the same amount of hard science background, but often you’re paid less than minimum wage. You rarely have health care, don’t have benefits, and the jobs don’t last.” I’m about to follow her into the untrammeled desert to find out why she’s been doing it for a decade — and has no intention of quitting any time soon.

And then we walk


Their crew of six heads north on Highway 93 into Coyote Springs as fighters from Nellis zip overhead. We follow a gravel road until it becomes a dirt road, and keep going until that trickles down to two ruts in the earth that eventually dissolve to nowhere in particular. Then we walk. The team must hike in and establish a base camp five kilometers away, just on the far side of a saddle in the Desert Range that rises nearly a kilometer high. We each have to hump in about 30 pounds of water, plus food and supplies. At this point I might as well note that I’m not really a backpacker — in that I’ve never done it before. Most of my gear is borrowed. My boots have their shoe-store sheen. My

hat is a fedora. None of my clothing bears the imprimatur of an outdoorsy European brand — just brown cotton slacks and an old army jacket. No fibers naturally “wick.” As I clamber up the rocks, I struggle to cope with having a third of my body weight swinging on my back and attempt to tune out a discussion of rattlesnakes — specifically, what a great habitat this is for rattlesnakes. At the crest, we’re rewarded with a view of limitless ranges and valleys all around. The only trace of humanity is the highway, reduced to an indecipherable ribbon of white far below. We stop for just a minute or two to suck on the thin air. Then we descend. On the way down, I notice that my comrades do not employ the arm-flailing balancing technique that I tend to favor.

Here, tortoise tortoise tortoise In 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the threatened Mojave population of the desert tortoise must be monitored for at least a generation; for a species that can live to be octogenarians, that means at least 25 years of close observation. Dutcher and her crew, who work for Renobased Great Basin Institute, are among more than 50 biologists from three organizations surveying 46,000 square kilometers of critical habitat that also includes areas of Utah, Arizona and California. Instead of hunting for tortoises, the researchers use a method called line-distance sampling, which requires hiking in pairs and scouting for torts along square, 12-kilometer transects. These randomly generated routes provide researchers with an unbiased sample over a large area. The downside is that for the stats to work, the teams must follow the transects precisely — and the computers give no allowance to terrain. The routes cut at all angles across mountains and cliffs, and through gullies, canyons and washes. Teams have the option of cutting really brutal transects in half, but they seem to prefer gutting it out. Simeon Caskey and Daniel Leach pride themselves on conquering a transect that marched straight across a series of six deep washes. “They weren’t even washes, they were canyons,” Leach, 26, says, recalling the steep, 50-meter faces he traversed despite a blister on his heel the size of a silver dollar (though it “wasn’t as bad as it looks”). The really tough part about walking transects, he says, is that after you make it up that last cliff, “you turn the corner, then you have to go back through everything you just did again.”


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These jobs are in high demand, despite the drawbacks, but it takes a special breed of scientist to serve in the field year in, year out. “There are lot of people who graduate with degrees in biology (who) want to go out and do the kind of work they see on the Discovery Channel,” Dutcher says. “They have a real romantic idea of what it’s going to be and go out and (only) work for a season or two … There’s a definite weeding-out process.” At 35, Dutcher, who grew up as a military kid and spent the most time in California, is a veteran of several tortoise seasons. She may also win the prize for diciest transect. A couple years ago, she and her partner were stopped by a swarm of armed men in desert fatigues. “They didn’t tell us where we were,” she says. “They just said, ‘Don’t you know where you are? Every map in the world will tell you not to enter this place.’” The place was the Nevada Test and Training Range, home (perhaps) to Area 51. They were released after a three-hour Q&A with a man in a Hawaiian shirt who, despite the shirt, Dutcher says, “had no sense of humor.”

The (slow) thrill of the hunt “Base camp” turns out to be a bit of over-exuberant marketing. It’s the spot where we roll out our sleeping bags between bushes. The threat of rain forces us to abandon the soft sands of a wash for higher, harder ground called, quite aptly, “desert pavement.” It doesn’t take me long to realize that I am


