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Dateline: Flavortown! “This is hilarious,” Kristen Peterson wrote on Facebook of our recent blog post spoofing Guy Fieri. “And smart hilarious, which is better than just plain hilarious.” Welcome to the Desert Companion blog, Kristen, where the satire always passes the healthcode inspection. “Sneak peek: Guy Fieri Vegas Kitchen & Bar menu,” by Andrew Kiraly and Scott Dickensheets, purported to preview dishes at the bombastic chef’s new local outpost. Sample: Xtreme Buffalo Wing-a-dillas What makes these gooey slabs of blended chicken-cheese substrate so Xtreme? The side order of involuntary neck tattoo you get while eating them. It went on in that vein, from appetizers to entrees to cocktails, the whole enchilada crafted with love and heartburn. Wrote one Paul Sorvillo on a Facebook page where the satire was posted, “I am in pain I was laughing so hard!” Smart, hilarious and pain-giving — at the DC blog, we serve it your way.


Kiraly and Dickensheets teamed up again for “Long distance information.” This blog exchange began with a report that the View papers, published by Stephens Media, save money by filling some of their column inches with local — ahem, “local” — content reported from out of state and, possibly, off continent. Kiraly wondered, “(D)on’t you feel like there’s a whiff of treachery to this move — to the community the paper serves, to the practice of journalism?” Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Yes. “I think it’s weird that we call writers reporting from Mumbai on something that happened in downtown Las Vegas ‘hyperlocal,’” responded journalist Launce Rake on Facebook. Bryan McCormick, an artist


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who also works in finance, added context: “Financial services ‘media,’ for lack of a better term, were among the first to off-shore routine desk tasks …” First they come for the editorial assistants. But the austerity doesn’t stop there, he says. “Editors pretty much don’t exist; they were considered unnecessary in the new world of Internet stuff.” One reader emailed to finger a different perp: readers. “Sadly, most readers undoubtedly don’t care who reports the news in the Views,” he wrote (he wishes to remain anonymous). This consumer apathy is as destructive to journalism as runaway bean-counting. “Readers are getting exactly what most of them deserve.”

strewn Double Up Peak, Gable waited fretfully as the search party, with small horse and mule teams, ascended into the cold and snowy wilderness. … “Uncle Harry said the men scrambled up the mountain, picking their way up and through crevasses that broke into chasms with thousand-foot drops. On reaching the summit, they found a debacle of charred, twisted wreckage, with not one soul living. Finally, after collecting what scattered remains they could, the party made the dangerous descent down the craggy mountain. At first, some of the searchers slipped on ice, and one of the horse teams bearing the grisly burden stumbled, and the animals fell to their own deaths. After “Explosion “In the meantime, and HISTORY in the night,” an for many more hours, project account by Robert Gable waited at No the Faytoo small. Matzen of the 1942 plane le Hotel bar, drinking No collection too big. crash near Las Vegas and carving nervously T D that killed actress Carole into the wooden bar Lombard, appeared in top.  When searchers reF our April issue, local turned, Gable, of course, EXPLOSION IN THE NIGHT poet Lee Mallory filed an was traumatized and extended recollection. inconsolable with loss. “My uncle, Harry M. In seconds, a legendary Gadd, Goodsprings resistar, patriot and wife dent and historian, used had been lost, leaving to tell me his backstory of the crash. an iconic widower. … Gable and Lombard’s torrid relation“I also recall (my uncle) pointing out a ship, and the actress’s  trek East to sell living room shadow-box, which held small, war bonds, are well-documented. Less meticulously identified and labeled pieces so, as told to my uncle, and later related of wreckage: a fragment of aluminum trim, to me, were the facts surrounding the a control tab strut, a burned and rusty oil ill-fated and fruitless effort to rescue plug. Each piece of debris bore a small ‘survivors.’ brass plate, which shone as brightly as the “I learned that on hearing word of the wonder in my boyhood eyes ... crash, Gable rushed to remote Good“These are the recollections of a little boy, springs to await news from the accident now poet. These many, many years later, site. He checked in at the storied Fayle Ho- Mr. Matzen, with his expertise, can retell tel ... Located as it was not far from debris- or correct any mistakes of fact.”


Then the sound stopped. Not as if it had faded away. It just stopped. Angry engines one second, and nothing the next. The engine noise was replaced by the dead silence of Mount Potosi at night. Strange, thought Charlie.

Crash mountain: Searchers go through the wreckage of TWA Flight 3 after the tragic crash of Jan. 16, 1942

A fiery 1942 plane crash on Mount Potosi rattled the Las Vegas Valley — and sent shockwaves through Hollywood and beyond B Y R O B E RT M AT Z E N

Editor’s note: On the evening of January 16, 1942, TWA Flight 3 slammed into Mount Potosi just west of Las Vegas, bursting into a ball of flame. On the plane was film star Carole Lombard, returning to Los Angeles from Indiana, where she was performing to promote war bonds. But she wasn’t just returning home to L.A. — her flight home was also a desperate attempt to keep her husband, Clark Gable, from the arms of another woman. In this excerpt from Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3, author Robert Matzen reconstructs the night of the crash from multiple points of view based on several eyewitness accounts.


APRIL 2014


he Blue Diamond Mine sat atop a high bluff guarding the entrance to Red Rock Canyon, southwest of the growing city of Las Vegas. Almost 9,000 people now inhabited Las Vegas, and things were looking up further with the opening of a sprawling motor hotel and lodge called El Rancho Vegas, located on Highway 91 just south of town. The strip mining operation at the Blue Diamond produced gypsum for wallboard and had been in operation for 60 years. The mine’s workers and their families lived in a collection of company structures generously called the “town” of Blue Diamond, which sat low in the valley below the strip mine in Red Rock Canyon. Darkness had recently cloaked the diggings on the bluff. It had been a cold day and promised to be a colder night, a Friday night, with the sky clear and full of stars. Fifty-year-old watchman Danlo Yanich was on his rounds, which didn’t amount to much in a location this remote. There was a war on now, and facilities across the nation had been ordered on high alert due to the dangers of sabotage, but that figured to be on the coasts, where shipping proved to be vulnerable in the ports of Los Angeles and New York. Dan didn’t have any reason to figure that saboteurs would come stumbling up to the Blue Diamond Mine. If anything, they might be tempted to try for the Hoover Dam 15 miles to the southeast. It was with some security that Dan Yanich guarded the Blue Diamond mining operation, where

intruders usually took the shape of wild burros or rattlesnakes. Yanich had emigrated from Yugoslavia and, with no formal education, he counted himself lucky to find a job at the mine in 1916, half his life ago. Food poisoning had laid him low earlier in the year, and for the past five months he had worked guard duty. Now he was getting better, slowly but surely. Going on 7:20, Dan saw a plane flying over a bit to the south and west, not too far off and not too high, considering that the mine sat way up on the bluff. Dan couldn’t hear the engines of the plane for the incessant drone of the machinery behind his ears, but he remarked to himself that this big baby was flying lower than he was used to, even considering the bombers and fighters that zipped past on their way to the classified area off to the southwest where Army maneuvers took place almost daily.


May 2014

He knew motors, and he didn’t like the sound of that sputtering engine. By now the plane had flown over; Harper’s shift was about done, and his attention returned to getting out of there and warming up on this cold night. He vaguely heard the piston engines of the plane growling away into the darkness, working hard, their frenetic drone bouncing off the nearby cliffs and echoing through Red Rock Canyon behind him.

an Yanich looked over at the silhouette of the plane and its wingtip running lights, one red, one green, and thought it a majestic sight, a big twin-engine number that he figured to be a bomber or a DC-3. TWA and Western Airlines planes flew out of McCarran Field up at the northern edge of Las Vegas, but so did all manner of Army planes; whichever this was, it was flying south-southwest, maybe toward Los ar below the bluff and away from the Angeles. Because of the war and the new mining machinery, Calvin Harper, blackout rules, far fewer lights burned in the head loader in the loading dethe area at night, including signal beapartment, was able to hear the plane fly cons for air traffic. Dan could see the sigover. Harper was down by the cook house nal beacon due east over at Arden, and it at the gypsum plant below the mine and seemed as if the plane flew right over it. just moments from punching out for the But the beacons high up on 8,000-foot night when he heard the mystery plane, Potosi Mountain to the south no longer lower and louder than other planes. He flashed their comforting beams at night. gave the airship a glance over his shoulHe could see Potosi’s black mountaintops der and saw a streak of flaming exhaust jutting up high in the distance, standing from the right engine — the plane was so blacker than the velvety sky above. Very low in the sky that the fuselage blocked high, treacherous mountains they were, his view of the left engine — but the pewhere even the prospectors didn’t go beculiar thing to Calvin was the sound of cause of the cliffs and the loose footing the engines. One growled steadily while and the boulders. Snow blanketed those the other seemed to come and go. He mountains all winter and gave them a would hear it, then it would sputpicture-postcard appearance, ter to silence, then he would hear but make no mistake: One wrong it again. Harper had ridden planes step up on Potosi Mountain, or HEAR MORE a lot back when he lived in Los any of those mountains, and even Learn about Angeles, and he was a motor man the surest-footed man would be the secret who loved to fool around with his found only when buzzards pointhistory of the Air Force car engine and keep it humming. ed the way in the spring. on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcom hearmore

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Desert Companion - May 2014  
Desert Companion - May 2014  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada