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Michael Wardle’s “A Way Out for Vincent”

She’ll get fresh with you A modern-day food shaman hunts down the earthiest eats

Fall cultural guide Sights, sounds and new sensations in the arts

Go out in style What to wear and where to wear it this season

A common goooooal! Bridging valley soccer’s racial divide

Pablo Picasso, Woman with Beret (Femme au Beret), 1938, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 15 inches, MGM MIRAGE Fine Art Collection. © 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.



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Publisher’s Note


Growing our own Gardeners will tell you that fall is our “second spring.” It does feel like a new beginning after the searing summer heat that broke records in July. Is that why the World Cup already seems like a hazy, crazy memory? Who knew green plastic trumpets would serve as vuvuzelas for the Dutch fans gathered for the final match at Agave restaurant in Summerlin? My favorite memory, however, is watching the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game at a bar on east Flamingo. Providing the soundtrack and commentary for the Brazilian expats was a group of percussionists — including Marco Santos, Francisco Souza and Aziz Bucater, who told one of our radio producers, “We build those emotions and get the feel of what’s happening in the game. If the goal happens we’re gonna play as loud as we can!” On page 24, Tim Pratt takes a look ahead for the beautiful game that’s inspiring would-be World Cup players enamored of the success of Las Vegas’ own Hercules Gomez. That monthlong tournament reminds us that Las Vegas is still a destination for international nomads. But like you, I’ve been saying too many goodbyes in the last year. Friends downsized, others opting for school and still others moving to follow spouses to where the jobs are. On page 66, Las Vegas Sun columnist Scott Dickensheets maps the exodus of artists and proposes what we can do to keep our best and brightest. The silver lining is that there’s a new wave of talent to trumpet, and we’ve done that too on page 50, with our “Ones 2 Watch:” dancer and choreographer Bernard Gaddis; artist Aaron Sheppard; composer Sandy Stein; singer Rick Faugno; and soprano Alissa Thomason. Which brings us to the main focus of our September edition of Desert Companion — culture and style for the new season, the busiest in both arenas. “Falling into Place” (page 39) translates fall runway trends into Vegas-friendly looks, with a focus on evening looks suited for the fall’s cultural events. Don’t you dare say you’re all dressed up and have nowhere to go! On pages 47 to 63, you’ll find just about every event that matters in the arts through the fall, plus a preview schedule of the Vegas Valley Book Festival, with highlighted, must-see events. Check out our Q&A with keynote “Warrior poet” Brian Turner, who served in Afghanistan and has published two books of poetry re2

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flecting on his experiences on the battlefield. Programming note: Desert Companion will be at the festival at Sunday’s “Feasting on Words” celebration. (Hint: Start working on your 144-character food reviews!) Finally, we’ll meet Kerry Clasby — someone who does turn fall into a second spring — connecting Valley residents with locally grown produce. Locally grown success … there are enough ideas in the following pages of Desert Companion to make any nomad consider putting down roots. Play as loud as you can.

Florence M.E. Rogers President & General Manager, Nevada Public Radio

Listen, Laugh, Think.

For 30 years, Nevada Public Radio has enriched the civic and cultural life of Nevada communities with programming that educates, informs and entertains. It’s a tradition of broadcasting and media excellence that we at the Harrah’s Foundation are proud to support year after year.

contents desert companion magazine //


departments 09 All Things to All People Maybe we should just let artists be artists

By Andrew Kiraly

14 Issues

A galvanized GLBT community reflects on the Domestic Partnership Act

By Heidi Kyser

24 Sports

In the Las Vegas Valley, soccer straddles two worlds

By Tim Pratt

32 Q&A

Dennis Oppenheim on the mystique of art-making, and those paintbrushes

By Kirsten Swenson

39 Style

Fall looks get a Vegas makeover

By Sara Nunn and Juan Martinez


71 Guide

Our fall cultural guide features four months of things to-do — a task list you’ll love to tackle

86 Books

features on the cover Michael Wardle’s “A Way Out for Vincent”

Photography and Photo Illustration Christopher Smith


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Drawing talent — and keeping it Here’s what we can do to keep our best artists working — and thriving — in Las Vegas By Scott Dickensheets

Fall cultural highlights, from concerts to theater to dance

Brian Turner, soldier turned poet, talks about war and verse

By Jarret Keene

91 Dining

Intuitive forager Kerry Clasby hunts the region for the earthiest eats

By John Hardin

96 Essay

In Las Vegas, parenting lessons come from unexpected places

By Kirsten Cram

The NutCracker: Jeff Speer

The To Do List

Coming 2012


Prepare to Compete In 18 months, Every other Friday and Saturday

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p u b l i s h e D B y n e va d a p u b l i c r a d i o

Mission statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley.

STAFF Andrew Kiraly Editor CHRISTOPHER SMITH Art Director CHRISTINE KIELY Corporate Support Manager laura alcaraz National Accounts Manager Sharon Clifton Senior Account Executive rebecca smietana Senior Account Executive allen grant Senior Account Executive Jessica Connors Account Executive

SENIOR STAFF Florence M.E. Rogers President / General Manager

for top management positions by acquiring the integrated understanding of business and strategic perspective necessary to lead.

For more information on the Executive MBA program and how to join this group of accomplished professionals, please contact the UNLV MBA Programs

(702) 895-1367


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David Cabral, Chairman American Commonwealth Mortgage

MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., Chairman Fisher & Phillips, LLP Elizabeth FRETWELL, Vice Chairman City of Las Vegas REED RADOSEVICH, Treasurer Northern Trust Bank

Cynthia M. Dobek Director of Business, Finance & Human Resources



who want to prepare to compete


Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio

dave becker Director of Programming

designed for experienced managers

nevada public radio COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD

Melanie Cannon Director of Development

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Our Executive MBA program is

nevada public radio BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Kirsten Cram, Cybele, Scott Dickensheets, Maureen Gregory, John Hardin, Jarret Keene, Heidi Kyser, Al Mancini, Juan Martinez, Aaron Mayes, David McKee, Aaron McKinney, Christie Moeller, Chris Morris, Sara Nunn, Sabin Orr, Tim Pratt, Brock Radke, Demetrius Robles, Kirsten Swenson To submit your organization’s cultural event listings for the Desert Companion NovemberDecember edition, send complete information to by Oct. 5. Feeback and story ideas are always welcome, too. Office: (702) 258-9895 (outside Clark County 1-888-258-9895) Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 258-9895; KNPR’s “State of Nevada” call-in line: (702) 258-3552 Pledge: (702) 258-0505 (toll free 1-866-895-5677) Websites:,, www. Desert Companion is published six times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is distributed free of charge to NVPR members, supporters, underwriters and the community. All photographs, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Nevada Public Radio and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the express written permission of Nevada Public Radio. The views of the Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Nevada Public Radio.

DENNIS COBB President, DCC Group Al Gibes Stephens Media Interactive Carolyn G. Goodman The Meadows School Marilyn Gubler The Las Vegas Archive Kurtis Wade Johnson Precision Tune Autocare

shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp

Megan Jones Friends for Harry Reid

Susan Brennan NV Energy

Susan K. Moore Lieutenant Governor’s Office

Louis Castle, Director Emeritus


Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus

Steve Parker UNLV


Richard Plaster Signature Homes

sherri gilligan MGM Mirage

Chris Roman Entravision

jan L. jones Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.

Kim Russell Smith Center for the Performing Arts

John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects Cynthia Alexander, Esq. Snell & Wilmer Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus

CANDY SCHNEIDER Smith Center for the Performing Arts Stephanie Smith Bob Stoldal Sunbelt Communications Co.

Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation

kate turner whiteley Kirvin Doak Communications

Curtis L. Myles III Las Vegas Monorail

Brent Wright Wright Engineers

Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil

bob gerst Boyd Gaming Corporation

Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming TIM WONG ARCATA Associates


What’s coming in culture, lifestyle, politics and more


[ ART ]

N i k i j S a n d s : C h r i s t o p h e r S M i t h ; W o o l l y M a mm o t h C o u r t e s y o f W i k i m e d i a c o mm o ns

Maybe we should just let artists be artists

Culture club

Niki J Sands’ paintings can be vibrant (cubistic portraits that hum with a sanguine stillness) or ethereally morose (her works in which a gloom-clouded face ponders some grave idea). But what binds the two Niki J Sands dominant moods of her work is their overriding silence. You know how you can sort of hear a painting — hear it shout or sigh or laugh or moan? Sands’ paintings seem preternaturally silent. It belies the emotion that goes into them. “I’m an emotional painter,” she says. “When I start a painting, I have no clue what’s going to come out, no set theme to guide what I’m doing. It comes largely from feeling.” Don’t get the impression that Sands’ paintings are necessarily all sunshine or storm clouds. Some of her canvases simmer with a knowing sensuality. We might direct you to her portion of a mural on the side of the Erotic Heritage Museum on Industrial Road, but in December, the county demanded that the museum put painted pasties on all depictions of breasts, despite a sustained outcry from artists and art-lovers. Sands abdicates her usual cheerful reserve when asked about “Areolagate.” “I thought the whole thing was a joke,” she says. “I have grandsons. If I would’ve showed it to them, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal.” Now that we think about it, this would make for another tip on how to keep our best artists in Southern Nevada (which we explore on page 66): Maybe we shouldn’t censor them. — Andrew Kiraly [Environment]

It’s gonna get woolly Before there was culture in Southern Nevada, there were woolly mammoths fleeing hungry cavemen wielding spears and barbecue sauce. Today, the proposed Tule Springs Ice Age Park in North Las Vegas commemorates that era as proponents urge Congress to declare it a national monument — soon. Eons of prehistory may depend on the next few months. Proponents hope to get a bill through Congress before the end of the year — when they can be certain that one of their most powerful supporters, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, still has a job. “It doesn’t mean the idea of a national monument protecting this area will go away if it doesn’t happen now,” says Lynn Davis of the National Parks Conservation Association. “But there’s great interest and great energy at this moment.” Watch for a mammoth push this fall. Info: — A.K.

When Las Vegas turns 100 next year — really turns 100, not play-pretend turns 100 at the whim of a historyfudging mayor — it’ll also mark the 100th birthday of culture in Southern Nevada. The Mesquite Club will mark its 100th anniversary in February. It’s largely known as a “women’s charitable organization,” but that clunky phrase doesn’t capture the impact these women have had on culture in Southern Nevada. “Everything they did enhanced the lifestyle in this dusty place,” says Joan Powell, club president. “The books members donated became the backbone of the first library in Las Vegas. They started the rose garden at Lorenzi Park. They raised the seed money for what would later be Judy Bayley Theater at UNLV.” The origin of the name is kind of cool, too. The story goes that the legendary Helen J. Stewart, a founding member, called meetings to order with a gavel made of the tree’s wood, and often exhorted women to be as resilient as mesquite. No wonder that today the club boasts a membership of more than 200. Their staying power? Undeniable. PR machine? Could use a little work. “People have no idea we’re still alive and kicking,” says Powell. The group’s Sept. 21 party kicking off the cultural season should help get the word out. Info: www.mesquiteclublasvegas. com — A.K.

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S T o r i e S B Y S a r a N u nn

Fashion’s Night Out in New York last year.


Outer wear Why should New York City get to have all the fun? Last year’s Fashion’s Night Out event featured parties, special appearances and lots of champagne. This year, cities around the world — including Las Vegas — get in on the Voguesponsored fun. Expect retail’s best and brightest to go all-out Sept. 10, with many of them making a weekend of it. Here’s a roundup of some of the main events. Visit for the latest information. • Get the party started Sept. 8 at LAVO’s Fashion’s Night Out Label Junkie runway show; keep it going Sept. 9 at TAO’s Fashion’s Night Out Worship Thursdays. Both clubs open at 10 p.m.

• Neiman Marcus at the Fashion Show Mall: Christian Louboutin trunk show and champagne and chocolate-tasting with Chef Megan Romano in Ladies’ Shoes; yogurt bar and photo booth sponsored by Chill: A Yogurt Bar in Contemporary Sportswear; cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by The Capital Grille throughout the store, 5-8 p.m. • The Esplanades at Wynn and Encore: champagne, special appearances and fall trend showcases at participating stores, 6-11 p.m. • The Shoppes at the Palazzo: Spend $500 or more Sept. 10-12 and receive two show tickets to Jersey Boys, Phantom The Las Vegas Spectacular or Blue Man Group. • Fashion Show Mall: Runway events throughout the weekend, as well as in-store specials at participating retailers.

We have reliable intel that every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man. Sartorialists in training can always fall back on a classic suit, but when you need to stand out, turn to San Giorgio Shoes (770-3597), a men’s accessories boutique at the Wynn Esplanade. There you’ll find studded, grommeted and occasionally glitterencrusted (trust us, it’s very manly glitter) lace-ups by Giacomorelli, an Italian label headed by the primary men’s shoe designer for Christian Louboutin. Not quite that adventurous? You can still score style points with a killer pair of sneakers by Bally or Alexander McQueen for Puma, or make your style statement with a cartoonishly oversized watch by TW Steel.

New and notable The ever-evolving roster of shops at the Caesars Palace emporium gets a new addition this fall with fast-fashion retailer H&M taking over the 60,000 square-foot space formerly occupied by FAO Schwartz. This flagship location will be the largest H&M in the United States. (We just hope they keep the Trojan horse.) At the other end of the price spectrum, the diamond-deprived will find a healthy selection of gems and baubles at the new Cartier outpost, which will be double the size of the previous location. Both open fall 2010 at the Forum Shops. 10

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fashion’s night out photo courtesy of fashion’s night out; shoe photo courtesy of san giorgio; cartier photo courtesy of forum shops

Style secret

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PORTRAIT B Y C h r i s t o p h e r S m i t h

Noelle Garcia’s family paintings are featureless for a reason.


‘I heard he had strangled a man.’ The faces in the paintings are featureless. You squint at them, hoping they resolve into recognition. It’s useless. Welcome to Noelle Garcia’s childhood memories. “There were so many myths and legends about my father while I was growing up,” says Garcia. “It kind of started off when I heard he had strangled a man.” UNLV MFA student Garcia uses paint as a mnemonic device to recall her father. But the past she conjures isn’t made of Disneyland trips and backyard tea parties. Her father, Walter Garcia, was convicted of murder in 1959. He shot a man to death in Elko after a drunken argument. “I guess I’m trying to buy time, or establish a relationship with him through the painting process,” says Garcia. “That’s the only way I have of understanding who he was.” Her quiet studio off Tropicana Avenue is piled with paperwork — grainy photocopies of court records, government certificates and reports about her father, who spent as much time inside prison (for frequent parole violations) as outside before he died in January 2000. How do you love a largely absent father who lived his life in Painter Noelle the shadow of a murder? “It’s a weird straddling between hating, loving and admiring him at the same time. Especially as I discovered the Garcia uses murder, his other wives, the abandoned children.” Garcia’s work — which ranges from coloring books to ceremonial clothing — also explores family photos — her struggles with depression and her identity as a Native American; she grew up in the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, and traces her bloodline and painful facts on her father’s side to Oregon’s Klamath Tribes. Coloring books? See for yourself. Her work is on exhibit Sept. 16-23 at Caramel the her — to in explore Bellagio, and Nov. 12-Jan. 17 at Winchester Cultural Center Gallery. Why put such a personal story on public view? “When I tell mypast. secrets, it makes them less painful.” — Andrew Kiraly 12

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“This affords us benefits we never had before,” says Candice Nichols, right, with her partner, Suzanne Miele.

Ball and change

Nearly a year after domestic partnerships became legal in Nevada, the GLBT community is learning to wield its newfound clout When Senate Bill 283 passed last year, it provoked little more than a shrug from many Nevadans. Now, a year into the life of the Domestic Partnership Act — with interest groups planning their strategies for the 2011 Legislature — its far-reaching effects on individuals and institutions are coming into focus. Among those effects: Committed relationships on hold that can finally blossom into families, a galvanized GLBT community relishing newfound political clout, and a can-do attitude toward civil rights hurdles to come. 14

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You might think that anything goes, couples-wise, in a place where drive-through nuptials performed on practical strangers by impersonators of dead celebrities are de rigueur. Not so. In 2002, Nevada voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman. It’s against this backdrop that, on Oct. 1, 2009, the Domestic Partnership Act encompassing both opposite- and same-sex couples became law. That’s not all: The law is frequently described as one of the

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Issues most progressive of its kind in the nation. “To me, it shows how far Nevada has come in 15 years,” says Secretary of State Ross Miller, pointing back to the battle over the anti-sodomy law that his father, former Nevada Governor Bob Miller, signed the repeal for back in the ’90s. “I think this means we’re moving forward, in terms of recognizing individuals’ right to live in a loving, legal relationship.” How far Nevada has come can be measured, in this case, in terms of current buy-in. More than 2,100 couples (4,050 people) have officially declared themselves domestic partners so far (about 10 months into the law, at press time). Miller says he’s surprised by the high number, which his research had indicated would be lower. This measure of progress matters most to same-sex couples. Lots of heterosexuals have registered as domestic partners, but the law grants gay and lesbian men and women new acknowledgement of their relationships and rights. For the greater community, SB 283 has had a galvanizing effect, uniting several organizations behind a common cause and putting a major political victory under their belt. A year after the passage of this historic law, members of the GLBT community and advocates of their rights say it’s changed their lives and inspired them to tackle other obstacles to full equality, from limits on insurance coverage to workplace discrimination. Love and … partnership You remember the order, from the first-grade rhyme: 1. love, 2. marriage, 3. baby in a baby carriage. But if there’s no marriage option to sanction your parenthood, are you stuck with just kissing in a tree? That question (or some version of it) was vexing Kimi Bateman and Kara Kleinhenz, who, like many GLBT couples, had put certain dreams on hold — until they heard about domestic partnership. One of those dreams: having a baby. “We want to start a family, and we want to make sure we both have parental rights, and that’s supported under this law,” Kleinhenz said. “I think if you are committed and you are in love and you do want to be together forever, you should take advantage of the institutions that are given you.” The couple registered as domestic partners in July. They honeymooned in 16

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“To me, it shows how far Nevada has come in 15 years,” says Secretary of State Ross Miller. “I think this means we’re moving forward, in terms of recognizing individuals’ right to live in a loving, legal relationship.” Hawaii in August. Upon their return, they started the process to have their first child via artificial insemination or, if that doesn’t work, in vitro fertilization. If all goes as planned, Bateman will carry their first baby, Kleinhenz their second, and both children will have the same donor father. The breadth of SB 283 accommodates such creative redefinitions of the contemporary American family — by giving domestic partners the same rights, protections and benefits as traditional spouses. “This affords us benefits we never had before, in property ownership, hospital visitation, health insurance, end-of-life decisions. … It makes a difference,” says Candice Nichols, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. After SB 283 passed, the Center held a dozen educational workshops, where attorneys, financial advisers, end-of-life counselors and other experts covered the risks and rewards of entering a civil contract with a person who might someday execute your will or decide whether to keep your respirator going. Kunin & Carman attorney James M. Davis, who helped organize the workshops and led legal discussions, said most questions from the 20 or so people at each workshop were about finances and debt, and children and parenting rights. “I believe we may have scared a few couples away from domestic partnership because of the community property rights and obligations that come with the partnership,” Davis said. State Sen. David Parks, the Democrat from Las Vegas who sponsored SB 283, said he personally knew a man who didn’t enter into a domestic partnership with his girlfriend in order to avoid

“imposing on her the liabilities that he would normally sustain by himself.” But one person’s responsibility is another’s peace of mind — and a new way to conceptualize a relationship. “Once the law took effect, there was that moment of realization: ‘Wow, that’s my spouse,’” says Michael Ginsburg, Southern Nevada director for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, smiling across a cluttered office at his partner of 18 years, Tod Story. “That means something. If something does happen, if there’s an accident, and we have to go to the hospital, or any of those kinds of situations, you can simply say, ‘That’s my spouse,’ and you don’t have to explain who you are.” Story, who is chair of the Community and Public Affairs Committee for the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, meets his partner’s smile with a serious nod, adding, “Even though our families are both very supportive, and we’re open, to think that someone else could make those decisions for you after you’ve spent your life with someone. … You can just imagine how awful it would be.” Ginsburg and Story were among the couples invited by the Secretary of State to receive their domestic partner certificates at special ceremonies in Carson City and Las Vegas the day the law took effect. “The most touching story, for me, was by Larry Davis and Lee Cagley, the first couple to receive their certificate,” says Miller. “Lee was the interior designer for the governor’s mansion when my family lived there, so I knew him. When they got their certificate here in the capitol, Lee explained how he was a longtime Nevada resident and had experienced some discrimination firsthand. Getting the certificate, the recognition — and everything it took to get to that point — meant so much to him that while he was talking, he broke down in tears.” Coming together, right now Davis and others aren’t brought to tears only by the personal significance of finally being able to declare their love for their partners openly and legally. For hundreds of people, the tears followed weeks, months, even years, of manning phone banks, pressing the flesh, organizing rallies and other activism. That was the case for Josh Miller and his decade-long partner, Steve Amend.

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The Making of Modern Nevada h a l k. r o t h m a n foreword by

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“Once the law took effect, there was that moment of realization: ‘Wow, that’s my spouse,’” says Michael Ginsburg, right, with his partner Tod Story.

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Dead Neon tales of near-future l as vegas edited by

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The pair joined Ginsburg, Story and other couples in the Day One domestic partnership ceremony in Las Vegas, and their first child, son Caden, just turned 8 months old. Josh Miller is stoic when you ask him the meaning of domestic partnership to his family, but mention the political process, and you’ll really get him going. “This was an opportunity for various individuals and leaders and groups in Nevada to work on something collectively,” he says. “In the past, there have been fractures in our community on certain topics, but this was something where we all pulled together to achieve success. We gained the attention of all Nevadans. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s about equal rights.” Ginsburg says PLAN tried to create “the broadest possible coalition,” including the Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU, as well as elected officials, university presidents, even public administrators, “the ones who have the responsibility of going in, in the event of a death, and administering someone’s estate.”

By the time votes were taking place, PLAN was reaching out to everyone. Having won on their key issues, even “attorneys and lobbyists for the mining industry were helping us on this,” Ginsburg says. “A lot of people thought we wouldn’t get as far as we did. They thought we’d never find three more Republicans in the Senate [to approve the bill]. Mining, gaming, rental cars, everyone just lobbied the hell out of them.” Big corporate backing is one of the strengths of the newfound coalition’s cause, says Josh Miller. “I think they carried a lot of weight,” he says, ticking off a list of SB 283 supporters: Harrah’s Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Wynn Resorts, R&R Partners and others. What’s the upside for them? “It’s good for business,” Miller says. “They market to the LGBT community. They have very strong diversity efforts within their organizations, which is both for HR and PR reasons.” Unlike some coalitions, this one hung around after the victory, too. Miller says members meet monthly to discuss pri-

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Issues “This was not just a victory for domestic partnership,” says Lee Rowland, northern coordinator for the ACLU of Nevada. “It was also a victory for the GLBT community’s ability to organize.” orities for upcoming legislative sessions. Lee Rowland, northern coordinator for ACLU of Nevada adds, “This was not just a victory for domestic partnership. It was also a victory for the GLBT community’s ability to organize.” So, what will the coalition focus on next? Gay marriage? Maybe. Nichols says U.S. Senator Harry Reid recently held a conference call with GLBT leaders in his Nevada constituency. “We were able to ask questions, so I brought up [the federal Defense of Marriage Act],” Nichols says. “There are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who want to see it repealed. So, I asked when we might see that … He said it was coming up. I asked how soon, and he said he thought it would come up in the next congressional session. We’re looking for that, because the repeal really does have to happen on a federal level.” That’s because getting Nevada’s definition of marriage taken out of the state constitution would be expensive and slow. Proponents would have to collect more than 90,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would then have to pass by popular vote — twice in a row. “Let’s say we did it in 2008 and it passed, then it passed again in 2010,” says Ginsburg. “In terms of practical benefit in people’s everyday lives, concrete legal gain, it wouldn’t change anything … We could put all our time and resources into an incredibly difficult ballot initiative, or we can put our time and resources into other changes that will immediately impact the lives of Nevadans.” These changes include strengthening public accommodations and discrimination laws to include gender and expanding domestic partnership benefits, such as health insurance, to state employees 20

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Issues (an element that was carved out of SB 283 as part of a compromise). “There’s no question that the focus this year has to be on inclusive transgender protection, including both someone’s sex and their gender identification, neither of which are currently covered under state law,” Rowland says. She illustrates with the example of “an effeminate male who’s completely straight.” Such a person now could legally be kicked out of a casino or restaurant based on discomfort with or ambiguity about his gender, Rowland explains, “because gender and gender identity are not covered by current public accommodation laws.” Parks says he’s already working with “a loose collection of individuals statewide” in preparation for the next legislative session on employment nondiscrimination, hate crimes and also harassment and intimidation in schools. Much can happen between now and the next Legislature. But for now, those pushing for equal rights in the GLBT community have the momentum. Rowland says, “We now have a recent victory for gay marriage in the federal courts, with Prop 8. We at the ACLU know that to give this the best possible chance for success as it moves through its appeals, we need to demonstrate that America is ready for same-sex relationships to have equal protections and dignity under the law. We at the ACLU will keep fighting for that.” At the same time, politicians on both sides of the aisle are courting the GLBT vote — as demonstrated in a heated July debate in Las Vegas between State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Mark Ciavola, president of Right Pride, which represents gay Republicans. Candidates in 2010 elections appear unlikely to do anything that could alienate a group of voters that’s flexing its newfound muscle. Meanwhile, same-sex couples continue to line up for Nevada’s domestic partnership, making a very public statement about something ultimately quite personal. “I hope this energizes people to want to believe in commitment again. I think it would be great if this could inspire people,” Kara Kleinhenz says. Kimi Bateman adds, “Yeah, the world and everyone seeing you as a couple — it makes you seem as capable of love as anybody else.” DC 22

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hear More

Soccer star Herculez Gomez discusses the game on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at

Herculez Gomez navigated both worlds of soccer — and many say it made him a better player.

A common gooooal! We had crossed a border in the Las Vegas Valley, less than 10 miles from our house. The people spoke a different language. The sidelines of the field were not only for parents to sit on lawn chairs and watch the game, but for vendors to sell ice cream paletas. And although the game was the same — a ball rolling across a green field, nets on both sides — it also struck me what the coach said to my son Jesse, 12 at the time. “Relax, be yourself, go out there and create something, go have fun,” he told him, minutes before the game started. Jesse exhaled. About five minutes later, he scored a goal on a breakaway, putting his foot on a perfect, low, crossing pass. 24

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Only weeks before, Jesse had finally scored his first goal in one of the last games of a long season on a suburban, mostly white soccer team. We had both gotten tired of the coach screaming from the sidelines, the itching fear that a mistake could cost a win, apparently the worst possible outcome in the career of a youth soccer player on those teams. We wanted to keep the sport in our family, half of whom, including Jesse, were born in Colombia, where the game is as everyday as rice and beans. He wanted to keep improving as a player. Where to turn? It was time to cross town, from the ligas americanas to the land of the ligas mexicanas.

H E r c u l e z G o m e z : A F P / G e t t y I m age s

Las Vegas soccer is divided into two worlds: the ligas americanas and ligas mexicanas. Can they learn to speak the same language — and create another soccer star?

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Sprint for the border So it is we entered deeper into the balkanized world of soccer in the Las Vegas Valley, where two nations of up to 20,000 youths play the so-called beautiful game on opposite sides of the track — one in English, the other in Spanish; one in leagues, clubs and teams with names like Premier and Heat that carry hefty fees and are authorized by soccer associations, the other in leagues, clubs and teams called Jaguares and Zamora that often come and go; one practiced on flat and firm fields, brightly lit at night, like those at Summerlin’s massive KelloggZaher park; the other, often learned on rutted schoolyards in east Las Vegas; one exposed to scouts from college or beyond, the other, not so much. And in one, winning is often held up as the end-all be-all, even to players as young as 6, while in the other, you play for the deep joy of the game, and then win. This fall, masses of would-be future footballers will line up along this divide, on fields across the valley, ready to launch another season. Las Vegas sent its first player to the World Cup this spring. He was Herculez Gomez, the only U.S. team member whose parents were Mexican immigrants. Nielsen estimates that 112 million

Americans saw some part of the 2010 World Cup. And the valley’s soccer cognoscenti say we can create another Herculez — if we can build a bridge across this cultural divide. As president of Nevada Youth Soccer Association, Guy Hobbs was the state’s top soccer official for most of the past decade until stepping down in 2009. He says Nevada is losing out on talent due to this de facto segregation. The state, and other states with similar situations, are missing other Herculez Gomezes. On several occasions during his nearly seven-year tenure, so-called Hispanic leagues approached Hobbs with interest in joining the association. On taking it to the existing leagues, he found resistance. “They would always ask, ‘Why don’t they just become a part of our leagues?’” he says. Eventually, Hobbs was able to broker the entrance of two Hispanic leagues into the association, out of a total of eight, which together field more than 13,000 players. Similar scenes play out in many cities across the nation. Sunul Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, said in a Wall Street Journal article published the day after the World Cup launched, that Hispanics are a key ingredient in the sport’s future, both as

it’s played across the United States and as a business. But the current paradigm has existed locally, and in other states, for decades. In the valley, it is an overlooked byproduct of the controversial boom in immigration that has changed the face of Clark County forever. The trials of Herculez In the early 1990s, Herculez Gomez’s father, Manuel Gomez, knew he would have to navigate the Hispanic and nonHispanic worlds if his gifted son were to have a chance at success in the game. He put Herculez, then 10, in Neusport, one of the older, bigger clubs in the state-authorized leagues — the ligas americanas, as they’re known in Spanish. Manuel’s decision was as much cultural as it was athletic. “I wanted him to learn about organization, order and discipline,” he says. The fact is, in most of the so-called Hispanic teams, clubs and leagues, not everyone shows up for practice on time. Players frequently switch teams. Schedules are announced one or two days before game time. And coaches, parents and players often translate their passion for the game into vocal protests against opposing coaches, parents and players — not to mention referees. Practically none of these things are true of teams and clubs in the state-authorized leagues, or at least, not as much. But, says Manuel, once Herculez had learned those lessons, he felt something else was lacking — the creative, free-flowing spirit that Jesse found his first night on that field at Eastern and St. Louis avenues, and the relationship between player and ball seen throughout Latin America.

The Las Vegas Valley’s soccer cognoscenti say we can create another Herculez Gomez — if we can build a bridge across this cultural divide. Some even say it’s the key to the future of the game — as a sport and as a business. S E P T E MB E R / / OCTOB E R 2 0 1 0

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Now 28, Herculez says he’s benefitted from acquiring what he calls “two styles ... making it look pretty [versus] ... more aerial battles, more speed.” Indeed, many U.S.-born or English coaches in the ligas americanas teach a kind of soccer emphasizing speed and strength, with no one player holding onto the ball for too long; long passes combined with fast runs are the preferred path to goals. It’s been called run-and-gun, modeled on some of the English Premier League teams. This is,

more or less, the kind of game the U.S. team plays. It is decidedly not the game played by World Cup champion, Spain. Lito Carbajal, who for eight years covered the local Hispanic soccer scene for Spanish-language newsweekly El Tiempo, puts it this way: “It’s as if American players are taught not to like the ball, because they want to get rid of it so quickly.” Throughout Latin America, however, children learn just the opposite: Touching the ball, and seeing what your feet,

thighs, chest and head can do with it, is an obsession. “Latinos are in love with the ball,” Carbajal says. So when Manuel Gomez wanted to make sure his son didn’t fall out of love with the ball and that he learned the technical skills needed to make magic happen on the field, he put his son on Limón, a Hispanic team. Herculez went from being one of three Hispanic players to being surrounded by children of immigrants. Within a year or so, he was trying out for various teams in Mexico. That didn’t pan out. Then he bounced around semi-professional teams in San Diego. Finally, he entered Major League Soccer, which moved him from team to team and even changed his position. Finally, a year ago, he crossed the border again, this time landing a spot on the Mexican team, Puebla, where he made history last spring by becoming the first U.S.-born player to lead a foreign league in scoring. That landed him his spot on the U.S. team at the World Cup. This coming season, he returns to Mexico, where Pachuca, a larger team, has signed him. Does his journey — not a straight line by any means — provide a road map? Hybrid clubs: Viva ... Amexico? Two decades after Gomez started out, Larry Gutierrez, an Argentinian immigrant and a plumber by trade, is trying to navigate a similar route with his son, Brian. Brian “grew to love the game” in the first seven years of his life in Buenos Aires, “where it’s normal [for children to play soccer with] ... skill, with flair, to play with a smile on their faces,” Gutierrez says. When Brian was 8, now in Las Vegas, Gutierrez enrolled his son in Premier, another large, state-authorized club. The boy was the only Hispanic on the team. The team waived certain fees, making it easier for the plumber to keep his son on the club. But he also began seeing the same approach to the game that concerned Manuel Gomez. “Americans like to play more with strength,” says Gutierrez. “It’s more robotic. ... It’s very physical.” By the time Brian was 12, Gutierrez had his son playing with a team of mostly Hispanic players that competed in one of the state-authorized leagues. Over the S E P T E MB E R / / OCTOB E R 2 0 1 0

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next few years, he sought to perfect the formula of combining the best of both worlds, even finding a team, Cordica, whose staff had gringos and Hispanics. The team won important tournaments. Within three years, Brian was now on another team, Players Club, that was mostly Hispanic. The U.S. men’s national youth team chose four of the team’s players, including Brian, to try out in Florida. Brian didn’t make the cut. But in late August, Dinamo Zagreb, a Croatian team that’s played in major European tournaments, invited him to a tryout. Saeed Bonabian, who founded Players, is an immigrant himself, having arrived from Iran in 1981 to attend college in Utah. After playing pro soccer in his home country, he moved to Las Vegas in 1989. Today he’s president of the Elite Soccer League, one of the state-approved organizations. This fall, Bonabian will attempt for the second time to link a liga mexicana to his own, drawing up a schedule that has about two dozen teams from the Las Vegas Valley League competing against the same number of teams from Elite, in the under-15 to under-18 divisions. Bonabian says his first attempt to bridge the cultural divide — last spring — was botched by last-minute cancellations from the Hispanic league that nearly ground the season to a halt. “(But) we are not going to give up,” says Bonabian, convinced that integrating the two worlds is vital to the sport’s development. Suburban fields, rising prices, Mexican teams Former association head Hobbs, who also happens to be a financial advisor, says the divide between ligas americanas and ligas mexicanas has as much to do with economics as playing style. For example, more land has historically been available in suburban Summerlin and even Henderson, which means they host the valley’s best fields. This hampers what he calls “the emerging player base,” or Hispanic families, many of whom live in the east and northeast part of the valley. Rising prices are another factor. Membership in some of the larger clubs costs upward of $1,000 each year. Not to mention the Olympic Development Program, a gateway to the men’s national team, which bears similar costs.

Herculez Gomez points to another recent phenomenon that will shape the valley’s two worlds of soccer: the arrival of Mexican league and European league team scouts in Las Vegas. “In the last several years, the barrier is more and more economic. At the state and regional level, this is a terrible mistake,” he says. And then there’s the housing bubble’s burst, which economically battered many Hispanic families who worked in construction. “From the standpoint of ... the best talent, are we identifying and developing it? No. And the bifurcation of the two worlds is the reason,” Hobbs says. They’re watching you Herculez Gomez points to another recent phenomenon that will shape the valley’s two worlds: the arrival of Mexican league and European league team scouts in Las Vegas — not to mention the advent of soccer schools, such as Mexico’s Chivas and America. The Mexican professional league is among the world’s richest, and has begun seeking talent in the valley’s barrios and in other cities across the nation. Since about 70 percent of the valley’s 500,000-plus Hispanic population is of Mexican background, there is a lot of talent for these teams to choose from. Many would even be eligible to play on the Mexican national team. Perhaps foretelling the next chapter in this evolving divide, Gomez says he hopes the local and national scenes get to the point where more players from the barrios somehow make it into U.S. colleges, Major League Soccer and the national team. “I hope we get those players before they do,” he says. Bonabian is less optimistic. “At the end of the day, those countries are going to benefit from this talent — and the U.S. won’t,” he says. “They’ve had every opportunity for years, and haven’t taken advantage of it.” DC

Liberate yourself from grass lawns. The key is at It’s a desert out there. Be


Dennis Oppenheim

Gateway to optimism Dennis Oppenheim talks about a Las Vegas aesthetic, the mystique of art-making and those giant paintbrushes

Dennis Oppenheim’s Paintbrush Gateway is slated for completion this fall: two 45-foot tall steel paintbrushes have already been planted along the sidewalk on East Charleston Boulevard. One brush rises in front of a dilapidated Siegel Suites franchise at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard, while a second brush sits 400 feet west in front of the Brett Wesley Gallery and across from the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). When completed later this fall (there have been technical setbacks), the paintbrushes will emit beams of rainbow-colored light 2,000 feet into the sky, creating a “gateway.” Gateway to what? Irony, perhaps. The paintbrushes are meant to signal a gateway to the downtown Arts District — but the $750,000 project funded by the City of Las Vegas Arts Commission dwarfs the budget of all other arts activity here combined. The Contemporary Arts Center, now the city’s most prominent visual arts organization, is nearly 32

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insolvent. Paintbrush Gateway frames an “arts district” that receives virtually no public (or private) funding, and can’t do much to present the arts or arts education to the community. The New York-based Oppenheim was a controversial choice — many local artists produced strong proposals — and the arts community has been critical of his concept. But if the project fails, this will be because it is a monument to misplaced priorities. Will an “arts district” even exist in a few years? The paintbrushes are currently in place, but are awaiting realignment and programming of their lights. The nightly light display that will begin this fall should be spectacular and visible across the valley. During the daytime, the paintbrushes don’t assert themselves among the clutter of utility poles and signage along this busy stretch of Charleston. So Las Vegans will have to wait and see what happens at night — though, did anyone consider that most people visit the area before sunset? Regardless of whether the commission was money well spent, this is an opportunity for Nevadans to familiarize themselves with Oppenheim, an undeniably interesting and important figure. Despite many high-profile international public art commissions — he has a reputation for witty, idea-based sculpture — Oppenheim remains best known in the art world for his conceptual practices of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In these, the artist’s body registered impinging environmental forces (gravity, sunlight) in stark visual terms. In the iconic Parallel Stress (1970), he suspended his body between pieces of concrete casting on a Brooklyn pier, and in an abandoned pit. The relationship between industrial landscapes and the body is made highly specific. In Reading Position for a Second Degree Burn (1970), Oppenheim documented sunburn by placing a book on his chest and lying in the sun for five hours. These simple, direct acts foregrounded the body as the locus of experience and measurement, and have resonated with artists ever since. I asked Oppenheim some questions recently via e-mail, about the paintbrushes, art in Las Vegas, and the relationship of his early work and later work. His answers were optimistic. Let’s hope a viable art scene can take hold in the shadow of the paintbrushes.

Dennis Oppenheim: WoWE photography

story by Kirsten Swenson


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Oppenheim has a reputation for witty sculpture, but he’s best known for his conceptual practices, such as Reading Position for a Second Degree Burn.

Desert Companion: When many people think of Dennis Oppenheim, they think of your iconic body works from the 1970s — especially Parallel Stress and Reading Position for a Second Degree Burn (that eschewed the art object). How did you move from this to monumental public sculpture? Dennis Oppenheim: I have never been able to be what they call a signature artist. Most of my work comes from ideas. I can usually do only a few versions of each idea. Land Art and Body Art were particularly strong concepts which allowed for a lot of permutations. But nevertheless, I found myself wanting to move onward into something else. This can be dangerous, because the

urge to move is not always coupled with a transcendent idea — you can move backwards. In other words, the urge to constantly seek new territory is not often joined with the development of original concepts. It is as if the urge to change runs rampant for its own sake. Some speculate that these conditions are present because artists fear resting. They fear periods of non-production, they want to keep going. DC: There is concern among the Las Vegas arts community that paintbrushes are a literal, reductive representation of the arts. As your career attests, much contemporary art has nothing to do with painting. So why paintbrushes?

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again, mean to some that they are passing into the mystique. One of the criticisms of this work was why didn’t they hire a sign company to do a work to commemorate the Arts District? It’s a good question, because art has taken a lot from neon design companies. This project places an artwork in a city known for its signage and ap-

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plauds its flamboyant use of these instruments. It celebrates Las Vegas, rather than placing some esoteric, egodriven. superficially conjured artwork on the site DC: I understand that the paintbrushes weren’t your initial proposal. What were your earlier ideas, and how did this commission evolve? DO: These projects usually stimulate many approaches. Some of them are found economically unrealistic. It is always a process of elimination in order to find a comfort zone. In the early ’40s as a child, I was easily attracted to roadside spectacles. They were my introduction to art. I couldn’t get enough of the SherwinWilliams paint sign showing the endless flow of color over the globe. I love having a work in Las Vegas, the land of spectacles.

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DO: The image of a paintbrush immediately puts one in the orbit of an artistic arena. When tilted and pointed upward with its stroke projecting outward into dark space, it could signify for some, the mystique found in art making itself, the mystery at the end of the brush, the journey into the dark. To make this projected pathway the gateway to the Arts District could,

“It would be nice to think that Las Vegas artists could ricochet their energies on each other ... there is a strangeness and ample radiant energies occurring in the location that could legitimately combust into a Las Vegas school.” DC: What are your thoughts on the role of the arts in Las Vegas — and how did these thoughts inform your sculpture? DO: It would be nice to think that Las Vegas artists could ricochet their energies on each other, to produce a truly unique vision in the way that some cities occasionally do, like the L.A. Light and Space movement, the Chicago Hairy Who, New York Pop Art and Minimalism and Italian Arte Povera, centered around Turino. I feel that there is a strangeness and ample radiant energies occurring in the location that could legitimately combust into a Las Vegas school. DC



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STYLE Fall 2010

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This season, convert hot fall runway trends into a truly Vegas style Story: Sara Nunn and JUAN Martinez Photography: Christopher Smith Styling: Christie Moeller Hair & MakeUp: Krystle Randall ModelS: Elly & Madison

S EPTE M B ER / / O C TO B ER 2 0 1 0   D e s e r t C o mp a n i o n


Ladylike Silhouettes Luck may be a lady in this town, but the chignon-and-gloves aesthetic can be hard to pull off in a sea of hard-bodied models-slash-cocktail waitresses. The key to this fall’s iteration of a ladylike silhouette is keeping it quirky with details, such as Prada’s off-the-wall glasses or the full leather skirts that showed up at Louis Vuitton. Take a cue from Louis Vuitton’s Autumn/ Winter runway show by embracing your curves with a form-fitting dress that’s more modern bombshell than ’60s housewife. The Louis Vuitton outpost at Crystals (262-6262) generally has the greatest number of runway pieces, whether for a new outfit or to draw inspiration. A trawl through The Attic (388-4088) might rustle up a promising vintage piece or two. Or simply check your closet. If you have a clingy top or light sweater, pair it with a swingy skirt and heels. Where to wear: The days of Sands Hotel billboards announcing “Dean Martin - Maybe Frank - Maybe Sammy” may be behind us, but why waste an Angie Dickinson-esque outfit on another night at the movies? Swing by UNLV’s Ham Concert Hall and check out the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s “A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” Oct. 2. Tickets $35-75, — Sara Nunn

This look Pinstripe wool corset, $1,405 Pinstripe wool circle skirt, $1,935 Beauty ostrich pump, $2,915 All available at Louis Vuitton


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STYLE Fall 2010

Upscale Workwear The Italian word for what most men are going for is sprezzatura: nonchalance, effortlessness. It’s less about any single item and more about contrast and juxtaposition. Can you pull it off at a Pixies concert? Yes. Can you avoid the sincere cardigans, the ironic eyeglasses, the hipster confluence of Day-Glo and skinnier-than-thou jeans? No, but you can rise above them. But you can’t avoid the hipster paradise that is Urban Outfitters (in Planet Hollywood, 733-0058 and Mandalay Place, 650-2199). You’ll find the perfect pair of selvedge jeans — unbranded, slim, straight — for a reasonable $78. You’ll want boots, but resist the urge to revisit the early ’90s; Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” has held up, but Doc Martens haven’t. My favorites are from Red Wing: the Beckman in black cherry leather (Red Wing Shoes, 4616 W. Charleston Blvd., 870-4244 or com). Throw on a black poplin dress shirt. Layer it with dark-gray blazer, preferably in flannel (Topman has a good variety; check or — if you want to make a nod to the mechanic’s-jacket craze of Matador’s heyday — the Baracuta G9 Slim Fit Harrington Jacket in dark navy (www. James Dean wore his in red, in Rebel Without a Cause, but trust us on the navy. Throw on some striped Paul Smith socks and a clunky plastic digital watch in a bright shiny happy plastic color (the Nixon Time Teller, in green or orange or red, is a solid choice, $59.99, www. and you’re good to go. Where to wear: The Pixies play the Joint Sept. 25, and they deserve the sharp, classic rock-and-roll attire we’re recommending. If you’ve seen the documentary Loud Quiet Loud, you might be surprised by how gloriously frumpy Kim Deal and Frank Black look in their cardigans, but you have not spent the past six months on a tour bus. You have a closet. And you have access to one of the world’s most insanely varied, needlessly rich shopping paradises: Las Vegas. Tickets $35.50-$41, — Juan Martinez

This look Green plaid Kensington collar button-down shirt, $79 ROD skinny fit jeans, $109 Brown belt, $55 Suede desert boot, $119.00 All available at Ben Sherman

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Luxe Bohemian The best thing about the boho look is the patchwork aspect of it — accessories piled on with a generous hand. Velvets, denims, laces and silks can be worn together for maximum contrast and coziness. The next best thing? You’ve probably got the pieces in your closet. Slip on a pair of tights or knee-high socks with your strappy wedge sandals and shorts, and you’ll be ready to handle fall temperatures when they dare to slip below 70. Top it off with a fuzzy cardigan over a lacy top (or a lacy cardigan over a fuzzy top). Check out Alexa Chung for Madewell (Fashion Show Mall, 650-0205), which finds the hip style icon and former MTV VJ disseminating her enviable style through this line of bohemian basics. You can easily build an ensemble around the brown velvet shorts and cream-colored button-downs. Where to wear: Pavement. Sonic Youth. Belle & Sebastian. Guided By Voices. If those bands strike a chord, you probably already have tickets to Matador at 21, the 21st anniversary festival for Matador Records Oct. 1-3 at The Palms. This three-day indie extravaganza will likely expose you to more sincere cardigans and ironic eyeglasses than you’ve ever seen. Tickets $199-$225, — S.N.

This look Catherine Malandrino gold detailed top, $373 available at Neiman Marcus Alice + Olivia leather shorts, $396 available at Neiman Marcus Alice + Olivia taupe sweater, $385 available at Neiman Marcus Prada brown leather belt, $250 available at Neiman Marcus Lee Angel disk necklace, $390 available at Neiman Marcus Lee Angel bangles, $195 available at Neiman Marcus Diane Von Furstenberg handbag, $795 available at Neiman Marcus Knit hat, $12 available at H&M Tory Burch moss boot, $395 available at Neiman Marcus


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Tailored Americana

Fall 2010

Odds are you’ve spent way too much time looking like you haven’t spent much time at all thinking about your clothes. It makes sense: You want your clothes to say you’re busy thinking about more important things than clothes. Good news: This fall’s fashion somewhat agrees with you. Witness the continuing dips back into Americana territory, which owe much to the no-nonsense Ivy-League of the mid-’50s. But the latest trend is livelier, partly coming back at us from Japan and other places infatuated with a particular vision of the States. The result is graceful and rugged; elegant outfits that look almost accidental in their execution. Offset a J.Crew double-breasted heathercharcoal suit with a pale-blue gingham shirt and a solid skinny burgundy knittie. A pink or coral silk pocket square will do wonders, as would one in navy — just avoid the ubiquitous tightly folded white handkerchief. You’re not Don Draper. Your dress shoes should be black and carefully constructed. They should have leather soles. They should be so conservative that you’ll be wearing them 20 years from now. Go for Alden’s calfskin straight-tip Blucher Oxford ($420, And pair them with red socks. (Vanucci for Men bright colored dress socks, $6.50, Where to wear: Suit up for at least one of the three nights of the Contemporary Arts Center’s “Off the Strip” event series Oct. 14-16, where you should wear your tie for no reason other than as a sympathetic fillip to all the aesthetic bliss on stage and screen. Info: — J.M.

This look Saks Fifth Ave. Collection fuschia gingham shirt, $135 Saks Fifth Ave. Collection bow tie, $55 Theory gray jacket, $495 Theory gray trousers, $195 All available at Saks Fifth Ave.

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This look Dolce & Gabbana green lace dress, $3,150 Jean Paul Gaultier sheer jacket with leather detail, $695 Yves Saint Laurent black cut-out bootie, $895 Lee Angel pearl necklace, $205 All available at Neiman Marcus

Everyday Ethereal Fashion world favorite label Rodarte (www. offered an eerie take on getting dressed in the dark, with dresses using sheer florals, delicate plaids and swaths of lace — often all in the same dress. While the pieces can be hard to pull off for an everyday occasion, the focus on delicate fabrics and dreamy looks can easily be translated to street fashion. American Apparel ( has a broad selection of lace tops and dresses that can easily be layered together, and you can find floral scarves at nearly any secondhand store. Achieve an evening variation on this look by layering pieces such as Alberta Feretti’s lace top and jacket (Neiman Marcus, 731-3636) for an intriguing translucent effect. Where to wear: Ethereal looks work well at night, when layered fabrics offer extra warmth and longer skirts can flutter in the breeze. Take in some local color while pretending you’re a ghost at First Friday (www. downtown. — S.N.


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C h a r l e s Va n d a M a s t e r S e r i e s Hilary Hahn, Violin and Natasha Paremski, Piano with the UNLV Symphony Orchestra Thursday, September 30, 2010 • 8 p.m. $35 - $50 - $70 Moscow State Symphony Orchestra Pavel Kogan, Conductor Jennifer Koh, Violin Saturday, October 30, 2010 • 8 p.m. $35 - $50 - $70

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Russian National Ballet performing Chopiniana and Romeo & Juliet Thursday, February 3, 2011 • 8 p.m. $35 - $50 - $70 Opole, Philharmonic of Poland Boguslaw Dawidow, Music Director and Conductor Jacek Kortus, Piano Saturday, March 12, 2011 • 8 p.m. $35 - $50 - $70

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Duo Siqueira-Lima Saturday, November 6, 2010 • 8 p.m. $37.50

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Saturday, February 19, 2011 • 8 p.m. $45 - $60 - $90

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Hope your schedule’s open, because we have big plans for you. Classical concerts. Contemporary dance. Rocking theater and theatrical rock ’n’ roll. Art to challenge the mind and poetry to stir the spirit. Whatever your taste, our fall cultural guide features months of must-go events that embody the best of what Southern Nevada has to offer. Whoops. Did we say fall? Actually, our extensive guide runs through December — which means you’ll want to keep this edition of Desert Companion on the coffee table for months to come. And if there are still a few blanks on your dance card, don’t forget our Guide’s extensive events listings on page 71. Enjoy. This is one to-do list that’s a joy to tackle. — Andrew Kiraly S E P T E M B E R / / O C T ober 2 0 1 0

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He’s leaping outside the box with his visceral — but disciplined — approach to dance It’s a waltz, to be sure, but, oh, how we get there: Snapping their fans open with a confidence that startles, the female dancers confront the audience with a supermodel strut and a sensual roll of their bodies. This recent rehearsal at the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater studio in Holsum Lofts is for a historical piece about Henry VIII’s reign. But the title alone suggests this isn’t some stuffy costume drama: “Opulence.” Where the runway prowl meets ballroom dance and tumultuous British history: It’s in that magical land of mashup that the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater lives. It also reflects Founding Artistic Director Bernard Gaddis’s passion for bringing dance to a broader audience. “I want to create dance that people can relate to,” says Gaddis. “I don’t ever want to go over their heads. Dance is about real people’s lives. And, besides, I love the era of the Tudors. European history has so much more drama and intrigue.” (Yes, for the record, he completely devoured the Showtime miniseries.) There’s little drama behind the rise of Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, but that’s a good thing. Rather, chalk up the

almost four-year-old dance company’s success to drama-free hard work and discipline. Of course, Gaddis’ impressive resume is also a factor. He’s a former principal dancer with the Philadelphia Dance Company as well as with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he danced for seven years. Today, he performs in 10 shows a week in Cirque du Soleil’s flagship show, Mystere, where he’s a principal dancer and choreographer. With such a rich background, it’s natural that Gaddis made countless connections and gleaned innumerable insights into how working dance companies operate. But what makes him a rising star is his keen sensitivity to his dual responsibilities both as an entertainer and an artist. “We’ll be dancing to anything from classical to Ella Fitzgerald to avant garde to even hip-hop,” Gaddis says of the upcoming season. “Dance should be an art form for the entire community.” And the actual dance part of the dance? If this recent afternoon rehearsal is any indication, it should be sculpted, clean, rife with artful tension — and flawless. (And anyone who caught his company’s performance at

CSN’s recent “Dance in the Desert” festival — two engrossing, sinuous, funky, disciplined works — is likely still applauding.) That’s because Gaddis is a patient, methodical and encouraging director. On this afternoon, when two of the company’s dancers are having trouble with the dynamics of a lift and sweep, Gaddis calmly steps in, takes the female dancer in his arms, and lifts and talks her through the sweep. “I’m one of those artists,” he explains afterwards with a laugh. “I have to keep my hands in everything. I never want to be the kind of director who’s out of touch with his dancers.” At his hands, Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater’s fourth season promises to bring some sizzle to Southern Nevada’s dance scene. In addition to the Gaddischoreographed “Opulence,” the theater’s fall season also includes “Tease” by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s Judith Jamison; “Portraits” by Zane Booker; and an untitled work by Greg Sample. The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater’s fall dance show is Nov. 5-7 at the West Las Vegas Library Theater. $25-$35. Info: — Andrew Kiraly


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Drawing talent — and keeping it Short of building a giant fence around the city, here’s how you can help keep our best artists working — and thriving — in Las Vegas By Scott Dickensheets • Illustration By Aaron McKinney


like to think I know a bit about art. Not too much; I wouldn’t last 30 seconds in the ring with a bruiser like Dave Hickey, the genius critic who famously blew town not long ago. But I can wander into a gallery and have enough sense of what I’m looking at to bore my family with explanations that may actually have some merit. This splash of paint, that ironically appropriated consumer item: Let me tell you about it. I’m not bragging, or, at least, I’m not just bragging — my point here is that whatever I know, or think I know, I picked up on my own. Stood in front of a lot of art, looking confused, wanting to understand. Read a little about it. Talked to smart people. Eventually my confusion cracked open, a little light got in. I did that here, too, in Las Vegas, looking mostly at local art, talking mostly to local artists. That’s my second point. Third point: The above has instilled in me a rooting interest in the health of the arts scene, by which I mean that fragile ecosystem of artists, galleries, viewers, buyers, boosters, what cultural press we have, blogs, Facetweets, events, arty stores, watering holes, coffee shops — all loosely united by the mysterious bonding power of worked-over images and

objects. I want all that stuff to prosper. So I was a little alarmed when I learned that not just one or two, not four or five, but almost twice that number of strong, young local artists were leaving town, seemingly all at once. Most were names I recognized, and if you hit the galleries around town, you might recognize them, too: John Bissonette. Elizabeth Blau. James Hough. Brian Porray. Mike Ogilve. Markus Tracy. Abby Coe. Kyla Hansen. Marc Dombrosky. Sean Schumacher. Becca Just. Joanne Plana Anderson. That’s a hefty chunk of talent calving off of the scene and floating away; many of those people would have become pillars of Vegas art had they stuck around. But they didn’t. They left for different reasons — grad school, teaching gigs or better jobs, greener creative pastures — and feel different degrees of regret about it. While Blau assures me, “I am leaving Las Vegas solely for the purpose of attaining my master’s degree,” Hough tempers his obvious affection for Vegas with a dose of reality: “Vegas has great artists,” he says, “but there is such a feeble art infrastructure. I want to live in a city where art happens.” Well, yeah. Me, too. SEPTEMbER//OCTOBER 2010

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At its most private level, art is a conversation between an object and a viewer; if it’s an effective piece, a temporary community of people drawn to it will join that conversation. To be healthy, art needs that discourse.

On one level, I shouldn’t be overly dismayed (plenty of terrific artists remain) or too surprised (there’s nothing new about young guns lighting out for Somewhere Else). But this change-o-matic city and these hard times can give a guy an acute sensitivity about canaries and coal mines: What does this mass migration mean? Ask the leave-takers and they’ll say pretty much what you expect: Not enough serious galleries for a productive artist to build an audience. Not enough patrons turning loose of real money (“I learned quick that if I sold something for more than 50 bucks in Vegas, the market of buyers shrank to about 10 people,” Ogilve tells me. “Ten people won’t feed the 700 or so artists in Las Vegas”). No buzz about the scene, no sense that people care. Mostly, there just aren’t enough good, creative jobs. What would’ve made you stay, John Bissonette? “If I could have found a better, more profitable day job.” So if you’re an ordinary citizen of Las Vegas and you’re thinking, Hey, maybe I want to live in a city where art happens, well, what do you do? You start small. You stand in front of a lot of art. You read a little about it — there are a surprising number of blogs devoted to art in this city. You talk to some smart people. You develop a rooting interest. Then: 1. Buy. I remember the first piece of art I bought. It’s sitting three feet away on my desk as I write this — a pink and brown mottled ceramic rabbit head by Debbie Masuoka, with long, rigid ears and differently shaped eyes on either side of its head. (It’s much more rigorously artistic than I make it sound.) I was, what, mid-20s? Generously discounted by the artist, the piece cost about $100, a fortune for me in the late ’80s. Back then I knew maybe half a teaspoon about art, which is why I’m telling this story. A lot of us have a mental barrier about buying contemporary art, only some of which has to do with its cost. Often intimidating in its complexity, usually opaque in its meaning, sometimes downright weird in its materials, art can make you feel ignorant. Embarrassed. Unsure of what’s good and bad and therefore worth your money. My tiny insight when I bought my first piece is that sometimes “good” or “bad” isn’t worth worrying about; it’s not like a professional art critic will swing by your place to ridicule your taste. What you want is connection. I still don’t know if this rabbit head counts as “good” or “bad,” but that mystery helps account for its self-renewing charm — 20 years later I haven’t gotten tired 68

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of looking at it. Same with the Jorge Catoni drawing, the Jerry Misko print and the few other smallish pieces I picked up over the years. You wouldn’t term me a “patron,” but for the equivalent of a few First Friday bar tabs I’ve punctuated my life with objects of mystery and beauty, and I’ve given a little cash to artists. 2. Read. At its most private level, art is a conversation between an object and a viewer; if it’s an effective piece, a temporary community of people drawn to it will join that conversation. To be healthy, art needs that discourse. For an art scene to be healthy, it needs those conversations to bubble up into the public sphere — in the press, in blogs, in social media. If the chatter seems muted in Las Vegas — Hough notes the lack of “a spirited and many-voiced critical conversation in the media” — that’s only party true. My Facebook stream frequently blows up with postings and repostings of even the smallest pixel of media attention directed at the arts. Of course, the higher up the media food chain you go, the less spirited and manyvoiced it becomes. Our three weeklies deploy arts writers and critics, though not always in every issue. Attention from the dailies is chancier; the Sun (where I’m a columnist) has mostly clipped cultural coverage, though the Review-Journal runs some arts features. But here’s the thing: The quality of the public conversation matters. Editors mostly think of art as a niche interest and conclude, not unreasonably, that the best way to serve it to a larger audience is to simply preview exhibits or run soft features about artists. These pieces usually dwell more on personalities than art; they make nice clippings to hang on a young artist’s studio wall, but they don’t do much to lure people deeper into the work itself. What’s called for here is a bottom-up demand from readers to editors for more coverage that’s patient and explanatory but accessible, generous but not cheerleadery (which means some in the arts community will have to thicken their skins just a bit). Pipe dream? Hey, you tell me. Meantime, I’ll start the wave: R-J, pick up an art critic. 3. Support. Look, I know there are some factors you can’t do much about. You’re probably not going to start a gallery showcasing


hot young talent (though if you intern for Marty Walsh at Trifecta Gallery, she’ll do her best to teach you how). You probably don’t have the means to give an artist a better job than the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisc., where Mike Ogilve went. But you can support, in your own fashion, initiatives that have, at their core, a vision of a better city, which will naturally result in a more fecund arts scene. For example, Elizabeth Blau cleverly points out that the development of industries based on technology and innovation — alternative energy, sustainability projects — would fatten the city’s creative class with more (well-paid) people likely be active in the arts. I’m forced here to admit that there’s no telling whether any of that — more galleries, abundant buzz, a few more buyers — would have prevented, say, artists Brian Porray and Kyla Hansen from leaving for L.A. Sometimes you just gotta roll. “Ultimately,” Porray says, “I feel wonderful about our decision to move on.” And, my qualms notwithstanding, maybe that’s not so bad. What if I’m overworrying this? In a city that so thoroughly embodies unceasing change, a higher inflow and outflow is not only to be expected, but very possibly the way it should be. “Galleries, patrons — that seems tied to a different kind of city model,” says Marc Dombrosky, another departee. “I don’t think Las Vegas is ever going to be that.” Yet it’s a great city in which to be an artist, to imbibe the clean-lined austerity of the desert, the signifying bombast of the Strip, the big Vegas themes: desire, consumption, risk, spectacle. And then, some stay, some jam. “Use it as a lab,” Dombrosky says. “You can come in here and do things you can’t do anywhere else.” Just like tourism, he says, it works precisely because no one is watching too closely, because you’re showing in smaller crowds in offbeat galleries. Then you go forth from Vegas, push your career forward, and spread the city’s net of associations far and wide. “And that’s good for Vegas,” he says. And, as Marty Walsh suggests, perhaps in time — as more people stand in front of more art and begin the process of learning and investiture — we’ll build something here so amazing it’ll bring them all back. DC

An International Center for Creative Writers and Scholars

at the university of nevada, las vegas

With Peter Hessler, Paul Theroux, and Mary-Ann Tirone Smith Moderated by Marnie Mueller

american authors looking outward

thursday, october 14

doc rando recital hall | 7:00 pm

With Jim Lehrer & Alex Jones Moderated by Brian Greenspun

wednesday, september 22 student union ballroom | 7:00 pm

malena mörling The poet/translator reads from new work

thursday, september 16 barrick museum auditorium | 7:30 pm Co-sponsored by University Forum and UNLV’s English Department

uncensored voices: celebrating literary freedom Authors and community leaders mark Banned Book Week

thursday, september 30 clark county library | 7:30 pm Co-sponsored by the aclu of Nevada and lvccld in conjunction with the Vegas Valley Book Festival

all readings and panels are free, unticketed, and open to the public BMI’s public events are supported by Nevada Public Radio, Las Vegas CityLife, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Harrah’s Foundation. Call (702) 895-5542 for more information. BMI supports a series of initiatives that promote humanistic and cross-cultural dialogue, including public readings and panel discussions, graduate programs in creative writing, residential writing and faculty research fellowships, and literary publications.

Find Your Passion th is Fall!

The Adventures of Pericles Greater Tuna

The Diary of Anne Frank

Cedar City

September 16 – October 23

800-PLAYTIX • Conceptual photos, left to right: James Harris and Jay Milles in Greater Tuna; Siroos Saifizadeh in The Adventures of Pericles; and Rebekah Harris in The Diary of Anne Frank.




No wonder Las Vegas is a global destination for artists: From afar, it looks like an irradiated rock candy sculpture laid on a bed of magical glowing beans. In other words: Ooooh. Pretty! A bevy of artists, from painters to performance types, hit Vegas as part of the Contemporary Art Center’s annual “Off the Strip” bash — an art-party with performances, installations and videos. It happens Oct. 14-16 in, well, lots of places, but mostly at the Contemporary Arts Center in the Arts Factory. Tickets $5-$15; some events are free. Info:



How many dancers does it take to pay homage to dance pioneer Robert Joffrey? A lot. Nevada Ballet Theatre Artistic Director James Canfield has corralled some high-profile colleagues who danced with The Joffrey Ballet — and they in turn have corralled some of their own dance talent for this tribute to Joffrey, the visionary widely credited with bringing dance to a mainstream audience. It’s quite an unprecedented event, which is probably why they’re calling it “An Unprecedented Event.” Canfield will also showcase two of his own works, Degas Impressions and Equinoxe. “An Unprecedented Event” is 8 p.m. Oct. 15-16 and 2 p.m. Oct. 17 at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre. Tickets: $10-$75. Info: 895-2787

Nevada Ballet Theatre: Brooks Ayola


No, Lindesnes Trekkspillklubb is not the name of the latest Nordic hybrid car that runs on Swedish Fish. It’s a Norwegian music group boasting more accordions than should be legal in one place — and a washboard player thrown in for good measure. Norwegian music drove frenzied Vikings to raze and pillage foreign lands. Imagine what it could do for you. They perform 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Community Lutheran Church, 4720 E. Tropicana Ave. Tickets: $5-$10. Info: 454-9100


Whether you’re celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary or want to make a verrrry clear and strong impression on a first date that you’re in this thing for a lifelong commitment, Giovanni is your just-onename guy for love. Hello? Are you paying attention? Excuse me! Geez, get a room. He performs 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25-26 in the Suncoast Showroom. Tickets: $19.95. Info: www.


Even diehard fans of the Oxford comma must confess their love of Vampire Weekend’s insanely catchy tunes, a mix of rock, funk, ska, African pop and Western classical. If you don’t know what an Oxford comma is, you should study more often, read more grammar books, and pay special attention to punctuation. Vampire Weekend performs 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at The Pearl in The Palms. Tickets: $25-$35. Info: SE P TE M B ER / / O C TO B ER 2 0 1 0

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Guide ART First Friday Sept. 3 and Oct. 1, 6-10 p.m. The Arts District’s monthly festival features more than 100 artists displaying their works downtown, plus live entertainment. $2 suggested donation. 384-0092, New Sculptural Work by K.D. Matheson Through Oct. 8. A prominent local painter and sculptor, K.D. Matheson showcases his new work. Reception 6 p.m. Sept. 2. Free. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery “hot spot” Through Oct. 10. Abby Coe uses lighting and construction materials in this site-specific installation. Free. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery

Shaurya Kumar’s take on a Rothko work

Save changes? Yes No The word “binary” may bring to mind images of zeroes and ones dancing across a computer screen. But there’s so much more than mere ones and zeroes in Shaurya Kumar’s work — and he does much more than just create digitized versions of famous paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee and others. Rather, in his exhibit, “Masterworks: Visualizations of Binary Degradation,” Kumar reimagines the works as they might appear in some far-ahead, digitized future — after disaster or decay. How does he do it? Kumor encodes the works graphically and then alters the information, adding breaks, flaws and distortions. But his digitally distorted work doesn’t necessarily reflect a pessimistic outlook. Kumar is suggesting that if we simply slow down and allow change to occur, we might see that aging — also known as maturing — isn’t so terrible after all. “Masterworks: Visualizations of Binary Degradation” is on exhibit Sept. 17-Nov. 27 at the Charleston Heights Art Center, 800 S. Brush St., 229-6383 — Maureen Gregory


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Springs Preserve Photo Contest 2010 Through Oct. 17. This third annual photography contest displays the pictures of a number of winners in categories ranging from youths to professionals. Desert Living Center Patio Gallery at the Springs Preserve, “ICE NEXT TIME” Through Oct. 23. In a faux-apocalyptic setting, Stephen Hendee presents life after a future technological disaster, and the return of humanity, in this exhibit that sheds light on human’s dependency on technology. UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum Nevada Watercolor Society Annual Fall Show Through Oct. 26. The Nevada Watercolor Society exhibits its members’ artwork. Clark County Library Day of the Dead Juried Exhibition Through Nov. 5. This exhibit celebrates “El Dia de Los Muertos” in creative fashion. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery

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Guide Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form Through Jan. 9. This art show features more than 40 artworks, from photos to video installations to works by the masters, including Picasso, Renoir, Lichtenstein and Hockney. $10-$15. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

CRUSHED, BAKED AND STROKED Sept. 9-Nov. 6. Melody Hope Stein, copresident of the Las Vegas Polymer Clay Guild, incorporates polymer clay into her mixed media exhibit. Summerlin Library, 1771 Inner Circle Dr., 507-3860 THE PLANET EARTH AWARDS, BEYOND SUPERSTITION Sept. 14-Nov. 27.

Live life in the fast lane. 1



One Day 4 A Month




























Las Vegas is full of great restaurants so why spend time stuck in the Spaghetti Bowl?

If every commuter — one day this month — took alternate transportation, we could remove nearly 200 tons of pollution from our air. We could take almost a million car trips off our roads. We could breathe easier, and get there faster. And then one day, we could see miraculous changes in our valley. Pick one day and live life in the fast lane.


Carlos De Las Heras employs mixed media and multi-dimensions into his life-size portraits of characters from history and mythology. Sunrise Library, 5400 Harris Ave., 507-3900 GALERIA DE CHAVEZ Sept. 16-Nov. 16. Ernesto Chavez’ exhibits his photos of Zion National Park, the Eastern and Western Sierra Nevada Mountains, and other Southwest landscapes. Whitney Library, 5175 E. Tropicana Ave., 507-4010 Periphery (36 12’ N x 115 19’ W) Sept. 18-Jan. 16. Emily Silver employs paint and mixed media to explore the connection between the physical, spiritual and atmospheric aspects of the desert. Big Springs Gallery at the Springs Preserve GET LOST Sept. 21, 5- 6:30 p.m. Mary Hill’s graphic designs are intended to connect teenagers to more literary endeavors than technological ones. Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara Ave., 507-3630 Near and Far Sept. 28-Dec. 4. Clayton Rippey’s acrylic and watercolor paintings focus on the beauty of the landscape. Rainbow Library, 507-3710 Automotive Reflections Oct. 12Dec. 11. Vincent Yuzon creates watercolor paintings to reflect organic shapes and patterns. Enterprise Library, 25 E. Shelbourne Ave., 507-3760 Nevada Camera Club Members Show Oct. 14-Jan. 11. The Nevada Camera Club displays photographs from its members. Spring Valley Library, 4280 S. Jones Blvd., 507-3820 Polymer Clay Expressions Oct.


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Remember the good old days when doctors made house calls? I do, Dr. Q here. I can help diagnose your irrigation needs, seasonal stress issues, pest control, nutrient deficiencies, pruning and more.

19-Dec. 14. The Polymer Clay Guild finds numerous uses for clay in this art show. Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive, 507-6100 “In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran” Plein Air Invitational Nov. 1-7. Watch some of the country’s finest landscape artists paint where Thomas Moran sketched Zion canyon almost 150 years ago. Prices vary. Zion National Park,

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MUSIC Liberace Scholarship Jazz Quartet Sept. 8 and Oct. 13, 7 p.m. The first performance in the series features the Liberace Scholarship Jazz Quartet. Clark County Library “MASTERWORKS I” Sept. 11, 8 p.m. “Symphonie Fantastique” opens this Las Vegas Philharmonic concert featuring Julie Albers. Albers will perform cello pieces from Beethoven, Elgar and Berlioz. $31-$75. UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Hall

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World Vibration Concert Oct. 2, 2 p.m. World-renowned harpist Mariano Gonzalez performs with jazz guitarist Dani Cortaza, pianist Bob Rosario and percussionist Alfredo Alvarenga. $7-10. Winchester Cultural Center “POPS I” Oct. 2, 8 p.m. Performer Clint Holmes joins the Las Vegas Philharmonic as they pay tribute to Frank Sinatra. Vincent Falcone accompanies Holmes as both pianist and conductor. $31.50-$75. UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Hall NEVADA CHAMBER SYMPHONY Oct. 3, 3 p.m. The Nevada Chamber Symphony, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, performs under the direction of conductor Maestro Rodolfo

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Guide Fernandez. Clark County Library MARIACHI CONCERT Oct. 8, 7 p.m. Young musicians from various community groups come together to play traditional mariachi favorites. Free. Clark County Library World Vibration Concert Oct. 9, 2 p.m. Andres Vargas, Juan Vargas and Voces sing and play music from South America in this cultural concert. Winchester Cultural Center The Musical Arts Singers Salute Broadway Oct. 10, 2 p.m. The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Singers perform songs from musicals by George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rogers and Leonard Bernstein. $7-10. Winchester Cultural Center

The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and violinist Jennifer Koh Oct. 30, 8 p.m. Pavel Kogan conducts this concert in which critically acclaimed violinist Jennifer Koh performs with The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. 8 p.m. $35-$70. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall,

Dance Together 3 Oct. 1, 8 p.m., Oct. 2, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The UNLV Dance Department and the Korea National Sport University in Seoul, South Korea collaborate in this performance. $10$18. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater’s Fall Dance Performance Nov. 5-7. The local

modern troupe performs new works such as Opulence. $25-$35. West Las Vegas Library Theater,

THEATER Fool for LoveSept. 17-26. One of Sam Shepard’s most popular plays, Fool for Love grapples with themes of unfulfilled love, incest and trust. This is a production of Nevada Conservatory Theatre. $17-$25.50. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theater, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are DeadOct. 15-16, 22-23, 7:30 p.m., Oct 17, 24, 2 p.m. Tom Stoppard’s darkly comic play based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, recast from the perspective of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. $10-12, CSN’s

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Count Dracula Oct. 29-Nov. 7. This version of the undead bloodsucker by Ted Tiller leaves fear on the back burner, and opts for a more witty version of Bram Stoker’s original count. $17-$30. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theater,

LECTURES, READINGS, AND PANELS Panel discussion at the SciFi Center Sept. 9, 7 p.m. This discussion will revolve around the themes in both Erin Stellmon’s work “Reign of Glass” and Emily Kennerk’s “America’s #1 Foreclosed City: Las Vegas” as part of The Contemporary Arts Center’s “Off The Strip” arts festival. Free. Sci-Fi Center, 900 E. Karen Ave., Suite D-202, “Roads Less Traveled: Chinese Students and Transnational Migration” Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m. Harvard Professor Vanessa Fong discusses the societal, financial and personal sacrifices that students and their families from the People’s Republic of China make to study abroad. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium Celebrating Local Book Clubs Sept. 16, 8 p.m. The Vegas Valley Book Festival hosts a free reception for local book clubs with a light repast, a dramatic reading from a T. C. Boyle short story and discussion about book club “best practices.” Limited seating; registration required. Smith Center for the Performing Arts offices, 241 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 111. 454-9746

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“The Death of Old News” Sept. 22, 7 p.m. Renowned newsman Jim Lehrer and syndicated radio host Alex Jones discuss news in the modern era. Greenspun Media President and Las Vegas Sun Editor

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Brian Greenspun moderates. UNLV Student Union Ballroom “Violence, Transience, Peace” Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. Prize-winning author and professor Malena Morling reads selections of her new poetry. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium.

“Pox Populi: The Epidemic That Changed American Law” Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m. Jacobson v. Massachusetts was the first case to raise the “vaccination question,” and is the topic of History Professor Michael Willrich’s lecture. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

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Project Dinner Table

And for dessert, sweet philanthropy The best part of Project Dinner Table is the locally produced food cooked by professional chefs. No, wait. It’s the unique venues, from the baseball green at Cashman Field to the El Cortez walkway. No, it’s the stimulating conversation with fellow foodies. No, it’s definitely the philanthropic angle they’re rocking. Or maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever the best part is, they’re all reasons that Project Dinner Table has become such an instant hit among expert noshers, socialites and community boosters. The next dinners are 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Historic Fifth Street School and 5 p.m. Oct. 9 at Gilcrease Orchard. The Sept. 11 dinner features chefs from MGM Resorts International and helps support Nevada Humanities. The Oct. 9 dinner shows off the talents of celebrity chef Rick Moonen, and part of the proceeds go to HELP of Southern Nevada. For whatever reason you go — the cuisine or the company — the experience is guaranteed to leave a good taste in your mouth. Tickets: $125. Info: — Andrew Kiraly

AN EVENING WITH RITA MAE BROWN: CANINE SLEUTHS, WATER RIGHTS, AND AN EXCITING NEW SERIES SET IN NEVADA Sept. 21, 7 p.m. Author Rita Mae Brown gives a reading and signs her new book, A Nose for Justice. Free. Clark County Library, 507-3459 “Children, Teenagers, and Grandmothers in Evolutionary Perspective” Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. A discussion of the new life stages and reproduction at each phase of life guide this lecture by Professor Barry Bogin. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium “UNCENSORED VOICES: CELEBRATING LITERARY FREEDOM” Sept. 30, 7 p.m. Presented by the ACLU and the Vegas Valley Book Festival, this

event takes place during Banned Books Week to emphasize the importance of the First Amendment. Numerous artists and community leaders share excerpts from a variety of socially important texts that had once been banned or threatened with censorship. Free. Clark County Library, 507-3459 “The Amargosa Opera House: A Celebration of Art in the Desert” Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. The career of ballet dancer Marta Becket and the opening of the Amargosa Opera House in the desert is discussed by UNLV’s Dr. Timothy Jones and Amargosa Opera House Manager, Mr. Rich Regnell. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium “Where Did We Come From, Why

Are We Here, and Where Are We Going?” Oct. 10, 7 p.m. A wide array of religious leaders address the who, what, where, why and how of their religious teachings. The Baha’i Center, 7035 W. Oakey Blvd., “Benjamin Franklin and the Birth of Medical Electricity” Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. Professor Stanley Finger discusses Benjamin Franklin’s affinity for medicine and science, and how he combined that love into medical electricity. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium, 895-3401 “The Scientific Case for Global Warming: Problems and Prospects” Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. Professor John Farley of UNLV emphasizes the devastating effects

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College of Southern Nevada (Performing Arts Center, BackStage Theatre, Fine Arts Gallery, Nicholas Horn Theatre) 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, 651-5483,

Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse 333 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 229-3515

Reed Whipple Cultural Center 821 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 229-1012 Sahara West Library 9600 W. Sahara Ave., 507-3631, The Springs Preserve 333 S. Valley View Blvd., summerlin library and performing arts center 1771 Inner Circle Dr., 507-3860, UNLV (Artemus Ham Concert Hall, Black Box Theatre, Beam Music Center, Doc Rando Hall, Donna Beam Gallery, Barrick Museum, Fine Art Gallery, Judy Bayley Theatre, White Hall) 4505 S. Maryland Parkway 895-2787, West Charleston Library 6301 W. Charleston Blvd., 507-3964, Winchester Cultural Center 3130 S. McLeod Dr. 455-7340

of global warming and addresses “climategate” in this controversial lecture. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium, 895-3401 “Writing the World: American Authors Looking Outward” Oct. 14, 7 p.m. Authors Peter Hessler, Paul Theroux and Mary-Ann Tirone Smith discuss writing about the world from the perspective of an American. UNLV’s Doc Rando Recital Hall “Economic Crises: Religious Solutions”  Oct. 17, 7 p.m. Pagan priestesses, rabbis, reverends and other religious members use their respective religious texts to talk about the individual’s and society’s use of money. The Center for Spiritual Living, Greater Las Vegas (First Church of Religious Science), 1420 E. Harmon Ave., www. “Judicial Selection in Nevada: The Consequences of Change” Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. The manner in which judges are elected in Nevada is the topic for this speech by political science professor Chris W. Bonneau. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium FALL FESTIVAL LOCAL AUTHORS BOOK FAIR Oct. 23, 1-3 p.m. More than 30 local authors and writers meet to discuss their works with fans. Clark County Library The Devil Made Me Do It: Perceptions of Evil Oct. 24, 7 p.m. A diverse religious panel discusses the origins of evil, sins and the existence of the devil. SGI Buddhist Center, 2725 W. Charleston Blvd.,

ETHNIC EVENTS Mexico Vivo 15th Anniversary Sept. 3-4, 7 p.m. Ixela Gutierrez founded the Mexico Vivo Dance

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Guide Company, which performs at this event celebrating Mexican Independence. $5-7, Winchester Cultural Center Thai Performing Arts Appreciation Day Sept. 11, 3 p.m. The Thai Cultural Art Association celebrates this day with food, dance, and musical performances. $5-15, Winchester Cultural Center Asian Moon Festival Sept. 25, 12- 6 p.m. This family-friendly event features Asian dances, music, arts and crafts and more. Springs Preserve Ecuadorean Day in Clark County Oct. 15, 7 p.m. The Ecuadorean Association of Las Vegas hosts this event, featuring Ecuadorean dances

and singer Yolanda Villegas. $5-10, Winchester Cultural Center

music and humorous poetry. Free. Winchester Park



Haunted Harvest Oct. 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, 5-9 p.m. This Halloween festival features costumed characters, carnival games and trick-or-treating. Springs Preserve

Volunteers in Medicine Ball Oct. 2, 6:30 p.m. A ball to benefit Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, a non-profit, primarily volunteer-run clinic that provides free health care and wellness services to the working uninsured and unemployed residents of Southern Nevada. $250-$25,000. The Palazzo hotel-casino. Mario@

Grapes and Hops Festival Oct. 9, time TBA. This 21-and-over event features beers and wines from local and regional producers for the public to sample. Springs Preserve Life in Death Festival Nov. 1-2, 4 p.m. The annual Day of the Dead festival brings a Mexican tradition to Winchester Park to celebrate the memory of those who have died. Featuring altars (ofrendas), dances,

Main Street Breakdown Oct. 16, 2 p.m. At this benefit for the Friends of Winchester Park, guitarists John Barger and Dave Moore give tribute to guitar legends Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. They will be accompanied by Kevin Moore on

Proud to Protect Nevada’s Water aNd eNergy resources. Of the many achievements and accolades Managing Partner George Ogilvie has earned throughout his professional career, perhaps the most rewarding is his reputation for community service. With a long history of advocacy for his community and his State, George didn’t hesitate to accept when he was called upon to protect one of Nevada’s most important assets. Serving his second term as Chairman of the Colorado River Commission, George assists the organization to ensure the State’s livelihood through acquiring, managing and protecting Nevada’s water and hydroelectric power resources. McDonald Carano Wilson lawyers have been advocates of business and economic development in Nevada since 1949. By providing the leadership needed to help re-energize our State’s economy, our law firm is Making the Case for Nevada’s Future.

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A re-creation of the Titanic’s grand staircase

Sink or swim It’s been 25 years since the discovery of the Titanic wreckage on the ocean floor, and the Luxor hotel-casino is — well, maybe celebrating isn’t quite the word for it — marking the anniversary with a few extra perks at the exhibit — such as a scratch-off quiz card with questions about the Titanic’s fateful journey. Answer all the questions, return the card to the gift shop and win a prize — and live to tell the harrowing tale! Of course, the usual fine Titanic items are on exhibit as well: 300 artifacts and replicas from the ship, including jewels and clothing, as well as personal stories from passengers and crew members who survived. Open daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $20-$27. Info: — A.K. bass and Joey Ugarte on percussion. $7-$10. Winchester Cultural Center Fall Fun Fest Oct. 29-31, 10 a.m. This weekend-long Fun Fest benefits the College of Southern Nevada Foundation. Featuring arts and crafts, food, beer and wine tastings, carnival rides and more. CSN’s Charleston Campus, 6375 W. Charleston Ave.


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A “Loverly” Afternoon of Lerner and Loewe Oct. 23-24, 1 p.m. This benefit for Family Promise of Las Vegas and the CSN Performing Arts Center features performers from the Strip performing selections from My Fair Lady, Camelot, Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, and Gigi. $2025. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, 651-4052


story by Jarret Keene

Brian Turner: A great, unforgettable poem. I’d come across it during my college years, too, but not in class. It’s one that haunts the reader, I believe. DC: After earning your MFA, did you set out to be a war poet? BT: Not a chance. I was writing poems about drug use and poverty. After college, I moved to South Korea and wrote a book of poetry about that. As I learn more about myself, I realize that the best poems that I can write are the ones that choose me, rather than the other way around. DC: Why’d you enlist? BT: A ton of reasons. Some big. Some small. I often joke with people that we’ll need to sit down and drink through a bottle of vodka to get to the root of this question. DC: Are you tired of the question, “Did everything in these books really happen”?

Brian Turner went from soldier to poet.

Warrior poet

Army vet Brian Turner translates the experience of war and its aftermath into powerful verse Finally, America has its own Homer, a bard obsessed with delineating the grief and horror of armed conflict. His name is Brian Turner, and he’s a professor at Sierra Nevada College and a winner of many prestigious literary awards and fellowships. Though his work doesn’t sustain the epic narrative of a hero’s rage and jealousy à la Achilles, Turner’s two books, his 2005 debut Here, Bullet and this year’s Phantom Noise, possess just as much scope and as many characters. Turner earned an MFA in creative writing from University of Oregon before serving seven years in the U.S. Army. Turner was an infantry team leader in Iraq for a year and later articulated his experiences in his first poetry collection, which was praised for its savage and beautiful music, and for its necessity, by The New York Times. The 43-year-old poet spoke to me recently from his home in Lake Tahoe to share his thoughts on being “truthful” in a poem, his novel-in-progress, playing bass in a rock band, and more. Desert Companion: Haven’t read much Randal Jarrell, but Here, Bullet made me think of a richer, broader version of Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” which I encountered in an American lit class in college. Know it?


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BT: Not at all. Of course, it’s not something I really answer either, and this might be frustrating for some. Still, I believe that a poem finishes in the reader. My hope is that a given poem “rings true” to the reader’s gut and that the world of the poem is a place a reader might want to revisit, or, in other words, read again. What’s true and what’s not true is slippery ground. Consider car wrecks or divorces, for example. Those involved each share a portion of what might be called “true,” though even that might be argued. In both cases, accounts of the events that took place can be wildly different. What, then, really happened? DC: Your poem “The Hurt Locker” has a great final line: “Open the hurt locker and learn/how rough men come hunting for souls.” I prefer the compression of your poem over the [unrelated] two-hour film. Did you enjoy the movie? BT: I’d first heard the phrase — which means, broadly, a private place of pain —when my squad leader expressed frustration with so many attacks from mortars, roadside bombs, and snipers. “Sometimes I just want to put them in the hurt locker,” he said. The phrase stuck with me for a while before I wrote the

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Books poem. So I was interested in the film. The final image of The Hurt Locker [film] expresses a theme I’ve tried to address before. In the film, the main character can’t completely return to the U.S., to a “normal” life. He’s still in Iraq, no matter where he is physically. DC: “2000 lbs.” weaves a tapestry of different but equally destroyed lives, their final thoughts in the moments after a suicide attack in Mosul—a dying sergeant in a bombed Humvee, a shrapnelcarved taxi driver. This poem works like a novel. Are you writing one now?

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A lullaby for bullets Tomorrow is made of shrapnel and blood. There will come a time when the trigger calls you out quickly to the streets. And as you leave the barrel, I can’t promise you won’t kill the man who has waited all his life for the answer to this moment, but if you lean to the right, if you lean back and look as hard as you can for that mountain you came from, sunlight warming the pines, clouds approaching from the north with a gift of silence, if you do this you might just graze the man’s temple, so close you might hear his name, the humming of blood over bone, the many voices within, the years to come. — from Phantom Noise Brian Turner reads from Phantom Noise 7 p.m. Nov. 6 in UNLV’s Greenspun Hall Auditorium as part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Admission is free.

BT: I am, in fact. It’s very different from this poem, but you’re right to note the tendency in me to want to work in a much larger form. I’m in the very rough, very early, stages of the book now — discovering the people that live within it, how they get along with one another or don’t, and so on. It’s an intriguing form, one with a wide vision. Writers can stretch out their legs within the novel, wander around some. DC: In the poem “Cole’s Guitar,” you use the term “palm-mute,” a musical term. Are you in a rock band? BT: I’ve played in a band back home in Fresno, Calif., off and on for all of my adult life. I’m a bass player. We’re in a year-long process of mixing an album right now, in fact. I recorded the bass tracks back in May and June of 2009. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be a part of the band. Brian Voight [guitarist and primary songwriter] has been a lifelong friend since early childhood. Russ Conrad is our singer and percussionist, and he and I have been friends since high school days. A newer friend, Darren, rounds out the group on drums while occasionally jumping in to sing and play guitar. We have a hell of a good time making music. It’s one of the things that keeps each of us sane, I think. DC: In the poem, “At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center,” a box of nails

hits the ground sounds like firing pins to the speaker, who’s suffering post-traumatic stress. “Lowe’s” is the best poem about PTSD I’ve read. It’s also violent, much like heavy metal . Does your band perform any punk or metal material? BT: Some, yes. We started out with more punk influences, but that quickly shifted to rock and blues. We’ve branched out more into more experimental territory as the years have gone by. I have a wide taste in music. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Andrew Bird, Cake, Beck, Jolie Holland, Chris Knight, [Charles] Mingus, [John] Coltrane — these are some of the musicians and bands I’ve been playing the last couple of days. DC: “Sleeping in Dick Cheney’s Bed,” in which the speaker, back from a tour, finds himself comfortably ensconced on a mattress once reserved for Dick Cheney at a cadet school in Colorado. Is it a stretch to say your poem suggests we’re all sleeping in Cheney’s far-awayfrom-the-wars bed in some ways? BT: Not a stretch at all — that’s one of many things I’m hoping a reader might take away from that poem. Exactly. DC

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The Vegas Valley Book Festival The Vegas Valley Book Festival takes place Nov. 3-7 at various venues throughout Las Vegas. Visit for the latest information. T.C. Boyle opening keynote address Nov. 3, 7 p.m. The acclaimed author of World’s End, The Road to Wellville and, most recently, The Women gives a keynote address. UNLV Student Union Ballroom. “The Perpetual Engine of Hope: Las Vegas Stories Inspired by Iconic Photographs” Nov. 4, 7 p.m. Local authors P Moss, Dayvid Figler, Oksana Marafioti, Megan Edwards, Alissa Nutting, Juan Martinez, K. W. discuss their contribution to the Las Vegas Writes Project 2010, a collection of original short stories based on iconic Las Vegas photographs. Clark County Library Theater My Wheel is in the Dark: A Night Ride with Las Vegas Bike Bards Nov. 5, 6 p.m. First Friday hosts the Vegas Valley Book

Festival’s poetry night, featuring Mayor Oscar Goodman and Dayvid Figler reading original haiku on the main stage to kick off a mobile poetry brigade led by Jarrett Keene that will read at galleries and studios in the neighborhood. Author sessions, Nov. 6, 10 a.m. Panels, seminars, readings, workshops and discussions throughout the day, covering everything from children’s literature to storytelling in the West to modern science fiction. Historic Fifth Street School. Visit http:// vegasvalleybookfestival. org/ for the latest information. The Comic Book Festival Nov. 6, 11 a.m. A celebration of comics, cartoons, graphic novels

and the illustrated word. Clark County Library. Visit http:// vegasvalleybookfestival. org/ for the latest information. Feasting on Words Nov. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. A celebration of the literature of food, with host Rick Moonen (R.M. Seafood). Panel discussions feature cookbook authors, readings from books about food and culture. Also featured are a community grill, mixology demonstrations and an organic fashion show. Historic Fifth Street School.

This gourmet cheese and wine shop in Henderson supplies Las Vegas with the finest artisanal and handcrafted specialty foods, wine, and cheeses available. Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 AM until 8 Pm Sunday 11AM until 5 PM Free Wine Tastings Friday 4 PM until 7PM Sat. noon until 7 PM

Dennis Lehane closing keynote address Nov. 7, 7 p.m. The acclaimed author of A Drink Before the War and the bestselling Mystic River delivers the closing keynote. Clark County Library Theater Desert Companion


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Guided by voices ‘Intuitive forager’ Kerry Clasby’s hunt for perfect produce changed her life. Now she wants to change the way Las Vegas eats

Kerry Clasby Courtesy of Kerry Clasby

By John Hardin

Kerry Clasby is a modern-day huntergatherer in an SUV on a constant search for the region’s best produce.


Bet on the Farm farmer’s market doesn’t look like much from the outside. Tucked into a prosaic strip of industrial park on south Dean Martin Drive, it’s easy to miss. Inside, though, it’s a cornucopia of good things. Newly harvested pistachios from Pahrump. Lovely bunches of organic herbs grown in Boulder City. Vegetables from an agriculture co-op in Overton. There are plump, sweet dates from just over the California border and juicy apricots from about a hundred miles away in Arizona. Bright produce is everywhere, and the aroma of whole vanilla beans competes with the smell of fresh-roasted coffee beans. Kerry Clasby’s California Family Farms anchors the market, occupying the largest group of tables at the back of the warehouse with an assault of exotic produce: morels and truffles from Oregon, fiddlehead ferns and stinging nettles, pea tendrils, torpedo onions, tiny Tokyo turnips, black radishes and other obscure delicacies from all over California and the Pacific Northwest. Desert Companion



Clasby is Bet on the Farm’s secret weapon, a dynamo with long silvery hair and a megawatt smile. She calls herself an “intuitive forager,” a modern hunter-gatherer in an SUV who drives about 1,500 miles a week, searching for the world’s best food. Chefs all over the West rely on her to provide provender that can’t be found anywhere else. “Bet on the Farm really is the finest farmer’s market in the country,” she says. Chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joseph Bastianich — of B&B Ristorante, Carnevino and Enoteca San Marco fame — launched the farmer’s market in their warehouse in June 2009. It wasn’t long before Clasby became a fixture at this mini-mecca for both foodies and chefs. “I go to the best farms and markets and bring only the best of what I find here,” Clasby says. “It has the best-tasting, most colorful and most unusual varieties of any market, anywhere.” She should know. She’s been all over the country — not to mention up and down the corporate ladder. Clasby is a Boston native who studied political science at Boston University before doing corporate stints at IBM and Xerox. She lived in Las Vegas during the ’90s, where she raised her family, grew heirloom tomatoes and ran a hospitality-industry business with her husband. She became a vegetarian, started learning more about organic and sustainable agriculture and 92

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began developing the philosophy that guides her to this day. After her marriage ended, she relocated to California. To make ends meet, she began foraging for wild mushrooms, which she sold alongside her tomatoes at local markets. Soon, she says, chefs were coming to her and asking for more. Clasby had discovered her talent. “I realized I had a talent for tasting and finding,” she says. Her method in the field is unorthodox, relying on intuition to ferret out the finest foods. “There’s a small, still voice within that draws me to some farmers, some farm, to a particular

Market Photos: Christopher SMith

Clasby’s food finds often wind up at Bet on the Farm farmer’s market.


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Dining time and place,” she explains. Though she doesn’t identify with any one religion, she says she believes in what Christians call “God-given leading.” “If I listen closely, a wordless knowing is there. I follow that.” “It’s amazing to watch,” says Sarah Clark, Clasby’s friend and a crew member at California Family Farms. “To see it is incredible. There is a flow. That’s the only way I can describe it.”

Addicted to fresh Whatever her method, the results are indisputably delicious and abundant. California Family Farms handles more than 350 varieties of fruits and vegetables on any given day, which go to a network of chefs willing to pay a premium for her produce. On this market day, Clasby is a blur, giving directions to the volunteers who man her tables

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and encouraging customers to sample her wares. She gives me an Afghani mulberry, which looks like a purple, torpedoshaped raspberry and tastes like ripe peaches and cotton candy; it’s easily one of the best-tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth. “I’m addicted to them,” Clasby confides. Knowledge of wonderful things like this is basically her job description. “I get to find and share the best things.” What started out as a search to find better food for her family has turned into a successful small business. But, more than that, it has become a vision. “The chefs I work with know my priorities,” she says, explaining that chefs who work with her should share her commitment to organic and sustainable food. She’s even asked chefs if she could poke around their kitchens, to better gauge their suitability as clients. “Energy is in everything,” she says. “Food has energy, chefs have energy. When you’re in a kitchen with someone yelling and screaming, it goes into the food. Evangelical Christians talk about being equally yoked. It means that you should find people who share your beliefs and goals. That’s what I want with my chefs.” A certain good energy does permeate the atmosphere at Bet on the Farm. There aren’t many places in Las Vegas where you’ll hear a line like, “Come by and marvel at the compost heap,” uttered with complete sincerity. “People come in here and they’re just happy,” says Doug Taylor, B&B Hospitality’s Executive Pastry Chef and their man on the ground at Bet on the Farm. For all the good vibes, the market is a byproduct of B&B’s original mission, which is to get the best produce possible for their restaurants. “B&B doesn’t make French cuisine,” Taylor says. “We can’t hide our ingredients beneath thick sauces and creams. True Italian cooking is about putting a fresh, quality ingredient on a plate and letting it speak for itself.” When B&B first opened its restaurants here, Taylor says it had a hard time finding produce that met its standards. “We went through every vendor in the city, and we felt limited by them.” In desperation, the restaurateurs approached farmers in Northern California to provide them with fresh produce, but none was interested in the long commute. A few of them, however, did point to Kerry Clasby.

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“When we met Kerry, it was an intuitive junction,” Taylor says with a smile. “We started the market to get more chefs involved but we discovered that lots of local people wanted better food.” So they approached Clasby. “We asked her, ‘How would you feel about driving a truck down here and starting a market?’ And she said, ‘Great idea!’” Her California Family Farms would act as the anchor, while the rest of the space would be given over to nurture local providers. Here and nowhere else Nurturing locals has paid off for B&B, Taylor says. “When we started, we had two local providers. Now we have 47.” That ever-expanding list of locals supplies B&B’s restaurants with everything from quince to grass-fed beef; it also keeps Bet on the Farm a step ahead of other markets. “There’s local food here that you won’t see anywhere else,” says Taylor. That’s because while typical farmers markets charge for table space, B&B Hospitality Group does not take a cut from their farmers. Since the market is held in B&B’s warehouse and operated by volunteers from B&B, they have the luxury of not needing to charge. Sure, success could cause them to move — the crowds seem to grow larger each week — but Taylor says B&B has no plans to pack up. The no-frills location keeps the focus on the farmers and their products. As for Clasby, she has no plans to slow down either. She’s always looking for new, good things to discover. She also wants to get California Family Farms more involved with the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, which introduces recently returned veterans to food production and farming. She’s also involved with a farm program for at-risk kids in Santa Monica. Would she consider coming back to Southern Nevada full-time? “I’ve had some of the most profound spiritual experiences in the desert called Las Vegas, she says. “I love it and I hope to someday have a place there.” A place to live or a place to do business? “Both!” DC Bet on the Farm farmer’s market takes place 11 am.-1 p.m. Thursdays at 7485 Dean Martin Drive, Suite 106. Info:

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story by Kirsten Cram


Long way from home

In Las Vegas, parenting lessons sometimes come from unexpected places Last week we met with friends for an evening at the park. Just an informal affair—grab whatever’s in your fridge and let the kids run through the fountains. Easy. Fun. As we sit around eating each other’s leftovers, the conversation takes a familiar turn. “When people ask me about raising kids in Las Vegas, I tell them it’s great,” says one woman. “Living out here, you hardly know the Strip exists!” Everyone nods as I cast a backward glance at the shimmering cluster of casinos in the distance. Yep. It’s there, alright. This mindset is appealing for many people raising kids in a city that no longer makes pretense about being a family-friendly place. It makes them feel they could almost be somewhere else. Somewhere that features slot machines in its mini-marts and legions of senior citizens wearing tracksuits studded with bling. They rarely frequent the city center so to them, in a way, it’s not real. Kind of like the toddler who covers his eyes and thinks you can’t see him anymore. But this line of reasoning falls upon my ears like someone else’s jackpot. Because I do hit Las Vegas Boulevard on a regular basis. We go there because my daughters, Izzy and Caroline, take music lessons at the Fifth Street School and swim at the city pool down the road. The view out the car window along the street is not as rosy as  the scenery closer to home. People roam the streets looking as if there’s a wind  at their backs. They look like they’ve been  on their feet a long time. A double-decker bus swings through the intersection in front of us. It’s plastered with King Kong-sized abs and pectorals, an ad for a show at the Excalibur. I can practically hear Caroline’s stare. “Button yer shirt, dude,” she says. On this day, the only open parking space at the music school lands us not 10 feet from a phalanx of bike cops  guarding a young man laying face down on the ground. I tell the girls to move along. But Caroline wants to know why that boy is lying there. I tell her I don’t know. Izzy weighs in with this sage gem: “Caroline, you’d lay there too if six bike cops were standing over you.” Caroline scowls. “No, I wouldn’t,” she says. Leaving the commotion of the city behind, we step into a new world of noise. A hundred violins are being played with such fury it’s a wonder these children don’t spontaneously combust.  96

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I watch Izzy as she careens through a galaxy of 16th notes. She’s in a room with about 10 other  violinists,  mini musical wizards who can make piecemeal out of Paganini. Caroline, on the cello, saws away with the intensity of a lumberjack. The drive home is quiet. Caroline is in the back seat, eyes closed. Izzy leans against the window as we thread down  Las Vegas Boulevard in a sea of brake lights. We stop at the Fremont Street intersection and I watch as a throng of tourists pile  like lemmings along the west edge of the sidewalk, unable to accept the experience is over. There must be more. They peer across the street, willing it to be so. The people who know better stay away from the crowd. There’s a man standing in the shadows with a giant crucifix dangling from his ear. There’s a  teenage boy, his pants riding so low he’s forced to walk like a penguin. There’s a couple having an argument. She  appears ready  to whap her boyfriend over the head  with a Stratosphere-shaped cup. But the crowd is getting restless, they  keep coming and  pushing, and pretty soon everyone spills onto the crosswalk, scatters,  and  moves off  into the darkness. Izzy is watching, too. “Mom,” she says, “Do you ever look at people and wonder ...” Her voice trails off, but I know where she’s going with this. “Who they are? Where they come from?” I say. “Yeah. And, like, what they’re thinking about.” “All the time,” I tell her. “Me, too,” she says. There’s a lady pushing a cart down the sidewalk toward us. Her eyes are closed and she’s swaddled in layers of clothing like a massive cocoon. I watch my daughter watching her. As we return to our house on the hill where it’s easy to dismiss this part of the city, I know this is something Izzy will not forget. Maybe it doesn’t make the world a better place. Maybe it makes a tiny difference. But in this moment, an odd sense of gratitude joins my usual misgivings for this byway of ill repute. In a way, from my perspective as a parent, it’s helping me get the job done. Kirsten Cram is a local artist and writer who blogs at


Desert Companion September-October 2010  
Desert Companion September-October 2010  

Desert Companion - Your Guide to Living in Southern Nevada