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February 11-17, 2010

Vegas Romance True love sTories (The oTher side of sin CiTy) valenTine’s dining Tips, wiTh a TwisT angeliCa Bridges’ CloseT—a Tour de fierCe

Plus: The end of ‘whaT happens here sTays here’ By James P. Reza


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This Week in Your CiTY 12

The LaTesT

Heart-shaped pizzas for a good cause and an instant guide to Chinese New Year. Plus: tips, trends, tweets, gossip and Seven Days of happenings. Edited by Melissa Arseniuk



LocaL neWsroom


Las Vegas tests a new educational program, our convention ups and downs, and other news reports from around the city. Plus: David Schwartz’s Green Felt Journal and Michael Green on Politics.

naTIonaL neWsroom

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.

88 Tech

Time to dump that old cable box and get one of today’s new media players. By Eric Benderoff





Some brand-new Las Vegas newspaper throws a launch party, and the swanky Mastro’s Ocean Club debuts at CityCenter.

Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist adds a fresh layer of innovation to Strip dining. By Max Jacobson Plus: Sweetheart deals, and Chef Michael Mina shows you how to make his amazing salmon BLT.




heaLTh & FITness

This week’s Look, seven very nice lamps and a few choice Enviables. Plus: one stylishly renovated mid-mod guesthouse.

Seven ways to sustain your New Year’s workout resolution. By Dr. Ben Conmy



sporTs & LeIsure


The Seven Nights ahead, some fabulous parties past and Las Vegas’ domination of the Nightclub Awards.

Live from Las Vegas: a major rugby tournament! By Rob Miech Plus: Going for Broke by Matt Jacob



arTs & enTerTaInmenT

The Insurgo Theater Movement edges toward original productions, Jason Alexander does Vegas and Rex Reed is at the movies.

seven QuesTIons

On the cover: “Shrimp Cocktail Valentine,” photography by Tucker + Hossler


The FanTasy Tour

For Valentine’s Day, Strip star Angelica Bridges shows us her multipurpose underwear collection. By Melissa Arseniuk

An interview with our city’s leading sexologist. By Elizabeth Sewell

Features 32

True romance

We find love in the strangest places: airplanes, Elton John concerts and the Cheesecake Factory. By Emma Trotter


WhaT happens When ...

What happens here doesn’t stay here anymore? How the Tiger Woods scandal ended an era. By James P. Reza February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 9


Vegas seVen Publisher Ryan T. Doherty | Justin Weniger AssociAte Publisher, Michael Skenandore

Melissa Arseniuk Associate Editor

Editorial editoriAl director, Phil Hagen AssociAte editor, Melissa Arseniuk News editor, Sean DeFrank A&e editor, Cindi Reed coPY editor, Paul Szydelko

Armed with a VIP-filled BlackBerry, a jam-packed Google Calendar and a seemingly endless supply of sugar-free Red Bull, Melissa Arseniuk is charged with incorporating the best of Las Vegas into each issue of Vegas Seven. She oversees The Latest, Nightlife and Gadgets & Tech sections, and she boasts professional pedigree that includes experience at CNN and the Washington Post before covering entertainment and celebrity events for the Las Vegas Sun.

coNtributiNg editors, Matt O’Brien, Todd Witcher coNtributiNg writers Eric Benderoff, Becky Bosshart, Geoff Carter, Sean Dunn, Michael Green, Matt Jacob, Max Jacobson, Jarret Keene, Meredith McGhan, Rob Miech, Jessica Prois, Amy Schmidt, David Schwartz, Melinda Sheckells, Brian Sodoma, Emma Trotter, Heather Turk, Cate Weeks iNterNs Mark Adams, Kelly Corcoran, Patrick Moulin, Robert Opacki, Erika Reboton

art Art director, Lauren Stewart seNior grAPhic desigNer, Marvin Lucas grAPhic desigNer, Thomas Speak stAff PhotogrAPher, Anthony Mair coNtributiNg PhotogrAPhers Jessica Blair, Hew Burney, Sullivan Charles, Francis George, Eric Ita, Barry Johnson, Tomas Muscionico, Beverly Popps, Al Powers, Ryan Reason, Tony Tran, Tucker + Hossler coNtributiNg illustrAtor, Jerry Miller

Jerry Miller Illustrator Jerry Miller is one of Vegas Seven’s favorite hometown illustrators because we like his expressive caricature style. (See what you think on page 35 or at When he’s not working commercially for the local industry—the Golden Nugget, Wynn Resorts and MGM Mirage—Miller does journalistic work for several outside publications, including The Capitol magazine and Milwaukee Magazine.

Production/distribution director of ProductioN/distributioN, Marc Barrington AdvertisiNg coordiNAtor, Jimmy Bearse

salEs AccouNt MANAger, Chelsea Hefley AccouNt eXecutive, Christy Corda

Comments or story ideas: Advertising: Distribution: Vegas Seven is distributed each thursday throughout southern nevada.

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 iNterActive MediA MANAger, Josu Ibarguen

James P. Reza Writer When James P. Reza references “those of us who’ve lived here awhile” in his “What Happens When What Happens Here Doesn’t Stay Here Anymore” story on page 34, he’s including himself. Las Vegas born, raised and educated, he’s a longtime commentator on our city’s unique culture. His other credentials include author (Berlitz Pocket Guide to Las Vegas), editor (Las Vegas editions of Time Out and Zagat), freelance writer (USA Today, Desert Companion) and publisher (he is the founder of Scope, the newspaper that eventually became Las Vegas Weekly). He is also a contributor to the new


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

eveNt coordiNAtor, Richard Alexander

FinancE director of fiNANce, Gregg Hardin AccouNts receivAble MANAger, Rebecca Lahr geNerAl AccouNtiNg MANAger, Erica Carpino credit MANAger, Erin Tolen

PublisHEd in association WitH tHE obsErVEr MEdia GrouP copyright 2010 Vegas seven, llc. reproduction in whole or in part without the permission of Vegas Seven, llc is prohibited. Vegas seven, 888-792-5877, 3070 West Post road, las Vegas, nV 89118

The LaTesT

What’s hip, what’s happening, what’s going on—and what you need to know right now.

Compiled by Melissa Arseniuk

Ketchup 2.0

The economic downturn is so last year: The fashionable folk at MAGIC are declaring, “Recession be damned!” and for the first time in the event’s 77-year history, the trade show is expanding to two locations. The twice-yearly clothing, footwear and accessories convention will set up shop at both the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on Feb. 16-18. The menswear campus (S.L.A.T.E., Premium and Street) will be housed at Mandalay Bay, while the WWDMAGIC component will continue pushing the envelope of women’s wear at the Las Vegas Convention Center. A brand-new department called FN Platform will also showcase at the latter venue, featuring footwear from nearly 600 boot, shoe and sandal manufacturers. MAGIC is a showcase for the world’s trendsetters and cutting-edge designers. While it’s not open to the

public, a range of after-conference events go on all around town and most are open to the public—so be sure to dress extra well before stepping out this week.

Ski bunnies in paradise Head north for some fresh powder and discover the West’s hottest new ski-in, ski-out hotel destination: the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe. The luxurious contemporary retreat is situated mid-mountain at Northstar-at-Tahoe and adjacent to the bustling Village at Northstar. Channeling the architecture of the great lodges of the 20th century, such as Yosemite’s Ahwahnee and Mt. Hood’s Timberline, the Ritz-Carlton Highlands is tucked discretely into the contour of the hillside and features 170 guest rooms, 23 private Ritz-Carlton Residences and 25 Ritz-Carlton Destination Club residences. Property highlights include a grand octagonal lobby, known as the Living Room, which is the spot to grab an après ski hot-buttered rum; a restaurant by star chef Traci Des Jardins; and a spa with organic massages and facials. $349-$799, 530-562-3000,


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

MAGIC photos courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau

MaGIC in the air

After decades of using the same tearand-squeeze packaging, Heinz is finally giving its takeout ketchup a makeover. The company just announced “dip-andsqueeze” packaging, which merges the old foil idea with a dip-friendly dish. Heinz figures its new packets will provide ketchup lovers with the best of both worlds, allowing customers to tear and squeeze like the good ol’ days, or peel back and dip away. Another bonus: The new version will hold three times the ketchup as the old one. Heinz, which produces more than 11 million packets of takeout ketchup every year, will begin rolling out the new hybrid packets this summer.

ThIs weeK In your CITy Eye … no, year of the tiger Most of us think it’s 2010, but according to the Chinese calendar, it’s actually 4708. What’s more, 4708 isn’t just any year—it’s the year of the tiger. And yes, the tiger has a name. Geng Yin comes to town this weekend as the Chinese New Year begins on Feb. 14. Rather than beginning on Jan. 1, the Chinese New Year is determined by the second new moon after the winter solstice. While it sounds complicated, after 4707 years, they’ve got the science behind it down to, well, a science. There are 12 animals in the Chinese calendar rotation and the tiger (hu) is the third, ahead of the ox (niu) but before the hare (tu). So get ready to say goodbye (zai jian) to last year’s ox, Ji Chou, and hello (ni hao) to Geng Yin.

Eat your heart out—for a good cause

Metro Pizza photo by Beverly Poppe; Olympics photo by VANOC/COVAN

Metro’s pizza is extra good this month, as its special heart-shaped pizzas help support the American Heart Association. This is the sixth year that our leading local pizza chain has offered the promotion, which sees $2 to $3 from each hand-stretched, Valentine’s-style pie go to the charity. With the support of Las Vegas’ pizza lovers, the company is hoping the 2010 campaign will push total donations past the $15,000 mark by the end of the month. From $19.95, various locations,

Fresh fish

Lap-top for your laptop The latest in laptop accessories comes in the form of a new lapdesk from Logitech. Cushioned on the bottom but flat on top, it’s like a little portable desk. What’s more, it has a built-in cooling system to make sure neither the lapdesk nor your laptop overheat, plus a built-in dual sound system for enhanced audio playback. The unit eliminates the need for auxiliary speakers and gets its power from your laptop via USB. Meanwhile, onboard controls allow you to turn the cooling fans on and off, and turn the speakers’ volume up and down, too. Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700, $80,

It has been a long, cold winter in the upperlevel space of RM Seafood. Chef and owner Rick Moonen closed the space last February but the second-level has finally come out of hibernation. Although no formal re-opening event was held, Moonen and his crew unveiled the reinvigorated room on Feb. 2. When the doors re-opened they revealed a totally redone restaurant, with new paint, lighting, furniture and artwork. The menu has also been reworked, while the focus on sustainable seafood remains. “We’re trying to redefine fine dining without making it stuffy,” executive chef Adam Sobel says. Highlights include a five-course tasting menu ($65) that with three options to choose from at every course. RM Seafood at Mandalay Place. 632-9300, 5:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; downstairs café open daily 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Games on

Athletes from around the world are converging in Vancouver for the XXI Olympic Winter Games. There will be 86 events during the 17 days of competition, which runs Feb. 12-28. The Winter Olympics have certainly come a long way since the once-every-four-years tradition began in 1924. Those games, held in Chamonix, France, hosted just 16 countries and featured only 16 events. In contrast, more than 2,500 athletes from 80 countries will compete in the 2010 games, which will host a range of icy events, from skiing to curling. Sorry, Cool Runnings fans: Jamaica does not have a bobsled team in this year’s games. However, the tropical nation will be represented by freestyle skier Errol Kerr. (No word on who owns the film rights to that one.) February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 13

Latest Gossip Star-studded parties, celebrity sightings, juicy rumors and other glitter.

Got a juicy tip?

Star Gazing

Tweets of the Week ­Compiled­by­@marseniuk

@tunkin67 Spending Ur $ in Vegas is a heck of a lot more useful than sending it 2 Obama 2 spend & a heck of a lot more fun. Book a Vegas flight now.

@TFLN (219) rather than putting your name in guys phones, you just texted 90999 to donate $10 to Haiti and then gave it back to them.

and his wife, LaToya. Current WEC champ Urijah Faber, UFC 112 hopeful Mark Munoz, and fellow fighter Melvin Guillard were also there for the post-109 party, which was presented by Aliens vs. Predator. Fighters hit the post-fight party circuit. Meanwhile, UFC referee Herb Dean wasted little time after the fight and headed to Mandalay Place for a few rounds of Whenever UFC comes to town it packs a punch—and UFC his own at Hussong’s Cantina. Dean was the first to dip into 109 was no exception. UFC President Dana White and Hall the AsomBroso at the new Mexican eatery—and he made it of Fame fighter Chuck Liddell were at Wasted Space at the a memorable occasion, ordering several shots of the high-end Hard Rock Hotel on Feb. 5 and surprised partiers by giving tequila, each costing $225 a pop. away five dozen tickets to Saturday night’s big matchup. While Dean and the others nursed their White and Liddell had dinner at N9NE hangovers and otherwise recovered on Sunday, Steakhouse at the Palms on fight night, though famed fighter Frank Mir hosted Super Sunday at separate tables. (White sat with eight friends, at Blush at the Wynn. Tito Ortiz enjoyed a while Liddell shared a meal with 10 others). rather public Super Bowl Sunday, too, and Randy Couture defeated Mark Coleman watched the Saints destroy the Colts with in the Octagon that night and followed his big friends at Lavo. Ortiz and his entourage— win with a massive steak dinner with 20 friends which included his wife, XXX star Jenna at Beso at Crystals. After finishing his filet Jameson—later moved things to the Venetian, mignon, Couture led his victory party upstairs, where they had dinner at Lavo’s sister spot, where the celebration continued at Eve. Tao. Still, Ortiz didn’t stray from the Palazzo UFC All Access host and former Octagon girl for long: He later returned to Lavo to celebrate Rachelle Leah headed to Tao after the fight, Randy Couture at Eve. his belated 35th birthday in the club’s VIP. as did her co-host, fighter Rashad Evans,

UFC brings it

Partying hard(er) at Tao While Laura Croft’s birthday party was expected to be the main event at Tao on Feb. 4, the Playboy Playmate’s party was outdone by another notorious Tao regular (who will remain anonymous) who flew to town and proceeded to all but take over the nightclub. Ordering bottle after bottle, the big spender spared no expense. Servers repeatedly set the nightclub aglow as they paraded through the crowd to bring the international party boy the latest addition to what seemed to be a never-ending tab. 14

Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

Croft’s BFF Holly Madison was there to help her celebrate in the club’s VIP moat area but the high-roller packed some serious blonde ambition in his 20-person entourage, too. People clamored to party alongside him at the owner’s VIP table, where heiress Paris Hilton and boyfriend Doug Reinhardt were among the guests. Rapper Maino was also at Tao that night and performed his track “All of the Above” for the crowd.

@kayyfuller you live and you

learn... and then you go to vegas!!

@M4cKs84 UFC 109:

Relentless did not disappoint!! Randy Couture is an animal!!

@rafeon Lol. Am I high or did I just see a robot doing the robot dance in Vegas in a Super Bowl commercial?

@Tanjee @stonerokk killed it tonight. >@stonerokk The deer I ran over maybe. >@djexodus Is your car ok? >@stonerokk I was on rollerblades.

@MichaelCardella 2 for 2 for getting hit on by men @ 24hr Fitness on Sunset. Strong first outing toward becoming the gay bait rookie of the year.

@oakvich Just watched the

Nevada State of the State address. Time to dust off the resume just in case.

@rtsims I just gave the State of Nevada $391.00. That should fix it.

@zappos On plane, old man in seat next to me raised up the armrest between us. I guess he wanted to get rid of the generation gap.

Agassi, Santana, Graf RD/ Erik Kabik/ Retna Digital

Rashad Evans and Rachelle Leah at Tao; Naya Rivera at Jet; Jayde Nicole at Eve; Andre Agassi, Carlos Santana and Steffi Graf at The Joint.


Re-Eating an American Classic A longtime McRib lover tries to rekindle that old processed-meat magic I don’t know when my love affair with McDonald’s started or, more importantly, when it started to wane. Maybe it was back in high school, on the day I bit into a Chicken McNugget and noticed the meat was pink. Or maybe it was, ironically enough, when the chain made its fries healthier. The old fries were greasy, soggy, salty and insanely quaffable. The new fries, on the other hand, were dutifully dull—and I suspect they weren’t any more nutritious, either, so what was the point? Regardless of the reason, I had left the land of Big Mac long before Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me came along. Still, the news late last year of the limited-time return of the McRib got my taste buds jumping. The pork rib facsimile—a mystery meat sandwich if there ever was one—embodied McDonald’s at its zaniest, overprocessed, artery-squeezing best. What a sandwich! What a country! It didn’t take long before I was back at the Golden Arches. It was like I never left. With a single bite of a McRib, good memories came flooding back. The barbecue sauce was amazing. The Chiclet-size onions were perfect and crunchy. The bun was mushy without turning soggy. Even the pickles were great—and I don't even like pickles. Yet the McRib is powerful enough to make me forget that I hate pickles—and the recession, the foreclosure crisis and the price of gas, too. At $1.89, the sandwich took me back, to a less complicated time. It was 1983 again. And I was happy. And it’s not just me: People drive miles to find a McRib. A friend of a friend here in Las Vegas ordered an entire box of patties direct from McDonald’s—they’re stuffed in his freezer this very moment. Meanwhile, legions of McRib fans are constantly 16

Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

begging the burger chain to put the sandwich back on the permanent menu. There is even a “McRib Locator” online (, where you can “submit your recent sighting.” The sandwich debuted in the early ’80s, back when I was 10 or so. Although it was eventually taken off the menu, the company brings it back now and then for limited periods of time. Apparently, time hasn’t changed the McRib. I asked a spokesman if the recipe had been tweaked to appease nutrition hawks or evolving American palates. “There are no plans to change the recipe for the McRib,” he told me. “Our customers tell us they love the taste just the way it is.” Indeed they do. I recently stopped by a McDonald’s on Tropicana Avenue, hopeful. The McRib’s limited-time run was up (they stopped shipping patties in early January, according to the company), so it was no longer on the menu. But it never hurts to ask, and mercifully, this location had some in stock. I ordered one with fries and a Sprite, then waited anxiously. It felt like it took longer than usual, like they actually had to—what’s the word?—cook it. When it finally arrived, it came in packaging designed for five Chicken Selects. The indignity. I rescued the legendary sandwich from its shame and went to take a bite, but found myself hesitating. For a brief moment, a wave of anxiety washed over me as an entirely different collection of images flashed through my mind—pictures I had seen online a few days before, when I went online to research the sandwich and came across photos of a disgraced McRib patty, naked, without its sauce. It looked like something you’d throw down on the road to puncture tires.

While that was traumatizing in itself, that picture wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the one that showed the inside of the patty. (It was a white congealed blob that looked like brains more than anything meant for human consumption.) I couldn’t help but wonder if one McRib might have the same toxic effect on me as Spurlock’s monthlong Golden Arches binge had on him. I managed to push my second thoughts to the back of my mind, though, and after that first bite, all doubts disappeared. It was 1983 again. The pickles and onions and sauce were great once more. The McRib was messy but not too messy—manufactured messy—in other words, delicious. But about halfway through the sandwich, my McRib high began to wear off. And not long after that, the sandwich stubbornly lodged itself into a corner of my stomach (though, in all fairness, I had expected as much). I’m not here to bury the McRib. I admit that the ribshaped patty makes absolutely no sense—who would want to eat the bones anyway?—but that’s just part of its genius. The curious formation elevates the McRib beyond lumpenprole meat or any sort of rectangular, non-turkey turkey burger and into a kitschy, edible trophy of Americana. In this light, the McRib has earned its place alongside the likes of Spam, Cheez Whiz and Tang. So what's next for the McRib? We don’t know when (or, God forbid, if ) McDonald’s will bring it back. Personally, I believe the McRib will ultimately serve as an indelible sign to anthropologists 1,000 years hence that our civilization never really had much long-term viability. Not that that will stop them from wanting to try one— a few bites of one, at least.

