Page 1

Fresh Powder: Skiing diSpatcheS from the trailS leSS taken

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

The WesT Comes home

Why Las Vegas needs to keep the National Finals Rodeo —and we’re not just talking money By David G. Schwartz


sundays TM





For Tickets Visit: Management reserves all rights. Offers are subject to change and based on availability. Zumanity was created for guests 18 years and older. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Must present Nevada State ID at box office at time of pick up. *Prices do not include tax and fees.


OPENING NEW YEAR’S EVE Restaurant (702) 254-2376

Crystals at CityCenter 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. South Suite 260 Las Vegas, NV 89158




16 | The LaTesT

An update on the long and winding track of high-speed rail, a pre-Legislature primer on Medicaid, and Three Questions about the intersection of historic preservation and sustainability. Plus, Politics by Michael Green, Media, Ask a Native and Anthony Curtis’ The Deal.

18 | About Town

“Merry Christmas: Fremont East is Done,” by Geoff Carter. Now on to the real business of building downtown.

24 | National

The New York Observer on how shipping containers can help neighborhoods regroup after a disaster.

26 | Style

The Look with Dr. Mike and Karen Crovetti, and Enviables.

28 | cover

“Our Rodeo Soul,” by David G. Schwartz. Long before the NFR became a Vegas fixture, Helldorado helped us hang on to our cowboy heritage.

34 | Skiing Special

“Southern Snow,” by Nora Burba Trulsson. Why Arizona is the best-kept secret in skiing. Plus, meet one of the heroes of Lee Canyon’s first half-century.

37 | NIGhTLIFe

Seven Nights, Gossip, a Q&A with 3LAU and photos from the week’s hottest parties.


Max Jacobson on Meatball Spot. Plus, downtown awaits La Comida and Velveteen Rabbit, and Cocktail Culture.

69 | a&e

“Do-si-do’s (and Don’ts),” by Danny Axelrod. The music of the National Finals Rodeo appeals to country fans and skeptics.

72 | Music

Jarret Keene’s Soundscraper, CD reviews and our concert pages.

76 | Art

“Cowgirl in the Sand,” by Jarret Keene. Heather Younger gets gritty with her new Donna Beam show.

80 | Movies

Life of Pi and our weekly movie capsules.

Fresh Powder: Skiing diSpatcheS from the trailS leSS taken

Departments 11 | Dialogue

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

The WesT Comes home

12 | Vegas Moment 14 | Event

Why Las Vegas needs to keep the National Finals Rodeo —and we’re not just talking money By David G. Schwartz

on the cover J.W. Harris, of Mullin, Texas, rides Drop Time at the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Time to cowboy up—the National Finals Rodeo is coming to the Thomas & Mack Center Dec. 6-15.

94 | Seven Questions

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

88 | Going for Broke


Photo by Glenn Pinkerton/National Finals Rodeo

17 | Seven Days

las Vegas’ weekly City magazine FounDeD February 2010


Ryan T. Doherty | Justin Weniger assoCiate Publisher

Michael Skenandore


eDitorial DireCtor Phil Hagen managing eDitor Greg Blake Miller senior eDitor, nightliFe, Dining anD beVerage Xania Woodman senior writers Geoff Carter, Heidi Kyser assoCiate eDitors Steve Bornfeld, Sean DeFrank, Matt Jacob a&e eDitor Cindi Reed CoPy eDitor Paul Szydelko CalenDar eDitor Deanna Rilling eDitorial assistant Elizabeth Sewell

Contributing editors

Danny Wright with special guests The Mirage’s Terry Fator & Mark OToole A night of holiday, classical, Broadway and film music from the veteran pianist Sunday, 12/2 – 2:00pm reynolds Hall

Clint Holmes for the Holidays With nationally acclaimed vocal group Fifh Avenue, his wife and his granddaughter Friday, 12/7 & Saturday, 12/8 – 8:30pm Sunday, 12/9 - 2:00pm Cabaret Jazz

Melinda Sheckells, style; Michael Green, politics; Max Jacobson, food; Jarret Keene, music; David G. Schwartz, gaming/hospitality


art DireCtor Christopher A. Jones senior graPhiC Designer Marvin Lucas graPhiC Designers Thomas Speak, Jesse Sutherland staFF PhotograPher Anthony Mair


DeVeloPer Billy Steffens eDitor Jason Scavone staFF writer, runrebs.Com Mike Grimala ProDuCer Hayley Sparre


DireCtor oF ProDuCtion/Distribution Marc Barrington aDVertising CoorDinator Jimmy Bearse Distribution CoorDinator Jasen Ono


The Deana Martin Christmas Show

Dave koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2012

A musical sleigh ride of yuletide tunes honoring her legendary father, Dean Martin Friday, 12/14 & Saturday, 12/15 – 7:00pm Sunday, 12/16 - 2:00pm Cabaret Jazz

With David Benoit, Javier Colon, Sheila E. and Margo Rey Tuesday, 12/18 – 7:30pm reynolds Hall

sales DireCtor Sarah J. Goitz business DeVeloPment DireCtor Christy Corda senior aCCount manager Nicole Feely aCCount serViCe manager Nicole Bullis aCCount exeCutiVe Robyn Weiss


Dayna Blackwell, Susanna Bouse, Paulina Dimaguila, Yasmin Kelley, Shawna Matsunaga, Molly Trucano

Wendoh Media CoMPanies

Ryan T. Doherty | Justin Weniger ViCe PresiDent, Publishing Michael Skenandore CreatiVe DireCtor Sherwin Yumul


ChieF FinanCial oFFiCer Kevin J. Woodward assistant Controller Donna Nolls general aCCounting manager Erica Carpino

Ti C k eT S STa r Ti n g aT $ 1 8

letters and story ideas

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012


gif Certificates available Share the wonder by giving your friends and family a night out at The Smith Center SeaSon parTnerS


Distribution@VegasseVen.Com Vegas Seven is distributed each Thursday throughout Southern Nevada.




Visit to see the full lineup today 702.749.2000 | TTY: 800.326.6868 or dial 711

PublisHed in assoCiation WitH tHe observer Media grouP

Copyright 2012 Vegas Seven, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without the permission of Vegas Seven, LLC is prohibited. Vegas Seven, 888-792-5877, 3070 West Post Road, Las Vegas, NV 89118

These are the years of bottle service and vacant paparazzi smiles and the thrum of recycled music transmogrified by preening men in booths. The glamour of it all is palpable, the beauty of what happens here and goes away instantly. The commercials had it all wrong, right? Nothing stays here. That is the magic of a city built on the sale of shattered steadfastness and wild-eyed evanescent hope. And yet a kind of rootsy nostalgia has risen in the shadow of the millennial strobe-light economy—not the nonsense of the Rat Pack/Bugsy school of false memory, but the soft sting of a half-forgotten Hank Williams melody: recollection that matters because it hurts a little. This is the memory of long-ago bike rides in the sagebrush badlands off Flamingo and Sandhill, of lizard-sightings in the basalt-strewn lots of Old Henderson. It is the Rancho Circle paper route of a kid from the wrong side of the street. It is curly-headed Rebel Glen Gondrezick, launching himself toward the Convention Center sideline in 1977 to swat a loose ball into the hands of his floor general. It is the Helldorado Parade, by the 1980s already the soft echo of a lost cause in a slickening town—and all the more affecting for its lostness. It is what David G. Schwartz, in his feature story on Page 28, calls “our rodeo soul”—a death-defying thing that brought Helldorado back in the city’s centennial year of 2005 and has sustained it ever since. And it lives in outsize form in the grand ritual of the National Finals Rodeo, which each December descends upon our city to remind us of what we once were—and what we still are. – Greg Blake Miller

letters Sweet Shot

Brian Schnitzer’s photo of the Deftones show Nov. 18 at House of Blues (Concerts, Nov. 22, has to be one of the best concert shots ever. I was at the show, and Deanna Rilling’s review was also spot-on. But the picture is classic. – Paul Visone

this week @ Downtown Does Not Sleep

The downtown building boom continues at breakneck speed. Take an early look at Main Street watering hole Velveteen Rabbit and see what one artist’s vision of the Downtown Project’s Container Park will look like at

Rebels Prepare to Fly

Don’t miss Mike Grimala’s coverage of Rebel basketball as UNLV plays Hawaii at the Thomas & Mack Center and then heads to Portland, Ore., to take on the Pilots. And make sure to check out our “RebelLists,” where Sean DeFrank revisits—and ranks—the legends of UNLV past. It’s all at

Vampires Snack, Too

Meatball Spot is jumping right into Twilight fever with a couple of themed creations. Let Chef Vincent Chiyuto show you how to make Team Edward’s and Team Jacob’s meatballs. And while you’re visiting, take a virtual stroll through the pop-up Neon Bazaar downtown.

Follow Us!

Join our club.

QUALITY INSURANCE from dedicated neighborhood agents available when you need them. • Affordable Coverage • Flexible Payment Options • Low Down Payment • 24/7 Claims Service

CALL TOLL FREE (888) 541-2113 1745 N. Nellis Blvd.

(888) 541-2116

1800 E. Sahara Ave., Suite 103

(888) 541-2125

5000 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite B

(888) 541-4129

888 S. Boulder Hwy., Bldg 1

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Persistence of Vision

11 ®


editor’s Note

Titan Insurance, superhero bobblehead and design are service marks of THI Holdings (Delaware), Inc. Nationwide Insurance is a service mark of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Price based on March 2010 analysis of available national data for liability-only policies. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review and approval.


Vegas seVen


Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

vegas moment

Rock solid ď‚ľ Greg Blake Miller

toss aside every joke you ever heard about Vegas weddings: Discerning couples know that Southern Nevada has its holy sites. And what better place for a beautiful start than Red Rock Canyon?

Have you taken a photo that captures the spirit of Las Vegas this week? Share it with us at


Renaissance FaiRe



[ upcoming ]

Dec. 6-15 Cowboy Christmas Gift Show ( Dec. 7-8 Madrigal Dinner at the College of Southern Nevada Cheyenne Campus (

Photography by Gabe Zapata

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

While the Age of Chivalry in October was punctuated by people camping out and more or less living the life of the era—plus those who concluded that Jack Sparrow and pirates somehow fit into the equation—the students of the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts aimed for accuracy. During the magnet school’s Renaissance Faire on Nov. 8, students from all disciplines across campus were encouraged to participate in a cross-curriculum experience. Artwork and dance complemented theatrical and musical performances, while costumes of the era were the fashion of the day. Next up for the LVA students is the All Nations Holiday Festival on Dec. 8 at the school, followed by Changing Faces, an original dance drama by Jeneane Gallo-Huggins, on Dec. 13-15 and 20-22 at the Lowden Theatre for the Performing Arts.

“Harry Reid grasps that the tide of history doesn’t always run his way.”

politics {page 22}

News, politics, media, essays and filibusters

Waiting on the Fast Track By Brooke Edwards Staggs

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

this year’s seemingly endless summer wasn’t long enough to satisfy every curiosity, with gamblers and investors, tourists and green-energy enthusiasts still waiting to hear whether a decade-old plan to connect Las Vegas with Southern California via a private rail system would wind up lucky after all. International media outlets hyped a possible summertime announcement as to whether the U.S. government would



make its first gamble on highspeed rail by loaning $5.5 billion to build the XpressWest train, formerly known as DesertXpress. The timeline was based on an average 19-month response on all requests for Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loans, used since 2002 to fund projects that enhance public safety, improve the environment and promote economic development. Now Federal Railroad

On Dec. 1, Preserve Nevada hosts an all-day symposium at UNLV called “Historic Preservation = Sustainability.” It’s the kind of intriguing title that gets you asking questions before you even walk in the door: What do you mean? What does one have to do with the other? One of the symposium’s keynote speakers, Patrice Frey, director of sustainability for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, explains. How does historic preservation equal sustainability? In many ways. For instance, building new buildings has a tremendous environmental impact. Reusing existing buildings avoids the negative environmental impact of that new construction. We tend to get fixated on operational performance—heating, cooling,

Administration spokesman Kevin Thompson says XpressWest’s loan application still isn’t complete some 23 months after it was submitted. Thompson declined to discuss details of the pending request, though he confirmed the largest loan the FRA has granted to date was roughly a tenth the size of what XpressWest is asking for. Despite a steady flow of requests from the FRA for additional documentation aimed at

safeguarding taxpayer dollars, Andrew Mack, chief operating officer of XpressWest, says they’re taking it all in stride. “Given the scale and significance of the XpressWest project,” he says, “we … have always expected it to take longer than an ‘average’ loan review.” Not that the train’s crew has been sitting idly by waiting for the phone to ring. In June, the company ditched its old name. Gone was the word “Desert,” which conjured protests over the train’s destination of Victorville, Calif., some 70 miles from Los Angeles. In its place is “West,” which has evoked opportunity since the Gold Rush days. Only this time, entrepreneurs are hoping to lure the West Coast crowd east to seek their treasure. “The name was changed to reflect a broader vision for interconnected rail service throughout the West,” Mack says, citing a Southwest rail network that’s planned to one day include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. That effort received two more recent boosts. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board agreed to work with XpressWest in developing an extension of the train west from Victorville to Palmdale, where it could eventually tie in with existing rail that leads to Los Angeles or California’s proposed high-speed network from L.A. to San Francisco. And on Nov. 16, a judge rejected a

request by Central Valley, Calif., agriculture groups to halt the first leg of the state’s bullet train, paving the way for construction on the $68 billion project to begin in July. Still, Mack insists XpressWest’s success isn’t dependent on the Palmdale connection or California’s bullet train. He cited a controversial ridership study indicating that the Victorville route would divert roughly 25 percent of annual private auto traffic from Interstate 15. Visitors are expected to drive a couple hours from Los Angeles to Victorville, ditch their cars there and let their Las Vegas experience begin onboard XpressWest, reaching Sin City in roughly half the time during peak travel periods. Somebody’s buying it: So far, XpressWest has pulled in $1.5 billion in private and commercial investments. Mack declined to offer any details as to what that investment pool looks like while the FRA is still considering the loan. Once XpressWest’s loan application is complete, the FRA is required to issue a decision within 90 days. If the agency decides to pass along $5.5 billion, Mack says XpressWest would immediately begin hiring “thousands of workers” to do engineering, surveying, soil testing, marketing and procurement. Within six to eight months, the project would break ground. And within five years, the first passenger would board the first train.

time but lend themselves to creative office space, which is vital to attracting new investment in cities.

lighting—and we don’t think about the impact of building the buildings themselves. What are biggest challenges Las Vegas faces in this regard? The downtown area has a good mix of older and historic buildings, many of which have been neglected over

How do you deal with the implosion mentality of the hotel-casino industry? That’s an important issue. We released a study earlier this year that showed it can take as long as 80 years for a new green building to compensate for the negative environmental impact of demolition and new construction. It’s both a cultural and an economic issue. You have to inspire people to see there are creative things to do with older buildings, and things we can do to revitalize them from an economic perspective. – Heidi Kyser For more information, see

By Bob Whitby

Thursday, Nov. 29: More evidence that you can find culture in this town, as long as you know where to look: Namaste, Faces of India and Nepal is an exhibit of photographs by Lamar Marchese. This feast of street life from the other side of the world is on display at the Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art in Neonopolis. Through Jan. 5, Friday, Nov. 30: The weather [ So ThaT’S how iT workS ... ]

The GreaT Medicaid debaTe beGinS You were warned: Medicaid expansion will suck up a lot of the air in Carson City this legislative session. Two months before the opening gavel, the noise has already begun. First, though, a primer: Remember the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”)? It requires everyone to have health insurance. Trouble is, not everyone can afford it. To solve that problem, Obamacare suggests broadening Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for poor and indigent citizens, to include most (if not all) of these uninsured folks. The catch is that Medicaid is funded partially by the federal government and partially by states, through a matchingfunds formula—and it’s entirely state-administered. Each state gets to decide whether it wants to expand its Medicaid program; states that do will get more financial help from the federal government, which will subsidize 100 percent of the healthcare costs of the expansion for

the first three years, 2014-16 (states will have to cover their own administrative costs). States that don’t participate won’t get the extra funding. In Nevada, that would mean nothing changes from the current situation. The estimated 70,000-plus impoverished adult Nevadans who now have no insurance—but could with the expansion—would be on their own. Opting out would be a big mistake, say 15 of the state’s medical trade associations and hospitals, including major players such as the Nevada State Medical Association and University Medical Center. Their representatives recently gathered in Las Vegas to formally encourage Gov. Brian Sandoval, the Legislature and Nevada citizens to support Medicaid expansion. “This is the right thing to do for the health of our citizens and the health of our economy,” said Ron Kline, a pediatric oncologist and president-elect

of the Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition. There are some compelling financial arguments for opting in. University Medical Center incurs a quarter-billion dollars a year in uncompensated care for poor and indigent patients—many of whom would qualify for Medicaid under the proposed changes, said UMC CEO Brian Brannman. “Why would this be something we don’t want to support?” he asked. Well, critics answer, for one thing, there are the unknown administrative costs, which the state would have to shoulder. They also say Medicaid doesn’t work well as it is, reimbursing doctors at rates too low to compete with private insurance and causing patients in need of specialty care to wait too long for appointments. Why expand a program that’s in need of reform, they ask. Is your head spinning yet? Get used to it. There’s a lot more discussion to come. – Heidi Kyser

outside isn’t particularly frightful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go ice skating. This is Las Vegas. You can do anything. In that spirit, the Cosmopolitan has transformed the Boulevard Pool into an ice rink, open today through Jan. 20. And $10 buys you an all-day pass, another advantage of being a local.

saTurday, dec. 1: Las Vegas defends its world title today. That’s right, we are the champions. Last year, more than 8,000 Santas participated in the 5K Santa Challenge for charity, beating the jingle bells off of other cities. Can we do it again? Don your gay apparel and find out. You can register the day of the event at Town Square. suNday, dec. 2: Feeling like it’s time to hit the reset button? Well lucky you. Today is Sunday Reset. This monthly event is aimed at getting Las Vegans up, moving and thinking about a healthier lifestyle. It features a group walk, meditation and a good stretch—all in the comfort of downtown. We feel better just writing this. For more information, see TheResetProject Facebook page. MoNday, dec. 3: This marks the 15th year of Palm Mortuary’s Tree of Memory Holiday Service. It’s a beautiful way to mark the holidays and remember loved ones who aren’t here to celebrate. 7 p.m. today at the Boulder Highway location, Dec. 4 at the Eastern Avenue site and Dec. 5 on N. Jones Ave.

whaT iS iT?

