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EvEnt

Wet and Wild

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[ upcoming ]

Aug. 23 Love & Art Benefit for Off-Strip Productions at Onyx Theatre (OnyxTheatre.com) Sept. 6-7 Wine Amplified Festival at Mandalay Bay Beach (WineAmplified.com)

Photos by teddy Fujimoto

August 15–21, 2013

What’s the best way to fight back against the summer heat? For 1,650 runners on Aug. 10, the answer to that question was a 5k event benefiting the Las Vegas Academy, the city’s magnet school dedicated to performing and visual arts. The inaugural Sprinkler Sprint washed over a Downtown course that featured a misting tunnel, water cannon and Super Soaker blasts, and a popsicle stop. After splashing past the finish line on a Slip ’N Slide, the runners air-dried at an after-party on the Las Vegas Academy athletic field.


Ready for action (sports): Tal Cooperman, Shaun Neff and Aaron Levant.

The Agenda Takeover

An apparel trade show of a diferent kind makes its Las Vegas debut

August 15–21, 2013

By Jen Chase

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for The fIrsT time since its launch 10 years ago, the action-sports apparel trade show Agenda is headed for Las Vegas. Since the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says more than 21,615 shows hit the Strip every year, Agenda’s arrival would seem fairly unremarkable if it weren’t for its totally unVegas-like rep. The multimillion-dollar show to be held August 19-21 at the Sands Expo and

Convention Center is known for its subtle, bare-bones approach to trade-showing and for handpicking independent and big-time niche clothing brands to feature—brands worn like a uniform by the fans and athletes of streetskate-surf-snow sports. And where most shows are about glamming up booths to attract buyers, Agenda’s rule of no bikinied babes, music or swag—and its bargainbasement booth fees—have

helped brands on the verge of making it big get their products seen by distributors, brands such as Shaun Neff’s Neff Headwear. “[Agenda] aligned perfectly with our brand … and with where I wanted to take the brand,” says Neff, founder, CEO and creative director of the surf, skate and snow clothing line Neff Headwear that has collections with Deadmau5, Snoop Dogg, Mac Miller and Damian Marley,

among others. From 2002-09, Neff schlepped his company’s beanies, T-shirts and the like at trade shows across the country. Frustrated that too often he’d be stuck in an aisle amid a mish-mosh of 50 different brands selling to different age groups because of a lack of proper vendor curation, he moved his business to Agenda. “[Agenda] represents [Neff Headwear’s] lifestyle and culture,” he says. “It’s exciting to know you’re going to sit and be in the right place at the right show.” With biannual stops in New York City and Long Beach, California, Agenda never aspired to join the Las Vegas fray until there was good reason, and for the show’s 30-year-old founder, Aaron

Levant, 2013 was the year to hit the desert. “Even though [Agenda] is very successful financially, I’m a big believer in you have to do something for the right reasons, and the financial reward will come afterward,” Levant says. “A lot of my customers were coming to me saying, ‘Hey, we really need a show [in Las Vegas]; we’re not happy with the existing show.’ It wasn’t until it reached critical mass where everyone needed it and wanted it [that] it became a necessity.” Levant founded Agenda at 19 after a few entrepreneurial starts and stops, one of which was launching his own streetwear brand, Matador, while working at Gypsies and Thieves (later renamed Green Apple Tree, or GAT). The com-

Photo by anthony mair, shot on location at the Pioneer saloon in goodsPrings

THE LATEST

sTyle


The Accountability Dominoes

In the era of standardized tests, ‘better’ always seems to mean ‘more’— and that affects every phase of education. A look at the battle surrounding assessment. BY HEIDI KYSER

Cody Janoff isn’t stupid; he just stinks at tests. He’s that kid—you know the one: bright, social, verbal, yet can’t line up the digits on a math problem. But Cody, a freshman at Cimarron-Memorial High School, has a secret weapon: his stepmom, Amy, a special-education teacher in the Clark County School District with a master’s degree in her feld. Since ffth grade, when Cody’s grades in math and reading started to nosedive, Amy has been pulling every trick out of her professional bag: consulting with teachers to see what was happening in class; posting sticky notes with hints and shortcuts on the wall by the table where Cody does his homework; putting him on the computer with educational games; sitting with him for two hours a night while he struggles through assignments. All to no avail. As Cody progressed through ffth, sixth and seventh grades, his Criterion Referenced Test, or CRT, scores went down, down, down. His eighth-grade reading teacher at Ernest Becker Middle School reported that he was doing fne in class; his math teacher went above and beyond the call of duty, spending extra time with Cody both inside and outside class to help him grasp the concepts. When their son would score a “D” on a quiz, Amy and Mike, Cody’s dad, would post it on the fridge as a sign of success. They’re awaiting his eighth-grade CRT report with hope … and trepidation. “He doesn’t test well,” Amy says with a sigh. “And he hates it so much.” There’s a lot to hate. CRTs are given each spring in twohour blocks, three days a week, for two weeks—one example of American schools’ unique, fll-in-the-bubble reality. Such standardized tests are part of a snowball that started several decades ago with the simple idea of holding schools accountable for the funding they receive, and has since bowled down the slopes of the U.S. educational system, picking up proponents from government and test-publishing companies, and crushing many good intentions in its path. Today, buzzwords such as “accountability,” “assessment,” “measurement” and “outcomes” are hallmarks of the standardized-test movement; its fag-bearers are called “reformers.” They believe in the power of data to improve instruction. In Clark County, this data is gathered several times during the school year. Third-through-eighth graders have the an-

August 15–21, 2013

nual, state-mandated CRTs, which are being replaced by new

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tests (more on that later), and thrice yearly county-required assessments. Tenth-through-12th graders have high school profciency exams, which determine whether they graduate, and career and college readiness assessments, such as the ACT and SAT. There are also several tests tailored specifcally to English Language Learners, special-education and other categories of students. This is the litany of trials that Cody Janoff and his 300,000 or so peers in the school district face each year. The question is: What good, if any, is it all doing them?


The Education Issue

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school called the STEAM Academy—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. She greets the janitor by name; she sweet-talks the campus’ tortoises in the courtyard; she points to a giant outdoor chess set—every kid at this school learns chess in the third grade. Critical thinking. I’m about to assert that it’s time to give up on public education, particularly of the traditional classroom variety. Decker has heard my line of doubt so many times, she’s answering me before I fnish reciting the horrors of the CCSD educational sinkhole, and our conversation becomes a familiar duet: Me: It’s a transient community where it’s diffcult to recruit and retain qualifed teachers; it’s

a community based on loweducation jobs that has no state income-tax pot; we have a growing English-as-a-second-language population that needs more attention in the classroom; 60 percent of our kids qualify as food-needy for free meals at school ... Decker: Community? Did I hear you say the word ‘community?’ That’s the point. There’s a way to fx everything. If the school district can’t help, someone else can. Parents, ideally; more likely a civic group or a business willing to donate mentors and time and money. Me: Now, that’s magical thinking. She stops and ticks off a list of businesses and civic organizations that have given generously to Bracken: the Las

Vegas Rotary Club, MGM Resorts, the Starbucks down the street, some neighborhood teenagers. For Decker, community is key for students, for teachers and for the success of education. Social interaction isn’t only critical between kids of all kinds in classrooms, but between schools and the community—it’s a reciprocal relationship. We walk on. I notice a giant periodic table on the science classroom wall, next to a poster showing the life cycle of a plant from seed to seedgiver; and nearby, a line of potted plants kids are raising. Chemistry, ecological cycles, community. I get it. But not every campus hosts a magnet school where attentive parents want to send their kids, and which draws

the attention of donors with its specific mission. The hard truth is that many schools aren’t very good at either networking with the community or socializing children, and these failures are mutually reinforcing—particularly when the common refrain, constantly reiterated in the media, is that our schools are terrible. And throughout the school district, many parents I spoke with expressed concern that they’re sending their kids off to schools where, due to a variety of challenges in the classroom, they’re ultimately “just a number.” Large class sizes leave some teachers struggling to control illbehaved kids, and test-score obsession leaves much to be desired in nurturing positive

socialization. As one parent put it, “They just soak up all kinds of garbage from their peers there.” So while we continue touring Bracken, I’m thinking the “It Takes a Village” approach seems as passé as “Just Do It” in this educational climate where polemical debates about core curriculum and testing have created a cottage industry of educational policy paralysis. Because our village is a little sketchy, right? In May, a 15-year-old CCSD student was killed on the street during the theft of his iPad. One of the suspects, now awaiting trial, was an 18-year-old high school baseball star. In 2012, a couple of other students were charged with criminal assault after video-recording

PHOTOS BY JON ESTRADA

August 15–21, 2013

Principal Katie Decker is determined to give the kids at Bracken Elementary a sense of possibility; the career paintings in the school’s hallway help push the message.


“But,” she says, “I believe in public schools. I believe they have value to the students and to the community.”

THE PUBLIC SCHOOL DREAM It seems like that’s an excellent place to reframe the education conversation—by asking frst whether, as a community, we’re committed to the ideal values of public education. If we can remember them. “Community” is a bit of a hot word in Las Vegas. People are somewhat obsessed with a perceived lack of community here, given the transience and suburban sprawl. Locals are frequently defensive about the “no-community” allegation from outsiders, and the last several years have brought a

proud, sometimes clamorous movement to build—or rebuild—an authentic community, starting Downtown and moving outward. We’re pretty focused on the idea that creating more face-to-face, spontaneous interaction between different types of people in one densely populated city will spawn creativity and lead to more culture and business. So the way that Decker confates the value of community in school and school in community is noteworthy. For starters, by putting everyone in a classroom, we’re teaching the fundamental value of togetherness rather than, well, encouraging educational sprawl. But to be even more wonky: Historically and ideally, public education in America has

served as an institution to unite a diverse population of immigrants. The goal: to provide an equal opportunity to advance socially, culturally and economically. The state-bystate spread of public schools after the Revolutionary War (yes, I just went to the Crossing of the Delaware in a story about the CCSD) was an antidote to a rigidly stratifed world in which education had been reserved for the wealthy and primarily delivered by churches. Notions of equality and diversity have always been at the core of public schools in the United States. Call it magical, absurd thinking, but compulsory, government-funded education should enable the people—in a nation governed by the people, after all—to participate effectively in the Great

August 15–21, 2013

the old classroom model? Shouldn’t we be pursuing new, small-group or individualized models that leave the traditional classroom and its discontents behind? Decker gives me a look. She takes a deep breath—perhaps the frst in hours, days, weeks. She stops mid-stride and tells me that her own sisters—her own sisters!—home-school their kids; some in-town, some out-of-town. “Listen,” Decker says. “Everyone’s different.” It’s a refrain I will hear again and again when asking experts and parents and teachers and bureaucrats and students about their educational philosophies, about their ideas for improvement, about whether we need to re-confgure the classroom model. Or ditch it.

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themselves punching a disadvantaged kid—bullying now stretches from the playground to Facebook to sexting and back. In 2011, one local principal made national news for trying to help indigent parents pay their electric bills—causing a brouhaha among teachers and other principals: Was that now their responsibility, too? And how can they teach kids to read in an impoverished climate like that? And why should the kids with better family lives lose traction while waiting for the others? So I ask Decker the questions again in the context of this bigger picture: What are we getting our kids into? Is it really worth it to send them to public school anymore—is there still any social value in


Pat Skorkowsky has a chance to be a transformative figure. As the new superintendent of the nation’s fifthlargest school district in a state widely regarded as having one of the worst-performing education systems in America, he really doesn’t have much choice. After 25 years as a teacher, principal and administrator in the Clark County School District, he’s well aware of the challenge—and he knows that to succeed, he’ll need the support of teachers, parents, government and the business community. That’s a lot to ask, so we asked him how he hopes to get started. You emphasize the “importance of ensuring the academic success of every child.” But what does that mean? Better test scores? Or some harder-to-measure kind of intellectual growth? Academic success is not only being able to master skills; it’s also being able to think critically and interpret information and make a judgment based on the information. It can’t just be a multiple-choice question; it can’t just be the assessment and getting a good grade on the assessment. It has to be being able to think, being able to synthesize information, being able to write it. But with the Common Core Standards coming on board, and the concomitant push to testing and standardization, what will happen to teacher creativity in the classroom? The Common Core requires students to analyze and synthesize, not just know facts so they can pass a multiplechoice test. English [department chairs] in many high schools have been working on developing curriculum for the last three or more years, before it was even required to do so, and they have been coming up with really creative stuff. Now, we don’t know exactly what the assessments are going to look like at this point, so I can’t say exactly how we are going to approach that piece, but they will be focused on analysis and synthesis. Students will have to read a piece of text and identify what the writer is saying and what the writer used to support what he or she was saying. In math, meanwhile, we are at least one or two semesters behind our international counterparts, and the Common Core is written to meet international standards, not national standards. Most countries do not run their math the way we do. They don’t have Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, etc. They blend them all together. You have said one of your primary goals is class-size reduction. What are your target numbers? We want average class sizes between 26- and 30-to-1 studentteacher ratio in core high school classes and 15-to-1 in grades K-3.

BY KURT C. RICE

August 15–21, 2013

The county’s new school boss on assessment, creativity and the role of parents

How should parents assess your performance? With any job you have to be accountable. I am accountable directly to the Board of Trustees and to the parents as well, because it’s my job to ensure their child gets the best possible education. We’re going to be rolling out some specific pieces that are going to have accountability so that everybody knows what they can expect from me. At the elementary level, that means determining that they are proficient in reading, language arts and mathematics. The middle school level is about making sure they’re ready for high school. In high school, it’s about getting them ready for whatever their next step might be. It’s making sure that they have the classes they need to graduate, that they do not need go into remediation courses in their freshman year [of college], or that they’re ready to start a career. And it’s about making sure they get that diploma. If they don’t have that, so many doors are shut to them.

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PHOTO BY ANTHONY MAIR

“It Can’t Just Be a Multiple-Choice Question”

You’d like parents to get more involved with struggling schools. What are the challenges in making sure that happens? We have the most difficulty in areas where parents are maybe working two jobs, and we haven’t given them the access that would enable them to participate. Another aspect is that we have many schools with large English-languagelearner populations, and yet we have no one at the front desk who can speak the parents’ language. Making schools more accessible for parents and encouraging participation are two of my top priorities.


nightlife

parties

Xs Nightswim Encore

[ Upcoming ]

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See more photos from this gallery at SpyOnVegas.com

PHOTOS BY dannY maHOneY

August 15–21, 2013

Aug. 18 Max Vangeli spins Aug. 25 Will.I.Am spins Sept. 1 David Guetta spins


nightlife

parties

rehab

Hard Rock Hotel [ Upcoming ]

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See more photos from this gallery at SpyOnVegas.com

PHOTOS BY JOE FURY

August 15–21, 2013

Aug. 16 Summer Camp Fridays Aug. 17 Nectar Saturdays Aug. 19 Relax Mondays


nightlife

parties

Marquee Dayclub The Cosmopolitan [ Upcoming ]

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See more photos from this gallery at SpyOnVegas.com

PHOTOS BY BrenTO HO, karl larSOn and POwerS imagerY

August 15–21, 2013

Aug. 16 Gregori Klosman spins Aug. 17 Chuckie spins Aug. 18 Kaskade’s Summer Lovin


nightlife

parties

Body english Hard Rock Hotel [ Upcoming ]

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See more photos from this gallery at SpyOnVegas.com

PHOTOS BY JOE FURY, DEREK DEGNER AND MARIO GARCIA

August 15–21, 2013

Aug. 17 Destructo & Friends spin Aug. 23 BASSrush featuring Crizzly Aug. 24 Crazibiza


nightlife

parties

the Bank Bellagio

[ Upcoming ]

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See more photos from this gallery at SpyOnVegas.com

PHOTOS BY AMIT DADLANEY AND TONY TRAN

August 15–21, 2013

Aug. 16 L.A. Model Takeover Aug. 17 The Dream performs Aug. 31 Common performs


drinking [ Scene StirS ]

August 15–21, 2013

For Bustillos’ recipe for the Equality cocktail, visit VegasSeven.com/ Cocktail-Culture.

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No Gray Area equaliTy is a black and white issue— something either is or is not equitable. Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) annually celebrates equality and the care it provides for Southern Nevadans living with AIDS with an over-the-top blackand-white ball where equality is always in fashion. This year, Back Bar USA mix-

ologist Jair Bustillos was particularly inspired by the bold red-and-white “Equal Rights” symbol that swept through social media channels this summer. His Equality cocktail is the offcial libation of AFAN’s 2013 Black & White Party on August 24 at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel (AFANLV.org), where samples are

Wildfires notwithstanding, camping season has at last arrived on Mount Charleston, that blissful, fleeting window of time between “It is way too hot to hike!” and “Hey, there’s snow on my tent!” In other words, I’ll be up there every chance I get, waiting out the rest of the summer with my growler of Big Dog’s Red Hydrant Brown Ale like a happy, hoppy hermit. But if you’re hell-bent on sticking it out, I recommend you road test this recipe for Candice Kumai’s Summertime Melon-Mint Wine-sicles, starring Woodbridge moscato (pictured below), at VegasSeven.com/Melon-Mint-Wine-sicles. While you’re online, check out DTLV. com/Frequency for the streamed interview I did with Freakin’ Frog/Whisky Attic proprietor Adam carmer. The UNLV prof and I occupied the corner of The Beat Coffeehouse on August 1 for a 15-minute on-camera chat demonstrating Carmer’s patent-pending spirits-evaluation method, called C-STEM, and to get an update on Carmer’s latest project, Freakin’ Lightning, which he developed with his brother. The American Spirit whiskey is popping up at a number of rather tony spots around town. That might have a little to do with the fact that Carmer has taught thousands of local food-and-beverage professionals over the years. Freakin’ Lightning is also a great, versatile base spirit that plays well with others. Check out the product locator on FreakinLightning.com. Velveteen Rabbit hosted the inaugural meeting of Barley’s Angels LV on August 3, a meet-up for ladies who enjoy, respect and appreciate craft beer. The Las Vegas chapter, helmed by Nevada’s first female certified cicerone, Sarah Johnson, will gather on the first Saturday of each month (next meeting is Sept. 7) keeping its focus on beer education, appreciation and camaraderie. Angels: Go to Facebook.com/ Barleys.AngelsLV to join us! In further beer news, Anthony esparza, the general manager who devoted himself to Italian beer, making Fiamma the destination in Las Vegas for Italian beer-lovers, has moved to Comme Ça in the Cosmopolitan. Might there be an awesome French/Belgian/Canadian beer menu in our future, Mr. Esparza? I certainly hope so! – X.W. For more scene stirrings and shake-ups, visit VegasSeven.com/Cocktail-Culture.

complimentary with your ticket to the soiree. The drink is also simple enough to make at home for your own event (Ketel One vodka, muddled raspberries, lime juice, simple syrup and ginger beer), by the glass or as a punch. And if you mind Bustillos’ recipe, it should be equally as good!

Equality CoCktail Photo by luCky wEnzEl

Dining

Wine-sicles, dTlV’s Frequency and Barley’s angels


Gastro Fare. Nurtured Ales. Jukebox Gold.


Wallace opened for Diana Ross at Caesars Palace in 2010 “for old times’ sake.”

couple of acts before him—and no, I won’t name them. Gee: I’ve heard headliners many times backstage tell someone not to do certain jokes. Bodden: It is totally unfair. If you can’t follow them, you shouldn’t be the headliner. It’s one thing to do topics, but it’s another to do specifc jokes, like, “That joke’s too funny, don’t do that.” Wallace: Some comedians will tell an opening act, “Hey, I’ve got a bid on that.’” If you’re the headliner, you should be able to cover that subject with or without that joke. You take a different approach to the joke. But some comedians think something is their territory, but no territory belongs to anybody.

Bodden: But you don’t want to range too far apart. You don’t want somebody who is completely blue and about sex—you don’t want Lisa Lampanelli and George Wallace on the same show—unless you can adapt. Recently, me and Andrew Dice Clay, we had two shows at the same casino in Connecticut and we got snowed in and they combined our shows, so I wound up opening for Dice. We’re completely different. But because I’ve done a lot of military shows and I know that raucous crowd, I was

able to instantly adapt to do Dice’s crowd. DON’T FRET ABOUT THE STAR. JUST BLOW ’EM AWAY …

Gee: It doesn’t happen a lot, but people will come up to me after the show in Las Vegas and say, “You were the best part of the show.” I’m not pleased by that, because I immediately think the show must have not been very good because I was only up there for 15 minutes. Then there’s the luck of the draw. On a particular night, I could be on and the headliner could be off. Minervini: Any headliner worth their salt, the last thing they are worried about is you being terrifc. Wallace: You don’t want your opening act to do better than

you, but if you’re the headliner, that is your job. I tell all young comedians, “Blow the hell off that stage, make the headliner follow you.” And as an opener, you better be good, because you know when I come out, I’m kicking ass. Alexander: With George, if you kill, he would bring you back and say how great you were. We used to do 10 minutes just talking to each other. Johnson: I still get nervous, but with Eddie [Griffn], he’s like, “Do you to the full. Don’t hold nothing back.” At the same time, I know my lane. They are there to hear Mr. Griffn. I throw my punches, wake up the crowd, then I get out. SOMETIMES THE HEADLINER IS KIND OF A (FILL IN THE BLANK) …

Bellows: It doesn’t happen with Eddie, but it does happen where a headliner is like, “You won’t be upstaging me, I’m the star.” And I’ve heard a lot about headliners stealing material [from openers]. Gee: I get upset when I hear the comedy industry depicted as a bunch of back-stabbers. I’ve never seen that. Bodden: There are times when you are funnier than the headliner, and that can be a little frustrating. That happens when you’re opening for somebody who is like, a TV star but not really a comedian. Sometimes comedy clubs put really strong people in front of the big TV star. The venue doesn’t want you to come to see Chucky TV star and leave saying, “That wasn’t funny,” so they want you to laugh at a

ON THE FLIP SIDE …

Alexander: But I’ve worked with headliners who were really great. I remember I did not do well in Ottawa with Julio because they wanted a French-Canadian comedian. They were stomping their feet. They really hated me. I said, “You can stomp all you want, but Julio is not even in the building yet. You’ve got 20 minutes to stomp, or you can watch me.” They booed and hissed and I just went on. I got offstage and I said to Julio, “I know it wasn’t a good show. If you want, I’ll meet you in Pittsburgh,” which was our next American stop. And he goes, “You are not the opener, I am not the closer—we are just, ‘The Show.’”

August 15–21, 2013

PHOTO BY CASHMAN PHOTO

Wallace: Your job is to be a comedian, make people happy, warm them up. Just make everybody comfortable. You’ve got to be who you are, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. You can’t worry about what somebody else does.

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“I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING: ‘I DON’T KNOW WHO THE HELL THIS GUY IS.’ BUT THAT’S OK. YOU GO TO A RESTAURANT AND ORDER A SANDWICH AND YOU GET A PICKLE. YOU NEVER ORDERED THE PICKLE, BUT YOU LIKE THE PICKLE.” – Max Alexander

Minervini: Most singers, they throw a couple of jokes into their act. With Paul Anka, it was constantly, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” I was like, “You’re Paul Freakin’ Anka, what are you worried about?” Jerry Vale comes up to me and says, “You don’t have to do the joke about the guy shot eight times with his hands tied behind his back, the worst case of suicide I’ve ever seen.” I said, “No, I don’t do any jokes.” He said, “What kind of comedian are you?” I said, “I just talk about my family.” Later his son comes in and says, “Listen, Jerry doesn’t want you going on.” I said, “What?” He was used to the Borscht Belt, two-guyswalk-into-a-bar comedy. At that point it’s just a money gig, and you just say, “I’d rather not work in that environment.”


a&e

PoP Culture

The Undead Hordes are Singing

Zombies, necromancy and the new rules for pop success

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I never set out to hear “Blurred Lines.” No one listens to Robin Thicke songs on purpose. But there it was, coming from, literally, everywhere. On commercials, on the radio, in stores, at work, just leaving work, on the way home from work, on the other end of my phone when my grandmother calls and just starts humming it, being barked in harmony by a pack of wild dogs roaming the alley behind Beauty Bar. It wasn’t until on a Saturday morning at an hour that could only be classifed as “Wait, there’s such a thing as 5:45 a.m.?” and the bassline came pulsing through my neighbor’s walls that I realized I’d heard that song before. And not just behind Beauty Bar. A few minutes of furious Googling later, I had my answer. It was Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” Also known as “One of the several über-’70s songs on the Boogie Nights soundtrack chosen specifcally to signify just how ’70s everything is.” Now here comes Thicke to the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool August 17 (8 p.m., $35) dragging behind him the summeriest of summer jams, having improbably taken the title from the presumptive heir to the Summer Jam 2013 crown from Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” It’s amazing what a video full of topless models can do for your song. It’s also not surprising that Pharrell is heavily invested in both songs. Thicke told Radio.com that “Got to Give It Up” was his favorite song. He told Pharrell he wanted to do something that sounded like

that, so they got together in the studio and recorded their own version of it. The whole thing was written in an hour. Because while he might be a musician in his own right and one of the most accomplished producers of the last 10 years, Pharrell is equal parts Tin Pan Alley and tobacco company. He doesn’t just give you a product you want, he’s in there with some science, manipulating your pleasure centers for maximum addiction. And he’s doing it, like several others are now, through the power of pop-music necromancy. Say what you will about the era of heavy-duty sampling. What we’re seeing now is a different beast. This isn’t Tone Loc using “Jamie’s Crying” as the bedrock for “Wild Thing.” This isn’t even Vanilla Ice cribbing “Under Pressure” for “Ice Ice Baby.” (Feel free to add your own examples from cheeseball ’90s hip-hop as you will.) That’s the kind of thing that still, in the parlance of Chopped, “transforms the ingredients.” Instead, there’s Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment.” It starts like every other Pitbull song. Pulsing beats, swelling chorus, stupid, pseudoaspirational lyrics. Then, 42 seconds in, there’s the main hook from A-Ha’s “Take on Me.” No rapping over it, no isolation of some drum line, just a blatant “Hey, remember ‘Take on Me?’ You liked that one, right?” It’s the Family Guy approach to music. At least it distracts you from all that Pitbull in the rest of the song. That seems to be the point, though, with Flo Rida’s

“Take on Me,” and to a lesser extent with Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.” It’s the same reason Battleship ever became a movie: Because you are familiar with it, and that’s less of a risk for the people bankrolling projects than putting out something new. That’s not necessarily a new complaint: You can go back to “Stairway to Heaven,” which Led Zep essentially stole from Spirit’s “Taurus.” At least, though, the rules always used to be you either took a lesser-known artist’s work and passed it off as your own, or else you took something and rearranged it enough that it was something sort of new. Now the idea is more to appeal to your audience by presenting them, knowingly, with the familiar.

So what does this have to do with the Zombie Apocalypse? If you’re not up on your eschatological trends (or if you haven’t been drawn into endless conversations about The Walking Dead), the Zombie Apocalypse is the hottest thing going for the end times. It is, of course, the most navel-gazing of all our apocalypses. There’s not the otherness of a robopocalypse, the Viking doom of Ragnarok or the natural fury of a sharknado. It is us, being devoured by us, endlessly. But that’s what’s so great about it: You don’t have to get lasered into oblivion by some (literally) faceless Terminator. You can get eaten by your neighbor, Tim. “Hey there neighbor. What’s that? You want to borrow a cup of brains? Well of course. Don’t

want to be selfsh after you loaned me those hedge clippers 14 years ago and I kept them in my garage ever since.” This, incidentally, is why video-on-demand is showing more and more frst-run movies, such as Only God Forgives and Lovelace. It’s a comfort-zone thing. It’s a suffocating, stultifying comfort-zone thing sometimes, but it’s a comfort-zone thing nonetheless. Which, you know, there’s nothing wrong with having a comfort zone in and of itself. It’s great, up until you realize the only reason you like a song is because it makes you think of another, better song you used to dig (or at least tolerate), years ago. That and until the wild dogs get to the part where T.I. raps. Then it’s just unnerving.

photo IllustratIon by chrIstopher a jones

August 15–21, 2013

By Jason Scavone


stage

have two modes in bed—“getting your weenie touched, and waiting to get your weenie touched.” With his likable regular dude-liness, Allen makes for a right-on! male mouthpiece, but with an aw-shucks undercurrent that charms the ladies and never offends—just as this mild but entertaining material intends. Now that The D* Word has sashayed onto its cutesy-whiny turf as its female counterpoint, Defending the Caveman at least seems less lonely as an exercise in obviousness. As pop culture produces more complex gender depictions in such shows as HBO’s Girls, or points up how far we’ve come from the lopsided male-female dynamic of the 1960s in Mad Men, both productions are strangely comforting in their retro-simplistic approach to the eternal guy-gal pull-tug. Recalling the Paleozoic comedy age—when gay marriage and women in power positions were faraway notions—Defending the Caveman embodies an antique zinger from late comedian Alan King: “You know why women live longer than men? Because they’re not married to women.” Everybody together now … kvetch. STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Now that comely, mammary-blessed Pin Up star Claire Sinclair is shedding those pesky garments that obscure her assets—well nearly, at least down to pasties—the Stratosphere show has promoted it by mailing nipple shields to media members. Yes—star-shaped “Nippies” arrived at my desk. I’ve been testing them at home. … More than that, you don’t want to know. Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.

August 15–21, 2013

Fairness demands this declaration … I Am Man. Hear Me Kvetch. After all, last week’s column led a review of The D* Word at LVH with “I am woman—hear me kvetch.” Yet Mars and Venus are equally kvetchy when you consider Defending the Caveman at Harrah’s, now with a new Freddy Flintstone-type in the lead role. As with the four-woman D*, the veteran, one-man Caveman is a modest bauble of a show that its new defender of the male realm, Chris Allen—who recently took over from departed Kevin Burke—handles with similar gender-befuddled aplomb. With a comedy pedigree highlighted by his training with The Second City, Allen’s got the shambling, averageschlub persona nailed, but stepping into a stereotype isn’t exactly an assignment out of the Actors Studio. Sometimes a new star can shift the direction of a show; other times it’s merely rotating the tires and getting back on the road, the latter being true here. Entering after a video starring Allen and his wife underlining the usual clichés—she’s obsessed with her clothing closet, he guzzles milk out of the carton, yadda-yadda—he delivers the standard defense against the men-areassholes mindset. Men think differently. Talk differently. Process feelings differently. Interpret signals differently. And women don’t speak the lingo. Next are nuggets of behavioral observations: Women are about “cooperation,” men are into “negotiation” (whichever guy loses the excuses game has to get his lazy ass up to refll the snack bowl); women use 5,000 words a day, men only 2,000 (women write long, fowery texts and men respond with “K”); women “have these amazing brains” (female cheers!), but conversely “are not hindered by logic” (male grunts of approval); men

95 VEGAS SEVEN

Photo by DaviD Fox

new caveman, same old deFense


A&E

art

Birds of a different plumage: (from left) Sandra Chevrier’s “La cage et les fleurs de la bête” and Sara Lytle’s “Contemplating Confetti.”

‘Exchange’ Rate

August 15–21, 2013

From social-media satire to musical cacti, gallerist Amanda Harris has curated an otherwordly experience

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By Pj Perez

Don’t look for obvious connections between the works featured in Exchange. There is no binding theme or design behind the assembly of artists—Adrienne Adar, Louis Cannizzaro, Sandra Chevrier, Sara Lytle, Septerhed and XVALA—on display through August 30 at Amanda Harris

Gallery of Contemporary Art. As Harris admits, Exchange is simply a reflection of her own current artistic interests. “I really wanted it to be artists whose work I love, who I believe in,” Harris says. “Naturally, their work informs each other.” Indeed, despite the seem-

ingly random grouping, there is a serendipitous fgurative dialogue between the works on display. Covering a broad range of styles and media that are only loosely gathered under the umbrella of contemporary art, the works in Exchange range from the slogan-y serigraphs of street artist Septerhed—which

seem to be prime fodder for He actually uses technology Tumblr memes or Threaddirectly to create his work, less T-shirts—to the haunting, whether Instagramming stills comic book collage-paint from animated series or ushybrids by Chevrier. ing Google’s search to create One of the most prominent sculptures. XVALA says the contributors to Exchange is “Fear Google” campaign was XVALA, the guerilla artist bemeant to be a “humorous hind the “Fear Google” sticker reaction to technology,” not a campaign that started making serious manifesto. the rounds in Silicon Valley in “I want to help people 2010. Here, his “GOLD” series improve their surroundings,” (numbered “2” through “4”; says the man whose email No. 1 is in XVALA’s personal col- handle identifies him merely lection) of canvases feature the as “computer user,” “So I try “Fear Google” motif repeated to put good information into beneath layers of stenciled Tron all my art.” characters and screen captures Across the room from XVALA’s from Avengers cartoons. ruminations on post-privacy His other works focus on are Lytle’s massive canvases, Facebook founder Mark which explode with exuberZuckerberg. A vaguely phalance. Each 5-foot-tall, mixedlic, blue wire hanger called media piece features variations “Mark Zuckerberg’s Not Very on the manic, jack-in-theWell-Hung Hanger”—allegedly box-like characters she calls recovered from the Facebook “crowfolk,” rendered in splashes creator’s trash—is a commenof black paint and metallic tary on the loss of privacy in splatters against vivid, almost the Internet Age. “Revenge, garish backgrounds. One in Regret, Remorse, Zuckerberg” particular, “Show Crow,” has an is a large, manic painting appropriately gaudy Las Vegas depicting three favor. robots surrounding Lytle says the ExchangE at amanDa (haunting?) a creacreation of crowharris gallEry ture that could be folk happened interpreted as the spontaneously. “A In Soho Lofts, 900 Facebook creator. lot of the exciteLas Vegas Blvd. XVALA—despite ment in the work South, Suite 150, what one might is me not knowing 5-8 p.m. Thu-Fri gather from the where a piece will through Aug. 30, “Fear Google” go,” she says. AmandaHarriscampaign and his Possibly the most Gallery.com. Facebook jabs—is interesting piece no technophobe. in Exchange—gaug-


movies

The Wolverine (PG-13) ★★★✩✩

The To-Do List (R) ★★★✩✩

Writer-director Maggie Carey delivers a more feminine-centric teen comedy. Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) is a high school grad who’s super smart and a social zero. Brandy makes a list to help with acquiring some sexual experience prior to college. Along for the ride are her pals, played by Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele, as well as some dudes, played by Johnny Simmons and Scott Porter. While over the top, Carey’s a crafty writer, and Plaza’s delivery keeps things fresh.

Pacifc Rim (PG-13) ★★★✩✩

Hugh Jackman’s back as Logan/Wolverine, and the results aren’t too shabby. Way back when, Logan survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, while saving the life of a Japanese soldier. The soldier went on to become a powerful and corrupt industrialist. He has a dying wish for Logan, who winds up having to protect Yashida’s daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), from the yakuza. It’s the strongest solo Wolverine flick yet.

In Guillermo del Toro’s homage to Japanese sea-beast mythology, amphibious dragons called Kaiju emerge from beneath the ocean floor. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and threat levels. They destroy entire cities in short order. So the nations of the world settle their petty politics and agree to work together on a solution: 25-story-tall human-made robots known as Jaegers, controlled by two pilots who are mindmelded in a neural bridge. It’s a battle for mankind. While entertaining, it’s pretty loud.

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13) ★✩✩✩✩

The Lone Ranger (PG-13) ★✩✩✩✩

Adam Sandler and his gang of has-beens and other hangers-on are back for this shovel-ready sequel. Lenny (Sandler) and his wife (Salma Hayek) and their brood have moved back to their hometown. That’s where childhood pal Eric (Kevin James) runs a body shop, Kurt (Chris Rock) is a cable guy and Marcus (David Spade) is a deadbeat dad. The story follows this lot through a long day that ends in an ’80s party. The jokes are lame, and it’s obvious Sandler is just mailing it in, again.

Alas, while we “wait” on the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean picture, Disney and Johnny Depp churn out this mess of a film. While it never works from the start, the story follows Tonto (Depp), the trusty Native American sidekick of the famous masked Texas Ranger (Armie Hammer) hell-bent on revenge. The Lone Ranger and Tonto spend most of their time mugging, acting silly and leaping around lavish action set pieces while extreme violence occurs all around them. While Depp takes the lead with Tonto, it’s not enough to warrant the spectacle.

August 15–21, 2013

Not much to see here, but at least it’s wholesome. Gargamel (Hank Azaria) the Smurf-hater is now a big-shot magician. But he’s running out of Smurf Essence. So, a couple of his Naughties (voiced by Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove) Smurf-nap Smurfette, and they intend to get the magic formula from her through interrogation. Unless Papa (Jonathan Winters) and his motley “B-team” (voiced by George Lopez, Anton Yelchin and John Oliver) can stop them, with the help of their human friends (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays).

99 VEGAS SEVEN

The Smurfs 2 (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩


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ports that. [But] I think we’re moving in the right direction. We have companies coming in, and we have city managers, city councils and mayors who recognize this, and they’re trying to build a more diverse economy that promotes more of an educated workforce.

The school board trustee and longtime educator on what inspired her career, why the school district isn’t too big and what teachers can learn from Sidney Poitier By Paul Szydelko

August 15–21, 2013

Since Linda e. Young took a job as a school psychologist with the Clark County School District in 1976, she has seen 10 superintendents (including interims) come and go, and the district grow from 83,000 students to more than 311,000 today. She served in a number of roles, including high school teacher, coordinator for special-education programs, high school dean, assistant principal and director of the districtwide Multicultural/Diversity and Equity Educational Programs before deciding in 2008 to run for school board trustee in District C. “The one thing I know,” she says, “is we are all here to complete a mission that we’ve been assigned, and I know I have to complete my mission. And my mission is education.”

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Why pursue education as a career? My mom lined my siblings and me up almost every other day when we were 4, 5 and 6, and told us that we were going to be teachers. We used to play teacher. She had a blackboard. We had to go to the library and get a book. We had to practice our times tables. We had to know the states and capitals. How come you chose psychology as an emphasis? I was a teacher, and I worked

with students in the ninth grade and I was appalled at the kids who couldn’t read. They were psychologically troubled by it, and so I started to go for my master’s in counseling and they told me about school psychology, and I thought maybe I could determine what happened—why were some of these kids in the ninth grade and they couldn’t read or write? You have to work with students early—as early as 9 months, no later than a year— and you have to start helping them begin to understand the

language process. You have to read to them and help them understand what words mean. Sometimes students had parents who waited until [their children] were 5-6 years old. Why did you run for the school board? I wanted to make a difference. I understood the issues for the most part. I understood the diversity and cultural differences and racial issues, but at the same time I saw the need for the district to grow and

What about Las Vegas inhibits the school district from performing at its best? There’s [only] a surface appreciation of education; I don’t think there is a real deep-seated support. In [the tourism] industry—you’re not going to have someone with a master’s degree busing tables; you’re not going to have somebody working on their doctorate parking cars or cleaning rooms. The tourism industry can’t pay those kind of wages for highly educated people. … Really educated people have to, to some degree, move on or go to a community that sup-

The notion of breaking up the district, which is the ffthlargest in the country, comes up periodically. Would there ever be a time in which you would support that? If you structure your district in a manageable way, it’s like a large family. You set up little management systems where everybody [pitches in], and everybody gets what they need. I always get concerned when you break off a chunk where this group has a little more than that group. What’s your favorite movie about education? The one I remember a lot is To Sir With Love (1967) with Sidney Poitier. He really worked with those young people and captured them and let them know who he was to gain their respect. They would grow up and be somebody. And I just appreciated that. He was the epitome of a teacher.

What are Linda Young’s thoughts on Kenny Guinn and all the school-district superintendents that came after him? And what’s the story behind her affnity for hats? Find out at VegasSeven.com/LindaYoung.

Photo by anthony mair

Linda E. Young

develop. It was a calling. It was an inner goal to be a voice for the disenfranchised, a voice for people who felt disconnected and disengaged—to try to make a difference in the lives of people and their children, and to bring some form of hope that education is still the gateway to a successful future.

Was there any blessing from the recession? We all had to rethink and reposition. We had to start collapsing programs, and we had to start being more analytical about what works and what doesn’t and start differentiating—we’ve got 10 here, we can only take fve; which are the top fve? Any time you have to pare down in any kind of economy, even in your personal fnances, it puts you on another trajectory—another trail—and that can ultimately be good. Instead of going out to the movies, you just stay at home and rent a video. You got more family time, and instead of buying that $8 popcorn you buy a little something at the supermarket. … We’re learning; I don’t think we’ll go back to some of the things that we did before, and we won’t be as frivolous, either.


The Education Issue | Vegas Seven | August 15-21  

Is School Bad for You? An unhealthy education system makes for an ailing community. Here's the good news: we can all be part of the cure. (H...

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