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HOME FORECLOSURES: STILL A THING THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN, BEATING DEATH THE LGBTQ FIGHT FOR MARRIAGE RIGHTS
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enjoy a good sci-fi flick as much as the next closet nerd in denial, but I’ve found that I’m much more into the aesthetics than the explosions. The desert societies in sci-fi films always have the coolest homes, clothes and vehicles — practical, rugged, but always undeniably stylish. Consider the Skywalker clan’s sandcastle-modern moisture farm on Tatooine, or the impeccable slim-fit stillsuits of the inhabitants of Dune, or the whole industrial Cirque-du-leatherbear dirthead-chic vibe of Fury Road — I mean, we live in a desert, right, so how come we can’t live like that? I hereby publicly vow that I will someday crush into the parking lot of Whole Foods in one of those sweet Jawa transport humvees. (Also, random: Moisture Farm is the name of my next band.) Well, maybe we’re inching our way to some measure of futureworld desert desperado couture. For this year’s home design feature “Inside out” (p. 53), we sought out houses that — in glaring contrast to the typically placeless air-conditioned stucco box motif that has reigned here for far too long — converse with the outside world. Take, for instance, Blue Heron Design Build’s Marquis Showhome in Henderson, a palatial mothership whose strong modern lines and mechanized walls point to a fresh, desert-conscious design aesthetic. More down to earth but no less desert-aware is Doug Towner and Steve Mergenmeier’s Downtown home. They revived a decrepit backyard, transforming it into a Mediterranean getaway that doubles as a pool-party destination for friends and family — in other NEXT words, home design that fosters comMONTH munity. Whether it’s a soulful lakeside From retreat in Boulder City or a starchijetpacking to land-sailing, tectural stronghold in Blue Diamond, adventure each featured home is a true original, awaits in our and yet they all partake of a distinctly May travel Southern Nevada spirit. (McMansion issue!
developers with dollar-sign eyes drooling over the recovering housing market, take note.) Oh, and bonus: Our fashion spread “Spring forward” (p. 64), featuring floral styles (what, no Jawa cloaks?), was photographed at the Springs Preserve, our community’s supercool living sense-of-place edutainment terrarium. When it comes to making anywhere home, sense of place means very little if other fundamentals are missing. You know, like chill, live-and-let-live human decency. In an excerpt from his new book, Out of the Neon Closet: Queer Community in the Silver State (p. 34), author and historian Dennis McBride recounts a painful chapter in ... well, I was about to write “the history of the gay community.” But, really, it’s a painful chapter in everyone’s history: The 2000-2002 campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in Nevada. In light of a new legislative bill that would essentially override the state constitution’s same-sex marriage ban, McBride revisits the episode, shedding new light on how religious fundamentalism, politics and money cynically converged to divide a community. Fifteen years later, it’s tempting to say we’ve come a long way — and, to be sure, we have. So why dredge up the painful past? It’s what you do when you live in your dream home: Andrew Kiraly editor Maintenance is a labor of love.
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Exploring the Outdoors Caesars Foundation supports National Park Trustâ€™s Buddy Bison school program that brings children from underserved communities to local, state and national parks. Locally, this program allows our children to experience Nevadaâ€™s parks, enriching their education in science, history, geography and more. During Earth Month, we salute National Park Trust for teaching our youth about the value of our environmental resources and the benefits of outdoor recreation.
VO LU M E 1 5 I S S U E 4
“HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH YOUR IDEAS?” Dateline: mid-March 2017. Scene: a Desert Companion brainstorming meeting. Six people cluster around a table in a small, windowless conference room colloquially known as “Guantanamo.” Six very different personalities coming together to debate the ideas that will ultimately take shape as an issue of the magazine. Your challenge: Match the quotes to the staffers you, as a reader, have come to know. As we drop into the conversation, someone has just proposed a travel package for the May issue. ... whole concept of heroism, chivalry and piety. And let’s not even get started about its dark legacy of brutality and oppression …”
“Do I have to dress up for that?” “Why are we here? What is meeting? What am journalism?”
“We did that story in our February 2013 issue.”
“So, I have this story idea about solar energy …” “We did that story in our June 2011 issue.”
ANDREW SCOTT D.
“In fact, while it’s true that bears are classified as carnivores, most are actually omnivores — and pandas are actually almost completely vegetarian …”
“Oooh. What you just said. Complete that thought. There’s something there. We’re onto something!” “I have the perfect source for that story.”
“I’ve lost interest in this conversation.” “Your face lost interest in this conversation.” “So, how do we break this feature story? How do we [expletive] it up?”
“I could do a blog on that.”
“I have the perfect source for your face.”
“We did that story in our April 2014 issue.”
“Oooh … and Scott can doodle it!”
(Doodling in notebook)
“That’s just hurtful. Hurtful.” (Random sports comment) “They are still relevant! The Crusades had a SCOTT profound impact on Western civilization! They reopened the Mediterranean to commerce and travel, they consolidated the collective identity of the Latin Church under papal leadership — and inspired the
“In the 2000s, Bollywood began influencing musicals in the West — and actually played a huge role in the revival of the American musical film genre. I mean, think about it …” “Okay, let’s stop now.”
BRENT Another successful meeting! Brains have been stormed; ideas have been raised, tormented and dismissed; doodles have been doodled. Just like every month in the life of Desert Companion. And what, you ask, is the upshot? This: There will be a travel package in the May issue. Look for it next month! Answer key: In order: Scott D., Andrew, Heidi, Andrew, Brent, Andrew, Scott L., Scott D., all six in unison, Andrew, Chris, Brent, Andrew, Chris, Heidi, Andrew, Heidi, Scott L., Andrew, both Scotts, Brent, all six in unison
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VO LU M E 1 5 I S S U E 4
FEATURES 53 THE NEW IN AND OUT
Desert living doesnâ€™t have to mean staying cooped up in a stucco box. These homes point the way to a fresh sense of indoor-outdoor livability
64 SPRING ZING
JA M E SO N R E S I D E N C E : LU C KY W E N Z E L
Keep the season light, fresh and fun with these floral and hardy fashions
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VO LU M E 1 5 I S S U E 4
DEPARTMENTS ALL THINGS
73 THE GUIDE
17 HOUSINGFor some,
Life after would-be death with The Amazing Johnathan By Julie Seabaugh
44 AT FIRST BITE
Wait, this burger is vegan?!
Some stuff you can do this month, whatevz
the foreclosure crisis hasn’t gone away 19 ENVIRONMENT
Writer, be skeptical! 20 PROFILEDinosaur man of Henderson 22 ZEIT BITESPoetry! 24 WELLNESSHead, heart and body in sync 26 OPEN TOPIC
Book excerpt: Looking back at the intersection of politics, faith and money that resulted in Nevada’s ban on gay marriage By Dennis McBride
Thinkin’ and tankin’ with Reid and the Boehner
47 EAT THIS NOW 47 COCKTAILA sunny,
spicy scotch 48 THE DISHTrying too hard at Momofuku
73 END NOTE There is nothing in this world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a viewer in the depths of an HGTV binge By Stacy J. Willis
ON THE COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Robert John Kley
I L LU S T R AT I O N : R YA N O L B R Y S H ; M A R R I AG E C E R E M O N Y : D E N N I S M C B R I D E ; A M A Z I N G J O H N AT H A N : S A B I N O R R ; V E G A N C H I C K E N : C H R I S T O P H E R S M I T H
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P U B L I S H E D B Y N E VA D A P U B L I C R A D I O
Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With awardwinning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. PUBLISHER Flo Rogers CORPORATE SUPPORT MANAGER Favian Perez EDITOR Andrew Kiraly ART DIRECTOR Christopher Smith DEPUTY EDITOR Scott Dickensheets SENIOR DESIGNER Scott Lien STAFF WRITER Heidi Kyser GRAPHIC DESIGNER Brent Holmes ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Sharon Clifton, Susan Henry, Jimmy Hoadrea, Kim Trevino, Markus Van’t Hul SALES ASSISTANT Ashley Smith NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE Couture Marketing 145 E 17th Street, Suite B4 New York, NY 10003 (917) 821-4429 advertising@couturemarketing MARKETING MANAGER Donovan Resh PRINT TRAFFIC MANAGER Karen Wong SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Tammy Willis WEB ADMINISTRATOR Danielle Branton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jennifer Battisti, John Curtas. Cybele, Melanie Hope, Hugh Jackson, Heather Lang, Dennis McBride, Christie Moeller, Logan Riley, Vogue M. Robinson, Julie Seabaugh, Greg Thilmont, Stacy J. Willis CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Robert John Kley, Ryan Olbrysh, Sabin Orr, Lucky Wenzel EDITORIAL: ANDREW KIRALY, (702) 259-7856; ANDREW@DESERTCOMPANION.VEGAS FAX: (702) 258-5646 ADVERTISING: Favian Perez (702) 259-7813; firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIPTIONS: (702) 258-9895; email@example.com WEBSITE: www.desertcompanion.vegas 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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FOREC LOSED HOME MEANS NEVADA
Can we talk? The foreclosure crisis has slowed, but many Las Vegans still face losing their homes — even as the state mulls the future of a mediation program that could help them B Y H E I D I K YS E R
n 2009, when then-Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley led the creation of Nevada’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, there was broad agreement that it was a good idea. “Nevada was the foreclosure capital of the world,” Buckley, executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, says today. “We all had so many friends and neighbors who, if they could talk to someone at their bank with a mediator, would
I L LU S T R AT I O N B R E N T H O L M E S
One, two, three, four ... page 22
benefit from this. Yet they couldn’t get anybody on the phone.” Following the housing market collapse of 2007-08, in exchange for bailout funds, the federal government required banks to offer mortgage modifications, but homeowners were getting the runaround when they tried to negotiate the modifications themselves. State programs like Nevada’s tried to help solve this problem by requiring lenders to meet with homeowners in front of qualified mediators before foreclosure certificates could legally be issued. Each homeowner and his or her lender (or loan servicer) paid $200 to cover mediation expenses. Now, with the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program sunsetting at the end of June, there’s some ambivalence about how well it has worked and whether it should be continued. “It was underutilized, in my opinion,” says Becky Harris, a state senator who has championed the program and a bill that is before the Legislature to continue it, albeit with some tweaks. “I’m not sure what the factors were, but the families that I saw
THE CANDID ASSESSMENT
helped by the program were helped in profound ways. To the extent we’re stabilizing families, keeping children in their schools and preventing all the other disruptions that come with losing a home, it’s worth continuing.” The program started with a bang, completing 4,212 mediations in its first year, which ended June 2010. Of those, 61 percent ended in an agreement — nearly half allowing the homeowner to remain in their home. Five years later, in fiscal year 2014, only 1,894 mediations were held, and 73 percent of them resulted in no agreement. What’s happening? Consider the case of Constanza Areizaga. In 2006, she and her husband, Guillermo, had their dream home built for $805,000 in Centennial Hills. As co-owners of a successful production company, Everything Entertainment, they were able to put down $200,000 and take out a conventional mortgage. But the $4,800-per-month payments became difficult to make when the economy tanked and event business dried up. “All of a sudden we had a home that was showing a value of $355,000 on Zillow,” Constanza Areizaga says. In 2008, she and her husband reluctantly stopped making their mortgage payments to trigger the foreclosure process so they could apply for a modification. What happened next would be hard to believe if Areizaga didn’t have a three-foot-thick file to back it up. Over the past eight years, the couple has been through the foreclosure mediation process three times, most recently in March. Each time, a mediator determined that the lender (first, Bank of America, then Bank of Mellon) was acting in bad faith and that a certificate of foreclosure should not be issued. Yet the bank/servicer refused to modify the Areizagas’ mortgage. They’ve tried sending payments, which the bank returns, eventually initiating foreclosure proceedings anew. The couple even offered to buy their house from the bank at fair market value. “At the meeting, they’ll tell us that they might consider a modification with a 40-year mortgage, but (that would mean) we’re going to pay more than $1 million for our home. They’re setting us up to be losers,” Constanza Areizaga says. “It’s not right.” But the most frustrating part, she says, is the endless hours she and her husband have spent chasing down the right person to talk to, the right document to send them, the right hoops to jump through. They’ve paid thousands of dollars for attorneys, and still haven’t received a modification. The Areizagas’ case is an example of why Buckley
I DON’T LIKE WHERE THIS IS GOING, BY JOHN DUFRESNE
and Harris believe the Foreclosure Mediation Program should continue. They say that lenders who don’t act in good faith have to be held accountable — and their victims assisted — even if foreclosure rates have declined. Genre: Crime fiction. Plot: And even that decline is misleading to some inOutraged by the coverup of siders. RealtyTrac reports that Nevada currently has a prostitute’s death in Luxor, an average foreclosure rate of .09 percent, compared therapist Wylie Melville and his to the national average of .06 percent. So a tiny fracoddball posse investigate a ring tion of the overall housing stock is in foreclosure, of powerful sex-traffickers and and the rate of foreclosures has dropped signifitheir brutal enforcer. Is one of cantly over the last year. At the same time, however, the characters a poker-playing 7,799 homes are in some stage of foreclosure in magician: Of course. How is Clark County, while 5,322 are for sale, according to Vegas depicted: Not in a way RealtyTrac’s foreclosure inventory data. the Chamber of Commerce will And foreclosure alone isn’t the whole housing endorse: as a city of exploited picture. In January, Zillow reported that despite women, eccentric residents, rising home values, 17 percent of Las Vegas’ casual corruption, rampant dehousing inventory still had negative equity — the ception — fairly standard Vegas third-highest rate among the country’s 50 largest stuff. But some characters do metro areas. In February, mortgage analyst HSH love it here. Quality of Vegas put the area in its list of “10 least-recovered” in the knowledge: Relatively high. country. In March, the Financial Times published Dufresne did his homework. an article titled, “Will Nevada ever recover from Scenes are set in real casinos the housing bust?” The author looked at the state’s and the storm drains below, and GDP, population debt balance, housing prices and passing name-checks include employment rates to formulate his answer: “At this Chicago Joe’s and stinging rate, probably not.” appraisals of local media. Even “I think the idea that the foreclosure crisis is over in made-up locations the book’s is false,” says Judah Zakalik, a Peters and Associates logistics feel right. Extra points attorney who represents homeowners in foreclosure for: A Kafka Society convention mediation. “A lot of loan modifications that were that lines the Strip with solemn given five or six years ago had step-ups in interest Kafka imitators. Contrived? Yes. rates. … Those payments will be kicking in, too, which But cool? Yes. Points deducted means we’re going to see more foreclosures.” for: Some of the characters, acHe and others agree that the Foreclosure Metion and events are unrealisticaldiation Program might need its own modification, ly over-the-top. A few lines are so that more people take advantage of it and more howlers. What’s really going cases end in resolution. But to shutter it completeon: Exploitation is Dufresne’s ly would be a mistake. meta subject: how pervasive it The committee on the judiciary, of which Senator is and how complicit our civic Tick Segerblom is the chair, is still hammering out institutions and rather-notdetails of the current state bill to continue the proknow populace are in perpetugram, but Harris expects greater judicial oversight, a ating it. Vegas serves simply as higher administrative fee and a new online portal to streamline filing and tracking of paperwork. charticle/graph/secondaryhis lens onto America. Scott Dickensheets “A judge would look at the case and help make photo sure things are going the way they’re supposed to,” she says. “The record of documents filed is online for everyone to see, so if something is missing or submitted late or incorrectly, the judge knows and can take care of it immediately.” Immediate resolution is something the Areizagas would undoubtedly appreciate.
