May 20-26, 2010
Questions (and answers!) for the upcoming political season An exit interview with bAd boy Art critic dAve hickey Lost for the lAst time trAvel: pArty in A ghost town
Question 13: Will immigration reform help or hurt Harry Reid?
This Week in Your CiTY 13
The highlights of this week. By Susan Stapleton
Second chance for a Westside landmark, and rate hikes at the Fifth Street School. Plus: David G. Schwartz’s Green Felt Journal and Michael Green on Politics.
Reports on culture, politics and business from The New York Observer. Plus: The NYO crossword puzzle and the weekly column by personal ﬁnance guru Kathy Kristof.
The smorgasbord of tech leaks. By Eric Benderoff
Phil Ivey’s very own poker room and Kerry Simon’s next dining project. Plus: trends, Tweets and gossip. By Melissa Arseniuk
Our food critic journeys to Lola’s, heart of Louisiana cuisine in Las Vegas. By Max Jacobson Plus: Eight delicious dishes, and chef Marc St. Jacques whips up a tasty summer appetizer.
A big night for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
A trip to the ghost town of Gold Point reveals some very lively activity. By Jessica Prois
This week’s Look, dressing to the sevens and a few choice Enviables. Plus: What’s new with Robert Rodriguez?
sports & leisure
Disc golf is climbing in popularity among Las Vegans. By Patrick Moulin Plus: Going for Broke By Matt Jacob
Seven Nights ahead, fabulous parties past and an interview with Kaskade.
Above: Dave Hickey at home. Photo by Francis + Francis On our cover: Harry Reid rides into battle. Illustration by Val Bochkov
arts & entertainment
The Lost episode to end all Lost episodes, and Cole Smithey gives Shrek a hug.
How wrong was He?
Resident genius Dave Hickey is giving up on the city he has long championed. By Phil Hagen
Conservative radio host Heidi Harris talks about Nevada’s political climate and her one liberal stance. By Elizabeth Sewell
20 questions for tHe upcoming political season And answers! Thanks to our team of reporters and their sources. By David Berns, Paul Szydelko and T.R. Witcher
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 9
Vegas seVen Publishers
Ryan T. Doherty | Justin Weniger AssociAte Publisher, Michael Skenandore
Editorial editoriAl director, Phil Hagen MAnAging editor, Bob Whitby AssociAte editor, Melissa Arseniuk news editor, Sean DeFrank A&e editor, Cindi Reed coPY editor, Paul Szydelko contributing editor, T.R. Witcher contributing writers
Richard Abowitz, Eric Benderoff, David Berns, David Breitman, Jennifer Cornthwaite, Laura Coronado, Geoff Carter, David Davis, Brooke Edwards, Dan Ewen, Mericia González, Jeanne Goodrich, Michael Green, Jaq Greenspon, Glenn Haussman, Matt Jacob, Max Jacobson, Jarret Keene, Caitlin McGarry, Matt O’Brien, Jessica Prois, Rex Reed, Jason Scavone, David G. Schwartz, Elizabeth Sewell, Cole Smithey, Susan Stapleton, Xania Woodman interns
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art Art director, Lauren Stewart senior grAPhic designer, Marvin Lucas grAPhic designer, Thomas Speak stAff PhotogrAPher, Anthony Mair contributing PhotogrAPhers
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WenDOH MeDIa COMpanIes Ryan T. Doherty | Justin Weniger vice President, PUBLISHING, Michael Skenandore director, MARKETING, Jason Hancock entertAinMent director, Keith White creAtive director, Sherwin Yumul event coordinAtor, Richard Alexander
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Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Xania Woodman Cocktail Culture, page 64 An impassioned nightlife and beverage writer, blogger, cocktailian and all-around career carouser, Woodman has been a ﬁxture in the Las Vegas nightlife scene for nearly nine years, chronicling the intricacies of the club scene as well as those glossy, glitzy broad strokes. She has judged countless cocktail competitions in Las Vegas and covered still more beyond our borders. Will work for cocktails!
David Berns “20 Questions,” page 32 Laura Coronado Interview with Robert Rodriguez, page 26
Woodman photo by Bill Davidson; Berns by Anthony Mair
Shopping-obsessed Laura spends her days blogging about fashion, offering her Twitter followers style advice and scouring the thrift stores of Las Vegas for designer bargains. She rarely pays full retail and her current mission is to convince the world that fashion does exist in Las Vegas, despite the sea of Ed Hardy T-shirts polluting the Strip. Follow her online at lollieshopping.com
Berns is so old that his college journalism writing courses actually used typewriters. Sure, they had those new-fangled correction keys, but typewriters? So he’s pretty passionate when he writes about the need for every student in the Clark County School District to have a computer. Did we mention that he learned to type on an old-fashioned Royal with the messy ribbon and at one time he actually earned a living in radio (as host of KNPR’s State of Nevada)? How old is this guy?
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Visit the Vegas Seven website May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 11
Seven DayS The highlights of this week in your city. Compiled by Susan Stapleton
Thur. 20 Do some stargazing as Hollywood comes to Planet Hollywood for the Get Him to the Greek premiere. The new comedy from writer/director/ producer Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) doesn’t hit theaters until June 4, but several of the ﬁlm’s stars— including Jonah Hill, Russell Brand and Sean Combs—are in Las Vegas for an advance screening. While the public can’t rub shoulders with the A-list crowd, it’s free (and fun) to watch the shiny folk walk through the casino as they make their way down the red carpet. Mezzanine outside the Chi Theater, 6:30 p.m.
Fri. 21 Kick off a summer of comedy as Tom Papa (NBC’s The Marriage Ref) brings his stand-up to the Orleans Showroom. Jerry Seinfeld handpicked Papa to open for him while performing at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, and the Orleans handpicked Papa to kick off the casino’s Summer Comedy Series. Adding to the lineup of stand-up is Cash Cab host Ben Bailey, who opens the show. May 21-22, 8 p.m., $19.95.
Sat. 22 Correct us if we’re wrong, but names like “Sigourney Beaver,” “Shawna Th’Dead” and “Heatherface” are reason enough to go see the Sin City Rollergirls bump, grind, scrape and scrap with the women of Arizona Roller Derby. $7 in advance or $10 at the door, kids under 10 and all EMTs get in free. In the Las Vegas Roller Hockey Center at Commercial Center, 953 E. Sahara Ave. Doors at 7 p.m., game at 8 p.m., brownpapertickets.com/event/110362. Another option: Finally ﬁgure out whether or not Dave is home when Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong bring their Get It Legal tour to The Mirage. Flashbacks abound as the notorious duo of (former?) potheads revisit the Terry Fator Theatre stage. May 21-22, 10 p.m., $49-$69.
Sun. 23 You’ve probably heard that we have a problem with homeless animals—30,000 or so are killed at county shelters every year. The American Kennel Club-style dog show at the Orleans Arena is your chance to reduce that statistic. Holly Madison joins host Terry Fator at the event, which hopes to raise $250,000 for a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. Noon, $5-$12. Later, hang out with UNLV men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger and other Mountain West Conference coaches in the Hardwood Suite at the Palms. Tickets to the exclusive event cost a cool Benjamin, but once inside, you can challenge the coaches in the Hot Shot Basketball Challenge, then debate the night’s Suns-Lakers game over a few cocktails before dinner (and the game) gets under way. Meanwhile, proceeds from the Coaches vs. Cancer kick off party beneﬁt the American Cancer Society. 7 p.m., $100, (800) 227-2345.
Mon. 24 The most-watched ﬁlm of all time, according to the Library of Congress, is The Wizard of Oz—and the 1939 musical is just as good the 25th time you see it, so go see it again before a blasphemous new version comes out and ruins it for the rest of us. Keeping with the spirit of the screening, tickets to the 6:30 p.m. are retro-priced: Just $5 gets you in. At Regal Aliante Stadium 16 at Aliante Casino, 7300 Aliante Parkway at I-215.
Tues. 25 We may live in the desert, but there’s no reason you can’t get a little Caribbean into your routine as Rhumbar presents Jazz Under the Starz. Bobbie Burns & The Merchants of Jazz perform on the patio at The Mirage from 9 p.m.-midnight as part of the weekly event. No cover, 21 and up.
Wed. 26 Summer is (almost) here, so start planning that road trip. In effort to get you out of town on the cheap, the Clark County Library presents the Save Gas This Summer—Be a Weekend Traveler workshop. Vegas-based writers Megan Edwards, A.D. Hopkins, Mark Sedenquist, Deborah Wall and Branch Whitney share their favorite autoaccessible destinations within a ﬁve-hour drive. The authors also touch on 10 national parks and dozens of natural attractions worth seeing, and offer tips on making the most of inexpensive summertime jaunts. 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 6:30 p.m., free. May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 13
What’s hip, what’s happening, what’s going on—and what you need to know right now. Phil Ivey gets a room at CityCenter.
New home for Jerome
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Few movies have the cross-platform and mass-market appeal of Sex and the City. With the series’ second release, parties, specialty cocktails (see page 64), fashion shows, shopping events and no fewer than seven midnight screenings are set to happen here. And it’s thanks to Carrie Bradshaw. Sarah Jessica Parker steps back into Bradshaw’s shoes on May 27, joined by cast members Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon (who play sexpot Samantha Jones, Park Avenue perfect Charlotte York-Goldenblatt and no-nonsense lawyer Miranda Hobbes, respectively). The follow-up to 2008’s highly successful Sex and the City began shooting in New York in August, and the actors ﬂew to Morocco in December to ﬁlm desert scenes. While the core cast remains, intact—yes, Chris Noth is back as Mr. Big and indeed, John Corbett returns as Aidan Shaw—Penelope Cruz has a small role in the ﬁlm, and there are conﬁrmed cameos from Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus and Heidi Klum. Meanwhile, Bette Midler and Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham may have cameos in the ﬁlm. After six seasons and 94 episodes on HBO, the series based on the book by Candace Bushnell aired its ﬁnal installment in 2004. The ﬁrst movie was release four years later, fetching $415 million at the box ofﬁce.
tournament on opening day. First prize fetches $250,000, and any player who manages to knock the seven-time WSOP champion out of the match collects an additional $100,000. Further, the winner gets a chance to double his or her money in a $250,000 heads-up match-up with Ivey on his new home turf.
The Aria poker room. 14
Sex Sweeps the City
Ivey photo by Tomas Muscionico for Cigar Aﬁcionado
Phil Ivey made a name for himself—and millions of dollars—playing poker. Now MGM Mirage is paying him the ultimate gambler’s tribute by naming a poker room for him at Aria. The single-table, high-limit Ivey Room opens on May 22 with seating for up to nine players and enjoys direct access to the cashier cage and tableside dining. It’s said to be similar to four-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) winner Bobby Baldwin’s room (dubbed Bobby’s Room) next door at Bellagio. The 34-year-old, nicknamed “No Home Jerome” and “The Tiger Woods of Poker,” is no stranger to tables at MGM properties: It was at Bellagio, as part of a team of poker pros who call themselves “The Corporation,” that he collected $16 million from Texas billionaire Andy Beal over the course of three days in 2006. To commemorate the christening of the Ivey Room, Aria will host a million-dollar, invite-only
Compiled by Melissa Arseniuk
This week iN your ciTy
‘This one Time, at DJ camp …’ CatHouse is now a booze-only business.
Simon Says Stop The “rock star chef,” Kerry Simon, has, as they say on Top Chef, packed his knives and left the CatHouse restaurant at Luxor—but he didn’t go far. The chef still has a full plate with Simon at Palms Place, and a second namesake eatery in L.A. He also recently served as a consultant to Nu Sanctuary at Town Square, and is now gearing up to open a new venture on the Strip, KGB Burger Bar, in Harrah’s. (KGB stands for Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers, not the old Soviet security agency.) Oh, and he’s about to debut a new Prime Steakhouse in Atlantic City. When it opened in December 2007, CatHouse’s plan was to fuse a sultry, lounge-like atmosphere with modern cuisine. The thinking, at the time, was once the pretty people were fed they’d stick around to be entertained. But the economy tanked and CatHouse became a slow, up-market restaurant in a slow, midmarket casino. The fact that the booze was bringing home the bacon didn’t help the restaurant’s fate. With the kitchen closed, the bar takes over: The 7,000 square-foot venue remains open as an ultra lounge.
Forget band camp: DJ camp is coming, and it sounds like the sort of summer experience parents would want to crash. The brainchild of enterprising DJ, Tina “T” Turnbull, Camp Spin-Off will be held in Oak View, Calif., and feature other well-known DJs—including Liquid, Moon and Wet Republic regular, DJ Scene— in addition to its founder, whose résumé includes gigs at Tao, Rain, Pure and Tabu. The ﬁve-day, sleep-away camp is sponsored in part by the Los Angeles Scratch DJ Academy, and declares itself the place “where DJs go to play.” Scratch Academy director DJ Hapa serves as resident instructor, while other “responsible and respected” DJs have signed up to help teach up to 50 campers between the ages of 12 and 17 the basics of engineering, beat making, mixing, break dancing and music marketing. Classes are designed for beginners, so don’t worry if your kids don’t yet know their way around the 1s and 2s. “There’s no pressure to be an expert or even be good at it,” Turnbull says. “I just want everyone to have a unique experience that will inspire them to pursue their passion.” Aspiring DJ campers stand to learn a thing or two from Ms. T, who has more than a decade of experience. The camp’s curriculum fuses outdoor activities—including skateboarding and zip lining—with DJ instruction. It costs $950 and is scheduled for Aug. 1-5 at Forest Homes Camp in the Ojai Valley, about a ﬁve-hour drive from Las Vegas. 805-629-9484, campspinoff.com.
Literary Drive-Through After more than two decades at the corner of Water Street and Basic Road in downtown Henderson, the James I. Gibson Library is no more. The 21-year-old facility closed its doors on May 15. Librarians are now packing their book bags, preparing to move into a larger facility this summer. When the library opens in its new, 20,000-square-foot home at 100 W. Lake Mead Parkway in July, it will feature an additional 5,000 square feet of space, an enhanced 25-person computer lab, larger meeting rooms, more parking and, perhaps best of all, a drive-through window. The drive-through, the ﬁrst of its kind in Southern Nevada, will allow patrons to super-size their summer reading without leaving the comfort of their cars. Patrons can pick up reserved materials using the service; drop-offs and unarranged pick-ups will have to be done the old park-and-walk-in way.
Gayle Hornaday, assistant director of Henderson District Public Libraries, is excited about the fast-foodinspired feature. “If it’s really hot outside or you’re in a big hurry, you can just pull right up to the window and pick up the books you know are waiting for you,” she says, noting, “It’s much easier.” Henderson Libraries, capitalizing
on the bad economy, was able to shave construction costs by nearly a third. The ﬁnal price of came in at $2.8 million—$1.7 million less than the original plan—and money saved will be used to help get through the economic downturn. Meanwhile, the city of Henderson last year purchased the land where the old library stands for $4 million.
Forget 90210: Try MJ702NV Cheesy souvenir T-shirts are so last year. The hottest wearable and very Las Vegas memento comes from designer Marc Jacobs. The designer recently released a $28 shirt available exclusively in Las Vegas through his namesake store in the Forum Shops at Caesars. The image printed on the front doesn’t exactly scream Las Vegas—it’s a grafﬁti-covered doorway not derived from a scene anywhere near our fair city, and the same image is used on T-shirts touting other fashion-forward towns. Still, the “MJ702LV” printed across the shoulders is distinctly Las Vegas. (Marc Jacobs, our area code and our initials. Get it?) Meanwhile, New Yorkers get the same grafﬁti image with the “MJ212NY.” A matching nylon tote bag ($45) is available in New York, L.A. and Las Vegas versions, but showing civic pride requires a trip to the Forum Shops, since neither the T-shirt nor the matching bag are available online.
The old James I. Gibson Library in downtown Henderson. May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 15
THE LaTEsT THougHT Why the MFa Is the New MBa By Glenn Schaeffer
16 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
typically inside the old one, only to be illumined or reassembled to make it new again. As with poetry, it’s fresh perspectives that convince our hearts and minds. There was a day when imagination in business held sway over sheer analytics. There was a day at GM, to pick one example, when their designers knew how to conceive and craft automobiles that consumers wanted because of relevance to their identity. It was in no small part the concepts of GM’s ﬁrst head designer, Harley Earl (the Corvette, anyone? Tailﬁns?), that propelled GM to 50 percent market share by 1960 and its position as the world’s largest company; it’s no coincidence that GM’s torturous slide began with Earl’s retirement. Steve Jobs has established himself as the era’s leading poet of technology for the masses, always a step in front with the slimmest means of expressing the most in design and applications; Warren Buffett has authored the most generative investment practices in world history by reading the newspaper and interpreting numbers in light of cultural behaviors. What’s at work in these leaders? Divine inspiration? Self-possession? I believe them to be charismatic interpreters. Jobs is not plainly a technologist, and Buffet is not simply an investment manager, but both are cultural adepts in their own right. Their motivation relies deeply on imagination. They see markets to come. That’s imagination in motion, whose target is the larger culture. As one observer remarked of Jobs and his iPad, “It’s like he’s brought us back a product from ﬁve years in the future.” Since our republic’s founding we’ve turned loose a nation of seekers. Our greater business has been to make ourselves different—disentangled from old beliefs and rules, hierarchical systems and suffocating class structures. We are a nation as much of Walt Whitman’s inﬁnite Song of Myself as Henry Ford’s inﬁnite
Glenn Schaeffer is the former president and CFO of Mandalay Resort Group.
assembly line. We consider ourselves in multitudes, as a people of plenty, who do our justice in this changing world by making it up as we go along. A straight line leads you nowhere. And maybe especially so in a town like Vegas. The good news in these grim economic times is that Las Vegas is positively teeming with poets and novelists and artists of one sort or another, not to mention plenty of disobedient, divergent thinkers, the sort of creative people we need now more than ever. UNLV’s creative writing program, which offers both an MFA and a Ph.D. in imaginative writing, is ranked among the best and most innovative in the nation. That’s one of our secrets that shouldn’t have to stay in Vegas. The program was founded by my old friend Doug Unger, one of my classmates from
the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a novelist, a teacher, a veritable man of letters. Right now Las Vegas is in an historic slump. But this, too, shall pass. Las Vegas, at bottom, is all about pulling all-nighters, searching for a new angle or narrative twist. Maybe Doug should organize an agency of his MFAs, the more disobedient the better, to shake the place another rattle. This essay is adapted from Disruptive Creativity: Lessons From the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, by Glenn Schaeffer and Eric Olsen, to be published this autumn by Skyhorse Books. It’s a series of “conversations” with some of their classmates and teachers, including T.C. Boyle, Jane Smiley, Sandra Cisneros, Allan Gurganus, John Irving, Joe Haldeman, Jayne Anne Phillips and Marvin Bell.
Portrait by Francis + Francis
I’m often asked—when it leaks out that I have a master of ﬁne arts degree in imaginative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and not an MBA—how it is a guy who set out to write the next Great Gatsby ended up in business, and more oddly still, a ﬁnancier on the Las Vegas Strip, that gaudy dream-twin of L.A. smack in the Mojave Desert, developing some of the biggest stores of entertainment ever conceived, including Mandalay Bay and Luxor. But it makes perfect sense to me. Business executives who behave as cultural practitioners, as opposed to the MBA construct, have history on their side. They’re that much closer to emotional resonance and original perspective, which are the gold standard in artistic performance. That’s how consumers of narrative, for instance, are convinced and inﬂuenced; and by the way, outstanding stories don’t date. What’s the purpose of business if not to convince and inﬂuence end-users that they’re on to something? Great products or services do basic things, but they also bear meaning. They can suggest new directions in how to live. When I left Iowa and returned to L.A., my MFA fresh in hand, I needed to pay the bills. So I went where the money was and talked my way into a job as a stockbroker in Beverly Hills. I ﬁgured I would sketch out that best-seller on odd weekends at the beach house I was sure I would someday be able to afford. And I found my MFA to be excellent preparation for the business world, because I knew how to tell a story. Every good business tells a story. People depend on narratives to get them through life. Neuroscience tells us that our brains are hardwired to organize our existential states as ongoing narratives, draft upon draft of them. A concept in business, as in a story, must be told forcefully and simply, with consequential logic mixed with dramatic leaps. And innovation in business, which underpins value-creation in corporate strategy, is a matter of ingenious reassembly: part dominant logic, part practiced intuition; the language for your next business success already exists,
Star-studded parties, celebrity sightings, juicy rumors and other glitter.
Got a juicy tip? email@example.com
party Like a playboy, or Not
Hefner and Hope D.
The Playmate of the Year festivities at the Palms appear to have taken their toll on Hugh Hefner. The main event wrapped at Rain shortly before 11 p.m. May 15 and he barely popped by the Playboy Club long enough to make an appearance before bidding the party and the Palms adieu. He was on his private jet and L.A.-bound before midnight. Still, we can’t really blame the guy. He is 84 years old, and he’s crammed more than his share of late nights and parties with beautiful, surgically enhanced women in those 84 years. Still, there’s no excuse for 33-year-old Robin Thicke going back to La La Land early, too. Unless he couldn’t afford a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines the next day. (Those are, what, $79 or something? Well, we are in a recession.) Not that anyone seemed to care when Thicke left. Unlike Hef or 2010 Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk, Thicke isn’t exactly a showstopper. When he headlined the awards show, he serenaded just-crowned Dworaczyk with a particularly moving rendition of “Lost Without U.” She was so enthralled by his falsetto she only turned around to banter with people off-stage twice. Yet Dworaczyk is hardly an authority when it comes to maintaining audience’s attention: The crowd noise was so loud during her rambling, 10-minute acceptance speech, the scene begged for Academy Awardsstyle wrap-it-up orchestra music and a big cane.
Pick Your Poison, Excuse
It was a banner week for hot chicks in Vegas with Miss USA in town the same weekend as the Playmate of the Year celebration and UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste heating up Tao Beach in honor of her Maxim cover. Missing, though, was Attack of the Show geek cheesecake (geekcake?) Olivia Munn, who was supposed to put in an appearance at Wet Republic on May 15 but was a no-show. Her excuse? “Food poisoning.” You don’t need to be an extra from CSI to see the holes in her story. Last we checked, you need to eat in order to get food poisoning. Still, that’s Munn’s story and she’s sticking to it. “Sorry Vegas! I got food poisoning and missed my ﬂight this morning. Still in D.C. Feeling better now, but no time machine ... yet,” she Tweeted. OK, Munn, we believe you. But we still think “got food poisoning” sounds like hungovergirl code for “slept through my alarm,” or “was out partying in Georgetown all night.” Or perhaps there’s some secret, botulism-inducing G4 technology in play. Whatever.
It appears that Floyd Mayweather Jr. learned nothing from Javon Walker. Either that, or “Money” Mayweather is collecting so much
Arianny Celeste at Tao Beach. 18 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
dough from pay-per-view royalties that if $20,000 were to fall out of his pocket it wouldn’t be a big deal. As the boxer smiled for the cameras alongside Ludacris at Pure on May 15, he held up a stack of $100 bills so thick it would make even the most meticulous accountant nervous (or an IRS agent attentive, considering the setting). There’s no way Mayweather was throwing up less than 15 large, unless the two C-notes on the end of the stack were rubber-banded around ATM receipts, girls-directto-you slapper ﬂiers or soiled cocktail napkins.
Tweets of the Week Compiled by @marseniuk
@Jockin_JB Your swerving SUV and D.A.R.E. sticker lead me to believe you want to keep kids off drugs so there’s more for you.
@RandiActress Vegas is like an abusive spouse that you hate in the end, but you keep running back to! @thestrippodcast I don’t wanna say that this stadium is empty but let’s just say the size of this crowd is ... gossy? @TonyDasco L.A. friends = embarrassing. Not gonna go to pool while they wear these Euro shorts and fake porn mustaches. Gotta be summer in Vegas!
@marcsavard I’m feeling like I should get some work done, so I’m going to a movie until that feeling passes. @Samhaskell It’s easy to explain the difference between Miss America and Miss USA: class, scholarship, talent and service. That’s it.
@6BillionSecrets I work at Starbucks. When customers are rude to me, I serve them DECAF.
@tompapa Talking with old people is like constantly having a bad cell connection.
“Yo, do they still accept cash at Pure?”
@CraigyFerg Up early today. Jetlag + espresso = tweaky Riverdance antics before breakfast. I’ll be weepy and cold by lunch.
Miss USA’s Other Crown
When Miss Michigan, Rima Fakih, was crowned Pride of the Donald (Miss USA 2010) May 16 at Planet Hollywood, it wasn’t Fakih’s ﬁrst win. Turns out she previously won a slightly less prestigious contest in 2007 at Detroit radio station WKQI: Mojo in the Morning’s Stripper 101. We’re guessing she didn’t list “pole dancing” on her Miss USA application under “special talents.” The pageant hasn’t yet demanded Fakih return her new tiara (as of press time), but we’re thinking this won’t just blow over. Which reminds us, when it comes to pageant queens, Donald Trump is a fan of second chances. Right, Tara Conner? Blow over, indeed. Trump to Fakih: “It’s OK, you’re still hot.”
Google, Blip, Yahoo... Who names these? Dr. Seuss?
@vegasdeluxe Strip Scribbles: Celine Dion named America’s favorite singer in poll @funnykeithlyle Who’d they poll, deaf people?
@MJ_in_my_Heart @Alicia Jacobs Here’s some breaking news for ya>>Alicia Jacobs apologizes to the JACKSON FAMILY. Try that story, then we can talk. THANK YOU.
Trump, Fakih photo by Denise Truscello; Arianny Celeste photo by Al Powers
THE LaTEsT Gossip
A Night iN the
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Sparkle for the cure M.J. Christensen Diamonds on May 14 hosted a beneﬁt in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Southern Nevada. Southern Wine and Spirits joined the jeweler at its Boca Park location to present the event, which featured plenty to swoon over—luxury rafﬂe prizes, sparkling jewelry and members of the cast of Chippendales—while supporting breast cancer research.
Photography by Sullivan Charles
20 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
imagine a cure The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hosted more than 600 guests at Mandalay Bay on May 7 for the charity’s annual Hope Gala. The event raised more than $650,000 for Type 1 diabetes research. Meanwhile, the crowd enjoyed entertainment by the allfemale string quartet Bella Rumore and the Faith Lutheran Honor Choir.
Photography courtesy of Cashman Photo Enterprises
22 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Recent retro is all the rage, and Tod’s takes us back to the days of Valley girls and Fast Times with its spring/summer 2010 eyewear collection for men and women. Painted with a back-spray technique (graphite gray and beige), the plastic frames have a decidedly crystal appearance, pronounced nose and open metal temple. $219, luxoneyes.com.
The “no ‘zit’ sherlock,” three-part antiacne system from bliss is formulated with 2 percent salicylic acid to break up dead cells and oil. Cleanser+toner, correcting serum and moisturizer are available in travel and full sizes. $80, blissworld.com.
Photographed by Tomas Muscionico
Tory Kooyman, 41
Agency producer/director of art buying, SK+G Advertising, 41 Style icons: “Steve McQueen, my dad, Tom Ford.” What he’s wearing now: Gucci jacket, Ramones T-shirt from World of Vintage on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, Lucky Brand jeans, Old No. 7 boots by Jack Daniels.
Inspired by the colors of a macaron, designer Jill Partain feels that our iPhones and BlackBerrys deserve more than PVC or nylon sleeves. Her hand-painted French pastry motif cases are tasty way to dress up a most precious device. $28, pliadesigns.com.
“Clothes do not make the man, but they help,” he says. “I look for styles that have stood the test of time, but adapted to contemporary aesthetics. I like dressing appropriate for the occasion with a slight edge of rebellion.” However, he won’t be challenging the system with the oh-sotrendy “sneakers with suit” look, which is donned by many men in Las Vegas. “No matter how much those sneakers cost, they still ruin the suit.”
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 25
One on One
Get to Know … Fashion designer Robert Rodriguez By Laura Coronado Some designers choose to commentate on the world at large through militaryinspired jackets, and others offer escapism through abstract and ﬂoral prints. But designer Robert Rodriguez is using spring/ summer 2010 as an opportunity to give his customers clarity. He Robert Rodriguez describes the inspiration behind his line as, “Just basically a clean feeling.” Labeling his creative process as “old school,” Rodriguez, in town for a trunk show at Neiman Marcus in Fashion Show, told Vegas Seven, he avoids computers and technology as much as possible. “My creativity comes from within,” he says, clarifying that it’s his job to produce something beautiful and bring it to the masses who are sitting in front of computers, day in and day out. Never exclusionary, he knows that among the masses are his devotees—savvy, stylish and fashionable women who covet trendsetting pieces. But who exactly is the Robert Rodriguez customer? Is she young or old? Does she work in an ofﬁce or is she a stay-at-home mom? “I think she is of all ages, but I think she is sexy,” he says. “She’s very strong and body-conscious. When she puts something on, she wants to feel good. She wants to feel pretty.” Many of Rodriguez’s spring and summer pieces are formﬁtting, but fear not, the man has a solution for those who are easily intimidated. “Layering is in right now,” Rodriguez says, “and you can wear a body-conscious dress with a boyfriend jacket, or a body-conscious skirt with leggings. I think it’s about how you layer the pieces. It’s really up to the customer and where she wants to take it.” As for the business side of the fashion industry, Rodriguez is
From left to right: Chain collar mecklace; Deep V muscle tee, Plisse leather mini and long frozen bubbles necklace; tribal print dress; sequin stripe tank, pocket jeans and mesh pearl necklace.
26 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
optimistic that an upswing is on the horizon. Statistics show that March retail sales were up, and the designer conﬁrms that he has seen healthy sales. “We’ve had a strong year,” he says. “I think everyone last year was in a little bit of a shamble because of the economy. Our brand stayed strong, and it continues to be strong.” This steadfast attitude is reﬂected in his designs, which are upbeat and cheerful. This season’s collection includes ﬁercely pleated pants, sexy lace lingerie-inspired tops and a showstopping sequined tank dress in a muted blush tone—which has proven to be a hot color for spring and summer. Individually, each Robert Rodriguez piece can be easily mixed with other items in a woman’s wardrobe, from basic T-shirts to vintage accessories. Rodriguez’s designs have a tendency to naturally inspire a woman to create a look that is completely her own. The designer indicates this is done with intention. During the design process, Rodriguez contemplates his customers, their various lifestyles (from soccer moms to nightclub girls) and purposely creates something different for each. Rodriguez is now looking forward to fall, when his largest collection to date will be unveiled. “It’s all about steampunk,” he says. “It’s a lot of corsets, corset belts, leather pieces, leather combined with wools, cargo pockets and a lot of lace. Very Victorian, but kind of edgy. And there’s a lot of beautiful hardware. We’re doing a lot of necklaces, belts and accessories. Steampunk is all about the hardware, so we took that and we really ran with it. It really is exciting.”
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 27
The Modern Muse
Seven Easy Pieces Take a note from Donna Karan and dress to the sevens
By Jennifer Cornthwaite In the time it takes to update your Twitter status, you could be ﬁnalizing the components of an amazing summer wardrobe. Wandering around the mall without a precise shopping list nowadays can be dangerous. For the girl on the go, the Las Vegas lifestyle demands a wardrobe that is quick, effective and can move well, even during the hottest months of summer. Not to be confused with Marina Abramovic’s performance art series “Seven Easy Pieces” at the Guggenheim in 2005 (worth a Google for cocktail party conversation), designer Donna Karan garnered much success by offering seven easy pieces, which could all be mixed and matched to create a fully integrated wardrobe. In this installment of the Modern Muse I propose SEP 2.0, and all the items can be chicly purchased via the Internet. Our investigation begins with a thorough look at some online shops, which have come a long way from scouring eBay for a possible faux handbag. These days we have everything from Net-a-Porter, where a Proenza Schouler cocktail dress can show up in three to ﬁve days for $1,520, to a Zac Posen dress from Target for $80. The possibilities of an easy fabulous wardrobe at any budget are endless. SEP 2.0 Summer 2010 should include: a jumper, a vest, a long comfy dress, a blouse, shorts, a lightweight skirt and something fancy for evening. Keep all the items in the same color palette and make sure they ﬁt well. Sites such as Shopbop.com offer free three-day shipping with free return shipping. Trying on clothes in the comfort of your own living room can be the ultimate luxury. The beauty of crafting a wardrobe is that it cuts down on the time spent thinking about putting together outﬁts. Find your own style proﬁle, price point and move all the winter clothes out to prepare for a functional, welloiled summer closet.
Summer’S “Seven eaSy PieCeS” Should inClude: Alice + Olivia racerback jumper in black Cynthia Vincent three-quarter cardi (to be reused in fall) Rachel Pally long Fortuna dress Elizabeth & James artist shirt Helmut Lang draped twill shorts Haute Hippie rufﬂe miniskirt in black Diane von Furstenberg Vern dress
Clockwise from top left: Elizabeth & James artist shirt, $225; Alice + Olivia racerback jumpsuit, $297; Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent cardigan, $275.
28 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
How Wrong Was He?
An exit interview with renegade cultural critic Dave Hickey about having to leave the city he has long championed—and what that means for us By Phil Hagen
Portrait by Francis + Francis Libby Lumpkin tried her best to ﬂatly sum up the end of her and husband Dave Hickey’s 20-year mission in Las Vegas: “Now we will do what we do best elsewhere.” But sometimes words intended to have no emotion carry the most. It was like a scripted response that she was trying out for the ﬁrst time but couldn’t quite pull off the PR tone. You can still hear the underlying refrain that will follow her and Dave for a long while: Why couldn’t we do it here? Before we get into that maze, this much is clear: Dave and Libby are out of here, and unlike the last time they packed and left, they won’t be coming back. Come August, they’re off to Albuquerque, where the University of New Mexico has full-time professorships waiting for them, and the two Texas natives are taking their deep résumés, connections and knowledge with them. This is news on several levels, because … well, for those not in the cultural loop, Dave and Libby are inﬂuential scholars whose careers revolve around art, design and culture, and for the past two decades their substantial operations have not only been based here, but here has been their substantial operation. And before Dave and Libby, here was never even invited to these types of conversations, except as the butt of a joke. Libby, 58, has been a visiting professor of art history at Yale and Harvard, but she couldn’t make it work at UNLV (she failed her mid-tenure review for being “noncollegial,” she says, a result of philosophical differences). In 2002 she and Dave left for Los Angeles so that she could continue teaching. They eagerly came back a couple of years later so she could start a design institute. That idea never got off the ground, and eventually she took the reins of the Las Vegas Art Museum. Under her leadership and with Dave’s cache, the long-humble program hit great heights for a few years, but when money became a problem in Las Vegas, that didn’t work out, either. Libby, founding curator of the Bellagio Gallery, is now wrapping up her ﬁnal gig in Las Vegas: curating the art collection at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which will be fully unveiled on May 22. Dave, 71, once called “the bad boy of art criticism” by Newsweek, is one of America’s leading thinkers on design, culture and the arts, and his bold ideas, as well as his sharp wit, have long kept him in demand on the lecture circuit. In 2001, he became the ﬁrst Nevadan to earn a MacArthur Fellowship—a.k.a. the “genius grant.” During his ﬁrst stint at UNLV, in the art department, he coached a group of grad students who eventually formed a movement that attracted worldwide attention. Of this period, 1990-2001, Los Angeles-based art critic David Pagel wrote: “It turned an anonymous department into a hot spot, provided an impressive number of artists with the chops and conﬁdence to go out into the world and do their own thing,
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
and changed the contemporary debate about what counts in art.” His second stint in Las Vegas has been as professor of modern letters at UNLV, but most of his days are spent “typing” in his home ofﬁce. The results are often printed in art catalogs, but also in Vanity Fair and Harper’s, and he has written a number of paradigmshifting books, including Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy (Art Issues Press, 1997) and The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Beauty (University of Chicago Press, revised in 2009). There are more in the works: Pagan America, Hot Stuff (a collection of writings on women artists) and Connoisseur of Waves, a sequel to Air Guitar. With credentials like these and the connections that Dave and Libby have, they could have lived anywhere. In addition to his distaste for the stuffy, old-school institutions out East, it has been Dave’s love for and faith in Las Vegas that has kept the couple here. But since the art museum closed in February 2009, they’ve been wrestling with the heart-sinking possibility that, after two decades of investment, there isn’t a big demand in Vegas for what they do best. The root problem is that they are university people who never really ﬁt in at this particular university. “The University of New Mexico is not that much better than UNLV,” Dave says. “It’s some better. But why wouldn’t they want us here? At New Mexico, they’re excited to have us.” Although it’s not unusual for Las Vegas to be cruel to gamblers, it’s disturbing to see this particular pair leaving broke, and in Dave’s case, somewhat broken. There’s the looming short-sell on his beloved house (“we’re $165,000 underwater,” he says, “and I’ve never had a debt in my life”), the $100,000 out of pocket for dental surgery that was ruled a preexisting condition by his insurance through UNLV, the contemplation of selling his art collection at a time when he of all people knows it’s a terrible time to sell, and the general pain in the ass of starting over at this point in life. The ﬁrst time Vegas Seven talked to Dave upon learning of this possibility, in late April, there was no disguising the pain of Why not here? It was apparent that the stress had gotten to him physically, and that the separation was only going to get tougher. Even the prospect of his typing somewhere else was difﬁcult to bear. “This is a good place to write,” he says of the city while sitting outside a Starbucks at Flamingo Road and Maryland Parkway. “Busy is a good place to write. In New Mexico, they’re too invested in quiet.” He let loose a quick, raspy laugh—standard punctuation for his infamous arsenal of one-liners. He took another drag from his cigarette and let the prospect hang with the smoke. On this day, the jokes were noticeably few. It was mostly a conversation about personality conﬂicts and two decades of issues with the university, which he accuses of having a “commitment to mediocrity.” Those factors, combined with the sudden lack of money in Las Vegas, led to a bitter end. “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I really don’t know. I just don’t know.” After another pause: “But it’s my fault. It never occurred to me that you wouldn’t want to make things better. It never occurred to me.” To know that Dave Hickey didn’t have Las Vegas ﬁgured out may have consequences beyond one couple’s misfortune. “Much of his philosophy, which has been inﬂuential around the globe, was closely tied to his thinking about things here in Las Vegas,” Libby says. “How Vegas stands in relation to the rest of the culture, and Dave ﬁnding the positive aspects of that—that’s the really sad part. When Dave was formulating his ideas, as he was deﬁning contributions to the discourse of contem-
porary philosophy, he was thinking seriously about ideas of taste, ideas of …” Libby has to take a phone call—it’s another whirlwind day in preparation for the Ruvo opening. But what she’s talking about includes ideas of art and democracy, which are the rails of much of Dave’s thinking and writings. And his prime case study has been Las Vegas. Many of his statements in Air Guitar are rays of guiding light to those of us who live here in hopes that we might create something beyond the superﬁcial Vegas seen by the outside world: “Here, in the heart of the drift, is the last refuge of unsanctioned risk and spectacle—the wellspring of our indigenous visual culture—the conﬂuence of all the hustle and the muscle. ...” Therein lies the possibility of doing your thing, and—unlike most other, more established American cities—not needing permission to do so. Libby returns to ﬁnish her thought: “One of the aspects of Las Vegas that’s so enjoyable is that it’s free of some of the traditional ideas that characterize so many other cities. And of course there’s the incredible design and freedom of expression of those ideas, and the
Art really “ flourishes in places— large commercial cities—where people love the new, and Vegas is not as much like that as you’d think.” embrace of spectacularity. Dave championed that idea.” Upstairs, in his ofﬁce, surrounded by all the books and artworks he’ll soon have to pack, Dave sees the big question coming—Las Vegas has been a venue, or a vehicle, for a lot of your theories about art and democracy …—and cuts it off bluntly: “Right. And I was wrong.” This is like Santa himself telling you there is no Santa Claus. It’s a disorienting admission after two decades of championing, especially when his baby blue eyes lock on you with purpose, letting you know ﬂatly that that’s it—sorry, no punch line. Wrong about the whole thing? “Pretty much.” But on this day, three weeks after the Starbucks session, the vibe is not hostile. Dave seems to be more accepting of his destiny. And it sounds like he and his wife have had a long talk; they’re ready to leave the baggage behind. Well, as much as Dave can leave anything behind. The one-liners are ﬂying again (many followed by “but please don’t print that …”), but mostly he’s in a constructively reﬂective mood. “I wrote one time about Vegas being invisible,” he says, “but actually a lot of things aren’t invisible, and that has sort of ﬁltered through the infrastructure. In other words, it’s a very old-time American city. It isn’t run from the country club [which is the problem he has with most other places], but it is run from the synagogue, it’s run from the temple, it’s run from the cathedral. So there are a lot of residual, you know,
conservative agendas at work. And also the conservative agenda of the mining community and all of that. So it’s not quite as loosey goosey as one might think. And I was wrong about that. “Art really ﬂourishes in places—large commercial cities—where people love the new, and Vegas is not as much like that as you’d think. We found our best supporters among people who can afford not to be afraid, and you know who they are—you can count them on two hands. And so there’s not as much a thriving middle class here as I had suspected. You really need a culture that has people who understand good art. Vegas has some, with these casino guys and ad guys who are kind of hip, but that ﬁrst step down is a looong one.” But, it seems, Dave’s Vegas problem always comes back to Dave’s university problem. “It’s a very small place in which a relatively small faculty serves a relatively unprepared student body. And I think they do as good as they can do, but they’re certainly not concerned with turning out rocket scientists. They want the kind of students that Nevada business needs. … So if I’m up there trying to turn out students with a certain level of excellence and that’s totally out of tune with the school’s mission, then I’m going to be in the way. And I was in the way there for 20 years.” And a couple of side effects of being in that position gnaw at him, too: He had too few close colleagues (“I can never remember the names of the pets of my colleagues, and that’s all they ever want to talk about”) and too many social snuffs (“I’m still not the one who gets invited to the wienie roast”). He takes some of the blame, for being outspoken. “I give myself privilege here that I would give myself in New York,” he says. “But the people who run the town here are really not used to smart-asses making fun of them. I pissed some people off.” The good news for the rest of us is Dave stands by more of his theories than he originally threatened. Because while all that he and Libby attempted to do—whether it was coach artists or hang serious contemporary art—never fully took ﬂight, there were dramatic moments that demonstrated the potential of Las Vegas. “I think my theories about Vegas as a good education environment were true. The advantage that my art students and writing students took of the availability of the city were incredible. It’s just a great place full of subject matters and views, and the class distinctions are soft, so you can kind of go around and up and down. So as a place to become a writer or an artist, I think it’s wonderful.” That said, he’s not sure where Las Vegas is headed. He’s not a fan of CityCenter (“It’s no fun”), he doesn’t see the university catching up in the sophistication department anytime soon, and the economic situation could change our unique creative climate forever. “I think the real problem that’s presenting itself that’s never presented itself before is that there is beginning to be a real need for government in Nevada. The old way is, ‘Why do ya’ll elect all these stupid people?’ Well, because we’re smarter than they are and we always win. But with the urban problems developing you really need somebody who knows how the fucking government works.” Knowing how that might affect the spirit of art and democracy here is a long ways off, probably 10 years, he says. What’s unfortunate, in the meantime, is that Dave Hickey will no longer be around to either defend or criticize what it becomes. See excerpts from the Dave Hickey interview at weeklyseven.com.
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 31
(and Answers!) for the Upcoming Political Season
By David Berns, Paul Szydelko and T.R. Witcher
Illustrations by Val Bochkov
Like turning leaves in the fall, the signs of the political season are everywhere—literally. Every empty patch of ground in the city has sprouted election signs, every available wire-mesh fence is wallpapered with candidates’ faces. So many names, so much media coverage, so much rhetoric—and with the primaries about to start, it’s only just begun. To help make sense of it all, our politically minded scribes have tried to boil the issues down into an easily digestible, yet nourishing, meal that you can devour in a single sitting. Think of it as a appetizer to the often-confusing election season.
1. Why should I vote in the primary anyway? First of all, it’s your civic duty. But this time around the primary is also shaping up to offer real drama, especially on the Republican side. The two marquee contests are for the GOP nomination for governor—where Gov. Jim Gibbons will be tested—and for U.S. Senate, to see which Republican will challenge Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It’s impossible to predict how many voters will turn out, but in 2008, Nevadans stayed home in droves; only 15 percent of registered voters cast a ballot—a record low. The GOP would like to see more than 40 percent of Republicans make it to the polls. People will be “shopping around for a candidate they think is the best ﬁt,” says Robert Uithoven, campaign manager for GOP Senate candidate Sue Lowden. Democrats are hoping for a little economic good news, if not by the primary at least by the general election, says strategist Dan Hart. “If economic conditions improve, it will help the Democratic Party.” In any case, when turnout is low, your vote suddenly becomes more important. 2. What’s the dominant issue? Anger, at least according to the observers we spoke with. Our neighborhoods have collapsed. Government is broke. Record unemployment has left many of us with little sense of hope. The American Dream has become the Nevada Nightmare for too many. Much of that hostility is focused on Democrats because they hold power; but Republicans are also on the receiving end in states where they ﬁll key political ofﬁces. The challenge for incumbents is to co-opt the anger while deﬂecting any responsibility for the nation’s failings. Challengers will try their best to tie incumbents to our economic and institutional collapse. No matter who wins, the anger will persist until the jobs come back and the foreclosure crisis ends.