Sad McRib photo by Anthony Mair

By T.R. Witcher

Seven DayS The highlights of this week in your city. Compiled by Melissa Arseniuk

Sun. 14 Thur. 11 When your nosy friends, family or co-workers ask if you have a date for Valentine’s Day, remember that it’s Satisfied Staying Single Day and smile as you say no—then send yourself some flowers or a saucy card to keep them guessing. Or really up the ante and send yourself a Hottie Gram featuring 2007 Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood, Miss December 2005 Christine Smith or Miss November 1998 Tiffany Taylor. (adult content) or Flowers Direct,

Fri. 12 Take a stroll among the cacti that line the recently constructed Lover’s Lane at Ethel’s Chocolate in Henderson, then pop in the chocolate shop for a hand-dipped, chocolatecovered strawberry. Or two. Or three. While you’re there, pick up a few locally made chocolates for your valentine. 2 Cactus Garden Dr., Henderson. Lover’s Lane open daily until 10 p.m.; store 8:30 a.m.6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. Feb. 12-14); factory tours 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays. Free.

Sat. 13 Head out to the second annual Silver State Regional Chili Cook-off at Lake Las Vegas. Sanctioned by the International Chili Society, the event is expected to attract dozens of competitors and hundreds of red chili and chile verde fans. Hopefuls will start firing up their stoves at 10 a.m., with tastings from noon to 4 p.m. The Village at Lake Las Vegas, 15 Costa di Lago, Henderson. $5 to taste; to enter. Realizing chili isn’t for everyone, Bellagio provides a place for the more artsy-fartsy set to spend the day. The resort on Saturday hosts the “Ansel Adams of Color,” award-winning landscape photographer Jeff Mitchum, from 1 to 4 p.m. The artist will unveil his latest and greatest work, “Beyond,” and sign copies of his new book, Seasons of Light. Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1-4 p.m., free.

18  Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

Embrace your inner crazy cat lady (or man) and check out the second annual Cats and Sin City International Cat Show at the Alexis Park Resort. The two-day event will feature more than 120 picture-perfect pussies, a 14-ring show and a market of merchandise. 375 E. Harmon Ave., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 13-14. $3-$5; children 5 and under free.

Mon. 15 Monday marks the beginning of Random Acts of Kindness Week so why not randomly seize a moment to maybe save a life or two? United Blood Services provides the opportunity to do just that at the Gold Coast, where they will be collecting blood from walk-in donors and those with appointments. In the ballrooms at the Gold Coast, 4000 W. Flamingo Road, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., 233-9620.

Tues. 16 Put your right foot forward at the 210 Footwear Foundation’s “Shoepeople Helping Shoepeople” opening night extravaganza, fundraiser and mixer at the Orleans. The event serves as a kickoff party for FN PLATFORM, MAGIC’s new shoe-showwithin-a-fashion-show and features “some friendly, albeit competitive bowling.” While “Shoepeople” aren’t exactly up there with Haiti or AIDS in Africa, proceeds support a good enough cause: 210’s industry-specific counseling, community resources and financial assistance initiatives. Tickets include bowling, food and two drinks, and attendees will be put into teams. Yes, shoes will be available for rent, but considering the crowd, bring your own if you have them. Orleans Bowling Center, 4500 W. Tropicana Ave., 7:30-10 p.m. $50 in advance ( or $60 at the door.

Wed. 17 Check out the rock ’n’ roll-inspired accessories at the new King Baby store at the Wynn. The flagship store’s grand-opening cocktail reception starts at 8 p.m. and will feature a performance by Smitty on Steel. More than just skull rings and cross necklaces, the King Baby line includes goth-glam cuff links and a range of pendants, from branded brass knuckles to sterling silver peace signs. RSVP in advance via


ocean’s New Front

Mastro’s Ocean Club opened its first Las Vegas location on Feb. 4 with a VIP grand opening at its new home in Crystals at CityCenter. The legendary restaurant is known for its seafood, steaks and sophisticated atmosphere, which often features live music.

Photography by Hew Burney 20  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010


Find your favorite cigars and rare selections in our new, larger humidor. Then, light up and enjoy your smoke in our lounge. On Western, north of Cheetah’s (702) 735-8322


Seven Heaven

More than 700 members of the local media and executives from the public relations and advertising worlds came out Feb. 3 to see WENDOH Media unveil its new weekly publication, Vegas Seven, at Eve nightclub in Crystals at CityCenter.

Photography by Hew Burney and Tony Tran

22  Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

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Makeup Color-by-NuMber

A splash of Star Powder #952 on the eyes, a stroke of Glossy Full Couleur #2 to set the lips and a stroke of HD Microfinish Blush #12 to finish the cheeks: Make Up For Ever’s spring line features juicy and vibrant shades of orange. Sephora, various locations.

SpriNg FliNg

H&M’s new Garden Collection is encouraging an earthy mindset. Made from sustainable materials, recycled bottles and used textiles, the collection is definitely green—and available in a range of colors. H&M at Town Square or the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

The Look

The Look

Photographed by Tomas Muscionico

mIchAEL corNThwAITE, 36

Owner, Downtown Cocktail Room

JENNIfEr hArrINgToN, 29

Owner, Henri & Odette gallery

Photographed by Tomas Muscionico

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Style Icons: (Harrington) Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “effortless Parisian style.” (Cornthwaite) “Free-spirited rockers,” such as Sting and Lenny Kravitz. What They’re Wearing Now: (Cornthwaite) Vintage Joseph & Feiss jacket from Marshall Field’s; Brooks Brothers button-down shirt; DKNY tie; Marc Jacobs sweater; and Banana Republic trousers. (Harrington) Frock from H&M; vintage bracelet, belt and fur vest; basic black leggings; and Gianni Bini platform pumps from Dillard’s. Harrington likes to mix new designer finds from Barneys with thrift store finds and trendy pieces from H&M, while Cornthwaite loves well-worn Lucky Brand or Seven for All Mankind jeans and Zara sweaters. “You should always look like you, not you in a costume,” Harrington says. Her fiancé agrees: “Clothes should fit you; you shouldn’t try to fit the clothes.” – Amy Schmidt

Flower power

Who says florals are just for spring? Fresh off the runway, Tuleh by Bryan Bradley blossoms through the seasons with an array of flora in the pre-fall 2010 collection. – Compiled by Melinda Sheckells February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 25


Retro Fit

Duo infuses classic mid-century living space with fresh charm

By Melinda Sheckells

Photography by Francis George

Set against a backdrop punctuated by the Stratosphere, Matthew Howard and Aaron Hinterleitner’s home is a true Las Vegas dream. The duo moved to Las Vegas from Palm Springs in 2003 to further their respective careers in the hospitality industry. Once here, they found more than jobs: They stumbled across their dream abode, too—a rambling, four-bedroom mid-century ranch home in the Scotch 80s, a neighborhood known for its ’60s-era mansions and the famous residents who lived in them. What happened next can only be described as real estate fate. “We had only seen the house from the outside, looking into open windows to understand the layout,” says Howard, the director of catering for Wynn and Encore. “It was a gut feeling. We made an offer without even entering the home. We loved the mid-century ranch-style layout with the sunken living room. We closed in 15 days.”

Several years of renovations followed. The most recent project was the casita, which is connected to the main house yet features its own private entrance, a comfortable living space and small bathroom. “We wanted to design a simple yet functional space for a single individual,” says Hinterleitner, a Cirque du Soleil sales account executive. “Clean lines, minimal details and floor-to-ceiling mirrors were used to give the illusion of a larger space.” But the true gem of the guesthouse was already there: a mint-condition 1965 Magic Chef stove in the kitchenette. One of their earliest renovations was to the home’s façade. “The exterior was simple concept, a threecolor pattern,” Howard says. “The front of the house is mainly brick, so pure white paint was a given choice for that Old Vegas look. The leaf-acorn iron pattern, [and] the wood trim was finished in a dark chocolate brown. Completing the

look, the front doors were covered in a bold red paint, which is often recommended because in feng shui it’s the color of success and prosperity.” The couple is constantly shopping for new items and rearranging existing ones. Avid vintage furniture collectors, Howard and Hinterleitner found several treasures at Retro Vegas and are regulars at US Furniture & Upholstery, also on Main. Each piece has a story to tell. “Rumor has it that the wing chairs belonged to Dean Martin’s cousin, who lived in the downtown area,” Howard says. “Our white fractured glass-pattern side table was picked up at a local charity event.” And in a city like Las Vegas, where it’s not uncommon to discover that your neighbor’s dentist’s cousin’s grandmother once dated a member of the Rat Pack, having Martin’s wingback chairs in your guesthouse is all too fitting.

Classic cooking: A 1965 Magic Chef stove combines chic style with everyday function.

Retro vision: The vintage Victor TV (above) was a gift from Howard’s sister-in-law, Shari Howard, who runs an antique shop in Visalia, Calif. She immediately knew the piece belonged in the house when she saw it. Meanwhile, the “Max’s Bar” sign was rescued from a Texas warehouse and adds a vintage Vegas feel. Modern living: Even the wingback chairs (right) have a Las Vegas story to tell, thanks to a possible Rat Pack connection.

February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 27


Seven Very Nice Things

White Haute


Seeing lamps in a different light

1. Ribbon Pendant A modern take on ’60s-style pendant lights.  By Varaluz Local Lighting, $879 at   Northern Lights,


2. Caboche Ceiling Light Transparent spheres are chic yet practical.   By Patricia Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto for Foscarini,   $1,644 at YLighting, 3. Fossil Table Lamp Old is new again thanks to this   contemporary approach. $99 at West Elm. 4. RUTBO Floor Lamp Paper sculpture inspired by city skyscrapers. By Anna  Efverlund and Ola Wihlborg for Ikea, $59 at Ikea. 5. CAST Floor Lamp A great piece reminiscent of Achille Castiglioni’s   original 1962 design. $199 at EQ3.  6. The Refrax Strip Swarovski crystals sparkle on this chandelier, which comes  in a variety of sizes and colors. Geometrix by Schonbek,  price available upon request, at Lighting Design Center. 7. Mercury Suspension Chrome pebbles reflect the natural light of the room.  By Ross Lovegrove for Artemide, $2,490 at Unicahome.  –Compiled by Amy Schmidt




5 7 28  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

The Fantasy Tour

Angelica Bridges allows a peek into her wildly fierce lingerie world By Melissa Arseniuk Photography by Eric Ita

Angelica Bridges may be the star of Fantasy at Luxor, but her personality is drawn from ancient history. “I’m a redhead, and I’ve always felt like I’m a siren,” she says, alluding to “that loud, proud, wild fierceness” depicted in Greek mythology. The sexy starlet is all those things both on and off the stage—and this approach applies to her lingerie collection as well. From La Perla stockings to lace triangle bras, bold, passionate styles and colors rule her wardrobe. “This is a very powerful piece of lingerie—one that says, ‘I mean business,’” she says of a Corset Magic number that she wears onstage. It’s black, flecked with red, blue and gold. “It’s got a shimmer, almost like a peacock.” Although the model/actress/sex symbol owns hundreds of bras, panties, corsets, thongs and stockings, Bridges seems able to recite where and when she bought each piece in her collection—and how much she paid for them, too. The corset, for example, she bought for $250 at Forplay in Hollywood. While her sexy purchases quickly add up, she believes it’s all money well spent. She credits her arsenal of hundred-plus-dollar corsets as what provides her with an exaggerated “Scarlett O’Hara waistline,” for example. In addition to her eye-catching undies, Bridges’ onstage wardrobe includes a long, figure-flattering black dress and boa combination (“Very Jessica Rabbit,” she says); a matching blue corset, cowboy 30  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

boots and hat paired with skintight blue jeans (“They just look like jeans that were painted on,” she laughs); and a sheer black tunic—yet it’s what’s under the tunic (and every other one of her outfits) that everyone cares about. In the case of the sheer sweater, what lies beneath is a fire-engine-red satin bra and panty combination from Love Jones at the Hard Rock Hotel. And Le Perla stockings, of course. The starlet figures she spends about $600 a month on pantyhose. “Oh my gosh, I go crazy on the stockings,” says Bridges, who went on a Strip shopping spree recently. “I bought probably nine pairs of stockings that day. I’ll spend $150 for one pair, but they’re such good quality, they last.” Bras are another fetish, as evidenced in the closet of her Las Vegas home. “I have all my bras set up like you were going into Le Perla or Victoria’s Secret,” she says proudly. She isn’t joking about the retail references: The inside of her closet could be confused for store shelves, with Lucite and glass drawers and doors. “I probably have 50 or 60 bras, and they’re all displayed,” she says. Just like a boutique, most of the items in her collection come in complete sets. “I never leave the house without matching,” she says. “You always want to be prepared. If you get into an accident and they have to … open your top to use a defibril-

lator on you, you want the EMTs to see the matching set.” And if paramedics needed to make a house call, they would be lucky to find her in her favorite negligee, from Kiki De Montparnasse in Crystals at CityCenter. “It’s kind of like a silk babydoll slip, but it’s really super short with silk panties,” she says of the $325 set. “I love wearing that to bed because it’s so soft and comfortable.” Despite the prices at the high-end boutique, Bridges says, “Kiki De Montparnasse tends to be my favorite store right now.” With a plethora of lingerie shopping experience under her garter belt, the siren feels qualified to give men advice as they look to buy their ladies a lacy little something special for Valentine’s Day. “I would ask him, ‘What makes your girlfriend’s eyes really stand out?’ If he says, ‘Blue or purple,’ then I would tell him to go with a blue or lavender, silk or satin abovethe-knee negligee,” she says. For guys who have been married a while, the single divorcee suggests a pricier brapanty-stockings set as a start. From there, she suggests kicking it up a notch: “Then you can mosey on down to the Agent Provocateur store and buy a silk blindfold and a whip!” February 11-17, 2010  Vegas Seven 31

true romance.

These Vegas stories prove love happens when—and where—you least expect it By Emma Trotter

Strip clubs. Alcohol. Adultery. Quickie weddings. Equally fast divorces. For a city that has its very own Eiffel Tower and Grand Canal, Las Vegas is rarely thought of as a city of romance. It may be heavily marketed on sin and liaisons that “stay in Vegas,” but real-life love stories do unfold here—it’s just that they don’t get told very often. Stories such as the “Cheesecake romance” of Curtis and Amber Padilla. While the new bride has lived in Las Vegas for nearly four years, her husband was a tourist from Ohio when they had a chance encounter. “We met at the Cheesecake Factory,” says Amber, a 25-year-old aspiring recording artist. “We were both sitting outside. You know those little blinkers they give you when your table is ready? We were each waiting for that and just started talking.” Their attraction was immediate, and it unleashed a runaway train of romance. They professed their love for each other on their third date. Then, confident he had found the one, Curtis dropped everything after less than two weeks, packed up his life and moved to Las Vegas. “I was going to school back there,” he says, “and decided to come to UNLV instead. It was all because of her.” Curtis, a 20-year-old soldier in the Army National Guard, popped the question last fall and the couple tied the knot at the Little White Wedding Chapel on Jan. 26. “We are actually planning to do a real wedding once we have some money,” he says. “But for right now we just want to be married.” The woman who married them, Little White Wedding Chapel CEO Charolette Richards, comes across cases like the Padillas almost daily. One of her all-time favorites goes a few decades back. It involves a couple who met on a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and got married two hours later at her chapel. Both happened to be staying at Caesars Palace, she recalls. After arriving at the hotel, they had a lunch together and agreed that they should waste no time tying the knot. Next thing they knew they were in limo heading toward the chapel, where they picked up a marriage license and got married. Did the romance last? For at least 13 years it did, as the couple returned to the Chapel twice to renew their vows. But

32  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

Richards hasn’t seen them in about 20 years, and she often wonders if they made it. Stories like this over Richards’ 50 years in the business have turned her into an ambassador of Las Vegas romance. “Look at all the beautiful lights—you can’t help but fall in love coming down Las Vegas Boulevard,” she says outside her chapel near the Stratosphere. “The ambience of Las Vegas, the little wedding chapels along the streets … It radiates with love.” Even wedding planners get in on the action. About a dozen years ago, after Tory L. Cooper finished orchestrating a wedding at the Desert Inn, she and her boyfriend—who worked for her—went to an Elton John concert. “It was Valentine’s Day night,” she recalls. “And he got down on one knee. We went to the Little Chapel of the West and were married at 11:59.” Cooper, who had kept the fact that they were dating a secret around the office, smiles wider as she tells what happened next: “It made the newspaper, and that wasn’t so good because we worked together.” Stories like that don’t always revolve around on our chapel-lined boulevard, of course. For example, Downtown Cocktail Room owner Michael Cornthwaite met Henri & Odette Gallery proprietor Jennifer Harrington at the turn of the last decade, when both worked at Whiskey Sky, the former lounge at Green Valley Ranch. Unlike the Padillas, their romance was of the slow-burn variety. In fact, though they were good friends, they hadn’t even started dating when Cornthwaite left his job in 2002. They were reunited March 2008 by the city’s downtown arts and culture scene and quickly picked up their friendship again. But this time it was different because of a shared passion—not for each other right away, but the urban scene where they lived and worked. “We love downtown, Chinatown and Commercial Center,” says Cornthwaite, who will marry Harrington in March. “It’s all are very romantic with the right mindset and partner.” And for him, Harrington became the perfect partner because it had evolved from friendship. “To me, being best friends is romantic,” he says. “And it never hurts to be thoughtful once in a while, too.”

LAS VEGAS WEDDING FACTS Nevada ranked fifth nationally in marriages in 2008, even though its total population was 35th. (California ranked first in marriages.) In 2009, 92,795 marriage licenses were issued by the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, a drastic decrease from a peak of 128,250 licenses in 2004. The most popular days to get married in Las Vegas are Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. 7/07/07, a Saturday, proved one of the most popular days to get married ever, with 4,450 marriages performed in Las Vegas. On 08/08/08, 2,196 marriages were performed. In 2008, Nevada had the highest divorce rate of any state in the nation, with 14.2 percent of the married population getting divorced that year.

WHat Happens WHen WHat Happens Here

Doesn’t stay Here anymore?

When the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority employed R&R Advertising’s series of hinting, Hitchcockian 30-second vignettes to sell Las Vegas to the world in 2003, the appeal was obvious. Many, after all, recall using similar phrases (“What happens at camp …,” “What happens in Mexico ...”) to invoke a bacchanalian sense of mystery when telling a tale of an excursion, and what better place to go Roman than in Las Vegas? Little did anybody know that the city’s celebrated curtain of discretion would be thrown wide open by decade’s end. Rooted in the 1950s and 1960s, when Las Vegas truly was a far-flung escape isolated by foreboding desert and a refreshing lack of Twitter and texting, the town’s accommodating hushhush approach to celebrities was well-known. In fact, it was this practiced and shrewd judiciousness that encouraged A-listers not only to visit, but to let loose in ways that the Hollywood paparazzi—and the vulturesque scandal sheets that paid their bills—would never permit. Sure, tales of Rat Pack debauchery found their way down the old Los Angeles Highway, but, back in the day, those tales were much like the plots of R&R’s television ads: vague suggestions of possible bad behavior, rarely confirmed and never photographed. For every staged Las Vegas News Bureau glossy of a celebrity hosting a golf tournament or playing blackjack in a pool surrounded by showgirls, hundreds of moments of undocumented naughtiness only added to the city’s appeal to celebrities. Las Vegas might have had entertainment columnists back then, but like much of the city, they were intent on sending the message that Las Vegas was where celebrities went to escape, not to be chased around by bottom-feeding freelancers angling for real pay dirt. Saying that Frank Sinatra was seen cocktailing at the Starlight Lounge with Angie Dickinson was press-release perfection; revealing that he later left with the cocktail waitress was unconscionable. Las Vegas did its job and averted its eyes, and employees of Vegas resorts were masters at upholding this standard well into the 1990s. It is ironic, then, that almost as soon as the “What happens here, stays here” campaign was launched, it ceased to be true. Actually, cracks in the silence system began to form in 1999, when Norm Clarke moved to town and put up his “Vegas Confidential” shingle on page 3 of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Within weeks, Kate Maddox was hired to gossip for the Las Vegas Sun, and our Decade of the Celebrity was under way. The old era officially died with the Sun’s Joe Delaney a few years later, right around the time “What happens here” had launched. His 35-year run as an entertainment columnist featured plugs for entertainers who needed it, and the occasional wrist-slap for those who had it coming. During the last few years of his life, there was a stark contrast between his gentle, pro-celeb style and the more salacious (some would say “honest”) reporting. Being a name in boldface here was no longer a good thing.

34  Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

By James P. Reza Illustration by Jerry Miller Meanwhile, a perfect storm was brewing. Las Vegas, always one to chase a dime, had begun overtly catering to so-called celebrity culture with red velvet ropes, bottle service, “scene eateries” and other ostentatious trappings that, while making perfect sense in Hollywood, seemed somewhat out of place in egalitarian Las Vegas. In a blink, we went from Helldorado to CineVegas, and whereas celebrities once arrived ready to relax and disappear, they now viewed our little cowtown as a suburb of Tinseltown. Instead of sunning on a public chaise in Ray-Bans like Sinatra, Paris would be “secured” in a pool cabana, while young hangers-on would unleash thousands of covert dollars to land an air-conditioned, flat-screened tent as close to hers as possible. Rather than pretend she wasn’t there, star-chasers would do everything they could to prove she was, and the rapid advance in instant worldwide technology made it possible. The tables had turned, and so had the psychology. Vegas no longer wanted the celebrities to feel like one of us, we wanted to be the celebrity. Paris feeds Perez, and vice versa. The unfortunate nadir of this shift is the Tiger Woods “scandal.” Whereas Woods is certainly not the first person to stray from a relationship, he might be the first one to have his Las Vegas indiscretions so publicly aired. The revelation of the name and photographs (and subsequent Internet flogging) of a Las Vegas nightclub VIP manager is only part of the issue; to her credit, she refuses to make any statement about her link to Woods. It is the willingness of those other Las Vegas sources, named and unnamed, to effortlessly reveal private details not only about other people, but also the nature of how Las Vegas caters to its VIPs, that signifies the sea change. To these young climbers, it’s just part and parcel of our new tech-driven global celeb culture, but to those of us who’ve lived here awhile, such loud-mouthing is embarrassing, particularly at a time in history when Las Vegas is (again) taking a beating for its image. So, what happens now that the curtain is pulled back, potentially leaving no tit-flash, lap dance or waitress-boinking undocumented? When MMS text photos featuring celebrities merely leaning in the direction of boobs at Vegas nightclubs can be instantly uploaded to one’s blog or Twitter, or sold to TMZ, everyone—from Wisconsin bachelorettes to hometown hotties delivering drinks—has the technology to snag their 15 minutes of fame, regardless of the cost to the people involved. The result? Not only does Las Vegas’ legendary discretion die, but it takes an important part of Vegas mythology with it. As the R&R campaign so succinctly communicated, it isn’t what the Rat Pack did in Las Vegas that is so intriguing, it’s what we think they did, and frankly, it’s better that we don’t know the whole story—about anyone.

To those of us who’ve lived here awhile, such loudmouthing is embarrassing, particularly at a time in history when Las Vegas is (again) taking a beating for its image.

February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 35

Rock Tradition.


THe LocaL Newsroom Convention attendance hit hard by falling economy Dip not due to president’s comments By Nicole Lucht

Teacher Corey Gaither with Mojave High students who are enrolled in AVID, a college prep program. Photos by Sullivan Charles

In a class of Their own

mojave High school pilot program designed to steer more black males toward college

Convention photo courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau

By Jessica Prois

Damond Wright stands up, takes his hands out of his pockets, and looks his classmates squarely in the eyes as he answers a question in Corey Gaither’s ninth-grade class. Those who are speaking out of turn receive a terse “Shhh” from the rest of the students. For many high school students, sharing an opinion in class might seem terrifying, but Wright’s classmates ardently clap and cheer him on. In this Mojave High School college-prep class, made up of all black males, the students say they have more courage to speak out, buoyed by peers with whom they share common experiences. Wright didn’t always feel this type of support in school. “Back when I was in middle school, I didn’t used to do good,” he says. “And people used to say black people wouldn’t amount to anything. But coming into this program, Mr. Gaither’s teaching us nobody should tell us what we can’t do.” Back in September, the North Las Vegas high school piloted a class with 23 black male freshmen and a black male teacher, supported by Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, a nationwide college-preparatory program for students who have the aptitude to succeed but need extra support. The class is part of AVID’s AfricanAmerican Male Initiative, an effort to increase the number of students in this demographic who take honors and AP courses and graduate from college, arenas where black males are largely underrepresented. Principal Charity Varnado says the students benefit from a teacher with whom they can identify, as well as a curriculum that introduces culturally relevant books and discussions that make these students more engaged in learning. The program, funded by the Citi Foundation, chose to target this demographic based on need and statistics. Last year, Mojave’s graduation rate for black males was about 44 percent, compared with almost 55 percent statewide. And according to grades released in November, 70 percent of all African-American males in the school had at least one D or F. Gaither says his approach from the very beginning was to be direct with his students. “I told them the national statistics: 50 percent of the prison population is AfricanAmerican,” he says. “When it comes to being expelled, suspended and dean’s list referrals, it’s black males. I have a problem with that.” The school sent a letter to the parents of incoming freshmen before the school year started, asking students to apply to the elective class. Mojave is one of six schools nationwide testing the program and one of only two schools that has implemented the practices into the classroom.

Mojave is one of six schools nationwide testing the AVID program.

Continued on page 39

Convention attendance numbers are down, but the results stem more from the recession than they do from anything President Obama has said. Obama first spoke out against visiting Las Vegas last February when he said companies receiving federal bailout funds should not be traveling to the city (or the Super Bowl) at taxpayers’ expense. A backlash ensued, and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said in a letter to the president that his remark could be “harmful” to the city so dependent on tourism. Convention attendance dropped nearly 24 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's December report detailing endof-year results released Feb. 9. That's 1.4 million fewer attendees, from 5.9 million to 4.5 million, year-over-year. The number of conventions and meetings held decreased 13.6 percent, from 22,500 in 2008 to 19,400 in 2009. But there was an increase of 11.6 percent when comparing convention attendance month-over-month, from December 2008 to December 2009. The number of conventions and meetings went up 10.1 percent during this time, from 1,100 meetings and conventions to 1,200. LVCVA spokesman Jeremy Handel said the drop in convention traffic was primarily attributed to the cancellation of smaller conferences and meetings early last year, and wasn’t a result of Obama’s comment. The cancellation of small meetings started in the last quarter of 2008, stemming largely from cut budgets. The meetings canceled were generally corporate board meetings or incentive trips, where high-performing employees come for play, networking and team building. On the other hand, larger conventions—such as the National Association of Broadcasters, which drew nearly 84,000 people last year—follow a different model than the smaller corporate meetings, Handel said. Those conventions book for several years at a time, and for them to abruptly cancel would mean they’d have to stop existing as a convention, he said. “It’s quite an effort to move,” said Handel, who added that no major conventions left Las Vegas in the last year. President Obama disparaged Las Vegas again on Feb. 2, this time while discussing the federal deficit, saying, Continued on page 39

The Association of Amusement Parks and Entertainment held its convention in Las Vegas for the first time last year.

February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 37

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2/10/10 12:14 PM

The Local Newsroom

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Why the R-J gives Harry hell By Michael Green

When people yelled, “Give ’em hell, Harry,” Harry Truman replied, “I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” Today’s version, 60-plus years later, is rooted here in Las Vegas, with the Review-Journal giving another Harry hell, him returning the favor, and the rest of us left to wonder whether the feud is entertaining, historic or lamentable. Actually, it’s all three. In 2004, after years of attacking Sen. Harry Reid as a liberal, R-J publisher Sherman Frederick wrote that Reid’s persistence and knowledge of the Senate in making Sloan Canyon a national conservation area “caused me to rethink the meaning of power and seniority in Congress. Reid is probably the most powerful elected Nevadan … ever.” Frederick retained doubts about Reid, given that he hadn’t stopped Yucca Mountain, but later that year, the R-J endorsed Reid over opponent Richard Ziser, who made a smaller impression than a laundry mark. Although Reid, in the years since, appears to have stopped Yucca Mountain, Frederick seems to have forgotten his brief enthusiasm for the senator—judging from the steady escalation of blogs against Reid and columns even beyond his usual Sunday appearances. Reid hasn’t made nice, either. At a Chamber of Commerce luncheon last year, he told the R-J’s ad manager he hoped the paper went out of business. Frederick howled that Reid was trying to shut down the newspaper. That dust-up was silly—on both sides. Reid shouldn’t have said it (even if he was joking), and Frederick should have studied Nevada history more attentively. In Truman’s time, Sen. Pat McCarran found one local editor so offensive he helped organize a conspiracy to deprive him of advertising from every major Las Vegas casino—and kept critical editors from getting printing contracts that helped them stay in business. By McCarran’s standard, Reid wouldn’t have even been on the radar. The Reid/R-J relationship has worsened recently, as you may have noticed. Frederick believes Reid has become a Beltway liberal who’s forgotten the home folks. He’s entitled to his opinion. But life and journalism are never that simple: • Historically, Nevada newspapers have been partisan, whether on the opinion

page or the front page. The R-J's very first issue, as the Clark County Review in 1909, promised it would be Democratic, “provided the Democrats behave themselves and ‘come across’ occasionally.” During McCarran’s tenure, the R-J was virtually his house organ. In the 1960s, Publisher Don Reynolds ordered coverage skewed for Democrats, reportedly in hopes of an appointment as ambassador. Now it’s skewed toward the GOP. Maybe it’s their turn. • Frederick became a Republican last June. And he isn’t the only publisher to switch parties. The Sun’s Brian Greenspun had already become a Democrat. Not that that inspired Frederick to go the other way, though those two probably couldn’t agree that water is wet. Their disagreements go all the way back to when the Sun rose under Brian’s father, Hank—the editor McCarran tried to shutter. • A Joint Operating Agreement between the two papers in 1989 eventually led to the Sun appearing inside the R-J and pursuing a different approach. While the R-J has been more a paper of record, the Sun aims for an in-depth approach. (In both cases, it can produce fine journalism.) The Sun now reaches all R-J subscribers. Since that change, the R-J has been more transparent politically. The editorial pages are opinionated, as they should be, but their influence on coverage and placement brings more attention to Reid’s problems than, oh, Republican Sen. John Ensign’s wandering … eyes. Some reporters never quote a Democrat or liberal—except when a conservative or Republican immediately provides a contradiction. That isn’t quite printing the news and raising hell, but it’s traditional here. And Frederick should remember that Truman once threatened to kick a newspaperman in the jewels. The First Amendment gives the R-J the right to kick Harry Reid. It also gives him the right to kick back—and if fair coverage is the issue, the R-J has it coming. 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.

Vegas Seven February 4-10, 2010

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2/10/10 12:14 PM

The Local Newsroom

Convention photo courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau

Class Continued from page 37

The ultimate measure of the program’s success is whether the students graduate from college. Gaither will teach the students all four years of high school, and he says the freshmen are already thinking realistically about the future. “They realize they might not be a football star,” he says. “So they’re thinking of secondary plans—teachers, lawyers, businessmen.” For now, the school can only measure what it sees from the students on a dayto-day basis, says Jennifer Mohammad, assistant principal and coordinator of the program. Counselors are in the process of comparing middle school grades and behavior issues with first-semester statistics for the students in the program. But anecdotally, the students are reporting good news. Devin Flowers, 15, said he had to transfer schools last year because he got into a fight with a teacher. “Now in this program, I’ve learned how to get along with teachers. And I keep my grades up,” he says. The program has fairly steep requirements. The students take honors and AP courses and must improve their GPA each year, graduating with at least a 3.5. Gaither helps the kids with coursework from other classes, and also teaches them skills that extend to all subject areas, such as research methods, SAT vocabulary words and note taking. He also says his curriculum is authentic, noting that he’ll bring in relevant newspaper articles to get the students talking. They recently read a story on rap artist Eminem’s new professional clothing style, sparking a conversation about what it means to become a working adult. “We talked about sagging— that’s an issue,” Gaither says. “It was

like Opinion City. Why we sag; why we shouldn’t; why we do; why we don’t.” The class also allows students to discuss issues of race in a way they might not be able to in another class, Gaither says. “There is still racism in the hallways… But oh, they’ll say, ‘She doesn’t like me because I’m black,’ and we’ll get down to the fact that no, it was probably something that they did. Not everybody is racist, and I need to teach them that.” Gaither says he realizes how important his job as a role model is since black male teachers are so rare. And that might be the very problem the initiative will run in to, according to Patrick Gibbons, education policy analyst at Nevada Policy Research Institute. “We know that the African-American need is not being served by public education at this point. ... Is this program the answer? I don’t know,” Gibbons says. “But given the fact that 90 percent of the teachers in Nevada are white, if the program proves successful, it couldn’t expand very far.” One solution would be to implement a program in Nevada such as the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, a nonprofit group that makes teacher certification convenient and affordable, Gibbons says. Twenty-three percent of the board’s teacher candidates are minorities, according to its website. The ultimate goal of the African-American Male Initiative, according to Gaither, is to create a domino effect in terms of black males going to college. “They might come from poverty. They deal with gangs from this community. … Don’t forget where you came from,” he says. “Come back and do what we did for you. It’s going to grow exponentially. We have got to give back.”

“You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” With most major conventions planned three to five years in advance, some of the negative effects of the president’s comments might not be felt for years to come. Things seem to be looking up, however. The first quarter of the year is promising, LVCVA announced last month. Overall, there are 11 major conventions that are expected to draw 400,000 visitors to the city. And February is one of the busiest months of the year, with conventions such as World of Concrete and the World Market Center Winter Las Vegas Market recently taking place. Also, a lot of shows aren’t in Las Vegas every year; they rotate cities, making it difficult to gauge the decline, Handel said. At the same time, new shows, such as the Association of Amusement Parks and Entertainment, came to Las Vegas for the first time last year. That convention had 30,000 attendees.

In September, the International Baking Industry Expo will be in Las Vegas for the first time in six years. That convention is expected to draw 35,000 attendees. IMEX America is launching its North American show in October 2011 in Las Vegas. IMEX is an annual convention in Frankfurt, Germany, for the incentive travel, meeting and events industry. The industry employs 45,000 workers in Las Vegas. Employment in Las Vegas’ leisure and hospitality sector dropped 7.9 percent from December 2008 to December 2009, according to the most recent figures from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. That means 20,700 jobs were lost, from 263,300 to 242,600. One large convention Las Vegas recently bagged is the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society for its annual show in 2012, beating out Chicago as host.

Keeping Her Voice

Her search for a change resulted in a considered becoming a writer. But, six-month fellowship at Brown University. she thought, “If you were a writer or a From there, in 2008, she became a famous woman, they wouldn’t kill me.” resident writer in the Black Mountain Eventually she was let go, and she did Institute’s City of Asylum step up her literary efforts, program, which provides safe becoming one of Iran’s most haven for writers whose work respected post-revolutionary has been censored or whose writers. She’s had eight lives are threatened. books published in Iran, and Ravanipour lives in translations of some of her Henderson with her husband work have appeared in and their son, and plans to the West. stay when her residency at But a few years ago, BMI ends later this year. Ravanipour needed a change. Her time in the United Her country had become States has been extremely stifling creatively. The Moniro Ravanipour productive. She recently Iranian government hacked finished a manuscript of a novel, An her website and her e-mail. One of her Angel on Earth, about an Iranian man story collections, Satan’s Stones, had been who commits suicide because of the banned in the country. “unbearable pressures of life under the “I felt I was in a prison,” she says. clergy” and must face judgment in the “I couldn’t do anything.”

hereafter to decide his fate. She has two more novels under way, including one about her time spent in the United States. While she finds Las Vegas a wonderful city that “reminds me of my childhood,” her thoughts and work remain focused on providing a voice during a turbulent period in Iran. The so-called Green Revolution—the large protests following the disputed re-election last year of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over MirHossein Mousavi—has been accompanied by an increase in government violence and torture against Iranian citizens. Ravanipour still has students back in Iran, and she has writer friends there in hiding. She’s constantly on her computer trying to keep in touch. Two of her friends were arrested last week. “Everybody has to yell. Everybody has to shout.” Ravanipour, for her part, is doing her best to make sure her voice is heard.

on Iranian revolution anniversary, writer appreciates ability to work without restraint in Las Vegas By T.R. Witcher In 1982, Moniro Ravanipour was arrested on the street randomly in her native Iran and spent a month in prison. This was after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution on Feb. 11, 1979, and the hard-line Islamic rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini took power. Ravanipour was questioned daily; She could hear the sounds of torture down the corridor. To that point she had written in a journal but had not

The LVCVA expects 400,000 convention visitors during the first quarter of this year. Conventions Continued from page 37

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The Local Newsroom

Celebrities’ homes also taking hit on real estate market Properties of high-profile sellers generate interest and often move quickly, but after price has been lowered By Nicole Lucht Las Vegas’ real estate market is in the tank, and celebrity homes are no exception—for the most part. The foreclosed Spanish Trail residence of Michael Jackson generated a lot of interest and quickly sold in January to a couple of Southern California-based fans, who paid $3.1 million for a place that the King of Pop had only rented for a short time. And actor Nicolas Cage’s home, also in Spanish Trail, was plucked out of foreclosure the day it hit the market last month for nearly $5 million. While it sounds like the banks got a little luck from celebrity association, it’s important to note that Cage bought the 14,300-square-foot place for $8.5 million in 2006 and had lowered the price once before defaulting on his loan. And one day on the market is not normal, even for star-owned homes, says Zar Zanganeh, a partner of Vegas Fine Estates.


Zanganeh helped his first celebrity client, a drummer in a famous rock band, buy a house in 2004. Since then he’s represented other celebrities, including Jackson, professional athletes, CEOs and royalty. Overall, he says, having a celebrity living in the neighborhood boosts property values. While the typical luxury home that lists for $3 million-plus is getting 79 percent of the asking price, celebrities’ homes are coming in about 10 percent closer to the sale price sought. Celebrity homeownership also gives neighbors bragging rights and the neighborhood credibility. Besides Spanish Trail, Zanganeh says celebrities prefer the exclusive confines of the Ridges, in the southwestern point of Summerlin; Southern Hills, south of the Las Vegas Strip; and Anthem Country Club and MacDonald Highlands, both in Henderson.

While marketing a celebrity property could be as easy as the star allowing their name to be used on the listing, Zanganeh said show- Michael Jackson’s former Las Vegas home sold for $3.1 million. ings can be tricky. Not only Green Valley home is filed at the Clark does he have to screen whom he shows County Assessor’s office as Puffy Trust. the home to, but he has to work around Her late brother filed his under Jasper the celebrity’s often unusual schedule, Properties. Inevitably, though, word gets showing the home only at nights or other out that a star has moved in. times no one is home. As part of his screening, Zanganeh Although many celebrities buy homes requires prospective homebuyers to show in Las Vegas to escape the spotlight, it proof of funds. Some fans have actually always seems to find them eventually. presented him with fake bank statements. After Jackson’s death, for example, the He now follows up with banks to verify. number of hits to Zanganeh’s company “We have to be very careful about who website ( increased we give access to homes,” he says, adding 1,000 percent as people checked out the that his real estate firm prescreens their “Wonderland” property, which Jackson house hunters. “When we list a celebwas in the process of buying in Las Vegas. rity’s home, no matter how discreet we Celebrities have devised clever ways are, people always find out.” to keep looky-loos at bay. Janet Jackson’s

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Where to Put a Gambling Museum? Collectors Club thinks Vegas is a good idea, but a good host is proving hard to find By Becky Bosshart

Vintage casino chips are just some of the items targeted for a gambling museum.

You’d think the most natural place to put a gambling museum would be in a casino. So far, that’s a gamble no one has taken. Mike Skelton wants to change that. The chairman of the proposed Museum of Gaming History wants the museum’s worldwide casino memorabilia collection shown in Las Vegas—his dream location. “This is still the gaming capital of the world,” says Skelton, a Dallas businessman whose personal casino memorabilia collection includes more than 15,000 items. “This is where it belongs.” The Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club Inc., an international group of collectors such as Skelton, has raised $108,000 for the project. The nonprofit club has 2,200 members and attracts thousands to its annual Las Vegas convention. The 21-year-old club is talking with several casinos, hoping one will donate 5,000 square feet to house its artifacts and rotating collector exhibits. This would be a temporary space until the club raises enough

money to build near the Strip or downtown. Organizers say the casino will receive a tax benefit from the donation. “It’s a heck of a deal for some casino that wants an attraction no one else has,” museum board member Jim Kruse says. The Museum of Gaming History ( has countless artifacts, organizers say, including some with mob ties. Items include chips fused together from the 1960 El Rancho fire, antique slot machines, a pair of Bugsy Siegel's cuff links, the personal papers of gambling icons such as Claudine Williams and a rare $25 Sahara chip that recently sold for $100,000. Skelton says a small admission fee is planned for the museum. With some resorts closing hotel towers after watching occupancy rates dive, finding a casino partner to donate space may prove difficult. Finding funding may be even tougher. “People dream their dreams and scheme their schemes,” says Guy Rocha, Nevada’s

state archivist from 1981 to 2009. “It’s one thing to want a museum. It’s another thing to build one. Then it’s another thing to sustain one.” The Clark County Museum, Nevada State Museum and Nevada Historical Society have extensive archives of gambling memorabilia—but it’s often only seen in rotating exhibits. The American Gaming Archives (started by private donors at the Nevada Historical Society) is not yet on display. UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, which has the world’s largest collection of English gaming-related materials, has no memorabilia. Skelton anticipates a deal with a casino this year, with an opening soon after. If the partnership works out, the museum could stay there indefinitely. To him, the idea of a museum about casino history is as sexy as a showgirl. “It’s about more than the naked women or the mob,” Skelton says, “it’s about the history.”

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The Local Newsroom


Why the special session won’t get the right results By Michael Green

Nevada’s 63 legislators met in Carson City last year and tried to fix the budget for the next two years on the basis of revenue projections. As usual, they failed, and a special session now looms. From all indications, they won’t cut the budget; they’ll gut it. Granted, the great boom is over, but don’t put all the blame on the economy. Even in the more prosperous 1990s, Gov. Bob Miller often trimmed the budget during years when the Legislature didn’t meet. Now, the state has close to a $900 million budget shortfall. A budget analyst for Gov. Jim Gibbons suggested 25 percent to 30 percent salary cuts for all state employees would help. That seems highly unlikely, as Gibbons is only slightly more popular throughout Nevada than Barack Obama would be at a Tea Party meeting. Democrats have the required two-thirds majority in the Assembly to increase taxes and override his veto. They are short in the Senate, but some Republicans there actually have shown that, unlike their U.S. Senate counterparts, they are capable of constructive action. And yet, veteran lobbyists and analysts predict politicians will likely roll over and give Gibbons what he wants. Why? There are a few possible explanations for preferring the easy way to the right way: 1. Not my problem. During the 2009 session, at least one legislator said privately that some lawmakers wanted to avoid contentious issues such as the budget, but not because they feared being defeated. Thanks to term limits, many of them simply won’t be back, so they could leave problems for future legislators to resolve. That isn’t how term limits were supposed to work. When uber-consultant Sig Rogich pushed the initiative in the mid-1990s, it was meant to remove professional politicians (some now are running for other offices), create competitive races (most districts are set up for one party or the other) and produce better policymaking (which is mutually exclusive from abdicating responsibility). While some politicians are principled or legitimately concerned, others are free to wield their cleavers without facing electoral consequences. 2. If Massachusetts can elect a Republican to the Senate, what might Nevadans do? Better for all, especially Democrats, to be cautious.


Nevada is the land of libertarians, but the bulk of them are outside Clark County (except those in the Las Vegas Review-Journal building). Democrats may conclude leveling the state will win them the R-J’s adoration or woo antigovernment voters. But that’s not the case. Besides, if anti-incumbent fervor is that strong, Democrats and Republicans alike could be vulnerable. 3. Whatever the Legislature does, Gibbons will get credit or blame. In 2007, too many Democrats considered Gibbons a lame duck, so why worry? Answer: He’s still governor, and he sets the agenda for the special session. In 2009, he proposed a 36 percent cut to higher education. While no one in the Legislature seemed to take that seriously, the original cuts were considerably higher than the eventual reduction of 12.5 percent, and it took all of Sen. Steven Horsford’s resilience to stanch the bleeding. Several of his colleagues wanted bigger cuts, and some of them used Gibbons as their starting point. It could have been worse. But why wasn’t it better? Because Gibbons set the bar, and too many legislators worked from there. 4. Government employee salary cuts and layoffs are what Nevadans want. Nevada voters approved term limits and demand government services but don’t want to pay for them. They and other government critics often decry waste but rarely come up with specific examples of it. In this climate, voters may not know what they want tomorrow, but legislators should do what needs to be done now. Democrats would do well to heed the advice of Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, who argued that legislation was a matter of “reason and judgment, and not of inclination” and that elected representatives owed their constituents their best judgment, not their blind obedience. Said Burke: “I do not know how to wish success to those whose Victory is to separate us from a large and noble part of our Empire. Still less do I wish success to injustice, oppression and absurdity.” There’s no oppression here, but if you want injustice and absurdity, welcome to Nevada. 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.

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63215_SalmonPages.indd 43

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2/10/10 12:14 PM

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Entertaining options for a week of nonstop fun and excitement.

Compiled by Melissa Arseniuk

Thur. 11 The annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was just released, causing countless bikini- and beerloving men to proclaim, “I’ll drink to that!” And drink they will. SI Swimsuit Launch Week has taken Vegas by storm, and the action will kick into high gear on Thursday when the model-infused party makes its way to Vanity at the Hard Rock. Easy on the eyes and the ears, Maroon 5 will perform for the invite-only crowd and things will continue at 1 a.m. with a not-quiteas-exclusive bash at Tao. This event comes in addition to the club’s weekly Worship Thursdays party, which welcomes gorgeous, goddess-like girls and is open to the public. Vanity at the Hard Rock Hotel: Private event. Tao at the Venetian: Doors at 10 p.m., $10 for ladies, $20 for men, all locals free.

Fri. 12 

Julie Henderson photo by Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

There are three very different options for your Friday night: Tiger Woods’ alleged mistress, the ever-enterprising Jamie Jungers, at Pure; 90210’s AnnaLynne McCord at Eve; and the Beastie Boys’ master mixer, Mix Master Mike, at Rain. While revisiting Ms. Tiger jam could be fun (or funny, depending on how you look at it), and the 90210 set is always down for a good party, it’s hard to beat kickin’ it with the three MC’s DJ. Pure at Caesars Palace: Doors at 10 p.m., $30 for guys, $20 for girls. Eve in Crystals at CityCenter: Doors at 10:30 p.m., $20 for ladies, $30 for guys. Rain at the Palms: Doors at 11 p.m., local ladies free, $30 for guys and out-of-towners.

Sat. 13  Two of the most loved and loathed celebrity couples will host parties tonight, meaning all you have to do is pick which one you like the most (or despise the least) and plan accordingly. Speidi (a.k.a. reality TV personalities Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, pictured) will be at Pure, while Hugh Hefner’s ex, Kendra Wilkinson, will join her hubby, Hank Baskett of the Super Bowl bridesmaid Indianapolis Colts, at Eve. Pure at Caesars Palace: Doors at 10 p.m., $30 for girls, $50 for guys. Eve in Crystals at CityCenter: Doors at 10:30 p.m., $20 for ladies, $30 for guys.

SeveN NIghtS Sun. 14 Take “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” to the next level on the most romantic/desperate night of the year and check out prospective valentines at the Bank or Vanity—or both, depending on your luck and/or ambition. And if Cupid’s arrow doesn’t strike, do not despair: You can still make the most of the night by taking bets on how many times the DJ will play Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” before last call. The Bank at the Bellagio: Doors at 10:30 p.m., locals free. Vanity at the Hard Rock Hotel: Doors at 10 p.m., locals free, $30/$40 for girls/guys without local I.D.

Mon. 15 Kick back alongside the people who made the weekend what it was at the city’s best Monday night industry party. Jet toasts the city’s best bar staff with two parties in one: DJ Karma in the main room and DJ Eddie McDonald in the smaller, secondary space. This week’s party also features a “Top Promoter” contest for all nonLight Group promos: He or she who brings the biggest crowd will go home with $5,000 in cash. Sure, the prize money will buy only a few bottles in the VIP, but it will also provide a full year’s worth of bragging rights. Jet at The Mirage: Doors at 10:30 p.m., industry and locals free, $30 for all others.

Tues. 16 He’s gone from DJ to Fresh Prince to DJ again, yet DJ Jazzy Jeff never lost his street—or in this case, club—cred. The resilient and respected performer returns to town on Tuesday to play locals night at Moon. Moon at the Palms: Doors at 11 p.m., locals free, $20 for out-of-towners.

Wed. 17 Head to the Hard Rock and mark midweek at Wasted Wednesday. Have a cold one (or several) at Wasted Space while Justin Hoffman and DJ Presto One set the soundtrack. Wasted Space at the Hard Rock Hotel: Doors at 9 p.m., all locals and industry free with supporting I.D.; otherwise, cover is $20.

February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 45



Upcoming Feb. 13 | Queen oF Hearts ball Hosted by Kim KardasHian

Holly Madison photo by Denise Truscello; all additional photography by Hew Burney

Feb. 16 | true religion FasHion WeeK Party WitH dJ samantHa ronson


Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010


XS | Wynn

Upcoming Feb. 15 | Industry nIght

48  Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

photography by Danny Mahoney/XS nightclub


Pure | caesars Palace

photography by Jessica Blair

Upcoming Feb. 12 | Jamie Jungers Feb. 13 | Heidi montag and spencer pratt Feb. 13 | DJ Marshall Barnes Feb. 16 | 2 Live crew


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010


Wasted space | Hard rock

Upcoming Feb. 11 | trouble Andrew Feb. 12 | dJ b rok Feb. 13 | dJs Presto one And 51 FiFty Feb. 17 | Wasted Wednesdays


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

photography by Tony Tran


And the Winner is … XS, the best mega-club in America

By Heather Turk

with files from Melissa Arseniuk Quantity doesn't always mean quality, but more is more in Las Vegas nightlife—especially when that "more" is at the top of the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Top 100 list. Las Vegas dominated annual index, with Tao, Pure, The Bank and sister clubs Tryst and XS eclipsing the top five, XS in front of them all. “It’s obviously a great honor,” XS managing partner Jesse Waits says. “The club is such a big success [but] I was a little bit scared, going into the recession.” He says the glittering nightspot at Encore sees an average of 7,000-8,000 people through its doors most Saturday nights. XS unseated last year’s winner, Tao, to claim the No. 1 spot in the Top 100, and was also named New Club of the Year and Mega-Club of the Year in the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards (formerly the Five Star Awards). Tao, meanwhile, was bumped to second place on the Top 100 but was given the Nightclub & Bar Award for Nightclub of the Year. The Top 100 listing is based on total revenue (2009), while the Nightclub & Bar Awards are based on nominations from within the industry and are ultimately judged by a panel of industry experts. All winners were announced on Feb. 3. Other Nightclub & Bar Award winners include the Hard Rock Hotel’s notorious pool party, Rehab, which won Ongoing Promotion of the Year; Rain’s Saturday

The shining crown jewel of Las Vegas nightlife, XS at Encore.

night headliner, Paul Oakenfold, who captured the Resident DJ category; the Palms, which won Single Promotion of the Year for Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Blush, which was recognized as Ultra-Lounge of the Year. More than 235 entries were received for the 14 various Nightclub & Bar Awards, with 18 clubs vying for Mega-Club title and 21 clubs competing for New Club of the Year. Although Tao is undeniably one of the city’s hottest nightclubs, it wasn’t eligible for the Mega-Club award because that category is reserved for venues 15,000 square feet or larger. (Tao occupies more than 44,000 square feet across three floors at the Venetian yet the

club itself is only 10,000 square feet. The restaurant, lounge and pool deck make up the rest.) A 40,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor playground, XS beat out fellow finalists Pacha NYC (New York), Stingaree (San Diego) and Las Vegas’ own Rain for the honor of Mega-Club of the Year. Infusion Lounge (San Francisco), Playhouse Hollywood (Los Angeles) and Voyeur (West Hollywood) were also nominated for New Club of the Year. The Nightclub & Bar Top 100 and Nightclub & Bar Awards are announced every year in advance of the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, which will take over the Las Vegas Convention Center—and the city’s nightlife scene—on March 8-10.

Hometown: Pittsburgh.

Most people don’t know that:


Favorite part of the job: I love meeting

new people, making drinks and the fast pace. [I get to work in a] high-energy environment while listening to my favorite music.

Worst part of the job: Going to bed when

the sun comes up!

Shannon Miller, 25 Bartender, Lavo

Best tip? $500 [from] a customer because he liked my eyes.

One thing most people don’t know about Lavo is: That we are open six days

a week (every day except Monday) and consistently throw a great party every night we are open.

I lettered four years in high school basketball and track.

If she wasn’t a bartender, she’d be: Using my business degree towards a career in finance.

Favorite drink/shot to drink: Snake bite

with Yukon Jack.

Most annoying drink to make: Jamaican 10-speed! (A labor-intensive mix of Midori melon liqueur, vodka, coconut rum and half-and-half cream.)

Best pick-up line she’s heard:

While listening to Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” he said, “Hey, baby, I could use you!”

Did it work? No way! – Robert Opacki


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

Miller photo by Al Powers

First Vegas nightlife job: Lavo.


Cocktail Culture

The Clover Club As prepAred At Herbs & rye, $9 “An original pre-Prohibition era cocktail out of the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, the Clover Club is a fantastic blend of housemade grenadine, handpressed lemon juice, egg white and gin,” Herbs & Rye owner Nectaly Mendoza says. 1½ ounces Miller’s Westbourne gin ½ ounce fresh lemon juice 4 dashes grenadine 1 egg white lemon peel ice Combine ingredients in a martini shaker and shake well. Strain into a chilled, traditional champagne glass and garnish with a large twist of lemon. – Robert Opacki

Take a step back in time and up to the bar at Herbs & Rye.

Herbs & rye

Story from the Bar CArloS CroW, bArTender And bAr MAnAger, looSe CAbooSe, 4405 W. FlAMIngo roAd.


Vegas seven February 11-17, 2010

Tucked inside an unsuspecting building on West Sahara Avenue, this relatively new addition to the scene mixes up a range of cocktails in a handsome, galley-like setting. Meanwhile, the adjacent parlorlike dining room takes bar food to the next level with a full Italian menu. Herbs & Rye, 3713 W. Sahara Ave.

“This lady came in and said, ‘I have to get a shirt from here; this is such a great name for a gay bar.’ I laughed and told her that we’re actually a gaming establishment ... and she said, ‘But I was just over at the Palms and they said you were a gay bar!’ I told her they must have just been messing with her. Anyway, it turns out she owns a bunch of liquor stores in Beaver, Utah, and when she travels, she goes around and collects all kinds of T-shirts so she wanted to trade me one of our shirts for one of hers. Well, guess what the name of her business is: Beaver Liquor! All I could say was, ‘They let you get away with that name up there?!’” – As told to Jessica Prois

Clover Club photo by Barry Johnson

An unpretentious gem that pays homage to classic and contemporary cocktail culture



Upcoming Feb. 14 | Pajama jammy jam and Industry nIght Feb. 18 | rIchIe rIch Party hosted by LydIa hearst wIth sPecIaL PerFormance by eLectrIc VIoLInIst caItLIn moe and dj set by dj mIa morettI

60  Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

photography by Hew Burney

The NaTioNal Newsroom This week in the New York Observer

star Power Astrologist's sphere of influence grows among the fashion flock

By Meredith Bryan

Illustration by Drew Friedman

The astrologist Susan Miller was speeding up Madison Avenue in a cab recently from Frederic Fekkai, where she’d had her hair blown out, toward Barneys, despite the fact that the young man at the Fekkai counter had been unable to snag her a last-minute reservation at Fred’s for lunch. She was clutching a cane; Miller’s left leg, which has a congenital defect, recently broke for the fourth time (2009 was a bad year for Pisces). The Observer suggested they try Rouge Tomate on 60th, to avoid waiting. Miller pulled up the restaurant’s number on her iPhone and dialed it. “I always pretend to be my secretary,” she whispered, raising the phone to her ear and taking on an officious tone. “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of Susan Miller at Elle magazine. … Do you have time for a lunch reservation right now?” she said. And then, flustered: “There are two of us.” She hung up. “I can’t lie!” she wailed. Miller is known for telling her devoted readers exactly what the planets have in store for them, good and bad. Her lengthy monthly reports on and in Elle—she began writing for the magazine in September, demanding two full pages—are optimistic but have “no sugarcoating,” said the designer Charlotte Ronson, whose chart Miller read about a year ago. “She’ll be like, ‘Don’t even leave your house in September or October!’” Ronson said. After a year that most people, not just Pisceans, would like to forget, Miller, the current leading astrologer of the style set, is having a moment. For the first time since the late ’70s, when “what’s your sign” was a universal pickup line, astrology is almost seeming a legitimate preoccupation among otherwise sensible people. Really, when

Does Olympic formula still fly for NBC? Network sticking to myth-making coverage in attempt to draw viewers By Felix Gillette

illustration TK

things are so bad … why not? “If I’m going through something bad in my life or I’m upset, I read it and I’m like, ‘OK, it’s not me, it’s the stars!” said fashion publicist Mandie Erickson of Seventh House, who’s a fan of Miller’s writings, calling them “spiritual-astrological therapy.” Mary Kate Olson, Lindsay Lohan, socialites CeCe Cord and Lauren Santo Domingo, models Molly Sims and Dree Hemingway, fashion photographer Carter Smith and designer Jeremy Scott are also fans. A friend of Cameron Diaz’s purchased a reading for the actress for her birthday last fall, and so Miller jetted up to Boston, where Diaz was filming Knight and Day with Tom Cruise. “I’m not much of a horoscope person, but she won me over,” e-mailed Cindi Leive, currently the editor of Glamour, who ran Miller’s column at Self for nine years (it also enjoyed a run in InStyle).

“I remember her as high-energy, very positive and startlingly sane.” It helps that Miller’s astrology has an earnest, practical whiff of self-improvement. She’s a Catholic, she’ll tell you, and not a psychic. It’s not her business to predict whether you’ll get that new job; instead, “I can tell you when you’re going to be viewed most favorably,” she explained. “It’s up to you to make the argument.” You’ll be heartened to hear that according to the astrologer, most signs are destined for at least a fortuitous February, and, save for an eclipse at the end of June, this year in general is going to be an improvement over last. Miller explained all these things at all-day seminars costing $125 on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 (the second date added after the first sold out), in New York, part of her own personal plan to extend her business in tough economic times.

Let the Games begin!” said Natalie Morales. “Okay, maybe not just yet.” It was the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 9, three-and-half days before the kickoff of the Winter Olympics, and on NBC’s Today the “Countdown to Vancouver” was in full swing. From the slopes of Cypress Mountain, Morales, in a red parka, gestured at a ski run behind her. Vancouver, she explained, was experiencing what was, by Canadian standards, a freakish heat wave. With time ticking down, officials were now dropping in snow via helicopters. “Natalie, how’s it look?” asked Matt Lauer, who was sitting in downtown Vancouver, awaiting an interview with the city’s mayor. Morales seemed confident that the city’s mental toughness would ultimately triumph over the adversity of the balmy weather. “This has been a superhuman effort,” she said.

To the already committed fashion flock, Miller is no fly-by-night, but a trusted sage who guides fragile creative endeavors and even more fragile egos through unprecedented tumult—or, less menacingly, Saturn, which is meant to teach and challenge, and to change the established order of things. Even to nonbelievers, there is something soothing about seeing world and personal events in terms of natural cycles to be weathered and learned from, each presenting opportunities to be maximized; and New York narcissists inevitably enjoy studying the many influences that comprise their own fascinating personalities. Moon in Aquarius? Well, you are destined to speak to large numbers of people. Aries in mid-heaven? You’ll eventually be an entrepreneur. New Yorkers provide the largest concentration of Miller’s roughly 18 million monthly page views (six million unique), which she garners despite updating only once a month, instead of daily like most of her competitors. There are larger astrology sites on the Internet, but Miller’s is Chanel to’s Gap: Her readers are educated, affluent, usually childless or with children who have left home, who appreciate her specific attention to career, creative projects, appearance and fitness, parties, home decoration and even real estate opportunities. Miller explained that astrology is “practically like engineering. It’s all mathematical cycles, some that will repeat and some that don’t.” For example: “Pluto has not been in Capricorn since the time of the American Revolution, and when it gets to 7 degrees”—which she predicted would happen by 2012—“it will be in the same place as it was when Britain passed the stamp act, and we got so mad we started a country! Ha-ha-ha!” Miller is an avid watcher of the television news, which she keeps on “for company” while she writes in her Upper East Side apartment. “All the people in the news right now are Capricorns or Cancers,” she said. Tiger Woods, for example, who Continued on page 70

In the weeks to come, NBC will air more than 800 televised hours of bobsledding, alpine skiing, speed skating, curling, luge and hockey. Amid the constellation of crowd favorites and comeback kids, one aging veteran of the Olympics, bloodied yet still hungry for glory, will make a high-profile quest for redemption. That’s NBC. In the wake of its gruesome late-night face-plant, the network will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming weeks doggedly proving that the histrionics of Team Coco are nothing compared to the heroics of Team USA. Olympic television has always thrived on nostalgia for past favorites, big (the Miracle on Ice) and small (Eddie the Eagle!). But this year while watching NBC’s exhaustive coverage, (the original “cyclonic perpetual emotion machine,” to quote Jon Continued on page 71 February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 69

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Banker’s Blues Life on Wall Street not glamorous during tough times By Meredith Bryan On a recent drizzly Sunday afternoon, a 29-year-old New York banker was sitting in a West Village café, eating biscotti with a mocha cappuccino and a glass of grapefruit juice. “I want to retire early and maybe do something else,” he sighed. “My premium years were spent working very, very hard because of the crisis, and not getting paid for it,” he said later. “I don’t feel like I’m rich.” To keep him from leaving last year, his bank said it would grant him a $650,000 bonus, though he was just told this month that whatever he gets will be given mostly as deferred stock that can’t be sold for ages. The great parquet decades of investment banking are over—Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns are long gone, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have settled down as humdrum commercial banks. However the next era of Wall Street looks, whether it’s unbowed or humbled or distrusted or distrustful, Manhattan’s bankers are going to be something that they haven’t been in a very long time: conflicted. “I had these big dreams when I was a kid to help people. But it’s much harder than one might think,” the young man said. “You have to do your job. You’re in the Army, and they send you to Vietnam. It’s not a good war, but they tell you to shoot. You shoot. It’s very complicated, but people don’t see that. I have a job. I tried to do that the best I could.” The handsome young banker has olive skin and black hair, but slightly meanlooking eyes. He doesn’t like working out, though he has shirtless photos of himself on Facebook. He likes The Economist and house music. He is the most extraordinarily typical banker on Wall Street, and he’s on the minds of preachers, schoolchildren, shoe salesmen, prosecutors, matchmakers, retirees, the unemployed and the president. He is loathed, relied on and wondered about. At the café and in conversations afterward, he was willing to talk about himself on the condition that his name and his bank’s name weren’t printed. In the middle of the decade, he said, he got a master’s degree in mathematics. It was Ivy League but easy. “Ph.D.’s are great, but everything before is just crap.” Then he joined his bank to work with structured products—a young, lucrative and spectacularly murky corner of fi-


nance that pools together, slices up, repackages and makes bets on assets like mortgages or, in his case, corporate debt. “I have friends who are lawyers,” he said. “Their starting salary was $200,000. My starting salary was $85,000. But I’m not a lawyer. And I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m good at math.” Specifically, he’s good at handling an outstandingly strange kind of financial sausage called a synthetic collateralized debt obligation, which bundles up credit default swaps (basically insurance against the default of assets like, in this case, corporate bonds). When the crisis raged in October 2008, some corporate synthetic CDOs were trading below 10 cents on the dollar. In fact, they’re siblings to the mortgagebacked securities that helped beat the global economy into an unrecognizable pulp, though he pointed out that what he was working on wasn’t quite as toxic. In early 2007, he was given a $275,000 bonus, mostly in cash. A year later, that number was $675,000, this time mostly in stock, although it was on top of a salary that had grown to six figures. Early last year, after Wall Street had been brought to its knees, his bonus was only $45,000. “When you work really, really hard—my group was working from 7 to 9 every day, sometimes weekends—to be paid $150,000? I could have been making more.” Friends left his bank. “At hedge funds, if you make money, you get paid.” The thing is that it’s hard to empathize. According to the New York State comptroller, the average bonus on Wall Street was less than $14,000 in 1985. That number didn’t get much higher until it doubled in 1991 to $31,000, which became $100,000 by the turn of the century. In 2008, even when the average bonus fell by more than a third, it fell to $112,000. How does one mull over or understand or argue about numbers like that? “Most people, I think, they’re unhappy about things. I’m usually an optimistic person,” the young banker said this week. “Often I talk with my friends, they

say, ‘Oh, you should have gone to an NGO, you should have done this, you should have done that.’ But the truth is, I have very good friends who left banking a few months ago and went to Africa or Haiti. You see these people. I talk to them regularly. And they can’t really help. So you help better by working and getting money and then helping others.” But why is he making his money as a banker, the icon of villainy? “There have been lots of abuses on Wall Street, but Wall Street is a lot bigger than banks. There can’t be just one bouc émissaire,” he said. “The economy goes bad, and then you need someone to blame. And it’s the bankers. And I don’t think the bankers are the only people to blame.” There are the rating agencies, for one thing, and sleepy regulators, and voracious consumers. And bankers’ flaws, he said, are the flaws of man. Over another cappuccino, he talked about leaving to travel and start up cafes. His father is an engineer who eventually started a farm, restaurants and an oil company. “I said to myself a long time ago that the day I have enough money to work for myself, I’ll stop working. I don’t like working for other people.” Then he started thinking about Wall Street people who have to look at screens for 14 hours every day, and that got him wondering about people in general, especially mothers pushing each other on Black Friday to shop for Christmas presents. “It’s like, really?” he said. “That’s what mankind has created?”

was born Dec. 30. “I could have helped him if he would’ve seen me,” she said. “I would’ve said, ‘I’m worried about this Dec. 31 eclipse.’ It wasn’t altogether friendly to his planets.” Miller herself was born with a “very tough” chart—the planets “all squared off”—but she feels strongly that it has made her the person she is today. “People with calm, beautiful, gorgeous charts, they don’t try as hard,” she said. She will not reveal her age, though she told The New York Times in 1998 that she was in her “mid-40s.” She is a third-generation Manhattanite whose grandfather came over from Sicily. Miller found comfort in her mother’s astrology books. “Nobody had a computer, so you learned to do the algorithms by hand,” she said. (Now, software engineers take the calibration of the planets, distributed by NASA, and “drop them into a program.”) Her first career was as a photography agent, but she kept up her study of the planets and eventually started AstrologyZone on the side in 1995, after giving birth to two daughters and divorcing her husband, a Scorpio and doubting Thomas (the two are still friendly, and he lives nearby). Her forecasts on, which can run 3,000 words each, take her seven hours to write per sign. The Elle horoscopes take four days. And then there are her daily iPhone and Blackberry apps, monthly horoscope columns in Korean W, Japanese Vogue and a Turkish glossy called Tempo, not to mention horoscopes for 10 Japanese websites and a self-publishing division that puts out a calendar and 4,000 to 5,000 personalized books per year. Miller usually writes in her apartment or at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week. She has so little time for private clients that she charges $500 for personalized readings. Miller said she doesn’t know why astrology works, just that it does, though she admits that she’ll always be competing with others in her field who are “not serious.” “Modern man is uncomfortable with ambiguity,” she said. “I’m completely comfortable with it. The Dalai Lama says that Western man feels they have to solve every mystery in his lifetime. That’s our nature, and it’s so sweet, because it’s what makes us study and do research. But we can’t say something doesn’t exist just because we don’t know why.”

Getty Images

Astrologist Continued from page 69

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© RD / Eckstein / Retna Digital

Olympics Continued from page 69

in 1968 worked as Arledge’s research Stewart) American audiences are likely assistant during the Mexico City Games) to experience a new form of longing. have kept the Olympics humming from Nostalgia for the increasingly rare sight on high. Along the way, they have of an American media superpower endlessly refined the nuances of the prebending the world to fit our stage. How sentation. This year’s technical advances will crowdsourcing replace all this? include an increased deployment of In the four years since the last Winter radar guns and something Games in Turin, Italy, Americalled StroMotion cameras. can life has drifted deeper But the basic formula has reinto a new age of gnostic mained largely unchanged. media consumption, in which How much longer can it every individual is capable of last? Vancouver will mark creative enlightenment and, NBC’s sixth Olympics in a as such, personally responsible row. This year, thanks to the for participating (whether $820 million rights fee, the through talk radio, Tumblr, network could reportedly Facebook or Twitter) in shaplose more than $200 million ing the myths that sustain us. dollars. In 2012, the network For the next two weeks, Costas: Voice of God is scheduled to broadcast the NBC will cast aside the amsummer games from London, for which it biguities of participatory myth-making will shell out more than a billion dollars. and return us temporarily to the earlier Before the advent of broadcast televiera of narrative orthodoxy, in which sion, Americans by and large ignored a team of some 2,000 professionally the Olympics. Now for the first time in ordained storytellers will join together decades, there’s a nagging question of in concert under the strict rule of NBC’s what might happen to the Olympics after Olympics pope Dick Ebersol. broadcast disappears. There are few things left in modern meRon Simon, the curator of television dia life like the televised pageantry of the and radio at the Paley Center for media, Olympics to convey that once pervasive told The Observer recently that pulling feeling of what Daniel Boorstin called “the off the old Arledge formula has become American illusion of omnipotence.” Walter increasingly hard in recent years in Cronkite may be gone, but the Olympics part due to the proliferation of reality can still reliably give us Bob Costas as television--a genre, which like the Olymthe Voice of God. The full revelation of pics, takes a cast of unknowns, builds NBC’s coverage (quadruple the amount up elaborate back stories, and then sets of televised hours from four years ago) will the young go-getters against each other be passed down as always from on high, in in obscure competitions. “We’ve seen the form of 1,001 human parables about every kind of triumph,” Simon said. the value of sacrifice, the cost of distraction “Everything seems cliched. How do you and the fragility of earthly success. All make the story fresh? At some point the that’s missing is the dramatic end to each storytelling technique has to change.” story, which, of course, you will get to “From the ’60s on, it’s largely been watch unfold live in HD. one vision of how you do the Olympics,” Today’s assembly of NBC broadcasters Simon said. “It was through the Arledge can trace their lineage directly back to vision that the games gathered this the original apostle of Olympic televiprominence in our psyche. This is the sion, the late Roone Arledge. It was culmination of it. In many ways, it’s a Arledge in 1964, producing his first grand hurrah for network television itself.” Olympics for ABC, who figured out an Back in Vancouver, Matt Lauer algorithm for transforming dozens of launched into the network’s umpteenth sports Americans cared nothing about profile of the winsome American skier into an exalted form of scripted drama. Lindsey Vonn. She was the “golden Arledge’s epiphany was to narrow girl” of these Olympic Games, Lauer the vast field of competitors down to explained, who despite an unimaginable a few selected characters, pile on the setback in 2006 was now, once again biography, crank up the stakes, drop in “poised to be America’s breakout star.” some bugles and let the snow fly. “More And so on Tuesday morning, NBC’s personalizing of competitors,” Arledge Vonn-a-thon continued to pick up later wrote. “More sense of place ... I steam—one twilight round for the old hummed from my exalted summit.” myth-making machine, still humming For the past half-century, Arledge and from the exalted summit. his disciples, including Ebersol (who

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ACROSS 1 Host’s opposite 9 Doorstep welcomer 12 Awards for RAF pilots 16 Reservoir’s edge 19 Very Verdiesque 20 Treatment using natural essences 23 One who begins learning late in life 24 “Teacher, Teacher” singer 25 Pres. monogram 26 “How do ___?” 28 “Necktie” 29 Demurring words 30 Printemps month 31 Actor Jannings 33 Abbr. on Giant bags 35 Jerry Springer topic 36 Joseph’s home, in the Bible 40 Some witness callers 43 Hang it up? 45 Soda-can abbr. 46 “Sorry” preceder 47 Keep doing what you’re doing 51 City “by the sea, oh” 52 Norway’s capital 54 It may showcase art films 58 Postmortem phase 61 Arizona high-rises? 62 Truly preceder 63 Cert. enlistee 64 Egyptian coilers 66 Mauna ___ 68 Cyclades island 69 Promise of payback



77 Extinct bird 78 Turkey day: abbr. 79 U.S. Congressman Darrell of California 80 Layer of big eggs 81 Misbehave 84 Leaves out 86 Early Super Bowl star 92 Infamous Puritan 95 The Kennedys, e.g. 96 What, in Rome 97 Thinking 98 Sleuth’s dog 100 The Grand ___ 101 Meeting one can be a shock 102 Michigan’s ___ Canals 104 All-out e-mail campaign 107 Olympics chant 110 PBS funder 112 Weapon in the game of Clue 114 Like many a fez 115 Ignited again 117 Drilling bug 120 Catlike carnivore 123 Zilch 126 Southern Oregon city 129 Another title for this puzzle 131 “Sense and Sensibility” screenwriter, 1995 132 Cold, as coffee 133 Frankenstein’s retreat 134 Rochester’s love 135 Opp. of reduced 136 Google exercises

DOWN 1 “Hunny” hunter 2 Computer programs, for short 3 Doctor’s order 4 The Diamondbacks, on scoreboards 5 Seuss’s breakfast critic 6 Where alps are alpi 7 Top Yugoslav, once 8 Recording effect 9 Chord type: abbr. 10 Rice-___ 11 Wedding infinitive 12 Marino et al. 13 Lid problems 14 Resistance unit 15 Sturdy, as a ship 16 Arlene and Roald 17 “In Hollywood, any Gomer can make ___” (Bob Hope) 18 Debbie Reynolds film, “___ Loves” 21 Pre-P three 22 Trav. choice 27 Retain 30 “Les ___” 32 Like niño, e.g.: abbr. 34 ___ accompli 36 First Arabic letter 37 Cheer (for) 38 1976 film set in Southern California, “Welcome ___” 39 Bird sound 41 Quite a while

42 From Mogadishu 44 Telly’s Kojak 45 Monk’s title 48 Aired, as a show 49 Fed-up person’s cry 50 “Presumed Innocent” author 52 Grp. in a pit 53 The ___-Hawley Tariff Act 55 Stalemate 56 Twiggy abodes 57 Gas station sign, once 59 Nav. rank 60 “Bali ___” 65 Ali portrayer 67 Gemini-mission rocket 69 Apple variety 70 Madmen, in Mexico 71 Seattle staple 72 Response to “Psst!” 73 Earthlings 74 Uris’s “The ___” 75 Gulf state 76 Grog ingredient 82 “A different read on life” magazine 83 Very big cheese 85 Hand ___ (congratulate) 87 Eight opener 88 Jack of westerns 89 Phobia start 90 Dimelike 91 Whammy 93 Khartoum’s river 94 Speak hoarsely 99 Some scripts are written on it 100 Dr. Phil has one 103 Thug’s parting words 105 “Respect” singer 106 Pet restraint 107 Ultra-nerd of TV 108 Alabama city 109 Gentle as ___ 111 Detest 113 Sweater material 116 “___ little confused” 118 With “All,” a song title 119 They might pin one on you 121 Don of radio 122 Wind instrument? 123 Rembrandt’s country: abbr. 124 “Ah ...” 125 Old Fords 127 Bible possessive 128 R. Nader has hosted it 130 Middle of a game

!!! VOLUME 16 IS HERE !!! To order Merl’s crossword books, visit www.sunday

2/11/2010 © M. Reagle

Proposed merger of Comcast, NBC feeds fears about media influence By Richard Siklos Al Franken, Minnesota’s freshman senator, bears little resemblance to Al Franken, onetime Saturday Night Live funnyman. At a sub-committee grilling of the top executives from NBC Universal and Comcast over their proposed media mega-merger , Franken had none of the self-doubt of his famously sheepish SNL character, Stuart Smalley. Instead, he delivered an aggressive “don’t play a playa” message when it came to voluntary concessions NBC and Comcast had made to help seal the deal. “You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t trust these promises,” Franken said. “And that’s from experience in this business.” Franken accused Comcast CEO Brian Roberts of coming to his office and spinning him about rules that govern which channels are carried by cable and how consumers access them. Essentially, Franken thought Roberts was praising rules designed to protect consumers from mega-mergers like this one while simultaneously challenging the same rules on the basis that they violate the Franken First Amendment. Franken then turned to NBC chief Jeff Zucker. “Look, we’re friends. ...I loved my time at NBC, I want you to know that.” Those caveats aside, Franken criticized regulatory changes in the 1990s that allowed production studios and TV networks to be owned by the same company, leading to a wave of consolidation and a heavy reliance on studio-owned product despite promises to the commission that independent producers would not be shut out. There will be a year or so of further regulatory grandstanding and wrangling before the NBCComcast deal is done. The reality is there is little basis for regulators to prevent Comcast and NBC from combining. From an anti-trust perspective, the two companies don’t really compete. But Franken was tapping into a bigger, ingrained fear—that the bigger these media companies get, the less weight consumers, or viewers, will have in influencing what they do. That can be hard to argue, though, given that past media mega-mergers have generated mixed results. Successes such as Disney-Capital Cities and Time WarnerTurner are overshadowed by flops like Viacom-CBS, AOL-Time Warner and Vivendi-Universal. With their merger, Comcast-NBC will control roughly 24 percent of cable subscribers in the country and account for 12 percent of what is viewed on television. But this merger is really about what television is turning into; Roberts noted that Comcast is spending $1 billion on a super-fast Internet service called wideband—forget broadband!—and in this new era Roberts promised to be “reliable stewards for the national treasures of NBC and NBC News.” Apparently, Minnesotans will be watching with a wary eye.

