Before passing rash legislation, we need to step back and study the new terrain of American gambling. AS I WRITE THIS, a bill that would recriminalize online gaming— even where U.S. states have sanctioned and regulated it—has been introduced into Congress. Should the bill pass as written, the online gaming industries of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, representing millions of dollars in investment and thousands of hours of regulatory effort, would be switched off immediately. I fnd it hard to believe that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could let that happen. At the same time, those who have pledged to “roll back” online gaming won’t just surrender. This is one more controversy most incumbents would be glad to duck. Rolling back online gaming where it exists now would almost surely result in a lengthy and costly legal battle between states and the federal government, and is bound to satisfy nearly no one: Those who don’t like gambling will want it reduced further, and those who don’t want the government to tell them how to gamble will be outraged. With both sides ratcheting up their lobbying, though, it seems that Congress is painting itself into a corner without a way forward or compromise that will satisfy everyone. But maybe there is. A new national gambling study commission would help lawmakers genuinely learn more about the subject, and provide valuable shortterm political cover for everyone. There are precedents here: Congress has studied gambling several times; the frst national look at the topic, the 1950-52 Kefauver Committee, primarily considered illegal gambling and resulted in laws that restricted the transportation of slot machines and taxed sports betting—both attempts to stife gambling, illegal and legal. The second major investigation, the 1974-76 Commission to Review the National Policy on Gambling, took place just as states were moving into the business via lotteries. While it expressed some reservations about illegal gambling, the commission concluded that states were qualifed to choose for themselves their level of gambling, and even cautioned the federal government not to “hinder” state efforts to legalize it. The most recent major study,
PRIME RIB, BARGAIN BEER AND AN (ALMOST) FREE PIZZA BUFFET
the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, met from 1997 to 1999, as states were legalizing commercial casinos and signing compacts to facilitate tribal gaming. Initially, those in the industry feared that this group— with a healthy representation of known gambling opponents— would initiate federal action against casinos. Ultimately, however, the commission delivered a balanced report that recognized the potential of casino gaming as a positive force. That commission fled its fnal report 15 years ago. Since then, the gambling world has gone through revolutionary changes. Las Vegas is no longer the global leader in gaming; casino proliferation has increased; and, of course, online play has promised to transform not just casinos, but lotteries and horse-race betting as well. In other words, gambling in America has changed at least as much between 1999 and 2014 as it did between 1976 and 1999. A new look at the industry—a thorough investigation and discussion— might be the only way to develop a coherent national policy.
Right now, to the extent that there is a coherent policy, it’s being shaped in fts and starts. Legislators are reacting (or not reacting) to messages from competing interest groups, with little chance to divine the true nature of the choices facing us, the needs of the country or the wishes of the electorate. A national study of gambling, in which full-time staffers could dig through the hype and hysteria to assemble a body of knowledge that accurately refects where the country is (and where it can go, for better or worse) would give lawmakers something on which to base their votes. Pragmatically, it would allow incumbents to defer action, never an unpopular course. Assuming Congress passes a bill authorizing a commission just before the November elections, it would take at least a year to select commission members and hire staff. The commission would likely start deliberating in early 2016 and deliver its fnal report in 2019—two elections away. But this isn’t about not acting—it’s about gathering the intelligence needed to act decisively. Four years might seem an eternity to those who want immediate, radical changes, but it would get the industry—and the nation—the comprehensive study gaming demands.