32 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
3. Will the Tea Party have an inﬂuence on this election? Who knows? UNLV political science professor Kenneth Fernandez says the Tea Party is a protest party—like the Progressive Party in the early 20th century, or Ross Perot’s Reform Party. “I think they can affect the agenda, make things more or less salient and direct media attention on issues they care about,” Fernandez says. Debbie Landis, founder and president of the Tea Party organization Anger Is Brewing, suggests that the 40,000 or so votes that statewide GOP candidates need to win their primaries could be made up entirely of self-identiﬁed Tea Partiers. “It’s not unreasonable to say 70,000 or 80,000 would call themselves Tea Partiers.” Those voters, she says, are “united under the banner of ﬁscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.” The Tea Parties, she says, know no party afﬁliation. “A Tea Partier could be anybody.” On the other hand, there are those who think the idea of the Tea Party as a massive, cross-cultural, inﬂuential movement is overblown. “There’s a word for what poll after poll depicts as a group of largely white, middleclass, middle-age voters who are aggrieved,” wrote Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith in an April 22 article on Politico.com. “Republicans.” 4. What’s the most overrated issue? Immigration. Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston put it best: Nevada is not Arizona, and though Gibbons, Republican Senate candidate Chad Christensen and others argue otherwise, illegal immigrants are not draining budgets here the way they are in Arizona. Of course undocumented workers in Nevada helped build our homes, mow our lawns, prepare our meals and care for our elderly. During the go-go aughts, construction workers complained that undocumented workers drove down their wages. Talk radio callers
routinely complain that “illegals” are the cause of the massive budget deﬁcits at the county-owned University Medical Center, although the numbers show otherwise. But the bottom line is that conservative Republicans push the immigration issue at their peril. They may motivate the base, but they may also end up mobilizing Hispanic-Americans to vote for two guys named Reid in November. 5. Will Hispanic voters turn out in force? That depends on how long immigration stays on the radar nationally. If it remains on the front burner, expect a large turnout. Beatriz Aguirre, grassroots organizer for Reform Immigration for America, a coalition of labor and immigrant rights organizations, says thousands of Latinos have turned out for recent voter registration drives and rallies. “The Latinos are paying more and more attention to the issues,” Aguirre says. They’re following the comments of candidates, such as gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval, a Republican from Reno, who supports Arizona’s new immigration law. “We’re prepared to come and vote to make sure those people don’t get into ofﬁce.” History indicates that isn’t an empty threat. In 2008, Hispanic voters cast 15 percent of the votes in the general election, an unprecedented turnout that was 50 percent higher than the same ﬁgure in 2004, according to a November 2008 article in the Las Vegas Sun. 6. Speaking of Sandoval, is he crazy for supporting the Arizona illegal immigration law? Maybe he’s crazy like a fox. “When you’re running for ofﬁce, you have to think of tomorrow’s election, not next week’s election,” says Democratic strategist Hart. “Clearly what Sandoval is telegraphing to everybody is he’s concerned about the primary.”
Know the Lingo A glossary of terms you’ll soon be hearing: Birthers People who believe President Obama wasn’t born in the United States and are inundating Hawaii’s state health department with records requests to prove their case.
DINO Acronym for “Democrat in Name Only.” A Democrat liberals believe is too conservative. Example: state Sen. John Lee.
On the other hand, at a meeting of Reform Immigration for America in January, Sandoval touted himself as the only Latino candidate in the ﬁeld. His recent comments in support of Arizona’s immigration law suggest a departure from the empathetic connection he may have been trying to make. “A great number of us were very hopeful about his candidacy,” says Fernando Romero, an outreach coordinator. “But unfortunately he built up that hope and dropped us like a lead balloon.” Sandoval, who gave up a lifetime seat as a federal judge to run, may get enough votes to win—and no doubt there are Latinos sympathetic to toughening immigration laws—but his support of Arizona SB 1070 is likely to cost him.
7. How bad off is the state budget? Why aren’t candidates talking about it?
It’s bad. Although the state has limped along in the last few years trying to close huge budget gaps, it faces a $3 billion shortfall. “[The candidates] hope the economy comes back and they don’t have to touch the hot poker,” UNLV history professor Eugene Moehring says. “This is the one state where people move here because they don’t want to pay the taxes.” Uithoven, Lowden’s campaign manager, argues that the federal deﬁcit is of greater concern than the state hole. “Most of the state legislators have so far agreed they have no choice but to cut,” he says. “There’s not much appetite to raise taxes. Who do you raise taxes on?” However, there’s a major accounting study due out this fall that examines Nevada’s tax and ﬁnancing structure. Candidates may be waiting on that before weighing in.
Someone who believes in free will, property rights and the right of people to make decisions for themselves free of government interference.
8. Should Nevada consider a state or corporate income tax? We should at least have the conversation. Nevadans know the arguments: Progressive Democrats seek some combo of the two taxes to close growing budget gaps and avoid additional cuts to
Hard money Money given in federal campaigns to support a speciﬁc candidate. If an ad says, “Vote for candidate Z on Election Day because she is experienced and wonderful,” it is a hard-money ad. Hard money contributions are regulated by the Federal Election Commission. See “soft money.”
education, public health and public safety. Without a vibrant government, they say, we’ll never lay the foundation for the state’s economic future. Republicans argue that we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. They want to cut public employee pay and beneﬁts, open government employee contract negotiations to full public scrutiny and further reduce taxes to help spur economic growth. Wise people have to wonder whether the solution can be found in some combination of the two. 9. Candidates talk a lot of about green energy being good for our economy. Is there any way it could work? Nevada has the sunshine of the Mojave Desert and the winds of the Great Basin. Between the two, our state is positioned to become a player in the transformation of this country’s carbonbased energy grid. But so are our neighbors. A successful plan could be modeled on the seven-state deal signed in 1922 that divvied Colorado River water. Our governor, congressional delegation and state Legislature could work with neighboring states and the federal government to create a regional green energy consortium that combines the strengths of individual states. Toss in the fact that the federal government owns about 87 percent of the state’s lands, making it difﬁcult for the public and private sectors to set aside the land to build transmission lines, and it’s clear there are big barriers to the development of a green economy. 10. Why are so many Republicans seeking the Senate seat held by Harry Reid? Because they smell blood in the water in these incumbent- hating times. There are 12 in the primary, but there are just three Republicans who truly matter—Lowden, Sharron Angle and Danny Tarkanian—if you believe the most recent Las Vegas ReviewJournal poll. The far-from-charismatic Reid admittedly lacks the charm to light up a Searchlight night, but he is in the room with Obama, Biden and Pelosi and just about anyone else who matters in political or corporate America.
Moonbats Leftists or social liberals. The name suggests that certain issues, such as health care, trigger wild responses from people, much like wolves howl at the moon.
MSM Mainstream media. Refers to major television networks, but is often applied to newspapers, radio, cable TV or any media outlet with a large distribution channel. Frequently used as a pejorative to allege bias.
Out of touch Term applied to almost every candidate at some point during an election. It means “too rich,” “too establishment,” “too liberal,” “too conservative,” etc. Also a 1984 song by Hall & Oates.
POTUS Acronym for “President of the United States.”
Election Day 2010: Money woes, job losses and a gruesome budget crisis lurking in the wings.
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 33
However, that’s the problem in an election cycle when millions of Americans despise the ruling class. Meantime, is it any wonder that the most recent R-J poll shows Tea Party Republican Angle, a former four-term assemblywoman, closing the gap on Lowden, a wealthy casino executive and former Nevada Republican Party chairwoman and state Senator? Angle’s the rebel in a year when entrenched power’s in trouble, and Lowden is seen by a good number of hard-core R’s as a member of the ruling class. Lowden’s staff believes she’ll receive 60,000 to 70,000 votes to win the primary, but Reid and Tarkanian have been ripping her mercilessly, and they’re apparently scoring. Could Angle continue a late surge and defeat the former New Jersey beauty queen, setting up a Tea Party-driven referendum on Nevada-style liberalism? You’ve got to love this race. 11. Why are Democrats running against Reid in the primary? They hope to catch him by surprise. Take, for example, Eduardo Hamilton, who goes by the nickname “Mr. Clean” (Nevada being one of the few states that allow candidates to have nicknames on the ballot) and is pitching himself as an “early opportunity candidate.” Hamilton is one of three Democrats hoping to beat Reid in the primary. His strategy is simple: Get 50,000 or so votes in a lowturnout primary, and win. That may still feel like gamblers odds, but Hamilton, a retired Chrysler exec, is conﬁdent he has a shot at the upset. “If you get mad and you get pissed off, don’t wait until November. Do it now. If you wait until November you’re going to need millions of dollars to beat him.” 12. What does Reid need to do to win in November? Crank up the PR machine. “He’s a great majority leader; he and his staff need to continue to spread the word about what kinds of things he’s accomplished for Nevada,” says Roberta Lange, chairwoman of the Clark County Democrats, who served as Reid’s deputy campaign manager in 1998. Then again, Moehring suggests, Reid may just need to hold tight: He wonders whether Nevadans really want to replace the Senate majority leader “with Jerry Tarkanian’s son or Sue Lowden. … The guy’s got power.” But he may need all of it. Uithoven, Lowden’s campaign manager, notes that the election is referendum on the Senate majority leader. “He says we can’t do without him,” Uithoven says. “Then why do we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation? Why do we have record home foreclosures? No amount of public relations advertising is going to convince people they’re doing well if they’re being kicked out of their homes.”
13. Is the Arizona immigration law a plus or minus for Reid? It looks like a plus. His Republican challengers are falling all over themselves to play to the conservative base and praise the law, which among other things allows cops to demand proof of residency in the course of a legal stop. Hispanics are none too pleased about the racial proﬁling implications of the law, and they count for about 24 percent of Nevada’s population. Reid has come out in favor of comprehensive federal immigration reform, a pretty safe position at the moment seeing as that’s not even on the radar in Washington right now. So Reid has the advantage of acknowledging the problem, but not upsetting Hispanics with a draconian solution. 14. What has he done for Nevada anyway? Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University and an expert on Senate history, says that other Senate leaders have, over the years, brought back big-ticket items to their states. Democrat Robert Byrd managed to get the IRS to move most of its computing facilities to West Virginia. Republican Trent Lott fought to keep a naval station open in Mississippi.
34 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Reid has kept pace, Baker says, though more with a steady ﬂow of federal dollars toward smaller projects. “I calculated that his [earmarks] annually bring in about a quarter of a billion dollars to Nevada,” Baker says. Still, Reid has a few big victories under his belt. The long-proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility is very likely history. And Reid may very well have helped save MGM Mirage, when it was on the brink of bankruptcy, by getting on the phone with the company’s lenders at the 11th hour. Moehring agrees that it’s “amazing how much federal money” came into the state under Reid’s watch. But his biggest legacy may be the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act of 1998, which required the BLM to swap land close to Las Vegas for development while protecting lands farther away. That set the stage for the triumphant growth Vegas enjoyed in the last decade. It also set the stage for the spectacular economic hangover we’re all experiencing now. 15. Who’s giving money to Reid? He raised $17 million, with $8.6 million spent and $9.4 million on hand, as of March 31, according to the most recent campaign ﬁnance reports. MGM Mirage led the way with $153,400; followed by the New York-based personal injury law ﬁrm of Weitz & Luxenberg, $88,800; Harrah’s Entertainment, $82,100; the L.A.-based personal injury law ﬁrm of Girardi & Keese, $76,400; and the New York-based private equity fund the Blackstone Group, $71,500. 16. Same question for Sue Lowden. Lowden raised $2.17 million and spent $1.9 million, as of March 31. Her biggest donor was Las Vegas Sands ($26,200), which is headed by Sheldon Adelson, who has been one of the biggest individual donors to Republicans nationally, as well as a major supporter of conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sue and Paul Lowden’s casino company, Archon Corp., is the No. 2 donor to her campaign at $19,700. They are followed by Nevada Holding Services, $19,200; Martin Harris Construction, $9,500; and Frias Holding, a taxi cab and limousine service provider, $7,200. 17. Same question for Sharron Angle. Angle raised $948,330, as of March 31, with $395,800 spent and $430,545 on hand. Her biggest donor was the conservative political action committee Citizens United, $5,000. Earlier this year, the group won an historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that knocked down federal campaign ﬁnance reform laws, arguing that corporations have the same free-speech rights as individuals. Next was power plant owner, developer and operator Indeck Energy Services, $4,800; Rothschild Capital Management, $4,800; the private equity ﬁrm TA Associates, $4,800; and the Oklahoma-based energy exploration and production company Helmerich & Payne, $2,000. 18. How in the world did Jim Gibbons become the governor in 2006? A Las Vegas reporter interviewed Gibbons in June 2006 and found a short-tempered, ﬁve-term U.S. House member who grew increasingly combative as he was pressed to answer policy questions. Later, the reporter contacted a corporate executive who was supporting Gibbons and asked the exec what he saw in the anti-tax candidate. “At best he’ll be benign. At worst he’ll be a disaster,” the executive said. Think back four years. The Nevada economy was booming. Gaming and sales tax revenue were rolling into the state. Gibbons successfully pushed for a state constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote of state legislators for any tax increase—a popular measure among the anti-tax crowd that dominates much of the state’s politics. He also promised to oppose any effort to raise the state’s gaming tax. A geologist, hydrologist, lawyer, ﬁghter and airline pilot who loves the solitude of rural Elko County, Gibbons was popular in northern and rural Nevada. His opponent, liberal Democratic
RINO Acronym for “Republican in Name Only.” A Republican conservatives believe is too liberal. Example: former Gov. Kenny Guinn.
SCOTUS Acronym for Supreme Court of the United States.
Soft money Money given in federal campaigns to political parties for “party building” purposes, which is loosely deﬁned as anything that doesn’t tell someone to vote for a speciﬁc candidate. Ads that portray candidate X as a guy who takes candy from babies, but stop short of saying to vote for candidate Y, are soft money ads. There is no limit on soft money donations. See “hard money.”
Tea Party movement A loosely organized group that coalesced in early 2009 around the idea of a strict interpretation of the Constitution and smaller government. Broadly speaking, they are anti-bailout, anti-stimulus and anti-Obama. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll characterized the 18 percent of Americans who identiﬁed themselves as Tea Partiers as Republican, white, male, over 45 and better educated than the general public.
Truthers People who reject the “ofﬁcial” explanation of events for 9/11, instead believing that the U.S. government orchestrated the acts of terrorism against itself.
10thers States’ rights advocates. The reference is to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” See “Tea Party movement.”
Vast right-wing conspiracy Coined by Hillary Clinton to describe President Bill Clinton’s political foes.
Wingnuts Right wingers, often bloggers. –Bob Whitby
Anger is big this year, but there are reasoned blogs to be found.
state Sen. Dina Titus, was not. She supported tax increases, had her own temper issues and a heavy Southern accent that turned off some voters. Titus won Clark County, but Gibbons won every other county in the state despite allegations that he sexually assaulted a Las Vegas cocktail waitress less than a month before Election Day. Could he win again? Low voter turnout, Tea Party anger and dislike of Harry and Rory Reid could lead to a second term for Gibbons. Then again, he could be one-and-done on Primary Day. 19. What will term limits mean to this election? According to the state Legislature, seven of 21 state senators are on their last terms in ofﬁce; ﬁve more senators will follow in 2012; then three more in 2014. On the Assembly side, 10 out of 42 members will face term limits this fall. “With so many people turned out, it could change the shape of Nevada for [Democrats],” says Lange, chairwoman of the Clark County Democrats. “It’s really, really important to us.” On the other hand, political consultant Dan Hart downplays the issue. “It’s not as big a deal this year as it will be in the future.”
20. What political blogs should I pay attention to? Insight, accuracy and a reputation for fairness propelled Elizabeth Crum from independent blogger to a well-respected political analyst who now shares her commentary across a variety of platforms. Blogging only since February 2008, Crum gained steam that summer, espousing a conservative-to-libertarian viewpoint, and received links from Politico.com and National Review. Named editor of the Nevada News Bureau, a Web-based news service founded in October and funded by Citizen Outreach, a non-proﬁt group led by political consultant/blogger Chuck Muth, Crum regularly contributes analysis on KTNV Channel 13. In addition to Crum at nevadanewsbureau.com/ theblog/, Muth and longtime bloggers such as Ralston, Steve Sebelius, Anjeanette Damon and Hugh Jackson, other fanciful-named blogs to watch include DullardMush.blogspot.com (Or What My Brain Is Becoming This Political Season), whose pithy observations lean right, and mavenandmeddler.com (Challenging Your Assumptions, One Idea at a Time) by Lt. Col. Cynthia Ryan of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol, a versatile writer from the left who provided information to the media during the 2007 search for missing balloonist Steve Fossett.
Voting 101 The primary election is June 8 and the general election is Nov. 2. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for both. Early voting, which in Clark County lately attracts more voters than Election Day, opens May 22 for the primary and Oct. 16 for the general. Find early voting sites and hours at accessclarkcounty.com/elections. But if you haven’t already registered to vote in the primary, it’s too late; your last chance was May 18. Register by Oct. 12 to avoid the same mistake in the general election. You can register at the Clark County Election Department ofﬁce, any city clerk’s ofﬁce, the Department of Motor Vehicles or online at the website mentioned above. To register you have be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old by Election Day, have lived in Clark County for a minimum of 30 days and lived in your precinct at least 10 days. Primaries in Nevada are closed, meaning you can only vote for the party in which you are registered. If you’re registered as a Republican, for example, you can only vote in Republican primaries and in nonpartisan races. If you are registered as anything other than a Democrat or Republican, you’re limited to voting in nonpartisan races. –Bob Whitby
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 35
THe LocaL Newsroom Fifth Street Shakeup City preparing to hike rates at downtown cultural center By T.R. Witcher
historic Harrison Boarding House, at 1001 F St., as the focal point of the newly formed Uptown Community Development Association. But it quickly became clear that the Town Tavern and Jackson Avenue should be at the top of the neighborhood’s priority list. Jackson Avenue was once known as the Black Strip, a place where “you could just walk to everything,” says Trish Geran, author of Beyond the Glimmering Lights (Stephens Press, 2006), a history of African-Americans in Las Vegas. The street teemed with bars, clubs and lounges, but there was also a nearby library, beauty salon, shoeshine stand and gas station. Westside residents want to revive the street, now lined with churches and vacant lots, and turn it back into the community epicenter it once was. The community development association, which began meeting in December, ﬁrst tackled the cluttered Star Lite Room as a community service project to coincide with Earth Day. “We realized that no one’s going to come into our community and help us if we don’t try to help ourselves ﬁrst,” Duncan says. “We have a tendency to
Since it re-opened two years ago, the renovated Fifth Street School has become what Mayor Oscar Goodman had hoped: downtown’s “cultural oasis,” regularly hosting lectures, recitals and events such as the Vegas Valley Book Festival. The building is home to the city’s Ofﬁce of Cultural Affairs, the Las Vegas ofﬁces of the American Institute of Architects, the Downtown Design Center of UNLV’s School of Architecture and the Nevada School of the Arts. To date, the tenants have gotten a great deal from the city—they pay $1 a month in rent, plus a portion of the building’s operating costs, based on how much square footage each tenant is leasing. But in a tough economy, that good thing is coming to an end. The city is planning to increase the tenants’ share of the overall cost by about 400 percent over the next two years, sources say. The city has ﬁve-year leases with the tenants and is discussing changes that would go into effect in the 2011 ﬁscal year. The city, according to spokesman Jace Radke, would pass utility, custodial and other common maintenance expenses along to the tenants. The city is not breaking the leases, says Radke, who added that discussions with tenants exist within the “conﬁnes of the current leases.” “The city has an $80 million shortfall in its budget this year,” Radke says. “Unfortunately that’s requiring the city to make some changes to services as well as talk about layoffs and other things to close that gap.” By law, Radke adds, the city has to have a balanced budget by June, and to that end the Las Vegas City Council on May 18 unanimously approved a ﬁnal budget for next year that cuts the jobs of 200 city employees. There is no word on exactly on how big an increase these organizations face from a monetary standpoint. “Everybody knows the city is looking for ways to cut the budget and keep things as economical as possible,” Radke says. “That’s what’s happening.” Randy Lavigne, executive director of the AIA, says that if her organization moved to another facility downtown, it would end up paying between $12 and
Continued on page 41
Continued on page 39
Uptown Community Development Association member Saul Willis inside the rooﬂess Star Lite Room.
Prepping for a comeback Westside residents work to restore a piece of their history By Caitlin McGarry
Willis photo by Anthony Mair
B.B. King and Tyrone Davis once played to adoring crowds at the New Town Tavern’s Star Lite Room, but those days are a distant memory. The ticket booth, where fans lined up to see the latest blues artists, is empty. The theater lacks a roof, and 1960s-era chairs are stacked in piles near the stage, exposed to the elements. The crowds are gone. Decades after its heyday, the Town Tavern, located at 600 Jackson Ave., is a ghost of its former self. The Star Lite Room, once a haven for black entertainers who were banned from casinos on
Las Vegas Boulevard, closed its doors after water damage caused the roof to collapse in 2003. Elijah Green’s family has run the Town Tavern for 44 years, through good times and bad. Green’s staff of 125 employees has dwindled to 12. The table games are gone, but the casino’s slot machines are still in operation. The Sunrise Café, where neighborhood residents would meet for breakfast before work, closed last year. “It’s really been a nightmare for me to see it go from what it was and decline like it has,” Green says. The center table at the Sunrise Café is where a group of concerned Westside residents meet at 7 a.m. each Saturday to discuss the future of the Town Tavern, which ﬁrst opened in 1955, and the neighborhood as a whole. The meetings are led by Katherine Duncan, president of the Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce, who ﬁrst envisioned the
The New Town Tavern in 1960.
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven
The Local Newsroom
Green Felt Journal
Transforming the Tropicana By David G. Schwartz
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38 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus believed that change is the only constant. “You cannot step into the same river twice,” he is reputed to have said. A known gambler, he probably would have found Las Vegas to his liking. That’s because the only thing that doesn’t change around this town is change. There are few other places where anyone would even consider spending $150 million to “relaunch” a resort that cost $1.4 billion to build a mere seven years after its opening. But when that happened at the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood in 2007, few were surprised. A similar change is taking place at the Tropicana, and not a moment too soon. One of the oldest resorts remaining on the Strip (it opened in 1957), the Tropicana, after an increasingly parsimonious corporate stewardship over the past few years, is enjoying a renaissance under the leadership of Alex Yemenidjian, chairman and CEO of Tropicana Las Vegas, and new president Tom McCartney. The current economy dictates nothing too ambitious—certainly nothing like the 10,000-room mega-expansion previous owners Columbia Sussex mooted back in 2006. With a recent Tropicana ﬁnancial ﬁling admitting there is an “imbalance” in room inventory, it’s not a question of trying to add capacity, it’s about competing with bargain rates at younger properties. With casinos in a dogﬁght for every possible dollar, they can’t afford much disorder while they make themselves over, even if they’re doing more than just changing out a few light bulbs. Yet they can’t afford to creep along at a snail’s pace, either. “It’s a challenge,” Yemenidjian says, “to create as little disruption as possible, while moving as fast as possible.” So don’t expect a big “presto!” revealing for the new Trop. Instead, there will be a gradual transformation, as carpet is replaced, rooms reconditioned and restaurants reintroduced. At this moment, then, you can visit a casino not just in the middle of a renovation, but a transformation. Tropicana vice president of marketing Cynthia Mun insists that’s the only appropriate word for such a large-scale
improvement, with everything changing from the marquee out front to the duvet covers. “We’re doing more than just renovating,” she says. “When we’re done, this will be a completely new property.” The Tiffany glass over the gaming pits is staying, but that’s about it. Aesthetically, it’s a win for visual diversity: While most Strip casinos are tended toward dark hues and sleek chic, the Trop is going for light, bright and white. The result is a casino that, even though it’s soaked up more than a half-century of cigarette smoke, really does look fresh. The catch, for now, is that the casino is a work in progress. Some areas, like the strip around the table-game pits, have been transformed; others have not. So you can hop from brilliantly white Thassos tile and vibrant red-and-yellow carpet to the dark, dingy carpet for a while longer, at least. It makes for an interesting contrast. Even the pool is changing. The fouracre expanse at the heart of the resort has been one of the Trop’s best features for years; it’s hard to tamper with Vegas, sun and water. But to compete against the slew of European-style pools, ultra-lounges and day clubs, the Tropicana’s management needs to up the ante, so it has recently announced a partnership with Nikki Beach, an international “lifestyle” company that operates “beach clubs” from Koh Samui, Thailand, to Toronto. Previous attempts at bringing Nikki Beach to casino properties, such as Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort and Resorts Atlantic City, have not been successful, so it is hoped that, with a robust South Beach theme and a genuine slice of pool paradise, this time there will be a true synergy in the bonding. Nikki Beach won’t open until next year, so until then the pool as you’ve known it will have its swan song this summer. In the end, $165 million is going to buy a whole new Tropicana that will be better able to compete in an era of downsized room rates at ﬁve-star properties. For now, it’s a case study in change, in a town that’s deﬁned by it. David G. Schwartz is the director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research.
