Behind the Setting Sun
Seven bits of deep background to the proposed newspaper divorce CURIOUS ABOUT THE BACKSTORY to the ongoing soap opera involving our two daily newspapers, the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Review-Journal— and what cliffhangers could be looming? You’re not alone. Here are seven things to ponder in connection with the much-publicized potential end of the papers’ jointoperating agreement: We tend to forget how twisted the history is. Before it was the Las Vegas Sun, it was the Free Press, a response to then-R-J publisher Don Reynolds locking out the typesetters union. In 1950, Hank Greenspun turned it into the Sun and made his product different: the Sun took on the R-J’s sacred cows, especially Senators Joseph McCarthy and Pat McCarran. But while the two sides blistered one another—Greenspun once accused Reynolds of having “the morals of the head skull crusher at a Chicago slaughterhouse,” while Reynolds called Hank “Vermin Greenscum”— they worked together if they agreed a news story might, say, incite violence or be a blemish on Las Vegas. Both also fought against a reporters’ union. Thus, even amid the feuding, the interests of the R-J and Sun occasionally meshed. This battle inspired recollections of the Valley Times, Las Vegas’ third daily paper from 1975 until its closure in 1984. Yet both the Sun and the Times were generally in the red. The latter died, and the former survived only with the JOA. One sign of the Valley’s growth and maturation, for better and worse, can be found in witnessing an unproftable business trying to survive by seeking help from friends, by
September 19–25, 2013
shifting money from other, more proftable ventures, and by prayer. The giants behind the two papers in their heyday had different spending priorities. Reynolds spent less on news than he could have, but always made sure his presses were topquality, while Hank Greenspun didn’t. And Greenspun invested outside the Sun—in land and other ventures that diverted some of his attention from his newspaper—while Reynolds concentrated on media. The mob may have played a role in the development of the two papers—and not just because Hank Greenspun chose the newspaper over working for Moe Dalitz at the Desert Inn. In 1963, the Sun’s building burned. Tom Hanley, a longtime thug for the mob and the Culinary Union, among others, claimed responsibility after Greenspun insulted him. By then, the R-J had begun to pull away from the Sun, which survived, but the expense involved and the cost in momentum made it nearly impossible to catch up. Did the Sun’s eventual downward spiral begin here? Once upon a time, the surest way to cause indigestion at the R-J was to spread rumors that money from outside Las Vegas was about to invest in the Sun— especially when the Greenspuns’ partner in their cable television company was the then-parent company of the Los Angeles Times, which was rumored to be interested. Sun
Publisher Brian Greenspun’s outside connections make that kind of infusion a possibility now, and perhaps a necessity, since the family corporation’s losses during the Great Recession have contributed to the current instability. Family squabbles are not uncommon in the media business. With Brian Greenspun squabbling with his three siblings, who are willing to walk away from the paper, it’s worth remembering other dynastic media tragicomedies, such as the one that saw the Chandler family sell the Los Angeles Times, which has had fnancial problems almost ever since. At The New York Times, Sulzberger family members are taught from birth that The Times comes frst, that it’s a family obligation. But they’re the exception, defnitely not the rule. Diversity matters. When either side bemoans the loss of a “voice,” remember, Las Vegas has many respected media voices besides the R-J and Sun, but they’re mostly weekly or online. A print daily may seem irrelevant in the age of news stories appearing online before they land on paper. But if you think of a newspaper not as a paper, but as a news-gathering organization, you begin to realize that, across the nation, a great deal of online conversation starts with the work of newspaper reporters. And if you’re a person—or a society— dependent on news, it’s a matter of simple math: Two daily voices are better than one.
Michael Green is a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada.
With football back, so too is the Monday Night Football party season. Always a big part of the casino scene, MNF parties have been de-emphasized over the past few years, but there are still events going on all around town. The season is young, so I need to poke around for a few more weeks to get the whole story. Meanwhile, here’s a quick summary of some of the best MNF deals in town: • Once again, the best party is at South Point, where a lively crowd gathers in the showroom for a traditional MNF bash. Get hot dogs for $1, pizza for $3, and buckets of beer for $12. Going the bucket route is better than buying them one at a time, as the per-beer cost of the five bottles in the bucket is $2.40, compared to $3 for individual drafts. Or, if you know you’ll drink more than five, an option for unlimited draft beer for $15 figures to be the play. Another good element of this party is its $1,000 cash giveaway. About 200 people were in the room last Monday, which means your mathematical expectation is to win $5 ($1,000/200) just for showing up. • The next strong play runs Downtown at Binion’s or the Four Queens, where they’ll refund your food and drink bill during the game with slot free-play up to $50. The deal is for Benny’s Bullpen at Binion’s and Chicago Brewing Company at the Queens. Both have cigar menus and a small wine list, so if pizza and beer isn’t your thing, you can go for cigars and cognac. The slotplay rebate has to be played through the machines one time, so you might not get all the way back to even, but you could also come out with more than you came in with. To top it off, you’ll also get a $10 table-game matchplay, which pretty much means you’re getting fed and paid to watch the games there. The offer is currently good every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. • Another powerhouse deal for MNF is available from a nontraditional source: the Hustler gentlemen’s club on Dean Martin Drive. Locals pay a $10 fee to get a pass into the club, where from 4 to 8 p.m. there’s an open bar and free food. This isn’t a draft-andwell-drinks open bar. It’s an everything open bar, as in Patrón and Absolut and Captain Morgan and Heineken. Better yet, your pass is reusable, and the booze part of the deal runs every day during the same hours. Of course, all three places show the games on their big screens, so simply pick the one that sounds bestótraditional, rebate and slot play or open bar. It’s tough to lose with any of them. Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com, a newspaper and website dedicated to finding the best deals in town.
ILLUSTRATION BY JESSE SUTHERLAND
THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE ON A MONDAY
PHOTO BY TK
September 19–25, 2013 VEGAS SEVEN
The husk of a building at Halloran Summit, 18 miles north of Baker. See Page 36 for more photos of this and other reminders of Interstate 15’s past.
The Dark Beauty of Desolation Photographer and UNLV professor J U L I A N K I L K E R explores an eerie and half-lost world where man met the Mojaveâ€”and the Mojave won
A “A lone tree stands next to this railway bunkhouse at Cima Junction beneath a full moon. Light-painting this scene while avoiding debris and fencing was a challenge during this short exposure, and I had to reshoot many times until I was satisfed with the result. In May, a fre believed to be arson burned down this building, along with 37 acres of brush and Joshua trees.”
B “A single supporting beam prevents this shack at Cima Junction from collapsing and joining the fate of the building on the left. It was eerie to hear the power lines above ‘sing’ with electricity at night. To add to the ambience, bats futtered past me through the doorways as I set up the interior lighting for the shot. After the May wildfre, only a pile of ashes remains at this location.”
C “At the base of this Joshua tree at Cima Junction, a roadside angel statue is surrounded by pebbles, coins, strings of beads and dice—all offerings from visiting desert travelers.”
Hard Rock Hotel [ UPCOMING ]
See more photos from this gallery at SPYONVegas.com
PHOTOS BY DEREK DEGNER
September 19–25, 2013
Sept. 20 Summer Camp Fridays Sept. 21 Juicy Beach ft. Robbie Rivera Sept. 22 Viva Vegas TV Model Invasion
[ UPCOMING ]
See more photos from this gallery at SPYONVegas.com
PHOTOS BY JOSH METZ
September 19–25, 2013
Sept. 19 Boom! with DJ Stellar Sept. 21 Scooter and Lavelle spin Sept. 22 Social Sundays
[ UPCOMING ]
See more photos from this gallery at SPYONVegas.com
PHOTOS BY TOBY ACUNA AND BOBBY JAMEIDAR
September 19–25, 2013
Sept. 25 DJ Gusto spins Sept. 28 Official Muay Thai World Standoff after-party
GHOSTBAR The Palms
[ UPCOMING ]
See more photos from this gallery at SPYONVegas.com
PHOTOS BY DEREK DEGNER AND TEDDY FUJIMOTO
September 19–25, 2013
Sept. 19 Rock ‘N Roll Wine Lounge Sept. 25 For the Ladies Wednesdays Sept. 26 Work Hard, Play Hard Thursdays
Mandalay Bay [ UPCOMING ]
See more photos from this gallery at SPYONVegas.com
PHOTOS BY BOBBY JAMEIDAR AND TEDDY FUJIMOTO
September 19–25, 2013
Sept. 20 Fatboy Slim and Don Diablo spin Sept. 25 Nicky Romero spins Sept. 27 Skrillex spins
In 2003 you had a neardeath experience when you suffered an intestinal obstruction on a Chilean mountaintop while hosting Scientifc American Frontiers and needed emergency surgery. Ten years later, is the effect of that still profound? In the early years, you don’t realize what a miracle it is. If you’ve got a second chance at life, you get a very palpable sense that this really counts, pretty much every minute. Every year I write the doctor who saved my life in Chile. I tell him what I did that year that I wouldn’t have been able to if it weren’t for him. I think I’m boring him. [Laughs.] Every year, my wife makes the same New Year’s resolution to act on her good impulses. I find myself doing more of that since I realized I’m only going to get a lim-
“They say, ‘acTion.’ i open The door, walk ouT, and There’s a nurse coming Toward me. i grabbed her around The waisT and hugged her. and i ThoughT, ‘There—i’m hawkeye.’” Actor/writer/director Alan Alda will discuss his near-death experience in Chile in his show, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, based on his 2007 memoir, at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall.
ited number of times to get a good impulse to act on, so I might as well not waste it. You were forthcoming in your book about your mother’s schizophrenia, and it being hard to talk about when you were a child. Are such personal things easier to discuss publicly now? You see people talking about things in the press all the time now. Michael—what’s his name, the actor who said he got cancer from oral sex? Michael Douglas. I can’t believe it was motivated by anything other than a desire to help other people. He’s already famous. He certainly didn’t need to be more famous for doing that. I mean, who knew? He did a public service. I’ve been a fan since your horror movie, The Mephisto Waltz in 1971. Oh well, that’s not a favorite. Also The Glass House, the prison movie. Yes, that was good. That was 1972, the same year M*A*S*H debuted.
You’ve said you are nothing like Hawkeye. How’d you unlock the character to play him in the pilot? I was standing in the aluminum shed waiting to come out for the frst shot. After a week’s rehearsal I still didn’t have a clue how I could be this guy. It got closer and closer and they call for quiet and I thought, “Where’s the clue?” And I hear the clapperboard, scene one, take one— still looking for the clue. They say, “Action.” I open the door, walk out, and there’s a nurse coming toward me. I grabbed her around the waist and hugged her. And I thought, “There—I’m Hawkeye.” You found instant fame, but you’ve written that it gave you nightmares. Why? They were worse than nightmares. They were night terrors. I could actually see things that weren’t there. At frst someone was standing in the room, glaring at me. Finally he was on the bed choking me. I think it was directly tied to suddenly becoming famous. They don’t have therapy groups for people who
are famous. When people pull at your fesh and then they show up in your dreams, I don’t know if that’s something you just take gladly. But I got used to it. Often people think M*A*S*H was really about Vietnam. Was it? I never saw it that way. It’s possible Larry [Gelbart, late producer/writer/director from 1972-76] felt that way. There’s a hint of that in the frst episode, when he shows a road in Korea and the title on the screen ironically says, “Korea, a hundred years ago.” I think he meant this happened 25 years ago, but it is happening now. But when I wrote for the show, acted in it, directed it, in my head we were doing stories about Korea 25 years ago and that’s it. The only thing in common was war, what’s true for every war. Sometimes people divide the series between the early “funny” years and the later “serious” years, but that rings false when I think of episodes like “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” from
the frst season, when Hawkeye’s friend dies on his operating table. That got a tremendous complaint from the network. They said, “What is this, a situation tragedy?” That was Larry, who also wrote way more political satire than ever appeared after he left. The other myth is that I imposed my political views after Larry left, which isn’t true. I don’t like propaganda, and I don’t write it. His pieces weren’t propaganda, but they had a very strong political slant and mine didn’t. And there’s the idea people say often that I somehow took over the show and what people don’t like about the show was my doing. I never took over the show. The show was always the product of the producers’ work. If people think it wasn’t what they liked later on, they’re entitled to that, but I didn’t do it. Is there one specifc episode you’d put in a time capsule? No, because there were a bunch of them. The ones where we told stories in unusual ways.
photo by JEFF VEspA
A&E September 19–25, 2013 VEGAS SEVEN
indelible memories, most of them anchored to Alda’s iconic work as actor, writer and director. Since then, the post-4077th oeuvre of Alda—who is now, in poetic symmetry, 77 years old—has been a marvel of quality and variety. Actors could use it as a template for turning a cherished but potentially career-strangling role in typecasting hell into a fascinating gallery of characters—not to mention that the Emmy-winning/Tony-andOscar-nominated Alda runs on parallel tracks as an author and science advocate. On September 24, Alda shifts into storyteller mode at The Smith Center as the Audi Speaker Series presents Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, his ruminations and observations of both his life, and the questions we all ask about life, based on his 2007 best-selling memoir. (Which followed his frst memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned.) Surprisingly, as the clock ticks toward the Hour of the Alda Interview, this experienced inquisitor’s nerves are rustling and the brain is panicking that the mouth won’t work. Rrrrr-ing. … Rrrr-ing. “Hi, this is Alan Alda.” No assistant says, “Please hold for Mr. Alda���? Places his own calls? Sounds like a softspoken pussycat? Exhaaaaale. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Alda.” •••
Alda appeared in three Woody Allen movies including 1993’s Manhattan Murder Mystery. Co-starring were Diane Keaton and Allen, foreground, and Anjelica Huston.
photo by A.F. ARChIVE
I vividly remember the nightmare episode, especially with the scene of Hawkeye in a rowboat in a sea of amputated limbs. I think of that often when people ask me [about memorable episodes]. Gene Reynolds, the producer, said, “Don’t do a dream episode, they do it on all the comedy shows where a person dreams and they have their wishes fulflled.” And I said, “No, I’m thinking of nightmares.” It gave us a chance to deal with the powerful experiences of the war by seeing the effect in their dreams.
It’s been 30 years since you played Hawkeye. Do you miss him? No, I never miss anything I ever did. It’s done. Over. The curtain comes down. It’s a moment that happened and you go on to the next one. I’ve heard it said we’re in a second golden age of television. Do you agree? In some ways, that’s true. What’s that horrible show with the little girl? Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Honey Boo Boo, right. I wouldn’t call that the mark of a golden age. But there have
been some extraordinary series. The Sopranos and Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad and Homeland. A whole bunch of series that are fascinating, with beautiful performances. You’ve done a wide variety of roles since M*A*S*H, including three movies with Woody Allen [Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Everyone Says I Love You]. Many actors have spoken of his quirky style, some loving it, some not. How did you fnd him? I was very happy to be in those. I think Crimes and
Misdemeanors is one of the best movies that we’ve made in America. He encourages improvisation. He doesn’t talk that much. You’re put in a position where the only people you can rely on are those you’re acting with. That really brings people together, which is why you sometimes get unusually good performances because they’re connected and that’s what you really need on the screen.
and running workshops at different universities and getting them to affiliate with us so we can spread this idea.
When you did Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway in 2005, were theatergoers shocked to hear David Mamet’s barrage of expletives come out of your mouth? I don’t fucking think so. [Laughs]
Thank you for your time, Mr. Alda. I just want to say that your work has given me a lot of pleasure and AlAn AldA: Things laughs over i OverheArd While the years, but TAlking TO Myself it has also allowed me to Reynolds Hall at think. Those The Smith Center, are substan7:30 p.m. Sept. 24, tial gifts to $29 and up, 749give someone. 2000, TheSmithThank you so Center.com. much. I really enjoyed talking to you. •••
What are your current projects? I don’t have an acting job lined up. I’ve been rewriting a play I wrote about Marie Curie. I spend a lot of time on science now. Right after I leave Las Vegas, I get on a plane to do a workshop at the University of Chicago. I told them my idea for science education, which was rigorous training in communication so the university would turn out accomplished scientists who were also accomplished communicators so we could close this gap between the public and their understanding of science. It’s been very successful. I go around the country raising money
Are there contemporary actors who remind you of yourself? No. [Laughs] It’s like that old actor’s joke: “Who is Alan Alda? … Get me Alan Alda. … Get me a young Alan Alda. … Who is Alan Alda?”
Just spent a half-hour chatting up Hawkeye without saying anything Frank Burns-like. We’re buds now. I imagine hangin’ with Hawkeye in the Swamp, just chillin’ and swillin’ gin. Hawkeye: SWILL? Sir, I have sipped, lapped and taken gin intravenously, but I have never swilled! (“Chief Surgeon Who?,” Season 1, Episode 4.) Yes, this mega-M*A*S*H maven needs therapy. Paging Sidney Freedman … STAT.
Celebrating the silver anniversary of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, the British heavyweights gave a crash course on what a heavy metal concert is supposed to be like. The band’s galloping sound continues to be anchored by bassist Steve Harris, whose fingers pumped out machine-gun rhythms on show opener “Moonchild” and “The Number of the Beast.” Singer Bruce Dickinson still possesses enough lung capacity at age 55 to fill a blimp, running almost nonstop around the mammoth stage but still having enough quasi-operatic voice for “The Trooper,” during which he
LOVE HATE AWAY September 19–25, 2013
Beauty Bar, Sept. 14
Local quintet Love Hate Away delivered whimsical music with a minimalistic approach. Although the pungent scent of cigarette smoke wafted between the walls, singer Christiana Chavez’s subtle rasp, coupled with the band’s reggae-tinged rhythms, conjured the freshness of seaside air. A slow, mid-set standout, “Wasted World,” saw Chavez singing eyesclosed, swaying onstage so enchantingly that the initial numbers felt tepid by comparison. Later on the bouncy, ska-inspired “Crazy About You,” Chavez repeatedly gushed the title line, guiding minds through the open lyric, allowing us to wander around our own “crazy” feelings of infatuation. Chavez punctuated the performance rarely and briefly, spurting quick plugs for the band’s demo and the forthcoming acts, leaving us wistful only for a stronger sense of their personalities as they glided from one dreamy track to the next. ★★★✩✩ – Camille Cannon
waved a tattered Union Jack. The three-guitar attack of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers traded aggressive riffs on songs such as “Wasted Years” and added layers of sound to the show’s centerpiece, a 10-minute journey through Seventh Son’s title track. And drummer Nicko McBrain still packs plenty of precision and power at age 61 to kick-start classics “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Aces High.” Maiden hadn’t played Las Vegas in 13 years, and the sold-out crowd soaked up every bit of sound and spectacle thrown its way. Giant flames erupted from the stage’s pe-
rimeter on many songs, and a 10-foot-tall Eddie (the band’s corpse-like mascot) wielded a sword as he paraded around the stage during “Run to the Hills.” On some tours, Iron Maiden eschews much of their back catalog in favor of newer material. But not this time around. This was Maiden at their old-school best, covering ground from their 1980 debut album through 1990’s Fear of the Dark. For most of us who remember Maiden’s classic era, we’ve slowed down a step or two. Iron Maiden, not so much. ★★★★✩ – Sean DeFrank
IRON MAIDEN PHOTO BY WAYNE POSNER; LOVE HATE AWAY PHOTO BY MIKEY MCNULTY
Mandalay Bay Events Center, Sept. 12
POP CULTURE A&E
What You Find When You Rewind Everything is Terrible uses yesterday’s cultural castofs to forge hilarious critiques of today
There also will be pointed cultural critique, particularly in Comic Relief Zero!, says site co-founder Nic Maier, who posts as Commodore Gilgamesh as part of the eightperson collective. “I think we have a philosophical agenda that’s a lot more pronounced in this work. It’s defnitely our most pointed move to show a fawed art form. The power of hate and small-mindedness inside of a whole form,” he says. “I have no tolerance for stand-up, especially bad stand-up. I think stand-up comedy, 99.99 percent of it is lazy. I’ve been saying my goal with Comic Relief Zero! is to just
That’s a fascinating little bit of epistemological populism that sounds like cheerfully nihilistic calculus, though Maier says that isn’t really the case. He insists, like in Comic Relief Zero! there is, much to the relief of The Big Lebowski’s Walter Sobchak, an ethos,
from a place of alienation. It puts an ocean of distance between the content and the viewer. It turns you into Jane Goodall, staring at the apes; into Watchmen’s Comedian; into Kramer. Actually, it’s not just the viewer, either.
WATCH ENOUGH OF THESE, AND YOU’RE FORCED TO START LOOKING AT MODERN MEDIA THROUGH A 20-YEARS-FROMNOW-THIS-WILL-ALL-LOOK-TIRED-AND-GOOFY LENS. convince one person to not do stand-up, and to try to make something else.” It’s worth noting that Maier says the primary concern of Everything Is Terrible! is comedy. Although it’s not necessarily a contradictory stance for Maier to take, it does seem to ft into the site’s overall aesthetic, where deconstruction is a matter of course and handled with the sensibility of a chop shop partsing out a boosted Honda. What keeps getting me, though, is the site’s motto: “If everything is terrible, then nothing is.”
dude. Even though the bulk of the material is ’80s- and ’90s-centric, Maier says cheap nostalgia was never the point. He wants to present the past to show how it’s similar to the present, but in a way that makes us “work to make art or media a little better.” And maybe that’s the aim, watching enough of these videos makes me, at least, feel like I’m watching some poorly translated dispatch from a forgotten and foreign culture. If comedy is the prime directive, Everything Is Terrible absolutely succeeds on those merits. But the comedy comes
“I have a different relationship with media than a lot of folks, I think,” Maier says. “When I watch contemporary television, I feel like I’m watching Everything Is Terrible, and I feel like it’s totally alien to me, and everything is this crazy psychedelic joke. That’s our culture, disconnected from reality. I’ve felt that way more and more as I’ve done the website.” That’s where it starts to get really weird. It’s not just money-management infomercials staring Florence Griffth-Joyner, or tacit Nintendo commercials posing
as Game Informer video spots featuring The Crystal Method. You know how every tired hippie who’s ever done mushrooms at a Phish concert won’t shut up about how psilocybin expands their consciousness (to the point where 40-minute four-chord jams seem tolerable)? This is that, but for the media consumption center of your brain. Watch enough of these, and you’re forced to start looking at modern media through a 20-years-from-now-this-willall-look-tired-and-goofy lens. And that kind of self-awareness is memetic on a commercial level, even. Maier says that big advertising frms regularly order up all the Everything is Terrible DVDs, and he sees the site’s style creeping into mainstream spots. Lookin’ at you, Old Spice. “It’s deeply both troubling and interesting to me. I guess a more selfaware world is a slightly better world,” he says. But even if there’s a level of self-awareness creeping in, it won’t matter to the foundonauts of the mid21st century. Once there’s zeitgeist, there’s something to mock: Meet the new boss. If everything is terrible, then nothing is.
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THE VIDEO IS called “Place Sinbad Around Your Wang.” I can resist many temptations in life. Drugs. Shoplifting. … Two, OK? I can resist two temptations in life. And clicking on a video called “Place Sinbad Around Your Wang” definitely isn’t on that list. It’s a ’90s-era PSA with Sinbad dressed like a rubber. Which makes it immediately more intriguing than Houseguest. He talks about Spud Webb posting up on Michael Jordan. He discusses prudent choices in spermicides. Three things come immediately to mind. First: This looks like it should be the intro to a TLC music video. Second: Hey, he makes a good point—someone really needs to return “jimmy hat” to the vernacular. And fnally: What the hell is happening here? None of those are particularly unusual reactions to EverythingIsTerrible.com, the 6-year-old found-footage website that traffcs heavily in thrift-store VHS tapes to fnd old training videos, beyond-awful movies, abandoned copies of Jerry Maguire and other assorted cultural detritus that may or may not involve Cuba Gooding Jr. On September 19, Everything is Terrible brings its live show, Two Head Cleaners and a Microphone to Theatre7 (1406 3rd St. $12 at the door, 8 p.m.). They’re screening their latest two DVDs, Comic Relief Zero! and Everything Is Terrible! Does the Hip-Hop! There will be sets. There will be songand-dance numbers. There will be puppets.
September 19–25, 2013
By Jason Scavone
Odd Man Out Vegas Seven sits down with enigmatic funny man Dave Chappelle for his frst interview in years By Maureen Hank
“Do I look like a douche in this suit?” Dave Chappelle asks as he looks down at his gray-tweed two-piece with an indigo shirt he’d just picked up from Barneys at the Palazzo. During a couple of off-nights from headlining Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, the unpredictable and virtually inaccessible actor-comedian had stepped up his laid-back clothes game to dine at Nobu and watch the Mayweather-Canelo bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “It’s a big fght, so I thought I’d just wear it and have a little fun.” After all, Chappelle, 40, has been pushing the barriers of his comfort zone in 2013. “This is my frst interview in years,” he says. Since he and I hail from Yellow Springs, Ohio (population 3,500), I got a chance to talk to the comedian before he takes the stage at Mandalay Bay Events Center on September 21.
September 19–25, 2013
How did you get onboard the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival? Typically, I don’t play these 15,000seat venues. ... But I like the guy who conceived the tour. … I didn’t realize how much attention I’d get by playing venues this way, so that part is kind of uncomfortable. But at the same time, it’s a lot of fun. ... With the exception of Hartford, [Connecticut, where serious heckling went down] it’s been successful.
because I said some [Hartford] joke the next night. He said I was immature. But I was like, “Yeah, but it’s a joke.” I thought it was funny. What does Las Vegas mean for an entertainer? When Larry King had Joan Rivers on his show, I think he said, “Vegas is where famous Jews go to die.” [Laughs.] ... Entertaining in Vegas is totally different now. Beyond just gambling, it’s a hot place to be. What do you like to do in Vegas? I don’t gamble with money, I gamble with my regular behavior. ... A couple of times I’ve been here, I got on my motorcycle and rode around. I got off the Strip and saw this other real life to be had in Vegas. I met some locals while I was riding around and joined them at some [off-Strip] sushi place. How do you feel being on the cover of Prince’s new single, “Breakfast Can Wait?” That actually made me laugh for a long time. ... Initially, I had called him even before I did my [Prince parody] sketch. At that time he was kind of wary of it. But when he saw the sketch he actually liked it. ... I emailed him and all I said was, “Touché.” [Laughs.] That is some gangster shit.
What was up with the tough crowd in Hartford? How does it feel to be praised by Hartford was a complete anomaly. such admirers as James Lipton and Some people don’t necessarily know the late Richard Pryor? how to be part of an audience. They just It’s nice when people say these start screaming shit out and really don’t things, especially when it’s people that allow me to do my job. So I said fuck it, I really look up to and admire ... or I’m not going to do my job. If even people I meet on the I were smart, I just wouldn’t street. ... I remember hearFunny or DIe ing that Muhammad Ali had have said anything. I would have just sat on the stage until preSentS the someone that he admired it was time for me to walk off. oDDball Come- and looked up to. He asked But then they wouldn’t have for an autograph and Dy & CurIoSIty him gotten to say the shit they said was refused. Ali said that he FeStIval like, “He melted down.” made a choice: Never look down on somebody that’s Mandalay Bay At the next stop, you were looking up to you. It’s a real Events Center, honest with the crowd powerful sentiment. ... I 7:30 p.m., Sept. about your thoughts on might not always sign the 21. Tickets $55 Hartford, right? autograph, and I probably and up, 632Yeah, but I really don’t won’t take a picture, but I try 4760, Mandagive a shit. I guess the mayor to treat everybody with as layBay.com. of Hartford said something much respect as I can.
SecondGeneration Iron A sequel to the ’70s-era Schwarzenegger vehicle will do more than pump you up By Heidi Kyser
September 19–25, 2013
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER FAMOUSLY
played pranks on opponents and smoked marijuana in the 1977 docudrama, Pumping Iron. For Generation Iron, which writer and director Vlad Yudin sees as a sequel to the original, Schwarzenegger offers a more mature contribution, describing bodybuilding as sport, entertainment, lifestyle and art—all rolled into one bulky, spray-tanned package. Viewers can decide which perspective they prefer when Generation Iron opens nationwide on September 20, a release date set to coincide with Joe Weider’s Mr.
Olympia competition September 26-29 at the Orleans. Filmgoers who don’t already know that Mr. Olympia takes place in Las Vegas each September—be they local or not—will fgure it out as the drama unfolds, for a few reasons. First, Generation Iron features compelling characters whose fates Yudin gets you to care about, in part, by pinning them to the outcome of the contest. He chose eight top-tier professional bodybuilders to follow in their preparation for the 2012 Mr. Olympia, and it’s a colorful cast, including Phil Heath (a.k.a.
Phil Heath, 2011’s reigning Mr. Olympia, prepares to defend his title.
“The Gift”), the handsome, arrogant 2011 winner; Roelly Winklaar, a Curaçao underdog who trains (and shares a hotel room) with an elderly Dutch woman nicknamed Grandma; and—the most likable of the bunch—Ben “Pakman” Pakulski, who employs a team of laboratory scientists in his search for the perfect body. But the flm opens and closes, as it should, on Kai Greene, the deepest well to be pumped in the search for meaning behind a sport that is, by defnition, superfcial. An orphan raised by foster families and juveniledetention offcers, Greene fnds salvation in weight-lifting—a cliché that Yudin touches on sparingly. Instead, he focuses on Greene’s talent as a painter to literalize the essence of bodybuilding: treating human form as clay lump to be sculpted to spec. Greene is shown practicing his craft as a masked street performer, which he says is a better place than the gym to perfect the diffcult art of posing, connecting mind and muscle so intricately that the
bodybuilder can alter any inch of the body on command. It’s no spoiler to reveal that the flm boils down to a Mr. Olympia duel between Greene and the title-holder, Heath, with the other characters providing heartbreak and laughs along the way. (One character, who is struggling to support his family after seven months’ incarceration, is forced to bow out; another is thrown from a bucking horse as he rides out of a shot in which he’s declared his status as self-made maverick.) Such moments rescue Generation Iron from the brink of commercialism—those moments when it slips into the lightweight formula of bio pieces on Olympic athletes: Person X comes from adversity Y and fnds inspiration Z to make it to The Big Show. The difference here is that you want to know what happens to
the characters beyond the main event. Sure, Mr. Olympia provides structure for the narrative, but the announcement of winner and loser only adds layers to the characters in question. Yudin accomplishes this by facing the tough questions about the sport. He delves into performance-enhancing drugs, injuries and the toll that bodybuilding takes on the human form in its relentless (reckless?) search for the limits of muscle growth. “It’s a very hard sport,” one competitor’s wife says. “They don’t get to enjoy their lives.” No, most of them don’t—at least in the flm. But we certainly get to enjoy pondering what their sacrifce means about civilization. Generation Iron (PG-13) ★★★✩✩
Visit VegasSeven.com/GenerationIron to read an interview with writer-director Vlad Yudin.
IllustratIon By rIck Quemado
unequal sequel Insidious: Chapter 2 not as demonically interesting as the original By Michael Phillips Tribune Media Services
with the crafty Insidious (2011) and this year’s exceptional The Conjuring, director James Wan asserted the reliability and proftability of oldschool suggestive horror, haunted-house division, easy on the sadism. Now comes Insidious: Chapter 2, which picks up mere moments after the frst one. That one ended with Patrick Wilson’s demonpossessed family man, Josh Lambert, throttling, fatally, the kindly hypnotist played by Lin Shaye. From the hardworking actor’s perspective, it’s a handy thing being cast in a movie such as Insidious: You get killed off, but you can come back as a limbo-dweller or a spirit. Life goes on even when it’s over. And that’s a working defnition of most Hollywood flm franchises—they’re something to keep going even when there’s no creative need to do so. Director Wan’s recent comments in interviews about wanting to leave behind the horror genre, at
least for a while, make some sense now that I’ve seen Insidious 2. The sequel’s not bad; it’s not slovenly. Some of the jolts are effectively staged and flmed, and Wan is getting better and better at fguring out what to do with the camera, and maneuvering actors within a shot for maximum suspense, while letting his design collaborators do the rest. But Leigh Whannell’s script is a bit of a jumble, interweaving fashbacks and present-day action, setting up parallel action involving “real” world hauntings and simultaneous, nightmarish goings-on in the supernatural limbo known as “the further.” To which the logical follow-up question is: the further what? Has Josh gotten rid of his demon self? Hardly: He’s like a motel, perpetually vacant so that somebody might check in and stay awhile. Rose Byrne returns as his justifably paranoid wife, who keeps losing her children and who runs afoul more than once of
Shhh ... Don’t tell anyone, but this movie isn’t as good as the original.
that new/old horror trope, the insidious baby monitor. Barbara Hershey’s also back as Josh’s mother, who opens her doors to the haunted Lambert family only to fnd the spirits come with the package. Reliable gotchas are brought out for mini-sequels of their own, within this sequel. The bit with an invisible someone playing the
family piano? We get that three times, at least. Closet doors opening on their own, revealing pitch blackness containing ... something ... in the space between the neatly hanging shirts: Twice? Three times? Whannell once again writes himself a comic-relief supporting role, that of one half of a pair of eager-beaver
September 19–25, 2013
The Family (R) ★★✩✩✩
This violent action comedy stars Robert De Niro as Giovanni Manzoni, who ratted out his mob pals back in Brooklyn and now has a $20 million price on his head. And he’s in France. Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), the long-suffering wife, moves with him to yet another town where they yet again need to fit in. And Tommy Lee Jones takes a turn as a government agent who tries to keep the family alive, and keep the incidents with the locals to a minimum. Director Luc Besson isn’t exactly comfortable with comedy.
Riddick (R) ★★★✩✩
Vin is back in this installment of the Pitch Black sci-fi franchise. We open on a hot, scrubby planet, where our antihero (Vin Diesel), betrayed by the Necromongers, is left for dead among the beasts of the swamps. Riddick tries to survive in isolation, and eventually the bounty hunters, some old, some new, come for him. Especially good is Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica. It’s a simple, compact sequel, and it knows its goals and limitations.
Closed Circuit (R) ★★★✩✩
A bomb goes off in London. More than 100 people die. The incident, and so much of daily life, is captured on surveillance cameras. The accused Muslim terrorist is assigned counsel. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) works with his client in a closely watched public trial. But the state has unearthed evidence so sensitive that another private trial is required—and separate counsel (Rebecca Hall). The counselors were lovers once but proceed without revealing it. It’s a pretty good movie, despite its plot holes.
ghostbusters, opposite Angus Sampson. They’re moderately entertaining. The movie’s moderately tense, though Wan is smart to want to get out of the old dark houses for a while. Until something hideous pulls him back in, that is. Insidious: Chapter 2 (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩
[ by tribune media services ]
One Direction: This Is Us (PG) ★★✩✩✩
Yes, One Direction is still a thing, and, yes, there are plenty of teens and tweens out there who want to see this concert flick. The film captures the five lads that Simon Cowell hand-picked as they rocket up the charts and into arenas around the world. Sure, they come off as good lads, running around, bonding on a tour bus across Europe, the occasional stroll down a public street ... until they’re mobbed. All in all, it’s pretty whitewashed and prepackaged, so if you care, you’ll see it. If you don’t, you won’t.
Getaway (PG-13) ★✩✩✩✩
The World’s End (R) ★★★✩✩
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩
The Butler (PG-13) ★★★✩✩
Based on the series of novels, this fantasy film is a stilted, silly mishmash of earlier franchises. Clary (Lily Collins) finds out that she is a Shadowhunter, a descendant of a warrior angel who showed up a thousand years ago to battle demons. Her admirer (Robert Sheehan) finds out. And a moptopped explainer Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) has the tedious job of explicating everything. There are five more planned, probably none of them amounting to much.
Lee Daniels directs this historical drama in which the fictional Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker and loosely based on Eugene Allen) served several presidents as a White House staffer before, during and after the Civil Rights movement. His wife (Oprah Winfrey) raises their two boys while her husband spends too much time at work. Their oldest son, Louis (David Oyelowo) becomes a disciple of Dr. King and Malcolm X. While Whitaker does great with the material, the film is a bit heavy-handed.
Jobs PG-13 ★★✩✩✩
Paranoia (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩
In this film, we get Harrison Ford playing a Steve Jobs-type tech powerhouse who’s about to launch a “game changer” of a smartphone. Gary Oldman plays his protégé turned murderous business rival. The minnow swimming among the sharks is Adam (Liam Hemsworth), who loses his job after blowing a product pitch. Oldman’s character blackmails Adam, sending him undercover to purloin a few trade secrets from Ford’s company. It’s too bad—the basics are there, but the end result is pretty bland.
September 19–25, 2013
This biopic about the late Apple computer guru Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) is just not very interesting. Kutcher’s performance is bland, and the depiction of Jobs is flat. We’re shown the origin story—the start in the Jobs family garage, the early, clunky Apple computers in the ’70s, paving the way for sleek multizillion-dollar design perfection. Whereas The Social Network was an in-depth, skeptical character study, all we get from this is that Jobs was greedy and conniving, with nothing underneath.
The latest genre mashup from the Shaun of the Dead team is highly enjoyable. Forty-ish London bloke Gary (Simon Pegg) struggles with his alcohol addiction while reuniting his old gang (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine) for another go at the 12-pub crawl that defeated them when they were 19. Upon their return, everything’s slightly off. While it starts as a buddy drinking movie, it ends in robotalien action mayhem. And it’s awesome.
95 VEGAS SEVEN
Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is a former professional race car driver living in Sofia, Bulgaria. His wife (Rebecca Budig) gets kidnapped on Christmas and held in a warehouse so that a criminal mastermind known as The Voice (Jon Voight) can blackmail Hawke’s character into a series of tasks behind the wheel of a custom Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake. At one point, Selena Gomez jumps into the passenger seat and attempts to steal back her car. The rest is more of the same weak effort. It’s awkward and pretty lame.
Gastro Fare. Nurtured Ales. Jukebox Gold.
fore I was getting ready to go to college, I had a red ’69 Mustang Mach 1 428 Cobra Jet—great car, beautiful car. But I decided that I needed to be a sports-car guy. So I traded that in for a TR-6. That’s not a great car story. But that drive was beautiful.
Shelby American’s boss on moving to the center of town, cruising the coast and riding shotgun with Carroll Shelby through the Mojave By Matt Jacob
September 19–25, 2013
MUSCLE-CAR AFICIONADOS, REJOICE: On December 1, Shelby American—the manufacturer whose sleek high-performance hot rods range from the 1966 Cobra 427 to the 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500—is relocating from a fve-building complex at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where it has been headquartered since 1998, to a 135,000-square-foot facility in the shadows of the Sunset Road overpass just east of Interstate 15. The man spearheading the move is John Luft, Shelby American’s president (handpicked by the late Carroll Shelby) and a lifelong exotic-car enthusiast.
What was the impetus for Shelby’s upcoming move? Our business has changed. Back 15 years ago, we were a B2B [business-to-business] company. If you wanted to come buy a Cobra or a Shelby Series 1, you couldn’t buy it from us; you had to buy it from a dealer. And B2B doesn’t care where it lives. But then we evolved into a B2C [businessto-consumer] company, which was triggered by the agreement with Ford, which produced the 2007 Shelby GT500. That resulted in us migrating to a B2C type of business. When you’re a B2C business, the most fundamental rule is location, and we’re 18 miles outside of town. Also, Las Vegas is the top leisure and convention-destination city in the nation, and I’ll bet we get less than 10 percent of that activity. People don’t even know we’re out there.
How will the new facility appeal to Joe Public? Our current gift shop is about 900 square feet; the retail portion of our new facility is 5,000 square feet. We are also tripling the size of what we call the Shelby Showcase—new vehicles and vintage vehicles. Part of that is we take people out on the production foor and let them see it, smell it, hear it—everything that challenges your senses as far as building a vehicle. Currently, we tour about 75 to 100 people a day, so I’d imagine we’ll have more than one tour a day now. While the tours are free, one of Carroll Shelby’s ongoing outreach [efforts] was the Carroll Shelby Foundation, so we certainly ask that [those who take the tour] continue to support the foundation in any manner they can.
Economic diversifcation is a hot-button topic in Nevada, and Shelby certainly fts that niche as the state’s only auto manufacturer. How could the automotive industry play a bigger role? As we’ve seen out at the speedway, one often begets the other. For example, there are many automotive-related businesses that have circled around Shelby American just by virtue of us being in Nevada. We are without question the strongest independent performance brand in the automotive industry, and when you plant your fag for all to see, good, smart businesspeople just know to draft behind that strength. And frankly, we’ve already seen that at our [new facility]. I don’t want to mention who they are, because I don’t want to compromise their negotiations, but two compa-
Have you always been a “car guy”? I have. When I [became president] 3½ years ago, I was at an event, and someone asked me, “John, I see your background and your career. But what qualifes you to run Shelby American?” It was a good question. And I told him I started training for this job when I was 16. I grew up in San Diego and used to race up and down a street called Valley Parkway, and on Friday at 16 years old, you typically only had enough money for either a tank of gas to go street race or to take your girlfriend out. My girlfriend often sat at home on Friday nights. What’s the most scenic drive you’ve ever taken? It has to be Pacifc Coast Highway from Santa Monica and across the Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Bragg. It was in a little Triumph TR-6. One of my horrible car stories is that be-
When are we going to see a Shelby reality show? Oh, they have beat down our doors for years and years. In fact, that only could’ve worked as long as Carroll was here, because you’ve got to have a personality that’s bigger than life. I remember when reality shows frst started to become popular, and we told Carroll, “Hey, so-and-so wants us to consider doing a reality show.” He said, “Aren’t those the shows where everybody just hollers at everybody?” He wasn’t someone who wanted to get involved in that. So with Carroll checking out to that big racetrack in the sky, I really don’t see one in our future.
Why did Shelby American abandon the racing business after the 1960s? Find out at VegasSeven.com/Luft.
PHOTO COURTESY SHELBY AMERICAN INC.
nies already have said they’re moving within a few blocks of us. … As it did at the speedway, Shelby American will create kind of a hub of automotive performance, much like auto dealers do when they cluster in certain areas of town.
In this issue, we detail the drive along Interstate 15 in the Mojave Desert. What’s your most memorable experience on that long, lonely journey? In spite of the fact that there was never enough horsepower for Carroll, he always loved innovations, and new and green alternatives. So about fve years ago, Ford gave Carroll a hybrid to drive for about a year or so, and one day he asked me if I wanted to ride with him [from Los Angeles] out to Las Vegas, so I did. We are driving through the desert, and he gets pulled over doing 125! [Laughs.] The offcer asks Carroll, “Do you know how fast you were going?” And Carroll says, “I think I was doing around 100.” “Well, you were doing 125.” And Carroll looks at me and says, “You know, Ford tells me these cars aren’t supposed to be able go that fast!” Then the offcer looks at his license and says, “Mr. Shelby, please slow it down.” It was one of those moments where, if I had to go to jail for driving over 100 mph, to have Carroll as my cell mate would’ve been a privilege. [Laughs.]