over-prepared in terms of fancy (heavy) trail mix, and under-prepared in terms of clothing to block out the chill desert wind that has begun to ripple down the valley, heavy with moisture. I planned to use my extra socks for a tiny pillow, but I stick them on my hands instead. As the temperature drops with the sun, I uncrinkle my emergency blanket like a giant noisy sheet of cellophane. “Who’s eating chips?” a voice asks in the dark. The rain holds off. When the clouds break I am awakened by the light of a full moon shining down on me like God’s own headlamp. We set out at dawn. Or they do, at least. Every team must start at precisely the same time, so there’s no waiting up for me as I chase after them, marveling at how the desert teems with vegetation. Or perhaps I should say “bristles” — there’s the majestic, pointy Joshua tree; the noble, spiky yucca; the ancient, pokey creosote. Blossoms speckle the valley in colors of lavender, blood orange, lemon peel, neon magenta. Even the ground is alive — cryptobiotic soil crawls in patches of black, white and blue. But there’s a new color in the desert, a brown that creeps over the landscape like rust. This is bromus, an invasive kind of cheatgrass that is drought-adapted and fire-resistant. It grows too rapidly for this land of eons — the surrounding Joshua trees are several centuries old; the creosote bushes have been growing bit by bit for perhaps a millennium, perhaps more. Bromus sucks up water and chokes out the colorful natives. It spreads like wildfire, and then it spreads the wildfire, too.

C l i f f : T e d F o u s t ; B a s e c a m p a n d Sl e e p y : J o s e ph L a n g d o n

“Honestly, I really enjoyed it,” says his partner, Caskey, 25. “We were in some mountains that probably very few humans have ever been in. This one peak was more or less inaccessible unless you wanted to climb some cliffs. It was pretty neat to think that you might be the only people who have ever been there.” “And we did destroy last year’s time,” Leach adds. This gig is tough, but it beats other jobs he’s had, like crunching data in a lab or “watching plants grow.” As a proudly proclaimed “dirtbag biologist,” Leach hasn’t worked a job longer than seven months since he graduated college. Unemployment is frequent, and competition is stiff. “You have to apply to 50, 60, 70 jobs, because you’re going to get a call back from maybe two,” says James Miller, 25. As a result, instead of having a narrow specialty, field biologists tend to move all around the country, or the globe, working on a wide range of projects. Dave Ellis, 27, has worked in South Africa, Central America and Peru, and Corrine Michaud, 28, is a lepidopterist with two master’s degrees, but this is their first time in the American West. They were welcomed to February in the desert by thunderstorms, hail, snow and a windstorm in a fire-ravaged transect that blackened them with soot “like firefighters.” Not that they mind too much. Ellis, who grew up in a tough-luck Philadelphia suburb, got to fulfill his boyhood dream of spotting a Gila monster in the wild. “I’ll never forget the look on his face,” Dutcher recalls. “He smiled from here to here and here to here,” she says, touching her chin, nose and ears. (They beg Ellis to flash his Gilasmile again, but he just reddens a little over a tight grin. “Can’t be replicated,” he says.) Attracting experienced researchers like these who can be counted on to bring home sound data is critical to any study. “You can’t describe the status of a species by waving your arms in the air,” says Linda Allison, Desert Tortoise Monitoring Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who oversees the operation. “So much conservation work would not even get through the planning phase without nuts and bolts information about where the tortoises are and what types of places they live in.” Allison says they try to recruit researchers who take pleasure in the tough conditions (“it is very hard work, otherwise”) and strive to keep them motivated throughout what can be a grueling season. “They need to feel confident that they can work in any situation and that the difficult work they do matters,” she says. “It sounds abstract, but becomes very real if field personnel give up on a project.”

Clockwise from left: A searcher travels a transect; Sleepy the tortoise; the Knight Viper team readies camp.

heads for a fresh transect tomorrow. They spend five days a week in the desert and hike a transect every day. On their off days, they do laundry, maybe hit a buffet, and often manage to squeeze in some climbing or bouldering or even hiking, these curious fauna. Exhausted, I beg off and head for civilization. It isn’t long until downtown comes into view. In under an hour I have journeyed from nature untouched by humanity back to what is, in a sense, humanity untouched by nature.

Where refrigerators go to die


The battle against it is all but given up. The most the researchers can do is take photos at every waypoint. “Bromus wasn’t (at this site) two years ago,” Dutcher says. “If in a couple of years this is all grassland, they’ll be able to document the change.” For a couple hundred meters I attempt to scan for tortoises, moving my gaze like a lazy scythe. The study assumes researchers will find every tortoise at their feet and a diminishing percentage at distances farther off the line, so it’s crucial on these long, hot, rugged treks that the teams keep up a constant search for reptiles that look just like rocks and often move like them, too. It’s surprisingly fatiguing, and a good way to test the toe of your

boot against sharp rocks. The hardest part is to just keep at it, like a zen discipline. We walk an unseen mandala through the Mojave. Mostly, I linger behind and take pictures of pretty flowers and the stately husks of yucca I give names to (names like “Mojave Cockatiel” and “Rat King”). Dutcher spots an orangetinged horned lizard. Her partner, Miller, points out a pack rat’s nest built in the side of a gully like a scale-model cliff dwelling. Other teams cross a coachwhip snake, even a den of coyote pups playing. My find is a few popped balloons, stamped “Verizon.” We do not find tortoises. We hump it back to the trucks, back out the same five kilometers over the same ridge after the eight-hour hike. Dutcher’s crew

On the way out, the researchers talked about how draining it can be to work for days without spotting a tortoise. Even though they, and not the Gopherus agassizii, were my quarry, I’ve got a taste for how they feel. I’m sunburned, sore, and gimpy — and I want a look at one of these buggers. To cheat a little, I link up a week later with Brent Sparks, who monitors a separate tortoise population that was relocated away from a water line to the eastern fringe of Henderson. He keeps tabs on them via telemetry, tracking them by their radio transmitters, so we know just where to find them. We roll up to what ain’t the prettiest part of town, desert-wise. It seems to be a popular dumping ground/shooting range. “This is where refrigerators, microwaves, and computer monitors come to die,” Sparks says. We tiptoe through what looks like a dystopian battlefield of spent shells and

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Next leg of the journey I finally catch up to Dutcher again late one night after she’s returned from a trek, recreational this time, to the hot springs. The season is over. They each hiked 500 kilometers in eight weeks. Laterally, anyway — vertical distance doesn’t count. The


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"It's shocking to me sometimes that I got paid to walk around a forest and look for something amazing," says Kirsten Dutcher.

“Knight Viper” truck spotted 57 torts in all. It’s not for them to say if that’s good or not; it will take months to sift the data and years to interpret it. “(We’re looking for) gradual change, which is about what a tortoise does — change gradually,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Allison. Some indicators do suggest, though, that the population — estimated around 100,000 in the monitored area — remains in decline. Over in the Rosewood Apartments, nearly two dozen young scientists are clearing out of the three apartments they’d been crammed into for months and begin to scatter to new projects across the country. Dutcher doesn’t live in the Rosewood Apartments, not anymore. And she’s not leaving this time. She’s decided to stay in Vegas, an ideal habitat for a herpetologist, and just took out a mortgage on a rancher near Paradise Park. Granted, she still has a half-dozen biologists bivouacking in her living room and plans to spend time each year on projects elsewhere, but a permanent address is a big step for someone who has worked more than 30 jobs on three continents over the last decade. “I got tired of living out of my truck,” she explains. “Last summer in California I caught myself dreaming about a couch. This is the first sofa I’ve had since college.” Setting roots isn’t easy in this line of work,

K I r s t e n D u Tch e r : J o s e ph L a n g d o n

broken glass. Sparks points out what was, until recently, “Osama’s fridge.” “They put Bin Laden’s face on it and shot it up pretty good,” he says. The low hills, though, are clean, and the tortoise population seems to be adapting well to the rugged terrain — a promising sign for tortoises threatened by development. Sparks, 37, has been observing them for three years, a rare long-term gig for a field guy. A West Virginian, he did a lot of work with bats back east before moving to Vegas. “I really like bat work,” he says. “Of course, you got to work nights. You don’t really have a normal social life when you’re working with bats.” He hopes to stay on in the Mojave when his project ends this year. I track a tortoise with an antenna that looks like a homemade lightning rod. Louder blips mean we’re on target. “Think of yourself as a radarguided missile,” Sparks says. “That’s all it is.” I get a lock on #132, a young male Sparks calls “Sleepy.” After this long, Sparks identifies them by their habits — like “Dr. Evil,” who seems to delight in forcing his trackers along steep precipices, or “Mama,” whom he has caught more than once in flagrante delicto. On this afternoon Sleepy betrays his moniker and emerges from his burrow to investigate us. He looks like a gentle creature, wizened, as if each specimen somehow bears the collective weight of the species’ paleogenic age. But Sleepy is a young buck, somewhere in his teens. With a full life, he could see the year 2075. The question is whether his habitat, this edge of living desert abutting the developed world, will last that long. Tortoise #132 turns around and, with striking ferocity, flings up clouds of dust and stone as he claws his way back underground.

especially when you have to explain your job history to loan officers. “That was hugely problematic,” Dutcher says. “They were like, you worked five places in 2010? Did you get fired?” Dutcher is accustomed to defending her work and resisting pressures that sound a lot like those faced by artists — pressures to find office work with benefits, to go back to school, to teach. And there’s always the temptation of what they call “biostitution” — contracting for developers. It can pay five times what they make in the field and does provide a valuable service (the 'dozers are coming, someone might as well move the snakes), but to some it feels like selling out. Surviving a life in the field requires toughness that goes beyond enduring back pain and a paltry bank account. It’s hard forming such intense relationships — some forged by working with a single person for months in isolation — that often pass with the seasons. And it’s hard living on the front lines of what can seem like a losing battle. Field work has been critical to landmark victories like the recovery of the bald eagle or the banning of DDT, “but the field researcher tells the same story over and over and over again,” Dutcher says. “You can ask someone what’s causing the decline of this or that species and they might word it differently, but the answer is always ultimately the same: We are.” So why does she do it? Why does anyone do it? The need to keep fighting, she says, in the face of it. And the desire to live as a part of the natural world in a way that few people do anymore. And a sense of enlightenment. Some things are more valuable than a 401k. And then, of course, there’s the simple joy of a girl who loved to play in the dirt. “It’s shocking to me sometimes that I got paid to walk around a forest and look for something amazing,” she says. “Or that I got paid to catch frogs all day. To be able to say, that’s what I did today: I walked through a marsh and caught frogs.” Dutcher reclines on her new used couch and sings a few lines of “I Don’t Mind,” a song by a band called the Tabasco Donkeys, kind of a field workers’ anthem: I wouldn’t want to be an old man Sittin’ in an office building someplace far away With worry on my face. Well you can take my car, my stereo, my little money, Leave me with nothin’ but my trail family. Take my dress-up clothes, my cheap cologne, my college loans. I don’t mind. I don’t mind.

In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran

Mark Bangerter Joshua Been Arlene Braithwaite Doug Braithwaite Royden Card Michelle Chrisman John Cogan Bets Cole Bill Cramer Cody DeLong Dennis Farris George Handrahan Brad Holt William Scott Jennings Michael Chesley Johnson Donal Jolley Roland Lee

Plein Air Artist Invitational at Zion National Park

September 20 to November 27

Participating artists exhibition at the Zion Human History Museum

Gloria Miller Allen David Nakabayashi Peter Nisbet Sheila Savannah

October 31 to November 3

Kathleen Strukoff

Watch artists paint from Thomas Moran’s 1873 sketchbook locations

Anne Weiler-Brown

November 4

Seth Winegar

Quick Draw and Auction

November 5 to November 6

Public Wet Paint Sale at the Zion Nature Center

Workshops, demonstrations, and lectures all week. Event proceeds will benefit the Zion National Park Foundation, the Zion Human History Museum, and support art education in Zion National Park. For information, call 800.635.3959 or visit

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


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



Stories about women coping with loss? Don’t reach for the Kleenex yet. Laura van den Berg’s debut collection, “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us,” addresses her subject with exotic settings and quirky situations. Think women paid to dress up as Bigfoot and chase tourists around. Van den Berg reads 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at UNLV’s Greenspun Auditorium. Info:


Hark and forsooth, knaveface. Get thee to the wenchtacular Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival for a day of jousting and dragon meat. The Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival happens Oct. 7-9 at Silver Bowl Park. Tickets $5-$25. Info:

Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival

3 Lauren van den Berg

Remember storytime? Your eerily placid second-grade teacher reading some fantastic tale as you fought off sleep? Storytelling bash “The Tell” is nothing like that. It’s storytime run through a blender, dosed with alcohol, laughter and, of course, live stories that range from hilarious to heartbreaking. This installment features Review-Journal columnist Norm Clark and Lauren Weedman of “The Daily Show,” among others. This free event happens 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at Artifice Bar, 1025 S. First St. Info: 489-6339



Hey, why aren’t there Marie Antoinette-branded snack cakes called “Let ’Ems”? Trademark! Spongy desserts and aloof royalty are the thematic fuel behind “Let Them Eat Cake,” featuring artists’ takes on the dessert that is like bread on prom night. The opening reception is 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum; the exhibit runs through Dec. 12. Info: www.barrickmuseum. 54 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

Lorraine Leslie’s “Red Velvet Revolution”

It’s a cliché to say video games cause violence but, uh, shooting virtual zombies point blank with a Howitzer for nine hours straight can’t exactly be good for your brain. “Neighborhood III: Requisition of Doom” explores the phenom in darkly satirical fashion Oct. 21-Nov. 6 at Las Vegas Little Theater. Info: www.

