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ON THE COVER

FEB 17

ATMOSPHERE

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FEB 21

7PM | 18+

DARK STAR ORCHESTRA CELEBRATING THE GRATEFUL DEAD EXPERIENCE

MAR 8-25

BILLY IDOL

7PM | 18+ *SELECT DATES

FEB 18

12PM - 3PM

Read Vegas Seven right-side up and then flip it over and start again with (7) SEVEN NIGHTS, featuring after-dark entertainment and the week’s nightlife happenings.

NO REGRETS BRUNCH

FEATURING: PAUL CHARLES BAND & ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK MIMOSAS

VEGAS SEVEN’S 7TH ANNIVERSARY

ROCKSTAR KARAOKE

FEB 24

ROCK OUT WITH YOUR OWN LIVE BAND! DRINK SPECIALS STARTING AT $4!

10PM

EVERYDAY 8AM - 12PM

FEB 17

FEB 18

Anniversary issue. Vegas Seven thanks JustKids, Life Is Beautiful festival and Plaza Hotel & Casino for bringing the internationally renowned artist’s mural “Behind Closed Doors” to Downtown Las Vegas.

BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS & BLOODY MARYS

DJ KITTIE

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D*FACE created original work for the cover of our 7th

DEE JAY SILVER

SEVEN NIGHTS Photography ANTHONY MAIR

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

FEBRUARY 16-22, 2017 TO DO

15 24/7

What to do around the clock in Las Vegas. BY SHANNON MILLER

37 Beacon of Hope

Blind Center of Nevada helps patients on a path to independence. BY AMBER SAMPSON

16 The Deal

PLUS: The

Look

BY ANTHONY CURTIS

SPACES & PLACES

Free roll at the cannery.

18 Lit City

UNLV’s Lied Library exhibit highlights books set in Las Vegas.

38 Goodness Gracious Great Walls of Fire

BY KAYLA DEAN

Shepard Fairey and D*Face create new murals for Downtown’s open-air gallery.

FEATURE

BY JESSIE O’BRIEN

21 The Way We Were

CONVERSATIONS

BY MELINDA SHECKELLS

42 Ask a Native

22 Top Reads

BY JAMES P. REZA

Founding editor Phil Hagen recalls Vegas Seven’s debut.

Our most clicked-on stories in seven years.

Looking back at porte cocheres and pizza.

BY JESSI C. ACUÑA

44 Lucky No. 7

24 Best of Seven Questions

BY SEVEN STAFF

Favorites from our Q&A vault.

What will be the biggest story of the next seven years?

BY JESSI C. ACUÑA

26 Checking in on

ON THE FLIP SIDE

Max Jacobson

Seven Nights

How the dining critic’s recovery is coming along.

What to do after dark.

BY MARISA FINETTI

BY MARK ADAMS

27 Seven Year Switch

How hospitality has changed. BY DAVID G. SCHWARTZ

30 The Lucky Ones

Momofuku and Milk Bar band together in The Cosmopolitan.

VegasSeven.com The Couple That Plays Together Stays Together When was the last time you shared a couch and a controller with a significant other? Resident gamer Amber Sampson tells you what you should be playing with your sweetheart at vegasseven.com/ playtogether.

Sips in the City The Dorsey’s opening menu showcases a New York state of mind. BY XANIA WOODMAN

TASTE

OUR SITES TO SEE

Heavy Betting Casino bars wager on the latest technology to attract a new generation. BY ROBERT SPUHLER

DTLV.com Shower of Golden Sours In January, Banger Brewing celebrated its third anniversary with its first sour’s debut: Golden Sours, aptly named around the same time the unverified story of our president and Russian prostitutka pee inspired a nation. Read about the new brew on DTLV.com.

BY MARISA FINETTI

AFI Will Never Die SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Jade Puget on making music for nearly 20 years and releasing the band’s 10th album.

36 Dam Short Film Festival

BY JESSIE O’BRIEN

BY SHANNON MILLER

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

New Stories From Old

At Dinner With the Dead, guests are present but not all are seen.

Quick stories with lasting impact.

Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. BY LISSA TOWNSEND RODGERS

BY LISSA TOWNSEND RODGERS

RunRebs.com Rebels Roundup Despite a six-game losing streak, UNLV should still be excited about Marvin Menzies. Tyler Bischoff explains why at runrebs.com.

SpyOnVegas.com The Hookup Find upcoming events, see highlights from the hottest parties, meet the DJs and more.

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VEGAS SEVEN ANNIVERSARY PARTY

Party with Vegas Seven and A-Trak at our 7th Anniversary celebration! 11 p.m., Thurs. Feb. 16, Intrigue, inside Wynn Las Vegas

ALMOST NORMAL

SAT FEB 25

EP RELEASE SHOW

W/ AVALON LANDING, GREGORY MICHAEL DAVIS

ST. BALDRICK’S FUNDRAISER

THU MAR 2

W/ SIN CITY SINNERS

PSYCHO ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN W/ SPECIAL GUESTS WHITE HILLS & ELECTRIC CITIZEN

ISAIAH RASHAD

FRI MAR 3

LIL SUNNY TOUR W/ LANCE SKIIWALKER, JAY IDK

THU, FEB 16

SAT MAR 4

COLIN KANE

THE DIRTIEST COMEDIAN YOU WILL EVER SEE

SMASH MAGAZINE PRESENTS

EKOH

SUN MAR 5

AMARANTHE

W/ FAILURE ANTHEM, CITIZEN ZERO, CYPHER 16, SMASH INTO PIECES

SAT, FEB 18

W/ DONNIE MENACE, LUCK FACTOR ZERO, AUSTIN CAIN

TUE MAR 7

THE TUESDAY BLEND

FRI MAR 10

MASTERS OF PUPPETS WORLD FAMOUS METALLICA TRIBUTE

THU MAR 16

EMO NITE LA PRESENTS

EMO NITE LAS VEGAS

SMASH MAGAZINE PRESENTS

ALMOST AWAKE

FRI MAR 17

BIFFY CLYRO

W/ O’BROTHER

TUE MAR 21

W/ EDDIE JAYY, INCARNATE, A REAL KING, LOUDER THAN WORDS, JESSE PINO & THE VITALS

WE THE KINGS

FRI, MAR 24

W/ CUTE IS WHAT WE AIM FOR, PLAID BRIXX, ASTRO LASSO

Ryan T. Doherty | Justin Weniger President Michael Skenandore Chief Financial Officer Sim Salzman Vice President, Marketing and Events Keith White Creative Director Sherwin Yumul Graphic Designer Javon Isaac Technical Director Herbert Akinyele Controller Jane Weigel

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Letters and Story Ideas Comments@VegasSeven.com Advertising Sales@VegasSeven.com Distribution Distribution@VegasSeven.com


Publisher

Michael Skenandore Editorial EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Melinda Sheckells MANAGING EDITOR

Genevie Durano SENIOR EDITOR, DINING, BEVERAGE & NIGHTLIFE

Xania Woodman ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

Mark Adams EDITOR AT LARGE

Lissa Townsend Rodgers EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Shannon Miller EDITORIAL INTERNS

Daphne-Jayne Corrales, Heather Peterson Contributing Editors Michael Green (Politics), David G. Schwartz (Gaming/Hospitality) Art CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Benjamin Ward SENIOR DESIGNER

Cierra Pedro STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Krystal Ramirez VegasSeven.com DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CONTENT

Zoneil Maharaj EDITOR, DTLV.COM

Jessie O’Brien WEB EDITOR

Amber Sampson CONTRIBUTING WRITER, RUNREBS.COM

Tyler Bischoff Production/Distribution DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION/DISTRIBUTION

Marc Barrington ADVERTISING MANAGER

Jimmy Bearse Sales BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

Christy Corda DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL SALES

Nicole Scherer ACCOUNT MANAGER

Brittany Quintana ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Robyn Weiss, Matt Iles DIRECTOR OF SALES, BILLBOARD DIVISION

John Tobin


TO DO

What to do around the clock in Las Vegas By Shannon Miller

THURSDAY 16

FRIDAY 17

Step right up for the Vegas International Variety Acts Festival, which brings awe-inspiring circus acts to the Silverton. Through Feb. 19, times and prices vary, Silverton Casino Hotel, thevivafest.com

