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the latest

A rendering of the Four Seasons’ new lobby bar, Press.

March 7-13, 2013

Keeping a Season Ahead



Boutique is suDDenly in on Las Vegas Boulevard. From Victor Drai’s just-starting reboot of Bill’s to the Nobu Tower at Caesars Palace to the Delano’s takeover of the erstwhile THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, brandswithin-brands and specialized service are all the rage—a trend that promises to remake the Strip. But the original boutique hotelwithin-a-hotel on the Strip, the Four Seasons, is generating some buzz of its own with a two-phase renovation that’s just started its second half. Sharing the Mandalay Bay complex with the Delano Las Vegas, it’s got something the other boutique projects don’t: a history in town. When Mandalay Bay opened in March 1999, much of the attention was on the boutique Four Seasons component. It was an unusual arrangement—the Four Seasons had its own lobby, spa, pool area, restaurants and meeting rooms in a structure to the south of the main resort, with guest rooms on foors 35 through 39 of the Mandalay Bay hotel tower. Partnering with Four Seasons was the cornerstone of Mandalay Resort Group CEO Glenn Schaeffer’s bid to establish Mandalay Bay as a property rivaling Bellagio, Caesars Palace and the Venetian and transcend the company’s value-property past (Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, Monte Carlo). Then, in 2005, MGM Resorts acquired Mandalay, and the fagship property was no longer a fagship. That didn’t impact Four Seasons as much as the main resort, since the boutique hotel has its own management that’s responsible to Four Seasons brass, not its Las Vegas landlord. Still, the guest rooms at Four Seasons hadn’t been substantially reno-

vated since their opening in 1999—14 years ago, an eternity in Las Vegas (the Stardust’s hotel tower was 16 years old when it was declared hopelessly outmoded and imploded in 2007). And while there is something timeless about the ultra-high-end design of Four Seasons, that brand is no longer the undisputed champion of boutique Vegas; the arrival of Mandarin Oriental at City Center in 2009 means another option for guests looking for a non-gaming hotel with exacting service standards. So last year, the property renovated its 343 standard rooms and 81 suites. In a project fnished in early December, the rooms were given a new art deco-inspired look. That’s an interesting choice, and one that presents a marked contrast to the “barefoot chic” of the Delano South Beach (presumably a template for the Las Vegas model) and recent MGM remodels at Bellagio and MGM Grand. “We wanted the new rooms to refect the energy and the excitement of Las Vegas while maintaining a level of sophistication Four Seasons guests expect,” says Four Seasons Las Vegas general manager Mark Hellrung. Those guests, Hellrung says, are looking for something signifcantly more “stylish and modern,” so at the end of the day the room renovation is about following customer tastes. The latest phase is spicing up the lobby and pool garden area with Press, a “relaxed yet sophisticated”

indoor/outdoor bar that speaks exactly to the exigencies of the post-recession Strip: It will be a true multipurpose outlet, serving coffee, pancakes and networking opportunities in the morning; beer and paninis in the afternoon (with ESPN playing on TV); and becoming a full-service bar that also offers small plates in the evening. Multiuse is in style because of shrinking margins across the Strip. Pools double as dayclubs, “vibedining” restaurants transition into nightclubs, and properties try not to let a single square foot go to waste. Another addition could start a trend: When Press opens in April, guests will enjoy free Wi-Fi and charging outlets, no matter when they visit. That’s a welcome acknowledgement that, in 2013, guests expect to be connected—and for free. In Las Vegas, visitors will likely share pictures and videos of their exploits— the kind of social-media marketing for which most hotels would pay far more than the cost of bandwidth. The renovation is a great example of how competition is necessary to the city’s continuing appeal as a tourist destination. If Four Seasons was the only upscale boutique property in town, there wouldn’t be much incentive for this kind of change, and it would inevitably grow stale. This is the kind of competition that built Las Vegas, and with 150,000 or so hotel rooms in town, visitors have plenty of choices. As long as someone wants an edge, be it free Wi-Fi or newer rooms, it will never pay to rest on your laurels, which ultimately means better quality all around. Even if you’re not staying in a boutique room, you’ll see the results.

Stop the presses. One of Las Vegas’ best dining deals has sustained a price increase, kinda. The excellent 24/7 complete steak dinner at Ellis Island has been raised by a buck to $8.99, but there’s a way to get the dollar back. Simply play $1 in any slot or video-poker machine and you get the special at the old price of $7.99. It actually makes more sense to play $1.25. Playing a single dollar on one of Ellis Island’s 9/6 Jacks or Better games means playing short-coin. That eliminates the royal-flush bonus and drops the game’s return to 98.02 percent for an average loss of 2 cents to get $1. That’s a good trade, but playing $1.25 in a quarter machine is better. That takes you to full-coin status and a return of 99.54 percent, which means your expected loss drops to just six-tenths of a cent. • You have to be creative to keep pace on the gourmet-buffet scene, and Bellagio has stepped up its game by adding unlimited caviar to its dinner buffet on Fridays and Saturdays ($37.99). The caviar is described as “traditional, ikura and tobiko.” An everyday unlimited drinks option has also been added for dinner, offering Bellinis, Bloody Marys, sparkling wine and beer for $8 more. • The same El Cortez deal for cashing IRS or government checks at the cage that I wrote about a few weeks ago is now in force at the ATM. Get 5 percent in free play by using your EBT or ATM card at an El Cortez ATM machine. The minimum withdrawal is $200, and the limit is $50 in free play, so taking out $1,000 gets the maximum bonus. There’s a $3 charge for the transaction. I don’t know of any bank in Nevada, or anywhere, that’ll lay a premium like that on you. • Las Vegans with local ID can get 30 percent off meals at Mood at the Artisan in March and April, and half-price tickets to Madame Tussauds through March 15. • Lo and behold, there’s another good $1 oyster happy hour in town, this one at Rhythm Kitchen (6435 S. Decatur Blvd.), where you can get ‘em raw, charbroiled or Rockefeller-style from 4 to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week. And the rest of the offers aren’t too shabby either, with more than 20 discounted appetizers and $2 beers. • The new center bar at the Palms is called Social. There’s a Wednesday happy hour from 5 to 9 p.m., with 50 percent off select whiskey and wine by the bottle or glass, but the video-poker machines have been taken out. No video poker at a Palms bar? Now that’s news. Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and, a monthly newsletter and website dedicated to finding the best deals in town.

Rendering courtesy of Four Seasons Las Vegas

Discount steak, Buffet caviar, anD an atM Bonus

The ‘Hipsturbia’ Myth

March 7-13, 2013

The New York Times reports ‘Smug Urbanites Bailing for Bigger Houses and Better Schools.’ Whoa, pioneers! Exactly what’s new here?



By Kim Velsey The New York Observer

to be youNg is to believe wholeheartedly in certain rosy, soothing illusions—that age, infrmity and death will never come to call, that divorce and the suburbs are fates that only befall other people. And yet we will all know illness, we will all die, and many of us will move to the suburbs. Young families have been moving to the suburbs for as long as there have been young families and suburbs. That many of the young families moving to New York suburbs should be Brooklynites, that many of them should fancy themselves “creative types,” and that they, like their parents

and grandparents before them, should believe themselves capable of bringing their superior sensibilities to the land of compromises and comfort should come as no surprise. See Revolutionary Road. And yet The New York Times has seen ft to print yet another Style section feature on the suburban exodus of Brooklynites called—what else?—“Creating Hipsturbia.” Meanwhile, “Williamsburg on the Hudson” ran way back in August 2011. What seems to be entirely lost on these suburban pioneers (and on the Times) is that, despite their tattoos and their gluten-free baked goods and

Illustrations by Ryan Snook

The LaTesT


A Deep Trust

At the Grand Canyon rim, a passionate—but pragmatic—nonproft is on guard

March 7-13, 2013

By Nora Burba Trulsson



since 2007, Boulder City resident Tony Taylor has regularly made the three-hour drive to Flagstaff to spend a few days volunteering for the Grand Canyon Trust. At the trust’s headquarters, Taylor, a retired Nellis Air Force Base employee and an avid hiker, hops on a van packed with other volunteers and group leaders and heads out to remote reaches of the Colorado Plateau. There, the group tackles projects ranging from eradicating invasive cheatgrass on ranch lands to planting native crops on a Navajo farm cooperative. In Au-

gust, Taylor spent several days in the Hopi village of Polacca, clearing trails and staging areas for the annual 30-mile “Water Is Life” run, which attracts some 800 runners. “You see things you wouldn’t see as a tourist,” says Taylor of his repeated volunteer treks with the trust. “You get a whole new perspective, you meet real people. I appreciate the trust’s mission.” Even with 2,000 people who have donated up to 18,000 hours annually, volunteers are just part of the Grand Canyon Trust’s mission. The

organization, now in its 28th year, supports the protection of the Colorado Plateau, a vast landscape stretching from northern Arizona into Utah, southwestern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico. Moab, Utah-based biologist Bill Hedden, a Harvard Ph.D., has been the trust’s executive director since 2003. He has steered the trust through numerous undertakings, including its recent highprofle projects—opposition to a large-scale development in the community of Tusayan, near the entrance to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, as well as a controversial gondola and riverside tourist attraction at the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon on Navajo tribal lands. “All of our projects are interesting,” notes Hedden, who joined the trust in 1996. “We take chances on things.” The controversial Tusayan development, proposed by an Italian company, includes 3

million square feet of commercial space, hotels, a spa, dude ranch and more than 2,000 residential units, possibly increasing the community’s population tenfold. Besides sprawl and a lack of infrastructure, the major environmental issue the development faces in the arid landscape is a question of water. “Where are they going to get the water?” asks Roger Clark, the trust’s longtime program director. “The existing wells in the area are already affecting springs in the Grand Canyon. Therefore, we are opposing any new wells.“ The divisive Grand Canyon Escalade, the proposed gondola and tourist attraction, has the trust working on behalf of Navajo families opposed to the development, which they feel would desecrate a sacred, fragile environment at the confuence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. The Escalade project, the developers maintain, would bring economic develop-

ment and jobs to the remote site, a promise similar to that made for the Hualapai Tribe’s Grand Canyon West, home to the stillunfnished, mired-in-lawsuits Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass walkway that extends over the canyon. Bernie Propst, Grand Canyon Escalade’s chief fnancial offcer, previously served as CFO for the operator of Grand Canyon West. “It’s a contentious project,” admits Clark, who joined the trust in 1989. “We support sustainable economic development, but we are opposed to any development below the canyon’s rim.” ••• The trust uses all the arrows in the nonproft quiver—advocacy, management, political action, sustainable economic development, collaboration, preservation, restoration and more. The trust has just 28 employees in Arizona, Utah and Colorado, but it has more than 3,000 members across the

Photos courtesy of Grand Canyon Trust

The LATesT


nation and a $4.25 million annual budget. The money comes from major donors, smaller donations, memberships and other sources. None of it comes from taxpayers. Not bad for an organization that had its roots in a wild and woolly 1984 dory trip down the Colorado River. Veteran river runner Martin Litton piloted former California Secretary of Resources Huey Johnson, among others, down the rapids, and the group bonded over a deep love and concern for the Grand Canyon. It was the Reagan era, and Interior Secretary James Watt loomed over pristine landscapes, hostile to environmentalism and advocating development of public lands. The idea of protecting the Grand Canyon surfaced, and, a year later, the Grand Canyon Trust was born, with a mission to not only protect the canyon itself, but the surrounding Colorado Plateau.

The early trust members were hardly a bunch of sandalwearing, granola-crunching backpackers. The members included former Secretary of the Interior and Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt, as well as former congressman and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Noted fnancier, conservationist and rancher James Trees came on board, and his Harvard/East Coast connections put him in the same orbit as philanthropists, investment bankers and other big-money types, not to mention a constellation of media members. Edward M. Norton, a Harvard alum specializing in environmental law (and the actor’s father), served as the trust’s frst president. “Jim Trees was the catalyst to get the big donors on board,” Clark recalls. “He and Ed Norton had a method of inviting prospects on Grand Canyon rafting trips, then asking for donations.” Actress Candice Bergen, director Louis Malle and anchorwoman Diane Sawyer were among those who rode the whitewater at the behest of Trees and Norton. ••• If the Tusayan and Grand Canyon Escalade projects resolve themselves as hoped by the trust, they will be added to

the organization’s long list of environmental accomplishments, beginning with the 1987 passage of the National Parks Overfights Protection Act, which banned fights below the Grand Canyon’s rim and created fight-free zones. In the 1990s, the trust fought for better pollution controls at two coal-burning power plants—–the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, and the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada. Also in the 1990s, the trust helped defeat a proposed NAFTA superhighway running north across the plateau from Flagstaff. It also advocating for better management of the Colorado River’s Glen Canyon Dam, allowing regular high-fow releases from the dam to restore beaches and habitats. By 2000, with Hedden’s infuence, the trust became more active in Utah, with projects such as purchasing and retiring 50,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and buying the historically sensitive ghost town of Grafton on the banks of the Virgin River near Zion National Park. The trust also got 16 million tons of uranium-mill tailings removed from the bank of the Colorado River near Moab. More recently, the trust bought the grazing rights to

two ranches—850,000 acres— adjacent to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park as a vast land-health and grazing laboratory. The organization has also pushed for new forest conservation programs in Utah and Arizona, and helped steer Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to order a 20-year ban on new uranium claims on the plateau. “We get things done,” Hedden says. “We look for solutions to the region’s toughest problems. We can sit down and talk to anyone.” “We are a centrist organization,” Clark says. “We are not a litigious organization. We can access thought leaders and politicians that other groups cannot.” ••• On the road to getting things done, the trust has hit a few speed bumps. Rather than complying with pollutioncontrol mandates, the Mohave Generating Station shut down in 2005, citing costs, which idled a supplying coal mine in Arizona that employed largely Navajo and Hopi workers. While many welcomed the victory for air, land and water resources, the closure resulted in lost jobs for some 200 tribal members, in an area with high

March 7-13, 2013

“we Get thinGs done. we look for solutions to the reGion’s touGhest problems. we can sit down and talk to anyone.”

unemployment. Navajo Generating Station’s future is also hazy, given cost estimates of up to $1 billion or more to install pollution devices. However, the trust, Clark points out, has long embraced its Native American members and partners, collaborating on numerous economicdevelopment projects, ranging from tourism to solar power. They’ve worked behind the scenes to help open new hotels on Hopi land and at Monument Valley, and helped form a Navajo community-owned renewable energy retail and installation company. “We are not just a naysayer to development for the protection of the environment,” he says. “One of our biggest missions is to work with communities to focus on a sustainable economy.” Meanwhile, the trust has successfully weathered the Great Recession. “We’ve been fortunate, though, in that we’ve controlled our expenses and done well with our donors.” The current political landscape has also been more diffcult for an organization that prides itself on bringing people to the table. “Politics was more moderate back in the 1980s,” Clark recalls. “We compromised, we found solutions. There were no hard party lines like there are today.” Nonetheless, the trust pushes forward with new projects and initiatives. The volunteer program, which began in 1997, is another recent bright spot, meant to bring the trust’s work to a hands-on, individual level. Led by botanist Kate Watters, the program has worked to restore beavers to Southern Utah streams and rivers, remove non-native tamarisks and Russian olive trees from the banks of the Paria River and surveyed sensitive archaeological sites. Watters has recruited many of the volunteers, who range from urban high school students and university springbreakers to retirees. “They come from around the country and as far away as Germany,” she says. “They like to see wilderness areas and engage in the environment. The economy is bad for jobs, but great for us. We’ve been getting a lot more volunteers in their 30s and 40s.” The bottom line, says Watters, is that the trust is an enduring presence. “We really want to change this part of the world.”


Mending fences: The Grand Canyon Trust’s 2,000 volunteers serve 18,000 hours each year.



March 7-13, 2013


From left: BGenius, Kalani and Tau’i.

gonna be your thing? Tau’i: The Music Box [in Los Angeles], April 8th, 2011, we found dubstep! I’ll never forget that date! We’re traditionally from hip-hop, but our DJ friend Metaphase was like “Hey, why don’t you guys come check out this show?” We went, we’re onstage and just like “This is crazy!” We were on the way home, drunk as hell, saying, “We really gotta dive into this.” Kalani: We studied for six months on how to make it. We watched, listened and started developing our own sound. Obviously we mix in our own style.

Aloha, Las Vegas

Electronic trio Splitbreed puts it all out there for dubstep fans By Deanna Rilling

March 7-13, 2013

EvEn if you havEn’t been able to get into dubstep, the brand of hip-hop-infuenced bass music Splitbreed offers is a lot more user-friendly—while still retaining some grit. With all its current members deriving from families with musical backgrounds, it seemed only a natural ft for brothers and emcees Kalani and Tau’i Mo’e, along with DJ/producer BGenius, to pursue a career in the industry. Together for almost three years, the members of Splitbreed have ditched their day jobs to focus on the group full time, which has served them well and resulted in a Beatport glitch-hop chart-topping EP We Are One with Pegboard Nerds, plus gigs around the world. Vegas Seven learns more about the trio that calls Las Vegas home before they play Body English on March 21 and the Frequency stage at Extreme Thing on March 30.



Where would you say Splitbreed falls in the electronic music spectrum? Tau’i: Hip-dub-electro-hopmagical—no, I would say hiphop. Hip-hop/electronic. Kalani: We’re not afraid to drop anything, we’ll drop whatever. If we like it and we think it fts in the set—I mean, obviously there’s a time and a place for everything. Tau’i: We’ve defnitely made our name in this town doing a lot of hip-hop/dubstep for sure, but we have tracks from straight hip-hop all the way to … anything you can think of. Kalani: We kind of embody

our name a little bit. BGenius: Also Sony Music in Europe released one of our singles that’s a complete pop song called “Make a Baby.” It’s totally like pop/reggae. If you heard that song and then heard the stuff we were doing [in Vegas], you would think it’s two different groups.

look at it, really. Anyone’s that come to a show or anything, they’ll say, “Those guys are insane,” or “Those guys are crazy.” “They got us out of our seats, going nuts.” Leave it all out there—that’s our motto. Leave it all out no matter what, whether it’s 10 or 500 or 1,000 people.

For those who haven’t checked you out, what kind of a performance can they expect? Tau’i: With everything we do, if the crowd’s not jumping up and down, we’re doing something wrong. That’s the way we

You have two MCs and have previously incorporated a drummer into your sets. Do you see 2013 as being the year were people say, “OK, DJs/ EDM is cool, but I need something more”? Kalani: People need to inno-

vate. The DJs, the lighting and all that is cool, but every year you want to be progressing and innovating more. Tau’i: There’s always going to be a place for that no matter what. I love watching a really good DJ kill it, but there is a human aspect too that comes into play no matter what genre it is. It helps if you have a human aspect to actually talk to the people; it can do nothing but help the show. Kalani: What we’re trying to do is ft in between so we can get booked everywhere. You need a DJ set? We can do that! Tau’i: We make sure we’re always constantly doing something. Another thing is, we all produce together. Even if we’re just dropping tracks, we’ll still be there performing with it. Kalani: We play 80 percent of our own music, even when we do DJ sets. Sometimes you gotta play that banger to get them hyped up. What was the moment when you decided dubstep was

Many critics, and even EDM fans, think 2012 was the year dubstep came and went. What are your opinions on that? Kalani: It’s just morphing. The tempos are going up and down. It’s not going away, it’s evolving. Think about dubstep in 2010, and think about it now. It’s completely different. Tau’i: You hear dubstep in a Taylor Swift song. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It’s good that it’s progressing and morphing. That’s what music is about. Will you add in some more trap? Kalani: We’re hip-hop guys, so we like trap. It’s cool, it’s simple. It’s really simple to make. Tau’i: I like it all. A good song is a good song. Kalani: It really comes down to the producer. A good producer can make any genre cool. Who have been you major supporters thus far? BGenius: B-Rob [Bryan Robinson] defnitely. He’s the “mood director” for 9Group at the Palms. Kalani: Calamity of Noise, Stellar, Pegboard Nerds. Revolvr’s a really good friend. Tau’i: B.J. Penn, a two-time UFC champion, he supports us a lot. We get a lot of support in this town. We’re pretty much cool with everybody.

Does Splitbreed think dubstep has longevity? Or will trap take over? Find out at

nightlife Electro-pop DJ/producer Madeon presses pause to talk Gaga, his makeshif recording studio at Encore and his minimalist fashion sense By David Morris

March 7-13, 2013

Hugo LecLercq Left scHooL at age 16, taught himself music and perfect English, and then caught the ear of Lady Gaga, who was so impressed by the now-18-year-old native of Nantes, France, that she asked him to open for her on her North American tour. Madeon, as he is better known, may be most recognized for his buttonpushing mash-up “Pop Culture,” but his musical depth extends much deeper than simply re-tooling the material of others. He has quickly followed up with a series of his own hits (“Icarus,” “Finale” and “The City”), is the only DJ to have played the New York Stock Exchange and will headline the main stage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami on March 16. But frst he’ll be at Surrender on March 15.



You started producing at age 11. How did that affect you? When I was 11, I decided I wanted to be a producer. Later in life, in my long and ever-changing life [laughter], I discovered DJing and other aspects of electronicmusic production. One of my main concerns when I started was to make sure my head was focused, so for the frst couple of years I refused to do any photos or video interviews. I made sure that all the attention was on the music, and I am thankful it was, so that I could build a fan base

that liked my releases. It would have been easy to say, “I am 15 and DJing,” and it all could have disappeared quickly, because the nature of that gimmick is that it’s not lasting. It would have been a mistake to not believe in my musical abilities and to bet on that. Obviously, when I started touring a bit more, it would have been ridiculous to keep on hiding. I could have went the [Deadmau5] ‘helmet’ way, but that seemed a bit cheesy, and it’s already been done so much. My youth was something I am proud

of, but it was important for me to manage it and make sure it didn’t overpower the musical projects. How did you land the gig as Gaga’s opening act? I was playing Lollapalooza and one of her promoters saw me, liked what he heard and I sent some songs in. We started chatting a bit and it felt right. I also really love her as a person and was happy to go on tour with her. Are you helping produce her new album, ARTPOP? I may. It’s a process where we are trying things and making songs. You never know how it’s going to end up. What is she like when the public isn’t watching? She is incredibly nice, intelligent and an incredible singer. You have a studio on your tour bus?

You tweeted, “The past year has been dazzling, and there is more to come.” What’s next?

I’ve just fnished a track called “Technicolor,” which is more of an experimental release for me. It’s a six-minute journey. I’ve played it live, and my fans are asking for it, so I am thinking I’ll release that next. I also want to do an album. A lot of my ideas and the things I’m working on are more clearly merging, and I can start to see what my album will be like. It will be all original music and collabs with singers, no remixes. I have a lot to say musically. You often wear a blazer on tour. Would you consider yourself fashion forward? My style consists of owning fve black jeans, a million white V-necks and a couple of black blazers. I wear the same thing every day! Let’s talk iPhone cases—I hear you hate big ones. This is a prototype of the new Madeon iPhone case [points to a naked iPhone 5]. It’s quite thin and slim as you can see! I used to have a big case, but I thought, “Let’s live dangerously.”

Follow Madeon on Twitter at @Madeon. Get the specs he used to mash-up 39 songs in three minutes in the video for “Pop Culture” at

Photo by Danny Mahoney

‘Pop Culture’ Prodigy

I’ve never been able to produce on the road, because I use speakers and I can’t mix with headphones—it really bothers me. For this tour, because I was on the road for quite a while, I didn’t want to not produce any music for two months. So I got a production laptop, speakers and all the basic gear I needed to make a studio that I could set up on the bus. The bus doesn’t have the best acoustics, however, so it doesn’t sound great. I experiment, though, and change songs and try out new ideas on the piano. When I was last in Vegas for three days I actually set up the studio in my hotel room [at Encore], and because it’s a larger room it sounded great, even better than at home! I actually wrote a couple of songs that I am super excited about, but obviously one of my concerns was my neighbors. My manager actually moved his room next to mine to make sure we didn’t disturb anyone—we did some tests to make sure, and thankfully it was OK.



1 Oak

The Mirage [ Upcoming ]



See more photos from this gallery at

Photography by Teddy Fujimoto, Amit Dadlaney, and Josh Metz

March 7-13, 2013

March 15  Rob Kardashian’s birthday party March 29  Kendrick Lamar performs April 9  Major Lazer Strikes Back




The Cosmopolitan [ Upcoming ]



See more photos from this gallery at

Photography by Powers Imagery

March 7-13, 2013

March 8  Arty spins March 9  Sander van Doorn spins March 11 Vice spins

[ Continued from Page 73 ]


Nevada Ballet Theatre performs Jewels in its new home, Reynolds Hall.

March 7-13, 2013

Clint Holmes swings the Cabaret Jazz monthly.



terms of Broadway subscribers,” Martin says. “Before we opened, I said if we could get to the same level as Dallas—they opened a couple of years before us with 6,000 subscribers—I thought that would be pretty good for us, and we opened with 11,000.” Straight drama was not on the bill during the Broadway series, though one—War Horse— is among the titles for the 2013-14 season. Reason for the dearth? Lack of choices. “This isn’t an artistic decision as much as a touring decision,” Martin says. “The Broadway touring model is based on musicals. Out of all the great plays I’ve seen on Broadway this year, I know that none of them are currently slated to tour. “ While musicals as a genre began with a built-in fan base, quirkier presentations brought in a whole other audience.

“Seventy percent of the audience that came for DRUMLine had never been here before,” he says. “Two full nights of people who had a blast seeing this show based on the historically black college marching bands.” Yet expectations had to be downscaled for other attractions, such as the lecture series, whose highlight—an evening with Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim reminiscing about his storied career—did not sell out the 2,050-seat hall. “Being a perfectionist, anything less than completely sold out was a failure,” Martin says. “Well, the reality is, 1,800 people came to see Stephen Sondheim in Las Vegas, and that’s pretty cool. We can always block out the balcony and make it feel really intimate for a speaker series.” Among upcoming guests who might

not require that accommodation: TV icon Alan Alda. After departing UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre became roomies again at Reynolds Hall. Though there was statistical overlap as the Philharmonic’s season began at UNLV and continued at The Smith Center, it enjoyed a 20 percent increase in subscriptions for the 2012-13 season. Moving its annual production of The Nutcracker to the center from Paris Las Vegas, Nevada Ballet saw a 13 percent bump in ticket sales.   Lend an Ear, Cast an Eye Acoustically, Reynolds Hall has garnered largely favorable reviews. “Among the things we got right were non-amplifed acoustics,” Martin says. “When the Cleveland Orchestra says

it’s one of the best-sounding rooms they’ve played in, it validates what we thought.” Musicals posed a different challenge. Each tour arrives packing its own sound gear, designed to work in average-sized, average-shaped auditoriums. However, the frst to pull in, The Color Purple, revealed that some patrons in certain seating areas were not getting the full audio impact, especially in understanding that show’s heavy dialect. “We would talk to one person who said the sound was the best they’d ever heard, and someone else maybe 6 or 8 feet away felt like they were missing some of the dialogue,” Martin says. Adding line array speakers, which aim the sound into narrow, specifc areas, addressed the problem, hitting spots not reached by the cluster of speakers on each side of the stage. Visually, the room is nearly obstruction-free—no poles or pillars—but sitting in the balcony has produced a few complaints about handrails that popped up in the peripheral views of some seat-holders. Rather than risk safety by removing the rails, the center fagged the trouble seats on its website with asterisks, so buyers will know what they’re paying for—or choose not to pay for. Jazz Me Up, Jazz Me Down Gorgeous room, great music—you can’t argue with an opening-season lineup that included Branford Marsalis, Barbara Cook, the San Francisco Jazz Collective, Al Jarreau, Ramsey Lewis, Pia Zadora, the local Composers Showcase and monthly appearances by Clint Holmes. And yet … “It’s not where we want it yet,” Martin says about the Cabaret Jazz club. “Live music sounds incredibly good in there. In one weekend, artist X is completely sold out. But we get to Wednesday, or Thursday and it’s only about half sold and we scratch our heads.” Marketing likely confused some patrons who mistook the

title “cabaret jazz” for a series within Reynolds Hall. Also problematic is that some jazz heavyweights such as Diana Krall are booked at Reynolds because of their drawing power while the equally esteemed Marsalis plays at Cabaret Jazz. “We haven’t done a very good job describing what happens there, that you can have a little drink, have a little food, and hear the greatest performers from around the world in jazz and cabaret,” Martin says. “It’s up to me to get the word out.” Stealth Stage Yes, the Troesh Studio Theater hosted shows, including the one-man George Burns tribute, Say Goodnight, Gracie, and The Diary of Anne Frank by the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada. Still, it remains the least publicly known of the Smith complex’s three venues. “Maybe we haven’t done as many publicly ticketed performances there as other spaces, but it may be our most used room in the complex,” Martin says. “The Troesh was designed to be a blank slate space. It’s a black box theater, a dance rehearsal space and a place for corporate events. We’ve even done a handful of weddings in there. I’m happy with the productive occupancy in that space.” Hey, They Noticed! Before the opening of The Smith Center, Martin was fond of predicting that it would create a newfound reputation for Las Vegas’ cultural potency. Citing one example, he tells the story of a colleague who was wearing a Smith Center cap during a visit to Singapore. “He was stopped and someone said, ‘We’ve heard all about your place, and I can’t wait when we come to Las Vegas to see a concert at The Smith Center.’ I think it says a lot about how people around the world are perceiving Las Vegas differently.” Feel better about yourself, Las Vegas? You should.

Holmes photo by Erik Kabik; Nevada Ballet photo by Virginia Trudeau


“Anybody who sAys they opened A $470 million building And everything wAs perfect, i don’t know if thAt’s ever hAppened in the history of mAn.”



Giant Size

March 7-13, 2013

By Jarret Keene



Danko Jones with Volbeat at House of Blues, 6:30 p.m. March 14, $27.50-$31, 632–7600,

Your Vegas band releasing a CD soon? Your girlfriend might swear it’s good, but she’s biased. Email for an honest opinion.

Their music’s got “Legs”: Calabrese, Jones and Willard.

To sound huge, Canadian hard-rocker Danko Jones scales down

Keep it siMple, stupid isn’t just a principle of engineering and graphic design. It’s also all-around great advice for working in a band. Toronto rocker, music-magazine columnist and internationally syndicated radio host Danko Jones is all about the electric six-strings. Indeed, his previous albums offer big guitars. But his band’s latest and sixth disc, Rock and Roll Is Black and Blue, sounds like Jones fnally fgured out how to generate riffs on superhero Thor’s mountainleveling, lightning-summoning hammer Mjölnir. Was this intentional or something the album’s producer, Matt DeMatteo, cooked up in the studio? “Actually, we told Matt we wanted to turn down the guitars,” Jones says. “But by trimming them, they ended up sounding bigger. In doubling guitar tracks in a studio, they sometimes sound thin. Our idea wasn’t to sound massive. We wanted the guitars to be earthier, more real.” It doesn’t get more real than Jones’ ultra-tight, Juno (Canadian Grammy)-nominated power trio— bassist John Calabrese and drummer Atom Willard. With the right musicians, a three-piece format proves

something that’s been done before sound unique and original. This is a rock band; there are touchstones.” Oddly, for all his reliance on the riff, Jones feels he’s a better singer. “I have my moments on guitar,” he says. “I have exemplary powerchord skills. For the music we do, that’s all I need. But my voice is where I’m strongest. I’m no Mariah Carey. I have enough power to sing in a band and stand out.” That power is evident on a gospel-infuenced track on Black and Blue: “I Believed in God,” which Jones delivers live as if leading a revival. In it, unrequited lust is described as spiritual pain: Praise God when you see her face/When she walks by you will speak His name/But when you’re brokenhearted/you’ll know where evil started. “People told me for years: ‘You’re like a preacher onstage.’ We’d never ventured in that direction before. What began as a simple Misfts punk song led to us bringing gospel singers into the studio. It became a bigger song than we’d intended.” Again, in the case of Danko Jones, small aims led to large gains. But don’t expect the singer-guitarist to chuck his electric in favor of a nowtrendy acoustic. “I love loud music,” he says. “It deserves more respect, but it just isn’t that way. Yeah, hard rock is vulgar at times, but the music is primal. That’s why we play it.”

It’s not too late, Vegas rock bands! Zia Records is still accepting submissions for its annual You Heard Us Back When music compilation before midnight strikes on March 8. The series is in its seventh volume and, according to a press release, the company has sold more than 5,500 copies. If you’re in a band, drop off a CD of your music at either of the two Zia stores in Las Vegas or send tracks digitally (preferably via an FTP-sharing site so you can submit high-quality files). Don’t forget to complete a submission form, accessible at Extra coolness: Proceeds from compilation sales, like every year, go to a nonprofit charity. The album will be released April 20, National Record Store Day. In last year’s edition (Vol. 6), local bands seemed, to my mind, underrepresented; the compilation also offers music by bands from Tucson and Phoenix. So let me take a moment to ass-prod the following groups that haven’t yet made an appearance in the series: Mercy Music, the Dirty Hooks, Demon Lung. As one of my all-time favorite bands, Blue Öyster Cult, once sang: Don’t miss the deadline, darling/It’s almost the deadline, darling/I couldn’t live if it happened to you. Vegas, represent! More good news: I confirmed with Seth Hyman, president and CEO of Negative Progression Records, that his Boston-San Francisco-New York label signed local upand-coming metalcore quintet Scream the Lie for a one-album deal with options. “They defy their youth by writing complex guitar riffs and intricate rhythms that are evolved well beyond their years,” Hyman says. “The band has the potential to be selling out venues all over the U.S. in time.” Let’s see if Scream the Lie makes good. Postponed show alert: San Francisco bluesrock quartet the Stone Foxes were set to stun Backstage Bar & Billiards this week, but the concert has been rescheduled for June 7. OK, awesome live music actually happening this week: 8 p.m. March 8, British piano-based alt-rock band A Silent Film unspools at Hard Rock Café on the Strip with Gold Fields and Royal Teeth. If you crave the widescreen majesty of Coldplay and Snow Patrol, this show should butter your popcorn. Finally, ’80s hard-rock/glam-metal band Kix kicks off an evening of fist-pumping music at Fremont Street Experience 9 p.m. March 9 on the 1st Street Stage. The band has radio hits, but my favorite tune is the obscure yet exquisitely titled “Bang Bang (Balls of Fire).” Hey, don’t laugh: Kip Winger co-wrote it!

successful. Consider bands such as Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana and ZZ Top. Jones pays homage to the latter by writing another song in honor of lovely female extremities titled, yep, “Legs.” “There’s room for two songs called ‘Legs,’” Jones says, laughing. “Once you hear the riff and the verse of my song, you already know the chorus. What else can you call it? Besides, I believe in the power of women’s legs more than anything.” It’s not like Jones wrote a song called “Hey Jude” or “Stairway to Heaven.” Still, with his new record, an impulse to acknowledge older artists is palpable. “Terrified” boasts Dave Grohl-grade riffs. The punked-up heavy-metal rhythm and middle-range bass in “Conceited” bear a whiff of Motörhead. “Always Away” kicks off with an AC/DC intro. Then there’s the Led Zep swagger of “You Wear Me Down.” “I’m guilty of revering classic bands,” says Jones, who started his band in ’96. “At least I’m honest. If you have a killer riff, you’re lying if you say you came up with it yourself. [There are] enough long-winded descriptions where people make

Photo by Calle Stoltz

Don’t Miss the DeaDline, Darling



Boyz II Men

The Terry Fator Theatre in The Mirage, March 1 After 21 years of singing together (sans original fourth member Michael McCary who left the group in 2003 for health reasons), Boyz II Men have established a legendary harmony. Their talent shined on this night of their new residency at The Mirage. Before they sang one note, Wanya Morris accidently knocked over his mic stand during some choreographed dance moves, but they kept the early tempo going strong then transitioned into what they do best: sing. They crooned “On Bended Knee,” grabbing attention. Their performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” left the crowd mesmerized. The group paid homage to the Motown era with the Temptations’ “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination” as well as the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There.” The tribute lifted the crowd to its feet as they sang along and danced in the aisles. The highlight was during “I’ll Make Love to You,” when the performers gave roses to the dozens of women (and a handful of men) who rushed to the stage to receive them. “Motownphilly” had everyone on their feet as the rare up-tempo song gave Morris a chance of redemption for his earlier mic-stand snafu. He performed dance solos of the “Running Man” and the “Roger Rabbit”—much to the staged aggravation of his group, but to the delight of the screaming audience. ★★★✩✩ – Brjden Crewe

March 7-13, 2013

Double Down Saloon, March 1



A group of boyish faces took the stage, but their performance proved them to be seasoned musicians, not amateurs. They’re a self-described garage band, but that label doesn’t do the savvy quintet justice. Trevor and the Joneses are an up-andcoming psychedelic rock group with a knack for grunge-laden guitar chords and explosive punk beats. Trevor’s modest demeanor juxtaposed his bold and pronounced vocals. “I wanna sneak ya around, in and out of sleazy bars downtown ... crawl inside your brain and turn it inside, inside out,” are some lyrics to “Sneak,” a song that got the crowd going. Other treasures included “Grooving at the Speed of Light,” a repetitive chant, and their last song, “Superslow,” a longer climactic piece. Although their set was short, lasting about 35 minutes, their performance didn’t seem rushed. Trevor writes the songs, but each member of the five-man band contributes to their elemental sound. The songs played were off their debut album, There Was Lightning. Although the Vegas natives formed the band just more than a year ago, the group already has the potential to be the next wave to hit the shores of obscure and respected indie rockers. Catch them again March 10, when they open for the Warlocks at Backstage Bar & Billiards, 601 Fremont Street. ★★★✩✩ – Ashley Gates

Boyz II Men photo by Brenton Ho; Trevor and the Joneses photo by Linda Evans

trevor and the Joneses


While the dancing sizzled, the rest of West Side Story fizzled. [ SHOW REVIEW ]

West side story mISSES balancE Of HEaRt and gRIt swooning romanticism but little of the edge Tony would need as Jets cofounder, dragged back into the world of gang violence. Few depictions have dared depart from that interpretation. Perhaps someday, a director will swallow hard, break with tradition and turn Tony back into a reformed thug with some remnant of steel, rather than a thoroughly gooey-hearted Romeo. Blessed with a voice both angelic and powerful, Coe did do marvelous justice to the iconic tunes, his heart seeming to burst through his chest on “Maria,” and giving our skin a tingle in “Tonight,” his duet with well-cast MaryJoanna Grisso as Maria. Dewy, pretty and brimming with naïve optimism, Grisso made Tony’s love plunge understandable, though she ultimately failed to tap the seething rage at her lover’s murder. As Anita, Maria’s saucy sister and Bernardo’s squeeze, Michelle Alves delivered the role’s trademark spark, though her featured number with the Shark gals, the dynamic “America,” suffered a mild case of lethargy. Several songs soared, including “The Rumble,” the Act I-ender that was a crescendo of love and rage, and “Somewhere,” staged as a surreal, white-backdrop fantasy as Tony and Maria yearn for “a place for us.” Dollops of Spanish dialogue and lyrics were doled out sparingly, never impeding the action for theatergoers who aren’t bilingual. Yet you know this classic has gone fatally wrong when the fnale’s intended emotional explosion—the shooting and death of tragic hero Tony—is met with scattered giggles. That’s truly a knife to the gut of West Side Story. ★★✩✩✩


tough to lift West Side Story off the runway with Jet-less Jets. Compromised by questionable casting and oddly inert, the tour of the 2009 Broadway revival of the 1957 classic ambled rather than rumbled through The Smith Center recently, its gritty essence gutted. Famously repositioning Romeo and Juliet in 1950s New York, West Side Story banks on menace and tension between warring gang kids, the American Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks, squaring off over the romance of ex-Jet Tony and his immigrant lover, Maria. Yet from the opening set piece, the dance in which the gangs taunt each other, the Jets are less thuggish than cartoonish, the toughness steamed out in favor of balletic grace—pretty, but an error from which the production never recovers. Though the Sharks are more predatory, both gangs were hampered by their leaders. Braying annoyingly as Jet honcho Riff, Theo Lencicki lacked magnetism, while Andres Acosta, though physically imposing, couldn’t summon the anger-fueled machismo of Bernardo, the Sharks’ kingpin. Only briefy did the Jets rev up, after Riff’s demise in Act II’s “Gee Offcer Krupke.” As Action, Riff’s successor, Guy Mandia Jr. energized the otherwise apathetic Jets. However, the most crucial misstep—the portrayal of love-smacked Tony—probably isn’t the fault of actor Addison Reid Coe, who was likely respecting a misguided tradition that has long afficted West Side Story. Following Larry Kert, the original stage Tony, Richard Beymer cemented the role in the public’s mind in the 1961 movie, imbuing the character with

March 7-13, 2013

By Steve Bornfeld



Hangover for the college set

This wild 21st-birthday party comedy gets legally crude By Roger Moore

Tribune Media Services oh, for those innocent days of yore, when The Hangover was a malady and not a movie. It seems like millennia since the binge comedy became the new normal. But here comes 21 and Over, taking rude to a new level of crude, a post-racial romp through one epic night on one Asian-American collegian’s 21st birthday. A couple of Hangover scribes co-wrote and directed this sometimes inspired, often funny and occasionally psychotic pub crawl through the long dark night of Jeff Chang’s soul. Scott Moore and Jon Lucas hope we know that it’s not “ripping off” if you’re ripping yourself off. Jeff Chang (Justin Chon from Twilight) is a catchphrase, a punch line and a punching bag,

all in one. As in “Just one beer, Jeff Chang.” And “Jeff Chang is a grown man and he made his own decisions.” And “I think we killed Jeff Chang.” He’s the Ken Jeong Hangover character here, a wild-partying break from Asian stereotypes. All he may want to do is sleep in the night before a big medical school interview. But his gonzo pal Miller (Miles Teller of Project X) and more responsible friend Casey (Skylar Astin of Pitch Perfect) want to get him blind drunk. All they have to do is take him back to his apartment, sober and cleaned up, by the time the kid’s comically stern dad (François Chau) shows up. Which we guess, from the flm’s opening scene, they won’t manage. Because Miller and Casey are

Two friends (Miles Teller and Skylar Astin) lead a birthday boy (Justin Chon, center) astray.

naked and branded, stalking across campus in the earlymorning light, muttering “This never happened” when we frst meet them. The night starts with beer, with Casey falling for Jeff Chang’s gal pal Nicole (Sarah Wright), and it staggers to a sorority house and a pep rally, from a progressive dorm drinking party concocted to resemble a multilevel video game (drink and compete your way to the roof) to the campus police station and infrmary. Jeff Chang is passed out.

Miller and Casey don’t remember his address. The night is their quest to get this student in a stupor back home, as Jeff Chang incoherently blurts out random needs like “Count Chocula.” Lucas and Moore swap the homophobic riffs of The Hangover for comical jabs at race—stumbling into a Latina sorority, a minefeld of Asian jokes and the odd Jewish jab. The dizzying drinking montage of how hapless Jeff Chang got into his stoned state is hilarious, cleverly cut

March 7-13, 2013

short reviews



Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩

This giant, straining blockbuster reinvents Jack and the Beanstalk, as see Jack gape; see Jack run; see Jack slay giants. Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men) directs, and the movie is a bit too much: too much yelling, too much running, too much flaming tree throwing. Jack (Nicholas Hoult) trades his horse for magic beans, and, you know, the beanstalk connects the human world and the world of giants. Mayhem ensues. As far as these things go, it’s just too much fantasy action for its own good.

Phantom (R) ★★✩✩✩

In March 1968, about 1,800 miles northwest of Oahu in the Pacific Ocean, the Soviet submarine K-129 exceeded its crush depth and imploded, for mysterious reasons. All crew were lost, and the sub sank with three ballistic nuclear missiles and two nuclear torpedoes. Capt. Dmitri Zubov (Ed Harris) does his best to hold off the alternately motivated KGB agents on board, one of which is played by the completely out-of-place David Duchovny. The movie is OK, but it’s remarkable that they could make a snoozer out of those reliably suspenseful subs.

Snitch (PG-13) ★★★✩✩

Loosely based on true events, this movie follows a father (Dwayne Johnson) who goes undercover for the DEA to nab drug kingpins in an effort to free his harshly sentenced son (Rafi Gavron). Gritty and noirish, this flick actually works. Behind the former Rock is a solid supporting cast, including drug kingpin Mr. Big (Benjamin Bratt), conniving politician (Susan Sarandon), ex-con turned partner Daniel (Jon Bernthal) and the middleman Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams). The action and violence are well balanced, and it’s pretty entertaining.

and packed with “Oh-no-hedidn’t” moments. 21 and Over becomes a drag when a gun shows up, when Jeff Chang’s dark secret and Miller’s embarrassing revelation come out, when the drunken-driving sight gag arrives. But the bottom line on this bottom-baring/bottom-branding farce is: “Is it funny, on top of all the shocks?” Yes, it is. On a number of occasions, all of them involving Jeff Chang. 21 and Over (R) ★★★✩✩

[  by tribune media services ]

Safe Haven (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩

The new Nicholas Sparks movie begins as a desperate young woman (Julianne Hough) flees the scene of a crime in Boston. Assuming a new haircut, Katie gets off the bus in Southport, North Carolina, gets a job at the diner and a cabin, and starts sharing smoldering looks with town widower dad (Josh Duhamel). Katie has something to hide; Duhamel has some grieving to do; and the filmmakers have some sunsets to film before things get violent and threatening. Which they do. It’s OK, but like most Sparks movies: meh.


Beautiful Creatures (PG-13)

A Good Day to Die Hard (R)

Based on the young adult novel, this film follows high school senior Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) who is plagued by a recurring Civil War-era nightmare. The girl in his dreams resembles the new girl in town, Lena (Alice Englert), who is a “caster,” or a person with supernatural abilities. Love between a mortal and a caster comes with its risks, of course. Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis support, but it’s not the strongest effort in the genre.

The fifth installment in the franchise, this film is a lousy action movie in its own right. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back, traveling to Moscow to retrieve his son (Jai Courtney). McClane the elder discovers his son is really a CIA spook trying to keep a Russian dissident (Sebastian Koch) alive long enough to turn over a top-secret file. Chase scenes are over the top, and the violence takes the film so very far away from what made the original movie so good.


Identity Thief (R) ★★✩✩✩

Side Effects (R) ★★★✩✩

Warm Bodies (PG-13) ★★★✩✩

Bullet to the Head (R) ★★✩✩✩

This goofy zombie comic-romance follows the undead fellow known as R (Nicholas Hoult), who “just wants to connect.” One day while hunting zombies, human Julie (Teresa Palmer) gets saved from being eaten by R, and both of their heartstrings go zing. The two of them fall for each other and wind up sparking a revolution. John Malkovich plays Julie’s father and leader of the movement keeping the zombies at bay. It’s a different twist on familiar themes, but lacks a certain something.

This sly film from Steven Soderbergh is a deftly plotted look at pharmacological states of mind. Emily (Rooney Mara) is a tense Manhattanite whose husband (Channing Tatum) gets out of prison. They struggle to connect, and Emily is prescribed antidepressants by her psychiatrist (Jude Law), who benefits from enrolling her in a drug trial. Blood eventually gets spilled, and Mara is a sphinx of an actress, never truly giving us a bearing on her character’s state of mind. It’s taut and worth seeing.

In this pretty cliché, grungy, uber-violent action flick, hit man Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) partners up with a crusading police detective played by Sung Kang, and the two get swept up in something to do with police corruption, skeezy development deals and an incriminating flash drive. Stallone is riveting in his way, and director Walter Hill (48 Hrs.) harkens back to action movies of old. It’s gory, brutal and you’ve seen it all before, but it’s not the worst movie ever.

March 7-13, 2013

Unfortunately, this road-trip movie fails its stellar stars. Denver businessman Sandy (Jason Bateman) discovers his identity has been stolen, his credit ruined. To fix things, he must track down the culprit, who happens to be Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a Florida con woman. The two go on the road to make things right, all the while followed by bounty hunters. Bateman and McCarthy are great performers and likeable, but the material is so dreadfully inferior, there’s just not much to see here.




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7 questions The Nuclear Waste Task Force leader on her long Yucca Mountain battle, her ally in the White House and the perils of nuclear energy

March 7-13, 2013

By Heidi Kyser



Sitting in an overstuffed armchair bathed in sunlight, Judy Treichel is the portrait of a patient grandmother, completely unfazed by the coffehouse’s hissing espresso machine and the repeated “whack!” as the front door opens and closes behind her. Given her calm disposition, passersby would surely be surprised to discover that this sweet elderly woman has long been Nevada’s fercest anti-nuclear-waste activist. Since 1988, Treichel—who is the executive director of the Nuclear Waste Task Force, the main body opposing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository—has remained a steady force in the face of frequent ups and downs (see our Yucca Mountain time line at For instance, even though President Obama pulled the plug on the project late last year, as Treichel sipped her coffee on a crisp winter day, she was awaiting a federal district court decision on whether the Department of Energy could force the administration to go ahead with Yucca Mountain anyway. Game not over. Maybe. Again. And yet Treichel laughs gently at questions that would irritate most anti-nuclear activists, which is remarkable given she’s been hearing—and answering—such questions for a quarter century. You’ve been at this for 25 years. What’s kept you going? I’ve been really careful not to burn out. When you work in a public-interest feld, you meet people who no longer have any friends or family members that will be around them, because ev-

eryone’s sick of being inundated with the issue. There’s almost always something you can fnd that’s amusing about this whole thing. … Also, if you get into something because you believe it’s the moral thing to do, it appears that getting out is immoral.

How about the low point? In the early ’90s, when they actually started digging the tunnel inside the mountain. Why not store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain? People were against it from the very beginning, just because nobody wanted to sit next to a garbage dump of radioactive material. That was the immediate reaction. Then, as [awareness built], people realized we weren’t total strangers to

radiation, because of what had gone on at the Nevada Test Site. People who have been here a long time generally knew someone who had lost farm animals, or had a lot of miscarriages, or had children with something wrong with them. With the Test Site, we’d given when we needed to give, patriotically. So why would we need to take another one for the country, or for the nuclear program? As time went on, scientists demonstrated that it wasn’t a good site, that it couldn’t contain the waste. It was located over the water table, so water draining through there would contaminate a valuable aquifer. All the studies and outcomes kept getting worse. If not Yucca, then where is our government supposed to put the waste? No. 1, I don’t know. Scientists don’t know, because they haven’t checked anywhere else. And the big mistake they made was in choosing just one site, and putting all their eggs in one economic basket. You couldn’t do any comparisons, and you automatically had Nevadans fghting, because they realized they’d been selected against their will. Second, it’s insane that we’re asking this question now when we already have [accumulated nuclear waste]. When John

Glenn was in the Senate, he said, “This is like if they’d sent me up in space and once I got there, they started thinking about how they’d get me back.” They should always have known what they were going to do with the stuff they produced. That train having left the station, who should decide what to do with the waste? President Obama put in place a blue-ribbon commission, and they came up with recommendations. The frst was that you have a consensual or volunteer site, that you don’t impose it on anyone. The question now is, do you frst determine what kind of geological setting would be most suitable, and then ask for [volunteers]? Or do you see who’s interested in hosting a facility like this, and then see if their spot works? Is your goal to see nuclear energy just go away, or is that a different fght? I think nuclear-generated electricity is nuts. If you want to create steam, there’s a lot of ways to boil water; you don’t have to do it like this. Many people have said using nuclear energy to create electricity is like setting your dinner table with a chain saw instead of a butter knife. It’s such tremendous overkill.

Photo by Anthony Mair

Judy Treichel

What was the high point for you? When [the Obama] administration decided to seek to withdraw the license application and just stop Yucca Mountain. For years, we had said to each other, “How do we know when this thing is over? How do we know if we won?” It would be hurry up and wait. Or it would get bogged down in funding. Sometimes we thought people would just forget or it would go away. Then, fnally, the Obama administration said it was going to end the project. They were shocked—and so was I—to have [the Department of Energy] take it to court and say [the administration] can’t do that. Have you ever heard of someone with a project saying, “I don’t want to do it anymore,” and then being forced to anyway? It’s bizarre.

Vegas Seven Magazine | Moving On  

Haunted by the ghosts of the boom, the Valley seeks a new way to grow. Six leaders and thinkers ponder the rocky path ahead. Plus: Grading t...

Vegas Seven Magazine | Moving On  

Haunted by the ghosts of the boom, the Valley seeks a new way to grow. Six leaders and thinkers ponder the rocky path ahead. Plus: Grading t...