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The(illustrated)history issue We turn five artists loose on the past for a history lesson well outside the box

BEYOND PUB GRUB Ex-Strip chef Chris Palmeri serves great food in a dive bar

BANG, BANG, CHA-CHING! The new boom in gun tourism


WHAT TO GIVE NOW Wrap up your holiday shopping with our gift guide for everyone



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editor’s note

The people in your past

t Next month in Desert Companion

And the winner is ... your mouth! You’ll savor our 17th annual Restaurant Awards

4 | Desert

The history of Nevada is a history of extraction. Whether it’s coaxing crops from difficult soil, cracking open mountains for gold, even skimming casino money or milking tourists, the impulse to squeeze a profit from unlikely places seems embedded in Nevadan DNA. (In that vein, politics for personal gain remains another reliable state industry as well.) I don’t necessarily make that observation with disdain or disapproval. Extraction can require some admirable traits: persistence, physical fortitude, an eye for opportunity and, yes, perhaps some ruthlessness pumping through the heart. It was personal characteristics such as those that compelled us when we started thinking about our illustrated history issue (p. 65), a visual account of the flashpoints and seminal figures in Southern Nevada’s colorful past. And for me, it was like taking history classes all over again — except this time I was paying attention. Thinking about Nevada’s past in terms of personalities, motives and character brought into sharp focus those hazy gray beings that lived silently in my high-school history textbooks, rendered in flesh and blood events that had barely skimmed the surface of my life when they occurred. For instance, perhaps like you, I’d been taught time and again about Helen J. Stewart, the woman who planted

Companion | November 2013

the seed of Las Vegas from the ranch she managed at the turn of the century. And perhaps you remember where you were when the 1988 PEPCON explosion sent shock waves through the valley. (I was in calculus class at Las Vegas High School; the suddenly rattling and vibrating windows of Main Hall woke me from my slumber in a way the equations never managed to — sorry, Mr. Carlin.) Turning a complex narrative into a visual story is risky; it can dramatize and distill, but it can also distort. We’ve all filed out of the movie theater at some point, grumbling, “Eh. Wasn’t as good as the book.” I like to think this particular distillation was a success. By freeze-drying these stories into panels and sequences, we were forced to focus on essentials. As I researched with that goal in mind, Helen J. Stewart was renewed in my eyes, a stalwart woman possessed of an abiding, almost stoic strength, a true pioneer who not only coped with her husband’s tragic murder with great resolve, but expanded her ranch, raised a family, became a fixture in civic life, and nourished the kernel of what would become Las Vegas. For our PEPCON explosion story, I was lucky enough to be introduced to a maintenance worker who was working at the Kidd & Co. marshmallow factory adjacent to the Henderson facility that produced a component in rocket fuel — until it exploded on May 4, 1988,

leveling the plant and the factory. David McBride told me a harrowing and, yes, darkly humorous story of surviving the blast. His story also reveals a thoroughgoing strength of character; its denouement might count as a twist ending in an age when accidents and tragedies inspire thought bubbles with dollar signs as much as hugs of sympathy. To be sure, other facets of Nevada history we take on, such as our “Notso-great moments in Nevada political history,” say something less sanguine about human nature. But such traits, too, for better or worse, make Nevada what it is today — and give us an opportunity to reflect on the road not taken. Can you imagine if Dario Herrera’s rise hadn’t been interrupted by the mere skeezy attentions of some strip club sultan, and he’d gone on to become a senator or governor? Wouldn’t want to live that history. But I’d totally see the movie. Andrew Kiraly Editor


REBUILD COMMUNITY. For the second consecutive year, Caesars Foundation is supporting several Rebuilding Together projects across the U.S. for veterans. Last year, more than 300 volunteers helped to improve and beautify three homes in the valley for a few of our nation’s heroes. ® Caesars Foundation’s support for our veterans and active military The will to do wonders®

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contents desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People

Time travel, set to music By Andrew Kiraly



The gun tourism boom By David McKee



Life preserver By Damon Hodge



Bottle shock By Chantal Corcoran





A chicken wing thing By Al Mancini



65 Drawn to the past

Our sketchy (literally!) take on the highs and lows of state history


Music, art and more


End note

Are you on kraken? By Andrew Kiraly The(illustrated)hisTory issue We turn five artists loose on the past for a history lesson well outside the box

BEYOND PUB GRUB Ex-Strip chef Chris Palmeri serves great food in a dive bar

BANG, BANG, CHA-CHING! The new boom in gun tourism


85 Nothin’ but timeline

Lots of things happened. Here’s what matters

91 To all a good gift

Gift tips for everyone on your list on the cover

6 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

Illustration by James Henninger

WHAT TO GIVE NOW Wrap up your holiday shopping with our gift guide for everyone

S k e tc h y p h oto : B r e n t H o l m e s ; B u s i n e ss : J a c o b M c C a r t h y ; C o m m u n i t y : C h r i s S m i t h ; D i n i n g : S a b i n O r r

Miracle on Sixth Street By Helen Moore

‘T I S T H E S E S O N

Zeppelin USA — An American Tribute to Led Zeppelin

Photo by Sarah Small


Pat Metheny Unity Group

Béla Fleck and Brooklyn Rider

An Intimate Evening With Clint Black Acoustic

GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Celebrating Ray Charles

Sister’s Christmas Catechism

A Mari-Achi Christmas

TAO: Phoenix Rising

Photo by Joan Marcus


William Shatner

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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 Associate Publisher Christine Kiely Editor Andrew Kiraly Art Director Christopher Smith deputy editor Scott Dickensheets Graphic Designer Brent Holmes Account executives Sharon Clifton, Carol Skerlich, Markus Van’t Hul, Tracey Michels, Favian Perez Marketing manager Lisa Kelly Subscription manager Chris Bitonti Web administrator Danielle Branton

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Contributing writers Cybele, Chantal Corcoran, MĂŠlanie Hope, Al Mancini, David McKee, Christie Moeller, Helen Moore, Jennifer Prosser, Brock Radke, Lissa Townsend Rodgers Contributing artists James Henninger, Jacob McCarthy, Paul Rogers, Sabin Orr, Checko Salgado

Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856;

Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813;

Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810;

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

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

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Companion | November 2013

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to all people


l i t e r at u r e H ISTOR Y

p h oto : c o u r t e s y o f p i p e r ’ s o p e r a h o u s e

Time travel, set to music

Print lives!

“The funny thing,” says Laura Herbert, “is the reaction of (magazine) distributors: ‘You’re opening a newsstand?’ Because it’s such an endangered species.” It’ll be a little less endangered with the imminent debut of the Inspire Theater at Las Vegas Boulevard and East Fremont Street. Along with a 150seat theater, Inspire will boast a radically inclusive magazine stand of the kind word-lovers here have long assumed they’d never enjoy. Herbert is helping downtown entrepreneurs Michael and Jennifer Cornthwaite pull the project together. Guided more by

During its peak as a Orchestral maneuvers in the West: silver-rich boomtown in Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City the 1870s, Pioche was a rough place marked by frequent gunfights, fistfights, you-name-it-fights. Its infamous Boot Hill cemetery is a testament to its triggerhappy ways. For instance, the grave for one Morgan Courtney, killed in 1873, Staging a movement: reads, “Feared by some, refrom left, Rehan Choudhry, Joey spected by few, detested by Vanas and Michael Cornthwaite others, shot in back 5 times from ambush.” It’s said that 72 men in Pioche died by gunshot before any citizen died of natural causes. But don’t get the wrong idea — Pioche had its softer melodrama. Trinkle rescued them 10 years ago from the side. Consider the historic Thompson’s Opera House, Shenandoah University library before they were tossed built in 1873. It debuted with a production of Pygmaout during renovations. Years later, while on a backlion and Galatea, and later staged plays and screened country road trip through Nevada, Trinkle had a literal silent movies. It was a civilized oasis in a metal-crazed Eureka moment when he caught sight of Eureka’s old mining town. These days it’s used mostly for meetings opera house. “It’s an absolutely incredible place,” he says. and proms, but later this month a small orchestra from “It looks like something right out of ‘Gunsmoke’ — old Southern Nevada will return it to its original function. curtains from forever ago, beautiful wood floors. That’s Henderson-based salon orchestra Portable Masterwhen I made the connection. I’ve got all this music, and pieces will hit the road in coming months for concerts all these places around the West that are underserved by in rural Nevada and California — including Pioche and this kind of musical entertainment.” Virginia City. But you might say this tour also entails continued on pg. 14 Portable Masterpieces pianist and xylophonist — and some time travel: It’ll perform in these towns’ historic Trinkle’s wife — Eugenie Burkett was awarded $10,000 opera houses. Portable Masterpieces’ Nevada dates infrom the National Endowment for the Arts to pursue the clude a Nov. 16 gig at Thompson’s Opera House and a tour. “We have all these great, historic performance Jan. 11 concert at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City. spaces in rural Nevada, and they’re not really us“They’re unique, wonderful buildings, and all the ing them,” she says. “It’s especially significant history that happened there is fascinating,” says Steven that the music we’re performing was very Trinkle, Portable Masterpieces’ leader and conductor. Keep up with Desert typical of what had been performed in those “But it’s about more than just playing a concert in an inCompanion events, news locations for decades — I’ve been wanting teresting place for an underserved community. It’s about and bonus features at to do this for years, and the people in Pioche a marriage of two pieces of history.” are very excited.” And if these historic buildThe other element he’s talking about is stuffed in his ings could talk, well, they’d probably sing suitcase — about 200 pieces of old sheet music from along. — Andrew Kiraly the early 1940s: ragtime, light classical, bodice-ripping

Hear more more

Learn Brenda about Priddy the historic discusses Westside “car spy School’s photography” role in the on black “KNPR’s community State of onNevada” “KNPR’s at State of Nevada” at | 13

their passions and intuitions than market research, they decided, as Jennifer puts it, “Let’s just have everything we possibly can.” Art magazines! Literary journals! Foreign fashion bibles! No comics, though — they don’t want to hurt comic shops. In a nice coincidence, the location is close to where the last great downtown periodical joint — The Newsroom, circa ancient history — existed briefly at Carson Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. The Cornthwaites are aware of The Newsroom because people have told them all about it, just one indication that some folks are primed for just such a literary amenity. Count Mrs. Cornthwaite among them. “If I was anywhere and I saw a great newsstand across the street,” she says, “I don’t care what’s going on, I’m walking across.” — Scott Dickensheets

cul t u r e

History you can wear — on sale now Whether it’s clothing, knickknacks, furniture or toys, the post-recession abundance of thrift stores means you can find sweet vintage stuff in some unlikely spots — and for some unlikely prices. Tip: Visit in the mornings for first crack at each day’s new merch. Keep in mind that your cool-hunting might actually help people — many thrift stores benefit charitable causes and community programs. And since thrifting is essentially recycling, you’re even doing the planet a solid. ACCESSORIES A Second Chance Boutique: Look for purses, jewelry and scarves at this high-end consignment boutique. Prices are a little more, but it’s worth it when you find a discounted … Prada bag? Yes! 2797 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 29, 734-2545 BOOKS Savers, Tropicana & Eastern: Manufacturers just don’t make hardback and board books like they used to, but you can always find them at this Savers location. 2300 E. Tropicana Ave., 433-1402 DRESSES Deseret Industries South: Before you visit department stores for your black-tie and gala needs, check the racks at this clean, bright store. The selection of ball and party gowns is second-tonone, as are the condition and prices. 4655 E. Flamingo Road, 547-0320

ON THE TOWN Mak Grgic inspires fans — and even hard-bitten music critics — with classical guitar work that has been hailed as lyrical, insightful and intelligent. He performs 8p Nov. 19 at UNLV’s Doc Rando Recital Hall. $40. Info:

14 | Desert

FURNITURE New Vista Emporium: Most pieces at these stores — couches, recliners, table-and-chair sets and wall units — are in tip-top condition. 5220 W. Charleston Blvd., 457-4677 GAMES AND TOYS Charleston Outlet: One of the best boutique areas in town — you can find Disney collectibles, Barbie dolls and more. I’ve purchased plenty of games here, and none have missed a piece. 1548

Companion | November 2013

It’s not old, it’s vintage: Jazzed by a good find at Charleston Outlet

E. Charleston Blvd., 388-1446 MEN’S CLOTHING Deseret Industries South: Your first stop for suits, ties, slacks and vests — the selection is so good, you often won’t need to go anywhere else. 4655 E. Flamingo Road, 547-0320 OUTERWEAR Charleston Outlet: A ’70s-inspired belted coat? Check. The leather jacket of your dreams? check. I scored a fitted red leather number, without a blemish, for $10. 1548 E. Charleston Blvd., 388-1446 SHOES Buffalo Exchange: Funky platforms, colorful pumps and laid-back casual styles can all be found; the men’s section has wingtips and older, hardto-find styles. 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, 791-3960 T-SHIRTS Epic Thrift, Buffalo Exchange: Looking for a retro movie shirt? Buffalo Exchange is your place. For retro bands and sports team shirts, head to Epic Thrift — I picked up a terrific vintage Beastie Boys shirt for $1. Epic Thrift, 3145 E. Tropicana Ave., (855) 636-3742; Buffalo Exchange, 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, 791-3960. — Jennifer Prosser

c h a r l e s to n o u t l e t: B r e n t h O L M ES

continued from pg. 13


Las Vegas Locals 2 Tickets For $99*










For Tickets Visit: CIRQUEDUSOLEIL.COM/VEGASLOCALS *Management reserves all rights. Offers are subject to change and based on availability. Zumanity was created for guests 18 years and older. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Must present Nevada State ID at box office at time of pick up. Price does not include tax and fees.


Joel Ferguson Pedal steel guitarist

Weeer weeer weeer! Wuuurrrgg wuurrg wuuurg! The sounds coming from Joel Ferguson’s pedal steel guitar are banshee moans and wolf growls, flaming jets of sex, venom and blood. And that’s just him noodling around on a recent afternoon in his home studio. “When I first heard the slide guitar — it was on an Allman Brothers album in 1970 — I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa!’” he says. “I never heard anything like that. I don’t know, man. It just seemed like it was howlin’ or something. It just sounds like somebody’s yelling at you.” That moment sparked Ferguson’s lifelong affair with the pedal steel guitar, the love child of a six-string and a keyboard. He spent a healthy chunk of his young life both on the road and in the studio. Today, the 59-year-old brings his weeer weeer! to a handful of one-off and regular local shows, including an ongoing gig with Scotty Alexander at Gilley’s Las Vegas in Treasure Island. The pedal steel guitar is technically a sit-down instrument, but Ferguson is rarely sitting still behind his Desert Rose Vintage Pro rig. At shows, you’ll see him rocking it, dipping it and pounding it to draw out that sweet sound. But don’t be fooled. Those electrified howls, wails and moans require nearly surgical precision. “It’s sort of like a violin. Playing this is not that hard. But playing it perfectly in tune is really hard,” he says. “You’ve got one place to be in tune. Everything else is out of tune. Then you’ve got two or three or four strings you’re hitting at the same time. Then the pedals have to be tuned as well. If you’re out of tune, just a tiny bit, then everybody in the band is out of tune. It’s a lot of pressure!” Here’s a little rock ’n’ roll road-not-taken story. In the ’70s, Ferguson played the Myrtle Beach, S.C., scene in a band called

16 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

Steamboat Springs. Their musical rival was an act named Wild Country. “Wild Country was playing in a little dump called the Bowery a few blocks away from us, and they’d have like four or five people in there every night,” Ferguson recalls. Ferguson’s electric bluegrass band, on the other hand, was packing the Pickin’ Parlor nightly — and, after the show, blowing the night’s pay on beer and pot. “We were partying and drawing big crowds, but we had nothing to show for it. Wild Country took the money they made, and in the off-season they would go to record and take their records to Nashville.” A few years later, when RCA Records had to decide whom to sign — Ferguson’s outfit or Wild Country — the suits offered the contract to Wild Country. “They became the band Alabama,” Ferguson says. “When an Alabama song comes on the radio, even if it’s good, I have to turn it off.” (But don’t cry too hard for him: Today, Ferguson is a successful businessman who oversees several retail kiosks at the airport.) Today, he plays for pleasure, happy to not have to grind out nightly bar gigs for whatever’s in the tip jar. But when you see the smiling Ferguson teasing sweet licks from his pedal steel guitar, realize that he’s also paying serious tribute. “Every note I play, I look at Duane Allman as my mentor, even though I never met him. This is my dedication to him. I want people to think, ‘Wow, if Duane Allman had played pedal steel guitar, that’s what it would have sounded like.’ To me, the sound that he got, the energy and the passion he played it with, is what I try to emulate. The notes are the notes, but people relate to the energy and passion. That’s my mission when I play. I want people to get excited. Like, ‘Holy shit, did you hear that?’” — Andrew Kiraly

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Checko Salgado | 17

History SHOP

Events H o l i d ay | C e l e b r a t i n g R e p e a l D ay

A top-shelf holiday

I’ll have an old-fashioned: Some guys drinking in a Prohibitiony-looking era.

Repeal Day commemorates the official end of Prohibiton on Dec. 5, 1933. It’s become an increasingly popular celebration for liquor geeks, mixology buffs and anyone who enjoys a potent beverage. But, unlike New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day, it’s not about consuming mass quantities, but savoring the top shelf. Repeal Day also honors the glamour of the twenties: F. Scott Fitzgerald and ModelT Fords, Clara Bow and the Chrysler Building. “It’s one of the most iconic periods of American history,” says Michael Green, history professor at the College of Southern Nevada. “What better day than Repeal Day to celebrate our constitutional right to imbibe?” And imbibe well. Prohibition didn’t stop Americans from drinking. It just changed the way they did it. After 38 states ratified the 18th Amendment, on Jan. 16, 1920, the nation’s vibrant cocktail culture perished overnight.


Pour your own Getting the American people back into the swing of gracious imbibing after years of backroom swilling required a bit of guidance. Published in 1934, Harman “Barney” Burke’s Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes supplied plenty, from the Clover Club Cocktail (p. 19) and Puerto Rico Flip (p. 70) to “Ice, Amount to use” (p. 11) and “Gentleman, Drink like a” (p. 78). May we suggest two classics from his list of “The World’s Most Famous Cocktails”?

18 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

“Your good bartenders went to Europe and Cuba. They didn’t want to work at speakeasies. They wanted to practice their craft,” says Jeremy Merritt, mixologist at the Downtown Cocktail Room and Future Restaurant Group’s director of beverage and training. “After Prohibition, (a quality drink) wasn’t sought-after or elegant. Now you had burly characters pouring firewater.” Prohibition didn’t result in a teetotaler’s utopia — rather the reverse, with more people bingeing than ever before. Alcohol had always been slightly scandalous, but now it had an extra cachet. “It’s like that velvet rope — you can’t get in, so you want to get in,” Merritt says. “The elite had the booze. You had to have connections.” Having to deal with questionable supply and shady characters meant the quality of liquor was usually inferior. Grenadine masked the questionable provenance of the rum in a Bacardi cocktail or the artificially colored whiskey in a Ward 8. Sometimes the loss of an ingredient meant the loss of a drink: The Aviation is a gin-based cocktail whose icy chill and faintly violet pallor evoked airplane flights and adventurous figures like Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. But Crème de Violette liqueur was an irreplaceable part of the flavor and color of the drink — and virtually impossible to get. Difficulty in procuring Absinthe impeded the making of a proper Sazerac. But both of those ingredients and their resultant concoctions have returned, as has the notion of mixing cocktails as a craft. “Things were lost over that 13-year span,” Merritt says. “Just now, in the past decades, we’ve started to get back to it.” — Lissa Townsend Rodgers

Bronx Cocktail No. 1 1 dry gin 1 French vermouth 1 orange juice ice 25 shakes. Strain into cocktail glass. Old Fashioned Cocktail 1 glass whiskey 1 lump sugar 2 dashes Angostura bitters, 2 dashes curaçao or absinthe, Add one slice of orange, one slice of lemon peel, mull with bitters and sugar, then add the whiskey and serve in the same glass.

Where to toast The Mob Museum The Mob Museum’s Repeal Day party has been an annual occasion since the joint opened. It’s a Roaring ’20s-themed event sprawling throughout all three floors of the historic building. There will be live music and classic cocktails, and you’re encouraged to come in period attire. Last year, Oscar Goodman donned a fedora and pinstriped suit to smash a ritual bottle against an old bootlegger’s whiskey barrel — before taking up his ritual gin martini. (300 E. Stewart Ave., 229-2374) Commonwealth/ Laundry Room Commonwealth has a vintage atmosphere — all sepia tones and crystal chandeliers — as well as an abundance of cocktails both sweet and dry to please every palate. But it also conceals Las Vegas’ only speakeasy, the Laundry Room: The red light should tip you off to the secret door in the wallpaper. It’s a small, narrow room hung with glamorous photos of fan dancers and chorus girls, with a bartender given to some intriguing alcohol improvisations. (525 E. Fremont St., 445-6400) Downtown Cocktail Room DCR often celebrates Repeal Day with drink specials and retro outfits, and the United States Bartenders’ Guild has sponsored the event in the past. You can celebrate with an eraappropriate Aviation or era-inspired T-Model Ford — or go even deeper into history and drip some absinthe. And the talented gentlemen behind the bar may have a few other surprises when the clock strikes midnight. (111 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 880-3696) Herbs & Rye The extensive and exhaustive drink menu includes a section devoted to the cocktails of Prohibition. The Blood & Sand was created in honor of silent screen heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, while the Leap Year originated at the American Bar in London’s Savoy Hotel, in the jigger and spoon of legendary expat bartender Harry Craddock. And the dim lighting and scarlet walls offer an old-school vibe. (3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036)



Y o u r c i t y, bl o ck by bl o ck

Sunset rising Though it’s dominated by McCarran International Airport at one end, the walled-off mystery of Wayne Newton’s estate at the other, and the vast acreage of Sunset Park in between, this stretch of Sunset Road still harbors a few surprises — fine coffee, boutique foodstuffs, offbeat shopping and, thankfully, Batman suits. — Scott Dickensheets

9 7

Antiques Mall 1 We know a guy who picked up a buffalo skull here. 6665 S. Eastern Ave., 307-3960

LAS VEGAS CIGAR COMPANY 5 If your healthy lifestyle allows for the occasional

20 | Desert

Sunset Park 7 Its 185 acres contain almost every imaginable recreational choice, from hoops to walking trails to a fishing pond — plus, acres of space to enjoy November’s lack of scorching heat and the

Companion | November 2013

first-ever Sunset Park’d food-truck shindig (Nov. 16). 2601 E. Sunset Road, Sunrise Coffee 8 Creative types from around the valley drive to this intimate, locally owned place, and for good reason: The coffee — organic, free-trade, single-estate and, for all we know, nonconflict and raised by virgins — is terrific. The good-




r nset P a Su


ies? Vegan. The vibe? Relaxed. No better way to start the day. 3130 E. Sunset Road, Nevada Climbing Centers 9 Okay, this is ever so slightly off of Sunset, but it offers a focused recreational experience that Sunset Park can’t: rock climbing, on what the company bills as the largest rock wall in the city.

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Show Off! Las Vegas Costumes 6 Because sometimes you have to show up dressed like Cleopatra. Or a gangster. Or, if you’re joining Desert Companion for Thanksgiving, Napoleon. Here’s where you can make it happen. 6400 S. Eastern Ave. Suite 4,


Affordable day rates and gear rentals for nonmembers, too. 3065 E. Patrick Lane Suite 4, 898-8192 Parsley 10 Remember the final scene from The Avengers, where they’re all sitting around eating schwarma? Well, they would have had a good experience here, too. Tip: Try the beef schwarma “nachos.” 6420 S. Pecos Road,

p h oto g r a p h y b y c h r i s to p h e r s m i t h

Artisanal Foods 4 It’s got truffles by the score — that’s what owner Brett Ottolenghi built his business on — but also carefully cultivated prosciutto from Italy, black garlic from Korea, a host of oils and spices and not a few sweets. 2275 E. Sunset Road,


puff on a premium hand-rolled cigar, here’s a good place to know. You can restock your personal humidor, pick up any accessories and if you gotta smoke right away, the lounge includes a 65inch TV. 2510 E. Sunset Road,

Surrey St

PT’s GOLD 3 With some 40 PT’s in the valley, why include this one? Its McCarranadjacent location. Thanks to its large windows, you can watch the planes land as you wrap your mouth around a pretty decent burger. 1661 E. Sunset Road,


Spencer St

Plane Watching 2 From this free parking lot next to the airport runway you can imbibe the romance of travel and the thrill of big engineering as embodied in the surprisingly mesmeric spectacle of giant metal tubes lumbering down from the sky. Parking lot on westbound Sunset, a bit past Eastern.

©2013 California Closet Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Franchises independently owned and operated. NV Lic.#52850 ©2013 California Closet Company, Inc. All rights reserved. ©2013 California Closet Company, Inc. All rightsNVreserved. Lic.#52850 Franchises independently owned and operated. Franchises independently owned and operated. NV Lic.#52850



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7350 Dean Martin 702.891.0000 at Warm Springs las vegas 4115 S. Grand Canyon at Flamingo 7350 Dean Martin at Warm Springs las vegas 4115 S. Grand Canyon at Flamingo 702.891.0000

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Locked, loaded and fanny-packin’: Tourists have a few guns to choose from at Battlefield Vegas.


The big bang theory Hypothesis: If you encourage tourists to shoot guns, more tourists will come to shoot guns. It seems to be working By David McKee | Photography Jacob McCarthy Across Interstate 15 from the resorts of the Strip is a kind of alternate tourist corridor, more affordable than a nightclub and infinitely friendlier to the middle-class and family customer. These low-slung buildings house shooting ranges such as Guns & Ammo Garage, The Range 702 and Machine Guns Vegas. You might still see the familiar Vegas sight of young men in a booth, Red Bull close at hand, ready for some

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action — except instead of getting their freak on, they’re getting in touch with their inner Rambo. Turns out gun tourism is booming in Las Vegas, along with the larger firearms economy. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in 2012 the firearms industry in Nevada generated more than 1,900 jobs and $202 million in economic impact, an amount roughly equal to the Electric Daisy Carnival.

“Previously, we only had nightclubs,” says Brian Barson, owner of Strip Gun Club, which averages 50-60 patrons a day who are ready to pay at least $99 each for the sort of kick that bottle service can’t provide. “There’s nothing as exhilarating as shooting a machine gun on full auto,” he says of his patrons, who are drawn to his chrome-plated 50-caliber mount. “It’s hard to explain the power: 99 percent

More bang for the buck For the best values in shooting, aim off the Strip American Shooters: For price plus quantity — 21 lanes — this place appeals to the cost-conscious and offers special military and law-enforcement discounts. For civilians, sessions start at $28 — though it’s more like $50 with ammo — and run up to $100. It could cost more if you’re wielding a “specialty firearm.” 3440 Arville St., Las Vegas Gun Range: For the serious firearm enthusiast. No touristy frou-frou, just racks of guns and a handful of 15yard shooting lanes. The instructors are excellent, especially with novices. Firing off one machine gun magazine will set you back $25, while 30 rounds on a pistol will cost you $40 and various combo packages top out at $800. 4610 Blue Diamond Road, Clark County Shooting Complex: “Complex” is the word for this elaborate layout of lanes. It includes a “tourist range” that has seen visitors from Germany, Spain, Japan and China. Seven bucks gets you a lane. It pays to rent a rifle or pistol (.22 caliber) for a day for $20, rather than $10 for an hour. Overall, it’s a facility for the dedicated target shooter rather than someone who wants to get off on exotic firepower. 11357 N. Decatur Blvd., shootingcomplex

of the time there’s a huge smile they can’t wipe off their faces until they leave the store. They’re high-fiving, screaming.” And holster any stereotypes you may have regarding who these recreational shooters are. “If you took any tourist in Vegas for a week, that’s our demographic. The majority are families. We’ve had people in here 10 years of age shooting a small-caliber rifle they can handle. Respecting firearms is the key to safety.” The gun craze has ramped up significantly in the last two years, in part thanks to the nation’s political mood regarding firearms — “Obama

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Come to Vegas, defend Stalingrad! Exotic deals for the tourist with an itchy trigger finger

Machine Guns Vegas

Mob Museum, all for $139.95. 5155 Dean Martin Drive,

$180 gets you 95 rounds on an M4 carbine, an MP5 and Sig Sauer PP226, plus free admission and one drink (after you shoot) at Sapphire topless club. Not recommended for married men. 3501 Aldebaran Ave.,

The Gun Store

Vegas Machine Gun Experience Feeling charitable? For $59 ($10 of which goes to breast cancer research) you can fire a pink-tinted assault rifle and pistol, 50 rounds apiece. Pink never looked less sissified. 3084 S. Highland Drive, Suite B,

Battlefield Las Vegas Shoot first, gamble later: Why draw to an inside straight when you can draw down on a paper perp?

is the salesman of the year,” says Lianne Heck, marketing director of The Range 702 — and in part due to media coverage. In a segment of “Dan Rather Reports” titled “Firearms Fantasies” last January, the veteran newsman took note of the boomlet of firearm rentals in Sin City. A year earlier, the New York Times covered the opening of Machine Guns Vegas, the brainchild of a New Zealand entrepreneur named, we kid you not, Genghis Cohen. “Twenty years ago, I’d spend $400 at the strip clubs. Now, I just come here to shoot,” one middle-aged patron told the paper, while a young woman got to the crux of the mania: “It’s really exciting — it’s really easy.” Indeed, for visitors from places with little gun culture, the power of a gun and the ease of using it can come as a surprise once you have an automatic in your hand — and a target downrange. “You’re dealing with five different emotions in a 20-minute period,” from nervousness to exhilaration, says Guns & Ammo Garage coowner Mike Cole. “Once you finish your shooting experience, you’re happy again.”

36 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

Get in touch with your inner Communist as you wield a Tokarev pistol, a Mosin Nagant rifle and a PPsh 41 submachine gun—all part of the $170 “Defending Stalingrad” package. 2771 Industrial Road,

The old 1911 and the Tommy gun predate Sin City’s Mob years, but you can fire two clips each on those, plus 10 rounds on a 38-caliber pistol, then tour Downtown’s

Credit the tourism biz to The Gun Store and its owner, Bill Irwin — when he decided to rent automatic weapons to tourists, an industry was born. “Every time I see him, I say, ‘Thank you,’” Cole says. Founded in 1988, The Gun Store grew so successful that the original range was bulldozed in 2011 and moved into a former pool-supply store on East Tropicana. Even though it’s several miles off the Strip, on a recent midweek afternoon a long line snakes

The Range 702 Requests for “Adrenaline Rush” are coming in faster than The Range can process them. For $599.95, you get four targets, 180 rounds and six guns, including an M4, an AK-47 and a Squad Automatic Weapon. 4699 Dean Martin Drive,

Strip Gun Club

Guns & Ammo Garage

The pioneer

Whether you’re a history buff or just want to experience some less-familiar firearms, the “WWII Choice” ($139.95) is for you. Choose three from among eight guns that include the Sten, an M1 carbine and a grease gun. 2900 E. Tropicana Ave.,

If there’s any place for shameless indulgence, it’s the Strip. A buck shy of two grand gets you 607 rounds, including a few shots on a sniper rifle and seven more on a Desert Eagle, the rest divided among 10 weapons, featuring three belt-fed machine guns. 2233 Las Vegas Blvd. South,

back and forth along stanchions, soon-to-be shooters awaiting their turn at the trigger. “It’s always been primarily tourists,” says Marketing Director Emily Miller, mainly from other anglophilic countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, plus a smattering of Japanese and Chinese shooters. The Strip Gun Club is popular with visitors from the Pacific Rim, “where they don’t get to shoot at all,” says a range master. Over at The Range 702, the primary demographic is Californians.