ART Important Conversations in Midwestern Brown Through Oct. 2. Darren Johnson fuses realist figurative images with cartoon speech bubbles in his series of oil paintings. His work depicts people’s desperation to communicate with others in order to relieve our own feelings of alienation and emptiness. Windmill Library

First Friday Oct. 7, 6 p.m. Downtown street festival features gallery showings, local musical performances, craft booths and food vendors. Free.

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Free Admission Day Oct. 8, 10 a.m. -7 p.m. In honor of Smithsonian Magazine’s Annual Museum Day, BGFA will give the public a free chance to see “A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney,” a display of landscape artwork through the ages. Free. Bellagio. Download your complimentary ticket online at

see what all the buzz is about Meet the Desert Companion staff — and fellow readers — over complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy custom Davalos Tequila cocktails as we celebrate our October Drink Up! issue. Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant Thursday October 6, 2011 5:00 pm-7:00 pm Please RSVP by October 4, 2011 by visiting

Lolita Develay: Window Shopping Through Oct. 14 Develay’s paintings take readers window shopping through the luxury of the Strip. The art examines consumer culture through the incorporation of futuristic mannequins drenched in high fashion, using vibrant color and an almost otherworldly sensibility. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery

Zak Ostrowski: New Work Through Oct. 14. Using both traditional techniques and modern technology, Zak Ostrowski’s sculptures are created from metal, wood and concrete. Ostrowski shapes human forms in a mix of media to achieve his signature style. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery

Let Them Eat Cake Oct. 16-Dec. 12, opening reception Oct. 16, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Feast your eyes on some sweet artwork. Let Them Eat Cake is a collection of local artists’ work inspired by all things cake — and Marie Antoinette’s beheading. UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum

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Figurative Works in Raku Through Oct. 23. Ceramic artist Shari Bray showcases works in Raku that feature line-drawn figures and hands into the clay, similar to Japanese woodblock prints. Raku typically gives ceramic art a shiny glaze; Bray uses the process to create surprisingly painterly effects. Enterprise Library

Beneath the Surface: New work by Linda Alterwitz Through Oct. 22. Linda Alterwitz aims to capture the realm of light and shadow in an eerily abstract expression. Images of external landscapes such as hills and valleys can also be viewed as internal landscapes of flesh and bone. UNLV’s Donna Beam Gallery

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Through Oct. 27. Participating artists Chieko Amadon, Dawn Anderson, Montana Black, Bert Hornbeck, Marty Kreloff, Clare Little, Scott VanderMolen and Mary Warner showcase both comical and serious images of pets in a variety of media. Bridge Gallery, 400 Stewart Ave., 229-1012

The Pano Project Through Oct. 27. In this most recent set of panoramic photographs, Angela Bellamy explores the diverse spaces that constitute Las Vegas’ urban landscape and the people who inhabit them, creating striking panoramic images. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St.

Art Coming to Life Through Nov. 5. View the art of Nja Onê as she captures the world’s cultures in her works. West Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 West Lake Mead Blvd. 229-4800.

Works by Erik Beehn Through Nov. 14. Reception, Sept. 8, 6 p.m. 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 in his photorealistic illustrations of urban interiors and exteriors. CENTERpiece Gallery

Recent Works by Laraine Kaiser Through Nov. 8 Laraine 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

10 x 10 Oct. 24-Dec. 2. Visual artists and writers whose work is influenced or 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 to 8 p.m. Free. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery

DANCE Glass Works Oct. 21, 8 p.m.; Oct. 22, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. UNLV’s dance department pays tribute to 100 years of Tiffany Glass creations in the form of uniquely choreographed dance pieces. $10-$18. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre

City Moves Dance Concert Oct. 22-23, 1 p.m. Performers from the Strip and elsewhere join creative forces and take to the stage to benefit the

CSN Performing Arts Center. Codirected by Courtney Combs and Heather Sirois-Arnold, cast members of Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular, this show benefits Family Promise, which helps homeless families. $15-$20. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, 651-5483, csn. edu/pac

Nevada Ballet Theatre Season Premiere Oct. 29, 2 p.m.; Oct. 30, 8 p.m. Kicking off its fall season with work from Jiri Kylian, George Balanchine and NBT’s own James Canfield, Nevada Ballet Theatre’s fall show will feature a range of dance styles. $29. Paris Theâtré in Paris Las Vegas,


Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre Fall Series 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,

Complexions 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. $35-$75. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall


Halloween Dance with the Jerry Tiffe Band Oct. 29, 7 p.m. Adults are invited to bust a move to the “Monster Mash” at the annual Halloween-themed dance. Halloween costume attire is encouraged. $10-$15. Charleston Heights Arts Center Ballroom, 800 S. Brush St., 229-6383 or

Girls & Boys Rites of Passage Mentoring Workshops (ages 10-16) Oct. 1-Dec. 10. Boys and girls will travel a 10-week journey toward the path of adulthood. Advanced registration required. $30. West Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd.,



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“Lord of the Rings in Concert”

One score to rule them all Film composers are used to hearing their offspring abused. Sometimes hours of music is commissioned for a single film, only to be obscured by dialogue, buried under sound effects, bumped out of place or simply left on the cutting-room floor. Most times, there won’t even be a soundtrack album. But if you’re Academy Awardwinner Howard Shore and wrote the mammoth scores for Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, your music will be front and center at the Orleans Arena Oct. 14. Under the baton of Ludwig Wicki, the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Boys Choir and Pacific Chorale, The Fellowship of the Ring’s orchestral tapestry will purl forth from the stage. In a turnabout that ought to please any much-bruised Hollywood tunesmith, the movie will now accompany the score. Footage from Jackson’s film will be projected in 1080p HD format onto a 60-foot screen. Like the epic movie endeavor itself, “LOTR in Concert” requires patience: The live-performance version of Shore’s Two Towers score tours next year, followed by Return of the King in 2013. “The Lord of the Rings In Concert” is 8 p.m. Oct. 14 at Orleans Arena. Tickets $35-$125. Info: 284-777 or — David McKee 58 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1


Art in the Park Oct. 1-2, Art in the Park is one of the largest outdoor juried art festivals in the Southwest and is the largest fundraiser for the Boulder City Hospital Foundation, benefiting Boulder City Hospital. Jennifer Main has been named featured artist for the Boulder City Hospital Foundations 49th art event. Free. Wilbur, Bicentennial and Escalante Parks, 401 California Ave., Boulder City,

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Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival Oct. 7- 9, 2011, 10 a.m. For the 18th year, a medieval kingdom will unveil itself at a new location, Silver Bowl Park, with lavishly costumed knights, knaves, fine ladies and wenches. Food, crafts and art will also be available. $5-$25. Silver Bowl Park, 6800 E. Russell Road,

Fall Beer Festival Oct. 14, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. and Oct. 15, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. This two-day beer festival kicks off with the All American Craft Beer Tasting, where attendees can sample more than 120 craft beers. Tickets $50. The second day is a free admission Oktoberfest pool party where 200 different international and domestic beers are available for purchase. The Golden Nugget Hotel, 386-8100,

Green Girl Music & Arts Festival                                   Oct. 14-16 Promoting the empowerment of women and going green, this festival seeks to raise environmental awareness while featuring local and touring musicians, artists, dancers and poets. Various Venues.

Haunted Harvest Oct. 14-16, 21-23, 28-31, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Bring the little monsters out for a night of family-friendly entertainment and trick-or-treating. The Springs Preserve will be decorated with a scarecrow display and lined with food concessions and game booths. $5-$8, Springs Preserve

Coastwest Unrest Oct. 14, 7 p.m. As part of the Young Originals concert series, Coastwest Unrest

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 59

performs Americana-tinged folk rock songs that address the West and life in Las Vegas. $10. Winchester Cultural Center

Scarecrow Festival VIP Scarecrow Kick-off, Oct. 21, 6 p.m.-

9 p.m.; Scarecrow Festival Oct. 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $5-$10 Wind your way through a spectacular hay maze peppered with unique scarecrows, decorated by community businesses, youth groups and individuals. Have fun while you help Communities In Schools of

The harp of the matter As though playing the harp isn’t tricky enough. Chris Caswell, an American Celtic Bard, is not only a harpist, but he also plays the Scottish bagpipes, Irish flute, tinwhistle and bodhran (Irish frame drum). On top of that, when Caswell isn’t making music, he makes things that make music, crafting traditional harps. Hear his homegrown Celtic harp music at a free concert noon Oct. 21 at the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse Jury Assembly Room. Info: 229-3515 or — Alexia Gyorody

Nevada raise funds to empower students to stay in school and achieve in life. VIP event, $75-$150; festival $5-$10. All American Sports Park, 121 E. Sunset Road, 595-4985

Southern Nevada Musical Arts Singers Oct. 22, 2 p.m. The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Singers perform Ariel Ramirez’ Misa Criolla and Byung Hee Oh’s Horn Mass and songs by Lerner and Loewe. This globe-spanning music mix will cover Argentinian sacred music, Korean jazz and classic Broadway. $10-$12. Winchester Cultural Center

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

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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 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, 229-3515,

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

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


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Transforming Artists Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m. This UNLV Forum Lecture Series features Moniro Ravanipour, an internationally acclaimed author, Margot Mink Colbert, a dancer and choreographer, and Roberta Sabbath, instructor in the UNLV English department. They will explore the theme of exile from their unique perspectives. Free. UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum Auditorium




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Theism and Atheism Oct. 13, 7 p.m. Reza Aslan will moderate a panel on theism and atheism with writers Sam Harris, author of “The End of Faith,” and Karen King, author of “Reading Judas: The Gospels of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity.” Free. UNLV’s Student Union Ballroom

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The Tell Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. Spoken-word artist Dayvid Figler and Heather Hyte host this storytelling session by local and national talent, with tales ranging from the humorous to the bizarre to the poignant. This installment features R-J columnist Norm Clark and Lauren Weedman of “The Daily Show.” Free. Artifice Bar, 1025 S. First St., 489-6339

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Reading with Laura van den Berg Oct. 20, 7 p.m. Critically acclaimed author Laura van den Berg will read from her collection of stories called “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us.” The collection of stories about women coping with loss and grief has been long-listed for The Story Prize and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award. UNLV’s Greenspun Hall Auditorium

Emerald Isle Escapade: A Literary Jaunt of Ireland Oct 26, 7:30 p.m. UNLV English professor Stephen Brown guides a virtual tour of well-known literary landmarks in Ireland. Using pictures, readings and stories, he will introduce you to James Joyce’s tower in Sandy Cove and Lady Gregor’s estate at Coole Park. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

researched realism. He delivers the opening 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, often called the Pablo Neruda of North America, will give a reading and discuss poetry and language. Free. Winchester Cultural Center,

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

ers 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

MUSIC Falla Guitar Trio Oct. 12, 8 p.m. This California-based trio is known for moving effortlessly from classical pieces to popular classics to jazz standards and beyond. $40. UNLV’s Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center,

Steely Dan Oct. 13, 9 p.m. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Steely Dan does it again. Watch them perform in concert at the Pearl inside the Palms. $75-$150. Palms, 944-3200

Max Brooks Nov. 3, 7 p.m. The acclaimed “Studs Terkel of zombie journalism” is author of “The Zombie Surival Guide” and “World War Z,” infusing his works with a sense of deeply

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Linda Wertheimer: Cooling the Partisan Fires Nov. 6, 1 p.m. NPR’s senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer deliv-

The English Beat Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m. One of the original purveyors of second-wave ska, The English Beat brought a touch of pop sophisti-

cation to the musical form. The band will perform its hits and more as part of their U.S. tour. $24-$28, House of Blues

Chris Caswell, an American Celtic Bard Oct. 21, 12-1 p.m. Watch American Celtic Bard Chris Caswell perform live Celtic harp music. Audience members are invited to brown bag it to this lunchtime concert. Free. Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse Jury Assembly Room, 2293515,

directed by Jeffrey Koep, dean of the College of Fine Arts. $25. Judy Bayley Theatre, 895-2787

Neighborhood III: Requisition of Doom October 21-Nov. 6. In a faceless suburb, teens play a violent video game that entails killing zombies, but things soon take a disturbing turn. $13-$15. Las Vegas Little Theater,

FUNDRAISERS The UNLV Foundation’s Annual Dinner Oct. 13, 5:30 p.m.-10 pm The UNLV Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary and acknowledges university supporters. This year, keynote speaker is political adviser and commentator David Gergen. $150$5,000. Pinyon Ballroom, Aria Resort & Casino, 895-0999, http://foundation.unlv. edu/annualdinner2011

Poet Martín Espada reads 8 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Winchester Cultural Center

Pops I Concert Oct. 22, 8 p.m. A Tribute to Frank Sinatra and the Great American Songbook. This tribute features guest conductor Vincent Falcone and guest vocalist Bob Anderson. $34.25-$78. UNLV Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall, 895-2787 or

