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Gay marriage and marijuana for all! (plus 9 more laws we need)


Hot wedding spots, historic hookups & famous breakups

February 2013

OF the City

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d bespert od f hoi r 3 ur ex rho s’ c

O ith bo er w ighread nend a



HOME. Find wide open spaces, soaring peaks and a higher standard of living. Find more than 150 neighborhood parks and 150 miles of trails. Find timeless values and brand new homes. Find it all in the most ideally located master-planned community in Las Vegas. If you’re ready to elevate your life to new heights, start your new home search today at Today. Tomorrow. Forever. This is home.


Woodside Homes | William Lyon Homes | Toll Brothers | Ryland Homes | Pulte Homes | Lennar Richmond American Homes | KB Home | Condo Capital Solutions | Christoper Homes The Mesa village

editor’s note


You know best We Las Vegans sure love us some

Next month in Desert Companion

Move it or lose it! It’s our sports, leisure and outdoors issue

2 | Desert

superlatives — biggest, baddest, brightest, brashest. There’s not an adjective out there we won’t stamp an -est suffix on and then plaster onto a marquee or stir into an overheated press release. Maybe this yen for overstatement is baked into our civic DNA, a shared tribal memory of the unique brand of requisite crazy those pioneering entrepreneurs had in order to start seeding luxury resorts on a stretch of nowhere desert highway. Who knows? The unfortunate catch is that most of our gasping bests are cooked up in cubicles by PR folk and pitchmen — wonderful people, sure, but wouldn’t you rather get, say, a real restaurant recommendation from hardcore eaters with their boots (and forks and knives) on the ground? That’s a roundabout way of introducing our third annual Best of the City issue. Who are we to know what’s best? I’m glad you asked. We’re finicky foodies who know where to get the most flavor for our hard-earned buck; we’re functional shopaholics with a sixth sense for quality and value; we’re explorers who hike out of the valley for adventure and solitude — and then dive into strip malls for mom-and-pop shops with unique offerings. Your guide to the city’s best in dining, shopping, outdoors and more begins on page 55. Oh, and this time

Companion | February 2013

around, we conscripted a bonus panel of experts as well, known for their passion for discovering and celebrating culture and commerce in the Las Vegas Valley: you. See select results of our Best of the City online readers’ poll on page 65. You’ll want to keep this issue handy; there’s a lot of eating, drinking and shopping to be done. But this issue is a keeper for other reasons as well — for instance, as a scorecard for the Nevada Legislature, which goes into its 77th regular session Feb. 4. On page 34, Review-Journal political columnist Steve Sebelius proposes 10 laws the Legislature should pass — for the sake of sanity, fairness and common sense. (And, for the sake of balance, he offers up four bad laws on the books we should yank.) Finally, of course, February is that wobbly-kneed month of chocolate, flowers and panting declarations: love! Whether you’re looking for a movie-worthy setting for popping the big question or a storybook spot for swapping I do’s, we’ve got you covered. Even better, your Vegas nuptials — fortified with glittering, jiggling Elvi or not — will put you firmly in the historic company of famous couples walking down the aisle (and, in many cases, walking it back a short time later in the clarifying light of sense and sobriety), from Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh (still together!) to Brit-

ney Spears and Jason Alexander (still don’t know who that guy is!). Check out the story on page 20. If you missed out on our Best of the City readers’ poll, don’t fret. There’s still plenty of opportunity to upload all your brain’s opinions in our monthly reader survey at Tell us what you think about the latest issue; pitch a story; school us on what we got right and if we got anything wrong. Plus, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win dinner on us. Andrew Kiraly Editor

CELEBRATING THE PAST EMBRACING THE FUTURE Celebrating Black History month, Caesars Foundation recognizes the historic contributions African American leaders have made in communities across our nation. Caesars Foundation 4 color process

demonstrates this commitment through its continued support of diverse educational and cultural organizations. $100,000 United Negro College Fund gift supported many signature fund raising events organized in Las Vegas that provided advanced educational opportunities through post secondary scholarships across the country. ®

More than $300,000 in gifts since 2006 for the Memphis, TN-based National Civil Right The will to do wonders® Museum’s capital campaign and its Annual Freedom Awards to pay tribute to our country’s history. $50,000 to help build the BB King Museum located in Mississippi to acknowledge the importance of music and culture. For more information about organizations assisted by the Caesars Foundation visit:

® The will to do wonders®

Time to Prune, Do it Right!

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Mission Statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. Publisher Melanie Cannon Editor Andrew Kiraly Art Director Christopher Smith Graphic Designer Brent Holmes Sales and marketing manager Christine Kiely

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Website: Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, 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.

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Climbed the Summit.

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Mastered nutrition.

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Danced in the spotlight.

Carrot sticks.

HERE, it’s just an average day. The new DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, located at the Donald W. Reynolds Discovery Center, adjacent to The Smith Center. Grand Opening March 9.

“My City National team watches over my investments.”

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Desert Companion Board of Directors Officers

Susan Brennan, chair Brennan Consulting Group, LLC

Steven Thomas, M.D.

cynthia alexander, ESQ. vice chair Snell & Wilmer

Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute

TIM WONG, treasurer Arcata Associates Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio

Hear Dr. Thomas’ complete story at

Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair emeritus City of Las Vegas


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Experience the City National Difference.


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Dianne Merkey Private Client Services (702) 952-4447

Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation kathe nylen PBTK Consulting Anthony j. pearl, esq. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP

City National Wealth Management Non-deposit Investment Products:


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Giving gang

Once considered the sole province of fusty white captains of industry, philanthropy is trickling down to the people — specifically, young people. In Las Vegas, the United Way of Southern Nevada has the Young Philanthropists Society, aimed at 20- to 40-year-olds who want to make a different kind of investment — in their community. “For a lot of young people, this group is their first step in giving back to the community,” says Young Philanthropists Society/ Major Gifts Director Nicole Mastrangelo. “We specifically chose the word

Mud, sweat and tears: Warrior Dash


wa r r i o r d a s h p h oto c o u r t e s y o f wa r r i o r d a s h

Run ’til it hurts (or bleeds) Freezing water. Barbed wire. Electrified mud holes. Hell on Earth? Nah, it’s just the latest craze in extreme sports: obstacle runs. Runners looking to shake up monotonous marathons and tired triathlons are turning to hurdle-packed mud races to test their physical — and mental — mettle. Events such as Warrior Dash, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder are all the rage — and now they’re bringing their mud, sweat and tears to Southern Nevada. Scared? Don’t be. Organizers insist that these messy mad dashes are friendly to newbies and amateurs as well as seasoned runners. “It’s an attainable activity for novice and intermediate runners, and a nice change of pace for marathoners,” says Reese Hale of Run For Your Lives ( Plus, costumes are strongly encouraged. (Be careful what you wear, though. Ever tried to leap over flaming logs without your tutu catching fire?) There’s a method to the madness. These races are usually off-road, and most are 5K (3.1 miles) in distance, with 10 to 20 obstacles. Some events go beyond insane obstacles and bump up the adrenaline rush. Tough Mudder ( requires participants to sign a death waiver to run their 10- to 12-mile courses. Run for Your Lives has competitors evading volunteer “zombies” while navigating cargo nets, hay bales and giant water slides. What can possibly be the appeal? It’s not just about

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fitness — it’s also about having a shared, intense bonding experience. “Participants are looking for an experience they will never forget, and we create that with our challenging course, best-in-class obstacles and festival atmosphere,” says Kendra Alley of Warrior Dash (, coming in October. There’s a fantasy element as well. We may never see an actual zombie apocalypse, but you can live it with Run for Your Lives. “(There’s the) added motivation of being chased,” says Run for Your Lives’ Hale. And don’t forget the post-race party. Most races feature a beer garden at the finish line, where runners are rewarded with a frosty brew as well as refueling options from sauce-oozing barbecue to turkey legs of prehistoric proportions. Best of all: bragging rights around the water cooler from all that self-induced suffering. The rocky outcroppings of the Vegas Valley have made it an increasingly popular locale for obstacle races. Upcoming events include Dirty Girl Mud Run Feb. 23 (, St. Patty’s Day RhinO-Course 5K March 16 (rhinocourse. com), Devil Dash March 22 (devildash. Keep up with Desert com), Super Spartan April 6 (spartanCompanion events, news, Mad Mud Run April 27 and bonus features at ( and BADASS Dash May 25 ( Lace up your kicks — preferably a fireproof pair. — Elisabeth Daniels

continued on pg. 12

Meet the blind marathon runner on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at | 11

‘philanthropy’ to be in the name to set it apart from other networking groups aimed at young people. We wanted to reflect that there’s the gift of time, leadership and volunteerism, as well as a financial commitment involved — and while it’s nothing endowmentworthy, it’s a significant amount to the people involved.” (Disclosure: Mastrangelo was formerly an account executive for Nevada Public Radio.) Members fork over a minimum of $1,500 annually, which largely funds United Way programs. But there are hands-on projects too. In October, they established a mock savings bank at Walter Bracken Elementary School and wove some financial literacy into the curriculum. The kids have raised more than $7,000 so far. Those little investors will be rewarded with a splashy dividend: The goal is to save up for a trip to Sea World. Info: yps — Andrew Kiraly


A view (without a room)

The best way to get a view of the Strip? Easy: Rent a penthouse suite at a high-rise resort. But if price puts that out of reach, get high with this list — the best million-dollar views of Vegas you can gaze at for free, cheap or the price of a meal. The roof of the parking garage at McCarran Airport is a great vantage point for horizontal views of the east side of the Strip, especially at dusk. Don’t be surprised to find yourself surrounded by a forest of tripods. If you limit your visit to less than 15 minutes, it’s free. For a free panoramic view of the entire Vegas valley from the north, drive to the top of the Aliante hotel-casino’s parking garage in North Las Vegas. Alizé is Andre Rochat’s aerie at the top of the Palms. Whether you spring for dinner or just a hand-crafted cocktail at the bar, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautifully framed views of the Strip from the west. (You can enjoy the same view alfresco one level down at ghostbar.) The check-in desks at the Mandarin Oriental in CityCenter differ from others on the Strip: They’re on the 23rd floor. Ride up to the SkyLobby for a free look at the spectacular view toward the Strip’s north end through huge plate-glass windows. For a more leisurely visit, consider afternoon tea in the Tea Lounge, a drink at the Mandarin Bar or a French dining experience at Twist. The House of Blues’ Foundation Room began life as a private club. These days, a cover charge allows all comers to enjoy its dazzling view looking north up the Strip from the top of Mandalay Bay.


3 4

On March 2, participants in Scale the Strat take the Stratosphere’s stairs — all 1,455 — to raise money for the American Lung Association. Register at

12 | Desert

Pundit in flight: Jon Ralston is taking his brand solo.




In plane sight: The view from McCarran


Companion | February 2013


For a margarita or a Mexican dinner in addition to city lights, head to Lindo Michoacán Restaurant, perched on a hill at 645 Carnegie Street in Henderson. The tables next to the windows and the outside deck are especially sweet spots to watch the neon sparkle emerge as the sun sets. For a sensational view and a nightclub atmosphere slightly more casual than the ultra lounges of the Strip, check out the One Six Sky Lounge at the Eastside Cannery on Boulder Highway. It gets its name from its lofty location on the 16th floor. Many are familiar with the nighttime glow of Las Vegas that intensifies as you head north from Jean on I-15. Less widely appreciated is the magical vista that appears at Apex Summit as you head into the valley from the north at night. Think “jewels scattered in the darkness.” The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas offers a wonderfully romantic view from 46 stories above the Strip. The fee to ride the elevator is discounted during the day. The French restaurant on the 11th floor has a hypnotic view, too, but a meal there may well cost more than renting a room in a tower. We can’t leave out the Stratosphere Tower. If you dine at the Top of the World Restaurant, your ride in the elevator is complimentary. A leisurely meal in the slowly rotating dining room usually gives you two full, 360-degree views of the valley. Lunch offers the best value — and we suspect you’ll want to linger. — Megan Edwards

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R u nn e r : M a r c Pa u l u s / S t r ato s p h e r e C a s i n o h ot e l to w e r ; S k y l i n e : B r e n t h O L M ES

continued from pg.11


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Rex Berman director of operations Orleans Arena •W  hat’s so special about the Orleans Arena? A lot, actually. “We’re one of the 10 busiest arenas in America, and by far the busiest in Vegas,” says Berman. “We put on nearly 200 events per year, which, by comparison, is about triple the schedule of the Thomas & Mack.” Oh, snap! •H  ow’d he get the job? “Ten years ago, I was a stay-at-home dad. A buddy called and asked me if I wanted to paint the ice for this new hockey team (The Wranglers). So I came down and painted their very first sheet of ice. I stuck around, and wound up painting every sheet of ice they played on for five years.” •B  asketball season is Berman’s busiest time of the year, right? “Actually, no. The Orleans Arena is where Clark County holds all its high school graduations. During those two weeks, we have about half a million people come through our doors.” •B  erman was a Marine before he was an arena manager. Was? Once a Marine ... “It definitely helped with my work ethic, but mostly it prepared me for a leadership position. The staff respects my time in the service, but I learned in the Corps that leadership isn’t about giving orders. It’s about getting people to follow you. Most of what I learned in leadership school was about public speaking — learning how to motivate.” He’s mellowed a bit in his methods, however. “I had to learn to take the edge off. Stage hands don’t respond well to push-ups.” • And now, The Case of the Six-Foot Styrofoam Boot That Went Missing at Coyote Country Fest: “Well, it’s a boot, but we knew it didn’t just walk away, so when we realized it was missing, we went and checked our surveillance tapes. The boot was on the back dock, and we saw a guy in a cowboy hat walk up to it, look around, and then drag it off to a tour bus. ... So after the tour’s next stop, we looked on YouTube and saw Dierks Bentley out on stage next to a very familiar-looking boot.” BootGate ended when Berman called Bentley’s manager, who paid to replace the boot. •B  erman frequently sees famous faces on the job. “But I don’t always recognize them,” Berman says. “One time there was a comedy show, and we had a guy trying to get on stage without any credentials. He was this tall black guy in a purple suit, claiming to be J.J. Walker. As soon as he said, ‘Dynomite!’ I realized who he was and let him through.” — Alan Gegax

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Companion | February 2013



the browser

Love unwrapped Whether it’s a first date or big anniversary, here’s your V-day gift cheat sheet by Christie Moeller Vosges Haut-Chocolat 16 piece Noir Truffle Heart Collection, $45, Vosges Haut-Chocolat in the Forum Shops at Caesars Heart-warming Love Hello Kitty Build-ABear, $51.50, Build-A-Bear at the Galleria Mall and Fashion Show Mall

Wanna get to know you: The person you want to date Show them you’re interested with a small token that says, “I think you’re pretty cool and would like to get to know you better.”

Young love: Dating six months to a year Now’s the time to get serious. Get them something meaningful, personal, intimate and unique. Infuse it with your personality, whether a bit cheeky or sentimental.

Kate Spade “Get the Show on the Road” Idiom bangle, $88, Kate Spade in the Fashion Show Mall

Tiffany Hearts Locket with “I Love You” inscription in 18 karat rose gold ($875) on 18-karat rose gold chain ($175), Tiffany & Co. in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Philosophy X’s and O’s Kit, $24,

Deborah Lippmann My Touch My Kiss lip and nail duet, $38, Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall

New romance: Just started dating V-day can really throw a wrench into a new relationship. Keep it light with something fun and indulgent — but not too personal or you may scare them off.

16 | Desert

Companion | February 2013

La Perla Beatrice Ruffle Bustier and thong, price upon request, La Perla in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Henri Bendel “Sealed with a Kiss” jewelry box, $168, Henri Bendel in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Love and marriage Tell your wife how much you appreciate her. Something creative shows how well you know her — or reminds her of the special times you’ve spent together.


Zen-terior monologue Home is a sanctuary — and interior design should embody this idea. That’s the focus of this architecturally complex MacDonald Highlands home, whose owner wanted a design that soothes and centers. Cary Vogel of Interiors by Cary Vogel gave the rooms a Zen look in which minimalist touches create maximum relaxation. 1 Vogel chose a monochromatic design to create an overall soothing effect — and to highlight the owners’ art. “The apricots, the jade greens, the blues, all the colors in this vast collection of art is enhanced with the paint color,” says Vogel. “Taupe has a soothing way, especially in our desert environment; you don’t get a glaring effect in the house.”

2 Note the continuity of color and form. This subtle touch is intended to create a sense of peacefulness. “The envelope of paint and marble flooring is the first thing that is going to create that Zen feeling,” says Vogel. The walls, ceiling, and marble floors — which contain a lot of visual energy — are softened by a neutral taupe. But that doesn’t mean boring or bland: The play of shadow and light creates a variety of pleasing shades. 3 Comfortable furnishings with soft, clean lines and simple embellishments add to the Zen-like vibe. Even the tossed pillows are monochromatic creams and tone-on-tone. 4 The gentle robin’s egg blue of the dining room chairs also weaves through the Tibetan rug to complement the spacious room’s soft hue and create only a subtle contrast. The ¾-inch sandblasted glass dining room table top generates more clean lines.


1 4

5 The wall unit of rift-cut oak, by Castle Cabinets, hides the flatscreen television behind gray, glazed slab-front cabinet doors; the silver travertine marble surrounding the fireplace lends the unit just enough contrast to be interesting while remaining muted. — Chantal Corcoran 5


Retro remix

People no longer want to live in model homes. Maybe we’re still smarting from the housing crash; or maybe, as Andrea Miranda-Hall of Inspired Design ( suggests, we’ve discovered that the set-like feel of the model room doesn’t inspire individuality or comfort. Eclectic is now where it’s at. Here are her tips for diversifying your design portfolio on a budget. Merge the old and new. Pair your grandmother’s coffee table with your favorite pieces that survived the economic fallout. Add some retro — a splash of teal or starburst — and you’re tapped into the latest designer trend. Paint the town. To make your space groovy on a budget, MirandaHall says painting walls is easy and cost-effective. “We’re painting

18 | Desert

Companion | February 2013

Candy for your walls Wallpaper is back — but don’t worry. We’re not talking about the hideous floral nightmare of Aunt Carol’s kitchenette. Newly considered an affordable way to luxe up a room, wallpaper has come back hipper, cheaper and easier to apply than ever. Today they boast natural materials and interesting textures, like sea grass; bold patterns to liven up small rooms; and special designs for creating accent walls. Boutique wallpaper websites such as, and offer designs that are bold, novel and even outrageous. In a way, wallpaper 2.0 is getting back to its roots as a token of taste. European royalty originally decorated their walls with elaborate tapestries to warm up castle rooms — literally: The thick fabrics held back drafts. Then, in the 1400s, the commoners followed suit with a cheaper substitute — and wallpaper was born. In the 1600s, the French revolutionized the industry, emulating fabric on paper that would line the homes of Paris’ poor. By the 1700s, talented artists had begun designing wallpapers that found their way into manors across Europe — perhaps forbears of today’s new wallpaper avant-garde. — CC

cabinets like crazy, too.” A gallon of paint will spruce up oak cupboards — then add a fresh backsplash to totally change up a kitchen. Get creative with Grandma’s table, too. “An out-of-the-box color like red or orange completely modernizes an old piece.” Freshen up. Give an old chair a seat-lift with fresh fabric. Miranda-Hall suggests using less expensive fabrics for larger projects, then splurging on more elaborate materials for accents, like pillows and trim. Prioritize. Like to entertain? Start in the kitchen. Seeking serenity? Spend your money on the bedroom. Then move on to the next project when your budget allows. “Build on what you have, pull in fresh pieces. Wean out, do some editing. That gives your home that lived-in, eclectic feel.” — CC

h o m e i n t e r i o r s co u rt e sy o f i n t e r i o r s by c a ry vo g e l

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We’re proud proudto togive giveback back We’re We’re proud to give back to the the community communitywe wecall callhome. home. to to the community we call home. At Bank BankofofAmerica, America,we’re we’recommitted committedtotogiving giving back neighborhoods where work. At back to to thethe neighborhoods where we we livelive andand work. That’s why we contribute our time, energy and support to these area organizations: That’s we contribute time, energy andback support to these area organizations: At Bankwhy of America, we’re our committed to giving to the neighborhoods where we live and work. That’s why we contribute our time, energy and support to these area organizations: AmericanRed RedCross Cross American Brothers BigSisters Sisters BigBrothers Big American RedBig Cross Boys GirlsBig Clubs Boys &&Girls Clubs Big Brothers Sisters Candlelighters forChildhood ChildhoodCancer Cancer Boys & Girls Clubs Candlelighters for CatholicCharities Charities Candlelighters for Childhood Cancer Catholic Communities Schools Catholic Charities Communities InInSchools CommunityServices Services Nevada Communities In Schools Community ofofNevada Community Services of Nevada The Guidance Center TheFinancial Financial Guidance Center The FIT FIT Financial Guidance Center FIT Gay Gayand andLesbian LesbianCommunity CommunityCenter Center Gay and Lesbian Community Center Goodwill Industries Goodwill Industries Goodwill Industries Habitat Habitatfor forHumanity HumanityLas LasVegas Vegas Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas HELP of Southern Nevada HELP of Southern Nevada HELP of Southern Nevada Housing for Housing forNevada Nevada Housing for Nevada Junior JuniorAchievement Achievement Junior Achievement Las Natural LasVegas Vegas NaturalHistory HistoryMuseum Museum Las Vegas Natural History Museum Las Vegas Rescue Mission Las Vegas Rescue Mission Las Vegas Rescue Mission Legal Aid Southern Legal AidCenter Centerofof SouthernNevada Nevada Legal Aid CenterChildren’s of Southern Nevada Lied Discovery Lied Discovery Children’sMuseum Museum Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Lutheran LutheranSocial SocialServices ServicesofofNevada Nevada Lutheran Social Services of Nevada

Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Social Services of Nevada Lutheran Lutheran Social Services of Nevada Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Make-A-Wish Foundation Make-A-Wish Foundation Lutheran Social Services of Nevada Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation Make-A-Wish Foundation Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation Nevada Public Radio Foundation Nathan Adelson Hospice Nevada Public Radio Opportunity Village Nevada PublicVillage Radio Opportunity Rebuilding Together Opportunity Village Rebuilding Together Rebuilding Together Special Olympics Special Olympics Special Olympics Spread thethe Word Nevada Spread Word Nevada Spread the Word Nevada Teach for America Teach for America Teach for America The First TeeTee of of Southern Nevada The First Southern Nevada The First Tee of Southern Nevada The Hundtridge Teen Clinic The Hundtridge Teen Clinic The Hundtridge Teen Clinic The Public Education Foundation The Public Education Foundation The Public Education Foundation The Smith Center for the Performing ArtsArts The Smith Center for the Performing The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Three Square Three Square Three Square United Way of of Southern Nevada United Way Southern Nevada United Way of Southern Nevada University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation Vegas PBS Vegas PBS Vegas PBSDevelopment Center Women’s Women’s Development Center Women’s Development Center YMCA of of Southern Nevada YMCA Southern Nevada YMCA of Southern Nevada

For more information, stop by any of our convenient banking centers or visit us at Formore moreinformation, information,stop stop any convenient banking centers or visit us at For byby any of of ourour convenient banking centers or visit us at

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Hear historic tales from Reno’s divorce ranches on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at


Unhitchin’ post


Nevada’s lax marriage and divorce laws have made for memorable hookups, breakups and romantic shake-ups By Dorothy Wright

20 | Desert

Companion | February 2013

This Vegas wedding stuck: Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh in 1973. They’re still together.

Wealthy Maria Gable, known as Ria, moved into her attorney Frank McNamee’s home, which he obligingly vacated. She was there, as she told the press, to “catch up on my knitting.” Of course, what she was “knitting” was an end her 17-year marriage to Clark, so that he could marry blonde actress Carole Lombard. Being a good sport, Mrs. Gable allowed herself to be photographed playing roulette, boating on Lake Mead and skiing at Mt. Charleston. With the nationwide Gable publicity, and because of a new California law requiring a medical certificate as well as a three-day waiting period for marriages (the so-called “Gin Law”), divorces steadily increased in Las Vegas. And with that new divorce market came the advent of divorce ranches — dude ranches that catered to prospective divorcees. The former Kiel Ranch in North Las Vegas became the Boulderado Dude Ranch; Tule Springs in Centennial Hills opened its doors to sixweek residents; and, in the ’50s, cowboy actor Hoot Gibson opened his D-4-C Ranch just west of the Strip. Women (and the occasional man) could ride horses, go fishing and take an excursion to the gaming tables while they waited to get unhitched.

m i c h a e l c a i n e a n d s h a k i r a b a k s h p h oto c o u r t e s y l a s v e g a s n e w s b u r e a u

In 1931, in the throes of the Great Depression, the Nevada Legislature staked our state’s future on sin — divorce, gambling, easy marriage — as a way to draw tourists and their dollars. It was a bold move. Back then, divorce was scandalous — and strenuous. Most states had long waiting periods and a short list of grounds for granting a divorce, such as proven adultery. Enter Nevada, which enabled a six-week waiting period and allowed vague grounds for dissolving unions, such as “mental cruelty.” This opened the floodgates for the unhappily married to flock to Nevada — who brought more than their share of high-profile splits that have been enshrined in Las Vegas lore. Among them: • A bizarre case in 1931 that garnered headlines involved Minnie “Ma” Kennedy, mother of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, and herself a hellfire and brimstone preacher, and Guy Edward “Whataman” Hudson. After marrying Kennedy in Los Angeles, Hudson was charged with bigamy. He hightailed it to Las Vegas while his marriage to Kennedy was quickly annulled. Hudson settled in, officially to sell Buicks for Jim Cashman, but actually to divorce his first wife. Kennedy followed, preaching her fiery sermons on top of a blackjack table at the Boulder Club. The pair was united again in marriage — only to divorce acrimoniously a year later. • In October 1934, Hollywood socialite Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan novels, left his wife of 34 years and checked into the Apache Hotel (now the Horseshoe) in Las Vegas. He spent the six weeks gambling, playing tennis and chatting up his girlfriend, actress Florence Dearholt, on the phone. After the divorce was granted in December, he and Dearholt returned to Las Vegas in April to be married, each for the second time, proving writer Samuel Johnson’s adage that second marriages are “the triumph of hope over experience.” • In 1939, Las Vegas got a profile boost as a divorce mecca when Mrs. Clark Gable came to town to wait out the obligatory time period.

Drunk in love Little wonder that Las Vegas had an image as the place to “marry in haste, repent in leisure.” The post-midnight weddings between too-happy lovebirds have been roundly recounted in popular culture (think “The Hangover” and “The Hangover II”) and real life. • Pop singer and former child star Britney Spears, after an evening of excessive nightclubbing and substance-ingesting, married childhood friend Jason Alexander (no, not the “Seinfeld” star), but both parties agreed to an annulment shortly after. • Flamboyant Dennis Rodman, NBA basketball player and professional shock-star, married “Baywatch” actress/model/dancer Carmen Electra at a Las Vegas chapel at 7 a.m., only to declare later, “I was drunk.” They filed for an annulment nine days later, and the marriage was officially dissolved in six months. Electra told Time Magazine, “It’s easy to get caught up in the moment … but afterward you realize, ‘God, we did it in Vegas?’ It’s like getting a cheeseburger in a fast-food restaurant.” • In the 1970s, as Patty Duke recounts in her autobiography, “Call Me Anna,” she flew to Las Vegas in the throes of the manic state of her bipolar disorder. On the plane, she met a nice Jewish boy from Las Vegas, Michael Tell. After a whirlwind romance of a couple of days’ duration, they wed — only to part after her mood came back down to earth. But in honor of Valentine’s Day — and in Sin City’s defense — let’s remember that some of the happiest and longest-lasting marriages began in Las Vegas. • Kirk Douglas married the lovely Ann Buydens in 1954 at the Sahara Hotel. He’s now 96 — and they’re still married after 59 years. • Actress Bette Midler married performance artist Martin Von Haselberg in December 1984 at the historic Candlelight Wedding Chapel, which is now part of the Clark County Museum. They are the parents of a daughter, Sophie, and have an enduring marriage. • Another Candlelight wedding, that of Sir Michael Caine to Shakira Baksh in 1973, is approaching 40 years of connubial bliss. • Finally, actress Betty White married game show host Allen Ludden in 1963. It was her third marriage; he was a widower. Because of her previous bad luck at the altar, he had to ask her twice before she said yes. They were a famously happy couple until his death in 1981. She never remarried. But if White does get the love bug again, we’ve got plenty of wedding chapels that would gladly oblige her.


The Contest is back! | 21


Experts discuss romance in the digital age on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at


I do — with a view


Getting hitched? Give your vows a wow at these heart-fluttering, jaw-dropping wedding spots By Megan Edwards

Whether it’s for a drive-thru quickie or a lavish extravaganza, Las Vegas draws lovebirds from across the land to its endless array of wedding venues. This embarrassment of riches translates into a unique challenge for locals. With so many possibilities and such amazing variety, how to pick just one? Culled from the long, long list of awesome places to swap “I dos,” the 12 venues below offer romance to suit every taste and style.

The heig hts o f lov e The views are terrific from a thousand feet, so why not take the plunge at the Stratosphere Tower? For a traditional ceremony with sweeping valley views, choose between two charmingly appointed wedding chapels on the 103rd floor. Move up a few levels for alfresco possibilities on two observation decks and a private balcony. Thrill ride ceremonies are also available, if your definition of romance includes the word “adrenaline.” ( Queen o f the d e s er t Far more than a place to buy saguaros and Joshua trees, Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond

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Companion | February 2013

Bright future: The Neon Museum

Nursery is a garden of desert delights on Blue Diamond Road. Nestled among native trees and outdoor art on the western edge of the property stands a rustic wooden wedding chapel topped with a peak-roofed cupola. Inside, a large window provides a striking view of Red Rock Canyon. ( Vows a m o ng v i ews Sunset Gardens, a verdant oasis on Sunset Road at Annie Oakley, boasts a lavish resort setting for weddings and receptions. The candle-lit wedding chapel has views of the garden, as do three banquet rooms. Planning a fabulous wedding is made even easier by the on-site floral shop, beauty salon, day spa, tuxedo and bridal boutique and photography studio. Custom cakes, invitations and accessories are also available. The finishing romantic touch sure to get your heart hammering: thousands of twinkling lights in the trees. ( T he k i ng o f a l l we ddi n gs Louis the 14th meets Elvis at one-ofa-kind Hartland Mansion, which served as a location in the film “Casino.” Once two sepa-

p h oto : S c e n i c L a s V e g a s W e d d i n gs . c o m .

rate houses in the heart of downtown’s most storied neighborhood, this faux French palace on Sixth Street near Charleston features more than 30,000 square feet of vintage Vegas splendor. Ornately decorated rooms, an indoor swimming pool and a grand double staircase provide glamorous settings for ceremonies, receptions and photo shoots. A wedding here will add you to a star-studded list of earlier guests, which includes Willie Nelson, Engelbert Humperdinck and Ginger Rogers, not to mention Sharon Stone and Robert DeNiro. ( Lov e me tender The local tradition of getting hitched by the King need not be reserved for tourists only. Whether you want young Elvis in skin-tight jeans or the, ahem, mature Elvis in rhinestone-studded jumpsuit, your choices are nearly endless. One venue with a knack for “Love Me Tender” ceremonies is the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel on Las Vegas Boulevard near Charleston. The friendly and versatile staff at this bastion of kitsch can also help you plan

a themed wedding. Pirates? Zombies? Zombie Elvis? Your tastes are the only limit. The real shocker: Viva Las Vegas offers lovely traditional weddings, too. ( Our lov e i s wh e e l Climb aboard the Nevada Southern Railway in Boulder City for a wedding on a roll. Built by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1931 to aid in the construction of Hoover Dam, the train now runs along the scenic Boulder Branch Line for more than three miles. Newly refurbished, air-conditioned Pullman coaches, a dining car, and an open-air car offer unusual options for ceremonies and receptions. (, click “special events”) Hearts o n f i r e Spectacular red rock spires and brilliant strata form a fabulous backdrop for an outdoor wedding at Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first and largest state park. Scenic spots including the Seven Sisters, The Cabins and Rainbow Vista offer a variety of breathtaking settings for up to a hundred people. Sunset is

Latest flame: Valley of Fire

an especially enchanting time for a ceremony or photo shoot. ( T he r i ng , pl eas e Rapidly becoming the cultural heart of the city, The Smith Center is a wonderful new location to host a memorable wedding.


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romance A new stage: The Smith Center

The Grand Lobby and majestic Reynolds Hall can accommodate large groups in Art Deco magnificence, while Cabaret Jazz and the versatile Troesh Studio Theater offer more intimate surroundings. The outdoor Courtyard is another appealing option. Wherever a ceremony is held, a romantic touch is the ringing of the 47 cast bronze carillon bells in the center’s 17-story tower. (thesmithcenter. com, click “book your event”) Love o n the l a k e Romance rules at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson. Ravella Hotel and Resort’s Capella di Amore overlooks the lake from a bridge modeled after Italy’s fabled Ponte Vecchio. Nearby, the manicured gardens at Ravella and Aston MonteLago Village Resort offer lovely locations for outdoor ceremonies. For a wedding on the water, there’s the 80-foot La Contessa yacht, which features two decks, two bars, and a terrific sound system. (,, Going to th e c ha pe l For a traditional church wedding, the charming mission-style Chapel of the Holy Family beckons from the hills overlooking Lake Mead. This jewel on the campus of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children is vibrant with colorful murals, handmade tapestries and a warm Southwestern ambience. The Ranch can also host receptions. (, click “about”)

T h e pe a k o f h a ppi n e ss Winter, summer, and the seasons in between are all perfect times for a wedding at The Resort on Mount Charleston. With its breathtaking vista of the surrounding peaks and canyons, the resort’s Canyon Terrace is a spectacular setting for a fresh air ceremony. Cozy and warm, the resort’s elegantly rustic Aspen Room also has beautiful views and can accommodate up to 200 guests. ( W et a nd wi l d The list of offbeat spots for exchanging vows in Las Vegas is a long one — here are two that stand out. For the adventurous, a ceremony conducted under water in the 117,000-gallon aquarium at the Silverton Resort and Casino ( might be the perfect choice. In addition to several hundred piscine witnesses, mermaid bridesmaids are available. For a nostalgic twist, consider the newly opened Neon Museum ( This year on Valentine’s Day, the museum is offering special wedding packages in the “Neon Boneyard,” where the forest of classic signs creates a photogenic and uniquely Vegas backdrop. Of course, this list is just a tiny sample of Southern Nevada’s novel nuptial options. Can’t decide where to exchange vows? Look at it this way: You can always choose again when you’re ready to renew them.

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How to Seal the Deal with that Perfect Someone You’ve found that special someone to spend the rest of your life with and now’s the time to officially seal the deal. Proposing marriage is no small feat and many of us are petrified of not doing it perfectly. 28 | Desert

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around Valentine’s Day—the busiest time of year for ring shopping and question popping!” From February 1-15, the “Perfect Proposal Toolkit” offers a quirky collection of free tips and suggestions for proposal planning. The website – americangemsociety. org/Groom2B – provides suggestions for traditional and non-traditional proposals, recipes for romantic dinners, a list of the top mistakes to avoid when proposing, proposal trends, and even recommendations on Tweets for those who plan to propose in 140 characters or less. Also part of the website – a chance to win a romantic weekend staycation in our very own wedding capital of the world, Las Vegas! and American Gem Society partnered up to give entrants the chance to win a three-day/two-night staycation in Las Vegas, including hotel, show tickets and dinner. To sweeten the pot even more, American Gem Society is including a $1,000 gift certificate that is valid at any of the five American Gem Society member jewelers in Southern Nevada (or any of the 1,700 member jewelers in the country.) And finally, those who call 1-855-GROOM2B (476-6622) will hear recorded recommendations including tips on planning a proposal and how to pop the question, how to select an engagement ring and what to do if things don’t go as planned. Planning makes perfect, so let the “Perfect Proposal Toolkit” show you the way.

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Your future. Our past. It’s a match made in heaven. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Chairman of the Board, His Airness and even Dorothy, the little farm girl from Kansas all chose to tie the knot in Las Vegas. To book the Boneyard for your Neon Nuptials please contact Cynthia Behr Warso at


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A Cold War pilot recalls his favorite spy planes on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore | 33


How will the 2013 Legislature handle education funding? Find out on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at



Want a safer, saner, fairer state? All we have to do is pass these 10 laws this session By Steve Sebelius | Illustration BRENT HOLMES

So let me get this straight: It’s legal to possess medical marijuana — but illegal to actually buy it? Lobbyists must tell the public what gifts they’re lavishing on lawmakers — but only during certain months of the year? And in many cases, unelected bureaucrats are deciding how much public employees earn? We need to fix this. We need to pass some laws. This tally of suggestions for the 2013 Legislature, which starts Feb. 4, is the product only of my experience covering sessions dating to 2001. Some of these suggestions will surely pass, others are headed for the fate of the vast majority of would-be laws: the dustbin. But all are important, in one way or another, to the state and its future. Of course, it’s understood that this list is the beginning of a conversation, and not the end of one. That won’t come until the final gavel falls in Carson City in early June. With any luck, when it does, some of these common-sense laws may be on the books.

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Truth in Lobbying Law: Do you know what lobbyists are required to report about meals, gifts, travel or other emoluments lavished on lawmakers when the Legislature isn’t in session? Nothing.  There is no requirement for lobbyists to report any spending on lawmakers, save for when the Legislature is actually in session and a month before and after. That leaves 18 months in which gifts may be given freely without fear of disclosure. And whether that gift is a cup of coffee at Starbucks or a trans-Atlantic trip to England, the currency of relationship-building can flow in secret.  A bill to prohibit this practice died in the 2011 Legislature, even after it was revealed that some members had taken trips paid for by the since-indicted Internet gambling company PokerStars. Lawmakers said they were for it. Lobbyists said they had no problem with it. The public seemed to be in favor of it. 

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So what happened? A quick and quiet death in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee as the session drew to a close. It’s not clear who might bring the bill this time — sponsor Sheila Leslie was defeated by incumbent state Sen. Greg Brower in November — but somebody should put an end to the practice of using the calendar as cover. (Another possibility — an outright gift ban. Secretary of State Ross Miller says he’s thinking of bringing such a measure before lawmakers.)


“Sign the Damn Contract” Law: When confronted about the generosity of public-employee contracts, local government officials usually proffer the same excuse: It was not us who authorized that contract, it was an arbitrator’s decision. Blame him, not us. But nobody elected a binding arbitrator to watch over the public purse, and the rules that guide arbitrators are ridiculously skewed in favor of spending more.  Last session, freshman Republican state Sen. Michael Roberson brought a commonsense solution to the floor: In cases of management-labor disputes, eliminate binding arbitration entirely, and force elected officials to make the final call.  Not only would this force the people we elect to City Hall, the county commission, school boards and other local bodies to be accountable, it would introduce more flexibility, too. An arbitrator must choose either labor or management’s offer, and cannot alter either one. But local government officials could chose the best of both offers, if they thought it fair.  Unions will still lobby and help get local officials elected, hoping for a break on their contracts. But those politicians will also feel an accountability to the public. Because when we come asking who gave away the store, there’ll be nobody left to point at. 


Medical Marijuana Law: Nevada’s medical marijuana law is more a cruel joke than an actual progressive idea. While possession of small amounts of the drug is authorized, patients have no legal way to get it — purchasing marijuana remains illegal, even for patients with a doctor’s prescription. And while the law says you can grow your own, buying even the seeds is illegal. The law is currently under appeal, after one District Court judge finally called the entire

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… and four laws we must repeal (now!) 1

The constitutional cap on mining taxes: Since our state’s constitution was written by miners, it’s not surprising to see the industry protected by the supreme law of the state. But the net proceeds of minerals tax cap cost Nevada millions as gold prices soared in a countercyclical reaction to the recession. It’s too late to recoup that money. But the Legislature already approved Senate Joint Resolution 15 in 2011 that begins the process of repeal. If lawmakers approve it again this year, it will go to the people for a vote. Mining lobbyists have been working elected officials during the interim to persuade them to drop the idea, so passage of the resolution (which doesn’t need the approval of the governor) is by no means certain.


The constitutional ban on state lotteries:

This measure has come up more than 25 times since the 1970s, and it always ends in defeat. But with Nevadans lining up in Arizona and

California to buy tickets to big-jackpot lotteries, it’s time Nevada grabbed its share of the pie. (Fun fact: The busiest lottery markets by volume are the two nearest the Nevada-California border in the South and the North.) It’s far from an ideal way to raise money, preying on the greedy dreams of mathchallenged residents, but the ban is only sending Nevada cash flowing to other states.


The single-subject rule: This law limits

initiative petitions to a single subject, to avoid “log-rolling,” or including popular measures with poison pills. Enacted in the middle of the last decade in reaction to trial lawyer chicanery — they tried to gut medical malpractice caps by promising to lower auto insurance rates — it has killed nearly every initiative petition since. Single-subject attacks are a staple of legal challenges to initiatives, and even well-funded, well-written measures fail because of it. It’s worth remembering that voters

have rejected too-cleverby-half attempts to fool them at the ballot box, including the ones that gave rise to this rotten stumbling block.


The state constitution’s ban on gay marriage: It passed overwhelmingly in 2000 and 2002, but the national mood is now moving in the other direction. From the death of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to President Obama’s dropping of the legal effort to sustain the Defense of Marriage Act to the outright legalization of same-sex marriage in three states in November, Americans are becoming more progressive on this issue. Not only would gay marriage be a financial boon to Las Vegas, it would also be the right thing to do. A lawsuit attacking the constitutional ban was dismissed by a federal judge recently, and an appeal is pending, but starting the process of repealing this bad amendment could start in the Nevada Legislature in 2013. — SS

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scheme out for being ridiculous. But Nevada can fix this problem without a lengthy court fight by supporting a bill by Assemblymanturned-state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who wants to authorize a state-sanctioned distribution system for patients. It’s been discussed in past sessions, without success, even though the 1998-2000 initiative petition that legalized medical pot com-

manded the Legislature to provide a system for patients to get the drug. If Segerblom’s bill passes, it will be welcome relief for sick people, even if that relief comes 13 years too late.


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sight. A bill to require all usable road surfaces to be open, except when work is actually taking place, failed last session, but lawmakers should give it another look this time around. After all, this can’t be about worker safety if there are no workers working. And if convenience is the issue, then the convenience of the taxpayers who bought the roads should outweigh the convenience of those the taxpayers hire to maintain them.


Usury Law: Usury — the practice of charging outrageous interest rates — is condemned in the Bible, but not in the Nevada Revised Statutes. Payday loan outfits advertising cheap cash to recession-ravaged workers are sometimes little more than doorways to a neverending debt treadmill. A bill to limit interest to a national standard of 36 percent APR may still seem high, until you’ve seen what some victims of unscrupulous lenders end up paying.


Immigrant drivers’ licenses: Although this is a hot-button issue for some conservatives, it should not be. Creating a class of license for illegal immigrants would subject them to a driving test (as simple as that is) as well as allow them to legally purchase insurance. The law could be written to make clear that this class of license would not allow non-citizens to vote or get government services to which they are not legally entitled. There are few legitimate arguments against this idea.


“Show Us the Money” Law: Secretary of State Ross Miller has done an excellent job putting campaign finance disclosure documents online via the Aurora system. But deadlines are still too close to elections. A bill to require electronic disclosures of all contributions of more than $200 within 48 hours would not be onerous, and would help the public learn in real time who’s trying to influence elections. The idea has bipartisan support (Assembly Republican Minority Leader Pat Hickey has it on his list of campaign-reform to-dos). And while we’re at it, a change in the forms that requires campaigns to list cash on-hand at the start of a given election cycle would help the public track finances immensely.


Appointed constables: This issue is already on the legislative radar, thanks to “border-jumping” constables working outside their township jurisdictions to make more money. (Constables process eviction notices and serve court papers, and collect fees

38 | Desert

Companion | February 2013

for those services.) But Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura has made his office a case-study in needed reforms, from allegations of sexual harassment to deputizing lawyers, apparently to pay them for their services after the county commission denied a request to cover legal fees. A good fix would be to eliminate the elected position of constable, and allow the county commission to hire and fire constables. And while we’re at it, one constable per county — instead of one per township — should be sufficient, and would solve the “border-jumping” problem. Fees would flow to the county general fund.


Business tax: In Nevada, non-casino businesses pay no form of income tax. For years, we’ve been told this allows Nevada to attract new businesses and keep prices low. But with the state still suffering the highest unemployment rate in the nation and with prices basically equal to nearby states, both these contentions have earned the status of myth. A tax on business profits would simply put Nevada on equal footing with our neighbors, while supplying revenue to improve the one thing that might actually help spur economic development: improving K-12 and higher education in Nevada. The Nevada State Education Association has collected signatures for a 2 percent business margins tax, although that plan has been sidetracked by legal questions. Whether it’s that plan, or one devised by the Legislature, it’s long past time for this idea to pass.


Primary over caucus: In Nevada, everybody knows how to vote in a primary election, but the Byzantine caucus process is still a mystery. Run by political parties instead of the government, the caucuses have descended into chaos, especially the Republican caucus of early 2012, when vote counting took more than a day. Instead, Nevada should switch to a primary. Our state could still retain its early position in the political calendar if we — like the voters of New Hampshire — granted our secretary of state the authority to fix the caucus date himself. Then, if rogue states try to jump the calendar and move ahead, we could move our primary date up in turn. The only downside: Going to the polls three times in presidential election years (once for the early presidential primary, once for a primary election for state and local offices and once for the general election). The taxpayers would bear the cost, but we’d get a professional, well-run election instead of a chaotic mess run by amateurs. 

He wasn’t expected to survive. But it’s our job to defy expectations.

It was a whirlwind trip to another town in southern Utah to pick up a brand-new truck. The backand-forth was so fast, and Luke was so determined to get it done, that he fell asleep behind the wheel. The sound of his tires whizzing over the lane bumps w o k e h i m . H e j o l t e d , o v e rcorrected, and his new truck careened off the side of the road. When the truck stopped rolling, it was destroyed—and so was Luke. He was flown to UMC’s Trauma Center, where he was m et by Tra u m a S u rg e o n D r. Michael Casey. Dr. Casey and the team were immediately in action, assessing and prioritizing Luke’s injuries. Nearly every part of Luke was broken, including his neck. This left him a quadriplegic, unable to move a single limb; he couldn’t even move a finger or a toe. Dr. Casey had to tell Luke’s anxious family that the chances of his survival were small.

But the team worked, stabilizing and setting and striving to make Luke stronger. Days later, Luke was stronger in a dramatic way. He moved his fingers. Then his toes. Dr. Casey was able to take a shattered young man and send him, full of hope, to rehab. Today, Luke no longer needs a w h e e l c h a i r. A n d w h e n h e reunited with Dr. C asey at a Survivor’s Celebration, he was able to take a few hard-won and joyful steps! Only a Level I Trauma Center could have accomplished that. And UMC has the only Level I Trauma Center in the state. Every single day we return life, not just to the patient, but to all who love him. When we’re entrusted with people, even when the odds are against them, we do our utmost to hand them a second chance.

Nevada’s Only Level I Trauma Center • Nevada’s Only Designated Pediatric Trauma Center Nevada’s Only Transplant Center • Nevada’s Only Burn Care Center Nevada’s Most Highly Awarded Cardiology Care Home to Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC, The Only Children’s Hospital of Its Kind in the State Rated Top Five Pediatric Intensive Care Units in the Nation by Consumer Reports



Two seniors make the “Great Geezer Getaway” on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at



The ‘living ghost town’ of Randsburg yields rich mining history, a relaxed vibe — and timeless hospitality By Mark Sedenquist

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It’s 6:25 a.m., windy, and cold. I’m not sure how cold, exactly, but it’s sufficiently chilly that I’ve put my camera under my shirt to keep the batteries warm. The only creature out and about is the scruffy dog guarding The Joint, the saloon across the street from where I’m waiting for the sun to light up the picturesque façade of the general store. Why am I out here alone on the main street of Randsburg at dawn? Like thousands before me, I’m hunting for gold. The only difference is, I’m after the kind that reflects on windows for a few fleeting moments at sunrise. My predecessors were seeking the other, more durable variety. A number of them found it, too, making this erstwhile boomtown the heart of one of the richest mining districts in California.

The general store in downtown Randsburg, California

These days, I’m not the only one taking a short detour off Highway 395 to discover and photograph Randsburg’s charms. While only a handful of hearty souls call this “living ghost town” home, winter is the ideal season for soaking up the gold rush ambience the residents have worked hard to preserve and are proud to showcase. Nestled in the hills a little more than 200 miles from Las Vegas and about 20 miles south of Ridgecrest, Randsburg offers a unique weekend retreat for Southern Nevadans. Not only can visitors tour the museum, check out old mining operations, and browse the shops and galleries that line the main street, they can also leave the 21st century behind in a couple of other ways. While Verizon cell phone service is available up

p h oto : m a r k s e d e n q u i s t

Stay gold

The sleepy vibe of Randsburg belies a ghost town rich in history.

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

Black Mountain Institute and the Eleanor Kagi Foundation are proud to present

Writing in an Untenable World: An Evening with Nobel Laureate

Wole Soyinka Tuesday, February 12, 7 p.m. UNLV Student Union Theatre The uncompromising works of Wole Soyinka have brought him into conflict with authoritarian regimes throughout his life, resulting in persecution, imprisonment and exile from his native Nigeria. Please join the Black Mountain Institute and the Eleanor Kagi Foundation for an evening with the Noble Laureate, who will share his insight into the writer’s endangered role in the twenty-first century.

the event is free, unticketed, and open to the public Presented with generous support from Nevada Public Radio, Las Vegas CityLife, and the Caesars Foundation. Call (702) 895-5542 for more information about our events. | 41


All uphill from here By day, it’s fun to explore the hills around Randsburg. Just to the south of town are tailings left from the area’s first mine. Back in the spring of 1895, three prospectors discovered a seam of gold that resulted in a multi-million dollar operation they dubbed the Yellow Aster. By December of the same year, the Rand Mining District had been organized, and the resulting gold rush brought instant prosperity to Randsburg. By late 1897, the town boasted 50 buildings, including a church, a bank and a hotel that served hundreds of meals a day. The district’s first stamp mill was crushing gold ore around the clock. “It was noisy,” says J. Bart Parker. Parker is Randsburg’s historian and curator of the Rand

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Desert Museum from Top: (randdesertTrona Pinnacles, east of Ridgecrest, Calif.; a display at the Rand Desert Muin the center of seum; art in the Randsburg Art Gallery; Bart Parker, “History is to be shared,” he says, and the town. Also an curator of the museum exhibits in the two-gallery building reflect antique dealer, this firmly held belief. Old newspapers are Parker recently carefully protected, but they’re on display for brokered the sale of a pair of Levi’s jeans a local visitors to enjoy, along with mining claims, found in a deserted mine shaft. mineral samples, high school yearbooks, min“They were in mint condition,” he says. ing tools, even clothing, housewares and toys. “Still in their original package.” The Levi’s sold Among the museum’s most for $30,000. valuable holdings is a collecParker took me tion of rare photographs doon a driving tour of nated by a descendant of one Randsburg’s enviThe fastest route from Las Vegas of the founders of the Yellow rons, which are covto Randsburg is via I-15 through Aster Mine. The photos ofered with skeletal Barstow, then north along Califer a priceless glimpse of the buildings, tailings, fornia Highway 58 to US Highway town during its glory days. tunnels and other rel395. For the return trip, consider Part of the reason old ics of the area’s mindriving through Panamint Valley. photos are so valuable is ing past. Some mines Keep an eye out for military that Randsburg has suffered were still in operation fighter jets practicing low-level flying before heading over Towne through more than its share as recently as 2006, Pass and dropping into Death of devastating fires. Wooden and fresh mining acValley and back to Las Vegas. buildings, dry wind and a tivity is always a possource of ignition are all it sibility. The Yellow takes, more than one local exAster is now owned plained. While a Kern County Fire Station on the by Goldcorp, one of the largest gold mining town’s main street has reduced the threat in recompanies in the world. cent years, fast-moving wildfires keep Randsburg “The district produced nearly a billion doland its charming buildings perennially at risk. lars of ore in today’s dollars,” Parker says. The Among the buildings that have survived ore produced not only gold, but silver and since the town’s original “boom” is the impostungsten, too. ing First Bank of Randsburg. Currently owned Back in town, Parker showed me the collecby Randall “Hoot” Smith, the bank is now a tion of artifacts on display in the museum.

Getting there

T r o n a P i n n a c l e s : m a r k s e d e n q u i s t, B a r t Pa r k e r , R a n d s b u r g A r t G a l l e r y : M e g a n E d wa r d s

the highway in Ridgecrest, Randsburg has none. There wouldn’t be any WiFi for visitors, either, if it weren’t for the entrepreneurial hospitality of a legendary motocross champion and a fourth-generation Randsburg native. Todd R. “Goat” Breker and his wife “Scrappy” are your hosts at Goat’s Sky Ranch (, a hostelry that, in addition to offering comfortable lodging, truly merits the adjective unique. Traditional bed-and-breakfast accommodations are provided in the charmingly restored historic hotel once known as the Cottage Inn. For those who (like me) want to experience the ambience of a real miner’s cabin, Goat and Scrappy have restored and updated four historic dwellings around town. Now equipped with full kitchens, comfy furniture and all modern amenities, the cabins would make a forty-niner drool. The weathered siding, vintage windows and corrugated roofs, however, allow guests to soak up the feel of boomtown days. So far, Goat and Scrappy have restored four cabins of varying sizes, and they’re working on a couple more. I stayed in the Hill Street cabin, which has panoramic views of the surrounding rugged countryside. Since the two bars in town close early (if they open at all) — and most visitors leave and the 60 or so locals disappear into their homes — Randsburg is dark and quiet as soon as the sun goes down. This makes for spectacular stargazing, made even more wonderful by the big deck on the Hill Street cabin. In less than 20 minutes, I counted a dozen falling stars.

p h oto : M e g a n E d wa r d s

shakes are available at the oldfashioned soda fountain. Two bars, The Joint and The White House, are open when the owners are in the mood, which is most likely on weekends.

fine art gallery showcasing artists whose work reflects the history and natural beauty of the area. It’s Smith who summed up another facet of Randsburg’s evolving personality. “Randsburg is to dirt bikes as Sturgis is to Harley Davidsons,” Smith says. Because of its location in the heart of an area revered by off-road enthusiasts, the town is a popular pit stop for folks on dirt bikes, dune buggies, sand rails and four-wheelers. The Randsburg General Store ( serves up breakfast and lunch at long tables, and classic milk-

T r eas u r e s nea r a nd fa r Because the day-tripping off-roaders leave town before dark, visitors staying in town must fend for themselves for dinner. One option is to make advance arrangements with Scrappy at Goat’s Sky Ranch, and another is a quick drive into Ridgecrest, where I discovered some great grub and friendly service at Casey’s Steaks and BBQ (760-446-8000). Along the main street are a number of antique stores, including Charlie’s Ore House, “the best little ore house in Randsburg” (760374-2238). Browsers are welcome, but, given the eclectic array of quirky merchandise available at every price point, it’s difficult to

limit yourself to window-shopping. Nearby, a photo studio with costumes lets you dress up in the styles of yesteryear for your portrait. Another building worth a quick visit is the town jail at the edge of town. (It’s always open — just yank hard on the door.) For an additional bit of colorful history, head to nearby Johannesburg, where you’ll find the final resting place of Evelyn Ann “Tonie” Seger in the Mountain View Cemetery. You’ll recognize it by the big brass bed. Scenic wonders unrelated to mining but worth a detour are the Trona Pinnacles, a collection of spiky tufa formations — some nearly 150 feet tall — accessible by a gravel road about 37 miles from Randsburg. As you approach these odd spires — dusk, dawn and a night with a full moon are the most photogenic times to visit — you might get a sense of déjà vu. Dozens of shows and films including “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek,” “Lost in Space,” and “Planet of the Apes” have all used this unusual landscape to evoke alien worlds. But with Randsburg nearby, more down-toearth pleasures are never very far away.

You may not see us, but your mining industry is with you. Every day. Using environment-conscious methods we: • Create more than 60,000 high-paying jobs

Learn more at

• Pay $300

• Supply the minerals that help create the products you depend upon

million in state and local taxes

And most importantly, we’re proud to be a major source of financial support for Nevada’s children, families and education. | 43


News Reviews Interviews F OR K O F F ! O n t h e P l at e


The dish

Soup is on!


Fork off

Land these fish — and chips


On the plate

New restaurants opening this month


Eat this now

Meatball madness at a hot new spot Souper, man: buta-san ramen bowl at Shoku Ramen-ya

PHOTOGRAPH BY Sabin Orr | 45


Flavor in the round: matzoh ball soup at Bagel Café

t the dish

Liquid courage

Whether you crave soulful satisfaction or a shock of spice, dip into these six soups By BROCK RADKE | Photography Sabin orr Though the temperature can dip to freezing and our winter winds can inspire a certain unique misery, real Las Vegans look forward to this cold season. (As long as it’s a short one.) It allows us activities that don’t make sense during most of our desert existence, things like wearing comfy sweaters and using our fireplaces for more than ironic mood-setting. And of course, it’s time for soup. Just thinking about diving into a mammoth bowl of fragrant, funky pho, chunky clam chowder, or steaming, soulful, grilled-cheeseshotgun-riding tomato soup can make you

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feel warmer and happier. The Campbell’s people understated it: Soup is more than good food, it’s medicinal. It’s the reason the word “soothing” exists, but you don’t have to be coughing or sneezing for full appreciation. It’s the cure for being a hungry human. But remember: You’re a grown-up. A can opener and a hot stove isn’t enough to get the job done anymore. Consider the following to be your seasonal soup prescription, six bowls of betterthan-home-cooking love, and expect this dose to cure whatever your condition may be. Start. Your. Spooning.

Matzo h Ba l l So up at Bag e l Ca fé The Summerlin-area, New York-style delicatessen has set the standard for an almost unbelievable 16 years. Of course, matzoh ball soup has been solving our problems since the Ten Commandments came out. But no Vegas restaurant does it better than Bagel Café, where even a “small cup” of soup is packed tightly with big chunks of vegetables, hunks of long-stewed, juicy chicken and tender noodles, all swimming in savory golden elixir that may or may not provide reptilianlike regenerative powers to those partaking. Of course, the dense, flavor-absorbing matzoh ball is the center of this soupy solar system, satiating your hunger while the broth quenches your being. This soup is an everyday medication, a take-as-necessary situation. (301 N. Buffalo Drive, 255-3444)

Soy oh boy: Shoku Ramen-ya’s shoyu ramen bowl

tion’s oyster bar is just as great and not as packed. Some of you might try to say this thicker, silkier concoction is more stew than soup. I say: Shut up. It’s a vibrant mouth rainbow, sweet and briny seafood mingling with warm, velvety richness to create something unique and memorable. A pan roasts saturates while it soothes. It’s soup for when you deserve to indulge. (Texas Station, 2101 Texas Star Lane, 631-1000)

Ra me n at Sh o ku Ra me n-ya Real ramen — an artful, authentic Japanese delight, not a noodle brick in a plastic package — arrived in Las Vegas when Chinatown’s splendid Monta Sea legs: Texas Station’s pan roast opened almost three years ago. Since then, we’ve enjoyed a bit of a ramen boom, and the most recently opened, utterly delicious ramen house, Shoku, comes from the team behind Pan R oast at T exas the popular Bachi Burger. Unlike Bachi’s fustati o n ’ s Oyst e r B a r siony approach, it’s back to the pure basics at The casino oyster bar is something Shoku, which translates into clean, luxurious of a lost art these days, but luckily Station Cabroth, slurpable noodles and perfect topsinos and a few others are keeping this casupings to add some sparkle to your face. Stick al, delicious dining option alive. Lots of folks to the lighter side with shoyu (soy) or spicy swear by the grub at Palace Station’s seamiso broth, or pig out with the buta-san rafoodery, but the pan roast — brandy, cream, men, tonkotsu (pork) broth layered with and spicy-as-you-like-it tomato sauce laced noodles, three kinds of pork, green onions, with shrimp, crab and lobster — at Texas Sta-

February 23 9 a.m. at blue sky yoga Ready for a good stretch? Grab your yoga mat and join us at Blue Sky Yoga, where we’ll chat with yoga expert Cheryl Slader — and try out a few poses, too. 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #250, inside the Arts Factory

For more inFormation visit us online at | 47



tender bamboo shoots and black garlic oil. When you want to be warm and full for several days, Shoku’s your spot. (470 E. Windmill Lane #110, 897-0978)

Bun Bo Hue at Ph o B osa

Brio Tuscan Grille

Table 34

In Tuscany the food is everything. Tuscan Culinary Creations are mastered at Brio using the finest and freshest ingredients. Brio brings the pleasures of the Tuscan country villa to the American City.

Featuring Chef Wes Kendricks’ contemporary American cuisine including safe harbor certified fresh fish, wild game, duck, lamb, angus beef, and comfort food classics. Conveniently located off the 215 and Warm Springs. Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5pm until closing (around 10pm)

TOWN SQUARE, 6653 Las Vegas Blvd. So., Las Vegas, NV, (702) 914-9145

600 E. Warm Springs Road Las Vegas, NV (702) 263-0034

TIVOLI VILLAGE 420 S. Rampart Suite 180 Las Vegas, NV, (702) 433-1233

The cure the common co CPA T he cu c ure for for the common CPA

Prescr ipt ions f or: nizations a • Nonprofit Org ties Enti • Government ss • Small Busine • Individuals w ww.T .T Tru rustHR stHRC.c .com 48 | Desert

Companion | February 2013

Bosa 1 was our best Vietnamese restaurant when it was on Jones Boulevard, so now that it’s moved east on Spring Mountain (closer to the Strip) and added lots of rejuvenating pho to the menu, I guess it’s better than the best. When you return, take the opportunity to step your game up to volcanically spicy bun bo hue, another beef noodle soup with some extra special components. We’re talking copious amounts of lemongrass adding some edge to the beefy broth, tender chunks of pork and beef shank, and cubes of ginger-infused pork blood with beyond-umami depth. You don’t want your soup to be scary? Fighting through the fear is worth these titanic flavors and an immediate end to your hangover. (3355 Spring Mountain Road #35, 418-1931)

Co nso me Lo co at Los Antojos Starting to notice a trend? Tiny ethnic enclave equals superb soup. Different neighborhood, different cuisine, different holein-the-wall, same maximum satisfaction. The only thing crazy about the consome loco at Los Antojos, a Mexico City-style restaurant popular among adventurous foodies, is how cheap it is. A few measly dollars gets you a big bowl of seemingly simple ingredients (chicken, rice, cilantro, onion, avocado, lime) that somehow manage to synthesize into a meal you’ll wish you could have every day. Is this the Mexican version of matzoh ball soup? (2520 S. Eastern Ave., 457-3505)

To m K h a K h a i at C h a da Th a i & Wine This intimate, culinarily thrilling new Thai restaurant is the only soup spot on this list not open for lunch. But nighttime is the right time, too, and Chada’s superior Tom Kha Khai is the best way to begin an exploration of this innovative menu. Shards of chicken and straw mushrooms dotting this creamy concoction give it a humble appearance, until you begin to work your way through the layers of taste in this light broth — coconut milk, of course, but then waves of ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and finally, the throat-tingling burn and smoky essence of those tiny bird’s-eye chilies. Order it as spicy as you can stand it and get those endorphins moving. (3400 S. Jones Blvd., 641-1345)


New restaurant openings this month ANDIAMO ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE opens feb 1. A fixture in Detroit and considered one of the best Italian eateries in Motor City, Andiamo is now open in the D Las Vegas. It aims to continue its tradition of offering homemade breads and handmade pasta, as well as its signature steak, the Andiamo Tomahawk. Hours are 5-11p nightly. 388-2220,

Public House’s seaworthy contender

Rí Rá’s whale of a dish

F o r k o ff !

A fish and chips fight to the gills Public House’s fancy plate takes on Rí Rá’s hearty dish By Julie Hession | Photography Christopher smith In this episode, we compare two takes on that most famous plate in pub grub: fish and chips. In one corner, we have a popular, no-frills Irish joint; in the other, a gastropub taking a few liberties with their interpretation. Let’s cast. The contenders: Public House’s Chatham Bay cod with salt and vinegar chips ($27), and Rí Rá Irish Pub’s crispy battered haddock with chipper chips (reg. $14.95/large $19.95). The fish: Ever trendy, Public House keeps their fish seasonal, serving three pieces of Belgian beer-battered fish: Saison-battered cod in the winter and Hoegaarden halibut during summer. Although the fish was firm and flaky, the batter lacked the ideally crisp coating that Rí Rá executed so well. Rí Rá’s piece of North Atlantic Haddock arrived well-seasoned, prominently draped across the plate. Made from “secret” ingredients (a list you’ll never pry from your server), their beer batter creates a crunchy break when cut with a fork, releasing steam from the hot and juicy fish. Winner: Rí Rá. The chips and dips: Although “delicate” isn’t a word you associate with alehouses, the slender cut fries at Public House earn it. Crisp with an addictive salt and vinegar coat, the chips are accompanied by

braised cabbage and a fresh herb tartar sauce. Rí Rá’s unevenly cut, thick chips, served alongside a tangy Irish remoulade, create an ample bed for the fish, but they could have stood an extra 15 seconds in the fryer. Both versions left me looking for my side of mushy peas. Winner: Public House. The look: Public House’s thoughtfully stacked filets sit adjacent to fries perched upright in a tidy metal ring. While by no means fancy or artistic, Rí Rá’s presentation is quintessentially pub-like, their main concern clearly being how to pile the impressive amount of food onto the plate. (Wrapping the fish in newspaper would have given either contender the authentic edge and the win.) Draw. The value: Rí Rá’s larger portion arrives with both ends hanging off the edges of the plate. The regular size could satisfy a hungry rugby scrum-half, washed down with perfectly poured pints of Guinness. Public House’s version is much more proper, each component fitting neatly onto the serving plate with room to spare. While neither will leave you hungry, the fact that your meal at Rí Rá is served by someone with a genuine Irish brogue makes this category no contest. Winner: Rí Rá. The fish and chips king of the sea: Rí Rá.

Nobu restaurant and lounge Opens feb. 4. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Nobu Hospitality are capping off their new 181-room boutique hotel at Caesars Palace with the nearly 13,000 square foot Nobu Restaurant and Lounge. In addition to a private dining area, lounge and bar, the restaurant will also feature several teppanyaki tables and a full sushi bar.

gordon ramsay pub & Grill opened dec. 18. Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Caesars Palace aims to do double duty with two distinct grill and pub menus, offering grill dishes such as Scottish salmon and Irish beef cheek stew, and “elevated” pub fare such as pub spots (a British slider), fried egg sandwiches and brick-pressed Cornish chicken. They also have 24 beers on tap, as well 63 bottled selections.

Public House Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd S., 407-5310, Rí Rá Mandalay Bay Place, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd S., 632-7771, | 49


eat this now! Do you have an IRS TaX PRoBLeM?

Our favorite recent dishes that have us coming back for seconds

DIVORCED? SEPARATED? WIDOWED? BAD MARRIAGE? IRS may owe you! Richard A. Perlman, Enrolled Agent Licensed by Department of the Treasury 30-yeaR CaReeR WITh The IRS


MEATBALL SPOT’S Beef meatballs Town Square’s new temple to meatballs reimagines the red-sauce restaurant staple in myriad forms: pork, lamb, turkey and even lentil. But the basic beef version — seasoned with Italian spices and made feather-light with ricotta — is comfort fare at its finest. Keep it traditional with classic tomato sauce and a blanket of melted mozzarella on top. Your Nonna would wince at the slice of French bread on the side, but it’s just enough to sop up the extra sauce that pools at the bottom of your bowl. — Debbie Lee

Meatball Spot town square, 6605 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 641-7768,

Island Flavor’s kalua pig & cabbage Nothing is subtle about the offerings from this Hawaiian stalwart, as plates are always overflowing. Generally considered the best “local” valley restaurant among transplanted islanders, the portions are overwhelming — and overwhelmingly delicious. The kalua pig is among their best choices. With its smoky, shredded swine served alongside cabbage, mac salad and white rice, the dish evokes a luau. If you’ve finished your plate, you may not feel inclined to do much else besides hum “Tiny Bubbles” and bask in Hawaiian heaven. — Jim Begley

Island Flavor 8090 S. Durango #103,

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Companion | FEBRUARY 2013


SNWA is a not-for-profit public agency.

Play your part and convert your turf to water-smart landscape. See the gallery at It’s a desert out there. Be

Subaru of Las Vegas 5385 West Sahara Avenue (702) 495-2100


B e st O f T h e C i ty Whether it’s a sandwich or spa, bookstore or Bloody Mary, hiking trail or tailor, you’ll find the best of it all in the pages ahead. But we wouldn’t be doing our best if we didn’t make a few upgrades. Thus, our third annual Best of the City boasts a few new twists. In addition to our team of expert eaters, drinkers and shoppers, this year, we also feature picks from neighborhood experts in every corner of the valley, who rave about the bestiest things in their ’hoods. But perhaps the most savvy expert of all? You. Check out the readers’ poll results on page 65 to see if your favorite made the cut. For you — only the best. | 55

Best pancakes

Eat & Drink



Brock Radke I’m a food editor at Las Vegas Weekly, a culinary explorer and a second-generation sandwich adventure consultant. Best fried chicken Meat & Three Best new pizza (on the Strip) Allegro

This Wynn restaurant has always hosted excellent chefs doing their version of casual Italian food. Now, refashioned as Allegro, it has an excellent casual Italian chef — Enzo Febbraro — cooking his food, including killer Neapolitan pizzas that rival any in town, cracker-crisp and finished with artful flair like the focaccia: crème fraiche, smoked salmon and chives. (Wynn, 248-3463,

This new neighborhood pleasure cafeteria is all about Southern-style satisfaction, simple meats with soulful sides, and the thick-crusted buttermilk fried chicken sets the tone. Hot and juicy on the inside, savory and crunchy on the outside, this is dream-come-true food. Try it with bacon-dill potato salad. (10940 Eastern Ave. #108, 473-5577) Best new pizza (in the neighborhood) Those Guys Pies

Can you find great New Yorkstyle pie hiding in our tony ’burbs? Look in the Lakes and find Those Guys, who crank out pristine pizza perfection

with uncanny consistency. Go all-white (ricotta, mozzarella and garlic) or all-meat (sausage, meatballs, pepperoni and bacon) and stay happy. And try the cheesesteaks, too. (2916 Lake East Drive, 629-2626,

Best public house Public House at The Venetian

Best place to hide from clubhoppers at Encore Sinatra

Who let all these damn kids in here? Today’s brand of Vegas nightlife can be jarring, but there are still beautiful spaces in our beautiful resorts away from all the oontzoontz. Let the great chef Theo Schoenegger take care of you at the Chairman’s garden-side restaurant, a delectable shelter. (Encore, 248-3463,

Best underground foodfest

Best place to rediscover your love for Vegas

Think the food truck fad has dwindled? Not so fast. They huddle at industry dive Tommy Rocker’s every Saturday at 8 p.m., serving up their wild and mobile

Companion | FEBRUARY 2013

grub and occasionally letting top chefs from the Strip borrow their wheeled kitchens for the rowdy Back of the House Brawl. Be ready for a party if you take this trip. (Tommy Rocker’s, 4275 Dean Martin Drive, 261-6688,

There are two different booze-andgrubs with the same name on the Strip, but it’s no contest. The Luxor version is a glorified sports bar. The Venetian spot is the best gastropub Vegas has to offer, complete with a mind-blowing craft beer selection and imaginative cuisine that hammers the sweet spot. (Venetian, 407-5310,

Saturday Night Truck Stop

56 | Desert

Sorry, fans of Du-par’s. Second place for you. Good news is the top ’cakes are still downtown, at chef Natalie Young’s hipster magnet diner. Hers are a little thinner, a little eggier, with buttery-crunch edges that should be trademarked. There’s even a sausage on top, waiting for that lovey-dovey maple syrup first kiss. (707 Carson St., 534-1515,

Picasso’s terrace

Remember the end of the remade “Ocean’s Eleven,” when Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and the guys are super happy and at peace at the Bellagio’s foun-

F R I E D C H I C K E N , P u b l ic H o u se , G n o cchi : C H R I S TO P her s m ith ; P ret z e l S a nd F o nd u e c o u rtesy o f C u l in a ry D r o p o u t

Nom-noms and big buzzes

Best gnocchi from an oven Due Forni semolina gnocchi

Truth in advertising: Due Forni (Italian for “two ovens”) has only two cooking appliances: ovens. With this in mind, Executive Chef Carlos Buscaglia devised an ingenious method for preparing gnocchi in-house — semolina. Served in a black truffle crema awash with ample Nueske’s bacon, the result is a cavalcade of smoke and umami. Who needs a stovetop? (3555 S. Town Center Drive #105, 586-6500,

Best poutine Naked City Pizza Shop

tains? Wait for perfect weather, then return to this iconic Vegas restaurant space. The backside fountain view, the supreme French-Spanish cuisine and the charmingly superior service will have you smiling just that huge. Trust. (Bellagio, 693-8865,


Jim Begley I’m an avid food- and drinklover who writes to defray my obscene restaurant spending habit.

Best post- or pre-concert snack Pretzels and fondue at Culinary Dropout

Whether you’re catching a headliner at the Joint or digging the scene at Vinyl, you’re going to need some fuel, and the Hard Rock’s new pub has a menu full of shareable, lovable snacks. The best are these warm, soft, sea-salted pretzel nuggets with melty provolone cheese dip. Don’t worry, you can come back after the show for more. (Hard Rock Hotel, 522-8100,

Best new steakhouse McCall’s Heartland Grill

Steakhouses on the Strip are all the same, and they’re all expensive. Nope. The Strat’s newest restaurant is bangin’ for your bucks, stocked with incredible steaks for $30 or less and fun, flavorful bites like lollipop chicken

wings, green curry seafood fettuccine, bacon-jalapeño prawns and chili-roasted St. Louis ribs. (Stratosphere, 800-998-6937,

Best secret sandwich shop Baguette Café

Even if you spot it from the southwest beltway, this place is hard to get to. But once you smell the fresh baguettes and croissants, you’ll know you’re in sandwich heaven, a happy place where the only stress comes from deciding between prosciutto and blue cheese or curried chicken. (8359 W. Sunset Road, 269-4718)

Poutine — fries with cheese curds smothered in gravy — are a gift from our neighbors to the north. Buffalo native Chris Palmeri’s version is dutifully served with hand-cut fries whose freshness is not obscured by the addictive toppings. Since Buffalo’s nearly in Canada, you can rest assured you’re partaking of authenticity. (Moondoggies Bar, 3240 Arville St., 243-6277,

Best classic to revisit

Best off-Strip lunchtime steal


Kyara’s saba shio lunch special

Long before Joël, Guy and even Wolfgang arrived in the valley, Chef André Rochat was our first celebrity chef. While his original eponymous downtown outpost is gone, he can still be found serving classically inspired French cuisine from his tucked-away Monte Carlo outpost. He’s worth tracking down. (Monte Carlo, 798-7151,

Best hummus Sababa

Sababa owner Rami Cohen makes his hummus fresh daily — sometimes in batches up to 100 pounds a day. Paired with some of his made-to-order falafel, you’ve got yourself a simple but delightful dipping meal. (3220 S. Durango Drive, 547-5556,

Kyara’s $9 lunch consists of miso soup, salad with ginger dressing, a variety of lightly-fried tempura, steamed rice and your choice of meat. I prefer the saba shio – perfectly grilled mackerel with the smokiness inherent to Kyara’s robata grill offerings. It’s a lot of food, so go hungry. (6555 S. Jones Blvd. #120, 434-8856,

Best hostel-esque Eastern European haunt Prince Restaurant

Prince Restaurant may be tiny, isolated and have a cigarette machine in the restroom (seriously), but overcome your trepidation and you’ll find a very inviting staff with an incredibly interesting | 57

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Centennial Hills

Best dish served on a stone

Raves from the expert next door

Carmine Little Italy’s shrimp on a stone

Best massage d Watch Centennial hborhooHills Neig Salon & Day Spa

In Centennial Hills, you’re away from the city’s bustle, but the commute Retro Bakery makes for some District University MASSIVE ROAD RAGE. If this spa’s Best breakfast massages don’t joint dispel stress, their The Cracked Egg Sunday meditation Why are crowds classes will. d Watch o o h r o b 7991 lined up at the h W. Tropical Neig Parkway #120, door? Because 839-9669, this breakfast is so good it’s worth waiting for. From Best sushi their coffee cake Summerlin Sushi Loca of the day to spe& environs Crazy for sushi? cialty scrambles Then this is the and skillets, this loplace for you. Mucally owned eatery sic pumping, sake will start your day bombs blowing off right. — and scrump-Watch5570 Painted Mirage d o o h r o b Road, tious h sushi with Neig 645-9438, thecrackeirreverent names such as “68 and I Owe You One” and Best bakery “Tastes Like My Retro Bakery Ex-Girlfriend.” Downtown 6181 Centennial The dynamic and Center Blvd quirky husband558-5622, and-wife duo of Brian and Kari

Haskell offer everything from Alice in Wonderland-worthy fantasy cake designs to classic wedding cakes, but they’re best known for dishing out tasty cupcakes from Maple Bacon to Cotton Candy. Even sweeter: They offer vegan and gluten-free goodies, too.

7785 N. Durango Drive #130, 586-3740, Best organic experience

Gilcrease Orchard Buying organic is great. Even better is when you

2012 was a year of celebration as we rejoiced the return of Carmine’s shrimp on a stone. This simple dish — shrimp sautéed in garlic and oil and cooked on a piping hot stone — is seriously addictive. One taste of caramelized shrimp and garlic served tableside and you’ll be hooked. (2940 S. Durango Drive, 243-7777,

Best beer bar you’ve never been to Aces & Ales

Centennial Hills Salon & Day Spa

can pick organic. Gilcrease has everything from pears to potatoes, apples to arugula. Check their website to see what’s

in season.

7800 N. Tenaya Way, thegilcreaseorchard. org

— Christie Moeller

Watch borhood Find more of the best in your neighborhood at NeighBonus

menu. You’ll wonder why there aren’t Serbian joints on every Southern corner. (6795 W. Flamingo Road Highlands #A, 220-8322)

Best taste of Wisconsin Big Dog’s cheese tch curds hood Wa

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A native Chicagoan, I appreciate good cheese curds, and those at Big Dog's transport me back to a childhood of cornfields and Henderson cow-tipping. Get some alongside a brat and they’ll tender you Wisconsin citizenship for free. (But don’t feel obligated to root for the Packers.) (6390 W. Sahara Ave., 876-3647,

Best use of oxtail and bone marrow Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill’s oxtail fried rice

Oxtail and bone marrow: two uncommon ingredients sometimes difficult to incorporate into a single menu, let alone one dish. Blue Ribbon does so seamlessly with its rich oxtail-laden rice topped with an even richer bone marrow omelet. (Cosmopolitan, 736-0808,

Second best use of oxtail and bone marrow Comme Ça’s oxtail eggs benedict

Not to be outdone by his third-

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Companion | FEBRUARY 2013

This inconspicuous gaming bar boasts the Valley’s most eclectic tap list and hosts numerous special beer events throughout the year. Skip the mass-market brews and instead hunt down some rarities from Aces’ constantly rotating selection. (3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 436-7600,

floor neighbor, Comme Ça Executive Chef Brian Howard created his riff on the breakfast classic. Layers of 48-hour braised oxtail, poached eggs and organic spinach sit atop a Gruyere and pepper gougère, all smothered in bone marrow and truffle hollandaise. (Cosmopolitan, 698-7910,

Best hangover cure Babystacks Café’s Spam scramble

After a night of serious imbibing, what you need is canned meat. High in sodium, protein and fat, it’s nature’s remedy for that raging headache of yours. Babystacks


D e bb i e L e e Maturing from a frozen dinnerdependent latchkey kid to pastry chef, I have a palate that's both populist and plutocratic.

Best spin on comfort food Chicken Pot Pie Nuggets at View Bar and Kitchen

Judging by its self-consciously stylish looks, this Tivoli Village restaurant shocked me by recreating — and then elevating — the flavors of my favorite childhood meal. One taste of the crunchy croquettes delivered the gour-

R etr o b a kery, C en T enni a l H i l l s S a l o n & D ay spa , G l a z ier ' s , R evive at five : Brent H o l m es ; S H R I M P O N A S TO N E : C H R I S TO P her s m ith

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uses eggs with a sprinkle of furikake as the vehicle for this medical marvel, providing the perfect backdrop for the cure. (4135 S. Buffalo Drive #101, t207-6432,

mand’s version of an acid flashback. Finally, a dish to knock the ubiquitous fried mac-and-cheese off its block. (440 S. Rampart, 529-0090,

Best alternative to a Starbucks drive-thru The Human Bean

The gridlock every morning outside any Starbucks could incite serious road rage; thankfully for the citizens of Vegas, I can barely honk a horn before my first cup of joe. Impatience reroutes me to this drive-thru, where baristas serve fair trade coffee with a smile — and complimentary chocolate-covered espresso beans! (multiple locations,

Best brunch dish for the homesick New Yorker

Best creme brûlée (you won’t believe this)

Bacon, egg and cheese sandwich at La Cave

Oyshi Sushi

La Cave’s version of the bodega breakfast sandwich includes all of the original details (crusty kaiser roll, wax paper), only it’s served in sleek environs that bear no resemblance to the grungy, fluorescent-lit delis of home. Sigh — I suppose the change in scenery is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. (Wynn Las Vegas, 770-7375,


If a bagel is the Seinfeld of Jewish cuisine, think of appetizings as his cast of colorful cohorts. This market is my go-to destination for lox, whitefish (both from Brooklyn’s Acme) and pickled herring — all of which bring out the best in a beloved, but otherwise ordinary, ring of dough. (8525 West Warm Springs Road, 614-1111, Best McDonald’s rip-off

Whalers at Rattlecan

Best high-end meal $50 will buy you “Revive at 5” at American fish by Michael Mina

My commitment-phobic nature loves the “Revive at 5” special, where 10 items — including oysters, lobster rolls and tuna tartare — are just five bucks a pop. Why get stuck with a single entrée when you can peck at 10 small plates? Portions lean towards Lilliputian, but the flavors are definitely big. (Aria in CityCenter, 590-8610,

An all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant is the last place I’d ever expect to find a perfectly executed French dessert. A crackly crust gives way to a wobbly center, and its miniature size is just enough to cure an umami-fatigued tongue. Unlike the screaming orgasm, this is sexy in an understated way. (7775 S. Rainbow Blvd., 646-9744)

Best source for appetizings

Lobster roll at American Fish

Keep your highfalutin’ food rules to yourself. I mix seafood and American cheese with pride, and I’ve got chef Sammy D to back me up. His Whalers mimic the flavors of a filet-o-fish, only they’re served as a trio of sliders. Stick it to snobby foodies not once, but thrice. (3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 659-9643, | 59

Lissa Townsend Rodgers I covered bars for alt-weeklies. I also learned to make a martini when I was 6.

Best dive bar Snick’s Place

Las Vegas’ oldest gay bar is also one of its finest dive bars. There’s the de rigueur dim lighting, noisy jukebox, cheap ’n’ strong drinks, low-key atmosphere. But Snick’s has a Gus Van Sant’s “Barfly” vibe, with an assortment of local scenemakers and aging transvestites, off-duty concierges and amateur psychics, shuffleboard aficionados and some of the most charming bartenders in town. (1402 S. Third St., 385-9298)

Best place to watch sports The Longbar at the D

The Longbar at the D is appropriately named: a bar that extends the entire length of the casino. Lined up behind this yardage are dozens of TV screens — it seems every game is playing, but if your team isn’t on, they’ll find it. Add to the sporting vibe by picking up a hot dog at American Coney Island, just a few steps away. (301 Fremont St., 388-2400,

Best Bloody Mary Gold Mine Tavern

Sunday is Bloody Mary day at downtown Henderson’s Gold Mine Tavern. The light slants through the front windows, a few desultory pool games go on in the back, but your focus is on a tall glass of spicy, scarlet tomato juice and vodka — there’s the usual vegetable garnish, but it also comes with a side of

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Companion | FEBRUARY 2013

My mom’s favorite bartendeR Brett at the Double Down

“You took your mom to the Double Down?” Yes, I did. My dad, too. They like it there, largely thanks to Brett, a nice boy from New Orleans who is equally quick with a Grey Goose martini or a bottle of Rolling Rock, as well as subtly guiding AARP members to the seats that don’t face the anime porn. (4640 Paradise Road, 791-5775)   Best cold-weather drink Hot chocolate with salted caramel vodka at Jake’s

When the icy wind is howling through the neon, you need something to warm you on every level. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly bartenders at Jake’s are cozy enough, but go to their hot chocolate spiked with salted caramel vodka to get a toasty glow. The drink’s temperature brings heat, as does the sweetness of the chocolate and the spike of the vodka. (2301 S. Eastern Ave., 457-0053)

Best unpretentious mixology Herbs & Rye

The handcrafted cocktail trend often brings “my palate is more refined and exotic than yours” douchebaggery. Herbs & Rye’s multi-page, historically curated menu may intimidate at first, but the relaxed atmosphere and gracious bartenders make ordering a Blood & Sand or an Aviation as easy as calling for a Bud Light. (3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036)

L o ng b a r c o u rtesy o f the D ; Brett: S a b in O R r ; H ot C h o c o l ate a N D Off the strip : C hristo pher S m ith ; T he l i b ertine c o u rtesy o f the c o s m o p o l ita n L a s V eg a s


ruffled-crisp bacon. Yup, bacon. What else do you need to know? (23 S. Water St., 478-8289)

Downtown you sore. Get a monthly membership to the gym, and get discounts on massages, haircuts and manicures. Keep your eyes open: You might see some local celebs getting in a workout.

Best bar to take pretty much any out-of-town visitor Frankie’s Tiki Room

The eternal Vegas duty: Showing around the out-of-towners. Sometimes it can be tough to strike the right level of “only in Sin City” for your charges, but Frankie’s never fails. Be they judge or junkie, boss or brother, hip or square, they’re always impressed by the funky original art, hand-carved tikis, hula girl videos — and potent drinks like Fink Bombs and Polynesian Pile Drivers. (1712 W. Charleston Blvd., 385-3110,

Best happy hour, Appalling Number of Choices edition Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

Elements’ martini menu is several pages long and features hundreds of choices, from the 007 (Tanqueray, Belvedere, Lillet) to Z’s Foxy Brown (Absolut Vanilla, Godiva, cognac), from a classic Gibson or Lemon Drop to house eccentricities such as the Happy Oyster or Razputin. It may take you all happy hour to actually read the whole thing, so order as you go along. (4950 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100, 750-2991)

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Southern Highlands Best view

Southern Highlands Golf Club

Raves from the expert next door

Whether or not you’re a golfer, this place has one of the most lush and luxurious landscapes in the valley, thick with trees and flowers. The private course is incredible, and the spa, pool and gym are gorgeous, too.

Watch Best restaurant borh oo d ighthe NeOff Strip Bistro & Bar This fine dining restaurant with a casual vibe has Henderson me and my family visiting every week. My favorites: the superb penne a la vodka and, of course, the chicken saltimbocca. You can’t go wrong with sautéed chicken breast layered with prosciutto.

10670 Southern Highlands Parkway, 202-2448, Best breakfast

Rise & Shine

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals. Ask my wife

Bonus Best park

Goett Family Park

Spa Mio at M Resort

— she’ll tell you how cranky I get without a good breakfast. And my mood is never better than after having the heavenly

Eggs Benedict at Rise and Shine.

10690 Southern Highlands Parkway, 202-4646, bestbreakfastvegas. com

Best spa

Spa Mio at M Resort

The massages here are incredible — and the prices won’t leave

The critics have spoken: My threeyear-old daughter McKenzie will gleefully spend hours upon hours (upon hours) frolicking in this beautiful park. Thankfully, the open green is picnic-ready. 10950

Southern Highlands Parkway

— Craig Tann

Find more of the best in your neighborhood at

Best Happy Hour, I’m Hungry edition Nob Hill

The elegantly minimalist space and high-end cuisine of Michael Mina’s Nob Hill doesn’t seem like it would welcome pennywise bar-hoppers. But they do — and warmly, with drink and snack specials from 5:30 until closing. Drinks include wines and cocktail specials for $6, while snacks range from oysters to duck fat fries to short rib sliders. (MGM, 891-7337)

Best hot-weather drink W.W.E.D. at the Neapolitan

It stands for “What Would Elvis Do,” and we can all agree that the King would do a milkshake with peanut butter, banana liqueur, bourbon spike and bacon bits sprinkled on top. Absurdly

delicious, and just the thing while you watch “Wizard of Oz” or “Sixteen Candles” by the Cosmo’s Boulevard Pool. (Cosmopolitan, 698-7000)

Best cocktail The Libertine at the Chandelier Bar

The Chandelier Bar’s acres of Swarovski glitter impresses, but not nearly as much as the cocktails. Amid three menus featuring the latest flavors and trendiest techniques, the Libertine is still a standout. It’s got a Maker's Mark base, mixed with orange marmalade (jam-in-cocktails trend!), rosemary syrup (herbal libation trend!) and maple syrup foam (molecular drinkology trend!) for a sweet-savory, addictive taste. (Cosmopolitan, 698-7000) | 61

Best spa you don’t know about

Shopping Spree

WELL at Platinum

Stores, services and a little fun


Jennifer Prosser I use my deal-finding spidey senses to seek out the city’s best stores, services and spas. Best mechanic Gil at Gil’s Automotive Services Center Best seamstress Jessica at Best Alterations

Rushing in breathlessly, I jabber off how I need a dress altered for a party, a suit brought in for a last-minute luncheon — and Jessica accommodates, with a smile, every time. Her work is quick, flawless and reasonable — the holy trinity of tailoring. (Galleria at Sunset, 434-2341,

another. And special-occasion hairstyles are her calling. (6400 Eastern Ave., 612-4570)

Best spa with dolphins Yoga Among the Dolphins

Best mani/pedi Costa Del Sur Salon at South Point hotel-casino

Many people don’t even know that the South Point has a spa and salon. Serene and sublime, the tranquil environment boasts glorious water features; the manis and pedis here are so precise, it’ll be your mission to keep your nails in tip-top shape. (9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 797-8030,

Best hair stylist Kathy Lawson at D’Hair to be Different

If ever I win Megabucks, I will employ Kathy Lawson as my full-time hairstylist. She’ll whisk you in, help you find the right cut and/or color for you, all while regaling you with one story after

62 | Desert

A good man is hard to find, and a good mechanic, even harder. Gil’s a rarity in his field — he’s honest, helps you avoid costly repairs, and even tells you if the repair is worth doing at all. He’s the grease-stained gold standard. (704 W. Sunset Road, 567-2598)

Just sittin’ here, minding my own business and hating Downward Dog, when an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin — or three — belly up to the glass downstairs at the Dolphin Habitat. Suddenly, my world is more serene, if only for an hour. The power of nature was never greater. (Mirage,

Best antique shop A Moment in Time

From the time I hit my first yard sale as a teen, the pursuit of the deal has coursed through my blood like a Corvette along the 215 — the heady, humming rush is fed by antique stores with myriad, eclectic offerings. A Moment in Time has yielded a wealth of gems for me. (1638 E. Charleston Blvd., 388-0051)

Companion | FEBRUARY 2013

I feel like “Winnie the Pooh’s” Gopher each time I visit this heavenly haven — I go there to seek out the darkness, the exclusivity of the most luxurious relaxation room in town. I shroud myself in candlelight and sheer curtains; I want for nothing. (inside The Platinum, 211 E. Flamingo Road, 365-5000, theplatinumhotel. com).

rated iPhone repair shops on Yelp. Best part: I can get a foot massage next door while I wait. (3735 Spring Mountain Road #202, 927-6912,

Best man for the job Las Vegas Handyman

If DIY-er and Yelper Jacob M. trusts Las Vegas Handyman, so do I: “He was very polite and very professional.” And Jacob got something priceless for their very fair price: a bit of know-how. “We wanted to watch him work, as we wanted to learn how to do this in the future. He was very okay with that, and let us ask him questions while he worked.” (248-0550,

Best home design store Cyan Design at Las Vegas Design Center

Have I walked into an Andy Warhol color explosion? It certainly feels like it when I set foot in this showroom, with its luminescent design scheme and eclectic bric-a-brac. It’s one of the only showrooms at the LVDC that sells directly to the public. (495 S. Grand Central Parkway, #A-236, 586-8402,

Best spot for the squeaky wheel Professional Brake Service

Best watchman E X PERT

Mech a nic : S a b in Orr ; Yo g a , C ya n design , watch repa ir ; Brent H o l m es

M i s t i Ya n g I’m community director of Yelp Las Vegas. Here are my picks — and some from my most trusted Yelpers.

Best place to out a spot Master Cleaners

They’ve been married for 40 years, speak five languages, and he used to design shoes. At Master Cleaners, they’re doing more than wrapping up my duds in cellophane. Houri and her husband treat my clothes with what’s best described as artisanship. Every “Care Instructions” tag is read, and every garment returned spotless. (5965 W. Sahara Ave. #C, 362-4085)

Quick Repair Jewelry

Quick Repair Jewelry owner Alberto rescued Yelper Kristal R. just in the nick of time — literally: “I called this repair shop about five minutes before closing. I was 20 minutes away, and I told him that I wanted to resize my fiancé’s b-day watch. He told me he would wait for me, no problem.” A heroic deed for a humble guy: “A great man who owns a great little hole-in-the-wall jewelry repair shop.” (7632 Westcliff Drive, 434-9333)

can be dangerous!), I trust Dan and Raoul to set her straight and clean her up good as new without charging a mint. (7995 W. Sahara Ave., 259-8011,

Their 46-review, 5-star status proves that, like Yelper Theresa C. says, the team here is "honest, friendly, and altogether upright people … (I) would recommend them to any women out there who don't want to be swindled by all the shady repair shops out there!" Bonus: They’ve been known to take Mountain Dew as partial payment. (544 E Silverado Ranch Blvd. #104, 897-1988,

Best bespoke on a budget Alterations By Ana


Jarret Keene

Best hope for diamonds in the rough

When anthropometry (or my domesticity) fails, Ana succeeds. Even mending a button baffles me, and she’s so affordable, that I don’t intend on retaking Home Ec. Broken zippers, sagging hemlines and misshapen clearance-rack finds go to Ana. (6370 W. Flamingo Road, 227-9596)

Morgan Taylor Jewelers

Best bet for saving your app

Best hobby shop

iPhone Repairs Vegas

Dansey’s Hobbies

I wouldn’t know where to eat if it weren’t for my iPhone, so instead of starving, if my screen cracks or a button stops working, I have a plan: Visit one of the highest-

A middle-aged man, I didn’t know I needed a remote-control vehicle or laser-cut miniature castle until entering this eastside nook of OCD-fostering wonder. Dansey’s

Don’t get me wrong — I have nothing against diamonds, but my engagement ring doesn’t get handled with kid gloves. When my diamond gets loose or I crush my band (hey, parties

I’m a contributing editor to Vegas Seven and a fully credentialed retro-pop culture nerd. | 63

into a Pitfall marathon. (1550 E. Tropicana Ave., 432-4700, 1000 N. Nellis Blvd. #C, 438-2143,

Best retro-videogame and repair shop

First Choice is the first place I went for my chrome-spoked lowrider cruiser. The banana seat, sissy bar, white-walls and upward-sweeping ape-hanger handles complement my pimped-out style. Sure, my pedal-powered artwork on wheels suggests I don’t care about ridability. In my defense, cars see me coming for miles. (1000 E. Charleston Blvd., 382-5775)

A Gamer’s Paradise

Not even the treasure in The Legend of Zelda can beat this trove of vintage-gaming pleasures (with two locations). Get your original Nintendo NES system tuned-up, grab an Altered Beasthcartridge Watc hoodGenesis borSEGA forhthe or pick up a Neig $40 Atari 2600 system — and fall

ished ghost-aliens. Electric-blue chromis kissing a hermit crab’s twiddling micro-maw. With everything from starter kits to custom aquariums, Atlantis and its cool employees make you feel at sea — in a good way. (1930 Rock Springs Drive, 869-6448,

Best lowrider bicycle shop First Choice Bicycle

Best laser tag Best fish store Atlantis Tropical Fish

The fish here are gorgeously vibrant: Tomato clown nestling inside a pink bubble anemone. Black-and-white banggai cardinals drifting like a herd of ban-

Centennial Hills way she saves your best friend’s life, checks on her in the middle of the night and texts you a picture. Gandhi’s got nothing on Dr. Willey.

Sunrise Coffee

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3065 E. Desert Inn Road, 732-2210,

University District Raves from the expert next door

Best sandwich

Pita Pit

The Pita Pit does greasy-bag Phillies better than any South Street dive, all while offering vegans healthier options like falafel and sprouts. Take that, Eagles’ fans.

Best coffee d Watch hoohouse hborCoffee Neig Sunrise

Most days “busy” doesn’t cover Sunrise, packed with everyone from grandmas in Summerlin twinsets to hipsters & environs working the Times I forgave them for crossword. Staring being Cuban and into the heartnot Puerto Rican. 2055 E. Tropicana shaped foam of Ave. #1, 795-7070, the latte you were h tc served r inhan d Wa ooactual o b h ig Ne cup by an affable Best hair barista, you’ll get Sam Tarini at why.

3130 E. Sunset Road, 433-3304, Downtown

Best pizza

Cugino’s Italian Deli

With their madefrom-scratch croquettes, chicken salad and cookies, you’ll have to beat hordes of dedicated lunch-goers to get your hands on a slice of carb nirvana or a nibble of the gods’ garlic knots.

Shag Me Salon

Sam transforms ordinary heads of hair into moveable Best dinner art with a wave of Cuba Café her blow dryer. She Authentic Caribmagically makes bean food is a tall you look cooler h tc order in the than you actually od Wa hodesert, r o b h ig Ne so when I found tosare and inspires you tones — twice-fried, to loudly wonder smashed and seawhere the hell she soned golden coins was in high school. 4110 S. Maryland of platano — that Parkway #21, transported me to Southern 823-5446, my grandmother’s Highlands kitchen in San Juan,


4680 S. Maryland Parkway 431-6675,

Cugino's Italian Deli

Best vet

Jennifer Willey at Desert Inn Animal Hospital Ever wanted to

kiss your vet? Of standard sexual magnetism, Dr. Willey’s real appeal is the casual

Find more of the best in your neighborhood at

atch rh oo d W Neighbo 64 | Desert Companion


4550 S Maryland Pkwy., 895-7561,

— Molly O’Donnell


I’ve already booked my 6-year-old’s birthday bash at this multi-level, 5,800-square-foot arena. There’s a for-parents observation deck where I’ll laugh maniacally as I watch first-graders stumble through blacklit, dubstep-pounding, postapocalyptic ruins and phaser-tag each other’s LED vests with green laser light beams. A video arcade, snack bar and super-friendly staff make this place a, well, blast. (8125 W. Sahara Ave. #200, 2280951

Best comics-and-toys nostalgia Collector’s Playground

Every action figure and comic book my mom threw away when I left for college can be found in this wistful shop at Boulevard Mall (with a second location at Galleria). All my ’80s-era, movie tie-in, doll-size pals — Predator, RoboCop — are for sale. And printed adventures of my favorite superhero groups can be re-bought. Sports memorabilia for jocks, too. (3528 S. Maryland Parkway #900, 433-8697)

Best vintage furniture Corner Store

My wife loves this place for its midcentury mod home furnishings. I do, too. The selection and décor touches are so eclectic and imaginative you’ll swear off driving to California IKEAs. Moreover, the analog cameras, ribbon-punching typewriters and rotary phones stashed throughout time-warp me to journalism’s golden years. (1201 S. Main St., 331-6009,

F ish , S u nrise c o ffee , c u gin o ' s I ta l i a n D e l i ; Brent H o l m es

excels in the categories of RC vehicles and dollhouses. Desire a 1/8-scale Revenge Nitro Buggy or a wooden Storybook Cottage kit? Duck in here and indulge. (4252 E. Charleston Blvd., 453-7223,





The votes are in! Nearly 400 readers took our online Best of the City Readers’ Poll. Here are select results for the most voted-on categories.











Bread & Butter . . . . ........... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39%


Cracked Egg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24% Eat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ......... 18%





15% Others*

Egg Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ........ 11%



*including Tiffany’s, Triple George and Rachel’s Kitchen

*(including The Gypsy Den, Savers and Haute Chix)

Others*.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... .. . . . . ... 8% *including Egg & I, Du-par’s and Hash House A Go Go



BEST PIZZA OTHERS (including Don Demarco’s, Pop-Up Pizza and Due Forni)





at the Cosmopolitan











*including Spa Mio at M Resort and Reliquary Spa at the Hard Rock















8% 16%










Sights+ Sounds Visual art, music, culture


Dav i d M c K e e I’m a self-styled renaissance man who chronicles the casino industry by day and writes about the arts on weekends.

Best cultural ambassador Luana DeVol

Despite having officially retired from the operatic stage, Luana DeVol still

“pays it forward” around the country and globe. She’s a frequent vocal tutor in apprentice programs from Aachen to Zürich, Pittsburgh to San Francisco. She gives the occasional performance, too, sounding fresh as a daisy in Opera Las Vegas’ recent “Don Giovanni.”

Best Blu-Ray deals Buybacks

Some secondhand emporia charge premium prices for discs that look like something the cat dragged in, covered in sticky substances. Behold the row upon pristine row of high-def video at Buybacks, where the laws of supply and demand dictate pricing — meaning you can snap up Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” for $5 or season two of “Heroes” for $13. (2580 S. Decatur Blvd., 333-5890; 601 Mall Ring Circle, 568-9008)

Best architecture Hoover Dam

When The Smith Center brain trust needed to find an aesthetic, it reached back 80 years and copied Hoover Dam. It’s both the grandest and most iconic architectural statement in Southern Nevada. Gordon Kaufmann’s Art Deco scheme, graced by Oskar Hansen’s sculptures and Allen Tupper True’s anthropologically derived décor conspired to create an edifice both of its time and place … a design statement we still struggle to surpass.

Best place to see theater Onyx Theatre

Try to ignore the fetish shop off the lobby and late-night staples like “Confessions of a ’Roid Fag.” Onyx Theatre is like Baby

Bear’s porridge: Just the right size and configuration for tragedy and comedy alike. Artistic director Brandon Burk’s mainstreaming of Onyx programming will hopefully reduce its unwarranted “fear factor.” (953 E. Sahara Ave. #16B, 732-7225,

Best place to hear classical music Doc Rando Recital Hall at UNLV

Wood, warm-toned wood everywhere — except for the soaring organ pipes. No wonder UNLV’s Doc Rando Recital Hall is as sonorous and reverberant as the body of an acoustic guitar. For solo recitals, instrumental ensembles and even — in a pinch — opera, Doc Rando yields sound no other Vegas hall can rival. (4505 S. Maryland Parkway)

Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum

Best public art CityCenter

Roving packs of tourists often obscure that Henry Moore sculpture at CityCenter, to the contemplative art lover’s despair. But if owner MGM acts as though it’s hiding the beaux arts in plain view, there’s no denying the power of beholding the color explosion of Nancy Rubins’ “Big Edge” or the colossal whimsy of Claes Oldenburg’s 19-foot typewriter eraser. It’s the trippiest sensation in town, even when sober. Clockwise from left: Nancy Rubins' Big Edge, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen's Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, Glacia ice fountains, François-Xavier Lalanne's Tourterelle, Henry Moore's Reclining Connected Forms

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Think you’ve got it rough? See what the men and women who built Hoover Dam put up with to make an honest buck in the depths of the Great Depression: hazardous work in a savage climate, enduring indescribable privation. This Boulder City institution tells the story through powerful photo montages, oral histories and some of the best dioramas in Nevada. Afterward, you’ll count your blessings. (inside the Boulder Dam Hotel, 1305 Arizona St., 294-1988,

P u b l ic a rt, B o o k b o u ti q u e , H idden tr a i l s pa rk : C hristo pher S m ith ; A cr o wd o f s m a l l a dvent u res : Brent H o l m es

Best museum

Southern Highlands needed this.

Best Strip extravaganza

117 S. Water St., 752-3199


Ascending skyward, crowned with rows and rows of showgirls, the prodigious stage of “Jubilee!” is a staircase to nostalgia heaven. Where else can you hear an ironyfree rendition of “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” or see the Titanic’s sinking depicted as the ultimate booty call? The “Samson and Delilah” segment is the funniest spectacle in town. (Bally’s, 3645 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,

Best place to see old(er) movies South Point theaters 9 and 10

While South Point’s vast “XD” screen usually hosts blockbusters, it’s also proving to be a congenial home for ’50s spectaculars like William Wyler’s “Ben-Hur” and John Ford’s “The Searchers.” The secret ingredient is the screen’s curvature, which brings curvedlens widescreen processes like CinemaScope and VistaVision literally back into focus. (9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 796-7111,

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Best place to work off the effects of indulging at Fanny’s Bistro

The trails at Hidden Falls Park

Henderson Raves from the expert next door

Book Boutique

Best reason to eat in Green Valley

sliders? Yes? Well, more sliders!

Chicken cutlet hero at Fanny’s Bistro

Humble ingredients — chicken, some kind of dressing, mozzarella, basil — transformed by the benevolent mojo of a family-run kitchen into the sandwich of my heart. Tip: order a side of marinara to dip it in. 

11261 S. Eastern Ave. #200, 778-1400, Best crossroads

The Coffee House

The other morning: To my right, one kid

doodles aliens, another strums “Seven Nation Army.” To my left, two geezers stop discussing the Middle East so they can recite the lyrics to “Come Together.” Oddballs + good coffee = Henderson

My savage wheezing on these foothill paths led to fearful rumors of “The Portly Chupacabra of Black Mountain” — a “Destination: Truth” film crew has tracked me for weeks. I hope they enjoy the stark volcanic rockscapes as much as I do.

281 W. Horizon Drive

Best bookstore until Henderson expands its northern border

Book Boutique

About the size of a threeand-a-half-car garage, this place always offers up a surprise — a book I didn’t know I wanted until, BAM!, there it is, patiently waiting for me, two shelves east of the Zane Greys. Until Henderson annexes Plaza Books at Warm Springs and Eastern, this’ll do fine.

19 W. Pacific Ave., 697-0001

— Scott Dickensheets Hidden Falls Park

80 N. Pecos Road, 269-1699, Best Nosh

Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar

Waiter, more sliders! And ribs! And stuffed mushrooms! And spicy beef salad! And bacon-wrapped dates! And ceviché! And skewers! And did I ask for


Find more of the best in your neighborhood at


M i k e P r e vat t On the music beat for Las Vegas CityLife, I’m rock ’n’ roll all night and tardy everyday.

jazz crew blows minds at every gig. (, search “jazz studies”)

Best breakout hope Most Thieves

As soon as I heard that two members served as techs for The

Best musicians you’ve never seen UNLV Jazz Studies Department

It doesn’t get any less cooler than sitting at a library with a bunch of parentals watching a student jazz ensemble. And then the kids do what no Beauty Bar band has ever done: nail a Radiohead cover. Whether in big band or combo formation, UNLV’s nationally acclaimed

Killers, I hastily branded their band as opportunists. But this quintet has done anything but ride Brandon Flowers’ peacock feathers, and its ethereal rock contrasts with the bombast of its employers. A budding British fan base portends a future one at home. (

Best troubadour Wyatt McKenzie

He’s the most fearless singer-songwriter in a town hostile to them. His tunes are like aural Ritalin to Sin City’s distracted audiences and his confessional, imagery-rich lyrics make him the poet laureate of Fremont East. He bailed on us in 2011, but was sucked back by the giant void he left. (mothermckenzie.

Most perfect indie band A Crowd of Small Adventures

“Are you cold?” asked the person pointing at my arm while I watched indie rock sextet A Crowd of Small Adventures play. I literally had | 67

goose pimples from hearing “Fast Travel,” the crowning achievement of a band that has failed to produce a single sour note in its six-year existence. ( d Watch h oo

Best hip-hop


Hills Centennial While your band struggles to learn that three-chord Cobain knockoff, improv rock outfit Moksha is impossibly rearranging one of its songs in real time h on stage od Watc rhopeople ighbo200 boogie faithfully Newhile

Best venue

Best scene booster

I’ve seen The xx perform on its fourth-story stage through a dream-like drizzle, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips nearly roll over the wall rails in his crowdsurfing bubble-ball, and countless bands play the Strip-nestled venue before they even play their first Coachella. Those are but a few landmarks for a venue surrounded by them. (Cosmopolitan, 698-7000,

Patrick “Pulsar” Trout

Rhyme N Rhythm

Best musical journeymen

Boulevard sidewalk — and by the force of its charm and chops. (

Live hip-hop is always the best hip-hop, and this septet slays with performance forte and stylistic versatility; they’re our version of The Roots. When the Strip slammed the door on hiphop, RNR blew it open again by literally playing on the

He’s almost too earnest and anti-hipster for downtown — he wears his pro-wrestling fandom as proudly as his ’frohawk — but his tough love and tireless promotion earns him unimpeachable credibility. (

Best music scene survivor

University District

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Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan

Neon Reverb

Downtown’s downscaled but enduring bi-annual music festival has run a gauntlet that would shame the most brutal Roman army. If organizers can just seduce a major booze sponsor and avoid being steamrolled by deeper-pocketed competitors, they’ll emerge from the scene’s atomic warfare as rock ’n’ roll cockroaches. (

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Summerlin & environs Raves from the expert next door

Best club comeback

d Watch

o all orhofor ighbplace NeBest work and all play

Body English at the Hard Rock Hotel

Forget about battling with surly Hardkore Parkour teens at coffeeDowntown houses or hibernating in your cave. This residential-up, ness, all with a warehouse-down small carbon shared workspace footprint. off the 215 is theWatch8645 W. Flamingo d o o rh of local Road #104, 769-2991, ighboclub Nesecret entrepreneurs, whether they’re Best place to building empires or be a ninja PowerPoint decks.

It’s a Victorian hangout so alluring, Virginia Woolf would have emerged from her stuffy parlor to party there. You don’t often think “classy” when it comes to the property with the Rehab pool, but its old-fashioned poshness and intimacy feels like the Brit cousin to San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. (Hard Rock, 693-5000, hardrockhotel. com)


6445 S. Tenaya Way #120,Southern 527-7551, Highlands

68 | Desert

9691 Trailwood Drive, 317-7000, Best pizza

Custom Built

Hardkore Parkour

Indulge your inner Spider-man, courtesy of Vegas Best workout inventor, gymnast approved by and stuntman Jeff Mother Nature Jay. Scale a buildStudio222 ing, jump off the From green ma-Watchledge, roll out, fly d o o rh the through a window ighbo(yes, Nechines actual equipment … well, okay, not is curated with on the first lesson. Mother Nature in But stick around mind) to a Friday and you’ll find farmers market, yourself doing the Henderson Studio222 is no impossible. 3680 N. Fifth Street hook-up gym. #130, 518-4575, Here's the place to repent from your holiday naughti-


rich juices and smoothies to be had.


Best casual gourmet

Rachel’s Kitchen

No more driving to get a fennel apple salad, other healthy morsels or even a bacon cheeseburger.

This self-styled “affordable gourmet” eatery is close enough to walk to from my house. And carnivores, pay heed: There are plenty of antioxidant-

Find more of the best in your neighborhood at

Companion | FEBRUARY 2013

Banana pepper and bacon pizza paired with pistachio pesto, anyone? Custom Built makes Neapolitan-style, artisanal pizza with all fresh ingredients — with as many toppings as you want for just $1 extra. And the taste? My husband, a self-proclaimed NY pizza snob, loves it.

4165 S. Grand Canyon Drive #105, 473-9918,

— Monera Mason

Best DJ M!keAttack

This local DJ’s grinning mug is so inescapable that you almost want to punch it. But take in his exuberant mix of electro-house, indie and dance classics, and you’re likely to get knocked back yourself. Mike Mohammednur didn’t land umpteen club residencies by kissing butts — he moved them. (

H a rdko re pa rko u r , S t u di o 2 2 2 , F l oyd l a m b pa rk : C hristo pher S m ith ; M o u nta in c o u rtesy o f L a s V eg a s S ki & S n o w R es o rt

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along. Nine minutes later, we attain climax. By show’s end, we attain nirvana — the real kind. (

Get a move on Sports, games and outdoors


JoAnna Haugen I’m a returned Peace Corps volunteer who seeks adventure from the Inca Trail to Iceland to our own backyard in Southern Nevada. Best endurance event

Best outdoor enhancement you didn’t know about

Ragnar Relay

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort’s expansion

Ragnar’s slogan for its nearly 200-mile, 12-person relay race is “Run. Eat. Sleep? Repeat.” Someone forgot to add “massage sore feet,” “bundle up to run in the middle of the night” and “air out stinky van.” After the race, I took a nap and signed up to do it again. (

Best bargains on outdoor gear REI Garage Sales

Forget Black Friday. The hardcore gearheads are hanging outside REI at two o’clock in the morning waiting to dig through discounted hiking boots, backpacks, tents, bike parts and more. A kayak and ski goggles at more than 50 percent off? As a desert rat, I'm sure I’ll need them eventually. (Boca Park, 710 S. Rampart Blvd., 951-4488; Henderson, 2220 Village Walk Drive #150, 896-7111,

Best spectator event Sin City Rollergirls

These hardcore but sexy athletes boast names like Janesaw Massacre, Taylor Swiftkick and Juicy Coutorture. Watch a two-minute jam of knocking elbows and knees as the two teams try to keep each other from scoring. Repeat for an entire 60-minute match. (

Best urban green space Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs

Cross the threshold into Floyd Lamb Park and time slows down. On a jog along the park’s shaded paths, you’ll see fathers fishing with their sons (yes, fishing) and families laughing over springtime picnics. It’s a breath of fresh air that makes one more mile easy to run. (9200 Tule Springs Road, 229-6297)

Best underrated local sports team Las Vegas Locos

Locals bemoan not having a professional sports team, yet overlook the Las Vegas Locos, a polished UFL team with solid passes and in-depth running plays. Fans are scarce, so frontrow seats on the 50-yard line are easy to snag. Instead of complaining, I’m more likely to buy season tickets. (

Locals still balk when I mention Las Vegas’ ski resort. They’re even more surprised that it just kicked off its 50th year with a multi-million-dollar renovation. The facelift included a new, eco-friendly lift for easy access to the Rabbit Peak trail. Ski bums will appreciate the 14 new runs. (6725 Lee Canyon Road, 385-2754,

1,800-foot stretch of the 1.2-mile track, I, too, proved my need for speed. (6925 Speedway Blvd., 4057223,


T ay l o r B e r n I’m a sportswriter for the Las Vegas Sun who can be found flailing about on local basketball courts.

Best healthy getaway Red Mountain Resort

I don’t know if it’s the variety of exceptionally fresh food on the menu, the plentiful fitness class options or the sound of my yoga instructor’s flute during my sunrise stretch, but something soothes stress and invigorates my spirit when I escape Las Vegas for this retreat near St. George. (1275 E. Red Mountain Circle, Ivins, Utah, 877-246-4453,

Best boot camp Boot Camp Las Vegas

It doesn’t matter what good shape you’re in. The trainers at Boot Camp Las Vegas push you up to — and beyond — what used to be your limit with the weights, the logs and the tires (oh my, the tires). Try this out. You may not like it, but your body will love it. (767-8797,

Best gym Best adrenaline rush Exotics Racing

I was one of only a few women prepping for my supercar experience, but in the driver’s seat of an Audi R8 V10, my driving was just as powerful on the course. Reaching 100+ MPH on the

UNLV Student Recreation and Wellness Center

The ideal gym is different for everybody — mine includes exposed pipes, no mirrors and Michelle Branch turned up to 11. UNLV’s has enough ameni- | 69

Best running trail Pittman Wash Trail

The renovations to this four-mile multi-use trail (running, biking or even speed walking, if that’s your thing) in Henderson are done, complete with new lights, some new surfaces and fancy new signs. Enjoy at your leisure, but look out for the shirtless 6-foot-8 guy coming up on your left. (N. Valle Verde Drive and Windmill Parkway,


Best pro poker player Phil Ivey

Televised poker made stars out of lot of people — most of them for their eccentric personalities as much as any table skills. The exception: Phil Ivey, a Las Vegas resident for more than a decade. The low-key Ivey doesn’t try to make a star of himself. He just wins — including eight World Series of Poker bracelets.

Best fighter Martin Kampmann

From chokehold submissions

to rapid-fire hands, Martin Kampmann has a full arsenal that makes him a threat every time he steps into The Octagon. His record — 20-6 to start 2013 — doesn’t stack up to the sport’s elite, but he’s the best guy going in Las Vegas.

Best boxer not named Floyd Mayweather Jr. Jesse Magdaleno

In the time it takes you to read this, Magdaleno would have been able to knock out you and the 10 people sitting nearest you. The kid packs a punch, though it’s the speed at which he can throw those haymakers that puts him on another level. Best inexpensive indoor basketball court

Henderson Multigenerational Center

Best basketball player Anthony Bennett

There were glimmering signs of greatness when Bennett played two years at Henderson’s Findlay Prep, but once he got to UNLV this year he entered another stratosphere. Enjoy him while you can: Bennett’s physicality and versatility have him pegged as a top pick in June’s NBA draft.

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The Henderson Parks and Recreation deal to play basketball is so inexpensive I find it amazing it’s so easy to find open courts. It costs $2. Not every day, every week or every month. Just $2. The Multigen is my go-to, but this deal can be had at city gyms across the valley. (250 S. Green Valley Parkway, 267-5800, parks)


Alan Gegax I’ve been hiking Southern Nevada so long , I’ve come to appreciate the desert’s many shades of brown. Best camping Valley of Fire

I am deeply in love with Valley of Fire, and thanks to the campsites tucked away into the nooks and crannies of her vibrant red rocks, I get to sleep with her. Welltended sites feature dark skies and potable water throughout. The campground fills up fast, so arrive early. (397-2088, parks.

Best place to see bighorn sheep Boulder City

No need to search the wilds of Nevada to find our state animal. They’re often found munching roadside turf (and clogging traffic) right off US-93 in Boulder City. For more reliable viewing, wake early and head to Hemenway Park, where bighorns have been filmed battling right on the grass!

Best lesser-known hike Kraft Mountain Loop (aka Gateway Canyon Loop)

Kraft has a little of everything, except crowds. In only four miles, this hike jams in a rugged ascent, views of Calico Basin, a rainbow of sandstone, fun rock climbs and a bouldering field. And because it’s not on Red Rock’s Scenic Loop, it’s free! (

Best place to see stars Kyle Canyon Road

Las Vegas has sprawled nearly to Mt. Charleston, which means we can enjoy some excellent stargaz-

Anth o ny Bennett : S a b in O R R ; b ird preserve : J i m H u l sey

ties to appease most anybody, it’s open to the public — and it’s never crowded. That’s the upside of a commuter school. (4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 774-7100,

ing just outside of town! There’s a large parking lot 12 miles up Kyle Canyon Road, where the skies are dark enough to enjoy a meteor shower or simply enjoy the view overhead.

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eigend, his website serves ToNthat as a database of every significant plant, animal, trail and road in the wilds of Southern Nevada. Centennial Hills (

Best place for bird-watching Best hardcore hike Bridge Mountain

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This is a must-bag for any serious Southern Nevada hiker. Starting atop Rocky Gap Road, Bridge Mountain’s trail climbs steeply through the pines before striding across bare rock. A few harrowing scrambles later, hikers can stand atop a massive mountaintop arch.

This little-known preserve’s 140 acres feature a handful of ponds interwoven with peaceful, University District wheelchair-friendly paths, all frequented by local and migrating birds. The staff will even loan you binoculars. (350 E. Galleria Drive, 267-4180) atch r Neighbo

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Best bike ride River Mountain Loop Trail

Our local government spent a small fortune building a 35-mile path around the River Mountains, and it shows. With paved trails and multiple parking lots, cyclists can start their ride almost anywhere and get as much scenery and cardio as they can handle. I recommend the lake shore. (365-2191,

Best walking trails Sunset Park

After Sunset Park’s major renovations, there’s no shortage of wide and winding walking paths through the park’s new “natural” (read: replanted) areas. The paths now have better lighting, informational signs throughout — and the new bathrooms are downright usable. Keep a sharp eye for rabbits, and the occasional coyote (in the park, not the bathrooms). (2601 E. Sunset Road, 455-8200)

Summerlin & environs Best afternoon killer

Antique Alley Neigh

Downtown Raves from the expert next door Best star- ood Watch ighborh Newatching Commonwealth

Someone balled up and built an Commonwealth open rooftop lounge on East Southern Fremont. Finally! Highlands This staple of the you’ll appreciate urban renaisthe band’s quality sance is executed rendition of “Man exceedingly well at of Constant Sorthis Boston-styled row.” Add a $6 bar. Even better? mimosa or Bloody h tc It’s pulling o d Wa Mary and the sorh aofresh r o b h ig e row slides away. N brand of boozers 107 E. Charleston downtown.

525 Fremont St., 445-6400,

Blvd. #155, 202-6060,

Best bluegrass brunch

Best Yelp success story

Downtown probably needs only one Bluegrass Brunch. And because the B+B kitchen can, uh, take its time when prepping your delectable, freshbaked scones,

Hipsters! Tourists! Downtowners! Almost everyone adores these chunky Venezuelan street tacos. Started as a semi-permanent stand in the Dino’s parking lot, this


Bar + Bistro

Best outdoors website

Jim Boone,’s curator, has a mission mirroring mine: Get people outdoors in a safe, responsible way and let them fall in love with the land.

Main Street south of Charleston (SoCha perhaps?) has become the place to browse furniture, vintage housewares, Mid-Mod accessories, and more. Boosted when Retro Vegas scored a huge new spot (check out that tie rack!), several shops have since opened, joining stalwarts such as the Funk House.

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Retro Vegas: 1131 S. Main St., 384-2700,

Best Caesar Salad

Retro Vegas


Viva Las Arepas

foodie favorite will soon hop a block south into a permanent storefront, a success fed at least in part by 164

mostly-happy Yelp reviews. Cheap, fast, yummy.

1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 366-9696,

Caesar Salad is like eggs: Many restaurants offer them, few do them well. Oscar’s, on the other hand, might plate the best Caesar in the city. It’s fresh, crisp, and perfectly balanced with just a hint of anchovy. Simplicity perfected. Pair one with a bowl of Alpine Village Inn Chicken Soup (yes!) and a happy hour Manhattan, and nobody gets hurt.

1 Main St., 386-7227,

— James P. Reza | 71



Our spices have their own unique holistic qualities such as warming body, aiding in cell turnover, improved appetite, alleviating fatigue, and acting as an anti-oxidant.

5020 #1 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas, NV, 89146


Ganesha Center



Reiki | Essential Oils | Kangen Water | Sound Therapy | Herbal Supplements 3199 E. Warm Springs Rd. | (702) 485 4985 |

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80 minute Two in one Treatment; Full Body Massage and Body Wrap with your choice of Mango & Tangerine, Peppermint & Eucalyptus, Lavender & Rosemary or Pomegranate & Acai Berry body butters. $85.00

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(702) 254-8568

2620 Regatta Dr. Suite 113 Las Vegas, NV, 89128 72 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2013



Enjoy all the Southwest has to offer. Call 702.454.6269 to schedule your reservation. See store for details.

6675 South Tenaya Way •

Zagat rated since 1999 4533 W Sahara Ave.

9355 W Flamingo Rd. • 2490 E. Sunset Rd. • 6960 South Rainbow Blvd.

Voted Besat st* Breakf Come in today for breakfast…

Famous for a variety of Skillets, Salads, Omelets, Benedicts and Waffles or come in for lunch! … Enjoy Las Vegas’ Best Burgers, Signature Sandwiches and Homemade soups. Our famous Cincy Chili is a must!

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Up to $8 Off. Not valid with any other offer or coupon. Management reserves all rights. One coupon per table. Expires Dec. 31, 2013 Desert C

February 23 9 a.m. at blue sky yoga Ready for a good stretch? Grab your yoga mat and join us at Blue Sky Yoga, where we’ll chat with yoga expert Cheryl Slader — and try out a few poses, too. 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #250, inside the Arts Factory For more inFormation, visit us online at | 73


Art Music T h e at e r Da n c e FA M I LY

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

Artist John Bissonette says his work registers an emotional connection to pop culture. We say this: It springs, jumbles and bounces on your visual radar like a yippee parade of wowza mad shape and color woohoo. “Closeout” is on exhibit through Feb. 16 at Kleven Contemporary inside Emergency Arts. Info:



Next time you’re tempted to whine about having writer’s block, consider the real writing blocks that Nobel laureate, playwright, poet and novelist Wole Soyinka overcame: threats, arrest, prison and exile. He’ll discuss the responsibilities — and the hazards — of the writing life 7p Feb. 12 at UNLV’s Student Union Theatre. Free. Info:

Before The Chieftains came along to popularize traditional Irish music around the globe, the only way to hear it was either by going to Ireland itself or, alternately, licking a leprechaun for its mythically hallucination-inducing sweat. Seriously, try it. Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains perform 7:30p Feb. 18 at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center. $29-$89. Info:

74 | Desert

Companion | February 2013

The usually buttoned-up Las Vegas Philharmonic is ripping off its cummerbund and flashing its chest-hams for sparkly beads in this rousing tribute to the spirit of Mardi Gras. Trumpeter Byron Stripling leads the charge in this evening of ripping, raucous New Orleans jazz. The Las Vegas Philharmonic’s “Mardi Gras in Las Vegas” is 8p Feb. 16 at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center. $46-$94. Info:

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P H oto C redit:

Check out the topics that Left of Center’s latest exhibit, “Looking the Other Way,” tackles: tolerance, multiculturalism, hunger, homelessness, justice, health care and the environment. All I gotta say is: LEFT OF CENTER GALLERY FOR PRESIDENT! “Looking the Other Way” is on exhibit through March 2 at Left of Center Art Gallery and Studio. Info:

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

ART SECOND WIND BY ROBIN STARK Through Feb. 14, Mon.-Thu. 7a-5:30p. Influenced by the work of David Smith, these ceramic sculptural forms have a reference to the traditional ceramic vessel, yet deviate from functionality and focus on expressive formal elements to suggest visual movement and momentum, treating the surface as a two-dimensional format implying established motion. Las Vegas City Hall Grand Gallery, 495 S. Main St., First floor, 229-1012 JOSE BELLVER: RECENT WORK Through Feb. 23. In this body of paintings both large and small, the artist exhibits a series that pushes the use of encaustic and added materials with his characteristic bold, colorful, and abstract investigations. Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery at UNLV SNAKE Through Feb. 23, by appointment only. An invitational exhibit for the Chinese Year of the Snake (beginning Feb. 10), featuring these artists: Rainer Bertrams, Lisa Fields Clark, Margaret DeClerk, Susanne Forestieri, Stewart Freshwater, Anne Hoff, Bobbie Ann Howell, Kim Johnson, Sean Jones, KD Matheson, Candace Nicol, Sean Russell, Robin Stark, Brian Swanson and Christopher Tsouras. Free. Historic Fifth Street School Mayor’s Gallery, LOOKING THE OTHER WAY, A JURIED ART EXHIBITION Through March 2, Tue.-Fri. 12p-5p & Sat. 10a-3p. Local artists highlight themes such as tolerance, multicultural understanding, hunger and homelessness, immigration reform, peace and justice, working conditions, health care, and the environment. Free. Left of Center Art Gallery and Studio, 2207 W. Gowan Road, BUY KINGDOM BY ERI KING Through March 8. This artist works with repurposed materials such as discarded clothing and outdated electronics to make sculptures and installations, in a critique of consumer culture. The sheer volumes of material and their physical transformation speak to production, consumption and waste. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery KLEVEN & RAMIREZ Through March 8. U  NLV alumni Jen Kleven (BFA ’09) and Krystal Ramirez (BFA ’09) present a two-person show of new color photographs, using the medium as evidence of human interactions, but without the figures. Jessie Metcalf Gallery, Richard Tam Alumni Center at UNLV

NARRATIVES OF PROGRESS BY ARMIN MÜHSAM Through March 16, Wed.-Fri. 12:30p-9p & Sat. 9a-6p. T  his artist’s paintings focuses on the relationship between the natural and the human-built; the absence of humans, but not of humanity. He imagines the land after technology has rendered it nearly uninhabitable, despite its promises to create a better world. Free. Charleston Heights Art Center, 800 S Brush St., BEYOND SUNRISE MOUNTAIN BY DAVID SANCHEZ BURR Through March 22; Feb. 27 reception 6p-8p, artist talk 6:30p. T  his installation references the historical significance of Southern Nevada with an emphasis on mining and geography, examining notions of community, exploring the desert as a potential site of utopia or dystopia, dependent on man’s relationship to the landscape, technology and other human beings. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery FIRST FRIDAY Feb. 1 & March 1, 5p-11p. D  owntown’s monthly arts and culture event continues to grow bigger and better, featuring art exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, performances and more. Free. Arts District and Fremont East in the Get Back Alley, WARHOL OUT WEST Feb. 8 through Oct. 27, 10a-8p; complimentary docent tours 2p daily. T  he only comprehensive Andy Warhol collection in the United States outside of his namesake museum in Pittsburgh, showcasing 59 of the iconic artist’s works and focusing on his depiction of all things Western in paintings, sculptures, photographs, screen prints and wallpaper. $11-$16 includes audio tours; free for 12 and younger. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art,

DANCE STARS OF THE RUSSIAN BALLET Feb. 2, 8p. E  ncompassing the technical virtuosity and influential artistry synonymous with the rich tradition of Russian ballet, the world’s greatest dancers perform excerpts from the world’s greatest ballets, including “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “Don Quixote,” “Le Corsaire” and “Paquita.” $35-$75. Artemus Ham Concert Hall at UNLV THE BEST OF LAS VEGAS CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEATER Feb. 8, 7p; Feb. 9, 1p. T  his multi-cultural, five-star American Dance Company, under the artistic direction of Bernard H. Gaddis, Kevin C. Gibbs and Marie-Joe Tabet, is dedicated to continu-

ing the legacy of excellence in the arts. They represent the elegance, grace, discipline and dignity of dance for all classes, cultures and walks of life. Free. West Las Vegas Library, 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd., ORIGENES DE UN PUEBLO BY BALLET FOLKLORICO IZEL Feb. 9, 6:30p-8p. Illustrating a typical pueblo’s customs, traditions and identity, Ballet Folklorico Izel chose the month of love, friendship and valentines to celebrate the Aztec nation with the participation of Tijuana’s Danza Mexicana Yoneme, as well as a special dance presentation from Ireland. $10 advance, $12 door. Winchester Cultural Center Theater TAP IN TIME Feb. 23, 7:30p; Feb. 24, 2p. In celebration of Black History Month, the Ira Aldridge Theatre Company and the CSN Performing Arts Center present “Tap in Time,” a rich history of the timeless rhythms and unforgettable soul of tap dance in America, written, directed and choreographed by Lindell Blake. $12-$15. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at CSN, SIMPLY BALLROOM Feb. 24, 2p. A  n amazing performance by the award-winning Southern Utah University Ballroom Dance Company: breathtaking lifts, beautiful costumes, and a variety of dances, including the exciting Latin Samba of Brazil, the majestic Slow Waltz of Austria, the rhythmical Cha Cha from Cuba, the elegant American Foxtrot, and the intense Spanish Paso Doble. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library,

MUSIC TRAVIS CLOER Feb. 4, 7p. This Broadway star and recording artist (currently starring as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys”) brings his versatile vocal stylings and energetic stage presence for one night only. Come experience “Setting the Standard”, a night of timeless songs from Broadway and jazz, to R&B and pop that will leave you on your feet begging for more. $25-$35. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center THE COMPOSERS SHOWCASE Feb. 6 & March 6, 10:30p. “Jersey Boys” conductor Keith Thompson hosts this monthly musical showcase that features original music from some of Las Vegas’ best composers and songwriters, performed by some of the most well-known local performers and musicians. The informal showcase is always diverse, eclectic and entertaining, featuring a high caliber of musicianship and artistry. $20. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center | 75

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KURT ELLING QUARTET Feb. 8-9, 7p & 9:30p. A  mong the world’s foremost jazz vocalists, having received countless Grammy nominations, Mr. Elling’s repertoire includes original compositions and modern interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry. $39-$45 Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center,

BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA Feb. 11, 7:30p. K  nown for the world’s longestrunning music TV show, “Friday Night is Music Night,� the BBC Concert orchestra has been entertaining audiences for 60 years. Led by conductor Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops, renowned cellist Sophie Shao joins the orchestra to present eloquent and powerful musical inspiration in an evening of Walton, Haydn and Mendelssohn. $39-$119. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

Make your home your Valentine.

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6 | Desert 7

Companion | February 2013

UNLV’S JAZZ ENSEMBLE II AND THE CONTEMPORARY JAZZ ENSEMBLE Feb. 13, 7p. T  his series highlights the best student musicians from UNLV’s Jazz Studies Program. Each month, different ensembles perform various styles of jazz, from mainstream to contemporary, to vocals or Big Band. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, ITZHAK PERLMAN Feb. 13, 7:30p. A  ccompanied by internationally acclaimed pianist Rohan De Silva, this virtuoso of the violin brings remarkable artistry and irrepressible joy. Having a long-standing relationship with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and collaborations with composer John Williams on scores for films, he enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. $39-$129. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center ZEPHYROS WINDS Feb. 14, 7:30p. O  ne of America’s most distinguished chamber ensembles, now in its 18th season, brings together five of the finest wind players of their generations, presenting insightful programs drawn from the wide spectrum of chamber music featuring wind instruments. $25. Doc Rando Recital Hall at UNLV EMANUEL SCHMIDT QUARTET: THE MUSIC OF MILES Feb. 15, noon-1p. D  escribed by The Australian Music Centre’s Ian Shanahan as an accomplished and imaginative composer, Schmidt has written for a full orchestra and performs reflective, emotive and adventurous original compositions with his groups. Free. Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 229-3515. AN EVENING WITH THE YELLOWJACKETS Feb. 15-16, 2p & 7p. T  his multi Grammy-winning, legendary group celebrates 32 years as one of jazz’s greatest bands. Russell Ferrante, William Kennedy, Bob Mintzer and Felix Pastorius perform all-original compositions from their catalogue of more than 24 albums of beloved, eclectic, electro-acoustic jazz. $36-$56. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, JAPANESE SKETCHES BY THE DESERT WINDS Feb. 16, 7:30p. L  as Vegas’ premiere contemporary wind ensemble will feature music by Japanese composers, including the North American première of Jun Nagao’s “Die Heldenzeit,â€? with guest saxophone artist Lynzii O’Connor. $10 donation. Community Lutheran Church, 3720 E. Tropicana Ave., GUY DAVIS IN CONCERT Feb. 16, 7:30p. T  his musician, composer, actor, director and writer has dedicated himself

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to reviving the traditions of acoustic blues and the material of the great blues masters, as well as sharing African-American stories and his own original songs, stories and performance pieces. $10 advance, $15 door. Charleston Heights Arts Center, Jeanne Roberts Theatre, 800 S. Brush St., POPS III – MARDI GRAS IN LAS VEGAS BY LAS VEGAS PHILHARMONIC Feb. 16, 8p. Charismatic trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling plays favorite Mardi Gras tunes, joined by Robert Breithaupt on percussion and Bobby Floyd on Hammond B3 organ, while guest conductor Steven Jarvi leads the orchestra and guest musicians in a rousing program of New Orleans jazz. $46-$94. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, PADDY MOLONEY AND THE CHIEFTAINS Feb. 18, 7:30p. Recognized for bringing traditional Irish music to the world’s attention, they have performed with symphony and folk orchestras worldwide, and have collaborated with some of the biggest names in rock, pop and traditional music in Ireland and around the globe. $29-$89. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, BOTIELUS AT DOWNTOWN3RD FARMERS MARKET Feb. 22, 10a-1p. This local composer and keyboardist performs his original, alternately soothing and exhilarating synthesizer instrumentals outside Las Vegas’ largest indoor Farmers Market. Close your eyes and hear the soundtrack to the movie playing in your head, while snacking on fresh, organic produce and healthy treats. Free. Downtown3rd Farmers Market, N. Casino Center Blvd. and E. Stewart Ave., JUST THE TWO OF US: KEVIN EUBANKS & STANLEY JORDAN Feb. 22, 7p; Feb. 23, 2p & 7p. These gifted guitar virtuosos will each perform his own set and then return to the stage together for an exciting finale. Collaboration is the name of the game as the artists play off one another, turning an already incredible show into an allout celebration. $36-$56. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center AN EVENING WITH PETER YARROW Feb. 22, 8p. S  hare an intimate evening with this legendary singer/songwriter and activist. Inspirational as well as humorous, he will look back over the career of Peter, Paul and Mary, telling stories and singing some of the many hits that won them acclaim worldwide. $10 advance, $15 door. Historic Fifth Street School, 229-3515

THEATER ANYTHING GOES Feb. 5-9, 7:30p; Feb. 10, 2p & 7:30p. A  ll aboard for this saucy and splendid production by Roundabout Theatre Company! One of the greatest musicals in theater history, Cole Porter’s first-class musical comedy continues a triumphant run on Broadway, a winner of three 2011 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival and Choreography. $24-$129. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center ROMEO AND JULIET Feb. 8, 7:30p; Feb. 9, 2p. In conjunction with CSN’s Performing Arts Center’s annual SchoolFest, the Utah Shakespeare Festival Tour will perform “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by John Maclay. $10-$12. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at CSN, 11 FUNNY VALENTINES FOR YOU Feb. 17, 2p. An afternoon of merriment, with improvisational performers entertaining with their renditions of original audio skits reminiscent of radio broadcasts from the 1930s and ’40s, complete with manual and prerecorded sound effects.

Co-sponsored by Media Guild International. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, WEST SIDE STORY Feb. 26 through March 1, 7:30p; March 2-3, 2p & 7:30p. Considered by many as the most beautiful Broadway musical ever staged, the greatest love story of all time soars from the first note to the final breath, featuring classics of the American musical theatre by Bernstein and Sondheim and spectacular choreography. Tickets start at $24. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

LECTURES, SPEAKERS AND PANELS CULT AND POLITICS IN ISRAEL IN THE TIME OF KING DAVID Feb. 4, 7:30p. T  his talk discusses recent excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel, a fortified town dating to 1000 B.C. with nearly 1000 residents. Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yadin Professor, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has discovered three unique rooms that he has compared with biblical descriptions of the temple of King Solomon. Free. Student Union Theater at UNLV, 895-3401

A photo from Krystal Ramirez’s exhibit

With friends like these Who are you? It was never an easy question. Now, in this era of social media — in which we serve as our own PR people, constantly nudging and airbrushing our online personas — it’s even tougher. Artist Krystal Ramirez asks this question over and over again in her mixed media installation in which videos, photographs and drawings explore how we construct our public face with the help — and hindrance — of modern technology. Her untitled show is on exhibit March 19-May 10 at the Clark County Government Center Rotunda, with a reception 5:30p March 22. Info: | 77

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ARE PEOPLE OF COLOR MORE HOMOPHOBIC? Feb. 5, 7:30p. All too often, we are led to believe that, because of strong religious ties, people of color are more homophobic. Using findings from the Social Justice Sexuality Project, Professor Juan Battle, Professor of Sociology, Public Health and Urban Education and Coordinator of the Africana Studies Certificate Program, Graduate Center, City University of New York, offers a very different story. Free. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV, 895-3401 KILLING TIME, SAVING TIME: CALENDARS AND THE HOLOCAUST Feb. 6, 7:30p. How would our lives be changed if we had no idea what day it was? Dr. Alan Rosen, Adjunct Lecturer in Holocaust Literature, International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem, Israel, examines the question in the context of the Holocaust, when Jews in hiding, ghettos and camps developed innovative strategies to track time, maintain continuity with the past and envision a viable future. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV, 895-3401 WRITING IN AN UNTENABLE WORLD: AN EVENING WITH WOLE SOYINKA Feb. 12, 7p. This Nobel laureate’s uncompromising works have brought him into conflict with authoritarian regimes throughout his life, resulting in persecution, imprisonment and exile from his native Nigeria. At this reading presented by Black Mountain Institute, he will share his insight into the writer’s endangered role in the 21st century. Free. Student Union Theatre at UNLV, THE POETS’ CORNER Feb. 15, 7p. A  monthly forum for established poets and open-mic participants, featuring the best local poetry talent. Hosted by Keith Brantley. Free. W. Las Vegas Arts Center Community Gallery, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 229-4800 EMERGING WRITERS SERIES FEATURING LESLIE JAMISON Feb. 19, 7p. This author’s debut novel, The Gin Closet, garnered praise for its unflinching yet lyrical portrait of addiction. Her forthcoming book, The Empathy Exams: Essays on Pain, covers ultra-marathon running, parasites, silver mines, gang tours, and, beyond and beneath all else, human compassion. Presented by Black Mountain Institute, with generous support from NV Humanities. Free. Greenspun Hall Auditorium at UNLV, SIDEWALK TOPOGRAPHICS Feb. 21, 7:30p. Katarina Jerinic makes photographs and invented guides that respond to and intervene in urban environments. She is interested in systems projected onto the landscape to make it navigable and meaningful, and will present her work within a continuum of ideas about mapping and exploration, from conceptual art,

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to the U.S. Geological Survey’s expeditions, to the possibilities in Google Maps to re-structure our own terrain — and make us consider anew our fundamental sense of place. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV, 895-3401 READ LOCAL AUTHOR SERIES FEATURING ROBERT STANELL Feb. 27, 2:30p-4:30p. This series features an author from the Henderson/Las Vegas community on the fourth Wednesday of each month to meet and greet readers. This month, meet Robert Stanelle, author of the memoir China: In My Eyes. Books may be available for purchase and signing. Free, adults only. Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway, 492-6580


multi-skilled daredevilry and quirky antics. A contemporary and adventurous, cheeky but irresistible rock ‘n’ roll, animal-free circus for all ages. $24-$79. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center,

FUNDRAISERS THE ARTISTRY OF GOSPEL CELEBRATION CONCERT Feb. 17, 5p. T  he Las Vegas Philharmonic and VISION gospel choir will join together with six-time Grammy Award nominee Richard Smallwood to perform inspirational songs written by Smallwood and rousing gospel classics. The concert benefits the Unity Village Family Life Center, a non-profit social organization founded to educate, empower and enrich the lives of Las Vegas individuals, children and families. $23-$93. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

POLAR BEAR PLUNGE Feb. 9, 1p-4p. T  hose brave enough to bear freezing water can take an exhilarating slide into to an unheated outdoor pool, and then warm up with winter treats. Participants will take the plunge by age: 4-12, 13-19, and 20+. Not recommended for those with high blood pressure or heart conditions. $5 includes activities, games, raffles, a bounce house and hot beverages. Henderson Multigenerational Activity Pool, 250 S. Green Valley Parkway,

HANDS ACROSS THE ARTS BENEFIT - TAP IN TIME Feb. 22, 7p. T  he Ira Aldridge Theatre Company and the CSN Performing Arts Center honor legendary tap dancers Bunny Briggs and Prince Spencer at the fifth “Hands Across the Arts benefit: Tap in Time,” a rich history of the timeless rhythms and unforgettable soul of tap dance in America. $20-$25, includes reception. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at CSN,

NEVADA CHAMBER SYMPHONY’S FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC Feb. 10, 3p. T  his interactive, children’s concert will introduce young people to the orchestra, its organization and the instruments. Brief biographies of famous composers, with examples of their music and popular American music highlight the program. Free. Jewel Box Theater at Clark County Library,

ST. BALDRICK’S HEAD-SHAVING March 2, 1p. S  hed your locks to support the fight against childhood cancer! Interested participants can register online to be shaved at Rí Rá or donate time or money to the cause. Once registered, volunteers raise funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation by soliciting donations for the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. Rí Rá inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Place,

PRINCE/PRINCESS VALENTINE’S DAY PARTY Feb. 12, 10a-10:45a. Y  oungsters aged 3-5 can dress up as their favorite prince or princess and celebrate Valentine’s Day in a magical way! There will be stories, songs, a craft, and a fun snack. Free, with registration required at James I Gibson Library’s program room, 100 West Lake Mead Parkway BLACK HISTORY MONTH FESTIVAL Feb. 16, 10a-5p. C  ommemorating the contributions of African-Americans to Southern Nevada’s history and culture, this family-friendly event includes a children’s art competition exhibit, historic black Las Vegas photography exhibit, arts and crafts, face painting, carnival games, live entertainment, food and craft vendors, and much more. $5 for adults; free for children 12 and younger. Springs Preserve CIRCUS OZ Feb. 21-22, 7:30p; Feb. 23, 2p & 7:30p. Power-packed Australian aerialists, knockabout jugglers and live wire musicians astonish and delight with inconceivable acts of gravity-defying brilliance, infamous

Jewish Family Service Agency fundraiser March 10, 4p. T  erry Fator is the special guest honoree and entertainer at this fundraiser for the Jewish Family Service Agency, which provides mental health counseling, senior services, adoption, emergency services and other vital offerings in its longtime mission of “Repairing the world one person at a time.” Tickets available at or at 732-0304. Take flight for the Mob Museum Feb. 13. Flightlinez on the Fremont Street Experience has chosen The Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, to be the recipient of all sales from all flights that take place on Feb. 13. The Museum, in return, is offering a $2 discount on full price same-day admission tickets for those who fly then visit the Museum. In addition, the public can have their photos taken with “mobsters” and “flappers” while waiting for their Flightlinez experience that day. Flights are $15 before 6 p.m. and $20 from 6 p.m. to midnight. Repeat flights are $5. Info:

* $1 50 2T ic ke ts Fr om

Las Vegas Locals Thank you for 20 Inspiring Years!

2 Tickets for $99* Now Available daily




For Tickets Visit: CIRQUEDUSOLEIL.COM/VEGASLOCALS Offers available for a limited time only. *Management reserves all rights. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Offers are subject to change and based on availability. Additional dates valid through February 2013. Zumanity was created for guests 18 years and older. Must present Nevada State ID at Box Office at time of pick up. Price does not include tax and fees.

end note


Love on the move The recent history of the Huntridge is a loud one — and we’re not talking about the countless acts, from the Beastie Boys to Dimmu Borgir to Lindsey Buckingham, that have scouredIt’s the venue’s walls The Vegas wedding is a knotty oxymoron: an institu(andbuilt the ears concertgoers) over theofyears. Rather, we’re talking tion on aof sometimes-loony legacy impulsive, implausible and about the shouts, moansunions and curses inspireditbywas theMickey long-shuttered ill-advised matrimonial — whether Rooney venue ofGardner late: Tear down this eyesore! historic treasure! and Ava hitching up in 1942 orRestore Britneythis Spears marrying, uh, Let the owners do guy whatwas they it asthink a concert hall!follow Can’t whoever that one inwant! 2004.Reopen You might it would someone convincechapels Tony Hsieh to buy the damninthing already? — parthat our wedding are tenuous tenants our cityscape Sometimes seems like The Huntridge is no longer a building. ticularly on theitStrip, that restless vein of implosion and reinvention. Instead, it’s more like rag doll a tug-of-war between dreamers Not necessarily true.aTake the in Little Church of the West, for inand realists, protectors ofofhistory andthis urban pragmatists. Most stance. In a surprising show resilience, historic wedding chapel has packed up and moved no fewer than three times since its original

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Companion | february JANUARY 2013 2013

recently, in July, the city council gave the owners, the Mizrachi family, permission to carry out secondhand sales on the property. Whether that takesasthe a junk shophotel-casino’s or funky boutique is construction in 1942 partform of theofLast Frontier all-in-one anyone’s guess. In this 1954 photo from the Las Vegas News Bureau, it’s mini-megaresort. In this photo provided by the Lasside Vegas News making itsJuly first1996 modest voyage from the north of the LastBureau, Frontierthe to marquee venue’s comeback after thebe roof colthe south trumpets side of thethe resort. Theimminent chapel’s later journeys would longer lapsed a year earlier July — an event increasingly remembered and more arduous. Inin 1978, it 1995 jumped south even farther, to the Hacienda as the in beginning the elbow theater’s phoenix-from-the-ashes mythology. Hotel, order to of make room for the Fashion Show Mall taking Let’s not thatchapel mythsmoved often serve to teach and inspire. With shape; in forget 1996, the yet again — this time, out of the that way in of mind, we ask: the Huntridge Theater could make a rebound from Mandalay Bay.IfToday it sits right across the street from the resort andthat, has what’s preventing a rousing third — Andrew Kiraly perhaps learned a lesson from the act? many-married: Commitment is grand, but it’s wise to keep an exit strategy in mind. — Andrew Kiraly

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Desert Companion - February 2013  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada

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