Wherever they come from, there’s no doubt why they’re here. “Come to Vegas, do something you couldn’t do in Dublin (or) Sydney,” says Machine Gun Experience representative Ron Futrell. “Vegas is all about giving people the experiences they couldn’t do in Des Moines.” Or New Jersey. That’s where Ron and Cathy are from; they’re popping off a few rounds at Battlefield Vegas. “We just wanted to try some machine guns,” Ron says. “Guns are not our way of life (back home). There’s no gun culture.” The couple spotted Battlefield Vegas while driving past and got the urge. As Cathy says, “This is a safe way to try it for the first time.” Ron shot an M60 and an MP5 and says, “I might do it again.” If so, Battlefield Vegas has roughly 370 machine guns from which he can choose. Across I-15, at The Range, Francesco and Susanne came on a passerby’s recommendation. She’s watching him shoot an M36 and an MP5. “Nothing for me, thank you,” she adds. Both are experienced handgun shooters back home, but full-automatic shooting is verboten in their native Germany, so they came to Vegas for that experience. Heck calculates the client base at The Range 702 as 50-50 locals and tourists, but most of the competition leans heavily on outof-towners — it’s almost 100 percent at Battlefield Vegas, which is hunkered down behind a helicopter gunship, a halftrack and ranks of sandbags just behind Circus Circus. Not every range is chasing the gun tourist so enthusiastically. Executives of American Shooters, which does relatively little tourist business — 25 percent or less — disdain places like Guns & Ammo Garage. “We look at other stores like that as a meat grinder,” says spokesman John Velasquez, “trying to get them in and out as fast as possible.” Not only does American Shooters keep its range fees low, your $15 gets you all-day access. (Of course, it’s also a canny way to get people to hang out and rent more and different firearms.)

Guns go upscale The Second Amendment covers an entire wall at The Range 702. The retail section is similarly huge, featuring everything from apparel to pilsner glasses. In the dining area, some TVs are tuned to The History Channel, others to the Food Network. From the looks of the VIP lounge, you might not even know you’re in a shooting gallery: wood-paneled flooring, pool table and bar, three TVs and three sofas. “When you walk in here, everyone has collared shirts on,” Heck says. “In today’s climate, it’s important to take guns seriously.” | 37

business Heck would know; she was the first employee Genghis Cohen hired at Machine Guns Vegas. “Their theme is completely nightclubs and guns,” she says. Indeed, you can fire off an MP5, M4 carbine and a Sig Sauer P226, then get a complimentary ride, free admission and a comped drink at Sapphire. (You cannot, however, reverse that trajectory.) Mind you, The Range has its own “Hangover Package,” a

guaranteed-access nightclub partnership with Epic Club Crawl. One of Machine Guns Vegas’ newest attractions is the rotating-barrel, heavycaliber Minigun, popularized by the movie Act of Valor. Four hundred rounds from this bad boy will set you back a thousand bucks. For its part, The Gun Store frowns on both outside partnerships and alcohol. “We’re a gun range. We’re not being a nightclub,” Miller says. The Gun Store’s zero-tolerance policy for



booze can get your entire group 86ed. That hasn’t deterred some serio-comic attempts at evasion: “We’ve had people leave, change their clothes and come back. We deal with such a high percentage of tourists who have zero idea — like Americans going to Amsterdam to smoke some weed,” jacked up on a forbidden thrill. No wonder the range officers are all packing heat. And even if you don’t grip a weapon, some things are just better — for some folks, anyway — in the vicinity of guns. Marriage, for example, has proven to be a heavy-caliber business for The Gun Store. To the left of the shooting lanes is an austere chapel. “We call this 50 Shades of Gray,” Miller says. “I’ve married all sorts of people in this place,” from which one can hear the steady rat-a-tat of gunfire. During one ceremony, it was startling enough that, instead of saying “I do,” the bride exclaimed, “Holy shit!” Still, for some range operators, there are limits to how far they’ll go to capitalize on firearms mania. The Gun Store canceled a promotion right after the December 2012 mass killing in Sandy Hook, Conn., hometown of the National Shooting Sports Federation. “They knew people who were killed. We’re not so blindly loyal to the Second Amendment that we’re not going to take feelings into consideration.”

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38 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

The “shooting Strip” and the tourist corridor intersect at Strip Gun Club, the new kid in town (it opened last December). A halfblock north of the Sahara, it’s tucked inconspicuously behind the Chapel of the Bells. Compared to bellicose Battlefield Las Vegas, the palm trees and cordon of shrubbery at Strip Gun Club exude tranquility, even if the building is wrapped in green and red corrugated metal. Inside, the vibe is totally “nightlife.” Before the staff sets out the weaponry each morning, you might mistake the lobby for a bar: Done in black, red and cream, it has comfy, leatherette seating and a long, metallic counter. Large, transparent cubes in which Glocks and Sig Sauers repose neatly atop a bed of shell casings add a surreal touch. Converted from an old motel, Strip Gun Club deliberately blurs the firing line between nightlife and weaponry, the latter a banquet culled from the arsenal found in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. “If (tourists) want crystal chandeliers and chrome machine guns, they’ll come to us,” Barson says. “People are in Vegas and expecting a higher-end experience, visually,” characterized by silver light fixtures and red LED stripes. Should you qualify for the VIP range, you get fully dimmable lights for tactical situations that include lasers and night vi-

Does this come in kevlar: After the gunplay comes the gift shop.

sion. “If we have a celebrity, we can take them back in there,” Barson says. Locals, though, are welcome for a $20 lane rental plus ammo.

First-person shooter To get a firsthand sense of why people would travel to Las Vegas to shoot guns, I visit The Range 702. I start with a Smith &

Wesson 1911, a gun that’s still serving American armed forces after more than a century. It’s got a fierce bark and quite a bite. Still, I manage to put all but one shot on target and most of them in the center-mass area I’m supposed to aim for. Next, I choose a target of a mutant boar and am handed an MP5 machine pistol. Slender and easy to sight, it discharges

short, efficient bursts, easy to control, and I am rewarded with some fairly well-targeted rounds. As I hand the weapon back, the air is thick with the smell of cordite. Finally, I’m entrusted with a M4 carbine and two magazines. A good thing, as this gun is a glutton for ammo and bucks like a bronco. Mindful of my wife’s great fear of spiders, I decide to slay a giant paper one for her. The gun’s high-tech sighting mechanism and my left-eye dominance do not get along well. It’s a struggle to keep the red circle in view. Yet, even as I spray shell casings about, I put several shots through the arachnid’s head, and create a ringing in my own. Shooting off controlled bursts, feeling the heavy thud of the submachine gun, you definitely have a sensation of power and the gratifying feeling of not just pumping out shells but mastering a skill involving a potentially dangerous tool. An endorphin rush undeniably kicks in once you’re finished. Good for the gun ranges: They’ve just created a repeat customer — whether I came from the suburbs, Germany or even New Jersey.

What is the Mojave Max Emergence Contest? Mojave Max is a real live tortoise that lives at Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area. Every fall when the hot Las Vegas weather cools off, Max goes into his burrow to begin brumation, (this is how Max hibernates), and he emerges in the spring. The person who guesses as closely as possible to the correct day, hour, and minute when Max will emerge from his burrow wins!

Who Can Enter the Contest? Anyone in the world can enter, but only one lucky winner from Clark County, Nevada in grades K-12 who are enrolled in public, private and registered home schools are eligible to win all kinds of great prizes. Go to and click on the “contest” button to see a complete list of the Mojave Max Emergence Contest Rules.

What are the Prizes? The grand prize winner and his or her class will receive T-shirts and a pizza party and field trip to Red Rock Canyon. The winner also receives a laptop computer, a digital camera, and a year-long pass to federally managed fee areas. The winner’s teacher will also receive a laptop computer!

How Do I EntEr tHE ContEst? to EntEr tHE ContEst, Go to


Brought to you by: Clark County Desert Conservation Program, Clark County School District, Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association and U. S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management. | 39


Learn about theIs John Las S. Vegas Parkgetting oral history fatter? project Hear on experts “KNPR’s weigh State in on of “KNPR’s State of Nevada” Nevada”at atwww.desertcompanion/hearmore

department profile


The life preserver UNLV’s Claytee White not only collects oral histories about life in Southern Nevada. She empowers others to do the same By Damon Hodge | Photography bill hughes On the third floor of UNLV’s Lied Library, tucked in the northwest corner, is Special Collections. Spacious and airy, this place. Art-museum quiet, it conveys importance. Seriousness. Heft. Perhaps it’s because history lives here, in the form of photos and documents, baubles and books that help put into context the life story of a city seemingly forever bracketed by contradictions: Mobfinanced past vs. Wall Street-funded present; the desire to be taken seriously (new performing arts center, downtown redevelopment, pursuit of pro sports) vs. the quick rewards of promoting sin (“Strippers: Direct to You”) and schmaltz (think the “Hangover” films). Special Collections is the home base of UNLV’s Oral History Research Center, helmed by Claytee White, the only director in the center’s 10-year history. Equal parts collector, curator and storyteller, White quarterbacks a team that conducts audio and video interviews of the people who shaped early Las Vegas — people whose surnames grace our public places and private institutions, from the Foleys to the Fertittas. Her staff also trains people in the art of oral history. During the past decade, they’ve crisscrossed Southern Nevada — Blue Diamond to Boulder City, Green Valley to Summerlin, Mount Charleston to the Frenchman Mountains to Mesquite — collecting stories of pioneers, including women who broke glass ceilings, minorities who toppled segregation, the first dentists and doctors. “Often times, I meet someone and they tell me that I really need to talk to so-and-so because so-and-so has been here since World War II,” she says. “Those kinds of relationships put me closer and closer to the history.” The constant learner White never figured on becoming a university-employed historian, never knew such a career existed. Growing up in Ahoskie, N.C., about 60 miles south of Norfolk, Va., her adolescence revolved around sharecropping. “All I knew is that no one should ever have to work this hard. So my plan was to do well in

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Companion | November 2013

Total recall: Claytee White captures the memories of historymaking Southern Nevadans.

school, go to college, get out of there and be a school teacher. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to be doing what I’m doing now. I’m learning so much about Las Vegas.” And White is constantly learning, be it through training a group of Blue Diamond residents how to conduct interviews, studying musicians who

played with the greats of Vegas’ golden era or chronicling the lives of Hurricane Katrina survivors living here. One day, she’s in the field conducting interviews. The next day, she’s visiting historic sites and scribbling endless notes. Other days are devoted to research or mapping strategies to attack a project. Busy, busy, busy. Her pace

Ce Avrt Gi ai ifi ft la ca bl te e s seems to act as a countervailing force against the perception that Las Vegas frequently discards its history, a perception largely fueled by the casino implosions of the ’90s. “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” White says. Look at our buildings: The Mormon Fort on Washington Avenue (built in 1855); the Golden Gate Casino on Fremont Street (1906); the original Las Vegas High School on Seventh Street (1930); and the federal Post Office now housing the Mob Museum (1933). Look at neighborhoods: railroad cottages between Second and Fourth streets and Clark and Garces avenues (built in 1910); West Las Vegas (which boomed shortly after the end of World War II). “The city may implode a building, but it saves everything else,” White points out. “And the implosions are only on the Strip. Downtown looks a lot like it did back in its heyday, and so do many other parts of town. We shouldn’t confuse imploding a building with destroying our history. Las Vegas has done a decent job of preserving its history, but there’s so much more to learn and uncover.” Getting the story Conducting an oral history interview is about more than just a straightforward Q&A — and doing it right can mean the difference between striking out and striking gold. Successful oral historians establish rapport with their subjects. White’s style is more conversation than interview. To make subjects comfortable, she arrives early and thanks them for contributing to history. Active listening is key. Eyes front. Head high. Lean in. Ask openended questions, paraphrase. Use technology (record the interview) and old-fashioned reportorial skills (take notes). “I want people to know that what they are saying is important to this project and to research. People are often surprised with what they tell me. Later on, they’ll say, ‘I didn’t know I shared all that.’ I’ve been at kitchen tables all throughout the valley, listening to some great stories from interesting people. I walk in as a stranger, but I leave as a friend.” “People would be surprised at how much history there is here and that many of the people who made that history are alive, or their families are still here, from the Cashman family to families that helped build the Strip and the gaming industry to neighborhoods like Rancho Circle,” says Jarmilla McMillan-Arnold, who serves with White on the City of Las Vegas’ Historic Preservation Commission. “And Claytee is doing her part to help preserve their stories for


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Companion | November 2013

students, young people and future generations.” (McMillan-Arnold is part of that rich story: She’s the daughter of Dr. James McMillan, the first African-American dentist in Las Vegas — who was recruited from Detroit by Las Vegas’ first African-American doctor, Charles I. West.) And while conducting oral history interviews is an art, it isn’t arcane. White also teaches others interested in preserving their own History in the making: communities’ story how to discovAn oral historian’s tools of the trade er the living history in their midst. After living in Las Vegas since 1967, Pat van Betten and her husband retired to Blue Diamond in here from the ’70s and ’80s. Back then, UNLV 1999. They were eager to immerse themselves professor Dr. Ralph Roske had his students go in the community and wanted to plumb its hisinto the community each semester to find peotory. Finding White, she says, was a “gold mine.” ple to interview. They interviewed the Foley “We knew we wanted to gather oral hisfamily, the Von Tobel family, Bob Bailey and tory and didn’t know how to do it, and so we other people who’d been in Vegas during its fumbled along,” van Betten says. “All of a sudformative years. The interviews were donated den, I get this call from Claytee in 2003. She to Special Collections. I want to build on that.” came out. She met with us and taught us how Fellow historian Dr. Michael Green, a history to do it. She role modeled for us how to do professor at the College of Southern Nevada, the questioning, how to prepare, how to put says White’s work is an integral part of contexsomeone at ease, how to make the process ustualizing Las Vegas for locals and visitors alike. er-friendly for the person being interviewed “Claytee went to the college of William and the person interviewing. Now, we have & Mary, but she can’t talk to the people who more than 70 oral histories archived.” built the community because they’re long In 2008, Blue Diamond’s history commitgone,” Green said. “I did my dissertation on tee produced a Blue Diamond cookbook with Abraham Lincoln, but obviously I can’t talk to snippets of the area’s oral history. Two years him. Las Vegas is unusual in that many of the later, they presented a history of the area at people who helped build this city, who were the Southwest Oral History Association’s here when this community developed, are still 2010 meeting in Boulder City. here. And we can talk to them. And she does.” “It was like a reader’s theater. People White will be doing a lot more talking in would read excerpts of their oral histories,” the months and years to come. Currently van Betten says. “We’re able to do all of this piquing her interest are the historical expebecause what Claytee taught us.” riences of African-Americans and the fastgrowing Hispanic and Asian-American comBack to the future — and back munities in Las Vegas. She’s intrigued by the White was working on a doctorate at connection between Las Vegas and Cuba, the College of William & Mary when UNLV gaming moguls here and in Cuba, pre-Castro. opened the Oral History Research Center in “(At the center) we want to be more de2003 and she was selected as its first directailed, more thorough, more intimate with tor. Since she was familiar with Las Vegas and the history of this city.” UNLV (where she earned her master’s degree As for her compiling her own family histoin history), the job was a natural fit. “I loved Las ry, well, White hasn’t quite gotten around to Vegas and wanted to come back. I got a taste for it. Bits and pieces are there, but not the fullthe richness of Las Vegas history while I was picture of her heritage. Living here makes it here.” tricky, but White hasn’t ruled out training her For 10 years, White has sought to better own family members to put the puzzle tocapture that richness — and make it more acgether. “That could be a fun project.” cessible. “There was lots of oral history done


Learn Is Lashow Vegas Bottlehood getting fatter? makes Hear old experts bottles beautiful weigh in on “KNPR’s “KNPR’sState Stateof ofNevada” Nevada”at atwww.desertcompanion/hearmore

department technology

Bottle shock


Scott McCombs has perfected a method for turning glass bottles into concrete. It’s clean, it’s green, it’s revolutionary. How come his GreenStone isn’t catching on? By Chantal Corcoran Photography Brent Holmes

Chances are you’ve heard about the castle. Realm of Design Inc., a family-owned company that makes things such as columns, mantels and countertops, has received a lot of attention for its unique manufacturing facility in Henderson. Because it’s not a mere factory — it really is a full-blown castle. Its Morrow Pavilion Hall is a 30,000-square-foot replica of the 17th-century Swarkestone Hall Pavilion, the English castle featured on the cover of the Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks album. Morrow Pavilion Hall is as much an environmental statement as an architectural one: The entire façade is made of GreenStone, an eco-friendly concrete substitute that Realm owner Scott McCombs created from recycled beer bottles and fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning. Countless media outlets have run stories on the famous beer-bottle castle, from Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine to The Huffington Post. The DIY Network featured the building in a 2012 episode of “This New House.” In September, France TV flew in to shoot a documentary, following a beer bottle from the Strip to the glass crusher to the wall. And last February, a story trending on Yahoo! brought enough traffic to Realm of Design’s website to crash it. And the interest pretty much fizzles there — with a gander at the marvel (tourists and prom-goers like to pose in front of the castle for pics) and a pat on the back for effort: Realm has won various awards, including the Green Technology Award from the Technology Business Alliance of Nevada, for its GreenStone. But, of all the commercial and residential products Realm sells — think fireplace features and mantels, countertops, columns,

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Companion | November 2013

Scott McCombs’ showpiece castle.

fountains, pavers, flooring and the like — only a minuscule percentage have been ordered in the McCombs’ beloved GreenStone. “People tend to think it’s dirty somehow. Or, if it’s recycled, then they think the product should be free or almost free. It’s really strange,” says McCombs, who is confounded by the lack of consumer interest in GreenStone, particularly in the U.S. “Or they really don’t care.” Whatever the reason, it’s proven frustrating for McCombs, who’s dedicated the last 10 years to perfecting the formula. Realm’s even made a point of pricing its GreenStone to match the cost of its common cement. Never mind that the glass-crushing process means GreenStone is more expensive to make; to use sand would be a mere 16th of

the cost. They still can’t find many takers. “They like the idea of recycled,” says his wife, Cindy, who handles sales. But, in the end, people usually opt for traditional Portland cement they’re familiar with. She wonders whether that’s because there can occasionally be bits of glass in the GreenStone, never larger than three-eighths of an inch. She points at a painted-white glass chip in Morrow’s wall. It’s about the size of a peppercorn. “There’s a Corona bottle,” she says. Other products have pebbled glints of green or brown glass. “But most of the time, you’re not going to see it unless you want to.” If a customer wanted GreenStone, but preferred not to see evidence of the recycled glass, her husband, the artisan, could make it so. In any case, the McCombs seem to

have something big on their hands — something big and something ahead of its time. That fateful beer McCombs, 52, began his career in construction. On a home construction job in 1991, he couldn’t find the architectural columns the project called for. Always keen on a challenge, he decided to make them himself. The experience of handcrafting and detailing architectural designs proved so appealing to McCombs’ artistic nature that he and Cindy — recognizing the huge demand for these building products — launched Realm of Design, a family-run business that today employs his three children and other relatives. During the first decade of operation, they had a decent go of it, operating in four states (Nevada, California, Arizona and Oregon) and maintaining a staff of 56. But with the crash of the housing industry, sales plummeted. “You watch all the businesses around you go out of business. And you go, ‘Wow, I don’t want to get hung up in that.’ So, you try to outsmart the situation,” McCombs says. GreenStone was the patriarch’s way to survive the economic crisis. “I thought, if I had a greener product, I would be more successful, and I would help clean up this problem, and who knows what I would learn in the process, right?” The couple has their kids to thank for such green-mindedness. “Awareness wasn’t really something that we knew growing up,” Cindy says. “Then our kids were in school, and they’re like, ‘We need to recycle this and we need to cut this plastic up because we don’t want it to get stuck around a duck’s neck.’” Another factor: Beer? Yes. One night in the late ’90s, McCombs was drinking a beer on the Strip when it occurred to him that Vegas has a unique abundance of glass waste: 30 million tons annually of relatively clean glass. Keeping in mind that glass is made from sand, which is used in cement, McCombs got to thinking — and then got to experimenting and researching. He traveled to Rome to study the Colosseum, which was made with volcanic ash; he went to Montana to visit the Missoula Federal Credit Union, the first building in the world to structurally employ fly ash and recycled glass in lieu of traditional cement. And he solved problems. For example, crushed glass, when used as an aggregate in traditional Portland cement, causes a chemical process known as alkali-silica reaction, which leads to micro-cracking within the cement and makes it structurally unsound. But McCombs discovered that various ingredients

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Bottle service: At Realm of Design, waste glass is sorted (top left), crushed (top right) and fashioned into building materials, architectural features or design elements (below).

could mitigate the reaction — one of them being powdered glass. In fact, ground to a supremely fine talc, glass becomes pozzolanic, meaning it will strengthen the cement. So does fly ash, he discovered. Ten years later, he finally found the perfect formula for Realm’s products. Unlike the material of the Montana bank, it could not bleed efflorescence (the white powder that cement sometimes emits), since the buyers of his high-end artistic pieces are generally very particular. Color was also important — people in these parts favor a lighter-hued stone. And set time was a crucial factor to McCombs: It needed to be very fast, since time is money. He was also determined to eliminate the Portland cement in his recipe entirely. “Its carbon footprint is ginormous,” he says. It was all part of his commitment to truly walk the green talk. “I’ll run into ‘green’ products all day long, and it’s the most green-washed bull that you’ve ever seen in your whole life,” he says. “The formaldehyde they use to strip down a bamboo to make a fabric out of it — it’s like, really? What did you go through to process it? That’s not so green anymore.” He’s even careful to “shop locally” for his fly ash,

46 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

which he gets from Arizona, within a 500mile radius that he’s comfortable with. Finally, after he perfected the chemistry (“It’s as green as I can get it,” he says of the final product, made of 97 to 99.8 percent recycled material), sourced the materials and obtained a patent in 2010, he was ready for the next phase. McCombs began the construction of his manufacturing facility. The idea was to introduce GreenStone to the world in a big way. “How could it not be a winning idea?” McCombs says. He used more than 500,000 beer bottles (290,000 pounds of recycled glass) for Morrow’s façade, which, also counting the fly ash, saved more than 400,000 cubic yards of landfill space — about eight football fields filled to the top of the goal posts. (There are about 143 bottles in a single two-by-two foot paver.) “I was having a hard time finding a negative.” Reduce, reuse, re … yawn He wasn’t counting on the American public’s apathy toward recycling and sustainability. For all the talk about going green, American consumers are stuck in their old ways. According to a 17-country survey conducted by National Geographic and GlobeS-

can in 2012, “American consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study, followed by Canadian, Japanese and French consumers.” Why? It mostly comes down to the price tag. The report continues: “In descending order, Russians, Brazilians, Americans and Indians are the most likely to respond that the extra cost does not justify the value. Still, percentages willing to pay a premium have trended upward since 2008 for Americans and Australians — an indication that the market for green goods is growing there.” McCombs has found more interest in GreenStone overseas. Beyond France TV’s recent inquiries, McCombs has been approached by an Australian recycling company that would like his help to develop facing panels similar to the ones he used on his building — panels backfilled with polyurethane to instantly create insulation, while also reducing the weight of each piece (from 400 to 45 pounds) and, hence, the labor necessary to complete construction. Another company, Salish Sea Environmental Enterprises Limited in Canada, intends to use GreenStone to face what they hope will be the greenest building in North America, a 36-unit, oceanfront condo project northwest of Vancouver. Construction is due to begin in late fall. “For these two things (recycled glass and fly ash) to become a material that looks every bit like limestone and yet is more durable and much more sustainable, it just seems the perfect solution for us,” says Tim Lang, CEO of Salish. Lang should know. He’s shopped the globe for the most state-of-the-art sustainable products available. In addition to GreenStone, his building will use a solar slate roof from the United Kingdom said to capture more of the solar spectrum than any other solar product; and cross-laminated timber, which Lang calls “plywood on steroids” — said to be stronger than steel. “Obviously there’s a lot more sensitivity here about the environment,” says Lang, an American living in Canada for the past five years. “People, by and large, get it here, and they don’t quite yet in the states. But I think it will come, eventually.” The foreign interest in GreenStone has curbed some of McCombs’ frustration. He’s come to agree with Lang that it’s just a matter of time. “There was a green movement that started to come on, say, 10 years ago,” says McCombs. “Slowly, people were taking interest in all the green building incentives, and all that stuff. Then the economy went bad, and I think it

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stifled our ability to get caught up to the rest of the world. Honestly, it’s just bad timing.” Let’s go green together But that timing may be improving. Because the initial 500,000 bottles that make up Morrow’s walls came from Mandalay Bay, the folks at MGM have always had McCombs on their radar. Chris Magee, MGM Resorts’ executive director of sustainable facilities, recently reconnected with him. “As a company, we definitely try to help promote businesses in Nevada, in general, and if we can also make it a sustainable practice or support a sustainable practice, then it’s even more important,” Magee says. MGM — which produced 6,185 tons of waste glass last year alone — recycles more than 60 percent of its overall waste at certain properties. Recently, McCombs filled an order to recreate large decorative urns out of GreenStone for Bellagio. Not only are such jobs good for the environment, they’re great marketing for the company’s green bona fides. “(MGM Resorts International properties) like the idea of being able tell the story that glass that potentially came from their restaurants and outlets is in products around the property — like the pots at the Bellagio,” Magee says. Now MGM and Realm are discussing a park project due to go up in front of New York-New York and Monte Carlo, where various features, like benches, could be constructed of GreenStone. The casino giant is even considering subsidizing the expense of a sophisticated glass crusher that would allow McCombs to reduce his recycled bottles to a fine talc. “They understand that it has more of a value if it is a powder, so they’re looking to be supportive to getting it to that stage,” McCombs says. “It becomes pozzolanic then; the power usage is very low. And I could bag it and sell it as fillers for other things. So, it could grow the recycling effort. ” Reducing the glass to a powder would also eliminate the small glints of glass that Cindy believes are partially responsible for deterring buyers. “We’ve got to get our volumes up so we can make a difference, but I’m not sure how to get it to go in this country, other than to be here and just keep trying,” says McCombs. With that, McCombs heads back to his glass castle. He’s got work to do — and a public to convince. “But it’s gonna take hold,” he says. “It’s just a matter of time. How can it not?”

48 | Desert

Companion | November 2013


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department community


Miracle on Sixth Street For women battling addiction to drugs and alcohol, the quiet, almost secretive We Care is the last house on the block

Seedy would be a polite way to describe this stretch of Sixth Street, in the shadow of the Stratosphere, just east of the so-called world’s largest gift shop (“If it’s in stock, we have it!”). Diagonally across from the little, nondescript We Care house, a mumbling wretch has spent years staking out a begging pitch, shambling and pleading in front of a vintage Marie Callender’s. (Local legend has it she once reached “double-digit sobriety” before suffering a relapse from which she has not recovered.) Sharing the Callender’s parking lot, a Tony Roma’s and Café Heidelberg limped along through most of the recession, only to close recently. The house itself is bordered by the neglected lawns of the 99 percent; a vacant lot across the street is a moonscape of rubble and straw-colored grass.

50 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

For all the lack of promise around it, We Care is all about promise inside, at least for the addicted women seeking to right their lives. This is not the celebrity rehab you’ve seen on TV. No sweeping lawns or breathtaking views. No horseback riding. No massages. “It’s like getting sober at your grandma’s house,” says Lilly M., a rough-and-ready single mom and We Care veteran. Here, struggling women get a second (and sometimes third or fourth) chance, from the court-ordered girls with their gangsta garb to the disgraced kindergarten teachers who can’t stop crying; from impaired nurses and distraught divorcees to aging strippers and haven’t-had-a-legal-drink-yet Lolitas. And the plain old drunks, too. “This house is magic” has been said by too many We Care girls to attribute accurately. The place just has

something big and magical inside, according to its friends. Officially, it’s recovery. However, most who come here call it love. On a recent Sunday morning at 10 o’clock, a meeting is about to begin. A few children occupy themselves with coloring books and cartoons in the front room. Recovery meetings are held in the old dining room every morning of every week, Sundays and holidays included. They are open to locals, but to women only. Of course, where there are large numbers of women, there are often children. They are welcome, as long as an atmosphere of recovery is maintained. (That means no rowdy play.) E xc ha ng i ng tea r s an d l au g hter Like most 12-step meetings, We Care’s

i l l u s t r at i o n : C h r i s to p h e r S m i t h

By Helen Moore

start with what recovery veterans call “the meeting before the meeting,” a raucous time when program members greet each other like long-lost siblings — even if they saw each other yesterday. Lots of hugging and laughter. Lots of laughter. And some tears. Compliments are exchanged, along with phone numbers. Visitors will notice the sturdy table at the front of the room, its formica surface chipped in spots, laden with tissue boxes, a bunch of artificial flowers and some coffee cups. Behind the table sits a row of women, some young, some not so young. There are never more than eight. Some smile too brightly, others have been crying. These are “the ladies in the house,” the inpatients, each enrolled in the 30day program We Care offers. Facing them, on 40 or so folding chairs, sit the women of We Care. “Outpatients,” they jokingly call themselves. A lot of joking goes on here. The women don’t “look like” alcoholics. Or addicts. Some have semi-famous faces or bodies — there are showgirls and dancers here, as well as librarians, waitresses, geologists and lawyers. “We clean up real good,” they laugh. But today, as it does at 10 a.m. every day of the year, the laughter and chatter dies down as the house mom on duty opens the meeting. She has asked one of the women at the table to read a prayer aloud. Sometimes the woman can’t make it to the end without crying. Maybe another woman can’t read much beyond a third-grade level. The audience is patient. They know how it feels to be overcome by tears, or a task too difficult. They wait. A woman in the audience is selected to read from an inspirational book, and then she shares her thoughts on the reading for maybe five minutes. When she is finished, the house mom calls on another woman, and then another. Women share their “experience, strength and hope” on the reading topic. Some share like veteran standup comics, others declaim like rolling thunder. Laughter through tears is common. A prayer circle closes the meeting an hour after it began. These are local women (and a few out-of-town visitors), some of whom have “graduated” from the residential program but return for the meetings. Others say, “I didn’t go through We Care, but We Care went through me.” They are women who, having heard about the meetings through the recovery grapevine, find themselves drawn to this humble, four-bedroom house. Some have been coming for upwards of 20 years. There have been more than one mother-daughter combo. This is where potential 12-step sponsors may meet potential sponsorees, and women of all ages and lengths of sobriety forge the bonds they hope will keep them free of drugs and alcohol. “I don’t know what part of the program

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s a g e V s a L e r a u q S n w To


keeps me sober,” one said recently. “So I do it all: I read the Big Book, I work the Steps, I call my sponsor, I do service, I go to meetings and I ‘fellowship.’ I need it all.”


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F o r wo m en, by wo me n Since 1961, We Care House has helped several thousand women help each other get and stay sober. It offers a program closely modeled on the 12-step principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (though it’s not affiliated with that group). The house isn’t staffed by professional counselors or medicos; it’s run by women with long-term recovery who help other women achieve long-term recovery. (There’s a small paid staff; the house moms are volunteers.) Says C.M., a longtime attendee, “This is real recovery. These women will come out of this house with a real foundation in the 12 steps. They won’t leave here with a handful of prescriptions.” Those who do need prescribed medications are taught healthy ways to regard them, and to rely on their own Higher Power instead of popping a pill to change the way they feel. About that Higher Power. To the atheistically inclined, We Care’s emphasis on spirituality — not religion but spirituality — can create discomfort. And yet there are some avowed atheists who have graduated from the program and have no problem with the “God talk.” “I know what I believe and what I don’t,” says one. “For me, my Higher Power is the love I feel in the house. What anyone else believes is up to them.” Why, despite the thousands of women who’ve gone through the program, have you never heard of We Care? “Maybe it’s the fact that we’re practicing an ‘anonymous program,’” says Berta G., longtime program member and president of the We Care board of directors. “Or that we practice attraction rather than promotion. But we have not publicized our existence, and that has had the effect of limiting the number of women who know about us. But we’re not intentionally a deep, dark secret.” That institutional preference against promoting We Care, coupled with the modest fees it charges, has at times caused the home some financial insecurity. The women in the house pay $2,000 for a one-month stay. Contrast that with the $30,000-$60,000 charged by the brand-name rehab programs, especially those that trumpet themselves as “not a 12-step program.” That $2,000 covers three meals a day and dormitory-style lodging —




community two or three to a room, with the house mom on duty having a room to herself — as well as a crash course in the philosophy and practice of the abstinence-based 12-step program. In the month they live there, the women are brought into contact with other women who attend the meetings and who, it is hoped, provide living examples of the life sobriety affords. In return, the women living in the

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selves, under the 24-hour guidance of a director and crew of house moms, usually graduates who know the philosophy and routines — and who, as recovering alcoholics themselves, know how manipulative newcomers to recovery can be, and therefore know how to say no to requests for everything from visits with boyfriends to extra snacks. That said, there is no “lockdown,” other than the ordinary security precautions at night, as any household would have. There’s no dress code, either, but there is the expectation that, as befits responsible members of society, the women will dress and comport themselves accordingly. “Smackdown Betty,” a cherished, longtime house mom, now retired, was renowned for her sharp disapproval of flesh-baring outfits and vulgar language. “Where do you think you are, back on the streets?” she told more than one newcomer. “Button that up and don’t come in here with your blouse open that low again!” “It was shocking, yes, but I needed to be shocked,” one chastised newcomer said. Rates of successful treatment in addiction recovery are notoriously difficult to establish. This is partly because of the anonymity requirement of most recovery programs. Estimates as high as 50 percent and as low as 10 percent are considered the norm, and every celebrity who checks into rehab just to quickly check back out only seems to underscore the futility of much addiction treatment, whether it’s the traditional 12-step, dollar-in-the-basket anonymous type, the more “scientific,” medicine-based regimens, or even the newagey, “individually tailored” approaches of the luxury centers. So there’s no way to know how We Care’s success rates compare with those of other programs. But there’s no arguing with the palpable love shared by the women who come to the house. That love is manifest in the activities of Grateful Hearts, the fundraising arm of the We Care Foundation. They organize and run yard sales, spaghetti dinners, camp outs and carnivals — most recently, it was an atypically upscale event, an art auction called Grateful Art. These and similar activities, along with donations, grants and contributions, eke out We Care’s operating expenses. Money, of course, isn’t how success is measured at We Care. “Twelve-step recovery is strong in Las Vegas,” says Mary B., a Bronx transplant. With regrettably good reason. For the addicted, Sin City is like the world’s biggest gift shop, every temptation perpetually in stock. “Las Vegas does not want anybody to stop doing anything. Ever! Maybe Las Vegas is the reason We Care is so special. It has to be.”

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dining the dish

The little chicken wing of happiness


Chef Chris Palmeri wasn’t satisfied until his career took a dive — dive bar, that is. Now his decadent, blue-collar grub draws a global crowd By Al Mancini | Photography SABIN ORR

Family style: From left, Theresa Woo, Ming See Woo and Tony Woo

Moon Doggies isn’t the type of place you’d expect to find Oscar and Carolyn Goodman. But on a Wednesday night in September, mayoral royalty paid a visit to the tiny dive bar on Arville Street. They weren’t there to soak up the cheeky surfer décor, or chat with the heavily tattooed barstaff. They were here to sample the cooking of one of Las Vegas’ up-and-coming culinary superstars: Chris Palmeri. In a town overflowing with classically trained fine-dining chefs, Palmeri is an unlikely star. He commands his tiny kitchen in a ratty T-shirt rather than chef’s whites, and his menu boasts pizza, sandwiches and wings. Yet he’s made Naked City Pizza inside Moon Doggies one of Las Vegas’ top dining destinations, and is in the process of expanding his empire with two new ventures. It’s an unlikely career path for a chef who seemed on the fast track to fine-dining stardom. By the age of 25, the culinary school dropout from Buffalo had secured the executive chef position at the MGM Grand’s upscale Mexican restaurant Diego. There, he had the privilege of working with the restaurant’s consultant, Rick Bayless — arguably America’s top Mexican chef. But he soon felt he was underappreciated. “Eventually, the honeymoon part of it wears off. And it was time to have some compensation,” he says. “But when I asked, the whole mentality changed.” Frustrated, he quit, and for six months he was out of the restaurant world completely. “I just really didn’t want to get back into the gianthotel-on-the Strip thing anymore.” In fact, he did a 180, teaming up with an old friend from Buffalo, P.J. Schaeffer, on an unlikely venture. “You do what you know, and you do what you can afford,” says Palmeri. “And at the time it was a $3,000 hotdog cart.”

F e e d i ng th e ka rao k e c rowd Naked beneath his clothes: Chris Palmeri of Naked City Pizza

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Guinea Pigs Hotdogs set up shop every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in the park-

Get a leg up: Naked City’s chicken mole

ing lot of Dino’s Lounge in the rundown Naked City neighborhood, feeding the karaoke crowd. Topping their dogs with homemade relishes, chili and cheese sauce, the cart was a hit, and the partners soon expanded to open a full-time venture called Naked City Sandwich Shop in a tiny space adjacent to Dino’s. It was an immediate critical success. But they couldn’t parlay that into any sustained business. “It started off like crazy,” Palmeri recalls. “(But) it was before all this downtown stuff, and it’s kind of a crappy location. … The longevity of it wasn’t gonna be there — we knew that.” As the two struggled to keep the business afloat, another struggling businessman was about to enter Palmeri’s life. Bobby McKinney was fighting hard to keep his bar Moon Doggies open. “The recession hit me really hard,” McKinney says, remembering early 2010. “I had lost one bar, and I was losing this one. And I realized I had to get some food in here.” One of his bartenders encouraged him to visit Palmeri and Schaeffer’s sandwich shop. “I went down, and researched them and looked at them. The food was excellent; it was out of this world.” He didn’t hesitate. “I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. I just said, ‘Whatever you need, whatever it takes, I want you up here.’” With differing business philosophies, Palmeri and his partner Schaeffer soon severed ties. Palmeri took over Naked City Pizza Shop in Moon Doggies, while Schaeffer retained the hotdog cart and sandwich shop, which he soon folded. (Currently a corporate chef at the MGM Grand, Schaeffer didn’t respond to an interview request.)

Bar f o o d? Cal l it ‘ ult ra- cas ual’ Naked City Pizza Shop wasn’t anything close to a formal restaurant. And like his hotdog cart and sandwich shop, it offered ultra-casual cuisine — in this case pizza, sandwiches and wings. But this wasn’t the usual pizza shop fare. Palmeri’s pizzas may be the only example | 59

dining Pizza the action: This is how they do it in Buffalo .

Do you have an IRS TaX PRoBLeM? 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


Table 34 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) 600 E. Warm Springs Road Las Vegas, NV (702) 263-0034 60 | Desert

Companion | november 2013

of Buffalo-style pizza in Las Vegas. They’re cooked in a rectangular pan, similar to Sicilian style, but with a thinner crust. And the chef’s specialty pies boast insane combinations of toppings. (The Stinger, for example, comes with chicken fingers, sirloin steak, three cheeses, sweet and hot peppers and onions.) The restaurant’s french fries and hot subs are just as creative and delicious. Palmeri says all of the dishes harken back to his roots. “Buffalo is working-class and comfort food,” he says. “I grew up with that, so I know that stuff. I know pizza. I know chicken wings. I know sandwiches and hotdogs.” But he also knew the local culinary scene. And his friends from the Strip soon began patronizing Naked City after work. “We would have people from Ghost Bar and N9NE Steakhouse and The Playboy Club eating at Moon Doggies — in a pizza shop.” To accommodate that crowd, he began adding daily specials that drew on his fine dining background. And today, he frequently prepares that haute cuisine alongside his beloved casual fare. As Naked City’s fame grew, it eventually caught the attention of Food Network superstar and Las Vegas native Guy Fieri. When Fieri featured the shop on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” last year, things really blew up. “We went from being a $200 to $300 restaurant a day to being, some days, $2,000-plus,” Palmeri says, still in awe of the show’s effect. Today, the slightly renovated Naked City draws customers from around the globe. But Palmeri isn’t satisfied. He and McKinney are preparing to open Desnudo Tacos (Naked Tacos) next door to Moon Doggies. There, he’ll draw on his Mexican cooking experience to serve the under-21 crowd not permitted in the bar. And a second Naked City is in the works on Paradise Road. If his partner has his way, it won’t stop there. “I’m trying to push for franchising eventually,” says McKinney. But Palmeri plays it humble. “I don’t know if I’m trying to build an empire,” he says. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Clearly, however, he’s doing a lot of things right. Naked City Pizza inside Moon Doggie’s bar, 3240 Arville St., 243-6277,

May we recommend ... Guinea’s Pie Taking its moniker from

Chris Palmeri’s own nickname, this is clearly one of his favorites. It’s also the pizza that got Guy Fieri’s attention when he visited Naked City on “Diners, DriveIns and Dives.” The chef uses two types of cheese: mozzarella and ricotta. He also tops the pie with meatballs, spinach and his homemade garlic sauce. It can be a little on the messy side, but one bite and you’ll know why loyal customers will travel across the valley just for a slice. Short rib You’ll have to be lucky to try

out Palmeri’s short ribs, because he only offers them on his specials menu every few weeks. But it’s worth following Naked City on social media, just to see when they’ll be available. Served with a potato cake, sauce and a salad, this isn’t a new dish. “It’s the identical dish I came up with and sold at Diego,” the chef says. “But we had to sell it for like $40 at Diego.” At Naked City, he only charges $15. “I’m still making money off it. But now somebody else can afford it; it’s a whole new demographic.” — A.M.

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


November’s dining events you don’t want to miss World Food Championships Nov. 7-10. Now in its second year, this four-day cook-off features more than 500 competitors ranging from celebrity chefs to avid home cooks. They’ll put on their aprons and square off in popular food categories such as burgers, barbecue, side dish, chili, dessert and, of course, bacon. Held on Fremont Street and the Fremont East Entertainment District, this year’s competition features the Ultimate Bacon Experience, a tasting that boasts these chefs’ best culinary creations from everyone’s favorite part of the pork. Free to attend, $40-$60 to judge. Fremont Street and Fremont East Entertainment District,

New Vista’s Brew’s Best Hand-Crafted Beer Festival Nov. 9. Local and regional breweries come together to show off their best brews, including local favorites such as Boulder Dam Brewing Company, Ellis Island Casino, Gordon Biersch, as well as regional players such as Left Coast Brewers and Mendocino Brewers. Tickets go to support New Vista’s programs that help intellectually challenged people from all backgrounds live life to the fullest. $25-$40, The Village in Lake Las Vegas,

Pork belly roll at Kumi

Sushi joints try to outdo each other with excessively wacky ingredients in their rolls. It’s just what they do. But the new sushi joint at Mandalay Bay — it’s more of a sexy palace of Japanese cuisine, actually — is shooting for a very particular kind of wacky. Kumi’s pork belly roll approximates a backyard cookout within a perfect cylinder of sushi rice and nori. The lightly fried morsel of pork is crispy, sweet and slightly creamy and smoky, topped with a simple yet sublime slaw of Brussels sprouts. It’s one of the most odd bites you’ll find on Kumi’s menu, and one that will stay on your mind even after you’ve worked your way through that menu. — Brock Radke

Kumi inside Mandalay Bay, 632-9100

Chicken pot pie nuggets at Rx Boiler Room

If you always thought celebrity chef Rick Moonen might be just a little crazy, here’s your delicious confirmation. Who else would make a science experiment out of transforming a piece of warmed-over, typically disappointing culinary Americana into an addictive bar snack? Moonen is making bite-sized pot pies at Rx Boiler Room, complete with all the hot and savory goodness you remember, minus that chunk of frozen gravy in the middle — you know, the one your mom could never cook away. Finally, the chicken pot pie is getting its moment, bite after crispy, wonderful bite. — BR

Lee’s Wine Experience Nov. 9. The 11th Annual Lee’s Wine Experience features more than 1,000 wines from France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, the U.S., and more. A silent auction featuring everything from gift baskets to wine getaways supports Lee’s Helping Hand, which goes to help Las Vegas charities. $50-$60, LVH.

Desert Hops International Beer Experience Nov. 9. Get lost on an international journey with the tastes of 150 unique beers from more than 25 countries all in one place. From Japan to Australia, experience a beer festival like none other in the heart of The Las Vegas Strip. Amid the beer-centric atmosphere, The Cosmopolitan mixologists will also be demonstrating the newest trends in beer-infused cocktails. 3-7p, $45, Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan

Rx Boiler Room inside Mandalay Place, 632-7200

PHOTOGRAPH BY Christopher SMith | 61


The sTory of fr

n o s a e s r U o f e h a n k i e Va l l i & T


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to ru le th e m all

60 dates

f r o m o u r h i s t o r y, a n u m ber of w h ich you ough t t o k now (a lso, some jok es)

written by scott

dicksheets & andrew kir aly

illustrations by Paul

Rogers | 85

350 B.C. Early inhabitants have settled in what’s now Clark County, establish still-existing tax rate.

historical trivia pop quiz!

historical trivia pop quiz!

1. The first long-distance call is placed from Las Vegas in …

3. The big disaster news of 1906 is … a. the derailing of a Decatur Express Line train 45 miles outside of Las Vegas b. a brothel fire in Block 16 c. t he wreck of The Searchlight, the last steamboat on the Colorado

a. 1918 b. 1929 c. 1951


When he enters what’s now Clark County near what’s now Mesquite — he doesn’t reach the LV area — Jedediah Smith becomes first American in Southern Nevada. Also this year: Current generation of RJ subscribers born.


1855 On June 4, William Bringhurst and entourage arrive to found a Mormon settlement; they abandon it in 1857. Transience: It's in our DNA!






In December, scout Rafael Rivera becomes the first person of European descent to see the valley. (He was totally lost.)

Because Lincoln wants more votes against slavery and related issues (and for his re-election), Nevada becomes a state on Oct. 31. Also, early Halloween in Nevada entails giving lumps of free dirt to area children.


Explorer John C. Fremont camps beside the valley’s spring on May 3. He notes the area’s name as Vegas, Spanish for “meadows.” Amazingly, his published account goes viral without precious Instagram pics.

historical trivia pop quiz!

2. The Huntridge Theatre opens in 1944 as … a. a venue for USO performances b. an all-ages zoot-suit “danceteria” c. a non-segregated movie theater

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On May 5, Pilot Randall Henderson lands the first airplane flight to Clark County, just off the L.A. highway. Disembarks without the degrading remove-your-shoesand-belt TSA ritual.



On July 1, Lincoln County is split to create Clark County. The three-member Clark County Commission meets two days later. Already with the bloated bureaucracy!

Octavius Decatur Gass and others settle on the abandoned Las Vegas Ranch. William Knapp opens first store in area, selling "Tobacco, Gen'ral Provisions and Fine Vapes."

350 B.C.


Setting the stage for Oscar Goodman's 2005 centennial, Montana Sen. William A. Clark auctions off 600 plots of land along path of his railroad in Las Vegas Townsite on May 15.


1910 Nevada outlaws gaming, but later goes, "Psyyych!"





The city of Las Vegas is incorporated on March 17. Hey, that's, like, us!

Archibald Stewart acquires the Las Vegas Ranch from Octavius Decatur Gass. He dies the next year in a shooting — our area’s first murder and first unsolved murder! His widow, Helen, eventually sells the land and water rights to railroad concerns, key to the founding of Las Vegas — exactly as foretold in the prophecies.


Using what will eventually become Highway 15, the first car arrives in Las Vegas from Los Angeles sometime in June. OMG w/out a/c? #cray


Construction of Hoover Dam begins. In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates Boulder Dam, dropping "Hoover." To capitalize on popularity of newfangled vacuum-cleaning, dam reverts to Hoover in 1947.

historical trivia pop quiz!


5. This doesn’t happen in 1952 …


a. Vegas Vic erected b. First media broadcast of atomic explosion c. The Sands opens

1922 On Nov. 11, governors of the seven states along the Colorado River sign the Colorado River Compact, which gives Nevada 300,000 acre-feet of water. In parallel dimension, spectral embryo of Pat Mulroy rasps, "No! Need more!"

1941 Thomas Hull opens the El Rancho Vegas on April 3, the first hotel-casino on the Strip, which, at this point, is a strip of, uh, not much.


1931 Nevada legalizes gaming on March 19; first license in Clark County goes to Mamie Stocker. Frank, Louis and Tony Cornero build The Meadows, the first casino built to be a casino. Also, marriage and divorce laws are loosened. Message to world: "Our parents are gone. HOUSE PARTY!!!"

First atomic bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site, Jan. 25. Let's party! Also, duck!



The Moulin Rouge, the first casino aimed at an Africa-American clientele, opens (and closes in six months). Also opening: the Riviera, at nine stories the first high-rise hotel on the Strip.

Actress Carole Lombard dies in a plane crash on Mount Potosi Jan. 16. John Entwistle vows this will never happen to him.


1941 City and Army Air Corps sign a lease for old Western Air Express Field — today’s Nellis Air Force Base.

South Fifth Street renamed Las Vegas Boulevard South. Fourth Street gets all "WTF?," trolls other numbered streets.



1948 Alamo Airport, five miles south of Las Vegas, is dedicated as McCarran Field.



Elvis plays his first show in Vegas, at the New Frontier, on April 23.

1950 Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver opens hearings on organized crime in the courthouse that now hosts the Mob Museum. That's right, "Estes."

historical trivia pop quiz!

4. In 1932, The Apache Hotel gives Vegas its first … a. ladies night b. elevator c. escalator


Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s Flamingo opens on Christmas Day. The mob later thanks him with a deadly hail of gunfire.

1953 Setting the stage for a revival of the word "Hooterville," Henderson incorporates. | 87



Nevada gets serious about mobless gaming, creates Black Book, its members excluded from casinos. Immediately followed by first complaint that Vegas was better when the mob ran it.

Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield’s ear during a June 28 bout in Las Vegas, striking a blow to boxing's genteel, blueblood image.



Organized crime figure and future Casino inspiration Lefty Rosenthal survives an Oct. 4 car bomb attempt outside a Marie Callender’s.


historical trivia pop quiz!


Howard Hughes arrives in Las Vegas on Nov. 27 in a special train, possibly from the future. Summerlin ensues.

1967 Elvis and Priscilla marry in Vegas on May 1. Live happily ever after.


7. Which hit film from 1998 doesn’t include scenes shot in or around Las Vegas?

1972 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is published, as is the architectural treatise Learning from Las Vegas. Both shape how hip Americans view the city.



Ocean's 11 opens Aug. 10. (George Clooney: still unborn.)

State lawmakers approve corporate ownership of casinos, paving way for our friendly multinational Strip overlords of today.

On New Year’s Eve, Evel Knievel crashes while jumping Caesars Palace fountains.



8. In 1986, Vegas mobster Anthony Spilotro is found in …

a. 1968 b. 1931 c. 1917


A Nov. 21 fire at the MGM (now Bally’s) kills 85. Lesson: fire sprinklers good for tourism.

Companion | NOVEMBER 2013



historical trivia pop quiz!

1993 Dunes blown up, first of the big spectacle implosions.


6. The city’s first black church is founded in …



On Nov. 22, Steve Wynn’s Mirage opens with 3,049 rooms. Kicks off megaresort boom, “new Las Vegas," volcano-in-frontyard craze.

historical trivia pop quiz!

Setting the stage for his Jumpsuit Years, Elvis debuts at The International on July 26. Last show: Dec. 12, 1976

Bob Stupak debuts the Stratosphere Tower. At the time, the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Now just really tall.

Setting the stage for future Larry Johnson "Grandmama" commercials, UNLV Rebels win National Championship on May 16.

a. an Illinois cornfield b. an Indiana cornfield c. an Iowa cornfield


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a. Deep Impact b. Lethal Weapon 4 c. Pamela Anderson/ Tommy Lee sex tape



Tupak Shakur shot behind MGM Grand on Sept. 7; later dies. Makes comeback as hologram at Coachella.

Fremont Street Experience opens, featuring laser lights, slack-mouthed, zombie-like gawkers from Des Moines.

1996 Las Vegas Motor Speedway opens, eventually making possible the cultural opposites of NASCAR and Electric Daisy Carnival.

1998 Horseshoe heir Ted Binion is found dead at home on Sept. 17. The resulting trials of Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish keep headline writers employed for years.

historical trivia pop quiz!

10. In a January 2004 ceremony in Las Vegas, Britney Spears briefly marries … a. Jason Alexander (not the Seinfeld guy) b. Jason Alexander (the Seinfeld guy) c. Kevin Federline



Oscar Goodman elected mayor of Las Vegas.

Of President Bush, Harry Reid tells local high schoolers, "I think this guy is a loser." Also: Asked by 4th-graders what he'd take to a desert isle, Mayor Goodman answers: gin.




Las Vegan and mulletwig-wearer Andre Agassi wins French Open, becoming second man in Open era to capture career Grand Slam.

Celine Dion begins loud, shrieking residency at Caesars Colosseum.

9. A 1993 boxing match at Caesars Palace is notoriously interrupted by … a. a child trying to climb into the ring b. a streaker c. a man flying a fan- powered paraglider


Real World Las Vegas debuts; set at the Palms, it boosts idea of Vegas as place for young to party at nightclubs, drink too much, cry in bathroom stall, drunk-text exboyfriend, wake up with one shoe.

Tony Hsieh and Zappos move into old city hall, emblematic of changes to downtown. Building immediately bathed in heavenly light.

Hoover Dam bypass bridge opens; traffic backed up since 1973 starts to move.





The Killers form, complain about Vegas audiences.


historical trivia pop quiz!


Vegas becomes foreclosure capital of America. We're no. 1! *sad trumpet sound*



2009 CityCenter opens with fanfare, cool art and "Vdara death ray."


Vegas celebrates centennial, to some controversy among critics who say the 1911 incorporation of Las Vegas as an actual city would have been a better milestone than William Clark’s land auction. But at least we had a cake.


The Smith Center for the Performing Arts opens. Las Vegans still getting used to this whole "arts and culture" thing.

2003 On Oct. 3, Roy of Siegfried & Roy is mauled by one of their tigers, ending the show. Unholy 1,000-year reign of Criss Angel begins.

ANSWERS 1 a. 2 c. 3 c. 4 b. 5 a. 6 c. 7 a. 8 b. 9 c. 10 a. Sources: Mark Hall-Patton, Las Vegas Sun,, Michael Green | 89

good gift to all a

Whether you’re shopping for co-workers, tykes, tweens or the love of your life, this season’s gifts will please with a blend of function and style | 91

Working 9 to 5 Gifts for co-workers

A cup of elegance The office coffee may not taste the best, but your co-worker will look fabulous drinking it in this Henri Bendel I Heart HB coffee cup. $18, Henri Bendel in the Forum Shops at Caesars and Fashion Show Mall

Tie one (or two) on Ditch the drab corporate necktie and add some flair to the workday — with a Thomas Pink printed tie. $135, Thomas Pink in the Forum Shops at Caesars and Grand Canal Shoppes Palazzo/ Venetian

The future, write now

The briefcase reborn

Great for techies and non-techies alike: Henri Bendel Cross Your T’s stylus and pen. $25, Henri Bendel in the Forum Shops at Caesars and Fashion Show Mall

Sleek and sophisticated, the Alfred Dunhill Bourdon Bright single-zip document case and slim single-zip briefcase will carry that thirdquarter earnings report in style. $1,040, Alfred Dunhill in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Store it in style The perfect gift for the office busybody? The Henri Bendel Mind Your Business Card case ($38), West 57th pill box ($48), West 57th contact lens case ($38) or West 57th bag tag ($28). Henri Bendel in the Forum Shops at Caesars and Fashion Show Mall

Remember handwriting? Your officemate has got a smart everything — phone, tablet, camera — but what does he do when his batteries are out of juice? He picks up one of the cool Paul Smith printed pocket notepads you got him and starts happily scribbling away. $10, Crystals at CityCenter

Child’s play Gifts for the kids

A little luxury for little ones The only thing missing in these his-and-hers luxury cars are goggles and driving gloves. The Dexton pedal-operated roadster ($335) has working headlights and an adjustable windshield, while the Dexton Lamborghini ($400) is battery-operated. Saks Fifth Avenue

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For the driven child Your future racecar driver will rev it up in the Crazy Cart from Razor, featuring a drive system that allows it to drive forward, reverse, sideways, diagonally and everything in between. $399, Toys R Us

A young reader’s dream Tuck them in while reading a book dreams are made of, with the Books to Bed children’s Mousetronaut pajamas and book. $49, Saks Fifth Avenue

A princess for your princess

Finally, a mess-free pup!

The My Little Pony Princess Twilight Sparkle figure talks, sings, twinkles and moves, with wings that flutter and glow. $49.99, Toys R Us

What parents wouldn’t love you when they don’t have to clean-up or take this little pup out at the crack of dawn every day? The Ugglys Pug electronic hand puppet will burp and, uh, express its way into your heart with more than 30 other appetite-ruining sounds. $29.99, Toys R Us

Animal magnetism

Your own private Rudolph

Santa knows if you’re naughty or nice, but can the mystical Magic Jinn actually read your mind? Think of an animal and press his nose, and he’ll guess the rest! Is it magic, or just kind of weird and freaky? $19.99, Toys R Us

Kids can customize their holiday cheer with a make-your-own Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ($25). Dress Rudolph in a holiday sweater ($8.50), red bell collar ($4), snowflake hat and scarf ($8.50) and Rudolph slippers ($6.50 per pair) to complete the look. Build-a-Bear in the Fashion Show Mall

It’s a guy thing Gifts for him

He’ll be the king of the greens Winter in Vegas is more the season of golf balls than snowballs — and he’ll stand out on the greens with this Prada golf bag in iconic Prada nylon. Fore! indeed. $1,390, Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall

He’ll never leave the man cave again The Xbox One is more than a game console — it’s an all-in-one gaming-music-television system that will keep him entertained for hours — and, yes, may just put a strain on your relationship. $559, Toys R Us

The life of the party

He can still txt u 2 Now he can text you in all seasons. These Alfred Dunhill Touchtech leather gloves have been uniquely engineered with lamb nappa leather, enabling him to use his smartphone or tablet with the gloves on. $295, Alfred Dunhill in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Gifts for the social butterfly

Right on target The Jonathan Adler Toulouse Dartboard turns the classic bar game of darts into a stylish game even the ladies will like. $295,

Fashion with a spine The John Varvatos: Rock in Fashion book is a must-have for any stylish guy’s coffee table. $60, John Varvatos in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Cheers to the hostess with the mostest They’ll be proposing a toast to elegance and luxury with this Henri Bendel Martini Glass. $48, Henri Bendel in the Fashion Show and the Forum Shops at Caesars

Let the games begin Smell like a genteel lumberjack Looking for a seasonal signature scent for the guy in your life? Paul Smith Portrait fragrance for men is a woody, spicy fragrance, with notes of green tea, pink pepper and cedar wood. $90, Paul Smith Crystals at CityCenter

It’s hip to be square The Paul Smith photo print pocket square is ultimate accessory for the dapper gent. $60, Paul Smith Crystals at CityCenter

Better than Santa’s bag The Coach Men’s legacy utility flap commuter bag in colorblock leather is totes stylish and functional. $648, Coach Men’s store in the Forum Shops at Caesars

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If your favorite host likes to play games, she’ll own the next party with this one: Monopoly 20th Anniversary Tommy Bahama Edition. $198, Tommy Bahama in Town Square and Fashion Show Mall

A feast from the sea Perfect for the Feast of Seven Fishes, this Petrossian box set of fine caviar will have them celebrating holiday bounty with a luxurious twist. $555, Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall

Chic and green Ditch the plastic this holiday and make sure you’re keeping your food safe from toxins with Wean Green containers, shatterproof and available in eight sizes. $10.99,

A winter scent nipping at your nose The Archipelago Winter Frost Candle brings the sweet scents of the season into her home — with hints of pine and bracing winter air. $29.50,

A page as unique as her These artistic pieces blend old and new, with prints by artist Belle Stripling screened on pages from an 1897 English dictionary of the English language. $20, Artifact LV in Town Square

Giving back Gifts with a charitable touch

Warms hearth and hearts The Jonathan Adler Project (RED) Special Edition Tomato Pop Candle brings light to lives. From Nov. 24-Dec. 24, 10 percent of the sales of select (RED) products in Jonathan Adler stores and on will benefit the Global Fund to help fight HIV/AIDS. $38,

Two for me, two for you When you buy TOMS Men’s Black Holden Suede Brogues, it’s a onefor-one deal: For every pair of shoes you buy, TOMS gives a pair to someone in need in a developing world. $109,

Tea time is giving time Donna Karan + Harney & Sons’ New York Blend Tea makes more than a soothing cup of tea. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Urban Zen Foundation, dedicated to promoting well-being, preserving culture and empowering children. $10, and

Inspire an entrepreneur The Tory Burch Robinson zip jewelry case in blood orange ($175) and patent foundation doublewrap logo stud bracelet in blood orange ($95) will power any entrepreneurial pursuit. Profits benefit the Tory Burch Foundation, committed to providing economic opportunities to women entrepreneurs. Tory Burch in the Grand Canal Shoppes and Forum Shops | 95

Shop in my backyard Gifts from local businesses These keys open new opportunities The Giving Keys employ those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys that get sold and shared around the world. Each key is unique and carries a message like HOPE, STRENGTH, DREAM or COURAGE. When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the inspiring message on the key, they give it away, paying the key forward. $35,

Elegance with an edge For the refined holiday party, this black sartorial bowtie is the VIP ticket — hand-cut from top-quality leather. $90,

A timeless accessory for any party Made from hand-cut premium leather, the Black Collection “Jessica” clutch strikes the perfect balance between natural warmth and classic style. $179,

The cream of the crop When you buy Farmhouse Fresh Pink Moon Shea Butter body cream, proceeds support the National Breast Cancer Foundation. $30,

For sleeping beauties JuveRest The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow comfortably keeps you off your face and helps reduce sleep wrinkles. Invented by Dr. Goesel Anson, renowned Las Vegas plastic surgeon. $180, and

Shot to the heart The “IAdornU” bullet necklace by local artist Mary Beth Heishman is made with recycled, sustainable metals. $65, Artifact LV in Town Square

Change for children Purchases of Tarina Tarantino’s Thorndrop: Our House earrings support the Our House Grief Support Center in Los Angeles, which provides support groups, education, resources and hope to thousands of children, teens, and adults who are dealing with the death of a loved one. $28,

Oh, you animal! He’ll rock the next retro party in this stylish cheetah print sartorial bowtie, individually handcut from premium leather. $90,

Holiday help for all Buying Lush Cosmetics Charity Pot body lotion helps grassroots charities all over the world. This vegan lotion is made with fairtrade and organic cocoa butter, with 100 percent of the proceeds from each pot going to support animal welfare, humanitarian concerns and environmental conservation. $22.95, 7.9 ounces; $5.95, 1.7 ounces, Lush Cosmetics in the Fashion Show Mall

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For your favorite Brit When you make a ICJUK “Inspired By Claire Jane” custom order, you’ll get a one-of-a-kind feather handbag and hair fascinator. $125-$350,

A touch of silver Who gets the silver spoon this year? Hopefully it’ll be one of these upcycled vintage silverware spoons by artist Kelly Galanos. $18 each, Artifact LV in Town Square

Wrap her in luxury Gifts for her

There’ll be tears — of joy She’ll gasp as she tears open the wrapping and sees the blue box — but just wait until she opens it and finds this Tiffany & Co. oval diamond cocktail watch with diamond face. $21,900, Tiffany & Co. in the Forum Shops at Caesars

This flower won’t wilt Here’s a flower to last a lifetime: The H. Stern Iris pendant in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. $42,300, H. Stern Crystals at CityCenter

Elegance at her side The LK Bennett Vanna leather shoulder bag is a stylish and functional companion piece. $495, LK Bennett in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Delicate warmth

A dress for a successful Christmas

Wrap her wrist with a Marc by Marc Jacobs bunny cameo cuff. $58, Marc by Marc Jacobs in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Watching her unwrap this Thomas Pink Robyn Dress will bring a smile to her — and to you. $495, Thomas Pink in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Party in the purse

You got her digits

The Rebecca Minkoff clutch is more than a purse — it’s a party on the go. Open it up to reveal a speaker from Stelle Audio with a specially curated playlist from the designer. $398, Saks Fifth Avenue

Protect her dainty digits with LK Bennett Dinah peacock gloves. $125, LK Bennett in the Forum Shops at Caesars

It’s the little things Stocking stuffers

Wearing a white Christmas The Infinity Knit Scarf in white/silver ($19.99), knit hat in white/silver ($14.99) and knit gloves in white/silver ($14.99) will bring your loved one a touch of white Christmas without that pesky frostbite. Target

Holiday party in your pants

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

These TOPMAN reindeer briefs are adorable — and rest assured that the antlers are harmless. $16, TOPMAN in the Fashion Show Mall

The Henri Bendel Snowglobe Ornament Whippet ($18) and a NYC Pretzel Ornament ($38) will lend any Christmas tree some true seasonal style. Henri Bendel in the Fashion Show and the Forum Shops at Caesars | 97


Putting your body at ease Relax and rejuvenate in the endless spa options in Las Vegas

Spa & Salon Vdara

Relaxing Rules: The Basics of Spa Etiquette From the outside looking in, it’s easy to be fooled by Sin City’s high-energy, bad-boy image. But, just under the surface of the neon lights and non-stop action are a number of peaceful spas ready to help Southern Nevadans wind down and relax. Across the valley, the opportunity for a great spa experience is seemingly endless. These options include national massage brands in strip malls, family-owned facilities in neighborhoods, peaceful retreats just outside

spa rules. Whether you are a spa rookie or veteran,’s “Spa Etiquette Guide” advises that you take the following steps to adequately prepare for your visit:

of the city and more than 45 spas on The Strip. Each spa offers an experience to relax, unwind and enjoy a unique treatment. From aromatherapy to facials to deep tissue massages, you don’t have to take an expensive flight to find exactly what you are looking for. In addition to pinpointing the right spa and treatment for yourself, it is important to follow a few simple, and often unspoken,

Determine whether you would like a male or female therapist. “Spas make every effort to accommodate guest wishes in this regard. Keep in mind that at peak hours, it may be harder to fulfill your request, and that for less-requested treatments, the spa may have only one therapist available.” Get to know your spa before you arrive. “Prior to your treatment, request a tour of the spa, which will acquaint you with your surroundings and introduce you to the spa facilities, such as saunas, steam rooms, and relaxation rooms.” 99


Once you’re finished with your treatment, there are a few basic questions remaining. Regarding making the most of your visit post-treatment, ISPA says to:

After you’ve done your homework, it’s go time. Within the spa’s confines, the International Spa Association (ISPA) “Spa 101” online guide ( recommends that you:

Use discretion when tipping. “The normal range of gratuity is between 15 and 20 percent of the total cost before taxes. Some spas have a no-tipping policy or the tip is already included in the treatment price. This is often indicated on their brochure or website. When in doubt, simply inquire at the front desk.”

Turn off your cell phone. “While you may wish to remain connected to the outside world by having your technology with you, it is disruptive to other guests seeking a quiet respite. The sound of a cell phone ringing or someone speaking on their phone can jolt them out of their quiet meditation.” Dress appropriately. “Therapists will only expose the portion of your body that is being treated at the time. If your treatment involves water therapy, such as watsu, a swimsuit is appropriate. If you are having a Thai Massage, wear loose, stretchy clothing.”

Linger in the right places. “In most instances, the treatment room will be needed in the next 15 minutes or so for the next guest. It is certainly appropriate to take your time while dressing, such as five to 10 minutes. Your therapist will meet you outside of the room and will escort you back to the changing/locker area. As a spa guest, you are welcome to stay at the spa as long as you like.”


GiftPackages Perfect gift for Friends and Family!

Platinum Spa Gift $210 reg $235 Foot Awakening (50 min.) Full Body Massage (80 min.) Retreat Facial (80 min.) Golden Bells $135 reg $200 Full Body Massage and Body Wrap (80min.) European Facial (50 min.) Silver Bells $100 reg $120 Full Body Massage (50 min.) European Facial (50 min.) 50 Minute Massage or Euro Facial $50 80 minute Massage or Euro Facial $80


re:lax spa

Featured Local Spa

re:lax spa is a brand-new state-of-theart spa inside Aliante Casino + Hotel. The 3,500-square-foot facility - with the mantra renew, recharge and revive - features eight massage rooms, several VIP rooms, exclusive couples’ rooms, wet rooms, his and her locker rooms and a first-class steam room and sauna. Services are highlighted by an extensive list of massages and full-body therapy procedures, including a traditional Swedish massage, hot stone massage, green tea wrap, Moroccan body therapy, deep blue deep tissue massage and a warm sugar scrub. Many of these treatments incorporate DōTERRA essential oils and are available for 45 to 80 minutes. re:lax offers a full range of organic facial treatments for men and women. An Epicuren organic facial uses a custom blend of seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs to nourish the skin with a relaxing facial masque specific to skin type. Manicures, pedicures, collagen boosters and waxing are also available. Group packages are available at re:lax and are customized to fit the needs of guests for conferences, reunions, meetings, weddings, bachelorettes and any other special occasion where a group needs pampering. The space may also be rented out for afterhours events such as bridal parties, with treatment options including neck, back and shoulder massages, express manicures and pedicures and champagne and chocolate; or a girls’ night out, highlighted by full-body treatments, manicures and pedicures and


martinis at Aliante’s signature steakhouse, MRKT Sea & Land. The opening of re:lax is another addition to the progressive luxury amenities offered by Aliante. The AAA Four Diamond resort is situated on more than 40 pristine acres within the Aliante master-planned community. Aliante celebrated its one-year anniversary as an independently-owned casino this month.

Featured Spa on The Strip

Spa & Salon Vdara is a sensuous spa sanctuary spotlighting holistic health and well-being in an intimate environment. The 18,000-square-foot, two-level spa, salon and fitness center celebrates the calming power of water and presents a thoughtfully orchestrated journey, personalized to maximize each guest’s experience. Spa & Salon Vdara’s wellness spa features 11 private treatment rooms, men’s and women’s retreats, and serene lounges. Treatments are both classic and creative with a focus on holistic health incorporating high-grade and organic ingredients derived from fruits, herbs, flowers, vegetables and oils. The spa menu is comprised of a variety of massages, body treatments and skin care services. Salon Vdara boasts a full menu of services for men and women including professional hair design, spa manicures and pedicures, and makeup artistry. A variety of cardio machines with individual entertainment centers, exercise stations and free weights is available in the fitness center, as well as personal trainers for individual or group instruction. Located in the lobby of Spa & Salon Vdara, the Smoothie Bar offers a delectable and nutritious selection of smoothies, healthy snacks and juices for guests to enjoy while

Spa & Salon Vdara Meditation Room

relaxing or experiencing a manicure, pedicure or hair service in the salon. Committed to sustainable luxury, Spa & Salon Vdara is the first Las Vegas spa to join the Green Spa Network and only works with retail partners that share its concern for the environment. The spa also is committed to using organic or wild-crafted, paraben-free products; offering natural nail services using

a vegan treatment line; and utilizing recycled paper for spa materials. Spa & Salon Vdara’s personalized service is available to all. For spa and salon reservations, call (866) 391-7111 or (702) 590-2030. Daily hours of operation for the spa and fitness center are 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. for the salon and Smoothie Bar. All are open to the public seven days a week.



Along with delicious restaurants, contemporary suites, live entertainment and bustling casino floor, Aliante Casino + Hotel’s new spa gives you one more way to win. Our re:lax spa is now open and offers everything from warm sugar body scrubs and organic facials to express services and treatments for men. Isn’t it time you upped the ante on re:juvenation? To schedule a treatment or for more information call 702.692.7378


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When her father passed, Marilyn needed to have her husband by her side. The American Red Cross was able to get him home from Iraq so their family could be together for the funeral. Your donations help to connect military families like the Arroyos when they need it most.

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This holiday, give something that means som ething.


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



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take Need a good cry? Well, gird up your tear ducts for this high-intensity workout: Musical artist Mariza is a renowned performer and interpreter of fado, Portugal’s notoriously sad folk music that’ll turn your heart into a wailing smoothie of inconsolable lament. Enjoy! Mariza performs 7:30p Nov. 11 at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center. Tickets $26-$125. Info:

Usually when you want to see colorful dancing figures like this, you have to go through the trouble of finding a friend of a friend of a friend who knows somebody who knows somebody who can get mushrooms. You’ll trip in a good way when you witness the Xyachimal Ballet Folklorico celebrate its 11th anniversary with an evening of Mexican dance. Xyachimal Ballet Folklorico performs 6:30p Nov. 15-16 at the Winchester Cultural Center. $10-$12. Info: 455-7340

It’s a Las Vegas holiday tradition right up there with the office egg nog drink-off and the Sinful Santa Grope Exchange: Marveling at the spiky, glittering wonderland that is the Ethel M Cactus Garden all lit up for Christmas. It’s on display through Jan. 1 at 2 Cactus Garden Drive. Info:

The firebird of Russian folklore could be either a good omen or a curse — but we’re sure the sight of this “Firebird” will only bring good things: It’s the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater’s spicy, sexy, decidedly un-Russian version of this Russian ballet classic. The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater performs “Firebird” and other pieces 7:30p Nov. 8 at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center. Tickets $24-$79. Info:

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Talk about obsession. Philip Denker’s drawings, sculptures and mixed-media work are so painstakingly meticulous and obsessively crafted, your eyes may just get OCD. “Over and Under” is on exhibit through Nov. 29 at Trifecta Gallery in the Arts Factory, 135 E. Charleston Blvd. Info: | 105


NEXT Be a part of the New Years Eve in Las Vegas special advertising section. Featuring a list of fabulous parties, where to watch the fireworks and some tips on how to be prepared if you are heading to the Strip for New Years Eve!

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HOLIDAY EVENTS 2013 CITY OF HENDERSON HOLIDAY DECORATING CONTEST Nov. 1-Dec. 2 T  he Commemorative Beautification Commission’s annual Outdoor Holiday Decorating Contest is a great way to show your community pride and light up this special season. The contest is open to any home within Henderson city limits. This year’s theme is “Holiday Traditions in the Desert.” Deadline is December 2 and limited to the first 50 entries received. Free. Citywide, ETHEL M’S 20TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CACTUS GARDEN LIGHTING EVENT

Nov. 12, 5-8p; Garden open to the public through Jan. 1. Featuring more than 600,000 sparkling lights displayed throughout a sprawling three-acre cactus garden, this is a local tradition you can’t miss. Free. Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Garden, 2 Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson,

the Day of the Dead through artwork using or showing the flowers associated with the holiday. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Chamber Gallery, 229-1012 SCULPTURAL PATTERNS: LIFE, NATURE, AND REFLECTIONS FROM THE WORLD WE LIVE IN Through Nov. 14, Mon.-Thu., 7a-5:30p. Artist Bobbie Ann Howell worked with a variety of materials to create designs and patterns that emerge in a layering of forms, shapes and colors. This exhibition features patterns and designs created from observations in nature and the Nevada landscape. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Grand Gallery, WANDERINGS OF WESTERN DESERT AND MOUNTAINS BY JOYCE BURKE Through Nov. 19. Transparent landscape watercolors using a liquid acrylic on wet paper as a base for watercolor interpretation. Free. Whitney Library,



Nov. 14-Dec. 6. T  he library will showcase a

Through Nov. 23, Tue.-Fri., 12-5p; Sat., 10a3p. The exhibition displays the unique and

beautiful seasonal display of decorated trees with wreaths and hostess gifts for sale. A silent auction and raffles include more than 225 gift baskets and several book bundles. Featured best-selling author is Robyn Carr. The festivities will culminate with a ticketed gala reception and silent auction on Dec. 6, 7-10p. All funds raised will be used to purchase youth services materials. Festival is free, gala tickets $35. 6 Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson,

very different styles of Ronald Esparza, Alexander P. Huerta and Lazarus Lorenzo. Each has his own vision and way of expressing his view of life and his surroundings. Free. Left of Center Gallery & Studio, JOURNEY OF THE HEART BY JANE ASARI

Through Dec. 1. Recent mixed-media collage on canvas using a combination of materials, including acrylic paint, paper, marble dust, mica and plant life. Free. Spring Valley Library,


Nov. 15-Jan. 5, Sun.-Thu., 5:30-9p; Fri.Sat., 5:30-10p. T  he holiday drive-through


Call Now!

13 702-259-78 FOR MORE INFORMATION contact your Desert Companion representative or Christine Kiely at 702-259-7813

106 | Desert

Companion | November 2013

spectacular has entertained more than 1 million people in the past 13 years with a dazzling array of festive lights and sounds. Completely LED, the 2.5-mile course is environmentally sound with colors that shine more vibrantly than before. This year even includes a living nativity scene. $20 per car Fri-Sun; $15 weeknights. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, TIVOLI VILLAGE SANTA PARADE Nov. 29, 10:30a. Usher in the holiday season with a Las Vegas family favorite tradition. The parade will feature Santa on a horse drawn carriage, elves, characters from Nevada Ballet’s Nutcracker and local school organizations. Final stop on the route is Santa’s house, where children can share their holiday wishes and take photos. Free. Tivoli Village,

ART FLORES PARA EL DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS Through Nov. 7. This artwork was created by Hispanic artists to honor their Hispanic heritage. The artists were asked to highlight


Through Dec. 6, Mon.-Fri., 9a-4p ; Sat., 10a-2p. A solo exhibit by Cathryn Sugg that explores how the female identity is impacted by professional and social trends, while examining the interplay between workingwoman and sex-object. Free. CSN Fine Arts Gallery, ANNUAL WOODTURNERS EXHIBITION

Through Dec. 8. Featuring the outstanding craftsmanship and skill of the Woodturners Association’s members, including lathe turned wood, wood vessels, wood boxes with inlay and other creations. Free. Summerlin Library, NEON METROPOLIS

Through Dec. 23. Anthony Bondi’s original collages give us an up-close look at his surreal ruminations on life in his hometown of Las Vegas. Free. Sin City Gallery, NEVADA WATERCOLOR SOCIETY FALL MEMBERSHIP SHOW Through Jan. 14 A juried exhibition featuring the original watercolors by members of

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the Nevada watercolor Society, created in the past year and not exhibited prior to this exhibit, featuring Best of Show, 1st-3rd Place, three Honorable Mentions and the “Dottie Burton Creative Award.” Free. Sahara West Library, CANON 21 BY JOSE BELLVER

same show twice. Instead, he features a constantly evolving kaleidoscope of music every single night, ranging from contemporary to jazz to Broadway. Showcasing the greatest songwriters from around the world, he creates a live spellbinding evening of music. $35-$45. Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center,



Through Jan. 21. Featuring new work on canvas from the artist’s Geometric Series. This is the first exhibition in The Studio. Free. Sahara West Library, FIRST FRIDAY

Nov. 1 and Dec. 6, 5-11p. Celebrate Downtown Las Vegas’ unique brand of arts and culture with exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, vendor booths and special activities for the kids. Free. Arts District; hub at Casino Center Blvd between Colorado St. and California St.,

CHRIS MANN IN CONCERT FROM NBC’S “THE VOICE” Nov. 8-9, 7p. In 2012, Mann signed with Faircraft/Republic Records and released his first album, Roads (No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers) followed by Home For Christmas. He has performed on “The Today Show,” “Tonight Show,” “Conan,” “Ellen” and can currently be seen on his PBS Special, “A Mann For All Seasons.” Starting at $36. Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center,

Join Us In Celebrating America Recycles Day

JUDY COLLINS BURLESQUE POP-OUT Nov. 1-24. An exhibition of artwork by Seattle artist Kelly Brownlee featuring cut paper dioramas depicting international burlesque performers, each in a style and flavor unique to its subject. Free, $5 donation encouraged. Burlesque Hall of Fame inside Emergency Arts, 520 E. Fremont St.,

DANCE THE LAS VEGAS CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEATER FALL CONCERT SERIES 2013 Nov. 8, 7:30p. Included is the premiere of “Firebird” with music by Igor Stravinsky, choreographed by Founder/Artistic Director Bernard H. Gaddis; “Bad Blood” by Ulysses Dove; “Crashing Through” by Hope Boykin, principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and “Solstice,” choreographed by Gaddis. Tickets start at $25. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, DERRICK SUWAIMA DAVIS, CHAMPION HOOP DANCER Nov. 14, 10:30a. Davis is a master at maneuvering five rattan hoops around his body, creating intricate patterns and conveying the Hopi story of creation through his hoops while keeping time to the singing and drumming of the musicians behind him. Free. Main Theater at the Clark County Library,

MUSIC Vocal Jazz Solo Nights Nov. 1-2, 7:30. Jazz aficionados and fans of television’s a cappella-based “Sing-Off” will enjoy the College of Southern Nevada’s Vocal Jazz Solo Nights. Each student will perform a solo with selections ranging from Jazz standards to blues and musical theater. $8 adults, $5 students and seniors. BackStage Theatre, CSN, CLINT HOLMES

Nov. 1-2, 8:30p; Nov. 3, 2p. A master entertainer, Clint Holmes never performs the

Nov. 10, 7:30p. Judy is an award-winning singer-songwriter, esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. She inspires audiences with sublime vocals and boldly vulnerable songwriting. Starting at $37. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, UNLV JAZZ COMBOS

Nov. 11, 7p. From mainstream to contemporary jazz, these combos from the UNLV Jazz Studies Program will get your toes tapping. Free. Main Theater at the Clark County Library, MARIZA WORLD TOUR 2013

Nov. 11, 7:30p. With thunderous vocals and pure grace emanating from her every lyric, one of the most beloved fado singers on the planet infuses her own unique style and personality with the music of her homeland. $26-$125. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center,

Friday, November 15th 2013 8:00am-12:00pm Exclusive tour of Republic Service’s recycling center & the Apex Regional Landfill featuring Nevada’s largest renewable energy generating facility. Snacks, refreshments & lunch provided.

Register Early. Seating is Limited. $15 Per Person Brought To You By:


Nov. 13, 7p. Hear the highlights from the best of the best musicians in the UNLV Jazz Studies Program. Free. Main Theater at the Clark County Library, JAMES TORMÉ

Nov. 15-16, 7p. This stellar evening with the New American Songbook takes the audience on an extraordinary ride through music’s past and present. Tormé’s unforgettable vocal performance reminds us that a great song is still a great song, no matter when it was written. Starting at $36. Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, MICHAEL FEINSTEIN: THE GERSHWINS AND ME Nov. 16, 7:30. Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved in to a captivating performer, composer and arranger

RSVP Today

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of his own original music. $39-$129. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, KEITH LOCKHART AND THE BOSTON POPS ESPLANADE ORCHESTRA Nov. 17, 5p. Experience the majesty of Dvorak and Copland, swing with Ellington and Gershwin, get a little crazy with Queen and soar with the film music of John Williams. In addition, audience-favorite Michael Chertock joins the Pops for a performance of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” $39-$149. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, THE BLUES FEATURING KEB MO, SHEMEKIA COPELAND Nov. 18, 7:30p. Two generations of blues stars will take the stage. Keb Mo, a living link to the delta blues and a three-time Grammywinning singer/guitarist, will showcase the blues in all its heartfelt glory alongside acclaimed vocalist Shemekia Copeland, the daughter of guitar legend Johnny Copeland. $26-$99. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, BRUBECK BROTHERS QUARTET

Nov. 22, 7p; Nov. 23, 3 & 7p. The gifted sons of legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck aren’t just cashing in on the Brubeck name. Instead, they choose to energize audiences with a distinctive blend of jazz, rock and classical music that their fans can cozy up to. $35-$45. Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, LOVE OF COUNTRY

Nov. 23, 7:30p. Pre-concert discussion, 6:45p. The Las Vegas Philharmonic offers a concert that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and honors Nevada service men and women. Includes Beethoven’s Third Symphony and works by American composers Leonard Bernstein, George Walker and Peter Lieberson. $25-$94. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center,


Nov. 1-17, Thu.-Sat., 8p; Sun., 2p. The past catches up to Dr. David Mortimer while he’s trying to rehearse for a speech that could lead to his knighthood — an old flame appears with their love child in tow. How will Dr. Mortimer handle this while trying to fend off his wife, other doctors practicing for the Christmas pantomime and the police? There is no shortage of impersonations or mistaken identities in this British farce. $24, $21 seniors and students. Las Vegas Little Theatre,

Paul Miller’s original architectural drawing of the iconic 188-foot high Stardust sign, dismantled in 2006.

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Companion | November 2013


Nov. 7-17, 8p. The longest-running Off-Off Broadway show on the boards, having played continuously at the Thirteenth Street Repertory Theatre since 1974. One by one, a

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group of unacquainted people come together to form a line for some unnamed, upcoming event. Gradually, the struggle for first place begins, and as they lie, cheat, wrestle and push to gain the lead spot, an extraordinary panorama of human frailty is made explosively and hilariously real. $15. The Nevada Conservatory Theatre, EVITA

Nov. 26-29, 7:30p; Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2p & 7:30p. Eva Peron used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. Adored by her people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world — while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic. $26-$129. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center,

Emeritus, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will review some of the Hubble’s greatest achievements. Leckrone himself was the lead scientist for five Space Shuttle servicing missions, making him a superior authority on space exploration. Free. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV, DOES REPUTATION HELP TO CONTROL CORPORATE MISCONDUCT? Nov. 21, 7:30p. Join Jonathan M. Karpoff, Professor of Finance, University of Washington, in a discussion about the cost of opportunistic activities that undermine a firm’s reputation. Arguing that trust reduces the costs of trade, he shows that market forces impose large, often irreversible costs on both the perpetrators and firms involved in deceptive practices such as accounting misrepresentation and fraud. Free. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV,


Nov. 23, 7p. Kids and adults laugh until it hurts with this clean-burning comedy. Every song and scene is created on the spot using suggestions from the audience. Come early for Name That Tune (and chocolate). $10 at the door, kids free. American Heritage Academy, 6126 S. Sandhill Road, SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM: THE MYSTERY OF THE MAGI’S GOLd Nov. 29, 7p; Nov. 30-31, 2p & 6p. Retelling the story of the nativity, as only Sister can, this hilarious holiday production is bound to become a yearly classic. Employing her own scientific tools, assisted by a local choir and audience members, Sister creates a living nativity unlike any you’ve ever seen. $35-$40. Troesh Studio in The Smith Center,

LECTURES, SPEAKERS AND PANELS AUDI SPEAKER SERIES PRESENTS TONY HSIEH Nov. 5, 7:30p. Culture is to a company as community is to a city: it’s about values, innovation, serendipity, participation. Tony is applying Zappos’ successful corporate culture model to help build the most communityfocused large city in the world in the place you would least expect: Downtown Las Vegas. $24-$79. Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, SAINT JOHN PERSE: POET, DIPLOMAT AND NOBEL PRIZE WINNER Nov. 7, 7:30p. Professor Timothy Erwin offers an illustrated account of French poet and diplomat Perse’s extraordinary life in letters. Learn how and why Perse left politics behind for poetry, winning the Nobel Prize in 1960. Free. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV,

INTERPRETING THE HISTORY OF U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS SINCE THE 1960S Nov. 26, 7:30p. Distinguished Professor of History, Joseph A. Fry, will examine the changes in America’s international standing and the ways historians have interpreted them. He will also reflect on his nearly four decades of studying and teaching these materials at UNLV. Free. Barrick Museum Auditorium at UNLV,

FAMILY & FESTIVALS VEGAS VALLEY BOOK FESTIVAL Through Nov. 2. The largest annual literary event in Las Vegas, this festival will bring together more literary and cultural programs than ever before. Featuring more than 100 authors and events, with special sections for adults, children, young adults and comic book aficionados. Enjoy panel discussions, readings, book signings, workshops, vendor exhibits, art exhibitions, spoken word performances and other special programs for a diversity of genres, ages and cultural backgrounds. Free. Historic Fifth Street School and Clark County Library, VEGAS VALLEY COMIC BOOK FEST Nov. 2, 9:30a-4:40p. The longest-running comic book event in Nevada features panels and workshops, cosplay contest, portfolio reviews and a marketplace with local comic book stores and publishers. This year’s guests include Greg Rucka (Lazarus, Queen & Country, Whiteout, Stumptown), Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadpool, Gambit, Teen Titans) and many more, as well as the nerdrock musical stylings of Adam WarRock and 3d6. Free. Throughout the Clark County Library, ZOPPE: AN ITALIAN FAMILY CIRCUS


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Nov. 2, 2p & 7p; Nov. 3, 2p & 5p. Join the Zoppe family in an enchanted, thrilling world of acrobatics, equestrian showmanship, canine

capers, clowns and lots of audience participation. In their 600-seat tent, no one is more than 25 feet from the ring. $25-$50. Symphony Park in The Smith Center, FRESH52’S AUTUMN HARVEST FESTIVAL

Nov. 9, 8a-4p. A fun-filled day of culinary delights and activities. Tivoli Village chefs will compete in a chili cook-off. Activities include face painting, kid’s arts and crafts, a petting zoo, beer truck and live entertainment. Free. Tivoli Village, tivolivillagelv.comand WILD & SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL

Nov. 14, 6-8:30p. Friends of Nevada Wilderness will host this evening of inspirational films and high-ticket raffle items in celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Festival-goers can expect to see eight award-winning films about nature, community activism, adventure, conservation and wildlife. $10-$12. Historic Fifth St. Schoolhouse,

FUNDRAISERS BOULDER CITY BEERFEST Nov. 2, 1-6p. It’s worth the drive to historic Boulder City to try locally brewed beers, browse specialty vendors and collect awesome swag at this fun festival that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. If you’re 21+, you can opt in for a wristband that entitles you to unlimited samples and a souvenir glass. $40. Wilber Square in Boulder City, GLOWBALL NIGHT GOLF

Nov. 9, 3:30p. An evening the whole family can enjoy, complete with glow-in-the-dark golf balls. Purchase extra swag, enter the raffle or just enjoy the amazing scenery of a master course. Bring your flashlight. $50 registration includes $10 donation to Three Square, appetizers, 18 holes and two glow balls. Eagle Crest Golf Course, VEGAS PBS’ fourTH ANNUAL 5K RUN and 1 MILE WALK Nov. 16, 9a. PBS star Daniel Tiger will welcome the children and pose for photo ops. Highlights include fitness games and prizes, a social media booth, a DJ, health information booths, healthy refreshments and 5K race awards. Benefits Keeping Kids Fit, an educational outreach program targeting childhood obesity. $25 through Nov. 8, $35 Nov. 9-14, $40 race day. Kickoff at the Vegas PBS building, 3050 E. Flamingo Road, 5K SUPER HERO DASH

Nov. 23, 7a-Noon. Dress like a superhero and help fellow citizens. Benefits the City Impact Center and Convoy of Hope, helping your neighbors here in Las Vegas and around the world. Each paid participant will receive a shirt, mask and running bib. $40 adults, $20 ages 7-17. Starting line at The Fremont Street Experience,

end note


Are you on kraken?

The remote Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in central Nevada is filled with slumbering fossils from hundreds of millions of years ago. But in recent years, this sleepy paleo-park has become a flashpoint of scientific controversy — and now it may just be ground zero for a new understanding of aquatic life in the ancient sea that once covered Nevada. The controversy centers on a series of nine fossilized spines of ichthyosaurs that form a tantalizingly geometric pattern. How that happened has baffled paleontologists and biologists for decades: Did a bloom of toxic plankton do the ichthyosaurs in? Did the currents of the ancient sea arrange their vertebral discs in these eerily neat double lines? Or did something kill the ichthyosaurs and place their bones there … arrange them there? Prof. Marc McMenamin of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts has a literally monster theory. The paleontologist believes that a Triassic mega-cephalopod — essentially, yep, a gigantic octopus — killed the ichthyosaurs. And then, like a trophy-collecting murderer straight out of “Dexter,” the prehistoric octo-beast arranged them in a pleasing pattern in its underwater death-lair. McMenamin argued just that in a presentation at the 2011 annual meeting of the Geo-

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logical Society of America in Minneapolis. A giganto-kraken taking out ancient sea-reptiles the size of school buses? Other paleontologists dismissed him. Science bloggers ridiculed him. All made countless “release the kraken” jokes. “I had people threatening that I’ll never get this peer-reviewed and into scientific literature,” he says. (That’s the science-world version of a major diss.) In his defense, McMenamin points out that modern octopi engage in just this sort of intelligent collecting behavior. And if you have trouble imagining a octopus mustering the muscle to tackle a big fish, simply Google “octopus vs. shark.” But McMenamin may get the last laugh: On a return visit to the park in May, he found what he believes is hard evidence. “I have the kraken’s fossilized beak fragment,” he says. “As a matter of fact, it’s in my backpack.” Barring unforeseen circumstances, at the Oct. 27-30 Geological Society of America conference in Denver, Colo., he will have delivered a talk about his theory that now includes this latest evidence. “I will admit to having a feeling like Dorothy coming back with the witch’s broom,” McMenamin says. He’s sparked a renewed discussion over ancient sea life — proving that even prehistory isn’t always written in stone.

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Desert Companion - November 2013  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada

Desert Companion - November 2013  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada