fight disease with big data!
put fresh gardens in local schools!
Wepreview the wild
Las vegas buildings we Love
2015 Legislature by Jon Ralston & Steve Sebelius
Learn, baby, learn!
what if vegas had a red-light district?
splat! big ideas that
newEatyour year!veggies! It'sa
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showroom monoliths of the Strip to our historic pockets of hep, space-age homes. In the “Our favorite buildings” feature (p. 50), we reflect on the spaces in the valley that excite us with their beauty, anchor us with a sense of place or deliver a heady frisson of guilty pleasure. In a town often knocked for its matchbox suburbs and strip malls, we boast a surprising amount of urban beauty; consider our story a friendly introduction (or re-introduction) to the spaces in your neighborhood. Also, we’ve got a piece, “Learn, baby, learn,” (p. 28) that might inspire a few big ideas of your own, highlighting lifelong learning classes that teach everything from how to use social media to caring for fruit trees to surviving in the desert. I only hope there’s a civics class for the new Legislature — and you may hope so, too, after reading our legislative preview by political luminaries Jon Ralston and Steve Sebelius on p. 34. Finally, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s issue without a dining feature on eating light — but don’t worry, we’re not going to push a bunch of tofu up in your grill. These healthy eats don’t try to be something else — no soy lunchmeat or cryptic wheat protein here (okay, there is a walk-on cameo by “cashew cheese.”) Rather, the dishes in “Light year ahead” (p. 42) are identifiably delicious — in some cases, even decadent — and yet they may just be the springboard to a new diet in the new year. And with this issue in hand, you’ll definitely appreciate the brain food. Andrew Kiraly
appy new year! Not to kick off this baby-fresh 2015 wringing hands over last year’s spilled milk or anything, but I’d have to be blind not to note the irony of putting together a Big Ideas feature package in the flaming wake of the defeat of the Education Initiative. Awk. Waaard. I’ll spare us any didactic screed, but instead scrawl this on the chalkboard and leave it at that: Ideas = (education + creativity + inspiration) x grit. That’s the formula I imagine drives many of the people we feature in our “Big ideas” profile suite (p. 59) — from a UNLV scientist deploying big data to fight HIV to an iconoclastic artist shaking up our ideas about art (and our ideas about ideas about art (!)) to an activist whose school gardens are inspiring a farm-to-classroom movement. Education isn’t the sole ingredient in this stew of brilliance, but it’s a vital one. So, let’s brightside this: Perhaps it’s fitting that this feature is appearing at the start of 2015 — consider it part of a new year’s resolution to embrace a higher vision of ourselves. Of course, the Vegas version of a big idea is its own unique species, and we consider that in this issue as well — big dreams that never came true, pie-in-the-sky plans that fell flat. (Remember Minami Tower, or the other 417 crazy rides proposed for the Stratosphere?) And we play out a handful of thought experiments on Las Vegas: What if we established a red light district? What if we desalinated water? What if we Next MOnth broke up the school district but merged the city with North Las Vegas? You’re destined for But the big ideas easily overflow the greatness — transoms of that feature space. One area with our where Vegas has always thought big is Best of the City issue! in its architecture, from our gleaming
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4 color process
® The will to do wonders®
® The will to do wonders®
THE IMPORTANCE OF
BRAIN HEALTH This month, Caesars Foundation and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health begin a three-year partnership with the launch of a new initiative – HealthyBrains, a tool focusing on the impact lifestyle choices have on brain health. The interactive www.healthybrains.org provides information to guide and inform people of important facts and tips essential to maintaining a healthy brain.
Vo lU m e 1 3 I s s u e 1
FOOOOOD FIIIIIGHT! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Our 18th annual Restaurant Awards drew many a nod of agreement — and a few burps of protest. “Someone please explain to me how anything (Chef of the Year Gerald) Chin is doing rivals the food coming out of the kitchen at Twist, David Clawson, Rose. Rabbit. Lie., Yusho, Yonaka, Le Cirque ... I could go on and on,” wrote Michael Uzmann. Oooh. Pass the butter — ’cause we just got toasted! Dining critic Al Mancini, one of our judges, chimed in with some calming, explanatory caps lock: “I’ve followed Gerald Chin’s career for a long time. He’s one of those chefs who, every time I sit down with a brilliant chef, they start telling me how great Gerald is. And I’ve enjoyed his food at a lot of restaurants. Nonetheless, when he went to StripSteak I thought, ‘Oh well, he’s just gonna do steak for a while.’ But over the past year, chefs, foodies and critics kept telling me what great things he was doing. I ignored it. But when one of the other judges for the awards put his name forward, I finally went in for a meal. It was ASTOUNDING! I’m not saying your favorites aren’t all great. That’s the fun of awards — bitching about the ones you dislike. I’m glad you took the time to comment. But PLEASE check out what Gerald is doing again. It’s pretty astounding.” More succinctly, reader Branden Powers wrote: “Disagree with ethnic and best restaurant of the year.” Aw, come on. Try them. They, too, are both ASTOUNDING. Meanwhile, reader Evelyn Laurie appreciated our warning that Hearthstone in the Red Rock Spa Resort Casino
Lonn Friend’s essay, “Senior matinées,” about spending quality time with his aging father, poked a few hearts right in the feels button. “Lonn is (and is destined to remain) one of my favorite writers. His insight, humor, skill, and perspective touch my heart in the most beautiful way,” wrote Sheryl Gail Cooper. “Such a beautiful story, Lonn. I am happy that you and your pop have this time to now hang out and just ‘be’ together,” wrote Leah Burlington. Jeff Kravitz was touched as well. “I, too, have a dad in his 80s who keeps on trucking and can’t stop doing what he loves! Long live dad!”
is (whazzat?) a fine restaurant but just (speak up!) a tiny bit (I can’t hear you!) loud. “Thanks for the heads up. That casino has a problem with realizing they are not on the Strip. I have asked employees if they could lower the noise level in the casino (you can’t hear the machines). My film club stopped eating at the café because we can’t discuss the movie we saw. A restaurant is not a nightclub. People go to restaurants to eat and have a conversation.”
Our story “High Alert,” about how the cops deal with the stress of policework, drew kudos from readers — including the mother of Sergeant Tom Harmon, the director of the Police Employee Assistance Program, Metro’s peer-support group. “What a great article,” writes Marie Harmon. “Being Tom Harmon’s mom, I have known for years how important his work is. He and his team have made a world of difference in so many lives. We are proud of him and his group of caring people for what they do and how they do it.”
Poet Lee Mallory praised Launce Rake’s look ahead to life after the defeat of Question 3, concluding glumly, “Nevada eats its young. That’s all I could conclude, especially after the massive spending to defeat Question 3. After its demise, the deplorable state of our Nevada schools is clear. A whopping 79% of voters rejected the measure. Nevada kids must have been really bad to deserve that, when outfits such as MGM Resorts, Caesars, the Sands Corp., and even realtors ponied up $7.4 million to shortchange them. ... Nevada business pulled the plugs on children while mining, the hallowed Chamber, and casinos counted their loot. ... I say that when Nevada employers complain about low graduate skills, and finally look for a better-educated workforce, big business may wise up. If they do (and support better school funding), they’ll invest in kids, rethink their miserly ways, and remember Mark Twain insisting, ‘A cat won’t jump up on a hot stove twice.’ That is, never again should business and voters leave our kids and schools in the lurch.”
Vo lU m e 1 3 I s s u e 0 1
50 Our favorite Buildings
In a city of vast architectual diversity and edifice complexities, what stands out? Seven writers pen odes to the structures they love.
59 Big Ideas Greet the new year with this quintet of big thinkers — Las Vegans whose ideas just might have a real impact on the way we fight disease, green our schools, art up Downtown and more.
70 IT sounded Like a good idea at the time
Some ideas are, well, not so big, or too darn big, or too far ahead of their time — or just plain nuts. Michael Green describes a few schemes that just didn’t catch on.
Las Vegas Library: Christopher Smith
An Evening with Burt Bacharach
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
© Daniel A. Swalec Photo Credit: Olaf Heine
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Vo lU m e 1 3 I s s u e 0 1
75 The Guide
Just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean the learning has to stop — not when you can sign up for these classes By Carla J. Zvosec
41 The DishEating
Enough culture to keep a dozen Baby New Years busy
Choppers over Red Rock! Noisy choppers! 18 HealthAn answer to our medical crisis? 20 zeit Bites51 syn-
light means eating well with these five dishes 47 Eat this now
Its name means “chile water.” It is delicious
onyms for 2015
47 on the plate
22 ProfileJuiced up, in a good way
Red wave! Intra-party turmoil! Looming tax fight! Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for yooour 2015 Legislature! By Jon Ralston & Steve Sebelius
Culinary events you won't want to miss
24 STYLEKeep your
cool when it’s cold 26 Open topic
When a bookstore is not just a bookstore
48 at first Bite
Due & Proper, Whist Stove & Spirits — taverns redefined for a younger demo
80 End note John Bonaventura, mall cop By Andrew Kiraly & Scott Dickensheets
on the cover illustration Christopher Smith
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p u b l i s h e D B y n e va d a p u b l i c r a d i o
Mission Statement Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With awardwinning 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 staff writer Heidi Kyser Graphic Designer Brent Holmes
Account executives Sharon Clifton, Parker McCoy, Favian Perez, Markus Van’t Hul Marketing manager Lisa Kelly Subscription manager Chris Bitonti Web administrator Danielle Branton ADVERTISING COPY EDITOR Carla J. Zvosec Contributing writers Chris Bitonti, Cybele, Sarah Feldberg, Michael Green, JoAnna Haugen, Mélanie Hope, Tony Illia, Danielle Kelly, Rob Lang, Tovin Lapan, Debbie Lee, Christie Moeller, Jon Ralston, Steve Sebelius, Stacy J. Willis, T.R. Witcher, Carla Zvosec Contributing artists Aaron Mayes, Chris Morris, Sabin Orr Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856; firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813; email@example.com Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.desertcompanion.com Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at desertcompanion. com, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.
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Here's a real juicy story for you page 22
shhh! nature c an't hear her sel f think!
Bring the noise Activists have spent years fighting to protect Nevada’s natural areas. But what about preserving assets you can’t see — like silence? B y H e i d i K ys e r
ast fall, Randy Marsh was outside his Calico Basin home doing yardwork when he heard a familiar sound: the rhythmic chorp-chorp-chorp of a helicopter overhead. Birds scattered from the trees as Marsh looked up. A 25-year veteran of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, he has buddies in search and rescue, and takes notice whenever a team arrives at Red Rock National Conservation Area — whether for training or an actual operation. But this wasn’t one of those teams. Instead, Marsh was surprised to see a civilian pilot flanked by two beaming tourists looking out the windows, snapping pictures of the colorful sandstone cliffs around his house.
i l lu s t r at i o n c h r i s m o r r i s
Hear more “I’m not the quietest person in the world,” confesses Marsh, an amateur carpenter, who also produces music in a specially built studio in his basement. “But one reason we live here is the twoacre requirement. You have a distance barrier between you and your neighbors. I make noise sometimes, but I don’t want to disturb anyone. I can run a table saw in my garage, and if the door is closed, my neighbor doesn’t know it.” Within a matter of weeks, Marsh estimates, the small commercial helicopter was buzzing his property and the surrounding hills three or four times a day. He and the neighbors started to talk. Some had seen the chopper flying low over Red Rock’s trails. It was time to do something. “We’re all here for a certain type of experience,” he says. “It’s the same with light. If someone moves out here and puts a bunch of floodlights up, we do something about it. We have preserved the night skies.” Now, it’s time to preserve the silence. But Calico Basin residents have discovered that preserving this invisible natural resource is difficult. The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees national conservation areas, doesn’t have jurisdiction over the skies. The FAA does, but it says the private company isn’t violating any laws. And that company, Skyline Helicopter Tours, isn’t returning phone calls (including Desert Companion’s). “When people banded together to fight (Jim) Rhodes’ planned Red Rock community, they were worried that it would intrude on nature,” Marsh says. “But if nothing is done about these helicopters, trust me, it’s going to be 100 times more intrusive than any housing development. It’ll be constant traffic all day long.”
Over our heads Skyline Helicopter Tours has existed since at least June 2013, when owner Dean Miarecki filed the LLC with the Nevada Secretary of State. With the purchase of his first helicopter, “he realized he wanted to share the beauty
of Las Vegas with locals and tourists a unique Up in the air alike,” according to the company Red Rock visitor’s This is not a novel conflict. website. The company offers tours guide on Those who consider silence over the Strip and Red Rock Canyon “KNPR’s an essential part of outdoor — with a variety of available perks, State of recreation have long battled such as show tickets and the “doors Nevada” at flyovers of all kinds. Grand off” option — ranging from $139 per desert companion. Canyon National Park had person to $569 for groups of three. com/hear the most notable success in The Red Rock-only tour is described more 1987, when it won restricas a 15-mile, 30-minute excursion, tions in flights below the during which customers can “experirim and above four flight-free zones ence the desert thermal effect lifting the through the National Parks Overflight helicopter above the incredible colors of Act. Since then, the park service has the desert floor.” Flights go in and out of been more active in this regard than North Las Vegas Airport. the BLM. Nothing about this is illegal, says FAA “Congress passed air tour legislation spokesman Ian Gregor. “The general rule pertaining to national parks, but not is that helicopters have to be operated conservation areas,” Gregor writes. so they don’t pose a hazard to people or It raises the question: What does a property on the ground,” Gregor writes national conservation area conserve? in an email. “This generally means that The BLM’s web page on the topic the helicopter has to be operated so the says Congress designates the areas pilot can set it down, without endangerto “conserve, protect, enhance and ing people or property on the ground, in manage public lands for the benefit the event of a loss of engine power.” and enjoyment of present and future There are no further restrictions generations.” pertaining to Red Rock specifically or A large body of research details the conservation areas in general, Gregor effects of over-flights on natural quiet, says. However, the FAA in 2004 issued cultural and historical resources, sacred voluntary guidelines for flights in sites and ceremonies, wildlife, visitors noise-sensitive areas ranging from and safety. A 1997 bill introduced by residential areas to wildlife refuges. Arizona Senator John McCain states Pilots are asked to avoid such places, that noise associated with aircraft can if practical, and, if not, to “make every disturb the natural quiet and experieffort to fly not less than 2,000 feet ence of nature. Although he’s arguing above ground level.” for flight restrictions at a national park Calico resident Dwight Hempel, an in his district, the point could extend to Air Force veteran and retired Bureau of conservation areas. Land Management employee who was At the same time, these areas are exliaison to the FAA, says one reason the plicitly set aside for the public’s “benefit flights may feel especially intrusive has and enjoyment.” The customers taking to do with acoustics. Skyline’s Red Rock tour are undoubt“Here, you have a unique situation in edly enjoying themselves, or rising that, when a helicopter flies through the numbers of them wouldn’t be shelling basin or up the west side of Calico Hills, out $139 apiece. The question Marsh the sound ricochets off the ridgeline,” and others advocating for restrictions Hempel says. “And the background will undoubtedly ask is whether those is much quieter (than cityscapes) to tourists’ enjoyment interferes with the begin with. So, you can imagine what a government’s mandate to protect and helicopter sounds like in that setting.” enhance the land — whether that’s The BLM says it’s received complaints Red Rock’s beautiful sandstone cliffs about the noise, but doesn’t have any or the peace and quiet that emanate regulatory authority, so it’s referred from them. callers to the FAA.
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Sharing the care A coalition of power players hopes to improve Nevada’s health care system through a collaborative center. Will doctors and hospitals buy in? B y H e i d i K ys e r
he name “Nevada Medical Center” may conjure the image of a hospital, but don't get that idea in your head. Instead, try this: Justice League meets Gates Foundation. Let it sink in. Hopefully, you’re imagining something like a bunch of superheroes raising money to improve health care throughout the state. That's the Nevada Medical Center’s much more ambitious agenda. While the recently launched and funded Nevada Medical Center will not be a hospital, clinic or any other type of bricks-and-mortar health care facility, it will have them as members. And when those members combine strengths, they’re able to conquer gargantuan evils — in this case, a state’s woefully inadequate health care system. The nonprofit Nevada Medical Center will work to raise money for and promote its cause of better health care for Nevadans — “will” because the project is really in its infancy. On October 2, organizers held a party to unveil their feasibility study. The outcome of that effort was coincidentally validated by the Bennett Family Foundation’s donation of $1 million to be used over four years. Soon after, the Conrad Hilton Foundation kicked in another $2 million. So, yes, with $3 million in the bank, the concept appears to be feasible. That’s all in the abstract, however. What does the Nevada Medical Center hope to accomplish? Here’s board chair John O’Reilly, a local attorney, giving
an example: “The type of research and collaboration that the Ruvo Center is doing is world-class. They have a limited scope in what they can deal with. So do our hospitals in town. Can we facilitate something for them that’s akin to virtual collaboration on a much broader scale? Technology provides the vehicle for that.” The Affordable Care Act provides another example, says Julie Murray, whose Moonridge Group was the glue that kept the whole effort together. “When the ACA was going through, it was changing the health care landscape profoundly, but there was no one entity to disseminate that information and explain what it meant to Nevadans,” Murray says. “The medical center could do that.” Even more tangibly, there’s advocacy, O’Reilly says — the center’s ability to provide one legal opinion on an important matter, for instance, rather than each member having to pay for its own. And medical schools. The feasibility study proposes “that investments be made in the development of two Academic Health Science Centers (one in Southern Nevada and one in Northern Nevada) where collaborative and innovative patient care and projects can be undertaken by medical schools, healthcare providers and researchers.” This brings up the north-south
politics that many in the medical community believe has held the state back. How would the Nevada Medical Center overcome that age-old problem? “The short answer is, it’s part of our strategic process,” O’Reilly says. “But when we looked at what to name the entity, the discussion centered around that rivalry. Hence, the Nevada Medical Center. The effort is to transcend those boundaries and improve health care statewide.” Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be buy-in. The medical center concept doesn’t work without donors and members, yet many philanthropists are loath to support the public institutions that the medical center hopes to recruit, such as UMC and the University of Nevada School of Medicine; and these organizations risk seeing the center as just another layer of bureaucracy, rather than the vehicle for collaboration and marketing that organizers intend it to be. The firm that conducted the feasibility study surveyed more than 100 potential participants, and all of them said they supported the concept, according to the firm’s report. The next step will be hiring a CEO (expected imminently) and developing a strategic plan. So far, it’s a heroic effort that needs a few more superheroes.
I L LU ST R AT I O N B R E N T H O L M E S
Another case of a Subaru going places others don’t.
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Subaru of Las Vegas 5385 West Sahara Avenue (702) 495-2100 Subaruoflasvegas.com Subaru, EyeSight and Legacy are registered trademarks. *Available on select 2015 models beginning Fall 2014. †EPA-estimated hwy fuel economy for 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i models. Actual mileage may vary. **MSRP excludes destination and delivery charges, tax, title, and registration fees. Dealer sets actual price. 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited pictured has an MSRP of $29,485.
zeit bites use your words
Francis Battista on pet hoarding
We asked 51 people for the one word that best describes their hopes, fears and expectations for 2015. They chose …
ious to the filth in the home, the emaciation, the biting. He still regards himself as the only one who can provide appropriate care.
wo major pet-hoarding incidents made headlines in Southern Nevada last year, each involving around 100 animals and one at a home from which dozens of cats had already been removed since 2010. It leaves people wondering what causes this behavior and what to do about it. Francis Battista has some thoughts, having participated in several major hoarding rescue operations, including in Las Vegas. Battista speaks and writes on animal welfare for Kanab, Utah-based Best Friend Animal Sanctuary, which he cofounded in 1984. What is animal hoarding? It is defined not by the number of pets people have, but by their relationship with them. Hoarders are blind to the condition that they and the animals are living in. A hoarder is obliv-
Why does hoarding happen? Animal hoarding, and hoarding in general, is a mental condition. Some psychologists have aligned it with types of OCD, which I’m not qualified to discuss, but it appears to be a compulsion that will fulfill itself. So, the idea that you can stop it through pet limits or restrictive shelter policies is not terribly realistic. Unfortunately, you have hoarding situations that are disguised as rescues. Those who take in animals that are hard to place are a red flag, because they’re not going to place them, either, unless they have a serious management plan. What’s the best way out? Identifying the behavior on the front end. People who are interfacing with the hoarder have to make an official public-nuisance or disturbing-the-peace complaint or call an animal rescue organization. We often say that a hoarder has 100 hostages: Someone concerned about the welfare of the animals may be afraid to complain, because they will end up being euthanized in a shelter. It’s important to remember that these animals are trapped in a hellish environment where they don’t get medical care, human attention or socialization. The idea that they’re better off with the hoarder simply isn’t true. — Heidi Kyser
Change. Plutocrat. Oligarchy. Opulence. MONEY. Heebie-jeebies1. Decline. Anhedonia. Underwater! Insurmountable. Orwelldashian. Trepidation. Break-even. Change. Hopeful. Understanding. Cooperation. Reboot. Rebirth. Energized. Growth. Better. Balance. Breakthrough. Advancement. Prosperity. Fete. Hillary. Change. Edifying. Prophetic. Ambivalent. Kunst2. Moist. Mackadocious. Street-peace. Justice. Ephemeral. Amnesia. Lean. Tautoousious3. Journalisn’t. Painterly. Pomegranate4. Syllogism5. Zort6. Tecopa. Albumdeal7. YIKES! Adios. Now. 1. Two words, but hyphenated; we’ll allow it. 2. German for “art.” 3. It’s a real word: “Having the same essence.” Someone’s getting his money’s worth from that Word of the Day app. 4. Because the submitter finds its definition (“… the edible portion consisting of pleasantly acid flesh …”) sexy, and thus a good omen. 5. Submitter: “Lately, we’ve lost the connection with syllogistic thinking … my hope is for a more straightforward syllogism.” 6. A cyborg term for breaking wind, as found in the fiction of Quentin Bufogle. 7. Two words, jammed together; we’ll allow it.
Five cool things about UNLV’s architecture studies library 1 2
Studies Library is the collection,” says
chitecture, design, sustainability, urban
School of Architecture,” Baskin says,
Operations Supervisor Steve Baskin.
studies and more. Time named ASL
“and we try to make it a great place
Books covering every aspect of
one of “30 pinners to follow” in 2013.
to research, collaborate or hang out.”
The public can check out books, or
build something cool and display it in
Displays: The library’s gallery
can access all ASL materials within
the lobby or on its Facebook page.
area is showing renderings of
Deep, wide-ranging resources:
Cool Pinterest boards: Thought-
“The heart of the Architecture
ful pins on every aspect of ar-
architecture, design, landscaping and related subjects — plus rare volumes, videos, documentaries and more.
unbuilt projects slated for Las Vegas — and the campus itself. Also, designs for the famed Desert Sol house (right). Comfy vibe: “We like to think of it as the living room of the Hands-on fun: The library has buckets of Legos so you can
o u y r s e t y o p d ical w o H
L C L O I M B P R A E R T E? A W Based on average monthly single-family consumption of 10,000 gallons.
84 74 110 per month
37 We live in one of the driest areas in the United States. But thanks to your efforts, water rates here are far lower than cities with higher precipitation.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a not-for-profi t water utility.
Jamie Stephenson Co-owner, The Juice Standard
t was over a nice steak and wine dinner in Australia that Jamie Stephenson’s professional mentor told her to ... find another career? Yes. It was summer 2012, and Stephenson was working as an assistant to a renowned portrait photographer. Part pep talk, part reality check: She told Stephenson she’d never find success behind a camera, and urged her to rethink her passions, values and goals as they spent the next 10 weeks traveling. “I was 30, and I was devastated. I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Stephenson says.
Inspiration, though, turned out to be as close as the refrigerator. When the photographer developed digestive troubles that put her off solid food, Stephenson began whipping up the juices she’d learned to mix while living with her mother and stepfather, Walter. The photographer loved them and, by the end of the trip, Stephenson had drawn up a business plan for a juice bar. “I came back from Australia with a full-on understanding that what I had experienced with Walter and my mother fundamentally changed my habits.” It had taken a while for Stephenson herself to catch juice fever. Growing up in Las Vegas, the Okinawa-born Stephenson grew up thinking little of diet and nutrition. She loved Jack in the Box. “Those tacos are really, really good,” she confesses. But as she was preparing to do the cash-strapped-student thing at UNLV, her mom made her an offer: Stephenson could live with her rent-free if she stuck to a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and natural juices. “I was submerged into her obsession,” she said. “I was quite frankly her guinea pig, and I wasn’t allowed to eat out.” Stephenson initially called her mother’s new
diet “crazy,” but after a few months, she was a convert. She slimmed down; she had more energy. After nine months, the bad acne she dealt with for most of her life had vanished. Her mother’s new husband Walter, who had been diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer, seemed to benefit as well. He went on to live another five years, a fact Stephenson attributes to her mother’s diet revolution. When Stephenson returned from Australia in 2012, she immediately dove into books about nutrition and juicing. She bought a cold-press juicer, stocked up on vegetables and began obsessively testing recipes. In March, Stephenson opened the Juice Standard ( juicestandard.com) in the west valley with her longtime best friend Marcella Melnichuk. Behind the counter, glass-door refrigerators hold bright, colorful bins of turmeric, carrots, apples and radishes stacked on shelves above rows of bottled juices in shades of green, orange and red. You may momentarily forget you’re in Vegas — which is part of the point. “Vegas is all about excess and abuse,” says Stephenson. “There are a million places you can go in this town to get something bad to put in your body … but there was no place in town where you could go specifically to get something that’s fresh, that is raw, that is 100 percent organic, that is made with absolute care and consideration, and that was meant to serve your body.” — Tovin Lapan
TOPSHOP deer scarf, $36, and hat, $28, TOPSHOP in the Fashion Show Mall
Chalet chic Give the chilly weather a warm welcome with these winter styles By Christie Moeller
Free People Refuge low slipper sock, $14, Free People in the Fashion Show Mall
Cozy knits conjure up images of ski slopes, rosy cheeks, snowy days and crackling fires. This season, they’re making their way out of the ski chalet onto runways and into the wardrobes of fashionistas — perfect winter wear whether you’re headed to Mt. Charleston or the mall.
Free People Fair Isle Shrug, $108, Free People in the Fashion Show Mall
Original Penguin multi-pattern beanie, $48, Original Penguin in the Miracle Mile and Fashion Show Mall
TOMS Nepal boot, $98, TOMS.com
Original Penguin multi-pattern ski sweater, $98, Original Penguin in the Miracle Mile and Fashion Show Mall
Ted Baker Bredon Fair Isle Sweater, $195, Ted Baker in the Fashion Show Mall and The Forum Shops at Caesars
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Bring me the book of Albert Camus! An indie bookstore downtown: They have built it, but will you come? The answer will say a lot about this city By Scott Dickensheets
n the few weeks after The Writer’s Block bookstore opened on Fremont Street, its best-selling book was Fifty Shades of … ha, no … actually, it was James Patterson’s — aw, still kidding. It was, in fact, nothing so muggle: The Myth of Sisyphus, an inquiry into the legitimacy of suicide by the late French philosopher Albert Camus. Quelle surprise! Yeah, co-owner Drew Cohen, who orders the books, isn’t sure what to make of that, either. Simple, if weird, coincidence? Irresistible book-cover design? (It is rather artsy.) A sudden, viral conviction that midcentury European absurdism is the best way to understand Las Vegas in 2014? Or could it be that there really are some intelligent people here who, given the chance, will buy intermediate and advanced books, even by dead Frenchmen? The Writer’s Block (1020 Fremont St.) is a 2,450-square-foot bet — gesture of hope? leap of faith? fool’s errand? — on that last one. It’s an intimate space, fiction on the left, non- on the right, a decorative flight of fake birds overhead and quirkiness galore. (The back of the space houses a literacy-education space that’ll open soon.) A Barnes & Noble book-orderer might find the selection bafflingly small and light on populist page-bait — no long shelves of David Baldacci chart-toppers. The Writer’s Block curates toward a smaller, literary audience, and (theoretically) therein lies its future. If you’re among that audience, and you’ve patiently awaited a development like this, you’re elated but perhaps a little worried. Vegas seems like a fragile ecosystem for a literate indie bookstore. Don’t wanna get too attached, do you, in this city rife with contraindicators perhaps best summarized by The Daily Beast naming this the dumbest city in America a few years ago? (Of a possible 200 points in the site’s criteria, Vegas scored 3.33.) How long can a defiantly intelligent bookstore hold out in a city with our
Ja n u a r y 2 0 1 5
low, low rate of adults with college degrees? Perhaps you’ve also heard about our bottom-ranking school system. And our citizenry has taken to voting against such civilizing institutions as schools and libraries. Top that with national rises in e-book purchases and the decline of physical bookstores, and there are good reasons to temper your woo-hoo! “I didn’t necessarily know that to be the reputation of Las Vegas” before arriving, Cohen says. The research he and partner Scott Seeley did beforehand had more to do with the logistics and economics of running a bookstore — neither had that kind of experience — than with the peculiarities of the town they’d been recruited to by The Downtown Project. “In coming here, we did hear and continue to hear a lot about the abysmal state of the education system,” Cohen says. “That said, it’s a big city, and any big city has intellectually minded people, it has writers, it has people who read, and we’ve just met tons of those people, and they continue to come in.” So far, he says, they seem to cross demographic lines, including lots of high-school and college kids, and they don’t necessarily want the mainstream stuff. For them, an indie bookstore serves a filtering function, sifting out the mass-market stuff and presenting the cooler, harder-to-find works. And so, quelle surprise, the books Cohen was unsure about stocking — your epic Knausgaardian fictions, your collections of Roxanne Gay’s offbeat feminist essays — get picked up, while stuff he thought would pander to mainstream tastes, not so much. “In some categories I can buy a little more esoteric or sophisticated than I thought, because there seems to be a demand for it.” (Full disclosure: I bought the store’s very first copy of Sisyphus, since midcentury European absurdism is the best way to understand Las Vegas in 2014.) Unless he actually weighed them, “tons
p h oto g r a p h y c h r i sto p h e r s m i t h
of those people” is a pretty subjective measurement, but it does make you wonder just how many book-lovers it’ll take to sustain The Writer’s Block. An anecdote: “I had a very eye-opening moment about a year before we opened,” Cohen says. “We were out in the suburbs here, and we went to a Barnes & Noble. I saw that they had four hardback copies of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Vol. 2. No Vol. 1, just Vol. 2, and four copies of it.” The question implied by such mindless shelf-stocking — will there ever be four people in Las Vegas who need to fill that specific hole in their Hemingway letters collection? — points to an advantage The Writer’s Block has. “We’re really small,” he says. Think of it as economies of downscale: small space, small staff, small overhead = more pinpoint control. “We basically buy books to replace the books we just sold.” If he carries Vol.
2 of Hemingway’s letters, it’ll be because someone actually wants it. That responsiveness to micro-changes in customer taste means more freedom to carry books by dead French philosophers. “The people who are still buying print books are by and large book-lovers,” Cohen says, notwithstanding the steady production of James Patterson hardbacks, “who by and large have similar tastes and look for similar things, and those are things that independent bookstores can carry for that audience, whereas big-box retailers don’t have that luxury.” Cohen sees the e-book battle mainly playing out between Amazon and large chain stores, both of which are stuck in a high-volume business. The Writer’s Block can (theoretically) prosper several levels below this clash of titans, even as completely opposite cultural movements steer specific customers through its doors.
“We're banking on it,” Cohen says when I ask whether the store will benefit from the ongoing interest in the artisanal, the quirky, the non-mass-market. Those readers want the distinct tactile and intellectual experience of a printed book. Still, these are tough times for indie booksellers. New York magazine recently broke down the finances of The Strand, one of the flagships of the biz. Bottom line: If it didn’t own its building, the store would likely be on death row. All of which, I suppose, makes the arrival and, fingers crossed!, survival of The Writer’s Block more than just a welcome addition to the hipster infrastructure of East Fremont. It also puts a few ounces of good weight on our cultural scales, helping counterbalance some of the qualities that feed The Daily Beast’s — and, too often, our own — view of who we are.
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Lifelong Learning Breakfast & Brunch Join Chef Les Kincaid, who has taught cooking and wine-appreciation courses for more than 25 years, to learn how to create easy dishes that help start the day, from classic egg breakfasts to sweet and savory treats. Class code: 151HA1166. $109. Ferguson Enterprises, 4175 S. Grand Canyon Drive; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation. unlv.edu/catalog/food-beverage Build Your Financial Portfolio on $50 a Month FEB. 26, 6P-9P.
Learn, baby, learn! Being out of school doesn’t mean your education stops — so pick up a new skill, find a hobby and meet new people in these 29 classes B y C a r l a J. Z v o c e k
earn as if you were to live forever,” Mahatma Gandhi once advised, and though he might not have specifically meant a class about breaking into standup comedy or effective use of social media, his point nonetheless rings true. Continual learning is an important element of personal growth, career advancement and a fulfilling life. Here’s a diverse array of upcoming learning opportunities to give your existence that value-added feeling.
This is the only seminar in the country that teaches this 100-year method of investing. It takes little money, creates passive income, has very low risk and is as easy as writing a check. Grow $50 a month into a retirement fund or nest egg, all without a broker. Class code: 151PF1134. $69. UNLV Paradise Campus, 851 E. Tropicana Ave., Rm. 511; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation. unlv.edu/catalog/financial-planning Exploring Wine Sensory MARCH 18-25, WED 6P-8:30P.
Increase your wine appreciation by identifying aromas and flavors found in wine, and broaden your wine evaluation skills to include all your senses. Participants experience different varietals and a multitude of sensory aromas during this course. Taught
m i c r o p h o n e c o u r t e s y u n lv ; p a i n t i n g c l a s s c o u r t e s y c i t y l i g h t s a r t g a l l e r y ; v a l l e y o f f i r e c o u r t e s y u n lv ; s a m u r a i c l a s s b r e n t h o l m e s
JAN. 27-FEB. 3, TUE 6P-8:30P.
Give the Gift of a College Education. It’s a Gift that will last a Lifetime.
Enrollment Now Open! • Purchase for Children, Grandchildren, Nieces, and Nephews • Newborn-9th Grade • Purchase in Nevada Use NATIONWIDE • Tuition Plan Choices University or Community College • Three Flexible Payment Options
More Information: (702) 486-2025 NVPrepaid.gov Administered by Nevada State Treasurer
EDUCATION by chef Les Kincaid. Class code: 151HA1162. $109; 21 and older. Total Wine & More, 730 S. Rampart Blvd.; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/food-beverage Maxwell Drake Writing Workshop JAN. 4-5, FEB. 8-9, MARCH 1-2, SUN 3P; MON 5:30P.
Award-winning author Maxwell Alexander Drake conducts a series of workshops to help you craft a novel people want to read. Free. Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive; 702-507-6107 Outsmarting Investment Fraud FEB. 25, 6P.
Investment fraud affects thousands of Americans and accounts for billions of dollars in lost savings every year. Learn simple steps to protect your family and finances. Co-sponsored by the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada. Free. Rainbow
Library, 3150 N. Buffalo Drive; 702-507-3716 World of Craft Beers APRIL 16-MAY 14, THU 7:30P-9:30P.
Gain a better understanding of different types of beer and learn the subtle smells, flavors and tastes of various beer styles. You’ll taste different styles, as well as some of the ingredients used to make craft brews. Also included: discussions of food pairings and visits to local breweries. Class code: 151HA1194. $109; 21 and older. U Bottle It, 2230 Horizon Ridge Parkway, Suite 150, Henderson; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/food-beverage
Vocational Break Into Stand-Up Comedy JAN. 21-FEB. 21; APRIL 1-MAY 2; JUNE 24-JULY 25, WED 7P-10P.
An industry expert shares his knowledge on how to be successful — and funny — in
the competitive world of stand-up. This course takes you through the writing, delivery, performance and business. The last session will be a showcase held at a famous comedy venue. Class code: 151GI1142A. $229. UNLV Paradise Campus, 851 E. Tropicana Ave., Rm. 511; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/acting Business 101: How to Start Your Own Business — Startup Basics JAN. 22, 6P-8P.
If you’ve considered running your own business but have questions about getting started, representatives from Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE, offer their expertise and knowledge. Free. Jewel Box Theater at Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road; 702-507-3400 Excel Essentials JAN. 26, JUNE 8, 1P-4P.
In this foundation course, you’ll become
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oriented to the Excel environment and terminology, learn to enter and edit data, manage workbooks; calculate with basic formulas and use functions, create databases and perform basic formatting. A basic knowledge of Excel is required. Class code: 151CU1100A. $69. UNLV Paradise Campus, 851 E. Tropicana Ave., Rm. 123; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation. unlv.edu/catalog/microsoft-office Job Seeking Skills & Beyond JUNE 4-18, THU 5:30P-7:30P.
Course topics include the hidden job market, creating top-notch résumés, self-presentation, interviewing strategies, employment negotiations and how to relax in a stressful work environment. Class code: 152EN1180. $89. The Center, 401 S. Maryland Parkway; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/entrepreneurship Social Media & You JAN. 10-FEB. 14, SAT 11A-12:30P.
Kinderschool, Elementary & Middle School
Give Your Child Every Advantage We’ll challenge and inspire your child in a caring environment with programs that have successfully educated thousands of children in Las Vegas for more than fifty years.
3275 Red Rock St. • 702-362-1180 • LVDS.com
Advanced Innovative Curriculum State-of-the-Art Computer Technology Spanish Music Competitive Sports Extra Curricular Activities State Licensed AdvancED National Accreditation
Call for Admissions Information & Campus Tour
Instructor Lou Ragland teaches participants the best way to utilize the technology and various social media platforms, such as apps, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn. $42; 12 and up. W. Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd.; 702-229-4800 25 Hot Home-Based Businesses to Start for Under $1,000 MAY 11, 6:15P-9:15P.
Explore 25 profitable home-based businesses you can start for less than $1,000. Class discussions include startup requirements, market niches and putting together an action plan. You’ll also learn why some businesses will fit you better than others. Class code: 151EN1123. $49. UNLV Paradise Campus, 851 E. Tropicana Ave., Rm. 107; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv. edu/catalog/entrepreneurship
Hobby/Artistic Fiber Arts Workshop JAN. 20, FEB. 3 AND 17, MARCH 3 AND 17, 10:30A-12:30P.
Fiber artists at any skill level gather, work on projects and learn new skills and tech-
Join us for the 20th Annual Susan G. Komen Southern Nevada Race for the Cure® SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2015 | FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE Register Today! Visit komensouthernnevada.org • 702.822.2324
EDUCATION niques in the company of like-minded individuals. Free. Summerlin Library, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, Conference Room; 702-507-3866
Watercolor Classes with Ed Klein ONGOING, TUE 9A-12P AND 1P-4P; SAT 9A-12P.
ance. $37 for six weeks or $5 for drop-ins; 18 and older. Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod Drive; 702-455-7340
Fruit Trees: Care and Selection for Desert Climates FEB. 8, 2P.
Beginners and intermediate watercolor painters will learn the basics or brush up on the many watercolor techniques demonstrated by watercolor artist Ed Klein (702-456-2700; email@example.com). $20 each session if supplying your own materials; $25 if using the instructor’s. City Lights Art Gallery #3 E. Army St., Henderson; 702-260-0300
Synchronized Swim Team JAN. 5-FEB. 14; FEB. 23-MARCH 28; APRIL 13-MAY 23, TUE AND THU 6P-7P.
In this class, taught by Don Fabbi — a master gardener with a doctorate in horticulture and 65 years of experience in the cultivation of flowers and fruit trees — you’ll learn about the best fruit tree varieties for this region; timing, location, watering and fertilizing to maximize your production; proper planting and care; and more. Free. W. Charleston Library, 6301 W. Charleston Blvd.; 702-507-3964 Mexican Folkloric Dance JAN. 5-FEB. 14; FEB. 23-MARCH 28; APRIL 13-MAY 23, FRI 6P8P AND SAT 2:30P-4:30P.
This class blends various dances and a wide range of forms from Mexico’s different states with European heritage, as well as African cultural influences. It’s a 12-week program. $60 for 12 weeks or $5 for drop-ins; 6 and older. Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod Drive, Dance Studio; 702-455-7340 Samurai Sword JAN. 5-FEB. 14; FEB. 23-MARCH 28; APRIL 13-MAY 23, THU 6P-7P.
This is a martial-art class that uses a wooden sword to simulate practice techniques. The physical nature of this course helps students develop body movement and flexibility. $13; 8 and older. Robert E. “Bob” Price Recreation Center, 2050 Bonnie Lane; 702-455-7600 Sew & Quilt Social JAN. 5-FEB. 14; FEB. 23-MARCH 28; APRIL 13-MAY 23, SAT 12P-1:30P.
During these six weeks of social sewing, instructor assistance is available, so beginners are encouraged to bring their favorite project and questions. Projects and materials are provided by the instructor, too, and sewing machines are available. Participants are also welcome to bring their own materials and sewing machines. $32. Walnut Recreation Center, 3075 N. Walnut Road; 702-455-8402
Travel/ Activity-Based The Armchair Traveler Presents JAN. 4, FEB. 1, 12:30P-2:30P.
The library assists you in your world journeys by giving you ideas of places to visit, as well as presenting travel tips and materials for researching your future adventures. Free; adults-seniors. Summerlin Library, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, Conference Room; 702-507-3866 Desert Survival Skills: Basic APRIL 19, 9A-3P.
Learn what it takes to survive in the Mojave Desert using hands-on outdoor experiments and by covering topics such as preparation, emergency procedures, water use and shelter. Your instructor is a state-certified environmental educator and planner. Participants must bring a lunch, water and compass, and wear walking shoes, long pants and a hat. Class code: 151EX1232. $95; 14 and older. UNLV Paradise Campus, 851 E. Tropicana Ave., back parking lot; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/day-trips Hatha Yoga JAN. 5-FEB. 14; FEB. 23-MARCH 28; APRIL 13-MAY 23, TUE AND THU 6P-7P.
Hatha yoga blends postures, conscious breathing and mental focus to achieve awareness, strength, balance, flexibility, relaxation and a sense of well-being. The instructor of this six-week program is a registered instructor with the Yoga Alli-
Participants learn the fundamentals of synchronized swimming, which blends creative movement and dance in the water. It is highly recommended you complete Level III Swim Lessons prior to enrollment. $45. Desert Breeze Aquatics, 8275 Spring Mountain Road; 702-455-7798 Valley of Fire Hot Spots MARCH 28, 8A-4:30P.
Valley of Fire State Park boasts a striking geology, and the first stop is Atlatl Rock to see Indian petroglyphs, followed by stops at a beautiful rock arch and petrified wood; Mouse’s Tank, and the Rainbow Vista viewpoint. Then on to White Domes, where you’ll see an old movie set from The Professionals and a stop at Elephant Rock. Participants should bring water and walking shoes or hiking boots. Class code: 151EX1244. $115 includes round-trip transportation, entrance to Valley of Fire State Park, boxed lunch and two bottles of water per person. UNLV Paradise Campus, 851 E. Tropicana Ave.; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv. edu/catalog/day-trips Woof Walk JAN. 17, 9:30A-11:30A.
Bring your canine companion to a dog-friendly area of Clark County’s largest park, where you can explore the wetland trails alongside the Las Vegas Wash. Proper dog-walking etiquette while on the trail will be discussed. Free. Clark County Wetlands Park, 7050 Wetlands Park Lane; 702455-7522
Life Skills/SelfImprovement Audio Engineering JAN. 10-FEB. 14, SAT 1P-2P.
In this six-week class, instructor Lou Ragland teaches students how to trans-
fer analog recordings from cassette tapes and records to digital CDs and DVDs. $42; 12 and older. W. Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd.; 702-229-4800 Becoming a Person of Influence JAN. 21, FEB. 18, 6P-7P.
This workshop, hosted by Cherry Reyes, is for those who wish to develop their leadership skills. The class focuses on the book Becoming a Person of Influence. Free. Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara Ave., Multipurpose Room; 702-507-3631 Couponing 101 MARCH 7, 10:30A-12P
Fiona Bartels from Las Vegas Grocery Smarts teaches you how to use coupons productively: how to get started, where to find the best coupons and deals, how to organize your shopping and how to incorporate extreme couponing into your shopping routine. Free; adults-seniors. Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive, Meeting Room; 702-507-6100 Introductory Airplane or Helicopter Flight JAN. 5-MAY 31, SUN-MON 5:30A-9P.
You’ll take the controls of a Cessna 172 airplane or Robinson R22 helicopter, while flying above Las Vegas. Begin with a oneon-one ground-school briefing from an FAA-certified flight instructor, when you’ll learn about aircraft systems, flight controls and aerodynamics. Once airborne, the instructor will turn over the controls. Class code: 151TP1100. $169. Airworks LLC, 2722 Perimeter Road #103, NLV; 702-895-3394, continuingeducation.unlv.edu/catalog/private-airplane-or-helicopter-pilot Video Editing JAN. 5-FEB. 14; FEB. 23-MARCH 28; APRIL 13-MAY 23, TUE 5:30P-7:30P.
In this six-week program, students are taught basic video editing techniques, software selections, system setup, plugins, capture techniques and how to stream and burn content. $37; 13 and older. Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod Drive, Video Editing Room; 702-455-7340
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Cauldron of chaos One thing we can predict for the 2015 Legislature: unpredictability. And maybe a tax plan? Maybe a deal to fund education? Maybe some bipartisanship? Don’t hold your breath By Jon Ralston
he 2015 Legislature doesn’t be- vote for slavery if his constituents asked gin until Feb. 2 and already this: — has been found to owe the federal govThe Republicans, who control ernment more than $1 million in taxes. the Assembly for the first time in She was scheduled to chair the — you 30 years, designated as speaker a guessed it — Taxation Committee. (She man who once used phrases such as “sim- was briefly taken off in mid-December, ple-minded darkies” in columns and said then reinstated after complaining of a on television, “I haven’t called anyone a “war on women,” then taken off again.) homo for a long time.” That man, Ira HanAll of this may change again before the sen, soon had to step down — only to be giv- gavel comes down — yes, as of this writen the No. 3 spot in lower-house leadership. ing, we aren’t even sure who will be branIn his place, the Republicans held an dishing said gavel — as a handful of rene“election” in the office of his presumed gade Republicans have been in talks with successor, Paul Anderson. But Michele the 17-member Democratic minority to Fiore, who once played a character create a coalition government that would named Storm Fagan in a movie called Si- remake the leadership team into a biparren, arrived with proxies from a passel of tisan mélange. This, of course, would be newcomers and installed John Hambrick, fraught with peril and is destined to aca low-key, likable fellow who sat stone- quire fissures before long. faced as his elevation was announced. I remind you again: The session hasn’t And as the New Year comes, Fiore, even started yet. who claimed the majority leader’s posiEvery Nevada Legislature is sui genertion for herself and installed as whip one is, but they have a similar rhythm: They Jim Wheeler — who once said he would commence with a happy but slow pace,
full of ceremonial proclamations and fourth-grade classes introduced. The middle is a notorious slog, with only the most skillful lobbyists lining up their various items in the trough really aware of what’s happening. And the end is always The Rush to Close, with 63 lawmakers careering toward sine die, the governor trying to grip the tiller and the 120-day deadline rarely or barely met. 2015 promises to be different: The Session of Chaos. When the red wave crashed down on Nov. 4, it washed away Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature, including a 10-seat flip in the Assembly. But as Gov. Brian Sandoval, whose campaign caused the tsunami that made the wave so broad and deep, celebrated in public, behind the scenes he was concerned about the be-careful-what-you-wish-for result that had turned the Assembly into something not imagined by the Founding Fathers but instead conjured by Barnum & Bailey.
i l lu st r at i o n b r e n t h o l m e s
Sandoval had been having quiet conversations with Democratic Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson about how to craft a tax package that could pass the Legislature, create a sustainable way to fund education and reform a system that has only been picked at for decades. But now Kirkpatrick has been relegated to the minority and the Assembly has become a cauldron of uncertainty, with counting to the necessary 28 votes to pass a tax plan as unlikely as Storm Fagan’s try for rock stardom. Add in a rookie Senate majority leader (Roberson) and a first-time Senate minority leader (Aaron Ford), neophyte committee chairs in both houses, 17 newcomers in the Assembly and conventional wisdom seems like an oxymoron. Can a tax plan possibly pass? Who are the players to watch? What are the hot issues to watch for? Here are my thoughts, which — considering the velocity of the zaniness before the session even starts — may be rendered moot by Feb. 2.
Five possible tax plans The Sunrise, Sunset Plan.
This would be the simplest one to accomplish: Simply extend expiring, or sunsetting, taxes to fill the budget hole. Enough Republicans could justify this to create a two-thirds majority by claiming, as Sandoval has done in past sessions, that this isn’t really a tax increase. But this also would be the narrowest, creating no “new” taxes. The No Business Tax Plan.
The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce has released a study that does two things. First, it removes many exemptions and broadens the tax base by creating a sales tax on services and increasing those covered by a payroll tax. Second, in so doing and by not proposing a tax on business income, such as a net or gross receipts tax, the chamber has sold out its smaller members and protected its larger ones. This is not new. The Sunset-Plus-Break Even Plan.
This would involve extending the sunsets and passing what would be seen as a
Hello, goodbye, see you soon New players and familiar faces to watch this session — and some farewells Hello Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson. Roberson started life in the Legislature in 2010 as a bomb-throwing freshman whose idle remarks drove veteran Democrats crazy. He evolved in 2013 into a crafty leader with his eye on the big corner office. Now the energetic Roberson is impatient to get the session underway to fulfill a campaign promise: getting more money into the state’s school system, in partnership with Gov. Brian Sandoval. Will he have more trouble dealing with the new Democratic minority, or his obstreperous Republican colleagues in the Assembly?
Goodbye State Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas. Jones only served for two years, winning the unexpired term of state Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, who resigned in 2012. Passionate and committed, he shepherded his gun background check bill through both houses, only to see it killed by a gubernatorial veto. Rare is the lawmaker who stands by his principles, even when they might cost him his job. In Jones’s case, that’s exactly what happened. Goodbye Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas. Frierson was in line to become the first black speaker of the Nevada Assembly when his career
was cut short in November in an ultra-close race decided by just 40 votes. He helmed the Assembly Judiciary Committee with aplomb, moving along lengthy and complicated hearings on lengthy and complicated bills. A graduate of UNR and UNLV’s Boyd Law School, Frierson was a homegrown leader who still tops many insiders’ “They’ll Be Back” lists. Hello Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. He may have been forced to step down as speaker-designate under the weight of his own hateful words penned in a Sparks newspaper over a period of nearly two decades, but Hansen is unbowed. His new job — assistant majority leader — isn’t as high-profile as the speaker’s post, but his chairmanship of the Assembly Judiciary Committee puts him in a position to pursue his pet issue (construction defect reform) while also causing problems for longtime adversaries, such as the trial bar. Hello Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas. In her first session in 2013, Fiore cemented her reputation as a gun rights supporter by championing a bill to allow people to carry guns on university campuses. But the headlines obscured
her real political skills, from spaghetti dinners at her home for constituents to lobbying to get the No. 2 leadership position in the lower house (a position she's since lost). Revelations that she’s failed to pay taxes began to dog her last month, leading to her being yanked from chairing the Assembly Taxation Committee. In February, we'll find out if she’s more leader than caricature. Hello Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison. He served only one regular session and two special sessions in the body he’ll now preside over, but nobody doubts his ability. Hutchison proved himself to be a quick study as a senator, asking good questions in meetings and navigating treacherous political waters like an old pro. (The devout Mormon was key to passing medical marijuana laws.) But his arrival at the front of the chamber means his contributions as a lawmaker will be lost, and in a session where Hutchison’s ability to reconcile a conservative political philosophy with practical realities will be needed more than ever. See you soon Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Although she was solicited to run for governor and
lieutenant governor, Cortez Masto ended up looking like the smartest Democrat in the state when she took a pass on the 2014 election cycle. As a result, her statewide brand was untarnished by the Republican wave. She cemented her position by taking a high-profile job as executive vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a post that will keep her in public view while she mulls which office to seek next. (The U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Dean Heller is a strong possibility, in 2018.) See you soon Secretary of State Ross Miller. In a statewide race, losing by 4,750 votes counts as a photo-finish heartbreaker. Miller — son of former Gov. Bob Miller — had an especially bitter race against Adam Laxalt, the grandson of former U.S. senator and Gov. Paul Laxalt. The loss interrupted Ross Miller’s best-laid plans to succeed his father in the governor’s mansion, but doesn’t end them. Now Miller must find a sinecure that will allow him to return to politics in four years, but one that won’t reinforce the Laxalt campaign picture of Miller as an entitled party guy more interested in attending mixed martial arts events than doing his day job. — Steve Sebelius
revenue-neutral broadening of the base. For instance, a sales tax on services but at a much lower rate — say, 3 percent. Or a package of tax cuts passed along with the plan for new money. Even the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which previously proposed a sales tax on services, might go along. And the think tank’s policy guy, Geoff Lawrence, is advising Assembly Republicans.
“It depends what you mean by reform.”
Everyone wants to “reform” the education system. Merit pay. Vouchers. School choice. End Common Core. Reinforce Common Core. No social promotion after third grade. How any or all of these fit in with — or perhaps hold the key to — any tax package will be one of the session’s pivot points. There is an app for that.
The Marginal Plan.
This would be 2003 redux. A bunch of new revenue but no real broadening of the tax base. Many supplicants would be happy, as they were during the last Great Tax Debate, because they got their money. But the method would be madness, and the problem of narrowness would be unresolved. The Legacy Plan.
This would be all the marbles. A new business tax (don’t call it a margin tax!) that increases the contributors to the state budget and dramatically changes education funding, including hundreds of millions for English Language Learners. This would be forever known as The Sandoval Plan. It also is the least likely of any of the possibilities.
This will be Uber fun. The cab oligarchy says it just wants the ride-sharing behemoth to play by the rules, but its message is: We don’t need no stinkin’ Uber. Uber says it is a tech company, not a transportation company, so it shouldn’t have to abide by those strictures. This risible argument will dissolve but a compromise will occur. There are too may good lobbyists on both sides. Pass the popcorn. Wonder who prevails on this one?
Prevailing wage is a longtime GOP
hobbyhorse. And they will ride it this session with majorities in both houses. I would guess the law will be changed, but how dramatically is the question. I wonder if this issue could be used by Democrats, prodded by their union pals, to hold up support for tax plans. Watch for that play at some point.
Five key players to watch Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The amazingly popular governor, fresh off a 70 percent win, has political capital to spend. But in the entropic Legislature of 2015, which he helped create with The Sandoval Sweep, what should he invest in? Does he go big and go to DC? Or go small and try for more in ’17? I don’t think he knows yet, but what I do know is he wants to try to fix the tax structure and create a long-term funding source for education. Can he find 28 votes in the Assembly? That is the question for this session.
Join us for our Open House Jan 29th at 4 pm.
Five issues to watch The chapter named 288.
Of all the reforms the new GOP majority sees with both houses and a Republican governor, changing Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 288, the collective bargaining law, may be paramount. Some will see this as an attempt to hurt unions, a Democratic special interest. But reforms will range from reasonable to extreme, including erasing the section. That won’t happen, but I bet something will.
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The Democratic defect is gone.
Many Republicans have been frustrated by the trial lawyers’ hegemony in the Legislative Building, which has allowed them to block changes to laws governing lawsuits against builders to fix construction defects. The process is arcane and occasionally illogical and has made a lot of lawyers very rich. The war between developer accountability and lawyer rapaciousness has no heroes, but may have a different outcome next year.
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politics State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson.
Roberson is no Bill Raggio, the silkysmooth late legislative legend. But he is a leader unlike any this state has seen on the GOP side. Self-assured to the point of arrogance, he backs it up with a Raggioesque work ethic and commitment to education funding and reform that we haven’t seen in a while. After a rocky start with the governor, he is a loyal soldier in Sandoval’s army now. His ability to help the governor find GOP votes on the other side of the hallway will be one of the session’s keys. Speaker X.
It may be John Hambrick. It may not be. The Assembly Republicans may not be done yet with their leadership reshuffling, with the possibility of a Democratic-Republican coalition electing Pat Hickey or Paul Anderson. Hambrick is unlikely to be speaker all session — he is too laid back, too sweet for the nasty game that will be played. If he does somehow retain the post, he will be influenced by Michele Fiore and her friend, Sue Lowden, who wants to play a role in the session and helped talk Hambrick into seeking the top spot. This caucus’ motto: A coup a day keeps the crazies in play. Assembly Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
The amazingly popular governor, fresh off a 70 percent win, has political capital to spend. But in the entropic Legislature of 2015, what should he invest in? Does he go big and go to DC? Or go small and try for more in '17? worse than his counterparts from 2013 and 2011, who essentially surrendered to the governor. But what does he want besides his pet film tax credits restored (More Paul Blart movies, please!)? He is seen as more moderate than other members of his caucus, which caused him problems with the liberal wing. Can he hold that caucus together? Will he work well with Roberson? He is a true wild card.
Five reforms that would help Evict the partisan operatives. Allowing caucuses to
have hit men and women whose jobs are to hover like vultures waiting for the other side’s lawmakers to make a mistake, then sending out vitriolic news releases and Tweets makes governing that much harder. Several are highly skilled, but they need to become a capital relic.
Every session, lawmakers make a mockery of the guideline that allows them to suspend the rules, which is code for Rushing Stuff Through that May Be Bad but It’s Too Late in the Session to Care. This is when really bad things happen. Fix it.
Nevada” at companion. com/hear more
Last session, the Democrats wouldn’t even hear the margin tax and in all their cowardice simply let it be on the ballot. The law says they have to act or not act within 40 days of opening day or an initiative — see legalized pot and background checks — goes on the ballot. They should have to conduct an up or down vote. You know, do their jobs. Mandate that all contacts with lobbyists be disclosed.
Every week, lawmakers should have to disclose which lobbyists contacted them and on what issues. Lobbyists should have to do the same. For some reason, I bet both groups don’t want this to be enacted.
Five predictions 1 A tax plan (beyond extending the sunsets)
Don’t allow capricious rule suspensions.
She thought she would be speaker in her final session. With the shock and disappointment having worn off, Kirkpatrick is doing what she does: Thinking about policy prescriptions as her legacy, trying to help Sandoval and Roberson get a tax Pass a ballot question for package through, perhaps attempting to form a governing coalition. She has nev- annual sessions. I know it’s unpopular. But Milton er had a head for politics, and she may Friedman and John Maynard not be temperamentally suited to Keynes together could not budget be speaker as she was to being a for 24-26 months ahead. At least committee chair. But she has great Hear create the momentum for a short respect among the lobbying corps more session in even-numbered years and across the partisan aisle, so Should the mining to reflect on where the economy she will be very, very relevant. industry is and how it has affected projecpay more State Senate Minority tions, while also having the ability taxes? Hear Leader Aaron Ford. to fix mistakes from the odd-numa discussion Ambitious and focused, the bered-year session. Yes, they make on “KNPR’s State of new Democratic leader can’t do mistakes.
Force lawmakers to have roll call votes on all ballot initiatives.
will not pass during the 120-day session. But one will pass during the third special session. 2 A voter ID bill will pass and be signed into
law by the governor. It will be perceived as a “moderate” plan, but will draw huge protests and threatened lawsuits. 3 The mining industry will not be taxed. This is the easiest prediction for anyone to make. Every session. 4 At least one legislator who begins the
session will not be there at the end. And all of the others will envy this person. 5 The Nevada Supreme Court will have
to intervene at least once during the Legislature to resolve disputes. Someone will accuse the justices of legislating from the bench. They will not care. Political commentator Jon Ralston writes at ralstonreports.com.
Spring 2015 featuring
The Midtown Men
Four Stars from the Original Cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys* Saturday, February 14 • 8 p.m. $75 - $55 - $40 - $25
“Go and See Them Live” - Elton John Saturday, March 7 • 8 p.m. $75 - $55 - $40 - $25
Call (702) 895-ARTS (2787) or visit pac.unlv.edu to purchase tickets by phone or online or for a complete list of events. *Not a performance of, not affiliated with the show, Jersey Boys
pure. powerful.arts. 2014 – 2015 season
On December 11, db BRASSERIE, Restaurant of the Year, hosted the 18th Annual Desert Companion Restaurant Awards Luncheon. More than 85 foodies joined the Desert Companion team as we celebrated Las Vegas' brightest culinary talents and enjoyed a delicious meal by db BRASSERIE.
Check out more photos on
The Dish 41 eat this now 47
on the plate 47 at first bite 48
Our c i ty's be st sp ots to eat & drink
Light year ahead
Is a healthier diet on your list of resolutions? You won’t sacrifice an ounce of flavor with light dishes like these B y J o A n na H au g e n
appy new year! If you suspect we’re using this month’s dining feature to nudge you to improve your diet in 2015 — yes, we’re totally going there. However, we promise these five light, calorically responsible dishes don’t sacrifice an ounce in the flavor department. Heck, you just might go back for seconds — and in this case, it’s totally fine.
Smoothie operator: Kravyvings’ Daily Detox
P hoto g ra ph y sabin orr
The Power Lunch Walnut “tuna” sandwich at Juice NV
The walnut “tuna” sandwich at Juice NV doesn’t look or taste like tuna, and that’s fine. In fact, this hearty sandwich should embrace what it is: spinach, walnut paté and spicy cashew cheese on sprouted grain bread. This surprisingly flavorful sandwich doesn’t have the weird earthy undertones or stereotypically “healthy” flavor you might expect of a vegan take on a lunchtime classic, with its satisfying filling and spices reminiscent of falafel. What a catch. 9500 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 702-463-1689, juicenv.com
January 2 0 1 5
The Decadent Quinoa crunch bowl at LYFE Kitchen
If the quinoa crunch bowl was a Facebook relationship status, it’d be complicated — but in the best kind of way. The colors, textures and flavors will keep you marveling at the complexity of this dish. Fresh, crisp, seasonal vegetables — radishes, broccoli, quinoa, avocado and arugula — are served with edamame hummus, chipotle vinaigrette and fireman’s hot sauce. It has a citrusy brightness, accented by peppery arugula, and the hummus propels the bowl beyond glorified salad status. Bonus: You can get this complicated goodness in a wrap, too. 140 S. Green Valley Parkway #142, 702-558-0131, lyfekitchen.com
J anuary 2 0 1 5
The Cleanser Daily Detox
Don’t let this drink’s shade of bright pink throw you off. You’ll expect a blast of berries but, in fact, this concoction of orange, apple, lemon, ginger, parsley and beet comes on strong in a mouth-puckering tartness that quickly resolves into a light, fruity, well-balanced drink. Little surprise this is one of Krayvings’ top sellers. 11770 W. Charleston Blvd. #150, 702-945-0520, krayvings.com
January 2 0 1 5
The Guilty Pleasure Key lime cheesecake
at Juice NV
For something that has neither lime nor cheese in it, the vegan key lime cheesecake at Juice NV is an impressive impostor. It’s creamy and firm — like real cheesecake! — and the filling (cashews, maple syrup, avocado, lime juice, coconut butter) actually delivers that trademark tart, pleasant shock of key lime. The crust (almonds, Brazil nuts and dates) may stick to your teeth, but think of it as a pleasant souvenir from a guilt-free dessert. 9500 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 702-463-1689, juicenv.com
J anuary 2 0 1 5
The Switch-Up Surprise Vegan nachos
at Simply Pure
January 2 0 1 5
This ridiculously fresh variation of the bar food staple is made with corn chips, vegan protein “beef,” vegan cheddar cheese (or upgrade to cashew nacho cheese), fresh pico de gallo and sliced avocado. Served cold and crisp, Simply Pure’s nachos are well-seasoned but not too spicy, and the salsa tastes like it’s made moments before being served. You might just forget that these are vegan nachos — perhaps the true mark of a successful healthy dish. In the Downtown Container Park, 707 Fremont St., #2310, 702-810-5641, simplypurelv.com
on the plate
Upcoming foodie events you don’t want to miss
Eat this now! Aguachile Verde at Border Grill
In the Forum Shops, 702-854-6700, bordergrill.com Ceviche has a transportive quality, an on-the-beach appeal that translates even to land-locked meals on the Las Vegas Strip. At the new Forum Shops outpost of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s Border Grill, that effect is amplified by a dedicated ceviche bar, where a chef turns out varieties from Baja California, Peru, Guatemala and Veracruz. Perhaps most tempting, however, is the aguachile verde, a Mexican dish that translates to “chile water,” and pairs tender seafood with a bright, cool, spicy broth you may want to pour on everything in sight. Border Grill’s rendition blends cucumber, cilantro, serrano chiles and lime for a lip-smacking green juice that kicks up lightly poached pieces of calamari and Alaskan King Crab. Diced mango and avocado add sweet and creamy balance to this refreshing seafood starter. Grab a tortilla chip and start scooping, no beach chair necessary. — Sarah Feldberg
Japanese burrito ag uac h i l e v e r d e : C h r i sto p h e r s m i t h
Visit truknyaki.com for schedule Before discovering Truk-N-yaki, I already considered the burrito to be a crowning achievement of modern culinary engineering. I mean, swaddling everything on your plate in a warm tortilla? How could there be room to improve? There is. Truk-N-yaki’s Japanese burrito replaces traditional ingredients for a filling of teppanyaki-style fried rice. Chunks of onion, zucchini and bell pepper are tossed with your choice of marinated ribeye, chicken or (my favorite) shrimp, then skillet-pressed into a handheld masterpiece and served with hot or sweet sauce. The Japanese-Mexican fusion is no gimmick. The soy sauce-laced rice and meat lends itself incredibly well to a flaky tortilla crust. Side-by-side, the differences in ingredients may seem minor, but the end result is lighter (and a bit neater) than the traditional Mexican fillings, making this food truck a perfect refueling station at events or festivals. Behold: the new burrito. — Chris Bitonti
Bardot brasserie Jan. 16 James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina opens the doors of his latest restaurant, BARDOT Brasserie, at Aria Resort & Casino. Offering a modern take on the traditional French brasserie experience, BARDOT aims to present a broad range of Parisian cuisine from the rustic to the exotic, including dishes such as foie gras parfait on grilled country bread, croque madam, oven-roasted chicken and monkfish bourride. 702-590-7757 tbones wine-pairing dinner Jan. 22 Tbones Chophouse & Lounge in the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa hosts an evening of food and wine featuring the wines of Napa Valley’s Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Guests will enjoy a multi-course dinner, paired with a selection of Joseph Phelps estate-grown wines, including its popular titles Insignia and Eisrèbe. Their Insignia vintages from 1991, 1997 and 2002 earned a perfect score of 100 from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and the 2002 Insignia was named Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator in 2005. 6p, $105, 702-797-7517 hank’s wine-pairing DINNER jan. 29 Hank’s Fine Steaks & Martinis hosts an evening of food and wine featuring the renowned wines of Cakebread Cellars. Menu items include seared day boat scallops with baby bok choy, lobster consommé with chorizo and lobster ravioli, bison ribeye in a dried cherry zinfandel reduction and more — all paired with award-winning estate wines from Cakebread Cellars such as their sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. 6p, $100, 702-617-6800
J anuary 2 0 1 5
at FIRST Bite
Wolf in hipster’s clothing
Pub grub remix: Clockwise from upper left, Whist’s Spanish bass and double cut pork chop; Due & Proper’s Irish nachos and skirt steak
At Due & Proper and Whist Stove & Spirits, the video poker tavern is revamped for a younger crowd B y D e bb i e L e e
often half-joke that for an authentic Las Vegas meal, your best bet is to grab a bite at a 24-hour video poker tavern. It’s our city’s equivalent of a New York City coffee shop or a Portland food cart parking lot — the kind of destination where the eats aren’t necessarily stellar, but the overall experience is heavy on sense of place. Seriously, where else in the world can you pick at a plate of bruschetta while waiting to hit a royal flush? At Due & Proper and Whist Stove & Spirits, a neighboring pub and restaurant in The District at Green Valley Ranch, the team behind Downtown’s Park on Fremont and Commonwealth aim to upgrade the conventional tavern concept with its signature style. However, after recent meals at both spots, it’s hard to say which of the two is better. First is the issue of the food: Both establishments share a chef, a kitchen and even
a few menu items. Dinner at Whist is a touch more formal (entrées include Spanish bass and double-cut pork chop), but both daytime menus offer steak and fries and a signature burger at the same price. The decor is similar too, and not unlike the look and feel of their sister properties. Expect a maximalist mishmash of neo-Victorian furniture, industrial fixtures and artwork that would make a steampunk Etsy enthusiast swoon. Points for the unique aesthetic (at least relative to the ’burbs); demerits WHIST
But oh, those wings! Even though they’re served with celery, carrots and blue cheese dressing, they’re closer to a plate of crunchy fried chicken than slimyskinned Buffalo wings. Guests can graze on other bar snacks such as warm pretzel sticks, sliders and chili cheese fries, or fill up on a proper plate of skirt steak. I can only imagine that it’s as good as the version at Whist, which is napped with a red wine demi-glace and topped with a single roasted cipollini onion. An off-the-menu 2235 Village Walk for recycling it between four special of seared ahi with Drive, Henderson, different places. rainbow cauliflower and 702-307-2694 Even the servers are the same. mushrooms was also a hit. Imagine my embarrassment HOURS Aggressively spiced with when, only 10 minutes after leav- Open 24 hours togarashi (a Japanese spice ing lunch at Whist, the waitress blend) on the outside, it lent who served my table walked into Due & Proper substance to what I other2235 Village Walk Due & Proper to deliver a plate of wise consider a bland piece Drive, Henderson, whiskey wings. of fish. 702-307-2714 HOURS Open 24 hours
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However, there were also instances when the kitchen missed the mark. A kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts salad was really just an uninspired bowl of overdressed, pre-washed spinach. And the Daffy Duck sub, a kind of highbrow ode to Capriotti’s popular Bobbie sandwich, was a letdown. The generous heap of shredded duck confit, herb stuffing, and cranberry compote should have sung, but the meat was dry and the bread tasted stale. The highlight of both meals was the drinks. At Due & Proper, The Dead Rabbit (Teeling Irish whiskey, Ancho Reyes Chile liqueur, carrot juice, cinnamon), garnished with a rabbit’s foot and a baby carrot, is a dramatic drink with fresh flavors — nothing you would ever expect to sip while smacking a “deal/draw” button. And The Pick Pocket at Whist, which involves a repeat performance of the ancho chile liqueur (only this time mixed with ginger beer), is pleasantly light. The only discernible difference between Due & Proper and Whist is that the former feels a bit more party-friendly. While Whist’s most attractive feature is an outdoor wall of succulent plants, the pub’s focal point is a “Wheel of Fortune” style game with prizes that includes pitchers of beer and shots of something called Dirty Bong Water. In other words, the food is not necessarily the draw. Both are essentially your standard Vegas pit stops for football and gaming, wrapped in prettier packaging. Still can’t decide which door to pick? In the spirit of our beloved city, you may as well flip a coin.
An unapologetically subjective guide to the structures and spaces that define our city â€” and make it beautiful both inside and out phototgraphy by
las Vegas Library The immediate thing to love about the Las Vegas Library is not its pedigree — it was designed by starchitect Antoine Predock — or even its stylized wink at the desert, which so few of Vegas’ major buildings acknowledge. (Indeed, most deny it.) Instead, let me direct your attention to the toybox playfulness of its shapes: cylinder, block, cone, plane. It’s just fun to look at. (For a building.) Viewing tip: Don’t think of the shape-jumble as the expression of some complex architectural theory, though it surely is — Predock’s a very smart man, after all. Rather, imagine them as oversized toy shapes, which renders the whole thing rather funny: a building made of building blocks. And remember that it was originally built to house a children’s museum and — building blocks of knowledge! — a library. I can't resist a building that so joyously enacts its guiding spirit. Now, sure, you might wonder if its flagrant distinctiveness is a bit glib, too show-offy for the neighborhood. Please. A drab cityscape serves no one. So celebrate the cheery impudence of the Las Vegas Library. Then note the way its sandstone responds to the desert; and that it was designed by a preeminent talent of Southwest modernism. — Scott Dickensheets
MOrelli House The home of former Las Vegas Sands bandleader Antonio Morelli miraculously escaped the wrecking-ball — a rarity among local landmarks — surviving today as a brilliant example of midcentury architecture, characterized by post-World War II Atomic-era optimism, newness and creativity. The low-slung, 3,300-square-foot residence was built in the exclusive golf course subdivision, Desert Inn Estates, where Betty Grable, Wilbur Clark and Robert Mayheu were neighbors. Although the neighborhood was razed in 2002 for the Wynn Las Vegas, the Junior League rescued Morelli’s little-known cultural gem, moving and restoring the building’s bold horizontal lines, deep shaded overhangs, natural materials and organic interiors with Vladimir Kagan furniture. The home reflects a sunny outdoors lifestyle with an airy and transparent design made popular by modernist Southern California architects R.M. Schindler, E. Stewart Williams and Paul R. Williams. The asymmetrical wood-and-glass building has a long, gently sloped roof covered with crushed white rock to reflect sunlight; it also cantilevers to create shaded eaves. A patterned concrete-block screen creates textural variety that catches sunlight throughout the day, casting playful shadows across the building’s surfaces. The central space, meanwhile, is a soaring pavilion with exposed redwood beams and clerestory windows that frame the home, rising above two flanking wings for the kitchen and bedrooms, which are divided by low partitions for an exaggerated sense of scale. The living room has a pleated copper fireplace set against a white stone wall that serves as a sculptural focal point, communal hearth and gathering place. A butt-joined floor-to-ceiling glass wall faces north, toward the backyard, allowing daylight to stream inside, blurring the distinction between indoors and out. The 1959 home, designed by architect Hugh E. Taylor with active input from Morelli, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. It now stands at Bridger Avenue and Ninth Street and is open for tours by appointment. — Tony Illia
The Fremont Street Experience The Fremont Street Experience is an oxymoron: a public pedestrian mall warped by the covetous warrants of the private sphere — enclosure, entrancement and entrapment. Canopy-covered, feature-clogged, the Fremont Street Experience is open urban space that’s been fermented. And yet its grinning sketch and funk keeps us honest about ourselves. The Fremont Street Experience is like that juvie record you can’t get expunged, that regrettable tattoo you’ve thought about getting removed but haven’t. What stays your hand? An unconscious reckoning that maybe it’s not such a good idea to always lie about yourself. And, you admit, you’ve grown fond of it on the most superficial terms: So the Fremont Street Experience doesn’t work quite like the instruction manual says. The light show blazes, but, hey, it said nothing about scruzzly panhandlers and bad Michael Jackson impersonators and dead-eyed, skeletal bevertainer girls robotically swaying their skirts to a guy in a wig singing Whitesnake hits. But those gritty free radicals
give a kitschy lie to the formal intent suggested by plannerese like “pedestrian plaza.” Embrace the Experience. Raise your plastic football filled with margarita and shout a foul prayer to America on the big, big screen. — Andrew Kiraly
Stratosphere I often think of Lurch, from the Addams Family, when I look at the Stratosphere Tower: freakishly tall, ungainly, not notably articulate. Lumbering. Heavy. “Generally,” creator Charles Addams once said, “the family regards him as something of a joke.” That’s the Stratosphere, all right. Resembling nothing so much as Bob Stupak’s middle finger to his detractors, it lacks the surreal grace of the Space Needle, or the embodied aspiration of Tokyo’s SkyTree, or the flaming wizard-eye of Mordor’s tower. But here’s a thought experiment: As you drive around the next week, take note of how often you can see it. From a distance, it lords over the skyline. Closer, in midtown or Downtown, it peeps between foreground buildings, its gaze following you, orienting you in the valley. That makes it the very essence of architectural placemaking in Las Vegas. No joke. — Scott Dickensheets
The High Roller The fact that the High Roller looks like it should have been there all this time suggests we’ve needed its presence for longer than we’ve realized. Not the ride, but the form: in a scan of our skyline, it’s a baubled bracelet that can readily shimmer with the rest of the Strip, but one whose roundness and elegance suggest a welcome feminine principle at work among the masculine monoliths of Las Vegas Boulevard. Consider that contrast: Hulking and glitteringly opaque, most of our casinos reward a lingering gaze with the suspicion that (oh dear) they might just be (sigh) flimsily themed cash-traps after all. The O shape of the High Roller is earnest, honest and hopeful. And, like a new pushpin on a faded map, the High Roller acts as an additional clarifier of the Strip, taking its place among the Stratosphere and Luxor as statement-making structures that tell the Vegas story: one is about one of our crazy stepdads, one is about that embarrassing cosplay phase of our adolescence, and one is about growing up cautiously — but confidently and gracefully. — Andrew Kiraly
Guardian Angel Cathedral Cathedrals are often designed to raise your eyes and spirits toward the heavens, and historically, the most celebrated have been breathtaking, ornate buildings with vaulted chambers that elevate religious worship. And yet each time I drive to the Guardian Angel Cathedral on the Las Vegas Strip, I have to be very careful not to miss it — it’s a small A-frame building tucked into a fold between the Encore and a mini-mall, between a towering LED sign advertising “Surrender” — a nightclub, not a message to the spiritual seeker, and a billboard for “Illusions” — a magic show, not a prompt for metaphysical rumination. And this is why I love the Guardian Angel so much. In its humble space, which it has occupied since architect Paul Revere Williams designed it in 1963, it has consistently thrown Vegas’ most ostentatious buildings and hedonistic themes into delicious juxtaposition with, of all things, quiet contemplation of God. By itself, the cathedral is a charming modernistic take on the traditional basilica. It’s front façade shows a blue, red, yellow and white mystical-realist mural by Antonio Morelli of an angel and the words, “Prayer,” “Peace,” and “Penance” in tiger orange. That scene is set atop a simple, midcentury yellow-and-white diamond pattern on the lower walls, and the front doors lack ornamentation. The cross tower is also modest, and beneath it stand simple, elegant sculptures of Mary and Joseph with Jesus as a boy.
One knows instantaneously, of course, that these are not Caesars Palace statues that may begin to talk on the half hour; they are the holy family. And although I am not Catholic, I adore that jarring mental twist: a quick shift to sincerity from the widespread folly of the Strip. This is the beauty of the Guardian Angel that I treasure, and why, once in great while, I go to the 12:10 p.m. daily mass. It’s open to the public and has drawn nearly a hundred people each time I’ve been there: casino workers, tourists, homeless people, Catholics and non-Catholics, old and young, English-speaking and non-English speaking. The priest’s deep, chanting prayers and devotions echo through the nave, bouncing off of huge mystical-realist stainedglass windows over spartan wood pews, and a calm that is otherwise foreign on the Strip takes over. After communion, people file out, most genuflecting before the massive, wooden sculpture of Christ on the crucifix that hangs by two Cirquelike wires from the ceiling near the altar. Before returning to the Strip from this most unlikely moment of cloistered meditation, some visitors pause to light a votive prayer candle — but not with a flame. Here, appropriately, the votives are electric and the push of a button lights a single bulb, among rows of many, many lights. It’s delightful. — Stacy J. Willis
D Gates at McCarran Airport The word “slick” has a bad rep: “Smooth and superficially impressive but insincere or shallow” is how my dictionary puts it. But it also defines slick as “done or operating in an impressively smooth, efficient, and apparently effortless way.” So when I laud Concourse D at McCarran International Airport as slick architecture, it’s not damning with faint praise. I’m saying, this is one smooth, impressive, efficient, effortless piece of architecture. Designed by Tate Snyder Kimsey in 1998, the 45-gate building remains the best contemporary structure in the city — and it’s clearly superior to the airport’s new Terminal 3, a somewhat leaden, perfunctory building completed in 2012. The D Gates are a dream of sleek, sophisticated air travel. With an exterior of glass and elegant blue and grey metal panels, the D Gates are the future, the real future, not some silly Googie-Jetsons future, but a future that is recognizable and plausible and actually real. The D Gates are streamlined and stylish enough to not feel
too starchy (like the buttoned-down corporate high-rise architecture of, say, Aria), and yet the underlying symmetry and proportion give the building purpose. There is both weight here and a sense of lightness, ease, charm. But what really makes it work, beyond the sterling material palette? It’s the large and magnificent full-height entry space, with its map of Nevada on the floor and huge escalators taking you up to the heavens; it’s the warm and abundant sunlight dancing through the building; it’s the crisp signage; and it’s the stunning art: neon and murals of the desert and tile mosaics of the world’s great cities, adorably crafted by area schoolkids. Air travel is a phenomenal human achievement. The buildings where we leave the earth and return to it should be grand and inspiring, soaring; they can also be cool, sexy, and make us feel like cosmopolitan adventurers. The D Gates manage both. I always feel exalted, optimistic, happy, when I find out my flight is departing from here. The whole place is a giant breath of fresh air, still. — T.R. Witcher
Desert Sol at Springs Preserve
La Concha Oh, glorious conch shell of architectural delight! Oh, undulating parabolic swoops of gravity-defying concrete! At first glance anomalous to Paul R. Williams’ illustrious catalog, the La Concha Motel Lobby hints at the architect’s elegant and curvaceous commercial interiors. It is also a most perfect interpretation of the midcentury zeitgeist. In a career spanning 50 years and roughly 3,000 buildings, the pioneering African-American architect made several contributions to the valley’s landscape: the Guardian Angel Cathedral, Beverly Green Estates and housing for the Basic Magnesium Plant. But none compare to the La Concha’s exuberant (if modestly scaled) whimsy. Built in 1961 next to the Riviera in the heart of the Strip, the La Concha was restored in 2012 as the Neon Museum’s Visitor Center. (I’m the executive director.) Basking in the reflected glow of a rainbow-hued desert sunset, she’ll leave you giddy with her hushed pink Googie wink. — Danielle Kelly
Desert Sol is a cozy hole for stylish Mojave rats, with their environmental awareness all wrapped up in a modern design sensibility. The UNLV team behind the house won second place in the 2013 Solar Decathlon international design competition in part because its leaders understood the importance of a well-defined end user. They created the 750-square-foot space specifically as a second home for moderately affluent folks who want to be able to step out their front door for a hike in the morning, come home and lounge with a book in the afternoon, and throw a fabulous party in the evening— all while minimizing energy and water use. But there’s no soul without poetry, and the “Soul of the Mojave,” as designers dubbed Desert Sol, wouldn’t move the most committed sun-lovers the way it does without turning engineering feats into gracious nods to nature. The rainwater-capture system masquerades as a decorative fountain flowing outside the kitchen window, which opens like a laundry chute to let in cool air and the soft babble of water. Rooftop sunshades designed to deflect or contain heat, as needed, are made in the image of shadows cast by mesquite trees. And the inside-outside conversation opened by tall windows, spacious decks and distressed wood exteriors infuses the fantasy of camping into the security of home. — Heidi Kyser
Veer Towers It’s been five years since CityCenter lowered its ponderous, gleaming drawbridge to the masses. Its opening was a bookend, marking the sunset of the big, blingy megaresort era before our new, humbler age of the boutique (The Cosmopolitan) and the upcycled (SLS). But it also marked a new height of ambition — and pretense. CityCenter was the first casino project in recent memory to make such a posturing, prissy fuss over its art, design and architecture. And when we tugged off the bow and tore away the wrapping paper, we got ... oh, just what I wanted! (fake, flimsy smile): a strip mall island of name-brand buildings — Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Kohn Pederson Fox — that take themselves a bit too seriously. Grooming higher impulses is noble, but in December 2009, for Christmas we got a frigid, Ballardian chapel to design. Veer Towers saves CityCenter from itself. Designed by Helmut Jahn, the twin towers leaning gently opposite at five degrees bring warmth and conversational energy to what might otherwise be a static architectural food court. Their sway reflects the pedestrian currents and stories of the Strip — the buildings suggest chummy drunks, gawking tourists, buzzed conventioneers hooking up. Their crawling bitmaps of irregular yellow panels add color, movement and dramatic reflections — another dose of life and humanity to deflect the slick brochure vibes coming from the mirrored tuxedo of the Aria, the aggressively demure Mandarin Oriental. If you’ve only seen Veer Towers from afar, you’re only getting half the story. Walking around the towers for some up-close rubbernecking reveals angles, vantages and unusual kinetics that hint at drama pulsing beneath the whimsy. It’s appropriate that Veer Towers isn't a hotel but rather a residence — people live in these very human monuments to caprice. Indeed, architect Jahn has said the mutual lean has a practical motive as well: To optimize the views for residents, those towers have to get out of each other’s way. — Andrew Kiraly JANUARY 2015
S p l e n d o r
t h e G l a s s
Southern Nevada Public Television
Enjoy the taste of more than 60 wineries and breweries courtesy of
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Bold dreams, deep thoughts
In a city that peddles fantasy, it’s no surprise that Las Vegas has plenty of people who think deep and dream big. We highlight some of our valley’s most intriguing visionaries — and toss out a few fanciful what-ifs of our own.
Whether they’re fighting global disease, remaking the cityscape or growing gardens in schools, these five Las Vegans are putting deep thoughts into high gear AARON MAYES illustrationS Brent Holmes photography
He’s helping win the fight against HIV with an unlikely weapon: data
ive-year-old Martin Schiller wanted to finally beat his dad at backgammon. So, while dad was at work, the young Schiller thought about it. A lot. He analyzed the game. He tested out styles of play on his younger brother. He studied, honed and perfected a new strategy. “I figured out if you hit someone in the backboard aggressively and got a couple rolls to cover, they may never get back in the game again,” he says. That’s backgammon-speak for a nuke-warfare, no-prisoners style of play that involves constantly knocking out your opponent’s pieces and blockading them from re-entering the board. When dad got home from work, the game was on. With his new strategy, young Martin won three games before his very frustrated father threw up his hands. “I couldn’t believe that me, a little kid, could create such a reaction in an adult — especially when it arose from pure intellect. That really stuck with me. I really got into solving puzzles, and right now, I’m working on the world’s biggest puzzle.” That puzzle is HIV. It’s a fierce, wily shapeshifter. When it attacks white blood cells and duplicates itself, the virus mutates — which means it quickly
What if... We legalized recreational marijuana? by Heidi kyser
Getting a better grip on which HIV strains are resistant to which drugs can save money — and lives.
becomes resistant to treatment. Little wonder there are more than two dozen drugs to treat for HIV. Genetic sequencing can ID particular strains of HIV, but there’s a problem. “There are 40 million infected people in the world, and only a few hundred thousand get sequenced,” says Schiller, a UNLV Life Sciences professor and executive director of the newly formed Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine. “We need a secondary tool that’s based on population-based prediction so at least we have a better chance of choosing the correct medications.” Schiller and his team at UNLV developed their own global drug resistance database that uses computer modeling to get a better grasp on which HIV strains are resistant to which HIV drugs — to save money and lives around the world. It’s called Geogenomic Mutational Atlas of Pathogens, or GoMap.
It’s not the first or only HIV drug resistance database out there, but Schiller contends it’s the most accurate — thanks to a much stronger foundation of data. Released in May, it’s free to use worldwide for doctors and other public health officials to use to make sure people are getting the most effective drugs for whatever strain of HIV they’re suffering from. That’s just one of Schiller’s strategies in the long game of fighting HIV. He and his team have also developed HIV Toolbox, an interactive web tool that details the sequence, structure and function of HIV proteins to help better identify potential drug targets. Think of it as an incredibly detailed castle map that scientists and drug makers can study to better lay siege to the deadly virus. “Solving this puzzle can save lives,” says Schiller. Game on. — Andrew Kiraly
Pluses Las Vegas would become “Amsterdam on steroids,” says Nevada Senator Tick Segerblom, who’s long advocated for the cause. People from all around the country would come here to smoke a joint, go to the world’s best restaurants, shows and nightclubs, and then go home and tell their friends about it, fuelling a huge economic revival for the region — just one slice of what experts expect to be a multibillion-dollar industry. “The reality is, we’re seen as Sin City, and that’s how we advertise ourselves,” Segerblom says. “This adds to that cachet.” Minuses Just as other states have jumped on the gambling bandwagon, they will inevitably join the weed rush. Within 10 years, Segerblom predicts, the blush will be off the Mary Jane rose, diminishing Nevada’s standout status. Considering self-reinvention is our gift, there will have to be another, next frontier. Plausibility level (scale of 1-10)
5 in the 2015 legislature; 9 if it goes on the ballot in 2016, for which proponents have gathered the necessary signatures JANUARY 2015
Southern Nevada had a desalination deal with Mexico or Southern California? by Heidi kyser
Pluses Since the logistics of desalinating water and pumping it from a coastline up to Southern Nevada make it cost-ineffective, desalination, for us, is really all about the ability to bank water. Current river law, including recent amendments, allows for various kinds of swaps — water that’s desalinated and used on the California coast for supplies left in Lake Mead, for instance. That, according to water authority boss John Entsminger, is a scenario that could bolster Las Vegas’ reserves. Minuses The technology isn’t quite where it needs to be in order to make a good business case for desalination. “The operation and maintenance costs of the Poseidon desalt facility that’s under construction in Carlsbad, California, are estimated to be $1,500 per acre foot,” Entsminger says. “We charge our member agencies $300 per acre foot. So, you’re talking five times the cost to operate. It wouldn’t be 100 percent of your portfolio, but you’re still talking big dollars.” Plausibility level (scale of 1-10)
Proportionate to the number of years out (5 in 5 years; 10 in 10)
David Sanchez Burr
In a city given to slick, surface beauty, he’s putting the ideas back into art
n the late ’90s, David Sanchez Burr played guitar and bass in Hell Mach Four, a Virginia math-rock band. Good one, too, sounds like: “Sometimes we’d play to seven people on the road,” he says, “and two of them were bartenders.” Couple of pertinents here: (1) math rock is frequently a genre of ideas, which (2) rigorously self-selects a certain kind (and size) of audience. “But we felt there were some ideas in our music that were important,” he says. Fast forward to a Starbucks on Rancho, late November, where Burr, now one of the valley’s most important visual artists, is again talking about art, ideas and audiences. “Visual artist” is a bit reductive in his case — his work is a deliberately hard-to-categorize, high-concept mind-meld of performance,
sound, video and engineering. Work such as “New Citadel” (in which visitors to The Cosmopolitan’s P3 Gallery built a city of miniature architecture, which was continually reshuffled by sound waves as a commentary on the capricious nature of urban and social change) has put him in a vanguard of local artists doing that kind of genre-crossing work. That’s why he thinks the time might be right for another big idea to really take hold: the return of ideas to art, particularly here. He’s not saying there aren’t ideas in Vegas art now. Indeed, there’s been an occasionally lively conversation among art types about just what a Vegas style of art might entail. Generalizations about such things are risky, but it’s fair to say that for some time, the notion of Vegas art, like the aesthetic of the city itself, has largely dwelled on the adulation of the enigmatic surface. Spectacles of visual pleasure. But, Burr says, the city also serves as a “fish tank” that lets artists “view some really extreme examples of social structures” — fodder for a meaning-rich art that responds to social conditions and doesn’t kowtow to the monied imperatives of the art market. That’s important to Burr. “We relay a lot of important things in life and in social situations through our artwork,” he says, “and the more bad things that happen — and a lot of bad shit’s happening, constantly — the more it’s gonna get activated. That activation is a promising thing.” In Burr’s mind, it’s to an artist’s advantage that Vegas is an art-world outlier; the distracting capitalist apparatus of the art market isn’t in your face every day the way it is in New York or L.A. “You have nothing to lose; you’re in Las Vegas!” He laughs, aware he’s being glib — but his point is that Vegas offers a longer runway of possibility for artists who shun branding and repetitive “signature” product in favor of something more exploratory. “I advocate better and larger ideas that correspond to the culture and society of our century,” he writes in an email — work that has a hope for a better society at its core. “Even if you’re way ahead of the curve, it’s okay,” he adds. Small audiences are fine. “People will catch up. For me it’s not acceptable to fall behind because you feel you have to dumb it down for someone.” — Scott Dickensheets
Burr says Las Vegas serves as a sort of fish tank of extreme social structures — fine fodder for art.
“It could be a green invention, a green book, it doesn’t matter. Our idea is to empower people to make the positive change in their community.”
Green Our Planet
She’s growing green initiatives with a message that gets right to the heart
our years ago, native Dubliner Ciara Byrne was hanging out with her life partner Kim MacQuarrie and paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey in Northern Kenya, waiting for the seasonal migration of wildebeest from the Serengeti. As the three discussed their passion for conservation, Leakey wondered aloud whether there might be a way to use documentary films, such as those Byrne and MacQuarrie make, to help online crowdfunding efforts for worthwhile causes. As the pair of filmmakers continued their African travels, they kept returning to the idea. Fast forward to 2013 Las Vegas, where Byrne and MacQuarrie launched Green Our Planet. Just as Leakey had imagined, the crowdfunding platform raises money for conservation projects online, with Byrne and MacQuarrie’s short films providing the emotional heart of the ask. But most people don’t think of Byrne as a filmmaker or fundraiser. Instead, she’s known as the school garden lady — and for good reason: Green Our Planet has funded more than 60 educational gardens in CCSD schools in less than 18 months, placing it among the fastest-growing such programs in the U.S. The school garden project started as a mere beta test for the crowdfunding website. But after they got overwhelming interest from schools, she and MacQuarrie began to suspect they’d stumbled onto something huge. The first two schools raised enough money for their gardens in no time. But, Byrne says, when they took on their first Title 1 school, it was a different story. “And then we started to look into the percentage of Title 1 schools in Clark County, and we couldn’t believe how high it was (nearly two-thirds),” she says. “We thought, ‘Oh my god, this is never going to work.’ But we’d met the kids and gone to the schools, and it just felt like a crime that they wouldn’t have a garden.” They began soliciting sponsorships and applying for grants. Most Green Our Planet school gardens now have a banner sponsor, such as Wynn or NV Energy, providing the bulk of funding for Title 1 schools. The organization won a 2014 American Honda Foundation grant after co-applying with Three Square. The $500,000 award went into developing STEM curricula for kindergarten through fifth-grade classes to use in their gardens, which teach everything from cooking and nutrition to entrepreneurial skills. School garden clubs run farmers markets, sell produce to local grocery stores and restaurants, and one even put a salad bar in its cafeteria. Now Byrne and MacQuarrie are setting their sights on greener pastures. In 2015, they plan a national launch. Green Our Planet has already raised $12,000 to help a homeless shelter in Carson City build solar panels and $3,500 to plant trees in the Andes in Peru. “It could work for any project,” Byrne says. “It could be a green invention, a green book, it doesn’t matter. Our idea is to empower people to make the positive change in their community.” — Heidi Kyser
Las Vegas were made the capital of Nevada? by Rob Lang UNLV director, Brookings Mountain West
Pluses: More state attention and resources directed to Southern Nevada. It would become easier and cheaper to administer state government because it’s now close to most state residents. The global nature and perspective of greater Las Vegas would be reflected in a more modern and sophisticated state government. Minuses: Remarkable political controversy in moving the state government from its historic roots in the north. There would also be a modest one-time cost to the state in modifying state buildings in the south to accommodate a state Legislature, executive and judiciary offices. There would be some disruption to state workers’ lives and careers in the transition of much of the state government to the south. Plausibility level (scale of 1-10) 3. The best chance for Las Vegas to become the state capital would be a transition to an annual Legislature — odd-year sessions in Carson City, even-year sessions in Las Vegas. Carson City could serve as the official capital and retain some state offices and a share of legislative work. Las Vegas would become the functional capital and gain more state offices. JANUARY 2015
Many business owners can’t imagine life after business. Steve Beatty helps them do just that — and he helps them act on it.
Financial Solutions for Business
What do you do with it when you can’t take it with you? This man has the exit strategy
teve Beatty’s stepdad grew a dietary supplement business out of his garage into a 275-employee, 300,000-square-foot operation. In 2000, the elder Beatty started getting eight-figure offers for his business. But despite working 12-hour days at the age of 70, he didn’t return suitors’ calls. Why? “He looked me square in the eye and answered, ‘What else would I do?’” Steve Beatty says. “It’s not that he didn’t love us or want to spend time with us, but he loved his business like himself.” Such is the case for many a Baby Boomer business owner, Beatty says. The entrepreneurial spirit that drives them defines them. They can’t imagine life after business.
This is more than a philosophical problem; it’s an economic one, too. According to a 2013 study, more than 70 percent business owners between the ages of 50 and 68 have no written plan to transition out of ownership, despite most of their net worth being tied up in the enterprise. And they own 63 percent of all privately held businesses in the U.S. “Recently, I was talking with a friend about a Fortune 1,000 company that distributes through a network of 800 national companies,” Beatty says. “Most of these are small companies run by guys 65 and older.
we converted the Las Vegas Strip into a pedestrian mall? by T.r. Witcher
Pluses A fully pedestrianized Strip would fulfill the ambition of recent Strip urban design to create a truly walkable, human-oriented destination. It would create a sublime balance between intimate spaces and spectacle. It would free up land for a robust public transportation solution on the Strip (perhaps the maligned monorail, but even BRT in dedicated lanes would do). It would, quite simply, give us the greatest urban street in the world. MinuseS Well, sure, if you want to go there, displaced traffic would bring I-15 to a standstill. The back roads locals depend on — Industrial/Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Koval — would also become parking lots. And yes, you’d lose the pleasure of driving down the Strip on a dusky night, windows open or top down, when … oh, wait, you can’t cruise down the Strip most evenings, can you? Too many cars already.
If they don’t transition well, the entire distribution system could be messed up.” Enter the Certified Exit Planning Adviser, or CEPA. One of only five such professionals in Nevada, Beatty describes the position as being like the quarterback of an exit team. He steers the client’s accountants, attorneys, bankers and financial planners toward the common goal of transitioning the business, and its owner, into its next phase. The client is relieved of the burden of consulting individually with experts, while the experts subordinate their separate strengths to the common good —
typically selling the business for its maximum worth. The ideal story ends as Jim Beatty’s did. At the age of 78, faced with making a necessary but unpleasant shift in his business, he decided to sell rather than stay at the helm. “He didn’t get as much as he could have in the boom years, but he still did very well,” Steve Beatty says. “He’s been able to travel the world, spend more time with his grandkids and stay involved with the business from afar. He’s living a very youthful 84-year-old life.” — Heidi Kyser
A compromise As architect Nir Burras once proposed, you could simply remove the traffic lights from the Strip, install giant roundabouts at the intersections and convert the median into a long, linear pedestrian promenade. You’d keep the cars (and add the public transit) but still create a delightful place for the rest of us. Plausibility level (scale of 1-10)
Um, 0. (Blame the traffic engineers and timid casino moguls.) JANUARY 2015
we established a red-light district in Las Vegas? by Scott Dickensheets
Pluses Two big ones, says George Flint, longtime lobbyist for the legal brothel industry: money and crime. Extrapolated from the activities in Pahrump’s brothels, he estimates that 1,000 legal hookers in Vegas, averaging four dates a day, could generate half a billion dollars (“that’s billion, with a B”) in taxes every 15 months. (Critics have disputed that figure.) And, he argues, it would wrestle the sex trade from pimps and criminals, making it safer for prostitutes and clients. A third benefit: medical. After all, who screens unregulated sex workers for HIV? Lastly, legalizing what’s already taking place would amount to an act of civic honesty. Minuses “I can’t think of one,” Flint says. Though he does allow that our convention business might suffer as image-conscious businesses and government agencies avoid the perceived stigma. And it would peeve Sen. Harry Reid, who’s called Nevada pols “cowards” for not banning prostitution altogether. He told the 2011 Legislature that it inhibits business growth, scaring off legitimate companies. Plausibility level (scale of 1-10)
1. “Behind closed doors, lawmakers will say it’s a good idea,” he says. “But publicly, no one wants their fingerprints on it.”
architect, urban planner
He’s got an enlightening vision for Downtown — literally
“If First Street looked like that, I’d come walk there all the time.”
all it a vision doodle. Scratching a black marker across that crinkly paper architects love, Eric Strain, who’s an architect, rethinks Casino Center Drive from the ground up. Sketch, crinkle — “Casino Center becomes a greenbelt” — sketch, crinkle — “here’s the elementary school” — sketch, crinkle — “residential above,” the rushed, imprecise lines overlapping until they take on a layered quality symbolic of the laminate, multi-use density Strain’s big idea would impart to areas of Downtown. That’s the doodle. And the vision? Stand back, kids — this thing needs room: Strain proposes to refashion several blocks of Downtown as a cultural tourism art walk and services-intensive education district. It may not adopt the shape of a whimsical animal, but, in its way, Strain’s idea is as forward-leaning as anything Tony Hsieh is bankrolling. The most immediate phase: First Street. The city’s already sprucing it up, but Strain favors a more unifying concept: light. His idea, codified in a proposal he submitted to the recent Strong Cities, Strong Communities contest, borrows from Dallas’ sporadic Aurora festival, for which artists create works employing light — projections, sculptures, dancers wearing glow sticks. Perfect for this place, too. “We thought it’d be a cool-ass idea to take First Street, and not do it as a one-weekend kind of thing, but do it permanently.” In Strain’s renderings, First Street gets a makeover, with built-in light towers and center-street parking (to open up the sidewalk culture). The result: a strollable experience designed to draw tourists and locals alike; businesses would presumably follow. “If First Street looked like that, I’d come walk there all the time.” Of course, he faces a mosh pit of obstacles. But last month his proposal emerged from the Strong Cities contest with $10,000 in funding and an April deadline to iron out the feasibilities. “During those four months I’m going to knock on every door we need to,” he says. Mind you, that’s just the beginning. Wait until you read this: Subsequent phases extend the rebuilding up Casino Center to Wyoming. This is where the idea blows up. Bullet points: Replace the asphalt with parkland. Convince the library district to build there, as well as UNLV (facilities devoted to urban planning, hospitality and the arts) and the school district (K-12 magnet schools) — above which he’d stack residential units. More centrifugal ideas include a boutique hotel staffed by hospitality students and a feedback loop of community museums and galleries for the art kids. That’s the whole thing, “from the Golden Nugget to Wyoming Street,” Strain says, capping his pen. We’ll get to the probabilities in a minute. First, imagine this on Strain’s terms. It’s a boundary-stretching vision of the neighborhood as a unit of urban problem-solving— an interlocking system of complementary services wrapped around a core of learning. “You can’t solve Las Vegas’ problems if you don’t deal with education,” he says. You’re snorting. Because this falls several notches beyond “you’ve gotta be kidding” on any scale of Vegas plausibility. Strain is acutely aware of this. “It is pie in the sky,” he says. “It’s hoping people will work together” — a tall order. But he sees reasons for optimism. Some of those facilities, already planned, will go up somewhere. Why not conscript them into a larger concept? UNLV’s new president arrives from Arizona; surely he knows how Phoenix has been helped by Arizona State’s downtown campus — perhaps he’ll get behind this. Incremental momentum can build. But, yeah, it’d require a symphonic cooperation between turf-jealous bureaucracies, ordinance changes and, of course, unlikely amounts of funding. It may never become more real than it is in Strain’s doodle. But he’s not dissuaded. “If we don’t do something now,” he says, “in 20 years we’ll be talking about these same problems.” — Scott Dickensheets
It sounded like a good idea at the time Bad concepts, non-starters, ahead-of-their-time fiascos — Las Vegas has had its share
By Michael Green
Annexation and Consolidation In 1941, when California hotelman Thomas Hull built the El Rancho Vegas at the southwest corner of San Francisco Street and Highway 91 (now better known as Sahara and the Strip), he specifically sought to be outside the city limits to avoid higher taxes and fees, and to obtain cheaper land. By April 1946, with the Last Frontier also a success and the Flamingo under construction, Las Vegas Mayor Ernie Cragin and his city commissioners sought to annex the Strip. The city needed the revenue and, Cragin argued, Fremont Street actually attracted visitors who then turned to the new
s t u pa k p h ot o c o u r t e s y l a s v e g a s r e v i e w - j o u r n a l a r c h i v e ; p h ot o i l lu s t r at i o n b y b r e n t h o l m e s
n the fall of 1989, amid widespread coverage of the impending opening of Steve Wynn’s $640 million Mirage, students in Columbia University’s graduate program in history approached a colleague of theirs and asked, as a Las Vegan, what he thought of it. His reply: “Nobody is going to pay $125 to see Siegfried and Roy.” Happily for Las Vegas, that supposed expert was wrong. From the volcano in front to the white tiger habitat and tropical rain forest motif, Wynn’s 3,000-plus-room resort proved to be an enormous success. Locals and tourists poured in and spent money, and the megaresort era was underway. But at the time, The Mirage didn’t seem like a great idea. Wall Street was certainly unimpressed: Wynn had to turn for financing to an old friend, junk-bond king Michael Milken. No major Strip hotel had opened since the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s) in 1973, and the next major resort-building project involved rebuilding it after the 1980 fire. Las Vegas had only recently exorcised mob control and had an increasingly seedy reputation — or, as Alan King put it in describing 1970s Las Vegas, “polyester.” While it turned out Wynn was right about The Mirage, even geniuses fail. The road to a great idea, or even from it, may be paved with a lot of bad ideas, or ideas that weren’t quite ready — or, as a 19th-century Nevada businessman said of one of his railroads, “We built this line either 300 miles too long or 300 years too soon.” Here are ideas about and for Las Vegas, and the people who had them, whose time had not come — and possibly never will.
resorts. Since they “derived their revenue as part of Las Vegas,” he saw “no reason why they should not help pay the costs of maintaining our municipal government.” The resort owners fought him off, partly out of fear that downtown operators would have more power with city government and use it to limit their growth on the highway to the south. When Cragin tried again in 1950, casino owners and residents organized a petition drive and persuaded county commissioners — who saw that the city’s annexation of the Strip would reduce their power over the area — to create an unincorporated township, which, under Nevada law, a city could annex only if the people living in the township approved it. Thus was born Paradise Township and, a year later, the county created Winchester. But if Cragin’s efforts had succeeded, his successors would have had a lot more money for municipal services and been the real powers in the valley, rather than the county commissioners. Nor was the county’s unwillingness to give up power and revenue unique. When Oran Gragson was Las Vegas mayor from 1959 to 1975, he and other leaders explored the possibility of consolidating city and county services. The Metropolitan Police Department and the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District are outgrowths of those efforts, but like a Las Vegas that includes the Strip, consolidation seems to be a might-have-been that never will be.
Developers Before Tony Hsieh there was Masao Nangaku, who planned to revitalize downtown with a 35-story office and retail development on Las Vegas Boulevard South, across from the Foley Federal Building. He and his investors broke ground for the Minami Tower in 1991 — years before the so-called “Manhattanization” of Downtown became a trend — and, for several years, the ground remained broken. It was widely derided as the Minami Hole. Finally, Nangaku gave the land to the city, and it became the site of the Lloyd George Federal Building. Over the years, efforts to revive or improve Downtown have inspired a lot of would-be saviors. In the early 1930s, international investor Leigh Hunt planned a major hotel-casino downtown; he was neither the first nor the last to make that proposal. Hunt’s project never opened, but some of the land he owned in Las Vegas be-
came the Huntridge neighborhood. To the northwest, one would-be developer wanted to build an aircraft factory in Las Vegas. Howard Hughes had obtained about 25,000 acres of land from the federal government in a land swap in the early 1950s, and at one point hoped to move his research facilities here from Southern California. But his executives and engineers apparently preferred the beach to the desert, so the land sat unused until his heirs turned it into a master-planned community, Summerlin. Had Hughes’s original plan gone through, Las Vegas might have gained a research and industrial base and gone in some very different directions.
Bob Stupak Perhaps not Stupak himself, but certainly his ideas. He owned Vegas World but replaced it with the Stratosphere, and many saw his proposed 1,149-foot-high space needle as insane. He finished it, but not without trouble: It caught fire during construction; financial troubles forced him to bring in a partner; the company filed for bankruptcy and Stupak wound up losing ownership to Carl Icahn. Its Big Shot ride and rotating restaurant on the 108th floor became popular, but there have been other, less favorable, proposals. One of Stupak’s ideas was a King Kong ride up the side. Since the ape had climbed the Empire State Building, why not the Stratosphere? It would be 70 feet, with its arms, legs and head moving as it climbed; it would even drop a few feet at one point for the entertainment of the people inside. The idea died, as did a proposed roller coaster alongside the tower, battled to a halt by neighborhood opposition. After losing control of the Stratosphere, Stupak proposed a new project nearby, to be called the Titanic: a 400-foot-high resort modeled on the sunken luxury liner. It would have created permanent shade for the John S. Park neighborhood and the surrounding area, and the Las Vegas City Council voted it down after a great deal of lobbying and teeth-gnashing.
The Grandissimo Jay Sarno and his partners built Caesars Palace and Circus Circus. By late 1976, Sarno was the landlord for Circus Circus and wanted back in the game. He proposed a new hotel west of the Strip, on Industrial Road. It would be called the Grandissimo.
What if... North Las Vegas merged with Las Vegas? by Andrew Kiraly
Pluses A freshly engorged Las Vegasopolis would make life simpler, says Christopher Stream, director of UNLV’s School of Environmental and Public Affairs. “Consolidation could also create an economic development advantage, making for quicker reaction to prospective business and industry investment — fewer parties at the table, less red tape. Another plus: decreasing the number of elected officials could make it easier for citizens to understand and access their elected officials.” John Restrepo of RCG Economics also points out that landlocked but economnically strong Las Vegas could help land-rich but economically weak North Las Vegas put those vacant parcels to work in a peanut butter-and-chocolate kind of arrangement. MinuseS It’s not as efficient as you might think. “Studies have shown little evidence of cost savings when municipalities merge,” says Stream. “A ‘change of scenery’ often doesn’t produce greater efficiency.” Restrepo agrees. “In some cases, shared services save money, in other cases, it costs more.” Plausibility level (scale of 1-10)
2. “These cities aren’t run by technocrats,” Restrepo says. In other words, even if merging made sense on paper, egos and power come into play. “There are politics involved, winners and losers. Because of that, it’s unlikely to happen.” JANUARY 2015
What if... We broke up the school district? by Scott Dickensheets
Pluses With less bureaucracy between schools and district leaders, says Kim Metcalf, dean of UNLV’s College of Education, smaller districts could be more responsive to school-specific issues. A split would also mitigate some headaches of coordinating activities across hundreds of facilities. People who testified in favor of a district break-up in the 2007 Legislature said it would give parents more influence over schools — which may or may not be a plus. MinuseS Metcalf worries that deconsolidation could exacerbate disparities between affluent and less affluent neighborhoods — a large district has a better chance to maintain at least some resource equity. Lost would be the district’s ability to leverage its size when it comes to hiring, grant-seeking and purchasing. Staffing up multiple districts might wipe out savings from cutting central bureaucracy. And the upfront costs of a split would likely be enormous. Plausibility level (scale of 1-10)
2. Metcalf wouldn’t venture a guess, but the odds seem long. Previous Legislatures flirted with the idea but it ultimately went nowhere.
And it would be grand: more than 3,000 rooms in the first phase, with a second phase nearly doubling its size; walkways linking its several buildings; waterfalls; a 2,500-seat theater, along with a smaller showroom; three pools, including one on the roof; and a roller coaster that would run through the casino. Some of these ideas may sound familiar now, but if the name doesn’t, there’s a reason. Sarno often was ahead of his time — especially this time. Four years later, a stock analyst said, “The last thing anyone needs right now is a 6,000-room hotel-casino in Las Vegas.” Sarno had trouble raising money for it. The timing was wrong, he had a reputation for dubious dealings and gambling away his money, and, as biographer David Schwartz said, “He always put more effort than thought into the things he cared most about.” The Grandissimo was never built, but other properties adopted Sarno’s ideas about themed resorts and other subjects: Caesars and Circus Circus became centerpieces of gaming empires, and he told a younger operator named Wynn, “Steve, ya gotta do something with water.”
Venice Before Adelson Obviously, Wynn did do something with water, but he had another idea about water, and it didn’t rise to the level of The Mirage volcano, the Bellagio’s fountains, the Treasure Island’s pirate show or the Wynn’s waterfall. Rather, he proposed to put Downtown underwater. The concept was Las Venice. His $25 million plan, offered in 1991 when he still owned the Golden Nugget, would have turned three major Downtown streets into a series of 22-foot-wide canals, complete with gondolas. He wanted to use recycled wastewater, which made it environmentally more acceptable, although how it would have worked remains a bit of a mystery, and line the canals with palm trees and gazebos. It ranks for many as Wynn’s one great misfired vision. At the time, with baby boomers taking family vacations and “family values” becoming a political issue,
Las Vegas was just moving into promoting itself as a family destination, and this might have been Downtown’s opportunity to compete for Strip customers. Instead, the designer Wynn hired, Jon Jerde, went on to work on the Fremont Street Experience. Later, the idea of bringing Venice to Las Vegas seemed to work out for Sheldon Adelson. So, maybe Wynn’s idea wasn’t so crazy. After all, the Columbia history student who saw no future for The Mirage wrote this article. Look where he is, and look where Wynn is.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda ...
Other dearly departed in the graveyard of big ideas Midtown UNLV, 2004-2013. This public-private plan to turn the University District into a mixed-use urbster smartville lost momentum after the 2008 recession. In 2013, UNLV balked when nervous private developers asked to the college to take on a more risky investment role. Status: cold storage. Ring around the valley, 1997. In the go-go-growth ’90s, state Sen. Dina Titus introduced a “ring around the valley” bill to limit growth to 120,000 acres in the Las Vegas Valley. Enviros and Joe Taxpayer: Yay! Developers and local governments: Boo! Guess who won? Status: dead and forgotten, even after the growth-abetted foreclosure crisis. Las Vegas Zoo, 2003. A Las Vegas couple proposed a 100-acre zoo at then Floyd Lamb State Park, and bankrolled a feasibility study. Result: lions and tigers and bears ... oh, no. The city passed. Status: dead. Consolation prize: Centennial Hills is getting a national monument instead! — Andrew Kiraly
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your Arts+Entertainment calendar for january
16 Bug Art Square Theater Cockroach Theatre knows that nothing says Welcome to 2015, Baby New Year! like a production of Tracy Letts’ claustrophobically intense drama about secrets, paranoia, abuse, blood, death and shared madness. Baby New Year’s gonna need a new diaper! Through Feb. 1, $16-$20, cockroachtheatre.com
Moscow Nights & The Golden Gates
Is the Mob Still in Las Vegas?
Ira Glass: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
Clark County Library It’s Moscow, babushka! In addition to Russian music and colorful costumes, this evening promises rootin’-Putin “feats of gymnastic leaping and syncopation of foot-stomping ferocity.” 7p, free, lvccld.org
Clark County Library
It’s widely believed the mob was driven from Vegas by a combination of the Corporate Gaming Acts of 1967’69, and Howard Hughes’ robot ninjas. But is organized crime gone-gone or, you know, “gone”? Come watch Winchester Cultural smart people talk about it. Center 7p, free, lvccld.org In the hands of artist D.K. Sole, cast-off scraps of modern life — an earbud, a twist of plastic — are upcycled into ethereal, whimiscal artwork that rescues our junk from our neglect. “The artist sees the individual scrap items as having their own temperaments and personalities,” we’re told. Or, as Baby New Year always says, “We are our waste.” Through March 13, reception 5:30p, Jan. 23, 702-455-7340
The Smith Center The star of This American Life recasts some of his radio interviews as dance-accompanied stage pieces — an unlikely but affecting mix of storytelling and interpretive movement that’ll have Baby New Year checking another item off his bucket list. 7:30p, $29-$99, thesmithcenter. com
THE GUIDE ART
A BRIEF HISTORY
Through Jan. 9 Artist Gig Depio seeks to visually document emotion in his art. His new series focuses on personal and collective struggles through the recession and the path to rebuilding. This exhibit will include several large-scale impasto paintings featuring a cast of hundreds all collaborating to tell this explosive, yet brief story. Free. Clark County Government Center Winchester Gallery, clarkcountynv.gov
Through Jan. 15, Mon-Thu 7a-5:30p Artist Sam Davis uses his little robots to illustrate the most human aspects of us all. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Grand Gallery, 702-229-1012
SKULL SHOW BIENNIAL
Through Jan. 21 More than 40 artists explore the subject of perceptions of the skull in its many cultural, scientific, pop and even erotic manifestations. Free. UNLV’s Donna Beam Fine Arts Gallery, unlv.edu
SURREALIST EXPRESSIONIST IN FINE ART
Through Jan. 24, Wed-Fri 9:30a-6:30p; Sat 9:30a-5p The daughter of artist Yabo, Vanessa loved to draw as a child in San Fernando, Calif. She covered her bedroom walls with mushrooms, butterflies and lots of polka dots and heart shapes. Now, she shares her surrealist expressions with the world through her art. Free. West Las Vegas Arts Center Community Gallery, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-229-4800
Through Jan. 31 The entire gallery becomes a giant chocolate factory of sorts, with pieces themed around the beloved children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Free. Blackbird Studios, blackbirdstudios.com
Through Jan. 31 Artist Pasha Rafat’s first solo exhibit echoes the work of a group of 20th century artists whose interest lie in real and physical phenomena rather than illusory material. Free. Brett Wesley Gallery in Art Square, brettwesleygallery.com
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE ART EXHIBIT
Through Feb. 5, Mon-Thu 7a-5:30p This exhibit includes several city, county and state employees who also practice fine art. There will be a variety of media in the exhibit. The curator is Marty Walsh, owner of Trifecta Gallery in the Arts Factory. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Chamber Gallery, 495 S. Main St., second floor, 702-229-1012
THE MID-CENTURY LAS VEGAS STAGE
Through Feb. 14, Wed-Fri 12:309p; Sat 9a-6p The exhibit will include photographs from the News Bureau archives showing lounge acts from the mid-20th century in Las Vegas entertainment history as well as photographs of signs and marquees highlighting the same entertainers. The Nevada State Museum will be loaning a costume from the period. Free. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., 702-229-6383
IN HONOR OF CHINESE NEW YEAR: YEAR OF THE GOAT
Through Feb. 21, by appointment The upcoming New Year symbol can also be shown as the sheep and is the eighth sign of the Chinese zodiac. The number eight in Chinese is an auspicious one, symbolizing peace and prosperity. Multiple artists contribute to this annual celebration. Free. Mayor’s Gallery, Historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St., 702-229-1012
Through May 25, 8a-10p Showcasing 238 rare Fabergé artifacts as part of the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia. Unique to this exhibition is a small collection of “Fauxbergé” objects – look-alikes once believed to be originals. $17, $14 for Nevada residents, $12 students/seniors/military, children 12 and under free. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, bellagio.com/attractions/ gallery-of-fine-art.aspx
Center Boulevard. Free. Arts District; hub at Casino Center Blvd. between Colorado St. and California St., firstfridaylasvegas.com
Jan. 19-Mar. 6. Artist reception Jan. 12, 6-8p Italian artist Giorgio Guidi’s new sculpture is a design similar to Roman basilicas, the first public buildings located near the main square of a town with no religious affiliation. The structure’s interior will be decorated with graffiti provided by volunteers from local schools and other institutions. The goal of the sculpture is to make the viewer rethink accepted assumptions and open a discussion about the future of the community by forcing communication between young and old. Free. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery, clarkcountynv.gov
ROCK STARS: STONE SCULPTURE
Jan. 22-May 5, Mon-Thu 7a-5p This exhibit includes various genres of stone sculpture created by artists who have studied stone-carving techniques at Gainsburg Studio, taught by owner and artist Sharon Gainsburg. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Grand Gallery, 495 S. Main St., first floor, 702-229-1012
TANGO BUENOS AIRES DANCE TROUPE: SONG OF EVA PERÓN
Jan. 15, 8p This presentation weaves the layered tale of Argentina’s beloved former first lady into the passionate steps of her country’s traditional dance. $25-$75. UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall, pac.unlv.edu
CELEBRATION OF ASIAN ARTS AND CULTURE
Jan. 17, 2p Experience the thunder of Taiko drumming, the Chinese tradition of the lion dance and exhilarating beauty of the dances of Thailand. $15 at the door. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., 702-229-6383
Jan. 2, 6p What will 2015 have in store for the Las Vegas art world? There will still be exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, vendor booths and special activities for the kids — and now, First Friday Poets, who will read their work on Colorado Avenue between Third Street and Casino
BACK ROOM JAZZ! WITH THE JOHN ABRAHAM-STEVEN LEE PROJECT Jan. 6, 7:30p Joining the Project will be Rochon West-
moreland, Eric Plante and Otto Ehling. Part of the American Jazz Initiative. $15 at the door. The Scullery, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., frglv.com/property/the-scullery
AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH DIANE SCHUUR
Jan. 8-9, 7p Long regarded as one of contemporary jazz’s leading vocalists, Diane Schuur is as eclectic as she is brilliant. With a distinguished career that includes two Grammy awards, Schuur’s music has explored almost every corner of the 20th century musical landscape. $35-$59. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
LAS VEGAS WIND QUINTET CONCERT
Jan. 10, 2p Enjoy an afternoon program of folk, light classical and woodwind favorites. Free. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., 702-229-6383
Jan. 10, 2p Gonzalez is known for his revolutionary harp playing. He builds harps and adapted his native Paraguayan harp to play jazz. He will be joined by special guest harpist Cristina Cabrera, originally from Veracruz and now considered one of the finest harpists in Mexico. $10 in advance, $12 on concert day. Winchester Cultural Center at the Clark County Government Center, clarkcountynv.gov
MASTERWORKS III: RISING STAR
Jan. 10, 7:30p Each season the Las Vegas Philharmonic showcases the talents of an internationally rising star. Acclaimed for her passionate performances, and compelling command of her instrument, violinist Bella Hristova will perform Max Bruch’s romantic First Violin Concerto. $26-$94. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
NEVADA CHAMBER SYMPHONY – A NEW YEAR WELCOME
Jan. 11, 3p Maestro Fernandez will perform well-loved classical and popular pieces to celebrate the coming of the New Year. Winners of the FINAL 4+1 Music Achievement Awards will also perform as guest soloists. Free. Clark County Library, lvccld.org
THE GUIDE BACK ROOM JAZZ! WITH THE RONNIE FABRÉ TRIO Jan. 13, 7:30p Part of the American Jazz Initiative. $15 at the door. The Scullery, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., frglv.com/property/the-scullery
BILL PINKNEY’S ORIGINAL DRIFTERS
Jan. 14, 7p The legacy group carries on the proud Drifters tradition, performing all of the classic R&B hits that made them a mainstay on the charts since the early days of rock and roll. A nostalgic night of fun and great music. $22. Starbright Theatre, suncity-summerlin.com/starbrighttheatre.htm
SOUL MEN STARRING SPECTRUM
Jan. 17, 7p This group boasts four incredible singers who combine their voices and dexterity to create the angelic harmonies and deft choreography that has become their trademark. $37-$40, Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
BACK ROOM JAZZ! WITH THE YOUNG LIONS UNLV Jan. 20, 7:30p Part of the American Jazz Initiative. $15 at the door. The Scullery, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., frglv.com/property/the-scullery
THE COMPOSERS SHOWCASE OF LAS VEGAS Jan. 21, 10:30p Jersey Boys conductor Keith Thompson hosts this monthly musical showcase that features original music from some of Las Vegas’ best composers and songwriters, performed by some of the best performers and musicians from the Vegas Entertainment and Theatrical communities. $20$25, Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
TONY DESARE’S NIGHT LIFE
Jan. 23-24, 7p Acclaimed vocalist/pianist/composer DeSare presents Night Life, a postmodern version of the classic, elegant New York nightclub show of the 1950s brought to life at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. $39$49, Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
BACK ROOM JAZZ! WITH THE HOT CLUB OF JAZZ Jan. 28, 7:30p Featuring Mundo Juillert. Part of the Amer-
ican Jazz Initiative. $15 at the door. The Scullery, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., frglv.com/ property/the-scullery
DAVID PERRICO POP EVOLUTION
Jan. 28, 10p The twenty-piece band transforms popular songs from all genres to produce a one-ofa-kind sound experience. $15-$30, Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
AN EVENING WITH BURT BACHARACH
Jan. 30, 7:30p One of the world’s most acclaimed, award-winning composer/songwriters, Bacharach helped define the music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Now the threetime Academy Award winner and eighttime Grammy winner will perform some of his greatest hits with his band of three singers and seven musicians. $29-$125. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
BENJAMIN D. HALE – A NIGHT OF COSMIC AMERICAN MUSIC
Jan. 31, 5p and 8p Hale, currently starring as Johnny Cash in Million Dollar Quartet, draws from the best of country, blues, gospel and folk and blends them into his own spicy musical gumbo. Backed by a stellar band and featuring special guest vocalists, this is an event not to be missed. $29-$45, Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
RABBIT AND HIS CRAZY CAST OF CHARACTERS
Jan. 31, 7p A talented and versatile saxophone player and comic performer, Martin Mancuso has played in many jazz festivals and won many awards for his tribute shows. He is often billed as “The Man with the Singing Saxophone.” Mancuso, a.k.a. “Rabbit,” teams up with Carmine Mandia to present a celebration of music, comedy and dance from the ‘40s to the present in a tribute to Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and Sam Butera. $13, Starbright Theatre, suncity-summerlin. com/starbrighttheatre.htm
A TRIBUTE TO ANDRÉS SEGOVIA
Jan. 31, 8p Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Scott Tennant and UNLV professor and award-winning guitarist Ricardo Cobo join together in a powerful tribute to virtuoso Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia. Two
masters perform the music of the father of modern classical guitar, who has influenced generations of classical guitarists. $40. UNLV Performing Arts Center, pac.unlv.edu
Every Mon, 8p The Las Vegas comedy show featuring both short- and long-form improv from some of the valley’s most experienced improv actors. Wine and concessions available. Come at 6p for drop-in class with Paul Mattingly. $10 show, $15 for both drop-in and show. Baobab Stage Theatre, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. S., baobabstage.com
THE BUCKET SHOW
Every Wed, 10p Paul Mattingly (Second City) and Matt Donnelly (former writer for Penn & Teller) offer up improv at its finest. You call the shots from Same Scene, Different Genre to Sing it, B*tch. Free — donations go in the buckets at the end of the show. Scullery Theater, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., mattandmattingly.com
RE-ANIMATOR, THE MUSICAL
Jan. 6-15, Tue-Sun 8p; Sat-Sun 2:30p The bizarre story of Herbert West, a young medical student who has discovered a glowing green serum that can bring the dead back to life … with catastrophic results! Based on the cult classic by H.P. Lovecraft, this award-winning horror comedy features a Splash Zone for those who enjoy a little splatter! $44. Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center
RUMORS BY NEIL SIMON
Jan. 9-25, Thu-Sat 8p; Sun 2p. Special matinee Jan. 17, 2p At a large, tastefully appointed townhouse, the Deputy Mayor of New York has just shot himself. Gathering for a wedding anniversary, the host lies bleeding in the other room and his wife is nowhere in sight. His lawyer and wife must get their story straight before the other guests arrive. Four couples are in for a severe attack of farce! $21-$24, Las Vegas Little Theatre, lvlt.org
NI PRINCESSA NI ESCLAVA
Jan. 16-17, 7p Stacy Mendoza directs Humberto Robles’ play, filled with fun and laughter and presenting the perspective of a woman with an ideology. Three women: a housewife, a
night butterfly and an intellectual, reflect on their successes and life events. Robles takes the women from the role of “victim” and shows women as they are. The play is entirely in Spanish. $10 in advance, $12 on performance day. Winchester Cultural Center at the Clark County Government Center, clarkcountynv.gov
THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED
Jan. 16-Feb. 1, Thu-Sat 8p; Sun 2p Mitchell is a Hollywood star on the rise, and Diane, his full-time agent and parttime beard, is doing all she can to keep his “slightly recurring case of homosexuality” from derailing his fame. But when he falls in love with a NYC rent boy, things become ... complicated. The play takes an acerbic and sharply funny jab at the entertainment industry and human nature in a tabloid-obsessed society. Adults only. $10-$15, Fischer Black Box at Las Vegas Little Theatre, lvlt.org
FROM BROADWAY TO HOLLYWOOD
Jan. 18, 3p Once again, Bill Fayne and Mistinguett have joined forces to bring you this fast-paced show, featuring great moments from the best of Broadway musicals that eventually made it to the silver screen, including Chicago, South Pacific, Les Misérables and many others. The show stars five triple-threat entertainers and is produced, directed and choreographed by Mistinguett. $18, The Starbright Theatre, suncity-summerlin. com/starbrighttheatre.htm
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
Jan. 20-25, Tue-Sun 7:30p; Sat-Sun 2p Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son. Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his 11 brothers and the coat of many colors, this magical musical is full of unforgettable songs including “Those Canaan Days,” “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.” $28-$119, Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
Jan. 23, 8p Several improv teams from all over the country will go head-to-head competing for the audience’s vote! $5. Clark County
LAS VEGAS IMPROVISATIONAL PLAYERS
Jan. 24, 7p Join in on-the-spot creations in the first show of the year. LVIP is clean-burning, interactive fun for the whole family. One of the only shows in Las Vegas with live musical improv! $10 at the door, kids free. American Heritage Academy, 6126 S. Sandhill Road, lvimprov.com
I KNOW I CAME IN HERE FOR SOMETHING
Jan. 31, 2p Known as the “middle-age comedy revue,” the show is a finger-snapping, toe-tapping journey through life’s experiences. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Gateway Arts Foundation. $10 in advance, $12 on concert day. Winchester Cultural Center at the Clark County Government Center, iknowicameinhereforsomething.com
LECTURES, SPEAKERS AND PANELS
POETRY AT FIRST FRIDAY
Jan. 2, 5-11p The Vegas Valley’s best poets from the most honored and newest Vegas Valley venues will take the stage and set streets ablaze with the excitement and relevance of the word, in collaboration with First Friday. LVFFP is produced by performance poet Lee Mallory, with poet-host Lana Hanson. Free. Colorado Ave., between Third Street and Casino Center Blvd.
STRAIGHT AHEAD JAZZ WITH FREDDY JACKSON
Jan. 3, 2p Enjoy classic video concerts featuring all-star legends of jazz, such as Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louie Armstrong and Lionel Hampton. Join host Freddie Jackson, “The Doctor” of 91.5 KUNV, while he travels through musical moments in jazz history with commentary, coffee and tea. Free. West Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd., artslasvegas.org
THE MOB ON TRIAL: THE KEFAUVER HEARINGS AND THEIR IMPACT ON ORGANIZED CRIME
In 1950, Senator Estes Kefauver led a U.S. Senate committee to investigate organized crime. The televised hearings were held in Las Vegas and 14 other cities, and included testimonies from more than 600 witnesses. David G. Schwartz, director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, will examine the importance of the hearings and the impact on organized crime, law enforcement and state gaming regulations. Free. Clark County Library, lvccld.org
SPECTACULAR — A HISTORY OF LAS VEGAS NEON
Jan. 8, 7p Hear about the origins of 21st-century neon in Las Vegas and the role of the Neon Museum in rescuing and preserving some of these “spectacular” signs (a term used to describe the largest, most elaborate works.) Free. Clark County Library, lvccld.org
THE FIX IS IN: SPORTS AND THE MOB
Jan. 13, 7p Experts in the fields of sports betting, sports journalism, athletics and regulatory control will discuss how the mob has been able to penetrate the sports world. Free. Clark County Library, lvccld.org
THE POWER OF STORY: KARLA HUNTSMAN AND ROCHELLE HOOKS
Jan. 16, 12p Bring your lunch as Huntsman and Hooks take you on an hour-long journey to explore many varied types and styles of story: story with music, story with dance, the traditional folktale and personal tales, to shake up your thinking and open your heart. Free. Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse Jury Room, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. N.
THE GREAT DEBATE: IS THE MOB STILL IN LAS VEGAS?
Jan. 20, 7p A panel of guest speakers comprised of journalists, politicians, historians and law enforcement will discuss those very questions as they probe for answers in a roundtable debate. Free. Clark County Library, lvccld.org
Jan. 6, 7p
END NOTE SATIRE
John Bonaventura, mall cop
News item: After numerous controversies and allegations involving Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura, in 2013 the Clark County Commission voted to abolish the Las Vegas Constable’s office, effective January 2015. B y A n d r e w K i r a ly & S c o t t d i c k e n s h e e t s Location: Meadows Mall Security officer: John Bonaventura Log date: Jan. 13, 2015
08:50 Pre-shift gear check: 1 canister StingR pepper spray; 1 Enforcer GX-7 security baton; 1 bag Jack’s Tequila Lime Sizzle beef jerky; 1 roll Tums; 1 copy Sudoku Madness, Numberz Ninja Edition; 1 copy Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook
Receive supervisor reprimand after discovery of my cell-cam footage for proposed reality show, Naked on a Segway.
11:25 Victoria’s Secret still clear of suspicious activity. Initial patrol complete.
Lunch spent at food court developing new custom recipe, the CinnaBarro, an unraveled Cinnabon coiled around a slice of Sbarro meat-lover’s pizza.
Second donut of the day is pretty good too.
The first donut of the day is the best donut.
Initial patrol. Victoria’s Secret clear of suspicious activity.
Respond to call to B parking lot to intercept skateboarding teens. Yelled, “Later, skaters!” Ha ha! It’s the small victories.
Frederick’s of Hollywood clear of suspicious activity.
Once again, find myself strangely moved by the mall’s uniquely evocative scent of stale popcorn, new shoes, lemon floor wax, perfume, thwarted teen desire. Old, fugitive hopes haunt and jeer. Past the eerily quiet Radio Shack, I slip down the service hall and into the custodial storeroom. Hold 12-pack of toilet paper to my face. Scream.
Check in with Carl at the As Seen on TV store. Growing suspicious. This is the third time my sales clerk application was “lost.” Hooks me up with employee discount on a Ped Egg, though.
Subjected to random blood test. Have a 0.69 Miss Fields level, just below the legal limit. Bite on that, mall managers!
Shift over, heading home. Just me, the Segway, my cell-cam and the warm, warm breeze.
10:04 Pass by a mirror in Macy's; experience wrenching existential pang upon being reminded I’m wearing Shape Ups.
10:15 Third sample from Mrs. Field’s Cookies counter confirms no presence of suspicious substances or tampering. However, will remain vigilant.
16:00 Every time I walk by Zales, I wonder, what is a Zale, anyway?
I l lu st r at i o n b r e n t h o l m e s
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