Like dark humor? A Public Fit debuts Irish black comedy The Beauty Queen of Leenane, a tale of the power struggle between a

Inna Vision and The Steppas bring Pacific Islander vibes to

Backstage Bar & Billiards. 8:30 p.m., $12–$15, 601 Fremont St., backstagebarandbilliards.com

Atmosphere

The Las Vegas City Hall Chamber Gallery features the work of local artist and retired Clark County teacher Sylvester Collier, whose art focuses on prominent figures and moments in African-American history. Attend the artist’s reception today. 4–6 p.m., 495 S. Main St., artslasvegas.org

PHOTO BY DAN MONICK

Psychedelic jam band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown has been around since the late ’60s. Get your mind blown at its performance at Vinyl. 7 p.m., $25–$30, inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, hardrockhotel.com

40-year-old spinster and her domineering mother in rural Ireland. 8 p.m., $20–$25, The Usual Place, 100 S. Maryland Pkwy., apublicfit.org

After releasing its 11th LP Fishing Blues last year, Minneapolis hiphop act Atmosphere brings the Freshwater Fly Fisherman tour to House of Blues with support from Brother Ali, Dem Atlas and more. 7 p.m., $27, in Mandalay Bay, houseofblues.com/lasvegas Don’t miss Nevada Conservatory Theatre’s debut performance of Metamorphoses, a contemporary interpretation of ancient Roman poet Ovid’s world of mythology. 7:30 p.m., $27.50, Alta Ham Fine Arts at UNLV, unlv.edu The Animal Foundation celebrates National Adoption Weekend, where dogs six months and older will be available at PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center at a discounted re-homing fee of $50. Find your forever friend and treat them to Las Vegas’ largest dog treat created by the Cookie Zoo. 11 a.m., PetSmart Henderson, 286 W. Lake Mead Pkwy., animalfoundation.com Margaret Bourke-White was the first photojournalist for Fortune, as well as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine. Watch Doris Dwyer’s Chautauqua presentation on the trailblazer and mainstay of 20th-century American journalism at Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse. Noon–1 p.m., 333 Las Vegas Blvd. South, artslasvegas.org

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24/7

TO DO

THE DEAL BY ANTHONY CURTIS

Cannery Free Roll LAST WEEK I MENTIONED THE NEW

SATURDAY 18

SUNDAY 19

Mizuya Lounge hosts Kendell Marvel, the writer behind Gary Allan’s “Right Where I Need to Be,” at its Nashville Unplugged series, which brings hit songwriters from Music City to Sin City. 8 p.m., inside Mandalay Bay, mandalaybay.com

You know The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. See one of Tchaikovsky’s lesser-known works, Eugene Onegin, performed by Sin City Opera. 2 p.m., $15, Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod Dr., facebook.com/sincityopera

Celebrating Ramsey Lewis’ 50th anniversary of Hang on Ramsey! and The In Crowd, Ramsey Lewis Trio showcases the musician’s Grammy-winning jazz hits at The Smith Center. 7 p.m., $45–$79, Cabaret Jazz, thesmithcenter.com Atomic City Brews’ Beer Zombies Festival features selections from dozens of breweries at Atomic Liquors. VIP doors 12 p.m., general attendance doors 1 p.m., $40–$75, 917 Fremont St., atomiccitybrews.com/beer-zombies Rockabilly band Danger*Cakes headlines Beauty Bar’s Girls, Gods & Guitars night, with local punk band The People’s Whiskey and folk outfit The Unwieldies providing support. 8 p.m., 517 Fremont St., beautybarlv.com

Ramsey Lewis

Get a perfectly poured pint of Guinness and tour the newly renovated Guinness Store Las Vegas. Learn the process and history behind producing one of the world’s most famous beers. 10 a.m.–11 p.m., $20 per person, inside the Shoppes at Mandalay Place, facebook.com/guinnessstorelasvegas MONDAY 20

Put your boots on for The Infamous Stringdusters and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades at Brooklyn Bowl. These folk and bluegrass bands are sure to have you boot-scootin’. 7 p.m., $22.50–$35, at the Linq Promenade, brooklynbowl.com/las-vegas The Shaolin Warriors come to The Smith Center to amaze with kung fu stunts only possible with a lifetime of training. 7:30 p.m., $24–$85, Reynolds Hall, thesmithcenter.com

rebate-on-loss promotion at Cannery and Eastside Cannery. The Cannerys have run rebate deals before, always with restrictive rules, but this time it’s more straightforward. The promo reimburses up to $200 in gambling losses on the day you join the players club. If you’re already a member, you’re not eligible, but if you aren’t, it’s the best sign-up bonus going right now. Here’s how it works: Both out-of-state and local players are eligible, but this one is definitely engineered to appeal to locals. Go to Cannery or Eastside Cannery and sign up for the club. Then find your favorite slot or video poker machine and play away. If you get lucky and win, the money is yours to keep. If you lose, the casino will give you back that money up to a maximum of $200. Sounds like an awesome deal, and it is, but there are some rules. You don’t get the reimbursement all at once. The rebates are distributed in two “bounce-back” offers sent via email—50 percent in the first week after you play and the rest two weeks after. Both have a seven-day window for redemption. The rebates are distributed in slot free play, which you have to play through once to cash out. Hence, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get the full amount back, but don’t let that stop you—risking a $20–$30 loss for the upside potential of a $200 free roll is an arrangement you’d take every day if you could. There’s also a rule that you must have a minimum loss of $20 to qualify for a rebate, but that should be the least of your concerns, because if you’re not losing the entire $200 (or walking away a winner), you’re not taking full advantage of the opportunity. The power in this promotion is all in the free roll for a chance at a big hit. How big is up to you. If you get up to $25 and it feels good, cash out. But I’d look to walk with at least $200. Here are a few tips on how to play: The optimal route that yields the greatest expected profit is to play at the highest denomination possible until you hit big or bust. But if you want more time on the machines, playing for 50 cents or $1 is okay. If you want a lot of time on the machines, then play lower. But if you get to the point where you have $50 or so left to lose, bump it up to dollars for a shot at a bigger payday if you hit something. If you lose the $200, you’ll have to play the free-play through once to cash it out. Play out the free-play at your normal level. If you like the promotion, do it again at the second casino. Cannery and Eastside Cannery have separate players clubs, so if you want to, you can do this deal twice. 7 Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com.

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N E VA DA B A L L E T T H E AT R E P R E S E N T S

With Live Orchestra Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Choreography after Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa Staged by Cynthia Gregory SPONSORED BY: THE PLASTER FAMILY AND MADELEINE & DON ANDRESS IN HONOR OF WENDY PLASTER LIVE MUSIC SPONSOR: DORIS & TED LEE Photo by Jerry Metellus

February 25 & 26, 2017 (702) 749-2000 NevadaBallet.org


24/7

TO DO

TUESDAY 21

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar is now offering

seasonally inspired menu items, from colossal shrimp with marechiaro sauce and ruby chard to risotto Lombardo with mascarpone, chestnut honey and Arabica coffee powder. 11:30–2 a.m. Mon.–Fri., 4 p.m.–2 a.m. Sat.-Sun., 4480 Paradise Rd., ferrarolasvegas.com

In No One Cares About Crazy People, Pulitzer Prize– winning journalist Ron Powers weaves highly personal stories of his sons’ struggles with schizophrenia with a researched social history of mental illness to shine a light on the contemporary stigma surrounding mental illness. $28, Hachette Book Group, amazon.com Kate’s Korner specializes in milkshakes, malts, sodas and

Based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, Masque of the Red Death (1964) screens at Clark County Library. 1 p.m., 1401

E. Flamingo Rd., lvccld.org WEDNESDAY 22

Get some liquid courage at the bar and belt out your favorites during karaoke at Ellis Island. 9 p.m.–3 a.m. Sun–Thurs, 8 p.m.–4 a.m. Fri and Sat., ellisislandcasino.com Honey Salt serves up a Farm Table Dinner, featuring a Basil Blush welcome cocktail, traditional cassoulet and Valrhona chocolate mousse. Elevate the epicurean experience with wine pairings for each course. 6:30 p.m., $54, additional $25 for wine pairing, 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., honeysalt.com Looking for more stuff to do in Las Vegas? Check out vegasseven.com/calendar.

Masque of the Red Death

Lit City An exhibit at UNLV’s Lied Library highlights books set in Las Vegas

S

ome people say the great Las Vegas novel has yet to be written. But Writers Imagine Las Vegas: Our City in Fiction, the new exhibit that recently debuted at UNLV’s Lied Library with a reading by local author Laura McBride, may just prove them wrong. With more than 100 items on display, from noir to detective novels and genre to literary fiction all set in Las Vegas, the exhibit features books from the library’s Special Collections department that date back to the 1940s. Curator Priscilla Finley hopes the exhibit will help the community remember what they love about the city and also look beyond the stereotypes previously represented in Las Vegas-based fiction. “Las Vegas is a city that a lot of people project things on,” Finley says. “There is a difference that we noticed in novels whose authors have a lot [of] firsthand experience in the community and the books by people who were using it to contribute to a cultural critique.” Lied Library has new exhibits twice a year to showcase the lesser-known items housed in Special Collections, which often speak to the history of Las Vegas. Although Finley wanted to exhibit books that fit into neat categories, she also aimed to highlight books that present diverse experiences. For example, High Hand and Shooter’s Point tell the story of a retired African-American showgirl who lives in the historic westside of Las Vegas. When Finley started curating the collection last summer, she already had some ideas about what to include. Her guiding principle was thinking about what she would recommend to people when they’d ask her to suggest a book set in Las Vegas. Along with some older favorites, novels include more recent picks such as Vu Tran’s Dragonfish, Charles Bock’s Beautiful Children and McBride’s We Are Called to Rise. When asked why she chose McBride to help introduce the exhibit, Finley answered without hesitation: “We Are Called to Rise has a hopeful message, and it sets just the right tone for this exhibit. “The book certainly had its catastrophes and its tragedies,” Finley says. “But the focus was on how people build community. She used Las Vegas as a boomtown, where you have people from lots of different walks of life connecting with each other. She presented that as the opportunity of Las Vegas.” 7

By Kayla Dean 18

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Writers Imagine Las Vegas: Our City in Fiction Through June, UNLV’s Lied Library, unlv.edu

BOOK DISPL AY COURTESY OF UNLV SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

sundaes, but did you know they have smoothies that are perfect for starting your day? Choose from flavors such as Coconut Café Mocha or Peanut Butter Crunch and nutritious options such as Healthy Morning and Green Machine. 8 a.m.–midnight Sun–Thur and 8–1 a.m. Fri–Sat, $4.75 for a 24-ounce smoothie, inside South Point, southpointcasino.com


7 YEARS OF VEGAS SEVEN A LOOK BACK AT 354 ISSUES, PAGE-TURNERS, CONVERSATION STARTERS AND THE STORIES THAT CAPTIVATED THE CITY

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FROM SEVEN WITH LOVE: THE ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

THE WAY WE WERE Vegas Seven’s founding editor

PHIL HAGEN recalls the publication’s big debut

In late 2009, Phil Hagen was charged with a near-impossible task: assemble a team of Las Vegas’ best journalists and launch a firstto-market hybrid newspaper-magazine within a few weeks—in the aftermath of one of the city’s worst economic crises. Jumping without a parachute might’ve had better odds. Despite many victories, challenges, creative agreements, inevitable differences of opinion and countless long, long nights, Vegas Seven was born on February 4, 2010 … and now 354 issues later, the same motto rings true: “What about next week?” Here, Hagen shares the story of those early days. What do you remember most about the climate in the city when Vegas Seven started? Uncertainty. Our community’s legs were still wobbling from the blow of the Great Recession, and it didn’t seem like the best time to launch a weekly publication—in a city that already had two! What attracted you to the project? The challenge of interpreting a highly unusual mission (a hybrid newspaper-magazine) visually and editorially, then putting together and coaching a team to do it—52 times a year. What scared you about the project? Everything. The bosses wanted Vegas Seven conceived and the first issue out the door in about three weeks. Magazines like this can take many, many months to properly develop and execute. Plus, they were very good salesmen, which meant we’d be publishing big, fat issues every week—a luxury if you’ve got the staff of Time magazine, frightening if you were us. What was the greatest challenge in the first year? Doing it and doing it well enough to build readership and respect every week. What was the greatest victory? Vegas Seven finally winning Best Weekly publication in Nevada [General Excellence, First Place, Nevada Press Association].

By Melinda Sheckells

... If you mean early on, it was that first Intriguing People issue. It was a super ambitious request from [then publisher] Ryan Doherty, because we were still struggling to put out a 100-page magazine every week, and this was a special double issue that had to have 30 tight profiles and amazing photography—and both had to justify each person’s inclusion. It took tremendous collaboration between the editorial and art departments and, I think, it was our proudest early moment.

What is your favorite story? [Former editor] Greg Blake Miller’s award-winning cover story about the 20th anniversary of UNLV’s basketball championship run, “The Rebel Alliance.” It was our first big shot across the bow about what we were about (or rather, what we were going to be about): a magazine that, a little more each week, told the true story of Las Vegas. Yeah, it was an article about basketball, but more importantly, it was about a unique city finding community during interesting times (the early 1990s) through interesting characters.

What is one thing you thought would work that didn’t and one thing you didn’t think would work that did? The newspaper component didn’t work—it was like hammering a square peg in a round hole every week. (Two different editorial mind-sets, one staff.) The Intriguing People issue worked far beyond anyone’s expectations (except Doherty’s). Since his departure from Vegas Seven in 2014, Hagen says he has been “practicing fiction writing and cleaning the house until I get a sign about what to do next.” 7

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FROM SEVEN WITH LOVE: THE ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

T OP R E A D S

Rounding up the most clicked-on stories of the last seven years

Compiled by Jessi C. Acuña

1. The Last Words of Tupac Shakur By Sean DeFrank

Sean DeFrank, former associate editor of Vegas Seven, holds bragging rights to the magazine’s most-read story to date. It also happens to be one of Las Vegas’ most talked-about pieces of journalism—both on the local and national level. Here, he shares the aftermath of “The Last Words of Tupac Shakur.” “I knew it was going to get national, if not international, recognition, because Tupac is a huge pop-culture figure, but I didn’t necessarily realize to [what] degree. ... The greatest success is that years after the story has been published, there’s been nobody with any shred of credibility who has tried to poke any holes in it. … I had shoulder surgery literally the day after it came out. While I was in surgery, my phone was blowing up. TMZ was trying to get ahold of me. When I started regaining some grasp on reality after surgery, it was then that I realized all the fervor around it. I had friends, most of them in journalism, writing to me saying that CNN had stolen my story, that Rolling Stone had stolen my story. ... Basically, they wrote their own version of my story and used every great quote from it. That was a little bit upsetting to realize after the fact. … The only opinion of anybody that I would like to hear from is Suge Knight. He’s the only one who was on the scene that night—that anybody knows of, anyway—who could share his thoughts on that situation. I would be curious as to what he has to say about my story. At this point, nobody else’s opinion matters to me, because the story has stood on its own merit for so long.”

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FLIPPING VEGAS SCOTT YANCEY BY JON ESTRADA; ZAK BAGANS MUSEUM BY KRYSTAL RAMIREZ; HOUSTON BY ANTHONY MAIR.

May 22–28, 2014 The Last Words of Tupac Shakur


Clockwise: Yancey, Bagans and Houston

4. Seven Questions for Scott Yancey By Jessi C. Acuña

May 29–June 4, 2014 What Does This House Mean to the Rest of Us “Despite Scott Yancey and his wife Amie’s show, Flipping Vegas, going off the air a few months after publication, the reality stars have recently found themselves back in the news for claims of holding scam seminars. Disgruntled participants aren’t making millions instantly, and others feel it’s an upselling scheme to get you to pay for the next course. I haven’t attended a seminar, but I do have advice from the Goliath himself: ‘Flipping is great at first to generate capital, but as an investor, the goal is to take your capital and invest it in rental properties. … It’s a lot less work to collect a rent check than to renovate a house.’ Please send my fee to the Vegas Seven office, attention ‘Read the Fine Print.’ –Jessi C. Acuña, on getting free advice during her interview with Yancey

5. What $100,000 Will Buy You at Drai’s By David Morris

2. The Conjuring of The Mirage By David G. Schwartz

May 1–7, 2014 The Conjuring of The Mirage “We all know (or should know) that The Mirage’s opening changed Las Vegas. I wanted to tell the story of how that opening came to be, which would help explain its impact. The chance to interview some of the principals, particularly Steve Wynn, Bobby Baldwin and the now-departed Joel Bergman, was a highlight, since it brought real insight and nuance to the story. If people know a little more about an important part of Las Vegas history, I’ve done my job.” –David G. Schwartz, on his story about the 25th anniversary of Steve Wynn’s grand risk that altered the Strip forever

3. Dark Curiosities: Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum Puts the Bizarre on Display By Lissa Townsend Rodgers

October 27–November 2, 2016 Haunts, Happenings and Spooky Stories “Which of the many things in the Haunted Museum does Bagans find the most disturbing? ‘I think the demon house dirt and the objects and the staircase in there. That’s the most feared, and people can’t really go into that room.’ Of course, you can—although Bagans says people will be given a warning about ‘what can happen’ before entering, like giving a heart patient a heads up before getting on a roller coaster. Even if the tales of demon voices and little boys walking backward up walls don’t disturb you, the staircase to nowhere, pile of dirt and makeshift altar is unsettling in itself.” –An excerpt from Lissa Townsend Rodgers’ article on the museum

May 19, 2014 VegasSeven.com “Luxury Packages range from $5,000 to $15,000 and feature multiple bottles and a custom light show ... That’s just chump change, however, compared to the cost of the Fire in the Sky packages, which complement their copious bottles of Dom Luminous with a detonator. Use this to start a rooftop fireworks spectacular for a cool $20,000 to $100,000, depending on how long the show

lasts.” –An excerpt from David Morris’ preview of Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub’s bottle-service menu in advance of its May 22, 2014, opening

6. Jail Is an Awful Place By Lissa Townsend Rodgers

August 25–31, 2016 The Future of Football “The Bundys ... that’s just kind of ridiculous, because here they are, claiming to be hard men, and they’re whining about no Wi-Fi in jail. But, well, Ammon says he’s a rancher, when he’s actually a guy with a truck lot and a suburban home. I just hope Las Vegas can O.J. them and deal out the justice other courts couldn’t quite manage ...” –Lissa Townsend Rodgers on the Bundy brothers’ comical complaints of their jail woes

7. My Dinner With the Gang Bang Queen By Steve Bornfeld

September 20–26, 2012 Great Drives “Admission: I don’t know where to begin. Deep breath here: Granddaughter of Disney artist Clair Weeks, who co-animated Snow White, Houston performed a record-obliterating gang bang. Served jail time for a DUI. Dated a high school fan. Fell into crystal meth addiction. Underwent extensive cosmetic surgery. Auctioned her excess, excised labia for $50,000. Measured Howard Stern’s penis. Hooked up with Kid Rock and Snoop Dogg. Raised a daughter. Returned to porn at age 43. Beat cancer.” –An excerpt from Steve Bornfeld’s interview with porn legend Houston 7


FROM SEVEN WITH LOVE: THE ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

Seven Questions

Scott Yancey

Star of A&E’s former reality series Flipping Vegas By Jessi C. Acuña May 29–June 4, 2014 What Does This House Mean to the Rest of Us ... How much of what is on the show is really indicative of the personalities of you and your wife? It’s reality TV for a reason, but try working with your wife for 12 to 14 hours a day. That will really bring out reality. They shoot about 120 to 140 hours per episode, and that gets edited down to 43 minutes. [The producers] know our fans. They love it when I break shit, and that’s my favorite part. If I could take a bulldozer and knock out a shed, that’s great. Take a chainsaw to a wall, that’s great. Demolition is No. 1; drama is No. 2. And then education.

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Tommy DeVito

Rebecca Romney

You’ve had extreme highs and lows in life. What was the highest high? The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was the cream of my life. We were lucky at the time we [formed The Four Seasons], but I can’t say we weren’t talented. Frankie [Valli] and his three-and-a-half octave range—I picked him when he was 15, hangin’ on the corner. And Bob Gaudio with his ingenuity in writing these songs, and Nick Massi was a master of harmony.

You spoke out in a Facebook post a year ago against internet trolls who were posting sexist comments. Has it improved? I haven’t really seen it end. It doesn’t matter what you say, people are still going to do it. When it’s aggressive accusations and things about being a woman in the public sphere, it actually encourages me to stay active in the public sphere because I feel that’s an attempt to get me [to stop contributing]. It is particularly difficult for young professional women to make their way, and you have to be unafraid to stand up for yourself. You have to be unafraid to deal with trolls. You have to be confident in

Founder of music group The Four Seasons By Steve Bornfeld April 25–May 1, 2013 A More Cultured Corridor

Former manager of Bauman Rare Books and expert on Pawn Stars By Cindi Moon Reed October 16–22, 2014 Storytelling 2014

MARK HALL-PATTON BY ANTHONY MAIR; CONOR MCGREGOR AND REBECCA ROMNEY BY JON ESTRADA

We’ve asked countless celebrities and notable—sometimes notorious—figures seven compelling and thought-provoking questions. Here are some of our readers’ favorites.


what you do. … It’s funny, I talk with [Pawn Stars boss] Rick Harrison and the other experts, and they’ll mention that they have trolls, too. Then I’ll show them an example of what I get any time I post something, and their jaws will drop. They get things, but not with the same frequency and not with the same pointed nature. It’s been a difficult adjustment. … My way of combating has always been to bring it back to the books.

Austin “Chumlee” Russell

Conor McGregor

Mark Hall-Patton

UFC fighter By Paul Szydelko September 25–October 1, 2014 The Beer Issue What did you learn from the time you knocked out an opponent in less than four seconds? I learned to be grateful I never have to go into the octagon and face myself.

The Pawn Star By Cindi Moon Reed January 23–29, 2014 Intriguing People 2014

You’re going to be a supermodel [because of recently dropping 100 pounds]. I don’t know about that. I’ve still got the same ghoulish looks. Expert on Pawn Stars and museum administrator for the Clark County Museum system By Paul Szydelko June 27–July 3, 2013 Our Collections, Ourselves How has Pawn Stars affected your life? It’s turned it upside down. A museum director is about the most anonymous job you can have. Your

face isn’t out there; you’re the guy in the back room. You run into this oddity of celebrity. It’s increased museum attendance 66 percent in less than three years—it’s wonderful, it’s doing exactly what we want. But on a personal basis, it means that I can’t speak to people’s IQ on the freeway if somebody cuts me off. I was in the Sacramento airport and a TSA agent pulled me around the metal detector and gave me a pat-down because he wanted to talk about the show. I’ll talk to you—you don’t have to touch me there, you know, that’s OK! You don’t understand how much you like anonymity until you don’t have it anymore.

David Sedaris

Humorist and author By Cindi Moon Reed November 20–26, 2014 Birth of an Edge City

How do you know what to reveal and what to hold back? Sometimes you don’t want to hurt people. It’s always nice to keep a little something for yourself. The worst things I’ve done, I’ve already written about. They are the things most people can relate to, because we’re not that different. If I’m talking about envy or stealing or lying or any kind of sin or any kind of horrible thought, 90 percent of people in the world have had that same thought. I was signing books a while ago and this guy came up to me and said, “Have you ever had a rape fantasy?” I thought, ‘You don’t have to answer every question that a stranger poses.’ But I went ahead and said, “Yeah, once or twice.” He said, “Me, too. In my fantasy, I hold the guy down and I cut away the pants.” “In your fantasy, you’re the rapist?” Rapists! I just didn’t expect that at all. But I like being the person who people can tell that to. 7

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FROM SEVEN WITH LOVE: THE ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

How’ve You Been,

Max? Max Jacobson established Vegas Seven’s culinary voice with his sage columns and his discerning critic’s palate. But that voice was nearly silenced three years ago when tragedy struck. We caught up with our original resident food expert to celebrate his ongoing recovery.

By Marisa Finetti Photography Anthony Mair

Max Jacobson, a veteran food and wine critic

who has written for the Los Angeles Times and Vegas Seven, continues to recover after a 2013 accident in which he was struck by a car while walking to the gym. After sustaining brain injuries and receiving treatments at hospitals throughout the nation, Jacobson is enjoying being back in the comforts of his home in the town that loves him most. His wife, Setu, says that the support they receive from Las Vegas continues to amaze them. “I got lucky. I have a great husband,” Setu says. “We just celebrated our 25-year anniversary.” Max met Setu during a visit to her native country, Nepal. “We [have] been together for 28 years, and I never get bored of him,” she says. “He’s a real person, a people person. He works hard and is great inside and outside. He is the best thing I have in my life.” Max, who is considered an authority on food, and particularly Asian cuisine, took command of many

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disciplines as well: Before embarking on a writing career, Setu says Max was an aspiring actor who enjoyed performing, singing and playing piano and guitar. Originally from Boston, the linguistics major also learned how to speak, read and write nearly 17 languages, Indonesian being his favorite, and has traveled to 109 countries. Setu says this was simply his way—embracing life and living it to the fullest. Today, the Jacobsons live with their niece, Emma Swarzman, who also provides great support daily. “She has been with us since the day of the accident,” Setu says. Despite taking care of Max 24 hours a day, Setu remains optimistic and looks forward to his further improvement. Each month they travel to Southern California. Setu considers the time Max is able to spend with his dear friends to be a big part of his healing. But they always keep their Las Vegas family close to their hearts.

“Everyone has given us so much here in Las Vegas,” Setu says. “I cannot say thank you enough.” When family members show him articles that he wrote for Vegas Seven, Max smiles and says, “I remember eating there and writing about it.” One restaurant that comes to mind is Lotus of Siam, a place he and Setu frequented and still rave about being the No. 1 restaurant in the nation. “Max was part of making them successful,” Setu says. “He did great things.” For now, the Jacobsons take it day by day. Max enjoys his morning walks, watching old movies and Jeopardy!, playing bridge on his computer and having coffee at Starbucks like he always did. In fact, just the other day he drove to Starbucks, something that would have been thought very improbable after the accident. He also recently watched a movie in a theater, which Setu regards as yet another great and encouraging milestone. 7


FROM SEVEN WITH LOVE: THE ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

SEVEN YEAR SWITCH: HOW LAS VEGAS HOSPITALITY HAS CHANGED

PHOTO CREDIT GOES HERE

P

In looking back at the history of Vegas Seven, it’s important to keep one eye on the city’s trajectory

haraoh woke from a terrible dream. Seven beautiful, fat cows emerged from the river to graze. It was good to be the master of such bounty. Then seven hideous, skeletal cows rose up and devoured the sleek ones. The last thing he remembered before he opened his eyes with a groan was that the scrawny cows remained just as ugly. Only Joseph was able to interpret this dream and another, similar one: seven good years would be followed by seven years of famine that would erase the happy memories. The downturn was inevitable; no crying or praying could prevent it. To survive, Pharaoh had to gather a fifth of the bounty year harvests and store them for the lean years. He appointed Joseph to oversee, setting into motion events that ended in reconciliation, Exodus and revelation at Sinai. Don’t be afraid—this hasn’t turned into a soul-seeking tract. I only want to remind you how deep the idea of economic cycles runs in us. We understand that there will be good years and bad years, and that if we fail to plan ahead, the bad years will be tragic. If Biblical wisdom doesn’t do that for you, next time I’ll talk about Kondratiev waves. All this is a way of saying that it isn’t so strange that, seven years ago, Las Vegas was in the midst of a few bad years. From 2008 to 2010, Las Vegas Strip casino income from gambling, rooms and food— which together made up nearly three-quarters of total resort revenue—fell. The 20 percent drop in gaming win and 24 percent fall in room revenues were unprecedented, as was the 5 percent fall in total visitation. Fewer people were coming to Las Vegas, and they were spending much, much less. In 2011, you could say the recession ended for Las Vegas tourism. Gaming win and room revenues started to rise again. But the boom years of Las Vegas never really returned. The hospitality industry has shifted mightily in the past seven years in ways that will dictate its future. The most obvious change is that gambling is no longer the alpha and omega of Las Vegas. Yes, we’ve been told that for years, but the numbers don’t lie: Although falling for decades, the percentage of total Strip income derived from gambling has decreased even more since the recession; last year it reached 34 percent. At the same time, revenue from rooms, food and everything else resorts offer has grown. Last year, Strip resorts made about $800 million more from their hotel rooms than they did in 2007, the last good pre-recession year, but $600 million less from gambling. This explains why, since the recession’s end, we have seen numerous nongaming construction projects (The Linq and T-Mobile Arena are the most obvious) but relatively little new-casino space. In fact, the city’s gambling footprint has shrunk; the number of slot

By David G. Schwartz machines has decreased by 18 percent on the Strip and 21 percent Downtown, and tables have also decreased. Total casino win is down about 7 percent on the Strip and 11 percent Downtown since 2007, while total resort revenues have reached record highs. So there was no recovery, but there has been evolution. If the current trend continues, by 2019, rooms will make about as much money as the casino floor, in 2020 they will surpass it, and by 2023, Las Vegas Strip resorts will make about $2 billion more from their rooms than their gambling. The reason why the next seven sleek years will be different from both our last lean time and the previous bounty years is that the nature of Las Vegas hospitality has changed. Each previous increase in both gaming and room income was preceded by new supply: more rooms and more casino space. The dramatic gain in room revenues this time, however, came despite a relatively flat supply. The total number of available guest rooms in Las Vegas has increased by a quarter of a percent since 2010. In those same years, room revenue grew by 55 percent. Why this dramatic increase in room income? Partially, it’s effective marketing—people continued to visit Las Vegas in record numbers—but primarily, it’s a combination of an increase in room rates and the addition of much-maligned (but more frequently paid) resort fees. So it doesn’t matter that gambling win is still well below its 2007 high; people are leaving more money in Las Vegas. What’s even more amazing is that this room-centric model is the second reboot of Las Vegas casino hospitality since 2008. Initially, Asian high-rollers were the future; a pipeline of them sustained casino revenues in the worst of the recession and likely kept a few major operators out

of bankruptcy. Baccarat play, by 2013, accounted for more than 14 percent of all Nevada gaming win, nearly three times its historic levels. Following the Chinese government’s anti-graft crackdown, however, the flow of high-roller dollars lessened. Since 2013, baccarat’s real and relative share of gaming win has declined; it is now less than 11 percent. This is when the switch to nongaming and rooms specifically took center stage. With nearly universal casino proliferation domestically, this trend had been ongoing since the 1990s, but it became a fact of life in the years after the Chinese bubble burst. Still, too heavy a reliance on rising room rates, resort fees and other miscellaneous add-ons (paid parking springs first to mind) may have a price. Those who don’t like paying more for their rooms have always argued that, with limited budgets, visitors will simply spend less in other areas if they have to fork over an additional $30 resort fee. Last year’s numbers may bear this out. For while room revenues rose 8 percent, total resort income grew only 2 percent, and the beverage, retail and entertainment departments saw actual decreases. It may be that, just as Chinese high-rollers got Las Vegas through the recession but were not a viable long-term key to staying in the black, the era of good fee-ings may be merely transitional. Because if the past seven years have taught anyone anything, it’s that the future we imagine is rarely the one we make. 7

i f t h e pa s t s e v e n y e a r s h av e

tau g h t a n yo n e a n y t h i n g , i t ’ s t h at t h e f u t u r e w e i m ag i n e i s r a r e ly t h e o n e w e m a k e .

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The Lucky Ones Momofuku and Milk Bar band together to make sweet music in The Cosmopolitan. By Marisa Finetti Photography Krystal Ramirez

M

omofuku means “lucky peach” in Japanese. It’s also the name of the man who invented instant ramen. But today, Momofuku is more widely recognized as the award-winning restaurant in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Sydney; Toronto; and now Las Vegas. Founder and chef David Chang has revolutionized dining with his smart use of star Asian ingredients such as shiso, ginger and hoisin, coupled with bold and subtle flavors, Chang creates edible memories by combining the familiar and the unfamiliar, one delicious bite after another. As for the stimulating phonetics of the name. Chang says it doesn’t hurt that it sounds like an American curse word. It matches his edgy, slightly neurotic obsession toward mastering flavor, from his optimized ramen to his devotion to well-seasoned pork. Chang describes food in musical terms. In his “Unified Theory of Deliciousness” article in Wired he writes, “Different cultures may use different media to express those base patterns—with different ingredients, for instance, depending on what’s available. But they are, at heart, doing the exact same thing. They are fundamentally playing the same music. And if you can recognize that music, you’ll blow people’s minds with a paradox they can taste: the new and the familiar woven together in a strange loop.”

This page, from top: Shiitake Bun, Chickpea Ramen; Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Oysters Momofuku, cucumber salad. Second row: the Momofuku bar (left) and dining room (right), counter and lounge seating, David Choe’s mural in the dining room


TASTE

Meet the Band Chang has been honored with awards

from Food & Wine (Best New Chef, 2006), Bon Appétit (Chef of the Year, 2007) and GQ (Chef of the Year, 2007) magazines, was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010, and has taken home five James Beard awards. But he didn’t have the easiest start. “When we first opened Momofuku Noodle Bar [in 2004], we had no idea what we were doing,” Chang says. “The restaurant was failing, and it’s only when we stopped caring about making dishes that you would find at a traditional noodle bar, and [began] cooking whatever we wanted, that things started to fall into place. We always say that what got us here won’t get us there.” Chang’s idea of a new menu and restaurant is to incorporate nods to dishes that have been in the Momofuku DNA for a while. “But also we really want to create something new, tailored to the chef running the kitchen, the location and that period in time. At the end of the day, we really just try to serve delicious food.” Taiwanese-born chef Michael Chen runs Momofuku Las Vegas. Raised in San Francisco, he describes his background as a cultural melting pot, which is seemingly synonymous with Momofuku’s culture and spirit. “One of the reasons Momofuku really appealed to me is that, similar to my background, they bring together styles, techniques and flavors from all over with the single goal of making delicious food,” Chen says.


The Melody

Food that teases the taste buds and goes right to the heart typically speaks more than one language. And that’s what you can expect at Momofuku. Take, for example, the idea that many Asian cuisines pair steamed bread with fatty meat and cool crunch. Chang knew Americans adore BLTs, so the Momofuku Pork Belly Bun was born at his first restaurant and became a smashing success. It is now available in Las Vegas, made with pork belly topped with hoisin sauce, scallions and cucumbers, and sandwiched in a soft steamed bun ($14, two per order). Equally delicious (and not for just vegetarians) is the Shiitake Bun—well-balanced and seasoned, with a soft texture; easily a two-order dish ($12, two per order). Another universally familiar classic is Momofuku’s play on surf and turf: Fried Chicken & Caviar, which serves 4-8 people. This meal arrives with two Southern-fried chickens, bibb lettuce, kimchi and three sauces (hoisin, ginger scallion and Ssäm Sauce—go ahead, double-dip) and is served with a choice of eight ounces of smoked trout roe, white sturgeon caviar or golden osetra (market price, varies by selection). Chickpea Ramen ($18) is an umami-rich noodle soup that starts with a broth made with chickpea hozon. Chen says, “Hozon is a fermented, stone-ground seasoning made in the style of miso paste that the Momofuku Lab makes out in Brooklyn. Chickpeas provide a sweetness to the seasoning while also allowing tremendous depth. Chickpea hozon adds a richness and level of umami that we think does not require meat.” Topped with light and crunchy fried chickpeas, the dish’s flavors and textures are addictive. The cocktail menu consists of some of the “greatest hits” from Chang’s restaurants, plus new additions just for Las Vegas, including a Suntory Highball on draft ($15). “Here, we are able to put both the whiskey and the soda in our draft system, allowing for the ideal carbonation every time,” Chang says. Wine selections include well-curated bottles, as well as lesser-known and boundary-pushing varietals.

They’ve Got the Look

If you look very carefully, Momofuku’s main dining room wall will make you feel like you’re being watched by beloved companions. Chang’s friend and mural artist David Choe covered the wall with two very special canines. “Seve is my son and best friend, and this is the first piece of artwork he has appeared in,” Chang says. “The mural also features Rosie, Choe’s Rottweiler. We’re excited to have both of our dogs featured.” The overall design of the space has a Vegas spin but retains an aesthetic found in all Momofuku restaurants. The wooden slating throughout is an evolution of the paneling used in Chang’s first restaurant.

ENCORE!

Next door, Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar is a place of legendary riffs on childhood flavors and down-home classics, and is the perfect way to end the meal. A blackboard menu proclaims the treats available at the walk-up counter adjoining the restaurant: “Cookies! Cakes! Soft Serve! Coffee!” Tosi and Chang have worked together for years, ever since Tosi established Momofuku’s dessert program, which helped the restaurants earn much praise. Crack Pie, a sugary, buttery confection, is as craveable as its name implies ($6.50). Cereal Milk Soft Serve—made from everyone’s favorite part of a nutritious breakfast, the sweet and sugary milk at the bottom of a bowl of cereal ($6)—hits the spot, as does the Compost Cookie, a tumbling mound of chocolate chips, butterscotch, graham crackers, pretzels and coffee ($3) and the Cake Truffles, a trio pack of Birthday Cake or Chocolate Malt ($6). And who could forget Klossies, which are gluten-free, vegan cookies that are both sinful and sweet ($3.75)? 7


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THE LOOK

SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Lauren Tansey Age 25 Hairstylist at Viva Salon IG: @laurenloveeeeee Who is your style icon?

Sophia Amoruso. I like how she’s grungy but girly, and pulls together random styles that you wouldn’t think to.

What do you first consider when getting dressed in the morning? If I really have

to wash my hair or not.

Who did you pretend to dress like when you were a little girl? Baby Spice from the

Spice Girls. I was the youngest growing up, so I thought she was the bee’s knees. Flats, kitten heels, wedges or stilettos? Kitten heels

make me cringe. Wedges. Has your occupation influenced your style?

If wearing black every day means “influenced,” then sure.

When do you feel the cutest? Going to concerts or

music festivals, when I get to dress up fun.

Where do you shop that you don’t want to admit? Ross—

cheap name-brand shoes.

What have you stolen from your sister’s closet that she doesn’t know about?

I used to steal all her band shirts when I was younger and would deny it every time—she had a custommade Sex Pistols shirt, and I remember trying to be cool and wearing it for my middle school picture. And then she saw my school picture and I got caught. 7

Photography Anthony Mair

Tansey is wearing an American Apparel bodysuit, Zara high-waisted jeans, Steve Madden booties and an Urban Outfitters fedora.

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SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Minh Tâm

Highlights From the Dam Short Film Festival Quick stories with a lasting impact By Shannon Miller

FOR MANY LAS VEGANS, BOULDER CITY CAN be an afterthought. Besides antique shops, tourist-swarmed Hoover Dam and World Famous Coffee Cup—the diner that Guy Fieri visited and dubbed Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hall-of-fame material—what else is there to do in the small lakeside town? Now in its thirteenth year, the annual Dam Short Film Festival took place last weekend at Boulder City’s historic Boulder Theatre. This year’s program included comedy, documentary, horror, international, sci-fi and underground films. The festival groups the featured short films according to themes, with programs lasting around 75 minutes. After each program, audience members receive one poker chip in the lobby to cast their vote for the best film. After viewing the program “Parenthood in the Pacific Rim,” I voted for Minh Tâm, a French film about a single mother’s struggle

New Stories From Old Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology By Lissa Townsend Rodgers FOR HIS LATEST RELEASE, VETERAN author Neil Gaiman reached

back to his youth and further for Norse Mythology, a series of retellings of ancient legends. Gaiman discovered Thor and Odin as a kid reading Marvel comics, which inspired him to seek out the original tales of the gods of Asgard where “history and religion and myth combine and we wonder and we imagine and we guess.” Far from a ponderous read, it’s a swiftly moving collection of short stories that follow a sequence,

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opening with a world born from darkness and fire, taking us through the glories of the gods and concluding with “the age of cruel winds, the age of people who become as wolves and prey upon each other” that leads to a final battle, Ragnarok. Gaiman’s renditions of “The Children of Loki” and “Thor’s Journey to the Land of the Giants” are vivid, with their icy landscapes more perceived than described, populated by gods who are awe-inspiring, but every now and then show a touch

to raise her autistic son. The ending left me with a feeling of satisfaction I did not expect from a 25-minute flick. In “Love and Romance,” U.K. film Dog Days stood out for its beautiful cinematography and artful storytelling about two strangers who live in the same part of London and, together, briefly escape the daily grind. These are just two of the festival’s many short narratives that sparked empathy in audiences and made them want to come back for more. This year’s featured films introduced new culture to the Boulder City and the greater Las Vegas Valley community. A favorite of DSFF board member Tsvetelina Stefanova was the Friday night lineup, which included the Underground program. In Boulder City, which tends to be more conservative than its next-door neighbor, underground and PG13 films pushed the envelope—one attendee walked out of Minh Tâm when it opened with a sex scene. “A great thing about short films is that filmmakers can touch upon themes and stories that may be too avant garde to be made into a feature-length film,” Stefanova says. Judging from what I saw of the festival, the short films were a joy for festival-goers, and allowed the artists behind them to show a variety of perspectives. DSFF brought the community together to celebrate varied cultures and welcomed new influences into the dynamic film scene of Southern Nevada. 7

of human foible: “People wanted to like [Loki], they wanted to believe him, but he was undependable and self-centered at best, mischievous or evil at worst. He married a woman named Sigyn, who had been happy and beautiful when Loki courted and married her, but now always looked like she was expecting bad news.” In the introduction, Gaiman explains that he would have written more stories but, since many of the old tales have disappeared, he had nothing to base them on. He writes ”we have lost so much.” Still, one wishes that he had taken a crack at inventing one or two more. It’s fair to say that the Norse gods and goddesses helped inspire Neil Gaiman in his illustrious career creating fantasy worlds: Surely they wouldn’t object to him spinning a few more yarns to lay at their feet. 7


DO GOOD

By Amber Sampson

SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Photography Krystal Ramirez

Beacon of Hope Blind Center of Nevada puts those in need on a path to independence In January, the Engelstad Family Founda-

tion awarded Blind Center of Nevada a $3 million grant to construct a 36,000-square-foot expansion (tentatively scheduled to open in November). Money like that isn’t often given unless you’ve done something substantial. Blind Center’s achievement? Creating family beyond what the eye can see. Operating as Las Vegas’ only full-service center for blind and visually impaired adults, the Blind Center began in 1955 and has since evolved into what Cory Nelson, the Center’s president, walks us through now: an encouraging atmosphere structured around self-sufficiency, fitness and fun. “This is such a wonderful place that sometimes, believe it or not, people pretend they’re blind so they can come here,” he says. The Blind Center sends for its members every morning through the RTC’s Paratransit bus service. For some, this is their first time riding a bus, but Nelson says the freedom of safe transportation builds their confidence. Upon arrival, members are fed by way of donations from U.S. Foods, and then myriad activities open up to them. They can embark on supervised field trips to stores and the movies, bowl on the Center’s two-lane alley, pick books from the braille and e-book library, take lessons in the computer lab stocked with blind-friendly hardware or hit the full-service gym, complete with two personal trainers. On the second floor of the Center, music teacher Kathy Kavanaugh runs through harp

practice with two of her students. From keyboard to ukulele—they have a selection of instruments from which to play. Down the hall, the Broken Spectacles, a six-piece band whose members are all legally blind, rehearse an acoustic rendition of the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” Music, however, isn’t the only thing at which the members excel. Dozens of sculpted creations line the walls of the ceramics room. Plates, vases, cups—you name it, and art teacher Sherrie Thomas has taught rooms of 25 to make it. She also teaches the Center’s weaving classes. Nelson says the staff tries to encourage crafters to sell their work on websites such as Etsy to get some income flowing in, but most of the time they present their creations to their loved ones. Why? Because with 70 to 80 percent of the Blind Center’s members living at poverty level, it’s all they can afford to give. “I believe that even the causes of blindness link back to poverty,” Nelson says. “A lot of our members didn’t necessarily have a good social structure when they may have had problems with their eyes. There’s a couple of people who lost their eyesight because there was nobody there to take them to the doctor or to the ophthalmologist to get this fixed until it was too late.” To assuage blind members’ financial woes, the Blind Center creates multiple opportunities for their visitors to create income for themselves. One of the best methods comes from the Center’s solar-powered electronic recycling facility, where both blind and sighted volunteers recycle or

refurbish old electronics from companies such as NV Energy, Cox and Caesars Palace. Marco Martinez works in the recycling department, and even though he’s blind, he still knows his way around dismantling an old computer. Blind for 11 years now, Martinez lost his sight after being shot in the face. Early on, he struggled with how to deal with his limitation. “I was like in a cave. What I mean by that is stuck at home, in my room, didn’t wanna go nowhere. People invite you, ‘Hey, you wanna go hang out with friends?’ I would say no. I would make up stories. …,” he says. “I always thought I was the only guy who went blind like the way I did.” As we speak, Martinez holds his cane in his hand. It’s an object he admits he never used to use because he worried what people might think. But since visiting the Blind Center, he says he’s started to accept himself and his situation. The Blind Center’s $3 million grant will enhance the recycling facility Martinez works for, as well as open up new opportunities for other members. Nelson says there’s talk of introducing a culinary program for the blind once the expansion is complete. Renting out the building for events and call centers may also be an option, he says, with the potential to hire Blind Center members for work. As for expanding, the president says the Blind Center will remain Downtown for now, but it’s looking into apartment housing for its members. 7 To find out how you can get involved with the Blind Center of Nevada, visit blindcenter.org.

Februa r y 16 -22, 2017 vegasseven.com

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SPACES & PLACES

Shepard Fairey & D*Face create new murals at the Plaza Hotel & Casino as part of Downtown’s growing outdoor art gallery

Goodness Gracious Great Walls of Fire By Jessie O’Brien Photography Krystal Ramirez

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SPACES & PLACES

“Artists make art for a range of reasons, and they’re all valid,”

says Obey Giant artist Shepard Fairey. Two new colossal murals on the Plaza Hotel & Casino’s main tower, one by Fairey and the other a work by D*Face, embody that statement. They couldn’t be more different in their intention: one, a political message stimulating consciousness and empathy; the other embracing playful—albeit dark—storytelling and escapism. Both are meant to stir curiosity, by prodding you to dig for symbolic meaning and create your own backstory. At the very least, they take daily commuters and drunken tourists out of their monotonous and hedonistic trances for a fleeting moment, asking them to spare a glance at such massive undertakings that, simply, look really fucking cool. The project was a collaboration with the Plaza, Life Is Beautiful festival and JustKids, the international street-art curators responsible for bringing work by prominent artists such as Zio Ziegler and Bezt to Downtown Las Vegas since 2013. Fairey and D*Face each spent a week staying and working at the Downtown hotel with their crews and a whole slew of paint cans to bring Las Vegans some new additions to the city’s outdoor gallery. The end result are two pieces of art that have undoubtedly changed Downtown’s look.

Shepard Fairey | A Peaceful Purpose

W

hen millions participated January 21 for the international Women’s March, one symbol stood out: Fairey’s depiction of a Muslim woman wearing an American-flag hijab, an image carried by hundreds of pussy hat–wearing protesters on homemade signs. The striking illustration was part of the “We the People” series displaying the diversity of America. A week after the historic demonstration, Fairey arrived in Las Vegas to transform the Plaza’s 21-story canvas. Lady Luck must have been smiling down on Las Vegas to get a mural by the celebrated artist at such a time in his career. The installation marks the third piece he has created in town—he’s also painted a mural on the Emergency Arts building and provided work in The Cosmopolitan parking garage. Fairey is best known for his iconic Obama “Hope” poster, and brought a similar sentiment back with his “We the People” works. In the same spirit as the unifying, optimistic message behind those well-known projects is the new addition at the Plaza, a towering black, red and white creation that has altered the cityscape. Titled “Cultivate Harmony,” the mural displays Fairey’s Andre the Giant image surrounded by a flower with a peace sign in the top-left corner. Beneath it is an eye with a teardrop enveloping the world. “The idea is harmony with each other and harmony with the planet, because both are important for civilization and for life to go on,” Fairey says.

Fairey’s goal was to create something that represented an aesthetic and philosophy that he was proud of, but would not ignite a pitchfork-wielding mob to come after him and hotel management. A considerate gesture, since Fairey’s roots as a street artist have produced more antagonistic, provocative work— something we’re bound to see more of with the Trump administration, such as with his recent “Obey With Caution” piece commenting on willful ignorance and arrogance. “This is uncharted territory,” he says of Trump’s USA. “I just didn’t think that there were enough people with judgment that was that poor. I felt like I got suckerpunched by America. There is plenty for me to make art about.” And while some of his creations seem blatant with messages meant to provoke thought and action, the 46-year-old artist has discovered new ways to be adversarial with his work. He calls his “We the People” works bulletproof from Fox News. “If you say that you don’t like the idea of being greater than fear, or defending dignity or protecting each other, you just revealed that you’re a bigot,” he says. “I love that idea.” The same concept applies to the Plaza mural’s sound message of harmony. “These ideas are hard to argue with unless you are really just someone with a reactionary and a hostile side, so, yeah, in my old age, I take the high road sometimes.”

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39


SPACES & PLACES

D*Face | A Twisted Tale

I

f there was an official artist of Downtown Las Vegas, it should be D*Face. His Plaza mural is now the British artist’s fifth in town, after creating one on El Cortez Cabana Suites building, another one a block south of it and the gun shooting the word “peace” on the Western Hotel, which covered up his previous “Viva Lost Vegas” work. “This is kind of crazy that I’ve got four murals within a couple of blocks [of] each other,” he says. Although Los Angeles is home to the most D*Face murals, Downtown has the largest in scale. Moments after finishing the work at the Plaza, D*Face was still uncertain of its name. “Well, today, it’s currently called either ‘Behind Closed Doors’ or ‘Death’s Door,’’’ he says. The mural shows a frightened Lichtenstein-style woman peering through a cracked door, which is being pulled back by a skeletal left hand. D*Face ingeniously used the wall jutting out from the Plaza to his advantage by making that section of the mural the door itself, avoiding the alignment challenge that comes with uneven surfaces and creating a sweet 3-D effect. His idea was to tell a story about what happens in mysterious hotel rooms. “A lot of characters are always passing through; you’re never really sure what’s been before you,” he says. D*Face’s favorite fable created from the image is about a woman who came to Las Vegas with her husband and her lover. She went out to the desert to murder her hubby and left him to rot in the Mojave Desert dirt. When she came to the hotel to meet her Romeo, guess who was waiting? Not Romeo. D*Face is known for works commenting on visual consumption. His pieces offer respite from the constant bombardment of advertising and ubiquitous corporate imagery on a second-by-second basis. “The overall feeling was to try to introduce something to the public that was an alternative to advertising, because all you

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get is advertising forced upon you. There is no choice in that,” he says “ When I walk down the street, I don’t choose to see that billboard, I’m just confronted with it.” His work jolts the viewer’s brain function, from purely consuming the visual to inventing a narrative. You have to come up with the image’s story, from only hints of it shown to you, which can be a bit of challenge in the golden age of streaming services. If you’re not up for the challenge, just enjoy. “Life is hard enough as it is without you trying to force things down people’s throats with your imagery. ‘Oh, here’s another thing I’m going to tell you not to do. Don’t drink Coke. Don’t eat McDonald’s. Don’t vote Trump. Whatever. OK, cool, I get it,” he says. “But maybe it’s just nice to have a cool-looking picture. … I’m trying to give people a little smile now and then.” What a gift. Quick—somebody give this man another wall! 7

THE DETAILS The Plaza, originally Union Plaza, was built in the early ’70s. As is the case with most older Las Vegas casinos, people have deep love for the hotel’s bygone times and classic look. One may think the Plaza’s addition of two large-scale contemporary artworks would run the risk of taking away from the place’s old-school charm—but like reincarnations of vintage fashion, the pieces take the casino into modernity while maintaining its nostalgia. “They are bringing something funky and new to Downtown, but [they] don’t take away from the iconic history and look of the Plaza,” says CEO Jonathan Jossel. He adds that the new additions are less about what the casino represents and more about what Downtown represents, as “Cultivate Harmony” and “Behind Closed Doors” connect the hotel to the rest of the muraled walls in our colorful city that is gaining quite a reputation for its street art.


CONVERSATIONS

ASK A NATIVE

Porte cocheres and pizza: The Native Looks Back By James P. Reza

H

appy seventh anniversary to Vegas Seven! While your Native has been contributing since the beginning, this column didn’t debut until October 2011. That makes this Ask a Native No. 240—roughly 90,000 words of Las Vegas Q&A. Or 3,200 tweets, if I were president. Around the time Ask a Native began, Zappos announced its impending relocation from Henderson to Downtown’s former Las Vegas City Hall—and, within a few months, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Mob Museum and the new City Hall all opened nearby. Even Seven eventually moved its offices to be close to the action. So it makes sense that Native began with a query about Downtown, and that Downtown has seen repeated attention here. There have been conversations about gentrification and redevelopment, of course, but what about that mystery tower at 11th and Ogden? It remains mysterious. As we know, Las Vegas inhabits a much wider swath of the Mojave than just Downtown, so I’ve also tackled the suburbs and their role in a postwar city built almost entirely of them. For the record, I enjoy visiting the suburbs (I even lived there for a few years), though I still think the 51s should stay in the city and that a shopping mall cannot qualify as a “downtown.” Some of my favorite Native queries dig into the philosophical and cultural nature of my hometown. We’ve dis-

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cussed Old Vegas versus New Vegas, the soul of Las Vegas, the “Vegas vortex” (and, my alma mater, the University of Never Leaving Vegas), the dying art of proper Vegas tipping, the decline of late-night Vegas and historic tales of the places and people that make Las Vegas dynamic: miners, Mormons and mobsters, naturally. History has been a hot topic among readers who remember pre-1990s Vegas. And from the Alpine Village Inn and Los Rancheros to two weeks of discussion about fondly remembered pizza places, the Vegas restaurant graveyard generates the most reader interaction. Even fast food is fondly recalled with the potential return of Naugles, as well as an unfounded insistence that White Castle had a store on Maryland Parkway long before coming to the Strip. Nope! So Seven is 7. And Las Vegas, at 112, remains an adolescent boomtown where documenting our past has only recently become important to an audience other than historians. The best part of writing this column has been the engagement with readers, some of whom have Vegas memories far older than my own, the subsequent sorting of details and the sense of place we are carving into the desert. So thank you, and here’s to seven more years! Have a question or comment about Las Vegas past, present or future? Send them to askanative@ vegasseven.com.


CONVERSATIONS

LUCKY NO. 7

We asked the WENDOH Media staff:

What will be the biggest story in the next seven years?

Lake Mead drying up and our water bills skyrocketing. Sorry, it’s depressing, but happy things are usually a surprise. You can see the shit coming. —Shannon Miller, editorial assistant

When California votes to become its own nation, our Caption goes coverage of our sunny neighbor to the west will be here award-winning. —Xania Woodman, senior editor, dining, beverage & nightlife

Kanye West builds a casino in the shape of his face that breathes fire (enter eye roll). OR … Ronda Rousey beats the shit out of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. —Nicole Scherer, director of digital sales All EDM DJs get replaced by the Chuck E. Cheese robots. —Zoneil Maharaj, director of digital content It will be about the IMPEACHMENT. —Marc Barrington, director of production/distribution The National Basketball Association awards Las Vegas with a new franchise, giving us three of the “Big Four” professional sports—hockey, football and basketball. Major League Baseball will not be far behind. —Michael Skenandore, president and publisher Charlie Sheen runs for president. —Adam Smith, Life Is Beautiful production coordinator

Photography Krystal Ramirez

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From Seven With Love: The Anniversary Issue | Vegas Seven | Feb. 16-22, 2017  

Plus: D*Face and Shepard Fairey at the Plaza and more

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