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Let’s take it outside — in our sports, leisure and outdoors issue

2 | Desert

Would it be too grand a flourish to wave my hand over the year ahead and declare 2012 The Year of the Museum in Nevada? I don’t want to jinx anything, but it says something when we’ve got to crack open a fresh box of bullet points to cover cultural news. Consider: • The openings of the Mob Museum in February and the Neon Museum this summer will illuminate and celebrate two facets — one dark, one light — of Las Vegas history. That the Mob Museum itself will open in the renovated federal courthouse where the historic Kefauver Committee poked into organized crime is a bonus. • After getting major upgrades, the Nevada State Museum and the Atomic Testing Museum will hit their stride in 2012. The Nevada State Museum, recently moved into its new home in the Springs Preserve, is walking and talking like a truly dynamic and forward-thinking museum, delivering open-mouthed “wow” moments to kids and adults alike (yes, I’m guilty of that). Also, the National Atomic Testing Museum recently added “national” to its moniker, thanks to an act of Congress — a name change that’s much more than cosmetic. It’s a profile boost that will attract attention, support and money, and may be the seed for the museum’s future greatness as the nation’s definitive site for telling the story of American nuclear weapons testing. See page 11 for more on this. • Other museum developments are worth note. The Lied Children’s Dis-

Companion | February 2012

covery Museum opens in November as the Discovery Children’s Museum in Symphony Park, part of a new hunk of cultural circuitry downtown. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Discovery renderings, but they’ll have a climbable interactive learning mountain inside the place. (I can only hope it’s also made of candy.) Also, the Hispanic Museum recently opened at its new home in the Boulevard Mall, highlighting the culture and contributions of Hispanics in Southern Nevada. And, finally, the Las Vegas Art Museum will reopen its doors, so to speak, as it moves to the UNLV campus (see page 11), where a partnership between LVAM and UNLV’s College of Fine Arts ensures the collection will serve both students and the broader community. Bonus: Many of these developments are happening in or near the city core, continuing the happy simmer of urban renaissance we’ve got going on. • But 2012 may mark another endeavor that will give Southern Nevada a serious boost: The creation of the Ice Age National Monument in the Upper Las Vegas Wash. It’s a 23,000-acre site that’s like an epoch-spanning cemetery filled with fossils of mammoths, massive bison, lions and — most awesome of all — giant sloths. And to think that local governments and developers were once drooling over this site, hoping to carve it up into subdivisions (Mammoth Heights? Sloth Estates?). Proponents of the plan hope

Sen. Harry Reid introduces a bill as early as this month to create the national monument. (The only potential dog in the manger: NV Energy, which remains stubbornly obsessed with building a renewable energy transmission line through the area.) The triumph of mammoth tusks over stucco tracts is a tidy metaphor for what should be our new economic model. We tried a ride on the growth machine. The engine blew up, and we’re still wiping soot from our faces. Whatever the new Southern Nevada looks like, let’s hope “cultural tourism” takes its rightful place in the story we tell the world — and the community we build at home. Andrew Kiraly Editor


GIVING HOPE BY RECYCLING OUR SOAP The Caesars Foundation has given $250,000 to help Clean the World recycling efforts to prevent unnecessary deaths from disease. The funds have gone to open a new soap recycling center that will process all western U.S. soap donations starting February 29. 4 color process

C A E S A R S E N T E R TA I N M E N T H E L P S C L E A N T H E W O R L D

• Recycle used soap and bottled amenities from hotel rooms • Distribute to impoverished peoples worldwide • Reduce contributions to landfills ®

The will do wonders® The Caesars Foundation and Caesars Entertainment are the largest funder ofto the

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® The will to do wonders®


contents desert companion magazine // desertcompanion.com

02.2012

DEPARTMENTS 11

All Things to All People The ol’ college try

20

Profile

Song is on the menu By Jarret Keene

22

Home

Fix it, don’t nix it By Heidi Kyser

27

Dining

The gospel of Todd By Brock Radke

57

Guide

From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture

Say “cheesecake” By Michael Green

Cover Story 35 The best

We pick the best in food, drink, arts, culture and more. And you get to chime in, too.

FEATURE 51 Knight shift

These people get medieval By John Hardin

4 | Desert

Companion | February 2012

B i k e a n d s to r e : C h r i s to p h e r s m i t h ; P o r t r a i t o f s c a C o u p l e : B i l l H u g h e s ; S h o r t R i b : S a b i n OR r

64

History lesson


THE

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OF THE ARTS.

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell

Savion Glover

Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott with The Assad Brothers

Lily Tomlin

MOMIX - Botanica

The Cleveland Orchestra

David Sedaris

Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

Straight No Chaser

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Pink Floyd Experience

Imagination Movers

Experience The Smith Center’s phenomenal first season for as little as $24 per ticket. From music and dance, to comedy and Broadway productions, there are 26 must-see shows to choose from. Visit TheSmithCenter.com to see the full lineup and purchase your tickets today.

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The Canadian Tenors

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Debuting , M arch 2 01 2

Golda’s Balcony

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Buddy Guy with Quinn Sullivan

Michael Feinstein The Sinatra Project


p u blishe D B y nevada p u blic radio

Mission Statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley.

Editorial & Art

Andrew Kiraly Editor CHRISTOPHER SMITH Art Director

Advertising

CHRISTINE KIELY Corporate Support Manager laura alcaraz National Account Manager Sharon Clifton Senior Account Executive allen grant Senior Account Executive elizabeth guernsey Account Executive Markus Van’t Hul Senior Account Executive

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Marketing

Catherine Kim Marketing Manager

Subscriptions

Chris Bitonti Subscription Manager

OnLine

Danielle Branton Web Administrator

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, Jim Begley, Cybele, James Canfield, Elisabeth Daniels, Carol Dickman, Alan Gegax, Michael Green, John Hardin, Jarret Keene, Danielle Kelly, Heidi Kyser, Al Mancini, David McKee, Carla Pellegrino, Alan Pesin, Max Plenke, Brock Radke, Randall Reynolds, Steve Sebelius, Mark Sedenquist, Ricci Slobodnik, Monica Vanyo, Xania V. Woodman

Contributing Artists

Bill Hughes, Aaron McKinney, Sabin Orr

To submit your organization’s event listings for the Desert Companion events guide, send complete information to guide@desertcompanion.com. Feedback and story ideas are always welcome, too.

Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856; andrew@desertcompanion.com Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813; christine@desertcompanion.com

Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; subscriptions@desertcompanion.com

website: www.desertcompanion.com 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 www.desertcompanion.com, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free of charge at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photographs, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

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

6 | Desert

Companion | February 2012


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Grow Your Investment

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Nevada Public Radio Board of Directors

Nevada Public Radio Community Advisory Board

Officers

Mark ricciardi, esq. Chairman Fisher & Phillips, LLP

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

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is today” – Asian Proverb

0 0 0 1 1

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

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Companion | February 2012

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Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil

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

Carolyn G. Goodman Meadows School

Kurtis Wade Johnson Absolute Auto Care

sherri gilligan MGM Resorts International

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Al Gibes Al Gibes Enterprises

Cynthia Alexander, Esq. Snell & Wilmer

KIRK V. CLAUSEN Wells Fargo

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Richard I. Dreitzer Fox Rothschild LLP

Marilyn Gubler The Las Vegas Archive

Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus

2 2 2 2 2

DENNIS COBB President, DCC Group

shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp

Louis Castle, Director Emeritus

A beautiful landscape transforms a home, not only in how it looks, but how it feels and the pleasure it brings. It grows in beauty and value with each passing year. Schilling Horticulture takes into account your tastes and desires, and soon you’ll be drawn to explore and enjoy your new garden.

David Cabral Business Finance Corporation

Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP

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

Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming TIM WONG Arcata Associates

Follow us online: www.facebook.com/desertcompanion www.twitter.com/DesertCompanion


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02.2012

NE W S

to all people

PEOP L E PO L ITI C S S H OP H U MOR

Community

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The ol’ college try If art can sleep, there’s a lot of it snoozing peacefully in the secure storage room at the former Las Vegas Art Museum space in the Sahara West Library. The museum has been in hibernation since it closed in February 2009 after chronically low membership and dwindling donations gradually shut the contemporary art space’s doors. Now the museum is waking up — and heading to UNLV. In partnership with the College of Fine Arts, the Las Vegas Art Museum will start sharing its collection on campus this spring. Where? Everywhere. The idea for the partnership originally developed between Nancy Strouse, executive director of the UNLV Foundation, and Patrick Duffy, president of the board of the Las Vegas Art Museum. “We saw a great opportunity in taking what otherwise would have been a dormant collection in storage forever and a day, and make it part of the university, both as an academic and visual benefit — not only for UNLV, but for the wider community,” says Duffy.

HEAR MORE

The Las Vegas Art Museum migrates to UNLV this year. This piece from the collection is by Tezh Moddaresh.

They added a new word to the Atomic Testing Museum. Now it’s the National Atomic Testing Museum. But that one word means a lot of changes for the museum dedicated to telling the story of American nuclear weapons testing. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid worked the national designation into the National Defense Authorization Act recently signed by President Obama. The museum’s Executive Director Alan Palmer knows the word is loaded. “People say, ‘Okay, what’s in a name?’ When it comes to national museum designation, there are only 37 right now that are national museums,”

You’ll start to see the fruition of the partnership in late May, when UNLV will put on a small preview show to hint at the art to come. And there’s a lot of it to come — about 200 pieces need to be accommodated. Where to put it all? That’s part of the job of Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery director Jerry Schefcik, who continued on pg. 12 will curate the pieces, whether that means plucking choice pieces for selective exhibits or tying them into ongoing shows at Donna Beam or Keep up with Desert the Barrick Museum. Companion events, news Schefcik hasn’t had a chance to see the and bonus features at entire LVAM collection in storage yet, but desertcompanion.com. when he does, he’ll have some talking to do — with the art. “I have an idea of what the work comprises, but it’s not the same as seeing everything in person,” he says. “When that happens, the pieces will talk to you. They have something to say. Whether individually or as a group, that’s what I’m looking forward to — that conversation.” — Andrew Kiraly

Author Ann Ronald discusses Nevada’s atomic age on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion.com/hearmore DesertCompanion.com | 11


he says. “It raises the bar. It means we’re not a local or regional museum anymore. Now we’re the nation’s story-keeper and storehouse for all things having to do with nuclear and weapons testing.” Hopefully that higher profile translates into more visitors and more donors. Kathleen Frantz, the museum’s development director, adds, “We expect that with the extra exposure, we’ll be asked to take care of artifacts that people have regarding the history of nuclear testing. And, of course, it opens the door for federal funding.” The museum could use money to grow — and eventually move from its current location on Flamingo Road. That’s why it’s got an eye on the Cultural Corridor downtown. The museum’s new national status has already drawn the attention of one possible patron: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, whom Palmer said met with museum officials in December to discuss finding a home downtown. Now that would be a mushroom cloud. — A.K.

ON THE TOWN New downtown gallery Multiplexer specializes in a medium you don’t see much in Las Vegas: video art. See page 63 for a preview.

12 | Desert

T H E ANS W ERS

Q: What’s the best crosstown shortcut from north to south?

a

A: In a town where construction is ubiquitous and seemingly planned by sociopathic scientists engaged in a rats/maze experiment, finding shortcuts is essential. Whether it’s darting through a neighborhood to avoid a long light, getting off a freeway at just the right time to avoid construction, or learning to drive at times other people don’t, if you live in Las Vegas, you need shortcuts.  The best? If you’ve got to travel south from downtown at rush hour and don’t want to use the crowded freeways, you’ve got to use Main Street. It’s a little rough from Bonanza Road through Charleston Boulevard, where you’re likely to hit a long light. But after that, it’s smooth sailing past furniture and autorepair shops all the way to the Stratosphere. If your destination is the Fashion Show Mall or any of the casinos on the west side of the Strip, turn right on Wyoming Street, then left on Industrial Road, and take that all the way to the mall. You can also hook up

with Frank Sinatra Drive, and from there visit any hotel from Caesars all the way down to Mandalay Bay. (You can take Frank Sinatra all the way to Russell Road to get to Town Square and hop on the I-215 Beltway from Las Vegas Boulevard, too.) If your destination is the Howard Hughes Center, the airport or points south, make the sweeping left onto St. Louis Avenue, which quickly bends right and becomes Paradise Road. From there, you’ve got access to the casinos on the east side of the Strip, and it’s a straight shot directly into McCarran International Airport and the I-215 Beltway. (Warning: During big conventions, watch out for slowdowns in front of the convention center around Desert Inn Road.) Of course, now that transportation authorities know about the Main Street/Paradise/Industrial shortcut, it will surely be closed for repaving. So use it quickly! — Steve Sebelius

Got a question? We’ve got the answer. Email it to editor@desertcompanion.com.

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

l a ndm a r k p h oto c o u r t e s y o f l a s v e g a s n e w s b u r e a u ; E a s t F r e m o n t s t r e e t: C h r i s to p h e r Sm i t h

continued from pg. 11

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PROFILE

“There’s something about knowing it was made just for you.” 14 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

Chris Avila

of Eagle Shoe Repair Chris Avila was a walking advertisement at the Latin Grammy Awards in November at Mandalay Bay — literally. He was sporting a pair of shoes he designed and made himself. He nicknamed them “Notorious.” “They’re metallic silver and gold snakeskin — real edgy, real rock ‘n’ roll. People saw them and they were just going nuts. Every time I get invited to a party or event, I just make up a quick sketch for a pair of shoes.” And then he makes them. Posh kicks like “Notorious” are just one of the perks of being a partner in Eagle Shoe Repair on West Charleston Boulevard. That’s where Avila also does everything from make and repair shoes to fix precious jewelry to nip and tuck prom dresses into perfect shape. He opened the business in the middle of 2010 — not exactly boom times. But it turned out to be good timing for a shop that encourages people to give a little TLC to their favorite things. “In this economy, it seems people are more likely to repair what they have rather than dispose of it and buy new. Even the younger generation, especially if it’s something that’s costly or has memories attached to it,” Avila says. But the repair life has its share of thrills, too. Avila tells the story of an actress who brought in her cocktail dress — or what was left of it, anyway. “The thing was just ripped apart into pieces,” Avila recalls. “She had partied a bit too hard and really messed it up. It was a pretty touchy process, but we brought it back to life.” That was a six-week job of reconstructing fragile beading and delicate chiffon. One way to get people to take care of their stuff: Get it custom-made in the first place. “There’s something about getting custom-made shoes that people love,” Avila says. “Part of it is getting to choose the color and the leather, but there’s something about knowing it was made just for you. When people get something custom-made, it’s like they’re ready for the next stage of life. After they get their first pair of custom shoes, they don’t go back. From then on, everything else they get has to be custom-made, too.” In other words, spare the landfill — and spoil yourself a little. — Andrew Kiraly PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER SMITH


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With a trifecta of boutique fashion, unique selection and prices that make a party girl giddy, Patty’s Closet is much more than a local success story — now it’s becoming a national success story. Patty’s Closet opened its first out-of-state franchise store in the fashionable Nob Hill area of Portland, Ore., last December, and is planning five more franchise locations in Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona and Michigan this year. Running the stores was becoming too much for Patty Barba and her husband Juan to tackle alone, and franchising seemed the next logical step in building what they hope will one day be a retail empire. Patty Barba is furnishing completely turnkey operations and designing each store, coordinating everything from furniture to signature paint colors and purchasing the initial inventory. But they’re not forgetting about Las Vegas: They also licensed a new franchise to open in Summerlin this spring and are opening an outlet in the Galleria Mall in Henderson later this month. Demand among would-be franchisees is so high, they’ve turned down more than a dozen local buyers, Barba says. (Patty and Juan still own and operate the blue Patty’s Closet on Cimarron Road.) And as though she’s not busy enough, Barba is also set to unveil an all-accessories store called Sparkles by Patty’s Closet. “I’m pretty excited that all I have to do is talk about a new venture to sell people on the idea,” she said. The new Sparkles concept continues the trademark limited-stock, rapidly-evolving selection in trendy, statement-making pieces ranging from $5 to about $200. Expect to find the same vibrant aesthetic that made Barba’s accessories so popular she dedicated a whole store to them. “I like to pick the big, funky, oversized stuff,” Barba says. “They sell out so quickly. They’re what everyone comes in and picks up.” For the self-made couple, the ease with which the four-year-old business is hitting its stride now seems unbelievable. “It was such a struggle to get our first store open,” Barba says. “And now people want to open one in almost every state in the country. It’s surreal.” — Maureen Adamo patty’s closet multiple locations, www.ilovepattyscloset.com

16 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

That line about the bridesmaid dress you can totally wear again? We all have the once-worn (and only once) stash to prove it’s a promise hardly ever kept. But two new bridal collections debut modern dresses with stylish yet timeless details that could save precious closet space from more fairy tale A-lines and pouf. Tadashi Shoji, champion of the special occasion dress, brought his new bridal line to his boutique in Forum Shops last month, offering a collection that incorporates spring trends — off-the-shoulder and one-shoulder necklines and lacy long sleeves — without losing the essential Shoji-ness that makes the gowns covetable, comfortable classics. The dresses are statuesque and sometimes startling in their simplicity. But Tadashi, who’s drawn inspiration for his spring collection of petal-shaped and colorful skirts from tulips, knows how to arrange a flower. The bride makes the dress and to stunning effect. Next month, Bebe launches an inaugural bridal line designed by “Project Runway” favorite Rami Kashou, runner-up in season four and contestant in the upcoming “Project Runway: All Stars.” Amid a deliberate effort at broadening the brand’s wearability with a quieter kind of sexy — rather than the live-out-loud, curve-hugging, shorty-short dresses it’s become known for — the collection will initially comprise 10 gowns made in silk taffeta, silk satin, charmeuse, georgette, organza and chiffon, as well as 10 bridesmaid dresses and matching accessories in handbags, jewelry and some rather pretty headwear. Bebe’s bridal collection, priced between $950 and $2500, will be available by appointment at flagship stores in Chicago, New York, and L.A. If you can’t make the trek to Rodeo Drive, the selection will also be sold online, with 60- to 90-day delivery. — M.A.

Pat t y ’ s C L o s e t: C h r i s to p h e r s m i t h

Here come the bride dresses


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A sweet dose of rural kitsch (and some ostriches, too)

Mouse’s Tank, in Valley of Fire, is a natural rainwater pool named after a Paiute Indian who would escape to this area after runins with the law. The eponymous tank, however, is simply the terminus of the real destination: Petroglyph Wash. You’ll be amazed to see plentiful and well-preserved petroglyphs adorning both sides of the sandy wash. This flat, half-mile hike is suitable for most anyone. Just be sure to get out there while the weather is still cool. — Alan Gegax

Running with the dogs The Dogtown Half Marathon

If you love Southern Utah’s Color Country, and you love panting and sweating, the bucolic town of Washington (outside St. George) has an event for you — and your dog. On Feb. 25, the town hosts its Dogtown Half Marathon (dogtownmarathon.com). Runners race their way from Coral Canyon Golf Course down to the banks of the Virgin River, finishing their hilly jaunt at Treasure Valley Park. For their trouble, and $45,

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

to 40 miles an hour. Allow a whole day for the full Arabian-Nights-meets-Coachella-Valley experience. Before returning to Las Vegas, consider a short side trip to the stucco dinosaurs on the north side of I-10 at Cabazon. At six stories, the T-Rex is twice as big as the real thing. Nearby, you can satisfy your newly acquired date habit at Hadley Fruit Orchards—but you’ll have to go back to Indio next year if you’ve got a thing for Scheherazade. — Mark Sedenquist (Cheat sheet: Exit I-15 at Jean. Take NV-161 to Sandy Valley Road. At Sky Ranch, go south on Kingston Road (there’s a stretch that’s unpaved). Keep heading south on Cima Road to Kelso, then take Kelbaker Road to Route 66, turning west on Amboy Road. At Twentynine Palms continue south through Joshua Tree National Park to Indio. Take I-10 west to Cabazon. The fastest route back to Las Vegas is through Victorville on I-15.)

entrants get a pair of running shorts and a commemorative dog tag. Trading on its “Dogtown” nickname, the St. George suburb also offers a “K9 - 9K,” where speedy cynophiles can scamper with their pups. They’re expecting 850 runners this year — with a healthy contingent of canines. While your eyes enjoy St. George, treat your stomach at Mongolian BBQ (250 N. Red Cliffs Dr., (435) 656-1880). Of course, be sure to bring a doggy bag. — A.G. The Dogtown Marathon

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The Indio Date Festival is like “Arabian Nights” meets Coachella. With camels.

M OUSE ’ S TA N K : Al a n G e g a x ; C a m e l s c o u r t e s y o f M a r k S e d e n q u i s t ; D o g to w n M a r at h o n c o u r t e s y o f Wa s h i n g to n C ITY

Mouse’s Tank

Rev up romance with a road trip to dateland. The Indio Date Festival — a combination of hometown county fair, “I Dream of Jeannie” kitsch, and food made out of dates — is the third weekend in February. The route invites a stay at the Twentynine Palms Inn, one of the most beguilingly nostalgic road trip hotels in the West. Heading south on I-15 from Las Vegas, turn west at Jean to Goodsprings and continue to the Sky Ranch Estates at Sandy Valley. This is one town where you don’t want to run a stop sign — the main street is also a runway. Note the hangar-style garages around town. Sky Ranch residents obviously grew tired of waiting for the flying car. Skirting the edge of Clark Mountain on the east, pass through the Cima Dome volcanic field and into California. The restored Kelso train depot serves as the Visitor Center for the Mojave National Preserve. Displays in the rooms upstairs offer insight into the area, and the retro diner serves sandwiches and snacks. Stop for a soda at Roy’s on historic Route 66 in Amboy before continuing toward Twentynine Palms. While many lodging options are available along this route, consider a stay at the Twentynine Palms Inn. It’s slightly off-putting from the outside, but don’t be fooled: The inn offers elegant privacy in a uniquely nostalgic setting. This makes it a “best kept secret” among Hollywood’s elite —so keep your eyes peeled around the pool. The Indio Date Festival, now in its 66th year, is also the Riverside County Fair. This means you’ll find all the standard sheep, pigs, carnival rides and hot dogs on sticks. What’s special are princesses in harem pants, camel races, date shakes, and humans riding on ostriches at speeds up


profile

The nightingale of Commercial Center

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She greets diners, serves food, cleans tables — and sings. Oh, how she sings By Jarret Keene | Photograph Bill Hughes

Soul food: Melque Rodrigues’ restaurant is known as much for her voice as for the cuisine.

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It’s a busy Monday afternoon at Namaste Indian Cuisine — the tables are packed, the buffet line is buzzing. But the diners also seem to be waiting for something, and it’s not dessert. They’re waiting for restaurant owner — also hostess, waitress and table-busser — Melque Rodrigues. She takes the tiny stage beneath a wall-mounted sitar in the corner, grabs a microphone and activates her MiniDisc player, triggering the opening chords of “Lisbon.” Rodrigues pours forth a beautiful Goan pop ballad about a woman who broods for her boyfriend to return from working in the Portuguese capital. She dreams of marrying him one day in Goa, of having a family, of him securing a decent job back home. But like all dreams, there is an intimation of fragility, unfeasibility. Rodrigues communicates all of this using her plaintive, lovely voice. Rodrigues’ own story is no less dramatic. She was born in 1976 in the West Indian state of Goa. The oldest of three daughters of successful bar owners, Rodrigues insists she never had a mind for business, only music. When she was 3, she sang English-language nursery rhymes for her grandmother, who predicted that one day Rodrigues would leave Goa for the U.S. and make it big. But first she needed to conquer her native state. There were challenges. The beautiful, diminutive Rodrigues was a high-spirited young girl who preferred to sing competitively rather than do homework. Still, she stayed in school, and by 10th grade began winning contests across Goa with her rendition of “All I Have to Do Is Dream” (made famous by the Everly Brothers). She continued competing in college, mastering all styles from jazz to pop to reggae. But even with a fantastic voice, she had no formal training. She knew she’d have to eventually make a big leap to make it as a pro singer. So she auditioned for and joined the most popular band in Goa, Muzik Mann, as lead singer.


“When I arrived here, music was happening everywhere, playing from every car and every corner, and I heard its call.” Under the tutelage of bandleader Brian “Bones” Monteiro, Rodrigues enjoyed tremendous success, becoming, she says, the highest paid vocalist in Goa. It wasn’t long before she earned the nickname “The Nightingale of Goa.” Indeed, the wall adjacent to Namaste’s host stand is wallpapered in West Indian newspaper articles praising Rodrigues’ talent. After a time, she even earned the mentorship of Goa’s most revered musician, Chris Perry. He was the first producer to cause her to reconsider every technical aspect of what she did as a vocalist. The training was invaluable; she was no longer a raw singer but a polished performer. Perry, who died in 2002, offered his own prediction as well. “He told me when he died I’d become a world-renowned singer,” she laughs. “I’m not quite there yet, but God willing I’ll have my chance one day.”

The voice of Vegas Her next transition would be even more

profound. After a stint singing in the packed nightclubs of then-booming Dubai, she saved enough money to move to Los Angeles in 2005. She managed a perfumery, worked at Macy’s and basically did whatever she could during the day so that she could go out and take in the nightlife. Still, opportunities seemed limited; besides, friends kept insisting she should try to sing cover tunes in Vegas casinos. After all, few can belt out Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” or Celine Dion’s “Because You Love Me” or Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” better than Rodrigues (save for the artists themselves, maybe). So she packed her belongings and transplanted herself a bit more eastward. In Vegas, her dreams felt tantalizingly closer, yet somehow further away. “When I arrived here, music was happening everywhere, playing from every car and every corner, and I heard its call,” says Rodrigues. “I knew I had the voice, the talent, but I lacked a manager and an agent. I couldn’t find a place to showcase myself.”

A devout Catholic (Goa was a Portuguese colony for centuries), Rodrigues would go straight from evening mass at Guardian Angel Cathedral on the Strip and walk into the hotel lounges — Riviera, Stardust, Sahara. Sitting in those smoky dens, she prayed to God for her own place to perform. The nightingale needed a roost. But in 2009, the economy continued to tank, lounges closed or were revamped and redesigned without live music in mind. The light at the end of the tunnel began to dim. “I felt I’d been dragged here for mysterious reasons,” she says. “I went through a lot getting to Vegas. Now I had to find a way to survive. But what could I do? I had no skills except for performing.”

Food for the soul Rather than get a gig in a casino, she used

what cash she’d saved during her music career to invest in an Indian restaurant in Commercial Center called Namaste. As Rodrigues tells it, complications led to her partners pulling out of the business, leaving Rodrigues to hold the veritable bag. But what a glorious bag. With the help of Chef David Dias, who makes some of the best butter chicken and garlic nan bread in town, Rodrigues, 35, has created a loyal following. Devoted diners show up frequently not just for the lunch buffet and dinner menu, but also the heartfelt music. “From the moment I met Melque and learned she was a single woman with her own business, I became a huge supporter,” says Gina Quaranto, herself a single mom and small-business owner who runs an art gallery downtown. “I love to conduct business lunches in her place and hear her sing her beautiful Goan ballads.” Back in L.A., Rodrigues had recorded an entire studio album’s worth of material written by her hero Chris Perry. “Americak Pauxi” (available for sale at Namaste) comprises 12 tracks of gorgeous pop sung in her native Konkani language. Most moving, perhaps, is “Muinem Vorsam,” a tune that laments the passing of time and how the bright light of day inevitably surrenders to darkness. There’s added metaphorical resonance to Rodrigues’ battle to stay in the limelight of her own restaurant. She has been diagnosed with macular degeneration. In other words, she is slowly going blind at a very young age. Still, Rodrigues remains undeterred in her faith and in her mission to be a top musician — and to make Namaste thrive. “God takes the prophet to a different land so he can find himself,” she says.

DesertCompanion.com | 21


HEAR MORE

How do we repair our school buildings on a budget? Hear a discussion on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore

home

You make me feel brand new

i

In this tough economy, when it’s broke, don’t nix it — fix it. Here’s where By heidi kyser | Photograph Christopher smith

If there’s one thing the recession taught us, it’s the evils of unbridled consumerism. With their wallets on diets, people have rediscovered the virtue of taking care of their possessions — remember when your Jimmy Choos did only one tour of duty? — and with it, the value of the good ol’ repair shop. After polling friends, fans and those in the know, here’s our decidedly unscientific list of the best.

Chimneys Vegas Valley Air Duct Cleaning Build-up of residue in the flue above your fireplace can get so thick that flash fires start inside the chimney — bad news to anybody warming his toes at the hearth. For a flat fee of $150, the modern-day Berts at Vegas Valley Air Duct will de-creosote your smokestack, making your fireplace safer and more efficient. 4045 S. Buffalo Drive, 480-2820, www.vegasairduct.com/chimney

Clothes Linh’s Fashion Alterations Same-day service, $6 hems and business hours until 7 p.m. six days a week are great, but nothing in the threads trade tops the endorsement of brides and bridesmaids, who widely agree that Linh Luu, co-owner of Linh’s alterations, is the best in the business. And wedding dresses aren’t even the specialty of her three seamstresses; that would be jeans. 1310 E. Silverado Ranch Blvd., 888-5464, www.linhalterations.com

Computers Guru Crew Guru Crew touts itself as the computer repair outfit that understands your financial limitations. Opened in 2009, during a low point in the recession, the company promises on its website that its rates are always less than $99 and “cheaper than Geek Squad.” All the crew’s services, which include things like data backup, network troubleshooting and virus removal, are available through house calls, and a diagnostic check is free. 8690 S. Maryland Parkway #130, 714-0010, www.gurucrewlv.com

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Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

Hats

Your broken smartphone is more than an expensive electronic brick. Get it fixed.

D Bar J Hat Company Don’t let the cowgirl on the website fool you: D Bar J Hat Company is a full-service hatter, with pros who hand-make custom lids on machines dating back to the 19th century. In the 30 years it’s been in business here, D Bar J has worked with art associations and theater


Inspiring children to achieve

troupes to create historically accurate period pieces and creative flights of fancy — so, we’re pretty sure they can handle the hole in your fedora. At press time, the company was in the middle of a move, but knock on the back door and they’ll be happy to help you out. 5965 Harrison Drive #10, 430-0681, www.dbarjhats.net

since

Home appliances At’Cher Service Taken-for-granted refrigerators and washing machines are vindicated during breakdowns, when modern-day humans curse a life before such luxuries. It’s no wonder the appliance repair man is the object of so much… um… “affection” in the “movies.” At’Cher Service fixes dishwashers, microwaves, ranges, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers until 8 p.m. in the evening — since Mom is more likely to be at work these days than impatiently awaiting the arrival of her hero. 3281 N. Decatur Blvd. #130, 505-8111, www.atcherservice.com

iPhones Desert Wireless Apple must loathe these guys. On its website, Desert Wireless draws a pointed “X” through “$200” (the typical minimum price to have an iPhone repaired at the mothership), trumpeting a fee of $40 instead. And then there’s the time. Cracked screens? 30 minutes. Glass or LCD replacement? 20 minutes. They even promise to turn your iPhone 4 into the lusted-after white model – or blue, clear, pink or red, if that’s more you. They work on other smart phones as well, including Blackberries, EVO, HTC, Motorola and Samsung, according to the site. 1500 E. Tropicana Ave. #226, 339-0992, www.iphonevegasrepair.com

Join us for an Open House! Saturday, February 4 Tuesday, February 7 Thursday, February 16

9 a.m.–Noon 9 a.m.–6 p.m. 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Open Enrollment has begun!

Scooters Vegas Motor Sports Vegas Motor Sports gets rave reviews from the scooter crowd, mainly because it’s hard to find a mechanic for your moped — the conventional wisdom being, “What? You can’t fix a two-stroke engine yourself?” Even if 49ccs is in your league, VMS is good to know for parts (including tires) and accessories. And when you’re ready to graduate to a real motorcycle, well, they have those too. 3867 S. Valley View Blvd. #1, 362-9294, www.vegasmotorsports.com

Shoes Eagle Shoe Repair Nostalgic types can often be heard bemoaning

Los Prados 839-1900 5150 N. Jones Boulevard

Summerlin 878-6418 9900 Isaac Newton Way

Green Valley 990-7300 1725 East Serene Avenue

Because You Know the Value of Education An independent private school offering preschool through eighth grade © 2012, Barbara B. Baker

ChallengerSchool.com DesertCompanion.com | 23


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Dining wisdom

Here’s where to fix it

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you broke it?

the gospel

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the lost art of the cobbler. No one in Las Vegas can measure up to their favorite guy at that little place in the Bronx! Chris Avila, owner of Eagle Shoe Repair, begs to differ. He says his two-year-old outfit has gained a reputation for having a soft touch with designer footwear. They don’t balk at custom-made, dance or orthopedic shoes, either, and — in the tradition of the trade — will also repair your wallet, luggage, belt and other leather accessories. 8221 Charleston Blvd. #104, 799-9592, eagleshoerepairlv.com

TVs Picture Perfect Repair Shop Picture Perfect Repair Shop’s customer relations may seem quaint to those born into the immediacy of digitaldom. It has no website, only three likes on its Facebook page and asks that you call in advance of visiting, in case the owner-operator is out on a house call. Still, customers say, Picture Perfect extends that old fashioned attitude to its prices and service, which encompasses just about any kind of TV — including big-screens — and comes with free estimates. 3297 N. Las Vegas Blvd., 644-1456

Upholstery Regal Upholstery & Drapery This family-owned operation boasts “the largest selection of fabric in Nevada!” on its website. Hmm … a bit difficult to fact-check. However, you can find out for yourself by calling them, since they’ll bring samples right to your doorstep. They’ll pick up and deliver some furniture for free, too, and how can you not love a company whose slogan is: “If your furniture is unbecoming to you, it should be coming to Regal”? Seriously. 4335 W. Charleston Road, 8702929, www.lasvegasupholsterydrapery.com

15

Vacuum

%

off

A-1 Vacuum and Sewing

any purchase of $30 or more

Chocolate Factory Store•Fashion Show Mall All Gates at McCarran International Airport•California Hotel *Expires February 20th, 2012. Limit one coupon per customer, per in-store visit only. Not valid for internet or call center purchases. Copies and facsimiles are not accepted. Coupon must be surrendered at time of purchase. A minimum purchase amount of $30 is required to receive 15% off purchase. Minimum purchase amount does not include tax or other charges, and is not valid for purchase of gift certificates. Not valid with any other offer, discount, promotion or previous purchases. Not valid for cash. See store for details.

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Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

Vacuum and sewing machine repair shops are not hard to find in Las Vegas, but what seems to matter most to the customers who use them is this: not getting a pitch to buy a new product when they take the old one in for a fix-up. That’s how A-1 gets props — well, that, and knowing how to repair every make and model under the sun. If your vacuum or sewing machine is still under warranty, there’s a pretty good chance A-1 is a qualified service tech for it, so make sure and ask. 4069 W. Charleston Blvd., 870-7986, www.a1vacuumsewing.com


Summerlin Presents

Home

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February 1st – 29th Come fall in love with our newest neighborhood, Andalusia, and enjoy a variety of

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2,986 - 3,864 sq. ft. Prices from the mid $300’s Visit all the neighborhoods in Summerlin West today to discover a community you can’t help falling in love with during our Home Is Where The Heart Is Event, all February long. For more information on grand opening events, builder incentives, and currently selling neighborhoods visit SummerlinGrandOpening.com

Lennar | Woodside Homes | William Lyon Homes | Pulte Homes | Toll Brothers | KB Homes


02.2012

News Reviews Interviews e at t h i s n o w ! O n t h e P l at e

28

The dish

Todd’s Unique Dining

31

At First Bite

Old Homestead Steakhouse

32

eat this now!

Our favorite recent dishes

PHOTOGRAPH BY SABIN ORR

Todd’s goat cheese wontons with raspberry-basil gastrique

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dining

TH e d i s h

Everybody knows your name How does Todd’s Unique Dining survive? With a few secrets. (Psst! They’re not secrets!)

l

By Brock Radke | Photography Sabin orr

Like any great and successful neighborhood restaurant, the crew at Todd’s Unique Dining in Henderson relies heavily on repeat customers. To keep them coming back, the emphasis is equal parts heavy on personalized service and pitch-perfect cuisine. Consistency is key, and Todd’s has achieved it: In its eighth year, the restaurant is still recognized as one of the great and successful neighborhood restaurants in the valley, and probably the best overall restaurant in Henderson. But there’s something else about this place. It’s not just the addictive goat cheese wontons with raspberry-basil gastrique, a perfect kickoff to any meal. In fact, it’s not anything that’s

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on the menu. It’s something that makes Todd’s truly unique, something that keeps things moving in a time when fine neighborhood dining is all but extinct. Terry Clore, known around the restaurant as “Mrs. Chef,” explains it best. “Our philosophy always has been to treat the customers how you expect to be treated when you dine out, and that doesn’t matter if you’re eating in a coffee shop or a fine dining restaurant. In our earlier days, my father — we call him Grumpy — would drag us, me and Todd, to the same restaurant in Huntington Beach. Always the same place, and the food, maybe it was mediocre. After one meal, we had to ask, ‘Grump, why do you always eat

here?’ And we realized: every time we’d walk in, it’s ‘Hello, Grump,’ and ‘Hello, Terry and Todd,’ and they had his favorite cocktail ready before he ordered it. Every time.”

Staying power From this story, we now understand that yes, first impressions are everything, and yes, consistently calling someone by name and remembering what they like goes a long way. But we also know, now, why the


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1880 E. Warm Springs Rd. # 110 Las Vegas, NV 89119-4679 • (702) 450-6300 Robert@NoggleLaw.com Clockwise from left: Chef Todd Clore has found success in a tough economy; the popular short ribs; Todd’s signature “Skirt Steak on Fire”

tasty iceberg wedge salad at Todd’s is called Grumpy’s Salad. Todd’s is nothing if not a family restaurant, and the chef in the kitchen and “Mrs. Chef” in the dining room are only the beginning. The staff, many of whom have stayed on longer than five years, are family, too, and so are you, regular diner. “It’s a big extended family, and we feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know everyone in our neighborhood,” Terry says. The neighborhood has changed a lot in recent years, even while Todd’s Unique Dining holds fast. It opened in May 2004, after Todd Clore decided to leave his 10-year post on the Strip at Bally’s Sterling Brunch and create something new in the city his young family called home. The location, on Sunset Road near Green Valley Parkway, was thriving then. It’s different now. “This was the heart of Green Valley,” Todd says. Then The District opened, pulling traffic towards Anthem. Things slowed down. The movie theater in the adjacent parking lot closed. Things slowed way down. “People we used to see three or four times a week, now they come once or twice. But a lot of people, they can’t go out to eat all the time, but they

DesertCompanion.com | 29


dining

say, ‘We want to spend all our special occasions and holidays with you.’ New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve ... Thanksgiving is crazy.”

Tried and true They keep coming back for the monthly wine dinners, when the house is packed and Chef Todd rolls out five brand new courses

his customers have never seen before. And they love the new food and say This has to be on the menu! And sometimes it does make the menu. They keep coming back for the dishes they love: those wontons, the huge portion of seared ahi tuna with wasabi potatoes and soy garlic butter, and that pile of perfect braised short ribs. “I have the best of both worlds,” Todd says. “I do have customers who swear they are going to order something different tonight, but

they just had to have the so-and-so, and that’s great, but the reactions at the wine dinners when they love something new, that’s really cool, too.” The menu at Todd’s Unique Dining will always change. It’s driven by the seasons, and by the chef, and by whatever he wants to cook. This is a guy who made 17 entrees every week on the Strip for a long time, so he’s always ready to bring something different. While he’s proud of the reputation his food has earned, he knows where the bread is buttered. Consistency doesn’t come from the kitchen alone. “We get crazy ideas sometimes, and the beauty of this business is we can try something and change it the next day if it doesn’t work. You try your best and hope for the best, but you concentrate on taking care of people,” he says. “My servers are so important because they have the one-on-one contact, more than I do. I can come out and visit, but I haven’t been taking care of you for the last hour and a half. A lot of our success is based on that.”

Todd’s Unique Dining 4350 E. Sunset Road 259-8633

M ay w e r e c o m m e n d …

Starting early is starting right on time. Early childhood education programs support children and their families so children can achieve their full potential. All children deserve access to accredited early childhood services, including social, emotional, mental health and developmental services that ensure children have access to basic necessities. The Nevada Early Childhood Advisory Council supports programs like Head Start and Early Head Start, which promote school readiness for economically disadvantaged children by providing educational, health, nutritional, social and other services. The majority of zero to 5-yearolds enrolled in those programs receive two-thirds of their nutritional daily needs directly from the program. To find a Head Start program near you, visit dhhs.nv.gov/HeadStart.htm. Facebook.com/NevadaEarlyChildhood Twitter.com/nevadaecac

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nevadaecac.com

Skirt Steak on Fire. To create this wild fusion dish — a favorite of both staff and customers — Chef Todd marinates an American Kobe beef skirt steak for four days in a sauce decked out with seven different chilies, grills it to a perfect medium rare, and plates this spicy, juicy steak with a pile of hand-cut french fries topped with cheese. Both meat and potatoes get finished with an Asian black bean chili. It sounds like a crazy combination, but the results are unforgettable. Short ribs. Tender, beefy, no-knifenecessary short ribs are a common sight at fine dining restaurants, but at Todd’s they are subjected to a three-day braising process for maximum flavor and melty texture, and teamed with jalapeño mashed potatoes and caramelized onion sauce. Chef tried to take this dish off the menu during a particularly hot summer, but it didn’t go over with the regulars. “I’ve never seen so much backlash,” he says. “Hey, if you want to heat braised beef when it’s 120 degrees outside, go for it.” — B.R.


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Old Homestead’s lollipop ribeye, sugarroasted beets and creamed spinach a t F IRST B ITE

Old Homestead Steakhouse

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At this iconic import, there’s no muss, no fuss — but lots of superb steak

By Brock Radke | Photograph Christopher smith You’ve got to love what they’re doing with food at Caesars Palace. The place has become a gold mine of iconic, imported, super-old dining destinations: the Forum Shops has Joe’s Stone Crab (of South Beach) and P.J. Clarke’s (of New York), and the casino has the great Rao’s from Harlem and now, replacing what was the perfectly decent Nero’s, comes Old Homestead. Did I use the term super-old? This steakhouse has been in the meatpacking district in Manhattan way before it was cool, since 1868. The Vegas version is compliments of Greg and Marc Sherry, brothers whose family has been operating Old Homestead from the very start. With such an impressive pedigree, it’s a given this place serves up prime beef in big, bold portions. The real question is how it can distinguish itself from the roughly 34 million other steakhouses on the Strip. After one visit, I sense a certain confidence emanating from Old Homestead, justified by fantastic flavors. There’s no energy spent toward reinvention. The focus is on the beef — give the people what they want — with strong side dishes of classic presentation and superb service. The signature steak is a velvety 16-ounce bone-in filet mignon ($58). Old Homestead steaks have the best outer-meat-char I’ve ever drooled over. They also do the ribeye lollipop-style, served on the massive “dinosaur bone” (32 ounces, $85). My pick is the New York Strip (18 ounces, $54), impeccably beefy and needing none of the four classic sauces available. There’s a little bit of seafood, and extensive if unsurprising appetizers and side starches rounding out the menu and, as you have read, the prices are high. Worth it? If you love beef, and appreciate an undiluted steakhouse experience, this might be your spot.

Old Homestead Steakhouse Inside Caesars Palace, 731-7560

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dining

eat this now! Our favorite recent dishes that have us coming back for seconds

Hoi Nam Chicken at Big Wong Eating at Big Wong, one of the newer holes-in-the-wall in our expansive Chinatown neighborhood, is like eating at the house of some longtime family friends — no frills, just simple, great food. Hoi Nam Chicken is the epitome of that vibe, a huge plate of tender, juicy, stewed chicken (complete with skin and other odd but delicious parts) served with a pile of white rice and soy and ginger-chili sauces for a dipping extravaganza. It’s an utterly satisfying, ridiculously cheap meal, following in our Chinatown traditions. — Brock Radke

Big Wong 5040 Spring Mountain Road, 368-6808

Lobster roll This newly opened quick-serve spot in the Miracle Mile Shops is looking to grow quickly, and they’ve picked the perfect menu item upon which to build a dynasty. Lobster ME’s lobster roll is a study in sweet and savory decadence, a butter-drenched and grilled bun loaded with fresh lobster salad and topped with the peerlessly sweet meat from three lobster claws. Sounds over the top, huh? It is. But somehow, we still want more. — B.R.

Lobster ME Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, 785-5555

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H oi N A M C H I C K E N and L obster R oll : C hristoher S mith

at Lobster ME


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table 34

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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:

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Welcome to Desert Companion’s second annual Best of the City. We daresay it’s even better than last year’s. Why? Fun and fresh new categories. Expert picks from movers and shakers in arts, culture and media. And shout-outs from readers just like you — engaged, enthusiastic and discriminating. Read on. Trust us. We know what’s best. And now you will too. DesertCompanion.com | 35


Reader’s Choice

Bar + Bistro's fish tacos with its signature cocktail, the Margorilla

Best hot dogs Gourmet burger joints are a dime a dozen. Yet hot dogs haven’t really received the same kind of attention, until now. Buldogis’ name is a play on words that combines the Korean term bulgogi (grilled meat) and the good old American “doggie,” or hot dog. But beef bulgogi is just one of the items you can pile on top of a beef, turkey or vegetarian wiener. The more than 30 toppings also include pork belly bacon, chili, fried eggs, pastrami, cheese, house-made kimchi, onions, jalapeño, sauerkraut and 15 types of ketchup, mustard and mayo. These dogs are massive and fattening — but oh so good! — Al Mancini 2291 S. Fort Apache Road #102, 570-7560, buldogis.com

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Best Alcohol/ Food Pairing Event Bar + Bistro While wine is the traditional beverage of choice for pairing dinners, many modern chefs love to build multi-course meals around all sorts of alcoholic beverages — often at special dinners for guests in the know. The best are the events at Bar + Bistro in The Arts Factory. About once a month, Chef Beni Velàzquez joins forces with one of his beverage suppliers and designs a special menu to match their products. Guests gather around large communal tables where the booze flows freely. A four-course meal generally costs less than $50 a person, with larger feasts running a bit more. — Al Mancini 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #155, 202-6060, barbistroaf.com

For finest service, the employees of our four Whole Foods Markets make the top of my list. Their policy of escorting a customer to help find an elusive item feels deliciously like an old-time throwback. Sold out of a sale item? Billy at the Charleston store got me the sale price when the item was restocked. Want to discuss gluten-free? Sara at Town Center gave me a valuable earful from her personal experience. And my well-chilled organic vodka? Purchased after a tasting at Whole Foods Town Center. — Carol Dickman

Best condiment Located just east of Spanish Trail, Elements has developed a loyal following thanks to the global cuisine of Chef Jose Luis Pawelek and their selection of nearly 400 martinis. But the chef ’s wife, Catherine, is also in the kitchen. She’s the pastry chef and the person who creates Elements’ mouth-watering house-made chutney. Mango is always the main ingredient, but she accents it with rotating seasonal berries and fruits. It’s free with the house bread if you’re dining or drinking in. Or take some to go for just $4 for a four-ounce serving. — A.M. 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100, 750-2991, elementskitchenandmartinibar.com

F i s h Ta c o s : c o u r t e s y ba r + b i s t r o

Food+Drink

Market


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Best gourmet junk food Best Food and Bar When Chef Sam DeMarco first began offering his gourmet junk food in New York’s East Village during the early ’90s, the place became the go-to after-work spot for The Big Apple’s top chefs. Today, he’s serving up many of those same dishes, and plenty of new ones at First Food and Bar inside The Palazzo. Barbecue pulled pork eggrolls, pastrami hot pockets and his monkey bread dessert (preferably drenched in some Maker’s Mark) will all make your mouth water. But don’t dare leave without trying the Philly cheesesteak dumplings: luscious little potstickers stuffed with a rich mix of steak and cheese, accompanied by spicy sriracha ketchup. Even South Philly purists will find them impossible to pass up. — A.M. Inside the Shoppes At The Palazzo, 607-3478, firstfoodandbar.com

F i r s t f o o d a n d B a r : C h r i s to p h e r S M i t h

Best restaurant in Al Mancini’s neighborhood Dalton Wilson was born in Jamaica and raised in New Mexico. Both influences share the spotlight at the restaurant that bears his initials, DW Bistro. The menu runs the gamut from New Mexican slowcooked pork topped with fried eggs to an amazing Jamaican chicken curry soup. And don’t miss the Jamaican spiced flautas. But the unique fare is only part of the reason this place is so popular with locals that it recently had to expand. The other is the friendly, inviting nature of Wilson and his partner Bryce Kaufman (who are almost always on site) as well as their tight-knit staff. After

one visit, you’ll feel like family, too. — A.M.

First Food and Bar's monkey bread

can get down here while wintery dishes like 48-hour braised beef belly in fig glaze are still on the ever-changing, seasondriven menu. — Brock Radke Inside Aria at CityCenter,

6115 S. Fort Apache Rd. #112,

877-230-2742,

527-5200, dwbistro.com

arialasvegas.com

Best restaurant splurge

Best food cart with wheels

Nothing can compare to the fine and fantastic French restaurants on the Strip, the houses of Robuchon, Savoy and Gagnaire. But when I’m ready to blow a paycheck on a single meal, I want freshness, comfort and serious edge with my highconcept cuisine. The food at Shawn McClain’s Sage is peerless, precise and imaginative, all served in a sexy space where you can customize your own experience. The intimidation factor is nil. Hopefully your special occasion is soon, so you

The second wave of Vegas food trucks has been decidedly nonburgerish, and one of the most active and tasty trucks making the rounds is Ben’s BBQ. There are slow-smoked standards, pulled pork and chicken, beef brisket and St. Louis-style ribs, but also bolts of creativity, like the smoked salmon BLT, well-spiced pastrami, beef barley soup laced with smoked turkey, and sausage-stuffed, baconwrapped jalapeños. Ben’s also has been making regular appearances at neighborhood hangouts for popup dinners, a delicious demonstra-

tion of the collaborative spirit that keeps food trucks rolling. — B.R. Various locations, (775) 450-4847, bensbbqandsmokehouse.com

Best food cart without wheels Don’t be afraid of that little box of a kitchen planted in front of legendary dive bar Dino’s on Las Vegas Boulevard. Even though it changed its name from the original “I Love Arepas,” trust me, you’ll love Viva Las Arepas: lovely little corn masa cakes stuffed with your choice of fillings, from shredded chicken to beef tongue to roasted pork. Squeeze on tangy avocado sauce to enhance these hearty flavors, or opt for empanadas. This is real Venezuelan street food, served in our most real part of town. — B.R. 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 366-9696, vivalasarepas.com

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Holsteins sliders

Carla Pellegrino Chef/owner, Bratalian and Bacio restaurants Best place for lunch: Spago at the Forum Shops — I love the Symphony Tuna. Best late-night snack: Holsteins at The Cosmopolitan for burgers or Pellegrino’s Pizza & Deli in the Tropicana (obviously for the pizza). Best breakfast spot: Cracked Egg. Great atmosphere, fresh food and fast service. Where I eat dinner when I’m not at Bacio or Bratalian: Atelier by Joel Robuchon. I love Chef Steve Benjamin and his foie gras-stuffed quail. Best local hangout: The Sanctuary at Town Square. The vibe reminds me of the lounges in South Beach. Best nightclub: Hard to pick one. TAO, RPM and now 1OAK — it was one of my favorite nightclubs in NYC, and I’m glad that longtime friends Ronnie Madra and Scott Sartiano brought it to Vegas.

It may seem simple, but fried rice is one of my favorite foods. I’m not talking about that flavorless side dish you ignore from Panda Chang’s or wherever you get your bad Chinese takeout. I’m talking perfectly tender grains, each lightly coated in oil, inextricably linked to the universe of flavors mixed in. Blue Ribbon has the winner right now, oxtail fried rice with rich beefiness, crisp daikon, shiitake mushrooms and a little bone marrow just for fun. The Cosmopolitan’s steady restaurant stable does it again with this one, a must-eat at a cool joint with much more than sushi. — B.R. Inside the Cosmopolitan, 736-0808, www.blueribbon-

Best Chinatown food crawl Rumor has it there’s a name change in store for this unassuming Chinatown strip mall. It might be re-dubbed “Tokyo Plaza,” just in case you didn’t know some of the best Japanese food anywhere is available in this tiny space. The world remains infatuated with Raku,

Bread & Butter Eastern Avenue has become Henderson’s ever-changing restaurant strip. Things are always opening, closing or shuffling around out here, but nothing is generating more buzz than Bread & Butter. Baker Chris Herrin’s goal was to become a neighborhood favorite from day one, and he quickly did just that by supplying his smiling customers with artisan breads and creative pastries (red velvet bagels, anyone?) and fresh, healthy sandwiches and salads. There’s a certain amount of affection that goes into building a great bakery, and Bread & Butter’s got a whole lotta love. — Brock Radke 10940 S. Eastern Ave. #107, 675-3300, www.breadandbutterlv.com

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

Chinatown, Spring Mountain Road at Hauck Street

Best non-Chinatown food crawl Even if the Trail of Tacos along East Lake Mead Boulevard is less a “crawl” and more

restaurants.com

Best New Bakery

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the artful Izakaya and Monta, ramen house supreme. Now just steps away there’s the intriguing Japanese-Italian restaurant Trattoria Nakamura-Ya, and the soulful and cheap pan-Asian cafe Big Wong. Locals and visitors continue to discover the multicultural treasures of Chinatown Vegas, an adventure made even easier when great stuff is packed into one stop. — B.R.