As is common in the spring, several new specials have sprung up around town. Actually, one of the best isn’t all that new, but with $11 and $12 hamburgers becoming the norm, El Cortez’s half-pound burger and a 12-ounce beer for $5 is a deal that deserves its due. These burgers, served in Café Cortez, are just like the ones everyone crows about at Binion’s snack bar, only a little bigger, and you get a bag of chips on the side. The deal is available around the clock. • If you want prime rib for a buck less, drive north on Las Vegas Boulevard. From 11 a.m. to close on Fridays and Saturdays, the Silver Nugget has a prime rib special, served with mashed potatoes, corn and a roll, for $3.99 in the Hometown Kitchen coffee shop. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen one this low, and it’s not bad. If you want to carry in a beer, Bud in the bottle is just $2 at the main bar. • Here’s a pretty potent lobster play. The Hard Rock Hotel is still running its $17.95 whole lobster special on Fridays in Mr. Lucky’s, but you can get a similar dinner on Wednesdays at Miller’s Ale House in Town Square for $16.95. Better yet, take a chance at Miller’s on Thursdays when—if lobsters are left over—the same dinner is just $12.95 till they’re gone. I’m 1-for-2 on the Thursday play, but even if they’re gone, there’s a decent $12.95 prime rib special to fall back on. • Looking for a good way to spend a buck? All South Point casino bars have $1 Bloody Marys and mimosas daily from 6 a.m. to noon throughout April. Longhorn on Boulder Highway has $1 Miller Lite 24/7. And keep your eyes open for drinking deals all day on April 7, National Beer Day, including 20-ounce Ellis Island microbrews for $1 and 2-for-1 beers in Rockhouse at Palazzo. • The Mob Bar at the Downtown Grand is running a comedy club on Friday and Saturday nights with a two-drink minimum. Given the ever-rising price of show tickets, this is a welcome addition Downtown. • This month’s video-poker deal at Home Plate bar on Blue Diamond Road is a pizzabuffet comp from 3 to 6 a.m. daily. Buy in for any amount on a bar game and eat up. And if you hang around for a while, you can play in a race to set the card of the day. The first four-of-a-kind that’s hit after 8 a.m. becomes that day’s card, and you get a $50 bonus for your trouble. I love these creative bar deals!
David G. Schwartz is the director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com.
ILLUSTRATION BY JON ESTRADA
THE LATEST April 3–9, 2014 VEGAS SEVEN
The Online Gaming Debate: Not So Fast, Congress
April 3â€“9, 2014
Larry Ruvo and Jerry Vallen, pictured at Southern Wine & Spirits headquarters, founded UNLVino 40 years ago.
PHOTO BY TK
Las Vegas’ queen of drum ’n’ bass revives speed garage By Deanna Rilling
29 VEGAS SEVEN
Lockdown With Madame Filth
THEY SAY HISTORY repeats itself. But in this case, history has inspired a party that will be the frst of its kind for the Las Vegas electronic-music scene. Long before there was dubstep and trap, there was drum ’n’ bass—where the beats were fast and the bass was heavy. And it was good. An international mix of DJs are digging in their crates and even busting out the vinyl as Vegas’ own Madame Filth leads the charge.
April 3–9, 2014
Your city after dark, photos from the week’s hottest parties and Las Vegas DJ collectives
Cleansing Concoctions Whether you want to slim down for pool season, atone for the excesses of living in Las Vegas, or just want to be a little healthier, get juiced with these liquid life-savers
Restaurateur Elizabeth Blau’s business partner Kerry Simon had been juicing for years, but she always considered it “too granola” for her taste. That changed when she and her husband, chef Kim Canteenwalla, were surfng Netfix and saw the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. “We immediately went out and bought a juicer,” she says. “It inspires us, makes us feel great. So we have integrated it into our lives and our restaurants.” At their restaurant Honey Salt, they share their passion with their customers in the form of the Green Goodness, made with kale, apples, fennel, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger. $8, 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 445-6100.
The next time you visit Border Grill, skip the margaritas and try one of their four fresh lemonades. When peaches are in season, your best bet is the sparking white variety. Chef Chris Keating puts the ripe fruit in a pot and caramelizes them to intensify their favor and make into a puree. He then mixes in freshly squeezed lemon juice and a splash of soda. “I’m from the South,” the chef explains, “so there’s defnitely a little bit of that Southern sweetness and favor that I adore with the peach notes in this crisp homemade lemonade.” $5, in Mandalay Bay, 632-7403.
ECHO & RIG BUTCHER & STEAKHOUSE When you think of juice, a steakhouse probably isn’t the frst place that comes to mind. But Echo & Rig in Tivoli Village has a nice selection of fresh-pressed juice to accompany your carnivorous cravings. They’re all made in-house from a selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, and named so that you know you’re drinking something good for you. Options include Wellness (pineapple, carrot, orange and ginger), Power (apple, carrot, spinach and beet) and Rejuvenate (beet, cucumber, carrot and lemon). $6, 440 S. Rampart Blvd., 570-7400.
THE JUICE STANDARD A great place for carry-out juice, all of the juices here are cold-pressed using 15,000 pounds of pressure, but bottled without highpressure processing (which allows some juice producers to extend the shelf life of their products). And if you care about a healthy environment as much as a healthy body, you’ll be happy to learn that the fruits and vegetables that go into their bottles are sourced as locally as possible, and sustainably farmed. $10.50, 4555 S. Fort Apache Rd., 476-9800.
GREENS & PROTEINS HEALTHY KITCHEN This is a haven for vegetarians and vegans. So it’s no surprise the menu is packed with juices and smoothies. House specialties include the Loaded Antioxidant Chiller (green grapes, blueberries, blackberries and agave nectar); the V9 (carrot, celery, sun-dried tomato, scallions, cabbage, garlic, yellow squash, zucchini, orange, lemon and vegetable stock); and a Watermelon Strawberry Cocktail (watermelon, raspberries, strawberries and agave nectar). $4-$7.50, 9809 W. Flamingo Rd.,541-6400; 8975 S, Eastern Ave., 541-7800.
PHOTO BY JON ESTRADA
April 3–9, 2014
By Al Mancini
REQUIEM FOR A FLOOD In Noah, director Darren Aronofsky fnds the man behind the Bible story By Michael Phillips Tribune Media Services
NEITHER FISH NOR FOWL, neither foul nor inspiring, director and co-writer Darren Aronofsky’s strange and often rich new movie Noah has enough actual flmmaking to its name to deserve better handling than a plainly nervous Paramount Pictures has given it. Aronofsky’s a determined sort of fever dreamer, whose work so far includes Black Swan and The Wrestler in the popular success category, along with his earlier Pi and Requiem for a Dream. His latest, one of the nuttier Bible-related movies in the history of the medium, fnds the flmmaker trying to cope with a heavy load of digital effects (food; supernatural beams of light; giant rock-formation beasts that move, talk and provide nonunion, arkbuilding labor) and a heavier load of audience preconceptions. Many in the prospective audience will resist what Aronofsky has done to Their Noah. This one, played with steely purpose by Russell Crowe, is a fawed, angry and murderously conficted man just trying to do his job as he sees it: Listen to the Creator, prepare for the cleansing, annihilating food, fulfll his mission and then live with the emotional consequences. In the Broadway
musical Two by Two starring Danny Kaye, there’s a song called “Poppa Knows Best.” Poppa here, by contrast, threatens his own kin at knifepoint, thus risking the hostility of every woman, man, bird and animal on the vessel. Here’s why Noah actually works much of the time, even when it’s just asking for parodists to have their way with such a potential folly. Aronofsky is interested in these people as people, not pop-up saints straight out of Sunday school. Although the director has a habit of letting the internal momentum of his dialogue scenes putter and then stall, his penchant for tight hand-held close-ups maintains a crude, heightened realism. Now and then, Aronofsky must pull back for more generic, digitally complex panoramas involving marauding armies or rock-formation “Watchers” (fallen angels, resembling a Flintstones-era version of Transformers) doing their thing. There are two movies duking it out in Noah, one close to the ground, the other up in the air, taking it all in. At its occasional best the flm marries new technology with simple, striking visual notions, such as Noah’s premonitions of the food to come. Jennifer Connelly emotes mightily, if rather demurely, as Noah’s valiant wife (here named Naameh; she never made the cut in the Book of Genesis version of the story). Their three sons are portrayed by Logan Lerman (Ham); Douglas Booth (Shem, whose steady is played by Emma Watson); and young Leo McHugh Carroll (Japheth). Anthony Hopkins enjoys three or four scenes as Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, a man who has seen much and who at this point in his life simply wants a fstful of berries to munch on. (This bit is the closest Noah comes to comic relief.) There’s a roiling Cain/Abel dynamic
Russell Crowe braves the deluge.
between the older boys, and when Ham falls under the sway of Noah’s sworn enemy, the latest in a relatively short line of bloodthirsty, godless men descended from the Cain, the movie fnds its most affecting element. Ray Winstone’s seething portrayal of the antagonist, and eventual ark stowaway, stays just this side of caricature, just as Crowe—say what you will, he’s one of the only English-speaking actors alive who can plausibly anchor a Bible epic—fnds the human being beneath the Job-like adversities. A lot of this picture is dubious, starting with the rock-giants, the friendliest of which is voiced by Nick Nolte. (Honestly: Who else?) I came to Noah a Bible know-nothing, with zero concrete expectations. I must say, though, the
April 3–9, 2014
Sabotage (R) ★★✩✩✩
There’s a weird, bashful moment in Sabotage when Olivia Williams, atypically cast as a tough Atlanta police detective, is drawn like a moth to the flame of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lips. At least screenwriters Ayer and Skip Woods keep the moral compass spinning in circles before selling out in the end. A “drug war god,” John “Breacher” Wharton is the Schwarzenegger role. It’s amusing to watch an actor try to wring some juice out of juicefree material. It’s less amusing to contemplate how much further an R-rated kill-’em-up can go in the blood-spritz department.
Bad Words (R) ★★★✩✩
Sarcastic, sanctimonious, salacious, sly, slight and surprisingly sweet, the black comedy of Bad Words, starring and directed by Jason Bateman, is high-minded, foul-mouthed good nonsense. The movie zeros in on the bizarre world of spelling bees, a petri dish of strange behavior between bright kids and zealous parents. The filmmaker has surrounded himself with a solid cast of distinctive comic and character actors, including Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Ben Falcone and Philip Baker Hall. The drama is basically split between hotel rooms and spelling bee stages.
Muppets Most Wanted (PG) ★★✩✩✩
Good times are hard to come by in Muppets Most Wanted, the anxious follow-up to the successful 2011 reboot (The Muppets) and the seventh Muppet sequel to follow in the animal tracks of The Muppet Movie in 1979. The film begins seconds after filming has wrapped on the 2011 Muppet Movie. Off they go on a European tour, which turns out to be a cover for a plot to steal the crown jewels. Here, the atmosphere’s soured; the Muppets are treated as dismissible foils for the venal real-world populace.
animals get the shaft. They spend most of the movie sedated and sleeping in the bowels of the massive ark, which looks like a shipping barge made out of gopher wood, while the humans work through their problems. So be it. Aronofsky has said he didn’t want to indulge in one of those clichéd images of Noah, shot from a low angle, backed by two of this and two of that. The movie may be erratic, and its sillier, heavier passages recall its maker’s nutso epic The Fountain. Yet it’s unpredictable, which is saying something, and it argues rather sweetly that if we had just listened to Noah, we’d all be vegetarians as well as more careful stewards of the only planet we’ve got. Noah (PG-13) ★★★✩✩
By Tribune Media Services
Divergent (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩
In Veronica Roth’s young-adult trilogy of best-selling futuristic hellholes, being a “divergent” means you avoid easy categorization. The movie version of Divergent is no divergent. It’s tame, formulaic and strictly by the book in every sense. As in The Hunger Games, we have an underestimated young heroine. The generic bulk of Divergent hits its marks and moves on. Here’s hoping the second movie, scheduled to be released a year from now, rebels against the establishment in more ways than one.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (R) ★★★★✩
Wes Anderson’s newest film is many things. The Grand Budapest Hotel qualifies as his most exotically remote achievement in terms of locale; most of it takes place in a fictitious Eastern European province in the early 1930s. It’s also one of Anderson’s cleverest and most gorgeous movies, dipping just enough of a toe in the real world—and in the melancholy works of its acknowledged inspiration, the late Austrian writer Stefan Zweig—to prevent the whole thing from floating off into the ether of minor whimsy.
Need for Speed (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩
Need for Speed is based on the Electronic Arts gaming franchise begun in 1994. When the actors are in cars, the movie’s fun. When they get out to argue or seethe, it’s uh-oh time. Happily, there’s a refreshing emphasis on actual stunt driving over digital absurdities. Tobey’s our hero, the brooding garage mechanic and street racer played by Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad. Need for Speed isn’t much, but the story by George Gatins and John Gatins knows where it’s coming from and which movies to pilfer from.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG) ★★✩✩✩
The frantic, occasionally funny animated feature Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a 3-D big-screen version of a fantastic early 1960s artifact. Director Rob Minkoff, who co-directed The Lion King, responded to the script’s sentimental streak. The rejiggered premise casts a cold light on the dog/boy relationship. Modern Family’s Ty Burrell voices Peabody; Max Charles is Sherman; first-rate supporting talents help out: Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton and Mel Brooks.
Veronica Mars (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩
The way the movie version of Veronica Mars came to pass is more intriguing than the movie itself. Canceled in 2007 by the CW network, creator Rob Thomas’ wised-up danger magnet of a teenage sleuth, (Kristen Bell) left the show’s fans hungry for more. Although Veronica Mars does its duty in identifying the major characters on the fly, this one’s strictly for the fan base. Most of the clues in Veronica Mars pertain either to the Internet or the latest tablets. Anybody who works in tech support will probably enjoy the film a tad more than I did.
300: Rise of an Empire (R) ★★✩✩✩
Even with a change in directors and a halfenlightened, half-salacious emphasis on the voracious Persian conqueror played by Eva Green, 300: Rise of an Empire hews closely to the look, vibe and the casualty count of its sleekly schlocky 2007 predecessor, helmed by Zack Snyder. Likewise taken from a Frank Miller graphic novel, the sequel chronicles mighty Grecian battles. This is the genre of abs and pecs and arrows in the eye in slow motion, with geysers of globby blood floating around, prettily and painlessly, for our gamer-style delectation.
Non-Stop (PG-13) ★★★✩✩
Liam Neeson is back headlining another entertainingly preposterous thriller. Non-Stop confines its action almost entirely to the inside of a trans-Atlantic New York-to-London flight. Federal air marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) is a nervous flier, an alcoholic ex-cop who looks as though he’s carrying around a suitcase of unresolved issues. His seatmate (the overqualified Julianne Moore) sees in Bill a man in need of some comfort and conversation. But this is a whodunit, or the present-tense variation on the whodunit, the who’sdoingit. The movie’s fun.
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April 3–9, 2014
Of all the hit records you’ve had, which was the unlikeliest, the one you thought wouldn’t catch on? My frst song, “If Not for You” . I like it now and it’s my husband’s favorite song, but when I frst recorded it, I didn’t like it. I was really young at the time. I liked the big ballads, which really weren’t my thing, but I thought they were. But my manager thought [“If Not for You”] was more my style, and I guess he was right. I’m very grateful that was my frst hit.
Olivia Newton-John The pop icon on her new Las Vegas residency, Miley Cyrus’ career prospects, dodging Grease 2 and her initial fear of getting ‘Physical’ By Steve Bornfeld
Did you ever feel as if your wholesome image was a drawback? I wasn’t trying to be anything; I was just trying to be myself. You can’t create an image; you are who you are. That’s who I was then, but there’s always a little bit of everything in everyone. I was quite naïve when I was young. The songs and the clothes I chose were particularly wholesome at the time. But Grease gave me the opportunity to spread out a bit, get a little crazier, and that was wonderful. And from there I was able to do [the 1978 album] Totally Hot and then “Physical,” and it opened up a whole other world for me. Does all the fuss over the suggestiveness of “Physical” in 1981 seem ridiculous now in the era of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga? Oh, my goodness! It’s so tame [compared to] now. It’s funny when I look back at it. The song was great and my manager at the time, he gave it to me and I knew it was either going to be an enormous
hit or a total disaster. There was no in-between. I recorded the song, and I suddenly panicked and went, “Oh, this is way too risqué for me, what am I doing?” And I called my manager and said, “We’ve got to pull it, it’s too much.” But by then it had gone on the radio and become No. 1. Often the things I’ve been most nervous about in my life have done really well for me. Grease was the same. Speaking of which, in the history of sequels, Grease 2 is one of the most infamous bombs. Did you ever consider doing it? They did approach us. John [Travolta] and I were talking about that one day. But something went wrong with negotiations and they ended up using different people, and they switched it around. I think Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfeld did it. I don’t know, if the music had been great it might have stood a chance, but the music wasn’t great. You’ve sustained a successful career for decades. Do you think today’s female pop stars can do likewise in a very different atmosphere from when you rose to stardom? I started out in Australia, small television shows and local stuff, but I worked really hard. I started off as a big fsh in a small pond, and then I won a talent contest and I went to England and was working all the clubs, so I had a lot of hard slogs frst. But I enjoyed every minute of it, and I always had my feet on the ground. There are many, many more artists now and more ways of seeing them, with social media and TV talent shows. It was always competitive, but it never felt like it does now. These girls and boys have no privacy. They need to grow and learn their craft, and they have to do it all in public now, which is very diffcult. Miley has a terrifc voice, and she has the possibility of having a long career. It’s up to her, really. It’s been 36 years since you played Sandy in Grease, and I’ll ask this on behalf of men everywhere who are still smitten: In real life, are you more like the innocent Sandy at the beginning of the movie, or the not-soinnocent Sandy at the end? You’ll never know … hahahaha!
PHOTO BY DENISE TRUSCELLO
What will we see when your new resident show, Summer Nights, opens April 8 at the Flamingo? You’ll be going through my life, through my movies, Xanadu and Grease, and through my country period, the hit songs, “[Have You Never Been] Mellow” and … gee, I’m trying to remember my songs. “I [Honestly] Love You” and “Sam” and a couple of my new songs. It’s going to fy by. I haven’t worked in a year, so being in one place is very appealing now, not being in a bus and packing and unpacking, which is one of my headaches. My husband and my dog will be with me, and my daughter [singer/actress Chloe Rose Lattanzi] might try to come, which will be great.