Going with the flow A new book on water in the Southwest flounders from the author’s uncritical embrace of the official story B Y H E I D I K YS E R
dam McKay’s 2015 film The Big Short, based on financial journalist Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, ends with a postscript telling what became of the story’s real-life characters. The final one shown is Michael Burry, a Northern California investment genius who was among the first to recognize the looming subprime mortgage crisis. Today, an onscreen caption tells us, “Michael Burry is focusing all of his trading on one commodity: water.” Burry and everyone who’s interested in the world’s most precious commodity should read New Yorker writer David Owen’s book, Where the Water Goes (Riverhead, $28), out this month. It’s a
comprehensive cultural, hydrological and legal history — cleverly hung on a travelogue’s narrative structure — that delivers what it promises: a literal tracing (by air, land and water) of the Colorado River from origin to destination, including its endless diversions, extractions and pollutions in between. But the two chapters on Las Vegas at the book’s center might leave locals wondering if Owen’s big picture blurred a few boots-on-the-ground details. It would be petty to nitpick the author for describing Mandalay Bay as being in “downtown” Las Vegas, given the dozens of research hours that obviously went into his account of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and their relationship to Bellagio’s fountains and the city’s urban sprawl. But his uncritical embrace of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s public-relations message that the city is a paragon of conservation is disappointing. “The Bellagio fountains are often cited as a prime example of the wanton waste that got the West into water trouble in the first place,” he writes. “But all this is wrong. … The Southern Nevada Water Authority … has implemented some of the most stringent conservation measures in the United States. … The SNWA also has a long-running ‘xeriscaping’ program, which pays people to replace turf with desert plantings. ... Residents are fined if they water yards and gardens on days when they’re not supposed to or if they allow water to run onto sidewalks or into the street. …”
Really? I invite Owen to join me for my morning dog walk Downtown where, on any given weekday, I count three or four homes where lawn sprinklers are spraying the cement, the owners apparently oblivious to my repeated calls to the water authority’s waste hotline. Or to drive around any central Vegas neighborhood on a Sunday and see people washing their cars with garden hoses. Or to take an “urban drool tour” of the city with University of Arizona lecturer and water management researcher Brad Lancaster, who, on such a tour here a few years ago, pointed out the countless gallons that pool in gutters and go up in vapor due to outdated infrastructure and decorative features like Lake Las Vegas. That’s not to say that everything the SNWA told Owen isn’t true. Yes, the agency cut the city’s water usage even as population grew. Yes, Bellagio gets its fountain water from an underground aquifer rather than the river. But this doesn’t mutually exclude the larger, more urgent truth that Las Vegans are poor water stewards, mainly because they pay a relative pittance for water. And that matters for the very reason Owen seems to try to negate: A public that’s lulled into thinking it’s doing all right won’t change its behavior. It will keep building and growing and using an over-allocated resource. It will, in ways large and small, wantonly waste. To be sure, Owen suggests this throughout the book, including in his conclusion of the chapter about Las Vegas, where he quotes former SNWA boss Patricia Mulroy as saying, “Either we all win, or we all lose.” But I would add that complacency, at this point, is losing. And most Western communities — including Las Vegas — are still complacent. Mortgages always went up, until they didn’t. Just ask Burry, who’s now putting his money on food production in places that don’t depend on Colorado River water.
Steve Springer THE DINOSAUR MAN
rom brontosaurus gas station mascots to vintage fiberglass triceratops replicas in post-World War II motel courts, the roadside dinosaur is classic American kitsch. But a nearly 30-foot-tall tyrannosaurus rex looming over a quiet suburban neighborhood? Now that’s unexpected, even in outrageous-friendly Las Vegas Valley. Officially called Shan-Gri-La Prehistoric Park (you can find it on Facebook), this menagerie of historical and fanciful beasts on Henderson’s Greenway Road was created by Steve Springer, beginning 11 years ago. Springer, a retired English teacher, helmed classrooms at Lyall Burkholder Middle School for decades. Many locals call his creation the “Dinosaur House.” Naturally, he’s the “Dinosaur Man.” “After I taught school for 30 years, I decided I’d do something that puts a smile on your face and makes your day better,” Springer says.
Shan-Gri-La is filled with more than 50 figures, from a duck-faced parasaurolophus — pre-Vegas selfie! — and giant Carboniferous-epoch insects to a new, fantastical dragon, complete with gleaming red scales. The eye-popping coterie of critters ranges from faithful paleontological interpretations of fossils to denizens of the imaginative terra incognita of yore. (Many were constructed in the Philippines and shipped to North America.) On weekends, Shan-Gri-La gets busy with visitors; many are families with young kids, others are solo adult sightseers. Some folks venture here from abroad. A few have even come to get married among the monsters.
At the beginning of each tour, Springer lays down a few common-sense “walk here, not there” safety rules for the jam-packed space. He estimates that 20,000 people stop by annually. There’s more lizard-o-rama in his adjacent garage, including a four-door “Dinomobile 2.0” sedan decorated hood-to-trunk in the ancient theme. Even the rims are newly decked out with Jurassic bling. Fittingly for a former educator, Springer keeps Shan-Gri-La largely kid-focused. At the end of a visit, each youngster gets a complimentary plastic prehistoric memento and can make a wish as he or she tosses costume jewels into a dinosaur egg.
In seasonal exuberance, Springer introduces decorative themes tied to holidays, complete with colored lights, creative banners and temporary residents placed here and there amid the DIY diorama. For April, expect an Easter bunny or two to show up — probably lodged in T. Rex’s jaws. There’s often a bit of such macabre playfulness at work here, something that a very unlucky March leprechaun could attest to if he could talk today. Halloween’s fun phantasmagoria is renowned. Another remarkable thing about Shan-Gri-La is that it is open every day, sunrise to midnight. And it’s always free. Springer has it set up as a charitable foundation, but he doesn’t really cultivate donations. It’s largely on his dime. Springer also strives to keep his creation prehistoric in another way: It’s free of modern partisan muss and divisive fuss. Dinosaurs don’t care about current events. “This is a place where you come to relax,” he says. “Two things you don’t do here: We never discuss religion, and we never discuss politics. This is a place were you get away from all your cares for 10 minutes.” Now that’s welcome history in the making. Greg Thilmont
P H OTO G R A P H Y C H R I STO P H E R S M I T H
THE HOAX (APRIL FOOLS’ DAY)
The coolest month Since this is Poetry Month, we asked local poets to write about some of April’s other observances
A piece of sky falls into your hand, then it falls apart. We don’t ask why. We can’t stop the rain, but we can forget it. This is something we know in the Mojave. School children, wide eyed, hold their breath when it drizzles.
Some days my mind needs a well-executed depantsing. An accelerated ambush sprung upon my agonizing analysis of all my attachments. I would be left with only the salty sting of childhood in my mouth. It’s possible this whole existence balances on an enormous whoopee cushion, set to erupt at any moment — blow to bits whichever precious or intolerable thing we are holding so tightly. Absurdity is the loose garment, the fake fly fake frozen in the fabricated ice cube. The hoax, an unhinging from the humdrum; wise to be a fool. So we take it, because hope and grief, two sides of the same trick coin. Jennifer Battisti
Today, like most days, is dry, and we look through the unabrupt windows. You and I choose from many names: Opuntia ficus-indica, nopal, prickly pear, for example. Some are now cacti skeletons, like fossilized tumbleweeds, which are static, at best, in their existence. I try to remember that some connections are imperfect, but they’ll have to do. You ask for concrete examples. I give you birdless birdcages, sand-filled snowglobes, and empty arborescence. Heather Lang
TAX DAY I haven’t suffered enough through taxes to write a poem about it. Vogue M. Robinson
RECORD STORE DAY There’s a lost art in saying I love you with a mixed tape. So much can be said through the words of others. The right order. The right feeling. Carefully written playlists. Music from the heart. For the heart aye aye aye. A gentle touch of bass line. A guitar solo, like scratches down the back. Tonight, drums beat at 11th Street, flipping through discs, tapes, vinyls for that perfect emotion. That perfect song. Sometimes love is found in the record store. Logan Riley
April Fools’ Day is April 2. Tax Day is April 18. Earth Day is April 22, as is Record Store Day. We’re kidding about April Fools’ Day — it’s really April 3.
RANDOM FACTS ABOUT COUNTING POLLEN FROM TANVI PATEL, DIRECTOR OF UNLV’S POLLEN MONITORING PROGRAM We collect samples daily at UNLV. At the rest of the sites (5), we collect them once a week, but they’re still a seven-day sampler. So we have data 365 days a year. // In spring and fall we do see high numbers. The highest I’ve ever seen it is from 10,000 to 12,000 (grains of pollen). Today I counted about 3,500, from tree pollen alone. Anything over 1,500 grains per cubic meter is a bad allergy day. // In the laboratory, they’re put on a microscope slide. Ordinarily, pollen is clear; you wouldn’t be able to see it. So we have to put pink dye in there so we’re able to identify the types. // We put it under a microscope, and we just go from left to right and count every single grain of pollen we see. If there’s not a lot, it can be done within 15 or 20 minutes. But right now, because we’re counting thousands, it can take about an hour — for one slide. // In a typical week, you’re going to be counting about 42 slides. // We (enter the count manually) on a tally counter. (Computer scanning can’t tell the difference between types of pollen.) // In the beginning, I did lose count if I got distracted or there were so many to count. (Now I) rarely lose count. ///In the laboratory, we really don’t get exposed to the pollen. But in the fields, yeah, we do. (Listen to Tanvi Patel interviewed on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion.vegas/hearmore) Scott Dickensheets
P H OTO I L LU ST R AT I O N B R E N T H O L M E S
ONE WEEKEND, TWO FESTIVALS
SOPHIE’S BIBLIOPHILE CHOICE
Vegas book lovers have a tough decision in April: Stay in town for the big, new litstravaganza? Or go to L.A. for the traditional bookapalooza?
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS
Sponsored by: A certain L.A. newspaper When: April 22-23 Where: University of Southern California Headliners: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, T.C. Boyle, Joyce Carol Oates, Roxane Gay, Michael Connolly, Bryan Cranston, Congressman John Lewis, Chuck Palahniuk, Rebecca Solnit, more Why this festival over the other: Choice. A crazy, exhausting wealth of choice. From a dozen panel talks, author interviews and book-signings in every time slot, to stages devoted to poetry, cooking and readings, to hundreds of vendors (publishers, creators, knickknacks), you’ll need a case of Red Bull to power through all the options and the ability to make a few hard choices. Footnote: Here’s a tip: Stay in beautiful Pasadena — home to the great bookstore Vroman’s and a number of excellent used bookshops worth a crawl — and zoom down to the festival. Afterward, satisfy your book lust at such great L.A. shops as The Last Bookstore and Book Soup.
THE BELIEVER FESTIVAL Sponsored by: The Black Mountain Institute When: April 21-22 Where: Red Rock Canyon; Mob Museum; Place on 7th; Bunkhouse Saloon Headliners: Dave Eggers, Heidi Julavits, Vida Vendela, Miranda July, Carrie Brownstein, Ben Marcus, Luis Alberto Urrea, Tift Merritt, more Why this festival over the other: No travel, for one. Also: It’s a big deal — this gathering of talent deserves national attention, as does the nontraditional format. Shrewdly, the organizers will eschew the familiar panel-chat setup for more inventive staging: an evening of readings at Red Rock Canyon; music at the Bunkhouse Saloon; in the Mob Museum’s courthouse, writers will present “amicus briefs” before a panel of literary judges, about where the American Dream is most alive now. Footnote: This is called The Believer Festival after The Believer magazine, an offbeat lit-mag once a mainstay of the McSweeney’s portfolio, newly purchased by the Black Mountain Institute. The overall theme of the festival is “American Dreams.” Scott Dickensheets
Head, heart and body Courtney Bentley connected her emotions to her workouts — and that infused her with a new sense of purpose BY CHRISTIE MOELLER
wimwear season is just around the corner. Before you start counting calories and doing reps, how about a little inspiration? Courtney Bentley — certified personal trainer, sports nutrition expert, motivational speaker — is here to deliver. Bentley is anything but one of those maddeningly flawless motivational gurus. Rather, she’s a reformed “self-hater” who overcame an eating disorder and body-image issues to start a lifelong journey to health and fitness.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME PASSIONATE ABOUT HEALTHY EATING AND FITNESS?
As a recovered self-hater, I discovered self-love through moving my body, connecting with my inner guide and nourishing my body. Like most women, I grew up believing I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough and all that, which dug me deep into an eating disorder. I was able to overcome it by lifting weights and seeing the power and potential I had in the gym. As someone who is 5-foot, 2-inches and petite, I always felt small in the world. Working my way to being able to deadlift my body weight — and then some — changed how I viewed life and my purpose in this world. I learned that I needed to nourish my body to keep up with my workouts, and I saw how eating the right foods made me feel, energetically and emotionally. I decided my purpose was to help people find that connection, whether it’s from lifting weights, dancing, soccer, karate, swimming or whatever helped them flow in life. WHAT’S YOUR TOP FITNESS TIP? Connect an emotion to your fitness and health. Mindset is the biggest fail with people, when it comes to getting healthy. Subconsciously they don’t believe they can do it, so they will ultimately fail. It is so important to connect how you want to feel with your workouts and eating habits. If you amplify a feel-good emotion with a workout, you will be successful because you will crave that emotion and connect it with your workouts. YOU ARE A BUSY PERSON — PERSONAL TRAINER, NUTRITIONIST, BLOGGER AND NOW YOU JUST LAUNCHED A PODCAST SERIES. HOW DO YOU MAKE
TIME TO STAY IN SHAPE? I commit to my fitness no matter what. I work out almost every day around noon to 1 p.m., which is a slow time for me on an average day, so it works out perfectly. I’m also pretty organized. I make a to-do list for the week on Sundays, fill in my client appointments, podcast interviews and see where I can fit in a social life. The biggest thing for me, and something I teach people, is that my workouts are a commitment to myself, one that I made a long time ago and one I have yet to let go of. I treat them like anyone would treat taking a shower or brushing their teeth. THREE MUST-HAVES IN YOUR KITCHEN? My Ninja blender, my slow cooker and my George Foreman grill. I have clients all over the globe who bring George Foreman grills with them so they can cook healthy meals wherever they go. All you need is a plug.
P H OTO G R A P H Y BY S A B I N O R R
IF YOU COULD DO ONLY ONE EXERCISE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Deadlifts! I love deadlifts for the movement’s ability to build overall strength, as it’s a compound movement. I credit deadlifts for shaping my abs. I had such a hard time getting my abs more defined, but deadlifts gave me the lines I desired, as well as built my backside.
FIVE THINGS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
ANY TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR DIET CONSISTENT AND FIGHTING OFF CRAVINGS? My biggest tip is to plan out dinner for the week and prep it on a day you have an hour to commit to cooking. Every Sunday, or whatever day, write out three easy, throw-together recipes that make a tasty dinner and cook huge batches of each. Place half in the freezer to pull out in the future, and have the rest in the fridge ready to go. You can also use the leftovers as lunches.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT “CHEAT DAYS”? Cheat days are great. Not only
does enjoying a cheat meal every so often help you lose fat, it will mentally help you stick to your plan. A proper cheat meal can refill glycogen stores to support hard training, recharge your metabolism, which might have plateaued, and stave off your body’s ability to eat away at your muscle.
Graced By Grit Chelsea leggings, $118, Delicious tank, $46, plus socks and hair tie, Graced By Grit in Tivoli Village
.Manduka “eKO” 4mm Yoga Mat $64-$70, Nordstrom in the Fashion Show Mall
Passion Planner, “Lavender Bliss” undated classic planner, $35, passionplanner.com
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN WORKING OUT? I’m a firm believer in having a
plan. Having a goal without a plan is like driving from Las Vegas to New York without road signs. I think people believe that buying a gym membership will solve their problem when in all actuality, you have to have a mapped-out plan of action. Whether it’s a schedule of classes, a plan you get custom-created by a personal trainer, or a book you follow, having a road map will help you gain momentum and confidence.
iPhone 7 (and a great playlist) iPhone 7, 7Plus and AirPods, the Apple Store in Downtown Summerlin, the Fashion Show Mall, the Forum Shops at Caesars and Town Square
ETHOS Kettlebell, $39.99, Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Fashion Show Mall
IF YOU COULD TRAIN ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE? Gwen Stefani. I just love her energy and would love to be her motivational sidekick! Plus, I would love to hear her playlist!
4 APRIL 2017
Think, Inc. So Harry Reid, John Boehner and MGM walk into a university … B Y H U G H JA C K S O N
ccording to the proposal approved by the Nevada Board of Regents in early March, the priorities at a new think tank sponsored by MGM in partnership with UNLV, cochaired by Harry Reid and John Boehner, no less, could include “sustainability, workforce development, technology and innovation, and security and resilience.” In other words, it could be anything, from family leave policy (a hypothetical included in the proposal) to … convincing Congress not to hinder online gambling. Online gambling is MGM’s most high-profile federal issue, but the corporation has multiple policy concerns, ranging from the expansion of Indian gambling on nontribal lands to Donald Trump’s China-phobia. For years, Reid was the most powerful Democrat in Congress and a loyal MGM ally. After Reid’s retirement, MGM stepped up its Washington presence, opening a government-affairs office — an in-house lobbying shop — on Capitol Hill. It’s led by Ayesha Khanna Molino, an attorney who was on Reid’s Senate staff, and when I contacted MGM about its new think tank, the company put me in touch with her. So is online gambling a likely subject of research at the new think tank? “I can’t say
it’s not,” Khanna Molino said. The institute can be expected to conduct research about the resort industry and its economic impact on communities, but the idea of the institute is to “step back” and look at more than just gambling-specific issues, she said. MGM has committed $952,000 over three years to fund the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute. UNLV provides space, utilities, web support and, most importantly, faculty expertise. Such partnerships with private contributors are increasingly sought after at universities throughout the nation, as schools try to enhance programs and reputations while states curtail funding for higher education, and federal research money withers. The pressure on universities to make programs and even departments or colleges financially reliant on private money generally, and corporations specifically, has sparked criticism that corporate financing influences research and even curricula. Partnerships with the energy, agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, in particular, have raised fears that the line separating corporation from college is thinning, or disappearing altogether. That line will hold between MGM and UNLV, suggests Robert Ulmer, dean of the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs, where the MGM institute will be housed. “MGM won’t sign off on our research,” Ulmer said. The think tank, and the financial support that comes with it, won’t direct UNLV researchers but rather “enhance work they’re already doing.” UNLV faculty working with the think tank will have “complete independence … they won’t compromise,” and their work will be peer reviewed, he said. Ulmer also rejected the notion that the MGM-UNLV institute will be an extension of the corporation’s lobbying efforts, envisioning instead a research agenda that tackles issues such as criminal justice reform or homelessness. And unlike other think tanks, the bipartisan nature of the MGM institute will lead to
I L LU S T R AT I O N RYA N O L B RYS H
more than just reports and conferences, but “workable solutions,” Ulmer said.
HERE A THINK TANK, THERE A THINK TANK … Some think tanks are openly political or ideological. Locally, the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a market-worshiping foe of public institutions and spending, falls into that category. Most think tanks, however, reject suggestions that they are susceptible to partisan, ideological or corporate influence. Locally, that’s the branding preferred by the Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West, both already at UNLV, and the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. And a few think tanks are not nonpartisan, but specifically bipartisan, as the MGM Institute will be. The difference is that nonpartisan groups seek to eschew partisanship altogether, while bipartisan groups engage partisans in negotiations in an effort to develop the aforementioned “workable solutions.” In theory, a bipartisan think tank might promise to be the most balanced. After all, its work must satisfy participants from both parties. But in practice, bipartisanship doesn’t necessarily mean disinterested. The most notable and well-funded bipartisan think tank is not affiliated with a university. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and chaired by Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Democrats George Mitchell and Tom Daschle. BPC has been accused of tailoring its work — not to please one party or the other, but to please funders from the oil and gas industry, the banking sector and Walmart. BPC and other think tanks have pushed back hard against allegations that they are mere corporate fronts — and the pushback can be pretty impressive; they are think tanks after all. At the same time, money talks. As Jason Grumet, president of BPC, told The Washington Post, “the notion that anybody’s going to write a $100,000 check to an organization because they don’t care about the issues that are being worked on is kind of fantastic.”
Meantime, MGM and the resort industry are deeply familiar with bipartisanship: They’ve contributed money to both parties for decades.
SO HOW MIGHT THIS THINK THING SHAKE OUT? UNLV and MGM have yet to set a date for when the think tank will open, other than sometime this year. While it remains to be seen exactly what will be the focus of the institute’s research, presumably it won’t be Nevada-specific, but encompass a broader national or regional scope befitting press releases that will quote Reid and Boehner. It also remains to be seen whether MGM’s interests will intrude on the think tank’s research at the expense of the larger public interest. But at least the press, policymakers and the public will know who paid for the institute’s product. Often, think tank funding is not so transparent. Sometimes it is hidden altogether. And it remains to be seen how trenchant the think tank will be — whether it will address problems or symptoms. A perhaps less-than-encouraging hint is presaged by the institute’s intention to join the fashionable “workforce development” bandwagon, whereon upper-middle-class professionals earnestly weigh which best practices are apt to produce limited but measurable improvement to painstakingly categorized educational outcomes over the mid- to long term. Meantime, more urgent and vexing problems — poverty, income inequality, or the lack of affordable housing, for instance — remain unaddressed, because any candid exploration of those issues would lead to a discussion of how 21st-century market economics fail much of the workforce, developed or otherwise. That is an impolite topic to introduce over pastries and coffee at corporate-sponsored stakeholder roundtables. From the community’s point of view, that might be the worst-case fate of this Reid-Boehner thing. Among other things, Hugh Jackson is an occasional part-time instructor at UNLV. He blogs at lasvegasgleaner.com and tweets @jhughjackson.
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Q&A feet and even the partial loss of two toes. But Johnathan returned to the stage this January, performing one night each at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino, Boston’s Wilbur Theater and the Hu Ke Lau Theater in Chicopee, Massachusetts. February saw the Detroit native celebrate a homecoming run at the Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, Michigan. “I’m just back at it,” Johnathan admits onstage. “But I’m still the funniest motherf**ker you’ve ever seen!” Following the second of five March shows at California’s Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, Johnathan retraced the challenges he’s faced and detailed the new projects he still hopes to explore.
ALIVE AND JOKING He’s supposed to be dead by now, but comedy magician The Amazing Johnathan has defied the doctors — with a little help from a friend of a friend — to take the stage again B Y J U L I E S E A B AU G H
arly on in The Amazing Johnathan’s current stage show, his wife Anastasia Synn appears onstage disguised as the Grim Reaper. The comedy magician, whom doctors predicted would be dead by mid-2015, whips out a prop doll and sucks heartily through the red straw jammed into its small plastic skull. “Stem cells!” he enthuses between mock gulps. “They’re workin’ for me!” The 58-year old Vegas resident, who long headlined around the Strip and in the Golden Nugget, officially retired in 2014. Diabetes and a decade of cardiomyopathy, a chronic weakening of the heart, had reduced his strength to the point where he couldn’t climb stairs. Poor circulation led to infection in his
The last time we spoke, your heart was failing, your toes were starting to lose their flesh due to poor circulation and the prognosis was grim. Where are you now, health-wise? My toes are not falling off anymore, thanks to stem cells in my feet. Everything that was damaged by my circulation from my heart has been temporarily halted. Everything has stopped. My deterioration in my feet was so bad. I actually grew part of a toe back. It’s pretty amazing stuff. The last time I went to the doctor’s my infraction rate was still lowering, but I feel all right. I guess I’m just used to it; used to having no energy. I sleep a lot. I take naps a lot. I feel like I’m on heroin. I’ll just be dozing off. It’s kind of nice. Yeah, I feel okay unless I have stairs to do or something. I generally stay in bed when I’m not working. I’m in bed painting and drawing, and I don’t do much exertion. But I’m still here, for better or worse. What does the stem-cell process entail? The stem-cell process is my doctor knows somebody who knows somebody who can get black-market stem cells. They come in a little test tube and are a thousand dollars each. You need about three of them to do anything. For $3,000 — cash only — my doctor, in an appointment that’s after hours of his business, he’ll inject them in me where they should go. I was to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore, and now I can pretty much walk
P H OTO G R A P H Y S A B I N O R R
anywhere. I still need a wheelchair for airports and stuff, but it’s healed the incision in the bottom of my foot. They (previously) cut my foot open from top to bottom, and I couldn’t walk for six months. It wouldn’t heal. But I had to walk; I couldn’t be off my feet for six months. I thought I could be, but I just couldn’t do it. So I would walk on it, it would split back open, walk, split back open. Finally the stem cells just healed it up, and healed it up fast. What is the science behind that? You put stem cells in a damaged area, and they find their way to where they need to go — most of the time. They’re cells, and cells know where they go. It’s pretty amazing. I haven’t done them in my heart yet, but people are shooting them in their heart in Mexico and other places like that, which I don’t really feel comfortable with. Most all the other countries are doing it except for us. We’re the only ones where you have to go black market to get them. But they’re so expensive, and they’re not easy to get because the doctors are using them for everything: impotency, anything that’s wrong. They’re clinging to that real fast; they just go that way. So … f**k the law. I’ve got outlaw medicine! You recently began performing again. Was there a specific moment or realization that brought you out of retirement? Well, I was just sitting there waiting to die, and it wasn’t happening. It was like, “What am I doing? I’ve got to go back to work.” For one reason, I needed money. I had to stop money hemorrhaging out of my accounts. My expenses are about $30,000 a month. I saved a couple million dollars, and half of it was gone within the first two years. So I went out on the road, and I can pay my bills now. I don’t have to take a huge withdrawal out every month. I can live off of doing one weekend a month fairly happily. And how does it feel? You’re doing mostly classic material, but there’s also some new material, nodding to your health situations. There are some new nods in there,
Q&A but I didn’t write a lot of new material because I don’t have the concentration for it. There’s not a second that goes by where I don’t think about it happening at some time. So it’s hard to concentrate on writing stuff. I just went out with the old stuff and put some new stuff in, and everybody seems to be happy with it … except for me. I wish I had all-new stuff. I’d like to do a one-man play on this whole ordeal, but I don’t want to plan on it, you know? It seems kind of cheesy to keep planning on that. I’d just rather people forgot about it and let me get on with my life. And when it happens, it happens. But that’s the reality of the situation, and people know this. But I don’t want to have to deal with
P H OT O : J U L I E S E A B AU G H
Keeps on shticking: The Amazing Johnathan performing at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club in March.
it. People know it, so why do I have to go hop on it again? They know what’s happening with me, but I don’t want people to come up and go, “Well why aren’t you dead yet?” and I say, “They gave me a date, and it didn’t work!” I just want to live enough to dance on my doctor’s grave. I got rid of an awful lot of stuff thinking I was going in a year in a half. Now I’m trying to get all my stuff back from my friends. (Laughs) “Hey, remember that stereo? Remember that car?” Where does that put you in terms of your headspace? It puts me in a weird space. I don’t really like it, but a lot of people who are being told they have two years to live, I’d say probably half of them go beyond that. There’s a lot of people who are in the same boat. ... “How come you’re not dead?” is one question everybody’s got, you know, “I was told by you. …” Well that’s what I was told, so I was telling everybody what I was told. I feel guilty for being a liar; does that make sense? (Laughs) I’m letting people down. The bets are all off. The upside is that I’m not dead! I can continue on with my life, which I love. You mentioned starting to regularly perform once a month. I only want to work one weekend a month. I like not working — I like retiring — but I don’t want to do it permanently. I booked the show at Improvs and Funny Bones one weekend a month until the end of the year. And then addon dates, like casino dates as well. I did Foxwoods Casino, and there are a few other casinos I’m doing in the future. So if I get one weekend a month and put a casino date in there as well, usually it’s around $50,000 for a weekend. That’s all I need. Fifty thousand a month would be great; then I can live like I used to live, in the style I’m accustomed to: like a king! They’re trying to get me to play in Vegas again. I’ve been offered a few rooms, like the D Downtown and Hooters, and all these little cheesy places. The D is a nice casino, but I just don’t want to work in Vegas anymore. It would be nice to drive to work again
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for a couple nights a week, but I’m not going to. What else is coming up next? What are the new goals you are looking to achieve? This guy Ben Berman, who is a director for Comedy Central (Tim and Eric, Jon Benjamin Has a Van, Comedy Bang! Bang!) has been doing a documentary for a year on me. And then this other company came along and said, “Hey, we want to do a documentary about you. We’ve won two Academy Awards!” (Simon Chinn’s Red Box Films produced Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar Man.) They were so interested in me that I said, “Yeah,” so now they’re competing with each other. They made me sign a thing that said Ben has to wait two years. I feel bad that the other company kind of cut in, but like I said, they won two Academy Awards …
Outside the upcoming shows and documentaries, what about your personal goals? I don’t have any goals. I really don’t. There are projects I want to do, but I can’t concentrate on anything right now. I think heroin’s going to be the next project. I had a chance to do it, too, but I turned it down like an idiot. ... I was so tempted. ... It looked really good. But I didn’t do it. I can be as creative as I want. If I want to do something, I can do it, but I don’t really want to do anything. I don’t want to write a whole new act — I do, but I can’t. I’m not capable of doing it right now. My mind’s not in the right place for it. I’m really good at writing stuff for other comics, though. I’ve been doing a lot of that. All these acts in Vegas, these young guys coming up who aren’t funny, I give them ideas. They come over to my
house, and I sit there and rewrite their acts for them for free, give them new punch lines for bits they have and give them new bits. For some of them, sometimes I sell my old bits. I’ve been doing some of that, and
P H OT O : J U L I E S E A B AU G H
Criss Angel, I wrote all the comedy in his show. He paid me for that stuff. He’s the only one who paid me. And a lot of other shows. I do that a lot, but I’m not taking money for it. They don’t offer it. And these guys are broke, so I don’t want to charge them for it. Maybe someday when they make it big I’ll ask them for money. I’m happy just drawing and painting in bed. And I’m making a board game, a card and dice game. Some of these games like Cards Against Humanity, I could do that. I could kick something out like that, but I’ve got an even better idea than that. I can’t tell you what it is. There’s no ETA; I’m just working on it when I feel like it. I’ll get my friends together to help me finish it up. I guess that is the one project I’m actually working on. I got rid of my Drive In (an indoor replica of an old Detroit outdoor drive-in theater). Now I just have two warehouses full of crap. And I still go to auctions every weekend and spend money. As I get rid of my stuff, I’m bringing in new stuff. Every weekend I go out. I just can’t stay away from auctions. I love auctions and garage sales. You get five nice towels for a dollar when you go to a flea market? I love that shit! I don’t pay full price for anything!
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Anything else you want people to know? I don’t know. I don’t care anymore, I really don’t. The thing is that I’m just trying to forget about it. I think that if I forget about it and keep busy doing shows and stuff that I probably won’t die. As soon as I stop being the Amazing Johnathan, I’ll die. Although I don’t mind dying. It’s not a big deal to me. I’ve had a great life. It won’t be me being bitter and yelling and screaming about it. I’ll thank whoever’s responsible and go quietly into the night. Hopefully I won’t have a stroke and live like a retard for the rest of my life. That’s the only thing I hope doesn’t happen to me. I don’t want to be crippled. Nothing funny about that. It really hurts your timing. For more about his performing schedule, visit AmazingJ.com.
WHOLESOME HATE Fifteen years ago, a campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Nevada revealed the ugliness that results when fundamentalist faith, money and politics converge B Y D E N N I S M C B R I D E
Editor’s note: This is an edited excerpt from Out of the Neon Closet: Queer Community in the Silver State, by Dennis McBride (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).
n February 1, state Assemblyman Nelson Araujo introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 2. It would amend the state constitution to recognize same-sex marriages and allow same-sex marriages to take place in Nevada. But didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court declare the right to same-sex marriage the law of the land in its landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in June 2015? It did — but only for now. The state bill begins the three-year process to amend the Nevada constitution just in case the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overturn Obergefell — which would turn decisions on same-sex marriage back to the states. Araujo and other sponsors of the resolution, mindful that civil liberties and human rights are not guaranteed during the Trump administration, want to be sure that if worse comes to worst, Nevada will continue to be among the most progressive states in welcoming and respecting its queer citizens and visitors. The resolution is a kind of insurance. The resolution also represents a reckoning with the social and political damage caused by Question 2, the homophobic legislation that amended Nevada’s constitution in 2002 to forbid same-sex marriage. That three-year process from 2000 to 2002 was perhaps the cruelest, most divisive — and needless — episode in the state’s political history. The saga was a wake-up call to a passionate but sometimes disorganized LGBTQ community — while revealing the ugliness that results when fundamentalist faith, money and politics converge. THE BACKLASH BEGINS
t’s important to remember that the original movement to ban gay marriage in Nevada was reactionary. Through the ’90s, the LGBTQ community was active and organized. Nevada’s sodomy law was repealed in 1993, and a conservative effort to amend the state constitution in 1994 with the homophobic Minority Status and Child Protection Act was successfully turned back.
I L LU ST R AT I O N B R E N T H O L M E S
The community emboldened, efforts to actually legalize same-sex marriage in Nevada weren’t far behind. They began in 1995 with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Marriage Resolution. In 1996, the Equal Right to Marry Project and the Nevada Freedom to Marry Coalition launched in Las Vegas, both putting on symposiums, workshops, discussions and fundraisers. The Coalition celebrated National Freedom to Marry Day on February 12, 1998, with a mass ceremony on the steps of the Foley Federal Building. Las Vegas Mayor Jan Laverty Jones issued a proclamation declaring the date National Freedom to Marry Day in Las Vegas. And in 1999, Governor Kenny Guinn signed AB 311, Nevada’s employment non-discrimination bill (known as ENDA), protecting gay Nevadans in the workplace. However, Las Vegas Bugle columnist Anne Mulford had warned that the local gay community might face a “formidable” backlash when same-sex marriage became a hot-button issue in the state for the broader public. A series of national events foreshadowed that backlash. In September 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which not only defined marriage on the federal level as between a man and woman only, but restricted all federal rights and benefits of marriage. DOMA allowed states not to recognize legal same-gender marriages from other states — and urged individual states to pass their own versions of the federal law. All four of Nevada’s federal legislators supported the federal law: Republican Representatives Barbara Vucanovich and John Ensign, and Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Richard Bryan. It took Nevada’s social and religious conservatives three years to mount their own state-based DOMA effort. Within two months of Nevada’s nondiscrimination law taking effect in October 1999, work was under way to establish a Nevada version of the same-sex marriage ban. On December 15, 1999, the Mormon newspaper Beehive was the first to report that the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage in Nevada intended to file an initiative petition, eventually known as Question 2. It would amend the state constitution to prohibit Neva-
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Love is a battlefield: Above right, a Feb. 12, 1998 mass same-sex union ceremony at the Foley Federal Building. Below left, Dennis McBride hands out Question 2 fliers Nov. 2, 2000. Above left, Question 2 signs and fliers reflect a divided community.
situation.” The Beehive article described how Martin K. Jensen, a high-ranking LDS church official in Salt Lake City, telephoned Clark County District Court administrator Anna Peterson to set up the campaign structure in Nevada with church resources, focused on registering church members to vote and getting them to sign the petition to get the question on the ballot. “Ultimately,” the Beehive piece said, “Nevada coalition members hope that their campaign will da from establishing same-sex marriage have a salutatory effect on conservative (a ban already in state statutes) or from causes up and down the ballot.” recognizing same-sex marriages that At the same time Mormons were were legal in other states. “It’s a massive building the coalition in Nevada, a sister grass-roots effort,” Coalition director organization in California was funding Richard Ziser said. “It’s amazing how Proposition 22, a ballot measure forbidit’s all coming together.” ding recognition in that state of same-sex It was not at all amazing considmarriages performed elsewhere. ering the help of the Mormon Mormon involvement in Prop 22 Church, which had bankrolled was direct and open. The Calisimilar campaigns in Hawaii HEAR fornia measure easily passed in and Alaska, both of which passed MORE March 2000, but the Mormon gay marriage bans in 1998. At Dennis Church took a public beating over a 1998 church General ConferMcBride talks about its involvement. Gay and straight ence, Mormon President Gorgay commu- Mormons repudiated the church don Hinckley said, “We cannot nity history and demanded their names be stand idly by if (gay people) try on “KNPR’s removed from church rolls. At to uphold and defend and live in State of least two gay Mormon men killed a so-called same-sex marriage Nevada”
at desert companion. com/hear more
themselves in response to 22’s successful passage after making public statements about their church’s involvement in the legislation. Mindful of the public relations disaster suicide can be, the Mormon Church determined to avoid in Nevada the negative press it had endured in California, Hawaii and Alaska. The altruistic picture the Beehive painted of the genesis of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage in Nevada was belied by Ken Ward in his book, Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas. Ward, a Mormon convert whose Las Vegas Review-Journal columns kept the anti-gay pot stirred throughout the Coalition’s campaign in Nevada, wrote that because, “(Anna) Peterson and the brethren didn’t want the Church to become a lightning rod on the issue,” they chose non-Mormon Richard Ziser to be director, a “conservative Christian minister” who was chairman of the right-wing group Nevada Concerned Citizens. (Ziser was also president and chairman of elders at the Canyon Ridge Christian Church in northwest Las Vegas, which sponsored a “gay recovery” program called HALO — Homosexual and Lesbian Outreach.) Ziser’s public statements made the campaign sound harmless, even wholesome: “We’re not attacking anyone. We’re just trying to protect marriage”; “It will get people out to vote”; “This will not take anything away”; “Traditional marriages are the basic building block of society;” and, “Society has the right to protect its interests.”
P H OT O S C O U R T E S Y D E N N I S M C B R I D E
Ziser’s public statements made the Question 2 campaign sound harmless, even wholesome: “We’re not attacking anyone. We’re just trying to protect marriage ... This will not take anything away.”
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ANGER AND BAFFLEMENT
he gay community’s response to news of the campaign ranged from anger to bafflement. Many in the community didn’t care about marriage, believing it was a conservative construct they had no interest in. Richard Schlegel, who later worked in the campaign against Question 2, was initially unimpressed by the concept of samesex marriage, “because at that point in my life I just felt like it wasn’t an option. We weren’t allowed to get married and that’s just the way that it would be.” And how to fight Ziser and the Coalition became contentious. Eddie Anderson, a Northern Nevada veteran of several liberal political campaigns, suggested the gay community not “come out of the chute defensive, weak-kneed, and playing the victim. You play victim, it’s a sign of weakness.” Anderson advised building coalitions with Republican legislators such as Bill Raggio, Mark James and Dean Rhoads and sending speakers into the straight community to make their case. Las Vegas Bugle publisher Rob Schlegel agreed, suggesting the gay community engage Ziser and the Coalition “to do what is honorable and that would be to help pass a state law, similar to Vermont’s, which would grant same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples basic legal rights that would be equal to marriage — without calling it marriage.” Blindsided, however, Nevada’s gay community drifted through that winter with no coherent response to the challenge. To fight the initiative, in spring 2000, PLAN founded the Coalition for Unity. The organization, howev-
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More than a feeling: Above left, pro-Question 2 campaign ads from the 2002 election season. Above right, the ACLU holds a teach-in about same-sex marriage at UNLV Feb. 12, 1998. Left, an Equal Right to Marry Project event at the Clark County Library Aug. 2, 1996.
er, couldn’t pull itself together enough to accomplish much. Bob Fulkerson says that after its string of victories in the 1990s, the Nevada gay community “didn’t develop any (activist) infrastructure. There was nothing approaching a voter list, nothing approaching a list of supporters. No fundraising lists. No new leaders had risen up. No communication between north and south. People basically went back to their barstools and that was about it.” Support from politicians and public figures who had been LGBTQ allies in other battles was missing this time. Bob Fulkerson remembers Question 2 “was polling out the roof. People were afraid their political careers would end if they (didn’t get) on board.” Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, for example — who had eagerly sought the gay community’s vote in 1999 when he ran for office, had spoken at Gay Pride and who’d been grand marshal of the Pride parade — said that while he disapproved of Ziser’s petition, he also disapproved of same-sex marriage because of his religion. When he was asked
to take a public stand against Question 2, Goodman refused. And while the Coalition for Unity found support from several religious organizations such as the Unitarian Universalists, the Metropolitan Community Church, Methodists, Lutherans, and synagogues in Reno and Las Vegas, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage’s lock on religious support in Nevada was impressive. After meeting with Ziser and other coalition officials in January 2000, Southern Nevada Catholic Bishop Daniel Walsh sent a letter to all his parish priests, advising them to urge parishioners to support the “true definition of marriage and the sanctity of marriage.” But it was the Mormon Church that fueled the Question 2 campaign. The most effective way the church accomplished this was through direct solicitation, on church letterhead, of its members. One such letter from the Reno Stake Presidency read, “Prayerfully consider supporting this cause in one or more of the following ways: Campaign Worker/Volunteer, Yard Sign, Walk Neighborhoods,
Contribution ...” The church also told its members to pick up yard signs as they left services, signs stockpiled outside the church or in nearby parking lots. And the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage had the money. Throughout the three-year Question 2 campaign, Ziser’s coalition collected $2,132,889. For the period ending October 25, Unity had collected a mere $35,077 — and spent nearly all of it. While the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage was getting national support, however, Unity’s appeals to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Community Center were not answered. “They pretty much wrote Nevada off as a lost cause,” Fulkerson remembers. “We were on our own.” In late June 2000, Liz Moore, a bisexual political activist from Spokane, Washington, took over as Southern Nevada coordinator for PLAN and served also as director for the fight against Question 2. Moore proposed that the organization change its name from the Coalition for Unity to Equal Rights Nevada, which kicked off its public campaign with a news conference on September 11, 2000, at Christ Episcopal Church. But, as though taunting the gay community on its own doorstep, Richard Ziser attended the kickoff event. He recorded the meeting, tapped his foot in time to the choir — and then dominated media coverage in the courtyard afterward. On November 7, 2000, Question 2 passed by 69.5 percent of the vote. Two days later, Richard Ziser announced he was going to turn his attention to opposing other gay-equality issues, which put
P H OT O S C O U R T E S Y D E N N I S M C B R I D E
the lie to the Coalition’s claim that it was only interested in protecting marriage. LICKING WOUNDS, POINTING FINGERS
n the gay press and local tabloids, writers and commentators analyzed, vented and pointed fingers. Many blamed the gay community itself for the passage of Question 2, for its lackadaisical attitude, its complacence and its disinterest in politics and voting. But it was also a time for sober realization of what a formidable foe Ziser’s Coalition was. An examination of its disclosure forms revealed a who’s-who of prominent Nevada Mormon politicians and businessmen. Among the donors: high-profile lawyer George Vern Albright; Ashley Hall, a former Las Vegas City manager; and dentist Mac Barney. Jay Bybee, the notorious judge whose memos justified torture of prisoners
during the George W. Bush administration — and cofounder of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law — was a donor. Ed Smith, owner of the venerable M. J. Christensen jewelry firm, donated $27,000. Bob Broadbent, former Clark County Commissioner, former aviation director at McCarran Airport and the motivating individual behind the Las Vegas monorail, donated $4,050 in-kind and cash. Among the Mormon-owned businesses whose principals and their relatives donated significant sums were such firms as Piercy, Bowler, Taylor & Kern accountants; Brady Industries; and Frehner Trucking Service, Inc., which donated $13,000. (Piercy, Bowler, Taylor & Kern later lost its contract with Nevada’s largest AIDS charity, Golden Rainbow, for donating to Question 2.) Saddest of all, however, were contributors and supporters of Question 2 who had gay people in their families. Former
Nevada U.S. Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, who sat on the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage’s sponsoring committee, has a lesbian granddaughter raising two children with her partner in Carson City, a gay brother, and a gay former grandson-in-law who is father to two of Vucanovich’s great grandchildren. Boulder City physician, city councilman, and state Assemblyman Joe Hardy and his wife, Jill, gave $1,000 to the CPM and staked a “Yes on 2” sign in their front yard. The couple has two gay sons. Meanwhile, Equal Rights Nevada rebooted with a new executive director, Richard Schlegel. ERN issued rules for public debate (e.g., saying “gay and lesbian families,” not “gay and lesbian community;” referring to “same-gender couples,” not “same-sex couples”). Equal Rights Nevada also tried to reframe the issue by depicting committed same-sex couples in its messaging, which was surprisingly
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difficult. Bob Fulkerson remembers it took months to find willing couples. “They were afraid. They didn’t wanna be targeted.” To get any message across, however, Equal Rights Nevada needed money, but its fundraising efforts mostly failed. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign eventually donated a token sum. “I think they had written Nevada off (and) moved on to other states,” Richard Schlegel says. Bob Fulkerson called every casino CEO in Northern Nevada for money to fight Question 2, and the only one who responded was Harvey Whittemore. Nevertheless, Equal Rights Nevada kept a brave face with house parties, bar events, auctions, dinners, donation mailers, and membership drives. In June 2002, Equal Rights Nevada was blindsided by the most egregious piece of political theater to come out of the Coalition’s campaign — the Marriage Protection Pledge. Ahead of the September 3 primary election, Ziser’s Coalition sent a letter to candidates asking them to sign an enclosed Marriage Protection Pledge and promise to “uphold the spirit of Question 2 and oppose any government recognition or endorsement of marriage imitations, including ‘domestic partnerships,’ ‘civil unions,’ ‘reciprocal beneficiary relationships,’ or any similar arrangement that substitutes for the sacred bond of marriage between a man and a woman.” In a July solicitation letter, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage released the list of candidates who signed the pledge. Among these were state controller candidate Kathy Augustine, married four times, and who had a lesbian daughter named Dallas; all the Hansen family members — founders of Nevada’s Independent American Party — who ran for anything; and most of the Mormon candidates for office. African-American Las Vegas city councilwoman and fundamentalist Christian Lynette Boggs McDonald, then running for Congress against Shelley Berkley, signed
the pledge. (Despite having a gay sister, Boggs McDonald believed gay people should be forbidden from adopting children or marrying.) Most disappointing among signers of the pledge was Democratic Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny, running for lieutenant governor against Republican incumbent Lorraine Hunt (who did not sign the pledge). As an assemblywoman, Kenny had voted in 1993 to repeal Nevada’s sodomy law, and had been a great supporter of the gay community. It had been Kenny who first proposed domestic partner benefits for county employees in 2001, and who often attended fundraisers and events in the gay community. During the waning days of the Question 2 campaign, conflict erupted in the gay community over the hopelessness of the fight, and whether admitting that hopelessness was defeatism or just being smart about picking your battles. There were fights over how best to spend Equal Rights Nevada’s limited funds, arguments over who got to make public appearances, even what the post-Question 2 goals of Equal Rights Nevada should be. On November 5, 2002, Question 2 passed — this time with only 67 percent of cast votes — and the Nevada state constitution was amended. On the morning after the election, thousands of Nevadans awoke to find themselves demoted to second-class citizens, denied equal rights under the law. Bob Fulkerson remembers he was relieved when the Question 2 campaign was over. “It was a sense of relief knowing that the Far Right had had their day in the sun,” he says, “and that they would never be able to use gay marriage as a thing to bludgeon us over the heads again or to bring their voters out. I was totally disappointed in Nevadans and Nevada. … I think it set our political agenda back 10 years easily.” The 2002 general election saw a Republican sweep of every constitutional
In the waning days of the campaign, conflict erupted in the gay community over the hopelessness of the fight, and whether admitting that hopelessness was defeatism or being smart about picking your battles. npr.vegas
office in Nevada for the first time since 1890, while most of those running for office who supported Question 2 won their seats. At least there seemed to be some karmic fallout, however, for Question 2 supporters: County Commissioners Erin Kenny and Dario Herrera went down in the epic G-Sting bribery scandal; Controller Kathy Augustine was impeached; and Clark County Recorder Fran Deane was booted from office for malfeasance. State Senator Sandra Tiffany faced ethics complaints and lost her seat in 2006, while Lynette Boggs McDonald lost reelection in November 2006. And Ziser’s attempt to turn an anti-gay campaign into political capital failed. In 2004, he ran a dismal campaign for the Senate against Harry Reid, losing by 25 points. But he hasn’t let go. As late as 2005, Ziser was still inveighing against domestic partnership benefits for unmarried couples that were proposed for the state’s university system. Have we grown more tolerant and compassionate in the meantime? Perhaps Nevadans never were as bigoted as the Question 2 campaign suggested. One of the greatest lies to come out of the campaign was that 70 percent of Nevada voters amended the state constitution. In fact, it was not 70 percent of Nevada voters, but 70 percent of Nevadans who voted. Calculating those figures gives a very different picture. In 2000, there were 874,304 registered voters in Nevada, but only 613,360 of them voted. Of that number, 414,018 voted for Question 2, and that was only 47 percent of Nevada’s electorate. The figure was even lower in 2002. That year, there were 869,859 registered voters in Nevada, but only 512,433 of them voted. Of that number, 356,141 voted for Question 2, which was only 41 percent of eligible Nevada voters. In both cases, it was a minority of eligible Nevada voters, not a majority, who added bigotry to the state constitution. It’s impossible to know how those thousands who stayed away from the polls might have voted on Question 2, but the fact remains that in both years, fewer than half of those who could have voted supported Question 2 — and that’s far from the monolithic support Ziser and the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage claimed.
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IMITATION GAME Chef Kenny Chye is on a mission to make the world vegan, one “meaty” burger at a time B Y H E I D I K YS E R
n a recent Monday afternoon at Vege-Way’s South Jones Boulevard location, a saffron-robed monk enjoyed a meal fewer than 10 feet from the vegan burger joint’s owner, Kenny Chye, who was giving a press interview: “In Asia, vegetarian food originally came from the Buddhist temple,” he said, gesturing toward the monk. “When Asian people stop eating meat, it looks like something has happened to them — they have family problems or health problems. So, when I stopped eating meat, my friends would say, ‘Hey, Chef, what happened to you?’ I would tell them, ‘Nothing. I’m 55 years old. I ate so much meat the last 50 years, the next 50 I won’t eat any.’” That a Buddhist monk happened to be sitting there, a convenient prop to help make Chye’s point, might have seemed like divine providence or crafty public relations had the monk’s companion, a middle-aged
woman, not stopped by the table to greet the chef on her way out. “They go to Veggie House a lot,” Chye explained, “but this is their first time here.” The way Chye tells it, Vege-Way owes its existence to Veggie House, the restaurant he opened on Spring Mountain in 2012 to offer plant-based simulations of traditional Chinese dishes. As it gained popularity and attracted a following, the chef got to know his regular customers. When they talked about the vegan lifestyle, he says, they’d frequently say that what they missed most from their meat-eating days was a good hamburger. “So,” Chye says, back at Vege-Way, “I made this place for them.” It’s a striking imitation of classic fast-
food hamburger restaurants, from the bright, primary-color décor to the ambient ketchup-and-mustard scent. The burgers come wrapped in paper and stuffed in a mess-minimizing envelope, a necessity for the mouth-watering handful of meaty deliciousness Chye has managed to concoct using zero animal products. Yelp critics give it four and a half stars, often comparing it to In-N-Out.
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ustomers, family and friends are behind a lot of Chye’s professional accomplishments. From a line of restaurateurs, he trained with a master chef in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and dreamed of having his own place in the U.S. In 1981, he got the chance: a San Diego restaurant sponsored him to come to the country on a special visa. Seven years later, he had his own place, Overseas, in Carlsbad. Now operated by his brother and sister, it was the first of three Southern California restaurants Chye opened before moving to Las Vegas in 2001. Here, he worked for a decade as a food wholesaler who (irony alert!) specialized in meat. Indirectly, it led him to be one of Southern Nevada’s best-known vegan chefs. His mother, a devout Buddhist, frequently urged him to get out of the meat-trafficking business. Then, a close friend and fellow meat supplier narrowly survived colon cancer. Chye recalls: “He said, ‘Kenny, I want to change my diet. I want to live longer. I don’t want to disappear from this world.’ Now he’s 78 years old. After he became vegan, he was fine. That’s what inspired me to do a veggie restaurant.” Another source of inspiration is Chye’s own taste in food. His restaurants recreate dishes that are familiar to carnivores, in part to attract a mainstream audience, and in part because Chye himself loved the taste and texture of meat. “I duplicate the food I like,” he says. “I don’t like salad. I like sea bass. And we’ll have sea bass on the menu (at Veggie House) in a few weeks.”
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Fans of Chye’s restaurants marvel at his plant-based approximations of Mongolian beef, roast pork, crispy scallops, Hon Hon shrimp and curry duck. He’s spent countless hours perfecting his own recipe for most of these “meats,” all the while denying that he’s a food scientist. It’s simply cheaper, he says, to buy wholesale ingredients and make your own meat analogs than to buy them premade. And his often taste better.
t Vege-Way, Chye walks briskly back to the galley area where employees spend eight hours a day making 1,000 or more of his secret-recipe beef-, chicken- and soy-free patties. They mix rice with beans and other vegetables in huge bowls, press the patties into custom-made moulds, steam the patties and then freeze them for storage. Patties are fried before going into burgers and sandwiches, or sold frozen by the half-dozen. It’s hard not to see the potential for scaling up such an operation. Chye says he’s had plenty of franchise and wholesaling offers, but he has his own plan. “The next thing we’ll do is a main kitchen,” he says. “We’re going to make our veggie patty, of course, chicken patty with different flavors … fish, beef skewers, and then we can supply them to the hotels. When we open Vege-Way in San Diego and L.A., we can freeze (the products) and ship them. But without the main kitchen, we can’t do anything.” First, though, Vege-Way needs a few more months to get established. The Jones location opened last September, and a Centennial Hills one in February. Chye says customers are already asking for one in Henderson. Why so popular? “I get a lot of word-of-mouth,” he says. “I help the vegan community with events, like donating food to fundraisers for animal charities. We donate food to the homeless every month. … I talk to people. I tell them what the good things to eat are, what type of work we should be doing for our health, the environment and animals.” Sounds like a man who’s gotten religion.
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UMAMI BOMB At Momofuku, too much of a good thing is just … too much B Y J O H N C U RTA S
t’s hard not to admire what Chef David Chang has done with Momofuku. What began as an eight-seat eatery in lower Manhattan in 2004 has spawned an empire that now stretches from Soho, New York to Sydney, Australia. And after eating your way through Momofuku (“lucky peach” in Korean), it’s hard not to wonder what all the shouting is about — shouting from the rooftops being what the influential New York food media has done almost from the day Chang opened. Once they laid the groundwork, social media took over, and
for well over a decade, foodies have been inundated with tales of Chang’s influence, vision and ground-breaking cuisine. When other chefs and restaurants went into recession-induced hibernation in 2008, Chang kicked into high gear, opening noodle bars, Vietnamese restaurants and impossible-to-get-into joints in New York, expanding his brand while taking full advantage of the rise of the millennials and their need to have something tasty (and Instagram-worthy) to eat. There are now five Momofukus in the world, more are planned, and to the delight of Chang’s fans, Las Vegas finally has one. Consider how far he’s come: In the beginning, the entire Chang oeuvre consisted of barely a handful of items. Because of its small size, the original Momofuku Noodle Bar in lower Manhattan featured a few bowls of ramen, a couple of appetizers and some stuffed bao buns — and that was it. On such bare bones, a food empire was born. The genius of Chang was in upgrading those noodles, enriching the broth, and loading smoky bacon onto classic Korean and Japanese items that, until he came along, most Americans wouldn’t touch
with a ten-foot chopstick. He also cooked (and seasoned) Korean fried chicken like a real chef, and made a big deal about using better ingredients. No bottom bin ham for him. He used real Virginia country ham, Kurobuta pork and the fluffiest bao he could find. He cured his own pickles, too (a big deal in 2004), and made sure everyone in the food media knew about it. Most of all, though, Momofuku became all about umami — the word that describes the intense, savory quality that only the densest, saltiest, most amino acid-rich foods possess (think steak, cheese, smoked meats and soy sauce). In the Chang universe, it’s all about overwhelming your palate with this fifth taste (after sweet, sour, salty and bitter). His food does this at the expense of delicacy and refinement, but his audience doesn’t seem to care one bit. Subtlety is as important to a David Chang dish as dialogue is to a Vin Diesel movie. Thus will most of your meal at Momofuku be so umami-drenched that your palate will be screaming for mercy after several plates appear, each overloaded with whatever miso-shoyu-smoky-kombu concoction Chang can’t help but incorporate into every bite. If smoke is your thing, you’ll be in smoked hog heaven. By all means, then, don’t miss the pork meatballs swimming in smoked black-eyed peas. Is Momofuku’s pork ramen soup good? Yes, but it’s also so smoky that three sips in, you’ll want to run up the white flag. Ditto the oysters Momofuku, the seafood essence
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of which is obliterated by smoky bacon bits. There’s also a smoked pork chop and roasted mussels on the menu, the mussels festooned with (wait for it) plenty of smoked Benton’s bacon. When Chang and his troops are through pouring on the smoke, they find other ways to up the umami ante. Sichuan rice cakes are thick, stubby rice noodles smothered with pork sausage, while chilled spicy noodles get a heap of sausages and cashews that effectively overwhelm the interesting starches and spices beneath them — pork sausage and cashews being the belt and suspenders of the umami-overload universe. After three trips around this menu, I threw in the towel. There are some good things to eat here — the spicy cod hotpot is good fish, well-treated; the katsu chicken is an old-fashioned, mushroom cream sauce delight — but by the time you get to them, you will have been drowned by a tsunami of umami. By all means, get the pork belly buns (the ones that made Chang famous), but skip the chicken karaage version — they’re sad and stringy. The vaunted rotisserie chicken comes with deep-fried bones (some edible, some
not), and is not as good as it thinks it is. What is good is the seating. You might have trouble getting one, but that’s only because every under-40 in Vegas seems to be beating a path to this second-floor location in The Cosmopolitan these days. What they find is a large restaurant fronted by a long bar that itself is five times the length of the original operation. Beside that bar are a number of high tops for waiting, drinking or overflow dining, and beyond them, a huge open kitchen that looks like it could feed an army base. For its size, the room is remarkably comfortable, the tables well-spaced, and the noise level (relatively) civilized. Service is also top-notch, with management and waiters who are well-versed in the food. (That said, the wine list is sinfully overpriced, and the sake/sochu list woefully sparse.) David Chang deserves a lot of credit. He made this food safe for aspirational foodies with limited resources who wanted to expand their knowledge of chewy noodles, miso broth and various edible esoterica. All of this was a treat when you were ducking into a tiny noodle emporium for a quick fix of soup and bao. To put an entire meal together from this food, however — after your taste buds have been bludgeoned into submission — is a big-box experience of a different order. If you still use party as a verb, and don’t mind that everything on your table tastes the same, you might feel right at home among all the umami. Nothing about Momofuku is as good as its reputation, but in this day and age, that’s enough.
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IN S I D E O U T
D E S E R T V I STA S , S P R I N G W E AT H E R A N D L A S V E G A S’ AC T I V E L I F E ST Y L E H AV E G I V E N U S H O M E S T H AT E M B R AC E — A N D S O M E T I M E S M E R G E — B OT H I N T E R I O R A N D E X T E R I O R
P H OTO G R A P H Y BY L U C K Y W E N Z E L
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RADICAL TRANSPARENCY Blue Heron Marquis Seven Hills Showhome, Henderson Blue Heron Design Build
ou get this buzzy sense of pleasant disorientation as you walk through the Blue Heron Marquis Seven Hills Showhome, because you’re never quite sure: Are you indoors or outdoors? The answer is yes. The three-story, 8,000-square-foot concept home in Henderson’s Marquis Seven Hills embodies indoor-outdoor living in a radical way: by replacing traditional interior walls with mechanized windows called “pocket walls.” At the push of a panel, a living area becomes a courtyard, an annex turns into a breezeway, a bedroom transforms into a cabana with golf-course views. The indoor-outdoor fluidity and focus on strong, clean horizontal lines defines Blue Heron’s “Vegas Modern” style. “At its core, ‘Vegas Modern’ is an architectural response to the climate here,” says Tyler Jones, Blue Heron’s owner and cofounder. “This is the Mojave Desert. We have extreme heat, but also some beautiful times of the year. We think a home should actually open up so you can enjoy the climate — and the architecture should respond to the extremes, as well.” The home’s 20 pocket walls might be a mere gimmick if the actual design didn’t take full advantage of their potential. It does. The Marquis
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Showhome’s nested-jewel-box design turns this transparency into an aesthetic experience that’s like peering through an architectural kaleidoscope, or walking through a pop-up book: With every turn, new perspectives and vantages reveal themselves — here, the mirror shimmer of the edgeless pool, there, an inviting glimpse of the cozy basement bar — teasing you with the tantalizing idea that, at just the right angle, you could take in the entire house. “We like our architecture to unfold in layers,” says Jones, who also develops the home designs with the firm’s architects. “It should be a rich experience, something you get to enjoy as you pass through.” The Marquis Showhome is also a sort of comeback trophy for a local developer that not only weathered the recession, but did it while championing a crisp, bold design style in contrast to the generic Tuscan-lite look that has unfortunately defined the typical modern Vegas home. “When we started the company in 2004 and began developing our architectural style, it was very novel,” Jones says. “The real estate companies told us we were crazy. They said, ‘This isn’t what sells!’ But we were convinced that people wanted something different.” ANDREW KIRALY
There are few impermeable barriers between inside and out in the Marquis Seven Hills Showhome built by Blue Heron Design Build. Everywhere, pocket walls slide away â€” onto spaces for indoor/outdoor entertainment, water features and long views. That respect for openness marks the interior, as well, with high ceilings and ample spaces. Perfect for a new style of desert living.
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Thereâ€™s an unfurling quality to the gardens of the hillside Jameson residence in Boulder City. As you make your way through, cultural touchstones abound, elements of an English garden deftly transitioning to Asian-inspired koi ponds and Buddhist statues, culminating in a stunning view of Lake Mead.
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HOW THEIR GARDENS GROW Jameson residence, Boulder City Lage Design, Roca Landscaping
here are seven distinct gardens on the grounds of the Jamesons’ Boulder City home. There’s the English garden, the Chinese garden and the Heavenly Garden, to name a few, not to mention a swimming pool, a labyrinth, a basketball court, a koi pond, a meditation patio and an outdoor lounge. If all that conjures a jumbled nouveau-riche montage straight out of MTV Cribs, consider that it’s all on a modest 1.3 acres — and it’s so artfully knitted together, you might even call it soulful. That’s no coincidence, given that Gard and Florence Jameson often open up their hillside home to people for spiritual retreats and reflective gatherings. “Each part of the site represents a different opportunity to gain a quality of perspective,” says Gard Jameson, a professor of Indian and Chinese philosophy at UNLV. He means perspective both literally and figuratively. Nearest the home, the more formal, geometric European gardens brace and complement the rectangular pool. But as you walk up the winding stone stairs, Asian touches appear — Buddhist statues, a stone-lined koi pond, a burbling stream, bamboo bushes with bright red berries. Finally, at the top, a decidedly desert-inflected sense of place reigns. The foliage hides the formal gardens below, and your eye is drawn upward and outward to the
view of Lake Mead. Tying the different areas together are deft transitional touches. “Transitions are really important so the different areas don’t clash,” explains Cecilia Schafler, principal with Lage Design. “At the top, the Spanish tiles, for instance, which continue from the house, help the styles blend together. Or when you’re coming down the steps from the top and see the pine tree, which has a very Asian feel, you get just a peek of that before there’s more to come.” And from the labyrinth to the stream, stone is an organizing motif. The distinct but blended areas are the result of a collaborative process that’s been both organic and formal as well. The Jamesons purchased the site’s kernel plot in 1985 and gradually constructed elements, such as the pool and the meditation patio, in piecemeal fashion. Florence Jameson, a physician, conceived the gardens, and Jose Rosas of Roca Landscaping built them. Schafler of Lage Design was hired in 2011 to tie the disparate parts together and complete the vision — a work still in progress. “I remember before I started doing anything, I had to meet Mr. Jameson,” Schafler recalls. “He wanted to make sure we were all a good fit, which, as a designer, I really appreciate. This has been not just a collaborative project, but a collaborative adventure.” ANDREW KIRALY
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BACKYARD GEM Towner-Mergenmeier residence, Downtown DIY design and build
oug Towner and Steve Mergenmeier weren’t looking for a home with a swimming pool. But in 2003, after two years of house shopping, they knew as soon as they saw the Downtown mid-modern split-level that it was the one for them, pool be damned. Today, following a DIY backyard makeover, the 30-foot pool bordered by a shaded cabana is the centerpiece of an ideal outdoor entertainment space. “We had my 40th birthday party here,” Towner says, thinking back to his favorite backyard gatherings. “We had a Richard Simmons theme, and lots of family came. It was a lot of fun.” Towner and Mergenmeier aren’t the first to see the quarter-acre space’s social potential. Their next-door neighbor, whose mother and stepfather had Towner and Mergenmeier’s house built in 1961, told them that her parents designed it with entertaining in mind. From the back porch, steps lead down to a large, square open space. On the left is the pool. At the back, a terrace level is overlooked by 20 Italian Cypress trees camouflaging a tall cinderblock wall. The original owners had kept it well maintained, from shampooing the carpet on the back porch to hand-watering the thick lawn. But by the time Towner and Mergenmeier moved in, the yard was a shambles. “The first thing we did was (renovate) the backyard,” Towner says. They had the dying grass removed — along with the volleyball net over it and the basketball goal on the back terrace. Mergenmeier designed a Mediterranean-inspired garden interwoven with stone walkways, sitting areas and drought-tolerant foliage. The terrace level now holds an outdoor dining area and desert tortoise habitat. The back porch is an outdoor bar. They paid for almost everything with the rebate they got from the water authority’s turf-replacement program and did all the labor, except grass removal, themselves. They estimate the whole thing took about three months. From their street in the pocket neighborhood of Crestview Estates (where this writer also lives), it’s hard to imagine that so inviting an expanse awaits just outside Towner and Mergenmeier’s kitchen. But they’ve hosted enough neighborhood parties now that it’s well-known in their Downtown social circle. “I remember someone waving at me when we came to this neighborhood to look at the house,” Mergenmeier says. “I thought, ‘I’d like to live someplace where people are friendly.’” HEIDI KYSER
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The backyard of the Towner-Mergenmeier home in Downtown takes on an inviting Mediterranean character by complementing the pool with varieties of drought-tolerant plantings and meandering stone pathways.
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ONE LANDSCAPE, TWO APPROACHES
Arroyo House, Blue Diamond Hoogland Architecture
ook at all these windows! Better yet, look through them. We’ll get to the rest of Scott and Laurie Lee’s Blue Diamond home in a moment, but first — man, this view! Is it bonkers, or what? A massive sweep of yucca-dotted ridgelines and Red Rock escarpment fills the two glass walls, as close as a neighbor, and is the first — and for a minute the only — thing you see as you enter their spacious, open living/dining/kitchen area. That’s by design, of course. A dramatic reveal is what you do when you build a house on a hillside overlooking a rural hamlet. It’s why you build there. Dubbed the Arroyo House by its architect, Henry “CJ” Hoogland, it’s one of two adjacent homes he designed to capture, each in its different way, an indoor/outdoor dynamic appropriate to the grand setting. Meeting the Lees, you see an immediate pattern: Their open, welcoming personalities are mirrored in their open, expansive main area,
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which merges with the expansive openness of the view. Do you think we have enough windows, Laurie Lee joked during construction. Oh, yeah. Seriously, there’s glass everywhere. With a setting like this, you put as little as possible between it and you — and then make those boundaries permeable. The floor-toceiling glass slides open onto a broad, wraparound patio, extending the living space outward and inviting the desert in. Take it from us: It’s every bit as homey as it sounds. Good for entertaining, too. During a New Year’s Eve dinner, some 70-80 Blue Diamond residents flowed easily in and out. At least one glass panel doesn’t slide: It’s fitted around a flat boulder that sits half inside the house and half out on the patio. (A slot cut into the outside stone contains a fire element — a stylized fireplace.) A literal enactment of the inside-outside idea, it lends the space a bit of spectacle and required structural reinforcement and nifty work with the glass. “We built the house around the boulder,” Scott Lee says. Smaller touches add to the ambiance. In the
With its many sliding glass walls, the Arroyo House in Blue Diamond throws itself open to the surrounding desert vistas. The outdoors slip inside in more material ways, too, from a shelf of polished mesquite to a slab of desert rock poised playfully between indoors and out. To the desert, the home presents a face of oxidizing metal, the organic quality of which harmonizes with the landscape.
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entry, a shelf of polished, gnarled mesquite immediately reminds you of the desert you just stepped out of, and as you stroll the passage to a rear patio, a slot suddenly opens between two portions of the home, neatly framing the most dramatic rise of Red Rock. Parts of the exterior are clad in corrugated steel, already rusting into an organic color that anchors the house to the landscape, the faint lines of the corrugation picking up the striations on nearby bluffs. The net effect is of a light-filled sanctuary rich in pleasant interplay between inside and out — perfect for a couple of avid outdoorspeople at home in the desert.
Schneider Residence, Blue Diamond Hoogland Architecture
few yards from the Lees’ house, Rich Schneider’s Hoogland home takes a different approach to the indoor/ outdoor aesthetic, one more subdued and even, you might say, conceptual. Case in point: the shower in the master bathroom. The floor in front of it is a rectangle of smooth embedded stones, their natural colors markedly in contrast to the rest of the floor. A stylized reference to the outside, yes, but look more closely: In their placement and flow, it’s almost as if the stones spilled in from the arroyo you can see through the top-to-bottom window a few feet away. Subtle, compelling. Nearby, the tub sits in an oval of smooth rocks, another allusion to nature. Then there are the views. The heart of the Schneider house is a two-story box — living room on bottom, bedroom suite on top — with a towering glass wall facing southwest. Where the Lee house throws itself open to the whole glorious panorama, Schneider’s house shrewdly edits its views, maximizing the impact of each. The living room and the master bedroom are oriented toward just the nearest ridgeline; in the cooler months, it showcases the setting sun (which will shift more westerly in summer, away from the glass). Another rise to the east hosts the rising sun for anyone in the guest bedroom. Red Rock is visible through a side window in the master bedroom and from a second-floor deck on which Schneider can practice his hobby, astronomy. Indeed, that hobby cued Hoogland’s design: The house is essentially a cluster of three boxes, each of which focuses — telescopes, let’s say — your attention onto a different view. And talk about bringing the outside — the waaaaay outside — in: the
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two-story wall inside the front door is wallpapered with an image of the surface of Mars. Like we said, conceptual. Outside, gabion walls soften what would otherwise be a hard boundary between the natural and the built. Some of the house’s character is dictated by its site. It sits on the one-third of Schneider’s property that is pretty much the only buildable ground he had; the rest is arroyo. Funny story about that parcel: Having scouted Blue Diamond real estate, he was excited when he saw the property listed for sale online. After Googling it carefully, he thought he knew exactly which plot it was — a perfect building site. Away on an extended business trip, he was forced to handle the transaction by internet. You can see where this is going: The site he wound up owning wasn’t the one he thought he was buying. (That explains the great price.) It took some heroic engineering — giant footings and a large sweep of rocks at the home’s base to repel desert flooding — but the house got built and Schneider, an avid bicyclist who loves the rural area, couldn’t be happier: “CJ took a negative and turned it into the best decision of my life.” SCOTT DICKENSHEETS
The Schneider House in Blue Diamond collaborates with the raw desert in a number of ways, from gabion walls softening the transition between natural and manmade to rock features in the bathroom to carefully selected views. Wallpaper depicting the surface of Mars adds a whimsical touch. Center: owner Rich Schneider (left) and architect Henry â€œCJâ€? Hoogland.
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Robert John Kley
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THIS SEASONâ€™S LOOKS ARE SIMPLE, FRESH, FLORAL AND FUN
L.K. Bennett “Ros” dress, $495 L.K. Bennett in the Forum Shops at Caesars
Tory Burch “Alexandria” top, $350 Tory Burch “Alexandria” skirt, $295 Tory Burch in the Forum Shops at Caesars
Mulberry “Emmylou” wrap dress, $3,550 Mulberry in the Forum Shops at Caesars
Joie “Adorlee” cold-shoulder floral print top, $188 Joie “Kenath” floral print skirt, $348 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Vintage apron, prices vary Etsy.com
Alexis “Barbie” off-the-shoulder ruffle top, $286 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall L.K. Bennett geo flowers “Kalia” skirt, $395 L.K. Bennett “Luce” heels, $425 L.K. Bennett in the Forum Shops at Caesars
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YOUR ARTS+ENTERTAINMENT CALENDAR FOR APRIL
7TH ANNUAL THE BELIEVER THE ARTIST AS GREAT VEGAS FESTIVAL CULTURE PRODUCER FESTIVAL OF BEER VARIOUS LOCATIONS
EAST FREMONT STREET
It’s beertopia! Five hundred beers! Now expanded to two days. Bottoms up! 7p April 7, 3p April 8, $44$80, greatvegasbeer.com
Something bookish this way comes — an innovative new literary event, featuring an evening of readings in Red Rock Canyon, a clever mock trial (of the American Dream) in the Mob Museum’s historic courtroom, and more at Downtown locations. Guests include Dave Eggers, Heidi Julavits, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July and more. Big, big. See blackmountaininstitute.org for details.
21 DON RICKLES THE SMITH CENTER
Into this moment of free-speech skirmishBARRICK MUSEUM ing — campuses roiling over who can say what, Subtitled “Living and Sustaining a Creative the excesses of political Life,” this panel talk — featuring local artists correctness as a key Andreana Donahue, Justin Favela and Wendy Kveck among others — dwells on the spur of Trump support, marches galore — this artist’s role on the front lines of community guy drops like a hockey development. Inspiringly timely. 7p, free, puck: Don Rickles, unlv.edu/barrickmuseum undying master of insult humor. Political incorrectness incarnate. How will the post-election cultural context affect his in-your-face shtick? Zing! 7:30p, $35-$129, thesmithcenter.com
TWILIGHT: LA, 1992 WEST LAS VEGAS LIBRARY
After the so-called Rodney King riots in 1992, playwright Anna Deavere Smith spent months gathering real quotes related to the event, layering them into a one-woman theatrical investigation of urban anger and America’s racial, class and economic divides, here performed by Maythinee Washington, Desert Companion’s 2017 Best Actress. 2p, free, West Las Vegas Library, lvccld.org
THE GUIDE ART
FOCUS ON NEVADA PHOTO SHOWCASE THROUGH APRIL 18
This exhibition represents a handful of the stunning photography selected for Desert Companion’s 2016 “Focus on Nevada” feature. Free. West Charleston Library, lvccld.org
“WHERE I LIVE” STUDENT ART COMPETITION THROUGH APRIL 23
The top 13 artworks based on the theme “Where I Live.” The art was selected by Nevada Housing Division Partners from more than 1,600 entries submitted by Clark County students, grades K–5. Free. Spring Valley Library, lvccld.org
A LAS VEGAS SYMPHONY OF ART THROUGH APRIL 25
Cheng Yajie’s drawings and paintings reflect the early influence of Social Realism on his studies in China during the 1980s, and the dreamlike qualities and symbolism of Fantastic Realism learned while in graduate school in Austria. Free. Summerlin Library, lvccld.org
ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE
Pete Barbutti. $20. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin, scscai.com
An exhibition of two complete editions of artist books illustrated by Salvador Dali: The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri (1960) and The Decameron, written by Giovanni Boccaccio (1972). These books contain 110 prints authorized by the artist. Free. Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV, unlv.edu
THE COMPOSERS SHOWCASE OF LAS VEGAS
THROUGH MAY 13
THROUGH MAY 13 A showcase of ten contemporary American artists who are reshaping the process-art tradition into a profound expression of 21st century studio practice. The exhibition will include painting, photography, mixed media and sculpture. Free. Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV, unlv.edu
COLORADO RIVER: ARTFULLY ENGINEERED APRIL 13–JUNE 23, 9A-5P
Explore the style and function of Art Deco design in water facilities across the Western United States through the stunning black and white pinhole photography of Cody Brothers. Free for members or included with paid general admission. Big Springs Gallery, Springs Preserve, springspreserve.org
THROUGH APRIL 28 This exhibition combines traditional Mexican masks with contemporary artwork to blur the lines between art and artifice, self and other, being and nonbeing. Far from static artifacts, masks point to shifting meanings and challenge us to question notions of identity. Free. Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV, unlv.edu
THROUGH APRIL 30 Artist Jamie Cornelio M. Jimena II’s stylized portraits of women and girls feature piercing eyes that offer hope, beauty and mystery. Free. Windmill Library, lvccld.org
MARIO BASNER’S WORLD HERITAGE COLLECTION THROUGH APRIL 30
“First Installment: History - Abandoned Tuberculosis Sanatorium / Germany” is a limited-edition photographic art collection celebrating diversity, culture and humanity, dedicated to inspire by portraying extraordinary sites, accomplishments and ideas in past, present and future. Tivoli Village, 400 S. Rampart Blvd., mariobasner.com
CABRERA CONDUCTS BRAHMS APRIL 1, 7:30P
The Las Vegas Philharmonic features the premiere of local resident Jennifer Bellor’s 898 Hildegard, a piece for orchestra and chorus that intertwines excerpts from the medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen’s chants O Vis Eternitatis and O Gloriosissimi Lux Vivens Angeli. Also featured are Schumann’s Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Opus 52, and Brahms’ A German Requiem, Opus 45. $30–$109. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
THE 2017 YOUNG JAZZ STARS OF TOMORROW APRIL 2, 2P
The show features the JAZZMIN Vocal Band, which is a unique blend of jazz vocal lovers who bring fresh interpretations of jazz and contemporary standards in the tradition of The Singers Unlimited, The Four Freshmen and Take 6. Also featured will be perennial favorite of LVJS, comedian-musician
APRIL 5, 10:30P
Original music from some of Las Vegas’ finest composers and songwriters performed by some of the best from the Vegas entertainment and theatrical communities. $20–$25. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
YING QUARTET APRIL 6, 7:30P
Fearlessly imaginative, the Ying Quartet is on a constant quest to explore the creative possibilities of the string quartet, resulting in its brilliantly communicative performances. $30. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv.edu
STEVE TYRELL APRIL 7–8, 7P
With hits such as “The Way You Look Tonight” and “The Simple Life” earning him an international following, Tyrell has set the standard for interpreting The Great American Songbook. $39–$59. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
BRODY DOLYNIUK PRESENTS: PINK FLOYD’S THE WALL — LIVE IN CONCERT APRIL 7, 7:30P
This epic show features all the elements you’d expect from the original Wall tour: live band, vocalists, concert lighting, video and a gigantic block wall built across the stage — but re-imagined for today’s current themes. $29–$75. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
CATFISH JOHN APRIL 7, 8P
In dedication and devotion to the musical adventure of the Grateful Dead, Jeff Orr, Dusty Alander, Jason Gavin, Dan Klepinger, Scott Tilotson, Keith Alcantara and Jack Dellavalle bring back their own interpretation of music that has inspired for 50 years. 21+ only. Free. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brooklynbowl.com
MASTERWORKS — MOZART & HAYDN APRIL 9, 3P
The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society will present Vesperae solennes de confessore, K. 339 by Mozart and Requiem by Michael Haydn.
The 65-voice Musical Arts Chorus and the 32-piece Musical Arts Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Douglas R. Peterson will perform with guest soloists. $20. Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV, unlv.edu
BILLY BOB THORNTON & THE BOXMASTERS APRIL 9–10, 7P
The actor’s chart-topping American roots rock band has entertained audiences nationwide, even opening for Willie Nelson. The band is hailed for its eclectic style influenced by pop, country, British mod and Southern American music. $39–$75. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
RED, WOLVES AT THE GATE, MESSAGE FROM SYLVIA, DEATH THERAPY APRIL 10, 6P
As part of Red’s 10th anniversary tour, they will be sharing their latest album, Beauty for Rage, and sharing the stage with other talents. 18+ only. $20–$22.50. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brooklynbowl.com
STEVE MARCH-TORMÉ TOUCHSTONES: LEGACY OF SONG APRIL 14–15, 7P
The son of Mel Tormé, March has developed his own captivating style that is on full display throughout a thrilling evening of music by Ray Charles, Cole Porter, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Mel Tormé and many more. Backed by his crackerjack quartet, he has electrified audiences in intimate jazz clubs and performing arts centers worldwide. $35–$55. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
RIPLEY REFLECTS APRIL 14–15, 8P
Alice Ripley is known for her award-winning performances in the rock opera Almost Normal. She also writes and performs her own music. $30–$65. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com
DANIEL BELLONE — AWAKENING MANTRAS CONCERT APRIL 15, 8P
This concert is beyond entertainment. It is a powerful uplifting experience of joy and the beautiful freedom that brings the discovery of a life without boundaries. $25. Baobab Stage Theatre, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. S., danielbellone.com
THE GUIDE PHANTOGRAM
APRIL 19, 7:30P The duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel take their sound in an intriguing, darkly shaded direction, adding new textures to their signature style and mixing it up for their latest album. 18+ only. $29.50–$49.50. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brooklynbowl.com
UNLV CHAMBER CHORALE AND LAS VEGAS MASTER SINGERS APRIL 20, 7:30P
The UNLV School of Music kicks off the Las Vegas Baroque Festival. $10. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv.edu
LON BRONSON BAND — THE MUSIC OF CHICAGO APRIL 20, 8P
Las Vegas’ favorite horn band performs the music of the most famous horn band of all time. Many of this legendary bands’ hits, including “Beginnings,” “Questions 67 & 68,” “Make Me Smile” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” will be performed by the band. Featuring special guest vocalist Neil Donell, who has performed with Chicago several times. $15–$35. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
LUCY WOODWARD APRIL 21–22, 7P
London-born and Bronx-raised, Woodward is a singer-songwriter who effortlessly crosses genres, blending elements of blues, vintage jazz, swing and Latin rhythms into songs that have earned her numerous awards and critical acclaim. $39–$59. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
ARCHETTI BAROQUE STRING ORCHESTRA APRIL 21, 7:30P
The collective experience and artistry of Archetti’s members creates distinctive, dynamic and historically-informed interpretations without a conductor. The ensemble’s eight-member size is perfectly matched to the eight printed part-books of string concertos by composers such as Vivaldi, Corelli and Handel and is also small enough for the intimacy of Bach’s harpsichord concertos. $10. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv.edu
LAS VEGAS TO BROADWAY AND BACK! APRIL 22, 7P
Mark Preston is an international en-
tertainer who performed as a member of The Lettermen for 11 years. Michelle Murlin is a versatile singer/ dancer/actress who has appeared in multiple Broadway hits. Between these two dynamic performers and a swinging band, you can expect to hear world-class music with comedic antics and impersonations in-between. $20. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin, scscai.com
KANSAS — LEFTOVERTURE 40TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR APRIL 22, 7:30P
With a legendary career spanning more than four decades, Kansas has firmly established itself as one of America’s iconic classic rock bands. $33–$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
UNLV FACULTY AND FRIENDS CHAMBER CONCERT APRIL 22, 7:30P
As an integral part of the Baroque Festival, the staff and alumni perform some of the greats. $10. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv.edu
ORGONE AND MONOPHONICS APRIL 23, 6P
Dirty, organic California soul with heart creates music that grabs you by the collar, pulls you to your feet and shoves you wantingly onto the dance floor. 18+ only. $15–$22.50. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brook lynbowl.com
UNLV CHAMBER ORCHESTRA APRIL 23, 7:30P
The orchestra focuses on repertoire from the Baroque through the modern contemporary epoch written for small ensembles. As part of the Baroque Festival, they will perform the former. $10. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv.edu
BRUCE HARPER BIG BAND WITH ELISA FIORILLO: GIVE ME THE SIMPLE LIFE! APRIL 24, 7P
Jazz Recording artists Fiorillo and Harper join an amazing 19-piece big band filled with Las Vegas’ finest musicians. The band plays jazz standards and classics from The Great American Songbook, highlighting the brilliant compositions of Allen Imbach. $20–$35. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
TAJ EXPRESS: THE BOLLYWOOD MUSICAL REVUE APRIL 24, 7:30P
This show explodes with the sounds of India and captures the vibrant, expressive spirit of the world of Bollywood movies that have been entertaining billions of people in India for generations. Through a fusion of film, dance and music, this dazzling international sensation takes audiences on a live cinematic journey through modern Indian culture and society. $29–$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com
GIRL POWER — CELEBRATING WOMEN IN OPERA APRIL 27, 7:30P
UNLV Opera Theatre’s Opera Workshop I presents opera scenes celebrating strong women in opera. $10. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv.edu
SYMPHONIC WINDS CONCERT II APRIL 27, 7:30P
The UNLV Symphonic Winds perform, conducted by Anthony LaBounty. $10. Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center at UNLV, unlv. edu
GRAIN & GOLD
APRIL 28–29, 7:30P UNLV Percussion and the Moving Light Lab perform featuring Javier Nandayapa, Nick Mancini, James Bailey and Bishop Gorman Percussion. $10. Black Box Theatre, Alta Ham Fine Arts at UNLV, unlv.edu
DAVID PERRICO — POP STRINGS ORCHESTRA & POP EVOLUTION BIG BAND LATIN-SALSA CONCERT APRIL 28, 8P
Award-winning trumpeter, composer and conductor Perrico leads a 30-piece ensemble of strings and horns. He is joined by a rhythm section featuring Latin percussionist Michito Sanchez and vocalists Lily Arce, Noybel Gorgoy and Eric Sean. $20–$40. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
LIZZ WRIGHT APRIL 29, 7P
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Wright offers an engaging evening of original songs and popular covers blending a variety of styles. With strong roots in
jazz and gospel, her albums have garnered rave reviews. $39–$65. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmith center.com
THE MUSIC OF OUR TIME
APRIL 29, 7P; APRIL 30, 2P A spirited presentation of some of the most beloved contemporary music ever written, including many of John Denver and the Beach Boys’ greatest hits and a rousing chorus from Vivaldi’s Gloria. $10. Starbright Theatre at Sun City Summerlin, scscai.com
SPAWNBREEZIE WITH GONZO AND LADY REIKO APRIL 29, 7P
Combinations of island music, roots reggae, R&B and hip-hop swirl and mix with each of these artists, offering you a laid-back, good time. 18+ only. $17. Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, brooklynbowl.com
Call the Midwife, Season 6 Sundays at 8 p.m., Premiering April 2
APRIL 30, 1:30P; MAY 1, 7P Critically acclaimed entertainer Bergen is best known as Blake Moran on the CBS hit Madam Secretary and to local audiences as Bob Gaudio in the original Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys. Filled with songs from The Great American Songbook all the way through today’s top hits, Bergen and his band will have you laughing, crying and singing along for the entire show. $39–$65. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
LAS VEGAS SUITE APRIL 30, 2P
American Jazz Initiative is proud to present this work by composer and trombonist Nathan Tanouye with lyrics by Clint Holmes. Dynamic and sultry movements featuring some of the beloved and sometimes loathsome highs and lows of our neon city are captured in movements like “The Hustle,” “The Heat” and “The Strip.” Featuring The Las Vegas Jazz Connection Orchestra and Clint Holmes on vocals. $20–$40. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com
CHITA RIVERA WITH SETH RUDETSKY APRIL 30, 3P
This unscripted evening will feature Rivera performing the greatest hits of her vast musical theater repertoire, including songs from her now-legendary roles of Anita in West Side Story,
Home Fires, Season 2 Sundays at 9 p.m., premiering April 2
NOVA: Holocaust Escape Tunnel Wednesday, April 19 at 9 p.m.
The Great War: American Experience Monday – Wednesday, April 10 - 12 at 9 p.m.
Nature: Forest of the Lynx Wednesday, April 26 at 8 p.m.
VegasPBS.org | 3050 E Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89121 | 702.799.1010 APRIL 2017
THE GUIDE Rose in Bye Bye Birdie and Velma in Chicago. $24–$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
SPRING JAZZ FESTIVAL MAY 1–3, 7:30P
UNLV’s Latin Jazz Ensembles, Contemporary Jazz Ensembles, Jazz Vocal Ensembles and Jazz Guitar Ensembles perform. Visit the websites for which ensembles perform each night. $10. Black Box Theatre, Alta Ham Fine Arts at UNLV, unlv.edu THEATER AND COMEDY
HAND TO GOD
THROUGH APRIL 15, THU–SAT 8P, SUN 5P The God-fearing children of Cypress, Texas spend their after-school hours practicing Christian Puppet Ministry at the local church. When one devout young boy discovers that his hand puppet has a life of its own, all hell breaks loose. Literally. $23. Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., majesticrepertory.com
MAGIC MIKE LIVE LAS VEGAS
THROUGH MAY 31, THU-SUN 7:30P AND 10P Currently in previews, official opening night April 21. The show is an all-new, first-class entertainment experience based on the hit films Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. It is a sizzling 360-degree dance and acrobatic striptease spectacular guaranteed to bring on the heat. $49–$139. Club Domina at Hard Rock Hotel, magicmikelivelas vegas.com
APRIL 1–9, THU–SUN 7:30P; SUN 2P Amir Kapoor is a successful Pakistani-American lawyer who is rapidly moving up the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his cultural roots. Emily, his wife, is white; she’s an artist and her work is influenced by Islamic imagery. When the couple hosts a dinner party, what starts out as a friendly conversation escalates into something far more damaging. $16.50. Alta Ham Fine Arts at UNLV, unlv.edu
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
APRIL 4–29, TUE–SAT 7:30P The beloved story of the small town of Anatevka, Russia, where Jews and Russians live in a delicate balance. During the course of the show, the
time-honored traditions of Anatevka are both embraced and challenged by Tevye, a poor dairyman, as he tries to instill in his five daughters the traditions of his tight-knit Jewish community in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. $25–$30. Theatre at Summerlin Library, lvccld.org
thriving in style. With a jillion tips, tricks and trip-ups, Junie B. shares her hard-won expertise and shows us all how school is sometimes scary, sometimes super-fun and always something to sing about. $14. Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV, unlv.edu
THE LAST FIVE YEARS
APRIL 22, 10:30P
APRIL 5, 7P; APRIL 9, 2P The musical explores a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress, in a unique and non-linear way. $12 adults, $10 students/seniors. Backstage Theatre at CSN, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., csn.edu
SISTER’S EASTER CATECHISM: WILL MY BUNNY GO TO HEAVEN? APRIL 6–9, THU–SAT 7P, SAT–SUN 2P
This latest of the sinfully funny Late Nite Catechism series unearths the origins of Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, Easter bonnets, Easter baskets and, of course, those yummy Easter Peeps. $35–$40. Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES 1992
APRIL 8 AND 21, 7P; APRIL 9, 2P This documentary theatre piece uses the words of people who experienced the riots following the Rodney King verdict. Anna Deavere is the creator of this intimate look into the racial, economic and class tensions of a city in turmoil. Free. April 8, Main Theater at Clark County Library; April 9, West Las Vegas Library; April 21, Windmill Library; lvccld.org
LOUIE ANDERSON PRESENTS: THE AFTER SHOW Structured like a New York City intimate comedy cabaret, you will be able to see up-and-coming comedians, established comics workshopping new material and perhaps catch a glimpse of Strip headliners wanting to continue the laughs. $20. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com
APRIL 28–MAY 13, THU-SAT 7:30P Peter and his mischievous fairy sidekick, Tinkerbell, visit the nursery of the Darling children late one night. With a sprinkle of pixie dust, they begin a fantastical journey across the stars to new lands that none of them will ever forget. Bring the entire family to enjoy this co-production with the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre. $27.50–$33. Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV, unlv.edu
THE REALISTIC JONESES
APRIL 21-MAY 7, THU-SAT 7P, SAT-SUN 2P The Realistic Joneses introduces us to Bob and Jennifer and John and Pony, two separate Jones families that share more than just a common backyard fence. As one set of Joneses begins to struggle with a sudden harsh reality, the second Jones family throws a bright spotlight on everyone’s secret fears and hidden frailties. $10-$25 CSN’s Backstage Theatre, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., apublicfit.org
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
APRIL 11–16, TUE–SAT 7:30P, SAT–SUN 2P The new hit musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. $29-$127. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
JUNIE B.’S ESSENTIAL SURVIVAL GUIDE TO SCHOOL APRIL 17, 10A
From bus rules to bandages, carpools to cookies, Junie B. and friends deliver the definitive word on surviving and
PAUL TAYLOR 2 DANCE COMPANY APRIL 6, 7P
Taylor is known as one of the pioneers of modern dance. His choreography is noted for its physicality and grace, as well as its cultural relevance. In selecting repertoire for this performance, Taylor chooses dances that span the broad spectrum of his work, including the athleticism, humor and range of emotions. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., artslasvegas.org
APRIL 21, 7:30P A performance ensemble that takes body percussion to the extreme, Molodi blends collegiate stepping, tap, gumboots, beatbox, poetry and hip-hop dance with guerilla theatre and robust personalities that bring to life a high-energy, rhythmic experience. 21+ only. $21. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com
UNLV DANCE: EXPRESSIVE VIEWS APRIL 27–29, 7:30P
A concert of dance by the talented UNLV dance majors. $18. Alta Ham Fine Arts at UNLV, unlv.edu DISCUSSIONS AND READINGS
INTERESTED IN COHOUSING? APRIL 7, 6:30P
Southern Nevada Cohousing is hosting the nation’s leading experts, McCamant and Durrett, for a presentation on building sustainable communities. Free. Henderson Convention Center, snvcohousing.com
GARRISON KEILLOR, JUST PASSING THROUGH APRIL 8, 7:30P
Storyteller and humorist Keillor gives a solo performance sharing hilarious anecdotes about growing up in the American Midwest, the people of Lake Wobegon and “late-life fatherhood.” $29–$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
THE BATTLE OF THE BROADWAY COMEDIANS STARRING STEVE SOLOMON & DICK CAPRI
APRIL 26 –30, THU–SAT 7P, SAT–SUN 3P Comedic heavyweights Capri (Now That’s Funny! The Living Legends of Stand-up Comedy) and Solomon (My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy) deliver nonstop laughs in this stand-up comedy throwdown. Following a sports-announcer opening fit for a major boxing event, the comedians face off in two rounds of hilarious stand-up to test which funnyman can win the audience. 35–$40. Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
has eight published books, plus poems published in more than 100 magazines across the United States. Audiences are dazzled by the energy and intensity of this dynamic poet-performer. Free, books for sale. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 567 N. Stephanie St., Henderson FAMILY AND FESTIVALS
CRAZY SPOKES APRIL 8, 9A
Join in the 15-mile guided ride or the 5.5-mile family fun ride. All riders receive lunch and a commemorative T-shirt at the end of their ride. $15 adults 18+, $10 ages 5–17. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., bikehenderson.org
EASTER FESTIVAL 2017 APRIL 8, 10A–4P
Bouncy houses, carnival games, live music, raffles and pictures with the Easter Bunny are all mixed among the Easter egg hunts that occur every 15 minutes. You can even explore the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. This is the largest Easter event in Las Vegas! Free. Craig Ranch Park, 628 W. Craig Road, easterfestival2017.com
HENDERSON HERITAGE PARADE & FESTIVAL APRIL 15, 9A–3P
The event honors the city’s rich history, including the people, events and places that pioneered Henderson’s legacy over the years. Enjoy a variety of family-friendly festivities, including the mayor’s breakfast at 9a, the parade beginning at 10a and the festival that kicks off at 11a. Free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., cityofhenderson.com
SPRING CARNIVAL & HIPPITY-HOP EGG HUNT APRIL 15, 11A–2P
Celebrate spring and enjoy a few hours of fun for the whole family with carnival games, bounce houses and refreshments. Children 1–10 can participate in the egg hunts at designated times for each age group. The Easter bunny will visit and picture packages will be available for a nominal cost. $3 in advance, $5 day of event. Whitney Ranch Recreation Center, 1575 Galleria Drive, cityofhenderson.com
AN AFTERNOON WITH “LOVE POET” LEE MALLORY
A retired professor of English, Mallory
Enjoy spring weather and beautiful
APRIL 29, 3–5P
APRIL 16, 10A AND 1P
views at Divine Café! Brunch will include a carving station, gourmet French toast, a traditional breakfast hot bar, pasta, pastries, salads, dessert bar, coffee, tea, juice and full bar options. $34.26 adults; $11.82 children 5–10, free age 4 and younger, discounts for members. Springs Preserve, springspreserve.org
BLUES WITH A SIDE OF BACON APRIL 22, 3–9P
Enjoy live blues, featuring Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots, Miles Moseley and Jarekus Singleton — all while noshing on bacon-based delights. Multiple vendors will be serving up their sizzling sensations. $25 in advance; $30 day of show. Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway, cityofhenderson.com FUNDRAISERS
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR APRIL 8, 2P
The show will feature an on-stage orchestra lead by Keith Thompson (Composers Showcase and Jersey Boys), as well as a rock band comprised of top musicians from Las Vegas shows, headed by Vincent Verderame (Blue Man Group). The performance is a charity benefit for Golden Rainbow, an organization dedicated to serving the local HIV and AIDS community. $25. The Tropicana Hotel and Casino, troplv.com
MONDAYS DARK BENEFITTING PEOPLES AUTISM FOUNDATION APRIL 17, 9P
Mark Shunock gathers an eclectic cast of guests including stars from Hollywood, the Strip, musical acts, athletes and celebrity chefs for chat, entertainment and a lot of laughs. Its mission is to raise $10k in 90 minutes. $20. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com
MONDAYS DARK BENEFITTING CUPCAKE GIRLS MAY 1, 9P
Proceeds for this show go toward providing confidential support including holistic resources, case management and aftercare to those involved in the sex industry and affected by domestic sex trafficking. $20. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, thespacelv.com
END NOTE HOME LIFE
REALTY TV They may be full of shiplap, but I can’t stop watching HGTV’s home fantasy shows BY STACY J. WILLIS
ate at night, in the comfort of my Spanish-tiled mini-McMansion’s master bedroom with en suite bathroom and dual vanities, I watch people shop for their dream homes. Part vicarious house shopping, part judging other people’s marriages, part do-ityourself home renovation education, it’s a rich bit of voyeurism that’s hard to shake. Fortunately, HGTV delivers 24-7. “It’s got good bones,” says everyone who has ever appeared on House Hunters, one of my favorite indulgences. If you’ve never seen this show, it goes like this: A couple looks for a home in a new city, and an agent is charged with finding a house that meets their needs within their budget. The agent shows them three houses, and they pick. Simple enough, right? But due to a combination of strategic video editing and the real peccadilloes of relationships, the couples rarely want the same thing. “It’s not the ranch house I was looking for,” he says as they pull up to House No. 1. “But it’s the Craftsman I was looking for!” she says jubilantly. The tension builds for 30 glorious minutes into a show some viewers have suggested be renamed, Will This Marriage Survive? “But I don’t like these steps,” says Evan from Kansas. “I have bad knees.” “But I really want a Craftsman-style two-story,” says his wife, Jamie, completely disinterested in his pain. Even more amusing is hearing everyone spout their crackerjack expertise in design: I want a vintage 1920s Tudor with an open kitchen island and huge en suite bathroom with jetted spa tub. At the end, the couple has a staged discussion about which house to choose, one of them whines a little about compromising, and then they make up, hug and
move into their Cape Cod Ranch Spanish Colonial with tons of historic charm and industrial slaughterhouse pocket doors. And I feel happy: They’ve overcome their trumped-up differences, found the house of their dreams and will live happily ever after. I am not particularly proud that this contrived love story is a source of pure joy, but whatever. HGTV feeds my feels. The king of HGTV guilty pleasures is Fixer Upper, in which a random couple moves to Waco, Texas, formerly known for the horrifying standoff between cult leader David Koresh and the feds, now known for America’s sweetest darn couple you ever did see, Chip and Joanna Gaines. In this show, the lovebird Gaineses are the centerpiece as much as the houses. They give a down-home welcome to the random (so far, always straight) couple, show them three old houses that could be remodeled into the couple’s “dream home,” and get to work. I know how contrived this is; I know the couple doesn’t get to keep the staging décor; I’ve read the controversies about the Gaines’ anti-gay church pastor. And yet I watch. In the course of the renovation, we see Chip’s construction work and Joanna’s
decorating (gender-appropriate tasks!), but mostly, we see the relationship between this wholesome couple with a pack of towheaded children and a farm full of adorable goats. Producers lay on the family values extra thick. The other night, I watched the scripted Gaineses roast s’mores with their kids at their 40-acre Magnolia Farm. Chip, a goofy character with rugged charm, said, “Raise your hand if you’d like to live out here the rest of your life.” And all the little darlings do. Because life in Waco is dreamy. Even when — or especially when — there’s a TV crew to film your most cloying moments. If House Hunters sells us the fun and fuss of shopping, Fixer Upper sells the fantasy of a perfect, conservative American family life, where everyone is good and untouched by life outside the farm. And you want to appreciate that the down-home Gainses are down-home rich, shrewd enough to stay out of the political fray, savvy enough to market the hell out of their charm: They own Magnolia Market boutique, Magnolia Realty and Magnolia Homes. If you want to buy Magnolia Premium Interior paint in the shade of “Blessed,” you can do so on magnoliamarket.com. At some point, though, I reach sweet Magnolia burnout and begin to grow nauseated, and literally guilty, about my HGTV guilty pleasure. And I drift off to sleep, glad I won’t wake up in Waco.
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