Franken: Patsy Lynch / Retna Ltd.


by Merl Reagle

Answers found on page 74 72

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The National Newsroom

Personal Finance

How to hire the right tax preparer By Kathy Kristof, Tribune Media Services

Do you pay someone to prepare your annual tax return? If so, you’ve got plenty of company. As the U.S. tax code has become increasingly complex, roughly 80 percent of the nation’s taxpayers have turned to paid preparers and computer software to complete their annual returns. The bad news: Paying a professional won’t necessarily make your return accurate—and it won’t absolve you of liability if your preparer messed up. “Anyone can prepare a federal tax return for anyone else for a fee. There is no national standard for return preparers and no federal oversight,” Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman says. “At the end of the day, it’s the taxpayer, not the return preparer, who is on the hook.” Shulman, who used the launch of tax season to propose regulations that preparers be licensed and tested for competence, said the IRS was stepping up scrutiny of preparers this season. The agency said it planned to send out thousands of letters and launch “knock and talk” meetings where IRS agents— sometimes covertly —will show up at preparation offices to find out what type of advice the firms provide their clients. By next year, Shulman plans to require all preparers to register with the IRS and be assigned a preparer identification number (which will eventually be used to track bad operators), take competency tests and update their knowledge with continuing education courses every year. Tax attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents, who are authorized to prepare returns by the IRS, will be largely exempt from the new rules

Solution to Is there a problem here? by Merl Reagle















because their current education and testing requirements are already stricter than what’s being proposed. However, the proposal, which still needs to go through a regulatory approval process, will eventually affect an estimated 800,000 individuals, who now need do little more than hang up a shingle to prepare returns. Although industry experts were uniformly supportive of the IRS proposals, the licensing and education requirements will not be in effect this year. Worse, they may not help much. California, for example, has required tax preparers to be licensed and meet continuing education requirements for decades. And yet a 2008 study by the Government Accountability Office found that paid preparers in California made more mistakes than paid preparers in other states, where no licensing was required. Disturbingly, paid preparers also had a higher error rate (56 percent) than individuals preparing their own returns (47 percent), according to the GAO. The prognosis for this tax season is even worse, according to many industry experts. The reason: Congress passed a litany of complicated one-time, shortterm and, sometimes, revised tax breaks in 2009 that further muddled an already byzantine code. “The tax code has become so complicated that individuals can’t be expected to accurately prepare their own returns anymore,” says Grant Niman, a certified public accountant in El Segundo, Calif. "If you can afford a high-priced CPA to complete your return, great. But the tax law is almost more complex for lower-income people who can't afford that." Many of the new tax breaks, for example, are income tested, locking out those who earn more than set amounts. Niman’s clients generally earn too much to qualify for the credits for education expenses or first-time homebuyers, for example, which means there’s less for them to miss. But missing tax breaks worth thousands of dollars would be tragic for a middle-income family, he says. So how do you hire a competent tax preparer in such a dicey environment? Check credentials: There are four types of tax preparers—tax attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents and preparers. Oddly, the one designation that’s difficult to check is enrolled agents, who are licensed by the IRS. However, many enrolled agents join professional groups, such as state or national enrolled agent associations, which have lists of members. Ask questions: You should know how long your preparer has been in business and where

he or she was trained, said Elaine Smith, master tax advisor and an enrolled agent with H&R Block. Ask whether your preparer gets additional training every year and where you can find the preparer after April 15, she added. “This is not a seasonal business for the IRS,” Smith says. “They send notices all year long. You need to make sure you can find your preparer and get help if you get a notice in November.” Other questions you should ask: • Do you specialize? If you have a small business or self-employment income, or if you’re a teacher, firefighter, police officer or public service worker, you may have unique deductions and credits available. You’ll get better tax advice if your preparer is seasoned in your specifics. • What tax laws went into effect this last year that might affect me? And what sort of information do I need to give you to see if I qualify? If your preparer can’t rattle off half a dozen significant changes, it’s a sign that he or she isn’t keeping up, said Philip J. Holthouse, partner at Santa Monica, Calif., tax law and accounting firm Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt. • Do you stand behind the returns you prepare? If there’s an error on the return, will you fix it free? If your advice results in an audit that results in additional tax and penalties, do you pay that or do I? Expect questions: To complete an accurate return, preparers always need to ask questions about lifestyle changes, such as whether you married or divorced, had a child or sent one to college. This year, they also may need to know whether you put solar panels on your home or bought an energysaving refrigerator or air conditioning unit. There are big breaks if you did. Look for red flags: Legitimate preparers never tell you that you can get a huge refund before they see your tax information. They don’t charge based on a percentage of your refund. They don’t ask you to sign a blank return that they’ll fill out later, and they never ask you to sign in pencil. If they’re reluctant to sign the return they prepared, you should be reluctant to give them a check, H&R Block’s Smith says. “No matter who prepares your return, you sign it and you’re held responsible,” she says. “You need to feel comfortable that you’re dealing with someone you can trust.”

Paying a professional won’t necessarily make your return accurate—and it won’t absolve you of liability if your preparer messed up.

Kathy M. Kristof’s column is syndicated by Tribune Media Services. She welcomes your comments and suggestions but regrets that she cannot respond individually to letters or phone calls. E-mail her at

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Arts & Entertainment


photo by Ryan Reason

Box of Wonder

Insurgo Theater Movement brings sex and drugs to its new space—the rock ’n’ roll is on the way

By Becky Bosshart

This is the place where you’ll find sexually frustrated barflies and a down-and-out Las Vegas dad who hits the crack pipe. These characters—and many more of the dramatically dysfunctional—will debut at the Insurgo Theater, a new 3,000-square-foot space (affectionately called “The Bastard”) in Commercial Center. The humble storefront theater has been built up with each performance. And not just with new walls, lights and seating, says Insurgo Theater Movement leader John Beane. “It’s getting filled with love affairs, tragedies and emotion,” says the Eldorado High grad, who looks like a hipster lumberjack with his scruffy beard, worn worker boots and knit beanie. “There’s a box of wonder in this place, and you can come here and get your world rocked.” This month, the ensemble starts its season of original productions, many written by local playwrights. Rambis, debuting Feb. 12, is set in a budget motel off Boulder Highway. Written and co-directed by local writer-actor Ernie Curcio, it tells the story of a jaded father and his

estranged son who reminisce about basketball great Kurt Rambis while planning a move to Mexico. This is complicated by the unexpected arrival of the son’s tweaker girlfriend. “It’s very much a Vegas story,” Beane says. “It’s not a family story, but it ends up being a story about what unites a family.” Also debuting Feb. 12 is The Sex Comedies, five new works by local and national playwrights, starting at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The sexual exploration, along with the questions and perversions, is set in a bar, a metaphysical tableau and a seedy hotel room. The Insurgo Theater (, which opened in December, is one of the few places in Las Vegas you can submit type on paper and see it come alive, with no money down and no producers to impress, Curcio says. “Here it can go from reading immediately to production,” Curcio says. When not volunteering his time to help renovate the new theater or starring in a producContinued on page 78 February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 77

Arts & Entertainment

Stage Insurgo Continued from page 77

tion, he’s playing Tony in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding at Planet Hollywood. Insurgo’s main-stage Shakespearean productions will keep the traditional titles—but not much else. In its adaptation, Macbeth (May 28–June 19) will come out on top. Love’s Labour’s Lost (March 19–April 10) features a debauched Euro rock band in a love snarl with girl punk rockers. The 36-member ensemble is known for emoting blood, sweat and tears— often on the audience. It traveled for several months before leasing Suite D-114 (hidden in the New Orleans Square building of Commercial Center) at 900 E. Karen Ave. and starting the $5,000 renovation in late October. Some members had never wielded a hammer or saw—unless as a prop. “It feels great to be in your own space and to have ownership in it,” says Daneal Doerr, the group’s managing director. Despite the recession, Beane believes this was the right time to expand the theater. “We can allow circumstances and the world to shape us or we can shape them,” he says.

Insurgo Theater Movement schedule Rambis

Feb 11-March 6, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The Sex Comedies

Featuring work by Steven Yockey, Brandon Jones and Dave Surratt. 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. March 19-April 10 (alternating days).

Heavier Than

World premiere of a play by Steven Yockey. March 19-April 10.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

An adaptation of the Shakespearean classic. March 19 -April 10 (alternating days).

Insurgo Ensemble Production

Directed by Brandon McClenahan. April 23-May 15.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The gender-bending rock opera by John Cameron Mitchell. April 23-May 15.

78 Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

Jason Alexander as Donny Clay

No Shrinkage Here

Jason Alexander wants you to be the best audience you can be By Mark Adams Alexander jokes that Seinfeld could use his character’s Attention all inspiration-seeking Seinfeld fans: Jason advice: “Jerry needs a lot of help. Jerry isn’t making enough Alexander will soon be sharing motivational tips on the Las Vegas Strip. He’ll be staring in his one-man show, The money; nobody knows who he is anymore; his best days are Donny Clay Experience, at Planet Hollywood starting Feb. 11. behind him and he needs Donny to show him the way.” Alexander is looking forward to taking advantage The actor’s titular character is “America’s fourth leading of the city’s many leisure options. “I like the energy of motivational speaker,” Alexander says. “He’s contending Vegas. There’s great restaurants, there’s unbelievable with guys like Dr. Phil and Anthony Robbins. ... Donny is entertainment.” True to his word, he’s the biggest schmo in the room.” been to all of Cirque du Soleil’s producA spoof of motivational seminars, the protions on the Strip, admitting to seeing duction is structured just as one. It touches KÀ five times alone. an array of issues, including love, diet and THE donny CLAy Alexander’s other Las Vegas favorites exercise and money. And song. ExPERIEnCE include Ghostbar, Pure Nightclub and “When I sing in the show a lot of people Nobu. Yet you won’t find him indulging in come up and go, ‘Oh my God, I had no Feb. 11-March 14. buffets because of a certain new gig. idea!’” Alexander says. (Although it may Planet Hollywood “I can’t do this anymore because I am Mr. seem surprising, Alexander did win the CHI Showroom. Jenny Craig,” Alexander says. “But man, Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in Doors at 7 p.m. you give me a Vegas buffet in any hotel and 1989.) “It’s a pretty cool experience—that’s Admission $55, I’m a happy man!” why we say it’s comedy, music, personal 785-5000 The actor is also an avid poker player and growth and partial nudity.” has competed in both the World Series of And with Jerry Seinfeld performing in Poker and Celebrity Poker Showdown. town, Alexander says there could be a mini“I love the game of poker,” he says. “I don’t think I’m Seinfeld rendezvous. That’s rendezvous—not reunion, as that great at it. I still believe if I’m gonna put $10,000 out Alexander confirmed, so fans of the iconic show shouldn’t and lose it I’d rather give it to a charity.” hold their breath. What’s next for Alexander? He’s working on many “Right now most of the world goes, ‘Oh man, if those projects, but the uncertainty of the industry is preventing guys came back for a reunion it would be so great!’ him from planting his flag. We’d like them to think that,” Alexander say. “So rather “I don’t know if the career that’s ahead of me is a than prove them wrong, I think we’ll just leave them big career, or just one that’s satisfying to me.” thinking that.”

Arts & Entertainment


Opening the Door Jay Rankin’s Under the Neon Sky is a telling tell-all of the secret life of a casino doorman By Meredith McGhan Jay Rankin moved to Las Vegas in the 1990s for the same reason most people do: to start over. But his new life wasn’t what he’d expected. He arrived married and left divorced; lost his best friend to murder; and watched another friend self-destruct. Along the way, he witnessed failure and corruption, learned the secrets of the high-roller lifestyle and nearly had a nervous breakdown—all of which caused him to flee the city after six years. He writes about it all. This book is Rankin’s account of working as a 40-something doorman at the MGM Grand, making money and becoming intoxicated with the pleasures it could buy. The reader follows Rankin from bright neon ecstasy to the darkest side of Vegas, that mental state where everything seems lost. In 1994, a friend suggested he take notes about his life for a possible book. Sixteen years and hundreds of rejection slips later, Rankin has a 264-page tale of loss and redemption, finished a few months ago and available at amazon. com and The

book defies the stereotype of the poorly written self-published story; it draws the reader in quickly and won’t let go. The writing, in spots, sizzles. “It took such a long time to get published because my story always made it to the final meeting,” Rankin says. “The publishers weren’t sure who the target market was. I kept telling them it was everybody! I finally decided to self-publish.” Rankin, who has returned to his hometown Los Angeles, said the most valuable thing he learned from living in Las Vegas was that, when placed into an environment with few boundaries, people will indulge in extremes to forget who they are in real life. He shows this happening to friends and acquaintances in his book—even to his wife, who took up with a bartender and joined the free-flowing alcohol and party lifestyle, ending their marriage. Despite the memories, he still visits as often as he can: “I may be one of those people who needs to blow off some steam,” he says. “There is a part of me that really misses the adrenaline.”

Ask A LibrAriAn Drive: The SurpriSinG TruTh ABouT WhAT MoTivATeS uS, by DaNiel H. PiNk (PeNgUiN groUP, December 2009)

Selected by Jeanne Goodwill, executive director for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. Daniel H. Pink is a writer who “has a lot of interest in the workplace and what makes for an effective and pleasant workplace, versus one where nothing gets done and people hate their jobs,” Goodwill says. She points out Drive’s key fact that “most people are not motivated by extrinsic rewards, but are motivated by intrinsic rewards, their own sense of self-fulfillment and creativity,” citing the volunteers who give their time and money freely to help the people in Haiti as an example. As a manager, Goodwill is “interested in how people work and how to work effectively with people” and with Drive we see that “what people are trying to do to motivate their kids or motivate their employees just doesn’t work. Really [managers] need to find a way to give [employees] more freedom and autonomy.” February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 79

Arts & Entertainment

Music Post-indie

Retribution Gospel Choir, 2 (Sub Pop) Low singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk continues to leave  behind the indie-minimalist trappings of his earlier  band with the follow-up to Retribution Gospel Choir’s  2008 self-titled debut. Equal parts noisy post-rock  and KISS-crazed commercial metal, 2 pushes this  adventurous three-piece (comprising bassist Steve  Garrington and drummer Eric Pollard) into places other  indie acts would rather die than visit. For instance,  the pounding two-chord workout of “Working Hard” sounds like Paul Stanley  (yikes!) covering David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” while the slithering blues riff of  “Somebody’s Someone” is perhaps compelling enough to knock Ace Frehley  off the wagon. For every flirtation with the AOR aesthetic, though, there’s an  epic swath of crushing, swirling Neil Young-ish guitars such as “Poor Man’s  Daughter,” which goes suddenly quiet to reveal an underlying bed of acoustic  instrumentation and forlornly cascading vocal harmonies. When Sparhawk  laments that “we sing of salvation/we sing what we must,” he’s not dabbling  in a side project. Instead, RTG perversely seeks spiritual release in a format  long associated with devilish torment. – Jarret Keene


Eels, End Times (Vagrant) Mark Oliver Everett, better known as E and leader of cultrockers Eels, suffered much trauma in the last 15 years.  Loss of family to cancer, suicide and 9/11 would break a  normal person. Thankfully, Everett isn’t normal. Mourning a dead marriage, he brings us the brilliantly downbeat  End Times, a harrowing if self-indulgent confession by a  creative person who treats instruments better than flesh-and-blood people.  Recorded mostly on four-track machine, the breakup songs on this album  have the best opening lines: “In my younger days this wouldn’t have been so  hard/I would’ve just shrugged it off.” Or: “She locked herself in the bathroom  again/so I am pissing in the yard.” The title of “I Need a Mother,” meanwhile, is  self-explanatory. While his music has rarely strayed from a formula of cynical  lyrics and buoyant melodies—his grunge-era hit “Novocaine for the Soul,”  for example—Everett finally lets his angst off the leash, pushing his band to  the background for the sake of melancholy guitar and piano chords. Still, End Times is good heartache tonic. – J.K.

DJ Picks Current faves

Thom Yorke (from Radiohead), Eraser. “It’s super sexy, very sexy guitar riffs.” Thievery Corporation, Radio Retaliation

New finds

Nicole Cherry Afternoon host on 105.7 FM The Oasis

80  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

The upcoming album by M.I.A., Mission. Impossible. Area. “She’s pretty hot right now.” And especially the long-awaited return of The Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee, Part 1. “One of the MC’s (Adam Yauch, MCA) beat cancer and it’s been six years since their last album. It’s a huge, huge album for them.”


Aural pleasure   (in time for V.D.) by Jarret Keene Smell it, Dear Reader? No, not the clouds of smoke produced by howitzers to clear the ski slopes of Mount Charleston. I’m talkin’ ’bout love in the air, because it’s Valentine’s Day weekend. Expect plenty of rocking shows by romance-challenged bands. Here are my personal highlights for Feb. 13: The Sin City Sinners seek to melt hearts at Ovation (inside Green Valley Ranch) with an 11 p.m. CD-release party for Exile on Fremont Street. If you haven’t seen these guys yet, you’re in for a treat. They pack a ferocious wallop, more than any other “mainstream rock” act in town, and provide a welcome return to old-school, full-throttle, guitar-based music (when everyone else is still imitating the artsy-fartsy New York scene). Over at Boomers (3200 W. Sirius Ave.), The Mapes, Pigasus and Bright Lights Big City will be chloroforming your girlfriend with what’s being informally called “A Show for Lovers.” Pigasus bassist Roxie tells me she plans to chain herself to a helium tank inside the club’s backroom, inflating hundreds of pink and red balloons. “[The space] is going to look like a womb,” she promises. Female anatomy aside, Pigasus’ recent shows have been awesomely unhinged.

Another option is the inimitable Exene Cervenka at Beauty Bar (517 Fremont St.). Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last summer, L.A.’s ex-X frontwoman released her first solo album in almost 20 years in October, and reviews are excellent. Somewhere Gone is a gritty country-folk album shot through with the poetry of heartbreak. I’m torn as to which show to attend. You should hit them all. Do it for love! After V.D., Feb.17 is Ash Wednesday. I’m definitely going to repent, spread ash on my head and help benefit the Children’s Heart Foundation by taking in an Evil Dead-inspired burlesque performance at the Aruba Hotel (1215 Las Vegas Blvd. South). The music comes courtesy of my new favorite industrial-goth-metal-punk band, 2012. This Vegas quartet looks to be quite theatrical, and I’m hoping their darkly pounding music will bring me to my sorrowful knees. Finally, if you’re not prepared to spin at least one of these V.D.-appropriate tracks this weekend, don’t even bother texting me with a booty call: Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend,” Whitesnake’s “Is This Love,” Queen’s “One Year of Love,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Special Occasion,” Sade’s “Soldier of Love,” The Killers’ “On Top,” Roxy Music’s “Avalon,” Leonard Cohen’s “Ain’t No Cure for Love.” Haven’t heard any or all of these? Get thee to an iTunes store immediately. Any thoughts on the Live Nation/Ticketmaster  merger and how it impacts Vegas? Contact


February 11-17, 2010  Vegas Seven 81

Arts & Entertainment


Benecio Del Toro as the ill-fated Lawrence Talbot.

A Bite off the old Block The Wolfman carries on the curse of lesser remakes

By Rex Reed Old monsters never die. They just keep coming back, in an endless series of unnecessary remakes. So get ready to hear once again legendary screenwriter Curt Siodmak’s famous line: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.” Based on the classic 1941 horror film The Wolf Man, with Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence (Larry) Talbot, a soft-spoken nobleman who returns from America to run the country manor of his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), and has the rotten luck to get bitten by a werewolf (Bela Lugosi), the 2010 re-telling, for no logical reason, changes the spelling to “The Wolfman.” A lot of other things change, too, and not always in ways you could call improvements. The tense pre-war setting is now an ornate and over-produced Victorian England. Larry, now a hopelessly adrift Benecio Del Toro, is no longer a California student but a New York actor playing Hamlet in London. Sir John, his father, is now a weird, disappointing Anthony Hopkins with a spectrum of curious accents. Chaney was a soft, fleshy actor with a wimpy voice and clammy skin, but he brought a sympathetic sweetness to the role of the ill-fated Lawrence Talbot. Del Toro may be a stronger screen 82

Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

presence than Chaney, but he looks so baggyeyed and ravaged before the wolf ever appears that there’s nothing to build his character on. Gwen Cunliffe (Emily Blunt) no longer runs the village antique shop, but is a mixed-up girl betrothed to Larry’s dead brother, who has a sick penchant for wandering around in the fog and makes the dumb mistake of thinking she can cure lycanthropy. After the werewolf rampages through the gypsy campsite, the movie makes a number of tactical errors from which it never recovers. The folks at the local tavern still wisely melt their silver into bullets, full moons still rise like white pumpkins, and snarling creatures still pop out of the swamp with teeth that need a dentist, but any resemblance to Siodmak’s 1941 script ends there. Siodmak was a Polish Jew who escaped the Nazis and retained a lifelong hatred of the Germans; many symbols of horror in the film were references to Nazi persecution and the pentagram that appeared in the palms of the werewolf’s next victims was an obvious substitute for the Star of David. This time, there are no pentagrams to make your blood run cold. Elegant Talbot Hall is no longer a safe refuge from a world gone mad but a mausoleum that looks less like one of England’s fanciest estates and more like the House of Dracula.

The monster is now a computer generated behemoth in Rick Baker makeup that drools noisily, severs heads with a single claw, and makes an awful mess on the carpet. Larry is hounded by a Scotland Yard inspector played by Hugo Weaving and dragged away in chains to a gothic madhouse where a primitive brain doctor (the great English stage actor Anthony Sher) tortures his patients with horrors of his own— dunking Larry screaming into vats of ice and jamming foot-long hypodermic needles into his jugular vein. (Think Dr. Fogg’s Asylum in Sweeney Todd.) While these lunatics treat lycanthropy as a self-induced delusion, you can hardly wait for them to experience their first full moon. In the resulting carnage, the Wolf Man rips out human kidneys and spleens with bare teeth in a bloodbath that is not for the squeamish or faint of heart, followed by a leap frog across the roofs of London that looks like outtakes from Godzilla, King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. The direction by Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) sacrifices originality for computer graphics and stop-motion camera tricks, and the script by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self bulges with real howlers. Rex Reed is a celebrated film critic who is based in New York.




Arts & Entertainment


Half-Eaten Chocolates Valentine’s Day is a sampler you don’t want to give By Cole Smithey Valentine’s Day is yet another date movie that’s less than the sum of its parts. The sheer number of A-list actors involved spells trouble: Jessica Biel, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx and Anne Hathaway provide cast padding for the likes of B-listers Taylor Swift, George Lopez and Emma Roberts. Intertwining romantic threads weave a haphazard pattern in the City of Angels. Ashton Kutcher is Reed, a pink shirt-wearing flower shop owner who prematurely proposes to Jessica Alba, playing a typecast role as Morley, a snooty little minx who rejects his offer. Reed’s platonic gal-pal-since-childhood Julia ( Jennifer Garner), is dating a doctor with big secrets, and has her own love lessons to learn. Hathaway falls on her actor’s sword as Liz, a temp office receptionist who has a sideline as a phone sex entertainer when she isn’t pursuing a “simple” relationship with Topher Grace as her doormat-to-be. With half as many sub-plots the filmmakers might have been able to keep the plates of passion spinning atop their spindly knees. As it stands, by the time Liz’s office boss Queen Latifah experiments with some off-hours phone sex as an African dominatrix, there’s far too much broken china for anyone to escape without bloody feet. Screenwriter Katherine Fugate, whose credits include Xena: Warrior Princess and Max Steel, should stick to her day job as a TV writer. Hollywood is full up with hacks as it is. Valentine’s Day so wants to be a platform for Kutcher to inhabit a cupid who gets shot with his own arrow that the film all but collapses around him. The disparate narrative sampler starts out with Reed rolling out of bed

Patrick Dempsey and Jennifer Garner.

with his fresh-faced girlfriend Morley. He gets down on his knee at bedside to propose to her. When Morley refuses to wear the ring, for fear of attracting too much attention at work, we know Reed won’t be having the Valentine’s Day he imagines. With this single scene, the filmmakers paint the movie into a corner because Kutcher’s energetic comic touch is better suited to the confection than every other character. Roberts is Grace, a soldier flying home on a leave that will give her only a handful of hours to spend with her significant other before she has to return to duty. Bradley Cooper plays Grace’s seatmate Holden, who imposes his kinder-than-thou personality on her so that the audience is left waiting for the other shoe to drop. The filmmakers hoard personal revelations about Grace and Holden for a miscalculated emotional

climax that discharges the last bit of helium from this heart-shaped fiasco. Most of the film has a perfunctory going-throughthe-motions kind of vibe that reflects the way many people think of Valentine’s Day. Everyone knows that florists jack up the prices on flowers for an occasion built around initiating consumer spending. We’re already used to watching Kutcher sell cameras in commercials that repeat the same kind of whispered flirtation that momentarily erupts from the half-eaten chocolates of Valentine’s Day. That his florist character has to suffer the emotional indignities of his profession is perhaps the best consolation of sitting through this romantically inept film. Cole Smithey is the “Smartest Film Critic in the World.”

Short reviewS

When in Rome (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩

Kristen Bell rings flat as Beth, who takes five coins from Rome’s fountain of love. In Italy, Beth meets Nick ( Josh Duhamel). However, Beth’s coins attract the romantic interest of others (Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard and Danny DeVito). The film has no interconnectedness; the dialogue isn’t funny and the filmmakers don’t know comic timing. Insult to injury—only five percent of the movie happens in Rome. 84

Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

by Cole Smithey

Dear John (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩

Think of Dear John as post-9/11 America lite; very lite. Blame Nicholas Sparks for the novel, but it’s Lasse Halstrom’s direction that pulls the audience out of the puffy romantic wartime equation. His beautiful sun-kissed compositions reek with the odorless endorphins of his lovestruck characters (Amanda Seyfried as rich girl Savannah and Channing Tatum as special forces soldier John).

Percy Jackson (PG) ★★★✩✩

Aside from underwhelming CGI, this is a well-paced kids’ action flick that uses Greek mythology. Logan Lerman plays a regular kid who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon and must rescue his mother from Hades and return Zeus’s stolen lightning rod. Director Chris Columbus takes a literal approach to spectacle that denies the use of weirdness and scale of old-school stop-action classics.

From Paris With Love (R) ★✩✩✩✩

As with Spaghetti Westerns and sitcoms, you know they’ve jumped the shark when the tone turns to selfmockery. So it’s in one fell swoop John Travolta and suicide bombers have bid audiences adieu. With Luc Besson’s name prominently displayed, From Paris is a shameless shoot ’em up body-count movie with barely enough humor to distract from the pejoratively exploitative nature of its relentlessly bloody action.

Arts & Entertainment

The Blind Side (PG-13) ★★★✩✩

If Sandra Bullock has Oscar potential, it comes in her canny performance as a Southern Republican with a heart of gold. Bullock nails the Memphis accent and attitude of her character Leigh Anne Tuohy, a privileged white woman who takes into her home African-American Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), an oversize high school athlete from a broken home.

Edge of Darkness (R) ★★✩✩✩

His first film since 2003, Mel Gibson is rusty as detective Thomas Craven in a dated corporate-thriller/old-school revenge fantasy. A bloody murder starts a gauntlet of espionage Craven must navigate to solve the murder of his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic). Despite its formulaic storyline, insincere subplots, and a wobbly performance from Gibson, quick pacing helps the film.

Legion (R) ★✩✩✩✩

A reckless attempt at flipping apocalyptic holiness on its head with an army of demonic angel-zombies led by one evil Gabriel (Kevin Durand), Legion is a disaster of a disaster movie. Paul Bettany, like his co-actors Charles S. Dutton and Dennis Quaid, does a lot with a little but inevitably surrenders all integrity to an insultingly gratuitous body count movie.


Extraordinary Measures (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩

Extraordinary Measures is Big Pharma propaganda with a bloated musical score. The true-life narrative is constructed around family man John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) who, with his wife Aileen (Keri Russell), have children who are stricken with Pompe disease. John recruits Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford), a maverick scientist, to seek a cure.

“‘Crazy Heart’ is blessed with so many marvelous moments, lovely lines and vivid characters. This is

THE FINEST, FULLEST WORK OF MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL’S CAREER. And it REVELS IN THE GLORY OF JEFF BRIDGES. A performance on a scale with the West’s wide open spaces.”

Avatar (PG-13) ★★★✩✩

The most expensive film ever made leaves much to be desired. For an ostensibly anti-imperialist war movie written in all-caps and splashed with every primary color in the Maxfield Parish color wheel, Avatar is a toothless rollercoaster of eye candy that sexes up war, the very thing it professes to detest. Starring Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana.

It's Complicated (R) ★★★✩✩

No one cries like Meryl Streep. And no one can make you laugh harder than the guileless icon. Streep plays Jane Adler, who bumps into her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) at a party with his younger second wife Agnes (Lake Bell). But the years haven’t extinguished the torch Jake still carries for Jane. Baldwin and Streep rise above their one-dimensional roles.




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February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 85

Gadgets & Tech

The future of TV, the death of cable? Web-enabled TVs and streaming video suggest the days of paying for cable are numbered By Eric Benderoff

Redefine the way you live with music and movies. Entertainment Design Group crafts personalized solutions for people who are passionate about music, film, and sports. So whether you desire a new flat panel, surround sound system, or simply want us to create a new environment, our staff has more than 28 years of combined experience to get you there. Passionately representing best in class products from Dynaudio, Marantz, Yamaha, Klipsch THX, MK Sound, NAD, Boston Acoustics, Kimber Kable, Denon, Velodyne, Lutron and many more...

I have two devices in my living room that stream movies and prime time TV shows straight from the Internet to my TV—and no, the setup wasn’t sourced from a scene in The Matrix. One of the devices is a Blu-ray player that I bought for $129; the other is a Nintendo Wii, which I lovingly refer to as the video gaming system of choice for slightly overweight parents. Both have the ability to stream movies or download other content direct from the web, which means you can to it, too. Several new Blu-ray players can stream movies. All you need to do is connect the device to your home network, either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet to your router, then configure the device using the on-screen menu (enter your network password and select the services you want, such as Netflix). To stream content with your Wii, you’ll first have to be patient: Its streaming service won’t launch for a few months yet. ( to learn how to connect your Wii to the Internet and explore the various webenabled functions currently available.) Streaming delivers content as you watch it; it doesn’t involve downloading big files. When the show is over, nothing is saved to your device but you do need a high-speed connection for it to work. The power of these devices to deliver entertainment content on top of the other useful functions (like the ones they were designed and marketed for, playing

Roku Digital Video Player

By appointment only. Free in-home consultations available. For more info, email + eddieb @ or call + 702.204.5149.


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

DVDs and gaming) makes me think the cable box will soon become an endangered species. Further, in these times of economic belt-tightening, media players that can connect to the Internet offer another benefit: You can cut the cable (or satellite) cord and save a lot of money without having to say goodbye to your favorite TV shows. Although this may be news to some, people have been flocking to the web to watch TV shows and view live sporting events (through sites such as and ESPN360. com) for quite some time now—and the numbers keep growing. Hulu has become a powerhouse, with 40 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore. Although most users still watch web programming on their laptops, more and more folks are realizing that they can connect their computer to their TV and stream videos onto a proper screen. If you haven’t already joined this revolution, you probably will eventually—so why wait? There are a few cable-like boxes that deliver Internet content to your TV, including the Roku box ($79) and a very cool soon-to-be-released device from D-Link called the Boxee Box ($199). Roku enables users to stream Netflix movies, watch on-demand videos from Amazon, listen to music on Pandora and watch any major-league baseball game—no traditional monthly cable subscription required. Roku also

The Boxee Box by D-Link

interfaces with other channels to bring social networking (, Flickr, Facebook, etc.) to your TV. Boxee, on the other hand, already has nearly one million people using their free web-based beta. The company will soon fuse the net and the traditional TV experience with their Boxee Box, which will utilize both a remote control and wireless USB keyboard. The device will package Boxee’s popular open source software into a playful-looking, cube-shaped device that attaches to a TV and enables users to view video content—including movies, TV shows, music and photos from sites such as Netflix, YouTube, Comedy Central, Pandora, flickr and Facebook—on their TVs. While there have been bumps along the way (including a recent feud with NBC that led to Hulu blocking Boxee users from streaming NBC content through its site) the company remains determined to work with networks and websites to develop pay-per-view and channel subscription packages as needed. Further forecasting the death of the traditional cable box, Netflix has partnered with the manufacturers of nearly 100 different devices (mostly TVs and Blu-ray players) to give consumers the ability to connect and stream Netflix programming using enhanced electronics by the end of this year. LG, Sony, Samsung, Insignia, Toshiba and a host of others will come equipped with the technology—straight out of the box, no extra bells or whistles (or expense) required, aside from a monthly Netflix subscription (from $8.99 a month). This technology means if you really like Dexter or missed most of Lost last season, you will soon be able to stream it direct to your TV via Netflix. The same goes for movies, too.

One drawback, however, is due to contract restrictions with some Hollywood studios, not all movies and TV shows will be available to stream. Still, this should not be a deal-breaker: Those titles will still be accessible the old-fashioned (OK, 2007-fashioned) way, through Netflix’s original, mail-based model. While this may deter some, the potential savings may outweigh the occasional inconvenience: The combined cost of streaming content and receiving DVDs by mail starts at less than $10 a month—a fraction of the average cable bill. Netflix started direct-to-TV streaming in 2008 and while it is currently the most influential player, it’s not the only one. Samsung offers its Internet@ TV service, which allows its TVs and Blu-ray players to stream movies and other videos from Blockbuster, Amazon or YouTube; get news from Yahoo; update Twitter; track fantasy football standings, and browse eBay—all while other programs are being viewed on the same screen. I realize that having eBay on your TV is hardly necessary, but that’s not the point. This is about having an Internetconnected TV that allows you to ditch your monthly cable bill, then pick and choose (and pay for) content as you please. It’s about only paying for content you actually want and not paying for channels you rarely, if ever, watch. The technology is at our fingertips and more device options are flourishing. Pretty soon, your living room will look a lot like mine—if it doesn’t already. Chicago-based technolog y columnist Eric Benderoff writes about consumer electronics and runs, an editorial services firm. He frequently discusses tech trends and new gadgets on various national radio and TV programs. February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 87

Dining Perhaps no other local venue is better suited for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner than Twist, Michelin award-winning chef Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter. From this perch on the 23rd floor, many of the tables offer stunning views of the Vegas skyline through the 20-foot-high windows. The room, created by renowned restaurant designer Adam Tihany, is beautifully understated, punctuated by glass orbs suspended in midair. Still, the real romance comes from what is on the plate. I first experienced Gagnaire’s cuisine during the 1980s when he operated out of a glorious Art Deco mansion in St. Etienne, France. There he garnered his third Michelin star and soon moved on to Paris. Today, in addition to his partnership with the Mandarin Oriental, he has establishments in many cities, including London, Tokyo and Dubai. Gagnaire, who turns 60 in April, is a lion of a man with a graying blond beard. He is what the French call a createur—a creative genius. His food is wild and imaginative, but the combinations work. This is food that you not only haven’t seen before, it’s food you’ve never even imagined. Is this cooking too out there for Vegas? Time will tell. Gagnaire’s signature dish, Langoustine Five Ways, is one of the highlights of the restaurant’s six-course $160 “Spirit” menu. The presentation features five small dishes with a langoustine as its centerpiece, one grilled with avocado, one as a tartar with Campari turnips and baby greens, one seared with bell pepper and Iberico ham, one as a mousseline in a Manzanilla sherry butter, and finally, the last as a gelée with kombu and lobster coral.

A Totally Fresh Twist Pierre Gagnaire’s labor of love results in the most imaginative dishes this town has ever seen

By Max Jacobson

Continued on page 92

February 11-17, 2010 Vegas Seven 89


Sweetheart Deals

By Max Jacobson

Valentine’s Day is all about indulgence. In a town noted for excess, there is no shortage of places to celebrate a meal with your lover. Here are five of the best for the money:

Society's fabulous decor

Envy's sexy bass

Adam Tihany's beautifully understated design. Twist Continued from page 91

Chef Gagnaire's grilled turbot.

Meanwhile, the intensely flavored mushroom broth zezette (French for “wacky”) includes slices of chicken breast and little vegetable gnocchi. On the side: a Bloody Mary sorbet, a Bavarois ratatouille and a perfectly round codfish croquette. Dining à la carte, incidentally, makes Twist much more affordable. Like his Three Michelin Star Vegas buddies Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse, Gagnaire has gotten with the program. Not everyone wants a huge tasting menu, or a menu that costs hundreds of dollars. What’s more, à la carte allows you to experience the terrific canapés, fancy breads, complimentary mignardises (like petit fours) and impressive service, by simply ordering a main course. And what main courses they are. Grilled turbot with lemongrass butter, seaweed-mashed potato, shitao turnip (a Japanese hybrid) and a hibiscus gelée flanked by a Thai grapefruit salad. From the “The Earth/La Terre” side of the menu, a sirloin of beef pan-seared with smoked parsley powder in a Burgundy escargot sauce is served with potato ice cream topped with Osetra caviar. What, you don’t have any potato ice cream in the freezer? Shame on you. The Twist menu is peppered with Asian influence. Although these flavors are all the rage in high-end restaurants throughout Europe, it’s a largely new phenomenon to Las Vegas. And nowhere does it work better than at Twist, in the hands of Gagnaire, who offers the most radical, delightful change on the horizon. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other, you will instantly fall in love. Twist is at the Mandarin Oriental in CityCenter, 590-8888. Dinner for two is $89-$176, when ordering à la carte.


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010


Chef Eric Klein will offer a sixcourse extravaganza featuring spring lamb and a chocolate dessert assortment. $95 per person, the Forum Shops at Caesars, 369-6300.


The five-course menu has lobster risotto and Mojo wild black-striped bass. $70 per person, the Renaissance, 784-5716.


Chef Kim Canteenwalla’s three-course menu includes Tomato Two Ways, a Jidori chicken tasting and XXXL chocolate cake. $110 per couple, Encore, 770-5300.


The glorious Strip views from atop the Fantasy Tower are equaled by the superb cuisine of Geno Bernardo. A five-course Italian menu plus chocolate-covered strawberries is $75 per person. The Palms, 942-6800.


The ridiculously romantic terrace faces a pond. Gaze at each other over a four-course dinner that includes champagne and pan-fried sole on crab risotto. $75 per person, 2620 Regatta Dr., 804-8008.

Read moRe max! Scan here to get Max Jacobson’s latest dining tips delivered directly to your mobile device.



Sliced Steak Salad at Brio Tuscan Grille

This dynamic dish can satisfy big appetites as an entrée. The fresh, crisp and sweet flavors come from the mix of greens, cherry tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, crimini mushrooms and candied pecans. And the heartiness, of course, comes from the fire-grilled tenderloin tops. A mixture of Brio’s house horseradish and balsamic glaze constitutes the dressing. $14.95, Town Square Las Vegas, 6653 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 914-9145.

94  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup at Guy Savoy

Many international critics include the French chef’s masterpiece on their list of great dishes of the world. It comes laced with black truffles and Parmesan cheese. It has a velvety smoothness that seems almost surreal, and a depth of flavor unmatched in any other soup. But the best part might be that it is now served in a small portion at the restaurant’s champagne bar, for a little more than $10 a demitasse. $68, Caesars Palace, 731-7110,

Dr Pepper Marinated Steak Tacos at RoadRunner

This hip little local chain serves unique Western dishes that every cowboy would love. No dish here has a bigger following than these tacos, created by executive chef Matthew Silverman, who marinates certified Angus beef in Dr Pepper to tenderize it. This technique has been used in Texas for many years, as the soda pop gives the steak flavor and a caramelized quality. $13.95, multiple locations, 243-5329.

Baked Cheese, Tomato Sauce and Herbs at Mon Ami Gabi

This bistro offers not only a magnificent street-level view of the Strip, but—for a chain restaurant—some great takes on French cuisine. Our favorite dish (especially when paired with a nice little number from the wine cart) is this hors d’oeuvres, which consists of garlic toasts with a dish of creamy tomato sauce, goat cheese and herbs for dipping. It was inspired by chef Terry Lynch’s favorite part of France, Luberon, whose street markets feature ripe tomatoes and fantastic cheeses. $8.95, Paris, 944-4224.


Mediterranean Salad at Gaetano’s

Since this dish isn’t always on the menu, diners often discover it when they see restaurateur Gaetano Palmeri enjoying the salad at the bar during his break. As long as he has the ingredients in the kitchen, he’ll gladly whip one up for you, too. The zesty, chunky delight consists of avocado, roasted bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, Kalamata olives, sweet red onion and fresh buffalo mozzarella mixed with baby greens and extra virgin olive oil. $12.95, 10271 S. Eastern Ave., No. 111, 361-1661.

96  Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

Chile Verde at El Jefe’s

The chile verde recipe, straight from Mexico City, is one of the best you’ll find in the Las Vegas Valley. It is savory—with pork shoulder slow-roasted in a tomatillo, Arbol chile sauce—and crunchy, thanks to a topping of battered julienne onions. Zucchini and potatoes also give the dish its unique flavor. And it goes down especially good with a margarita during happy hour (3-6 p.m. daily). $15.95, 9925 S. Eastern Ave., 453-5333.

Thai Beef Salad at Lemongrass

Glancing at the menu of this pan-Asian restaurant in Aria isn’t as much fun as staring up at the bamboo shapes suspended from the ceiling, but eating from it certainly is. The chef, a young Thai native who worked at Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental, hasn’t so much Americanized his menu as personalized it. And his yum nua (Thai beef salad), composed of basil, lemongrass, meltingly tender beef and yes, grapes, is world-class. $22, Aria at City Center, 693-7112,

Western Sundae at Luv-It

Frozen custard differs from conventional ice cream thanks to egg in the base, and this downtown mainstay still beats pretenders like Nielsen’s or Sheridan’s to pieces. The Western is composed of vanilla custard topped with a thick fudge sauce and lots of salted pecans. Some people are intimidated by the fact that Luv-It is a kiosk in a dodgy part of town. One taste, and doubt is banished forever. $5.25, 384-6452,

Lemongrass photo by Barry Johnson; Luv-It photo by Sullivan Charles



Cooking With ... SMOKED SALMON BLT

With watercress, tomato reduction Serves 4 

Suggested Pairing

4 slices of sourdough, each ½-inch thick 8 slices of crispy bacon 8 ounces of diced smoked salmon 1 tablespoon of chopped capers 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 tablespoon of small diced red onions 4 ripe tomatoes ½ clove garlic

1 sprig fresh basil 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 tablespoon crème fraiche or sour cream 1 lemon 4 ounces fresh watercress ½ cup extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper 1 cup honey 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pan-fry the sourdough bread in olive oil until golden  brown, keeping the middle soft. 

Bob Howald, proprietor  of Valley Cheese and  Wine (1770 W. Horizon  Ridge Parkway in Henderson), recommends a  crisp Spanish sparkling  wine, Segura Viudas  ($11.99), to go with this  dish. It’s a yeasty blend  of three grape varietals  and will “cut the richness  of the bacon and smoked  fish like a knife blade.”

Dice the salmon, then season with salt, pepper   and chopped capers, mixing in the mayonnaise,   half the diced red onions and lemon zest (use a  microplane grater).  Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds,  shock in ice water, then peel them and cut into 4  wedges. Remove the seeds and cut the tomato meat  into small cubes. Add the chopped garlic, chopped  basil, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and crème fraiche,  seasoning the mix with salt and pepper. Wash and pick the watercress.  For the tomato reduction, add the honey to 1 cup of  boiling water, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and the  balsamic vinegar, reducing until it gets a syrupy consistency. Season the reduction with salt and black pepper.  To assemble the sandwich, layer the tomato mix onto  one slice of the seared bread, cover with another slice,  and then add the bacon slices and watercress.

Impress your guests by serving the chef’s Smoked Salmon BLT

By Max Jacobson When the blank space earmarked “seafood” came up in the plans for CityCenter’s  Aria, the name Michael Mina quickly surfaced. The chef, who was already running  Michael Mina at Bellagio, Nobhill and Seablue at the MGM Grand, and Strip Steak  at Mandalay Bay, has made his name synonymous with creative fish cooking. What he aims for at his newest restaurant, American Fish, is a refined take on  regional American seafood, using various cooking techniques such as ocean-water  poaching, cast-iron grilling and wood smoking. Mina chose to share the recipe for his Smoked Salmon BLT appetizer because it is  fast, simple and visually impressive, requiring only a saucepan and a few bowls—as  opposed to the sophisticated gizmos he uses for his various fish entrées. The chef looks confident and relaxed in his trademark black tunic as he prepares  this delicious appetizer, one that is sure to be a hit at any home gathering. As Mina spoons the salmon mixture on a perfect rectangle of the toast, he has his  game face on. “It’s best to use a rectangular metal mold,” he says. “But cut the crusts  off carefully, and you can do it free-form as well.” Of course, a chef like Mina makes everything look easy. But this is one dish you can  try at home. And don’t forget to break out the bubbly to enhance the flavors.  98

Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

– Recipe from Michael Mina’s American Fish restaurant Michael Mina and Smoked Salmon BLT photo by Beverly Poppe

Michael Mina

Top the sandwich with the smoked salmon mix and  the rest of the red onions (to taste). Serve the remaining  watercress on the side. 

HEALTH & FiTnEss How’s That Workout Resolution Going? A performance consultant offers seven ways to help you sustain your New Year’s momentum By Dr. Ben Conmy So, it’s been more than a month and your regimen in the gym is where? Still going strong? Stuttering a little? Terminated? Are you already back in McDonald’s, cursing gyms and the idiot who developed the treadmill? When the year dawned, you were pumped, you were going to change things, and then life started again. Surprisingly, the world did not start to rotate around you and your new fitness program, and every character in your life did not suddenly accommodate your lofty goals. These seven simple concepts can help you re-ignite your engine and not let 2010 slip away: Smile. Learn to enjoy the venue for working out, wherever it may be (home, work, gym, Mount Charleston). You cannot expect to go from the bar with a cocktail in your hand to cranking out 45 minutes on the elliptical machine and be euphoric about doing it. Initially it’s intolerably tough—accept that. For the first couple of weeks, when you don’t feel like working out, don’t. But do something pleasant: Make positive associations that bring you back to training. If that’s relaxing in the steam room, great; if that’s a long shower, marvelous; if that’s watching Days of Our Lives while riding the exercise bike at home, superb! Getting to a gym should be the first priority. Enjoying your time there should be a close second. Routine and Habit. The sooner you can form habits directly related to exercise the better. Preparing gear the evening before a workout can facilitate the transition from thinking about training to actually pumping that iron. In the morning, before you’ve had your coffee, preparing gym clothes can seem more daunting than restructuring Iraq’s political system.

Workout Insurance Korey Goodwin is a world-class performance specialist based in Las Vegas. Here are a few of his favorite energy snacks and supplements that can lead to a better workout day.


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

Individualization. We each have unique circumstances. Where we are starting from, what we enjoy, what we loathe, and ultimately, what is going to drive us to continue with the training regimen. Think about what you really want from this exercise program, and then go for it. This is your deal; take absolute responsibility for it, or you will never really buy into it comprehensively.

Simplicity. I could have written about complicated theories on exercise psychology, but that’s half the problem with getting people to work out in the first place. Keep it simple. Get to the workout location. Exercise until you feel a little tired. And repeat. The easier you make getting some exercise the more likely you will do it.

Variety. Professional athletes are paid to peak for specific sporting challenges and their training can often be monotonous; yours does not have to be. Change it up. Keep yourself interested in the machines, and the workout environment itself. Explore the place, try new things. Boredom is often the silent killer. Twenty minutes of exercise even at a moderate level is very healthy.

Relax. You missed a day—so what? Beating yourself up for not being some sort of bodybuilding machine is not going to help you resume working out. As soon as you associate training with misery or annoyance, you are on a slippery slope. Calm down, chill out and take your time. If this process is to have any chance, getting stressed out because you didn’t do 1,000 sit-ups last week helps no one. Celebrate the little wins (10 sit-ups) because in the end, it will be you alone who keeps this regimen ticking. Rejoicing in the intimate moments of personal triumph, however small, will be crucial in the end.

Logistics. You do not operate in a magical vacuum; you need food and liquids to exercise proficiently. It is unlikely that each time you train you will have the perfect preparation—correct food, sufficient water and adequate rest. Don’t let these “insurance” tools justify your desire to blow off training. Get a solid nutritional infrastructure in place for the troublesome days (see sidebar).

Clif Bar. A great source of dietary fiber, which sustains energy through a workout or—if used as a meal option— provides a sense of fullness. Best if eaten about an hour before a workout or a couple of hours after a meal. Large apple and a handful of raw almonds. A quick, easy and complete meal, with the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Dr. Ben Conmy is a Las Vegas-based performance consultant who works with athletes, executives and performers throughout the United States and Europe.

Beta-Alanine. Decreases muscle fatigue and helps muscle fibers sustain more efficient contraction during a workout, promoting strength gains. Take one gram every 30 minutes during the workout. Fish oils. One to four grams a day of EPA and DHA helps reduce inflammation. It’s good to take one to two grams with breakfast and one to two grams post-workout, aiding in muscle recovery.

SportS & LeiSure Going for Broke

City Wins Scrum for Tournament

Second act to be bigger hit than Super loss

Major rugby event being played at Sam Boyd Stadium

By Matt Jacob

When Beth Coalter arrived in Las Vegas in August, the city had as much chance of staging a prestigious international rugby event as the 50-something Coalter had of scoring in a match for her beloved Ireland. Right away, she seemed eager to board the next plane and return to Dublin, home of the International Rugby Board, for whom Coalter manages all global IRB Sevens tournaments. “We don’t like this idea … we don’t think Las Vegas is a fit,” Coalter told Rob Cornelius, the Hard Rock Hotel’s director of banquet and catering operations, who had to sell her on the city. Coalter envisioned a den of debauchery festered with fat, drunken Elvises losing everything at the roulette wheel. Cornelius quickly turned Sin City into Win City. Showing the dexterity of current English Sevens ace Ben Gollings, the sport’s living legend, Cornelius, who also is president of the Las Vegas Blackjacks rugby club (which isn’t playing in the Sevens tournament), escorted Coalter into the Hard Rock’s lush pool area, surrounded by palm trees and cabanas. He then guided her through the resort’s gym and spa, explaining to her that many hotels boast the same amenities. He guided her and USA Sevens tournament director Dan Lyle on a tour of the city that included Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston. “Paradise,” Coalter told Cornelius. She had no idea what the real Las Vegas was like. “All of a sudden—wow,” Cornelius says. “She was totally blown away by the class of the city.” That was the final green light that secured Las Vegas as the U.S. host to the 16-nation IRB Sevens World Series on Feb. 13 and 14 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The U.S. made the World Series a seven-stop tour when it joined in 2004. Cornelius sought host status when San Diego’s contract with USA Sevens expired. Las Vegas beat out Denver, San Francisco and a Florida effort for a multi-year deal, and the event is expected to fetch nearly $20 million in nongaming revenue for the city. Rugby is the second most-popular sport in many countries, and that fervor will be on display in and around Sam Boyd, which will have a natural-grass pitch for the series. Fans from Kenya, Samoa and Fiji will fly their flags and stuff their faces with food from their native lands outside the stadium. Maori bands from New Zealand will play during games. There will be competitions for kids. “Like an NFL Zone,” Cornelius says. “There will be different vendors, different foods, different clothing … a mix of everything, a little bit of every country. It will be a true cultural festival.” Adding to the event’s allure, Rugby Sevens was ratified as an Olympic sport for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro by the International Olympic Committee in October. Normal rugby features 15 players a side. Drop eight and slice the game to seven-minute halves, and the result is a frenetic, high-scoring game. Forty-four matches will be played in two days. “A lot of people think Las Vegas is the right place for Rugby Sevens,” Lyle says. “There are multiple games and teams play a very fast and quick game over the course of a weekend. It’ll be very entertaining.”

USA SEVENS INTERNATIONAL RUGBY TOURNAMENT AND FAN FESTIVAL Feb. 13 matches take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The United States plays Fiji at 11:44 a.m., South Africa at 3:12 p.m. and Canada at 5:46 p.m. The knockout games on Feb. 14 are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets range from $35 for a one-day pass to $500 for a two-day pass in the premier lounge in the open-end end zone. For more information, go to or


Vegas Seven February 11-17, 2010

Nevadan in the Olympics Just because we live in the desert that doesn’t mean we won’t have a local rooting interest in the Winter Olympics, which begin in Vancouver on Feb. 12. U.S. alpine skier Tim Jitloff grew up and still lives in Reno, and the first-time Olympian won the giant slalom championship in the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Alpine Championships, as well as the combined title last year. Look for him on NBC (Channel 3) during the giant slalom competition on Feb. 21 and 22, and in the slalom on Feb. 27 and 28. Jitloff, 25, grew up hitting the slopes at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, and he enjoys listening to Italian pop tenor Andrea Bocelli before competing. – Sean DeFrank Tim Jitloff

The bad news is my debut last week was about as successful as Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show. The good news is the publishers haven’t summoned Jay Leno to replace me … at least not yet. (Should that day come, guys, know that I’ll demand a $45 million buyout, just like Conan!). On to basketball, and I’m banking on a 3-0 sweep this week. Hey, if the New Orleans Saints can win the Super Bowl, anything’s possible, right? I took an 0-2 hit last week with the Colts and the over in the Super Bowl. That quickly slashed $1,430 from my $7,000 bankroll, leaving me with $5,570. $220 (to win $200) on Kansas State over Colorado (Saturday, Feb. 13): Heading into this week, teams from the Big 12 were a combined 141-17 at home. One of those 17 losses belongs to Colorado, which fell 87-81 to (hello!) Kansas State back on Jan. 16. Last year, when the Buffaloes went to Manhattan, Kan., they lost by 12 points to the unranked Wildcats. This year, Kansas State—which crushed UNLV 95-80 at the Orleans Arena in December—is a top 10 team. Oh, and Colorado has as many wins in seven road games as you and I do. $110 (to win $100) on Portland over St. Mary’s (Saturday, Feb. 13): St. Mary’s entered this week with a 21-3 record, including a perfect 7-0 on the road. Why go against the Gaels versus Portland (14-8)? Because 48 hours prior to this game, St. Mary’s has a revenge contest at West Coast Conference power Gonzaga (which won 89-82 at St. Mary’s a month ago). Whether they win or lose that rematch, I expect the Gaels to suffer a letdown at Portland … just as they did on Jan. 16, when—48 hours after losing to Gonzaga— they barely held off Portland 77-72 (failing to cover as an eight-point home favorite). $25 on Nate Robinson to win NBA Slam Dunk Contest (Sunday, Feb. 14): Twenty-four years ago this week, 5-foot-7-inch Spud Webb won one for the little guys when he outdueled NBA legend (and then-Atlanta teammate) Dominique Wilkins to win the slam dunk title. Last year, 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson channeled his inner “Spud” and rose above Orlando monster Dwight Howard to win the crown. The diminutive Knicks guard is back to defend his crown this weekend in Dallas. Where did Spud win his title? In Dallas. Just sayin’. 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.

Jitloff photo by Brian W. Robb

By Rob Miech

Special Advertising Section

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Silverton | Twin Creek

Twin Creeks is the perfect place to enjoy a fine dining meal for just two. For those who want to get away from The Strip for Valentines Day, Twin Creeks provides a great solution and atmosphere. After dining on steak and seafood, try their Chocolate Oreo Cake for dessert. 702-263-7777 html/las-vegas-steakhouse-restaurant.asp

Via Brasil

Via Brasil Steakhouse is one true romantic venue where its beach ambiance, cobblestone architecture, and glass wine cellar bring the passion of Brazil to you and your loved one for Valentine’s Day. 702-804-1400

Body Spa West

Body Spa has unmatched creativity and professionalism providing a cutting edge comfort palace that caters to you and your loved one’s every want and need. First time clients take 25% off any salon service with selected stylist. Hair, nails, skin care and massage. 8751 W. Charleston Blve., Ste. 170, Las Vegas, NV 89117, 702.368.2639

Bootleg Canyon Flights

“Bootleg Canyon Flightlines gives any person struggling to find the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift, the answer. Come Zip-line through breathtaking views and landscapes. This is guaranteed to sweep your partner off their feet with an extraordinary adventure.” 702-293-6885

Mon Ami Gabi

Sugar Factory Daddy Macs

Valentine’s Day dinner special for $80 per couple includes a bottle of champagne. Come celebrate with Daddy Mac’s, the real old Vegas local spot. 702-272-0913

If you’re looking for the perfect scrumptious treats to spoil your sweetie look no further than Sugar Factory. Available at The Mirage, as well as, the mouthwatering chocolates and signature Sugar Factory confections are a must-have. 800-374-9000

A prime location on the Strip, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Mon Ami Gabi brings you the ambiance and flavors of a classic French bistro at the base of Eiffel Tower and the spectacular views of the Fountains of Bellagio. 702-944-4224



Sunday, February 14, 2010 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. Drink Specials: Break-up Flirtinis, Singletinis

Nuts and Bolts Singles Party 9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Guys receive bolts and girls receive nuts; find your match for a free beer.


Unleash Your Fury Dart Game Bring a picture of your ex and place it on the dart board— bull’s eye wins you a drink. Oh … and ladies drink FREE.




For tickets, call 877.386.8224.

Seven QueStionS

Laura Henkel

Las Vegas sexologist talks about the intellectual stimulation of her unique museum

By Elizabeth Sewell

How does one become a sexologist? Basically, I had an interest in psychology, and I realized I needed to specialize in something. My father is European and my mother is really down to earth, so sexuality was really open. Friends would always come to my mom or me and ask me questions. I thought, “Well, I might as well talk about sex because everyone has always asked me.” What is a common misconception about your profession? A lot of people think it’s just pure smut, and it’s not. It’s hard to describe to people what’s inside [the 110

Vegas Seven  February 11-17, 2010

museum] because there’s so much, and you really have to just experience it. Do you have to fight preconceived notions about the museum because of its name? Yeah, you use the word “erotic” and it just sends shivers down people’s spine. They think whatever it is for them and usually take it to the worst common denominator. What has been the reaction to the museum? People say this place is amazing. They want to come back. They want to be on our mailing list. People want more. The No. 1 comment is that the place is so sophisticated and tasteful. People can experience a subject matter that usually is associated with a lot of shame or discomfort, and deal with it as an adult. What do you think every person who visits the museum should know? That the place isn’t scary. It’s actually a fun place to visit. It opens up a dialogue. You really get to know someone in a safe way. It’s one thing to engage with

someone personally on an intimate level and this is another way to engage with someone on an intellectual level that’s intimate. What’s your favorite part about your job? One, I really meet incredible people. Be it artists, be it educators, be it just the people who come to visit. It’s just amazing that people who thought they were outcasted somewhere can discover that, no, you’re not outcasts. They may be doing something a little different but they’re not alone in the world. Another thing I like here is that people have fun regarding sexuality. It can be flirting; it can be discovery. I like the fact that everyone comes out of here with a smile on their face. How do you define “sexy”? Personally, I think what’s sexy is what works in the mind. I like things that are intellectual and fun. I like where there’s no judgment. Someone might be very comfortable with whom they are in terms of their values and their mores but that they can be open to what other people may be doing in the world. My big motto is, as long as it’s respectable, responsible and consensual, you’re good.

Photo by Hew Burney

In honor of this most romantic of holidays, we ventured to the seedy stretch of Industrial Road—reserved for strip clubs and industrial suppliers—to interview the Erotic Heritage Museum’s resident sexologist, Laura Henkel. After earning a Ph.D. in Sexology from the Institute for the Advancement of Human Sexuality, Henkel found herself tending to America’s only nonprofit museum dedicated to all things erotic (eroticheritage. org). A self-professed traditional straight woman, Henkel hopes to make the museum as much about community and scholarship as titillation and exploration.

Vegas Romance  

Vegas SEVEN is an innovative weekly publication about life in Las Vegas—news, nightlife, sports, style, A&E and everything in between.