Serenades of Life – Doctors in Concert Oct. 22, 7 p.m. Doctors have secret lives, and this concert exposes a few talented physicians. Witness musical performances by local doctors and medical professionals. Henderson Pavilion 200 S. Green Valley Parkway, $30

Mardi Gras Mambo Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m. Listen to Michael Ray Tyler on trumpet, David Poe on clarinet Gary Queen on guitar, Bill Bailey on bass and Alfredo Alvarenga on drums as they perform authentic New Orleans jazz. $10-$12. Winchester Cultural Center

Tyler Williams Oct. 29, 2 p.m. Jazz bassist Tyler Williams celebrates the launch of his new CD “Hear Me Now” with Peter Erskine on drums and Dirk K on guitar. $15-$20. Clark County Library Theater

THEATER Charlotte’s Web Oct. 7, 8, 14,15, 7 p.m.; Oct. 9, 15, 16, 2 p.m. Rainbow Company Youth Theatre will be celebrating the classics and its 35th anniversary season by opening with the childhood favorite “Charlotte’s Web.” $3-$7. Charleston Heights Arts Center

A Streetcar Named Desire Oct. 7, 8, 13-15, 8 p.m.; Oct. 9, 16, 2 p.m. Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prizewinning play performed by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV and

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

Historic Fifth Street School 401 S. Fourth St., 2296469

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

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 63

last word

Welcome to NatureDome™ ConsumerCanyon



by dan kennedy




County Clerks, Judges, ex-lovers who accuse me of lacking vision or ambition, et al.: Kindly let the record show that I’m opposed to the approved plans for a development overlooking scenic Red Rock Canyon. No offense, but building 4,700 homes and a few business parks in the area overlooking Red Rock is the kind of minor league crap I could phone in all day long if I didn’t expect more of myself and that canyon. Allow me to present NatureDome™ from Canyon Consumer Concepts (I am owner). I’m willing to make your ordinary canyon into a NatureDome™ ConsumerCanyon® (super-structure). My canyon-based mall/solution will have 20 sides instead of the traditional foursided boxy layout. Its design will take a page from the canyon dwellings of ancient Pueblo people; that is to say, solid big-box retailers will anchor every corner of the dodecahedronic structure, while fistfuls of smaller merchants (fast food, wig/tanning shops, top-brand track suit discount outlets, knife stores, one of those places that sells executive massage chairs, several magic/costume shops, Sbarro, Booze Barn, etc.) will be speckled between the behemoth merchants in a manner that suggests an enchanted constellation of canyon dwellings. This layout will integrate my augmented ConsumeR-Plex® seamlessly with the “natural beauty” of the canyon in order to keep any hopeless sentimentalists from whining about me adding a MUCH-NEEDED massive retail presence in Red Rock Canyon, a canyon that currently offers consumers NO MALL whatsoever. Since I formed NatureDome® Canyon Consumer Concepts, Inc. about two months ago, there have been times when it feels like everyone is against me. Believe it or not, we still live in a country where people have certain prejudiced ideas about where malls are “allowed” and national parks and conservation areas are, sadly, still places where malls are banned. It seems consumer-based super-structures suffer the brunt of the intolerance that STILL EXISTS in this country. The point is, I see the story about this housing development going in and I think, Finally! Some forward-thinkers who

64 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

get me. And since you get me, Let’s Get Your Canyon Outfitted With One Of My Giant White Hot Clusters Of Twenty-Sided Consumer Solutions™. (I’m working on a better trademark phrase, but I’ve got 250 quality stationery pads with that one printed on them, so I have to go with it for a bit.). People will have questions about my proposal. Let me answer all three of them: 1.) Yes, I have a history of drug and drinking problems and I’m having money problems again. 2.) My MegaNature® National Consumption Park will pull out all the stops in order to compete with and surpass the natural grandeur of the surroundings. 3.) Yes, it will be a premiumquality gigantic 20-sided super-structure (or

a low-quality standard-size mall structure, depending on what level of funding I am able to secure). And finally, 4.) Yes, it will stand proudly in reply to the question that visitors to America’s national parks and conservation areas have been asking for ages: “If nature is such a perfect system, why does it fail to meet my premium shopping needs as a consumer?” My bankruptcy proceedings allow me to do business in Nevada, Dan Kennedy New York, NY Humorist Dan Kennedy is the author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad.


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Desert Companion - October 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada

Desert Companion - October 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada