Friday, December 08, 2006

Las Vegas Holiday Events

This weekend
Henderson WinterFest
Ice skating, Santa, train rides, ice sculpting, and children’s crafts
200 Green Valley Pkwy.
December 8 and 9, 5-9 p.m.
Admission: Free

The Great Santa Run
Benefit for Opportunity Village
5K Fun Run and 1 Mile Walk
December 9, 8 AM
Fremont Street Experience
$45 Early registration
$75 on 12-09-06

The Lakes Festival of Lights
Festival concludes in the evening with a parade of lighted boats
December 9, Noon – 6 PM
Intersection of Lake Sahara Drive and Lake East Drive

Philharmonic Holiday Celebration Concert
Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday 2PM
Tickets: $27, $45, $69

Throughout the holiday season
Opportunity Village Magical Forest
6300 W. Oakey Blvd.
5:30 to 10:00 PM daily
$9 General Admission
225-9627 for details

The Gift of Lights
Sunset Park
2601 E. Sunset Road
5-9 p.m., 5-10 weekends
$12 per vehicle/discount with bag of gently used clothing
451-1641 for details

Ethel M. Chocolates
Two Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson
Santa Visits on the weekend @ 5:00/choir follows

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Grand Canyon Like You’ve Never Seen It

The majestic canyon in my pictures undoubtedly looks familiar to you, even if you’ve never been to northern Arizona. Take a closer look, because there are a few things missing: the crowds, the traffic, and the guard rails. Visit the Hualapai Nation’s West Rim, and you’ll experience the Grand Canyon in a whole new way.
This rugged, untamed portion of the canyon is a sacred place to the Indians who’ve lived there for a thousand years. My family and I were fascinated by the spectacular, unsullied serenity of the West Rim. I kept asking my husband and son, “Can you step back a little?” Acrophobics, be forewarned. We watched eagles drifting on thermals below us. At Guano Point, ravens staked out the restaurant, as common a pigeons but much larger. Four thousand feet below, at the bottom of the canyon, the Colorado River snaked past. I could have spent all day just soaking up the view.

Visit the West Rim’s official site:
for more information. You’ve probably heard about the Skywalk Project, certain to be a heart-stopper when its completed, but that’s not all the West Rim has to offer. If you’re dying to put your SUV through its paces, this is the place. Take US93 over Hoover Dam and look for the billboard at Dolan Springs. Follow the signs to find the dirt road that traverses a massive Joshua Tree forest. Bluffs that look like props from a Western supply the background. Before you know it, you’ll be facing the panoramic red cliffs of the Grand Canyon.

Tour packages begin at $29.00; private vehicles are not allowed. Check their web site for more information about accommodations and tour packages.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Leaving Central Las Vegas

Last week a new family moved into my late aunt’s old house. Until October, my mom had been living there. My mom’s been in that downtown neighborhood for over forty years – the house I grew up in is only two blocks away. It took us a month to get her completely moved. She’s still got stuff in boxes.

The last remnants of the Las Vegas I remember from my childhood are disappearing fast. The synagogue moved away and the Methodist church just fixed its broken stained glass window. My old elementary school, Crestwood, is one of the Clark County schools turned over to Edison because of its at-risk status. The streets look like they belong in some other city, some other downtown turned bad. Front yards are used for extra parking. Buildings are boarded up. The signs are all in Spanish. The bank is now a pawn shop, and the shoe repair is a pay day loan place. Still, it’s where I grew up. Some houses, like my aunt’s, remain as solitary testaments to the beautiful neighborhood it once was, full of well-maintained homes and friendly neighbors.

When I grew up there, it was a working class neighborhood. My dad was a bartender, my mother a bookkeeper; my uncle was a machinist and my aunt a secretary. Our street was considered a great location because it was just a few miles from Fremont Street and the Strip, where many people worked. On my street, an Italian upholsterer lived next door. Sometimes his wife made jelly for us from the figs we gave her from our enormous fig tree. The piano player for the Mills Brothers lived across the street. We used to have pool parties at his house. I cleaned house for the lady directly across the street from us. Her daughter had died from brain cancer. We were a small town in those days, and the neighborhood reflected that. I knew that bad behavior on my part would result in direct notification to my parents. When I decided to steal my dad’s tip money and buy a round of goodies for the neighborhood kids from the ice cream truck, the upholsterer’s granddaughter made a beeline to my front door. She was eating her ice cream as she tattled on me. I got double restriction for using the f-word.

Nowadays I know most of my neighbors, some quite well, but the flavor of my street is far more…. Uppity. I live just outside Summerlin, the land of Lexus and Williams Sonoma. My husband and I bought here because we liked the greenery of the area. We were surprised to find our neighbors included an Iranian dentist, an engineer for Boeing, a French wine salesman, a Palestinian professional poker player, and a host of other well-heeled people. We’re governed by a home owner’s association, which is a formalized group of nosy, nit-picking busy bodies who need to get a life. I can’t believe we actually pay to have people nag us about the state of our lawn and the oil spots in our driveway. At any rate, no one is having any pool parties around here, and I’m pretty sure ice cream trucks are prohibited.

The last ice cream truck I saw was at my aunt’s house. I offered to flag it down for my son, who is eight, about the same age I was when the infamous tip theft occurred. He declined – he’s never visited the ice cream truck. He’d rather go to Starbucks. He’s glad that Nana will be living closer to us, but says he will miss the old house. I remember lazy afternoons when he was baby, sitting in the living room with my mom and my aunt as he crawled in the floor. Now he’s helping me pack boxes.

Time marches on, taking all vestiges of Old Las Vegas with it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Living History

October 31, 1864, wasn’t a day for trick-or-treaters. On that day in history, our country was coming to the end of the bitterly fought war between the states – a war that claimed more American lives than any other war in our history. Nevada was admitted to union on that date; the Union needed her silver. Thus, our state motto: Battle Born.

Over Nevada Day 2006 weekend, Civil War re-enactors invaded Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. The South still lost, and at the end of the day all the soldiers got to go home (which is how we wish all conflicts ended). This was the first Civil War reenactment in Las Vegas, and Spring Mountain was the perfect place for this living history lesson. It’s one of the few places where our history is preserved and valued.

I noticed students everywhere, taking notes, asking questions, and even interviewing Abe Lincoln. My own son, who had described history as “mostly boring,” was enraptured by the battle and field hospital demonstration.

History buffs who missed the re-enactment will want to head out to the park November 10 through 12, when the park hosts the Mountain Man Rendezvous. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to fire a black powder gun or what on earth you do with an atlatl, now is your chance. Call 875-4141 for more details.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rare Foresight

In 1991, the Clark County Library District convinced Las Vegas voters to approve a bond issue for new libraries. At that time, Clark County’s population was about 742,000. When construction commenced on the buildings approved by the bond issue, Las Vegans immediately decried the “Taj Mahals” and questioned the wisdom of giving the Library District money. Las Vegas voters haven’t passed any library funding issue presented since – and today our population is 1.7 million. With Las Vegas growing faster than a depressed woman with an unlimited supply of ice cream, those 1991 voters who are still around should congratulate themselves. Today the Las Vegas Art Museum – connected to the Sahara West Library pictured here – hosts internationally recognized work. Our community depends on the amphitheaters, museums, galleries, and story-time rooms funded with those 1991 dollars. Residents looking for off-Strip events can find family movie nights, plays, author readings, and other non-neon activities. Without the foresight of LVCCLD, Las Vegas would be even more culturally challenged – what a scary thought.


Pioneer Days
Spring Mountain Ranch
See demonstrations of blacksmithing, black powder shooting, spinning, weaving, and square dancing.
Saturday 10-14, 10:00 – 4:00
$5 Park Admission

Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival
Sunset Park
October 13 - 15
Come all ye lords and ladies!
$10 Admission

K9 Trials
Orleans Arena
October 15, event beings at 8:00
If you’d like to see what police dogs do, head to the Orleans for this event. It’s the closest you’ll get to a police dog unless you’re being arrested.
Admission is free

Lake Las Vegas Fine Arts Festival
October 14 and 15, 10:00 to 5:00

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sidewalk Art

Can you believe these incredible images were created with chalk? I took these pictures on Sunday at Summerlin's La Strada del 'Arte.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Vegas Girl News

Cathy Scott Appearing On Oxygen Network
Vegas author Cathy Scott will appear on the Oxygen Network (Las Vegas Cox Channel 55) on Monday, October 2, in the show Snapped: Sandy Murphy. In her book Death in the Desert, Cathy wrote about the sensational Binion murder, for which Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish were initially convicted. Cathy spoke to my writing group just as Sandy Murphy’s retrial began. Based on her research, she told us, she predicted Murphy would be acquitted. In November 2004, Murphy and Tabish were acquitted of the Binion murder. Was Murphy a gold digger capable of murder, or a convenient patsy? Read Cathy’ book and see what you think.

Visit Cathy Scott’s website at

Red Rock Vandals
On September 16, 2006, the RJ reported that vandals had defaced 100-year-old rock art in a remote cave in Red Rock's Sandstone Quarry. About three weeks prior, my family had discovered this vandalism. I assumed Red Rock already knew that some idiot(s) went to the trouble to scramble into the cave set high in the sandstone. Years before, my husband and I climbed into that same cave and marveled at the art, and we wanted to share it with our son. Sadly, we wound up sharing a lesson about ignorance.

Yesterday, the RJ reported that fire destroyed a 120-foot portion of the boardwalk at Red Springs in Calico Basin. This area sits just outside the Red Rock most of you are familiar with. When I was growing up, it was where we picnicked. Now that Summerlin is reaching out toward Little Red Rock, how long will it be before morons destroy that, too? Even petroglyphs in the Valley of Fire have been defaced. Don’t we have enough freeways to write on?

Frances Deane – Cub Reporter
The Las Vegas Tribune, a publication I’d never heard of, has hired former County Recorder Frances Deane. Let me see if I understand this…. I can’t get a local publication to call me back, but Frances Deane got a job? I guess I should have mishandled confidential paperwork while I was still with Metro. If only I had known that the media wants more ethically challenged journalists.

Recycle Your Electronics
If you’re like every other technology-addicted person I know, you’ve accumulated a closet full of old computers, cell phones, and other outdated toys. Last week the Sun reported on our growing piles of discarded electronics – most of which contain all kinds of chemicals that don’t belong in a landfill. Before you toss your old brick cell phone, check for recycling locations.

Summerlin La Strada del’Arte
September 30 and October 1
Summerlin Centre Community Park
Admission and parking are free

Boulder City Art in the Park
October 7 and 8
Drive to Boulder City and follow the signs
Admission is free, but there is a small free for the shuttle

Zion Canyon Art and Flute Festival
October 13 – October 15

National Public Lands Day
September 30
Entrance fees waived for all National Parks/Recreation Areas:
Lake Mead, Death Valley, Zion, etc.

Southern Nevada Railway
Boulder City
Ride antique Pullman coaches
For more information, call 486-5933

Shakespeare in the Park
September 28-October 8 - Free

First Friday
October 6

Third Thursday
October 19
Water Street Art District
5 – 9 p.m.

Sax Sundays
Mount Charleston Hotel
1 p.m. Sundays
Call 872-5500

Jazz at the Lake
Every Friday from 7-10 p.m. at Lake Las Vegas

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fight Against Union Busting

If you’ve seen these protesters on Sahara just west of Durango, or at Charleston and Rampart, you’ve probably wondered who they are and why they’re unhappy with Target and Valley Health Systems. A couple of weeks ago I stopped to ask them just those questions

Carpenters Local 1977 is standing out in the heat every day to tell people that non-union labor used in construction and nursing drives down wages, among other things. They are simply practicing the time-honored tradition of standing with their union brothers – a tradition practiced less and less as unions loose influence. Membership in unions across the country is decreasing, and our once union-strong city (the Culinary and Teamsters built this town – literally, in some cases) now turns a blind eye to protests and strikes. Anyone remember the Frontier?

Judging from local news reports about the quality of both nursing and construction in Las Vegas, Carpenters Local 1977 has a point. On September 13 and 14, the RJ reported that the nursing union gave several local hospital failing grades for poor patient-nurse ratios. Anyone who’s been in a Las Vegas hospital can attest to the poor quality of care offered. In my experience, you’re lucky to find an RN or anyone who speaks English. On the construction side, the proliferation of construction defect lawsuits speaks for itself. And as for wages, anyone trying to make a living as a roofer or framer knows that most wages have dropped to an unlivable level.

Tona Hughes, a volunteer for the Carpenters Local, told me they’d been protesting for eight months. Valley Health Systems has yet to sit down and hear their concerns. Besides getting the cold shoulder from VHS, Tona says motorists can be hostile, throwing things and shouting profanities at them. Their sign has been vandalized and stolen, and all of the volunteers worry about vandalism to their vehicles.

Local media have ignored the protesters. Las Vegas Weekly is the only publication I found that ran anything on these people who have braved summer heat, ignorant motorists, and unresponsive corporations to exercise their freedom of speech.

The next time you’re driving on Sahara or Charleston, show Tona and the other volunteers that some people still respect workers’ rights and freedom of speech. An encouraging honk would be a good start, but if you can't bring yourself to do that, then at least don't act like a jerk.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More Fires

Fire in the Desert

Another lightening strike at Red Rock, another fire in the desert. From my house, you could smell and see the smoke. Here’s a shot from the Boca Park parking lot of the black smoke rising in the distance. If you’re not worried about fires in the desert, you should be. Check out my August 25th post for more information about the invasive species making fuel for our fires.

Sin City Stereotypes

Today Erin Neff’s column deals with a subject that irks most long-time Las Vegans – the perpetuation of myths and misconceptions about Las Vegas. We don’t all work in the casinos. We’re not all drinking, gambling degenerates living in trailer parks in the desert. Sadly, the national media finds the stereotype more interesting than the truth. For the record, I’m a native who doesn’t gamble. Except for video poker, I don’t even know how. No strippers or show girls live on my street, although we do have one professional gambler and no one knows what the busty blonde across the street does. I’ve never worked in a casino, nor has my husband. Sadly, I have the feeling that Las Vegans will be listening to these same tired stereotypes for many more years to come.

Condos Killed?

Or at least delayed. Today’s RJ reports that Station Casinos has had a falling out with the developers slated to build high rises next to Red Rock Casino. Dare we hope that the whole thing will fall through? Success rates on local condo projects are roughly the same as what you get at roulette (I may not know how to play it, but I do know it’s a bad bet.) Red Rock is supposed to be the trendiest, hippest new joint in town. I have yet to check it out since I get angry every time I’m out for a walk and have to see that huge chunk of concrete with windows instead of the actual Red Rock Canyon. Here’s hoping that the condo craze will die and what’s left of my view will remain.

Money Talks

Although I maintain that Las Vegas is not a cesspool of vice and desperation, there’s no escaping the fact that we’re unique. What other school system in America accepts donations from strip clubs? This week Eye on Vegas reported on the “Detention” event that raised $2,500 for Clark County Schools. The “entertainers” were dressed as school girls, teachers, and librarians. I bet the attendees found it way more fun than a bake sale.


Nevada Opera Theater’s Opera Festival
September 23 and 24
MonteLago Village

Utah Shakespearean Festival
Fall is the perfect time to visit the festival – Utah has the best fall color displays in this area. Yes, I know all those people from the Midwest and East coast are rolling their eyes because our fall colors are so much wimpier than they’re used to. Get over it. Fall colors are to the East what Vegas is to neon. Just appreciate what we’ve got and see some terrific plays while you’re at it.

Super Summer Theater
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Check out the last play of the season!
Call 594-7529 for more details

Check out the RJ’s Living section today for a recap of upcoming theater events all over town:

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka will be reading from his new memoir on Wednesday, September 13, 2006, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Marjorie Barrick Museum at UNLV. The reading is sponsored by The Black Mountain Institute, Las Vegas’s homegrown think tank. Call 895-5542 for more information.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

News and Events

Tule Springs

You can call it Floyd Lamb State park all they want, but it will still be Tule Springs to me. When I was growing up here, we used to have half-day school picnic trips to the park, which at that time was the only thing off the highway. You could find it by looking for the green spot in the desert. The State has been taking care of Tule Springs, but now that the City of Las Vegas is poised to take over, there’s no telling what might happen to the historic site. Rumors that the City will turn the rural-flavored park into a ball field have run rampant for years. At least the City is asking our opinion before the bull dozers arrive. Visit to give your opinion on what we should do with this piece of Las Vegas history.

State of Nevada’s web site on Tule Springs:
Channel 8’s report:

Gilcrease Orchard

Not far from Tule Springs sits Gilcrease Orchard, a secret so well-kept that this native didn’t know about it until just a few years ago. (I did, however, meet my husband when I was volunteering at the Gilcrease Bird Preserve, also in the same area.) Encroaching development endangers the orchard (along with every other tract of land in Southern Nevada). I know progress is inevitable, but do we have to pave over everything?

Great article (with pics) about the Orchard:

The recent Las Vegas Business Press Article on the orchard:

Little Red Rocks

To the west of Summerlin, a tiny clutch of red rocks and petroglyphs are partially hidden at the base of the mountains. For years, it was visited only by ATVers and vandals. Now the city is growing towards the area.

While I hope they can prevent the vandals from destroying the rock art (petroglyphs), I can’t say that I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen at the Valley of Fire and Red Rock itself. A couple of weeks ago my hubby and I took our son hiking at Red Rock. We remembered a cave we’d discovered years before, one full of petroglphys. We found the cave, along with all its defaced art. As my hubby’s aunt was fond of saying, “Fools and fools’ faces always appear in public places.”

To read more about the efforts to preserve Little Red Rocks:

Events and Programs

Yes, Las Vegas offers many things to do that don’t involve gambling! For instance:

UNLV Programs for 62+

Desert Breeze Dog Daze of Summer
10 a.m. to noon, Saturday 09-09-06, at Desert Breeze Play Pool, 8275 W. Spring Mountain. No admission fee. Must be vaccinated and on a leash (the dogs, that is. I won’t speak for the owners).

Las Vegas Wash Green Up
Saturday Sept. 30, Noon – 4 p.m.
Call 822-8400 for more info

Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City
Train rides on weekends - thru Dec. 10. Call 486-5933

San Gennaro, Sept. 12, $6/$7

Ballet Under the Stars
Sept. 9 at 8 p.m., The Hills Park amphitheater
Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets $15 – adults, $4 kids.
Call 243-2623 for more info.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Housing Bubbles, Water Woes, and Warren Jeffs

Bubbling or Bursting?

The downward trend of the housing market here in Las Vegas is spawning ever more panicky articles in the local press. With a six-month supply of available housing, has our bubble burst? One day the stats show a slide, the next day we’re inching back up. Tourism may be our main claim to fame, but real estate is a serious player in our economy, employing scads of real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and construction workers. As long as Californians can still sell their houses for $700,000.00, however, our $300,000.00 homes will still attract buyers.

There’s Water in Them Thar Hills

The Las Vegas Valley Water District continues to try convincing our northern brothers that we just want a little of their water. Really. And those pesky comparisons to the Owens Valley, well, with all our modern laws, that could never happen in Nevada. Just like Yucca Mountain, right?

All Road Lead To Vegas

It’s not just degenerate drinkers, gamblers, and other low-lifes who head for Vegas when the law is hot on their tails. Saudi Arabian terrorists stop here, and most recently, Warren Jeffs, the fugitive fundamentalist Mormon. I especially enjoy hearing all the LDS leaders denouncing the FLDS and polygamy because, goodness gracious, doesn’t everyone know that in 1890 the Mormons received a revelation from God that polygamy was bad. It was just coincidental that the revelation came at the same time Utah wanted statehood. News reports stated that an iPod, cash, and other items were found in the car with Jeffs. What I want to know what he had on the iPod. While still the head honcho in Colorado City, he recorded himself singing hymns and then required his followers to listen to his vocal stylings. What, the multiple wives, hair shirts, and no cable weren’t bad enough?

Who Needs I15 Anyway?

If you’re trying to get from Southern California to Las Vegas in September or October, better break out the maps. Road work around the Devore exit will close I15 periodically during this time, so your drive from LA to LV may include Kingman. I’m sure the LVVCA is thrilled with California’s advice to drivers, which is to simply cancel their trips. Funny thing how we in Nevada manage to work on our roads and keep them open.

Events Around Town

First Friday is TODAY. Head downtown the Arts District to check out art, food, and entertainment.

The Red Rock Harvest Festival is tomorrow. Go to the visitor’s center to see displays of wildlife, dances by American Indians, and all types of informational booths.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fires in the Desert

Red Rock Fires

I completely missed the last Red Rock hiking season (September through April or May), so I was shocked when I drove through the Loop last Friday. Last year’s fires burned over 800 acres, and much of the damage is visible from the road. The land is scorched barren, littered with blackened Yucca stumps. You can see from this picture a clear dividing line between the damaged and intact area.

Wildfires are a growing problem in the desert, and one of the major reasons is the invasion of non-native weeds and grasses. When our triple-digit heat dries out these intruders, they turn into plentiful, highly combustible tinder. One lightening strike or stray cigarette butt can spark a devastating fire that destroys the native plants and animals. Unlike forests, deserts are not designed to rebound from fire – they’ve not been historically prone to fire because in their natural state, they aren’t full of dried grass and weeds. Chris Clarke wrote an excellent article on this danger to all Southwestern states that can be found at his Creek Running North web site.

If you haven’t been keeping up on invasive species, you might want to bone up. It’s now being linked to global warming – although I think everything but JonBonet Ramsey’s murder has been linked to global warming these days – but I predict it will emerge as an ecological threat in its own right.

What Happens in Vegas Must Happen Before Midnight

The County has decided to close the Marriage License Bureau from midnight to 8 a.m., a move sure to cut the number of Vegas-related annulments in half. I have to say that this move is long overdue, as anyone who has been downtown between the hours of midnight to 8 a.m. can attest. I worked the graveyard shift for Metro for over two years in the early 80’s and can assure you that the majority of people out looking to get married at 3 a.m. should be arrested, not encouraged to wed. Years ago Metro’s Records Bureau decided to close to the public on the graveyard shift, although staff still works inside. When I was working there, we had to keep the Marriage License Bureau’s address handy for the lost love birds who wandered into our offices.

Price of a Vegas marriage license:

Estimated amount saved by closing the Las Vegas Marriage License Bureau between midnight and 8 a.m.:

Preventing drunken couples from saying “I do” before Elvis in the middle of the night: Priceless

Sheriff’s Race

Jerry Airola and Doug Gillespie squared off in a debate at the Clark County library (check date). Airola continues to present himself as the “change” candidate, insisting that Metro’s budget and personnel are mismanaged. Local news described Gillespie as the “traditional” candidate. I thought “qualified” was the word they were looking for.

One Big Trash Dump

Why aren’t Las Vegans more concerned about recycling? Republic continually cites opposition from citizens as its main reason to stick to its twice monthly recycles pickup. We’ve heard proposals about pilot programs for once-a-week pickup of both regular trash and recyclables, but supposedly people are concerned about the smell of the trash during the summer heat. What are people disposing of in the trash? Road kill carcasses? I think the real reason is that the average Las Vegan looks out across the miles of desert surrounding us and sees nothing but miles of potential trash dumps. (Obviously our government shares this view, since they’re trying to saddle us with Yucca Mountain.) I’ve always been surprised at the number of people who refuse to recycle because they think it generates money for Republic. Hogwash. I think Republic generates a profit by doing as little as possible for its customers. Have you encountered their Soviet-style customer service? Go ahead and try to find out what your recycling pickup days are. Or what the hours are at the transfer stations. Haven’t these people heard of the Internet?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Season for Politicians and Art

Calling All Registered Voters

Yesterday 27% of us showed up at the polls. Where were the rest of you folks? The democratic process misses you! Click here to read the primary results.

Fall Calls

Clark County students will be returning to class on August 30, 2006, a Wednesday. What’s up with starting school on a Wednesday? Haven’t they confused us enough by starting school before Labor Day?

Now that the summer is almost over we can look forward to cooler temperatures and festivals! Start watching billboards and reading events calendars because before you know it, we’ll be kicking off the season in late September with San Gennaro and the Greek Food Festival. This year the Henderson Car Show is in September also, as is Red Rock's Harvest Festival (September 2, right around the corner). Boulder City’s Art in the Park is the first weekend in October (they don’t advertise, so put a note on the fridge). Also in October, the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival invades Sunset Park and Spring Mountain State Park generally holds Pioneer Days, where you can see how the pioneers lived. Note that they also have a Civil War re-enactment scheduled for the end of October.

For more ideas on fun stuff to do when we reach sub-Hades temps, check:

Clark County’s Event List:

Boulder’s City Calendar:

Henderson’s Calendar:

Naturally, this is also a great time of year to check out First Friday or any other outdoor events. If events aren't your style, October's a great time to get in a hike at Mt. Charleston before the first snow fall.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Few Things to Ponder

So Long Stardust

Last Saturday my son participated in a Karate Tournament held at the Stardust. It’s hard not to feel sad about the Stardust’s impending demise; so few of the hotels I grew up with are still around. The Stardust is a place where you can still figure out where to go without a map or a security guard’s directions. Try that at any other Strip hotel.

Airola is Bad News for Voters

The local news media has been all over Sheriff’s candidate Jerry Airola, but amazingly people are still voting for him. Both the
Review Journal and The Sun carried front page spreads that detailed the way he’s misled voters into thinking he’s a cop. (Big hint, folks – if both the RJ and The Sun concur on something, PAY ATTENTION.) He’s not a cop and hasn’t been in over ten years. (George Knapp is doing a great job uncovering the real Airola – read his column at CityLife.) Airola countered with claims that he’s qualified to be Sheriff on the basis of his business acumen. Both publications responded with stories on Airola’s checkered history owning a water purifier company and his current helicopter company. Airola answered that by saying that at least he didn’t have as many law suits filed against him as Metro. His latest clever retort after current Sheriff Bill Young and union representatives held a joint news conference denouncing his specious claims? They’re just the “good old boy” network. No, Jerry, they’re actual law enforcement officers.

Airola has plastered himself all over town with media buys in every area – he’s got more billboards than a new Strip show and more TV ads than Glen Lerner. Sadly, with an electorate that votes more on name recognition than anything else, he’s likely to be
Doug Gillespie’s opponent.

Clooney in Town

George Clooney and friends were in town this week to film scenes for the upcoming Ocean’s 13. Until earlier this year, Clooney was signed onto Las Ramblas, one of the many failed high-rise condo projects in town. I thought his proposed dress code in the casino was a fabulously retro idea. (Although probably unnecessary, at least for female visitors, most of who would have been dressed to the nines in the event George walked by). I keep hoping that he’ll buy a place in town because, frankly, we need some good press and this man oozes good PR in equal doses with sex appeal. Now that Las Vegas is known as the second city in the nation to make it illegal to feed homeless people, we need all the help we can get. I tried to find a negative story about Rosemary’s nephew and except for a little dust up with Arianna Huffington over some posts on her blog, you can’t find anything bad written about him. He’s traveling to Darfur, winning Academy Awards, or making Anne Coulter mad, but I never see him on the National Inquirer with “Clooney meltdown! Rehab imminent!” splattered across an unflattering photo of him. Doesn’t he have any exes willing to dish? You know no man can be that nice all the time.

Bad Doctors Nothing New

In case you missed it, the doctor shot by a distraught patient is recovered and back at work. I’m sorry to say this, but I’m just surprised that more doctors in this town don’t get shot by angry patients. I could write an entire book about my bad experiences with doctors in Las Vegas – rude, condescending jerks who were also uncaring and incompetent. During the 60’s and 70’s, everyone knew that if you got anything worse that the flu, you’d better hightail it out of town for proper treatment. The 7,000 people who move here each month, however, don’t know your odds of finding a good doctor are about the same as hitting a royal flush on a poker machine by the front door of the casino. If you find a good doctor, count yourself lucky. If he or she also has an office staff that speaks English and knows what they’re doing, follow that doctor wherever she goes.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Forgotten

This afternoon I’m heading down to visit my mom, who lives easy walking distance from Circle Park, ground zero for the Homeless Wars here in Las Vegas. By now everyone has heard about our new ordinance that bans feeding homeless people in the park. The ordinance is ludicrous, unconstitutional, and mean.

Some important voices are being left out of this debate. The residents around Circle Park – or around any area that the homeless favor – get an occasional letter to the editor published , but for the most part, no one is paying much attention to these folks. Have you ever had a homeless person encamped on the side of your house, using your lawn as a toilet? My mom has. How about had a homeless person relief himself on your living room floor? A friend of mine trying to sell her vacant house on 7th Street did.

We have allowed the debate about the homeless to exclude the people most affected by the action (or inaction) of politicians – and I’m not just talking about the residents who can’t use the park they renovated. When was the last time you read an interview with the homeless? They serve as a backdrop to news stories, but is anyone asking them why waiting for free food in Circle Park is so much more appealing than taking advantage of the services (however few they may be) offered by the city?

Less than a month ago, the city shut down Family Promise, a local agency that helps homeless families. Despite being located in the same neighborhood for a decade, bureaucratic baloney mandated that they get a business license. Suddenly, their work was no longer appropriate for their neighborhood. So, let me see if I have this right…. The homeless aren’t allowed to sleep in a park or be fed in a park, and they don’t want to travel downtown to receive services, but the City doesn’t want neighborhood-based shelters offering assistance to the homeless, either. Over the past few years we’ve seen services to the homeless decrease, but now we want to cite people who feed them. The people most affected by these idiotic strategies – the homeless and the residents of the affected areas – are nothing but cardboard backdrops. Does this make sense to anyone?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Red Rock Fires

Today I drove to the Red Rock Overlook to see if any of the Loop fires were visible from that vantage point. At the overlook, the smell of fire filled the air. Thunder boomed and lightening flashed nearby. As I was getting out of my car, a park ranger walked up to me and told me I’d need to stay on the west side of the parking lot. The helicopter was scheduled to arrive on the east side of the parking lot in five minutes; it wasn’t landing, but instead was scooping up water to drop on a distant fire. “He’s just coming over to give us some help with this small fire,” Marty the park ranger told me. The big fire is in Lovell Canyon. Everyone in the parking lot snapped away as the helicopter roared in, dipped a bucket of water, and then choppered off to douse a small blaze.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

In My Neighborhood

During the school year I see the Arabic women in my neighborhood walking their children to school, talking to each other in a language that, unlike Spanish, is completely unfamiliar to me. One of the ladies wears a headscarf every day, always a vibrant print and a rich-looking fabric. While the rest of the morning moms (myself included) are decked out in sweats, hiding behind dark glasses, and carrying our morning Starbucks, these women wear heels and pressed slacks. One of the moms is a Lebanese lady who lives up the street from me – her husband is a professional gambler – and I’ve often wondered if they’ve thought about a nickname for their son, Osama. “It’s a very common name in that part of the world,” the mother explained when we met them.

David and I both worried about our son playing at their house. When we first met them, September 11th wasn’t that far in the past, and even for an open-minded gal like myself, I was having a tough time with, “Mom, Osama wants to know if I can play at his house.”

“As long as he doesn’t come home shouting ‘Death to the infidels!’, I think we’re okay,” I told my husband.

They frequently vacation in Lebanon over the summer, and I haven’t seen them in weeks.

An Iranian dentist lives next door to us, a quiet man who travels a great deal and who just married a much younger woman. His family fled Iran when the Shah was overthrown. A few years ago, he took a trip back to his homeland. “There were people with guns everywhere,” he told us when he got back. I got the impression he was both shocked and disappointed by what he saw.

Two years ago when my son started kindergarten, I met a Palestinian lady. She and I were about the same age, and we walked the same way to drop off and pick up our kids. She didn’t speak much English, and I don’t speak any Arabic, but we managed to talk about housework, husbands, and kids. I’m sure we looked like we were playing charades half the time. “You know Palestine?” she asked me once.

“Yes, I do. Do you ever get to go home?” I asked her. I figured if my dentist friend could go to Iran, anything was possible.

“I would like. But it’s hard to go there,” she said, shrugging and sighing, giving me the hands-up signal that meant “I can’t explain it in this language.” I wished she spoke better English, because I wanted to hear what had happened to her, why she was in the United States, and how she and her husband and daughter came to Las Vegas.

One day we were waiting outside the kindergarten gates when a Jewish woman joined the group. I knew she was from Israel and taught pre-school at a synagogue – one of many details I had absorbed about the other parents as we waited by the gate each day. Somehow she and the Palestinian lady started talking, which I watched in open amazement. “Do you speak Arabic?” the Palestinian lady asked her.

“No. Only Hebrew.”

“You are from Israel? I am from Palestine.”

“They’re kind of the same place now.”

They both smiled and stepped away from each other, and I wondered if the Palestinian lady wanted to punch the Jewish lady in the nose. If she did, she didn’t show it. Interestingly, not only does my neighborhood seem to have a large number of Arabs and Persians, we also have a large population of Jewish people. Every Saturday I see families walking to temple. Mezuzh scrolls adorn doors all over my neighborhood.

As I watch the Middle East erupting on television each night, these are the people I think about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Orange Moon

Smoke from the fires in California turned our moon orange.

Metro Under The Microscope

Las Vegas’ recent rash of officers fatally shooting suspects has many people concerned, including Sheriff Bill Young, who recently appeared on Jon Ralston’s show, Face to Face.

For years the ACLU and other organizations have complained that Metro officers were always cleared of wrong doing in the shooting deaths of suspects. The standard argument has always been that the IAB investigations and Coroner’s Inquest were stacked in favor of cops. The assumption seemed to be that unless the suspect was armed with a machine gun and rampaging through a Station Casino bingo room, something else should have been done – something non-lethal.

Like a large percentage of the population, I’ve never had to face the decision on whether or not to take someone’s life. I have known several officers and soldiers who did have to make that decision, and I can tell you that it was not a decision they took lightly. It was also not a decision that left them unscarred; just the opposite. Each man and woman at Metro goes out on patrol knowing that they might not come home at the end of the shift. They also know that they might be the reason some family looses its father, brother or son. Neither thought is an easy one.

For everyone involved, I can only hope that the inevitable (and needed) scrutiny of these shootings will offer answers, but in these cases – as in so many that went before – I imagine the questions will always outnumber the answers.

New Blog Site

Welcome to my new Vegas Girl Blog! While I can't say I had any complaints about AOL's blog service -- it's much more user friendly than this one, I think -- AOL makes it too dang difficult for non-AOLers to post comments, so here I am. My regular post will appear later today.

This is my cat, Gray. He would welcome you to the blog, but he requires upfront milk and catnip. He's running for a seat on the Clark County Commission.