Desert Companion - July 2019

Page 1

FOUR LESSONS ON

HOW TO EAT A CITY BY KIM FOSTER

STAND BACK, WE’RE BREAKING

THE ABSURDITY OF ‘FREEDOM’

SOMEONE CALL THE FOOD POLICE!

BY CHUCK TWARDY

THE RULES OF PIZZA!

Pie! DO

U.S. $4.99

JULY 2019

WE

NEED

TO

S AY

MORE?

IN BUNDY WORLD


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VOLUME 17 ISSUE 7 D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

July 11 ESSAY

Two new books examine Bundyism By Chuck Twardy

13 POLITICS

Thoughts on candidates, issues, and the municipal election By Michael Green

14 VISUAL COMMENTARY

16 URBAN LIFE

Shouting out to the new East Las Vegas Library By Andrew Kiraly

18 PROFILE

Baking up a slice of the American Dream By Sonja Swanson

28 BLOOM TOWN

23

July isn’t too late to see Nevada’s spectacular wildflowers. You just have to know where to look

DINING

Pizza don’t follow no rules!

26 HOT DIGGITY DOGS

Plain vs. fancy — it’s a good, old-fashioned hot-dog throwdown! By Andrew Kiraly & Scott Dickensheets

In our new column, a writer begins a six-part look at LV housing By T.R. Witcher

CRUSTWORTHY

It’s a piestravaganza! Seventeen great Vegas pie spots, plus pie-makers, thoughts on other pie-like foods, and much more

DEPARTMENTS

52

HOW TO EAT A CITY

36 PROFILE

The scrum of Nevada politics behind her, former GOP honcho Marilyn Gubler now ranches like a boss By John M. Glionna

You do it one kitchen at a time, with cooks who bring their rich traditions to the table By Kim Foster

( EXTRAS )

6 | DESERT

FOUR LESSONS ON

HOW TO EAT A CITY BY KIM FOSTER

69

Here we are now, entertain us — exhibits, concerts, shows, events, and miscellaneous whatever-Trevor to fill your calendar .

J U LY 2 0 1 9

STAND BACK, WE’RE BREAKING

THE ABSURDITY OF ‘FREEDOM’

SOMEONE CALL THE FOOD POLICE!

BY CHUCK TWARDY

THE RULES OF PIZZA!

Pie!

THE GUIDE

DO

U.S. $4.99

C O M PA N I O N

Events worth leaving your air-conditioning to experience

WRITER IN RESIDENCE

42

EDITOR’S NOTE

HOT SEAT

34

FEATURES

08

30

JULY 2019

WE

NEED

TO

S AY

MORE?

IN BUNDY WORLD

( COVER ) RASPBERRY PIE AT LOU’S DINER PHOTOGRAPHY

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Florence M. Rogers Perez EDITOR  Andrew Kiraly ART DIRECTOR  Christopher Smith DEPUTY EDITOR  Scott Dickensheets SENIOR DESIGNER  Scott Lien STAFF WRITER  Heidi Kyser GRAPHIC DESIGNER  Brent Holmes PUBLISHER

ADVERTISING MANAGER  Favian

Editor’s Note

A C C O U N T E X E C U T I V E S

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f not stopped, I will pretty much eat pie continuously in a trance-like state of primal urges being fulfilled. It’s not just because pie is so great. I think it’s also because it can plausibly be considered a health food (you know, with the fruit). Or at least a more responsible dessert than cakes and cookies. And maybe also because, in many ways, pie seems like a calming domestic antidote to our culinary moment so fraught with anxieties about carbs, gluten, sugar, trans fats, GMOs, pesticides, food sources, and farming practices. I fully endorse eating with a conscience, but pie is a nice reminder that pleasure should always be part of the equation, too. So, to that end, we went out and consumed an irresponsible volume of pie and, on p. 42, we share the fruit-filled results of our labor: Seventeen of the best places to get a great slice of pie in the Las Vegas Valley, from greasy spoons to boutique bakeries. Can you get any more American than that? Actually, you can. In “How to Eat a City” (p. 52), Kim Foster explores global cuisine in four friends’ homes, cooking and eating dishes from Mexico to Mongolia to Lebanon. The recipes may originate elsewhere, but the cooks make a home here in Las Vegas, the ideal postmodern polyglot city for this story to take place. To my mind, what makes Kim’s story so relevant and resonant is embedded in the cooking scenes themselves. As these home chefs navigate between honoring tradition and cheerful improvisation and adaptation, what emerges from the oven is as American as any pie.

Andrew Kiraly

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Meet the valley’s Top Doctors and Top Dentists in our health and medicine issue.

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.vegas, 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 Tammy Willis for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

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A LL IN

8 PEOPLE, ISSUES, OBJECTS, EVENTS, IDEAS, AND CURIOSITIES YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS MONTH

All the Rage

J O H N L O C H E R /A P P H O T O

ONE | E S S AY

Two new books diagnose the anger-driven causes and effects of Bundyism, making it clear that there’s no “we” in “patriot” BY

Chuck Twardy

W

henever I hear the French word malheur, I recall my haphazard studies of that language, which somehow included The Stranger by Albert Camus. At the end of the novel’s first part, after the narrator Meursault unaccountably shoots a man on a beach, he observes: Et c’était comme quatre coups brefs que je frappais sur la porte du malheur. I’ve seen it translated variously, but it comes down to: And it was like four knocks on the door of misfortune. One colorful translation made it the door of my undoing, which is more to the point, as Meursault will pay for his crime. It’s worth keeping in mind that Meursault was a colonial Frenchman who pointlessly kills a nameless Algerian in his own land. And what, exactly, was the point of a ragtag band of “patriots” taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016? Not much, it turned out. One freedom lover walked right through

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among the last of the breed of that door of undoing to his break-even ranchers raising death. A few of the two dozen cattle in Nevada’s most popuor so well-armed occupiers lous and growing county. When received suspended sentences the Fish and Wildlife Service for participating in the seizure put the desert tortoise on its of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife endangered species list due to Service facility for more than a rampant development in the month, and others were given Las Vegas Valley, Clark County prison sentences, but Ammon agreed to set aside 400,000 Bundy and his brother Ryan acres elsewhere for tortoise were acquitted of all federal habitat and started buying out charges. And maybe that proved hardscrabble ranchers. But a harbinger of misfortunes not Cliven Bundy. He wasn’t since settled upon us. budging. As Anthony McCann notes Temple ties Cliven Bundy’s in Shadowlands, his hefty acbattles with Clark County and count of the Malheur seizure the feds to the burgeoning of and its aftermath, the area got the “patriot” movement of the its inauspicious name when 1990s, when paranoia about Hudson’s Bay Company explorSHADOWLANDS: One World government, gun er Peter Skene Ogden failed to FEAR AND FREEDOM control, and federal ownership find beaver, or anything much of AT THE OREGON STANDOFF of Western land sprouted survalue to his employers, during By Anthony McCann vivalist and militia groups. You’ll an expedition in the 1820s — (Bloomsbury, $30) recall that partly as payback Ogden scrawled the French UP IN ARMS: HOW for federal agents’ disastrous epithet on his map. The basin THE BUNDY FAMILY handling of the armed standoffs of alkaline lakes and freshwater HIJACKED PUBLIC LANDS, OUTFOXED at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, marshes is uninviting habitat THE FEDERAL Texas, Timothy McVeigh blew for humans, but perfect for a GOVERNMENT, AND IGNITED AMERICA’S up the Murrah Federal Building lush variety of high-desert plant PATRIOT MILITIA in Oklahoma City in 1995. life and migrating birds. The MOVEMENT So you have to sigh when you latter became targets of hunters By John Temple (BenBella Books, read this sentence in Up in Arms: seeking to satisfy the Eastern $24.95) “But the video of the feds tasing taste for plumed millinery in the cowboy detonated like a the later 1800s. Persuaded by truck packed with ammonium nitrate.” photographs of the wildlife and exercising Temple here refers to Ammon Bundy, Clivpowers granted by Congress, President en’s son, being tased by BLM rangers when Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the area a he and supporters tried to stop them from federal refuge in 1908. The Supreme Court removing what they thought were dead has more than once ruled the federal govBundy cattle from the range. But Temple ernment’s control over the land, including also alludes to a crucial advance for patriot rules for hunting and cattle grazing, is conforces from the days when all they had was stitutional. smoldering ire on talk radio — YouTube But decisions handed down by the Suand other channels of the web. Ammon, preme Court avail little against the conunlike his salty and indiscreet father, had stitutional interpretations of God, at least a feel for optics in the internet age, making as received by the likes of Ammon Bundy. his own video calls for action. Cliven lost If that name sounds familiar, it is because the news media when he started spouting the Malheur seizure was Act Two of a meloracist nonsense, but Ammon insisted, two drama that had unfolded roughly two years years later at Malheur, that news media earlier in Clark County, when Bundy’s father, be allowed to enter the headquarters and Cliven, successfully staved off an attempt interview the occupiers. by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to And many of the same characters attractround up and remove his cattle, which he ed by YouTube videos to Bunkerville in 2014 had been grazing illegally on federal land. showed up again when Ammon put out the Act One of the Bundy Burlesque is neatly call for help at Malheur — including Robert chronicled by John Temple in another new LaVoy Finicum, whom federal agents shot book, Up in Arms. dead as he reached for a gun. And like so Like son, so the father. Cliven Bundy many of the other Bundyites interviewed had been paying the proper fees to graze by McCann and Temple, Finicum comes his herd on BLM land near Bunkerville,

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across as a fount of aimless indignation. The part-time rancher, McCann notes, picked his own fight with the BLM “in spite of the fact that, as LaVoy himself said, he’d never actually had any problems with the agency.” Of another supporter McCann writes: “How he’d ended up hooked in with Ammon Bundy and the anti-federal land movement was something he could never quite explain.” As Evelyn Waugh observes in Sword of Honour, “Anger carries its own propulsive mechanism and soars far from the point of ignition.” Ammon Bundy himself had to find another target for his unguided wrath when the ranchers he’d gone to Oregon to support, Dwight and Steven Hammond, spurned his help. No problem, for when the Lord taketh away, He giveth again. The Bundys are Mormons, followers of a faith whose founder and subsequent leaders claim to have received direct revelations from God. When he could not sign on the Hammonds, who were out of fight and headed for federal prison on an arson conviction, the Lord told him what to do next — take over the Malheur refuge. And why? It’s in the Constitution, the Bundys and their followers insist. Prone to carrying pocket copies of the pseudo-sacred text, they nonetheless misread the Constitution as dangerously as they interpret the Will of God. They insist that the Enclave Clause of Article 1, Section 8, proscribes federal ownership of land. Both McCann and Temple point out that this is just plain wrong. But Ammon exhorted his internet faithful: “Come to Harney County and see the wonderful thing the Lord is about to accomplish.” In his lectures at the University of Edinburgh compiled as The Varieties of Religious Experience, philosopher and psychologist William James, while observing that usually the founders of religions and not the followers profess personal communion with God, also argues: “The pivot round which the religious life, as we have traced it, revolves, is the interest of the individual in his private personal destiny. Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.” This is among James’s harshest judgments, for even as a scientist he finds room for a vague, universal deity. He points to the key problem of religion in public life, the threat of imposing personal witness on public policy, which the First Amendment should stifle. James’s comment also highlights the lonely rage animating the so-called patriots. Although they revere


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

the Constitution’s first phrase, “We the people,” there’s little “we” involved in their ideals. They are members of a society that has to rally in private parking lots. Although both Temple and McCann try their best to understand these men (and a few women), they cannot help revealing a mind-set in which “freedom” means not the end of federal land control, or even of federal government, but the end of civil society. Rigorous individualism, set in the figurative, mediated landscape of soulless commercial endeavor — also celebrated

as “freedom” — is an empty, unloved life. And yet, what the patriots fail to appreciate when they cry “we the people” is what McCann calls the “ultimate systemic indifference to our individual lives.” The very system they would preserve eats them alive. McCann pauses long enough to consider the Paiutes who originally lived in the Malheur basin, long before any white man marked a map with a damning name. Nomadic but communal, they worked the land together, sharing what the harsh but beautiful basin could yield. What a thought. But freedom, you know? ✦

TWO | P O L I T I C S

The Puny Munis This year’s municipal elections proved that big changes are possible — when voters actually show up BY

Michael Green

I

f we learned anything from the recent municipal elections, it’s two things. One: When the Legislature passed and Governor Steve Sisolak signed a bill to move municipal elections to be held in conjunction with the federal, state, and county elections in even-numbered years, they did something wonderful. Two: When more participate, the results can be staggering. Las Vegans elected three new City Council members with a voter turnout of just over 10 percent. To show the diversity of that turnout, they chose the first Latina (Olivia Diaz) and first openly LGBTQ person (Brian Knudsen) — and a former state senator who earned a reputation in Carson City as one of the Legislature’s farthest-right members. In the closest race, in Ward 3, former Assemblywoman Diaz defeated Melissa Clary, a former city planner now with the federal Veteran Affairs Department. By a 1,359 to 1,285 (51.4 to 48.6 percent) margin, Diaz succeeds Bob Coffin, who retired after two terms. In Ward 1, former city employee Knudsen defeated Robin Munier, 2,191 to 1,943 (53 to 47 percent) to succeed the term-limited Lois Tarkanian, for whom Munier had worked. Or to put it another way, in wards where Democrats far outnumbered Republicans, they had well-qualified candidates and chose the ones who more closely fit the Democratic coalition. In Ward 2, where Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans but nonpartisans and Independent Americans tend to tilt it to the right, Republican Victoria Seaman won almost 40 percent of the vote (with former GOP assemblywoman Valerie Weber taking more than 16 percent) over the lone Democrat in the race, Hilarie Grey, a longtime communications professional in the public and private sectors who won more than 31 percent. They were all on the ballot in a special election to replace Steve Seroka, who resigned less than two years after defeating Bob Beers, mainly over Beers’ support for the controversial development of the Queensridge

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golf course. All of which unquestionably affects how the Las Vegas City Council and its city function, but the question is how. Diaz and Coffin may not differ too much, but Knudsen is likely to be to Tarkanian’s left. Seaman had strong Republican and developer support, as well as from the builders’ union, which has flexed its political muscles for and against candidates on the question of whether they are all-out for development (last year, the union almost defeated Tick Segerblom in the Clark County Commission primary because he had voted against the Raiders’ stadium project). Seaman is much closer ideologically to Beers than to Seroka, and is a close friend and ally of another right-wing legislator-turned-councilwoman, Michele Fiore. Developers figure to have a happier time with the two of them. By contrast, Grey’s Culinary support was helpful, but not so much in turning out voters, since more of the Culinary members live in the other two wards. North Las Vegas had only one race and, as tradition demands, made it more controversial than it might have been. Richard Cherchio won the general election after a primary in which his colleague, Mayor John Lee, opposed his reelection, then sat out the general. Cherchio won with just under a 10 percent turnout. Turnout in Boulder City topped 45 percent, and a sea change resulted. Mayor Rod Woodbury, a Republican seeking a second term and the son of former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, lost to City Councilman Kiernan McManus. Incumbent Council members Peggy Leavitt and Rich Shuman lost their reelection bids to James Howard Adams and Claudia Bridges. The campaigning featured the kind of nastiness that infects politics at most levels but can be especially noticeable in a small city, as Boulder City is. Woodbury’s opponents charged him with claiming credit for things he didn’t do, and Woodbury’s allies charged McManus with being a liberal Democrat who supports transgender rights and abortion on demand. Politically and historically, Boulder City has trended closer to Woodbury and his fellow council members than to McManus. All of which suggests

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3 V I S U A L C O M M E N TA R Y

Ramping Up Love it or hate it, Project Neon is done

O

ooh, look at all those swooping ramps and lanes, those concrete buttresses, those busy signs. It’s all so … industrially urban. So mightily infrastructural. So bustling, expansive, and complex. After three years of orange cones and blinking signage, Project Neon is just about complete. The Nevada Department of Transportation is fond of reminding us that it’s Nevada largest and most expensive public works project ever. But superlatives cut both ways: It could also, at times, be the most dashboard-punchingly maddening piece of transportation infrastructure-in-progress you’ve ever had to navigate. Will Project Neon work as intended, detangling the Spaghetti Bowl? Or will it just enable more congestion? Too early to tell. But inasmuch as big public works projects engage our collective imagination about what could be — or at least give us a common conversational bonfire to gather around with our complaints and outrages — Project Neon’s civic footprint seems aspirational in ways that go beyond mere form and function. It feels big city. And so we say ... congratulations? (Until we’re stuck again for 27 minutes on southbound US 95 near the Downtown exits.) Andrew Kiraly

PHOTOGRAPH B rent Holmes


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Boulder City residents looked at what the council members did, especially with local development and historic preservation, and concluded that those they elected could do it better, and resented the tone of the incumbents’ campaign. At least Boulder City voters showed up. In Las Vegas, the highest rate of turnout was in the Ward 2 scrum, where both sides ran more party-oriented campaigns — as the Boulder City candidates did. But in Las Vegas, barely one-tenth of the voting population made the decisions. In the wake of county turnout of nearly 60 percent in the 2018 general election and more than 75 percent in 2016, the move to even-numbered years undoubtedly will involve more city dwellers in choosing their elected officials — and they might just turn the world upside down. ✦

4

BY L o Wall

1. Chalupacabra

2. Tasmanian deviled eggs

3. Unicorn on the cob C O M PA N I O N

The new East Las Vegas Library is utterly unlibrarylike. But that’s exactly the point BY

WILD NEW MENU ITEMS FOR ADVENTUROUS DINERS!

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Complex Plot FIVE | U R B A N L I F E

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Andrew Kiraly

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he East Las Vegas Library is not really a library. Books are on the sidelines. Quiet is hard to find. Kids are playing video games on the computers. You can buy snacks, and can, wow, even eat them inside. Or, at least, it’s not a traditional library. In fact, it says everything about the new East Las Vegas Library that it asks us to come up with a better word than “library” to describe it, because this new librar—uh, complex is a bracing embodiment of a contemporary definition of literacy. I’m warming up to alternate words like “communitarium” or “informaplex.” Okay, those are terrible. But what I’m getting at is that this glass and steel box proposes to be more of an incubator of potential than a repository of accumulated knowledge. It’s leaning hard into the future. This isn’t anything new. Libraries have been making this shift for decades, struggling to stay relevant in a time when information and entertainment are just a swipe away on our smartphones. But in most cases, the library’s slow evolution has been a somewhat clumsy process of backfilling and retrofitting, colonizing book stacks for computer desks, threading digital connectivity into structures and systems originally built around the notion of solitary pursuit of static, analog information. In that context, the East Las Vegas Library isn’t doing some big crazy new thing. But it’s woven in lots of small crazy new things from the get-go, and that is its own big crazy thing. It’s got top-line DJ gear for making music, a soundproof room for podcast production, and cameras, computers, and green screens for producing videos. There are summer robotics workshops and adult-ed courses on tap. There are outlets for phones and laptops on practically every surface, and even a phone-charging locker if you want some time away from your screen. This is a contemporary, networked, intentional library that doesn’t merely react to how we create and consume media in the 21st century. It invites us to try new ways of doing it. Case in point: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a library that made me think realistically about being a DJ or vlogger. (Don’t worry, it was a fleeting fantasy.) This is starting to make it sound like the East Las Vegas Library is some kind of gleaming, tech-stocked spaceship abstracted from its surroundings. But that’s another, seemingly paradoxical thing about this library: It is aware of its neighborhood and the neighborhood’s story, and it’s trying to be a part of it. That’s not PHOTOGRAPH B rent Holmes


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always the case with libraries, which, perhaps by their very nature as repositories of knowledge, can seem to vibrate on a frequency of delocation and placelessness. (E.g., I’m familiar with the architectural rationale behind the Michael Graves-designed Clark County Library, but it always looks to me as though at any moment it’s going to disgorge a swarm of alien kokopelli from Tatooine.) So it’s meaningful that the opening art exhibit at the East Las Vegas Library is a portrait series by Checko Salgado, who photographed the residents of 28th Street — the people in the neighborhood you’re likely to see at this very library. Also, Latinx artist Justin Favela, who grew up in the neighborhood, contributed a gorgeous piece, “Vistas de Mi Tierra (for my Abuelita Roselia),” on display in the computer lab. Surrounding the library outside are mature Aleppo pines that were growing on the site when it was a housing project. (Less fortunate trees were turned into cool-looking benches.) And whether it knows it or not, the place-conscious library is also replacing an old story. Its cross streets are Bonanza Road and 28th Street. If you grew up on the east side, you’d recall this as the territory of the 28th Street Gang, one of Vegas’ most notorious. (And one of its most brand-savvy: Back in the day, the gang’s signature block-letter logo was ubiquitous.) Designed by Phoenix firm Richard + Bauer architects in collaboration with Carpenters Sellers Del Gatto, the physical building’s style might be described as off-brand luxe municipal — nice, but not too nice. Inside, you do feel a salient absence of any sense of grandeur or aspiration you might expect based on your vestigial idea of a library; the cost-effective furniture is hygienically unremarkable, and feels like a purgatorially less comfortable version of anything at IKEA. But in a way, that level of institutional modesty fits with the focused function of the library. The East Las Vegas Library is not a destination as a piece of architecture, or even necessarily as the kind of public building that excites our civic imagination and manifests our identity. But it’s a well-conceived neighborhood resource that brings a good sampling of the 21st century to the east side. ✦

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Sweet Success SIX | P R O F I L E

He came to the bakery looking for work. He got a slice of the American Dream BY

W

Sonja Swanson

hen Juan Jose Medina walked into Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights bakery almost 20 years ago, he had no idea that his life was about to radically change. He was just looking for a job. Newly arrived from his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, he had a degree in accounting, but getting his diploma validated here was a challenge. Medina had never baked in his life, but right away, he says, Janet Williams and her husband, Ron, took him in under their wing. Mrs. Williams, who goes by Janet Prusinski now, says that Medina was a godsend. “I trusted him from the day he walked in there,” she says. She taught him everything she knew about baking and running a bakery. Prusinski started the specialty bakery on Decatur Boulevard in 1991 because her husband was diabetic, and the sugar-free options out there were “not fit to eat.” When they opened, they only had six items on the menu. “Ron goes, ‘Six is better than nothing!’” Prusinski says and laughs. Medina remembers feeling nervous that first day. “I was really shy, because it was hard to communicate,” he says. His English wasn’t great at that time, he explains. But by day two, Prusinski started teaching him how to bake, and he started to feel right at home. Baking without sugar can be a challenge — sugar substitutes don’t retain water (and therefore moisture) the same way, they don’t crystallize or brown like table sugar, and baking times can be completely thrown off. So Prusinski, and now Medina, experiment tirelessly. “You have to measure everything,” Medina says. He uses a blend of Splenda and stevia, and sends out every new recipe to a lab for testing, because the bakery also provides customers with sheets that detail how many calories and carbs are in each of their menu items. And


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since most of the ready-made bakery products come with sugar in them, Medina says they make about 95 percent of the products in house from scratch. Sometimes they get special requests. Medina remembers a woman who came in and asked if he could make a naked cake for her wedding. “I said, ‘A what?’ and just started laughing,” he says. “Like a cake with naked people on it ... for a wedding?” The customer quickly specified that naked cakes are the trendy new dessert — a cake that’s not completely covered and has seethrough icing. That he could do, and everyone went home happy. The most popular products at Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights are the cheesecake, éclairs, and pies. The pie options here abound in July: Several years ago, Prusinski decided to do something fun for the summer and started Christmas in July, a month-long period during which they make all the holiday favorites that are normally only available in late fall and winter: Dutch apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, turtle pie, and apple cranberry. Year-round pie favorites include cherry, blueberry, black forest, and piña colada (Medina’s favorite). “Our coconut’s a huge seller, because it’s hard to find unsweetened coconut,” Prusinski says. Although Prusinski retired two years ago, Medina says she still comes in most mornings to help bake. When it came time for her to draw up a will, there was no question who she wanted to leave the business to. Prusinski’s only son had passed away a few years before Medina came into their lives, and Medina, she says, is her adopted family. Medina’s sister lives here now, and her kids call Janet “grandma.” They have family dinners every Wednesday. Since taking over the bakery, Medina hasn’t changed the menu much — a little tinkering with recipes here and there. He’s experimented with Mexican pastries, but those have too many carbs for diabetics, he says. He’s tried using alternative flours, like almond or coconut, but the consistency doesn’t come out to his liking. His attention to detail pays off. What the bakery is providing customers isn’t just a chance to indulge in a sweet treat every once in a while. It’s bringing back some normalcy to people facing tough new medical decisions. Medina says that seeing diabetic PHOTOGRAPHY B rent Holmes

Prusinski says. “Yes. This shop is for you.” Medina, for his part, loves his job. “I’m here 10 hours a day, 6 days a week,” he says. “It’s just love here. People come in smiling because you make their day happy.” He’s even training his brother-in-law to cover for him and possibly someday take over. “I (want to) keep it a tradition for Ron and Janet. That’s in my head.” ✦

kids walk through the door is a special joy. “You know diabetes doesn’t respect age,” he explains. These kids get to run in and choose candy, cakes, and cookies without being relegated to a few tiny sugar-free options in the corner of a regular bakery. “Somebody can walk in the door and look around — everything you see in this shop, no matter where you turn, is (sugar-free),”

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The Caveman Cometh If you’re gonna play convenience store keno, this is the place BY

Kelly Elcock

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lease allow me to preface these remarks with the disclaimer that, yes, I am aware of the potential repercussions of the information I’m about to divulge. Vegas is supposed to be unbeatable, everyone knows that. If you start to beat Vegas, you get kicked out of the casino. But the thing about Vegas is, the casino is everywhere. Need groceries? How about some Caveman Keno. Need gas, or a hot dog? How about some Caveman Keno. But, you see, the thing is, Caveman Keno? That painfully slow game you always regret playing because who has the patience for it? Well, I have the patience for it, and I’m pretty sure I’m in the black — but only at the 7-Eleven. If you’re gonna spend time earning money via Caveman Keno, you should only do it at the 7-Eleven. Why? It might be the company: the tall old man who moseys in every evening around the time the pizza scent begins to waft, bellowing “How is everybody?” in a joyous baritone; the gallant night clerk who inevitably addresses female customers as “Milady”; the occasional baffled tourist desperately trying to get to the airport. Or perhaps it is the ambience: fluorescent lighting to keep you awake, top-40 radio to keep you up to date.

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But to be honest, it’s a question of odds. A car might plow through the front windows, pinning me beneath the machine I’m sitting at. My friend Mike assures me this has happened at both locations on this intersection, Spencer and Trop, within the past year or so. Other keno-heads report that any particular machine might pay off once a year. Thus, I can deduce that any time I play Caveman Keno at one of these 7-Elevens, I’m running about even odds of catching the seven of seven with three dinosaur eggs, making $2,000 on a 10-cent wager, or getting run over by a stray automobile drifting into the shopping area. I don’t know about you, but I like those odds. I guarantee, I’m gonna catch that jackpot long before I get run over by some fool. How can I make such a guarantee? It all comes down to the dinosaur eggs. They multiply your big wins, sometimes, but they also multiply your small wins. Meaning you could whittle away two hours just working on a twenty at two nickels a pop. You play normal keno, and that sucker’ll just sap your dimes away. But the Caveman, he shows his face every once in a while … Stick with the seven-spot. Group it, scatter it, who cares. I recommend scattering it. Most of the time, when the numbers come out on the grid they’re scattered. But sometimes they’re grouped. With two nickels bet, wins might look like 10 cents, 30 cents, 40 cents, $1, $1.20, etc. You try to hit more of these small wins over the evening because the more chances you have, the closer you get to that big one. It’s coming, don’t worry. The dinosaur eggs help keep you alive. If you catch six of the seven numbers, you’ll make $22.50. With two dinosaur eggs, that’s $90. With three it’s $225, for those who aren’t that good at math. Things get interesting when you catch all seven. Two hundred. Eight hundred. Two thousand. The closest I’ve gotten is the $800. It happened at this 7-Eleven, on the northwest corner, the night my grandmother died. The clerk counted out a huge pile of twenties. Grandma was old Henderson. Coincidence? Part of me wonders if it isn’t the Vegas gods trying to tell me something, in their usual oblique manner. Something about Fortune ... Meanwhile I’m back to work, making my slow return on a small investment. The guy next to me is tapping relentlessly on the “Repeat Bet” button. Come on, come on. He might be on drugs. ✦

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Recapturing the Bliss EIGHT | H I S T O R Y

Once a busy wedding venue, the iconic — and retired — Candlelight Chapel is still making memories BY

John M. Glionna

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hirty-seven years ago, on May 28, 1982, Marilyn and Danny Kelley hit Vegas for a night on the town — and something more permanent. She was a waitress in El Centro, California, who regularly poured coffee for an engineer who repaired IBM Selectric typewriters. They knew the feeling they shared was special. So, hand in hand, they walked down the aisle at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel, next to the Riviera and across from Circus Circus. She wore something off-white, not too fancy. They’d splurged for a room at the Hilton and two tickets to see singer Mac Davis, so there wasn’t much left over for a ceremony. The Candlelight was perfect: cozy, convenient, cheap. All these years later, the waitress and the engineer have returned. “Gosh, a lot has changed,” Danny says. “In Vegas. Even in the chapel.” He’s right, of course: The chapel is now retired. No longer situated amid the bustle of the Strip, the Candlelight perches in a grove of trees at the Clark County Museum in Henderson — just the kind of place a historic little chapel might spend its reclining years. Its sign has been sent to the Neon Museum. The steeple has been replaced, the pews and other indoor fixtures lost to time. Mannequins in formal outfits stand in for the many thousands who once passed through. Opened in 1966, the Candlelight was host to some 300,000 ceremonies over 38 years. It shut down in 2003, after which it fell into disrepair — looted, vandalized, marred by graffiti — until 2007, when its owner donated it to the museum. Reopened two years later as an exhibit, the Candlelight has since been toured by thousands of its former celebrants. Under Director Mark Hall-Patton, the museum spent $250,000 renovating the chapel, which

PHOTOGRAPH S cott Lien


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speaks to Clark County’s postwar niche as the world’s wedding capital. (Some 2 percent of the nation’s weddings still take place here, he says.) In its heyday, it hosted weddings for such celebrities as Michael Caine, Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler, and Barry White. It was the first chapel with an 800 number and limo service. The chapel also claims the most Vegas weddings performed in a single day: more than 425 on Valentine’s Day 1989, Hall-Patton says. Dolly DeLeon, who officiated chapel events over two decades, says, “The ceremonies may have been brief, but we did them all with dignity.” Hall-Patton understood the significance of the Candlelight at the opening ceremony in 2009. An expected turnout of 200 swelled to 800. “I looked out and asked, ‘How many of you were married in this chapel?’ And most every one of the hands in that crowd went up.” It was opened by Algiers Hotel owner Marion Hicks as a duplicate of The Little Church of the West and based on an 1859 church in Sonora, California. Initially called The Church of the West Algiers, it passed through numerous names and owners until Gordon Gust took over in 1977. “(It) was my baby,” Gust says. “It was like a second home to me. I enjoyed every minute of my 30 years there. I’d do it all again if I could.” He recalls a bride so nervous she kept smelling salts in her bouquet, and a Marine so anxious he had to sit. “He said he’d won a Purple Heart but had never been so scared as he was in that chapel.” When actor Clayton Moore, TV’s Lone Ranger, got married there, he was 72, marrying a woman 30 years younger. He wanted the William Tell Overture played as the processional. “Clayton, will you grow up?” the bride huffed. When the ceremony was over, someone yelled “Hi Ho Silver!” Many Candlelight fans share memories on the Classic Las Vegas website. One woman wrote that four generations of her family were married there. Still another was married there four times herself. But the Candlelight itself is always the star. “I am glad the old girl has been rescued, and I can see her again, even in a museum!” one woman wrote. As the Kelleys poke around, a group of young students file in, led by their teacher. “Any of you getting married today?” Danny jokes. A boy raises his hand. “Your first?” asks the old groom as his wife gently punches his arm. And once again the old chapel fills with laughter. ✦ J U LY 2 0 1 9

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A LL OUT FOOD, CULTURE, STYLE, AND OTHER PULSE-OF-THE-CITY STUFF

A slice from Angelina’s

Free Pizza! FOR WHAT’S ESSENTIALLY

No fruit? Always round? Has to be Italian? Get your laws off my pizza — and taste these renegade slices that break the rules in all the right ways BY GREG THILMONT

PHOTOGRAPHY Christopher Smith

flavored bread, American pizza can get culturally complicated. From regional rivalries over crust styles (New York vs. Chicago) to biases against certain toppings (aloha, pineapple), pizza is beset by culinary rules. But rules are for squares. As long as pizzas are made with quality ingredients and crafted with care, it’s all good. Let’s leave pie prejudices behind. Free pizza!

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RULE 2

“Healthy” pizza isn’t tasty

RULE 1

Real pizza is round (and thin)

For some, a thin, 360-degree pizza shape is the Platonic ideal. It’s the cheesy circumference of baked perfection. In this mindset, other shapes are the easy way out. It’s merely stuffing dough in a rectangular pan and letting it puff up. This is so wrongheaded. To wit, try the lofty, Detroit-style pepperoni quadrilaterals at Pop Up Pizza in the Plaza Hotel (hip tip: Ask for a corner piece). Or, revel in the sophisticated Sicilian stretches served at Pizzeria Monzú, including the delectable ‘Nduja made with the namesake peppery,

The whole concept of pineapple on pizza is laughable to many — Hawaiian-style pizzas are for kids, at best, right? Some folks extend the idea to fruit in general. But sweetness rules the school. Hula dance into the city’s numerous Metro Pizza locations for the tropical Honolulu with ham and bacon. Pineapple and pork get a Southeast Asian twist at Gianna’s Pizza, where the exuberantly named Fawsome pie features a sweet chili-sauce kick. And, at the valley’s two Settebello outposts, produce like peaches, figs, and even flower petals are known to appear on daily specials. (metropizza.com, giannasbestpizza.com, settebello.net)

RULE 3

Say ‘no way’to pineapple (or any other fruit)

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spreadable Calabrian sausage, Gorgonzola, walnuts, and honey. At the new La Strega Trattoria, the Quattro Formaggi is a folded-over mezzaluna of gooey, sage-scented Old World deliciousness. And, while some might say that towering, Windy City-style deep dish pies are actually casseroles — round as they may be — lighten up and fork into a hefty slice from the venerable Chicago Taste of Amore. It’s pizza all the way even if it’s not flat and foldable. (popuppizzalv.com, monzulv.com, lastregalv.com, amoretasteofchicago.com)

If you’re hungry but watching what you eat, the prospect of enjoying a healthy pizza might bring to mind heating up a drab, dry, store-bought frozen “diet” platter. Blech. Instead, shut the freezer door and head out to several Southern Nevada restaurants for truly salubrious slices. If you’re in the keto crowd, visit the immense and attractively designed California Pizza Kitchen in Downtown Summerlin and select a cauliflower crust. At Good Pie, sink your teeth into a crispy-edged hunk of award-winning, gluten-free Grandma pie. Or, venture to Naked City Pizza on Paradise Road and savor the veggie-forward Bee’s Knees and its garden of vegan mozzarella, fennel, baby spinach, mushrooms, radishes, and fennel pollen. (cpk. com, goodpie.com, nakedcitylv.com)

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D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

RULE 4

Hold the anchovies … and all the seafood for that matter A lot of folks wholeheartedly think (especially when it comes to umami-rich but fragrant anchovies) that pizza should be all turf, no surf. But that surely doesn’t include fans of Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar’s white pie with littleneck clams, Grana Padano cheese, and Meyer lemons. At the two bustling Pizza Rock locations, the sauceless Bianco Tonno Classico showcases sustainably sourced, Genova-brand yellowfin tuna, onions, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Finally, recently opened Ada’s in Tivoli Village bakes the wild Baccala pie: salt cod with saffron-infused potatoes and spicy tomatoes. It’s a gourmet mash-up of fish sticks and ‘za. (domdemarcos.com, pizzarocklasvegas.com, adaslv.com)

Sure, pizza was brought to the U.S. by Italian immigrants more than a century ago. But since then, American pie recipes have gone beyond relying on traditional ingredients like tomato sauce and mozzarella. For instance, Napoli Pizzeria’s taco pie says “¡hola!” with cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, jalapeños, and salsa. The BBQ chicken pizza

at Brooklyn’s Best Pizza & Pasta brings the backyard flavor with Sweet Baby Ray’s “boss” sauce. And it’s California cuisine forever with the smoked salmon, Kaluga caviar, and dill cream celebration at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill Summerlin. (lasvegaspizzeria. com, brooklynsbestpizzaandpasta.com, wolfgangpuck.com)

RULE 5

Real pizza has to be Italian

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RULE 6

Pizza and ranch dressing should never meet You might think that the only time a slice of pizza should touch ranch dressing is at a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, if even then. But, go for it! At the grocery store, pick up a bottle of buttermilky Ken’s Steak Housebrand salad condiment (it’s made in a huge facility on Blue Diamond Highway) and dip away with your home-delivered Angelina’s Special from namesake Angelina’s Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen. Now you’re livin’ large! (angelinaspizzalv.com) .

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Dog Fight! DINING

Whether you prefer classic hot dogs or crazy on a bun, we have a nice wiener for you

PLAIN DOG, REPRESENT! We’re all familiar with information overload.

FANCY DOG FTW! Hot dogs are America on a bun. From ballparks to In the food world, there’s a related syndrome afflicting us: flavor July 4th cookouts, the hot dog is — along with apple pie (p49) — the overload. A cloying maximalism rules the culinary zeitgeist and, well, officially sanctioned foodstuff of democracy. Which is terrific. it’s complicated: Donuts piled with cereal and candy; Bloody Marys Excellent choice, America! Now add kimchi. Or pork belly. Or topped with bacon and chicken wings; froyo bars where you can Korean chili sauce. Or jalapeño. Now you have a hot dog for the bury your yogurt beneath a landslide of sprinkles and crumbles; new America, taste-optimized for the globally cultured U.S. gourmet cookies as big as hubcaps, and gourmet burgers served of the 21st century. On top of which, these fancy dogs are Buldogis with steak knives. And now they’ve come for our hot dogs. good. Turns out that the hot dog, like democracy, adapts 2291 S. Fort Apache Road #102, I’ve got no beef with freewheeling foodie creativity. But readily to new flavors. A bahn mi dog at Buldogis brings 702-570-7560, sometimes you have to ask: Does your kimchi chicken-and-wafyou the mouthfeel of the future: an expansive mix of the buldogis.com fle breakfast pizza-rito spark joy? Remember and embrace the reassuringly familiar and the (in a hot dog context, at least) simple pleasures — like the classic hot dog at Buldogis. A plump, thrillingly unfamiliar. Of course, props go to the Chicago juicy frank on a squishy bun, topped with ketchup, mustard, and dog, which has long carried the domestic banner for fancy relish. An added bonus to enjoying an old-fashioned hot dog without dogs’ superiority. Excellent choice, Chicago! I’m just happy to all the baggage: You’ll actually have room for dessert. Andrew Kiraly have all these other tastes piling on. Scott Dickensheets

LET THE DOGS OUT

1. Swing for the outfield with a gourmet Chicago dog by Chef Brian Howard of Sparrow + Wolf fame at his Flydogs venture in the new Las Vegas Ballpark — it’s a smoked cheddar brat suited up with neon-green relish, fiery sport peppers, and ruby-red tomato slices on a poppyseed bun. (1650 S. Pavilion Center Drive, 702-943-7200, thelvballpark.com)

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avocado slices. 707 Fremont St. #1050, 702-527-7599, facebook. com/cheffinishotdogs

Five other spots for a sausage party

2. Get down with a messy but tasty Pastrami Dog at Dirt Dog. It features a bacon-wrapped beef Nathan’s frank topped with lunch meat, diced pickles, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon bits, and housemade mustard. 8390 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100, 702-550-4682, dirtdogla.com

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3. Ditch the meat at the retro Joy of Hot Dog camper in Downtown with a garden-style creation: a Beyond Sausage-brand Hot Italian link, farro-quinoa-carrot relish, vegan cheese, chipotle hummus, shredded lettuce, radishes, celery salt, and mint on a locally baked bun from Bon Breads.

504 E. Fremont St., 702-834-3160, joyofhotdog.com 4. Pop by Cheffini’s in Container Park for the South-of-the-Border stylings of a spicy El Mexicano, featuring a salchicha in a bacon serape, cherry pepper relish, onions, tomatoes, chipotle-guava salsa, and

5. Hang loose with a Chili Idol from Dog Haus: a griddled Black Angus wiener, chili con carne, cheddar-cheese sauce, and diced onions on an unseparated trio of toasted King’s Hawaiian rolls. 4480 Paradise Road, 702-435-4287, vegas. doghaus.com Greg Thilmont

PHOTOGRAPHY C hristopher Smith


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s r e d n Wo REN O

NEV ADA

CAR SON CITY

NEV ADA S TRA ILVER ILS

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ATV /Off-Roading Mountain Biking Bird / Wildlife Viewing

LAS VEG AS

Boating / Fishing Camping / RV Hook-up Climbing / Bouldering

DISCOVER REAL NEVADA It’s time to get out of the city. This is Real Nevada, where you can discover natural beauty, go off-road, hike some trails, fish, camp, find a quaint out of the way diner or even explore some old Nevada history. So come visit us out here, where the opportunities for getting back to reality are wide open.

Ghost Town Exploring Golfing Hiking UFO Spotting History & Petroglyphs Diners & Saloons

Learn more at:

NevadaSilverTrails.com

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wetlands often bloom later because they have easy access to water. Our state flower, sagebrush, doesn’t begin blooming until September. Where can people see wildflowers during the summer? The best places are typically up in the mountains. Trails and recreation areas in our national forests and Great Basin National Park offer great wildflower viewing later in summer. For the adventurous, our state and federal wildlife refuges, such as the Sheldon Antelope Range and Ash Meadows, offer great wildflower and wildlife viewing opportunities — but few amenities. I gave a talk in Carson City recently and had photos from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (along the state’s northern border), and only two of 25 people had heard of it, and no one had been there. It’s a stunning place full of interesting flowers and wildlife and volcanic rocks.

FLOWER UP

I

f you think of wildflowers as a spring phenomenon, meaning July’s too late to enjoy them, think again. There are still plenty of beautiful flora to be seen in Nevada — if you know where to look. So we emailed a few questions to someone who does: botanist Janel Johnson of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. We begin with a term we’ve heard a lot in the media lately. Did Nevada get a super bloom this year? No, we didn’t, because of the timing of the rains this winter. Super blooms are usually made up of annual plants, those that live less than one year. Desert annuals are well-adapted to the unpredictable cycles of drought and flood. Their seeds sit dormant in the soil until the right combination of water and temperature coax them into growing. To get a really good bloom of desert annuals, the seeds need lots of rain in the autumn so they can germinate and start growing over the winter. Then, when the

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It’ll be an uphill trek if you want to get an eyeful of Nevada’s summer wildflowers — but they’re worth it

weather warms up in the spring, they’re ready to start blooming right away. We had a dry fall and winter, with the rain and snow falling in February and March, so the seeds didn’t get started at the right time. The cold, wet spring also made the flowers bloom two or three weeks later than usual in many areas. When is wildflower season in the state? Thanks to our mountains, wildflower season lasts all spring and summer. Wildflower blooms can start in the southern valleys as early as February, and the flowers follow the warming weather northward and up the mountains until the alpine flowers are blooming in July and August. Desert flowers usually have a race to finish blooming before the soil dries out, but flowers in

How do desert plants survive with so little water? There are two main ways — either by escaping drought or enduring it. Plants that escape drought grow during the wettest parts of the year, then, during the heat of summer, they dry up, leaving behind either tough roots or seeds to grow during the next wet weather. The seeds can survive for years until the weather is just right, then they all grow at once, resulting in a super bloom. Plants that endure drought often have thick, waxy leaves (like yucca), or dense hairs to reflect sunlight (like sagebrush), or no leaves at all (like cactus). They usually also have long roots. What’s the most important thing to remember about wildflower hunting in the wilderness? Desert and wetland soils are easily damaged by feet and tires. Desert soils are often protected by communities of lichen, moss, and algae that hold the soil in place during strong winds and rain. When they are damaged, the soil can blow or wash away, which makes it harder for our native plants to grow. Stay on existing trails and roads to avoid damaging sensitive habitats. When visiting parks and refuges, it’s usually illegal to pick wildflowers. Many are tiny, so be prepared to get down on the ground to see them up close. We like to call them “belly flowers” because you might need to lie on your belly to get a good look. Heidi Kyser & Scott Dickensheets

W I L D F L O W E R S : A LY S A B A J E N A R U / U N S P L A S H ; D O G : S H U T T E R S T O C K

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PET SAFETY

Should You Shave Mr. Fluffles? And other burning questions about keeping your pets cool this summer

As we head into another hot summer, pet safety becomes a priority. And for good reason: Some of the most common ailments veterinarians see in the summer include overheating, heatstroke, dehydration, and burnt paw pads. The Animal Foundation’s Terry Spencer and Rover.com’s Gary Richter share these tips to keep Fido from frying

sticky notes throughout your car to remind you that your pet’s in there, too. Veterinarians also recommend keeping a thermometer in the car to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, on a 70-degree day with the windows rolled up, a car can get up to 90 degrees in just 10 minutes.

HAVE SUNSCREEN LIP BALM READY TO GO

WALK WHEN IT’S COOLER

Just like humans, animals are prone to sunburns and skin cancer — noses, ears, and skin beneath thin fur are the most common places for burns. Although effective, animal sunscreen can annoy them enough they lick it off. Veterinarians recommend using a lip balm infused with sunscreen. The wax of the lip balm will stay on their noses even if they lick at it. Some pets can even be trained to wear visors to protect their faces.

Dogs’ paw pads are more sensitive than you think. If the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s definitely too hot for your pets’ paws. Some pet owners swear by booties, but not all pets tolerate them. Walk early in the morning or evening when the sidewalk has cooled down.

THINK TWICE BEFORE DRIVING WITH YOUR PET Last summer, PETA reported that 58 animals died from heat-related causes. If you must travel with your pet, place

ON THE TRAIL? LEASH YOUR PET Hiking with

car. Letting him walk will circulate blood and heat, which spreads the venom more quickly. WATER, WATER, AND MORE WATER

This sounds like a no-brainer, but the majority of the time, animals don’t give off obvious signs of overheating, exhaustion, or pain. Some of the less-obvious signs of overheating are a loss of balance or being unable to move — and by then, it might be too late. Keep plenty of water on hand, whether you’re at the dog park or just strolling around the block. TO SHAVE OR NOT TO SHAVE? There’s no research that shows shaving your pet prevents overheating. In fact, shaving dogs with cold-climate coats can make them even hotter, because you’re essentially removing a natural layer of furry sunscreen. For breeds accustomed to warmer climates, keeping them well-groomed will ensure their coats are optimized for the summer months.

your dogs is always fun, but their curiosity can put them in danger. Keep them on a leash to avoid any unpleasant encounters with snakes, spiders, or scorpions. If your dog is bitten by a snake or stung by scorpion, carry your dog Hear More back to the Hear a discussion of summer pet safety on “State of Nevada” at knpr.org

Kailey Lyons

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SPORTS

That’s Tennistainment!

Hot Seat (Dance)

DANCE IN THE DESERT FESTIVAL

The Vegas Rollers bring professional team tennis to town. It’s a game about spectacle (and party rock) as much as sport.

SUMMERLIN LIBRARY

For the 21st time, this annual event brings top local, national, and international performers in contemporary dance to Las Vegas. Don’t be made wary by the phrase “contemporary dance” — organizers say it will be accessible and fun. July 26, 7p, and July 27, 10:30a, free, lvccld.org

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he Vegas Rollers are the latest name added to our growing roster of sports teams. The team-tennis squad consists of nine players who hail from as far as the United Kingdom and Australia. But what exactly is team tennis? “It takes tennis to a whole other level,” says Sally Dewerest, general manager of the Vegas Rollers. “Entertainment is a big theme of it.” Spectators can expect choreographed dance numbers to kick off matches, DJs spinning between sets, and lots of merch giveaways. “It’s essentially a celebration of tennis,” says Tim Blenkiron, head coach. In terms of format, team tennis is a mixed-gender tennis league featuring five sets, with one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The first team to win five games wins the set. If the set is tied at 4-4, then a nine-point tie-breaker is played. “There is a healthy tennis community in Las Vegas,” Blenkiron says. “Having world team tennis will bring tennis to the forefront in Las Vegas.” Blenkiron hopes the Vegas Rollers will be the first step in bringing professional tennis to Las Vegas. And the Rollers’ emphasis on spectacle and entertainment makes Vegas a fitting home. In fact, in May, Redfoo of Grammy-winning electronic duo LMFAO — an avid tennis player and enthusiast — signed on as the Rollers’ honorary assistant coach for the upcoming season. He perhaps summed up the spirit best when he said in a press release, “I’m here to give the Rollers party rockin’ vibes. And to inspire them to take home the trophy! Yeahhhhhhh baby!” Kailey Lyons The Vegas Rollers’ first home season match is July 20 at the Orleans Arena. Info: vegasrollerstennis.com.

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(Music)

COMMON

THE SMITH CENTER

This is the first North American tour by the award (Grammy, Emmy, Oscar)-winning rapper in 10 years. He’s got a new album coming out, sharing a title with his candid memoir Let Love Have the Last Word. Miss it, and you might have to wait another 10. July 20, 7:30p, $39-$79, thesmithcenter.com

(Music)

VESERIUM

EAST LAS VEGAS LIBRARY

Movement equals sound with this duo, which uses something called “Tone Sculptor technology” — what will Silicon Valley think of next?! — to translate gestures and motion into electronic dance music. Sounds like something you gotta see to believe. July 11, 6p, free; also July 13, 2p, at Windmill Library, lvccld.org

Youth Poetry Slam This is the semifinal event of the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, which is meeting in Las Vegas for the first time in its 21 years. Some 500 young poets, plus teachers, and literary types will be in town for this. It’s rhyme time! July 19, 7p, free, Historic Fifth Street School, 702-229ARTS


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THE

Hot Seat (Visual Art)

SAPIRA CHEUK CORE CONTEMPORARY

(Music)

ALEXANDRA DARIESCU SUMMERLIN LIBRARY

So here’s the concept: Pianist Dariescu busts out a 50-minute solo performance, using digital animation — said to be the product of some 30-plus animators — and a ballerina to tell her life story as intercut with the story of Clara, from The Nutcracker. Says the promo material, “The audience will feel like they are actually in and a part of The Nutcracker story.” Summer whimsy! July 9, 11a and 7:30p, free, lvccld.org

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S A P I RA C H E U K : CO U RT E SY O F T H E A RT I ST; A L E XA N D RA DA R I E SCU : CO U RT E SY L AS V E G AS C L A R K C O U N T Y L I B R A R Y D I S T R I C T ; G A L L E R Y : U N LV N E W S C E N T E R

Through her ink-and-paper works — which call on traditional Chinese drawing practices as well as ancient Greek sculpture — Cheuk explores how bodies are shaped both by internal and external forces. Beautifully, too. “There is an aesthetic to Cheuk’s work that conveys a certain dignity and grace,” says gallery owner Nancy Good. Look for a large, site-specific installation to be part of the exhibit, titled New Vessels, Unmade Structures. Through August 31, 900 Karen Ave. #D222, free, corecontemporary.com


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

PIXELS OF SPIRIT A small upstairs gallery in UNLV’s student union is your regrettably out-of-the-way destination if you want some Spiritual Aberration — an exhibit that finds UNLV digital photography students defying the frothy aesthetic of summer by examining the portentous topics of deviance and divinity. As you might imagine, works mixing the two offer the most intriguing results. A catholic altar of traditional relics intermixed with drugs, money, and an assault rifle in Claudia Cordero-Pacheco’s “Dangerous Faith” presents symbols of violence, intoxication, and greed as social objects of veneration. Bailey Hart’s “Mother Music” nods at divine inspiration with a gold-robed figure, rosary beads replaced by ear buds and the halo by a record titled “Milk and Honey.” Nicole Overman’s image of a voluptuous female in white lace floating in a tub of milky water destabilizes virtues of the bridal and maternal with unsettling overabundance. Hinting at transformation, a white-hot neon halo fires up in front of a blurred figure in Fallon Quinn’s “Awakening.” In Quinn’s “Metamorphosis” a shadowed reptilian snout morphs into a female visage, then phasing into a pale, wraith-like form. In both works the spiritual dominates the physical. Which is as it should be in a show like this. Jenessa Kenway Spiritual Aberration, through July 19, UNLV’s Student Union Gallery, free, unlv.edu

Queen of the Strip E N T E R TA I N M E N T

With his new show, longtime female impersonator Toni James hopes to revive the Vegas drag extravaganza BY

Lissa Townsend Rodgers

I

n his decades as a drag performer, Toni James has seen many changes. “The drag audience has changed in that it’s a lot more mainstream now,” James says. “A lot of those people who watch drag on TV have never been to a live drag show.” A veteran of the days when drag was still considered outrageous, his career has covered the spotlit stages of Strip casinos and the bars at local punk dives; he can scandalize a millennial and charm a senior citizen with effortless panache. “I started my entertainment adventure way back when I was 13 in a drum and bugle corps,” he explains. “After that I became an instructor; after that I became a bodybuilder; after that I became Miss Gay Seattle; and after that I became an entertainer on the Las Vegas Strip. My book is going to be called From Muscles to Makeup.” This month, James will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his debut in the Sahara’s Boylesque with a Strip show of his own, Drag Queen Cuisine, at the House of Blues. In the ’90s, James was producing shows for the Seattle Gay Men’s Chorus and other organizations, which led to his unexpected drag debut in a Motown tribute show. “I needed someone to perform Diana Ross, but the queen I wanted wasn’t available,” he says. “My drag mother, Smoky LeFeau, said, ‘I can make you look like Diana Ross.’... When I walked through that curtain as Diana Ross, the place went nuts, and I got hooked.” Several years later, visiting Las Vegas, James attended Kenny Kerr’s Boylesque show. “My friend showed Kenny Kerr a picture of me as Diana Ross, and Kenny said, ‘Oh, we need to talk about this.’” James came back a few weeks later to audition. “I signed a contract that night.” At one point, James performed in a show in Central Park commemorating the 20th anniversary of Stonewall, in which he appeared with another notable drag queen: “RuPaul and I were the only two female impersonators,” he recalls. The world of drag has changed dramatically since then. Before RuPaul’s Drag Race, a Strip gig was a drag performer’s goal. “Back

in the day, really the only two professional shows you could be in were Boylesque and La Cage, and you really, really desired, as a female impersonator, to be in one of those two shows.” With Drag Queen Cuisine, James hopes to bring back not only the Vegas dinner show, but the Vegas drag extravaganza. The performers on the roster promise plenty of spectacle. “There’s Derek Barry, who does Britney Spears — fierce, fierce. Nebraska Thunderfuck, he looks like a Barbie doll. I love his stature.” To augment his hosting duties, James brings costumes that combine the aesthetics of Bob Mackie and John Waters, such as a gown made from hundreds of beaded bottle tops (“Making that is probably going to take four hours a day until the show”), and another with fishbowls where breast pads would be. But it’s taken much more than glamorous outfits to sustain Toni James’ lengthy career. “You can be as pretty as you want to in drag, but you need to be able to sell yourself in a potato sack,” he says. “If you can do that, then you can sell it in glitter.” Drag Queen Cuisine, July 27, August 3 and 10, 5p and 7:30p, $35, houseofblues.com J U LY 2 0 1 9

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A Roof of One’s Own BY

T.R. Witcher

Editor’s note: In this new rotating column, a writer will explore a topic of relevance to Southern Nevada in six installments. Our first Writer in Residence is T.R. Witcher, who’ll devote his six columns to housing.

T

he cranes are back on the Strip. The wood frames of single-family homes are rising again in our neighborhoods. For those of us who bought a home at the height of the market — before the vertiginous descent into utter oblivion — being in Las Vegas these days feels like coming out of a deep fog, or like finally lifting a demoralizing weight off our backs. Housing prices are up, homes that were underwater are now right side up. The good times have returned. Unemployment in Nevada was down to 4.0 percent this May. (It peaked at 13.7 percent in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The local economy is strong. Credit is available, and lenders have gotten more disciplined about whom they’ll lend to. And, hey, the Raiders are coming. But no matter how sunny it looks, the scars of the recession linger. Even amid the hoopla of new sports teams and new restaurants, you can’t get too comfortable. Check your rearview mirror. When’s the next bubble? Sell now? When’s the next recession? Refi? What’s my Zestimate? How’s the world going to end this time? It may not end in a bang of recession, but rather in a whimper of unattainability. Housing is slowly growing unaffordable again. And its impact won’t be solely economic. It will hit uncomfortably close to the core of the Las Vegas version of the American Dream. But first, the numbers. Three data points in particular determine affordability: The cost of housing, the median income, and the supply of housing. Between 2012-2019, home prices in metro Las Vegas rose a stunning 89 percent. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price for a single-family home is currently $298,900. We’ve been seeing year-to-year increases of 7 and 8 percent, though those percentages have fallen in the last six months or so. But income isn’t keeping up with rising prices. The median household income in Las Vegas is $53,159. In 2009, it was $54,327. Housing supply isn’t keeping up, either. According to the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, a net of 48,347 people moved to Las Vegas last year. At the same time, we’re building about 11,000 new houses

WRITER IN RESIDENCE

a year. “Eleven thousand isn’t going to cut it,” says Nat Hodgson, CEO of the association. We should be building closer to 15,000. But if you’re expecting developers to simply build more housing, don’t hold your breath. “There’s no incentive for them to do that,” says Vivek Sah, director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies at UNLV. For homebuilders, it’s preferable to provide a little less housing than the market needs — thus ensuring built units get sold — than to risk oversupplying the market. Meanwhile, homebuilders are facing their own cost pressures. Before the recession, Hodgson says, turning an acre of land into single-family homes cost builders about $100,000. Now it costs more than $500,000, because of the price of land, labor, and regulatory fees — also, the tariff war with China has driven up prices of copper and steel. Housing prices are not likely to go down. And what does that bode for Las Vegas’ claim to fame as a place where the American dream of home ownership is available to cooks, housekeepers, and valets whose

NEXT MONTH: Why don’t we look like Palm Springs?

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ILLUSTRATION

Delphine Lee


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

wages and benefits are driven by a worldclass tourism and convention business? Already, developers are turning to less expensive attached housing (think townhomes). Three years ago, just 1 percent of new housing in town was attached, according to Hodgson. This year, the figure will hit 13 percent. Affordable Next year, 20 perhousing is a big cent. Single-family part of the homes may give enduring way to townhoidentity of Las mes or condos, or Vegas — and apartments — just that may be a drive the 215 near casualty of the IKEA to see the market’s new reality. mushrooming of rental properties for a growing community of (as Sah puts it) “forever renters,” those unable to save up the money for a down payment. Affordable housing is a big part of the enduring identity of Las Vegas — and that may be a casualty of the market’s new reality. After all, it’s the cheapness of housing that imbues Las Vegas with honesty, with a lack of pretension, with optimism, with tolerance of tourists and tolerance of greater diversity among our own. Everybody can get a decent tract home somewhere, and they’re all about equally as good as any other. No need to be a poser here. Relax. Do you. Enjoy the ride. For those who live here, Las Vegas is not about making it big. It’s about simply, honorably, making it. That’s the glue that ties us together. But our affordability, and the live-andlet-live ethos it encourages, will come under greater pressure if wages can’t keep pace, or if we can’t find a way to build more housing. “Affordable housing means providing affordable homes in the same community as anyone else, so they can have access to amenities: green spaces, libraries, schools,” says Sah. Commuting in from Pahrump or Kingman or Coyote Springs isn’t the answer. Living smaller, living denser, co-living, and rediscovering the center of the city may be a path forward. Otherwise, the fantasy of wealth and exclusivity that Vegas sells may become an uncomfortable reality right in our own backyard. ✦

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PROFILE

BOSS LADY After a life in Nevada politics, former GOP kingmaker Marilyn Gubler now runs a desert ranch, where there’s no question who sits in the big saddle BY

John M. Glionna

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arilyn Gubler recalls the first time she hauled her horse trailer over the winding, two-lane road into Sandy Valley, a hidden expanse of working ranches, pickup trucks, and conservative rural values that straddles the Nevada-California line. Gnarled Joshua trees. Jagged mountain vistas. Wide-open spaces. It was 1997, and she realized right away that she’d found a little patch of cowboy heaven, a community where the only bar is called the Idle Spurs Tavern, where people attend church on Sunday, and not all the roads are paved. Gubler is a Southern Nevada native whose parents helped transform Las Vegas into a major tourist destination. She’s Stanford-educated, politically connected, yet proud of that little “twang” in her DNA — and Sandy Valley was just about the finest sight she’d ever seen. “That first day, I knew this was it,” Gubler, now 75, recalls. “The whole place reminded me of the Western spirit of my childhood.” (In 1944, the year she was born, Las Vegas counted barely 10,000 residents; during her childhood, cattle thundered down her street, and she

and her girlfriends occasionally rode their horses to school.) Here on her 160-acre Sandy Valley Ranch, Gubler is a long way from her heyday as a Nevada GOP kingmaker, tough-minded political consultant, and role model for ambitious women. After politics, she dabbled in real estate, opened an espresso bar and a gym, but really found her fulfilling next act here. The ranch is a passion project that began as a working dude-ranch and corporate retreat, attracting tourists who wanted to experience a version of the Cowboy Life. That’s still going on; the ranch hosts corporate events for up to 300 people (for companies such as Microsoft, Nike France, and Louis Vuitton), as well as small groups of travelers. But in recent years, Gubler has expanded the ranch’s cultural IQ to establish one of the state’s most popular sites for Mexican rodeo events, known as charreria. The Latino cowboys still scratch their heads over this well-heeled white ranch owner with a passion for their culture, a woman who’s become known around the ranch as the Boss Lady. “I see things I don’t like,” Gubler says, “and I have to fix them.” PHOTOGRAPHY

Brent Holmes


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

Gubler’s daughter, Laura Dahl, a former fashion designer, bestowed the term. “My mother has always been this strong woman who held her own in situations with really powerful men,” she says. “Both in her political career and on the ranch, she’s dealt with some pretty big male egos, and has always been able to handle it with such finesse. She’s clearly the boss.” ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ SHE WAS BORN Marilyn Kelch back when small-town Las Vegas, with its handful of casinos, was suffering a bit of an identity crisis. Often, the mail intended for the future Sin City was dispatched to Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Kelch family house, not far from Downtown, sat across a small patch of desert from that of casino magnate Benny Binion. Marilyn attended her high-school prom with the soon-to-be entrepreneurial titan Robert Bigelow, a neighbor. At the height of the Depression, her parents, Maxwell and Laura Belle Kelch, had driven their vehicle and trailer to Southern Nevada with $1,000 they’d borrowed from Laura’s father. The son of a Los Angeles lawyer, Maxwell grew up in Hollywood and became a licensed ham radio operator as a teenager. With a master’s degree in physics, he had early success as a sound engineer, working on sessions for such singers as Bing Crosby. But he had always wanted to run his own radio station. He and Laura Belle surveyed Southwestern towns and found that Las Vegas didn’t have one. In 1936 they launched the radio station KENO. “Everyone in town went out and bought a radio,” Gubler says. Kelch was a towering man who stood 6-foot-4, Gubler recalled. Her mother, at barely 5-foot-2, was a Cincinnati-born watercolor artist who had to stand on a raised hearth to kiss him. But she was the original Boss Lady, a go-getter who steered the couple’s lifelong community advocacy. She hosted a radio show called Listen Ladies, which provided tips on such things as getting the most out of war-ration books. As president of the Chamber of Commerce, Kelch later helped launch an ambitious civic strategy that directed local businesses to bankroll advertising campaigns to lure visitors to the growing postwar resort city. As UNLV history professor Michael Green told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 1999, “If we trace the ancestry of efforts to publicize Las Vegas as a tourist attraction, then Max Kelch is the founding father.” Meanwhile, Laura Belle promoted the opening of new libraries and helped found the Las Vegas Art Museum.

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PROFILE Gubler inherited her parents’ love for “free-spirited” Las Vegas. She’d had a taste of the cosmopolitan life at Stanford while getting her master’s degree in education, yet settled in Southern Nevada to work as a schoolteacher. “San Francisco was so stuffy,” she recalls. “Any idea you had, people would say, ‘Oh, we tried that 20 years ago.’ But Las Vegas had a can-do attitude. People would say, ‘What the heck, let’s try it.’” In 1979, Gubler made her first political foray when she was recruited as both a county and state delegate to support Ronald Reagan’s candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. “It was a blast,” she recalled. “You felt like you were really doing something meaningful — seeing how all the thoughts you had on how to live your life were built into a political platform.” That platform promoted hard work, small government, and the idea that Washington didn’t call all the shots: “It was the freedom to choose who you wanted to be.” When she was asked to serve as Clark County GOP chairwoman, Gubler faced a critical choice. She was then married to lawyer John Gubler and raising two small

MANE ATTRACTION Marilyn Gubler developed a passion for Mexican rodeo, called charreria, and hosts about 10 of them a year at her ranch. She even had a special corral built for the events.

children. She was active in the Junior League. In other words, busy. But a role in politics offered her a chance to do something radical: thicken her skin. “I needed to develop a hide like a rhino,” she said, “to learn how to be attacked and still hold your ground.” She quit

the Junior League and launched into the fray, later becoming the first female chairman of the state Republican party. In 1984, she needed that hide: She was forced out of her post by Paul Laxalt, then the powerful U.S. Senator from Nevada. They

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Senator Dina Titus, a stalwart Democrat. In 1990, she helped elect Bob Seale as state treasurer, despite a claim by his opponent that he wasn’t emotionally fit for the job after being seriously injured in a plane crash that killed his wife. Even during the grueling campaigns, Gubler rarely lost her sense of humor. At one of Seale’s fundraisers, she made a not-so-sly joke about the number of office-holders who had recently been charged with crimes: a banner with Seale’s picture read, “Not Indicted Yet!” Allison Newlon Moser, a former Southern Nevada civic leader and friend, said she was dazzled when she first met Gubler, a smart, no-nonsense woman on the move among men — as at ease talking to a corporate CEO as she was with some itinerant cowboy. “If Marilyn ran your campaign, you were going to win,” Moser says. Gubler did her homework; she knew how to vet her candidates, to decide which political horses to place her bet on. “First,” Moser recalls, “she’d try to talk them out of running by telling them how thankless the job was. If they persisted, she’d send them home to write a detailed position paper that would convince her to

vote for them.” That scared many away. “But if they stuck it out, she worked with them.” One client, state Assembly candidate Dennis Allard, believed that circulating glossy photos of him decked out in cowboy boots and hat would win him the election without having to walk precincts. Gubler insisted, urging him to get out and walk because he was steadily running behind in the polls. Allard won, and at his celebration party told his consultant, “I’ve got to tell you a secret: I never walked.” To which Gubler shot back, “Well, I’ve got a secret for you: You were never behind in the polls.” Eventually, she ran out of steam in a political realm grown too divisive. “I grew weary of the stress of opening the morning paper with bated breath, seeing who was going to attack me or my candidate with unsubstantiated claims. It got old after a while.” But it was fun until then, and that imparted a useful lesson to her son Matthew, now an actor — he’s long played Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds. “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. Thanks to my mom’s example, whether it’s through the ranch, her dedication to various charities, or

©2019 The Animal Foundation

disagreed over the party’s Senate candidate at the time, she says. Gubler took that bitter dose of political medicine, but she also fought back. That day, as Laxalt sponsored a celebration at his Washington office, Gubler threw an “I Got the Boot” party at her home, inviting the local press and Nevada politicians, Republicans and Democrats. “He got zero press that day,” she recalls, “while we partied until 3 a.m.” She soon transitioned into a career as a campaign consultant. During those years, she owned the fiveacre Roadrunner Ranch near Blue Diamond Road — “in the middle of nowhere at the time” — where she entertained her political buddies. Those were wild years, and Gubler liked the raw buzz that politics provided. The guys in the gray suits and everybody else came out to Gubler’s place to ride horses, soak in the hot tub, and kick up a little dust. “People let their hair down,” she says, laughing. “They did stuff they didn’t want a whole lot of people finding out about.” Politically, she consulted for candidates from both sides of the aisle: Assemblywoman Sandra Tiffany, a Republican, but also State

Bring Home the Magic Open Your Heart to a Shelter Pet

Search adoptable pets at: animalfoundation.com/adopt-a-pet

Las Vegas Magician Mat Franco and Riley the lovable Husky

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PROFILE raising me and my sister, she has always been the hardest-working person who seems to have never worked a day in her life.” Gubler eventually sold the Roadrunner Ranch and was looking for a new chapter. And one day, her lawyer invited her to bring her horses an hour outside Vegas for a look-see and a ride. ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ THE BOSS LADY is wearing spurs as she tours

her ranch, which you can find by following a sign down the road that says, “Up Yonder.” On this spring Sunday, she’s a mix of city and country. Along with her white cowboy hat and scarf, she’s wearing funky bat-shaped glasses her son gave her as a gag gift. She passes horses, cattle, pigs, goats, and chickens, a real-life Victoria Barkley in her own Big Valley. The mountains stretch in the distance, making the scene feel generations old. “Everything you see? There was nothing when she came here,” says Gubler’s husband, Tommy DiGiacomo, waving his hand as he walks by her side. “This all came from Marilyn’s imagination. And it’s still growing.” As she did in politics, Gubler still bets on

the dark horse, and her dozen employees call her property the “Second Chance Ranch.” Gubler has shown she’s willing to take on a promising cowboy despite a questionable past. The couple approaches a group of Latino cowboys running a horse around the lienzo charro, the corral for Mexican rodeo events that Gubler had specially built. She claps her hands as a cowboy shows off his lasso tricks, jumping through the stiffened rope he twirls around his head. Gubler fell in love with Mexican rodeo a few years ago and now hosts as many as 10 events a year, drawing crowds ranging from 300 to 1,000 people. She particularly fell for an all-female event known as the Escaramuza, in which women riding side-saddle and dressed in colorful Adelita dresses perform a variety of riding techniques. “It’s all about gorgeous costumes and women of all ages dressing up and getting into the saddle,” she says. “The event is all about family.” Luis Gonzales, Gubler’s new ranch manager, says many of the Mexican cowboys didn’t know what to make of the petite, white-haired cowgirl. “At first, they only

saw a woman with a lot of money,” he says. “They didn’t see her. Now she’s accepted as one of them.” Gonzales himself advised Gubler that the cultural rodeos were not money-makers, and should probably be discontinued. “I mean, I’m Mexican, and I couldn’t see why she was doing it,” he says. “I told her it was better for business to just close it down.” But Gubler wouldn’t have it. She reveres the events for their rich heritage, for the sheer beauty of the skill and posturing, in seeing another culture’s ballet-like approach to traditional American rodeo. “She loves the culture and the horses, and she keeps it all going,” Gonzales says. “She has more energy than people who are 40 years younger.” Gubler and DiGiacomo split their time between a Summerlin home and Sandy Valley. He says he consults a daily planner just to keep pace with the energetic woman who’s several years older. “Sometimes, I’ll say ‘What? You didn’t tell me about that,’ and she’ll look at me straight in the eye and say, ‘Yes, I did.’” That’s the Boss Lady talking right there. ✦

On view July 20 – October 20, 2019 The only West Coast venue to offer a new look at this iconic artist through her art, fashion, and style.

L E A D S PO N S O R

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Wayne and Rachelle Prim M A J O R S PO N S O R S

Nancy and Harvey Fennell | Dickson Realty The Jacquie Foundation

Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts E. L. Wiegand Gallery 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno, Nevada Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University and made possible by the National Endowment of the Arts. IMAGE CREDIT: Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946). Georgia O’Keeffe, circa 1920–22. Gelatin silver print, 4½ x 3½ in. (11.4 x 9 cm). Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, 2003.01.006.


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SUMMER DINING 2019

Want a Piece of This?

PH

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Raspberry Pie from Lou’s Diner

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season for picnics, pool parties, and patio dining. (And rushing inside every 10 minutes to stand under the a/c vent, weeping with

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Of Course You Do. It’s ...

OUR PIE’D TYPERS:

Scott Dickensheets, Brent Holmes, Andrew Kiraly, Heidi Kyser, Stephanie Madrid, Sonja Swanson, Greg Thilmont, Kristy Totten

euphoric relief.) And what’s a foodie’s summer frolic without that seasonal dessert mainstay, pie? Whether they’re bulging with fruit or laden with cream,

pies are at once blamelessly domestic and shamelessly indulgent. Cake says: I’m here for the party. Pie says: I am the party. ¶ You can’t always throw a rager

when you’re craving a piece of pie, so we fanned out across the valley to sample slices in every part of town. H E R E A R E O U R FAVO R I T E S .

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PIE CO N F I D EN T I AL

GREAT GALETTES: PIE, SIMPLIFIED

RASPBERRY PIE AT LOU’S DINER

My future pallbearers might not appreciate the extra weight it’ll involve, but I’m thinking about having a second slice of this. It’s hard to resist the flavorful aikido between the tart raspberries and moist crust. Lou’s, a bustling old-school diner on Decatur beloved by its regulars and staffed by sass-slingin’ waitresses, bakes these beauties in-house, and in some hard-todefine way, it shows, and … hey, wait‚ I just remembered: I’m being cremated. Bring on that second slice! sd

PIES CAN BE TRICKY, requiring perfectly round baking pans, fussily pinched crusts, and intricately latticed tops. For something simpler but just as sweet, consider the galette, an informal, Gallic pie style. Sonia El-Nawal, the proprietor of Rooster Boy Café in Desert Shores, is an expert on the baked treats that may sound fancy, but are actually quintessential peasant cuisine. “It’s a flat tart,” she says. “You just put what you want in it,

then pop it in the oven.” The ingredients that go into a galette crust are few: flour, cold butter, salt, and water. The mixture is first kneaded with fingers and palms. “You add the water to bring it together, then let it rest just like a pie dough,” she says. “Then you roll it out flat, put whatever you want on top, crimple the edges over, and then it’s into the oven.” For a sweet, fruit-filled galette, El-Nawal recommends a finishing touch of butter and sugar. For a savory galette, a drizzle of olive oil and sprinklings of quality salt and fresh-cracked pepper — plus a handful of microgreens or arugula — make for a delectable flourish. Need inspiration? El-Nawal’s galettes at Rooster Boy include potato-rosemary-brie, prosciutto-fig-caramelized onions, and seasonal stone fruits. Greg Thilmont

431 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-870-1876, lousdinerlv.com

CHERRY PIE AT COCO’S

Once a staple for UNLV students and now a haven for budget travelers staying in nearby hotels, Coco’s Restaurant and Bakery has still got the lock on thrifty charm. Sure, it’s a tad sketch, but it’s also highly reliable, serving up 11 signature pies at any given time, plus seasonal favorites. The award-winning coconut cream has a smooth, perfectly sweet eggy filling, topped with fluffy whipped cream and a sprinkling of chewy toasted coconut. And the cherry, loaded with sweet translucent filling and tart fruit,

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is finished with a perfect, flaky lattice. There’s something to be said for old reliables. kt 169 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-736-3936, cocosbakery.com

PEAR PIES AT THE GOODWICH >

For five years now, the Goodwich has been a Downtown Las Vegas go-to for adventurous “stacked-rite” sandwiches. Now, add pies to the list of munchables, including two of the more delectably unusual filling combinations in town: pears with chocolate and pears with cheddar cheese. Yes, please. Made by the owner’s mom, other family-style pies served this summer will feature seasonal fruits from cherries to plums — whatever’s ripe for the baking. gt 900 Las Vegas Blvd. S. #120, 702-910-8681, thegoodwich.com

FRUIT TARTS AT BATTER CAFÉ

With a gleaming, white-tiled wall behind its front counter and farmhouse décor throughout its bright interior, The Batter Café is one of the cutest eateries in Henderson. And its staff bakes adorable mini-pies to complement the aesthetic. Traditional apple is a frequent filling. For a sunshiny alternative, look for colorful fruit tarts adorned with edible gems — think

To say it doesn’t exist isn’t exactly D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S


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strawberries, kiwi, mandarin oranges, and star fruit — on top of pastry cream and crispy shortbread crusts. Take a picture! gt 709 E. Horizon Drive #100, 702-475-6360, madbatterusa.com

COCONUT BANANA CREAM PIE AT LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB

The culinary fanfare at Lawry’s the Prime Rib is definitely old school. Start with the spinning salad, then move on to table-side carved roast beef with all the trimmings, like mashed potatoes with gravy, rich creamed spinach, and savory Yorkshire pudding. But save room for pie! The restaurant’s outrageous coconut banana cream slices aren’t the tidiest around, as they are generously sprinkled with shredded coconut that scatters about your plate. Even better, the toasty, crumbly crust is made of the same tropical ingredient with a bit of butter — no flour used here. Believe it or not, the chunky banana-vanilla filling isn’t overly sweet, but it is exceptionally luscious. This pie pairs perfectly with an elegant macchiato. gt 4043 Howard Hughes Parkway, 702-893-2223, lawrysonline.com

CHERRY PIE AT PIES UNLIMITED

You’re reminded of what a difference

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DEEP THOUGHTS Consider

WAY BACK IN 1982,

the satirical book Real

the Quiche (and Frittata)

Men Don’t Eat Quiche lampooned

relatively thin layer of custard: Salt provides balance to the intense sweetness, and a Milk Bar Pie any thicker would be overwhelming. Instead, what you get is a caramelized, fudgey custard with a hint of corn (think sweet corn flakes) that gives way to a dense, chewy oat crust. ss

über-ma-

cho ’Merican social mores by framing the quintessentially French egg pie as

overly sophisticated, dainty, and effete. In reality, quiche is super-manly. It’s hungry-guy peasant fare from rustic Europe. Think about the makings of classic quiche Lorraine: eggs, cream, bacon, and

The Cosmopolitan, cosmopolitanlas vegas.com

buttery crust. Every slice is a brawny protein and carb bomb. You can just imagine Robert Mitchum’s gravelly, baritone voice: “Quiche … it’s what’s for dinner.” Riffing on quiche probably wouldn’t work as a joke these days. Quiches are popular. You can even find them in the freezer aisle at the supermarket, and just watch the lines form when cocktail-party mini quiches are out for sampling at Costco. And here in the Las Vegas Valley, French bistros and shops bake quiches galore every day for enthusiastic eaters. Some stylish neighborhood destinations like Oh La La French Bistro (ohlalafrenchbistro.com) side quiche slices with refreshing, vinaigrette-dressed green salads, the tried-and-true plating (the much-loved Marché Bacchus, marchebacchus.com, serves slices as occasional du jour specials). The upper-crust à la forestière pie with goat cheese and wild mushrooms at Bardot Brasserie in Aria Resort & Casino (aria.com) is worthy of a brunch trip to the Strip. More casual stops like Cafe Breizh (cafebreizh. com), Delice Gourmands French Bakery (delicesgourmandsfrenchbakery. com), Patisserie Manon (patisseriemanon.com), and the Real Crepe (therealcrepes-lasvegas.com) proffer eggy entrées redolent with ingredients like smoked salmon, feta cheese, spinach, ratatouille, pesto, tomatoes, and broccoli, depending on the venue. Some eateries like to update quiches to meet modern health sensibilities, like the gluten-free creations at CraftKitchen (craftkitchenlv.com). There’s also plenty of amore going around for the Italian iteration of quiche: the frittata. Instead of relying on crispy crusts, the eggs in frittatas are firmed up directly in hot pans. Find examples at Cottonwood Station (cottonwoodstationeatery.com) in outdoorsy Blue Diamond (in sausage and veggie styles with white cheddar). The Kitchen Table (kitchentablelv.com) and the Stove in Henderson (thestovelv.com) both cook spicy renditions jazzed up with poblano peppers. The Factory Kitchen in the Venetian (vene-

homemade makes at Pies Unlimited, the long-standing, family-owned bakery where every dessert is made from scratch. The Holy Grail is its classic cherry pie. Breaking into the perfectly browned and flaky crust reveals the stuff of dreams: a rich, bright-red cherry filling that’s the perfect balance of both sweet and tart. Coming in a close second is the coconut cream pie, with a coconut flavor that’s not overbearing, and lightly toasted coconut flakes to top it off, complementing the homemade vanilla pie crust. sm 2465 W. Craig Road, 702-433-7437, piesunlimited.com

tian.com) keeps their brunch frittata firmly based in Italy with asiago cheese, spinach, and plum tomatoes. And then there’s the gorgeous torta rustica available by special order from Naked City Pizza (nakedcitylv.com); it’s an impressive drum of egg-bound chopped salamis and Italian cheeses inside an elegant pastry shell. It looks like some wondrous delight straight out of Big Night. So, after all, real men — and real women — do indeed eat quiche. A lot. And frittatas. And every other kind of delicious egg pie from potato-laden Spanish tortillas to Hong Kong-style dim sum tarts. No joke. Greg Thilmont

MILK BAR PIE AT MILK BAR

If you love butter and sugar, you’ll get both in spades in the Milk Bar Pie, a custardy confection whose genius lies in the generous salting and

CHERRY PIE AT BLUEBERRY HILL >

We must insist that there are times when a cream pie or, God forbid, a “silk” pie — the equivalent of a perfumed magazine ad: too slick, not the real thing — are simply inadequate to one’s pie desires. When what’s needed is the hale authenticity of a genuine fruit pie. When those moments occur — and especially if they occur at, say, 2 a.m. — you want to be sitting at the counter of a Blueberry Hill. “Sorry it’s falling apart,” the server says as she slides you a collapsing wedge of cherry deliciousness, cut from a pie newly delivered to the counter display. She says it’s the restaurant’s most popular flavor (apple’s a close second), all runny cherry filling, firm crust, and a joyous plenitude of sweet crumble on top. But enough of the eyefeel — what about the mouthfeel? As good as it looks, a magical

cultivated in ancient civilizations for millennia. But why not here? There are many reasons. Oranges require a great

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interplay of cherry goop and flaky crust. And those crumbles! sd Various locations, blueberryhill restaurants.com

APPLE PIE AT GERMAN BREAD BAKERY

There are jokes to be made about stark German efficiency, the no-frills utilitarian interior, the unfailing precision of perfectly square cuts and neatly stacked strudel. But there, between the pretzels and the linzertorte, a little sign will catch your eye and you’ll forget about your surroundings: “German Apple Pie.” What are these neatly-cut blocks coated in white icing? You will ask the woman behind the

PI E CO N F I D EN T I AL

IN CRUST WE TRUST

CHEF DOUGLAS TAYLOR of the bakery at Jerry’s Nugget has one word for his secret to an amazing pie: crust. “A good pie needs a good crust, and it has to be flaky, fresh, and buttery.” Taylor uses butter, as op-

posed to vegetable shortening, to make his crusts, but he suggests trying it with lard for an extra rich, decadent crust. “It has to be baked just right, too. Underbaked is gummy and bland, overbaked is going to be bitter from the burnt butter and flour.” His trick for blind baking — the practice of lightly baking a pie’s shell before filling — doesn’t rely on any bag of beans or ceramic pellets to keep the bottom from bubbling out. “What you do is take your pie shell, and invert it onto the bottom of a pie pan. Once it’s (baked) firm enough to hold its shape, it’s ready to fill and bake the rest of the way.” For a great pie to complement a summer meal, Chef Taylor is looking forward to making seasonal fruit tarts. “I like a nice lemon curd, filled with fresh berries, figs, whatever I can find that’s ripest. Right now we’re in apricot season, so I’ll do ripe apricots in a lemon curd with vanilla bean.” Tip for a great fruit tart: smear some almond paste on the bottom of the shell, to contrast the sweet and acidic notes of the fruit and lemon curd. Mitchell Wilburn

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counter, and she will tell you they’re actually called “gedeckter apfel,” or “coated apple,” but that “apple pie” was easier. No matter. When your forkful of tender crumb, spiced apple, raisins, and shortbread crust makes its way into your mouth, they could call it anything and you’d be satisfied. ss 2237 N. Rampart Blvd., 702-233-2733; 9255 S. Eastern Ave., 702-648-0077, germanbreadbakery. com

< BANANA CREAM PIE AT JERRY’S CAFE

Like the best banana cream pies should be, the rendition served up at Jerry’s Cafe is positively theatrical, with its operatically quivering, whippedcream top bedazzled with coconut crunch, its pudding-like Bavarian cream middle, and base of gooey banana slices on a firm, crisp crust. A sensible person will fork off bites containing all these strata for a holistic pie experience, but I soon found myself snipping and teasing out coconut blips and hunks of crust to savor the details like a fussy connoisseur. If bananas aren’t your thing, the chocolate cream pie is a worthy runner-up, a silky levitating entity you can nearly inhale. ak 1821 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-399-3000, jerrysnugget.com

< BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE PIE AT DU-PAR’S

As a fruit pie purist, I was skeptical. I didn’t know where to stand on this chimera of a pie. Is it cheesecake with too much fruit filling? Is it fruit pie that has been corrupted by unripened sweet milk and cream? Enveloped by the button-tufted vinyl of this venerable diner, I am smitten upon the first bite of this amalgamation of fruit and cheese. A truly beautiful mutant has been birthed at Du-par’s, a testament to rich, comforting flavors that have made this eatery a West Coast mainstay. The crunchy cookie crumble-crust, the palate-coating cream cheese, and the bright beautiful pop of blueberry come together in an elegant trifecta. bh Suncoast hotel-casino, 702-636-7111, suncoastcasino.com

< TRIPLE BERRY PIE AT SOUTHWEST DINER

In Southern Nevada, it doesn’t get any more Americana than charming Boulder City and one of its notable dining destinations: the friendly, country-style Southwest Diner. Follow the arrow on its unmissable, mid-century modern Googie sign out front, and settle in for hefty slices of good old-fashioned pies like the triple berry, with its trio of plump blueberries, strawberries,

Also, oranges spoil and lose fluid much faster than lemons and limes — not to mention that, physically, the orange’s

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OTHER PIE-TYPE THINGS WRAPPED IN DOUGH Lissa Townsend Rodgers There was an office debate that verged on civil war about, well, isn’t pizza a form of pie? (see p. 23), and what about other forms and species of pie, such as pasties, empanadas, and calzones? Well?! So we came up with this placatory sidebar to defuse a revolt.

D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

Chinese Pastries You can spend hours perusing the many buns, pastries, pies, cakes, and rolls of Chinatown’s bakeries. At Diamond Bakery (diamondcakes.com), the choices range from the delicately lovely coconut butterfly pastry to the disconcertingly weighty preserved egg pie. The BBQ pork bun has a filling of tangy, bright-red meat inside pillowy dough, while baked chicken or ham and cheese offer more low-key flavors fit for breakfast or lunch. At Sunville Bakery (sunvillebakery.com), customers peruse rows of cellophane-wrapped baked goods, stacking cafeteria-style plastic trays with their choices. The corn and ham pastry is a puff of sweet dough with a scoop of corn kernels and chopped ham in the center, fine for lunch or breakfast, while the meat pastry is dotted with sesame seeds and filled with shredded beef.

Paradise Place (7365 W. Sahara Ave., 702-834-8188) serves some of the finest Jamaican food in town (those jerk wings) and elevates the beef patty above the frozen version found in grocery stores and pizza joints. There are meat, chicken, vegetarian, and seafood versions, each with its own flavor profile from dough to spice. A sunset-colored flaky crust surrounds a smooth filling of curried chicken; and the beef patty is a slow-cooked classic. Downtown’s Jammyland (jammy.land) also has solid entries in the patty game, with a beef version in turmeric-spiced pastry and a vegetable patty that changes with the seasons.

Latin American Empanada

P A S T R Y, P A T T Y & P A S T Y : C H R I S T O P H E R S M I T H

Along with their array of tasty arepas, Viva Las Arepas (vivalasarepas.com) offers a variety of empanadas, all favorites of both the late-night and lunch crowds. The half moons of golden dough are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, small enough to be held in one hand and solid enough to be eaten on the go. The shredded chicken has a spicy-sweet balance to the seasonings, while the black bean and cheese is unexpectedly rich and savory, and both are augmented by a splash of Arepas’ tomatillo or creamy avocado sauce.

Italian Calzone

Jamaican Patty

British Pasty Cornish Pasty (cornishpastyco.com) pays homage to the United Kingdom with Guinness on tap, the Clash on the sound system and, of course, pastys. Pastys are rather like oversized turnovers stuffed with a dinner plate’s worth of flavors — the crust is flaky on the outside and fluffy on the inside, embellished with a crown-like twist. The Oggie is stuffed with steak, potato, and rutabaga and topped with red wine gravy — rib-sticking comfort food. There are other traditional pastys with pot roast or lamb, but also some featuring Cuban, Mexican, and Southwestern flavors, the most fun being the Royale With Cheese, a pasty stuffed with ground beef, French fries, cheese, and bacon. It’s like eating an entire fast food combo in every bite, except it’s actually delicious.

The big bomb of dough-wrapped dining is the calzone: It can be a day’s sustenance for one, a meal for two or an appetizer for four. New York Pizza & Pasta’s (newyorkpizzavegas.com) cheese calzone is a big-as-your-head crescent oozing with mozzarella and ricotta, accompanied by a chunky, garlicky tomato sauce. Boston Pizza’s (bostonpizzavegas.com) calzones come in a dozen flavors, as well as a make-your-own. Ham is a simple Italian grandma classic; other calzones are stuffed to bursting with meatballs, salami, peppers, onions — any combination that requires six napkins to eat.

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and raspberries. Other summertime varieties include sweet/tart rhubarb and juicy cherry. Go à la mode for a buck extra. gt

PIE HALF EATEN OUT OF TIN/INGREDIENTS FALLING TO REST OF THE “TIN”

LAST PIE SLICE ON PLATE NEXT TO EMPTY PIE “TIN” WITH PIE REMNANTS

761 Nevada Highway, 702-293-1537, southwestdiner bouldercity.com

< SWEET POTATO PECAN PIE AT LOLA’S

I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes. But the waitress hyped Lola’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie hard, raving about its homemade baked potato custard encrusted with candied pecans. My slice arrived warm, enhancing the filling’s flavor, but making the crust a little soggy. The optional Chantilly whipped cream lightens the density of the custard and perfects the pie’s balance of crust, filling, nuts, and cream, with the slightest hint of salt. I also sampled Lola’s Fig Delight, a brownie-like pastry with a center of fig paste — delightfully tacky but delicious. hk 241 W. Charleston Blvd. #101, 702-227-5652, lolaslasvegas.com

BLUEBERRYSTRAWBERRY PIE AT ROOSTER BOY CAFÉ

Good luck finding a better pie in Las Vegas than the Blueberry-Strawberry pie at Rooster Boy Cafe. Chef Sonia El-Nawal has an unfair advantage, of course: her résumé, which includes not only being the pastry chef at Nobu in New

apple or pear. And, given that orange juice is the most prominent fruit juice in the U.S., you could speculate that

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CHOCOLATE SATIN PIE AT MARIE CALLENDER’S

My tongue screams chocolate, Chocolate, CHOCOLATE. The Oreo cookie crust, rich cocoa cream filling, and little crunchy shavings of chocolate dotting the top provide a level of sensory stimulation usually only available to certain circles of occult practitioners and new age mind-expansion gurus. The wearisome presence of Marie Callender’s on the culinary landscape has always seemed to me a blight, with its monotonous decorations and pedestrian menu, but this pie completely redeems any and all affronts to

Multiple locations, mariecallenders.com

CUSTARD PIE AT GOLDILOCKS

Goldilocks stays true to its Filipino roots with the two pies on the menu: classic custard and layered mango. If you can’t decide, go for the delicate, flavorful custard pie. The caramelized surface gives way to reveal a creamy center that has the slightest hint of vanilla. The dessert is light and sweet, from the crust all the way to the brown-sugar crumble on top. sm 2797 S. Maryland Parkway #18, 702-368-2253, goldilocks-usa.com

BANANA CREAM PIE AT DELMONICO STEAKHOUSE

The astounding banana cream pie at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse is surely one of the most exuberant desserts in Las Vegas. It’s a graham-cracker crust piled high with fruitstacked custard filling, lashings of whipped cream, and abundant chocolate shavings. And then there’s a drizzle of sticky caramel sauce. You know you want to say it — “Bam!” Pair your piece with a Liquid Courage cocktail (a rum cordial with espresso and heavy cream) for an over-the-top ending to dinner. Or lunch. gt

The Venetian, emerilsrestaurants. com

LO C AT I O N : M O N A R K

2620 Regatta Drive #113, 702-560-2453, roosterboycafe.com

good taste. bh

LO C AT I O N : M O N A R K P R E M I U M A P P L I A N C E

York, but also having helmed restaurants all over the world. These experiences culminate in Rooster Boy’s menu, and El-Nawal’s pie transported me to the French countryside. She painstakingly selects every ingredient, down to the salt and butter, to create a single-serve pie with a flaky bottom crust, tart fruity center, and sweet crumbly top. The combination’s richness made my jawbone tingle. Just one caveat: It’s seasonal, so you may get blueberry-strawberry, or you may get apricot, or apple — but something tells me they’re all equally good. hk

P I E CO N F I D E N T I A L

HOMEMADE? FREEZE THAT THOUGHT

WANT TO SERVE FRESH, homemade pie but feel like using store-bought crusts is tantamount to culinary cheating? Take it from Lisa Cornish, a local private chef and a winning contestant on Guy’s Grocery Games, there’s nothing wrong with stopping by the freezer aisle.

“It’s a great opportunity to save some time,” says Cornish about balancing home cooking with today’s busy lifestyles by opting for frozen, premade shells. After all, rolling out handmade dough isn’t the speediest of kitchen pastimes. But quality matters. She says Sprouts and Whole Foods are good places to shop for the best pre-made crusts. “Of course, you do have to shop around a bit and test them,” she says about choosing individual brands. For practical tips on achieving flaky, perfectly browned crusts without burnt edges, she advises home bakers to avoid cranking up oven temperatures. “Keep it on a lower heat,” Cornish says. “And rotate your pies.” Cornish adds that convection ovens aren’t the best option for pie-baking. And, for something that might come as a surprise to pie newbies, she also says avoid wrapping pies in aluminum foil — this traps heat and can make for burnt edges. Greg Thilmont

there’s an oversaturation of “orange flavor” in mass food culture and, thus, little desire for its expansion. Brent Holmes J U LY 2 0 1 9

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HOW TO EAT A CITY

Beyond the valley’s restaurant scene, you can taste the real Las Vegas — a city of many vibrant cultures — in the dishes, ingredients, and traditions of its home cooks story K I M F O S T E R

NARA

I’m sure they’ll have rice there,” I tell my 14-year-old vegan, Lucy. We’re driving to a friend’s house to eat Mongolian food. I’m confident Lucy will be able to eat something at this dinner. I am so confident I don’t even bother to pack the little just-in-case containers of nuts, fruit, and crackers that tide her over. In this city of restaurants, we’re on a journey into home kitchens. We’re visiting home cooks, tasting their food, eating at their tables. Each time I eat and cook with someone in their home, I go with expectations of what it will be like. Each time, I am wrong. Today, at Nara and Corey’s house, I will be wrong again. Twice, in fact. The kitchen is a place that yields all kinds of surprises and information about the people who cook there. It’s an excavation site. An anthropological dig. The rituals of cooking help with these discoveries about people — folks can talk about something uncomfortable or intimate while they chop vegetables or brown chunks of beef or

portraits C H R I S T O P H E R S M I T H

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stir a pot of greens. Working with their hands takes the pressure off, as does sitting around a table of dumplings and salad, focusing on the gamey, earthy smell of the soup after you add the goat jerky. It’s a beautiful diversion that makes way for intimate conversation. People feel freer to share the story they rarely tell, the side of themselves that stays hidden when they are more self-conscious. The process makes people naked. It makes me naked, too. Nara and Corey live in Summerlin, and we live Downtown. Four days a week, we watch our daughters do contortion in the middle, in Chinatown. Ayana, their 10-year-old, and Edie, our 13-year-old, became fast friends while learning to do pretzelly positions with their bums touching their heads. Ayana is Mongolian on Nara’s side, African-American on Corey’s. Contortion is the reason some 200 Mongolians live in Vegas. They come here to work in shows like Cirque’s KÀ and Zumanity. They all seem to know each other. They are all connected to circus in some way. Nara is in the kitchen with her Korean friends Haley and Sonny. They are comparing Korean and Mongolian food. They converse in Korean — Nara speaks four languages fluently — and she’s putting perfectly formed dumplings full of spiced meat into a steamer basket while translating for me. “We don’t have sauces in Mongolia,” Nara tells me as Haley puts down a small dish of soy sauce, vinegar, and chilies for dipping the dumplings. “Koreans have many sauces,” Haley adds. “Sauces are too dainty for Mongolians, too fussy for the way we eat,” Nara says, and then makes a gesture as if she is ripping apart a turkey leg with her teeth, Henry VIII-style, and laughing. “We do not dip. We Mongolians attack our food.” You might think you’ve had Mongolian food, but you probably haven’t. “Mongolian Barbecue” is neither Mongolian (it’s Taiwanese) nor barbecue. It’s more of a stir-fry joint that uses Chinese-style sauces. Not only is there no rice in Mongolian food — my first incorrect assumption — there are no chopsticks. Forks and spoons are optional. Eating with fingers is customary. Sometimes there is a knife to carve meat from the bone, then your fingers do the rest. Communal eating is the norm, bowls passed from one person to the next. And it’s a vegetable-light culture — sorry, vegans — with only a smattering of root vegetables served with meat. Think potatoes, carrots, and beets. Things that can be stored in dug-out cold cellars D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S


Nara Hayes

under yurts on the steppe. Meats and fat keep humans alive in cold temps. Nomads, always moving, setting up and tearing down, need high-energy foods to keep going. “Well, we didn’t move all the time.” Her father died when she was 10, leaving eight kids and her mother to run the farm. “We moved in the summer closer to the river. To get more grass for our cows. I worked on the farm and gave all my money, from odd jobs for other people, to my mother for school uniforms and books.” They had horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and goats, but it was her cows that featured most prominently in Nara’s life.

“Sometimes the cows are still sleeping and we don’t want them to pee in certain places in the barn because the pee will freeze and make ice and it smells, so I have to get up in there with my hands and massage their bladders and make them pee before milking,” she tells us with a full-throated laugh, using her hands to describe the process. “My life was crazy!” She is beautiful, with high cheekbones, exuberant and fun-loving but also grounded. She’s a woman who has been through it, traveled the world, hustled hard. But she is also quiet, a very Mongolian trait. “In Mongolia, you don’t talk to people you don’t know,” she says. “Here, people yell out

at each other. ‘Hey! How are you? What’s happening?’ You never do that in Mongolia.” There is something relentless about Nara, like if she gets a hankering for something, she’ll just barrel forward and make it happen, God help you small specks who get in her way. This might be personal. Or cultural. Or both. There must be some kind of steppe-ingrained toughness that pushes little Mongolian girls, as young as 3, to practice contortion six hours a day in special schools. Edie and Ayana’s coach, Zula Ulambayar, who worked as a contortionist in KÀ, tells stories about having to hold handstands on top of blocks of needles. Then Nara’s mom Skypes in from the chicken farm in Mongolia. “‘The Chicken Farm’ is the actual address where Nara’s mom lives,” Corey tells my husband, David. “If you want to send something to her, you just write ‘The Chicken Farm’ on the envelope, and it will get to her!” Corey, an ex-military intelligence officer, is the kind of full-hearted, gregarious guy whom you imagine gets into conversations with people in elevators and while waiting for coffee. He is a great storyteller, and he clearly relishes his fish-out-of-water experiences with his wife’s family. Before I know it, I’m also face-to-face with a beautifully wrinkled, round-faced woman who has no idea who I am, and I am completely unable to talk to her, but still, I relish this connection. Dinner will wait for a bit. Nara introduces me, and the beautifully wrinkled woman on the chicken farm in Mongolia waves to me and smiles.

MESSERET

I

am making shiro wat without telling her. I want it to be a surprise. I want to please her and maybe prove myself to her. My friend Messeret and I are going to host an Ethiopian dinner party at my home, the food of her childhood and her heart,

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for about 20 friends. Some mine, some hers, some ours. She will make most of the dishes. But I’m inspired by our market trips together, and without telling her, I go back. Secretly. I go to Selam Market on Decatur, where we watched the butcher cut mounds of ruby red meat for the kitfo. I pick up a bunch of spices and flours with no idea what I’m going to make. I explore the aisles, folding things into my arms, propping the little containers and bigger bags under my chin, carrying them like I’m a contestant on Master Chef, frantically grabbing ingredients for the competition. Messeret says Goolit Market on Flamingo has the best injera, the bread Ethiopians use to scoop and eat their food. But I grab it at Selam — it’s a busy day — forgetting everything Messeret has told me and assuming all injera is more or less equal. Rookie mistake. Back at home, I begin Googling. Celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson has a shiro wat recipe, but I worry it will be too “cheffy.” Epicurious offers a recipe for a “quick” shiro wat, but I’m not using a short-cut recipe for this dish. It’s too important. I go with the very earnest YouTube video of an unknown-to-me Ethiopian chef. I lop onions into sputtering oil in a castiron pot. I watch them get soft and oily and limp. I chop and dice roma tomatoes. I add a rain of salt. The house smells like Naples or Santorini or Cebu in the Philippines. Sautéed onions and garlic belong to everyone. Then I add the berbere. Berbere is the taste of Ethiopia, and its neighbor Eritrea. It’s a blend of smoky chili peppers, and any combination of garlic, ginger, bishop seeds, fenugreek, basil, rue, carom seeds, nigella seeds, fennel flower, and, sometimes, radhuni, a celery-tasting spice used in Bengali cuisine. Every incarnation of berbere is different. The berbere hits the oil, and the smell of it is all around me. Hot and sweet, peppery and toasty. It changes everything — the berbere makes me a tourist in my own kitchen.

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I let the tomatoes cook down into liquid, stirring and watching. My face is right up in the pot, inhaling it all. In another bowl, I add water to the chickpea flour, stir it until it is saucy, and pour it into the pot. I stir. I watch. I cover the pan. I come back to it. I watch. I add more water. I scrape it all from the pot and put out some scraps of injera. Edie, my 13-year-old, is not so sure, but Lucy takes the soft bread and scoops out the shiro wat. We watch her. Her eyes get wide. A smile. She takes more bread and more shiro wat. Then all the kids dig in, even

3-year-old Desi. She mashes up the injera in her fist to test its sponginess. It’s, like, the best thing we’ve eaten in ages. Eventually, I make them stop, and I hide the stew and the injera in the fridge. “This is for the party,” I say. But it’s mostly for Messeret. To honor her and show my love. The next day, Messeret arrives early to prep for the party. I take out the shiro wat. I hold it out to her. It’s an offering. She is surprised and smiles. She is pleased. She rips a piece of the injera, dips it into the stew.

D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

with turmeric-spiced potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. She brings her favorite injera made in her favorite shop. She shows me how soft, spongy, and moist it is. “Injera is the most important part of the meal,” she says. “You cannot have inferior bread.”

ROCIO

“ Rocio Palacios

I wait. “Meh, it’s okay,” she says. “OMG!” I completely crack up. Messeret, petite and maternal, is truly the most encouraging, least critical, least confrontational person I know. Yet today she has completely dismissed me with a “meh.” I hug her. I’m still laughing and now so is she. “I’m sorry,” she says, hugging me back. “I do not use tomatoes in my shiro wat. And you need to cook the flour longer, for an hour at least.” I tell her about the Ethiopian YouTube chef and his roma tomatoes, and the “quick” recipes on the internet. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” she scoffs, waving the internet away with her hand. “There is no quick Ethiopian food.” She is so pointed and her arm movements so stern and dismissive that we both start laughing again. Cooking the food of her home transforms her. Messeret and I have known each other

for years, but somehow the cooking and the tasting break open a new portal in our friendship. A deeper way of knowing each other. From this day forward, we have this little joke — the one about the time Messeret insulted my shiro wat. We work elbow to elbow, simmering, sautéing, chopping. She has her braids wrapped in a shash, a head scarf that will keep the smell of the spices out of her hair. She is wearing a brightly colored dress from her homeland. She brings a beaded necklace of red, green, and yellow for Desi to wear at the dinner. I fry the lentil sambusas because Messeret doesn’t like to fry. She puts out aluminum foil pans of azifa, a lentil salad with tomatoes, onions, spices, and a mustard vinaigrette; and doro wat, a long-simmering chicken stew with boiled eggs; the lentil-based dishes kik wot and messer wot; a finely chopped chili pepper-infused collard-green dish called gomen; and the traditional tekil gomen,

I would step over your dead body in the street to get to this stuff,” an administrator at my kids’ school says as I hand her a plastic container of Rocio’s ceviche. I am picking up Edie and Luna, Rocio’s daughter, from school for Luna’s 13th birthday party. Rocio is home, prepping, and the teachers score some advance tubs of her local-famous, highly sought-after ceviche. Luna’s 13th birthday party will bring about 40 people to a Henderson backyard. Luna and my daughter, Edie, from whom I seem to acquire most of my friends, are best friends at their school, along with a third girl named Lucy. These girls brought our families together over school fundraisers, musical theater rehearsals, and history projects. Rocio’s ceviche is simple. It’s not that loose, fragile ceviche intermittently studded with a pebble of fancy-pants fish and served in soup spoons over bowls of ice. Imagine a giant white Tupperware bowl of it, in the middle of the table, loaded — and I mean loaded — with shrimp, roma tomatoes, slivers of onions, heaps of cilantro, lots of lime, salt, a good slathering of Tapatio, and, here’s the clincher, ketchup. When folks think of ceviche, they might think broadly of a raw dish, fish dressed with an acid, like lime juice, that “cooks” the fish. But in Mexico and across Latin America ceviche gets specific. How you make yours (or your tamale or mole, for that matter) is about place. Not what country or state or region, but your town or village, and what

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your parents and grandparents made. It is that micro. “This is how we make ceviche in Leon, my village in Guanajuato,” Rocio tells me. At Luna’s birthday party, the backyard is filling up. Elefante’s “Mentirosa” blasts from a speaker sitting in a window. Kids kick a soccer ball across desert dirt. Teenagers huddle over iPhones. Older folks chat at tables and share shots of Sauza. Sometimes they send us over a shot or two in clear plastic cups. It is a warm, sweet desert evening in May, long before the heat will come to the Mojave. The sky explodes with hot pink, orange, and purple streamers, the sun dips behind the mountains. It’s nearly magical. Nora, a family friend, brings a gargantuan seven-layer chocolate cake with thick, stiff cream between the slabs, berries crowning the top and lightly dusted with sugar. It’s gorgeous. I’m sure Rocio hired this lady. “Can I have a cake like that at my birthday?” Edie asks me. “With just that many layers?” I cringe because I don’t have the chops for it. Mine would be some Leaning Tower of Pisa monstrosity. “Can I hire you to make this cake?” I ask Nora when I see her in the house. “I do it for friends and family only,” she says. “I’m not a baker.” Home cooks are like this. We cook. We bake. We don’t always acknowledge our own skills. We know we aren’t chefs. We aren’t caterers with hot boxes and chafing dishes. No one pays us. Our labor is often invisible. But when tasked with cooking for our cousin’s graduation party, we can pull together a kick-ass spread for 100 on a four-burner electric stove from the 1980s without a second thought. Rocio is no different. While she shreds the boiled chicken for the tinga, Margarita, her sister-in-law, supervises the beans and rice. Rocio and Margarita have cooked for many parties in this tiny kitchen. Margarita lets me taste the beans. They are creamy, so soft, almost like mashed potatoes, and the heat is there, but, man, so restrained and in the background, the texture almost ameliorating the force of the chili. “Not everyone likes a lot of chili in their beans,” she says. “I want everyone to eat it.” It’s a beautiful pot of beans. Rocio makes the sauce for the chicken tinga. She tells me what she is putting in the blender, stock from cooking the chicken, soft parboiled tomatoes, and onions. She realizes she is forgetting something — the chipotles — laughs at herself, and takes out

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Summer Thomad

a little of the sauce and blends it again with the chilies. No drama. This is the mark of a good cook, I think, knowing how to taste and fix your mistakes. Knowing the food so well you can add a little of this, a little of that to get the flavor you want. No panic. Just knowing the work of your hands and getting down to it. Rocio is tall and elegant, her clothes perfectly pressed. Her hair is curled into a slight pageboy. Neat. She is the most together person I know. She lives in a modest home in Henderson, with Luna and her older sister, Venezia, Margarita and Rocio’s brother, Antonio, and their two kids, Antonio and Summer. To say they are tight-knit would be an understatement. They are each other’s support. Always there for each other. Venezia and Antonio come home from high school starving and attack a platter of supermarket sushi. I am only a family

friend, but they come kiss my cheek. This is not a house where you feel the kids have floated into North American culture and lost something of their Mexican heritage. They speak Spanish. They respect older folks. They cook and eat Mexican food. They observe the traditions of their families here and in Mexico. “I’m going to marry a Mexican man,” Luna tells me one day. She is quiet and beautiful. She seems like she might be shy when you first meet her, but Luna is not afraid to tell a slightly cheeky middle-school joke, or giggle at one. But she listens to Luis Miguel and her favorite song is the very traditional “Cielito Lindo,” and she has all these very specific and elaborate ideas for her quinceañera — definitely a live mariachi band. This is an American house, firmly rooted in Mexico.

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D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

SUMMER

Yeah, so you’re not actually allowed to fast while menstruating.” I’m texting with Summer Thomad, a week before she hosts her Iftar, a fast-breaking dinner during Ramadan. “All of my Muslim girlfriends and I, are always hoping that we sync up so we can go to lunch together during Ramadan, LOL.” It’s such a mischievous work-around that I can’t help but laugh. “I won’t write about that,” I text back. “I don’t mind …” she writes. “I’m personally not that shy about periods.” That is the voice of a newly minted 21-year-old. A journalism major at UNLV. A young woman who is not afraid to talk openly about things that people might have kept to themselves a generation ago. On the evening of the Iftar dinner, I’m with my friend Drew Cohen, from The Writer’s Block bookstore. Summer has invited us early to see what she is making. I bring a pan of vegan sheik el-mehisi. The dish, translated as “the lord of all stuffed vegetables,” is truly the damned queen mother of all the stuffed-vegetable dishes. Chinese eggplants, stripped of their skins and fried in oil until they are slick, golden, and soft, hollowed out and filled with couscous, charred zucchini, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Then, those little boats sit in a bath of thick tomato sauce, pumped with allspice and cinnamon, all of it doused with toasted pine nuts for crunch. You see, I came with expectations again. I think Summer will make a dinner that clings close to her Iraqi and Lebanese roots. She does. But she also doesn’t. Summer has been fasting all day. She wears a hijab, and when she is nervous she straightens it at the forehead and then the neck. “I don’t feel like a grownup yet,” she confesses, lopping small chunks of marinated halal beef into a pan of spurting oil. She is

carefully making sure each of the chunks are evenly browned and seared. Drew is impressed. “I would just dump the whole bag of beef into the pan,” he admits. It’s an hour from showtime. The kitchen is spotless, dishes are done. She is dressed and gorgeous, not a spatter mark or stain on her. The fatoush is prepped in neat bowls on the counter and the dressing is made. This is her first time cooking for an adult dinner party. This feels remarkable to me. An hour before one of my dinner parties looks like all the crazy. I’m deep-frying, sautéing, pots are steaming, things are smoking, doors and windows are thrown open to accommodate high-heat cooking, the floor is covered by vegetable peels, kids are crying and arguing, one of them is definitely starving and asking me to make some last-minute ramen, the sink is crammed with pots, and pieces of paper are taped to shelves over my work board with last-minute directions. I thrive on the pressure. It’s Kim vs. the dinner party. Summer is not that way. It’s damned impressive to see this woman be so composed this young. She assigns Drew to assemble the fatoush. Fatoush is a mixed-herb and toasted-bread salad that breaks the fast in countries such as Lebanon and Syria. As with ceviches, there are as many fatoush preparations as there are countries and cooks and villages. Some are just herbs. Some have lettuce. Some cooks soak their bread before putting it in the salad, others (like Summer) prefer toasted pita to add crunch. Her fatoush has little precisely cut cubes of cucumber, radishes, red onions, spring onions, parsley, mint, basil. It is festive and colorful. It has a beautiful balance, with its abundance of herbs. Summer’s dressing is simple, red-wine vinegar and sumac. She lets Drew and me smell the sumac, a rush of earthy tang and tartness. I’ve cooked with it before, but, like Messeret’s

berbere, it’s not a go-to spice for me. There’s no childhood memory, no cultural point of reference. Sumac works like lemon, making food taste like itself, only brighter. I remind myself to use it more. Summer doesn’t make Lebanese food often. “It takes a long time,” she says, which is exactly what Messeret says about Ethiopian cooking. Nara, too, complains about how long it takes to make her Mongolian food. “We make a lot of Asian and Japanese,” Summer explains, “because we are students, and it comes together easily.” She shows us a bulging folder of recipes from Giada, their fave, and the Food Network. “We watch a lot of food television,” she says, laughing. The folder is a monster. Thick as a New York phone book. I notice she uses soy sauce in some of the dishes. And not just any soy sauce, but light and dark, each in different ways. This isn’t a novice move. Light soy sauce is thinner and saltier. More for flavor. Dark is thicker and is used to give dishes that rich sauciness and a deep caramel color. As a kid growing up in Vegas, with a huge Chinatown, she knows soy sauce and cilantro as well as she knows sumac and dates. This dinner will be the same — what she gives us is uniquely her, a mix of Arab and American and youthful-on-the-run, mixed with origins of TV and social media. It’s not one thing, it’s everything. None of the other cooks in this piece grew up with celebrity chefs and YouTube cooks. They might not even care who Giada is. Their cooking is practical, for family. But Summer is a child of media. She adapts and moves and creates her own experience on the plate that resembles her global worldview. In her kitchen, she is not looking back. Not yet. Up until three years ago, there was a memory keeper in the kitchen, cooking for her, for her brother Yusuf, her sister Jinan, and her father, Mohammed. Someone who looked back for her. Her name was Amne. She was Summer’s mother. But now she is gone.

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NARA

N

ara is taking something out of the freezer. It’s white, the size of a large toaster or a good-sized picnic ham. It’s sheep fat. I am completely envious. Nara tells me that in Mongolia they don’t cut the fat cap off their meat. Fat is an important health component for living a rural, nomadic life. I silently vow to get myself a big ol’ hunk of sheep fat for my freezer. Nara is serving the men first, as is customary, setting out delicate plates of potato salad, with peas and chunks of meat, a cold beet salad, and a multicolored shredded carrot and cabbage salad, some light food to counter the heaviness of the buuz, a dry dumpling filled with warm, spiced meat. David notes how Russian it all looks. He has spent some time in Russia and Siberia. “Yes!” Nara says. She is carrying bowls of banshtai tsai, homemade, meat-filled dumplings. They’re cooked in tea and milk, and made even fattier and creamier by the addition of a shaved chunk of sheep’s fat and a handful of goat jerky. She serves the dumplings submerged in fatty, gamey, milky broth. “We are called ‘Asian,’ but we are more connected to Russia than China. Beijing is cool, but Russia feels more like my home.” At the table, Corey is telling David about horse meat. “I was just startled! Nara’s family brings it in their suitcases when they visit.” Messeret mentions it, too, about family bringing in goat, and doro wat, cooked and frozen in Ziploc bags, melted shut with candle wax. “You know, it looks like regular meat, like what we eat here, normal!” Corey is telling David. “I was worried, but, man, it’s pretty good!” Nara notices Lucy isn’t eating the buuz, the dry dumplings filled with meat, and Lucy explains that she’s vegan. I’m mortified and implore Lucy, under my breath, to eat more of the pine nuts she has been shelling from a bag on the island. This is where I make my second mistake. I underestimate the fierceness of Mongolian hospitality. Taking care of people, feeding them in hard times, is a cultural mandate. It’s how they survive on the steppe. It is the mortar of their communities. Nara quickly assembles a beautiful salad for Lucy. She does it effortlessly and in a way that makes Lucy feel special. Everyone is going to be cared for at this table, including my vegan kid. “We had a small TV,” Nara tells us as she settles into a chair next to me. “And I saw

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Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ video on MTV.” This was a revelation for her. Until then, she had only seen Russian and Mongolian people. She had never seen a black man before, and this was a sign that there was a whole world outside of Mongolia. When Nara was 25, she started selling clothing on the famous Trans-Siberian Express train, buying in China and selling in Russia. She left her oldest son with her mother. She made enough money to come to the U.S. and send for her son. She met Corey while waitressing at Benihana. Two kids later — Ayana and a son, Cameron — she has the life she saw on a small screen in her yurt on the chicken farm. We are leaving now, and we aren’t getting out of the house without parting gifts. This is also the Mongolian way. Corey hands us a fifth of Mongolian vodka, and Nara makes David take a box of milk curds, to his utter delight. The whole family walks us out to the car through the garage, a very Vegas thing to do, and as they disappear back inside, the garage door closing, we wave and promise to do this more, at our house next time. I can’t help but be happy for Nara. She has her foreign guy, her kids all together, her desert life. But, she tells me, “I still dream of cows.”

MESSERET

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he party is one part social event, one part primer on Ethiopian food. Messeret is a teacher by day, a natural speaker and guide. She shows the guests how to form the injera around a bite of food, popping it neatly into her mouth. Lucy and Edie’s lifelong best friends, Nakamae and Nabrakissa, are Ivorian, and they teach the kids how to eat with their hands. The girls are proud to share this with their friends. Then Messeret tells them about the tradition of gursha — feeding your guests with your own hands. “In Ethiopia, you feed people with your hands many times during the meal,” she tells us. “It doesn’t happen just once.” Feeding someone, putting food in their mouths with your own fingers, is as intimate as it gets. An old Amharic wisdom goes, “Gursha, like love, comes with a bit of discomfort.” Try feeding someone you know only a little — it is vulnerable and uncomfortable, beautiful and exposing. Messeret gathers the partygoers at the prep tables stocked with portable burners, knives, and ingredients, and guides them in making two quick-cooking dishes. Some get

to making the tibs, chunks of beef sautéed in niter kebbeh, a spiced butter, with onions, garlic, ginger, a good amount of berbere, salt, and a squeeze of lemon for brightness. Others are making kitfo, Ethiopia’s answer to steak tartare: supple ropes of raw beef, mixed with mitmita, a spice mixture loaded with chilies, with a lot more heat than berbere. They pour warm, melted niter kebbeh over the meat, so that it puddles in the dish, then a rain of salt and finely chopped jalapeños. Messeret has them scoop mounds of handmade soft farm cheese next to the meat. A consensus emerges that kitfo is one of the best things we’ve ever tasted. And before you know it, Messeret is whipping up another serving. The guests are eaters, for sure. I notice the bowl of shiro wat is empty. I replace it with my shiro wat from the fridge, knowing it isn’t as good. And we run out of injera, so I go to the fridge and take out the injera I bought. Our guests eat it all, not knowing it isn’t quite as good as it should be. They are novices, too. I take a bit of the bread and taste the difference. Definitely not as soft and spongy. I get it now. I’m learning. We are digging into the kitfo, a group of us. I can’t stop eating it. We want more heat set up against that meat, more soft, broken cheese curds. We want chilies and fenugreek. We want to put fenugreek in everything. We are mad about it. Messeret is pleased that we love it so much, but for her it’s not exceptional at all. It’s just her food. She has made it thousands of times in kitchens here and in Africa. She tastes the newest batch of kitfo, adds more niter kebbeh, and tastes again. She stirs. She tastes. She smiles. It is as she remembers. I ask if she needs me to make the next batch. I can do this for her. Easily. I’ve been a good student. “No, thank you,” she smiles. “I’ll do it. I want it to be right.”

SUMMER

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he is carefully browning the meat for her mother’s beef stroganoff when we start talking about her. “This is my first time cooking for a group,” she tells us. “My mother did it all the time.” Amne Thomad died in December 2015 after a five-year-battle with liver cancer. She was good at concealing her pain. “We were kids,” Summer says, “and we weren’t tuned in.” D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

She is focused on the meat, taking some out, putting new pieces in, positioning and turning them with tongs. Although I want to see her in this moment as an equal, a writer I admire in her own right, her discomfort and sadness brings out the mother in me. The more we talk about Amne the more I feel a connection to her, as well, mom to mom, as if she were with us there in the kitchen again. “She was selfless,” Summer tells us. She is having a hard time explaining it all. “My girlfriend, Lily, was sick when I was a kid,” she says. She shows me a text Lily sent her after Amne died, telling her about Amne’s secret trips to visit her in the hospital. “When I was sick, she provided kousa,” Lily writes of her favorite food. “She sat with me while everyone thought I’d pass away, and she’d tell me that Allah loved me. … She called me habibti.” “That means ‘my love’ in Arabic,” Summer tells us. She adjusts her hijab, first at the forehead and again at the neck. I have tears now. I’m watching this woman make the dish her mother made for her family many times, knowing that I get to see something her mother will not see — her spectacular daughter making this spectacular dinner, and that she is able to be so calm and confident because she watched her mother, and learned from her, even when the child in her wasn’t looking at all. She takes out the final pieces of beef with a slotted spoon. We cannot stay sad for long. Amne’s stroganoff needs dollops of thick cream, sautéed mushrooms, and long-caramelized onions. And the doorbell is ringing, and, like life, the dinner party goes on. Drew and I watch Summer put the stroganoff together. The juices of the meat, marinated in garlic, oil, and light and dark soy sauce, make swirls inside the heavy cream, and we crowd around Summer, dying to dig in. But it’s not ready yet, and she is a patient cook, so she puts it in the oven to broil so the top is crunchy and crusty. Summer gives her guests the tour of her food, laid out across the kitchen island. We eat thick, chewy, sweet dates to break the fast with her. There is fatoush with little pieces of toasted pita on the side; a vegan roasted red-pepper soup; Amne’s stroganoff; my mehshi; and dolma, better known as stuffed grape leaves, which are the best stuffed grape leaves of my life. Jinan rolls rice, mint, parsley, dill, and spring onions into grape leaves, and cooks the little packages in tomato sauce. It is the first time eating stuffed grape leaves that I really taste the

It’s Like That Feeling You Get Just Before the Curtain Opens.

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mint. I become simply mad for these things and eat, like, 10. A bunch of us don’t even want to sit at a table, we just want to chat standing at the kitchen island, around the food, as if we are guarding it. The stroganoff over pasta is everything you want it to be — creamy, beefy, earthy with mushrooms, sweet with caramelized onions. Soft in the middle, crunchy on top. Amne is everywhere in this kitchen and in this dish. It is exactly the food that you make for your children so they feel a deep, deep comfort. It is no surprise it is the dish they asked her to make over and over. That makes them remember her now. It’s all warm, loving comfort. And when I think of her, and I do now, this is how I imagine Amne.

ROCIO

O

n the long table, Rocio sets out a huge bowl of ceviche, along with chicken tinga served on crunchy tostadas with shredded lettuce. There’s rice and beans, bowls of salad. And cueritos, pickled pork rinds that taste more

like pickles than pig, chopped up and served in a salad of onions, tomatoes, cilantro, Tapatio, lime, oil, and salt. Rocio’s cousin is coming to the party and he is expecting her to make this dish. It is his favorite. This food is as good as anything I’ve eaten at any Mexican restaurant. And made better by freezing-cold cans of Tecate and someone cranking up some old-school “Suavamente” later in the evening and women getting up to dance under strings of twinkling lights on the patio. All of this makes me think of something Frank Johnson, a Las Vegas poet, said at Summer’s dinner party: “What we make is who we are.” This means something when I think about Vegas, a city known for things that are only its window dressing. If you want to see the real Vegas, there are ways to do that — and eating with friends, tasting their food, cooking with them, is my way. Vegas, to me, is the sum of our vast constellation of kitchens and cooks. We are a community of makers and eaters, rooted in our first homes and pumping that experience into the culture of our city.

If Las Vegas is a great food city, it is largely because of them. While I’m writing this piece, some friends get together to make lau lau, a traditional Hawaiian dish. They fill and knot taro leaves around fatty pork and chunks of salted butterfish, and while the little packages steam, they talk about island life, and the sound of the ocean lapping the sand at night. And there is the time I meet Valai Phomvongsa, an elderly Thai woman shopping at SF market on Spring Mountain Road, my hands-down favorite Chinatown market. She shows me how to choose the perfect papaya for her green papaya salad, and then, right there, in the fruit aisle, tells me her family recipe, the one she has been making for 60 years. There’s Nakamae and Nabrakissa Sylla, my daughter’s best friends, who make echeke with their Ivorian father, and they teach me to make the shredded cassava, the crispyfried fish, and the gravy, made from sautéed onions, peppers, tomatoes, and touches of curry. The girls eat it with their hands. And now, so do we. ✦

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D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S


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HEALTHY LIVING By Elisabeth Daniels

➽ A focus on wellness represents a commitment to taking care of ourselves. Because wellness encompasses a range of elements—from eating well and exercising, to preventative medical care, to treating chronic medical conditions to avert complications, to prayer, meditation and mindfulness, to just being outside and connecting with nature—it can be hard to wrap your head around. Add to that the constant temptation to make unhealthy choices, achieving your wellness goals can feel nearly impossible. Be patient with yourself. It can take up to six weeks to make a behavior change a habit. Keep at it. The more you work on changing, the more likely you’ll succeed. The benefits of achieving wellness—a healthy, capable body, a strong social circle, low stress, and a purpose you’re passionate about—are well worth the effort. Our guide and second part of our Healthy Living series should make it easier. WELLNESS AT WORK

Sitting all day. Pizza Fridays. Weekly birthday celebrations with lots of cake. Squabbles with coworkers. Work can be a wellness minefield. If changing jobs or investing in a treadmill desk are too drastic, we’ve got practical

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SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

strategies for staying healthy at work without changing your daily routine. • Take the stairs instead of the elevator • Set hydration targets throughout the day • Schedule reminders to take breaks for light stretching or marching in place • Give coworkers a genuine smile when you see them • Treat yourself to a healthy snack when you finish a task • Take a walk around the building • Devote time to stretching

WELLNESS AT HOME After a long day at work or ferrying the kids to all their after-school obligations, it can be easy to turn to fast food for dinner or chill out in front of the television all night. Here are a few simple ways to stay healthy at home. • Stock your kitchen with whole foods and basic ingredients so you can easily cook simple, healthy meals at home. • Create a soothing environment. Light your favorite scented candles or put on a relaxing playlist. • Add some greenery. Indoor plants are natural air purifiers, absorbing toxins and releasing oxygen into the air. • Go for a walk after dinner. • Consider journaling to record important happenings and release any negative emotions that might have cropped during the day.

WELLNESS ON THE ROAD Adventure. Discovering something new around the next bend. Reconnecting with family and friends. Traveling can be a life-changing experience. But it can also be synonymous with bad food, tight muscles, lack of sleep, and more. Try these tips to keep rolling with your healthy objectives on your next excursion. • Plan ahead. Bring shelf-stable, healthy snacks for the plane and stash some in your purse for those times when you’re between meals and starving. Pack walking shoes for impromp-

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tu strolls. Download quick workouts to your tablet or mobile device. • Keep calories in check. If the menu option is something you could easily have at home that isn’t healthy, select something lighter. That way, when you come across regional dishes that you can’t get anywhere else you can dig in guilt-free. • Staying at a hotel? Take advantage of the gym or pool or take a class at a local fitness studio. Even better, explore your new location on foot. • Fill up on protein and vegetables and limit drinking your calories by minimizing your intake of sugary soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. • Practice mindfulness. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to capture every moment in photos or video. Be in the moment. • Look into supplements that strengthen your immune system to avoid being wiped out by a cold or other ailment.

WELLNESS WITH FRIENDS

Strong friendships are good for your health. Friends are there to celebrate the happy times and to help you cope during the tough times. They foster a sense of belonging and prevent loneliness. Many times they encourage

you to stick to your wellness goals. But sometimes, when their goals are different from yours, you can get derailed. In those circumstances, it can be a little uncomfortable to be the person who votes for salads over burgers at girls’ night or who skips happy hours in favor of gym sessions. Which is why it’s important to cultivate friends who respect your priorities. Here are a few suggestions for having fun with your friends while staying on track. • Plan ahead. Eat a snack before happy hour if your goal is to stay away from the bar appetizers. Bring veggies or a salad to potluck dinners. Sneak in home-popped popcorn on a movie date. • Find other things to do together. Get together with your friends in places where food and alcohol isn’t the primary focus. Visit a museum, have a spa day, go for a mani/pedi together, volunteer for a charity event, or make a hiking date. There are plenty of ways to connect with your friends outside of the usual bars and restaurants. • Don’t give in to peer pressure. Don’t let your friends talk you into eating or drinking things you don’t want to. Decline politely and remember that it’s okay to stick to your wellness goals.


HEALTHY LOOKS GOOD ON YOU THIS IS YOUR DAY TO LIVE TO THE FULLEST. At Southwest Medical, part of OptumCare®, we put patients first. We build a preventive care plan around you. We have over 400 providers in 36 locations, with six of those dedicated to seniors. Our Convenient Cares and Urgent Cares are available with no appointment necessary. Live your best life. We’ll be there with you every step of the way.

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YOUR WELLNESS BLUEPRINT

Get going on your way to wellness with these tips. • Pencil It In. Grab a pad of paper or an app and list your wellness goals. Think about the challenges you face. Figure out where you want to be in six months, one year, five years. Based on your needs and desires, plus what you’ve learned about wellness, determine specific, measurable goals to achieve your vision. • Wreck the Roadblocks. List the barriers that keep you from living your best wellness life. Which ones are genuine obstacles? Which ones are just excuses? Think of ways to work around these problems and develop solutions so you can overcome them when these issues come up. Keep forgetting your gym bag? Stash extra workout clothes in your desk. Tempted by leftover pizza in the breakroom? Meal prep on the weekends so you can easily grab a healthy meal when you’re on the go.

• Plan to Succeed. Success often hinges on having a plan, especially when you’re tackling something major. Develop a strategy for yourself and your goals; otherwise, life will get in the way, and angst will set in. Develop a game plan for achieving your goals, and don’t forget to include tactics for overcoming the hurdles. Your plan should have specific steps for reaching your goals but be flexible so you can adjust as life unfolds. • Stay Accountable. Share your goals with friends, family or a wellness partner. If they know about your goals, the people around you can help you achieve them. But be thoughtful about with whom you share. Make sure it’s someone you trust and enjoy spending time with. Maybe you can keep each other going. • Jot in a Journal. Wellness isn’t always easy, so give yourself a place to unload, like a journal. Documenting all the ups and downs is

incredibly freeing. Venting can help you move past obstacles, and sometimes solutions present themselves through the process of journaling. • Start Where You Are. Don’t wait for the circumstances to be right to begin. There’s no perfect time for wellness. Where are you right now on your path? Embrace where you are in this moment and where you want to be and start the process. When issues pop up, refer to your plan or journal those feelings and concerns. • One Thing at a Time. Achieving your wellness goals doesn’t happen overnight. There are so many areas to work on that it can be overwhelming. Focus on one thing at a time. Keep working at it and you’ll get there. But remember, wellness is a practice. It’s a journey, not a destination. • Don’t Fight Failure. Setbacks are going to happen. Making mistakes is part of the process. Learn what you can from them, and use any failures to strengthen your plan. • Marie Kondo It. Take a page from “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and spend some time getting rid of junk that’s holding you back, both literally and figuratively. Look around your home to see what clutter you can clear out to make room for equipment, books, and other tools to help you on your wellness journey. Then create a list of your activities and decide which ones aren’t contributing to your overall goals. Rewrite that schedule to encompass activities and people who bring meaning to your life.

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• Ditch the Comparisonitis. We’re bombarded by messaging telling us how to get the “perfect” body or which diet plan to follow or how to live our best lives. These messages leave us feeling behind, like we’re not measuring up to our potential, and they distract us from our goals. By tuning into the specifics of your body and lifestyle, you can cut out the noise and concentrate on the initiatives that work for you. • Celebrate the Milestones. No matter how small your accomplishments may seem, reward yourself for a job well done.


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Turtles, Chuck Negron, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Buckinghams, The Classics IV, and The Cowsills. 7P, $39–$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

The Guide ▼

ART THROUGH AUG. 3 DOCUTAH It’s the DOCUTAH DECADE – 10th Season of DOCUTAH DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival celebrates the art of documentary filmmaking, September 2 through 7, 2019 in St. George UT. In this golden age of documentary, these films tell stories that help us relate to what it means to be human. Come see 65 award winning films from around the globe and mingle with the filmmakers. Tickets go on sale next month. www.docutah.com 225 S. University Ave St. George UT 84770 (435) 879-4273

Sorry for the Mess

Artists Justin Favela and Ramiro Gomez come together for the first time in an exhibition of artwork about labor, childhood memories, and life in Las Vegas. Free. Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, unlv.edu

JULY 4 – SEPT. 22

A Good Offense: Dino Might

Chickpeas Mediterranean Café A Mediterranean Fusion Restaurant serving Beef, Chicken and Lamb Kabobs as well as Vegan and Vegetarian dishes. Catering to the medical, pharmaceutical and business communities. Winner of the “Top 10 Caterers in Las Vegas” on ezcater.com Northwest Corner of Flamingo and Jones 6110 W. Flamingo Road 702-405-6067 www.chickpeaslv.com

Local artist JW Caldwell’s exhibit guesses what dinosaurs might say or do while they are stomping through the Preserve this summer. 9A–5P, free for members or with paid general admission. Big Springs Gallery at Springs Preserve, springs preserve.org

fun activity for the whole family. 9A, $3. Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, 500 E. Washington Ave., parks. nv.gov

Hamiltunes! The All American Sing Along

MUSIC JULY 5

Empire Records' All-'90s Experience Buy a lane and bowl as you groove to the biggest hits of the 1990s. Ages 18+ only. 7P, free. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brooklyn bowl.com

JULY 5

Laura Shaffer

Step back into vintage jazz and the Golden Era of Hollywood with Shaffer’s smoky vocals. Ages 21+ only. 7P, free. Rocks Lounge, Red Rock Casino, stationcasinos live.com

JULY 27

JULY 12

Watercolor paints, paper, and brushes are provided in this

Go back in time with hits of the '60s and '70s featuring The

Paint with a Ranger

JULY 14

Happy Together Tour

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If you’re a fan of the blockbuster musical, you will love being part of the singalong. Costumes are encouraged. 7P, $10. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com

JULY 20

Clint Holmes and Billy Stritch — Straighten Up and Fly Right

The Las Vegas favorites pay tribute to legendary singer Nat “King” Cole. 3P and 7P, $39–$59. Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

JULY 20

Bret Michaels with Jack Russell's Great White

As part of his Unbroken World Tour, the former lead singer of Poison shares the stage with another big-hair band of the '80s. 7P, $29–$54. Sandbar at Red Rock Casino D E S E R T C O M PA N I O N

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The Guide JULY 20

Common — Let Love Tour

The acclaimed rapper has released 11 albums and branched into acting, writing, and film production. He has just published his memoir, Let Love Have the Last Word. 7:30P, $39– $79. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

JULY 20

J Boog

Samoan reggae singer Jerry “J” Boog heads an allstar concert. Ages 18+ only. 10P, $25–$45. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brooklyn bowl.com

JULY 26

Jim Caruso’s Cast Party with Billy Stritch on Piano

A traveling version of the weekly NYC impromptu variety show featuring performers and up-andcomers from the Vegas Valley. 7P, $30–$45. Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

JULY 28

The Hypnotiques in Concert

A Las Vegas-based band led by Swinging Tiki Duchess Kitty Chow, they play vintage Hawaiian, tiki/exotica, and retro-lounge mu-

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sic. 2P, free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org

JULY 30

Michael Grimm Performs a Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn

The America’s Got Talent season 5 winner lends his voice and guitar to salute the blues legend. 8P, $30–$49. Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

AUG. 1

The Return of Harry and the Potters

What would happen if Harry Potter quit the Quidditch team, stole a Time-Turner, and started a punk rock band with himself from an earlier point in the space-time continuum? This concert. 6P, free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org

AUG. 2

Serpentine Fire

The popular Earth, Wind, and Fire tribute band performs all the hits and more. 7P, $20–$35. Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

AUG. 3

Asian Moon Festival featuring Li Lin Hong Chinese Music Ensemble In an all-encom.

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passing tribute to Asian culture, these masterful musicians lead an astounding performance of folkloric and contemporary songs. 2P, free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org

AUG. 3

An Evening with Led Kaapana

The singer, slack-key guitar virtuoso, and ukulele player returns for a night of Hawaiian music. 7P, $35–$50. Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com ▼

THEATER & COMEDY THROUGH JULY 13

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Lab LV proudly brings you Shakespeare’s beloved tale told anew with iconic song and dance. Wed–Sat 8P, $15. Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, supersummer theatre.org

JULY 11 – 14

I, Nomi

April Kidwell’s one-woman show is a mashup of Nomi Malone (the heroine of the cult film Showgirls) and Tonya

Harding. Thu–Sat 8P; Sun 5P, $30. Majestic Repertory Theatre, majestic repertory.com

Show Creators Studio, 4455 W. Sunset Road, lvimprov.com

JULY 12 – 28

The Book of Mormon

Godspell

The classic musical based on the life and teachings of Jesus. Thu–Sat 8P; Sun 2P, $25. Las Vegas Little Theatre, lvlt.org

JULY 13

Strive! The Musical

Embrace the musical journey of three women who took very different paths to conquer the challenges of the city and circumstances to find their way. 3P and 7P, $25–$30. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org

JULY 19 – 20

Hairspray

Broadway in the H.O.O.D. presents the culmination of its summer camp experiences. Fri 7P; Sat 2P, $20. Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV, unlv.edu

JULY 20

Cool Comedy with the Las Vegas Improvisational Players

LVIP is a family-friendly show with musical and short-form improv all made up by suggestions from you, the audience. 7P, $10; $5 kids/military.

JULY 30 – AUG. 4

FAMILY, FESTIVALS, & FIREWORKS JULY 4

Fourth of July Celebration

The hit musical about a pair of mismatched missionaries returns for a limited run. Tue–Sat 7:30; Sat–Sun 2P. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com

One of the best celebrations with live entertainment, kids activities, and fireworks starting at 9P. 6P, free. Heritage Park, 350 E. Racetrack Road, cityofhenderson. com

JULY 4

DISCUSSIONS & READINGS AUG. 1

The Las Vegas Strip We Once Knew

Lynn Zook takes a walk down memory lane and revisits the first ten hotels built on the famed stretch of blacktop, the neon signs, the performers, and more. 7P, free. Jewel Box Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org ▼

DANCE JULY 20

Christmas in July with Na Hula Hali'a Aloha

Enjoy a traditional winter hula celebration in the middle of summer. 2P, free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org

Fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip

Watch the skies for one of the brightest displays in the valley as two of the biggest casinos join for a coordinated show. 9:15P, free. Starts at Caesars Palace and joined by Mandalay Bay

JULY 4

Fireworks at Green Valley

Starting at 6P, there will be concerts leading up to the fireworks and a shuttle from the GVR golf course. Display at 9:30P, free. Green Valley Ranch, gvrcoconcerts. com

JULY 5

First Friday

From crafts to food to everything in between, this is the place to celebrate all things


D E S E R T C O M P A N I O N .V E G A S

artsy. Cockroach Theatre offers 20-minute vignettes, multiple food trucks offer mouth-watering dining, and booths of all sorts offer one-of-akind items. 5–11P, free. 1025 First St., ffflv.org

JULY 13

Build Your Own Covered Wagon

Prepare for your journey across the West using popsicle sticks and construction paper. 10A–3P, $3. Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, 500 E. Washington Ave., parks.nv.gov

JULY 20

Pioneer Day

Celebrate the pioneer lifestyle with one of the fort's biggest events of the year. This family-friendly affair will feature pioneer games, children's crafts, food concessions, live music, and more! 9A, $3. Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, 500 E. Washington Ave., parks.nv.gov

JULY 26

Last Friday, Just Add Water Street

Go to the heart of Henderson to celebrate with culinary delights, vendors, music, and art. 6P, free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., cityofhenderson.com

FUNDRAISERS JULY 15

Mondays Dark — Maximum Hope Foundation

Mark Shunock gathers an eclectic cast of guests including stars from Hollywood, the Strip, musical acts, athletes, and celebrity chefs for 90 minutes of chat, entertainment, and a lot of laughs — all to benefit a local charity. 8P, $20– $50. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, mondays dark.com

JULY 16

Indie Artist Concert Series

The Dreamstone Foundation serves the homeless through music from various artists. 8P, $10. The Nerd, 450 Fremont St., dream stonellc.com

JULY 29

Mondays Dark — Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Mark Shunock gathers an eclectic cast of guests including stars from Hollywood, the Strip, musical acts, athletes, and celebrity chefs for 90 minutes of chat, entertainment, and a lot of laughs — all to benefit a local charity. 8P, $20– $50. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, mondays dark.com

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JULY 1, 2011: Medical marijuana activist Pierre Werner pleads guilty to felony charges of operating a storefront dispensary, named Dr. Reefer, which under Nevada’s Medical Marijuana Act is illegal. According to authorities, patients in need must grow their own. JULY 2, 1937: Judge Jack Lewis proclaims a crackdown on moochers and drunk drivers, saying: “I will not have the women of this city — mothers, wives, daughters — accosted by vagrants or drunk drivers.” JULY 3, 1937: A local headline trumpets “AMELIA STILL ALIVE!” after ham radio operators in L.A. report hearing SOS transmissions from missing aviatrix Amelia Earhart. JULY 4, 1913: According to one citizen, “The most happy Fourth of July in our little city’s history ended with fireworks on Fremont St.” JULY 5, 1957: The largest firework ever set off in the U.S., Operation Plumbbob Hood, five times the size of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, “fulminates for half a minute into the traditional cloud whose height hits 49,000 feet at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles away.” JULY 6, 1971: Musician Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, a mainstay at the Tropicana Hotel, dies in New York City, at 71. JULY 7, 1950: Area residents are warned to pay their garbage fees and pick up messes around their cans or they’ll receive no trash collection services. JULY 8, 2011: Radiation levels are being closely watched within the National Security Site, the former Nevada Test Site, as wildfires caused by lightning consume 6,000 acres of land near where many nuclear explosions were detonated. JULY 9, 1930: Former ice company employee Art Shaw, “demented for some time,”

RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY Droll, odd, poignant, and awkward moments from the many Julys of Las Vegas history BY

Chip Mosher

jumps from the hospital’s second story and, while running away, is beheaded by a moving train. JULY 10, 1937: Transient Jack Wallace appears in court on vagrancy charges “for staging epileptic fits on Fremont St.” to con people out of their money. JULY 11, 1991: State Senator Joe Neal is the first African-American to serve as acting governor of Nevada while the governor and lieutenant governor are out of state. JULY 12, 1950: For violently dragging his wife across a Downtown street after she’d been yanked from a bar, Earl Harmon is fined $25 by Judge Walter Richards, who remarks: “Days of the Stone Age when fond hubby could drag fond wifey by the hair and get away with it are gone forever.” JULY 13, 1981: Controversy surrounds the daytime greyhound races in 110-degree heat at Las Vegas Downs, threatening to shut down the dog-racing track in Henderson. JULY 14, 1937: A newspaper ad touts: “It’s swell to feel swell. To guard your health demand FRESH cigarettes. You can’t buy stale with Old Gold.”

Sources: Las Vegas Age; Las Vegas Morning Tribune; Las Vegas Review-Journal; Las Vegas Sun

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JULY 15, 1962: About 50 protesters against nuclear testing, members of “Women Strike for Peace,” march on the Vegas Strip. JULY 16, 2008: Nevada Highway Patrol officer Edward Lattin, 46, is jailed on $50,000 bail, accused of smoking marijuana before crashing his vehicle while off-duty, killing Ying Warren, 49, of Las Vegas. JULY 17, 1962: In town to see a nuclear blast at the Test Site, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy reveals he has no interest in investigating legalized gambling in Nevada, and says, “What happens in Nevada should be decided by the people of Nevada.” JULY 18, 1926: High school student Vera Miles has won first prize in the Third National Meat Story contest, sponsored by the National Livestock and Meat Board. JULY 19, 1937: When the Navy halts its extensive search for Amelia Earhart, who has visited our city twice, a headline declares: “NAVY RECORDS AMELIA AS DEAD.” JULY 20, 1983: Vice officers arrest prostitute Dorothy Rolfe, 48, a former Nevada congressional candidate, for operating “a sex torture chamber” on South Sixth Street, where she allegedly “whips and verbally humiliates clients for $150.” JULY 21, 1980: Deep Throat with Linda Lovelace and Debbie Does Dallas with Bambi Woods are playing at the “art cinemas” in town.

JULY 22, 2008: Catlynne Shaw, 12, dies from a heart attack after riding the Circus Circus Adventuredome’s Canyon Blaster rollercoaster. JULY 23, 1990: When the NCAA suspends UNLV’s basketball team from postseason play next year, 200 fans line up near Maryland Parkway at Tropicana Avenue to drop their pants and have their pictures taken “mooning” the NCAA Infractions Committee. JULY 24, 1983: Local schoolboy Andre Agassi, 13, is getting national attention for his precocious tennis talent. JULY 25, 1933: “I’m happy to see that gent depart,” says Police Chief Orren Boggs when transient Harry Lewis, “the dirtiest, most odorous man ever in jail here,” is freed and leaves town. JULY 26, 1932: “Marihuana fag sellers” Jose Orozco and Bulste Perez receive lengthy jail sentences for possession of several “marihuana” cigarettes. JULY 27, 1962: FBI counterspy Mathew Cvetic, 53, secretly embedded for years in the Communist Party, dies from a heart attack in Hollywood. He once labeled Vegas “the focal point for espionage in the Southwest.” JULY 28, 1932: Traveling to L.A. to give America’s Distinguished Flying Cross to Amelia Earhart “for her wonderful feats in aviation,” Vice President Charles Curtis stops here and speaks to 2,000 onlookers at the train station. JULY 29, 1953: Southern Nevada Telephone officials predict dial phones throughout Clark County by 1955. JULY 30, 1905: School funds are exhausted as 250 students plan to attend our town’s only schoolhouse this year — “a small tent erected to accommodate last year’s 17 pupils.” JULY 31, 1937: Fresh barracuda is 19 cents a pound at Safeway.

I L LU S T R AT I O N : C A S H

END NOTE


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