Government-funded health-care coverage for low-income people. who can GeT iT?

Eligibility varies by a person’s status (e.g., married or pregnant). In Nevada, an employed head of a threeperson household would have to be making $16,121 or less per year to qualify. Illustration by Thomas Speak

how Many people GeT iT?

216,200 Nevadans, or 10 percent of the population. who STill needS iT?

Nevada’s 306,100 uninsured low-income adults (age 16-64).

WedNesday, dec. 5: On this day 79 years ago, life-giving booze was once again legal in the United States. Raise a glass or three to America’s favorite scold, Carrie Nation, at the Mob Museum’s Repeal Day shindig. Enjoy jazz, period cocktails and the presence of former Mayor Oscar Goodman. It all costs $19.33 to match the year the spirits started flowing again. 6-10 p.m.,

how would expanSion help TheM?

By changing eligibility to 133 percent of poverty level, or $25,390 for a family of three.

For our complete calendar, see Seven Days & Nights at



your Tuesday. This time we’re sending you over to Clark County’s Winchester Cultural Gallery at 3130 McLeod Drive for How To’s, an exhibition of lighthearted paintings exploring Philippine immigrant Jevijoe Vitug’s struggle to figure out the cultural road map of this town. Through Jan. 4,

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Tuesday, dec. 4: More culture for

The LaTesT

About town

Merry Christmas: Fremont East Is Done Now on to the real business of building downtown

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

By Geoff Carter



I hAd An epIphAny last week. I was at the soft opening of Commonwealth—a new downtown bar partially owned by the people who own this publication, just so you know— standing on the rooftop patio with drink in hand and relishing the view of Fremont East, when a thought popped into my head: OK, we’re done here. Fremont East is built out. What’s next? That’s not actually true, of course; anyone who’s been to Fremont East knows that the entertainment and dining district has a long way to go. Radio City Pizzeria, Backstage Bar & Billiards, Park on Fremont, the Container Park retail plaza, the remodeled Atomic Liquors, the as-yetunnamed Light Group restaurant and the similarly nameless Downtown Project-funded lecture hall and espresso bar remain in various stages of planning and construction. (And even Commonwealth doesn’t open officially until Dec. 12.) The street has a long way to go. And yet, looking down from Commonwealth’s patio, all I could see was an acute lack of vacancies. All the establishments mentioned above should be up and running by this time next year. Zappos will have moved into its new City Hall headquarters. The empty lots and abandoned properties farther down the street will either be pur-

chased, or priced too high by longtime owners who think that Tony Hsieh will eventually be forced to buy them out. Even Neonopolis might be creeping toward full occupancy by then. This realization has doubtless already occurred to many of Fremont East’s big players—the Hsiehs, the Michael Mortons. What I can’t help but wonder is what they plan to do next, if anything. And I’m not sure if these downtown players quite realize that much of downtown—especially Charleston and Maryland, and Las Vegas Boulevard from Oakey to Bridger—remains blighted and ripe for redevelopment. Some areas already have the help they need. Fifth Street Gaming has Third and Ogden pretty well covered. Thanks to Sam Cherry, Wesley Myles, Brett Sperry and many others, I don’t worry what will become of the Arts District. Main Street has its many boosters, including Corner Store’s Cima Mizrachi, Retro Vegas’ Bill Johnson and Velveteen Rabbit’s Christina and Pamela Dylag. But that’s only a small portion of downtown Vegas. My fear is that many of downtown’s investors and entrepreneurs—both present and future—won’t touch the trouble spots. And it’s tough to argue with them. That Oakey-to-Bridger stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is

lined with too many dead storefronts and ratty motels. Maryland and Charleston has two immense holes in it: a closed grocery store that would make a dandy Trader Joe’s location, and the Huntridge Theater, whose unknowable future I won’t go into here. Downtown is bigger than the Arts District, bigger than Fremont East— and we need to keep that in mind as we celebrate every new gallery and every new bar that opens in those neighborhoods. We’re trying to build a city center here—a real one, not a city-themed casino and retail complex. And if it seems like I’m trying to rush things along, it’s because there are lots of cities—Raleigh-Durham, Austin, Seattle—that are trying to do the exact thing we’re doing. The idea of turning a depressed area into a tech hub isn’t exactly a fresh one, and if we can’t offer more than a block of bars and a gallery district, we won’t make it happen. Fremont East is wonderful. I love going there. But I look forward to the day when it’s just one lively downtown spot out of a dozen. The great expanse of downtown Las Vegas is out there, past the bars and restaurants and galleries. And we have to go there next. We have to. Follow all of Geoff Carter’s downtown reporting and commentary at

You mean aside from letting your bonus ride on black 17? Yup, surprising as it may seem, there are plenty of seasonal traditions here, and a few even have nothing to do with catering to tourists. When I was a kid, one of my favorite family rites was piling in the Pontiac cradling a steaming thermos of hot chocolate and cruising Rancho Circle (and various other fancy ’hoods) to ogle the elaborate residential light displays of monied Las Vegas. Today, that kind of trolling (if you can make it past the gates) might get you arrested (or, at least, an alert on the neighborhood Facebook page). Thankfully, you have other options, especially when it comes to lights. Opportunity Village is in the 21st year of presenting its primary annual fundraiser, the Magical Forest. The nonprofit, with the help of sponsoring local businesses, transforms its plot of West Oakey Boulevard into a winter wonderland worthy of Rankin/Bass, complete with Santa photos and train rides. For something more desert-appropriate, I suggest Henderson’s Ethel M Chocolates factory, which sugarcoats its cactus garden with a half-million twinkling holiday lights. It may sound odd, but cactus-plus-lights equals a very-Vegas experience. Across town, something similar stages at the Springs Holiday Spectacular: nearly a million LED lights illuminate its expansive desert diorama, and on Dec 8-9 and 1523, the grounds turn into a family festival featuring food, a craft fair and more. For those who demand a scene more Currier & Ives than Ansel Adams, a trek to Mount Charleston is in order. Given the right conditions, visitors can take an honest-to-goodness sleigh ride (On actual snow! With actual horses!) and then warm up at the lodge with a fire pit and a (brandy-spiked) Mount Charleston Coffee, just like grandma used to make. Well, my grandma, anyway. Alternatively, the Cosmopolitan is getting into the winter mood by covering its pool with an ice-skating deck. And, hey, if you are too lazy (or, uh, “cold”) to enjoy the weather, Vegas accommodates. The Gift of Lights (relocated to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway from its longtime home at Sunset Park—don’t ask) raises funds for local charities with its immersive, drive-through holiday light experience. It makes me all misty-eyed for the cruising days of Fremont Street.


Photo illustration by Thomas Speak

What are the best Vegas holiday traditions?

the latest


Taking Pleasure in Pain


Trying to get a loan for my dubstep restaurant: Skrillex Bar and Grillex.

By David G. Schwartz

By nOw yOu might have forgotten about Pete Wells’ scathing New York Times review of UNLV alum Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant. In the days after its Nov. 13 publication, Web readers shared it with an uncommon zeal, hailing it as pure genius. You’ve probably also forgotten the smaller surge of pro-Fieri Tweets and comments that followed. But the flap over Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar is instructive for those who want to understand why the public level of discourse is at its current level. First, let’s consider the whole mess for what it is: You read a review panning a restaurant that you’d probably never heard of and will probably never visit. You probably got a thrill out of it. And you might have shared it with your social-media friends and followers, or even jumped atop the online dog pile. The point isn’t whether or not Fieri opened a dud of a restaurant; it’s that we had a convenient target to attack. After all, in today’s politically correct society, so much is off-limits. And who doesn’t get a kick out of knocking down a guy who bleaches his hair? But the absolute glee that many got out of basking in the snark of Wells’ review took it to another


NEWLY DISCOVERED SPIDER NAMED AFTER ME—Aptostichus pennjillettei “Atomic Penn Jillette Spider.” It’s a trapdoor spider in Nevada. Wow.


The only difference I’ve seen between UNLV and Oregon is that UNLV has way more college kids who wear sombreros when they party.


level. There was, underneath the smug self-assurance, just a touch of mob hysteria—the same “me too” vibe that led medieval villagers to follow the popular sentiment that, yes, that annoying old-lady neighbor really was a witch. This angry, viral mob rule is bad news for a nation that absolutely has to come to a consensus on a variety of crucial issues, from how to teach our children to how to care for our elderly. Your opponent no longer simply believes

that the government should have a more prominent role in health care; instead, he’s a socialist (or fascist). Or she can’t just be a proponent of smaller government; obviously, she’s a teabagger. Our online personas can show us at our least empathetic, moving swiftly from modest schadenfreude to vile hatred of people we’ve never met and who have no idea we exist. So maybe we should think twice about the message we’re sending before we re-Tweet.

[ Site to See ]

Space OdditieS

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012




With all the current interest in the Curiosity rover, the promise of new Star Wars movies and the looming end of the Long Count calendar, it’s only natural that our fancies should turn, once again, to outer space. There’s lots of, y’know, space out there—more than enough to contain our ever-expanding hubris. But how do we get there? Do we hit up Elon Musk? Do we put a lot of balloons on an Aeron chair? Do we go to the middle of the desert, put tinfoil on our heads and prepare for transport? The Tumblr blog You Will Not Go To Space Today offers several less-than-viable alternatives, from putting a cardboard Starship Enterprise costume on your dog to lighting the fuse on a really big fart. I will say no more, because as Jodie Foster said in Contact, there are no words. They should’ve sent a poet. – Geoff Carter Follow Carter on Twitter @Geoff_Carter.

found material

The Rebels Are Sexy It’s a story consisting of dominance and deception, cheating and racism, mobsters and celebrities—and even 20 years later, it still captures much of the public’s imagination. Reporter Kevin Cook takes a look at the Jerry Tarkanian era at UNLV in the December issue of Playboy, beginning with the social climate in Las Vegas before his arrival in 1972 and concluding with his tumultuous departure from UNLV in 1992. The story of how Tarkanian turned “Tumbleweed Tech” into a national powerhouse will allow you to say “I only read Playboy for the articles” and keep a straight face for the first time in your life. Find the link at

My son called one of my dogs an Old Dirty Bastard. I know he didn’t learn it from me because I don’t use deceased rappers names in vain.


So that Al Davis flame that Jon Gruden lit yesterday ... that’s a horcrux, right? It has to be.


Non-nude ‘pole dancing’ is about as entertaining as trying to have sex with a snowsuit on ...


I saw a bizarre, grotesquely inflated Donald Trump head and thought there was a Trump balloon in the parade. Turns out it’s just Trump.


Well now my mom’s mad because I said her turkey’s too dry and she ruined my childhood.


Had Thanksgiving last night at Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Less drama than my relatives.


I did not watch Liz & Dick. I did, however, watch two people dry hump at a slot machine.

Share your Tweet. Add #V7.

the latest Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Harry Reid, Filibuster Buster?



The presidenT is a Democrat, the Senate’s Democratic and the House is Republican. Nevada has a Republican governor and Democratic Legislature. But we all agree on the need to end partisan gridlock. Uh, not really. Everybody wants the opposition to have gridlock. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, though, wants to do something about our legislative clogged arteries. After opposing reforms in the Senate rules, the majority leader has rethought his position over the last couple of years. Now Reid is considering changing the requirement that 60 senators vote in order to allow most legislation to come to the floor. Why he’s doing it is obvious enough. In 2009, several Republican leaders met the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration and agreed to oppose everything. They have largely done so: While Democrats used the filibuster 68 times during their last period in the minority, Republicans have used it 110 times in 2011-12 and nearly 400 times since 2007. In 2011, Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed not to force through rule changes in return for McConnell using the filibuster “with discretion.” He since has displayed about as much discretion as David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. While many Democrats despise McConnell, he and Reid understand each other. Neither is a matinee idol or future presidential candidate; rather, they’re wily operators, superb at keeping their caucuses almost completely united. With McConnell using that unity simply to be obstructionist, though,

there’s a limit. As Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told The Associated Press, Democrats can compromise, but McConnell “has got to know that the American people on Tuesday [November 6] completely rejected his entire approach to governing, obstruction and gridlock at every turn.” Why Reid has opposed change before may seem less obvious.

First, Reid has an old-fashioned respect for Senate traditions. These included deference to senior colleagues or the more knowledgeable: Reid wouldn’t have told the foreign relations chair what to do about the Middle East, and that senator wouldn’t have told Reid what to do about mining. Times—and Reid— have changed, but not completely. Republicans counter that Reid won’t let them amend legislation, but he knows their goal is to amend it to death. Further, the idea of Democrats simply forcing through a rule change is known as “the nuclear option” because it supposedly will inflame partisanship. As if there’s so little partisanship now. Second, Reid grasps that the tide of history and politics doesn’t always run his way. When Reid succeeded Tom Daschle as Senate Democratic leader after the 2004 election, he served as minority leader. Republicans had a 55-45 majority. Reid and his caucus used the filibuster to block some of George W. Bush’s mea-

sures and appointments—some. Now Reid’s majority is 55-45, including a Maine independent caucusing with Democrats. But Reid knows that could change—especially after the 2014 elections. In the midterms, the president’s party often takes a beating—not necessarily the bloodbath Democrats endured in 2010, but a loss. What Reid does could come back to haunt him and his party. But not necessarily, and thus another tie to history: One proposal is to change the rule to make it a real filibuster. Historically, to block or kill legislation, one senator or a group of senators had to stay on the floor and literally talk it to death, and thereby keep the Senate from doing anything else. (The late Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., set a record by speaking against a civil rights bill for nearly 24 hours—without once mentioning that he fathered an African-American daughter.) In the 1970s, Senate Democratic leaders changed the rules to simply require 60 senators to agree to cut off debate. And now they’re paying for it. All of this filibuster talk could be avoided if Republicans considered legislation on the merits, rather than whether Obama is behind it. Perhaps that noted advocate of bipartisanship, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., could help change his party’s ways. The proposed rule changes suggests Reid’s confidence in that prospect—and the need for Americans to have confidence in Reid so that the Senate actually can do something. Michael Green is a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada.

Who says room rates are going up? Lots of surveys I’ve seen lately do, but I’ve got evidence to the contrary. Every year at this time we conduct our own rate survey at It’s a serious study that encompasses every hotel-casino in town (95 this year), and we check lots of sources. Since we count the best rate we find even if it’s available for only a day, you won’t be able to duplicate everything you see here. But you’ll be able to get pretty close. This year, we found 47 casinos with rates of less than $40— eight more than last year. Thirty of the 47 were below $30 and six were under $20. Here they are. Under $40 Club: Artisan, California, Eastside Cannery, Ellis Island Super 8, Fremont, Gold Strike, Golden Gate, Main Street Station, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Orleans, Riviera, Silverton, Sunset Station, Treasure Island, Tropicana, Tuscany. Under $30 Club: Arizona Charlie’s Boulder, Bill’s, Boulder Station, Caesars Palace, Clarion, Excalibur, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, The D, Flamingo, Four Queens, Gold Coast, Hacienda, Harrah’s, Hooter’s, Luxor, Palace Station, Rio, Sam’s Town, Santa Fe Station, Stratosphere, Terrible’s, Texas Station, Wild Wild West. Under $20 Club: Bally’s, Circus Circus, El Cortez, Gold Spike, Imperial Palace (The Quad), Plaza. Check out some of the names on these lists. Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Treasure Island, Luxor, Rio, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Caesars Palace. Caesars Palace? That’s not a mistake. On the day we checked, the rate at Caesars for three days in December was in the $20s. A couple of days later that rate had jumped back up to $70, where it sits now, but it was there. The good deals also extend to the higherend casinos: Palms $41, Planet Hollywood $41, Golden Nugget $42, LVH $44, Hard Rock $47, Rumor $48, The Mirage $49, Paris $49, MGM Grand $55, Palms Place $59, Mandalay Bay $64, Green Valley Ranch $76, Red Rock Resort $76, THEhotel $84, Vdara $84, Aria $87, Trump International $90, MGM Grand Signature $95, Palazzo $109, Venetian $109, Encore $116, Wynn $116, Cosmopolitan $140 and Bellagio $149. These high-enders are also generally better than last year. For example, the Aria rate is $42 less than it was in 2011, while Venetian and Palazzo are down $30, Vdara is down $20, and Hard Rock is down $15. You have to work for it, and sometimes it’s simply about getting lucky (like that Caesars find). Plus you have to be looking at the right time. The best deals always land between the end of the National Finals Rodeo and Christmas—this year that’s Dec. 16-24. If you have friends coming in for the holidays or just want to hang out for a night, use the lists above as a starting point and dig a little. You’ll be amazed by what you find. Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor.

Photo by Win McNamee

47 Under $40

Home, Sweet Shipping Container

Too late for Sandy, New York preps industrial chic disaster housing By Matt Chaban

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

The New York Observer



if another Sandy hits a year or three from now, few New Yorkers should have to call tent cities and high school gymnasiums home. Instead, they will be living in shipping containers. For the past five years, the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing a firstof-its-kind disaster-housing program, creating modular apartments uniquely designed for the challenges of urban living. Carved out of shipping containers, these LEGO-like, stackable apartments offer all the amenities of home. Or more, since they are bigger and brighter than the typical Manhattan studio. It’s the FEMA trailer of the future, built with the Dwell reader in mind. “It’s nicer than my apartment,” David Burney, commissioner of the Department

of Design and Construction, said in a phone interview earlier this month. Along with the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and at least a dozen other city, state and federal agencies and private contractors, Burney has been trying to figure out how best to house the tens or even hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who could find themselves without a home following a major disaster. Like Hurricane Sandy. Initial estimates of those forced into long-term homelessness—from months to years—are 20,000 in the five boroughs alone. Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri told The New York Times that at least 400 homes would have to be demolished along the coast, with 500 more still to be evaluated. “There’s nobody who

wouldn’t like to see a deployable solution available now,” said Lance Jay Brown, an architecture professor at the City University of New York who has been advising the city on its plans. “But nobody has this, nobody. I think the Japanese are working on something, given all they’ve gone through, but I can tell you, New York is really ahead of the curve when it comes to long-term disaster housing.” When the next storm of the century hits, thousands of shipping-container apartments could begin arriving in the city within days. A playground or a parking lot of at least 10,000 square feet—somewhere accessible, safe and sizable—would serve as the site. The units, stacked four containers high and anywhere from six to 12 units wide, would form neat

little apartment blocks. The leading scheme calls for a 480-square-foot onebedroom apartment carved out of a 40-foot-long shipping container. Each one would have a window and a door on each end, providing easy egress—the Fire Department insisted on that—as well as ample light. On one end would be the bedroom, with a bed, dresser, nightstands, probably a lamp or two. On the other end is the living/dining room, with couch, table, maybe an easy chair, and a small kitchen complete with pots, pans, china and flatware. In between is the bathroom, stocked with clean towels, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. “When you’ve lost everything, you need everything, and it’s the little things that count,” said William Begley, the director of Sea Box, a container-modification company based outside of Trenton, N.J. The Bloomberg administration has been working closely with the firm on developing a system, and Sea Box has even created a prototype on its property it hopes the city will use, though no contracts have yet been issued. “It’s just like moving into an extended-stay hotel, like a Homestead Suites or a Stay-

America,” Begley said. For larger families, a modified container with two bedrooms and perhaps a second bathroom could be attached. The entire system can run on the grid or off, depending on the circumstances, with power from a generator and an independent septic system. Nice as the accommodations may be on the inside, the city wants them to be attractive on the outside as well, and is currently considering ways to add some visual flair. There could also be retail and community spaces on the ground floor to help restore both convenience and neighborhood camaraderie. “In order to succeed, these have to be somewhere people actually want to live,” Burney said. At the same time, the goal is to make the containers as inexpensive as possible, with each module projected to cost between $50,000 and $80,000. As the Bloomberg administration has shown over the past decade, cost-conscious civic infrastructure does not need to be ugly or skimp on design—it’s CB2 meets Motel 6. “Just because it’s prefab doesn’t mean it has to be an eyesore,” Burney said. But they also cannot be so comfortable people will want to move in for good. The hope is that FEMA

Illustration by Jeff Shumaker

The LaTesT


said at the time. “The greater challenge is to provide longerterm provisional housing for what could be thousands of displaced families while their communities are rebuilt.” It is a challenge that got a lot of people thinking. The city received 117 proposals from 52 different countries, providing the city with a wealth of ideas— some practical, some fanciful. Impromptu complexes of honeycomb hexagons, floating villages on piers, barges, even a requisitioned cruise ship. Flatpack solutions (think an IKEA box) that blossom like an accordion or pop up like Transformers. Giant Erector sets, a few inflatable models like one of those carnival bouncy rides. There was even a fleet of flying dirigibles, each with an apartment inside, that could float above people’s homes. The city selected 10 winners and

blimps and cruise ships, the city settled on the humble shipping container, which a number of entrants had proposed. “Logistically, it’s not as though you’ve got a bunch of cruise ships lying around that you can requisition,” Burney said. But he did point out that barges are not as ridiculous as they might sound, either. After all, the Department of Corrections operates the gigantic Vernon C. Bain prison barge, moored off Hunts Point in the Bronx, which houses up to 800 prisoners. “We kept coming back to the shipping containers, because they’re a fairly known quantity in terms of technology and even design,” Burney continued. “It’s rather cool these days to have a house made out of a shipping container.” In 2009, the city released a request for expressions of interest, to see who might be game

Carved out of shipping Containers, these lego-like, staCkable apartments offer all the amenities of home. or more, sinCe they are bigger and brighter than the typiCal manhattan studio. it’s the fema trailer of the future, built with the dwell reader in mind. mind. At the time, he was working as a designer at OEM, updating the city’s disaster-response plans, and Hurricane Katrina served as a wake-up call. The following year, the city held a contest—called What If NYC—for long-term disasterhousing ideas, with an emphasis on 10 criteria. The units must be able to house a high number of people, be rapidly deployable across a range of geographies, and have numerous configurations for different family sizes. They had to be reusable, comfortable, ADA-compliant, secure and both cost- and energy-efficient. And the city wanted something recognizable, to “maximize the ability of New Yorkers to feel a sense of identity and even pride in where they live,” as the competition brief put it. All this from what is basically a glorified mobile home. “If a storm were to hit, our immediate need for shelter would be met,” Bloomberg

10 runners-up in September 2008 that are featured on the website It is a blueprint for recovery. “We hope this will serve as a guide for the best practices, not only for New York but the entire nation, and the world,” Brown, the CUNY professor, said. After much fanfare around the competition, the project seemed to go dormant, but only because it went underground. Burney explained it was best to work on the project in private, so as not to alarm the public about the possibilities of a disaster, and to have the freedom to let the design develop. “Because of the broad range of entries, there was a lot of work for the city to do to turn it into something,” said Paul Freitag, a competition juror who is a managing director at the Jonathan Rose Companies, one of the city’s top affordablehousing developers. After briefly mulling barges,

to undertake such a project, or even if it was possible. Meanwhile, the agencies went about the regulatory work of getting such a system funded and executed, no easy process given the added layers posed by the Army Corps and FEMA. “We’ve had to submit things two and three times,” Sea Box’s Begley said. “We work with government a lot, so we know what it’s like, and it’s nobody’s fault. You get these commanders who come through for six months, and when they move on, you may have to start again. It’s just how the bureaucracy works.” On the city side of things, everything had to be debated: Should there be fire sprinklers? Should it be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act? What if it violates the zoning code, with the construction of a building larger than zoning would allow, which seems certain if a five- or six-story building

was assembled on a parking lot near the beach in, say, Queens or Staten Island, where zoning calls almost exclusively for low-lying single-family homes. “There are certain codes for temporary structures, and certain codes for permanent structures, but this is really neither, so what do you do with it?” Burney said. “Exceptions have to be made, and figuring those out with all the agencies takes time.” Time has even been spent on figuring out if and how to decorate the containers. They could be painted different colors, creating interesting patterns, an inviting kaleidoscope of corrugated steel. Decals or designs could be added to the exteriors, as well, creating makeshift murals. “We want these to be an attractive place to live, to help foster community,” Pawlowski said. The city has worked closely with Sea Box on the project, but it has not yet given the final goahead to the firm’s plan, which would involve producing about 15,000 units, dispersed around the country in clusters of 500 to 1,000 units. The way Sea Box sees it, the units would sit in a lot somewhere until they are needed, be that in New York or Los Angeles or Minneapolis or Sioux Falls, S.D. “An ISO container will last 35 years, and you can reuse it 20 times,” Begley said. “The old FEMA trailers, tie them up for a year or two and they’re through.” Those 15,000 units would supply the city for a month or two while production ramped up if more were needed—the city expects to work with numerous contractors to produce these units. Following the program, they would be broken down, retrofitted and put back into storage for the next disaster. While the program has been built with New Yorkers in mind, City Hall believes it could serve as yet another model for cities around the country, just like the smoking ban has. “We’ve created a universal specification of what we believed anyone in the container industry could use,” Bruno said. “It works in New York City, but it could probably work anywhere, so it has national implications.” If only it had been ready a year ago. “Certainly I would have liked to have seen it happen sooner, but that’s just the process,” Burney said. “As the mayor keeps saying, this isn’t going to be the last storm we see.”

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

21, and he, along with some colleagues from OEM and the group Architecture for Humanity, had come to debate the all-too-prescient topic “After Disaster: How Does NYC Plan to Recover?” Less than a week later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be standing inside OEM headquarters, imploring nearly 300,000 New Yorkers to evacuate low-lying areas. “The idea is that by providing temporary long-term housing, we can provide a pathway to the recovery of the neighborhood,” Pawlowski explained to the audience. “Probably the most important thing for a neighborhood to come back is that the people are there to rebuild it.” Six years ago, Pawlowski helped launch an initiative to find an alternative to FEMA trailers, which weren’t built with New York City’s density in


would cover most, if not all of the costs, and the agency would also have the units at its disposal across the country, if it chooses. FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers are tentatively onboard. To test its plan, the city is already preparing to build a 16-unit prototype in the Office of Emergency Management’s backyard, on a plot of land behind headquarters at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Four units wide and four units high, the complex would show that the system is both structurally and socially sound. It turns out that Hurricane Sandy, the very occasion when these units could have best been put to the test, actually interrupted their development. OEM, having secured $1 million in seed money from City Hall last year, was in the middle of drafting a public request for firms to build a prototype when the superstorm popped up on the radar. All resources have been dedicated to Sandy ever since. Even so, the administration still plans to have a prototype deployed by the second half of next year—and if anything, Sandy has made that goal more urgent, not less. “It’s not the whole solution to a housing-recovery program, but it’s a piece of it,” OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said. “It’s a good piece, too, one of the options that allows you to rebuild in a community that was devastated. You keep people in their neighborhood, and you don’t worry about losing them from your city.” The ability to stack the units creates a level of density that is inherently, and necessarily, New York. In Galveston, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; or Wilmington, N.C., FEMA would just roll its trailers into front yards and driveways. In New York, how many people do you know with a front yard? “We’re not just restoring somebody’s apartment, we’re restoring somebody’s street,” Thaddeus Pawlowski, an urban planner at the Department of City Planning, said during a recent lecture about the city’s disaster housing program at the Center for Architecture. “New Yorkers love their streets. They love their neighborhoods. So it’s very important people feel connected again to their neighborhood.” Pawlowski was actually delivering his remarks exactly one week before Sandy hit the city. It was the night of Oct.

the latest


Happy Feet

If just a touch of sparkle is more your speed, the Genie Glitter Bow Point Heels give just the right amount of oomph to any seasonal ensemble. $100, Topshop in Fashion Show, 866-0646.

Crystalized Kitty

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Don’t shove your important cards into a tiny party purse. Covered in Jet Hematite Crystal Mesh, the Hello Kitty Gold Bow cardholder is the perfect way to glam up your plastic. $195, Swarovski in Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, 732-7302.



Dr. Mike and Karen Crovetti

Him: Orthopedic surgeon, age 46. Her: Community volunteer and homemaker, age 47. Photographed by Tomo

What he’s wearing: John Varvatos sweater and boots and True Religion jeans. What she’s wearing: Dress with no label bought in New York City and Alaïa pumps. Fashion motto: We dare to be ourselves. Mike Crovetti spends his days either in surgery or tending to his business developing surgical devices, so his wardrobe

is dominated by dual S’s—scrubs and suits. His wife of 20 years, Karen, on the other hand, favors her Lululemon yoga pants for days taking care of the couple’s three children and lending spare time to community efforts. But the couple does enjoy dressing to the nines when it comes to attending their favorite events: charity galas.

Glimmering Getup

Nothing says holiday cheer quite like a glittering handbag. Dress up any outfit with Paul Smith’s gleaming blue Hove Bag. $410, Paul Smith in Crystals at CityCenter, 796-2640.



Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

The Helldorado Days parade on Fremont Street, circa 1950.



tickets to see Kaleb Driggers and Jade Corkill do some heading and heeling. For locals—or for non-NFR visitors who chance to wander by—the makeover can be bewildering. Cowboy Christmas, a 300,000-square-foot holiday gift store for all things Western, takes over the Las Vegas Convention Center. Gary Leffew’s Legendary Buck’n Ball takes over the Gold Coast. Two nightly mechanical bull-riding contests rock Sam’s Town. There’s even a cowboy-themed pageant, Miss Rodeo America, featuring a weeklong roster of events at the MGM Grand and a horse(wo)manship competition at the Convention Center. And, of course, country acts dominate showrooms and

lounges from Fremont Street to St. Rose Parkway. That’s a lot of hat—and you might wonder if thoroughly urban Las Vegas has the cattle to justify it. The cowboy switcheroo seems almost a little too convenient: We invite the cowboys to town in the middle of the absolute worst stretch of the year, the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas caesura when casinos—and this is no exaggeration—have a hard time giving rooms away. Even when marketers can get live bodies in the rooms, it’s pulling teeth to get them to open their wallets. Casinos needing to keep the lights on would gladly open their doors to the Golden Horde—halberds and all—as long as they swiped a credit card.

But NFR—the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s marquee annual event—is anything but artificial for Las Vegas. Cowboys have been a part of the city since the start—in fact, even before there was a Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Rancho, which Helen Stewart sold to the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, employed several cowboys, and, early on, hands from the surrounding ranches came to town; riding and roping wasn’t arena entertainment, but a regular occupation for many Vegas visitors. Over the next several decades, those ranches were sold and subdivided, and Hollywood cowboys became more common than men who made their living tending cattle. But

Las Vegas never gave up its cowboy connection, and for many years the primary reminder of our sagebrush roots was a rodeo—the Helldorado. There was more than nostalgia to Helldorado; there was also commerce. In early 1934, work on Hoover Dam was starting to wind down. Downtown businessmen feared that, absent the flush of federal paychecks brought by dam workers, Las Vegas would wither. So the Elks Lodge sponsored a rodeo that, members hoped, would lure in tourists who would bolster the sagging economy. Helldorado forced Las Vegas to innovate. For the first time, Fremont Street was closed to

Helldorado photo courtesy of UNLV Special Collections

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012


he Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which comes to the Thomas & Mack Center Dec. 6-15, is like a pair of cowboy boots that have been sitting in the closet for too many months. At first, they pinch a little, but after a while, they seem to flex to fit your feet, and you notice that you kind of like the swagger they lend you. When the cowboy hats and belt buckles first start coming out, it always feels a little bit forced. It’s hard to believe that the same casino hosts who were comping players into Andrea Bocelli earlier this month are honestly this fired up about getting them

gets closer to expiring in 2014, there’s going to be some heavy-duty negotiating going on. Because, despite the yeoman’s work of both the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the individual hotels, no one’s found much outside of the rodeo to draw crowds and dollars during early December. But NFR would need to think twice before leaving. It could find few cities with the hotels and entertainment venues that make the event a 10-day party—and none that would do it as affordably as Las Vegas. While the Thomas & Mack Center—which has 19,500 seats for rodeo—could fit four times inside Cowboys Stadium, many fans come not just for the rodeo itself, but for the bigger NFR experience. And that experience would be a whole lot less fun if it weren’t in Vegas. So the NFR/Las Vegas marriage will most likely continue. It might be born of convenience, but over the years, it’s blossomed into true love on both sides.

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Hourly workers would see their schedules further reduced or even cut entirely, probably for the entire month between Thanksgiving and shortly before New Year’s Eve. In other words, they’d be looking at more than a half-empty stocking on Christmas morning: the lost wages mean missed mortgages and rent payments. Hospitality remains the core industry here, so the ripple effect across the Valley would be profound. That’s why, as PRCA’s contract to host NFR in Las Vegas


Now photo courtesy of UNLV Now project

vehicular traffic for a parade. (Sixty years later, the Fremont Street Experience would make that a permanent condition.) The inaugural rodeo was successful enough that it came back the following year, with a vengeance. Lt. Gov. Fred Alward cut the ribbon to start the festivities at the “Pay Streak Trail” village on the evening of April 25, 1935, but Death Valley Scotty (whose Wikipedia entry identifies him as a “prospector, performer and con man,” really all you need to know), reigned as king of the four-day buckaroo bacchanal. Those “Buck All Night” Hard Rock Hotel ads from a few years back might have been tame compared to what the Elks Lodge put on that year, which included a strip/bur-

Jerry Jones is jealous. He’s been making noise about luring the National Finals Rodeo away from Las Vegas to fill his ultramodern 80,000-seat Cowboys Stadium near Dallas. And Las Vegas stadium proponents, in turn, have argued that the only way Las Vegas can hold onto NFR long-term is to build a massive stadium of our own. Right now, for instance, the NFR-saving plan du jour is UNLV Now, a campus makeover that includes a 60,000-seat stadium. Something to be said for being vigilant, but NFR to Dallas is anything but a done deal. For one, NFR falls in the middle of football season, meaning a move to Dallas would likely mean a shift to January, long after the Cowboys’ playoff hopes have safely collapsed. That doesn’t match the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s schedule as well as an early December date. But the real story of why NFR will likely stay in Las Vegas can be told by looking more closely at its economic impact. Last year, about 45,000 people came to Las Vegas for NFR. The total event attendance was 172,000, meaning that’s the number of times the turnstiles spun over the 10-day rodeo. Many people, of course, attended more than one event. The total nongaming impact was estimated at $60.1 million. In other words, when all was said and done, those 45,000 visitors spent, on average, $1,350 each in Las Vegas. Assuming that they bunked up two to a room, about 15 percent of the city’s 151,000 hotel rooms were occupied by rodeo fans at some point in early December. It’s worth remembering that since many tickets are given to top casino players on a package basis, there’s also a considerable gaming impact that isn’t captured there. And any event that adds $10 million a day to the local economy is significant. NFR, though, isn’t the biggest multiday event to strike Las Vegas during the typical year. In March, NASCAR fans—112,250 of them, to be precise—came to town for the Kobalt Tools 400 race, triggering an overall non-gaming impact of $176.6 million. That breaks down to about $1,575 per fan, significantly more than NFR. And, if we’re counting heads in beds, NASCAR fills (approximately) 37 percent of the city’s hotel rooms, more than double the rodeo rate. So why does NASCAR get nowhere near the attention of NFR? It’s mostly because of timing. December is a deathly slow month for hotels around the country and Las Vegas in particular. Even counting the New Year’s Eve windfall, the month’s gaming revenue is typically one of the lowest on the calendar. March, on the other hand, is jam-packed with conventions, St. Patrick’s Day and a little NCAA basketball tournament that draws a healthy contingent of sports bettors to town. Imagine the December dead zone with about 22,500 fewer hotel rooms occupied. Already, December is a month when casinos often take rooms offline for maintenance, reduce restaurant hours and let showrooms go dark. Without NFR, casinos would likely cut back even further.

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

WomEN iN RodEo



You can see today’s top barrel racers at the National Finals Rodeo through Dec. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center ( and aspiring rodeo queens at the Miss Rodeo America pageant through Dec. 12 (

Helldorado thrived after the war ended, and by 1948 it was drawing visitors from as far away as Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For a few hours during the Old Timers’ parade each year, all of Las Vegas, it seemed, came down to Fremont Street to watch. The girlie shows had been long abolished, and in their place more wholesome events—an art exhibit, a children’s parade, and of course the rodeo itself—made Helldorado family-friendly. The event was perfectly situated to pick up in the postwar boom in all things Western. The 1960s and ’70s gradually ate away at the city’s cowboy heritage, but Helldorado survived. In 1994, when Fremont

Street closed, the parade just picked up and moved to a nearby stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard. But in 1998, the Elks finally suspended Helldorado. It looked like another casualty in the city of perpetual change. But never underestimate the toughness of cowboy tradition. In 2005, the parade returned, and by 2009 the rodeo was back. But now the granddaddy of Vegas rodeo was a (very) little brother to NFR. The Strip’s entertainment lineage runs more toward Broadway and Hollywood than Nashville—Frank Sinatra, not Johnny Cash, was the face of the 1960s. But Cash did play Las Vegas, and from the 1940s country acts could be found downtown and along the Strip. This continued right into the guilded aughts: In 2009, Steve Wynn (who had hired Kenny Rogers as the Golden Nugget’s entertainment director in the 1970s) brought in Garth Brooks to headline the Encore Theater. Las Vegas is always a little bit country. Still, in 1984, when a small group of local casino owners made a bid to lure NFR to Las Vegas from Oklahoma City, which had hosted the event

Helldorado and NFR photos courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau

In the few grains of time between unconsciousness and consciousness, I thought my dad was an angel, maybe God. His cowboy hat blocked out the sun as he leaned over me while I lay gasping for air. “Are you all right? Can you breathe?” He picked me up and gently palpated my 7-year-old body, looking for broken bones. Then he turned to Penny, my big red mare, who was shaking dust everywhere. He examined her legs, the side of her belly that she’d fallen on before throwing me to the ground. As the wind swept back into my lungs, I started to cry. Not just from pain or fear, but also from failure. My dad hugged me. “It’s all right,” he said. “You’re all right.” “I’ll do it again,” I said, but he wouldn’t let me. I protested, vexed. I wanted to accomplish what I’d set out to do: show him that I could race in record time around three clumps of bushes that had grown in a lopsided triangle in a secluded field near our New Mexico farm. I was a barrel racer. Well, that was one of a few events I did at the weekend 4-H mini-rodeos we called “Play Days.” I also did flags, sometimes partnering with my brother, and poles. But barrel racing was my calling. I worshipped the teenage barrel racers, especially the rodeo queens, who could not only ride like the wind, but were also beautiful enough to be on TV. I’d found this spot on a solo ride a few weeks earlier. We had a corral behind our house where I could practice, but somehow this place seemed special to me, wild and secret. Trotting Penny around the triangular configuration of bushes, I cleared all the dirt clods and scoped out all the prairie-dog holes—or so I thought. In those days, in a small rural town, it was OK to let your kids roam—and we were independent enough to handle it. For a week or so, I’d taken Penny out to my secret spot after school and practiced riding the bushy barrel circuit. I couldn’t wait to show my dad how fast I’d gotten. I lived to make him proud. Finally, the day came when he was home from work early and could ride with me. I led him to the field and, at the entrance, told him to wait. I had something to show him, I said. On command, Penny bolted for the first clump of bushes. I steered the surprisingly agile old mare clockwise around it, then made for the second one. To hear my dad tell it, this is what happened next: I rounded the second clump of bushes and … disappeared. He sprinted his horse to where I lay, just coming to, Penny struggling to her feet next to me. Like any parent, he was horrified and relieved and amused all at once. In his eyes, I was up to my usual inexplicable shenanigans. I think he never did understand what I was trying to do that day—and that I was doing it for him. We rarely returned to that particular field. It was a scraggly patch after all, full of pitfalls. Around the age of 10, my interests would start to turn townward. By adolescence, I’d abandoned horses for cheerleading, makeup, boys. I would—and continue to—ride with my dad only on special occasions. I would never be a rodeo queen.

lesque show (“the kind that made the pioneer blood run warm”) and the 80-foot-long Last Chance bar, which served only redeye whiskey. Helldorado became an annual rite and ritual. The concept wasn’t unique—you could find Western parades throughout the West. But the city made something more out of it: The Vegas genius has never been invention, but taking what other cities do and carrying it somewhere safely beyond all preconceived notions of size, scale and taste. Sheer verve had to compensate for the many natural failings of the region, and maybe its inhabitants. During World War II, government-mandated travel restrictions shuttered most of the nation’s rodeos. No cowboy wanted to hang up his boots, but for the good of the war effort, many did. Las Vegas, though, wouldn’t: Sen. Pat McCarran managed to convince the right War Department functionary that Helldorado wasn’t a frivolous waste of gasoline and manpower, but a chance for overworked, overstressed Las Vegas Army Air Field (today Nellis Air Force Base) servicemen to relax. It wasn’t just something that the federal government should permit, McCarran argued—it was practically mandatory that they promote it. And that’s how Helldorado made it through World War II. Not quite the GSA living it up at M Resort, but it’s a reminder that federal employees stretching the rules in Las Vegas is nothing new.

around. By the end of the decade, NFR was a fixture in Las Vegas, and rodeo fans put themselves on waiting lists for a chance to get tickets. Over the next two decades, Las Vegas casinos experimented with several types of customer: bargain hunters, families, international highrollers, nightclubbers. But they could never find anyone to consistently fill the December drought but cowboys, and those who love them. Despite the unbroken history of cowboys in Las Vegas, there’s still the idea that NFR is a late revival of long-extinct relics from Jurassic Vegas: The cowboys who once walked the Valley were swept out of town by the mob, which was then

driven to extinction by “the corporations,” whose descendants still rule to this day. This is another case where siphoning your history out of movies (Casino) and network TV (Vegas) will let you down. Although Cowboys vs. Mobsters would make an excellent video game (and it’s frankly both amazing and a little disappointing that no one’s realized that concept yet), it’s not really the way things worked. Even if we use “mobsters” as shorthand for everyone who came out to work in casinos and broaden “cowboys” to include the entire pre-1950s status quo in Las Vegas—the railroad, the merchants in the Chamber of Commerce, the politicians—there never was that much conflict with the influx of connected

guys from back East. Simply put, they occupied ecological niches just distinct enough to keep them from fighting. The mobsters, real and imagined, weren’t interested in waving badges or keeping an eye on the sewer district, and the “cowboys” didn’t care who ran the casinos. That’s not to say that, metaphorically speaking, the cowboys always bothered to clean their boots before entering one of the new carpet joints, or that the maître d’ tried his hardest to give them the best seat in the showroom. But, for the most part, Las Vegans learned to get along. The plain fact is, the boundaries between cowboy, mobster and businessman were never quite as stark as

they seem in HD. Benny Binion was an illegal gambling operator from Dallas who had gotten his start as a mule trader and did a stretch in federal prison for tax evasion. He had nothing but praise for Moe Dalitz—the quintessential casino “mobster”—and even threw a Christmas party with him at the Las Vegas Country Club every year. And it didn’t take too long for casino guys to shake the crumbled Cleveland pavement or fine Miami sand off their shoes before they started affecting cowboy hats. Las Vegas has always shown many faces to the world. They’re all inauthentic in one sense, and fully authentic in another. We’re just as much cowboy as we are goodfella.


since 1965, there were skeptics: Turn the city into a glorified rodeo meet for 10 days? Would the high-rollers really come back when it was over? There were also logistical problems. Individual casinos had been putting on theater spectaculars for a generation, but no one had staged anything quite like NFR before. Las Vegas Events, a nonprofit special-events agency, had been founded only two years earlier, and it was tasked with throwing a party with 140,000 guests. The first few years were anything but a slam dunk— Sam Boyd, who’d guaranteed the purchase of major lots of tickets, actually found himself giving away NFR tickets on his casino floors in 1985 and ’86. But things turned

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Clockwise from left: the Helldorado gives rodeo deep roots in Las Vegas; Shawn Davis, general manager of the National Finals Rodeo since 1986, was a major proponent of moving NFR from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas; visitors step into the rodeo spirit at the NFR Buck’n Ball at the Gold Coast’s Arizona Ballroom.

Why ArizonA is the best-kept secret in skiing by norA burbA trulsson


ike Las Vegas, Arizona has a bit of an identity crisis when it comes to skiing—it’s not the first place that springs to mind for moguls and snowy glades. But with a season that usually runs from December into early April, Arizona has five spots for Alpine and Nordic skiing, each offering a unique experience. And, if Mother Nature’s not cooperating this year, a second ski area will have snowmaking capability. Flagstaff is an easy 3 1/2-hour drive from Las Vegas, and it’s ski central for the state, with three developed areas and plenty of lodging options. Just north of downtown, the 777-acre Arizona Snowbowl hugs the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks, offering six lifts, 40 runs, a terrain park, rentals, lessons, two day lodges and a vertical drop of about 2,300 feet, the largest in the state. Last season, the ski resort added several intermediate runs and another snowcat to its fleet for grooming slopes. This year, for the first time in Snowbowl’s 75-year history, snowmaking on about 60 percent of the runs will ensure a stable season, even if the average 260-inch annual snowfall fails to float down from above. The $12.5 million snowmaking system, which makes use of reclaimed water from the

City of Flagstaff, was approved in 2009 after numerous hard-fought court battles that pitted the resort and Forest Service against environmentalists and Native American groups who feel the use of reclaimed water harms what they believe to be sacred sites. “The water we will be using is A+ water, which is a higher grade than the reclaimed water the city uses on its parks and university grounds,” Arizona Snowbowl spokesperson Dave Smith says. “Forest Service biologists have approved the use of the water.” In the next few years, snowmaking will be expanded to cover most of the runs, Smith says, and the resort expects to improve the lodges and add more lifts and runs to disperse skiers amid the pine- and aspen-lined runs. “Where else,” Smith asks, “can you stand at the top of the run and see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?” North of Arizona Snowbowl, Flagstaff Nordic Center has more than 25 miles of beginner, intermediate and advanced cross-country trails, plus an additional 10 miles dedicated to snowshoeing, all looping through meadows and hills dotted with aspens and ponderosa pines. The trails fan out from the small lodge, where you can sign up for lessons, rent equipment, buy snacks or enjoy a picnic. There’s also a

The SLopeS Arizona Snowbowl, Flagstaff., (928) 7791951. Adult lift ticket: $55. Flagstaff Nordic Center, Flagstaff., (928) 220-0550. Trail pass: $18. Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation Area, Williams., (928) 814-5038. Adult lift ticket: $35. Sunrise Park Resort, Greer., (928) 735-7669. Adult lift ticket: $51. Mount Lemmon Ski Valley, Tucson., (520) 5761321. Adult lift ticket: $37.

Three jewels of Arizona skiing, clockwise from above: Elk Ridge, Mount Lemmon and Snowbowl.

on one of the peaks guarantees a season. Rentals and lessons are available at the modest base lodge, where you can get Indian tacos plus basic ski grub; four smaller day lodges on the peaks also offer sustenance. Tree skiers will like the glade runs, while late risers appreciate special night skiing offered Jan. 5 and 19, and Feb. 16 and 23. Best bets for overnight lodging are in the nearby town of Greer. Just outside Tucson, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley in the Santa Catalina Mountains is officially the southern-most ski area in the continental United States, and one of those mythical places where you can ski or snowboard in the morning and make it back down the mountain to the desert for a swim or a round of golf in the afternoon. From the top of the lift, you can see remnants of the 2003 Aspen fire, which left the ski area largely unscathed. As you ski down past pines and meadows, you’ll catch glimpses of desert below. Opened in 1952, the 200acre ski valley has three lifts, 21 runs, a 950-foot vertical drop and an average annual snowfall of 175 inches. Rentals and lessons are available through the small base lodge. Get lunch at the weekends-only patio café or the Iron Door, a full-service restaurant. Want to spend the night? Unless you’re camping, you’ll have to go back down into Tucson.

For one man, all the answers were up on the mountain By Heidi Kyser Jack and Monetta

Bean, 1975. Jack Bean was raised on Mount Charleston, and he lives there today. At 59, he’s witnessed the entire half-century history of the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort—and he and his family have helped make that history. Bean was born in Henderson, but his parents moved to Lee Canyon—as the ski area is still known to longtime Las Vegans—when he was 4 years old. They were the first homeowners in what’s now known as the Summer Home area; they had to live in an Army tent while Bean’s father built their house. A long-term lease from the Forest Service allowed his parents to live there until 2009. Bean remembers when the resort opened; he skied its slopes when the only way to the top was a T-bar lift. He got his first job at the resort, busing tables, at 14. Between part-time gigs, summer jobs and his eventual career as director of mountain operations—a position he still holds today—he’s worked his entire professional life at the resort. The place provided more than a living; it also brought him his bride, Monetta. The pretty blond 16-year-old was visiting from Oklahoma in 1971 with a friend whose father was a ski instructor. Bean spotted her, and a year later they were married. After spending a year in a cabin on the mountain, the newlyweds moved into a home in northwest Las Vegas, where they had two children, Heather and Joshua. In 1995, Jack and Monetta returned to Mount Charleston, settling down in lower Kyle Canyon. The entire family skis or snowboards or both. They’ve all drawn a paycheck from the resort at one time or another. “My son has always worked here,” Bean says. “As a toddler, he rode in the grooming machine with me. Now, he’s in charge of slope maintenance.” His attachment to the place comes from its hidden-gem quality: “Having a mountain so close to a major city like Las Vegas,” he says, “I always saw the potential.” Bean’s not nostalgic for the good old days, either. In his opinion, progress has meant improvement. The addition of snowmaking machines in the mid-1980s boosted the resort’s popularity. Powdr Corp’s acquisition of the area in 2003 brought much-needed upgrades to infrastructure and equipment. “I feel like we’re really making headway now,” he says. “Kevin [Stickelman, president and general manager of LVSSR] has brought the right attitude to work with both the Forest 35 Service and environmentalists to make the resort better.” But what he likes most about the place should be obvious: “It’s been my whole family together here, all these years.” Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

In eastern Arizona, Sunrise Park Resort, which opened in 1970, is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. With 800 acres spread out over three peaks, a 1,800foot vertical drop, eight lifts, 65 runs, a terrain park and 13 miles of cross-country ski trails, it’s the largest ski resort in the state. Because of its relative isolation (about 3 1/2 hours’ drive from Phoenix, 4 from Albuquerque), it’s easy to find uncrowded runs. Snowmaking


snow-play area where visitors can sculpt snowmen. Recently, the center added four primitive cabins and five yurts on the trails, letting you quasi-camp amid snow, stars and pine cones. Just west of Flagstaff, Williams—best known for its historic Route 66 main street and as the gateway town to the Grand Canyon—has a smaller, family- and beginner-friendly ski and snowboarding mountain. Opened in 1964 as the Bill Williams Ski Area, it’s been renamed Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation Area and owned since 2005 by Tammy Fountain of Las Vegas. Fountain started her career on ski patrol at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, then worked weekends at the Williams facility. “I’m apparently the only ski patroller who grew up to buy a ski area,” Fountain says. Fountain has been improving the 37-acre site with its 650-foot vertical drop, adding two runs for a total of 12, a tubing carpet for winter and summer tubing, offering equipment rentals and spiffing up the café to offer burgers, beer and wine. The ski area is open on weekends and school breaks. “We’re old-school here,” Fountain says. “We only have a rope and a Poma lift, but you can sit on the deck and watch your kids ski or snowboard. Nobody gets lost here.”

Love and Lee Canyon



Presented by

Presented by Binion’s • California • The D • Four Queens • Fremont • Golden Gate • Golden Nugget • Main Street Station

“Dance music has more capacity than just club music. It’s about creating something unique in the sense of its musicality.” 3LAU HAUs {pAge 40}

Your city after dark, hot gossip, party pics and a Las Vegas DJ with worldwide cred

THU 29

sUn 2

Calling all “model bartenders, model hosts, model bar backs, model VIP hostesses, model waitresses” and, wait for it, “model butlers”: Our beloved Body English is reopening Dec. 28, and they’re gonna need some beautiful people. If you’re not the head-shot type, they’re also hunting for VIP and security hosts. Stop by Vanity nightclub today and tomorrow with your résumé and a current photograph. (In the Hard Rock Hotel, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., call 693-5555 for more information.)

Show Us Your Cans! As in canned goods. Please. Proving that some strippers (or at least some strip clubs) do have hearts of gold, Crazy Horse III holds its third annual drive. Through Dec. 15, bring a minimum of five nonperishable food items and get a complimentary drink and a warm, fuzzy feeling from more than just the alcohol and a nearly-nude lady grinding up against your leg. (3525 W. Russell Road,


Fri 30

Mon 3

Boulevard Pool is out, the Ice Rink is in, transforming the Cosmopolitan’s pool deck overlooking the Strip into a wintery playground for the season, complete with real ice, fire pits, toasty adult beverages and s’mores. If you don’t make it for the opening tonight, Mondays will be “Date Skate” with scenes from holiday movies playing on the 65-foot tall marquee. Wednesdays, the Ice Rink becomes an outdoor winter club for Industry Skate on the Strip. And you can bust out the retro winter-wear and tunes for Throwback Thursdays. (At the Cosmopolitan, 3 p.m., Things heat up at Drink & Drag as Stolichnaya premium vodka launches Chocolat Kokonut and Salted Karamel with an open bar until 11 p.m. As an added bonus, Pick Your Poison Bake Shop has infused baked goodies with the flavors, plus free bowling, giveaways and Stoli Boys. (In Neonopolis, 10 p.m., The Ainsworth celebrates the launch of Oxigeno, a night featuring pop y rock en español with DJ Ella and friends. (In the Hard Rock Hotel, 8 p.m.,

There’s a Las Vegas native successfully working his way up the ranks of international stardom, yet isn’t an EDM household name … yet. Stop by Marquee to check out 21-year-old spinner 3LAU (3) and learn more on Page 40. (In the Cosmopolitan, 10 p.m.,

TUe 4

Sia photo byLiz Ham

Somewhere between providing the vocals on Billboard chart-topping hits such as “Titanium” with David Guetta, and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones,” singer Sia (1) apparently picked up DJing chops. She’ll be spinning a guest set at The Bank. (In Bellagio, 10:30 p.m., LightGroup. com.) The month of creepy Movember pedo’staches in the name of prostate and testicular cancer awareness is finally over. The grand follicular finale of Heineken’s Mustache November takes place during Lavo Brunch (2) with a salute to 30 of Las Vegas’ Most Influential Men. (In the Palazzo, 1 p.m., The Dutch invasion continues as Amsterdam duo NO_ID stops by XS on their North American tour. (In Encore, 10:30 p.m.,


Wed 5 Play Hard at Surrender tonight. Chicago electro trio Krewella (4) headlines the party. This will also be one of the last remaining times it’s acceptable to Tweet that someone at a club is “killin’ it,” being that they actually have a song by that name; all other instances are now forbidden due to an overuse by Las Vegas clubbers and staffers. (In Encore, 10:30 p.m.,

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012


sAT 1



Party like it’s 1933, but dress like it’s still the Roaring ’20s as Moon celebrates Repeal Day and the end of American Prohibition. Guests can enjoy a Crown Royal Maple Finished hosted bar with a special cocktail menu inspired by the era, while winners of a dance competition and costume contest each receive $1,205. (In the Palms, 11 p.m., Honoring the nightlife industry movers and shakers, 1 Oak and Jack Colton have teamed up for the Top 30 Under 30 event celebrating the best youngsters in the biz. DJs Ikon and Karma provide the tunes. (In The Mirage, 10:30 p.m.,

nightlife Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Meatball Spot Passes the Pauly D Test



Carla Pellegrino’s Meatball Spot is quickly becoming a place to dine among celebrities, which is no surprise given that it’s brought to you by some of the same people behind Sugar Factory and Chateau. Though maybe it got a boost from Pellegrino’s Episode 3 win on Top Chef: Seattle, as long as no one actually watched her nearly saw her hand off. Whatever the reason, the absolutely inevitable just happened: A Las Vegas Italian res-

taurant with deep celeb connections got Pauly D to eat there. We’ll pause so you can fish your monocle out of your champagne and pick your top hat off the floor. Disc jockey Paul DelVecchio Jr. went by the Town Square joint Nov. 25 along with Gerard “Big Jerry” Gialanella of The Pauly D Project and a pack of peckish paisani for a plethora of plump plates. (Sorry! We got possessed by the vengeful ghost of Gene Shalit there for a second. Who

is not, technically, dead, which makes the feat all the more impressive.) Pauly D was apparently moved to generosity by the meal, though, because afterward, he slapped down $500 as a tip, which is doubly impressive when you consider A) meatballs there run, like, seven bucks an order, B) he was probably comped anyway and C) he doesn’t actually acquire all his nutrients by absorbing the hair gel off his scalp in some sort of scientifically dubious guido osmosis. The lesson here is: The next time you see Pauly D is DJing somewhere, just show up with a meatball sub or chicken parm or something. It’s got to be worth at least a C-note.

Downtown ADDing SlotZillA Speaking of ass-kickingly American oversize, outré excess, the Fremont Street Experience will be adding SlotZilla, a giant slot machine/zipline staging area. If this doesn’t lead to the construction of Mothreecardpoker on top of El Cortez, we’re officially giving up on life.

Above: Pauly D at Meatball Spot. Inset: Mac King and Jim Gaffigan.

GaffiGan Goes Back in Time for ThanksGivinG Comedian Jim Gaffigan had shows at The Mirage on Nov. 23 and 24, so he did what anyone in that situation would do: come into town early and skip the whole “actually preparing a meal for the whole family” nonsense. On the one hand, it’s surprising, given that 80 percent of what Gaffigan talks about is food. On the other hand, it’s completely understandable, given that of that 80 percent, 70 of it relates to fast food and Hot Pockets. Which, really, a couple of turkey-and-cheese jobs would cut down on one’s roasting time considerably. The day before the holiday, Gaffigan checked out Mac King for a union of plaid and pale. That evening, he took the family for a double-dip, this time to Mystère before settling on a Thanksgiving dinner at Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings. Is there any more American way to celebrate that most American of holidays than by going to a fake castle for fake jousting? One monster truck plowing through there and Toby Keith would cry tears shaped like George Washington and the Alamo. Jason Scavone is editor of Follow him on the Las Vegas gossip trail at


3LAU Haus

The Las Vegas native is better known internationally than at home By Deanna Rilling

There is hope for the next generation of electronic music producers, and he goes by 3LAU (pronounce the 3 like a B). Within the first few minutes of speaking with 21-year-old Justin Blau, one can already tell he’s not the average fan-turned-DJ. A Las Vegas native, 3LAU is more recognized on the national/international circuit. The articulate 3LAU is wise beyond his years, so much so that he could be mistaken for an insightful industry vet. We got some time with the worldly spinner before his Dec. 3 gig at Marquee.

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

How did you first take interest in DJing and producing? Were you involved in the underground all-ages scene in Las Vegas at all? It actually didn’t come from [growing up in] Vegas. I was in college and took a trip with my best friend to Sweden. That was two years ago, so not very long. I’ve been playing instruments all my life; I play piano, guitar, I sing, I play drums. When I went to Sweden I was blown away by my experience and decided I wanted to be a DJ—just like everyone else does. [Laughs.]



Was your interest also piqued by the DJs on billboards around town, or did you read about them in the magazines? I always noticed it, and was listening to dance music before I was into dance music: Deadmau5, Boys Noize, Justice, some of the classic stuff. I was listening to all kinds of music, but I was never really listening to house proper—not Hardwell, Chuckie or any of the club DJ superstars of our time. It’s funny going around and seeing all the billboards of some DJs I’ve never even heard before; it’s part of their marketing and however they get paid. You attended the Meadows School before leaving with a full scholarship for finance at Washington University in St. Louis. Are you still in college? I’m technically not; I would have been a senior this year. I’m currently on a leave of

absence without a specific date of potential return. I’ve been touring, playing three or four shows a week sometimes; it would be impossible to do school at the same time. What kind of music did you make before getting into electronic? I was essentially making indie-folk music—piano, guitar, atmospheric vocal. Radiohead was an influence, but I don’t want to say similar to Radiohead because that would be insulting to them. But similar to the Antlers and indie-folk groups. That was my favorite kind of music when I was in high school. Do you feel your musicality gives you an edge over other contemporary producers who are good at painting with MIDI files, but have no sense of traditional composition? It is the biggest edge. It is the No. 1 thing that separates a producer/DJ from a dance-music musician. I know that’s kind of pretentious-sounding, but you look at kids like Madeon and Porter [Robinson] and they’re musically talented and production talented. Then you look at some of the older guys who are just making house beats for a really long time and that’s why they’re plateauing. You have people like Zedd, who does an acoustic version of “Spectrum” on the piano and destroys it [in a good way]. People are starting to think, “Oh, techno is just techno and I don’t like it, it’s not real music,” and then you have videos like Zedd’s that make those people realize the repre-

sentation of dance music isn’t just the club, it’s actual music. In my opinion, DJs like Chuckie or Aoki—he’s had great marketing for a long time, but at the end of the day he barely makes his own music and the music’s really bad. This can be on the record; I don’t care if these people don’t like me [laughs]. A lot of my mash-ups and remixes were really pop-y, but my new stuff is good. It’s not perfect yet. Fuck, I’m 21! I’ve got a long time to learn! But at least I recognize where I want to be. I think a lot of these producers are just putting out music and have amazing marketing, but they’re not really thinking about what kind of talent is

going to last in the long term. A lot of the songs I’m writing, I sit down and write them on the piano. All that music now just needs to be produced, and I’m not the best producer yet. I’ve only been doing this for two years. I’m happy I’m learning as quickly as I am. What are you ultimately trying to accomplish sonically? Once this tour is over I’m going to get working on my main project. I think a lot of dance music is very club-ori-

ented. It’s always about what’s going to get people moving, and I think dance music has a lot more capacity than just club music. It’s about creating something that’s unique in the sense of its musicality, as opposed to unique in its sense of club appeal. A lot of the clubby stuff sounds very Dutch. Dutch house—it all ends up starting to sound the same musically. My goal is to bridge the epic music of Sigur Rós and Radiohead with the drive of club dance music.

To learn about 3LAU’s next project, visit VegasSeven. com/3LAU.




Hard Rock Hotel [ Upcoming ]



See more photos from this gallery at

Photography by Hew Burney

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Nov. 30  Rock, Paper, Scissors featuring Hello Kitty               Pink Head by Tarina Tarantino giveaways Dec. 1  Richard Beynon and DJ Loczi spin Dec. 2  DJs Shift and Franzen



1 OaK

The Mirage [ Upcoming ]



See more photos from this gallery at

Photography by Amit Dadlaney and Josh Metz

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Dec. 4  Top 30 Under 30 Dec. 6  Haute Thursdays with DJ Que Dec. 14  Big Sean performs live




The Cosmopolitan [ Upcoming ]



See more photos from this gallery at

Photography by Roman Mendez

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Nov. 30  Fedde Le Grand spins Dec. 1  Cedric Gervais spins Dec. 3  3LAU spins


“We have incredible memories of dinners with friends both in Mexico and here, when the flavors, the music, the cameraderie and, of course, the tequila made for the perfect feeling.” A SmAll bite {pAGe 62}

Reviews, Diner's Notebook, a Knockout shot and meet the ladies behind Velveteen Rabbit

Have a Ball

Town Square’s hot new meating place keeps it simple but satisfying By Max Jacobson

A trio of Pellegrino’s classic meatballs in her classic tomato sauce.

[ Continued on Page 62 ]


Photo by Anthony Mair

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

OpeninG the riGht concept in the right place at the right time won’t ensure success in the restaurant business. Add a talented, passionate chef the likes of Carla Pellegrino—who owns Bratalian in Henderson and recently got a divorce from Bacio at the Tropicana—and your chances suddenly go from very good to excellent. We’re talking about Meatball Spot, a casual, breezy corner space just across from the Rave Cinemas in Town Square. The previous occupant, Nu Sanctuary, served a number of creative meAtbAll SpOt dishes in a bizarre, spiritually themed At Town Square, environment that 641-7768. Open seemed out of 11:30 a.m.-11 place for a shopp.m. Sun-Wed, ping mall. 11:30 a.m.-12 The appeal here a.m. Thu-Sat. is more visceral. Dinner for two, Think variations $28-$45. in the key of meatball, pizza in the pan, a dozen or so salads and milkshakes topped with gobs of whipped cream—in short, just what millennials here to see Twilight and the James Bond extravaganza want for their postprandial cinema experience. It’s priced right, too: $6.95 buys you three meatballs with your choice of sauce. There are six different kinds of meatballs from which to choose and six 61 sauces. That makes 36 permutations. Whew! In practice, I paired Carla’s classic meatball, a blend of beef, pork




and veal with Romano cheese and fresh herbs similar to what she did while she was executive chef at Rao’s in Caesars, with her classic tomato sauce—a winning combination. Later, I tried her dense vegetarian meatballs (think falafel for texture, Garden Burger for taste) with a delicate Parmesan cream sauce. Then came the best combination: beef blended with Pecorino cheese, paired with the house pesto. Less ambitious appetites also have the option to choose the meatball slider, a meatball on a brioche bun, or the Smash, two meatballs on a baguette, both topped with identical options for sauce. Both salads and pizzas are available in half- or full-portion sizes. And believe me, this is a clever move as both are more than generous. The best salad among the dozen or so on the menu might be the baby arugula with Bosc pear, caramelized walnut and a crumble of gorgonzola. But the Tuscan bread salad, panzanella, gives it a run for the money. Pizzas are sensational—thin, crisp crusts, and toppings you choose from a long list. They’re also served Roman-style in a flat, metal tray. Max’s Menu picks Three of us didn’t finish our half pizza Beef meatballs, $6.95. with pepperoni and Baby arugula salad, mushrooms, but $5.95 (half), $9.95 (full). hey, meatballs aren’t Pizzas, $9.95 (half tray), exactly appetizers. $14.95 (full tray). For dessert, we Truffled white beans and tried Bananas Foster, pancetta, $5.95. a gourmet ice cream Birthday Cake milkshake, sandwich of two $6.95. white chocolate macadamia-nut cookies with bananas Foster ice cream and white lots of ruschocolate shavings, as well as the tic brick, Birthday Cake milkshake, diabeticwhitecoma sweet thanks to lots of cake washed wood and exposed timpieces and rainbow sprinkles in the ber-frame walls in here, as well as mix. In terms of calories per dollar, pressed pewter and tin ceilings, Meatball Spot is a deal and a half. aged hardwood flooring and the Do we care? restaurant logo carved into bricks Yes, we do, because this is quite on a rear wall. an attractive place as well. There’s A patio, offering both indoor and

[ a SmaLL Bite ]

Coming Soon: La Comida Downtown has a lot of things going for it right now. But despite the area’s profusion of hip watering holes, dining is still a challenge. Come spring, the Fremont East entertainment district will have a place for authentic Mexican cuisine, as presented by nightlife and restaurant impresario Michael Morton. Opening in March, La Comida (named for the family meal cooks eat communally before service) takes over 106 Sixth St., 3,000 square feet abutting the recently opened Commonwealth cocktail bar, and sharing that venue’s history as a former El Cortez laundry facility. Guests enter from the alley, dining either at the 25-foot

LonDon caLLeD, two to try, anD why not to give a fLying twinkie about hostess

Above: Baby arugula salad with Bosc pears, walnuts and gorgonzola. Inset: A Birthday Cake milkshake.

outdoor seating, fronts the restaurant and is bordered with a white picket fence. I’m told the owners were striving for a homey look, which works if you are from Hoboken, N.J., I guess, or anywhere else where Grandma’s specialty is meatballs and pizza. Speaking of Hoboken, that’s Sinatra on the sound system, and soul-king Al Green. That’s not quite what the millennials listen to, but no worries. The music gets younger at Meatball Spot as the evening grows older. So the concept seems safe, for the moment.

cocktail bar below restored church windows; in the dining room filled with found and reclaimed objects and with an open kitchen below a Dia de Los Muertos offrenda, or on sidewalk tables. There will even be a window on Sixth Street with stools that belly right up to the bar. “It’s got good bones,” says Morton, who also owns La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway in Wynn. “La Comida is a place where we want to hang out,” reads an informal mission statement by Morton and his wife, Jenna. “We have incredible memories of dinners with friends both in Mexico and here, when the combination of the flavors, the music, the camaraderie and, of course, the tequila made for the perfect feeling. We want to re-create that moment for everyone. That is La Comida.” Why downtown and why now? Find out more at — Xania Woodman

I’ve just returned from a visit to one of the world’s most exciting food destinations: London, England. And if you still think English food is stodgy, think again. There, I feasted on red-bean stew with chorizo and pork belly at Donostia, a Basque restaurant in Mayfair; choucroute garni in Brasserie Zedel, a beautifully restored Belle Époque West End restaurant with amazingly low prices and a long wait for tables; and finally, the incredible three-Michelinstarred Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, as the guest of the generous M. Ducasse. On that same weekend, while I was feasting on chicken quenelles with lobster and roasted breast and confit leg of Challans duck at his London restaurant, hundreds of guests from 27 different countries were assembling for Ducasse’s 25th anniversary gala at his flagship, Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco. Many of the most famous chefs in the world also attended, luminaries such as Rene Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen (currently the world’s top-rated restaurant) and Daniel Boulud of New York City, who operated a highly regarded brasserie at the Wynn, which today is Lakeside Grill. You can eat M. Ducasse’s cuisine here at Mix in Mandalay Bay. What with the kerfuffle about the closing of Hostess, one almost forgets that nostalgia only goes so far. Perhaps this is apocryphal, but I recall a story about a Twinkie being bombarded with neutrons in a particle accelerator along with a few other items to see how long it would take to disintegrate. It didn’t. Does the word Frankenfood resonate with you at all? I won’t miss them. Here are two new openings to report: Chocolat Bistro is the newest entry in the facelift currently under way at the Palms, a small place near N9NE Steakhouse. The specialty here, unsurprisingly, is desserts, such as chocolates and cookies, as well as sweet and savory crepes and many flavors of gelato. Finally, Cantina Laredo, an upscale Mexican restaurant with more than 30 locations throughout the U.S., has opened in Tivoli Village, serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The Summerlin-adjacent outdoor mall got off to a rather slow start, but things seem to be picking up. The restaurant (430 S. Rampart Blvd., Suite 110, 202-4511, CantinaLaredo. com.) features the cooking of chef Damon Workman, and will include fare such as carnitas, something he calls his Top Shelf Guacamole and even glutenfree specialties, plus a mango tres leches cake for dessert. This is a huge place—more than 6,000 square feet—and there is a nice outdoor patio to sit on when the weather behaves. Hungry, yet? Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at

Photography by Anthony Mair

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012


[ Continued from Page 61 ]



A Plush Place



The VicTorian era, known for its sentimentality, idealism and modesty, also gave rise to the Belle Époque and saw the gathering momentum of the women’s movement. No surprise, therefore, that sisters Pamela and Christina Dylag would choose the period as the inspiration for the bar they will open at 1218 S. Main St. in the Arts District. Named for the beloved children’s book and slated for a late-January opening, Velveteen Rabbit (VelveteenRabbitLasVegas.blogspot. com) is transforming a forlorn former furniture showroom scarred by fire into the sisters’ whimsical bar and lounge filled with antique and found items, local art and music and, above all, genuine character. As co-owners, Pamela, 28, and Christina, 25, have spent the better part of two years combing thrift stores for the pieces that will adorn the 1,800-square-foot space, including the mismatched glassware with which they’ll serve affordably priced original and classic cocktails using seasonal produce, as well as craft beer and punch from a chalkboard menu. Although Las Vegas has been home base, their respective post-collegiate travels through Tokyo, India, Nepal and Thailand contribute to the bar’s eclectic, bohemian vibe, which includes a wood plank edifice, a secluded back patio, and chandeliers comprised of repurposed glass bottles and jars hung from wood beams. Such a concept could easily have slipped into the burgeoning Fremont East entertainment district, but it was the sisters’ personal choice to support the Arts District that led them to this space just south of First Friday staple Casa Don Juan in the hopes of encouraging a walkable neighborhood. “Main Street itself doesn’t already have what we’re trying to contribute,” Christina says. “We’re setting a precedent.” Flexibility and perseverance have perhaps been this bar’s most important ingredients. Taking advantage of city grants and incentives, such as the urbanlounge license, did require compromise; four gaming machines will live at one end of the bar. But then Velveteen Rabbit also has something those Victorians didn’t worry much about: While some of the fire damage will be incorporated as a natural artistic feature, one more upside of the space is that it comes with a parking lot. “You just have to be focused on what you want,” Pamela says. “And know that it’s going to happen,” answers Christina, completing the sentiment. – Xania Woodman

Photo by Eric Ita

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Sisters to bring the Velveteen Rabbit to life downtown


If you’re looking to take your home-bartending prowess from shaky to stirring, hit the books—these books, as prescribed by world-renowned mixologist, author and mentor to the bar stars Tony Abou-Ganim. – Xania Woodman

To masTer The art of cocktail preparation takes much practice and research; it cannot be accomplished in a single season, but must become a lifetime pursuit. Cocktails are more than just recipes and ingredients. There are amazing stories, anecdotes and history surrounding them and those who first mixed them. If you work your way through these books and sample some of the libations contained within the pages you will be well on your way to becoming proficient at the knack of mixing drinks! 1. Market Fresh Mixology, by Bridget Albert. Bridget takes classic recipes and infuses them with fresh, seasonal twists that never arm wrestle with Mother Nature. 2. The Essential Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff. Every bartender has or should have Dale’s wonderful first book, The Craft of the Cocktail. With Essential he gives us a glimpse into the world of classic cocktails while also featuring many of his original creations. 3. Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined, by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric. Jason and Dushan take us into their amazing New York saloon, and share

4. Boozehound, by Jason Wilson. Jason writes with great insight and humor and takes the reader on an entertaining trip into the world of spirits, both common but also many lesser known and appreciated. 5. Straight Up or On the Rocks, by William Grimes. This fun and insightful read is an entertaining journey from the cocktail’s early beginnings, into the Golden Age, through Prohibition and Repel and right up to the present … at least up until 1993. 6. The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire, by Linda Himelstein. A wonderfully written and amazingly researched trip from Smirnoff’s early beginning’s in Russia, to its rise to supremacy as one of Russia most prized products, to its fall and near demise to rise again to become the world’s most consumed vodka. Sure to entertain and enlighten. 7. The Martini, by Barnaby Conrad III. The martini is the quintessential cocktail, the one that all others aspire to, and to master it is a true rite of passage. More debates, mystery and lore surround the martini than perhaps any other cocktail. Barnaby delves into the subject with great knowledge and passion. You’re sure to finish with a greater appreciation for this iconic tipple. Well, if you have made your way through the first seven books and still thirst for more I selfishly hope you will read my book, The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails. Here I attempt to sum up where we began and where we have been along this bartending course, and bring to the reader many of my original recipes, which showcase my 30 years behind bars. For a bartender’s required reading list visit

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

The essential reading list from Las Vegas’ ßve-star general of mixology

with us their journey as well as the bars recipes, both classic and original.


CoCktails: Buy the Book


drinking [ Scene StirS ]

Vegas KnocKout

As served at the Double Down Saloon, $5 When musician, author and Double Down Saloon owner P Moss published his second novel in September, Vegas Knockout: A Novel in Stories, about the biggest boxing match ever to come to Las Vegas, he commissioned a shot be created in its honor. “He insisted that it had to be red and pack a punch,” says Double Down Saloon partner Chris Andrasfay. Sounds simple enough. “Making drinks does not have to be a complicated science,” he says. “Sometimes simple is best.” Instead, Andrasfay, who is a devoted rum aficionado and also partner in Frankie’s Tiki Room says he “strives for delicious.” His literary-inspired drink fits in well with its irreverent brethren, the world-famous Ass Juice and original Double Down Bacon Martini. More freight train than cocktail, it’s a hard-hitting blend of 151-proof Bacardi rum and Everclear, also 151 proof and guaranteed to light you up—one way or another. Kinda makes the Long Island Iced Tea look like a child’s juice box.

repeal day, rocks for your glass and books for your bar • If you pop bottles, sip tipples or take shots, then you owe a huge debt to the 21st Amendment, which ended America’s Prohibition in 1933. Celebrate your right to booze on Dec. 5 (#RepealDay) with Moët Hennessy at RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay. From 7-9 p.m. enjoy $3-$5 small plates, plus the first 30 people to show up with this week’s issue of Vegas Seven are invited to participate in a complimentary Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label toast at 9 p.m. And everyone who brings in this issue will enjoy $1 pre-Prohibition-style specialty cocktails—Stober Again and 21 > 18, featuring Glenmorangie, Grand Marnier, Hennessy and Veuve Clicquot—while they last. • While you’re there, be sure to congratulate RM’s J.R. Starkus. A pair of cocktail competitions recently heaped the accolades on the lead barman, first in the 2012 Angostura U.S. Cocktail Challenge with his cocktails, the Long Road Home and the Third Voyage, as well as first in the Noble Places 2012 National Cocktail Competition by Casa Noble Tequila with his cocktail, the Supernatural Margarita.

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

• We’re always looking for new ways to experience spirits. For those who prefer actual ice in their spirits (as opposed to the chillable Whiskey Stones or stainless-steel Tilt and Balls of Steel), the Roller Rock Glass, one of the most popular items at the man cave outfitters ($21), comes with a two-inch ice sphere mold and a glass that keeps the ball rolling.



• In celebration of Double Down Saloon’s 20th anniversary, for a limited time, patrons of “The Happiest Place on Earth” who buy Vegas Knockout ($15, CityLife Books) at the bar will receive a free Vegas Knockout shot. For more book suggestions—for yourself or as a holiday gift for the committed cocktailian—see Page 65. For more scene stirrings and shake-ups, visit VegasSeven. com/cocktail-culture.


Whether rocking out with the band or singing from atop someone’s shoulders out in the crowd, punk-rock pinup Felony Melony keeps your attention as if she holds the mortgage on it. ConCerts {PAGe 75}

Music, movies, art and comedy that takes its clothes off With the return of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, country music fans can expect an abundance of concerts to get in loads of boot-scooting boogying. From Dec. 6-15, the NFR has sanctioned more than two dozen music and comedy opportunities, which will appeal to both die-hard aficionados and the relatively uninitiated. With this in mind, here’s a cross-section of performances, from the mostanticipated to a few you may have otherwise missed, to assure the most out of your NFR musical experience.

Photo illustration by Lex Cannon; Felony Melony photo by Linda Evans

By Danny Axelrod

For the Old-to-New Schooler: Much like downtown embodies classic Vegas, many of the acts performing at the Golden Nugget Showroom represent some of the old-school county purebreds of yesteryear. The Charlie Daniels Band is living country history that should receive karaoke royalties for their hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (10 p.m. Dec. 9-10, $43-$109). Likewise, The Oak Ridge Boys, the band behind the 1981 No. 1 hit ‘Elvira,” are the perfect example of a period where country started to become something more

[ Continued on Page 70 ]

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

The music of National Finals Rodeo appeals to country fans and skeptics


Do-si-do’s (and Don’ts)

Keen on Contemporary: There are plenty of big names in town, in no small part due to the American Country Awards (Mandalay Bay Events Center, 5 p.m. Dec. 10, $40-$134.25). It’s the best place to catch the superstars of the genre in one place. Slightly more digestible bites of country big-timers include LeAnn Rimes who, after some recent tabloid controversy, will be showcasing the mea culpa single, “What Have I Done?” from her new album Spitfire, (LVH, 10 p.m. Dec. 13-15, $49-$70). Also no stranger to recent controversy in the media, you might want to check up on the legendary Randy Travis to see how he’s holding up … or standing up (Golden Nugget, 10 p.m. Dec. 13-14, $43-109). ACA co-host Trace Adkins, who does appear to be a stranger to controversy, shows how it’s done with grit, grace and gravitas (Riviera, 10 p.m. Dec. 15, $58.50-$93.25).

[ Continued froM Page 69]



Can’t-Miss Cowpokes If you only have enough time to take in just a few concerts scheduled during the NFR, here’s three must-sees guaranteed to be sawbucks well spent. •  Merle Haggard: He is on the list of all-time country royalty. To see his performance is to take part in a tutorial in both the gears and the guts of this uniquely American musical form. (Golden Nugget, Dec. 7-8, $119-$208)

than just what was played on AM radio (10 p.m. Dec. 11-12, $43-$87). And what rodeo week would be complete without two-time PBR champion Justin McBride (with Daryle Singletery) keeping things rodeo-real (The Mirage sportsbook, 10:30 p.m. Dec. 13-14, free)? Looking for newer acts downtown? The Fremont Street Experience is kicking off the NFR in town with its “Downtown Hoedown,” featuring more recent hit-makers Dustin Lynch, Jana Kramer, Uncle Kracker and Clay Walker (Fremont Street Experience, 6:45 p.m. Dec. 5, free). Going Cross-Country: The current crop of industry fresh faces presenting genre-bending musical mash-ups are on display for the country-curious. The Dixie Chicks may have left center stage in country-pop culture, but the female duo Miss Willie Brown is ready to fill the gap with impres-

sive country-rock chops and an “up for a party attitude” that has made them the darlings of the industry (The Mirage sportsbook, 10:30 p.m. Dec. 6, free). The rockin’ LoCash Cowboys get into the Gold Buckle Zone, MGM Grand’s pop-up rodeo party, with what might loosely be described as “hick-hop” (MGM Grand’s Gold Buckle Zone, 11 p.m. Dec. 7-8, free). And songwriter-turnedperformer Jamey Johnson is crushing it with moody and meaningful songwriting, placing him at the forefront of the next generation of outlaw country (Riviera, 10 p.m. Dec. 14, $42.24-$76). For Those About to Rock: Not everything cowboy has to be country, and there are a couple of standout concerts for those looking for something besides a Nashville twang. Texas blues-rock bad boys ZZ Top smoke things up (House of

Blues, 8 p.m. Dec. 5 and 7, $89.50$180) and Journey, with Loverboy opening up, is fully prepared to help you relive any “bitchin’ Camero” memories (Planet Hollywood, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, $57-$142). A Fest for the Fans: There’ll be plenty of rodeorelated attractions poppingup around town, and Cowboy Fanfest promises to be a major multifaceted draw. Located at the Las Vegas Convention Center, it will treat rodeo fans to food vendors, exhibitions and special activities such as Mutton Bustin’, Rodeo 101 clinics and interactive booths that test your wrangling skills. There will also be two live music stages showcasing emerging country acts, such as Academy of Country Music artists David Nail, Chris Janson, Chris Young, Aaron Watson and Sarah Darling, and there’ll even be a battle of the

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

shania twain ain’t horsing around



“I was having too much fun. I just wanted to ride around the whole town,” Shania Twain said when she finally climbed down from the horse she rode in on. The black beauty was one of 40 horses corralled down Las Vegas Boulevard by nine wranglers for Twain’s official arrival ceremony on Nov. 14. Police officers, also on horseback, cordoned off the city’s main drag to kick off the country singer’s two-year residency Shania: Still the One at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Show director Raj Kapoor touts it as a spectacular 4-D journey through Twain’s

life and career, promising music, fashion, visual experiences and neverbefore-seen surprises. Could one of those surprises be an equine appearance? The 47-year-old five-time Grammy winner grew up dirt poor in northern Ontario (where she developed a love of horses), was orphaned young, then sang her way to

bands (1:30 p.m. Dec. 6-15, free, The Rodeo Clowns: Music isn’t the only cultural contribution coming to town during NFR. Blue-Collar Comedy vets Bill Engvall and Ron White know how to put some giggle in your giddyup. Engvall’s everyman persona is best known for family-friendly observational humor, like his classic “Here’s Your Sign” bit. Scotch-soaked and cigar in hand, White hurls more stinging jabs at workingclass life. (Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, 9 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14, $48.35-$77. Ron White, The Mirage, 10 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 14-15, $60-$80).

becoming country’s best-selling female artist of all time. Once Twain’s career skyrocketed—she’s sold 75 million records—she bought several horses of her own, finding solace in their stables when the pressures of the music industry and fame became overwhelming. But just when she was on top of the world, her personal life came crashing down when her husband of 14 years, music producer Mutt Lang, had an affair with her best friend. To cope and heal, Twain put it all down in her 2011 memoir From This Moment On, an intimate look at the superstar’s life. Then she set out on a docu-series tour of healing, on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Why Not? With Shania Twain, wherein she revisited her childhood home and the death of her parents; met with grief counselors

•  Lee Brice: He has penned songs for country greats from Cowboy Crush to Garth Brooks, coming into his own as a performer since his debut album in 2010. The consensus in Music City is that he is just the kind of boisterous-yet-serious good ol’ boy to take over the Brooks mantle (MGM Grand’s Gold Buckle Zone, 11 p.m. Dec. 15, free). •  Soul2Soul with Tim McGraw & Faith Hill: Although country’s ultimate power couple have toured together in the past, the intimate (and scaleddown) setting at the Venetian casts the married duo in a light fans have never seen them in before: up-close and personal. And unlike their standard road show, get ready to hear them cover some of their personal favorites, including (gasp!) rock. (the Venetian, Dec. 7-8, 14-15, $183-$302.50).

and vocal coaches; and found the courage to sing again. So, you’ve got to believe Twain when she says of her Vegas production, “It’s a very personalized show.” Twain’s opening night at Caesars marks her first live performance since her personal drama. “After many years of not seeing each other on the live stage,” she said to her fans looking on from the sidewalk on the Strip, “I look forward to the reunion.” Can the Colosseum’s stage bear the weight of numerous horses? Since Twain said during her arrival ceremony that riding was her favorite thing to do, we’re hoping the answer is yes. – Chantal Corcoran Shania Twain in Shania: Still The One at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, opens 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-15 and March 19-April 10 (Dec. 1 is sold out), $55-$250, 731-7208,

Twain photo by Erik Kabik

Fresh faces of the Cowboy Fanfest: Chris Young, Aaron Watson and Sarah Darling.



SoUl-Ska, CoUntryrap, SteaMrollerS

Bayou Spice

Cavan Carruth (second from right) and the Lost Bayou Ramblers.

Lost Bayou Ramblers rev up authentic Cajun music with rock ’n’ roll seasoning

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

By Jarret Keene



If yoU Saw this year’s Cannes- and Sundance-winning indie-fantasy film Beasts of Southern Wild, about a bayou girl struggling to escape a storm and heal her sick father, you remember its gritty, transcendent soundtrack. But you may not know the Lost Bayou Ramblers. The Grammy-nominated band contributed to the score with a Cajun-rock approach that fused zydeco and Led Zeppelin. They also happen to be playing Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel on Dec. 2. Growing up in Cajun country— specifically Pilette, a small Louisiana town six miles south of Lafayette—you learn to appreciate the only two crucial things in life: food and music. Brothers Louis (fiddle) and Andre (accordion) Michot were steeped in the latter. Their father was a touring musician, and when the brothers tired of shredding on guitar and bass during their head-banging teens, they picked up the instruments they play now. The ones that define Cajun swing. So the Michots formed the Ramblers in 1999. Along the way, they recruited Acadian talents Pauly Deathwish (drums) and Cavan Carruth (guitar). Despite playing electric six-string, Carruth says he doesn’t push the Ramblers in a rock direction. “Our more traditional songs come from listening to those original re-

cordings by Joe Falcon and Cléoma Breaux,” he says, during a recent phone chat. “Those early records were rock ’n’ roll in their own way. If anything, we try to imagine that and play the style of music the way it might sound today.” As much respect as the Ramblers give Cajun music, they know how to infuse a darker, blues-based, even psychedelic element. On their original tune “Blues de Bernadette,” what initially begins as a goodtime drinkin’ song sung in Creole French gradually reveals a core of melancholy and pain, its Velvet Underground influences surging with every kick-drum stomp and droning fiddle-lick. “Carolina Blues,” meanwhile, is an aggressive, pounding threechord jam that would make the Ramones proud. “We just like things hard,” Carruth says. “It’s not about volume so much as it is about emotion. A song has to feel real to us in order to convince whoever’s listening that our music is important. That it means something and can change them.” Carruth admits that the Ramblers’ involvement in Beasts of Southern Wild was random. The film’s producers knew the Michons and wanted authentic Cajun music. The band knew little about the project,

even after they recorded three hours of music, quick and dirty and with only a few microphones, in a bayou shack last year. Carruth says that director/ composer Benh Zeitlin and his sound engineer Dan Romer had a specific vision. “Honestly, we were shocked at how seamlessly and impressively they were able to build us into the score. The success they’ve enjoyed with the movie is well-deserved.” Speaking of film, the Ramblers built in the sultry vocals of actress Scarlett Johansson into their sixth full-length album, Mammoth Waltz, which came out in April. Johansson sings on “Coteau Guidry,” which she recorded apart from the musicians in an L.A. studio. (The band and the actress share a producer, who made the long-distance collaboration possible.) With Hollywood in their rearview, the Ramblers look forward to Vegas, which they consider a sister city to New Orleans, not an evil twin. “Vegas certainly has parallels to the New Orleans lifestyle and sense of excess,” Carruth says. “So we’re expecting to have a really good time.” Lost Bayou Ramblers play Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 2, free.

In search of the next band to add to its roster, SquidHat Records is holding an open call for submissions on its Facebook page. The Las Vegas music label invites local bands to post their music, along with a note explaining why they should be signed. Deadline is Jan. 1, and the six bands selected will play a two-night showcase (Jan. 25-26) at Double Down Saloon. The show will be headlined by one of SquidHat’s two flagship acts, the Gashers or the Dirty Panties. Another sign SquidHat’s on the rise: The Panties are slated to play MMA Xtreme at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel at 7 p.m. Dec. 1. The all-girl punk act will be playing walkout music and micro-sets between rounds of the main bout. Check out for more info. L.A. soul-mod-ska revival ensemble the Untouchables touch down at Las Vegas Country Saloon at 10 p.m. Nov. 30. Before Sublime and No Doubt, there was this (now-six-piece) band, which formed in 1981 and recorded a handful of classic albums for Stiff Records in the U.K. Their best is probably Wild Child (’85), featuring the catchy, horn-punching R&B stomper “I Spy (For the FBI).” These guys play pure party music with passionate, retro-raucous zeal. California outlaw-country hip-hoppers Moonshine Bandits bring their white-lightning raps and white-trash chicken-picking to Cheyenne Saloon at 9 p.m. Dec. 1. I don’t want to like the Bandits, but the way they blend Vanilla Ice, Larry the Cable Guy and Merle Haggard is—like a NASCAR machine slamming into N.W.A.—difficult to avoid looking at or hearing. Songs such as “Whiskey River” promote inebriation while also paying homage to classic country stars such as Johnny Cash. Fans of artists as varied as Beck, Kid Rock and Beastie Boys will down this, no prob. Time to bust out your holiday sweater in honor of your mom’s favorite New Age-influenced Christmas-classical ensemble Mannheim Steamroller. The long-running group continues to smooth-over eardrums with its residency at the Palazzo. The 12-piece ensemble’s show involves acrobats, trapeze artists and 3-D projections, which I’m curious to see. The ’Roller just released a new disc, Winter in Venice, which you can only get at Palazzo. Shows are 7 p.m. daily through Dec. 30, with 9:30 p.m. shows Dec. 25, 27 and 29 ($64-$124, 414-9000). Two ass-chapping shows slated for Dec. 6: Synth-rocker Michael Angelakos, who makes music under the name Passion Pit, dives into The Joint at 7 p.m. with the Shins. I called the Pit’s disc Gossamer 2012’s best electropop album (in Vegas Seven’s Aug. 9 issue) and I stand by that statement. Heavy-rock trio Kyng, meanwhile, opens for Megadeth at House of Blues at 7:30 p.m. Kyng’s song “Falling Down,” off last year’s Trampled Sun album, is fueled by a ferocious riff. My favorite Christmas rock song is The Walkmen’s “Christmas Party.” What’s yours? E-mail


cD reVieWs By Deanna Rilling ElEctronica

Junkie XL, Synthesized (Nettwerk) Not all electronic music has to be about the four-to-the-floor big room club tracks as Junkie XL proves once again. Continuing his masterful almost-one-man-band live instrumentation with a rock edge, his sixth studio album is punctuated by danceability while still retaining a unique flavor. There are also collaborations with Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith on “Not Enough”; “Love Machine” with Tommie Sunshine; and even rare excerpts of spoken word from Timothy Leary. Synthesized is a journey in pushing the boundaries. It’ll appeal to fans with an appreciation for intelligent electronic music. ★★★✩✩ Drum anD Bass

What We’re Buying

Photek, KU:PALM

1. Led Zeppelin, Celebration Day

Are you tired of the same EDM sounds prevailing in the scene? Try Photek’s first full-length album of new material in more than a decade. With a subtle sexiness from the opening “Signals,” the veteran of the intelligent drum-and-bass scene then dips into everything—including a bit of breaks, some dark techno/tech house and some dreamlike piano moments. Standouts include the groovy down-tempo “Pyramid” and melodic dark dubstep on “Sleepwalking.” On the concluding track Photek teams up with Ray LaMontagne on “This Love” for a surprisingly unusual, yet fantastic, collaboration. ★★★★✩

3. Rihanna, Unapologetic 4. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city 5. Soundgarden, King Animal 6. Lana Del Rey, Paradise 7. Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu 8. Kid Rock, Rebel Soul 9. Gaslight Anthem, Hold You Up 10. Weeknd, Trilogy

KhoMha, Coldharbour Presents: KhoMha (Armada/Coldharbour Recordings)

Full-length original artist albums are becoming rare in the electronicdance-music world thanks to the shift to individual track releases. The compilation from Colombian producer—and DJ Times’ America’s Best DJ Markus Schulz protégé—KhoMha features multiple offerings from other artists throughout the mix. Even better, five of his original tracks are also highlighted amid a knack for creating a successful sonic listening experience from start to finish. Beginning with the beautiful darkness of his production “The Origin,” his trance-tastic club hit “The Dark Knight” and “Vapor” also appear on this album perfect for hyping you up with musical caffeine during an openhighway road trip to the next festival. ★★★✩✩

uPcOming reLeases


DEc. 7: Amsterdam-based duo 16 Bit lolitas gear up for a techy two-CD artist album Warung Brazil 2012. DEc. 11: The Green Day album trilogy will finally be complete with the release of ¡Tre! on this date. FEB. 5: If the moody indie rock of 2012 wasn’t quite doing it for ya, the Eels are back again when Wonderful, Glorious drops.


According to sales at Zia Record Exchange on 4503 W. Sahara Ave., Nov. 19-25.


Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

2. Deftones, Koi No Yokan

(Photek Productions)

Upcoming albums on Deanna’s radar …

concerts a&e

The Vermin with Felony Melony



Double Down saloon 20th anniversary party with the vermin et al.

Double Down Saloon, Nov. 24 “Twenty motherfucking years, and we’re still here!” announced the Vermin’s guitarist Dirk Vermin from the tiny corner stage—the same corner where scores of punk and garage bands, from the Demolition Doll Rods to Man Or Astroman?, have played without a cover charge since November 1992. And this being a Double Down show,

The Objex

someone—I think it was drummer Gerry “Turbo” Proctor—immediately dismissed the milestone: “Yeah? Check back next week.” Granted, a few things happened during the Double Down Saloon’s three-day 20th anniversary celebration that don’t happen just every week. One was a visit from the Heiz (pronounced “the Haze,” or as I prefer to think of them, “the Heys”), the terrifically fun garage band from Japan that I would see at DD every goddamn week if it were an option. From their opening salvo—a careening take on Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”— the Heiz pretty much earned my lifetime devotion, even if—as the Vermin’s bassist Rob Ruckus pointed out—the band members are atheists because “they don’t

believe in Godzilla.” The other four bands on the bill also delivered a mean monster stomp. I’m happy to have finally seen The Objex, a loud and aggressive outfit whose sexy, mohawked singer, punk rock pinup Felony Melony, is one of the most engaging ever to front a Las Vegas band. Whether rocking out with the band or singing from atop someone’s shoulders out in the crowd, Melony keeps your attention as if she holds the mortgage on it. I saw Boss Martians a while back on the band’s home turf in Seattle, and I’m happy to say that they were just as I remembered them: Men in nice clothes making the dirtiest garage noise you ever heard. If you haven’t got their “Hey Hey

Yeah Yeah” in your collection, go to wherever you buy music and get this fucking killer anthem, because you can’t live without it. Ditto for everything by the Bloodcocks UK, the band that includes Double Down’s P Moss among its members. They didn’t play the anniversary show because the Las Vegas band refuses to play gigs in this country. (They just toured England, fittingly enough.) Officially sanctioned cover Bloodcocks R Us did a great job evoking the Bloodcocks UK experience—though I did miss Annie, the blow-up sex doll that appears at all the real Bloodcocks shows and is soon starting up her own book club. All that being said, the Vermin’s set was the true heart of the evening. Dirk Vermin said that

they were the first band ever to play the Double Down, and even though bassist Ruckus had been in a car accident two days before (“I got run over by a limo, again”), they ripped through their set like hungry-first timers, only slowing down to talk smack to the audience, to the other bands (“Your set sounded just as good as the last time I missed it,” said Vermin to the Objex), and to invite Moss onstage to congratulate him. It was at that moment that these crusty old punks tipped their hand. They could just as easily have busted Moss’ balls, as they have at many past Double Down shows. Instead, Ruckus gave Moss a friendly, look-how-far-we’ve-been hug. And Moss fucking deserved it. ★★★★✩ – Geoff Carter

Double Down photography by Linda Evans

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Bloodcocks R Us

TOO BIG TO FAIL: Lemme put on my slick announcer voice: Here’s what the critics are saying about Banks, the new solo record by Interpol’s Paul Banks, who plays the Courtyard Stage at the House of Blues on Nov. 29 for the unbelievable low price of $19! Let’s just have a look at the reviews … Pitchfork’s Steven Hyden says, “The main problem with Banks isn’t the muddled words, it’s the uninvolving music.” Well, that’s expected; Pitchfork hates even itself. Andy Gill of The Independent writes that Banks is “stuffed with aloof, adolescent apocalyptism and self-regard set to lumpy, mechanistic beats.” Oh. Filter’s Mike Hilleary seems to like the record … I think (“Banks’ phantasms manage to construct a decent corporeal form”), and I hear that Entertainment Weekly gave it a nice review. And even if critical opinion of Banks is trending downward (Metacritic’s averaged critical score is 63/100), at least Banks has all that good Interpol shit to fall back on. And if he doesn’t perform any Interpol songs … Well, the show only costs $19.


Rush photo by Wayne Posner

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Nov. 23 At a time when it’s in vogue for veteran rockers to revisit past glories and play their most popular albums in their entirety, Rush continues to cut against the grain. Oh sure, the Canadian trio has done the flashback bit before, playing all of 1981’s Moving Pictures on its last tour. But this time around, Rush delivered generous portions of both old and new material. With the show broken into two sets plus an encore, Rush delved deeply into its back catalog in the first half, with singer Geddy Lee playing both bass and synthesizer on rarities “Grand Designs” and “Territories” from 1985’s Power Windows. Alex Lifeson demonstrated why CBC Radio recently named him

Canada’s greatest guitarist ever with a fiery solo on “The Analog Kid,” while drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart was as precise as ever, performing the first of two solos on his rotating kit during the instrumental “Where’s My Thing?” Following an intermission, Rush played nine songs off its newest album, Clockwork Angels, something no other band could pull off nearly 40 years into its career—even if it had the balls to attempt it in the first place. An eightpiece string section joined the band for the second set, enhancing hard-rocking tunes such as “Caravan,” “Headlong Flight” and “Seven Cities of Gold,” and providing added texture to the softer “Halo Effect” and “The Garden.” Vibrant steampunk-themed backdrops provided visual enhancement to the songs, while flames and pyrotechnics completed the arena-rock experience.

Peart’s masterful second solo would have fit in at Electric Daisy Carnival with the drums emitting harmonious beeps and blips. The band then shifted into classic-rock overdrive, concluding the set with longtime hits “YYZ” and “The Spirit of Radio” before returning for an encore of “Tom Sawyer” and the beginning and closing portions of the epic “2112.” Performing before a nearly packed arena, which included older fans wearing vintage tour T-shirts, teens getting their first glimpse of the band and even entire families attending together, Rush continues to be, in the words of Lee, the world’s biggest cult band. And even approaching the trio’s fourth decade together, that cult appears to still be gaining followers— and deservedly so. ★★★★★ – Sean DeFrank

SHARP: I was going to click my tongue disapprovingly over the high cost of tickets for ZZ Top’s Dec. 5 and Dec. 7 shows at the House of Blues; they range from $89.50 to $180, and don’t even include a free mustache ride. Then I remembered “La Grange,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Tube Snake Boogie,” “Tush,” “Legs” … and then I did some research on them and discovered that they’ve been together 43 years with no lineup changes. That’s not only worth $194; that deserves a damn parade of those chopped Ford coupes and a national holiday during which every American male has to leave his razor untouched. NOW ON SALE: The Psychedelic Furs (pictured) play the Hard Rock Café on the Strip on Jan. 1 ($13), with The Fixx opening the show. This is a very weird double bill: Back in the day, the defiantly postpunk Furs wouldn’t have been caught dead with The Fixx, who are as synthpop as they come. I guess advanced age makes collaborators of us all.



“This Is Not Too Much for Me to Handle” by Heather Younger, 2-by-3 inches, digital photo.

Cowgirl in the Sand

Heather Younger gets gritty with her new Donna Beam show

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

By Jarret Keene



ArkAnsAs blonde Heather Younger shows up for an interview wearing cowboy boots and a Western black-felt hat. Clearly the 26-year-old artist isn’t an uptight, Caravaggioworshipping academic. She’s an ex-military brat who studied photography at Louisiana Tech before arriving at UNLV with an idea that a 24-hour town would make her a productive, serious MFA student and art instructor. It did. Initially lured by the spectacle, she quickly grew disillusioned. The Strip pushed her into the desert, where she began engaging natural resources—Mojave rocks, salt pans, water trails, animal bones. She strove to reconnect with her instinctive side, to strip away the civilized veneer many of us depend on to keep

from going insane. Younger’s struggle is chronicled in a new solo exhibit, This Is Not Too Much For Me To Handle, at UNLV’s Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery. It’s the first show at the gallery since it suffered flood damage in September. The exhibit is at once unmethodical and cohesive, comprising photography, sculpture, video and drawings. Examining the whole, you sense Younger’s efforts to tap her most human instincts in a place that clings to facades and denies time. Examining pieces individually, you notice specific meditations. In one 20-minute looped video, Younger’s ungloved hands rub steel

wool against a stone, washing it clean. It seems mundane until you absorb its symbolism: What else does man do but work to wipe away imperfections from nature? The rockscrubbing visual grates and complicates a viewer’s simple notion of a pure wilderness. Is it something to be transformed or preserved, inhabited or sealed off? The rock came from the Jean Dry Lake Bed, 20 miles south of Vegas, just east of Jean. Younger used to visit the site regularly and gradually saw the space as a rejection of everything that is the regulated wildness of Sin City. “It’s so free,” she says of the lake bed. “You can drive as fast as you want, yell and shoot

Younger, who has previously shown her work in the new City Hall, Off the Strip and in downtown galleries Blackbird and Multiplexer. If Nevada nature symbolizes uneasy momentum (rockwashing, truck-jumping) in her work, civilization means restless stasis, lively rigor mortis. One installation involves a twin mattress Younger sprayed with Epsom salts, which stiffened its surface into a cadaverous dream platform. Frozen, the object exudes a tense aura. “I wanted to say something about time, rest and work,” she says. “In dreams, emotions are overwhelming. We release ourselves to address mysteries. We have autonomous experiences that speak to our anxieties. At their best, my dreams revert to guns, and you don’t see anyone the abstract ideas I can’t reach else around for miles.” in my everyday.” There was no audience when After her show and upon Younger, in the process of graduating in December, making videos and perhaps Younger will head to northcarried away by the lake bed’s west Arkansas, where the arts liberating atmosphere, leapt community is booming thanks from the driver’s side of her to the new Crystal Bridges Mumoving Ford Ranger, runseum of American Art. ning herself over. “My surround(Darn boots tripped ings affect my HeAtHer Younger’s her!) Contused work,” she says. tHis is not too MucH but unbroken, she “Part of me gets For Me to HAndle called her mom in cagey in a bigHarrison, Ark., who ger city. But I’ll Nov. 30-Dec. 15, suggested an oldalways be drawn opening reception, time remedy: Soak a to the desert. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30, paper bag in vinegar The sublime Donna Beam Fine and apply it to the feeling it gives is Art Gallery on the bruises. It worked, incomparable. UNLV campus, proving the artist a The harsh desert 4505 S. Maryland tough Ozark belle. demands a psyParkway, 895-3893, “I realized then chological space DonnaBeamGallery. that I couldn’t push in which an things much furist can function ther,” says a laughing honestly.”

Martin Lawrence PoPs UP Fine-art retailer Martin Lawrence Gallery, in the Forum Shops at Caesars, is hopping across the Strip for a limited engagement at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. The 5,000-square-foot pop-up gallery will be open through January, helping art lovers get their Christmas and, heck why not, New Year’s shopping done. Must-sees include Picasso’s “Dancers with an Owl” (pictured), Warhol’s “Muhammad Ali” and pieces by the playful contemporary painter Robert Deyber. Back at the Forum Shops, the gallery has begun offering free, guided tours of its extensive art collection. While this makes for a cute gift/date opportunity (depending on your budget), we suggest taking the tour solo in advance and then returning later to impress your sweetie with your oh-so-worldly art knowledge. – Danny Axelrod


Kopatich (left) is referee and rabble-rouser.

Frat-LeVeL strip Comedy aims For the zipper

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Overheard entering Fantasy, Luxor’s topless girl-a-whirl, from a guy examining a portrait of a lithe, lovely, top-loaded lass: “Think she’s had a nose job?” Dude, this is Vegas. Unless you’re a nasologist in town for a rhinoplasty seminar, the more interesting show’s farther south—and so, in all likelihood, was the cosmetic alteration. Got an idea for an improv show? Improvise an e-mail and send it to

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

When kept simple, it works on its own leering terms, as when players must finish the sentence, “I like my men/ women the way I like my yogurt.” One guy’s answer: “Pink inside.” One woman’s answer: “Licking the top.” Adolescent, but amusing. Unfortunately, it becomes an untenable mess when setups grow dense and stupid. On this night, it was a player having to guess a sex act in which a penis is a Super Mario Bros. video game and a vagina is a black hole filled with cucumbers. (Huh?). Or a charade-type challenge where when one player squints, another has to scratch his balls, curse like a Tourette’s sufferer, act robotic, slap himself and simulate self-pleasuring. (Double-huh?) Another bit in which one of the about-to-be-stripped ladies becomes a prop—of course, she was bent over into a sex-ready pose—and used as a seesaw and a surfboard with the innuendo of being ridden went beyond unfunny into uncomfortable.   Sex is funny when wit connects the crotch to the brain. Presumably, Strip Comedy is funnier the drunker you are, when simply the idea of fucking is the height of hilarity. Sober, that equals the comic sophistication of a teenage boy. Have a snort. … Have five.


Let’s judge Vegas shows by a boozeo-meter, on a scale of zero to five snorts: Zero is a show you can appreciate with nothing stronger than a Diet Coke. Five is a show that demands Wild Turkey. Strip Comedy at the Palms is a five. Therefore, this review carries a caveat: This reviewer was sober. Presented by comic hypnotist Anthony Cools (who doesn’t appear), Strip Comedy is an adult (i.e., sex-crazed) show working off a competitive premise with a T&A prize: Two teams of boisterous, twenty-something comics—two guys and a gal on each—square off in improvisational games, the winners determined by audience applause. With every victory, a hot babe assigned to each team—already clad in just enough to make a dinner napkin—sheds a shred of clothing until, we’re told, one will wear nothing, meaning topless. (Eventually, they both strip to pasties.) Amiable host/creator Nicolas “Kopy” Kopatich solicits audience suggestions for shtick and referees the contest. Occasionally they engage the crowd in filthy banter when not improvising about spanking, penis exposure, masturbation, sodomy and screwing. In fairness, we’re informed up front this show will be D-I-R-T-Y, and some bits aren’t completely based between the legs. Yet Kopatich, an improv comic whose first Vegas shows were staged at UNLV dorms, doesn’t advance past the frat-house mentality with Strip Comedy. Frat parties, you’ll recall, were more of a blast the more you got blitzed, and so it would be with this show, where booze-fueled woo-hoo-ing can cover for a scarcity of clever comedy. Adult-oriented improv? Cool—assuming the bits follow their own comic logic, but Strip Comedy collapses into a cacophony of naughty noise.



the visually impressive life of pi Digital eÞects may steal the show, but you won’t mind the theã By Michael Phillips

Tribune Media Services

Life of Pi, Yann Martel’s little book about a young man and the sea and a tiger, has transformed into a big, imposing and often lovely 3-D experience. If the results are less about poetry and wonder than the digital and cinematic engineering designed to evoke those things, with this story—so very unlikely to succeed in any other medium— “good” is achievement enough. The guiding hand belongs to Ang Lee, a director with catlike patience and a restrained sort of showmanship. Already much attention has been paid to the computer-generated Bengal tiger and its lifelike yet dimensionally expressive qualities. The cat, a deadly beauty, goes by the name Richard Parker, formerly a resident of the Pondicherry, India, zoo where young Piscine Militor Patel, selfnicknamed Pi, has grown up among all sorts of animals. At age 17, the spiritually inclined Pi sets sail with his family on a Japanese freighter across the Pacific for Canada, accom-

panying a slew of zoo creatures being sold to North American zoos. Terrible weather. The cargo ship sinks. Everybody dies except Pi and the fearsome Richard Parker, along with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a few bugs. The young man clings to life in his uneasily shared 26-foot lifeboat. The adventures and astonishments keep on coming. For a while the story suggests a tightly confined interspecies version of And Then There Were None. Working from a script shrewdly adapted (though toned down in its protagonist’s religious quests) by David Magee, Lee proceeds through Martel’s tall tale with an eye toward making the worst of what happens (beast-on-beast violence and snacking, and more) a matter of suggestion or elision. At the same time, Lee makes effective “gotcha!” use of the 3-D format, saving the gotchas for two or three key alarming points in the story. Some of the sights are splendidly realized, notably a

Survival tale: Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) is castaway with a Bengal tiger.

flying-fish sequence that spells lifesaving sustenance, as well as an accomplished use of digital effects. The ocean at night, in the blinding midday sun, a windless, glassy mirror one minute, a hellacious stormy nightmare the next: Working with his cinematographer, Claudio Miranda, Lee creates a visual palette disinterested in documentary realism. This film is after slightly overbright and unrealistic vibrancy, in addition to the biggest whale you’ve ever seen, and a mysterious island to rival anything in Mysterious Island. I admire the film a great deal,

which isn’t the same as falling for it hook, line and sinker. The young actor playing the teenage Pi, Suraj Sharma, is fine, but his performance was lost in the waves of the film’s more formidable selling points. It would’ve been nearly impossible (and certainly dangerous) to film Life of Pi without digital trickery. In order to figure out why I only liked the film, I went back to one of my favorite human/ animal adventure films, Carroll Ballard’s The Black Stallion. And there I was, lost all over again, in the island sequences between Kelly Reno and the

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

short reviews



Red Dawn (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩

In the not-too-distant future, North Korea has invaded American soil. Our only hope is a gaggle of high school kids who form a guerilla army calling itself the Wolverines, after the local football mascot. Chris Hemsworth takes on the old Patrick Swayze role, and there’s enough to like about him and the general reworkings of the 1984 cult-classic. There’s plenty of righteous kills, explosions, patriotic speeches and righteous kills. It’s not a disaster. Just drab.

Rise of the Guardians (PG) ★✩✩✩✩

This, unfortunately, is the worst animated movie to ever wear the DreamWorks logo. Based on a children’s book series, it’s about a team that includes Bunny (Easter variety, voiced by Hugh Jackman), North (a.k.a. Santa, Alec Baldwin), Tooth (Fairy, Isla Fisher) and the silent Sandman. They need the help of newcomer Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to defeat Pitch, short for Pitch Black, the night-terror voiced by Jude Law threatening to rid the children of the world of the belief in magical figures. It’s harmless enough, but not good.

Anna Karenina (R) ★★★✩✩

This heavily theatrical take on the old Russian classic is only a half-success. Directed by Joe Wright, it’s mostly staged inside a lavishly constructed playhouse, except when it’s not. And we watch the drama unfold between Anna (Keira Knightley), her pill of a husband (Jude Law) and her cavalry officer lover (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Its well-written script leaps between high comedy and piercing drama, and the film has its moments, but it’s a bit too frantic at times.

horse. Nothing in Life of Pi is dull, or sloppy, but the story’s breathing room—despite all that vastness and all that time on the water—is scarce indeed. Lee brings craftsmanship and dramatic clarity to Life of Pi, along with a near-constant deployment of 21st-century digital wow! This is why the film works, and why audiences, I suspect, will devour it, much as a starving hyena tears into an unfortunate zebra, to name one grisly yet discreet depiction in Life of Pi. Life of Pi (PG) ★★★✩✩

[  by tribune media services ]

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (PG-13) ★✩✩✩✩

Please let this be the last. The final installment of the Twilight franchise, hopefully, is strictly for the fans. Newly vampired Bella (Kristen Stewart) is adjusting to her new powers, new life, new child and the uneasy truce with the werewolves led by Jacob (Taylor Lautner). There’s some Edward (Robert Pattinson) of course, and a bright-spot turn by Michael Sheen as Aro, head of the undead Volturi, but largely this comes off as a particularly smug fashion shoot.


Lincoln (PG-13) ★★★★✩

Skyfall (PG-13) ★★★★✩

Flight (R) ★★★★✩

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) ★★★✩✩

Cloud Atlas (R) ★★✩✩✩

Chasing Mavericks (PG) ★★★✩✩

This adaptation of David Mitchell’s spinning top of a novel exists to vex, intrigue and discombobulate audiences. Six storylines spanning several centuries, from an 1849 Pacific Ocean voyage to the year 2321, provide the narrative webbing. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving and others play many roles apiece. Some of the stories work, but others fall flat. It’s a fascinating look at some very large themes, but it’s a bewildering effort that doesn’t really work.

The latest from Disney Animation is an exploration of a video-game fantasy, i.e., what happens to our favorite game characters when we’re not playing them? Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is weary of his prescribed lot in life: He’s not a bad guy, so why does he have to play one in the game Fix-It Felix Jr.? Ralph goes on the run, teaming up with Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) to traverse the video-game world and grapple with the modern-era game soldiers led by Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch). It’s fun, but hectic.

This film is about surfing the legendary and mysterious secret break the Mavericks, off the coast of Northern California, and teenage Jay Moriarty who became famous there. Jay (Jonny Weston) gets the surfing bug from his next-door neighbor, Frosty (Gerard Butler). Jay lionizes Frosty and stows away when Frosty sneaks off to Mavericks, of which only a quartet of veteran surfers are aware. Frosty mentors the kid, training him to survive and ride the break. It’s an entertaining story with awe-inspiring surf footage.

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a pilot who, after a night of drinking and snorting cocaine, crash lands a routine flight to Atlanta, rescuing most of his passengers and crew. An instant hero, Whitaker knows that other people know what was in his system, and the dynamic dance plays out from there. It’s sophisticated storytelling, with the audience unsure of how to feel about such a conflicted protagonist, but Washington is marvelous, as usual, and it’s a highly entertaining flight.

Bond is back for his 23rd installment, and this is more like it. Daniel Craig returns as 007, charged with rescuing the world from a computer savvy adversary, perhaps the most memorable Bond villain in a decade, played by Javier Bardem. Sam Mendes directs stunning action sequences, and the return of Dame Judi Dench and various other recastings works well this time around. While Quantum of Solace largely failed, this installment returns Bond to its rightful, highly entertaining place, while also exploring some new territory.


Steven Spielberg returns with this impressive biopic about our 16th president, complete in almost every way. Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, the film focuses tightly on the final four months of Lincoln’s life and his political maneuvering in support of the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery. It’s a fascinating backroom movie, hushed and intimate. Daniel Day-Lewis is magnificently human as Lincoln, and the supporting cast almost as impressive. It is a fascinating and careful examination of an incredible figure and time.


Bring your number from T-Mobile, Sprint or AT&T and….





and get the second for

FREE after Mail-in rebate







*Must be iPhone 3 or newer

($50 OFF)

877.761.9777 Premium Wireless Retailer

MARKETPLACE Meatball Sliders ls Meatbal nots Garlic K Aaaaahh!! 5 Consecutive Zagats Best Pizza Awards & Best Pizza R-J Readers Poll America’s Neighborhood Pizzeria 10% off bill excluding alcohol

*Good only at Tropicana location

1395 East Tropicana Ave. 4001 South Decatur Blvd. 1420 W. Horizon Ridge 4178 Koval Lane

702-736-1955 702-362-7896 702-458-4769 702-312-5888

(Inside Ellis Island Casino)

4111 Boulder Highway


(Inside Boulder Station Casino) Also visit us at:

New Meatball sliders, topped with melted provolone served on soft, fresh baked garlic knots


Come party like it’s 1933. Betting

PARTY 12.5.12

We’re throwing a celebration of historic proportions, and we want you to be there.

booze. live jazz. contests. and more. hosTed bY: “big Cheese” foRmeR mAYoR osCAR goodmAn

Admission $19.33 • 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Come in your swankiest 1920’s/30’s outfit for a ChanCe to win fabulous prizes Tickets available by calling the box office at 702-229-2734 or online at

Official after party at

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

downtown Las Vegas | | 702.229.2734



tHe Best way to eXtenD a winning streak? FaDe tHe sHort-circuiting cHargers iF you’ve watcHeD a USC football game $220 on Bengals -1½ at Chargers: in the last three years, you’ve seen Yes, I’m killing it in college football Lane Kiffin pacing the sideline while this year. Yes, it seems like I haven’t clutching a colorful double-sided delivered a profitable NFL week since laminated sheet. The presumption September … of 2010. And yet I cannot is it’s a play chart, not the breakfast help but use Cincinnati as my top play. menu from Denny’s. But after watchHere’s why: The Bengals are on a threeing Kiffin’s masterful play-calling late game straight-up and ATS winning in the fourth quarter of last week’s streak (prevailing by the combined USC-Notre Dame showdown, we need score of 93-29); they’ve won three of to second-guess that presumption. their last four road games (by seven, To rewind: A 53-yard pass play and 17 and 22 points); and the Chargers consecutive pass-interference penal- have lost three in a row, six of seven ties on Notre Dame gave the Trojans a and haven’t defeated an opponent first down at the Irish 1-yard line with not named the Chiefs since Week 2. about four minutes to go. During the 1-6 slide, San Diego The score at the time: lost 7-6 to the Browns (after Notre Dame 22, USC having two weeks 13. The significance to prepare!), and for me: Notre blew second-half Dame minus-6 was leads to the Saints, last week’s top play. Broncos, Buccaneers I should’ve started and Ravens (with bankroll: sweating like Oprah Baltimore convert$1,839 eating ghost chili ing a game-saving, peppers in a sauna— fourth-and-29 on a Last week: 6-5-1 (+$388) except I knew Kiffin dump-off pass!). NFL seasoN: 33-28-1 would come through. I’m now complete(-$3,055) Sure enough, he ly convinced Norv CoLLege FootbaLL perused his menu, Turner is pulling a seasoN: 45-32 (+$1,128) passed on the pigs in George Costanza and In February 2010, we gave a blanket and Moons trying to get fired. Matt “$7,000” to wager. When Over My Hammy, If only the Chargers he loses it all, we’re going to and ordered up three had a Super Bowl replace him with a monkey. runs up the middle trophy that Turner (including concould tie to his car secutive quarterback bumper and drag sneaks), followed by a play-action pass around the stadium parking lot … to the fullback that fell incomplete. $110 on UCLA +8½ at Stanford: Ballgame, ticket cashed, fourth Brilliant move by UCLA last week, straight winning week secured. lying down at home against Stanford Now, you’d think someone on the in the regular-season finale to avoid USC sideline informed Kiffin that having to play at Oregon in the Pac-12 Notre Dame’s stout defense rarely Championship Game (the Bruins allows rushing touchdowns (only 11 in already had clinched a spot in this the last 30 games). And you’d think Kif- contest; Stanford had to win). Sure, the fin knew the one advantage his team Cardinal are 6-0 at home, but only one has over the Irish is speed (which, you of those victories was by more than know, is kind of negated when you run seven points. The Bruins—who had up the middle). But Kiffin, God bless won five in a row prior to the 35-17 loss him, remained true to his bullheaded to Stanford—have been a ’dog just twice ways, and in doing so capped a downthis year, winning outright both times. fall that saw his talented squad go from $110 on Boise State -9½ at Nevada: preseason No. 1 to 7-5 and unranked. Boise State has won eight of nine, Thankfully, we get one more chance with the last six victories by an to bet against the Trojans (3-9 against average of 25.8 points. Nevada has the spread) in a bowl game. Unfortudropped three of its last four, includnately, we likely have to wait till New ing two straight at home. And then Year’s Eve (USC is projected for the Sun there’s this: The Wolf Pack have failed Bowl). Thus, I’ve got to keep my bankto cover in seven straight games, part roll above sea level for another month. of an overall 2-9 ATS mark, including Well, there’s one sure way to achieve 0-5 ATS at home. (Hell, even the Rebthat goal! On to this week’s selections els finished 8-5 ATS. Hey, congrats (Note: all odds are as of Nov. 27) … UNLV fans—you finally beat Reno!) For the rest of this week’s college and NFL picks—plus Matt’s daily “Best Bet” Monday-Friday—visit















FRIDAY FEBRUARY 15 // pearl box ofce // 702.944.3200 // ©2012 FP Holdings, L.P. dba Palms Casino Resort. All Rights Reserved.

7 questions

lost to Chaminade. It happens. So yeah, on paper they have the talent. But is it reasonable to expect this team, relative to more experienced teams, teams with four starters back, [to reach the Final Four]? Eh, I think you’d have to favor [more experienced teams]. But this is the most talented team the Rebels have had in 20 years. Do you have a message for fans as this season ramps up? Patience! The two Ps: passion and patience. And the Rebels fans are fantastic at passion, but like most passionate fans, not real good at patience—totally understandable. But it’s going to take awhile for this group to get it together.

UNLV basketball’s play-by-play voice on going from lawyer to broadcaster, calling Single-A baseball games and his one-word plea to Rebel fans By Matt Jacob

Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012

➧ Jon Sandler’S path to the radio booth didn’t exactly follow the usual formula. While in the midst of a lucrative career as an attorney with a big Silicon Valley corporate law firm in the late 1980s—and with his 30th birthday rapidly approaching—Sandler had one of those “What am I doing with my life?” epiphanies. So he traded in his briefcase for a scorebook, “took a 93 percent pay cut,” and moved to Salinas, Calif., to become the play-by-play man for the Salinas Spurs of the Single-A California League. The Las Vegas Stars (now 51s) promoted Sandler to the Triple-A ranks before the 1993 season, and he’s been here ever since, manning the microphone for virtually all of the city’s sports institutions, from minor league hockey (Las Vegas Thunder) to UNLV men’s basketball (he’s in his ninth season calling Rebel basketball games on ESPN 1100-AM and 98.9-FM). Nearly a quarter-century after hanging up his suit and tie, Sandler remains content with his career choice, even while joking, “I went to Stanford for undergrad and Virginia for law school—I’m wasting a hell of an education!”



How did you make the transition to broadcasting? The shorthand version: I [worked] part time at my law firm and interned at KCBS in San Francisco. The guys there, whom I respect greatly to this day, told me, “You’ve got some talent; you’ve got to go get some time on a microphone somewhere.” I got a job with a little radio station—the radio station—in Paso Robles, Calif., and for the first two weeks, I was the nighttime DJ; we played both kinds of music— country and Western—and I’d play the national anthem at

11:58 and 40 seconds, then turn off the transmitter at midnight. But a buddy of mine got the job as the general manager of an independent team in the California League in Salinas, and I called him up and said, “I want to be your broadcaster.” And he said, “OK, just don’t cost me any money.” What do you remember about that first season? Oh, it was crazy. I remember the very first home game: They plugged in the hot-dog warmer, and the left-field lights went out—it was beautiful!

It was an independent team owned by Don Nomura—the guy who brought [former major league pitcher] Hideo Nomo over from Japan—and he stocked the team with about 10 Japanese players, because there were no minor leagues in Japan. Our first baseman was Kenichi Yamanouchi, our center fielder was Arihito Muramatsu, we had Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I actually had the quote of the year in Baseball America that year—they asked me how I dealt with all the Japanese names, and I said, “I just pray they never get anybody in a rundown!”

Are they Final Four-caliber? On paper, they have the talent to be in the conversation. [But] they have a lot of new guys, they have a lot of young players. They have Anthony Marshall—who is a terrific basketball player and an even better human being—at [point guard], but he’s not a true point guard. And that’s a challenge. But the biggest thing is for them to play as a team and play hard every night out. That may sound so elementary to fans—why wouldn’t you? Because they’re 18- to 22-year-old kids. Look at Texas, which just

It says on your Twitter account that you’re a bit of a wine snob. What’s the last great bottle of wine you drank? 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc. It was for my 50th birthday, and I had it at L’Atelier de Jöel Robuchon at the MGM Grand and had an amazing meal. It is truly, truly a spectacular bottle of wine. If you’re talking about that hall of fame, angels singing as you take a sip, yeah, that was it.

Jon Sandler reflects on his legal career and offers advice to aspiring broadcasters at

Photo by Kin Lui

Jon Sandler

This year’s Rebels team is stacked. Are your expectations as high as everyone else’s? I’d like to think I’m a little bit more grounded than some. I know how much talent there is on this team, but at the same time I know how difficult it is to integrate eight new guys into a system and get them to play how everyone wants them to play right away. I do think in the long run the ceiling is very, very high, and the future is incredibly bright. But when you’ve got this many freshmen and this many new faces, you’re going to have nights when it looks great, and you’re going to have nights when you’re shaking your head going, “What’s going on here?”

Do you still have aspirations to reach the big-league level at some point? Obviously, when I started, my ambition was to get to the major leagues in baseball—got close a couple of times, and I’d like to think that if I stayed a little bit longer than the seven years in Triple A, I would’ve had an opportunity to do the big leagues. But understanding that’s a commitment of basically February to November— that’s a long time to be away from home. And that becomes your life. And at some point I became OK with the idea that that wasn’t going to be my life. As far as ambitions in basketball, I’m not the biggest NBA fan in the world—although the money for anybody associated with the NBA is pretty darn good. But if I’m the voice of the Runnin’ Rebels for the remainder of my career, I’m probably going to be OK with that. It’s a great gig, you’re associated with the marquee team in the community, and I love the way the program is headed.


Zarkana 101

Hear what it’s like to make major changes to the show and get a close-up look with a live demo of Chinese Poles.

Travel across the ocean with the cast and crew of Zarkana and learn what it took to shift an entire set across the world to its permanent home at ARIA Resort & Casino! at ARIA Resort & Casino

at Treasure Island

Behind the Water Limited to 100 Guests

Sound and Set Demo

Tour the ins and outs of what makes “O” an aquatic spectacular with an exclusive, limited backstage tour.

Hear The Beatles like never before with our one-of-a-kind sound demonstration, plus get up close and personal with some of your favorite scenes!

at Bellagio

at The Mirage

From Stage to Page Comic Book Creation

Training Exclusive

See what it’s like to be immortalized by Marvel with KÀ artists and their amazing journey from Stage to Page in the collectible comic book KÀ #1.

Witness rehearsals first-hand from unique vantage points and participate in a Q&A with the artists. Audience participation is always encouraged!

at MGM Grand

at New York-New York Hotel & Casino

Magic with Maestro learn some of his favorite comedic magic tricks. Take a lobby tour and discover the history of Criss’ illusions. Luxor

Cirque Week Headquarters December 1-8 Lily Bar & Lounge at Bellagio 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Cirque Week guests can pick up their event credentials, gift bag and mingle with other Cirque enthusiasts.

Events for Cirque Week vary by day and may be limited, based on availability. Packages based on specific show dark dates and may be subject to change or cancellation.

The West Comes Home  

Why Las Vegas needs to keep the National Finals Rodeo–and we're not just talking money. Plus: Skiing dispatches from the trails less taken a...

The West Comes Home  

Why Las Vegas needs to keep the National Finals Rodeo–and we're not just talking money. Plus: Skiing dispatches from the trails less taken a...