The Local Newsroom
Greening the airwaves Vegas PBS’ eco-friendly station makes for better TV By Jessica Prois With 14 miles of colorful wires snaking through its central data system and four times more space than before, the new $60 million Vegas PBS building seems like it would be an energy hog. But KLVX-TV (Channel 10) is operating under a concept foreign to Las Vegas: Consume less and do more. The ﬁnishing touches of the yearlong transition from PBS’ old building could include becoming the ﬁrst TV station in the nation that meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s second-highest level of green building recognition—the Gold certiﬁcation standard in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The 108,000-square-foot station near East Flamingo Road and McLeod Drive will consume 45 percent less energy than a typical structure that meets Clark County’s building code and use about one-ﬁfth of the electricity than its previous building. The cost savings will allow the station to spend more on its PBS Virtual High School and emergency response system services, as well as new TV programming. “I’d much rather hire producers and writers to do television shows, and educators to do online training, than to use that same money to pay the electric and gas bills,” general manager Tom Axtell says. To earn Gold certiﬁcation, a building has to rack up points in ﬁve green
design standards, including sustainable sites, water efﬁciency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Achieving Gold is a lofty goal for any building, but especially so for a TV station, says Marie Coleman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Building Council. “The thought should be, ‘If a TV station can be green and high-performing, then certainly my building can and should be,’” she says. Vegas PBS, which comprises 13 channels—three broadcast, four cable and satellite and six closed-circuit—will conserve electricity by using water cooled in 400-foot-deep geothermal wells to cool the station, saving about 20 percent in lifetime costs. A pump feeds lukewarm water down the wells and the ground naturally cools it, instead of having to store water in chillers. “These are $200,000 chillers that need replacement every 15 years,” Axtell says. “It’s a tremendous savings.” The building also has 715-kilowatt solar panels that capture energy from the sun to be used for electricity, and a sloped roof that collects rainwater to be recycled for irrigation. Even the ofﬁces are better for the environment; everything from the fabric on the chairs to the paint on the walls is toxin free. These conservation efforts mean it’s
Geothermal wells cool it, rainwater helps irrigate it and everything inside is toxin free.
cheaper for the station to cool its wiring, allowing greater server space. And larger servers mean increased online class offerings for more than 7,000 students at the PBS Virtual High School, the only PBSsupported distance learning public school in the country. With more network space and more physical space, the school has been able to provide computers and classrooms for students to complete speeches or science labs, portions of classes that require teacher-student meetings. Many are students whose classes—oftentimes advanced placement—were eliminated by district budget cuts. The station’s increased server size
also means it’s a local security hub with the ability to send out information to citizens, police and news afﬁliates in the event of an emergency. It also has wired and wireless connections to emergency operation centers, schools and hospitals. The station could not only operate but also broadcast by use of a generator for seven to 10 days in the event of a power outage. “[The events of ] 9/11 happened during the planning process of the building,” Axtell says. “It made us think about how we would make sure our building would function in that situation and our responsibility to the community.”
By Rob Tornoe
Fifth Street School photo courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau
Fifth Street School Continued from page 37
$16 per square foot. With the new spike in operating costs (though rent will stay the same), the new monthly payments will be in line with the rest of the market. If tenants leave, downtown could lose the heart of one of its most successful pieces of redevelopment. The building was renovated Fifth Street School tenants will be digging deeper to stay. with $13.4 million from the substation. “We have a very long tenure city’s Redevelopment Agency. So far, on this property,” Dorgan says. “We’re though, no one has indicated they plan committed to downtown and committed to leave. “I’ve been very pleased with to the Fifth Street School.” the support of the city and their efforts “Everybody who’s down here is still to get us in here and make this a really working to stay,” Lavigne says. “Any great place to be,” says Robert Dorgan, increase to our budget is not good. But who runs the Downtown Design Center. the value of being in the facility and The university has had a presence in having the use of the facility and having the building for a decade, before it was access to the public is worth staying.” renovated in 2008 and was a police
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven
The Local Newsroom
Is This Thing On? A new FCC rule has microphone users scrambling to modify systems By Brooke Edwards It’s been a rough run for churches dependent on struggling parishioners. So news that The Lakes Lutheran Church is among the 30 percent of wireless microphone users nationwide who’ll have to modify or abandon their systems by June 12 to comply with a new Federal Communications Commission law was less than welcome for Pastor Kurt Sortland. “The FCC’s new regulation will take out both our wireless microphones,” Sortland says about a ban on equipment that broadcasts using the 700 MHz frequency. The 210 regulars at the West Sahara Avenue parish would need to come up with $800 to replace the church’s two wireless systems. Microphones operating on the 700 MHz band, which are commonly used by schools, large-group speakers and staged productions, were designed to use airwaves between those licensed to
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
broadcast analog TV. But with the transition to digital last June, TV stations no longer use that band. The FCC set roughly a quarter of that spectrum aside for public safety, spokesman Matt Nodine says, with innovative tools in the works to help public safety agencies communicate, or help ﬁreﬁghters access schematics for burning buildings while en route. Verizon Wireless and AT&T also bought portions of the band at auction to accommodate 4G wireless devices. The FCC auctioned the band to mobile voice and broadband users in early 2008, but it didn’t approve the formal order banning the 700 MHz microphones until January, creating a six-month window to the June 12 deadline. To stage Broadway productions such as Chicago or Mamma Mia!, theaters may have to absorb up to $100,000 in upgrades to their wireless microphone systems, Bloomberg News reports. Some unlicensed users are already reporting interference with their 700 MHz mikes, bringing equipment to their local store for repair only to learn it’s illegal for manufacturers to touch the stuff—even if it’s still under warranty.
Nodine said the FCC has done everything it can—including sending letters, posting notices on its website and meeting personally with some agencies—to prepare people for this switch. Still, Doug Wolbach, technical director at Northwest Community Church, wasn’t aware of the new law until contacted by Vegas Seven. After reviewing the policy, Wolbach learned the system at his South Rancho Drive church will need to be revamped. “We’ll be investing about $200 in order to comply with the new regulations,” Wolbach says. “While not a back-breaker, it’s money that could be better used somewhere else.” Although the issue may seem minor, it’s not something to ignore. Violators could face criminal charges if the banned equipment interferes with rescuers during an emergency. Nodine says civil ﬁnes will be assessed on a case-by-case basis but likely will be “tens of thousands of dollars.” While the FCC isn’t providing ﬁnancial assistance for unlicensed users to make the switch, many manufacturers
Ignore the law and get a ﬁne.
are offering rebate programs. “There may be clear reasons why this change was necessary,” Sortland says. “However, it appears [the FCC] feels no remorse in the consequences of its decision. The only happy party is the electronics industry.” For a complete list of equipment banned under the new law and links to manufacturer sites for rebate information, visit fcc.gov/cgb/wirelessmicrophones.
Photo by Anthony Mair
Town Tavern Continued from page 37
point our ﬁnger: ‘Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?’ Now we’re asking, ‘Why don’t we do it?’ We want to put ‘we’ back in the Westside and get the people that have a stake in the future of that neighborhood to roll up their sleeves and get it done.” Mel Green, principal of Las Vegasbased ﬁrm KME Architects, contributed pro bono exterior renderings of the Town Tavern’s renovation for the development association to show government ofﬁcials and area residents. Duncan hopes the Town Tavern will be completely renovated in six months, though that is unlikely to happen since the association ﬁrst needs to obtain nonproﬁt status so it can solicit donations. Elijah Green was recently denied a business loan to make improvements to the property, and though the property is eligible to apply for the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency’s Visual Improvement Program, the agency will only contribute up to $50,000 in matching funds. Elijah Green currently has no funds to match. Elijah Green says the price tag to
reconstruct the Star Lite Room’s roof was $100,000 back in 2003 when it collapsed. It is unclear what the ﬁnal cost of renovating the Town Tavern would be. Mel Green says he must ﬁrst ﬁnish the interior design plans for the building before giving a cost estimate. The community development association plans to hold a series of fundraisers and events to spark the neighborhood’s involvement in the Town Tavern’s renovation, including a black folk art festival in the works for June. “We have to ﬁnd the resources for the owners because they have not been able to ﬁnd any resources to get them out of the dilemma that they’re in,” Duncan says. “As the Chamber of Commerce, we’re putting them with the people we believe can assist them, help them get their business plan together and show them a future plan, because they had lost hope.” Westside residents hope the Town Tavern does not share the fate of the Moulin Rouge, the ﬁrst desegregated casino in Las Vegas that was on tap for
redevelopment before ﬁres destroyed the property. Councilman Ricki Barlow, who represents Ward 5, points to the redevelopment of the Westside School as a indicator of the city’s commitment to preserving West Las Vegas’ historic buildings.
“Where in the past, Las Vegas as a whole has been a sea of explosion or implosion, now we are working toward being the city of historical preservation,” Barlow says. “The Westside School is a prime example of the city of Las Vegas’ efforts to do just that.”
The cost to reconstruct the Star Lite Room’s roof was $100,000 in 2003.
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven
The Local Newsroom
The politics of nastiness By Michael Green
Has our discourse become too coarse? Both sides have invoked Hitler and Nazism to demonize opponents—wrongly, but with the difference that when such comments come from the insane left, Democrats must immediately condemn them, but Republicans who use them escape condemnation because the slurs come from “the base” when they should just be considered … baseless. Which brings us to Gov. Jim Gibbons trying to tar his main primary opponent, moderate Republican-turned-right-wingbower-and-scraper Brian Sandoval. In 2002, while running for attorney general, Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial board he would defend any Legislative action, including one requiring Jews to wear a Star of David. Eight years later, this inspired the brains behind Gibbons—that’s a straight line waiting for a punch line—to suggest Sandoval might be anti-Semitic. While all’s fair in love, war and politics, this outraged not just Jewish leaders, but anyone else with sense. Therefore Gibbons was not outraged, but he was apologetic. The recent Republican Senate debate took a different turn. Moderator Heidi Harris, a right-wing talk-show host on a radio station that once carried Dodgers games (none does now—an issue more important than any Senate race), tried to inspire discussion by writing on a whiteboard, “Harry Reid Sucks.” If such silliness upsets you enough to gripe on the Las Vegas Sun website, commenters on political stories are now required to log in from Facebook: “We hope and believe that this accountability will cut down on the meanness and name calling that occurs when commenters are granted anonymity,” the Sun’s site says. “We still hope readers will voice their opinions—whatever they may be—but we want to make sure they take responsibility for them, as well.” That would be refreshing, though, historically, many have hidden behind pen names or friends to attack their opponents. Confession being good for the soul, I post on forums under my name and ask others why they won’t do the same, and also post under assumed names, making me a hypocrite—which I can admit, even if too many Republicans won’t admit it about themselves. But hypocrisy and anonymity exist separately. My point is: Many on both sides of
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the aisle often plead for a return to that golden age of political discourse, when wise men said wise things. The Founding Fathers, for example, never stooped to discussions of personal lives, except when Thomas Jefferson’s enemies openly speculated that he fathered several children with a slave, and accused George Washington and John Adams of being monarchists. Alexander Hamilton, assessing presidential candidates in 1800, deemed Jefferson a “contemptible hypocrite,” but was even rougher on Aaron Burr, who later became so angry at Hamilton that he killed him in a duel. Did matters improve? In 1828, John Quincy Adams’ campaign described Andrew Jackson as a homicidal bigamist; Jackson’s campaign countered that, as minister to Russia, Adams had been a pimp for the czar. Nevada has been no better. During the Civil War, William Stewart, later the state’s ﬁrst U.S. senator, complained that one of his opponents thought a black man should vote, and he didn’t use a nicety such as “black.” Former U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran was known as anti-Semitic. McCarran’s biggest critic, Sun publisher Hank Greenspun, accused him of senility. Greenspun also called Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin “the queer that made Milwaukee famous” and said, since McCarthy questioned people’s sexuality, he deserved it, whether or not it was true. Some accusations backﬁre. Nevada’s greatest governor, Grant Sawyer, faced a tough primary. Opponent George Franklin claimed Sawyer let ﬁve brothels operate near a school when he was Elko’s district attorney. Sawyer’s political life ﬂashed before his eyes, but in those pre-Internet and pre-cable days of 1958, he had time to respond, and accused Franklin of “unmitigated lies: In truth, there are eight houses of prostitution.” That may have won him the primary. Perhaps, like Sawyer, we can laugh off such stupidity or outfox those guilty of it. Perhaps when we criticize such coarseness, we should look in the mirror and ponder the words Shakespeare gave to Cassius: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars … but in ourselves.” Michael Green is a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada and author of several books and articles on Nevada history and politics.
Entertaining options for a week of nonstop fun and excitement.
Compiled by Xania Woodman
Thur. 20 The weekend gets off to a gnarly start when rapper and Gnarls Barkley frontman Cee-Lo Green celebrates his birthday with a live performance at Haze. At Aria. Doors at 10:30 p.m., men $40, ladies $20. Meanwhile, the lovely ladies of Platinum Models host a birthday party of their own at the Venetian during a May Models birthday celebration at Tao. Doors at 10 p.m., $20 for guys, $10 for girls, all locals free.
Fri. 21 Just three weeks into the 2010 Rogue Friday Night Live concert series, the Hard Rock Hotel’s popular poolside weekend kickoff is going for broke with eclectic hip-hop masters De La Soul. Known for their unpredictable onstage antics, the Grammy Award-winning group recently released a 44-minute track for Nike, meant to accompany you on a nice long run. Here’s hoping they’ll manage more than that one song into their set. Doors at 7 p.m., concert at 9 p.m., $24.50.
Sat. 22 Consenting adults drinking potent beverages, wearing fairy wings and little else? Sounds like the Erotic Heritage Museum’s ﬁrst-ever F Is for Fairy Urban Fairy Ball. The event provides fairy-philes and the people who love them with enough live music, burlesque dancing, a Gothic fairy fashion show, magic, art and drums to please Oberon. 3275 Industrial Road. Doors at 8 p.m., $10 or $8 with the donation of canned goods or condoms, 18+. Alternatively, if you prefer island-inspired fantasy, former Lost actress Rebecca Mader hosts the series ﬁnale party at Lavo. Her character, Charlotte Lewis, enjoyed a dual arc consisting of death-by-timetravel and, in the alternate reality, a one-nighter with Sawyer—saucy!—so she is the perfect Sin City hostess. At the Palazzo. Doors open 10 p.m., $30 for guys, $20 for girls, local ladies free.
SeveN NIghtS Sun. 23 Following on the heels of last year’s Sunkissed LGBT pool party, Temptation Sundays kicks off at Luxor with a full program of poolside daylife fun hosted by the irrepressible J.Son of nakedboynews.com. Week one brings us a Hawaiian luau with risqué poolside contests, water basketball and resident DJ Axis. 1-7 p.m., $20 cover, $10 for locals military/hotel guests, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for complimentary access until 2 p.m.
Mon. 24 Hundreds of women in bikinis, strategically placed around the Planet Hollywood pool—need we say more? Cosmopolitan is coordinating North America’s largest swimsuit photo shoot (spelling out C-O-S-M-O for its August issue) and has recruited Mario Lopez to help (though, let’s face it, he’d probably do it for free). The magazine’s third annual Bikini Bash features Nivea gift bags, hunky “sunscreen ambassadors” and VIP admission to the afterparty at Jet later that night, which is sponsored by Belvedere. Check-in 5-6 p.m., event until 10 p.m., register in advance at cosmopolitan.com/bikinibash. Afterparty at Jet at The Mirage. Doors at 10:30 p.m., $30 cover, locals free.
Tues. 25 It’s hip to be square as Lavo celebrates National Nerd Day with one of the most notoriously nerdy guys of all time, Dustin Diamond, a.k.a. Screech from Saved By the Bell. Dress in your chess club best, then party like the cool kids with an hour-long open vodka bar starting at 11 p.m. Later, the nerdiest of the nerds gets true revenge in the form of $1,000 cash. At the Palazzo. Doors at 10 p.m., $20 for guys, $10 for girls, free for locals.
Wed. 26 DJ Keith Evan moves Taste Wednesdays from Café Soleil to new Nu Sanctuary at Town Square, where tastes in music, food, cocktails and hookah lounging fuse. Guest DJ Oliver Twist joins this week to spin down-tempo, mid-tempo, lounge, dub, Brazilian and deep house in the heart of the Square “meet market.” 9 p.m., no cover.
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Ditch FriDays | the Palms
Photography by Tony Tran
Upcoming May 21 | DJ StoneRokk anD DJ Five May 28 | Rev Run, DJ RuckuS anD DJ Scotty Boy
46 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Beauty Bar | 517 e. Fremont St.
Photography by Sullivan Charles
Upcoming may 20 | Romania Hold and special guests may 21 | moksHa and medusa tango may 22 | keepaway and Radio FReq
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Jet | the Mirage
Upcoming may 22 | xdc car show afterparty may 24 | cosmopolitan bikini bash afterparty
50 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Photography by Roman Mendez
Wasted space | Hard rock Hotel
Upcoming May 20 | SWEETHEaD WiTH SpEcial guEST DEvil car May 21 | DJ B rOK May 22 | Official rEv THEOry afTErparTy May 23 | far WiTH DEaD cOunTry, nOrManDiE anD agE Ov rEaSOn May 26 | WaSTED WEDnESDay
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Photography by Hew Burney
The Captains’ Log
Move for Me, I’ll Move for You Kaskade reveals why Sunday isn’t just for church
By Graham Funke Last year, while trying to get my sea legs back, I made a mental prep list for the upcoming summer pool season: Buy a new Speedo, have my Captain’s hat cleaned and ﬁnd some new songs to make the incoming crowds of party people splash. I considered that last bit of business the most important, and as I scrolled through the slew of MP3s in my inbox, I came across an e-mail from the central DJ wrangler for the Tao empire, Omar Galeano. The message contained a decree from Tao Group owner/partner/shot-caller Jason Strauss that commanded all resident DJs to work Kaskade’s “Move for Me” into their sets, in all venues, on all days, effective immediately. A short list of disc jockeys was attached on the message and, as the Saturday resident at Tao Beach at that time, I went about securing said track. Produced in collaboration with Canadian electronic artist Deadmau5 and featuring vocals by Haley Gibby, “Move for Me” proved to be a turning point in a music career that already spans more than a decade. “I really tried to make a marriage between lyrical content and production style,” says Kaskade, speaking over the phone. “Although it’s a fun and simple song about going out and dancing, people connected with it. It’s me speaking to the crowd: Move for me, I’ll move for you!” This DJ has moved quite a bit himself, starting off
playing for 600 people in a basement in Utah before commanding millions of party people at Carnival in Brazil. Now, as Encore Beach Club prepares to open its doors Memorial Day weekend, he is assigned to oversee Sunday afternoons at what is promised to be Vegas’ hottest pool destination. Kaskade was born Ryan Raddon and was raised in Chicago—a hotbed for the American house scene over the last few decades—yet it was his move to Utah for college (a relocation that was perfectly aligned with the Mormon belief system that his parents had instilled) that became to be the gestation point for his trajectory in music. Multitasking as a radio show host, a record store employee and a party promoter in Salt Lake City proved to be sufﬁcient boot camp and prepared him for his next move, a self-reassignment to San Francisco. He gained employment at Om Records, and moved quickly from intern to artist, completing three albums for them before signing in 2006 with Ultra Records. Billboard charts and Grammy nominations soon followed, culminating with the release of his ﬁfth album, Strobelite Seduction, and the single, “Move for Me,” which brings us here. “With every album, there’s always one or two tracks that really boost visibility,” Kaskade says. “’Move for Me’ was one of those. Timing, the lyrics, the melody, the production style—it just resonated with people.”
To call Kaskade modest would be a modest statement in itself, as he is quick to give shine to his collaborator from the Great White North for the track’s success: “I don’t necessarily feel like I did anything different,” he says. “It was collaborative with Deadmau5 and he’s on some crazy rocket ship to the moon. Some of that fairy dust sprinkled on me, and the track just connected with people. It was a whole other level that I knew existed; I just wasn’t aware of how out there it was.” They say success has many fathers and failure has none. I certainly played patriarch last summer, and “Move for Me” got prime-time positioning from the likes of DJs Vice, Crooked and Five. Then what do you know? Just one year later, the Beach Club at Encore invited Kaskade to move in. I jest, of course. Kaskade’s Sunday party will launch this Memorial Day weekend simply because a core group of nightlife impresarios realized that Kaskade was the man for the job. “Up until now, Las Vegas hasn’t had a premier venue, a venue that rivals where I’ve played in Europe or South America or Asia,” he laments, then launches into a wax-covered sonnet describing his plans for Sunday afternoon at Encore. “They wanted me to be involved and make the party mine—Kaskade Sundays—to curate it, be here all the time, design the sound that will match the party, and elevate it to a new level. I want to build something here in the U.S. that rivals what’s going on in some of these other places. This is the right time to do it. … I knew I wanted to be involved when I saw the plans and the sound system. The Wynn is being really brave by building a world-class venue that no one can touch.” Still, some may ﬁnd it hard to believe that the mastermind curating the booze-fueled party from the booth maintains his long-held Mormon values. I asked him about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ doctrine against alcohol and how he balances the service he provides with the inebriated environment this service is bound to promote. “Encore is trying to do something different; it’s a sophisticated party,” he says. “My whole existence is music. … ‘Let’s get fucked up dude!’—that’s not my thing. My gig is about love and passion and music. And I think we can create that party with a lot of cool people having a great time to some wonderful music.” Visit kaskademusic.com for more audio philosophy, or pick up Kaskade’s new record, Dynasty, before checking him out at Encore Beach Club. Graham Funke (left) and StoneRokk push the boundaries of what it means to be a DJ, determined to restore the onceglorious luster to their craft. In addition to contributing to Vegas Seven, The Captains of Industry entertain audiences at clubs across the country and maintain residencies at Moon and Playboy Club. For more, visit thecaptainsoﬁndustry.com.
Kaskade will set the scene for sun-worshiping and daylife debauchery every Sunday at Encore Beach Club. 60 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
By Xania Woodman
ToasT around Town
Park Avenue Princess
The May 27 release of Sex and the City 2 is being celebrated with a week of events inspired by Carrie and crew. Here are some highlights:
As served At MGM MirAGe bArs And lounGes, $12 We couldn’t resist. The shoes, the cocktails, the shoes … Sex and the City 2 is almost upon us, and like so many other national holidays—or events that we think warrant similar attention and time off work—it gives us good reason to raise a glass and spread some festive cheer. To that end, MGM Mirage has partnered with ofﬁcial Sex and the City sponsor Skyy Vodka to develop a line of sexed-up vodka-infusion cocktails. The creations (there are ﬁve of them in all) are available through May 31 at all MGM properties in Las Vegas, and a portion of the proceeds beneﬁt the Nevada Cancer Institute. 2 ounces Skyy Infusions Ginger 1 ounce honey syrup (½ ounce honey dissolved into ½ ounce water) ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice twist of lemon to garnish Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a twist of lemon. Alternatively, you can double/triple/ quadruple the recipe—heck, make enough to ﬁll a pitcher—and share with fellow Sex and the City fans while watching re-runs.
infusion Confusion That night I got to thinking about infusions, and I couldn’t help but wonder … are infused vodkas fresh-tasting, drinkable couture, or merely off-the-rack, ﬂavored vodkas in new outﬁts?
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
To answer the Sex and the City-inspired question above, no, Skyy Infusions are not just Skyy Flavors in a fancy new getup. As a Skyy rep explained it, “ﬂavored” simply means plain vodka with artiﬁcial or natural ﬂavors added—much like one might add vanilla syrup to a latté. “Infusions” belong in a different category, and begin by steeping fruit, spices, vegetables or herbs in liquor (usually vodka) to make an intensely ﬂavored liquid (much like a strong pot of tea). The concentrated spirit is later blended with vodka, then ﬁltered to remove color and most of the sugar, leaving the intense all-natural ﬂavors behind. My embarrassingly well-stocked home bar includes a few familiar, dusty blue
bottles—the original line of Skyy Flavors, introduced in 2000 with citrus marking the brand’s entry into the ﬂavored vodka market; berry, vanilla, spiced, melon and orange soon followed. As the ﬂavored vodka craze spread, Skyy had to distinguish its product, and in 2008 it blazed a new trail infused with all-natural ingredients and intense ﬂavors. Skyy discontinued the Flavors line that same year, but also reinvigorated its iconic cobalt blue bottle with a sleek new look and launched the allnatural Skyy Infusions line—in citrus, raspberry, passion fruit, grape, cherry, pineapple and ginger—the last two being the ﬁrst nationally available vodkas of their kind. — X.W.
• Enjoy a night of New York attitude on May 21 as Shifty’s serves up $3 cosmos and $4 martinis, along with a special set of Karate Karaoke hosted by “Mr. Big” Sexy. Dress in your Sex and the City best and who knows, you just might get lucky: Rafﬂe items include movie passes, gift cards and more. 3805 W. Sahara Ave., 10 p.m.-2 a.m. • Another collection of inspired cocktails—Sence in the City, featuring Sence Rare European Rose Nectar— comes to The Grape at Town Square on May 21-28. As an added bonus, the wine bar donates $1 from every Carrie Bradshaw-inﬂuenced cocktail to the American Cancer Society. • Blue Martini on May 25 hosts Manolos & Martinis, featuring complimentary appetizers, Skyy cocktail specials, a Sex and the City trivia competition, and pink, pink, pink! At Town Square, 6-9 p.m. • Step out in your stilettos on May 26 for an evening of cosmos, champagne and shopping at the Wynn Esplanade. All attendees will be entered to win tickets to a special 8:30 preview screening later that night. 5:30-7:30 p.m., RSVP required, 770-7115 or email@example.com. • New York & Co. and Euphoria present a fashion show outside Rave Motion Pictures at 11 p.m. May 26. Ladies lining up for the midnight showing of Sex and the City 2 get wristbands for a one-hour open bar at Blue Martini following the movie. • After the big premiere on May 27, Sex and the City 2 ticket stubs can be traded for a complimentary glass of Moët at Rhumbar at The Mirage. • Blue Martini presents a progressive, character-speciﬁc fashion show at 7 p.m. May 28, featuring looks from Guess by Marciano and New York & Co. Ladies with Rave theater Sex and the City ticket stubs enjoy an hour-long open bar from 6 p.m.-midnight, and the ﬁrst 100 get gift bags. • The Hostile Grape at M Resort celebrates the big-screen return of Carrie and friends in high style, giving ladies wearing stilettos a complimentary bottle of vino during the May 29 installation of the wine bar’s weekly party, As Single As I Wanna Be. • Gilles Marini tempted Samantha in the ﬁrst Sex and the City movie, and at 1 p.m. May 30, he will toast the sequel with Moët Ice Impérial at the Palazzo’s adults-only pool, Azure.
The NaTioNal Newsroom This week in the New York Observer
Willem H. Buiter
Oil Rules Why the BP spill was inevitable By Joe Conason
Debt, Ugly Dogs and a New Dr. Doom Citigroup’s new chief economist Willem Buiter pens an unusually dour forecast, amid soccer and marriage quips
Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Max Abelson Late last month, a bespectacled economist who enjoys fantasy novels and science ﬁction wrote a report about the trillions and trillions of dollars of debt weighing the world down. It is long, difﬁcult, sporadically hilarious, thoroughly terrifying and, over the past few weeks, has become an essential read. “The public ﬁnances in the majority of advanced industrial countries are in a worse state today than at any time since the industrial revolution,” writes 60-year-old Willem H. Buiter, who became Citigroup’s chief economist in January, “except for wartime episodes and their immediate aftermaths.” Just after the bank published the report, the Financial Times called it “some serious, serious thinking.” The Sunday Times quoted from it a few days later; reports from South Africa and Australia followed; and MarketWatch wrote about it last Friday. This week, after the euro sunk to a four-year low and the president of the European Central Bank gave a
interview about terrifying tension and contagion, The New York Times ended its story on European woes with not one but two of its quotes. There was a time, quaintly, when the globe’s ���nancial calamity was limited to horribly troubled banks and doomed ﬁnancial giants. Now the problem is entire nations, including this one, whose ﬁscal shapes have deteriorated spectacularly. Buiter, mixing algebra with asides about soccer and marriage, and with a hint of distaste for the kind of giant that now employs him, gives a sense of how it got that way, and what happens next. Besides science ﬁction, Buiter enjoys poetry, tennis, and thinking about the conundrum of gargantuan sovereign debts. He’s been doing it since he was a Yale student, writing his Ph.D. thesis under the Nobel Prize–winning economist James Tobin. Since then, he’s bounced between Cambridge, Princeton, Yale and the London School of Economics, where he taught most recently. On the side, when
not writing his own FT blog, he has been a member of the Bank of England’s ratesetting Monetary Policy Committee. Insofar as widespread appeal can be enjoyed by any macroeconomist who wears spectacles on the bridge of his nose while holding forth on permanent effective real interest rates on public debt, Buiter’s ideas are inﬂuential and often neon-colored. He can get dazzlingly irritable, especially when complaining about what he calls hogwash bailouts, Europe’s fumble and bumble or the heart-stopping ignorance of limp-minded lawyers and woolly social scientists. “Imagine one small spoonful of tea leaves in a teapot the size of an adult beer barrel,” he wrote about a British government white paper. Not only did he mock his future employer last year, but he described it as an iconically blind behemoth. “Financial supermarkets lose focus and ultimately become Citigroup,” he wrote last April, “a conglomeration of worst-practice Continued on page 72
The more we learn about the BP oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the more we ought to question the basic assumptions that led us here. Like the explosion of the housing bubble that ruptured the world economy, this human and environmental tragedy resulted from a system that encourages reckless proﬁteering without effective regulation. It is impossible to understand why an accident like the Deepwater Horizon disaster was inevitable without looking back on an era when the energy industry dominated government. The oil bidness, as it is known affectionately in Texas, could do no wrong under the Bush-Cheney administration, which was run by former oil executives and their lobbyists. Remember that among the top priorities of the secretive energy task force run by Vice President Dick Cheney was relief for Big Oil from “burdensome” environmental regulations. As The New York Times reported recently, the Washington zeal for deregulation let offshore oil drilling proceed virtually without interference from government, even though scientists and engineers repeatedly raised safety and environmental concerns over the past decade. Warned speciﬁcally that the blowout-prevention technology drillers were relying on to prevent an explosive spill was faulty as long ago as 2000, the oil industry did nothing except to drill deeper. As for the Mines and Minerals Service, the Interior Department agency responsible for overseeing the drilling operations, it did nothing, either—except to reduce its inspections of safety equipment. Presumably, the MMS failed to act because it was infested with crooked ofﬁcials who actually took drugs and engaged in sexual relationships with oil industry personnel—and accepted bribes from them, too. The oil industry was allowed to drill, baby, drill wherever it wanted, often without even paying royalties to the federal government. But the culture of American government, from the executive branch to Congress and even the judiciary, has been infected with a disease deeper than corruption: an ideological deference to corporate power, in the name of “free markets” and efﬁciency, that enriches a wealthy few at the expense Continued on page 70 May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 69
The National Newsroom
The Last Critic This could be the future of movie theaters.
Ciao to the Cineplex; I Miss Mass Culture! By Lee Siegel Just getting used to Twitter, e-books and your new iPad? Here’s another paradigm-shifter: In one year—two years, tops—the movie theater will begin its inexorable slide into extinction. The Federal Communications Commission has just decided to allow the Motion Picture Association of America to send recently released ﬁlms directly to your television or computer before they are released on DVD or Blu-ray. That will be the ﬁnal blow to “mass culture.” Remember the anxious term? Like radon, mass culture was supposed to seep invisibly out of the bedrock of democracy, taint the air and ruin our health. Hollywood movies, network television, commercial radio, commercial book publishing, magazines like Time, Newsweek, Life and Look—all these proﬁt-driven monsters striving for a “middlebrow” style with the broadest appeal allegedly destroyed our ability to think for ourselves. They represented, some thinkers feared, a creeping “totalitarianism from within.” From Mayberry RFD, it was a short step to the gulag or the concentration camp. Needless to say, democracy survived the blitzkrieg of corporate-sponsored diversion and information. And a funny thing happened. Running parallel to
the rise of mass culture after World War II was not a corruption but an expansion of American democracy. As I Love Lucy went into reruns and the Beatles crooned on The Ed Sullivan Show and Hollywood movies inﬂuenced everything from the way people smoked to the way people kissed, racial segregation ended, women became empowered and Stonewall happened. Mass culture was actually good for the individual. It turned out that being comfortably part of the masses made people feel conﬁdent about thinking for themselves. There was really nothing mass about mass culture at all. But with blogs, YouTube and Twitter, we now make our own culture. Culture for the masses has given way to culture by the masses. So farewell, movie theaters! First, though, a question. Will culture by the masses still be as good for the individual as culture for the masses was? Let’s start with, as the philosophers used to say, the phenomenology of being in a movie theater—with the
anthropology of it. You are sitting in a social situation, yet the vast room is dark, like a private situation. You are in social limbo. The people around you are strangers, yet being awake in a dark room with your imagination racing is the setting for sex, and you don’t (usually) have sex in a room with dozens of strangers. You are sitting in the theater clothed yet with a naked mind. That’s just the beginning of the social paradox of watching a movie. Everyone in the theater is being entertained by the same fantasy, yet everyone is experiencing his or her own personal fantasy.
You are witnessing the most emotionally affecting situations, yet you have to stay silent, even though you are surrounded by people. You are all watching the same scenes, yet that is not a pretext for getting to know each other. On the contrary. You have all come to the same giant, darkened, ﬂickering room to escape from each other—except that experiencing the same emotions with many other people whom you don’t know is also strangely consoling. It gives you the conﬁdence to emerge from the audience and be yourself. Fast-forward to the new age, where Continued on page 72
of the nation. While this pattern can be detected across many sectors of the economy, its effects are now felt most acutely in the ﬁnancial and energy sectors, whose power over government is legendary. Such an imbalanced system encourages ﬁnancial ﬁrms to take enormous risks, pocket the proﬁts and let the taxpayers, workers and communities suffer the consequences. And the same system encourages oil companies to take enormous risks of a different kind, resist strict environmental requirements, book huge proﬁts—and then let the rest of us cope with the consequences of their devastating pollution (although we can hope that BP will pay for at least part of the Gulf cleanup). Free-market ideologues and other corporate shills insist that this is the most efﬁcient way to do business, which is true enough for a corporate manager or a stockholder. But it isn’t very efﬁcient for the nation whose public wealth, natural resources and future prosperity are depleted by these ruinous practices. Stronger environmental regulations could have prevented the BP oil spill. 70
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In America, we have been told for more than three decades that there is indeed no other way to run an economy—and certainly not if we wish to preserve our traditional freedoms. But looking around the world, it’s easy to see through those old platitudes. Countries that impose stronger regulation on their ﬁnancial sectors did not endure the same kind of disruption we did—and emerged more swiftly from the recession. Countries that impose strict oversight on their energy sectors, including offshore drilling, are exemplary in protecting worker and environmental safety. The world’s best record on offshore oil is enjoyed by Norway, a free and democratic country where North Sea oil provides not only a major source of employment, but the funding for universal health care, education and a panoply of other important beneﬁts. In Norway, oil drillers are expected to implement the most advanced systems of environmental protection. That’s because the Norwegian people own the oil—and the oilmen answer to them.
Oil Spill photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Oil Continued from page 69
High-low split for media pay
Photo by Danny Moloshok/Reuters/Corbis
By Richard Siklos Lately, media pay has become something journalists at her Hufﬁngton Post but relying mostly on hundreds of unpaid of an extreme sport. bloggers/contributors for the bulk of her Last we checked, this was an industry site’s content. Yet her model is really not in the midst of a recession and a scary that different from how all the 24-hour transition. And yet Bloomberg Busicable networks or news shows have nessWeek recently ranked the 10 most long operated: Joe Scarborough and his overpaid CEOs in America last year, and three of them hailed from the media cronies get paid handsomely, and most industry: the heads of Viacom, CBS and of the guests and experts who come on are given their moment in the spotlight, Comcast. All three of those companies are controlled by old-line media families, and perhaps a buffet spread in the green room or car service. and membership in that club has its It’s a similarly nuanced story with the privileges. Brian Roberts at cable giant likes of Demand Media and Associated Comcast (and putative owner of NBC Content (another of its instant-article ilk). Universal) is the son of the company’s These outﬁts don’t so much as compete founder, and both Philippe Dauman with mainstream news media as with the of Viacom and Leslie Moonves of CBS work for Sumner Redstone, who controls rest of the stuff that is out there in the Web’s endless maw. The trouble is that both companies and, as The Wall Street a lot of that content—how-to, where-to Journal recently pointed out cheekily, service information— was himself paid around traditionally made up $33 million last year for the soft end of publishworking from his Beverly ing and drew a lot of Hills, Calif., home. advertising to help pay At the other end of the the freight for things spectrum, of course, are like foreign bureaus. As executives who are paid Nick Denton of Gawker next to nothing—or just Media said hauntingly plain nothing—for their in The Times, the deﬁniefforts. This category has tion of digital success been getting a lot of attenmay be that “you tion lately with the rapid can have destroyed emergence of a Santa hundreds of millions Monica, Calif.–based of dollars, or billions company called Demand of dollars, of revenue Media, which pays freeLes Moonves for other people, but lancers $15 or so to produce quick articles or short videos geared without capturing it all yourself.” So no one is going to start another to whatever happens to be trending on Google searches at a particular moment. New Yorker, but you get the sense that the media moguls’ place atop the best-paid The company coughs out hundreds of lists is secure for a while yet. these articles a day, and is reportedly For lesser mortals, there are pockets of planning an IPO. Last weekend, The promise along the media-pay continuum New York Times Magazine pondered the where good writing still has some market lowering of the value of the word in the value. In contrast to Demand, consider digital realm by looking at start-ups like True/Slant, which basically gives writers Thrillist, which sends daily e-mail alerts about hot new things targeted to young a digital home, pays modest retainers and compensates them further according males in 17 cities. The company’s 20-something founder, Ben Lerer, tells to how much trafﬁc their posts generate. me he pays editors who receive no Because online ad rates are so low, bylines for their work upward of $30,000 “the money isn’t enough to live off,” the article noted, but is one input in the new a year to write 200 words a day on the coolest ﬁnds in their respective markets. economy of the journalist entrepreneur. Yes: 200 words. “We aren’t embarrassed Then there are the ﬂat-out free that we hire talented people and pay content sites like Yelp, IMDB and them livable wages,” Lerer said. Wikipedia, where the social good of Sensing an opportunity, I volunteered sharing information is all the reward to pick up half a dozen or so of his cities people need to devote their time and perhaps cut him a bulk deal. Lerer and effort. Arianna Hufﬁngton has politely declined. taken heat for having a handful of paid
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 71
The National Newsroom
Can(i)nes Film Festival, pt. 1 1
95 99 102
103 104 105
NOTE: In case you can’t attend that other ﬁlm festival (the one in France, which started last week), here’s a slobbery alternative. ACROSS 1 Bride’s time 5 Dog’s burden in snow country 9 Start of a series 12 Dog in Nilsson’s “The Point” 17 Weigh ___ 18 Fare-minded TV oldie? 19 Quintana ___ 20 Steamy relief 21 Canines’ favorite Dustin Hoffman ﬁlm? 23 Actor popular among canines? 25 Wet forecast 26 Cap feature 27 Bill bonus 29 Dr. Wilmut, sheep cloner 30 Canines’ favorite Michael Caine thriller? (with “The”) 35 Man’s best ___ 39 Ream contents 40 Poe’s love 41 Canines’ favorite Burt Reynolds ﬁlm? (with “The”) 43 Stands for 45 2 Down ski resort 46 Sesame Street resident 47 Canines’ favorite Lauren Hutton ﬁlm?
107 108 109
By Merl Reagle
52 Canines’ favorite Jennifer Aniston ﬁlm? (with “The”) 55 Dust particle 56 Woody’s son 57 Stewed dudes 58 Play for time 59 “That’s it!” 61 Little drink 64 Actor popular among canines? 68 ___ Kippur 69 Deserving 71 Toothy river cruisers 72 Offend 74 Amazes 75 Ignore (one’s duties) 76 Canines’ favorite Jane Fonda ﬁlm? 80 Canines’ favorite Timothy Bottoms ﬁlm? (with “The”) 83 Grow together 85 Farm sight 86 Rental sign 87 Canines’ favorite Doris Day ﬁlm? 90 “___ Fideles” 93 Jerry’s nickname for Julia on “Seinfeld” 95 Possessive on candy wrappers 96 Canines’ favorite Denzel Washington ﬁlm? (with “The”) 99 Fireﬁghters’ forte 100 On your face, it’s em bar rass ing
101 “Pagliacci” role 102 Type of French salad 106 With 110 Across, canines’ favorite Russell Crowe ﬁlm? 110 See 106 Across 112 Another time 113 1980s rock group, ___ Tuesday 114 Carpeting calculation 115 “Home on the Range” word 116 Made clothes 117 “Stop that!” 118 On deck 119 Sturdy trees DOWN 1 Film about Amity’s calamities 2 Six-sided state 3 Canceled 4 Interweave 5 Sailor’s rear 6 Most Irish pub patrons 7 Skeleton opening 8 Unkind remark 9 Prince, for one 10 “We’re No. 1!” and the like 11 Early computer language 12 The Sun Devils: abbr. 13 Was printed 14 Dirt-road hazard 15 Boxing combo 16 Less trusting 22 F lip side? 24 Charlemagne domain: abbr.
26 Competed 28 Sort or soak starter 30 Impact sound 31 Mighty Mouse, e.g. 32 Spill the beans 33 Filmmaker Riefenstahl 34 High-tech car option 35 Mailbox attachment 36 Brand of chocolate candy 37 Fascinated by 38 “Jumpin’ Jupiter!” 39 Word div. 42 Laconic 43 1251 44 Comic-page cry 47 Hydrophanes, e.g. 48 “Little” Dickens girl 49 Low card 50 Nevada city 51 Author Chomsky 53 Genre derived from punk 54 Modest comment 55 Canines’ second favorite Burt Reynolds ﬁlm? 58 Gave one’s word 59 Actor Jannings 60 Old sports org. for which Doug Flutie played 61 Trade 62 “The Music Man” setting 63 Get ready (for) 65 Have ___ (converse) 66 Speaker of baseball 67 Like ___ to ﬂame 70 Type of ﬂy 73 Broadway Bob 75 Seagoing pronoun 76 Bush adviser 77 Limo riders 78 Robt. ___ 79 Goes bad 81 Colin Powell took it 82 The goldﬁsh in “Pinocchio” 83 Vegas game 84 Depilatory brand 87 Former Yugoslav leader 88 Susan’s longtime daytime role 89 California’s ___ Beach 90 Pres. nickname 91 Accepted beliefs 92 Captivate 93 “Of Mice and Men” character 94 In a biting way 97 Alphabet unit: abbr. 98 Averse 99 Draw a bead on 102 Ariz. neighbor 103 Bit of input 104 Go after 105 Goes astray 107 Toothed tool 108 Word with rack or tack 109 Call off 110 Preserve, in a way 111 Deposit in some banks 5/20/2010 © M. Reagle
Answers found on page 74 72
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Citigroup Continued from page 69
from across the ﬁnancial spectrum.” When former Citi chairman Win Bischoff was hired to help lead a report on British ﬁnancial institutions, he called it “the most ridiculous appointment since Caligula appointed his favorite horse a consul.” In his parting FT Web post, he warned that the shape and substance of his public output would mellow during his years at Citi. Still, he’d been an adviser to Goldman Sachs’ international wing for the preceding four years, and it didn’t keep him prim. The April report, ofﬁcially titled “Global Economics View: Sovereign Debt Problems in Advanced Industrial Countries,” is scholarly but caustic. He starts off by saying that a country that may look relatively strong today, this year’s best of breed, is the same animal “that yesterday was ﬁt only for the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.” Then there’s a chart that shows dozens of countries’ debts compared to their gross domestic product: The numbers are much easier to process when you can think about them as canines. “There is no hiding place for anybody,” Buiter declared at a Council on Foreign Relations breakfast on a recent Friday, a few days after he’d given a similar talk at the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh. “And those of you of Greek descent,” he told the crowd, deadpan, “will be able to give lessons to the others on how to manage it.” The paper gives good lessons, too. He complains that all the attention paid to countries like Greece is illogical when you consider that the American, British and Japanese ﬁscal positions are even less wieldy than the euro area’s. And those positions are getting worse, thanks to what he calls a bad game of hot potato: Households passed debt to creditors, who passed it to the state, who now pass it back to households. In America, the public debt burden has risen almost relentlessly over the past 35 years, he says, though that spectacle doesn’t even have to do with the costs of an aging population, whose impact is yet to come. The ﬁght over ﬁscal health will really get fun, he says, when the loud, intergenerational conﬂict over geriatric spending begins. (He does not refer explicitly to Citi’s $45 billion from TARP, though he does mention that the bank bailouts were “perceived by many as a perversion of the rule of law and of the social contract.”) He gives six options for solutions. A country could simply default on its debt, for example, though it’s so destructive it almost only happens where there’s trauma or corruption. Countries can grow their way to safety, though that’s unrealistic for most besides India. They can also inﬂate themselves out of trouble—which is also unlikely, but least so, he says, in America. What’s a lot more probable is a new era, maybe as long as a decade, of ﬁscal tightening around the world. For now, conservatives still rally furiously against tax increases, and liberals are loath to cut spending. “With the policy makers in denial, the ﬁscal situation is likely to deteriorate further, with the result that the magnitude of the permanent ﬁscal tightening that is required, when the markets eventually demand an immediate ﬁscal adjustment, will keep on rising.” Buiter writes about all this without panicking. Even Portugal or Greece, he says, can pull itself onto a sustainable path with taxes and spending cuts that wouldn’t profoundly threaten standards of living. The problem is not that we can’t save ourselves, though. It’s that we won’t.
The National Newsroom
Personal Finance Movie Theaters Continued from page 70
many people will never know the experience of sitting in a movie theater. In the solitude of living rooms, dens and bedrooms, there will be no friction between social and private. (The innocent ﬁrst kiss will be replaced by the cordial ﬁrst blow job.) You will not walk out of the amniotic darkness of the movie theater struck hard by the light and then struck again by the vividness of your inescapable self. You will not experience the revelation that even in the deepest recesses of the unconscious, everyone wants the same fundamental things. Rather, you will pause the newly released movie you’re watching, ﬁx yourself a sandwich in the kitchen, send a few texts, talk on the phone and Tweet for a while. By the time, you return to the movie and hit “play,” you will have fulﬁlled your desires even before the ﬁlm’s characters are able to satisfy theirs. Older societies had various forms of Carnival, in which the unconscious was permitted to erupt and play. The boundaries of public and private were abolished so that public and private life could be refreshed and restored. We have the darkened movie theater. You sit there as your unconscious desires rise to the surface, manipulated before your eyes. You leave with a heightened sense of what you want and of the obstacles in the way of getting it. You feel empowered by the fact that the other people in the theater are just as aroused and disappointed as you were. Against the audience, the mob, the mass, you carve out your own peculiar self. Now, however, thanks to the FCC, the unattainable, alternative world on the screen will soon give way to the easily satisﬁed desires within your reach. There will be no audience to feel empowered by, and to measure yourself against. Lacking an audience, everyone will feel uncertain about what they should really be feeling and wanting. But everyone will be uncertain in precisely the same way—no one is going to feel conﬁdent about thinking for themselves. So instead of emerging conﬁdently from the mob, people will seek it out. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be the ﬁrst true mass culture.
Canines by Merl Reagle
J U A T WA S H F L A G
R O L O
I N T O
S I P WO R AWE P A P
N E ON G T H OWE I A E ND GE S A DG I SO T T R T H Y S E RC T O L S T E E CO
S T E R N T E R S E S H E
A D E BON L EGG T MA S T E R AGA I N S EWE D
L E D A X I DOG S V WH I S H E E Y A RD L MO L S S T A TW I CROC H I R K A S E T T L A I L E C T ON I O A ND T I L H E Y
A R T I S T
B O A S T S
O P A L S
N E L L
K E N O
N A I R
CO A R N E
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
C A O S B HU OR L E B L ME A C E B C K L E I AM M I RO L I T CH E E R A I N I C MMA E A X T
R R OW A UN A N T E R T I P L OWE R E NOR E N S I T T E N A R L O UR E K A S YOM F F L OV E R S I L O R S P E T E E S E S D O I S E ND E R D E E R OA K S
How close are you to the ﬁnancial edge? Take this quiz By Kathy Kristof, Tribune Media Services
April was ﬁnancial literacy month. Did you learn anything? The anecdotal evidence doesn’t look good. Americans are falling deeper into debt, and they are increasingly waiting too long to seek help, says David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. He ought to know. His group, based in Fairfax, Va., represents nonproﬁt credit counseling companies that provide free and low-cost consumer credit counseling, debt management and ﬁnancial education services nationwide, and he says it was inundated with calls for help. People calling in recent months typically are so deeply in debt that only a fraction can budget their way out of bankruptcy. A year ago, he estimates, less than 10 percent of credit counseling clients ended up in bankruptcy. Today, he says, it’s closer to 30 percent. Statistics provided by the court system underscore the point. Nationally, bankruptcy ﬁlings have more than doubled since 2006 and are heading back into the record territory not seen since 2005, when the nation’s bankruptcy laws were overhauled. “Even though the economy is getting better, people go into denial about their own situation,” Jones says. “We end up able to help fewer people because they’re coming to us in worse shape.” How close are you to the ﬁnancial edge? To help you ﬁnd out, here’s a 10-question multiple-choice quiz, developed with some guidance from the National Foundation for Consumer Credit and Clearpoint Financial Solutions. 1. The amount I have socked away in savings to handle emergencies could pay all of my living expenses for up to: A) three months; B) six months; C) eight months or more; D) about an hour and a half, if I cut back. 2. My spouse and I ﬁght about money: A) frequently; B) sometimes; C) never; D) through courtappointed lawyers. 3. Payments on my consumer debts—auto loans, student loans, credit cards and home equity lines of credit—amount to less than: A) about 20 percent of take-home pay; B) 15 percent of take-home pay; C) 10 percent or less of take-home pay; D) considerably more than 20 percent of my monthly paychecks. 4. When it comes to saving for retirement, I’m socking away: A) 6 percent or a little less of income to get the company match; B) 10 percent of my income; C) the maximum allowed by the company plan; D) whatever’s in the couch cushions. Seriously, who can afford to save for retirement?
5. My housing costs, including property tax (when applicable) and insurance, amount to less than: A) 30 percent of my take-home pay; B) 25 percent of takehome pay; C) 20 percent or less of take-home pay; D) more than 30 percent of take-home pay. 6. I make more than the minimum required payments on my credit cards: A) sometimes; B) most of the time; C) always—I pay off the full balance each month; D) never. If they demand $29.37, that’s what I’m paying and not a penny more. 7. I spend less than I make: A) unless there’s a sale; B) except in cases when I’m investing in something long term, like education or a car that gets me to work; C) always; D) when I manage to work enough overtime. 8. My ﬁnances: A) are an occasional source of concern; B) are largely in control; C) are never a cause of worry; D) give me cold sweats. 9. I have enough insurance to cover medical costs: A) as long as they’re not catastrophic; B) for both me and my family; C) and I have money set aside to cover co-payments and deductibles; D) only if I never get sick. 10. I know my net worth and: A) though it’s not what I want it to be, I’m working on it; B) it’s good and growing; C) I’m the typical millionaire next door; D) it tells me I’m insolvent. Scoring: Give yourself ﬁve points for each A answer; two points for each B; one point for each C; and 10 points for each D answer. Total your points and assess your score. 76-100: Danger zone: You are in the economic red zone. Get yourself to a credit counselor pronto. If you need help ﬁnding one, go to nfcc.org or aiccca.org. Both are national credit counseling associations that allow you to ﬁnd a counselor in your neighborhood by hitting the “ﬁnd a counselor” buttons on their home pages. 51-75: Teetering: You may be making your payments now, but you’re on the razor’s edge of trouble. It’s time to get serious about budgeting and saving. If you can’t do it alone, get help. 26-50: Healthy and happy: You’ve got adequate savings and good habits. Keep it up and you’ll be comfortably rich in no time, if you’re not already. 0-25: Go ahead and gloat: You are in an enviable spot, likely to be able to handle any economic emergency that comes your way. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Nationally, bankruptcy ﬁlings have more than doubled since 2006 and are heading back into the record territory not seen since 2005.
Kathy Kristof’s column is syndicated by Tribune Media Services. She welcomes comments and suggestions but regrets that she cannot respond to each one. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arts & Entertainment
Ginger or Mary Ann: The cast of Lost.
Getting Lost, and Loving It Notes on the end of an era, with a season ﬁnale to end all season ﬁnales By Sharon Kehoe Tales such as Heart of Darkness and Catch-22 have allowed us to venture into the unknown and the unknowable. This sort of mental exercise doesn’t happen on television. With one exception... Appropriately named, Lost is the famous cross between Cast Away, Lord of the Flies and Survivor. It captivates fans by integrating mythos from classic and popular literature—Catch-22, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Brief History of Time, To Kill a Mockingbird, Heart of Darkness, the Bible—with the lives of show favorites Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Desmond. From time-travel to science, ethics and fate, Lost addresses them all. This is ﬁction at its ﬁnest and no show has spawned this much madness since Star Trek. That’s why Las Vegans (and longtime friends who met in ﬁlm school in the early ’80s) Jason Doucette and Charles Bejarano fell head over heels for Lost. The duo is hosting a Lost viewing party at Tommy Rocker’s with an expected
100-150 guests (see sidebar). Naturally, they are eager to share their own theory as to the mystique of the show. “Lost takes patience, there’s no doubt about that,” says Doucette, a former entertainment businessman. “Not a lot of questions get answered. But for fans like me and Charles who’ve invested ourselves in this show, you can bet that [Lost] will live on through conventions and Internet forums for a long time.” So why the total geek-out? Because this show has a unique relationship with fans—the self-proclaimed “Losties.” While most TV shows have online fan followings, the Lost online community is more a forum to peel back concentric layers of plot than it is a place to gush over which castaway has the best tan. With online games, endless literary references triggering constant exploration and incessant message board discussions that dissect Lost’s every frame, fans don’t just watch the show, they live it. For
example, sites such as the Lostpedia. com, DarkUFO.com and TheoriesOnLost.com offer fans a platform to discuss theories, clues and other thoughts concerning the series. Amanda Nowak, former Las Vegas Pussycat Doll and current entertainer/ model, got “addicted” to Lost after watching the ﬁrst two seasons on DVD: “You literally are ‘lost’ from watching it, and for me, I crave it. … I need to see what happens next, how the show will end. The constant questions; it’s thought-provoking. You don’t see that a lot on TV.” The show’s ability to grab viewers emotionally and intellectually—an accomplishment for prime-time network television in the age of reality shows—is a great testament to the future of entertainment. Undoubtedly the Lost mayhem won’t end with the Sunday night ﬁnale. The curtains may be drawn, but fans will never cease getting Lost.
don’t miSS the Boat ABC, the network that’s hosted Lost all six seasons, is making the ﬁnale feel like the end of an era. According to Entertainment Weekly and ABC.com, expect a jam-packed “Lost Weekend” with seven and a half hours of Lost. TV Schedule (Channel 13): May 22, 8 p.m. A repeat showing of the 2004 two-hour pilot. May 23, 7 p.m. a preshow; 9 p.m. the 2-and-a-half-hour series ﬁnale. Following local news; 12:05 a.m. the afterparty on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Series Finale viewing parties: Lost at Tommy Rocker’s Cantina & Grill May 23, 6 p.m.-midnight 4274 Dean Martin Dr., free, over 21, 261-6688 Lost at Rave Theaters @ Town Square May 23rd, 6:30 p.m., 362-7283. 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Text JACK to 61749 to win tickets. Over 21.
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 77
Arts & Entertainment
Sites to see
School’s in Session
By Geoff Carter
Author and journalist Anya Kamenetz envisions a higher-education system for the 21st century By Matt O’Brien
“I AGREE, YOUR LIFE SUCKS” tk caption
UNLV students, teachers and administrators—who know all too well the problems plaguing U.S. colleges and universities—should ﬁnd their way to the Clark County Library on May 23. At 2 p.m., author and journalist Anya Kamenetz will discuss skyrocketing tuition, plummeting graduation rates and student debt that’s creating another a credit bubble … and her solutions to those problems. Kamenetz doesn’t mention UNLV in her new book, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Chelsea Green), but she knows its type. “Obviously it’s in a state that’s had a lot of population growth, a lot of strain on the system,” says Kamenetz, who’s 29 and lives in Brooklyn. “That would deﬁnitely be the kind of school that would be struggling and looking to innovate. That’s my general take on a lot of Western states and their colleges and universities.” Increasing enrollment, decreasing budgets and a dearth of jobs for graduates are forcing these schools to adapt, says Kamenetz, who also authored Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold Out for Student Loans, Credit Cards, Bad Jobs, No Beneﬁts and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers—And How to Fight Back (Riverhead Trade, 2006). “There had been more public money and support for higher education, but then in a time of scarcity it went down and people asked, ‘Well, what do we do now?’ That’s exactly why I wrote this book.” Researching DIY U, Kamenetz—a staff writer for Fast Company magazine—attended conferences, visited schools
and interviewed students, teachers, administrators and government ofﬁcials. She says UNLV and other universities should use e-textbooks, offer more online classes and study ways to streamline the degree process, which dates to the Middle Ages. “Students need to get their bachelor’s degrees faster and cheaper, and universities need to serve more people. But they have to be careful about it, because they don’t want to just shove people through. They have to include the right kind of experiential stuff—travel, internships and stuff like that—at the same time.” If schools don’t adapt, Kamenetz says, they’ll be cut off from funding, lose programs and class sizes will increase. The quality of education will go down, the cost up. “My biggest message is that cost increases are not a given,” says Kamenetz, who’ll sign copies of DIY U after the discussion. “If a school is careful about how it changes, it can cut costs. And that kind of attitude and approach helps students, is more effective and is the way successful institutions are going to grow in the future.” “An Afternoon With Anya Kamenetz: Edupunks, Edupreneurs & DIY U.” 2 p.m. May 23, Jewel Box Theater at the Clark County Library (1401 E. Flamingo Road). Free. 733-0917 or lvccld.org.
The LIbrarIan Loves ... Selected by Jeanne Goodrich, executive director for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. Quirky commentator Sarah Vowell (you’ve heard her distinctive voice on Public Radio International’s This American Life) brings history to life through death … of the ﬁrst three assassinated American presidents in Assassination Vacation (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Vowell takes the reader on a fascinating tour of famous and not-so-famous historical sites while providing commentary that links the political happenings of the day that inﬂuenced the assassin (Booth was shocked that he wasn’t regarded as a hero) with our present-day imbroglios. History, politics and human idiosyncrasies are rendered into a satisfying brew by Vowell’s wry humor and keen observations. 78 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
(fmylife.com) Anyone with a Twitter account and a familiarity with the so-called Chinese curse (“May you live in interesting times”) has probably used the acronym “FML.” If you’re among the lucky ones who has no idea what those letters stand for, then fmylife.com will open your eyes to how the FML set lives—and in the true spirit of the Internet, the site allows you to comfort or condemn these poor bastards with a single click. Example: “Today, my girlfriend broke up with me by leaving a note on my desk while I was in the bathroom. FML.” Currently, more than 10,000 people agree that his life sucks, while some 1,500 say he “totally deserved it.” Voters remember: Interesting times can happen you, too.
DRAW YOU A PICTURE (informationisbeautiful.net) Want to understand rising sea levels, musician royalties or the American political spectrum, but don’t have the patience to parse thousands of black-and-white characters of ﬂat fact? Information Is Beautiful understands, and has skillfully reduced dozens of pressing issues to beautiful color graphics—easily read tables, visual keys and pie charts. They’ll look dynamite on your iPad. For the truly visual, limited edition posters are available for purchase. Journalist Geoff Carter is a Las Vegas native living in Seattle, land of virtual titillation.
Smokey on MJ and Chong on smoking
Photo by Erik Kabik/Retna
By Richard Abowitz In addition to stand-up comedy, Songwriter, talent scout, producer and Chong started a family business focused successful recording artist Smokey on what he was best known for. “With Robinson has long been the heart of Momy son, we started a bong company and town. Nowadays, in addition to his own we were advertising over the Internet touring and music, he sponsors Human and that’s how they get you.” Chong exNature’s Motown tribute at Imperial Palace. The successful show just grabbed pected the charges, but the results were a surprise: “I went into the bong business a two-year extension in the midst of the because I wanted them to challenge me. worst recession in Vegas history. I was very naive. I did not understand To Robinson—in town to celebrate with our Constitution how they could its one-year anniversary—Human Naoutlaw thinking. Studies have shown pot ture’s popularity requires little explanais relatively harmless compared to legal tion: “A lot of times, when you’re doing intoxicants. I was ready to challenge that concerts, I hope the people have fun. in court. Little did I know they have all I hope that they, even if they’ve had these potholes they could steer around problems in the last 10 minutes before the show starts, that something happens and put me in jail.” After getting busted in 2003 and serving a sentence, Chong to make them forget that, and that they was released in 2004. have fun, and they can go In 2008 the reunited away and say, ‘I enjoyed Cheech & Chong proved myself,’ and that’s what remarkably popular. happens when you see This is their third trip to them. I’ve seen the show, Vegas (The Mirage, May I don’t know how many 21-22, 792-7777) since times, and I enjoy myself their return to stage—a every time. That’s what big deal for guys who see the key is—they make themselves as outside such people have a good time mainstream institutions. and enjoy themselves.” “Entertainers are like a On the other hand, stock market, and ours is Robinson predicts that trydoing great now. But I know ing to pay worthy tribute Smokey Robinson it is temporary,” Chong to another of his proteges, says. To keep their “stock” rising and to Michael Jackson, will prove a major recruit a new generation of fans, they are challenge for Cirque du Soleil: working on an Up in Smoke sequel. “I think it’s going to be a difﬁcult Could Cheech & Chong see themthing to pull off. Michael is so revered selves doing a regular gig in a Vegas and so loved by everyone around the showroom? Surprisingly, absolutely: world, whoever tries to pull that off is go“Yes, Cheech & Chong would love a ing to be under the microscope. They’ll regular Vegas showroom. I would love be under so much pressure to pull that. That was our dream. We want to that off and make people not think so be mainstream. But with our act it is much about how it would have actually always a onetime thing.” been with Michael in there. You know, Chong does think he knows why they’ve had Michael Jackson impersonCheech & Chong have continued to ators since Michael was a young man. entertain audiences for all these years. People have always tried to imitate, but Of the loyal fans, he notes: “If you are I think that the impact is much greater on pot, everything is funny.” now that he’s gone. It’ll be critiqued Shhhhhhhh … While nothing is much harder now that he’s gone, and so ofﬁcial and papers still need to be signed, like I said, good luck.” I am hearing a strong rumor that Just Light this up. According to Tommy Imagine, a musical tribute that offers Chong, there’s a reason that during the audience a double fantasy of John his glory years with Cheech & Chong Lennon being alive and performing a they never got busted: “During the ﬁnal concert, will be heading to Planet ’70s, Cheech and I never sold anything. Hollywood for a trial run. We never even sold T-shirts. So they couldn’t zero in on anything. But the age of the Internet changed everything.” Read Richard Abowitz at GoldPlatedDoor.com. May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 79
Arts & Entertainment
Pizza rock in a taco shop By Jarret Keene
Angels and Airwaves embark upon a new album and new tour without the help of a label By Dan Ewen Perhaps beneﬁting from insta-name recognition, the closer to a revolution. “Most bands make their super-group Angels and Airwaves (AvA for short) hit money from their tours,” Wachter says. “I can’t its stride early on. Formed in 2005 from members of think of a single band who’s making any money from their record sales.” blink-182 (guitarist Tom DeLonge), The Offspring Indeed, record companies have been selling (drummer Atom Willard), 30 Seconds to Mars fewer records, as unlicensed sharing and down(bassist Matt Wachter who joined in 2007) and Box loading have cut into sales. As a result, the labels Car Racer (guitarist David Kennedy), the group are throwing money at artists less and less. An toured the world several times over and developed increased chunk of a band’s proﬁt comes from a reputation for stunning stage shows, intertwined touring and licensing music. “We were fed up and with videos, ﬁlms and other effects. Their ﬁrst two disappointed with record labels who wouldn’t proalbums, We Don’t Need to Whisper and I-Empire, were vide the most basic ﬁnancial support,” DeLonge mainstays in the Billboard Top 10, selling more than says. “A major corporation would offer millions 2 million copies combined. However, as AvA’s big label contract came to an to license 30 seconds of one song. That told us something was really off.” end, the guys decided to strike out on their own. So AvA has joined the ever-growing movement Enter Love, their third installment, which AvA to in effect remove tradimade available for free this tional record labels from past Valentine’s Day. In the the equation. If record sales absence of record sales, the are becoming less and less band is funding the album’s AngEls & AirwAvEs crucial, then why not put the marketing and distribution music into the world for free? costs via licensing, branding May 28, 8 p.m. The cornerstone of AvA’s partnerships and donations. $23 via Ticketmaster. brave new world is sharing Quite the ﬁnancial risk. The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. their music with as many “It’s a leap of faith, but Download Love for free at people as possible. In turn, we believe that this is the modlife.com/AngelsAndAirwaves. the band looks forward to future,” DeLonge says. “The sharing it with us in person, possibilities are endless. This hopefully to a packed house. can put an end to the way “Vegas is always an opportunity to be a little more things were done and create the way things will extravagant than we normally would be,” Wachter be in the music business.” says. “So it will deﬁnitely be a good show.” Other high-proﬁle artists have put out free albums, including Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails. But whenever a renowned group such as AvA adds One in an occasional series of stories investigating how its voice to that chorus, the industry is nudged bands are making it in a post-Napster world. 80 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Plenty of very cool, beneath-the-neon shows happening in Vegas this week, fellow Soundscrapers. Here’s one you should deﬁnitely check out: Yayo Taco (4632 S. Maryland Parkway) is a quiet, unassuming taco joint in the university district by day; by night, though, it’s an eardrum-smashing live music venue with an emphasis on punk and metal. Of course, Yayo doesn’t always compete with McCarran International Airport. Occasionally a milder but no less passionate indie-rock outﬁt slips in, as is the case May 21 with Austin, Texas-based (and appropriately named) Look Mexico, who will be making their ﬁrst trip to Vegas. The band knows a thing or two about delivering powerful sound in a small eatery. Before Look Mexico transplanted to Texas earlier this year, the quintet recorded its brand-new sophomore album (which I reviewed in our April 8 issue), To Bed to Battle, in a pizza shop Look Mexico wants to see you. basement in northern Florida. “We went crazy and bought all kinds of stuff at an old mattress shop and dragged it down in there to prop up against concrete walls,” says guitarist Ryan Slate during a recent phone chat. “We made our own sound-absorption panels and basically turned the place into a studio.” Slate says the band took its time getting just the right guitar and drum tones. They experimented with different ampliﬁers and instruments until achieving what more than a few critics have called a “diverse” approach to the six-string attack. “We all came up listening to punk, roots music and oldies,” Slate says. “More recently, we’ve been inﬂuenced by bands that rely on a lot of creative guitar textures—bands like My Morning Jacket and The Walkmen.” Given its name, Look Mexico should have no problem gorging on tacos, right? “I love Mexican food,” Slate says. “Right now, I deliver pizzas in Austin, so I’m ready for something else. After this interview, I’m grabbing a burrito, man.” Interesting show at Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N. Rancho Dr.) on May 23: Tempe, Ariz.’s humorcore act Psychostick, plus Green Jellÿ. The latter is the comedy-metal band that, amid the chaos of the grunge revolution, managed to somehow score a hit in 1993 with “Three Little Pigs.” If you recall, the video for this song was a warped claymation retelling of the classic pigs tale, only with appearances by Rambo, reefer-smoking swine, and a motorcycling wolf. Back in September, Jellÿ released its ﬁrst album in 15 years, Musick to Insult Your Intelligence By, for which the band continues to tour. With any luck, there’ll be a stage show that falls somewhere between GWAR and Spinal Tap. In other words, prepare to laugh. Should Seven music columnists boast ’70s sideburns? Any idea why Tippy Elvis isn’t opening for Green Jellÿ? Contact email@example.com.
Arts & Entertainment
The New Pornographers Together (Matador) Well-honed, Beatles-indebted power-pop isn’t as easy as it sounds, which is why a new New Pornographers album is always a pleasure. More upbeat than the Canadian supergroup’s previous outing, 2007’s Challengers, the band’s ﬁfth effort, Together, mines the bubblier, frothier side of songwriters Dan Bejar (Destroyer) and A.C. Newman. Neko Case, meanwhile, absolutely shines on tracks such as bouncy downer “Crash Years” and the sweet, anthemic love song “My Shepherd.” The only moment that may surprise Pornheads is “Valkyrie in the Roller Disco,” which stumbles forward as an awkward, angular piano ballad before evolving into a lovely Byrds-esque number complete with cascading vocal harmonies. Guest spots by indie superstars Will Sheff (Okkervil River) and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) only enhance the experience. Not a masterpiece, but deﬁnitely an ideal summer pop disc. ★★★★✩
Delorean Subiza (True Panther Sounds) Add Barcelona computer-rock band Delorean to a growing list of kick-ass electronic acts to have released a ﬁercely compelling album in 2010. Named after a town in Basque, Subiza, the group’s third fulllength, incorporates just enough punk elements to draw those of us who’d rather eat broken glass than don shiny shirts. The raucous, beachcombing energy of “Warmer Places” is a thousand times more seductive than a Corona ad, while the spooky nighttime ride of “Inﬁnite Desert” will speak to the hearts of those of us landlocked in Southern Nevada. If harsher electro-bands like Crystal Castles grate your ears, you’ll slip into Subiza like a bath. Should a Vegas club ﬂy these guys in for a set, this writer would die happy. ★★★★✩
Merle Haggard I Am What I Am (Vanguard) Popeye the Sailor Man? Not quite, since the cartoon spinach ﬁend is nearly 10 years older. “I seen ’em when they stepped down on the moon,” conﬁrms Haggard, in “I’ve Seen It Go Away,” a song that crystallizes the man’s cantankerous yet soft-hearted approach in his 73rd year. Unlike other music legends (Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond), the Untamed Hawk has zero interest in letting a big-shot producer manipulate his image and style. Indeed, one gets the sense Haggard would perform this material (most of it new originals) the same damn way, whether locked in prison or headlining Texas Station. Some of his wisdom is harsh— “Pretty When It’s New” sums up romance rather darkly. But for every truth, there’s also a hunger for more time, more life, as in the Hispanic appreciation of “Mexican Band.” ★★★★★
82 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
By Jarret Keene
Arts & Entertainment
story, Where Art Thou?
Not Romeo and not Juliet: Christopher Egan and Amanda Seyfried.
Like Italian ice, Letters to Juliet is all sugar and no meat By Rex Reed
There’s nothing wrong with a squishy, sentimental romantic confection now and then. But Letters to Juliet is a mere lollipop. It’s gone before its 101-minute running time expires, and you’re left with the stick. A perky fact-checker and aspiring journalist named Sophie (the wide-eyed, look-at-hershe’s-everywhere Amanda Seyfried) arrives in Verona, Italy, for a vacation with her ﬁance, a self-involved chef named Victor (Gael García Bernal), to gawk at the vineyards, breathe the fresh air and bask in the beauty of Tuscany. They have such different interests that it seems like a hopeless match from the start. Victor is no Romeo, but Sophie is spellbound by the romantic notion of being in the same vicinity as Juliet’s star-crossed romance. As Victor bounces around checking out the food and wine, Sophie’s tourist map leads to the Capulet house and Juliet’s balcony, where she ﬁnds, hidden in an old wall, a secret letter penned decades earlier by another young tourist, a troubled British girl named Claire, and addressed to Shakespeare’s doomed, lovesick adolescent.
Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Impishly, she answers the letter in Juliet’s own voice, urging the long-lost Claire to sally forth regardless of her age, and ﬁnd the boy she loved and lost that sunny Italian summer years ago. As ridiculous as this all sounds, it gets sillier. Fifty years after writing the letter, Claire turns up as an elderly widow in the guise of (would you believe?) the great Vanessa Redgrave. (Yes, it’s possible to go slumming, even in Verona.) She has dragged along her rude and thoroughly obnoxious grandson, Charlie (Australia’s Christopher Egan), who doesn’t much care for rhyming moon, June and spoon. Naturally, he changes. While everyone searches for love, Victor searches for mushrooms, and the rest of us are treated to a guided tour of gorgeous Tuscany that looks composed out of outtakes from Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s all maddeningly predictable enough to keep you checking your watch, and despite the actors’ camera-stealing close-ups, it is a colossal waste of all of the talent involved. The enchanting Seyfried, who is showing up all over the place these days on worldwide screens both large
and small, is much worse in the dreadful Mamma Mia!, but much better as Julianne Moore’s lover in Chloe and Bill Paxton’s daughter in the HBO series Big Love. It’s rather gloomy to see Redgrave lower her standards. By the time the old people ﬁnd each other in time to prove love never dies, you may ﬁnd the happy ending too preposterous to stiﬂe a guffaw. More shocking is the fact that the usual charms of Mexican heartthrob Bernal at last appear utterly resistible. The bland direction by Gary Winick (who fared better in 2002 with the fresh, Holden Caulﬁeld–styled New York coming-of-age story Tadpole) and the sappy dialogue by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan never once threaten to upstage Italy. Nothing can take the place of the terrace farming or the monastery vespers at sundown that personify Tuscany, so Letters to Juliet comes off as just another movie that makes you long for a trip to northern Italy—but not with any of these people. Rex Reed is the ﬁlm critic for the New York Observer.
Arts & Entertainment
Shrek Matures The fourth installment in the animated franchise is the most polished By Cole Smithey
First comes love: a green Cameron Diaz and a blue Mike Myers.
There’s been a dearth of quality children’s ﬁlms lately. Fortunately, Shrek Forever After is on target, ﬁlling the void. Even audiences new to the franchise will enjoy the slapstick tone and comic timing of these easily likable characters. The premise is simple enough. Finally and happily settled down with his ogre wife, Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and their three babies, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) yearns for his bachelor days, when every person and animal in the community feared his brutish gaze and stone-rattling roar. Shrek’s ennui presents a perfect opportunity for Rumpelstiltskin (wonderfully voiced by Walt Dohrn), the kooky little fantasy–maker and con man. Mr. R convinces Shrek to sign away a day of his childhood in exchange for living a day free of all familial constraints. Naturally, the deal is a dirty trick by the conniving Rumpelstiltskin, who plots to take over as king. The ﬁlm’s theme—appreciating what you have while you have it—is supported, if only half-knowingly,
by Shrek’s loyal pals Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and a considerably chubbier Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). Although the ﬁlm’s 3-D effects seem extraneous, the spunky vocal characterizations are enjoyably spot-on and the jokes funny enough to elicit laughs from kids of all ages. Shrek’s status as a workaday dad who pines for his more vigorous youth must surely signal a disconnect between the ﬁlmmakers and the young souls these kind of movies typically cater to. It’s an instance where postmodern meets retro reality. There’s a supreme satisfaction in hearing the returning cast members’ voices. Myers underplays his current incarnation of Shrek, while Murphy lets loose at every opportunity. Diaz gives a more throaty delivery, and Banderas injects little comic touches into every word that Puss speaks. It’s possible that co-screenwriters Josh Klausner (writer on Shrek the Third) and Darren Lemke have el-
evated the franchise into a territory of maturity beyond a threshold that bourgeoisie critics can stand. “Unnecessary” is a word used to describe a children’s movie that by deﬁnition is quite necessary if you, well, have children. Which brings us to the ﬁlm’s broader appeal. Here is a Shrek movie with barely a fart or poop joke that speaks to a universal theme of appreciating the friends and family you have. When Shrek convinces the oblivious Donkey that he’s his best friend, we feel recognized in the same way. When the fat little Puss drags sideways down his scratching post to greet Shrek, it’s all the more funny because we know he’s showing off for his pal. And when Fiona drops her she-warrior act long enough to allow a kiss from the ogre she was destined to be with forever after, we get that special kind of romantic charge that reminds us about why and how intimate relationships are important.
Shrek Forever After (PG)
By Cole Smithey
Robin Hood (PG-13)
Ridley Scott (Alien, Black Hawk Down and Gladiator) conjures 13th-century England in this prequel to the Robin Hood myth aptly called Robin Hood. A humorless Russell Crowe is the paunchy archer, Cate Blanchett is Maid Marion and Oscar Isaac is Prince John. In an overworked effort at making Robin a somber man with emotional baggage and an idealized sense of justice, the ﬁlmmakers have lost the fun. 86 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Furry Vengeance (PG)
Written to the tastes of lazy 5-year-olds, director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions) attempts kids’ comedy. Brendan Fraser milks the last drop of his boyish charm as a real estate developer who moves his wife (a blank Brooke Shields) and son to an Oregon forest. Blind to his boss’ (Ken Jeong) plan to pillage the verdant land, he becomes enemy to the area’s woodland creatures who assault him with animal-made booby traps.
Iron Man 2 (PG-13)
There’s plenty of eye-popping action and snappy one-liners in this sequel. Robert Downey Jr. is at the top of his game as genius superhero Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man). Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is making competing Iron Man suits and Mickey Rourke is villain du jour Ivan Vanko. Romantic tension simmers between Stark and his new CEO (Gwyneth Paltrow), while Scarlett Johansson’s legal representative joins Stark Enterprises.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (R)
More contemplative than Wes Craven’s 1984 original slasher ﬂick, Samuel Bayer’s updated version has a quieter surreal edge rooted in suspense, not bloodletting. Plenty of quarts still ﬂow from a group of teens who were molested by Freddy Krueger (a fearsome Jackie Earle Haley). Subtle nods to classic horror ﬁlms create a grotesque universe of the sleep-deprived where nightmares nestle like Russian dolls.
the Back-Up Plan (PG-13)
On the day of her artiﬁcial insemination, Jennifer Lopez meets her dream man (Alex O’Loughlin). Excruciating and preoccupied with the words “shit” and “vagina,” this is the worst ﬁlm to come out of Hollywood so far this year. Television director Alan Poul (Big Love) makes his feature ﬁlm debut with a remedial script by TV writer Kate Angelo.
Death at a Funeral (R)
Audiences unfamiliar with Frank Oz’s 2007 original ﬁlm by the same title will enjoy Neil LaBute’s lesser remake, whose conceit lies in transplanting the setting from the U.K. to the U.S. and replacing the all-white cast with a largely African-American group (Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan). Screenwriter Dean Craig updates his own comedy of errors.
the Losers (PG-13)
Date Night (PG-13)
Hot on the trail of Kick-Ass’s experiment in vacant violence, The Losers is equally wrongheaded. A team of U.S. Special Forces, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, gets double-crossed and then joins a mercenary (Zoe Saldana) who insists they seek revenge against CIA baddie Max ( Jason Patric). The ﬁlm’s politics, like this entire effort, are sketchy.
This middle-aged rom-com splits between slap-stick and comic delivery. As a wedded couple, Tina Fey and Steve Carell are plausible and funny. Screenwriter Josh Klausner’s hackneyed plot puts the couple on the run. Cameos from Mark Wahlberg, Ray Liotta, James Franco and Mila Kunis barely improve the script. Fey and Carell deserve better.
the Clash of the titans (PG-13)
In spite of a miscast Sam Worthington and a lame CGI Medusa, Titans is an enjoyable spectacle based on the myth of Perseus. Director Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2) makes the most of big action set pieces that include intense battles. To all the critical moaning about this update of Desmond Davis’ 1981 original, I say pishaw. Solid performances from Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes add gravitas.
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May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 87
Gadgets & Tech
Tech leaks: Separating fact from ﬁction By Eric Benderoff The infamous lost iPhone story, in which tech blog Gizmodo paid $5,000 in exchange for a next-generation iPhone that had been left in a bar, was unusual for many reasons, but the primary one is this: It was the ﬁrst time in recent memory that a yet-to-be announced product from Apple made a public appearance. As far as tech leaks go, it was a doozy. The appearance was tawdry and ﬁlled with intrigue, which made for a lot of fun on both morning TV news and geeky tech blogs. Apple has since got the phone back, conﬁrming the found/sold phone was indeed an iPhone prototype. Meanwhile, the ethical and legal debate concerning the selling of lost (or stolen?) property— or, in the case of Gizmodo, buying lost or stolen property—continues. The iPhone tech leak is just part of what’s proving to be a smorgasbord of leaks. Details of so-called top-secret projects seem to be ﬁnding their onto the pages of tech websites and newspapers with increasing frequency. Yet it’s important to realize that many of the shiny details are leaked on purpose, and it is just part of a long-standing public relations practice. Although tech leaks often prove true, some fail to get past the rumor stage. The latter can have a serious adverse effect if a product is introduced without a rumored feature and leads to disappointment. (“Hey, I thought the new iPod Touch was supposed to have a camera!”) The push for leaks (or scoops, if you prefer) has intensiﬁed in recent years as new media sites aggressively try to break stories. As Nick Denton, founder of Gizmodo’s parent company, Gawker Media, told The New York Times in the wake of the lost iPhone saga, “It’s hardly surprising that Web journalists should be fast, competitive, ruthless, sensationalist—and willing to do most anything for the story,” he said. “It will be messy. And fun!” Here’s a look at some recent leaks and untamed rumors. Note that most of these secrets originated with the mysterious “people familiar with the situation.” • The iPad. Several features were widely reported to be part of Apple’s latest gadget but proved false. Those include a front-facing camera for video chats, two 30-pin dock connectors 88 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
(which would have allowed the iPad to be used vertically or horizontally), a $1,000 price tag and touch technology that would make the keys feel raised and thus easier for typing. According to advance reports, it was supposed to be called the iSlate or iTablet, not the iPad. (And, as my wife said when the iPad’s real name started to gain traction: “Were there any women in those meetings?”) Meanwhile, chatty publishers from The New York Times and McGraw-Hill talked about features they were testing on a coming Apple tablet product. Those leaks—including how the operating system would be tie into the existing iPhone platform—were mostly true. • The iPod touch. The most recent version was supposed to include a video camera, but instead it was the iPod Nano that got one. Now there’s renewed speculation that a camera-enhanced version of the iPod touch will soon be announced. Well, that’s what Gizmodo thinks, anyway. Previously, the new touch was also said to include a built-in microphone. Combine the built-in mike with a camera and the Skype app, and you would have had a product that pretty much emulated the iPhone (when used in a Wi-Fi zone). This didn’t happen—not yet, at least—but it’s worth noting that third-party microphone attachments and the Skype app make calls on the iPod touch possible. • The iPhone. So when will new models of the iPhone—ones like the futuristic-looking one that was found in that Redwood City, Calif., bar—arrive at Verizon, anyway? Oh, and wasn’t Verizon supposed to sell the iPad as a prelude to a certain iPhone announcement? That’s still coming, right? Perhaps—or not. Although Apple’s exclusive contract with AT&T runs through 2012, tech website Crunchgear furthered what it admitted was a “rumor” and reported that an ad agency is working on an iPhone campaign for Verizon. Crunchgear concludes this “very nearly conﬁrms a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer.” Long story short: Believe it when Steve Jobs says so. • Facebook. It was widely reported in March (by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch,
among others) that Facebook was about to announce a new location feature during its April developers’ conference. This feature was said to be similar to Foursquare and allow Facebook users to note their physical location on the site, and mobile Facebook users could “check-in” to a restaurant, bar or hotel in a manner. When neither happened, The New York Times wrote, “According to people familiar with the new Facebook feature, unauthorized to speak publicly about Facebook’s upcoming projects, the product ‘just wasn’t ready yet.’” So, in other words, they weren’t wrong—Facebook was just behind schedule. • The iPad rivals. Lately, a lot has been written about the coming wave of iPad-like devices from Dell, Google, HP, Verizon and others. According to a report from The New York Times, Google is developing a slate product of its own. (The story said Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt “told friends at a recent party in Los Angeles about the new device, which would exclusively run the Android operating system. People with direct knowledge of the project—who did not want to be named because they said they were unauthorized to speak publicly about the device—said the company had been experimenting in ‘stealth mode’ with a few publishers to explore delivery of books, magazines and other content on a tablet.”) There is likely some truth behind this one, since it’s no secret that Google wants to push Android. Meanwhile, Google has announced it is developing a version of Android to run on portable devices besides mobile phones, including netbooks. And earlier this year, Google introduced an Android phone, the Nexus One—which also generated a big, leak- and rumor-ﬁlled buzz before it was released. • Dell. Engadget might consider starting a separate site for all of the Dell leaks they talk about. The tech site recently published stories on what is said to have been dubbed the “Lightning,” a portraitsliding style Dell smartphone that runs on the soon-to-be-released Windows 7 oper-
ating system (do you think both companies could use a big hit?); the “Thunder,” a touch-screen only smartphone that runs on the Android 2.1 OS; a mini version of the previously rumored “Streak” tablet that also runs Android but is more like the iPod touch than a phone; and a bigger tablet called the “Looking Glass.” And then there’s the “Aero,” “Flash” and “Smoke”—all smartphones. If correct, we’re about to experience a ﬂood of new Dell products—and Engadget has the full forecast. • Nokia N8. What was once the world’s top phone maker has stumbled in the past two years and today Nokia ﬁnds itself in desperate need of a hit. Its comeback smartphone is called the N8 and it’s due out ... yesterday. Or maybe late summer, who knows. Whenever it ﬁnally hits stores, the phone will apparently have a 12-megapixel camera, high-res video capabilities and a touch-screen but no hard keyboard. The phone is tied to a major upgrade of the Symbian operating system (a smartphone platform that has lost a lot of luster in recent years). Nokia ofﬁcially announced on April 27 that the phone would be available this summer, but later the same day wrote an ofﬁcial blog post titled, “One of our children is missing.” Apparently, a Russian tech blogger got his hands on what Nokia calls “an early prototype” and wrote an unfavorable review. But at least Nokia knew where to point the blame over this leak: “This particular site openly ﬂaunts its ability to acquire our property. Yes, we have to take a look at ourselves, and we are diligently hunting down the source of these leaks,” Nokia’s ofﬁcial blogger wrote. “Frankly, we pride ourselves on trust at Nokia, and someone has greatly betrayed that.” Chicago-based technolog y columnist Eric Benderoff writes about consumer electronics and runs BendableMedia.com, an editorial services ﬁrm. He frequently discusses tech trends and new gadgets on various national radio and TV programs. Follow him on Twitter @ericbendy.
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May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 89
Dining The Pride of Louisiana Lola’s café excels with down-home cooking and passion By Max Jacobson Louisiana native Lola Pokorny stands guard over her Holsum Lofts restaurant like a mother hen with a newly hatched brood of pullets. “I am proud of the fact that a lot of my customers are from New Orleans, or Louisiana natives,” she tells me, “and they come back again and again.” I admire her pride and passion. This has been a bittersweet year for the Louisiana crowd. The Saints won the Super Bowl, and then came disaster—the horrendous oil spill—and so there go Gulf seafood prices, straight through the ceiling. I wonder if Lola will be able to continue her Friday crawﬁsh boil. It’s one of many reasons to visit. No matter what, Lola’s is an important boost to the ever-improving
Photo by Anthony Mair
Continued on page 92
Lola’s Louisiana boiled crawﬁsh.
May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 91
Uncork’d reﬂections, and Munchbar magic
Lola and her softshell crab platter with sweet potato fries and low-country greens. Lola’s Continued from page 91
downtown dining scene. I have heard Mayor Oscar Goodman, who doesn’t eat pork or shellﬁsh— two stalwarts of this cuisine— heartily agree. I like to come here for a late lunch, after the lawyers, civil servants and art crowd has thinned down. The walls are a pale green, and there are watercolors of trolley cars and similar Big Easy paraphernalia. The best tables, in good weather, are on the small outdoor patio—that’s the way to escape the constant zydeco music. In more ways than one, Commander’s Palace this is not. “Most of what I serve,” she says, “is my take on Louisiana cooking. Taste seven gumbos and you’ll get seven different versions.” Well, maybe. Starting with a cup of Lola’s delicious, rice-topped roux gumbo is a must, and if you want to turn up the heat, several hot sauces are on hand 92 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
for that purpose. I’m completely hooked on Lola’s invention, a dish she calls Crawpuppies. They look like hush puppies but they taste like crawﬁsh. If that ain’t a perfect food, what is? Charbroiled oysters stirred some controversy with my dining group because they come off the ﬂames topped with cheese, sizzling on the half-shell. I’m proud to say I’m an unabashed fan. If you must, there is a perfectly respectable crab cake here as well, but that you can get anywhere. The best entrée, for me, is a toss-up between bronzed catﬁsh with grits and the shrimp étouffée, a thick, brown, murky ooze. I’d like to give the jambalaya another try. The day I ordered it, there was no ﬂavor, as if it had been cooked too quickly. If you fancy your po’ boy, the oyster, roast beef or shrimp versions all ﬁll the bill nicely, and they come
on Leidenheimer rolls that Lola ﬂies in from her home state. Red beans and rice, available either as a side or entrée, could use more sausage, but the ﬂavors marry well. If you like fried foods, the Combo Plate—a mammoth platter of shrimp, oysters, a crab cake and a huge hunk of fried catﬁsh—is the ticket. The Mylanta costs extra. The desserts are phenomenal. Lola bragged on her Famous Bread Pudding as “the best you’ve ever tasted,” and she was right. There is also a terriﬁc, gooey Louisiana chocolate cake with a “secret ingredient,” plus other worthy choices such as banana pudding and sweet-potato pecan pie. How ’bout dem Saints! 241 W. Charleston Blvd., 227-5652. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m10 p.m. Fri., and noon-10 p.m. Sat. Dinner for two, $35-$53.