A selection of artisanal breads and pastries from Bread & Butter

S l i d e r s c o u r t e s y o f H o l s t e i n s ; Pa s t r i e s : C h r i s to p h e r S M i t h

Best fried rice


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of a “drive,” it’s worth it. The thoroughfare carves a swath through neighborhoods where some of the valley’s most authentic Mexican food is being served. Options are numerous; however, I suggest beginning with an order of tripa tacos “crunchy” with tortillas heche a mano at Taqueria El Palenque (2722 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 504-3216). Next up: Rubalcaba’s Taco Shop (5185 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 452-5832), where they’re serving California tacos — a mixture of beef and potatoes — from a very Roberto’s-esque locale. If you can, end at La Hacienda after 4 p.m. (5482 E. Lake Mead Blvd.), where on weekends you can order al pastor in the park-

Reader’s Choice

Knishes

I love the knishes at the Carnegie Delicatessen at the Mirage (791-7310). There are no clumps in the potatoes, and the thin, golden-brown crust is great. It’s huge and filling, but doesn’t sit in your stomach afterwards. It’s a knish unique to Carnegie Deli. And while you wait, you can snack on complimentary half-sour or super-sour pickles. — Alan Pesin

ing lot. There’s hardly a more authentic dining experience in town. — Jim Begley

Best Italian when you’re tired of Italian It doesn’t seem right to describe an Italian restaurant from the Maccioni family dynasty on the Las Vegas Strip as “overlooked,” but some-

how, some of these CityCenter eateries haven’t received the love they deserve. Sirio, in particular, is an invigorating experience. You could make a meal out of the incredible cured meats, Italian cheeses and vegetarian antipasti alone. We all love Italian food, but it doesn’t need to be heavy. Lighten up, come to Aria, and eat prosciutto-wrapped roasted rabbit, lobster ravioli and yellowtail tartare with avocado and asparagus. — B.R. Inside Aria, 877-230-2742, arialasvegas.com

Best steakhouse when you’re tired of steak Everybody’s got amazing aged beef these days, so how to choose between steakhouses? Go for the one with the wildest non-beef dishes. CUT is a beautiful, sleek room and Wolfgang Puck’s name is on the door, but check this stuff out: Bone marrow flan with mushroom marmalade. Mapleglazed pork belly with sesame orange dressing and plum compote. Veal tongue with artichokes and salsa verde. The challenge is to eat all this stuff and save room for some of the best beef on the Strip. You can do it. Don’t forget the parmesan polenta. — B.R. inside the Palazzo, 607-6300, wolfgangpuck.com

Best bar off the Strip The Freakin’ Frog has transcended its identity. You can’t limit the place by calling it our best college hangout bar, though it’s true. The intimate and accessible Whisky Attic, 600 bottles strong, is a rarity for any Vegas venue, especially off the Strip. But it all boils down to this: the Frog is the best place to drink beer, ever. Whatever’s on tap is infinitely more interesting compared to your neighborhood pub, and there are hundreds of different, exotic suds hiding in the cooler. Stuff you’ve never heard of. Stuff that’ll change your religion. Whatever you like, the Frog has it, and three other beers you’ll like more. — B.R. 4700 S. Maryland Parkway, 597-9702, www.freakinfrog.com

Best downtown food development Downtown resurgence shifts into hyperdrive this year, but the original Vegas neighborhood is still lacking in diverse, high-quality eats. Bar + Bistro at the Arts Factory is downtown’s most complete restaurant, having morphed into an innovative Latin-fusion tapas joint with a killer weekend brunch and plenty of Arts District attitude. With lively

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Reader’s Choice

Best Bar on the Strip Rí Rá Come St. Patrick’s Day, this beautifully appointed (if cookie cutter) Irish pub will celebrate its first anniversary in Vegas, chilling in between Mandalay Bay and Luxor. You can question its authenticity and the bartenders’ accents all you want, but you can’t dispute that Rí Rá is a damn fine place to have a whiskey and a Guinness, or several of both. Live music, multiple bars and dining areas, hearty food and a cozy yet rollicking atmosphere add up to the kind of casual fun everybody is looking for these days. — B.R. Inside Mandalay Place, 632-7771, www.rira.com

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food and drink like bite-sized “Cubanitos” sandwiches, pomegranate sangria, chimichurri steak Cobb salad, seafood paella crepes and a full vegan menu, Bar + Bistro and executive chef Beni Velàzquez are setting a new standard; it’ll be tough for new downtown venues to keep up this pace. — B.R. 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #155, 202-6060, barbistroaf.com

Best oldschool Vegas spot that’s still old-school Park at the Peppermill and you can’t help but look north and wonder what might have been, as the aging Riviera sits quietly in the shadow of Fon-

Italian One of my favorites: 3 Tomatoes & A Mozzarella  (www.3tomatoeslv. com) serves fresh, innovative Italian food that’s reasonably priced in a comfortable dining environment that accommodates friends in town or date night, and plenty of parking. — Elisabeth Daniels

tainebleau’s shiny blue corpse. New school meets old school on the North Strip? Not for now, but we’ll always have the Peppermill, with its big booths, cherry blossom trees and pink and blue neon. The food is straight-up coffee shop fare, as much a three-decade flashback as the classic surroundings. And ’70s swank-cheese lives on in the Fireside Lounge, where cocktail waitresses in long black gowns are slinging mudslides, mai tais and multicolored martinis 24-7. — B.R. 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 735-4177, peppermilllasvegas.com

Best hole-inthe-wall Spartan. Utilitarian. Nondescript. All these words can describe KoMex Fusion Express’ decor. Decorations are sparse, save for the ever-growing collection of framed print accolades on the eatery’s walls, and while clean, the renovated space resides in a strip mall that’s seen better days. Outstanding. That’s the only word needed to describe KoMex’s food, an unreal

R Í R Á : C h a s e s t e v e n s ; A n d r e w P o l l a r d : C h r i s to p h e r Sm i t h

Rí Rá: Authentic? Maybe. Fun? Definitely.


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amalgamation of Korean, Mexican and Chinese cuisine available nowhere else in the valley. Chef Sonny Yi’s bulgogi fried rice was my favorite new dish of 2011 and the weekly specials never cease to impress, although there are no wrong turns when navigating this menu. Like any good holein-the-wall, it’s food first at KoMex, where revolutionary dining is the only decor necessary. — J.B.

Mixologist Andrew Pollard shakes, stirs and excites.

633 N. Decatur Road, 646-1612 komexexpress.com

Best-kept dining secret (that shouldn’t be a secret) No secrets are better kept than those hidden in plain sight, although you have to look in the right places. Exhibit A: the daily soup selection on the Carlos’ Kitchen specials board. Good soups are hard to come by in the desert, but Chef Carlos Fernandez showcases a rotation of outstanding housemade varieties while tucked away in Charlie’s Saloon on Durango. His hearty renditions exhibit the textbook precision you’d expect from a former Le Cordon Bleu instructor. Creamy corn and cheesy potato are outstanding, but hope you stumble upon the beef barley. It’s one secret worth letting people in on. — J.B. 4420 S. Durango Drive, 579-0245, carloskitchen.com

Best restaurant closest to Jim Begley’s house Everyone says their neighborhood sushi joint is the best, but mine actually is. Granted, mine happens to be Sen of Japan,

Xania V. Woodman Vegas Seven senior editor of dining, beverage and nightlife Best second date: At one of Adam Carmer’s Flight Schools held in the Whisky Attic, where your date can see your adorably nerdy side through bourbon glasses. Best night out: Downtown Cocktail Room’s Mixology Mondays lets you enjoy four hand-crafted, original cocktails with all your newest cocktailian friends for just $20. Best mixologist: Ice cubes just try harder in the presence of the newest member of the Wirtz Beverage Nevada cocktail development team, Andrew Pollard. Best instant vacation: A plate of pork jerky and a bottle of cheap, cold, exotic suds at Le Thai downtown transports me to Portland, San Francisco, Boston … Best cocktail program: Wynn Resorts property mixologist Patricia Richards has figured out how to sync more than 20 bars with a level of consistency that yields the perfect cocktail every time, every shift — even when the hands aren’t hers.

but it’s true nonetheless. Headed by Strip-pedigreed alumni, Sen is widely considered the best off-Strip sushi in the Valley — I’d argue it bests even some of its Strip brethren at half the price. Spanish mackerel “two ways” is a revelation, while their house-smoked salmon — available only on the omakase menu at this time — is destined to achieve legendary status. I’m within walking distance to Sen. Don’t you wish

you lived by me? — J.B. 8480 W. Desert Inn #F1, 871-7781 senofjapan.com

Best vegan dish even carnivores will love Since I’m a hardcore carnivore, you generally won’t find me searching out vegan dishes — except for the trek I’ll make to the valley’s eastside for ful. The

Egyptian staple, consisting of fava beans, tahini, lime and olive oil, is served solely at Filfila. The dish is awash with garlic and is served alongside tomatoes and raw onion, so it’s guaranteed to wreak havoc on your breath. Just man up with some Orbit and enjoy an exciting exotic entrée worth eschewing animal products for — if only for a single meal. — J.B. Filfila Mediterranean Cafe, 4130 S. Sandhill Road, 434-3043

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Artist Andreana Donohue's work is whimsical, decorative and brainy.

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Arts+ Leisure

A N d r e a n a D o n a h u e : C h r i s to p h e r Sm i t h ; P O P U P A RT HOUSE : M a r c o s R i v e r a P h oto g r ap h y

Best emerging artist Andreana Donohue gives good art. Since closing Main Gallery in 2009, Donohue has quietly and diligently established herself as one of Las Vegas’ best and hardest-working artists. Donohue’s rigorous craftsmanship re-imagines the humblest of materials into humor-tinged snapshots of nature, sublime and struggling. Consider last winter’s intricately cut plain paper that transformed the Winchester Gallery into a billowing white wall of clouds. Or a recent contribution to the Government Center’s “10 x 10,” a spooky black tree straight from the pages of the Brothers Grimm. Donohue’s ambitious work is charmingly whimsical, a little bit decorative and a whole lot smart. — Danielle Kelly

Best hope for the art scene 2012 promises the opening of three brand new cultural institutions anchoring downtown Las Vegas: The Mob Museum, The Neon Museum (disclosure: I’m the chief operating officer), and The Smith Center. Apart from providing fabulous new destinations for local and visiting cultural tourists, the implications for the immediate area are huge. Folks will need something to do with their time in between

seeing all those Broadway shows and sawed-off shot-guns and neon signs, something other than penny slots. Let’s hope it’s more galleries and cafes, and maybe even a — gasp — bookstore. Downtown could blossom into an urban cultural oasis. My fingers are crossed. Now about that art museum ... — D.K.

Pop Up Art House's "Transfigured Lands" show

Best Art Gallery

Best director When the play “Hellcab” pulled into Las Vegas Little Theatre at the end of 2010, few suspected that its near-perfect staging marked the beginning of an exceptional run by director Troy Heard. This year, he demonstrated a temperament that encompassed postmodern drollery (“Thom Pain”), high camp (“Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium”), black farce (“That Atrocious Tradition,” presented as part of the first-ever “Fearophilia” festival) and capped these achievements with a blood-curdling, immersive staging of Jennifer Haley’s cyber-horror drama, “Neighborhood III: Requisition

Pop Up Art House What isn’t there to love about The Pop Up Art House? This grand white space with ample room for ambitious work of any scale is serious about bringing serious art to Las Vegas. Proudly plopped down smack dab in the middle of industrial Henderson, it is also accessible and completely down to earth. Open less than a year, PUAH and its owner/director Shannon McMackin have courageously exhibited work that is usually good, sometimes great, but always committed to expanding the local art dialogue with fresh perspectives and new ideas. PUAH is art food for the brain. — Danielle Kelly 730 W. Sunset Road, www.thepopuparthouse.com

Reader’s Choice

Poetry guru

I nominate A.J. Moyer as best poetry organizer. He organizes the slams that send a team representing Las Vegas to the National Poetry Slam. He books features for them that include a killer lineup of some of the best performance poets in the country. You can also catch him hosting Talky Trees, a free arts festival at the Arts Factory. The man has a passion for this art form that fuels his dedication to the Vegas scene. There wouldn’t be half as much going on for poets in this city without the guy. — Randall Reynolds

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Best bike shop McGhie's There may be more intimate places to get fitted for your next tri bike or talk table-tops with your mountain bike crew, but McGhie’s is the mecca of all things bike for all kinds of people, from beginners to beasts. “We don’t look down our noses at anybody,” says General Manager Shawn Tyrone. “We’re happy to put anybody on anything. We’re just happy there’s another cyclist in the community.” And speaking of that, McGhie’s uses its size and power for good, promoting cycle-friendly culture by holding in-store classes, leading weekly rides and sponsoring just about every bike-related event in town. Tyrone says what he values most is his staff, who are so knowledgeable that if the brick and mortar store disappeared today, God forbid, they’d have the business back up and running tomorrow. — Heidi Kyser

of Doom.” In his spare time, he crafted a “found footage” shocker out of Christopher Durang’s “The Book of Leviticus Show.” Except for a too-many-cooks “Tommy” at Green Valley Ranch, Heard’s productions are marked by fine detail, intense unanimity of purpose and an ability to get the best his actors have in them. Next up: a stage adaptation of “The Corpse Grinders” and LVLT’s summer tuner, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” Heard keeps proclaiming he’s on the verge of “retirement,” but don’t believe him for a minute. — David McKee

Best place to exchange books Thought Amber Unicorn went the way of its namesake? It did … temporarily. But it’s back, to the delight of valley biblio-

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philes, which co-owner Myrna Donato insists are abundant, despite dismal literacy rates’ suggestion otherwise. After a 10-year hiatus, Amber Unicorn Books reopened in 2008. “We thought we were going to retire, but I have this disease: I can’t pass up books for sale,” Donato says. She didn’t just need a place to unload inventory (currently estimated at around 150,000 titles); she says she also missed the customers. The store’s friendly attitude toward exchangers is one thing that sets it apart from many other used bookstores. Another is its outstanding collection of cookbooks, choice examples of which can now be bought at The Cosmopolitan hotel’s boutique Eatdrink. — H.K. 2101 S. Decatur #14, 648-9303, amberunicornbooks.com

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

Your ride starts here: McGhie's bike shop

Best album

parts “Lonely Boy” and “Bad to the Bone.” — Max Plenke

The Mad Caps’ self-titled album displays a grasp of hound-dogging rock-a-blues usually reserved for old cowboys and guys in scrap-metal Ford coupes. But from start to finish, the two twentysomethings execute throwback rock ‘n’ roll that sounds like Elvis Presley and George Thorogood having a fist fight with The Black Keys. Their only real crime might be an unintentional adhesion to the framework they establish early in the record with “Baby Man” and not diverting too far off its pot-holed path. But that’s only if you aren’t picking up what they’re laying down. For everyone else, this is a gritty, trendbucking record that’s equal

themadcaps.bandcamp.com

Best concert of 2011 Regardless of the uncontrollable bachelor battalions rampaging with drunken force through unsuspecting, easily bruised hipsters, Gregg Gillis (better known as mash-up master Girl Talk — and someone you need to add to your morning jog playlist) brought the most ravenously fun show to The Cosmopolitan’s pool stage early this year. As the mixes integrated corny ’90s throwbacks and dirty rap anthems (“Nothing compares to you / I was gettin’ some head”), the sweaty throngs danced like every other

M CG h IE ' S a n d Ga e ta n o ' s : CHRISTO P HER S M ITH

4035 S. Fort Apache Road, 252-8077, www.mcghies.com


Reader’s Choice Clothing boutique I love Maude in the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay. As a local, I like the location (yes, even though it’s on the Strip), because I turn into the Mandalay Place valet, go up the escalators and the shop is right there. My favorite stylist is Janiva Martinez, but they’re all good. If you’re lucky, they’ll bring you clothes from the back to try on, and they’re very good about coordinating clothes with jewelry, belts and scarves. They also have great sales (i.e. buy two items, get one free or spend $100, get $200 worth of clothes). — Monica Vanyo

song was a New Year’s Eve countdown. Highlight: a group of guys carrying a soon-to-be husband to the front of the crowd like an over-head funeral march. — M.P. illegal-art.net/girltalk

Best sleeper bar Most folks don’t expect El Cortez to have anything besides dirty bathrooms and oxygentank grandmas. But earlier this year the downtown mainstay turned a shoddy space behind a row of blackjack tables into Parlour, a respectable — and affordable — cocktail bar. The big draw is the $8 classic cocktail menu (including, depending on the bartender, an almostimmaculate Old Fashioned),

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and an often-quiet crowd in an often-quiet, dimly lit space. Once in a while they hire an awful cover artist instead of an atmosphere-appropriate pianist, but come late with the night-cap crowd and skip anything resembling a guitar-anddrum-machine cover of “Don’t Stop Believin’.” — M.P.

word is “light,” whether that means the color scheme, the furniture or the total gestalt — worlds away from the heavy, immobilizing and clunky style that still prevails on most of the Strip. New, white, plantation-style shutters keep the Strip glare at bay. If you want a

view, try the plethora of HDTV sets that are standard issue. That’s just part of a comprehensive, imaginative makeover that’s turned a dowdy dowager into a frisky party gal. — D.M. 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 739-2222, troplv.com

600 E. Fremont St., 385-5200, elcortezhotelcasino.com

Best high-end hotel room If you want to feel you’ve really arrived, spring for one of Wynn Encore’s Resort Suites. Even at 700 efficiently used square feet (the HDTV set is swivel-mounted so it can be watched from bedroom or living room), they’re like cozy apartments, with well-arranged living areas, panoramic views and a subtly luxurious aesthetic. Perhaps designer Roger Thomas did his job too well: Whether you’re reposing on the comfy bed’s Egyptian cotton or the sofa, he’s created a perfect, meditative space for composing yourself. The in-house array of TV channels offers several Asian options, along with a Wynn Resorts feed, narrated soothingly by Steve Wynn himself, that’s like “Story Time with Uncle Steve.” All that’s missing is an in-room teddy bear. — D.M. 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 7707171, wynnlasvegas.com

Best mid-price hotel room Want to feel like you’ve splurged without actually doing so? The recently remade Tropicana Las Vegas, with its new Caribbean aesthetic, is the place to do it. The operative

The ciopinno (seafood stew) at Gaetano's

Steve Sebelius Review-Journal political columnist Best neighborhood Italian: Gaetano’s. With a proprietor who chats with his customers, discusses the finer points of Italian cuisine and guides you through a mouth-watering menu and wine list, what’s not to love? Best cigar lounge: Havana Cigar Co. Good prices, good service and now with a full bar — including excellent scotch. Best indoor gun range: American Shooters. Whether you want to plink away with a handgun or try a rifle, this is the place to do it. Best place for beers: Yard House. Sadly, they no longer serve beer in the eponymous three-foot glass, but you can still get a half-yard. Best movie theater: Rave Motion Pictures in Town Square. First-run movies are shown in stadium-style theaters with comfy seats and little tables to hold the popcorn, candy or hot dogs. And the high-def sound will drown out all but the most committed movie talkers.

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FAMILY+ COMMUNITY Animal house: A Barnyard Buddies tour is ideal for little ones.

Best dog groomer/boutique Barking Dogs owners Craig and Kathy Patterson know what it takes to live in harmony with animals, having given a home to creatures great and small over the last three decades. If it’s possible to make your dog any more loveable, they’ve found the way. You can de-funk Spot in the selfserve wash or have a groomer do it in the full-service salon (take your pick), then elicit freshly perfumed hugs and kisses with a reward for his good behavior from the bakery. Barking Dogs’ boutique offers more pet products than you can shake a Kong at, including a healthy selection of holistic and organic food. — H.K. 9325 S. Cimarron Road #145, 247-9274, www.barkingdogslv.com

Best place to align your chakras

Barnyard Buddies Tour So a cow, a rooster and a hound dog walk into a bar ... except it’s not a joke. It’s a free show for kids. Oh, and instead of a bar, it’s Anderson Dairy. The dairy runs its Barnyard Buddies Tour for local families, but it’s much more than your typical factory tour. This is a full animatronic show starring a talking cow and other farmyard animals, a walking tour of the facilities, and one very special treat in the form of a huge bowl of ice cream that is doled out to both the children and their parents. At Anderson Dairy, you can spend an entire morning out doing something educational, have a treat, and never spend a dime. And that makes this attraction the bestest ever. — Andrea Leal 801 Searles Ave., 642-7507, www.andersondairy.com

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Reader’s Choice Library I love the UNLV Lied Library. Hint: If you want peace and quiet — sometimes a rarity in libraries these days — head up to the third floor or quiet areas on the periphery and take in the view while getting lost in a book. — Annette Miller

B A RNYA RD B UDDIES TOUR A ND DOG : CHRISTO P HER S M ITH

Best free attraction for kids

Little did Lee Papa know, when she founded the Ganesha Center in a business complex in mid-2009, that her unassuming


A pooch gets the royal treatment at Barking Dogs.

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A sliding stone on Racetrack Playa

Mark Sedenquist Publisher, www.RoadTripAmerica.com

two-room place for people to find peace would triple in size in less than three years, so great was demand for said product. As the square footage grew, so did the list of services — now ranging from healing modalities and oneness blessings to spirituality workshops and yoga classes. There’s even a café where you can hang out and just be. Sound intimidating? Fear not, Papa says.

Most people are put at ease by the practitioners’ professionalism and a guru-less culture that encourages individual exploration. “We provide a foundation for people to find their own path and connections to well-being,” Papa says. “Take what resonates and leave the rest.” — H.K. 3199 E. Warm Springs Road #300, 485-4985, www.ganeshacenter.com

Reader’s Choice

Barbara Buckley of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

Best family consignment shopping If buying expensive items with stupid-low price tags is the definition of fun shopping (and it is), then the As They Grow consignment event is a glorious amusement park where you get on every ride, toss your cookies, and still beg for more. This semi-annual event is where parents just like you sell their kids’ outgrown toys, clothes, cribs, and a myriad of other kid accoutrements. The sale features thousands of square feet of retail space, an infinite variety of children’s items, and the chance

Hidden Gem

My favorite hidden gem is the Pinball Hall of Fame (1610 E. Tropicana Ave., www.pinballmuseum. org). I made it through college by taking pinball breaks while cramming for finals. This place has all of my old favorites — and I’ve discovered some new ones. Plus, all of the proceeds from the machines go back into maintenance, and what’s left over goes to charities. — Ricci Slobodnik

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to consign your own kids’ stuff in order to stretch that overused parental dollar. Start practicing those jiujitsu moves and work out your shopping strategy, because only the strong survive. Brand-new Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag for $20? Yes, please! — Andrea Leal Location varies, 499-1438,  www.astheygrowlv.com

Best place for a playdate Chasing a young toddler around is a hard workout to endure when you’re already suffering from the mommy-tireds. A tiny table, chairs, toys and books make Saxby’s Coffee Shop the ideal baby corral. Grab a latte and a scone, settle in for a long chat with your friends on their fireplace-facing couch, and set the kids to autopilot. If you want to make it a bigger play date with several families, their adjacent meeting room is free as long

B A R B A R A B UCKLEY : CHRISTO P HER S M ITH

Best place to find arrowheads (and .22 shells): Knob Hill in the Eldorado Mountains. Best road trip to an alien universe: Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, weird habitat of the ever-mysterious sliding stones. Best place to hear bullfrogs: ponds at the Corn Creek conservation area. You can hear them a mile away! Best jaunt back in time: Heritage Street at the Clark County Museum, where eight real structures from Las Vegas’ colorful past have been set up and furnished with vintage furniture and equipment. Best place to photograph the Las Vegas Strip at night: McCarran Airport Terminal 1 parking garage, level 5. Best 45-minute road trip with wildlife viewing potential: Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. I spotted a five-point stag while ambling along the hiking trail just east of Lake Harriet.


BONUS

Want to get the most out of our bests? Go to www.desertcompanion.com for more of our picks — and more from our readers, too.

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Best Public Servant Barbara Buckley In a Legislature where many are driven by ego and ambition, former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley always stood out as one of the prime exceptions. Her legislative agenda was aimed at helping those who need help most: victims of payday lenders, homeowners facing foreclosure, school children. And while Buckley could have run for governor in 2010 after she reached her term limit in the Assembly, she decided instead to take a break from politics, for the sake of her young son. But that didn’t mean Buckley walked away: She continued her day job as executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which is a virtual continuation of her work in the Assembly. There, she and her staff of lawyers help low-income people with legal problems ranging from divorce and child custody to foreclosure. They provide legal help to foster children, classes on navigating the court system and hope for people facing mounting debts in a slow-to-recover city. It just goes to show that true public service doesn’t necessarily require an election. — Steve Sebelius

as you make the reservation in advance. That room is spacious, comfortable and can be entirely closed off from the rest of the shop for an extra layer of fencing for the baby herd. — A.L.

746 Snowden Ranch Road,

You can stop hitting up your token tree-hugger friend for suggestions of places where you can dump your defunct cell phones without their toxic parts polluting the water supply or worse. The mainstream has finally caught on. At all six Best Buys in Southern Nevada, you can recycle audio accessories, cameras, computers, TVs, video players, video games and more for no fee. Best Buy is an official partner of the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program. “We make sure everything gets broken down properly and put where it belongs,” says Sarah Batzloff, assistant manager of the Maryland Parkway location. For a complete list of what they’ll take and what they won’t, jump to the “Recycling” page of the website and choose “Nevada” from the drop-down menu. — H.K.

Moapa, 467-3585, 

Multiple locations,

www.roosnmore.org

www.bestbuy.com

Multiple locations, www.saxbyscoffee.com

Copyright held by The Neon Museum, Inc.

Best animal attraction

Ima g e c o u r t e s y o f T h e N e o n M u s e u m , I n c .

Best place to recycle electronics

Roos-N-More leaves other local animal attractions in a cloud of desert dust. This is a handson zoo experience in Moapa that allows kids to interact with a wide range of animals including monkeys, lemurs, boas, otters, toucans and, of course, kangaroos. Nowhere else will your kids will have the chance to hold, pet and learn about so many creatures the way they can at Roos-N-More. And if the idea of getting up close and personal with animals sounds like a dirty endeavor, fear not — the animals at Roos-N-More are clean, fluffy and downright kissable. — A.L.

The Neon Museum

James Canfield Artistic director, Nevada Ballet Theatre Best museum: The Neon Museum gives me an instant glimpse and feeling of “yesteryear” Vegas. Best relaxation spot: Red Rock Canyon for its natural beauty, peace and quiet — and a great place to think. Best place to play tourist: The fountains at Bellagio, where choreography, music, movement and audience come together. (Much like the experience of a Nevada Ballet Theatre performance.)

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An International Center for Creative Writers and Scholars at the university of nevada, las vegas

Spring 2012 Reading “Emerging Writers Series: Blake Butler”

Blake Butler is the author of There is No Year, Ever, and Scorch Atlas, which was named “Novel of the Year” by 3:AM Magazine and was a finalist for the Believer Book Award. Blake is also the editor of HTMLGIANT, “the internet literature magazine blog of the future” as well as Lamination Colony and No Colony. His writing has appeared in The Believer, Unsaid, Fence, and the New York Tyrant and has been short-listed for The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Wednesday, Feb 8, 7 p.m. Greenspun Auditorium

Panel “Female Novelists in the Twenty-First Century”

Black Mountain Institute is pleased to present a conversation about the female voice and its evolution in fiction with Mary Gaitskill, author of the short-story collection and PEN/Faulkner Award nomination Because They Wanted To, Sarah Shun-lien Bynam, National Book Award finalist and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Madeleine is Sleeping, and Cheryl Strayed, Great Lakes Book Award finalist for her novel, Torch. Maile Chapman, author of the much-heralded first novel Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto and assistant professor of creative writing at UNLV, will moderate the discussion. Thursday, Feb 22, 7 p.m. UNLV Student Union Ballroom

Mixed Media Performance featuring BMI’s Gallagher Fellow, Kris Saknusssemm

Kris Saknussemm will be joined by tenor saxophonist, Eric Wyatt, among others for an original mixed-media performance from Kris’ latest novel, Reverend America. Kris is an AustralianAmerican novelist and media artist. Educated at Dartmouth with an M.A. from the University of Washington, Saknussemm has published three novels and a short story collection. His first novel, Zanesville (Villard Books, a division of Random House, 2005), became a modern science fiction cult classic. His work has appeared in such publications as The Boston Review, The Hudson Review, The Antioch Review, New Letters, and Prairie Schooner. A champion of outsider art, Saknussemm’s writing is known for its bizarre imagery and fierce satire. Tuesday, Mar 13, 7 p.m. Greenspun Hall Auditorium

Panel “Is Moderation Possible in American Politics”

Black Mountain Institute is pleased to present an open discussion between commentators Juan Williams, currently of Fox News and lately of NPR, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Kathleen Parker, lately of Spitzer/Parker fame on CNN about the possibility of moderation in American Politics today. Williams has covered major political campaigns from 1980-2000 and his television documentaries such as Civil Rights and Press and Dying for Healthcare have received critical praise; Ornstein has published

The Permanent Campaign and its Future, co-authored The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing American and How to Get it Back on Track, and is a weekly contributor to Roll Call. Parker, winner of the prestigious H. L. Mencken Writing Award in 1993 and the Pulitzer Prize Winner for Commentary, was named one of the nation’s Top Five Columnists in both 2004 and 2005; her column is syndicated and published in over 400 newspapers. This event will be moderated by Patricia Cunningham, the “Queen of Talk” and host of the popular radio show, the Patricia Cunningham Show, discussing news and community issues in Las Vegas. Thursday, Mar 22, 7 p.m. Stan Fulton Building— International Gaming Institute Ballroom

Reading “Emerging Writers Series: Lara Glenum”

Lara Glenum, Fullbright Fellow and NEA Translation Fellow, is the author of The Hounds of No and Maximum Gaga. Lara’s writing pushes the boundaries of gender politics and poetics through the use of the sublime and the grotesque. She is also the co-editor (with Arielle Greenberg) of the anthology Gurlesque, which promotes a reimagined feminist aesthetic, which blurs the boundaries between femininity, burlesque, and the grotesque. Wednesday, Apr 18, 7 p. m. Greenspun Hall Auditorium

all events are free, unticketed, and open to the public Presented with generous support from Nevada Public Radio, Las Vegas CityLife, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Caesars Foundation. Call (702) 895-5542 for more information about our events.


By day, they’re cops, lawyers, mothers and fathers. But when the weekend comes, they’re warriors and nobles. Meet the Society for Creative Anachronism

q

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AKA: Mike Wolff, a valley police officer and 27-year-old Henderson native. Chivalry +6: He says the society helped give him direction after a “typical, weird Las Vegas” upbringing. “I grew up without a lot of structure,” he says. “The SCA gave me a bit more. It gave me ideals and values and role models to look up to, values like chivalry and honor and largess and prowess and courage. Doing what’s right even though it may hurt you.” He says the old, knightly values really struck a chord in him and “inevitably” brought him to police work. “I wanted to be a knight, but that doesn’t really, per se, exist in our modern world. However, police work is very close.” Special attack: Warrior spirit. Wolff credits SCA fighter training with making him a better police officer because, like any

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good martial art, it cultivates a detached, observant “warrior mindset” on the job. “It helps keep my mind in a place it needs to be, to keep me safe and deal with the people I need to deal with. I’m always looking — not looking to get into a fight, necessarily, but always looking at it through the warrior’s lens. A warrior’s job isn’t to fight everyone and everything all the time. It’s to be ready and willing to fight when appropriate, and willing to stay one’s hand when it’s not appropriate.” Strength +10: “(Fighting) lends itself to overall physical fitness. Being an SCA fighter is a very physical sport. I’m used to wearing armor suits in the SCA, which are quite heavy and encumbering. Now I wear armor every day at work and it’s not that big a deal. My police gear is lighter and much more comfortable than my SCA gear.”


AKA: Guy Butler, 42, a heavy equipment operator and native Las Vegan. Special spell: Realism. “In the society, we are recreating the Middle Ages the way they should have been,” he says. “We’re people that enjoy the chivalry and fighting and crafts (of the period).” What do you do if you don’t want to fight? “If you go to an event, say there’s 10,000 people there, you have probably 2,000 fighters, so those other people need something to do. Anything that happened in that time, cooking, brewing, arts and crafts, making armor, all kinds of things that go on. Anything that happened from 600 to 1600, somebody in the SCA is interested in it and wants to show other people how to do it.“

Special attack: Misconception-breaker. “A lot of people think the SCA is like a renfair (Renaissance fair). But it’s not. The thing with a renfair, the people are out there to make money and you can’t leave stuff laying around. … At an SCA event, you can leave your wallet sitting on your table in the middle of camp where people are walking through all day long and nobody will touch it. You know that everyone values honor and chivalry and they’re going to take care of each other. If a kid runs off, they’re going to be OK. It’s great for having families around.”

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AKA: Aeisha McKenzie, a 31-year-old marketing executive from Northern California who’s been playing in the SCA for two years now. Special spell: Hospitality. “If you’re a jerk, other people aren’t going to join. For this dream to continue, you gotta have other people coming in. That’s the lifeblood. So it becomes important to be welcoming to other people so they can help support your dream.” Armor class +3: She also explains how the standard for costuming has changed as the group grew up. “From the old-timers, it used to be the 10-foot rule (if you looked authentic from 10 feet away, that was all that mattered). Nowadays people do that less. People are more concerned with making sure their garb is made with linen, instead of something that just looks like linen. We’re talking

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about 45 years of research that people are building on. Now, when I want to go make a Viking dress, I can go online and find authentic patterns that someone else has already drawn for me.” Authenticity +7: “After I graduated from school I got a normal job and I got sucked into ‘real life’ and corporate life.” The theater major says she couldn’t convince herself to do the “artsy stuff” because, “I wasn’t going to sell it, I wasn’t going to use it for theater; there was no purpose. With the SCA, I’ve taught myself to sew, because I need clothes. I’ve gotten to work on period recipes, which fulfills me because I’m a big old history geek and I love the research, but I also love to cook because there are people to cook for and reasons to do it. If there’s a reason for it, if it’s useful somehow, then it’s not wasting my time that I should be spending doing serious adult stuff.”


AKA: C. Conrad Claus, prominent Las Vegas attorney, MMA fighter and occasional cable-news commentator. Forty-twoyear-old Claus is an Oregon native who studied history in college, where he was also a nationally ranked wrestler. He passed the bar in 1996 and spent eight years at the Clark County district attorney’s office before starting his own practice. Special attack: Intimidation. Whether he’s wearing plate mail or a three-piece suit, his shaved head, goatee and coolly appraising manner are designed to intimidate. Claus relishes combat, which is what drew him to the law (his website is “lawiswar.com”), and then to the Society for Creative Anachronism 13 years ago. Spells: “The SCA is a lot like law for me,” he says, “insofar as chivalry is a lot like law for me. Both of them are codes of conduct that were enacted to ennoble pure combativeness and aggres-

sion. When you’re an advocate in law, there are certain rules by which you must behave to be ethical. … The values of the legal profession are to be a gladiator, a fighter for somebody’s rights.” Combat modifier: “The fight is the thing,” he says of the SCA. “The chivalric combat is attractive to me. I can fight, inspired, by a courteous and noble lady. I can fight with boon companions at my side. I can fight with others who understand concepts like honor, prowess and hardiness.” So, are you missing out if you don’t like to sword fight? “The honest and not-tooPC answer is, yes, you’re missing out on the SCA if you’re not fighting. You’re missing out on a big part of the SCA if you’re not taking a charcoal forge and making a sword, or if you’re not making armor. There are so many things in the SCA, it’s impossible not to miss out on a big part of the SCA.” DesertCompanion.com | 55


02.2012

Art Music T h e at e r Da n c e

Is it frosting? Or paint? Lick it and find out. Actually, DON’T. But Wendy Kveck would understand the impulse; her work explores ideas about femininity, consumption and ohmygod yummy frosting-covered faces LICK LICK LICK! Sorry. Kveck’s “The Party’s Over” shows through March 31 at Kleven Contemporary, 520 E. Fremont St., in Emergency Arts. Info: 501-9093

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FA M I LY

take

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t Not only is the indie electro pop wikki-wah ambient disco gush of boyfriend/girlfriend duo Kid Meets Cougar deft, catchy and layered, but it’s produced by the most telegenic hipster couple this side of an iPhone commercial. They perform 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Winchester Cultural Center. $7. Info: 455-7340

Female novelists have come a long way. Remember when they had to call themselves George Eliot and Isak Dinesen and wear fake mustaches just to buy ink? Authors Mary Gaitskill, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and Cheryl Strayed discuss the female novelist in the 21st century in “Not Your Grandmother’s Sense & Sensibility,” moderated by Maile Chapman 7 p.m. February 22 in the UNLV Student Union Ballroom. Info: www.blackmountaininstitute.org

Piano prodigy Haochen Zhang is widely praised as a sensitive musician with an ear for insightful interpretations. And, gawd, can you imagine how good Mr. Virtuoso Crazyfingers is at texting? He performs with the Las Vegas Philharmonic 8 p.m. February 18 at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall. Tickets $34.25-$78. Info: www.lvphil.com

Want your event in our Calendar? Submit your event with a brief description to guide@desertcompanion.com.

The last time someone asked me if I wanted to explore the outer reaches of our known reality, I ended up snorting $700 worth of what turned out to be pulverized Funyuns. A much wiser investment: “Space: A Journey to Our Future.” Kids and adults alike can explore the outer reaches in a series of interactive exhibits through May 13 at the Springs Preserve. Info: www.springspreserve.org. DesertCompanion.com | 57


Resistance is

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

February 29

Visit us online for more information at www.desertcompanion.com

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The nightingal e of CoMMerCia Cent er puts song on lthe menu

Torn, cracked, clogged you brok Here’s where etoit? fix it

Dining wisdom

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DRAGON EXHIBITION Through March 11. An invitational exhibit where the artists have focused on the meaning and imagery behind the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Exhibition is free and by appointment. Historic Fifth Street School Gallery

Transfiguration Phase Through March 13. Orlando Montenegro’s series of mixed media paintings and drawings explore the body’s connection to its environment and to the landscape. His paintings physically merge elements of the figure into grounds of atmospheric color, suggesting ecosystems, artificial landscapes, and topography. Free. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery

SHORT STORIES BY ARTIST BOBBY ROSS Through March 17. At the heart of these didactic narratives are homelessness, aging, religious intolerance and environmental degradation. Ross’ graphite drawings are unplanned composites, highly detailed and filled with intricate patterns and textures. Free. Charleston Heights Arts Center

Green Felt Jungle Gym Through March 23. Mark Brandvik’s metal sculpture installation, which places architectural forms found in Las Vegas into an oversized children’s jungle gym, blurs the line between the reality of stalled construction and the prospect of new development in Las Vegas. Reception February 3, 6 p.m.; artist talk February 8, 6:30 p.m. in the Pueblo Room. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery

MAMA’S FABRIC BY JOHN BROUSSARD Through May 5. A community organizer with a passion for sewing, Beatrice Dixon became a mother figure to people from all walks of life and many of them gave her beautiful pieces of fabric. John Broussard combined her collection of fabrics with his photographic skills to bring more than 30 Americans from diverse ethnic backgrounds together to tell about their family’s journey through America. Free. West Las Vegas Arts Center Gallery

THE PRIMROSE PATH February 2-March 31; artist reception February 2, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. These humorous and insightful paintings depict cartoon-inspired characters wrestling with modern life situations by Los Angelan Luke Chueh and Las Vegan Juan Muniz. Free. Brett Wesley Gallery. www.brettwesleygallery.com

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

Dance

FIRST FRIDAY February 3, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Downtown’s revitalized monthly arts and culture event features art exhibits, open galleries, live music, food and drink, performances and more in the Arts District and Fremont East in GetBack Alley. Free. www.firstfridaylasvegas.com

Family & Festivals

An Evening of Dance / An Afternoon of Dance

CSN SCHOOLFEST PRESENTS A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

February 10, 7 p.m.; February 11, 1 p.m. Under the artistic direction of Bernard Gaddis, the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater performs. Also features director emeritus Kevin C. Gibbs and associate director MarieJoe Tabet. Free. West Las Vegas Library

Through February 3 and February 6-10, 9:30 a.m. Middle and high school students may experience the magic of live theater as part of CSN’s 17th annual SchoolFest, with special 75-minute performances of the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s traveling educational production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” A 15-minute informal post-show discussion and workshops are also offered. $5.  Advance reservations required. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre. 651-4720. www.csn.edu/pac

The Anniversary Show February 3-February 9. Kleven Contemporary celebrates its first year with a oneweek-only retrospective featuring artists Nico Holmes-Gull, Brian Henry, Krystal Ramirez, Justin Favela, Erin Stellmon and Bekah Just. Free. Kleven Contemporary. 520 E. Fremont St., located inside Emergency Arts

The Party’s Over February 11-March 31. Wendy Kveck’s latest work, which uses painting, performance, video and collage, explores images of women from art history and contemporary media as cultural signifiers of excess and desire, anxiety and fear, regret and loss. Free. Kleven Contemporary. 520 E. Fremont St., inside Emergency Arts

VALENTINE’S DANCE WITH THE GENE WHITE OCTET February 11, 7 p.m. An evening of swing dancing to big band tunes made famous by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, romantic standards from the ’50s and ’60s, cha-chas, tangos and more, performed by the Gene White Octet and Swing Patrol. $10 in advance, $15 on event day. Charleston Heights Arts Center Ballroom, www.artslasvegas.org

Travel Through Folklore February 18, 6 p.m. Dance company Izel Ballet Folklorico presents the dance traditions of different regions of Mexico with special guests, the folkloric dance group of General Lazaro Cardenas High School from Tijuana, Mexico. $8. Winchester Cultural Center

SPACE: A JOURNEY TO OUR FUTURE Through May 13. In this interactive exhibit, you’ll touch a lunar sample, step onto the “Moon Scale,” take a spin in the centrifuge and create your own mission to Mars. Free for members or included with general admission. Origen Museum in the Springs Preserve

CURIOUS GEORGE: LET’S GET CURIOUS! February 4 through May 13. The little mon-

Women’s Health Fair

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key and The Man with the Yellow Hat from H.A. and Margret Rey’s classic stories come to life. This exhibition inspires young children’s natural curiosity as they explore early science, math and engineering through hands-on interactive play. Cultural Gallery at Lied Discovery Children’s Museum. 833 Las Vegas Blvd. N. 382-3445. www.lcdm.org

Lectures, Readings and Panels African American Authors Symposium February 4, 2 p.m. This book fair and panel discussion features local African-American authors discussing their work in the children’s literature industry. Free. Clark County Library

BLAKE BUTLER Gospel Brunch Inspirational Showcase February 14, 11 a.m. Singers, dancers, poets and speakers celebrate African American History month. Also includes a light brunch. Free. RSVP by February 7 at 229-6374. West Las Vegas Library

February 8, 7 p.m. Butler is the author of “There is No Year”, “Ever” and “Scorch Atlas.” He is also the editor of HTMLGIANT, “the internet literature magazine blog of the future” as well as Lamination Colony and No Colony. www.blackmountaininstitute.org

Black History Month Festival

Beyond Brokeback: A Staged Reading With Music

February 25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. This family event includes a children’s film festival and art competition exhibit, historic black Las Vegas photography exhibit, arts and crafts, face painting, carnival games, live entertainment and food vendors. $5, children under 12 free. Springs Preserve

February 11, 2 p.m. Inspired by the film Brokeback Mountain, the program consists of staged readings, in which excerpts of poignant and humorous messages, essays, and poetry by writers of all backgrounds and orientations are interpreted by six readers/musicians. Free. Clark County Library

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From Water Rites to Water Rights: Exploring Pueblo Worldview with Visual Metaphors February 16, 7:30 p.m. Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin of Northern Arizona University explores the visual depictions of traditional ecological knowledge about water resources in the ancient Southwest and Mesoamerica, looking at pottery, rock art, and mural paintings in the Puebloan Southwest and Mesoamerica. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Women Casino Workers: An Appreciation Long Overdue February 21, 7:30 p.m. Susan Chandler talks about the untold stories of women’s labor within Nevada’s gaming industry, which she explores in her recently published book, “Casino Women.” Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S SENSE & SENSIBILITY: FEMALE NOVELISTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY February 22, 7 p.m. With Mary Gaitskill, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, and Cheryl Strayed, three award-winning authors who defy dainty fe-


“Grateful for our many opportunities . . . male stereotypes in their novels and short stories. Moderated by Maile Chapman and sponsored by UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute. Free. UNLV Student Union Ballroom. www.blackmountaininstitute.org

Author’s Speakeasy February 25, 2 p.m. Author Keith Brantley (“Swimming in a Cesspool”) shares his latest work in this afternoon of spoken word performance. Moderated by spoken word artist Ms. China. Free. West Las Vegas Library

Inside the Experience of a Virtuoso February 28, 7:30 p.m. Russell T. Hurlburt, UNLV psychology professor and Ricardo Cobo, director of classical guitar studies at UNLV, discuss the results of a study in which guitar virtuoso Cobo recorded his inner experiences over a certain period of time, including an actual concert performance. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Music What’s All That Jazz About? February 1, 2 p.m.; Feb 4, 10:30 a.m. Jazz saxophonist Shenole Latimer uses live performance, discussion and prepared examples to talk about jazz and teach people how to appreciate it. The Feb. 1 event is at the Las Vegas Library; the Feb. 4 event is at the Spring Valley Library. Free

Golden Gates and Moscow Nights February 4, 2 p.m. The company Golden Gates was founded in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1933. Now the performers range in age from 5 to 15, and include Russian dancers as well as singers. Today Golden Gates performs with Moscow Nights, an ensemble of Russian folk musicians. $10$12. Winchester Cultural Center

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Our Music, Our Culture: A Journey through Jazz History February 4, 4 p.m. Jazz saxophonist Shenole Latimer delivers a multimedia journey through the history of jazz, with an emphasis on African-American roots and a discussion of why jazz has been called America’s classical music. Free. Windmill Library

JESTER HAIRSTON SINGERS February 4, 4 p.m. This performance of African-American music and dance of the 1850s through 1940s will illustrate how this music influenced stage and screen. Co-sponsored by the Jester Hairston Singers, Zion Methodist Church, and the West Las Vegas Arts Center. Free. Zion Methodist Church, 2108 Revere St., North Las Vegas. 229-4800

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KT SULLIVAN & MARK NADLER: LOVE IS HERE TO STAY

Las Vegas Philharmonic Masterworks III: Haochen Zhang

February 4, 8 p.m. A Valentine celebration of the great love songs written by Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein. $10 in advance, $15 on event day. Historic Fifth Street School. www.marknadler.com

February 18, 8 p.m. Haochen Zhang, an acclaimed 21-year-old pianist, was the 2009 Gold Medalist of the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Winner of the 2007 China International Piano Competition. He’s renowned as a sensitive musician praised for his insightful interpretations. $34.25-$78. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall

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February 11, 3 p.m. Enjoy musical moments from the classic jazz vaults of yesterday and today, hosted by “The Doctor” Freddie Jackson from 91.5 KUNV. Free. West Las Vegas Arts Center

Eclectic Trio February 11, 7 p.m. Naoko Taniguchi (violin), Tamara Kezerova (piano) and Elena Kapustina (cello) perform. Taniguchi is a member of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra. Kezerovahas performed with the Russian Federal Orchestra. Kapustina is well known for her performances with the Camerata Orchestra. $7-$10. Winchester Cultural Center

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February 25, 2 p.m. Husband and wife duo Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart perform originals and rearrangements of hits from the worlds of rock, soul, jazz and modern pop, with Tuck on guitar and Patti singing. $10 in advance, $15 on event day. Charleston Heights Arts Center Theatre. www.artslasvegas.org

Kid Meets Cougar February 24, 7 p.m. Brett Bolton and Courtney Carroll play tuneful, loop-friendly electro-organic pop and feature videos synched to the rhythm. They will release their second album, “Sierra Papa Tango,” before the concert. $7-$10. Winchester Cultural Center

ITZHAK PERLMAN February 11, 8 p.m. The renowned violin virtuoso performs selections from classical standards to more modern fare. $45-$85. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall

DOWNTOWN CULTURAL SERIES WITH GAMBLE-AIRES QUARTETS February 17, noon. Eight members of the Las Vegas Gamble-Aires Barbershop Chorus, reflecting the four barbershop parts, will sing traditional arrangements. Free. Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 229-3515

THE WORLD FAMOUS INK SPOTS IN CONCERT February 18, 2 p.m. The faces may be different, but the sound remains the same. Lou Ragland, Eddie Coco, Fareed Braxton and Fleury Bursey sing the songs generations have heard and loved. Free. West Las Vegas Library Theatre

JASON PETTY AND CAROLYN MARTIN IN COUNTRY ROYALTY

For tickets, call the box office at 702.982.7805.

TUCK & PATTI IN CONCERT

February 18, 2 p.m. A musical tribute to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Enjoy some of country’s greatest hits, such as “Crazy,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Walking After Midnight,” “I Fall To Pieces” and many more. $10 in advance, $15 on event day. Charleston Heights Arts Center Theatre. www.artslasvegas.org

La Voz de Tres February 28, 7 p.m. Pianist Michael Eckroth performs in this trio featuring Chilean singer Natalia Bernal and 7-string guitarist Jason Ennis. These virtuoso musicians perform a mixture of jazz, Chilean, Brazilian and Cuban music. $7-$10. Winchester Cultural Center

Theater WIZARD OF OZ Through February 4. Follow Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tinman, Cowardly Lion and Toto as they travel down the yellow brick road to the magical land of Oz. $10-$12. Summerlin Library Theater. www.broadwayboundlv.com

THE SEAGULL Through February 5. When famed actress Arkadina arrives with her young lover, the writer Trigorin, at her country estate in turn-of-the-century Russia, romantic entanglements, artistic conflicts and jealousies threaten to tear her family apart. $10-$30. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre

Shotgun February 3, 7 p.m. and February 4, 1 p.m. This play intended for mature audiences is set just after the collapse of the levees in New Orleans. Amid the aftermath, a white man and his teenaged son rent half of a shotgun duplex from an African-American woman, whose father has lost his home and moved in with her. Free. West Las Vegas Library


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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM February 3, 8 p.m. and February 4, 2 p.m. In conjunction with CSN’s annual SchoolFest, the Utah Shakespeare Festival Tour will present two performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” $10-$12. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre

SHOWGIRL FOLLIES: LIFE IN FEATHERS AND RHINESTONES February 4, 7 p.m. and February 5, 3 p.m. This celebration of the iconic Las Vegas showgirl features authentic showgirls, sumptuous costumes, stand-up comedy and stirring singing. Contemporary music and choreography modernize the show. $15-$18. Starbright Theater in Summerlin

RAINBOW COMPANY YOUTH THEATRE’S “UNCOVERING NEVADA’S PAST” February 17-18, 7 p.m. and February 18-19, 2 p.m. This new chapter in Nevada’s history overflows with colorful characters and

captivating music that will entertain the entire family. $3-$7. Historic Fifth Street School. www.artslasvegas.org

Fundraisers COLORS OF LUPUS “UNMASKING LUPUS” GALA February 11, 6 p.m. Honoring those who live courageously with this often misunderstood disease. Cocktails, silent auction and a dinner buffet. $75. Treasure Island. www.colorsoflupusnevada.org

4TH HANDS ACROSS THE ARTS BENEFIT: A RAISIN IN THE SUN February 25, 7:30 p.m. and February 26, 2 p.m. In celebration of Black History Month, the Ira Aldridge Theatre Company and the CSN Performing Arts Center present their performance of “A Raisin in the Sun,” written by Lorraine Hansberry and directed by Walter Mason. $15-$20, includes a post-show reception. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre

A scene from Rebecca Loyche’s “Still Life” short video series

Moving pictures A passel of smartly curated new art spaces have populated downtown’s Emergency Arts over the past few months, but the recently opened Multiplexer (520 E. Fremont Street. Info: www. multiplexerspace.wordpress.com.) is unique for its serious engagement with its Fremont Street locale. Founded and directed by multi-media artist David Sanchez-Burr, Multiplexer emphasizes video, including what Sanchez describes as “the detritus and artifacts of video technology and its relationship to changes and shifts in history, from analog to digital, broadcasts, video art and home videos.” He recognizes video as the preeminent medium of our age, finding fascination in its technological permutations that are reflective of broader social and technological shifts. So how does this relate to Fremont Street? Video art has always had an antagonistic relationship to its mass media counterparts, historically television, and Sanchez’s philosophical take on video offers an alternative to the spectacle of the Fremont Street Experience video canopy. The work in Sanchez’s space will deconstruct and examine a medium that, in its conventional applications, administers a one-directional flow of information to a passive (or, in the case of the Fremont Street Experience, partying) consumer. As Sanchez puts it, the Fremont Street Experience is “both a technological inspiration and an unsettling reminder of the power media wields.” The downtown art scene is more provocative and thoughtful than ever, and, as Multiplexer shows, is offering art that is for and about the city itself. — Kirsten Swenson

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history lesson

Say “cheesecake” By Michael Green

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P h oto c o u r t e s y o f t h e L a s V e g a s N e w s B u r e a u

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This year, Valentine’s Day means the Mob Museum’s opening and memories of a Chicago mob massacre. But it also means hearts and love. Las Vegas News Bureau photographers understood that showgirls and their beauty were important selling points for Las Vegas. This was typical of many “cheesecake” photos of the 1950s that featured celebrities or Strip showgirls. This one links the past and present. The showgirl in this photo from the 1950s is Ffolliott “Fluff” LeCoque, who still serves as stage manager of “Jubilee!,” the last of the old-fashioned shows with feather headdresses, at Bally’s. Her first Las Vegas appearance was in 1947 as a singer at the Last Frontier. She opened for Liberace, served as “Miss Thunderbird,” and may have been in the first photo of a woman in a bikini taken in Las Vegas. She also performed at several resorts, and worked for Donn Arden, who created or adapted shows like “Lido de Paris” (a mainstay at the Stardust) and eventually the contemporary classic, “Jubilee!”



Desert Companion - February 2012