My body is still recovering from the four-day Vegas Uncork’d, sponsored by Bon Appetit. The fourth annual event kicked off with a photo shoot at Mix with several of the world’s greatest chefs, including Guy Savoy, Joël Robuchon, Alain Ducasse and Pierre Gagnaire, plus a coterie of American, Spanish, Italian and Asian superstars. Mayor Oscar Goodman, ever present, stood steadfast in the group’s center. I started my festivities with an amazing lunch at Twist, Gagnaire’s restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, during which he paid homage to American products. A sampling of the featured dishes: Maine lobster paired with a Granny Smith apple glaze, Washington scallops and Sonoma foie gras with a ginger goat cheese ice cream. The evening of May 7 was the Grand Tasting, held at Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace. This year’s turnout, estimated at more than 2,000 people, was the largest ever. Among the dozens of memorable offerings were Luciano Pellegrini’s spaghetti alla chitarra with rabbit meatballs, Bar Masa’s Peking duck tacos with foie gras, and an exquisite panna cotta with strawberries from dessert genius François Payard. The next day there was an interactive lunch at Wynn Encore, where chef Paul Bartolotta, who won the event’s blackjack tournament for the third year in a row (he’s banned next year), taught the crowd how to make sea bream with a salt crust. Later that evening I literally pigged out at a barbecue at Mandalay Beach, where Ducasse and Charlie Palmer grilled lobster, carved a whole roast suckling pig and poured pinot noir from boutique producers. Uncork’d truly is the culinary event of the year in Las Vegas. I can hardly wait for 2011. Over at Caesars Palace, wunderkind chef Bryan Ogden, son of chef Bradley Ogden of the restaurant of the same name, has uncorked his own new concept, Munchbar, with partner Robert Frey of Pure, the nightclub next door. The décor is pure pop art, and food is basically upscale pub grub, perfect for the postPure crowd at 2 a.m., when the place is busiest. Ogden’s Rueben wrap with turkey pastrami on rye ﬂatbread is delicious. So is the Munch Burger, a huge cylinder of tasty ground meat topped with provolone and cheddar cheeses, lettuce and “fancy sauce.” The Munch Breakfast Sandwich, made with the meatiest sausage gravy of all time, or the Tiny Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, may be the best cure for a night of hard partying. There are also specialty cocktails, such as the Pear Ginger Fizz, and beers on draft at $15 for a 60-ounce pitcher of domestic. Call 731-7110 for details. Hungry, yet? Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at foodwinekitchen.com.
Photography by Anthony Mair
By Max Jacobson
Dishing Got a favorite dish? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for the perfect starch to complement a great steak? Try this dish, because who said hash browns were just for breakfast? Pan-roasted grated potatoes are ﬁlled with caramelized onions and bacon, topped with chives and served with sour cream. $9, in Monte Carlo, 693-8300.
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King Crab and Jalapeño Tacos at Union
These bite-size tacos—a twist on the traditional taco—pack a lot of fresh ingredients and spice. The shells, ﬁlled with king crab and tiger shrimp, are topped with layers of cucumber, red onion, avocado and jalapeños. No taco would be complete without hot sauce, and these are served with a citrus horseradish version. $18, in Aria at CityCenter, 693-8300.
Fried Chicken at Popeyes
This is the only chain from which we’d even consider eating a piece of Southernstyle fried chicken. Their chicken is a perfect blend of spicy and crunchy, with a devilish bite and moist meat. They have great biscuits, too. $6 (two-piece meal), multiple locations, popeyes.com.
Huevos Rancheros at T&T
The “T’s” stand for Tacos and Tequila, and this restaurant has plenty of both, while capturing the fun and sexy themes of Mexico. Get relief from a hangover at the Sunday Mariachi Brunch, especially with this dish. Two eggs are cooked any style you like, placed over a corn tortilla and black bean purée, and topped with ranchero sauce. $13, in Luxor, 262-5225.
Coffec Cake photo by Anthony Mair
Rick’s Hash Brown at Brand Steakhouse
Dishing Got a favorite dish? Tell us at email@example.com.
When you enter the restaurant, you’ll instantly feel like you’ve entered another world. This dish completes that idea. Delicately cooked for 3.5 to 4 hours, the tender leg of the lamb is served with buttered kritharaki (Greek for orzo). This hearty dish is so juicy, it’s almost like eating beef stew. $12.95, 4001 S. Decatur Blvd., 222-0666.
96 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
Adult Tater Tots at Stack
You may remember tater tots from the school cafeteria or Napoleon Dynamite, but these are a lot edgier. Why? Because these crunchy little potato puffs are laced with bacon and brie. And accompanied by a mason jar of ketchup, the presentation is excellent, too. $10, in The Mirage, 792-7800.
Pepperoni Pizza at Grimaldi’s
This intimate, urban-style pizzeria from Brooklyn, N.Y., cooks its pies in a coalﬁred oven. The result is a crust that’s chewy, bubbly and ﬂavorful, with just the right amounts of cheese and sauce. The restaurant, which features a pleasant patio area, gets packed in the evenings, but these are pizzas worth a wait. $15 small (16-inch), 9595 S. Eastern Ave., 657-9400; 750 S. Rampart Blvd, 479-1351.
Coffee Cake at The Cracked Egg
This breakfast and lunch restaurant is known for this homemade cake, which comes in a variety of ﬂavors, but the most popular is the chocolate chip. Each is made from scratch with lots of tasty crumbs on top and sprinkled with powdered sugar. And, yes, it’s always served warm. $3.25, multiple locations.
Lamb and chicken photos by Anthony Mair
Lamb Shank With Buttered Orzo at The Fat Greek
Cooking With …
Marc St. Jacques The Mina chef draws from the season in picking this asparagus dish
By Max Jacobson It’s hard to miss 6-foot-5-inch Marc St. Jacques, executive chef at Michael Mina in Bellagio. He fairly towers over everyone else on the line in the kitchen. He is French Canadian, as his name might imply, and his appreciation for fresh ingredients began early in life, during summer trips to his grandparents’ farm. He came to the United States at age 19 and earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He’s been cooking for Mina for several years now, and before moving to Las Vegas with his wife last year, he manned the stoves at Mina’s restaurant at the MGM Grand in Detroit. St. Jacques, like most chefs of his generation, prefers to cook with products in season, as demonstrated by his choice of a spring vegetable, asparagus, for this ﬁrst-course dish. Either white or green asparagus is ﬁne, but if you use the green, do not use the poaching liquid included here, but rather just salt water, to blanch the asparagus before serving. White asparagus is balanced by the poaching liquid, says the chef, but for the green, it will turn it an unappealing shade of brown.
Asparagus has a reputation for being especially difﬁcult to pair with wine, but Michael Mina has an ace in the hole, master sommelier Joe Phillips. For this dish, Phillips has chosen a 2007 Domaine Drouhin Arthur Vineyards Chardonnay from Oregon ($87 on the wine list here; about $33 retail). Assistant sommelier Sabrina Benedetto, speaking for her boss, says it was chosen for its crisp acidity and standup fruit, a nice match for the ham and herbs.
Asparagus with Smoked Ham and Mustard Vinaigrette Serves two. 4 stalks jumbo green or French white asparagus
For the poaching liquid 4 cups dry white wine 4 cups water 1 lemon, juiced ¼ cup sugar ¼ cup salt
Mustard vinaigrette ¼ cup whole-grain mustard 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard ½ cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
4 or 5 thin ham slices (Michael Mina uses Allan Benton’s smoked ham from Tennessee, but prosciutto, speck or Serrano ham works as well.) 1 shaved radish, in thin slices Picked herbs, such as tarragon, sorrel or chervil Sea salt Extra virgin olive oil For the asparagus: Peel in long, even strokes, removing any skin. Combine all ingredients in the poaching liquid or salt water and bring to a light boil. Turn down heat to a simmer and poach about 12 minutes. Trim bottom section and cut on the bias into four or ﬁve pieces. Season with salt and oil. For the vinaigrette: Whisk both mustards together and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season to taste. To plate: Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on surface of plate. Place the asparagus and slices of ham. Toss on the herbs and radishes with the leftover olive oil and salt, then artfully arrange the radishes and herbs.
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Portrait and dish photos by Anthony Mair
a Ghost Town Comes alive
Memorial day weekend is when the steady restoration of Gold Point halts and the celebration begins By Jessica Prois
100 Vegas Seven May 20-26, 2010
The spirit of the Old West is preserved.
GettinG there Gold Point is 185 miles north of Las Vegas—about a three-hour drive. Head north on U.S. 95 for about 165 miles to Lida Junction. Take a left onto State Route 266, and go west seven and a half miles to State Route 774, a paved road that will take you straight to town. Stop along the way: Death Valley Nut & Candy Co. in Beatty sells ice cream made on-site and rare ﬁnds such as chocolate-covered gummy bears. It’s open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., making it ideal for oddhour road trips.
Gold Point MeMorial day Weekend When: May 28-30. What to bring: Camping gear and supplies (the cabins are reserved for event volunteers). Cost: $5 (suggested donation). Meals: Breakfast, $7.50; barbecue dinner, $11.50. Info: goldpointghosttown. com; (775) 482-4653.
Photography by Anthony Mair
One of Robbins’ volunteers, who goes by the name Stranger, On the way to Gold Point about three hours northwest of Las works on a shack. He wears an American ﬂag bandana over his Vegas, the ﬁrst indication that you’re entering the Old West is long, blond hair and has ﬂecks of spackling in his salt-and-pepper a Nevada historical marker riddled with bullet holes. The sign beard. Stranger shows off a solid oak drop-box ceiling he’s completmarks the spot where travelers take a sharp left onto State Route ed. “I believe in people having dreams,” he says of the restoration. 774. After a few miles of nothing but Joshua trees, the buildings of “There are so many other ghost towns that have been vandalized the old mining settlement emerge. It’s a ghost town but for a few or have simply gone away.” residents, and the one you’re likely to The town’s revival is now run into ﬁrst is Herb Robbins. celebrated each Memorial Day, with He’s better known around these a weekend-long event that features parts as Sheriff Stone (a nickname live music, the Chili Cook-Off & whose origin involves a character on Dutch Oven Stew Contest and the the old TV show Night Court). DependBeatty Cowboys, who ride in to ing on the time of day, he’s also ﬁre reenact a bank robbery. Beyond chief, resident historian and cook. the festivities, visitors tour the Mostly, since the early 1980s, he is the abandoned mines (safely, from the town’s chief renovator, saving old minoutside), hang out in the saloon playing shacks and the 100-year-old town’s ing shufﬂeboard or shooting pool post ofﬁce, saloon and general store, on a 1909 Brunswick table, or visit in hopes of drawing people to the the post ofﬁce, where letters from 55 acres of history. Robbins and his a century ago sit out on a dusty desk. partner in preservation, Walt Kremin, Part of the town’s draw is hearing own about half of the 50 buildings, the town-keeper’s stories, says taking on the town as their life’s work. Kristen Bridges, a Las Vegan who “America once said if you ﬁnd leads camping trips to Gold Point. something, you can develop it,” Sheriff Stone: Gold Point caretaker and storyteller. She recounts Robbins’ oft-told tale Robbins says. “I had the opportunity of hitting a video poker jackpot in 1998. He won almost $223,000 to not let Gold Point go to dust.” at Texas Station and devoted a large portion of it to Gold Point. The two spent more than $100,000 to acquire and remodel “That’s just the way he is,” she says. “Dedicated and giving.” buildings, including ﬁve deteriorating cabins they turned into It all began when Robbins was living outside Sacramento and besleeping quarters for the 3,000 or so guests who sweep through gan amassing what’s become a 115-pound photo album with 8,000 each year. “I lost one building, but I’m not going to let any more shots of Old West towns he’d visited. A friend encouraged him to fall,” Robbins says. “It’s become a race against time.” start purchasing buildings in Gold Point. Since then, Robbins, who The town’s original name, in 1908, was Hornsilver, named after also works as a wallpaper hanger (occasionally taking jobs in Las silver ore found in the area. Within months, population surged to Vegas), has dedicated himself to preserving the town, which he feels about 1,000. It dropped to 200 in 1910 and dwindled more as the like is an essential part of both America’s and Nevada’s history. miners’ dreams faded. A small resurgence occurred in 1932, when, He, Kremin and their volunteers lately spend up to 10 hours a day to restore enthusiasm, the town’s name was changed to Gold Point. hammering, drilling and wiring. Land in the vicinity yielded about $4 million in precious metals; in “It’s my passion. I’m obsessed,” he says, and then looks at Goldﬁeld, 30 miles away, miners dug up $90 million. Gold Point’s Kremin. “Or, he’s obsessed, and I’m possessed.” mines closed in 1960, and the prospectors moved on.
SportS & LeiSure Letting it Fly Disc golf growing in popularity throughout Valley
By Patrick Moulin
Players of all ages participate in disc golf at Sunset Park, home to one of six courses in the Valley.
like trophies. I can guarantee that you go to the home of any serious disc golfer and you’ll ﬁnd [a disc] hanging on the wall.” Players such as Ricker are so enthusiastic about their sport that they’re often happy to donate a disc to a new player. “If giving a few discs away will help get people into a sport we feel passionately about, we’re happy to do it,” he says. Although some topof-the-line discs can cost up to $100, a beginner set of discs can be purchased for around $20. “I was ofﬁcially hooked when I played my ﬁrst organized tournament,” Alexander says. “There is something about tournaments, the fact that there are several hundred people gathered together with the same love of the game that I have, knowing all I will be doing for a couple of days is golﬁng. The general vibe, it can’t be explained.” As Las Vegans search for cheaper forms of fun in the sun, disc golf is sure to gain in popularity as most courses are free to play. “The LVDGC has been working diligently with
county and city ofﬁcials to see more courses being installed at the parks throughout the city with the hopes of getting another premier course in Southern Nevada,” Alexander says. “I would love to see the continued growth we have enjoyed over the last few years.” For more information about the Las Vegas Disc Golf Club, go to lvbagtag.com.
Mountain West coaches hit golf course to ﬁght cancer The men’s basketball coaches from the Mountain West Conference will be hitting the links again this year as part of the third annual Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic. The event, which beneﬁts the American Cancer Society, tips off at 7 p.m. May 23 with a party at the Palms’ Hardwood Suite. The evening will include cocktails, hors d’ouerves and a silent auction. Eight of the Mountain West’s nine coaches, including UNLV’s Lon Kruger, are expected to attend. (Air Force’s Jeff Reynolds has a previous commitment.) 102
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The coaches will then golf at TPC Summerlin on May 24 and at Southern Highlands on May 25. Future baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, a longtime Las Vegas resident, and former UNLV basketball great Larry Johnson also are scheduled to play. To participate in the golf tournament or attend the party at the Palms, which is close to being sold out, go to gala. acsevents.org or call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345. – Sean DeFrank
Disc golf photos by Sullivan Charles; coaches photo courtesy of UNLV photo services
Despite a strong spring wind threatening his accuracy, John Ricker deftly places his shot within three yards of the pin. Cheers erupt from his fellow golfers in acknowledgement of the difﬁcult shot as Ricker pulls his putter out of his bag to ﬁnish off the hole. Although that may sound like a typical day on the course, Ricker is not your typical golfer. Carefully, Ricker launches his putter toward the chain link-covered basket, where the disc settles in with a satisfying “clink-clank,” giving him a birdie. Ricker is a disc golfer. “After the ﬁrst few holes of playing I knew right away that disc golf was going to be a passion of mine,” says Ricker, who started playing three years ago. “I have not missed many weekends playing and have made some lifetime friends.” While its origins are unclear, disc golf ﬁrst gained popularity in the 1970s, and is often mislabeled as “hippie golf,” or “Frisbee golf.” It was started as an alternative to the costly requirements and elitist attitude that seem to permeate traditional golf courses. Originally played with Wham-O Frisbees and Hula-Hoops, the sport has evolved to incorporate discs designed for every situation, and courses can be found at parks across the country. Disc golf formally came to Las Vegas in 1978 when nine baskets were installed at Sunset Park. The Valley is now home to six disc golf courses, with three more being planned. “The popularity is on the rise. The Las Vegas Disc Golf Club has more than doubled in membership in the last four years,” club director Matt Alexander says. “We are seeing an increase of people of all ages and genders, although the biggest percentage of growth is still men from 18 to 40.” Serious golfers typically carry a bag with 20 to 30 discs, including a variety of drivers, putters and mid-range discs, and most have go-to discs for clutch situations. After watching Ricker send a disc clanging off of a metal pole, Alexander winces. “Our discs are used like a typical golf ball, except when we ding ours or lose them, it hurts so much more,” Alexander says. “They’re
Going for Broke
Week 1 lines feed early NFL appetites By Matt Jacob With all due respect to Hank Williams Jr. (and who in their right mind would disrespect Hank Williams Jr.?), are you ready for some football? Well, Jay Kornegay is. Once again this year, the Las Vegas Hilton’s race and sports book director beat his colleagues to the end zone and has posted point spreads (both sides and totals) for the NFL’s 16 opening-week games. I know the start of training camp is still more than two months away, but much like it’s always plastic surgery season in Hollywood, the NFL season never ends in Las Vegas, which is why Kornegay has been taking Week 1 NFL action as early as mid-April for more than 15 years. “The reason we started doing it was because the fans just can’t get enough football,” Kornegay says. “I don’t care if it’s December or May, they love to bet the NFL and they love to see these lines.” As soon as the NFL releases its schedule in mid-April each year, a group of ﬁve to six oddsmakers at the Hilton, including Kornegay, crunch their numbers individually then convene in a room and hash out the ﬁnal point spreads, which then are posted in the sports book. “At this time of year, it’s more of a conversation piece,” Kornegay says. “There’s a few dollars that come in, but as we get closer and closer to training camp and preseason, these Week 1 lines begin to shift and attract some money.” The key for bettors is to identify the games in which line shifts are most likely to occur. For example, even though it’s rare to see an NFL number move several points in a given week during the regular season, four Week 1 games last year shifted at least three points from the opening April number. That included Kansas City at Baltimore (the Ravens opened as an 8½-point home favorite, were a 13-point chalk by kickoff and scored two TDs in the ﬁnal 5½ minutes to win 38-24 and cover both numbers); and Philadelphia at Carolina (the Panthers opened as one-point home favorites, went off as 2½-point home underdogs and got destroyed, 38-10). Where will the money pour in between now and the second weekend in September? Gazing into my crystal ball (and with my bankroll sitting at $5,255), I see ﬁve opportunities for big movement:
Dolphins (-1½) at Bills: Buffalo has a new coach and major quarterback concerns, while Miami is going to be a preseason darling. I’ll be shocked if the Dolphins (who traded for star receiver Brandon Marshall in the offseason) aren’t laying more than a ﬁeld goal by kickoff. Falcons (+1) at Steelers: We don’t know who will be the Steelers’ quarterback in this game, but we know it won’t be Ben Roethlisberger (six-game suspension). Even though Pittsburgh is a very public team, I expect Atlanta will get a lot of money in the weeks leading up to this one, and we could see a line shift similar to last year’s Eagles-Panthers contest. Broncos (+1½) at Jaguars: The last image we have of Denver is a team that started 6-0 before losing eight of its ﬁnal 10 games to miss the playoffs. Jacksonville’s stumble to the ﬁnish line (1-5) also was bad, but the Jaguars didn’t panic in the offseason and trade away their best player (Marshall) and pin their future on Tim Tebow. Because of those two decisions, there’s going to be a lot of anti-Denver sentiment in the betting public until coach Josh McDaniels proves he made the right moves. Cowboys (-4) at Redskins: It’s always risky in Week 1 to lay more than a ﬁeld goal on the road in a rivalry. Throw in the Mike Shanahan/Donovan McNabb upgrade for Washington—plus Wade Phillips once again on the Dallas sideline looking more confused than Jessica Simpson in a library—and I see this one coming in at much closer to pick ’em. Chargers (-5½) at Chiefs: Every season, the Chargers start slower than a ’72 El Camino, but they remain a favorite of the betting public. And with Kansas City still very much in rebuilding mode, you can bet San Diego will be laying more than a touchdown when this Monday night game kicks off. Matt Jacob is a former local sports writer who has been in the sports handicapping business for more than four years. For his weekly column, Vegas Seven has granted Matt a “$7,000” bankroll. If he blows it all, we’ll ﬁre him and replace him with a monkey. May 20-26, 2010 Vegas Seven 103
KDWN’s conservative morning talker talks about politics, getting up early and what bothers her most about conservatives By Elizabeth Sewell
How do you prepare for a day that starts at 5 a.m.? I get up at 1 a.m., so I’m up for hours before I get here because I’ve got to get on the Web and everything and prepare for the show. I want to do today’s topics. I don’t want to do them tomorrow. It’s interesting every day. … Sometimes I’ll do more of a monologue; other times I’ll do more of the subjects. It depends. I like what I do and I’m energized, and if you like what you do and you get to talk about what you want to talk about and you feel like you’re going to learn something, then it makes it a lot more fun to get out of bed and do it. Where do your political views come from? A lot of life experience, a lot of reading and things I’ve been exposed to in my life. When I started out, 110
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I proudly voted in my very ﬁrst election for John Anderson, not Ronald Reagan, because I was kind of independent at that age. My parents were Democrats, and as I got older and started paying more attention to things politically, I just realized that I kind of felt on the right about things. I care about taxes not being too high, and I care about government not inﬂuencing too much of what I do. … There are people who think government can make things better, and that government can make this great society and solve all of our problems, and I don’t believe that. What is the political climate in Nevada now? People are watching their wallets more closely. Gov. Gibbons was really railed on in the beginning of his administration about trying to keep the budget tight, but now that there’s no money, everyone is going, “Yeah, that’s right, we don’t have any money,” and one of the biggest issues that’s come out in the past couple of weeks is this whole issue of how much government workers make—ﬁreﬁghters, cops, teachers. What I ﬁnd funny is the same politicians who couldn’t wait to sign those contracts now act horriﬁed, shocked, that they’re so sweet. Well, where were you? What don’t you like about the right? I don’t understand why anyone on the right or the left—but I think the right may be worse about this— would want to listen to someone tell them what they already know every single day on the radio or on television. You turn it on, and you know within 30 seconds what you’re going to hear. … I’m kind of embarrassed that people will still ﬂock to that. I get mailed books all the time, political books that say what’s right about the
right and what’s wrong about the left, America’s going to hell. All of these right-wing books I get sent and I don’t read them. What do you and liberals agree on? I don’t want to see anyone tapped on the shoulder anywhere in this country and asked to provide their papers because of the way they look. That’s outrageous. In the past I have told listeners, “Who do you think was living here in the Southwest before the treaty was signed between us and Mexico? They didn’t look like you. They didn’t look like Tiger Woods’ wife. They looked like Guadalupe.” … If you’re anti-Semitic or racist, I hang up on you instantly because we don’t have anywhere to go because your brain isn’t big enough. Has Arizona’s immigration law changed Nevada’s election? I think one of our candidates, [Republican U.S. Senate candidate] Chad Christensen, is going to try to get something like that passed. I don’t know whether he will or not—he’s trying to get signatures. If he gets it on the ballot, he probably will. Sum up the political climate People are more awake now. [People are] paying attention and going, “Hey, I don’t have a job; my house is worth half of what it was. Whose fault is it?” So they’re now more aware than maybe they were a couple of years ago. I’m not saying those people who voted for Obama are idiots. I guess they wanted to make a change from Bush, but now they’re going, “Wait a minute, this isn’t what I thought it would be, and maybe change isn’t the way to do it.”
Photo by Anthony Mair
Before landing in radio, Heidi Harris worked as a lounge singer, TV host and in customer service for a casino. All her life, friends and family urged her to give radio a shot because, well, she likes to talk. That advice ultimately led to the Heidi Harris Show on KDWN (720 AM, 5-9 a.m. weekdays), which draws more than 20,000 listeners between 5-9 a.m. weekdays, and put her on Talker Magazine’s list of “most inﬂuential radio hosts” ﬁve times. Although Harris, a native Las Vegan, rarely misses a chance to pillory U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., she’s no doctrinaire conservative. Call her up and bore her with the same old right-wing rhetoric and you’re likely to get the radio equivalent of the hook. And you may be surprised to learn that Harris, an avid reader, would rather spend time with a book on history than the latest tome from Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter.