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best doctors top dentists
Our exclusive list of the valley’s best
general practitioners and medical
specialists. Read this, stat!
Open wide for our extensive roundup of
Southern Nevada’s most skilled dental
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exploring Charleston
A sweeping yet intimate look at real lives
on the other boulevard — the one that traverses the city’s
cultures, history and rich diversity
B y S t ac y J . W i l l i s
A mother’s heartbreaking quest to find mental-health care for her son
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here’s a saying: The future is here, it’s just not
evenly distributed. You could say the same for
healthcare. For all our mind-blowing advances
in medical tech, the magic wand of technology
somehow hasn’t been able to erase the barriers
that keep millions of Americans from accessing quality,
affordable healthcare. Sure, we can cry for a systemic
overhaul until our throats are sore. In the meantime
— in the real world, on a human scale — more deceptively
modest endeavors are making a big impact.
I have in mind organizations such as Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, which recently added a dental
clinic to its suite of medical services for the poor. On p. 23,
Jason Scavone profiles the program from the vantage point
of Jefferey Engle, a client. After Engle’s teeth began to fall
out due to diabetes, his self-esteem plummeted and selfimage crashed. He eventually took a job as a graveyard-shift
security guard, only cementing his sense of isolation. To
him, the Volunteers in Medicine program not only provided
him a new set of teeth, but a renewed sense of possibility.
That alone is a worthy goal; but more importantly, with new
research uncovering the link between oral health and total
wellness (imagine! your mouth is a freeway onramp for bacteria!), the program is an investment in Engle’s future health
as well.
Elsewhere in Nevada, technology is helping to bring aid
to those facing a different kind of barrier: distance. In “No
country for sick men” (p. 74), Heidi Kyser dives into a healthcare crisis confronting rural Nevada, where hospitals, doctors and specialists are often hours away — a headache for
check-ups and a nightmare for medical emergencies. But
here, too, generous and enterprising minds are finding ways
to bridge the gap. In programs such
as Project ECHO, specialty docNext
tors use the equivalent of Skype on
steroids to confer with rural physiOur culture guide is
cians on their patients. They’re not
your fall to-do list!
just treating the sick; they’re shar-
August 2016
ing knowledge one-on-one with physicians otherwise farflung from urban medical centers.
Finally, the healthcare gap takes a deeply personal toll
in “‘I swear I will!’” (p. 46), a story about a mother’s epic
struggle to find help for her suicidal son — in a city, she
learns, with an alarming shortage of mental health resources for children. After countless phone calls, false
starts and dead ends, it was only through a lucky break
that this mother was able to save her son. How many others aren’t so lucky?
I’d be remiss not to call out this issue’s high notes, of
course: Our annual Best Doctors (p. 81) and Top Dentists (p. 87) list some of the valley’s top medical and dental talent. And, finally, for a completely different dose of
medicine, Dan Hernandez checks in with the recreational
marijuana industry in Colorado (“Green and gold,” p. 36),
and considers what Las Vegas might learn as our grand
experiment with medical marijuana possibly blooms into
something much bigger.
* * * * *
Last but not least, I’d like to wish a fond farewell to Desert
Companion Publisher Melanie Cannon, who is leaving the
position to spend more time with her family. She was much,
much more than a name on the masthead. Melanie, the
founding publisher of this magazine, was the tireless prime
mover behind Desert Companion’s rapid
evolution from an annual cultural guide
to the valley’s flagship magazine that truly
reflects, celebrates and explores (and, yes,
sometimes wrestles with) the experience
of living in Southern Nevada — and one
that does it with integrity, a vital watchword that Melanie branded onto the soul
of the publication. Her departure leaves a
void, no doubt — but she also leaves a solid
foundation upon which incoming Desert
Companion Publisher Flo Rogers will continue to build a great magazine.
Andrew Kiraly
Follow Desert Companion
August 2016
Vo lU m e 1 4 I s s u e 0 8
other boulevard
An immersive journey among the
people, culture, history and workaday
world of Charleston Boulevard
By Stacy J. Willis
81 best
74 rural
Turn your head and check out
our curated list of the valley’s top
medical practioners
Across vast tracts of sparsely
populated Nevada, trained
medical professionals are few
and far between. But new
technologies and old-fashioned
gumption are helping some
communities improve health
care. By Heidi Kyser
87 Top
Open wide for our list of highly
rated dental healers
August 2016
t h e a r t s fac t o r y: B i l l H u g h e s
64 life on that
August 2016
Vo lU m e 1 4 I s s u e 0 8
All Things
36 business
55 Dining
106 The Guide
23 healthA new life
Does Las Vegas have
anything to learn from
Colorado’s experience
with legal marijuana?
With the issue coming to
a vote in November, we
sent our correspondent
to Denver to find out.
By Daniel Hernandez
56 the dishHaving a
Hot August culture!
hoot at The Owl
By Jason Scavone
112 End note
58 eat this nowA
Fallen Angel
By Andrew Kiraly
thanks to dental care
26 trendingPet
sharing gives you paws
28 zeit bitesNew
school construction — a
handy map
30 ProfileRaising a
bar, fighting cancer
32 object lesson
Nice glass!
34 Open TopicMy
chomptastic experience
at UNLV’s dental clinic
August 2016
46 mental health
When my son exhibited
suicidal tendencies, I
thought help would be
easy to find. I was wrong.
By Anonymous
club for vegans
58 cocktail of
the monthDreamy,
creamy, orangey booze
60 fork offThree
linguines enter; one
linguine leaves
By Greg Thilmont
on the
Bill Hughes
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Branford Marsalis Quartet
with special guest Kurt Elling
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
with Wynton Marsalis
Harlem Quartet
An Evening with Bob Newhart
Deepak Chopra: The Future of Wellbeing
Celtic Thunder: Legacy
Johnny Mathis
The 60th Anniversary Concert Tour
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How do students with different learning styles learn best? Not by
sitting in a two-hour lecture. Interactive learning with peers and
instructors “in the round” optimizes student learning and magnifies
content mastery. Roseman University of Health Sciences has been
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Learn more at
p u b l i s h e D B y n e vada p u b l i c r ad i o
Desert Companion is the premier city magazine
that celebrates the pursuits, passions and
aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With awardwinning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert
Companion does more than inform and entertain.
We spark dialogue, engage people and define the
spirit of the Las Vegas Valley.
Publisher Melanie Cannon
Associate Publisher Christine Kiely
Editor Andrew Kiraly
Art Director Christopher Smith
deputy editor Scott Dickensheets
senior designer Scott Lien
staff writer Heidi Kyser
Graphic Designer Brent Holmes
Account executives Sharon Clifton, Parker McCoy, Favian Perez,
Noelle Tokar, Markus Van’t Hul
sales assistant Ashley Smith
145 E 17th Street, Suite B4
New York, NY 10003
(917) 821-4429
[email protected]
Marketing manager Lisa Kelly
print traffic manager Karen Wong
Subscription manager Tammy Willis
Web administrator Danielle Branton
Contributing writers Noah Cicero, Cybele, Mélanie Hope, Dan Hernandez, Jason Scavone, Greg Thilmont, Stacy J. Willis
Contributing artists Bill Hughes, Anthony Mair, Chris Morris, Sabin Orr,
Michael Waraksa
Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856;
[email protected]
Fax: (702) 258-5646
Advertising: Christine Kiely (702) 259-7813;
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Subscriptions: (702) 258-9895;
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Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada
Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is
available by subscription at, or as part
of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at
select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, artwork and
ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion
and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written
permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion
contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert
Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Tammy Willis for
back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.
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August 2016
ISSN 2157-8389 (print)
ISSN 2157-8397 (online)
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Board of
cynthia alexander, ESQ. chair
Snell & Wilmer
Jerry Nadal vice chair
Cirque du Soleil
TIM WONG treasurer
Arcata Associates
Florence M.E. Rogers secretary
Nevada Public Radio
Fall in love
with your
kevin m. buckley
First Real Estate Companies
Dave Cabral emeritus Business Finance Corp.
Louis Castle emeritus
Patrick N. Chapin, Esq. emeritus
Richard I. dreitzer, Esq.
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, LLP
Elizabeth FRETWELL emeritus
City of Las Vegas
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Chapman Las Vegas Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram
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I hold water to a higher standard.
The All-Star Standard.
My name is Corey, and my job at the Southern Nevada Water Authority is to make sure
water delivered to your home meets or surpasses all state and federal drinking-water standards.
At home, my job is to make sure my family drinks plenty of clean, healthy water.
At the SNWA, we keep a very close eye on water quality, conducting hundreds of thousands of analyses
every year to verify the quality of our drinking water. And that makes both of my jobs a lot easier.
We know that some customers use additional home water treatment devices and want to help
you make informed decisions. If you have questions or would like objective information about
supplemental water treatment systems, visit or call 702-258-3930.
The SNWA is a not-for-profit water utility.
What good is the
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Marion was involved in a serious car accident and began experiencing headaches, neck pain and
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surgery to remove it, the lump grew back, bigger than before. A Best Doctors specialist reviewed
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Alex, a runner and mother of two, lived for years with a malfunctioning heart valve. She always took
the necessary precautionary steps with her cardiologist to watch for any changes in symptoms,
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This craftsman
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page 32
he alth y mouth, health y l ife
Watch your
A new dental-care program for the poor
is more than cosmetic. It’s a vital key in
preventive health care B y Ja s o n S c av o n e
effery Engle was working in animal control for Carson
City in 2009 when he was diagnosed with diabetes. He
started having trouble with his vision, and he had no
energy. He couldn’t keep up with the position, so he moved to
Las Vegas where he took a job working security.
After he was diagnosed, Engle’s teeth started breaking off
in little pieces. In the ensuing years, he’d lose a piece here, a
whole tooth there. Everyone’s had those nightmares where
all their teeth fall out. Living it has to be a horror. By 2013, he
i l lu s t r at i o n c h r i s m o r r i s
august 2016
ALL Things
was down to four teeth. He took a job
working graveyard and started growing
out his mustache so no one would have
to see the state of his mouth.
“It’s embarrassing,” the 51-year-old
says. “I got divorced five years ago and
I haven’t dated in the last five years due
to my teeth. It’s embarrassing having
people thinking maybe
you’re on meth. I haven’t
taken drugs or anything
in my life. It got to the
point where it was really
embarrassing just to talk to
He was making too
much money to qualify
for Medicaid, but not
enough to afford private
insurance. It was a grind
just to pay for insulin and
blood pressure medication,
all while his mouth was in
constant pain and he was
drained from fighting off
Engle’s niece, a former
registered nurse, suggested
he apply to be a patient at
Volunteers in Medicine of
Southern Nevada. The clinic is open to
people whose household income is less
than 200 percent of the federal poverty
level (currently, that means $23,760
for one-person households, scaling
up according to the number of people
under one roof ) and have no private or
public health insurance.
At a $9-an-hour job, Engle fit the bill.
He joined up two and a half years ago,
and was eligible for medical services and
prescriptions at the Paradise Park Clinic
on Harrison Drive. But that still didn’t
help out the situation with his teeth.
After Volunteers in Medicine added a
second location, the Ruffin Family Clinic
on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in
September, though, comprehensive care
became possible. The clinic expanded
to offer dental services in April, and the
clinic is going so far as to integrate social
and behavioral services by the end of
the year.
Engle was tapped to participate in the
"I had no idea
until I went
in there. I
started crying.
I didn’t think
this would
ever happen
at this point
in my life. I
thought the
rest of my
life would be
spent as
a toothless
old man."
August 2016
Why do
new dental program, but he wasn’t
some people medical director Dr. Rebecca
prepared for the degree of care
go to Mexico Edgeworth puts it, “When
for dental
their teeth are rotting out of
he was going to receive. Dentists
work? Hear
their mouth, I will never be
at the clinic pulled his remaining
a discussion
able to fix their diabetes.”
teeth (which he called a relief,
on “KNPR’s
There’s a growing body of
even making eating easier) and
State of
research that confirms that oral
are in the process of doing a full
at desert
health is a vital component of
restoration, providing him with
overall health. The clinic offers
implant-supported dentures.
a broad swath of services, but
“When they first told me about
once things escalate to the
it, I thought maybe they were going
level of surgery, cancer or other major
to check out my teeth or clean the few
maladies, there’s a point where it goes
broken teeth I had left,” he said. “I had
beyond the scope. The hope is that by
no idea until I went in there. I started
providing comprehensive, preventive
crying. I didn’t think this would ever
care, it doesn’t get that far.
happen at this point in my life. I thought
“Health begins in the mouth,” Wyatt
the rest of my life would be spent as a
says. “Anything that’s going on in the
toothless old man."
body taxes your system to cure it. If
The program currently has six local
you have periodontal disease, your
dentists who volunteer, headed by Dr.
body is constantly trying to get rid of
Lydia Wyatt, who has been practicing
that infection. Your body is trying to
dentistry in Las Vegas since 2004. The
heal it. That motor never gets turned
clinic also involves students from Roseoff to rest. It’s taxing, much like
man University and UNLV’s School of
cardiovascular disease. Your blood
Dental Medicine where up-and-coming
cells carry these antibodies in it and it
dentists can learn in a real-world setting.
makes the blood cells thick and heavy.
Open wide
It makes your arteries have to push
The Ruffin Family Clinic is a bright
and work hard to get that thick blood
and winding complex that houses
through the whole system. That makes
new equipment, an on-site pharmacy,
your heart work harder. Some of the
multiple examination rooms, and now
bacteria that live in our mouth we
a four-room suite for dental exams,
now know have high associations with
including X-rays. More than 5,300
ulcers, with colon cancers. Recently,
appointments were given to patients
within the last year, there’s been a
in 2015, and that number is expected
huge correlation with Alzheimer’s disto top 6,500 this year, including dental
ease. It’s complete care, and dentistry
has to be part of it to be successful.”
It’s all in the service of providing comEngle had molds of his mouth taken
prehensive care, including mental health
July 8. Once he gets his temporary
services, to underserved patients. Those
dentures and strengthens his jaw, he’ll
types of patients can often encompass
be able to get posts placed so he can
recent immigrants who wouldn’t yet
snap the implant-supported ones into
qualify for Medicaid; those who are
place in his mouth, and live with a fully
disabled who are receiving disability
restored set of teeth. If he doesn’t want
income but haven’t become eligible for
to stay there, that means he can start
Medicare, which typically takes two
taking jobs that aren’t on the night shift.
years to kick in; patients who didn’t pay
He can live in the daylight again.
into the Medicare system earlier in life;
“They’re the greatest bunch of peoand the working poor.
ple,” he said of the clinic’s staff. “They
Those types of people may already
sit and listen to you. They seem to really
be suffering from ailments that are
care, be concerned about everybody. I’ve
exacerbated by an inability to do things
never had a bad experience there. It’s
like eat a proper diet. As the clinic’s
always been really positive.”
Help is here for family caregivers in Nevada.
The CARE Act.
Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans are caring for parents, spouses and other loved ones,
helping them live safely and independently at home. These family caregivers bear a huge
responsibility and fortunately there’s a new state law to help them. The CARE Act makes sure
family caregivers are recognized from the moment their loved ones go into the hospital to
when they return home. AARP Nevada fought for the CARE Act because supporting family
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ALL Things
Send Rover
right over
Local startup Let's Join Paws aims
to match owners of lonely pets with
people who need a furry friend
By heidi kyser
hat do cars, homes, snowboards and Spot all have in
common? They’re part of the
sharing economy — through Lyft, Airbnb,
Spinlister and Let’s Join Paws, respectively.
That last one, a pet-sharing service, is
based right here in Southern Nevada.
“People would have had trouble wrapping their brains around it a few years ago,”
says Henderson resident Cheryl Moss,
who cofounded Let’s Join Paws with her
husband, Russ Petersen, in 2014. “But
today, we share our homes, our cars. It’s
easier to understand.”
Moss works in the appraisal department at Bank of Nevada. For years, she
says, she thought about what she’d do in
life after banking. Inspiration struck while
watching an episode of the Dog Whisperer.
In it, a family piled into the car, drove
down the street and dropped their dog off
at a retired neighbor’s house.
“The dog had two homes,” Moss says.
“The retiree got the benefit of having the
dog’s companionship, and the family got
some company for their dog.”
She and Petersen launched Let’s Join
Paws at the Animal Foundation’s annual
Best in Show fundraiser two years ago.
Three website designs later, Moss says it’s
finally operating the way they imagined.
People willing to spend time with dogs
join for free; those looking for someone to
spend time with their pets pay a fee ranging from $19.99 to $83.88 a month, with
services increasing proportionate to fees.
In an ideal scenario, a pet owner
who has to leave his pet at home alone
August 2016
connects with someone in his area who
would love to spend time with a pet but
can’t commit to owning one — for health
or financial reasons, say. The two meet,
check each other out, and, if it seems like a
good fit, arrange to “share” the pet. (What
happens after that is their responsibility,
Moss notes.) When one neighbor is sick,
the other could volunteer to care for his
cat. If a dog barks a lot during his owner’s
long workday, a volunteer could alleviate
the dog’s loneliness.
Pet owners will immediately imagine
the risks involved. A car or apartment can
be insured and repaired, but can a stranger
be trusted with a member of the family?
“The critical piece is the vetting process,”
Kenny Lamberti, director of strategic
engagement for the Human Society of the
U.S., says. “You’d have to make really sure
there are safeguards in place, but that’s
true of dog-walkers and -sitters, too. Lots
of pets struggle with a change of environment, or being left with someone they
don’t know. The most important consideration would be the dog’s well-being, safety
and quality of life, and not the humans’.”
That said, Lamberti acknowledges
the therapeutic effect of having a furry
critter around and the potential benefit to
everyone involved if a good match is made.
He says he’s heard of similar concepts in
recent years, but it’s not a common service.
Existing apps such as Rovr are for paid
professionals, and Moss says Let’s Join
Paws is not transactional. It’s meant to
work as it did for Barbara Caddoo.
After a stroke and car accident put Caddoo in the Kingman hospital last year, she
couldn’t speak, so no one could figure out
why she refused to return to Las Vegas for
urgently needed treatment. Hospital staff
called a contact in her phone, J.C. Melvin,
CEO of Keller Williams Realty Southwest.
Melvin and his wife drove to Kingman
and, after a couple hours with their friend
of 34 years, figured out that she wouldn’t
come home without her dogs Pookie and
Muffin, who’d been placed in a Kingman
shelter. Melvin promised to bring Pookie
and Muffin back to Las Vegas, and Caddoo
agreed to get in the ambulance.
But what to do with the dogs then?
Melvin had no idea. Through a mutual
friend, he connected with Petersen and
found a family that fostered Caddoo’s dogs
during her eight-month convalescence,
even taking them for weekly visits to the
facility where she was healing. Recently,
Caddoo, Pookie and Muffin were reunited.
“I was impressed with Let’s Join Paws,”
Melvin says. “I know that without it those
dogs would have been either put down or
otherwise gone, and Barbara would never
have seen them again. … And they were
everything to her.”
THE 2 016-2017 SEASON
Subscriptions and single tickets on sale now. Attractive group pricing available.
Tickets starting at just $30 • • 702.749.2000
SATURDAY, SEPT. 10, 2016
Opening night soars
with vivid lyricism
SATURDAY, DEC. 3, 2016
SUNDAY, DEC. 4, 2016
A traditional holiday celebration
SATURDAY, MAR. 4, 2017
SUNDAY, MAR. 5, 2017
Star Wars and beyond
SATURDAY, OCT. 8, 2016
SUNDAY, OCT. 9, 2016
SATURDAY, NOV. 5, 2016
Symphonic blockbusters
A trilogy of powerhouse
SATURDAY, JAN. 14, 2017
SATURDAY, FEB. 4, 2017
Inaugural performances
of three works
A fantastic and
celebratory concert
SATURDAY, APR. 1, 2017
SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2017
Evocative, poetic and
Theatrics and daring abound
in this hearty program
ALL Things
zeit bites
Lake Mead
on the
Desert Inn
Spring Mountain
Your guide to new
school construction
The Clark County School District wasted
no time taking advantage of legislation that
granted it 10 years of bonding authority for
new school construction and renovation.
Here’s what the resulting $4.1 billion is being
spent on so far: One 34-elementary-school-classroom addition, noted in red ;
two replacement elementary schools, designed to accommodate 850 students each ;
and six new, still-unnamed elementaries designed for 850 students each Heidi Kyser
1. West Prep Academy
2050 Sapphire Stone Ave., Las Vegas
How big: 54,554-square-feet
(addition to existing campus)
How much: $15 million (funding from the
1998 Capital Improvement Program)
When: June 2017
2. Lincoln Elementary School
3010 Berg St. N., North Las Vegas
How big: 105,992-square-feet (replacing
original built in 1955)
How much: $28 million
When: June 2017
3. Rex Bell Elementary School
2900 Wilmington Way, Las Vegas
How big: 107,842-square-feet
(replacing original built in 1963)
How much: $28 million
When: June 2017
4. Antelope Ridge
and Desert Foothills
How big: 101,620 square feet
How much: $27 million budget
When: July 2017
5. Arville and Mesa Verde
How big: 100,532 square feet
How much: $28 million budget
When: May 2017
6. Chartan Avenue and Pioneer Way
How big: 100,399 square feet
How much: $29 million budget
When: May 2017
7. Dave and Wood Galleria
How big: 101,620 square feet
How much: $29 million
When: June 2017
8. Lamb and Kell Lane
(adjacent to Ruben P. Diaz Elementary School)
How big: 100,913 square feet
How much: $24 million
When: July 2017
9. Maule and Grand Canyon
How big: 100,532 square feet
How much: $24 million
When: June 2017
The Velveteen Rabbit bar on Main Street will be the setting for director Troy Heard’s
version of the Jazz Age murder mystery, The Cat’s Meow. Steven Peros’ play is based
on the real death, in 1924, of a guest aboard William Randolph Hearst’s yacht, in the
company of glamorous Hollywood figures. The production will flow throughout the
bar, as though viewers were at the party. We asked Heard about the show. ¶ What about this play lends
itself to this immersive staging? Stepping into Velveteen Rabbit is like falling into a rabbit hole: It’s dark,
quirky and unique. You feel like you’re in a private club. That’s what made The Cat’s Meow a perfect fit.
You feel like you’re at an exclusive party hobnobbing with the elite, and that’s exactly what it would’ve
been like aboard Hearst’s yacht. ¶ Are there special challenges created by the site regarding such
basics as positioning the audience? During rehearsal, we were very conscious of “spreading the love” —
if one part of the bar had prime viewing of a scene, we made sure the next scene favored the other end.
But the audience response after our workshop was great. Folks said that even if they couldn’t see one
moment, they still caught it, and it added much to the cocktail-party atmosphere.
7p, Sundays August 7-September 4, Velveteen Rabbit, $25,
august 2016
P h oto g r a p h y R i c h a r d B r u s ky
This convenient and free program, offered by the Southern Nevada Health District, acts as a virtual
health coach to help you manage your diabetes with nutrition tips and recipes, medication reminders,
the ability to set weight and exercise goals, and more!
Sign up for Care4life at
Made possible by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ALL Things
Derek Stonebarger
skin cancer diagnosis was bad enough. Far worse was
that it spread to his throat. Doctors had feeding tubes in
his stomach, but the chemo-induced regurgitation still
took its traditional route. After surgery to remove cancer-infested
lymph nodes, this was tremendously painful. But in the middle
of that, Derek Stonebarger had a bit of a revelation: Sign a lease
now, and what’s the worst that can happen?
Lot of upside there, really. So, in the
midst of treatment for cancer that saw him
go to UCLA on a day’s notice in September,
Stonebarger got his plans on lockdown for
ReBar, a new spot on Main Street where
everything is for sale, from the glasses you
drink out of to the décor on the walls to the
stools you’re sitting on. Just, uh, don’t take
that too far. We’re pretty sure it stops with
the girl at the end of the bar.
Stonebarger helped turn Atomic
Liquors from historical down-and-out
watering hole to historical hipster spot
in 2013. But the idea for ReBar had
always been with him, starting from the
revelation at 14 years old that he could
fix up old cars and flip them for profit.
“I’ve always done that with antiques,”
Stonebarger said. “It’s always been a
side project of mine. I’ve flipped stuff,
and I love the bar business. I spend a lot
of money myself when I get drunk, so I
figured other people probably do too.”
Stonebarger signed the lease on
the former Amberjoy’s Vintage Closet
location in November, smack in the
middle of chemo and radiation. Let it
never be said that your Saturday morning housecleaning with a hangover is
that productive.
August 2016
Some of the stock in the joint goes way
back — there are light fixtures from the
Riviera and buffet booths from the Silver
Slipper. It’s a Craigslist Chic aesthetic, but
there’s still quite a bit of forward-looking
planning going into the operation. The
cocktail menu will be limited to a handful,
but each one will be tied to a local charity.
The Preservation Press, for example,
will kick a portion of the proceeds to the
Nevada Preservation Foundation.
When the call came in from UCLA
that they wanted to start treatment
the next day, Stonebarger had to drop
everything and get out to Los Angeles.
That is, as one would imagine, more
than a little spendy.
“In order to do that, I spent a substantial amount of money, but who cares, I’m
about to die,” Stonebarger said. “With
what I had left I said I’m going to throw
it all at this idea. I’ve wanted to do this
forever. I don’t want to wait another
moment of my life to do it. It was like,
I’m going to get this place open, even if
this cancer is going to beat me. I think
of things differently now. I think I’m
willing to take more risks, and do what
I’m really passionate about with the rest
of my life, no matter how long it is.”
Jason Scavone
p h oto g r a p h y a n t h o n y m a i r
Au g u s t 2 0 1 6
ALL Things
Object lesson
it glassy
Robert Shield is a master
craftsman of a dying art form
B y A n d r e w K i r a ly
August 2016
t’s kind of an epiphany when glass
craftsman Robert Shield matter-of-factly points to a glittering
orb in his display case and says, “ ... and
that’s a vintage marble I made from
dichro glass ...”
Wait. You mean, like the marbles I
played with, collected, fawned over as a
kid, rapt at how each seemed to contain
its own tiny blossoming cosmos? Yes,
there it is, a speckled supernova trapped
in a gleaming sphere. And he made it!
To the soft-spoken Australian expat,
it’s another example of the magical
things you can make with glass — and,
he says, a delicate token of a dying art
form. Shield is the owner of the Hall of
Antiquities shop in the Boulevard Mall
and Studio Royal Glass Blowing Academy. He’s one of only a few glassblowers
in Southern Nevada.
Shield’s attraction to the craft was
part romance, part pragmatism. As a kid
living in the Gold Coast of Australia, he
used to watch with fascination the glassblowers plying their craft in the markets
and malls. And, after several years as an
apprentice in a glass art factory, upon
leaving he was at a career crossroads.
“It was either going from the glassblowing apprenticeship to a studio or
becoming the manager of a McDonald’s
franchise,” he says. (Noting that most
people nowadays would sooner buy
cheap, mass-produced glassware from
China than a handcrafted piece of art,
he jokes that, hm, maybe he should’ve
taken the McDonald’s gig.) Which isn’t
to say that he didn’t suffer for his art
along the way; when Shield first arrived
in Las Vegas in 1994, he drove a cab
for five years to pay the bills while he
built his glassblowing business. “I had
a studio in Henderson where I would
teach students between rides, or after I
finished my shift.”
He’s been at the Boulevard Mall for
about a year and a half now, but the
majority of his business is from teaching glasscraft to eager new students.
His charmingly cluttered shop is full
of eye-catching curios and antiques,
but it’s his glass creations that inspire
double-takes. Here are a few of his
favorite things.
P h oto g r a p h y c h r i sto p h e r s m i t h
This is a replica of a horse
and carriage that Shield made
and sent to Prince Andrew and
Sara Ferguson in 1986. “I had it
sent from Sydney as a wedding
gift.” He shipped it unsolicited,
and he got a legit thank-you
letter from Buckingham Palace
in return. It took about 10
hours to make. He also made a
glass tiger for — you guessed it
— Siegfried and Roy.
This modest-looking glass leaf represents the gateway to glasscraft. This is
the first thing students learn to make before
moving on to bottle stoppers, pendants, icicles
and marbles. “Glassmaking is a dying art,”
Shield says. “But I try to keep it alive. That’s
why I do my Groupons and Living Socials for
teaching classes.” When they get advanced
enough, many students clamor to learn how to
make — you guessed it — pipes.
Bird’s nest. “My very first piece was a little
bird’s nest,” Shield recalls. “I did hundreds,
thousands of them (for practice).” His latest
obsession is his “La mer” series — coral, dolphin,
octopi — which he hope will sell briskly when the
Boulevard Mall opens its SeaQuest aquarium.
Glass swan. Don’t let
the delicate curves
fool you. These represent
workaday creation that
harkens back to his glass
factory days in Australia.
“When I started in the
factory, we made handblown swans all day. Not
many glassblowers do
hand-blown swans from a
hollow tube.”
This is a marble Shield made from
dichroic (or the more slangy “dichro”)
glass, which is glass combined with metal
oxides to give it a sparkling, iridescent look.
Marbles are made through a painstaking
process of shaping, layering, and then placed
in a round mold and heated one more time in
a kiln before being polished.
Au g u s t 2 0 1 6
ALL Things
open topic
h e a lt h
Tooth and
How the UNLV dental clinic fixed my mouth
By Noah Cicero
uring the summer of 2013, while I was living at the Grand Canyon, my left top
molar cracked; a good-sized chunk just disappeared. I wondered if I had I eaten it. Can a person eat chunks of their teeth and live? I kept living. Two years
later, in August 2015, now in Las Vegas, the cracked tooth began to hurt. Then my face
started to hurt, and eventually I had a pulsating headache. I didn’t know what to do.
I had Obamacare (Nevada Medicaid and Nevada Check Up card). But the Nevada
Medicaid and Nevada Check Up Card doesn’t cover routine dental care like fillings
and root canals, only extractions. After the pain became unbearable, or at least terribly
annoying, I went to a local hospital to see if I could get an extraction. The hospital was
state-of-the-art. People were helped quickly and everyone was friendly. As I waited, two
young men handed me a pamphlet for the UNLV Dental Clinic. Then a doctor gave me
august 2016
a prescription for pain pills. Because I
have the Nevada Medicaid and Nevada
Check Up Card I didn’t have to pay for the
emergency-room visit, but a few weeks
later I received a receipt for its cost:
approximately $1,800 for 20 minutes. I
didn’t think it would be so much. If the
bill had been $400 or $600, I would have
thought, Whatever, rich people can pay it.
But at $1,800, I felt bad. I didn’t mean to
take so much money, rich people.
When I got to the UNLV Dental Clinic, the waiting room was full of sad, poor
people. People were complaining. One
said the doctors messed up her teeth.
Another looked like he had spent years
living in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas.
I was brought to a room, and they
X-rayed my teeth. A young man, who
looked so tired he could have fallen right
to sleep, begged me not to get my tooth extracted. I was too young to lose my teeth,
he said, and it would only cost $800 total
for a root canal and a crown. He wanted
to help me, he believed that I could find
the money, that I should keep my tooth. I
believed him. “Okay,” I said, “let’s do it.”
The young man quickly fixed the infection and put some globs on the crack
to seal it. Then I had to register and
commit to several appointments in order
to get help from the clinic. I agreed to
the whole thing. I needed my tooth
fixed, and also it seemed interesting to
me, all these young science people doing
things. I’m a humanities person, and all
my friends are humanities people. This
would be a new experience.
What I learned later was that dental
students seek out patients who are reliable. In order to graduate, they must have
a certain number of experiences doing
each procedure. They need patients who
will show up to multiple appointments,
on time, over several weeks. But the
people who need the clinic’s services
have very limited income. Most receive
government aid and a lot rely on public
transportation. The students often talked
about how a patient didn’t show up. I
must have looked reliable that morning.
ILLUS T RAT ION b r e n t h o l m e s
When Nick pulled out the mold for my crown,
he looked at it in his hand with a huge smile. I
understood then: This was his art, his beauty.
Science kids have their art, too.
The first step was scheduling two
three-hour examinations. I was given a
new doctor, a young man with glasses
and a caring smile. I will call him Nick.
Nick started by giving me one X-ray
after another. I lay in silence while he
said “lingual” and “mesial” over and
over, “lingual,” “mesial,” “lingual,” “mesial.” It’s the mantra of dental students.
After six hours of studying my teeth,
making molds and noting every piece of
calculus, it was time for the root canal.
This was done by the tired young
man I met earlier. He looked a bit less
tired now. It took two three-hour visits.
I had to keep a rubber bag thing on my
face, and a block in my mouth. For three
hours. The student didn’t seem happy
about root canals on upper molars. I felt
bad for the guy. It seemed like he was
fighting a small war with my face.
After the root canal Nick gave me a
crown, which took three more sessions.
I wasn’t worried about the students
messing up my teeth. Nick showed such
confidence and enthusiasm, I believed
he could do it. Every time I felt pain,
they gave me another shot. Surprisingly,
I rarely felt in pain. When Nick pulled
out the mold for my crown, he looked
at it in his hand with a huge smile. I
understood then: This was his art, his
beauty. Science kids have their art, too.
In March, the Western Regional Examination Board, which is like the bar exam
for dental students, came to Las Vegas.
I was asked to participate, but I had to
show up, I needed to show up, on time.
If a patient misses this appointment,
the student has to go to Los Angeles or
Phoenix to take the tests. I was scheduled
for an SRP, a super tooth-cleaning, which
for testing purposes is only done on one
quadrant of the mouth. I would have two
quadrants done. Nick would test on one,
and another student I hadn’t met would
do the other.
That morning, the students were
nervous but excited. This was the
moment, the final test. All the tests they’d
ever taken, from kindergarten through
their bachelors’ degrees, all the tests in
their dental classes, culminated in this
final exam. After each student completed
his quadrant, I was led to another room,
where dentists from the board would
inspect my mouth to determine if the
students would pass. The room was
strangely dark. I was put into a seat, and
three experienced dentists, all in their
50s or 60s, came over one at a time. They
looked at my mouth, then at the computer screen showing my X-rays, then back
at my mouth, then back at the X-rays,
and made notes. It seemed like the older
generation was doing its best to usher
in the younger dentists, which made me
feel like I was participating in something
bigger than myself.
Both students who tested on my teeth
passed. They’ll go on to become dentists,
have careers and perform a service to
our communities.
As the students spoke to me and to
each other, I learned that many owed
more than $250,000 in student loans.
None of the students I talked with had
working-class families. They may have
had some tuition help from their parents
but had still accumulated $250,000 in
student loans. What amazed me most, as
a working-class person from a town in
Ohio where no one dreams of becoming
a dentist or doctor, was that these
students weren’t afraid of this $250,000.
They had absolute faith that they would
be able to pay it off.
The UNLV dental school saved me;
if not for the clinic, I would have had to
see a normal dentist and pay at least a
thousand dollars more, which I couldn’t
have done. I wouldn’t have received an
SRP cleaning, and now my gums don’t
bleed, and my mouth is like new. If I still
lived in Youngstown, where there isn’t a
dental school for 60 miles, I would have
been fated to lose my teeth.
On my last visit with Nick, he told me
it was his last week before graduation
and that I was his last patient. He
thanked me for showing up on time and
being reliable.
501 S. Rancho Drive, Suite A8
Las Vegas, Nevada 89106
8460 S. Eastern Avenue, Suite C
Henderson, Nevada 89074
august 2016
There’s a lucrative pot rush
under way in Colorado. With
Nevada about to vote on
recreational marijuana, a
few lessons from that Rocky
Mountain high
B y D a n H e r na n d e z
he first thing Mike Eymer says
to the 30 or so people on his limo
bus is not a greeting — not hello or welcome to Colorado Cannabis Tours — it’s a question: “Why
isn’t anybody smoking weed?” That’s his
way of telling us to go ahead, light up.
This is a party bus, after all. The air of
giddy excitement begs to be choked by
cough-inducing marijuana smoke, so
a young man next to me lights the first
joint. He and his friends drove all the
way from Salt Lake City to experience
buying and smoking weed legally. “Now
there’s some smoke in here. That’s better,” Eymer says. We’re three minutes
into a Denver marijuana industry tour
and already folks are getting high.
But the guide also wants to survey our
sobriety levels. “Has anyone consumed
alcohol today?” It’s only 11 a.m., but a
couple from Texas says yes. “And how
about edibles? Come on guys, who ate
weed brownies for breakfast?” Pot-infused desserts are a hit with tourists, and,
indeed, someone in the back visited Ganja Gourmet this morning.
Rap music tumbles from the speaker
system — Dr. Dre’s The Chronic — as Eymer distributes pre-rolled joints like he’s
the pothead Red Cross. What were mischievous grins now curl into goofy smiles.
Eymer — the Ken Kesey to our band of
Merry Pranksters — asks from whence
we all hail and learns, for instance, that
august 2016
Green mind:
Mike Eymer
of Colorado
Cannabis Tours
we are certified public accountants from
Houston, a pet-hotel worker from Utah,
professors from New Hampshire and a
retired salesman from Cleveland who,
I’m told as an aside, visits Las Vegas once
a year. “We stay at the MGM. My wife
likes the smell there,” he says.
Speaking of odors, it reeks of a skunky
grassfire on this bus. A haze, too, lingers
heavily enough to make it difficult to see
the office workers trolling for lunch, the
exasperated drivers stuck next to us in
traffic, the brick buildings and skyscrapers on all sides of us as we lurch through
downtown Denver. Thankfully the driver has an enclosed cabin; he’s walled-off
from the weed part of this weed tour.
Wouldn’t want him getting a contact high.
Now, my bearings only slightly altered,
I’ll focus on what Denver’s marijuana experience can teach Las Vegas.
Nevadans will consider legalizing pot
for recreational use in November. The
ballot initiative, Question 2, asks the state
to treat cannabis like alcohol. Anyone 21
and older would be allowed to purchase
up to an ounce from licensed dispensaries, just like medical marijuana cardholders have been able to since July 2015.
Medical marijuana was approved by
referendum in 2000, yet the state waited 15 years to ratify the law, and that reluctance is still around. During the most
recent legislative session, pols ignored
the opportunity to directly approve recreational marijuana use. It’s a tough vote
to cast for any politician, which is why
every state and territory to adopt recreational marijuana — Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
— has done so through a public vote.
According to Ballotpedia, 20 states
have referendums for some form of
marijuana legalization this November,
including California and Arizona, and
among those, Nevada is widely considered among the states most likely to pass
cannabis use for all citizens of legal age.
But what would that look like?
If it happens, Eymer may be the one
to show you. The enterprising dude behind Colorado Cannabis Tours launched
a website for Sin City Cannabis Tours on
this very afternoon.
“As soon as it passes, we’ll start doing
this exact same thing there,” he says.
“We looked at all the states and picked
California and Nevada because of the
P h oto g r a p h y A n t h o n y c a m e r a
number of tourists.
“I’m a travel agent — I have to go
where my money is,” he adds. “I went
to Vegas on an exploratory trip and saw
the tourists and said, ‘I see all my people. These people are on my weed buses
every Saturday.’” In a separate vehicle
behind us, a large group of millennials is
celebrating a marijuana-infused bachelor party. So I get what he means about
following his clientele.
And here is what the marijuana tourism
thing is all about: getting ripped with a
bunch of other friendly “flower” aficionados, scoring high-end product and finally
seeing what a buttoned-up version of the
long-prohibited industry can achieve.
* * * * *
he first stop is one of the largest
marijuana producers in Denver, RiverRock Cannabis. It’s a hot, dank
warehouse divided into multiple grow
rooms, each with hundreds of plants in
various stages of cultivation. Wearing a
lime green suit and trucker hat, its operations chief delivers a heady lesson on
cloning, nurturing and harvesting weed.
We learn all about the different strains
and their myriad effects, and the amateur
botanists in the group are really riveted
by his green-thumb wonkiness. But I’m
more interested in this building.
It’s an old brick bus depot. The neighbors include more aging warehouses; down
the street is a mobile home park, and in the
near distance one can see (and smell) a Purina dog food factory. So of course this is
some of the hottest real estate in Denver. According to the commercial property firm CBRE, one-third of all industrial
leases signed in Denver between 2009 and
2014 were inked by marijuana companies.
Since then, the industry’s footprint has expanded further, the results of which are an
extremely low vacancy rate and, naturally,
a rise in all commercial property values.
Those buildings with so-called “magical
zoning” — located at the required distance
from schools and other marijuana growers,
licensed for “light industrial” use and fitted
for high power capacity — have doubled
in value. Vacant and dilapidated buildings
fetched bids in the millions during peak demand. In fact, a statewide real estate boom
has been one of recreational marijuana’s
most profound side effects. august 2016
Wealthy real-estate trusts from New
York are now purchasing buildings in
Colorado, Oregon and Washington with
the sole intention of renting them to marijuana companies. The trend inspired a
recent Inc. magazine article titled “The
Marijuana Business Is Really the Real Estate Business,” which also reported that
cannabis companies are emerging as property barons themselves. Since the plant is
still federally illegal, banks won’t accept
their cash, and thus real estate purchases
are the safest way to invest their funds. “The big rush happened in 2015,” says
Bob Costello, a Denver broker. “It’s been
fabulous for real-estate people. I know
Nevada’s market has experienced some
problems. This should pick it up pretty
good, especially on the industrial side.” But a backlash has occurred in neighborhoods saturated with grow houses. Some
residents complain that the buildings emit
foul odors and can harm an area’s image.
For that reason, Denver issued a moratorium on industrial licenses. The city has
450 cannabis business licenses in effect
now, including retail shops, confectionary
kitchens, testing labs and cultivation sites.
Limiting that growth has caused producers
to expand into other Colorado towns. What’s been harder to regulate is the
industry’s effect on the housing market.
Many renters and first-time homebuyers
believe pot legalization has contributed to a surge in demand that is driving
prices so high that working- and middle-class Denverites can hardly afford
to live in their hometown. In the two
years since Colorado legalized marijuana sales, median home prices in Denver
have risen 26 percent. Costello, who is also a landlord, has
increased his tenants’ rent 30 percent
since 2014. He receives regular phone
calls from people interested in moving
to Colorado to grow pot in their basements. “I don’t allow that at all,” he says.
“But I still benefit from it because it’s
hard to rent a house right now. “No one will admit it officially,” he
adds, regarding the theory that pot legalization is attracting people to the
state, “but, my god, what other thing
caused this massive influx?” During the RiverRock tour, I peek into
a room with dozens of grow lights hanging from the ceiling, an elaborate ventila-
august 2016
Leaves of grass:
tion system snaking
Denver’s new
overhead, and I’m
pot industry
reminded of other
may hold some
groups capitalizing
lessons for Las
on the frenzy. It’s not
just “trees” these installations are feeding. “HVAC guys, electricians, building
maintenance-type guys, those people are
in high demand now a lot more than they
were before,” says Pat Early, RiverRock’s
director of cultivation. “The green rush
has gone through a lot of different industries that are related to us.”
* * * * *
ack on the bus, Eymer is lighting a
15-inch steamroller pipe for a Delaware college student. The tube fills
with thick smoke, she heaves it in, then
exhales slowly, letting it billow from her
lips in volcanic plumes. I have a rule against smoking from devices larger than my head. It’s a policy that
serves my life well, and in this context I
begin wondering how blazed everyone
is. Our group seems to include both the
several-times-a-day smokers and those
for whom weed is a once-in-a-while thing
— marijuana tourists in every sense of the
term — but I can’t say anyone looks particularly stoned. Now, this could be the result
of our intimate social setting. People are
still making small talk, still trying to put
their most impressive selves forward. But
everyone seems to know their limits, too.
Offers to “hit this” are graciously declined
as often as they are accepted. When Eymer hands off a large glass
bong, I do get to worrying, though, wheth-
er anyone intends to drive after this little
weedfest is finished. That’s a concern for
Nevada lawmakers too — whether people
will drive under the influence of marijuana. It wouldn’t exactly be a new problem,
though. Marijuana is plentiful in every
city whether it’s legal or not. And Denver hasn’t seen a significant uptick in pot
DUIs since recreational cannabis use was
allowed, but in any case, Colorado sheriffs are piloting new technology that detects marijuana on saliva samples, making
roadside tests more efficient. We pull up to Medicine Man, the city’s
largest marijuana retailer. Security guards
check IDs, then we line up to consult a
“budtender,” the salesclerk who doubles
as a cannabis sommelier. This is not your
dad’s reefer, nor is it your older sister’s
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“dank herb.” The former came straight
from Mexico with seeds and stems while
the latter required a flame to smoke, which
is so déclassé now. Extracts are the hot thing for today’s
weed lover. Cannabis oil may be smoked
discreetly through a vaporizer and is simultaneously easier on the lungs, potentially much more potent — and because it
includes the entire plant’s chemical profile,
more flavorful. Traditional buds are available too, of
course. The nuggets or flowers or whathaveyous are divided into two categories,
sativas and indicas, those of the heady,
high-functioning buzz versus the physical, relaxing high. They also sell hybrid
versions of the two. Specific strands come
with cute names like Kool Aid Kush, Purple
Urkle, Lemonhead or White Poison, and
each strain is labeled for its potency level,
much the way beer menus include alcohol
percentages. Canna Tsu, for instance, is
only 4.4 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol being the active intoxicant) whereas
Rug Burn is a whopping 25.6 percent THC. Then come edibles. Weed cookies, lollipops, candy bars, gummies, breath mints
and truffles. They also make marijuana soft
drinks and THC topical creams, so if you’re
feeling really inconspicuous, you can get
your fix by sipping a root beer while moisturizing your skin. Beyond the product gallery, Medicine
Man is representative of the incredible
range of work in this industry. Because
it’s strictly a cash-based economy, security teams are necessary to keep businesses
from getting rolled, so a former cop or military serviceman might be the first person
you meet when shopping for weed. In the
back of the house, crews of growers and
trimmers nurture and harvest. There are
chemists in labs, you have accountants and
marketing staff, up front the budtenders,
and behind the scenes, chefs who specialize in such products as weed chocolate. It has grown into a billion-dollar industry for Colorado, netting the state more
than $135 million in marijuana taxes and
fees in 2015. Their first $40 million was
set aside for school construction, some
was earmarked for youth programs and
substance-abuse treatment, while the rest
went to discretionary spending. Those figures were a staggering 42 percent higher
than 2014’s. This year is likely to set an even
higher benchmark. April saw a new monthly sales record — $117.4 million in 30 days,
netting the state more than $17 million in
taxes and fees — and overall cannabis revenues have surged 53 percent in 2016.
Some Las Vegas entrepreneurs have
guessed that, if regulated kindly, Sin City
might beat those figures on its own. But
a more sober assessment from the Las
Vegas consulting firm RCG Economics
found that a $60 million annual tax boon
is likely for Nevada.
And if the referendum passes, Nevada
intends to use much of that revenue for
K-12 education, just like Colorado, an arrangement that ought to tantalize Clark
County parents whose children attend
schools where the air conditioning frequently breaks down, ceilings leak and
some classes are taught in crowded trailers. In its most recent national report,
Education Week gave Nevada an “F” in
school spending. When averaged with
poor scores in student achievement and
long-term chances of success, the Nevada
school system ranked 51st in the nation. Yet if we do legalize pot for the sake of
the children, state officials should probably also consider adopting Colorado’s
kid-inspired regulations. Edible marijuana can no longer be marked as candy, and there is a movement underway
to ban animal- and fruit-shaped edibles,
since on multiple occasions, children who
thought they were eating Mom and Dad’s
gummy bears or peach rings had inadvertently broken into their parents’ weed
stash. Numerous hospitalizations have
occurred because adults, children or pets
accidentally consumed large quantities of
edible THC. Childproof packaging, potency limits, clear labeling and individually
wrapped serving sizes are now required. As to whether high school kids are
more likely to smoke cannabis when these
shops sprout up around town, the answer
is ostensibly no. A June report from Colorado’s health department showed that alcohol remains the drug of choice for teens.
About 20 percent of those surveyed admitted to smoking pot in the last 30 days,
same as before the law changed. Somewhat surprisingly, the number of admitted users has declined slightly since 2009,
when the state began permitting medical
marijuana dispensaries. These figures are in line with a national
average that has remained flat since 2010.
* * * * *
he party bus seems quieter after we
switch from rap to reggae. Bob Marley has a sedative effect all his own,
but it’s probably the bong rips that have
chilled everyone out. A TV showing clips
from the movie Half Baked draws scattered giggles — “Man, I remember when
a dime bag cost a dime!” — and some of
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us try to remember other quotes from the
film but can’t. That’s when Eymer distributes munchies, gummy bears that he
assures us are only that, gummies in the
shape of bears. The move toward sobriety is fitting because our last stop is one
of the industry’s ancillary businesses that
benefit from the law without actually
growing or selling cannabis themselves.
We’re going to see a glass-blower make a
bong from scratch.
Even though he identifies as a travel
agent, Eymer is one of these “potrepreneurs” too. He doesn’t merely offer tours,
he books visitors with “420-friendly”
hotels and signs them up for marijuana
cooking classes, glass pipe-making workshops and a “Puff, Pass & Paint” event in
which tourists channel their inner Bob
Ross — paint happy little trees after burning some grass. As Nevadans may eventually learn, just
about any product or service can adopt a
marijuana theme. Have you ever tried a
zip line … on weed? Well, maybe not any
service, but one can certainly imagine Vegas spas offering a cannabis massage. In
Denver, some practitioners of deep-tissue bodywork provide a weed-oil rub to
“increase muscle sensitivity and provide
a soothing sensation long after the massage has been completed.” We gather in the glass-blower’s studio
around a 2,000-degree oven in which the
artist spins a round piece of blue glass on
the end of a steel pole. In the corner are
finished pieces, including vases and goblets, because like any good businessman
he has diversified. The next big trend will likely be the marijuana café. Public consumption is still illegal in Colorado (only Alaska permits weed
lounges) and that has proved frustrating for
tourists who are not always content to puff
alone in their hotels. A petition is in the
works to change this, but for now a party
bus like Eymer’s and other sign-up events
are the only options available for these visitors to socialize around their favorite plant.
Eymer believes the first major city to allow
cannabis bars will emerge as the favored
destination for pot tourists, be it Denver,
San Francisco, L.A. or Las Vegas. But there’s reason to believe Nevada
would be competitive simply by allowing
recreational sales. “I’d go to Vegas more
if that were the case,” says the Salt Lake
City man. “So would I,” adds the Clevelander who already visits once a year. Still, what would that look like?
Would it look like this? The
glass-blower has a variety of tools for
sculpting molten glass. Tweezers, wet
paddle cups, scissors and a cooling table.
Just like Colorado depends on a number
of agencies and regulatory measures to
keep its marijuana industry in check, so
does the artist rely on helpers and instruments to craft each piece.
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He spins the molten glass continuously and returns it to the oven every five
seconds so the object doesn’t droop or
harden into an ugly shape. New tints are
added, and as it gets closer to completion,
when the piece becomes larger and more
unwieldy, assistants jump in to help fuse
on new parts, cool or reheat the piece.
Its bulbous base is given a flat-bottomed
stand to keep it upright. He adds signature accents then spins it in the oven
more, responding always to the effects of
air and gravity. Someone asks if he ever
breaks them. The answer, of course, is
yes, but that he has learned from those
mistakes and adjusted his technique. If the glass blower is Denver, and if
Denver is the model for legalizing cannabis, then you could say Denver is what
Vegas might be, so I guess the glass blower is Vegas and his shiny new bong is our
potential new industry, fragile and worth
a lot of cash.
Or maybe I’m still high.
* * * * *
ack on the bus, as we return to the
afternoon’s meet-up site, Cheba Hut
Toasted Subs, Eymer gives a rousing
speech about the ballot initiatives this
fall. Talking about how no one should go
to jail for having a weed bag in his pocket,
he lobbies for us to get involved with marijuana rights groups and to vote. “They’re never going to give it to you,”
he says of lawmakers, everywhere. “You’re
going to have to gather signatures and gave
it to the Legislature and say, put this bill on
the ballot and we’re gonna vote on it.”
Despite opposition from the state’s
wealthiest political donor, billionaire
Sheldon Adelson; despite antipathy from
the entire gaming industry and extreme
reticence from all but a few brave lawmakers, that’s not just happening in Nevada, it has happened. Marijuana legalization is up for a vote and most observers
believe its passage a fait accompli.
“You shouldn’t have to come all the
way here to experience true freedom in
the United States of America,” he adds.
“I’m glad you did, and I made a living off
it, but this ends for me one day. One day,
the whole the tourism thing goes away
and for a damn good reason: because we
got it legal everywhere.”
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mental health
‘I swear
I will!’
When my son threatened suicide, I
thought help would be a phone call
away. Instead, I entered a maze of
false hopes and shockingly scant
resources B y A n o n y m o u s
Editor’s note: Because of the sensitivity
of this issue, and to protect the identity of
the author’s son, we have agreed to her request to remain anonymous.
t was last August when my 16-year-old
told me, over the phone, that he was
going to kill himself.
“I know exactly how I’ll do it, too,” he
said. “I’ll do it at the school, just like—”
and he said the name of a friend who’d
committed suicide, the previous year.
Although I could plainly hear that he
was in the midst of some sort of panic
attack, it was the benign circumstances
precipitating his threat — he hadn’t received the course schedule he’d wanted
for his junior year — that led me to treat
it not very seriously.
The overly dramatic reaction of a
teenager, I thought, and I told him that
his threat was in poor taste and disrespectful to the tragic circumstances of
his belated friend.
His assignment to a general chemistry
class, based on his previous year’s math
grade, was what had set him off. The
tipping point was the school’s refusal to
consider that he had repeated his math
course in summer school to improve his
grade, in order to qualify for chemistry
“Relax, Bud,” I said, mostly concerned
with calming him down — his voice was
shaking and his breathing was quick.
“I’ll talk to your counselor. You’ll get
into chemistry honors.” And I did. And
he did.
It was about a month later when he
threatened again to kill himself.
I can’t remember what had unraveled
him that time, but I do remember that
August 2016
he was promising to hurt himself then
and there; and that his father was out
of town; and that his younger sister was
frightened; and that I, in turn, threatened to call the police.
I explained to my boy, who’d grown
both bigger and stronger than I, and who
was in a highly erratic state, that once
the authorities were involved, it would
be out of my hands — the hands that had
always protected him.
I watched him process this. And I
watched him calm down.
And, still, I didn’t take his threat very
seriously. Mostly, because he was so angry. More angry than sad. And as I understood it, depression — not fury — preceded suicide.
He was, I knew, somewhat sad — he
called it depression — since his older
sister had left for college and his girlfriend’s family had moved out of state.
Considering these losses, it was natural
that he’d be suffering during the adjustment phase, I thought.
He wanted antidepressants: “Please,
Mom,” he said.
Time, I told him, would heal his heart.
I wanted him to try exercising first. I
wanted him to get off the video games,
to get outdoors, to socialize more.
When he grew even more angry, and
defiant, and willful — instead of sad — I
thought that I’d encountered the dreaded teenage years parents are forever
being warned about. I thought the hormones of a boy developing into a man
were to blame.
“We have to get him under control,” I
told my husband.
Also, I suspected the positive results
of his first threat were prompting the
others. l thought that in gaining him
access to his chemistry honors class,
I’d set a precedent — in the way a parent can train a toddler to misbehave in
i l lu st r at i o n M i c h a e l Wa r a k s a
the checkout line by first denying his request for candy, then surrendering to the
screams of his tantrum.
So, I responded by laying down the
hammer. By demanding more chores.
Better grades. I sought politeness and
gratitude from this new angsty character in our home. I responded by refusing
to be manipulated by hostile threats.
And I was wrong. So utterly wrong.
* * * * *
didn’t know, then, that depression in
teenagers often manifests as anger —
knowledge I came upon while consulting experts online to back me up. (“See,
video games are bad and exercise can help,”
was the ammunition I’d been seeking.)
I also didn’t know that 14 percent of
teens suffer at least one major depression, annually, or that 16 percent of high
school students have reported to have
seriously contemplated suicide.
I didn’t know that, every day, nearly 5,400 American teenagers try to kill
themselves. Every day!
I didn’t know that four out of five of
these kids attempting suicide first sent
out very clear warning signs.
And I certainly didn’t know that suicide
is the third leading cause of death among
American adolescents between the ages
of 12 and 18. (And in Nevada, the second
leading cause of death for 15-19 year-olds.)
And because I was ignorant of all of
this — so much critical information I
would learn during the course of his
struggle, our struggle — my son’s future
threats, his calls for help, escalated into
grand and violent conflicts of will. Each
more explosive than the last, because we
both were so intensely terrified.
He, terrified of being so alone in such
a dark place; and of what he might do to
himself there.
And me — stupid, stupid me: “You’re
not going to kill yourself,” I said back at
him, flexing my parental authority (so
effective in the past) in the face of his
rage, in the face of my fear.
“I will, Mom! I swear I will!”
Later — after doors had been slammed,
after the shouting had subsided, once
the hot energy had tempered to a lukewarm — I said to my husband, “I swear
he’s going to kill himself just to prove to
us that he’ll kill himself.”
2016 Plays
June 27 – October 22
Much Ado about Nothing
Henry V
The Three Musketeers
The Cocoanuts
Mary Poppins
Julius Caesar
Murder for Two
The Odd Couple
The Greater Escape.
800-PLAYTIX • • #utahshakes
August 2016
mental health
My voice shook. My hands quivered
with my maternal heart.
It’s unfortunate, I think now, but not
surprising, that his depression arrived
to coincide with his 16th year, so that I
could confuse the two. While wasting so
much precious time.
* * * * *
y mid-October, not 45 days from his
original threat, my son’s grades had
plummeted. His weight had plummeted. His confidence had plummeted.
So that even a mother in denial could see
he truly needed help.
When he said, “I need antidepressants,” I told him, “I know you do.”
I began researching teen psychologists and therapists online. I made calls
to those whose therapeutic philosophies
matched my own, whose profile photos
made them seem both professional and
personable, and whose offices were relatively near to our home.
None were returned.
So, I broadened my parameters: I
called a woman who specialized with
LDS families, although we are not Mormon. I called another who claimed expertise with teens. I called another who
hadn’t claimed this specialty, but whose
picture seemed to indicate kindness. I
called another whose headshot — long
blonde hair, made-up eyes, cleavage —
screamed Vegas bimbo, but whose bio
wasn’t half bad.
For three weeks, I left voicemail after
voicemail for local therapists, explaining that I was afraid for my teenager
who was struggling with depression, but
nobody seemed to care.
Then, finally, a voicemail back! However, this highly-qualified psychologist
only held office hours on Fridays, and I
would retrieve his message on a Saturday morning — which meant another
seven days before I could even set up an
“Mom, help,” my son began texting
from school, where his anxieties had spiraled so far out of control that he was hiding out in the boys’ bathroom instead of attending his more nerve-wracking classes.
I left more messages — tearful and
panicked, now.
“Why is nobody calling me back?” I
August 2016
cried into the voicemail box of my preferred choice from my original list, a
woman whose office was close, whose
credentials were impressive, and whose
maternal face suggested strength and
sensitivity. It was my third message to
her. “Please, please call me back. Please.”
The following day, she did. But only
to apologize: First, for not returning my
previous calls — she was just so busy.
Then, for our situation. And, finally, because she wasn’t taking on new patients.
She did, however, give me the numbers
of two of her colleagues who also had expertise with teenagers.
Neither of them returned my calls.
It was early in November, prior to the
Friday when I might reach the one psychologist interested in helping us, that
our situation turned dire. I was making
plans for our Christmas holidays and I’d
texted my son about his vacation preferences. His response set off sirens.
Free of rage or bitterness, now, with
only weary resignation, he texted back,
“Mom, really? I’m not likely to be here
at Christmas.”
I knew already that he’d researched
ways to kill himself. And I knew, from his
shouts during our ugliest incidents — that
wild chase to the laundry room, the frenzied battle for the bleach he meant to drink
— that he’d chosen his preferred method.
And now, here, a timeline.
“December,” he told me, when I
asked, and it suddenly occurred to me
that he hadn’t begun his annual lobbying for game systems and the other usual
Christmas-list items.
I remember, in that moment, thinking
to call a suicide hotline — but it was still
November, and so there was no imminent threat. He would come home from
school, do or not do his homework, play
video games, eat dinner, harass his little
sister: This was not a scene of emergency
demanding immediate response. He only
wanted — needed — not to feel so sad. He
only wanted — needed — an appointment
with a mental healthcare professional, a
prescription, some counseling.
Instead of a suicide hotline, I called
one of the mental healthcare hospitals I’d researched, in previous weeks,
during my search for help.
After a brief conversation, I was advised to bring him in.
But … well … there was something
lacking in the woman’s voice. Sensitivity? That and the canned marketing of
the website: words like beautiful environment and serene surroundings (I’d
driven by it — it did not appear serene)
juxtaposed with other words, like 58bed facility, made it all feel fraudulent.
Also, substance abuse was the foremost
topic of the site, so who would he (who
hadn’t yet had his first alcoholic drink,
who was by all accounts a really good
kid) be rooming with in his dual occupancy room? Undoubtedly, too, I’d seen
too many movies, read enough books not
to be concerned. And there were those
news articles, from not so long ago,
about one-way bus tickets and the mentally ill, to further fuel my distrust.
Plus, for God’s sake, he was still holding on. He was still asking for help,
for therapy and antidepressants. He
wasn’t, I was certain, in requirement of
I got back on the phone. I dialed number after number after number until, at
last, a real live voice picked up. This therapist — whose credentials and philosophy
didn’t particularly impress me, and whose
almost immediate availability raised a red
flag — could see us that afternoon.
Of course, we went.
* * * * *
y the end of an hour — during which
she spoke to my son, my husband
and me, simultaneously; then my
son, alone; during which she inspected
his arms for recent signs of cutting (there
were none) — this, the only therapist
with time for us, recommended that my
son be institutionalized. Immediately.
Not because he actually required institutionalization, she explained, but because
he needed meds (her word) and because
the only way for him to get him these in
any timely fashion — here in Southern Nevada — was to be hospitalized. As an emergency patient in a mental healthcare facility, he would, in accordance with federal
law, be evaluated by a psychiatrist within
48 hours and be prescribed the medication that she’d determined he needed and
which only a qualified psychiatric professional could prescribe for him.
This, she explained, was the only way
to successfully navigate Nevada’s lack-
ing mental healthcare system and save
my son’s life.
Failing institutionalization, the state’s
severe shortage of child psychiatrists —
45 in total, or 6.79 per 100,000 children,
according to a 2016 report published by
the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology — meant that he
wouldn’t likely secure an appointment
(or meds) for another three months.
“Your son doesn’t have three
months,” she said.
Meaning, we were, in fact, already in
a deep state of emergency.
Indeed, with the clock ticking at the
erratic speed of teen despair, up against
the long waiting lists of children seeking psychiatric treatment, our situation
had grown instantly critical months earlier, upon the onset of his first suicidal
In fact, any Nevada teenager experiencing depression verging on suicidal
thinking (16 percent, assuming the national average) who isn’t already in consultation with a psychiatrist, is indeed
already at fatal risk.
“I could call Metro, right now,” said
the therapist, apparently feeling the
need to drive the point home for my husband and me, who stared dumbly at her,
processing the implausibility of what she
was saying, the lengths our son would
need to go to — institutionalization! — to
get a scrip for antidepressants.
This, in 2015? When, according to a
2005-2008 Center for Disease Control
and Prevention national health survey,
one in 10 Americans older than 12 is using
antidepressants, and likely more, these
seven years since, considering the drug’s
increasing usage rate: It’s up 400 percent
since 1988, according to the same survey.
Could a prescription really be so difficult to get?
It turns out: Yes.
Postponing her next appointment (“An
emergency,” she told her waiting patient)
the therapist ran down a list of mental
hospitals available to us. There were some
she didn’t recommend, including the one
I’d called that afternoon; she didn’t agree
with their treatment methods, she said
(making my imagination run wild). Others, which commonly treated juvenile
delinquents, wouldn’t be suitable for an
upper-middle class boy from Henderson.
August 2016
mental health
“You don’t want to do more harm than
good,” she said.
My husband and I nodded in stunned
Finally, she recommended a newer
behavioral healthcare hospital in central
Las Vegas.
We could call from her office, she said.
I watched my son’s eyes grow wide with
terror while my husband dialed the phone.
Then all three of us breathed a sigh of
relief to learn that there were, in fact, no
beds currently available.
In that case, the therapist continued,
we should take him immediately to the
ER, where he could be held until a bed
opened up.
“But, he’s not going to kill himself today,” I said, incredulously. “Are you?” I
asked him.
“No.” He shook his head in anxious
certainty. His eyes still so big.
Missing not a beat, she continued
in her campaign: As an ER patient, he
would earn a priority position in Nevada’s long line of children awaiting beds,
psychiatric services, and meds.
This was the way it had to be done, she
Instead — seeming confident that she
had impressed upon us the severity of our
situation — she agreed to release us under the condition that we call again, a few
hours later, to learn if a bed had become
available, as per the behavioral hospital’s
directive, and with the promise that, failing that, we would consider the ER.
Home again, we all sat down to catch
our breath and recover from the assault
of the day’s rapid escalation: Five hours
earlier, I’d been planning our Christmas
holiday and now I was committing my
son to a mental institution. On the advice of the only therapist who had time
for us? What the hell?!
* * * * *
everal hours later, when we called,
a bed still had not become available.
Nor had one opened, 12 hours after
that. Or the day after that. Still, the behavioral hospital’s instructions remained
the same: “Try again, later.”
When I asked that my son’s name be
put on a waiting list, I was discouraged:
“It’s pretty long.”
“Still,” I said.
August 2016
Then — although the therapist had
advised against it: “Family doctors just
aren’t helpful in these situations” — we
turned to my son’s pediatrician. We
hoped that she might be able to expedite
an appointment with a child psychiatrist,
or offer us an alternative solution, or, at
the very least, confirm that what the
therapist had told us was, in fact, fact.
It was.
Having heard the details of my son’s
condition, his pediatrician was visibly
unnerved. “There’s just no help for kids,
here,” she said. “They’ve only recently
implemented help for adults.” She made
a reference to squeaky wheels. She said,
“Kids don’t pay taxes. They have no voice
in Vegas. You might try California.”
She suggested a written contract
between my son and me, by which he
promised not to hurt himself without first reaching out, and to which he
agreed while we were in her office — but
scoffed at, once we’d returned home.
Later, having made some calls, she
offered us the name of a good Henderson therapist and the phone number of a
local child psychiatrist, but she couldn’t
make any promises. She told us, again, to
consider California.
According to my online research, this
psychiatrist was one of the best in Vegas;
others had disturbing reviews. I called,
immediately and — undeterred by the
outgoing message that warned if the doctor hadn’t returned my call in a timely
manner, she wasn’t likely accepting new
patients — left yet another pleading voicemail. Then I crossed my fingers. No luck.
I called again.
* * * * *
alifornia’s mental healthcare services
for youth is decades in advance of
Nevada’s. Where our 58-bed facilities
with their private children’s wings recall
scenes from disturbing movies set half a
century ago, California has a multitude of
programs offering care specific to teens
and to their individual disorders. The
programs take place in comfortable residential settings and cater to small groups
of carefully screened admissions, to ensure safety and compatibility. California’s
programs are everything I had assumed
modern psychiatric therapy would be: In
these homelike settings, unlike our Vegas
institutions, patients are allowed to keep
their shoelaces — to me, a disparity indicative of the vastly different therapy environments and treatment philosophies.
So — in between the calls I continued
to make diligently to the local mental
health hospital, seeking a bed — I narrowed in on a program I liked for my son,
in Malibu.
Reputed to be one of the best in the
nation, accredited by The Joint Commission and highly rated by Psychology Today, it would cost us $49,000. (Another
we had considered, a provider with our
health insurance company, would leave
us only $5,000 out-of-pocket: the two
ends of the price spectrum, according to
my findings.)
“We’ll finance,” my husband said of
the Malibu option, and we began the
registration process.
But, because it was a 30-day residency
stay (the industry norm) and so far from
home, my son was hesitant. He wanted
to wait for a bed here; he wanted to try
his local options, first.
“Can you call again?” he asked, with
increasing frequency.
During this excruciating waiting
stage — when we were afraid to leave
him home alone, afraid if he shut his
bedroom door for too long — I’d determined that, if nothing else, I would love
him. As much as I possibly could. While
he was still here to love.
It seemed, for a time, the only course
of action available to me. And I counseled his father and his sisters, all whom
were suffering, too, to do the same. Fear,
guilt, anger, frustration: Suicide is, certainly, a lonely, lonely business — but,
too, all-inclusive.
“Just love him,” I said, petting his
youngest sister’s head.
* * * * *
eanwhile, his condition grew worse.
Weeks later — well past rage and
weary desperation — he’d finally
grown jaded in his hopelessness. So that,
as Thanksgiving approached, when he
began to self-mutilate — a steak knife to
the delicate white skin of his forearm —
he actually found it comical.
“It’s like a trailer to a movie. The teaser
for the feature show.” He laughed out loud.
This authentic amusement, his warping perspective, tinged with madness,
made our decision to finally take him to
the ER. It had grown glaringly evident
that we had, at last, run out of time.
But, just as my husband and I were
readying for the struggle we knew it
would be to get him into the car, I made
one last ditch call to the behavioral
healthcare hospital.
“Bring him in,” they said, to my incredible surprise. It was because of
Thanksgiving that so many beds had
been vacated.
“We got lucky,” I said, although lucky
was not what I felt.
The admission process amounted to
the most wrenching four hours of my
entire experience of motherhood, abandoning — it felt like abandonment! —
my son in this place. Against my every
screaming maternal instinct! But, too,
what choice did I have?
After they’d taken his shoes and his
clothes (no laces, no hoodies) and lent
him a set of nurse’s scrubs, oversized
and hanging from his thin frame.
After we’d hugged each other so desperately.
And he, returned now to his compliant self, walked willingly away with a
large orderly in matching scrubs, down
a hall where a pair of thick industrial
doors would open for him, to a world I
could only imagine.
Before pulling shut to lock between us.
Four hours later, it was past midnight
and I was in his bedroom, touching the
items on his dresser, his desk: his comic books; his Rubik’s cube collection
(his record is 45 seconds); a newspaper
clipping of his fourth-grade self, smiling
proudly for the borax crystals he’d made
for the school science fair; soccer medallions from before he quit sports; a plastic
egg of silly putty; a photo booth strip of
him and his girlfriend, being goofy, being serious, kissing; the trophy he’d recently earned for his success with the
Speech and Debate team.
I was trying to understand how we’d
come to this place; and I was beating myself up for failing him.
Then, “F---ing Vegas,” I said, refusing
to bear the responsibility alone.
Early the next morning — having
packed the bag I hadn’t thought to pack
the previous evening: a pair of flip-flops
(his only shoes without laces), clothes
(drawstrings snipped from his pajama
bottoms), comic books, his toothbrush
— I rose from my restless sleep in order
to deliver it to him in advance of 7 a.m.,
when, according to the daily schedule,
he would rise for grooming, showers and
morning hygiene.
It was 3 p.m. (before his bag was yet
to see its way from the reception desk to
the adolescent floor where he awaited it,
August 2016
mental health
still wearing the oversized scrubs he’d
slept in) when the hospital’s accounting department called seeking payment
arrangements, a $1,500 deductible: If
I were to compile a list of complaints, I
would start here. But, since rare is the
patient who stays in such a place and
doesn’t have grievances — “It’s worse
than prison, Mom. There are kids here
who’ve been to juvie (a new word for
him) and they say it’s way worse” — I
won’t bother.
Suffice it to say that the experience
was no better or worse than I imagined:
In pajamas and flip-flops, my son spent
long hours playing cards — war, mostly
— with the other kids, all of whom (except him) had drug addictions or at least
drug experience. They lined up daily for
medication — antidepressants for my
son. They moved to and from the cafeteria in this same single file line, where
they ate with plastic utensils; spoons
and forks, only. They had escorts to the
Some of the staff seemed genuine, like
the night nurse with the soothing voice
who assured me, when I called that first
time, that despite refusing sleeping pills,
my son appeared to be resting just fine
and to call back, anytime; and the head
social worker who led the patients in
group therapy sessions, where my son
would learn coping skills he still uses
Others were as terrible as the movies would have you believe, like a nurse
who, when I called one too many times,
laughed at my son in front of the other
kids, nicknamed him Mama’s Boy. And
another who would so roughly manhandle a young autistic child that my son,
when he was returned, wanted us to call
the authorities. And a therapy leader
who began his group session by asking,
“Who wants to be here? Well, me neither, so let’s get this over with,” before
he embarked on a tirade about taxes and
gun control laws, omitting to address
therapy whatsoever during the entire
It was Monday when we admitted
him. On Thanksgiving Thursday, my
son — having grown visibly thinner, still
— assured my husband and me, when
we asked during a special holiday visiting hour, that he wanted to see his stay
August 2016
through. He felt certain, according to a
conversation he’d had with the attending psychiatrist, that he would be discharged the following day.
In order for him to secure an aftercare
appointment with an outpatient psychiatrist within 30 days of his hospitalization (an industry ideal, we’ve come to
learn, not a regulation or even a norm),
we were under the assumption that he
needed to see the process through, that
he needed to remain hospitalized until
such time as his attending physician assessed him fit for discharge. That was
the route to a psychiatrist appointment,
as we understood it. So, my son meant
to do just that — otherwise, what was
the point of it all?
He’d come this far, he told us. He could
handle another day. (Plus, he wanted to
avoid the trip to Malibu that my husband
and I were still considering.)
riday evening, he changed his mind:
“Mom,” he said, during the phone call
he was permitted between 7 and 8
p.m., “can you get me out of here?”
Although he’d been deemed healthy
enough for discharge, according to the
attending psychiatrist, there was paperwork to be done. And since the office
staff wouldn’t return until Monday, he
was advised that he would need to hang
around for another three days — at a cost
of $715 per day (the rate contracted with
our insurance provider).
Fortunately, I managed to get the
doctor on the phone, nearly immediately, since he was only then making his
rounds on the adolescent floor — which,
as my son explained, consisted of daily
visits, five to 15 minutes in length, pertaining primarily to medication: “Any
issues with the drugs?”
“I don’t know what you’re accusing
me of,” the doctor said, when I asked
why, if my son was fit to leave, he would
need to stay until Monday.
His defensive stance surprised me because I hadn’t accused him of anything.
Rather, I was advocating for my son, trying to ascertain if I could have him immediately discharged while still securing
an aftercare appointment with a psychiatrist, the appointment that he’d jumped
through all the hoops required of Neva-
da’s mental healthcare system to secure.
It turns out yes. Or maybe the doctor
bent the rules. I can’t be certain.
But an hour later, he was released.
Yes, he was still depressed, still suicidal, but, in his hand, a prescription for
anti-depressants that would last him 30
days. And, the following week, the hospital called to report that two aftercare
appointments had been scheduled: the
first with a local therapist, the second
with one of Nevada’s high-in-demand
child psychiatrists — one with frightful
online reviews, but nevertheless.
If Nevada’s mental healthcare system
for youths was only lacking — and not
actually fractured — our story would
end here. But it doesn’t.
On December 18, the day he was
scheduled to finally see the outpatient
psychiatrist as part of his discharge
plan, the psychiatrist had already left
for the Christmas holidays. He was not
seeing patients that day, according to
his receptionist.
Yes, she confirmed, my son’s name
was in the system but, “There must
have been a miscommunication. I
have no record of an appointment,”
she said. And, “There isn’t room in the
doctor’s books for several months,”
she added.
Meaning that my son would run out
of the meds he needed, the meds he
suffered institutionalization to earn,
two to four weeks short of the time
they would normally take to achieve
full effect.
Furthermore, the receptionist explained, if we did choose to reschedule,
we should not expect couch time (her
words). “It’s only med management. Not
therapy. People are always surprised.”
ccording to the National Alliance of
Mental Illness, 8 percent of youth
have anxiety disorders; 10 percent
have behavior or conduct disorders; 11
percent have mood disorders; and 20
percent, between the ages of 13 and 18,
live with mental health conditions. Despite these numbers and despite the 16
percent of high school students contemplating suicide, the child psychiatrists to
whom Nevada’s behavioral healthcare
facilities are referring patients seem to
only offer medication management.
No couch time with the psychiatrists
whom teens are being institutionalized
to get to. Only meds. And these, only if
one’s appointment wasn’t inevitably lost
in the system.
Despite all the odds against us, our
story has a happy ending. While the
therapist to whom the hospital referred
us was not especially compatible with
my son, she was able to refer us to a physician’s assistant, in Henderson, who
also happens to have psychiatric qualifications which allow her to prescribe
antidepressants to patients. (I understand there’s a PA in Summerlin doing
the same — prescriptions, without the
long wait for a psychiatric appointment
or the requirement of institutionalization.) While this PA wrote my son’s
scrips, he sought weekly counseling
with the therapist his pediatrician had
originally recommended. This thera-
pist, in turn, secured him an appointment with the psychiatrist we weren’t
able to access, earlier.
Having secured dedicated assistance via a series of lucky connections and despite a broken system, he
was, for a while, much improved. On
his best days, he smiled and laughed
in ways I hadn’t seen him do in a long
time. I did, too.
Then spring arrived, bringing with it
the painful anniversary of his friend’s
suicide to coincide with final exams, and
he plummeted again into an anxious and
dangerous depression.
It was early on a Sunday in May
when we packed his bags for Malibu,
where he would stay in a home with
six similarly troubled teens, working
intensely under a whole team of therapists and psychiatrists specialized in
healing adolescents by focusing on the
emotional underpinnings of their be-
No one should end the
journey of life alone,
afraid, or in pain.
havior. A place where, having toured
it, I felt confident leaving him — relieved, even: He would not only be safe,
I knew, he would be healed.
When he returned to us a month later,
he was stronger, happier, more willing to
talk, motivated and empowered — and
with an entire toolbox of coping strategies and a new network of understanding friends. He’d learned to be more responsible for himself and his problems.
And my husband and I, during the program’s regular family therapy sessions,
learned to let him be.
It was a positive, life-changing experience — a life-saving experience! — entirely counter to and decades ahead of the
stay he suffered (I’ve considered it, carefully; that’s the right word) in Nevada.
“Why don’t they have anything like
that here?” he’s asked me, since.
“Well,” I told him, “we could share your
story. See if it makes a difference.”
For three decades, Southern Nevada’s physicians
have entrusted Nathan Adelson Hospice with
quality in-patient and home care services for their
patients. We have board-certified physicians in
hospice and palliative care, on-site pharmacies, a
full range of complementary therapies, physician
visits to patient homes and the valley’s only
comprehensive pediatric hospice program. As
always, our primary concern is for our patients’
comfort, care and dignity.
Swenson Inpatient Facility 4141 Swenson St. Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tenaya Inpatient Facility 3150 N. Tenaya Way Las Vegas, NV 89128
Pahrump 1401 S. Highway 160, Suite B Pahrump, NV 89048
For more information: (702) 733-0320
August 2016
The Dish 56
Eat this now 58
Fork off 60
Our c i ty's be st spots to eat & drink
Chicken out: The
vegan deviled eggs
at The Owl are made
with surprisingly tasty
P hoto g ra p h y By Sabin Orr
August 2016
Dining out
a hoot
With attention to detail,
craft beer and a farm-to-table
menu, The Owl’s hyperkinetic
owner, Stephan Galdau, is
living his dream
B y Ja s o n S c av o n e
tephan Galdau has a voice like
a taxi rolling over a pothole.
When he sees one of his young
barbacks at The Owl come out
from the back wearing a windbreaker despite it being the dead of July,
he barks out a couple of choice epithets
before growling, “It’s your generation.
You guys are so (expletive) soft.”
It’s a veteran piece of chops-busting
that’s the mark of a native New Yorker,
and it’s one of those things that still feels
a little out of place on the sensitive West
Coast. But you look around at The Owl,
and there’s not much yet that’s really in
place with the Las Vegas bar scene.
There’s no Internet jukebox. Galdau
would rather lean on his own curated
playlist of classic rock, alt-rock, rockabilly and oldies. The televisions rotate
menu pictures and photos from the bar.
There aren’t any video poker machines
(yet). “People need to remember what a
bar is for,” he says. “Talking to each other,
listening to music, drinking.”
And yelling at chilly millennials.
Galdau, 41, is loud, demonstrative and
has the attention span of some of your
more thoughtful goldfish. But that’s part
of being hyper-attuned to everything
that’s going on in his bar. When he sees
one customer walk in, then turn around
and go right out, he stops mid-conversation to go run them down and find out
what was wrong. Ten minutes later, he
stops dead again to find out why no one
August 2016
has cleared a glass from a guy at the bar.
Galdau spent 12 years in corporate
advertising in New York City. In 2008,
during the worst of the recession, he lost
his job, and in that crisis, found an epiphany. “I said to my father, ‘I don’t have a
skill,’” he said. “If I was a plumber I’d
have a skill. Selling advertising is not a
skill.” He remembered, though, college
days spent tending bar and how it was the
best time of his life. So he entered the bar
scene in Manhattan, relearning his trade
at the likes of industry hangout Daddy-O,
a Soho-adjacent spot on the west side that
catered to off-duty servers, bartenders
and chefs.
He had already fallen in love with
Nevada. On a trip with a girlfriend, they
visited Red Rock Canyon and the Grand
Canyon. It was the opposite of Manhattan. It was the don’t-fence-me-in dream.
“I loved space,” he said. “Mountains,
no traffic, bright blue skies. You never
get sick of it. I was sick of people being
around me all the time, always fighting
for everything. Whether it was walking
through a store, getting a cab, getting the
subway, jobs.”
So he made the call four years ago to
trade great pizza for sweeping vistas —
maybe the toughest bit of culinary/quality-of-living calculus anyone should ever
have to make. Along the way he realized the
guy he came out with had a nasty Oxycontin addiction and left Galdau with just $600
when he got here. The economic necessity
of living in an extended-stay suite led, predictably, to a break-in, in which crooks got
P h oto g r a p h y s a b i n o r r
Owl's well: Opposite
page, owner Stephan
Galdau; vegan deviled
eggs; above, Korean
sliders; left, the Rebel
everything, including his passport and his
Xbox. Metro gave him the welcome-to-Las
Vegas advice that if the place you’re staying
says “suites,” it’s not sweet. Duly noted.
Initial brush with crime aside, Galdau knew that bar ownership was the
end goal. He bounced around from
job to job, with Ferraro’s and the Tao
Group and Sapphire and Insert Coin(s)
as a bartender, bar manager and general
It was a Sunday night at what was then
Hammers & Ales when Galdau realized
he’d found his spot. It was the first night
of football, and Galdau and a buddy were
the only two in the joint. It was a sign, he
said, that the current owner wanted out.
Talks started in December 2013. A year
later he won the bidding process over
four other prospective owners, and the
bar, formerly The Hammer, and remodeled in a Bar Rescue episode as Hammer
& Ales, gave way to The Owl.
Where Hammer & Ales was unapologetically a beer bar, Galdau takes a more
catholic approach. There’s a wide-ranging
craft beer menu, including some more ex-
otic breweries not widely
found in Vegas, such as
offerings from Butternuts Beer & Ale in Garrattsville, N.Y. (Trust:
Their Porkslap is a hoppy-enough pale without
the jam-a-pine-tree-in-your-mouth ethos
of the overdone IPA craze endemic to
craft-beer menus nationwide.) The Owl
also goes in for a cocktail program with
a mix of originals and riffs on classics.
But it’s the farm-to-table kitchen under executive chef Daniel Schneider that’s
the crown jewel of the operation. The fare
fits the elevated comfort-food mold of so
many gastropubs, but what might set it
apart is a vegan menu partially crowdsourced from those particular diners. It’s
a small subset of the menu, but it offers
creative takes like a slab of seared polenta
or vegan “deviled eggs” made out of cleverly molded tofu.
The downside of sourcing fresh is that
it means not everything will be available
at all times — a planned Fourth of July
barbecue quickly became a vegan affair
when farm-raised meat wasn’t available.
But what’s available on any given day is
worth the foray into Plan B.
The smoked pulled-pork sandwich is a
straight-up avalanche of meat with a side
of cactus slaw and homemade hot BBQ
sauce. The bun doesn’t stand a chance
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August 2016
Dining out
hot plate
The Violette Club
At Violette’s Vegan
8560 W. Desert Inn Road,
Of the two main categories of vegan food, Violette’s Vegan falls squarely into the first:
versions of omnivore classics minus the animal products. The other — original, plantbased dishes — requires a creative chef and intrepid diners. But the risk of the traditional knockoff approach is that people expect Tofurkey to taste like turkey (it doesn’t).
The Violette Club demonstrates how the 1-year-old organic eatery and juice bar wins
with this approach. The sandwich has the toasty crunch, salty crackle, meaty density
and juicy succulence of the traditional club sandwich, albeit through a combination of
herb-baked tofu, tempeh bacon, thin-sliced avocado, cucumber, lettuce and tomato
and three layers of crispy sourdough slathered with vegan mayo and hemp pesto. Like
Violette’s interpretation of barbecue, biscuits and gravy and the Philly steak and cheese,
its club will have you wondering, Who needs meat? Heidi Kyser
of the
The orangesicle
at Squeeze
Squeeze is a small sidewalk juice and smoothie
bar on The Linq promenade. It’s a cheerful place where grinning, affable,
orange-shirted Squeezers whip up the kind of
healthy, fresh-fruit concoctions that are all the rage
among the eww-I’m-afraid-of-death set. I’ve got
no problem with that! However, I have something
to reveal! With a suitably discreet approach and
secret handshake, you can induce the Squeezers
to spike your drink with alcohol, magically turning
your antioxidant elixir of frightened boringness into a
waterfall of pants-free party juice! (Okay, it’s not a secret.) My current favorite: The Orangesicle, made with
fresh oranges, almond milk and orange vanilla syrup.
Drinkably sweet, but not cloying. Get it with a shot or
two of vodka, sidle up to the sidewalk people-watching bar and toast shambling humanity’s dranky dronk
health! Andrew Kiraly
In the Linq Promenade, 702-731-3311
August 2016
against this kind of pork/slaw onslaught,
and frankly, it’s thoroughly outclassed to
begin with. Forget the bun. Go in forkfirst. Or face-first. The pork is rich, dark
and fatty. When the revolution comes,
this is the kind of pig you set up a perimeter around to protect at all costs.
Loaded garlic fries seem to be a bit of
a misnomer at first. Sure, there’s surprisingly tender steak on this riff on nachos,
but it doesn’t seem to fit the bill without minced garlic shotgunned all over
the spuds. Until you dig through like a
fried-starch miner and find whole cloves
of roasted garlic underneath. This is your
reward for eating your way through fries,
steak and jalapeños. It’s like somebody
waited until the end of Christmas Day to
bust out your birthday presents.
The Korean sliders make bulgogi into
burgers, with miso mayo and a side of
kimchi. Maybe not the best representation of bulgogi in the city, but still a quality interpretation that allows you to stay
on the lighter side of meaty. The jalapeño
poppers skip the deep-fry and focus on
the pepper. The dessert menu consists
of just one item, pecan pie with bourbon
whipped cream. Like you were going to
linger over anything else when bourbon
whipped cream is on the table anyway.
Galdau has tattoos on each hand, of
his parents’ initials. He says it’s to remind him to stay on the straight and
narrow. On the Fourth, he had to choose
between store-bought organic meat of
questionable provenance or stay true to
his farm-to-table vision.
“I was like, make money and lie, or
tell the truth and lose everything, and
I chose the latter,” he said. The truth
shall set you free? Maybe. If the truth
is in that pork, sign us up.
Visit or call 866.276.5657 for tickets.
Dining out
B ottigl i a
Cuc ina &
Enotec a
2300 Paseo Verde
R ao’s
Caesars Palace
Casa Di
2850 E. Tropicana
A passionate pasta fan finds much
to love in three renditions of an
Italian classic B y G r e g T h i l m o n t
ou might not think of pasta as a
summer dish, but linguine with
clams — the white wine version
— is perfect for the four-month
Vegas summer scorch. This classic
dish is not so much a recipe as it is an artful assembly of items: pasta, shellfish, wine
and adjuncts such as garlic, pepper flakes
and parsley. But a deceptively simple recipe
such as this is often the best for a culinary
assay, especially when everything is masterfully brought together by a skilled chef.
Countless Italian restaurants in the
valley do this dish. Some go for old-school
comfort-food goodness, others aim for
more high-concept treatments. In this
edition of Fork Off, I sampled the linguine
with clams at Casa di Amore, a vintage offStrip eatery filled with photos of the Rat
Pack and classic casinos; Bottiglia, the
August 2016
shiny new establishment in Green Valley
Ranch Resort; and, finally, in the heart of
the Strip at Rao’s in Caesars Palace.
In sampling linguine con vongole, I had a
few ground rules: I skipped appetizers for
a clean palate. Also, as a test, I purposely didn’t ask for bread — sopping up the
wine sauce is such a quintessential part
of the experience, the bread should be a
no-brainer. Finally, no cheese was consumed in the research of this story, Parmesan or other! Keeping it real, Italian-style.
Casa di Amore: Decades ago, this venerable restaurant was in the hinterlands
of Las Vegas, but it had a Strip-based
vibe and clientele to match. It still does,
in its own living nostalgia kind of way.
It features live music in the old dinner
club manner that is sadly missing in our
modern Vegasopolis. My server called me
“Love” when I sat down. “Love”!
The dish: When it comes to an abundance of clams, this house has its shells
stacked in prodigious order. A well-sized
plateau of pasta came substantially supplied with diced clams, with numerous
in-shell steamers piled about the plate.
(A petite shellfish fork was set to the side
for separating meat from shell — a touch
my late Italian nana would have enjoyed.)
Eating it next to a picture of studly Elvis
schmoozing luscious Ann-Margret, I went
Viva Las Vegas on every last drop of the
sauce remaining on my plate when the
noodles were gone. I would have liked a little more wine-forward flavor overall, and
a more al dente linguine texture. Plus some
additional parsley for garnish. But that’s
just me: I like a lot of verdure in my sauce.
The downer: I know Casa di Amore has
a mature customer base, and this demographic is used to lightweight, non-crusty
bread with little substance inside, let
alone holes from actual sourdough fermentation, but we can get much better
bread in Vegas these days. Per favore?
Bottiglia: Bottiglia was the next and
newest entrant on my list. You’ve perhaps
seen it advertised on billboards along the
215. It’s from the creators of Salute at Red
Rock Resort, a nicely done addition to the
Italian tableau of Summerlin and the west
valley. The Bottiglia space itself is bright
and airy. It’s quite lovely in an informal
manner, mixing the aesthetics of the
American West Coast and coastal Italy,
and has plenty of al fresco eating space
under Henderson’s evening skies.
The dish: My linguine arrived picture-perfect. A not-huge but still sizable
plate of semolina ribbons was ringed about
its circumference with elegant Manila
clams. Of all three entrants in my destination dining, Bottiglia’s plating was the most
fragrant, with rich wafts of spectral umami
steaming above the plate. (It’s said that the
majority of flavor profiles humans perceive
actually stem from sense of smell; my plate
certainly proved this.) Edibly speaking, the
pasta was excellent, and the clam meat was
savory if not overly abundant, though I
found the broth a bit too salted for my taste.
b o tt i g l i a , r a o ' s : c o u r t e s y ; c a s a d i a m o r e : B r e n t H o l m e s
Fork off
The downer: This dish overall was
slightly soupy, and there was no bread
to be had for soaking. This restaurant
apparently hews to a new style of Italian
cuisine, where bread is not offered up as
part of the service de facto. Be that as it
may, linguine con vongole needs some slices — and a heel or three — to fully partake
of its remnant liquor.
Rao’s: Finally, it was on to the Big Daddy. Hands down, Rao’s is just fabulous.
It’s a wood-toned, celebrity photo-walled
temple of Italian-American cuisine.
C’mon ... it’s in Caesars Palace with a famous foundation in East Harlem, NYC —
paisan to the gustatory max! Of course,
my dinner was a fantastic experience.
The dish: When I first sat down, a
mighty bread basket was set before me.
There were thin-and-wide cheese crisps,
plus well-crusted substantial slices of
country loaves. To the side was a trio
of butters, two of them flavored — one
with caramelized onion, the other with
sun-dried tomato. When my linguine arrived, a waiter swirled the pasta tableside
with chopped clam meat, and added in
still-shelled critters of the Manila variety from a separate chafing dish. It was
a fancy presentation, indeed. The flavor
was more garlicky and peppery (lots of
slices and flakes in the broth) than the
other contenders. The pasta texture was
toothsomely perfect. Overall, the dish
was rich-tasting and completely excellent. It still could have used more parsley, though it had the most of the bunch.
The downer: It sounds almost capricious of me to say, but Rao’s broth
was too luxurious. I devoured all pasta strands and clam shreds, of course.
But I couldn’t convince myself to sop
up all the sauce. It was just too rich and
buttery to finish. There was, I confess,
bread left in my basket.
The dark-horse winner: Casa di Amore.
Maybe it was the nostalgia. Maybe it was
the band playing lounge music next to me
(with a drummer that kept a steady eye on
a baseball game playing on a nearby bar TV
screen). It was surely a clean plate completely sopped of every essence of wine,
clam and noodle. Mi piace molto!
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A wide-ranging, multicultural,
kaleidoscopic, close-up portrait
of that other boulevard at the
heart of Las Vegas
By Stacy J. Willis
Photography Bill Hughes
The last house on Charleston Boulevard’s eastern end is a
two-story custom Spanish Revival with generous windows and
a pool in the backyard. From here, in the desert foothills of
Frenchman Mountain, the view is dramatic: By day, the iconic
skyline of the Las Vegas Strip draws a sharp sense of place
across a bustling valley; by night, the city lights conjure romance and awe. But like the road stretching out below, the
views don’t tell the whole story, says Rosario Barba, who lives in
the home with her extended family.
“So much happens up here that you’d never know,” says
Barba, 29. The house was built in 2008 for an elderly man who
passed away before it was completed, and Barba’s dad, a painter and contractor, made an offer. Soon, the entire family
moved in — on this day, they’re having a birthday party for a
younger relative, and kids splash in the pool beyond the living
room’s large glass doors. Barba is wearing workout clothes
and a Bluetooth earpiece and is nonplussed when she invites
an unannounced stranger in to talk about the end of the road.
“We get a lot of hikers and walkers — some hikers have
died, and we get police and helicopters. We also get crazy people — when we first moved in, we had this guy who would
walk all the way around our house carrying a briefcase and
saying it was his house. Day after day. Finally, his mother came
to get him, I think,” she says.
Then there are the couples who come up here to get amorous in their cars. She laughs. “They are louder than they
think! They wake us up! Sometimes they get chased off by the
police, and once, there was a guy whose wife came up here —
see, he was not in the car with his wife.” She rolls her eyes.
More disturbingly, she says, the end of the road serves as a
dumping ground — but not just for trash: “People used to come
up here a lot and leave their dogs, like when they wanted to get
rid of their dogs. It was awful. One time we saw the dog chasing
his owners’ car as they drove away. We call animal control, but it’s
sad,” she says. “Sometimes people dump injured dogs from dog
fighting. One time there were these bags dumped over there (in
the desert across the street) and they started to smell so we called
the police, and it was dead roosters, from cockfighting.”
She shakes her head and pauses.
While technically the Barbas are the last residents on East
Charleston, she says there is at least one more person who
lives farther out. “There’s the Mountain Man. He lives in the
mountains up here. He comes down early in the morning
sometimes, and we give him water, and I think he has some
friends at Albertsons because I’ll see him walking back up with
food. ... I don’t know his name, but he’s been living up there a
long time.”
Her mother comes in and offers a glass of water; a drenched,
sunburned kid shuffles across the tile floor and adds, “The
Mountain Man has three tents in the desert. I’ve seen them.”
“Anyway,” Barba says, “we love it up here. It’s beautiful. We
wouldn’t trade it for anything. And it’s very easy to give directions: the last house on Charleston.”
Charleston Boulevard stretches 22 miles from east to west across
the width of the Las Vegas Valley, reaching into the desert at either end. Along the way, it crosses Las Vegas Boulevard, the railroad tracks and three freeways, traverses years of history and
visits a wide sample of the valley’s demographics. Much of the
east side of Charleston is dominated by Hispanic culture — shop
signs in Spanish, dozens of Latin-influenced eateries. But other
blocks offer smaller cultural enclaves — here’s the African/Caribbean International Market; there’s the longtime gay bar Flex;
here’s the SGI Buddhist Center. While rarely celebrated, the cultural and ethnic diversity of the shops and churches and salons
on Charleston speak to a much more complex image than many
people have of Las Vegas. On this boulevard — not the famous
boulevard — you go for miles without seeing a decadent casino or
a glitzy strip club.
To those who grew up in Las Vegas, Charleston may be an old
friend, a limb of the family tree, a grandparent who tells stories
of heydays and quirks, of tight-knit neighborhoods and popular
locals’ destinations. But when you drive it now, its nostalgia is
less apparent; it lays now, in many stretches, somewhere in time
between the vibrant old days and the could-be-revitalized future. It also literally stretches out between the old and brand
new — from its midtown historic and weathered buildings to its
still-growing suburban edges, particularly on the west side,
where Summerlin’s master-planned community edges ever
closer to Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area as the road becomes Highway 159. But in another way, it represents an ideological battle alive in many Western-sprawl cities: There’s a
tension on Charleston between what was and what could be;
between past and future — the much-discussed, mostly stalled
revitalization of the Huntridge Theater on Charleston’s midsection is a symbol of that struggle, and the passionate, sometimes acrimonious debates about its fate are a reminder of how
invested many still are in the area’s potential.
But implied in the notion of area revitalization is a dissatisfaction with what is — the past was good, the future could be
good, but what about right now? And what does revitalization
— gentrification? — say about the people who are here right
now, every day manning a small piece of this street, repairing
cars, selling quinceañera dresses, practicing law, displaying art,
serving pupusas, cutting, buzzing and braiding hair, designing
floral arrangements, treating sick patients, walking, driving, riding the bus, crouching in the shade of a 50-year-old sign? West-
ern sprawl cities are often limited on vertical growth and therefore less dense, and have newer, less architecturally revered
built environments than many East Coast cities. But workaday
streets like this one are nonetheless a fundamental part of the
city’s character. Where Las Vegas Boulevard capitalizes on visitors’ escapist fantasies, Charleston Boulevard cradles thousands of locals going about their everyday business.
few blocks down the hill from the Barbas, past some suburban blocks, past a strip mall or two, a boy and his grandmother run hand-in-hand through the blazing heat toward
the bus stop. The RTC 206 is wheezing up as they arrive, and
when the doors open, Roberto, 6, who is carrying a well-kicked
soccer ball under his other arm, hops on first. His grandmother
slides the fare card and sits with him. They are sweating and
laughing, and Roberto, whose name is printed across the back of
his yellow jersey, says in Spanish, “How long until we get
there?” and his abuela, her wavy salt-and-pepper hair sticking
to her neck, pats his leg and says, “Not very long.”
Roberto presses his forehead against the window as the bus
chugs on, and this is what he sees: a homeless man lying in the
shade of a building, which makes him rubberneck; a yellow Corvette in a strip mall parking lot, which makes him point; and a
young woman wearing a pink cowboy hat and dragging a red wagon full of laundry down the sidewalk, which makes him smile.
They hop off of the bus near the Charleston Indoor Swap
meet. Inside the strip-mall building, the air-conditioning is
heavenly, and they navigate rows and rows of small bays selling
all kinds of goods: shoes — every single display shoe is wrapped
completely in cling wrap and perched on a wall; jewelry — goldtooth grills in glass cases sell for upwards of $300; posters of the
Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, Jesus and Hello Kitty. In the back, a
crowd of people sits in chairs and stands against the wall, waiting to get into the hair salon, Chapi’s. Little boys Roberto’s size
run the aisle with fresh haircuts; grown men and women sit and
wait their turn. Roberto and his grandmother take a seat with
them. Next to the salon is an eatery, Tierra Caliente, where
Spanish music is playing overhead and where you can sit on yellow benches and eat tamales de pollo and elote for $9 while a
framed picture of “The Last Supper,” $48, stares at you from a
bay next door.
It’s a world few would know is here from the outside — the
way so much of this street is. The view, often hardscrabble, is
both an accurate and incomplete description, which is kind of
Charleston’s personality: There is always more to the story.
pen almost any door on this road and you’ll learn something
that will add a layer to your understanding of Las Vegas.
The Tebha family has been running the A-1 Vacuum and
Sewing store since 1943. Their shop sits in a bright yellow building on West Charleston that, despite its loud paint job, is easy to
overlook. Inside, more than a hundred sewing machines and
vacuum cleaners sit quietly in the front rooms while members
of the family work in the back.
“These two industries, vacuuming and sewing, were grouped
together in the 1950s,” says Shawn Tebha, who, wearing jeans
and a T-shirt, is welcoming and generous with his knowledge.
“My dad was an engineer for Singer in California, and when
( job changes happened), he thought, ‘Well, I might as well open
my own store.’”
We walk through the building, which is a maze of oddly placed
steps and strangely placed doors — different building permits allowed for varying add-ons over the years, which have grown the
building to 7,000 square feet — and Tebha reminisces.
“I grew up in here. As a teenager I learned to fix them, because as a child I sometimes broke them,” he says, laughing.
“Back then there was a lot less traffic on Charleston. Everywhere, actually. You could get from here to Pecos and Sunset in
15 minutes without speeding. Not now.”
When his dad started the business, he says, people relied on
word-of-mouth and the Yellow Pages to find their sewing store.
Now the Tebhas have to jockey with the Internet and big retailers like Walmart.
“The sewing market nowadays has become online, or at least
people do their research online. But I ask them before they buy
Signs of the
street: From
top left: The
Indoor Swap
Meet; the literal
end of the
road, on East
artists Dry
Point, left, and
Alexander Sky
talk to manager
Daisy Vega at
Cafe; Angie Enk
does laundry at
Wash ’n’ Fold.
online, is it quality? How do they know? Also, many
manufacturers buy from the same set of parts. We
will work with you, and you get personal service.”
Tebha says sewing is a $10 billion industry now,
and business is still decent for A-1.
“When someone comes in here, I ask, ‘Were you
just learning to sew, or do you already sew?’ Back in
the day they did everything on it — sewed all of
their clothes and things. But now some specialize,”
he says as he walks me around some 300 sewing
machines on display. The oldest, a black 1930s manual Singer, goes for about $300; the fanciest, a new Janome machine that can do 500 different stitches, goes for $15,000.
“Because we’re a family-operated store, we charge on work
done and give a warranty on our work,” he says. “We take pride in
what we do. Things change, but that does not change.”
That’s a sentiment I find throughout my travels on Charleston: pride in hard work. While drivers-by caught in traffic might
routinely ignore small, old storefronts in some stretches, they’d
be cheating themselves to write them off entirely. Time and
time again, I am reminded of the significance of small businesses not only to economic sustainability, but to creating the rich
textures of a community, which seems particularly important in
a city so shaped by transience.
s the sun sets on the first Friday of the month, six or eight
police cars line both sides of Charleston between Third
and Main, making room for pedestrians who are flocking
toward the Arts Factory. Tents are set up in the parking lot, and
on blocks extending from this seat of the Arts District, other
parking lots are charging $15 for a space. It’s the First Friday Art
Walk in “18b” — 18 blocks loosely grouped around this stretch of
Charleston near Main. Visual arts and crafts will anchor the festivities, but the party spreads out from the galleries and tents
into the streets, with bands, random dancers and performance
artists, a bit of alcohol and a lot of socializing.
By day, the area is more subdued but still eclectic, and for
those who’ve been here years, the buildings themselves recall
memories: What is now the Indoor Garden Organic Super Center was for years an exterminator that displayed a giant image of
a cockroach on the exterior; across the street, the Holsum Lofts,
now home to Lola’s restaurant and retail stores, was actually the
Holsum bread bakery, where locals could smell fresh-baked
bread as they approached the underpass it stands above.
“Charleston Boulevard has been and still is one of our main
drags,” says Michael Green, associate professor of history at
UNLV and a longtime Las Vegas resident. He’s quick to name a
dozen or more businesses that have come and gone, from the
site on east Charleston where Lowe’s is today that was a popular Montgomery Wards until the 1990s, to the now-closed
We sea you:
The mermaids
of Mariscos El
Dorado watch
over East
Boulevard, as —
in a sign of the
times — Clark
County touts its
Showboat Casino and Silver Dollar that drew
revelers to that East Charleston area for years.
Perhaps the most talked about historic building on Charleston today is the Huntridge Theater, on the corner at Maryland. Soon after its
construction in 1944, the Huntridge became a
locals’ staple. It was built on land once owned
by investor Leigh Hunt, who was the president
of Ohio State University and publisher of the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the late 19th century. When he died
in 1933, he left the Las Vegas land to his son Henry Leigh Hunt,
and the neighborhood and theater were named for them. The
Streamline Moderne building designed by S. Charles Lee, which
first showed movies and then musical acts, is on the United
States National Register of Historical Places. It was also one of
the first unsegregated venues in Las Vegas.
Green remembers going to shows at the Huntridge Theater,
where, he jokes, Sen. Richard Bryan had “his first fundraiser.”
As a kid, Bryan didn’t have enough pocket change to get into
the movie showing at the Huntridge, and may have asked
around for a little help, or so the story goes. Most longtime locals have a story to tell about the Huntridge, which makes it
both beloved and forlorn as today it stands empty. On a recent
sizzling hot weekday, two homeless men with shopping carts
are curled into its shade. Attempts to raise money to redevelop
the theater are ongoing.
n Friday night at 7 Mares Mexican Restaurant, karaoke
starts early. We’re on a stretch of East Charleston populated
by Mexican, El Salvadorean and all manner of Latin-American restaurants and shops. Across the street is Mariscos El Dorado, which occupies the building formerly home to Fong’s Garden,
opened by one of Las Vegas’ prominent early developers, Wing
Fong, in 1955 — a destination once so popular it’s where Harry
Reid took his new wife on their wedding night. Fong’s Garden
was the center of a small Chinatown in the late ’50s, according to
Green. Behind Mariscos El Dorado, near where Fremont Street,
Eastern Avenue and Charleston collide to create a triangle of land
hosting a busy Arco gas station, the weathered Blue Angel statue
still stands on her perch atop a sign pole, though the namesake
hotel is long gone. Here Charleston is a treasure chest of finds,
both historic and new. At 7 Mares — Seven Seas — the vibe is relaxed and happy. The walls are painted bright yellow, blue and
green, a swordfish hangs above the booths and a large selection of
mariscos fills the menu.
We chitchat with the waitress, although we speak very little
Spanish and she speaks only a bit more English. We eat fish tacos
and drink cold beer and watch several women sing karaoke, all in
Spanish. Then, this: “A special welcome to our English friends
tonight,” she says on the mic. “Do you want to sing?” Of course we
do, and though all we can manage is English, it doesn’t matter —
within minutes, several other patrons will be singing along with
us, and soon, comped beers arrive at our table.
The waitress tells us it is often even more crowded, but it’s
the beginning of the month and many people have to pay their
rent today, so some regulars stayed home.
What many parts of Charleston lay bare are the strong tendons
connecting our daily struggles to the simple joys in life, in a city
where we so often think in terms of ostentatious wins and losses. I
met a woman at an East Charleston laundromat who told me her
family came from Venezuela. She moved here because her uncle
had a friend who lived here, and he got a job in construction some
years ago. Now she and her husband and two children live around
the corner from the Wash & Fold, which is next to the tiny Can Cun
Hamburgers, Tacos and Tortas stand. They live with other relatives — a woman and two more children — and between them, they
hold four jobs, three in retail and one at an auto shop. Does she like
it here, in Las Vegas? A smile. “Yes. We are happy to be with family.”
That’s all; there is laundry to be done, there is family to return to,
there is no more time for talking to note-takers.
alking west toward the Charleston Underpass, which was
built in 1960, it’s all heat and dust and noise. Frustration is
palpable on the road — cars vie to get past one another in
two or three lanes and get stopped every few yards at another
light, ultimately beating no one, least of all time. Here, at the
ground level, narrow sidewalks cause pedestrians to sometimes
stand aside for a bicyclist who has chosen to ride the sidewalk
instead of dare the traffic, or stand aside for another pedestrian
who uses a walker because the two of you do not have room to
pass at the same time, or stand aside for someone on a mobility
scooter or pushing a stroller. The road is littered with cups and
cans, and a film of hot-asphalt-smelling dust sticks to you as you
walk, and rushing cars whoosh hot air into your face.
Up ahead, ambulances and police cruisers are all over the Del
Taco in the medical district, just west of I-15, at lunchtime.
There’s been a fight. A homeless man is being handcuffed in the
parking lot; his face is bloodied. Two Del Taco employees sit inside filling out police reports. One, a young man, has a scratch on
his face and blood on his knuckles.
“He wouldn’t leave the bathroom, and he was drunk or something,” he says. “I told him he had to leave, and he attacked me,
and I had to defend myself.” He blots the blood off of his fingers
and uniform. “I’m okay, though.”
Customers, some in medical scrubs, some in business attire,
some in shorts, go about their business ordering burritos and
tacos while the police take the alleged perpetrator away. The
employee finishes his report.
Across the street stands the University Medical Center compound, which is a prime reason Charleston grew to be the road
it did. The medical center was established in 1931 as the Clark
County Indigent Hospital, set up on what was then a dirt road.
For its first few years, it had 20 beds, one doctor and one nurse.
Today, it is not only the state’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and
home to a freestanding pediatric emergency center, it is the centerpiece of a district of medical centers and doctors’ offices,
which now includes the UNLV School of Medicine.
These medical and legal offices along this stretch of Charleston hide the historic neighborhoods just off of the main artery,
neighborhoods you can find on a 1960 map in UNLV’s archives:
the Scotch 80s, Hyde Park and Rancho Nevada Estates.
These neighborhoods weren’t randomly placed here, says
Andrew Kirk, professor of history and director of UNLV’s Public History Education Program.
“The Scotch 80s and McNeil (subdivisions) are sort of hidden
away, (but) they started in the 1940s, and were built through the
1960s. These were the suburbs of Downtown then.” He says that
Ashby Street, a block off of Charleston, was originally an impressive, wide street with dirt paths on either side, standing out when
it was built because “this was out in the country then.” The existence of Charleston enabled these neighborhoods to evolve.
“They are near the springs. There were more than one
(spring). There’s a concentric circle around what we now know
as the Springs Preserve that was broader. So really, these neighborhoods started because they were the most sensible places
you could build a house.” In fact, says Kirk, “one of the myths
people have to overcome about (Las Vegas’ development) is that
it ‘makes no sense.’ Early on, the patterns of development were
familiar and sensible. There is a good reason they built there.
“Once you’ve got the anchor of Downtown, you’ve got
Charleston as a major spoke” leading to the hospital and the
springs, he says.
On older maps that show the original Las Vegas townsite in
1905, Charleston isn’t there. Instead, it’s a baseline for the grid,
referred to as the Fifth Standard Parallel South, below the
townsite’s streets, which go south only to Garces Street. In two
maps, the line that would be Charleston is mysteriously called
“Mt. Diablo.” Charleston got its name from Mount Charleston,
which is thought to have been named by a member of the Army
Corps of Engineers who, when he explored the territory, named
it after Charleston, South Carolina, his hometown.
By the time a 1942 map was printed, the road is called
Charleston, and there’s a mark where UMC stands now called
“County Hospital.” Other than the railroad tracks and crossover
with the “Road to Los Angeles/Highway to Salt Lake City,” little
is else noted of the outlying areas.
“But it was a critical street because it’s the road that took you
out of town in the 1950s,” Kirk says. “It was a tiny road meandering out to Red Rock across the desert, but it was important.”
n the end of a longstanding strip plaza at Valley View and
Charleston, M&M Soul Food is enjoying a bustling lunch
hour. The TV is broadcasting baseball; service is fast and
friendly — plates of hot, buttered corncakes hit the table as soon
as you sit down. The walls are covered in framed photos of celebrities. Fried okra and black-eyed peas and collard greens are
delicious and filling; sweet potato pie seals the deal.
But most of the other spaces in the Panorama Shopping Center are empty, as so many are along Charleston.
“Preservationists like to say that neglect is the best friend of
preservation,” Kirk says. “Benign neglect.” That way, original
structures can be saved rather than experience the cycle of teardown and rebuilding. But the downside of the neglect is that
people start to move farther out, leaving blight.
“Charleston has had periods of significant decline, so people moved out to the suburbs farther and farther. It’s a very
Western pattern.”
Like many cities, Las Vegas has the core, where some buildings
are old enough and neglected benignly enough that they offer
some potential to preserve charming architectural styles. On the
outskirts, newer suburbs like Summerlin push businesses back
inward a little bit. But then there are the miles in the middle, the
love of which is often hard-won.
“That’s where it gets tricky,” Kirk says. “In the ’80s, ’90s and
2000s, you have these areas where the architecture was these big,
fake colonial houses, and the growth was so fast that they were
slapped together with poor materials. We just had massive
growth, and a lot of big-box-anchored strip malls. And it’s hard to
envision that architecture as evolving and surviving in the ways
(1950s and 1960s architecture) did.” So, he says, one must consider that some “rings of the city” may not be worth preserving —
“but the land there will still be valuable” — and ultimately the
structures on those areas may be demolished and replaced with
infill development. “The more thoughtfully things are laid out to
begin with, the more chance they have of surviving,” Kirk says.
The biggest conundrum may not be the housing but the strip
malls — dozens of them line Charleston, east and west. “Who
knows what’s going to happen to them,” Kirk says. “The 1950s
versions,” such as the one M&M Soul Food is in on Valley View
and Charleston, “may be more adaptable. They’re small-scale,
with decent parking but not oceans of parking, and they have
small spaces. It’s the big-box-anchored ones that make no sense.
We do need little stores, and small spaces will be in demand.
They’re more usable and adaptable and more appealing, and
some are more ‘designed.’
“The real question is what to do with the big boxes in a modern economy, when everyone is shopping for those things on
Amazon? I don’t know.”
Rich variety:
All the way
out to the last
intersection at
its west end (far
right), the street
teems with life,
whether it’s
Frank Walters at
M&M Soul Food
Cafe, Steven
Riddle of Velvet
Comics, a guy
the Charleston
underpass, or all
the sights and
sites in between.
till, so much can happen in the elbow of one of these weathered
strip malls on Charleston over the
course 30 years or so. A man can leave
his successful career in hospitality, discover his love of plants and home decorating, and make a business
of it, opening a retail outlet on Charleston. And then, maybe he’ll
meet a guy who uses the space next door to house old comic books.
Maybe they’ll chat about collecting comics, and the guy who grew
up working in hospitality and later opened a silk plant shop will
start to deal in comics and collectibles. Soon enough, he’ll open his
own comic book and collectibles shop next door to his plant shop,
and create one of the city’s best-loved comic book stores. All in a
tiny corner of an oft-ignored strip mall on Charleston.
“Comic books are for adults,” says Steven Riddle, owner of Velvet Underground Comics. He’s tall, gray-haired and trim-mustached, with a slew of Old Vegas stories he’s willing to share. But
today, the conversation is about his busy shop. “It’s very serious
business. People come back because there is a reputation, and
you earn that reputation with integrity and honesty.”
Riddle kindly shows me around the store — aisles so tight you can
barely squeeze through, and silk plants and decorative tree branches
tucked in and above the shelves. The books are in immaculate condition. The place is crowded on a weekday afternoon, something you
wouldn’t expect when you spot it from the road, tucked back in the
corner of this Hyde Park Shopping Center behind a motorcycle shop
and an upholstery store. Classic pop and rock play on the radio, and
among the books are also collectible statues: Wonder Woman, Superman. Behind the counter there are rows of clean, handwritten
pullboxes for customers who pre-order a certain comic book. Riddle’s financial ledger is hand-written — meticulously — as well.
“This is my neighborhood. I grew up here. I went to Clark
High School. I love it here,” he says. “West Charleston is the original western-reaching street, you can take it all the way to Red
Rock. Thirty years ago, if you were on West Charleston, you were
the dude, you were in a good place. And I still think you are.”
I have come to think that despite its rough-and-tumble stretches
and its pockets of blight, Riddle could be right about this. Or maybe
it’s because of those patches, combined with the more vibrant areas, along with the shout-outs to historic Vegas, and the longtime
businesses such as Annie’s Hubcaps, The Omelet House, Kessler &
Sons Music, and the newer businesses like Silver Sage Wellness
marijuana dispensary or Krayvings Feel Good Food, that Charleston is a such an enchanting trail.
n a late Friday night, Flex Cocktail Lounge is packed, there’s
a drag queen on the stage, and two male go-go dancers performing on platforms. Flex has been a gay bar since the
1990s, and long before that it was the Hyde Park Lounge, reflecting the neighborhood around it, which was built in the 1940s and
1950s. Like many of the businesses on this western-central
stretch of Charleston, it’s been remodeled several times.
Change characterizes a lot here. A few blocks west, there’s a
plaza where the once popular Red Rock 11 Theater used to be.
Today it’s a shopping center with a variety of retail outlets, but in
the 1970s, it was one 500-seat theater, and by the ’80s, it was expanded to 11 theaters. As newer theaters were built in outlying
areas, Red Rock 11 was closed.
The Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services facility at
6161 W. Charleston was built in 1969 to provide both inpatient and
outpatient care. Next door, the 80-acre College of Southern Nevada
opened in 1988, the third of three campuses of the Clark County
Community College. Such developments served to push still more
residential and business construction westward on Charleston.
But no single development affected West Charleston more in
the last three decades than Summerlin.
In 1952, Howard Hughes purchased 25,000 acres of desert land
adjacent to Red Rock Canyon. It sat vacant for decades, until plans
were announced in the late 1980s for Summerlin, a master-planned
community named for Hughes’ paternal grandmother, Jean Amelia Summerlin. By the mid-’90s, the western end of Charleston had
become a major thoroughfare to thousands of new upper- and
middle-class suburban homes. By the mid-2000s, the entire west
end of Charleston had become a fundamental part of the massive
master-planned community and its many “villages,” which drew
more strip malls anchored by grocery and big-box stores. The traffic and crowds grew still more with the 2006 addition of the $930
million Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa — complete with palm trees
swaying atop its 20-floor tower — and the 2014 shopping venue
Downtown Summerlin. On this block at 11011 W. Charleston, a bit
of Las Vegas’ tourism image returns: plentiful gaming, show theaters, fine dining, boutique shopping and a luxurious pool. Whether it’s tourists or locals enjoying a staycation, Red Rock Casino says
modern destination Las Vegas. But much of the rest of this area,
not dominated by gaming, says something more like comfortable,
upper-middle-class Western suburbia.
t’s lunchtime on a Thursday. The intersection of Charleston
and Rampart is jammed with cars. All corners offer massive,
busy strip malls, most dominated by chain stores and chain
restaurants: the standard concrete horse of P.F. Chang’s fronts
the northwest center housing Ann Taylor and Williams-Sonoma shops; Boca Park shopping center spreads out in layers of
retail behind a Target on the northeast corner; Claim Jumper
restaurant dominates the southwest. Here, in the southeast center, set behind a stretch of grass-and-tree landscaping and a
large, crowded parking lot, is Whole Foods Market, next to a
Barnes & Noble and a Pier 1 Imports.
A few people eat salads at the tables outside the grocery store under the shade of the patio; one is typing on his laptop. A uniformed
security guard watches the parking lot. Inside the enormous space,
rows are busy with slow-roaming shoppers, a good many wearing
stylish gym outfits, pushing carts first through displays of bright, organic produce, then on to the butcher shop, where signs explain, “No
cages, no crates, no crowding” and “No added hormones, no antibiotics, ever, no wondering.” In the middle of the store, rows of jarred
supplements, vitamins, herbs and tinctures are complemented by a
bookstand with titles such as Conscious Capitalism and Liberation
Soup. A rack of “Super Soft Organic Boxer Briefs: No Sweatshops /
No Toxic Pesticides / Fair-Trade Certified Cotton / No Child Labor /
Non-GMO Cotton” sell for $28.99 per two-pack.
Upon leaving, I’m approached by two small boys, maybe 7 or
8 years old, in the parking lot: “Excuse me ma’am,” says one.
“We don’t mean to bother you, but we’re trying to get money for
our football team.” He’s holding a clipboard and I ask him if it’s
his school team or a league of some sort.
“Not school,” he says. “Twenty dollars is good, but if you don’t
have that, anything will help. Have you ever seen a $2 bill?”
I’m about tell him that yes, I have seen a $2 bill, when the
security guard claps his hands loudly four times, striding our
way across the pavement, and the boys scurry off.
“I’ve told them time and time again not to do that here,” he
says. “It’s not a real team. Their dad is around here somewhere in
a four-door Nissan.” He stalks off through the sedans and SUVs,
looking, but they’re nowhere to be seen. I feel sheepish, as I was
going to give them a few bucks — and as I load my bag of Naked
Beet Chips and So Delicious Coconut Milk into the car, I consider
the different concerns of people on this boulevard.
I think of Roberto and his grandmother laughing and running
to catch the bus on their way to get haircuts; I think of the nervous, well-groomed couple and their three small children I met
on the bus who were all heading to the welfare office; I think of
doctors and patients in UMC’s full emergency room; I think of
the shoppers showing their social conscience by buying Organic Boxer Briefs not made with child labor or toxic pesticides.
Where 15 miles east I struggled with language skills, here I
grapple momentarily with the way the distribution of wealth
alters our immediate concerns and reframes our sense of urgency and responsibility. What’s most remarkable is that all of
these efforts to survive and thrive are happening on the same
street, at virtually the same time — a street once noted as nothing more than a parallel on the map, a dirt road to a hospital, a
trail to the valley’s foothills.
I drive onto Charleston, heading west.
At the 215, Charleston briefly spreads to 10 lanes and a median
before trickling through the westernmost edge of Summerlin toward Red Rock Conservation Area, where the road becomes
known as Highway 159, or the road to Blue Diamond. On this
edge of town, the view from Charleston is breathtaking: Red
Rock Canyon’s dramatic rise and bright red iron oxide stripes
remind us, after a long traffic-filled trip across town, that we are
still just a blip in the multimillion-year timeframe of this valley,
a blink in the cosmic scheme of things.
The westernmost street sign that identifies the road as Charleston, rather than Highway 159 or Blue Diamond Road, is at Sky Vista Drive, the latest, but not the last, of Summerlin’s advancing suburban streets. The desert beyond Sky Vista is already graded for
more development. The homes already here are desert browns and
beiges, sizable, upgraded, some behind gated entryways.
The streetlights and the landscaped median ends at Sky Vista, and Charleston turns into the two-lane highway, a “Designated Scenic Byway” that will pass through Red Rock Conservation Area, past Spring Mountain Ranch State Park and Blue
Diamond, and eventually end at State Route 160.
When you turn around from this point and look back, eastward, you realize that you have traversed worlds, skipped
through decades, met vastly different people, but barely
scratched the surface of Charleston’s offerings. With this street,
there is always more to the story.
™ & © 2016 The Jim Henson Company. All rights reserved.
With rural health care
in crisis in Nevada
and beyond, providers are
searching for a cure
by H E I D I K Y S E R
Jeff Martin’s eyes sparkle
as he rattles off the exhibits
at the Tonopah Historic
Mining Park, where he
works. He loves the park,
he says, and the town that
he and his wife moved to
from Southern California
four years ago, when she
landed a job at the nearby
Crescent Dunes solar
plant. ¶ “I’ll never go anyplace else,” he says. ¶
There’s just one problem
with Tonopah, located a
couple clicks southwest of
Nevada’s center. “Our biggest issue right now is, our
hospital closed down at the
end of last year,” Martin
says. Is there any clinic or
mobile medic for urgent
care? “There’s nothing
here. Nothing. The only
thing Tonopah has for
medical services are the
life flights, and they’ve
been a great help to the
whole community.”
They’ve been a great help to Martin in
particular. He’s taken two emergency airplane trips to Reno for painful ruptures of
his diverticulitis.
It’s easy to see why this situation is not
ideal. The only thing more burdensome
than the 100-mile drive that Tonopah residents have to make for regular checkups in
Hawthorne, Nevada, is the cost of flying
twice that distance, to Las Vegas or Reno,
for an acute episode. The short trip with
Life Guard International, which stayed on
after the hospital shut down to provide
medical transportation from Tonopah, can
cost as much as $30,000 and may not be
covered by a patient’s insurance.
Tonopah residents aren’t alone in lacking access to medical services. Research
firm Ivantage Health Analytics reported
this year that 76 rural hospitals have closed
since 2010 and another 673 are vulnerable
to closure. That includes seven in Nevada.
And they need these services — at least
as much as city dwellers, if not more. Rural
residents face unique obstacles to good
health, such as higher rates of fatal car
crashes, poverty, and teens abusing alcohol
and tobacco, according to the National Rural Health Association. A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the life expectancy of rural residents was almost three years
shorter than that of metropolitan residents
— and that the gap is growing.
Aging populations in rural areas aggravate
the situation. According to U.S. census data,
29 percent of residents in Nye County, of
Urgent cares: Above,
the Nye Regional
Medical Center;
opposite page, nurse
practitioner Diane
McGinnis hopes to
launch a mobile clinic
to serve rural areas.
which Tonopah is the
seat, are age 65 or older. Treating chronic
diseases in these populations, the Centers
for Disease Control
says, soaks up two-thirds of the country’s
health care budget.
The Nye County Regional Medical Center’s closure a year ago prompted Rep. Cresent Hardy to co-sponsor legislation dubbed
the Rural HEALTH Act. The bill, which has
gone through the commerce and agriculture
committees and is currently in the commodity exchanges subcommittee, calls for
Health and Human Services to resume its
annual study of state rural health organizations, suspended since 2003. It would also
reauthorize a grant program providing $15
million for five years, including a carve-out
for facility construction and upgrades.
“It’s a small amount,” Hardy says, “but
you have to have the study before you start
throwing money at things.”
Although professionals in the field welcome the study, they have a different view
on the funding. From specialty centers in
Las Vegas that have had to cut remote programs, to nonprofit clinics struggling to
cover costs with scant office visits, they say
a little cash tossed their way would help
improve access to care.
“Financing is still a big issue,” says Gerald Ackerman, head of Nevada’s State Office of Rural Health, based in the University of Nevada School of Medicine (now the
UNR School of Medicine). “When you look
at costs for health care, someone always
has to pay, whether it’s you or your insurance company or the county, under indigent care. If it wasn’t for the tax base in
certain communities, some health clinics
wouldn’t make it.”
The Affordable Care Act (aka
“Obamacare”) didn’t make matters worse,
insiders say, but it didn’t help much either,
since reimbursements for small providers
are still too low to cover their costs. To help
fill the gap, Ackerman’s office uses a federal
grant for rural hospitals to fund the Nevada
Flex Program, which offers cost-based reimbursements to providers that meet cer-
tain requirements. But that’s just one function of the multi-faceted program that has
received only $3.3 million since 1999.
“Hospitals have been good at getting
their rates adjusted up,” says Barbara Atkinson, founding dean of the UNLV School
of Medicine. “Physicians haven’t done so
well. And community providers don’t have
any reimbursement, so we need to work on
that in the next legislative session.”
The providers themselves aren’t holding
their breath for more money or policy reform. Instead, they’re looking for creative
ways to stretch every dollar to its max.
Three developments — mobile medicine,
telemedicine and specialty teleconferences
called ECHO clinics — have shown promise,
and more innovation may be on the way.
Around 100
miles northwest of
Tonopah, in Gabbs, Nevada, an apron-clad
Ken House is loitering outside the senior
center puffing on a cigar. He and his wife,
Kathleen House, have just finished making
biscuits and gravy for the breakfast that
they serve at the center every other Friday.
House, who moved to the town of 250
from California’s Bay Area when he retired
six years ago, is on its advisory board and
volunteers at both the library and fire department. He also used to drive the local
ambulance, but gave up his first-responder
certification a few years back.
“There were problems getting the paperwork from the state in a timely manner,” he says. “And there was a lot involved
for a volunteer thing. It was, like, 80 hours,
and then it’s good for two years. A year was
already up before I completed all my paperwork and certification, and we do have
two EMTs here and a few first responders,
so we had enough at the time.”
House has just listed all the healthcare
professionals in Gabbs. There’s no medical
clinic there; it shut down several years ago.
House says he and his wife go to a clinic
that Reno-based Renown Health operates
in Fallon, nearly 80 miles away. Like Jeff
Martin in Tonopah, they rely on flights for
“It could be better,” House says. “If we
did have a clinic here, that would be the
best-case scenario. It’s a very small community, though, so it’s hard to justify.”
Slow business, and the resulting low
revenue, is not the only deterrent to clinics in towns like Gabbs. Another big one:
Few doctors want to work in rural areas,
and almost no one wants to work in socalled “frontier towns,” the industry term
for places 60 miles or farther from the
nearest hospital.
“Some people just can’t handle not having a grocery store, pharmacy, dentist, vet,”
says Diane McGinnis, a doctor of nursing
practice with Searchlight Healthcare. “And
you may be able to find a provider who’s
willing to do it, but then their spouse can’t
work in the same town.”
That was the case for McGinnis, who
spent nearly four years in Beatty, a frontier
town of around 1,000 residents, while her
husband and three children remained in
Las Vegas. From December 2011 to October
2015, she would make the 115-mile commute to Beatty on Sunday evenings, returning on Fridays to spend the weekend with
her family.
“I have a terrific husband,” she says.
She also has a commitment to rural
healthcare. Although McGinnis was only in
Beatty five days out of the week, she was
very involved in the community — volunteering for the fire department, serving on
the museum board and leading a Boy
Scouts troop.
“I enjoy doing personal medicine,” she
says. “I like knowing about the whole patient, what they’re doing, their family. I
think I can give better medical care if I
know that their mom just died or their
child is ill. You see your patients after
hours. You live with them.”
McGinnis maintains her community ties
to Beatty, hinting at her larger goal: to operate a full-fledged mobile clinic. Right now, in
addition to manning Searchlight Health’s
Henderson office during regular business
hours, she operates McGinnis Mica Medical
on the side. That’s her nurse practitioner
house-call business, or, as she describes it,
“clinic without walls.” She’ll see patients
anywhere they want: home, the library, a
park — she even had one appointment at
Walmart. Instead of the traditional black
bag, McGinnis’ SUV carries a couple large
plastic tubs stocked with a blood pressure
cuff, otoscope, stethoscope, etcetera.
“I’m qualified to give immunizations,
but they have to be kept at a specific temperature, and you have to have Internet capability for the data logger,” she says. “If I
had an RV, I could set that up.”
United Health Care currently operates
such an RV. Its 45-foot-long Medicine on
the Move truck goes to churches, community centers and homeless shelters to provide primary care to patients who typically
don’t seek it because of barriers such as
child-care and transportation. The truck
goes to rural Nevada towns such as Mesquite and Yerington, but no frontier towns.
That’s where McGinnis comes in. Just as
she sat down to talk with Desert Companion, she answered a call from someone
needing a urine sample to be taken from a
patient in Tonopah. She told the caller that,
in addition to the fee for her service, she’d
have to be reimbursed for the six- to seven-hour round-trip drive, another $240.
“You can’t see enough patients in one
day to sustain a clinic because of the driving time,” she says. “You only see the patients that the insurance companies (you’re
contracted with) pay you for. And I only get
paid 85 percent of what a physician would
by certain insurances, even though I offer
the same services.”
Through Mica Medical, McGinnis can
help patients who wouldn’t otherwise get
care, but she acknowledges it won’t solve
the rural healthcare problem. For that,
many are looking to telemedicine.
Gabriel Léger’s
desk at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health are signs of a busy
mind: a stack of Neurology magazines, an
apple (still uneaten at 3:30 p.m.), a Southwest Airlines ticket jacket. Hovering above
this clutter are two large computer monitors. On the right, live video of three women, Mary Goicoechea and her niece and
daughter, sitting in padded armchairs in a
small office at Elko’s Morningstar Health
Center. On the left-hand screen are the data-crammed windows of a complicated
medical app that allows Léger to see Haas’
medical chart, pull up brain scans and test
results, and log notes. Goicoechea, a resident of a town with no neurologists, is in an
appointment with an Alzheimer’s specialist 425 miles away.
After chatting with the two younger
women about how Goicoechea has been doing, Léger turns his attention to the patient.
“Mary, I see your head is shaking a little
bit,” he says. She seems surprised.
The doctor asks Goicoechea to take off
her glasses, and, using a menu that looks
like a joystick, zooms the camera, which is
atop the computer monitor several feet
from his patient, in for a close-up. The resolution is so high that you can almost see
the blood vessels in her eyes.
“Without moving your head, look all the
way down,” he tells her.
Though she’s wearing headphones,
Goicoechea seems to have a little trouble
hearing Léger. The camera’s panning and
zooming functions also give the doctor a
little trouble. Still, he’s able to do as thorough an exam as he would in his Las Vegas
office. And Goicoechea’s family is able to
get help with her disease from a highly
qualified behavioral neurologist.
“The first time, it was weird. I’d never
done anything like that,” says Veronica Eldridge, Goicoechea’s daughter, who’d been
driving her mother three hours to Salt Lake
City before hearing about the Ruvo Center’s telemedicine program from a friend a
year ago. “I was like, maybe this isn’t going
to work. But he (Léger) is so good at his job.
I definitely think it’s really good now.”
Nevada is progressive in telemedicine relative to other U.S. states, and champions of it
will give you many reasons why the state is an
ideal test case. For starters, the distance between Nevada towns is greater than in most
other states, so people can’t just drive 15 minutes to the next burg and find a doctor. Specialists are even farther away. Nevada is short
on doctors in general — current numbers are
200 for every 100,000 people, 48th in the
country — and specialists in particular. If folks
are unlikely to drive an hour for a general
checkup, then they’re even less likely to drive
three hours for a specialized consultation.
(And if the state can’t convince recent medical school graduates to work in its cities, then
it’s even less likely to convince them to work
in small towns.) There is also little home care
in rural areas to follow up and make sure patients are taking their meds, going to physical
therapy and so on.
Telemedicine programs like the Ruvo
Center’s are an ideal solution to these problems. So, why aren’t there more of them?
“Money is part of it, like it always is,”
says Charles Bernick, associate medical director at the Ruvo Center. “Most of our patients are Medicare patients. You can bill
Medicare, but the amount you get back
doesn’t cover the time you spend. … To be
honest, unless you’re a state entity and get
some funding, or you’re a hospital and you
want patients to come to you for surgery,
it’s hard to make money. It has to be a (nonprofit) organization, like ours, that can absorb the cost.”
Bernick says a brewing partnership with Renown Health,
which recently applied for a
grant to establish several telemedicine sites, would allow the
Ruvo Center to expand its services beyond Elko. He’d like to
see other players that are currently working separately band
together to share their strengths
and costs.
Gerald Ackerman, of the State
Office of Rural Health, says another challenge, besides money,
is staff. Someone has to facilitate
a telemedicine appointment on
the patient’s end, and practitioners staffing small clinics may
not have time.
Bernick, who’s been doing
telemedicine for some 20 years,
gets around this obstacle by hiring staff like Tami Charters, the
medical assistant who facili-
tates appointments with Ruvo Center patients in Elko. Although she has training
in office medical management and as a
nurse’s assistant, Charters is not a physician or advanced practitioner. She is, as
she says, “the chief cook and bottle-washer” — running the office, scheduling appointments, checking patients in, administering tests, taking their vitals and
tracking down prescriptions.
The UNLV School of Medicine’s Barbara
Atkinson believes more training programs
for people like Charters would help telemedicine grow. Her school is cooperating
with CSN to certify community health
workers, who could fill this role. Atkinson
says she’s also encouraged by a bill that
passed in the 2015 Nevada legislative session, allowing physicians to bill telemedicine at the same rate as office visits, and the
facility hosting the patient to bill for the
visit as well.
As for the physicians themselves, the
UNLV School of Medicine, expected to accept its first class next year, is incorporating
a robust telemedicine program into its curriculum and clinical practice. Vice Dean
Tracey Green is visiting schools in Alabama,
Mississippi and Utah to see examples of
successful programs as she develops
“This will really help people in rural areas stay close to home,” Atkinson says.
When Sanjeev Arora,
a liver disease specialist in Albuquerque, tried us-
ing telemedicine to help him treat New
Mexico’s thousands of rural patients with
hepatitis C, he was unimpressed. He could
still only see one patient at a time, whether
in person or on a computer. Thinking about
the available technology, he had another
idea: What if he shared his basic knowledge of hep c with rural primary care providers? Then, they could each see dozens
of people and get the treatment ball rolling.
The effect would be multiplied exponentially. After trying out his idea for a while,
Arora found that the rural providers’ patient outcomes were just as good as his.
That led to the birth of Project ECHO at
the UNM School of Medicine in 2003. The
basic model — teleconferences in which
medical specialists study rural primary
care providers’ cases and empower them to
provide certain specialty services — has not
changed, although the technology has
evolved and licensees have adapted it to
their needs, creating new uses. Today,
there are 89 Project ECHO replications in
30 U.S. states and 14 other countries. The
Department of Defense uses it; so does the
Veterans Administration. The UNR School
of Medicine was one of the first 10 adopters, starting its ECHO program in 2012.
“Nevada is a strong U.S. hub,” Erika Harding, Project ECHO’s director of replication
initiatives, says. “And they grew fast. Evan
Klass (a former endocrinologist at UNR,
who’s still director of the program) and his
team launched seven ECHOs in 18 months,
which was a record then. They took on diseases and conditions that others didn’t.”
Chris Marchand, the UNR program’s coordinator, says that, as with telemedicine,
Nevada’s geography and demographics make
it an ideal laboratory for Project ECHO.
“Let’s say a patient has diabetes,” he
says. “His primary care provider doesn’t do
diabetes management, so he refers the patient to an endocrinologist in Reno. It could
take that patient six to 12 months to go see
the endocrinologist, and often, the questions asked during the initial referral are
questions that could have been asked
during an ECHO clinic, saving the patient
the travel time, lost wages, child care costs
and other inconveniences.”
UNR’s Project ECHO Nevada offers primary care providers training in sports medicine and office orthopedics, public health,
gastrointestinal medicine, pain management, diabetes and endocrinology, geriatrics, and behavioral health in primary care.
One pillar of the model is patient confidentiality. “Not using protected health information allows ECHO to do what it does,” Marchand says. “Discussion of the primary care
providers’ cases is important, so you have to
make sure patient information is protected.”
Another pillar is that it’s free, Harding
says. “Sanjeev (Arora) has always pushed
back against the view of medicine as being
fee-for-service. We believe that by positioning ECHO for rapid ramp-up, we can
demonstrate its value and its return on investment to the healthcare education system, so we’ll be able to convince government — not just ours, but those of the countries where it operates around the world —
of the value and get them to pay for it,
whether it’s small clinics in rural Nevada or
the super-hub of Ireland that includes 20
different diseases.”
Marchand says his biggest hurdle is the
voluntary nature of the program.
“It’s difficult to expand and grow when
everybody is short-staffed and overloaded
with work,” he says. “Over the last few
years, we’ve been slowly growing what we
do, and becoming more involved with other health organizations around the state.
But there’s a lot more we want to do.”
a lot more that others
want to do, too. Take Walter Davis, CEO of
Nevada Health Centers, a nonprofit that
gets federal funding to operate clinics in
under-served communities. Davis has lots
of ideas, starting with the simple task of educating rural communities to embrace advanced practitioners such as McGinnis,
who can give the same level of care as traditional MDs but cost less, meaning reimbursements for their services go further.
Unlike most providers, Davis believes
there’s enough funding available to expand
healthcare to the rural communities that
need it. The problem, he says, is adherence to
an outdated budget model. Instead of health
plans, hospitals and medical groups fighting
over the same dollars, he says, the state should
foster population health management.
“We need to build budgets around communities instead of individual sites,” he
says. “Patients need access to both hospitals and primary care. Hospitals want to fill
beds, but if we’re doing healthcare right,
we would need fewer beds. We have to
spend more time on prevention than on
feeding a large system that’s challenged by
insurance plans and infrastructure investments to keep the business running.”
In small ways, Nevada Health Centers is
already implementing this approach. The
company runs a discharge clinic at Carson
Tahoe Regional Medical Center in Carson
City, giving the hospital access to its schedule to book patients for follow-up care in
order to reduce readmission rates. A visiting nurse program in Lockwood paired a
nurse with a sheriff, who had been frequently finding people in need of medical
assistance during welfare calls.
But Davis’ most radical idea may be for
group appointments. In this model, a physician and facilitator with a clinical background see eight to 10 patients at a time.
Having all signed confidentiality waivers,
they take turns talking with the physician,
stepping out for treatment as needed. The
entire group gets an hour and 15 minutes of
care instead of 10 minutes per person.
“I learned about this maybe 10 years
ago,” Davis says. “I was taken aback by the
patients’ lack of fear to talk about what’s
going on with them. One 75-year-old
brought up his libido issues. At the end of
the session, I asked them why they felt so
comfortable, and they said, ‘We all face the
same issues, and we’re learning.’”
Other, less radical ideas are also chipping
away at the problem. Ackerman’s office is
working to establish rural residency programs around the state; state grants offset
student loans for medical and nursing students who commit to working in out-of-theway areas; and the federal government regularly identifies ZIP codes where qualified
operators like Nevada Health Centers can
compete to open new clinics when funding
becomes available. Ackerman says a final,
important piece of the puzzle is pipeline
programs to prepare high school kids — particularly those from rural towns — to go into
medical professions.
“I definitely hope we don’t give up on rural clinics,” McGinnis says. “It breaks my
heart to see these people abandoned.”
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excerpted from The Best Doctors in America
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August 2016
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The result is the Best Doctors in America® List, which includes the nation’s
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Addiction Medicine
Melvin I. Pohl
Las Vegas Recovery Center
3371 N. Buffalo Drive
Mark Stuart Scheller
Cardiovascular Anesthesia
2850 S. Mojave Road #A
John S. Smith
Cardiovascular Anesthesia
Erik J. Sirulnick
HealthCare Partners
Medical Group Cardiology
3131 La Canada St. #200
Leo Spaccavento
Advanced Heart Care
4275 Burnham Ave. #220
Colon and
Rectal Surgery
Ovunc Bardakcioglu
2850 S. Mojave Road #A
University of Nevada
School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
Cardiovascular Disease
1707 W. Charleston Blvd. #160
John Bedotto
HealthCare Partners
Medical Group - Cardiology
Joseph P. Thornton
Frank J. Nemec
3820 S. Hualapai Way #200
Infectious Disease
3006 S. Maryland Parkway #780
Medical Oncology
and Hematology
Brian J. Lipman
Heather J. Allen
10001 S. Eastern Ave. #307
3730 S. Eastern Ave.
Gary R. Skankey
Comprehensive Cancer
Centers of Nevada
Infectious Disease
Infectious Diseases of
Southern Nevada
Infectious Disease
Tillmann Cyrus
1707 W. Charleston Blvd. #160
Internal Medicine
Dignity Health Medical
Group Nevada
Miriam S. Bettencourt
Advanced Dermatology
and Cosmetic Surgery
Pediatrics Center
Las Vegas
Division of Pediatric
Jerome Frank Hruska
9280 W. Sunset Road #320
Department of Cardiology
6900 N. Pecos Road #3D152
North Las Vegas
Colleen Morris
Sunrise Hospital Medical
Office Bldg #315
3006 S. Maryland Parkway
University of Nevada
School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
VA Southern Nevada
Healthcare System
Medical Genetics
3006 S. Maryland Parkway #780
Ethan Milton Cruvant
8205 W. Warm Springs Road
Comprehensive Cancer
Centers of Nevada
Fadi Braiteh
3730 S. Eastern Ave.
Russell Gollard
Comprehensive Cancer
Centers of Nevada
2460 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway
Edwin Charles Kingsley
Comprehensive Cancer
Centers of Nevada
Carlos Fonte
1701 N. Green Valley Parkway
#7B Henderson
Paul T. Emery
3201 S. Maryland Parkway #502
Endocrinology and
8205 W. Warm Springs Road #210
Nicholas J. Vogelzang
Cres P. Miranda
Freddie G. Toffel
Mark Charles Handelman
2700 E. Sunset Road #D-34
2585 Box Canyon Drive #110
3730 S. Eastern Ave.
3150 N. Tenaya Way #320
Sarah C. Heiner
David Lloyd Navratil
Joseph Mansour Fayad
70 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway
#100 Henderson
Advanced Cardiovascular
Nevada Heart
& Vascular Center
HealthCare Partners
Medical Group - Cardiolgy
2865 Siena Heights Drive #331
Charles Allen Rhodes
Nevada Heart
& Vascular Center
VA Southern Nevada
Healthcare System
Department of
6900 N. Pecos Road
North Las Vegas
Donald Lawrence Kwok
Dignity Health Medical
Group Nevada
Bradley J. Thompson
3650 S. Eastern Ave. #300
Jerry Routh
7395 S. Pecos Road #102
3820 S. Hualapai Way #200
Kidney Specialists of
Southern Nevada
John P. Havill
Candice Tung
Marvin Jay Bernstein
7395 S. Pecos Road #102
3820 S. Hualapai Way #200
Gregory Kwok
500 S. Rancho Drive #12
Summerlin Medical Office
Bldg. 3 #250
10105 Banburry Cross Drive
Comprehensive Cancer
Centers of Nevada
Jerrold Schwartz
4275 S. Burnham Ave. #100
HealthCare Partners
3730 S. Eastern Ave.
Kidney Specialists of
Southern Nevada
100 N. Green Valley Parkway
#310 Henderson
Robert W. Merrell
Kidney Specialists of
Southern Nevada
100 N. Green Valley Parkway
#310 Henderson
august 2 0 1 6
Neville Pokroy
Kidney Specialists of
Southern Nevada
Jocelyn Ivie
Women’s Health Associates
of Southern Nevada
653 N. Town Center Drive,
Bldg. 2 #70
2821 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway
#130 Henderson
Zvi Sela
Florence N. Jameson
Kidney Specialists of
Southern Nevada
653 N. Town Center Drive,
Bldg. 2 #70
Neurological Surgery
John A. Anson
The Spine and Brain Institute
8530 W. Sunset Road #250
Derek A. Duke
The Spine and Brain Institute
General Surgery
Pediatric Cardiology
700 Shadow Lane #370
Ruben J. Acherman
John J. Fildes
Women’s Health Associates
of Southern Nevada
Abraham Rothman
1707 W. Charleston Blvd. #160
1934 E. Sahara Ave.
3006 S. Maryland Parkway #690
Arthur A. Fusco
Kirsten B. Rojas
Meadows Women’s Center
Pediatric Medical
700 Shadow Lane #370
9120 W. Post Road #200
Colleen Morris
John Ham
Steven Kramer
J. Michael Scarff
James S. Forage
1934 E. Sahara Ave.
Bruce S. Shapiro
The Fertility Center
of Las Vegas
Children’s Heart Center
Children’s Heart Center
Pediatrics Center
Las Vegas
Division of Pediatric
Sunrise Hospital Medical Office
Bldg. #315
3006 S. Maryland Parkway
8851 W. Sahara Ave. #100
Renu S. Jain
Jeffrey Lee Cummings
Orthopaedic Surgery
1524 Pinto Lane, 3rd Floor
Cleveland Clinic
Lou Ruvo Center
for Brain Health
888 W. Bonneville Ave.
Luis L. Diaz
Terence G. Banich
4230 Burnham Ave. #144
University of Nevada
School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
Women’s Health
Associates of Southern
861 Coronado Center Drive
#200 Henderson
Quest Diagnostics
3006 S. Maryland Parkway #690
5281 S. Eastern Ave.
861 Coronado Center Drive
#200 Henderson
The Spine and Brain Institute
Darren Thomas Wheeler
Douglas J. Seip
University Pediatric
Center at Lied
General Surgery
University of Nevada
School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
1707 W. Charleston Blvd. #160
Surgical Oncology
Souzan E. El-Eid
Comprehensive Cancer
Centers of Nevada
9280 W. Sunset Road #100
Daniel M. Kirgan
University of Nevada
School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
8930 W. Sunset Road #350
Beverly A. Neyland
1524 Pinto Lane, 3rd Floor
Thoracic Surgery
Plastic Surgery
Peter G. Vajtai
University Pediatric
Center at Lied
1707 W. Charleston Blvd. #160
3150 N. Tenaya Way #520
Walter (Russ) Schroeder
Te-Long Hwang
3195 Saint Rose Parkway #210
Goesel M. Anson
5745 S. Fort Apache Road #100
8530 W. Sunset Road #130
Robert Wiencek
Robert C. Wang
Michael (Mike) C. Edwards
Sunrise Hospital
and Medical Center
Department of Neurology
3186 Maryland Parkway
Ear, Nose and Throat
Consultants of Nevada
Nuclear Medicine
Surgery Center
Department of
Paul D. Bandt
3150 N. Tenaya Way #112
Desert Radiologists
2020 Palomino Lane #100
Obstetrics and
Quest Diagnostics
Irwin G. Glassman
Laura Lynn Bilodeau
4230 Burnham Ave. #144
Women’s Health
Associates of Southern
Ronald Knoblock
1934 E. Sahara Ave.
7455 W. Washington Ave. #301
August 2016
Laboratory Medicine
8530 W. Sunset Road #130
Julio L. Garcia
St. Rose-Stanford Clinic
Cardiovascular and
Thoracic Surgery Program
7190 S. Cimarron Road
6020 S. Rainbow Blvd. #C
653 N. Town Center Drive #308
Paul D. Bandt
Desert Radiologists
2020 Palomino Lane #100
Sheldon J. Freedman
Ranjit Jain
Urology Associates
700 Shadow Lane #430
Your healthcare provider …
in the heart of Las Vegas
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• Get with the Guidelines® Gold Plus Stroke Award
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Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Valley Hospital Medical Center.
The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. 152273
620 Shadow Lane • Las Vegas, NV 89106
Touro University Nevada faculty physicians
lead the way in educating the physicians of
tomorrow while caring for our community
today at the Health Center at Touro.
874 American Pacific Drive, Henderson, NV 89014
Touro University Nevada is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and licensed in Nevada by the Commission on Post-Secondary Education.
Touro University Nevada does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or age in its employment, programs, or activities.
great dentist is something to smile about.
And on the following
pages are lots of reasons to smile. Our 2016 topDentists list features more than 160
of the best dental professionals in
Southern Nevada.
How did we find the valley’s
top dental talent? It started with a
simple question: “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which
dentist would you refer them to?”
This is the question we’ve asked
thousands of dentists to help us
determine who the topDentists
should be. Dentists and specialists
are asked to take into consideration
years of experience, continuing education, manner with patients, use
of new techniques and technologies and of course physical results.
The nomination pool of dentists consists of dentists listed
online with the American Dental
Association as well as all dentists
listed online with their local/regional dental societies, thus allowing virtually every dentist the opportunity to participate. Dentists
are also given the opportunity to
nominate other dentists we have
missed whom they feel should be
included in our list. Respondents
are asked to put aside any personal
bias or political motivations and to
use only their knowledge of their
peers’ work when evaluating the
other nominees.
Voters are asked to individually evaluate the practitioners on
their ballot whose work they are
familiar with. Once the balloting is
completed, the scores are compiled
and then averaged. The numerical average required for inclusion
varies depending on the average
for all the nominees within the
specialty and the geographic area.
Borderline cases are given a careful
consideration by the editors. Voting characteristics and comments
are taken into consideration while
making decisions. Past awards a
dentist has received and status in
various dental academies can play
a factor in our decision.
Once the decisions have been
finalized, the included dentists are
checked against state dental boards
for disciplinary actions to make sure
they have an active license and are
in good standing with the board.
Then letters of congratulations are
sent to all the listed dentists.
Of course, there are many fine
dentists who are not included in
this representative list. It is intended as a sampling of the great body
of talent in the field of dentistry in
Nevada. A dentist’s inclusion on
our list is based on the subjective
judgments of his or her fellow dentists. While it is true that the lists
may at times disproportionately
reward visibility or popularity, we
remain confident that our polling
methodology largely corrects for
any biases and that these lists continue to represent the most reliable,
accurate, and useful list of dentists
available anywhere.
This list is excerpted from the
2016 topDentists™ list, a database
which includes listings for more
than 160 dentists and specialists
in Southern Nevada. The Las Vegas area list is based on thousands
of detailed evaluations of dentists
and professionals by their peers.
The complete database is available
at For more
information, call 706-364-0853;
write PO Box 970, Augusta, GA
30903; email [email protected]
com or visit
Disclaimer This list is excerpted from the 2016 topDentists™ list, which includes listings for more than 160 dentists and specialists in Southern Nevada.
For more information call 706-364-0853 or email ([email protected]) or visit us at topDentists has used its best efforts in
assembling material for this list but does not warrant that the information contained herein is complete or accurate, and does not assume, and hereby
disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein whether such errors or omissions result from negligence,
accident, or any other cause. Copyright 2008-2016 by topDentists, Augusta, GA. All rights reserved. This list, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in
any form without permission. No commercial use of the information in this list may be made without permission of topDentists. No fees may be charged,
directly or indirectly, for the use of the information in this list without permission.
Note: An asterisk indicates the dentist
also performs cosmetic procedures.
W. Scott Biggs
Micro Endodontics of Las Vegas
4450 N. Tenaya Way #240
William D. Brizzee
Las Vegas Endodontics
6655 E. Sahara Ave. #A-106
Russel K. Christensen
Las Vegas Endodontics
6655 E. Sahara Ave. #A-106
Mark C. Tingey
Chris S. Cozine
George Harouni*
Endodontics of Las Vegas
9750 Covington Cross Drive #150
8579 S. Eastern Ave. #A
731 Mall Ring Circle #201
General Dentistry
Stanley S. Askew
Island Dental Center
9750 Covington Cross Drive #100
Steven A. Avena*
3117 E. Charleston Blvd.
Peter S. Balle*
Bradley A. Ditsworth
2458 E. Russell Road #A
Mark Dorilag
Green Valley Dental Group
710 Coronado Center Drive #100
Jason L. Downey*
5660 E. Flamingo Road #B
Mark D. Edington*
Gregg C. Hendrickson*
Comprehensive Dental Care
2790 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway #100
Michael G. Hollingshead*
6392 Spring Mountain Road
Owen W. Justice Jr.
3226 N. Decatur Blvd.
Balle & Associates
2801 W. Charleston Blvd. #100
Modern Dental Care
9895 S. Maryland Parkway #A
Brian R. Karn*
8460 S. Eastern Ave. #B
William J. Dougherty Jr.
Alex D. Blazzard
Donald J. Farr
Thomas P. Keating*
840 Pinnacle Court #6A
2458 E. Russell Road #B
Laurie S. Bloch-Johnson*
Barton H. Foutz
Keating Dental
880 Seven Hills Drive #240
Exceptional Dentistry
9501 Hillwood Drive #A
2510 Wigwam Parkway #100
Matthew O. Cox
Sunset Endodontics
54 N. Pecos Road #B
John Q. Duong
Lakeview Dental
2291 S. Fort Apache Road #104
David C. Fife
1975 Village Center Circle #110
Darin K. Kajioka
Endodontics of Las Vegas
9750 Covington Cross Drive #150
Ronald R. Lemon
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
4505 S. Maryland Parkway
#SLC-D 239
Jason T. Morris
2510 Wigwam Parkway #200
Kathleen Olender*
Desert Dental Specialists
7520 E. Sahara Ave.
Derryl R. Brian
Nevada Trails Dental
7575 S. Rainbow Blvd. #101
Pamela G. Caggiano*
Excellence In Dentistry
321 N. Pecos Road #100
Colin M. Campbell*
St. Rose Family
& Cosmetic Dentistry
2875 Saint Rose Parkway #110
Sandra Chan
Moore Family Dentistry
10624 S. Eastern Ave. #N
Guy L. Chisteckoff*
Endodontic Associates
6950 Smoke Ranch Road #125
Island Smiles Cosmetic
& Family Dentistry
8940 S. Maryland Parkway #100
Daniel I. Shalev
Stephen H. Clark II
Douglas R. Rakich
2510 Wigwam Parkway #200
Ryan C. Shipp
9053 S. Pecos Road, #3000
August 2016
2820 E. Flamingo Road #B
Kenneth M. Cox
6615 S. Eastern Ave. #106
James B. Frantz Jr.
Karn Extraordinary Smiles
851 S. Rampart Blvd. #230
James G. Kinard*
2780 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway #20
Green Valley Dental Group
710 Coronado Center Drive #100
William P. Leavitt
Glen Gallimore
Ton V. Lee
3455 Cliff Shadows Parkway #130
Summerlin Smiles
9525 W. Russell Road #100
Heeyup Ghim
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
1001 Shadow Lane #SLC-D 260
Black Mountain Dental
1475 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway
#100, 702-564-4498
Robin D. Lobato*
Benjamin Glick
Nicholas E. Lords*
1070 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway #120
Rainbow Park Dental
2950 S. Rainbow Blvd. #200
Irwan T. Goh*
Smiles by Goh
2653 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway #110
Chad Gubler
Gubler Dental
11221 S. Eastern Ave. #200
Jeffery W. Hadley*
3910 Pecos McLeod, #A-140
Steven L. Hardy
Paradise Family Dental
6825 Aliante Parkway
9061 E. Sahara Ave. #101
Kent A. Lysgaard
Lysgaard Dental
2911 N. Tenaya Way #101
Ronald R. Marshall
6891 E. Charleston Blvd.
George J. McAlpine
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
1707 E. Charleston Blvd. #290 MS7424
Nina Mirzayan
Adaven Children’s Dentistry
1701 N. Green Valley Parkway #8E
D. Kevin Moore
David B. Sandquist
Terrie X. Tran
R. F. John Holtzen
Moore Family Dentistry
10624 S. Eastern Ave. #N
2650 Lake Sahara Drive #160
All Smiles Dental
10545 S. Eastern Ave. #140
E. Orlando Morantes*
Douglas D. Sandquist*
3412 N. Buffalo Drive #107
2650 Lake Sahara Drive #160
Michele S. Tratos
Nevada Oral & Facial Surgery
6950 Smoke Ranch Road #200
Johnny E. Nassar
Nathan D. Schwartz
Smile Design Center
10120 S. Eastern Ave. #375
Henderson Family Dentistry
537 S. Boulder Highway
Tam P. Nguyen*
A. Thomas Shields
4840 Spring Mountain Road #2
Shields Family Dentistry
653 N. Town Center #508
Jorge Paez*
Nevada Dental Esthetics
4455 S. Jones Blvd. #E2
Desert Smiles
10175 E. Twain Ave. #120
Susan Schmutz Smith*
James B. Polley*
Stephen W. Spelman*
1875 Village Center Circle #110
Thomas J. Puhek
Willow Springs Dental
3450 S. Hualapai Way
3431 E. Sunset Road #301
Bradley S. Strong*
Richard A. Racanelli
2931 N. Tenaya Way #200
8275 S. Eastern Ave. #101
Nevada Oral & Facial Surgery
6950 Smoke Ranch Road #200
Brendan G. Johnson
Nevada Oral & Facial Surgery
6950 Smoke Ranch Road, #200
Katherine A. Keeley
2649 Wigwam Parkway #102
Bryce Leavitt
Sun Dental Center
9450 Del Webb Blvd.
Gibson and Leavitt Oral &
Maxillofacial & Implant Surgery
2835 St. Rose Parkway #100
Johnathan R. White*
Carlos H. Letelier
Aesthetic Dentistry
8084 W. Sahara Ave. #G
Brad A. Wilbur
Green Valley Dental Center
275 N. Pecos Road
Derrek A. Yelton
2625 S. Rainbow Blvd. #103
Center for Oral Surgery of Las Vegas
10115 E. Twain Ave. #100
Jeff E. Moxley
Moxley Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
3663 E. Sunset Road #403
Patrick A. O’Connor
630 S. Rancho Drive #B
Oral and
Maxillofacial Surgery
Daniel L. Orr II
3505 E. Harmon Ave. #A
George E. Bonn
2040 E. Charleston Blvd. #201
Rick B. Thiriot
Stephen C. Rose*
Rose Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
4230 E. Charleston Blvd. #A
Louisa Sanders
Matt D. Welebir*
Gregory J. Hunter
Ronald R. Taylor
Rose Family Dentistry
8490 S. Eastern Ave. #C
899 Adams Blvd.
53 E. Lake Mead Parkway
James V. Whalen
70 N. Pecos Road #A
George F. Rosenbaum
Scott M. Weaver
4610 Meadows Lane
7884 E. Sahara Ave. #100
Craig R. Rose
Desert Breeze Dental
8650 Spring Mountain Road #101
Raymond Kent Simister
Patrick A. Simone*
Stunning Smiles of Las Vegas
6410 Medical Center St. #B
Paul VreNon*
Summerlin Dental
410 S. Rampart Blvd. #360
William G. Pappas
Sam Partovi
3057 E. Warm Springs Road #300
Huang & Bonn Oral & Implant Surgery
1701 N. Green Valley Parkway #2-E
Mont M. Ringer
Michel Daccache
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of
Southern Nevada
5765 S. Fort Apache Road #110
Franson K. S. Tom
1701 E. Charleston Blvd. #520
Steven A. Saxe
4318 S. Eastern Ave.
Mark I. Degen
Advance Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
1570 S. Rainbow Blvd.
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
1001 Shadow Lane #MS7414
Arthur Anthony Tomaro*
Exceptional Dentistry
2095 Village Center Circle #120
Michael Tomita
1700 W. Charleston Blvd. #D
Island Dental Center
9750 Covington Cross Drive #100
R. Michael Sanders*
Karen T. Tran
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
1001 Shadow Lane #MS7410
Lakeview Dental
2291 S. Fort Apache Road #104
Red Rock Oral and Maxillofacial
Surgery Centre
4730 S. Fort Apache Road #390
John J. Dudek
Mountain View Oral Surgery
6970 Smoke Ranch Road #150
Ryan Gibson
Gibson and Leavitt Oral &
Maxillofacial & Implant Surgery
2835 St. Rose Parkway #100
Robert M. Svarney Jr.
6140 S. Fort Apache Road #120
Eric D. Swanson
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Associates of Nevada
2030 E. Flamingo Road #288
Albert Ted Twesme
4544 S. Pecos Road
Oral Medicine
Douglas K. Simister
Jeffrey A. Cox
Edilberto De Andrade
Griffiths & Simister Orthodontics
8710 E. Charleston Blvd. #150
Anthem Pediatric Dentistry
2843 Saint Rose Parkway #100
Dave L. Smith
Chad W. Ellsworth
Anthem Periodontics and
Dental Implants
2610 E. Horizon Ridge Parkway #202
5320 E. Sahara Ave. #4
Ryan S. Gifford*
David A. Chenin
Robert H. Thalgott
Anthem Pediatric Dentistry
2843 Saint Rose Parkway #100
Harout V. Gostanian
Gary D. Goaslind
Centennial Children’s Dentistry
7425 E. Azure Drive #120
Periodontics Unlimited
3811 E. Charleston Blvd. #201
Dawn L. McClellan
Significance Dental Specialists
2430 E. Harmon Ave. #6
Edward E. Herschaft
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
1001 Shadow Lane #SLC-B 214
Chenin Orthodontics
10730 S. Eastern Ave. #100
Stephen T. Chenin
Chenin Orthodontics
10730 S. Eastern Ave. #100
Stephen N. Fleming
5320 E. Sahara Ave. #4
Michael C. Gardner
Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics
6005 S. Fort Apache #100
James L Gibson
Gibson Orthodontics
70 E. Horizon Ridge #170
John C. Griffiths
Griffiths & Simister Orthodontics
8710 E. Charleston Blvd. #150
R. Cree Hamilton
Hamilton Orthodontics
401 N. Buffalo Drive #220
Blaine R. Hansen
1945 Village Center Circle #110
Alfred A. Thresher
Thresher Orthodontics
9500 E. Flamingo Road #102
Mark Truman
Truman Orthodontics
851 S. Rampart Blvd. #130
Zachary B. Truman
Fenn Welch
Gary D. Richardson
Welch Orthodontics
8551 W. Lake Mead Blvd. #216
Adventure Smiles
8995 E. Flamingo Road #100
Lance L. Whetten
Joshua L. Saxe
4540 S. Pecos Road
A Childrens Dentist
8710 E. Charleston Blvd. #100
Tracy D. Wyatt
Wyatt Orthodontics
7550 E. Lake Mead Blvd. #6
Scott E. Leaver
Laurie B. Abrams
Hamilton Orthodontics
401 N. Buffalo Drive #220
Carey B. Noorda
Noorda Orthodontics
1701 N. Green Valley Parkway #1
Alana Saxe
Saxe Orthodontics
3555 S. Town Center Drive #104
August 2016
Children’s Dental Center
2085 Village Center Circle #120
Manny Rapp Jr.
Pediatric Dentistry
Jeremy S. Manuele
Todd S. Milne
Truman Orthodontics
880 Seven Hills Drive #170
Hansen Orthodontics
3600 N. Buffalo Drive #110
Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics
6005 S. Fort Apache #100
Dental Care International
1750 Wheeler Peak Drive
Just for Kids Dentistry
7140 N. Durango Drive #110
Bryan Q. Bui
6910 S. Rainbow Blvd. #104
Ryan S. Bybee
Kidz Dentistry
1600 E. Sunset Road #B
Alice P. Chen
Red Rock Kids Dental
11700 E. Charleston Blvd. #180
Adaven Children’s Dentistry
1701 N. Green Valley Parkway #8E
Michael D. Saxe
A Childrens Dentist
8710 E. Charleston Blvd. #100
William F. Waggoner
Periodontics Unlimited
3811 E. Charleston Blvd. #201
Allen Wei-Lun Huang*
Curry H. Leavitt
Red Rock Periodontics &
7475 E. Sahara Ave. #101
Robert L. Lockhart
UNLV School of Dental Medicine
1700 E. Charleston Blvd.
Brian Mantor
Periodontics Ltd.
3811 E. Charleston Blvd. #201
James K. Rogers
Canyon Ridge Periodontics
3375 S. Town Center Drive #110
David J. Trylovich*
Periodontics Unlimited
3811 E. Charleston Blvd. #201
Pediatric Dental Care Associates
8981 E. Sahara Ave. #110
2255 Renaissance Drive #B
David A. Arpin*
Desert Dental Specialists
7520 E. Sahara Ave.
Nelson D. Lasiter
Marco T. Padilla*
Eric Bernzweig
Advanced Prosthodontics
of Las Vegas
851 S. Rampart Blvd. #250
6835 E. Charleston Blvd.
Steven L. Rhodes
501 S. Rancho Drive #E29
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6675 South Tenaya Way •
your Arts+Entertainment calendar for august
in the Sky
Brooklyn Bowl
You may have heard
them on Friday Night
Lights — shimmering
instrumental guitar
music filled with
“cathartic mini-symphonies.” Said to be
quite emotive live,
despite the lack of
singing. 7p, $25-$45,
Sundays 23
Cat’s Meow
History of
Velveteen Rabbit
You read that right — the happening Downtown grog shop will
be the setting for an immersive
production of Steven Peros’ dark
comedy about William Randolph Hearst, his yacht, a murder
and Jazz Age excess. Directed
by Troy Heard. (28) 7p, $25$30,
by Sean
Summerlin Library
Clark County Library
Using a camera that
captures infrared and
ultraviolet light, Russell shot skewed-light
photos of Minnesota,
Red Rock and Las
Vegas, then transferred the high-tech
images onto lowtech wood surfaces.
See for yourself
through October 9.
The Smith Center
Sound of
If there’s ever a
time to burrow into
the familiar, pillowy
comforts of a sentimental classic, it’s
summer. So, come
on! Once again the
hills are alive! 2p &
7:30p, $29-$127,
106 a u g u s t 2 0 1 6
A talk by Burlesque Hall
of Fame Director Dustin
M. Wax. Come for the
va-va-voom, stay for
the ooh-la-la. 7p, free,
Channel 10
Artist Eric Vozzola’s exhibit features
colorful, patterned, surreal and
contrasting compositions. Vozzola
thinks of his work as connecting to
ancient storytelling, such as wall
drawings, hunting map carvings,
hieroglyphs and other archaic
messages that leave behind an
aesthetic and a language unique
to the artist. Free. Winchester
Gallery, 3130 McLeod Drive,
Artist Alisha Kerlin’s installation
celebrates one of the Southwest’s
most well-known birds. Three
oversized sculptures of the iconic,
long-legged Southwestern cuckoo
bird, frozen mid-stride in silver
and stucco, are presented in
their natural habitat.
Free with membership
or paid admission. Botanical
Garden at Springs Preserve,
Artist Christopher A. Jones will install
a column in the Rotunda, divided
into three independently
rotating sections, each festooned
with the printed detritus of our lives;
torn, reassembled, stenciled and
written on by the artist. The rotation
of the sections refers to wheels
used in ceremonies in various
cultures. Free. Clark County
Government Center Rotunda
Visitors will take a hands-on journey
through the Roman Imperial period,
exploring military war machines,
significant construction inventions
Carole King-James Taylor
Live at the Troubadour
Friday August 26 at 9 p.m.
Get Ready to Rio!
with Chef Hubert Keller
The Presidents:
American Experience
Saturdays, August 6, 13 and
20 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 8 – 11 and
August 15-18
Inside Poldark
I Miss Downton
Sunday, August 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 28 at 7:30 p.m. | 3050 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89121 | 702.799.1010
August 2016
like pottery wheels and grinding
mills, large-scale technical
innovations like cranes, water
pumps and much more. $10. The
Las Vegas Natural History Museum,
12–5P; SAT 10A–3P
Artist Kim Johnson is a native Las
Vegan who received her BFA degree
from UNLV. In addition, she has
formally studied human anatomy,
environmental science and
principles of ecology. Utilizing her
knowledge of these subjects, she
infuses the imagined into reality to
create an otherworldly environment
through dreamlike spaces and
images. Free. Left of Center Art
Gallery, 2207 W. Gowan Road,
AUG. 29–OCT. 14
Chad Scott’s multimedia
installation examines the spectacle
of the electoral process during a
presidential election. In a political
environment filled with mixed
messages, Scott raises questions
about what it means to be
informed, what counts as
information and where information
may be found. Free. Winchester
Gallery, 3130 McLeod Drive,
AUG. 4, 8P
Invoking the audience with their
commanding stage presence, even
jumping down into the crowd if the
mood strikes, their fans know they
are in for something action-packed
whenever the Foxes are on stage.
21+ with valid ID. Free. Brooklyn
Bowl at The Linq,
AUG. 5, 8P; AUG. 6, 6P
The R&B singer performs her Gulf
108 A u g u s t 2 0 1 6
War-era hit “Get Here,” along with
many other songs across a wide
range of styles. $39–$65. Cabaret
Jazz at The Smith Center,
AUG. 6, 2P
Foster, music director for “Smokey
Robinson Presents Human Nature,”
emerged in the ’70s as a jazz organist
on Blue Note and as a sideman on
seven of George Benson’s most
popular albums, including Breezin’.
$10 in advance, $12 on concert day.
Winchester Cultural Center, 3130
McLeod Drive,
AUG. 7, 2P
An exciting new vocal trio led by
musical director Maestro Jack
Gaughan performing selections
from the Rat Pack, Broadway,
Popera and tenor hits from the
world of Grand Opera. Opera
Innamorata is a husband and wife
team with a repertoire ranging
from Puccini and Verdi to Wagner
who will delight you with the
romantic side of some of the
greatest music ever written.
Free. Summerlin Library,
AUG. 9, 7P
The band lives and breathes the
culture of New Orleans, infusing funk,
rock, jazz and hip-hop into a custommade enhancement of second-line
brass band tradition.
21+ with valid ID. Free.
Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq,
narrative and dancing.
$20. Starbright Theatre at
Sun City Summerlin,
AUG. 18, 7P
You will hear jazz renditions of The
Great American Songbook, preceded
by an autograph session for the
official SINATRA 100 book with
author Charles Pignone (co-president
of Frank Sinatra Enterprises).
$25–$45. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith
AUG. 18, 7P
Formed in London in 1979, their
hits include “One Thing Leads to
Another,” “Saved by Zero,” “Are We
Ourselves?” and “Secret Separation.”
The band features the classic line up
of Cy Curnin, Adam Woods, Rupert
Greenall, Jamie West-Oram and Dan
K. Brown and are heralded as one of
the most innovative bands to come
out of the MTV era. $27.50 advance;
$30 day of show. Brooklyn Bowl at
The Linq,
AUG. 19, 7P
Alternative hip-hop trio, Mary Ann
“Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, Craig
“Doodlebug” Irving and Ishmael
“Butterfly” Butler have reunited! $25.
Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq,
AUG. 19 & 20, 7P
A tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four
Seasons featuring all of their biggest
hits. $20. Starbright Theatre at Sun
City Summerlin,
AUG. 13, 7P
Enjoy a mix of the classic folk and
pop hits of Simon and Garfunkel,
The Association, Burt Bacharach
and many others, along with
AUG. 19, 7:30P
Two of the most acclaimed and
commercially successful
saxophonists in history share
the stage for an evening of jazz.
$29–$99. Reynolds Hall
at The Smith Center,
AUG. 27, 7P
A cast of eight singers from the Las
Vegas Strip perform the greatest
duets of the pop era, such as “You
Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “I’ve Had
the Time of My Life” and “All I Ask of
You.” $20. Starbright Theatre at Sun
City Summerlin,
The classic Rodgers and
Hammerstein musical based on
the true-life story of the von Trapp
family. Features classic songs such
as “Do Re Mi,” My Favorite Things”
and the title song. $29–$127.
Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center,
AUG. 5, 4P
Join us for an entertaining night
of Whose Line is it Anyway?-style
improv. Our improv players will
make you laugh through a series
of games in which the audience
plays a key role. You will not be
disappointed! $7. Winchester
AUG. 27, 8P
Sanskrit mantras fused with music
for spiritual enlightenment. $20 in
advance, $25 at the door. Baobab
Stage at Town Square,
AUG. 28, 7P
The progressive ambience of early
Peter Gabriel, the triumphant
romanticism of The Cure in their
prime, and the more melancholy
moments of Fleetwood Mac all
infuse the curious beauty of their
newest album, The Wilderness.
Come experience it live. $25–$45.
Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq,
AUG. 31, 7P
Hickory Wind presents a celebration
of 1960s folk music with songs
made famous by Peter, Paul and
Mary, The New Christy Minstrels,
The Kingston Trio and more. $12.
Starbright Theatre at Sun City
AUG. 2–7 & 9–14, 7:30P; AUG.
6–7 & 13–14, 2P
August 2016
Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod
AUG. 18–21, 6P
Annie is a spunky Depressionera orphan determined to find
her parents, who left her on the
doorstep of a New York City
orphanage run by the cruel Miss
Hannigan. In adventure after
adventure, Annie befriends
President Franklin Roosevelt; finds
a new family and home in billionaire
Oliver Warbucks; his personal
secretary, Grace; and a lovable
mutt named Sandy. $7. Winchester
Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod
AUG. 27, 2P & 7P
Magic, illusion, mindreading,
comedy, storytelling and sleight-ofhand will be presented by magician
Paul Draper and his friends. Fun for
the whole family! $10 in advance,
$12 at the door. Winchester
Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod
AUG. 11, 6P
See Las Vegas’ local swimmers
just before they compete in the
2016 Summer Olympics. The
synchronized swimming teams
are from Las Vegas, Clark County,
Henderson and North Las Vegas.
These teams have worked all
summer to perfect their routines
and are ready to perform! Free.
Baker Pool, 1100 East St. Louis
Ave., 702-229-1532
AUG. 13, 2P
The students and staff of our
Chinese summer camp present
singing, Tai Chi fan dance, the
August 2016
lion dance and a short play about
protecting our environment — all in
Mandarin Chinese. $10 in advance,
$12 on concert day. Winchester
Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod
AUG. 26, 6P
The award-winning troupe will
celebrate the end of summer
with a dance showcase of
original choreography in hip-hop,
contemporary, jazz and ballet. $7.
Winchester Cultural Center, 3130
McLeod Drive,
AUG. 4, 7P
As the Burlesque Hall of Fame gets
ready to move into its new museum
in the Las Vegas arts district,
Executive Director Dustin Wax
discusses the history of burlesque
in Las Vegas from Harold Minsky’s
first revues at the Dunes and Lili St.
Cyr’s residency at the El Rancho,
through the glamour years of the
’70s. Free. Main Theater at Clark
County Library,
AUG. 20, 11A
Meet author and stroke survivor
Parker and hear about his
remarkable journey of recovery
as he shares his inspirational
experience of being left
speechless and incapacitated by
stroke to successfully writing and
publishing books. Free. Summerlin
AUG. 4, 6–10P
The National Museum of Organized
Crime and Law Enforcement
hosts this evening inspired by the
decadent Havana resorts of
the first half of the twentieth century.
Guests will celebrate the vibrancy of
Cuban culture including its delectable
cuisine, tropical cocktails, music,
dancing, casino-style games, handrolled Mob Museum-label
premium cigars by Spirit
of Cuba and more. $69, 10% discount
for museum members.
The Mob Museum,
AUG. 5, 6:30P
Bring the family to enjoy a back-toschool fair with a DJ, vendors and a
movie in the park. Food trucks will be
selling refreshments. Free. Centennial
Hills Park South Soccer Field and
Amphitheater, 7101 N. Buffalo Drive,
AUG. 13, 10A–12P
Enjoy free sno-cones, face painting
and crafts. Vendors will be on site
to help with getting kids ready
for school. Free. East Las Vegas
Community Center, 250 N. Eastern
Ave., 702-229-1515
AUG. 14, 12–6P
Enjoy swimming, games, dancing,
treats, prizes, a DJ playing your
favorite music and all the splash toys
in the pool! $12. Municipal Pool, 431
E. Bonanza Road, 702-229-6309
AUG. 27–28, 9A–5P
Learn about many unique and wellknown breeds of cats, watch judges
from around the world judge both
pedigreed and household cats, see
new and upcoming breeds to TICA,
talk to breeders of your favorite
breeds of cats and shop for pets
from many vendors. $6 adults, $4
under 18, under 5 free. Henderson
Multigenerational Center,
250 S. Green Valley Parkway,
R S V P T O D AY !
AUG. 12, 6:30P
Philanthropy Entertainment presents
“Be.” — an evening of entertainment
to benefit Safe Nest, provider of temporary assistance for domestic crisis.
Enjoy cocktails and a silent auction of
local art, restaurant gift certificates,
show tickets and much more! $30.
Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, 3200 E.
Cheyenne Ave.,
AUG. 19, 4:30P
Each guest receives a complimentary
drink ticket for a Cosmo, Lemondrop,
Apple, Chocolate or Blue Martini.
There will be live entertainment, a
silent auction and raffle prizes. Proceeds benefit the Happy Home Animal Sanctuary. 21+. $18. Blue Martini,
6593 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,
SEP. 30
AUG. 27, 6:30A
This fun-filled event was created to
bring everyone together to support
D E ST.E.M.P.O.’s
Fitness Festival. Form a twosome or a
foursome and enjoy the great outdoors. Start the day with a continental
breakfast, play a round of Shotgun Golf,
then finish off with lunch. Raffle prizes
and giveaways will also be a highlight
of the tournament. $85/golfer. Stallion
Mountain Golf Course, 5500 E. Flamingo Road,
OCT. 01
Julius Caesar, Murder for Two, The Odd Couple
AUG. 28, 9A
The Epicurean Charitable Foundation
program has a unique local focus that
is helping to build the economy in
Las Vegas by adding highly trained
professionals to the field of hospitality
management. This event will feature
an enjoyable day of bowling, along
with an exciting balloon-pop raffle.
$35–$800 per team. South Point
For more information or to reserve
your seats, please visit
August 2016
Random notes on the state of Vegas spectacle,
based on having seen the recent premiere
of Criss Angel MINDFREAK Live at the Luxor
B y A n d r e w K i r a ly
1. How good is Criss Angel MINDFREAK
Live? So good that it apparently tore open
a spacetime rift and cannonballed Robin
Leach through it, as he declares the show,
“The No. 1 Magic Show Of All Time!”
2. Which is to say, inasmuch as you can trust
Robin Leach for his critical acumen, not that
good. It’s two hours of Criss Angel’s greatest hits (swallowing razors, levitating, making motorcycles appear, sawing women in
half ) festooned with flames and leather, and
pumped with a suspect urgency that suggests a professional crisis.
3. This isn’t necessarily Criss Angel’s fault.
It probably has more to do with the fact that
magic is dead. Sorry! But you know it’s true!
You’ll enjoy MINDFREAK Live for its frenetic
bombast if you go in knowing that all the tricks
have been done — just the packaging changes. Our era of mythbusters, debunkers and
our collective mania for behind-the-scenesy
forensic explication has, for better or worse,
completely bled the mystery out of things.
(That’s why “street magic” from the likes of
David Blaine [and Criss Angel] took off for a
while — it was magic temporarily rescued from
the suspect visual hyperbole of stage and studio! Then you realized they were all doing the
same nine tricks.) The enjoyment of watching
magic these days is, at best, a logic-puzzle appreciation of engineering and psychology. (See
Penn & Teller.) That said, I felt like kind of a
jaded jerk not being more excited during the
show; like, every time a trick happened and
there was, say, a sexy assistant grinning from
inside a plastic box, freshly teleported from
the hardcore cosmic plane of DIMENSION
August 2016
MINDFREAK, my internal
monologue would be all, “Oh,
neat ... ish.” Then I went into
a self-conscious microspiral of
introspective hashtag feels: #issomethingwrongwithme #sojaded
#maybethelighthasdied #cansomeonehelpmeunderstand #iwanttobeexcited
4.Criss Angel’s solution to this is to make
MINDFREAK Live a show largely about His
Story. The pre-show video montage of Angel’s
wonder years reveals a bright-eyed boy with
a supportive, loving family; a teenager getting his first magic kit for Christmas; a goth
scarecrow fronting an industrial band (with
magic!); a dark prince of grand illusions with
a rock-video emo mane and pneumatic pecs.
You Get to Know Him. (In one segment, he
chokes up as he pitches for a pediatric cancer charity, revealing that his 2-year-old son
is battling leukemia.) This is worrisome for
the ethos of Strip headliners. What does it
mean when a marquee show is fundamentally
retrospective, gazing backwards fondly upon
greatest hits? It means it’s a lounge act, a cover band. Not that there’s anything wrong with
a lounge act. When it’s in a lounge.
4.5 Okay, Criss Angel turning handkerchiefs
into birds — almost at the pace and pressure of
spraying a garden hose, but an invisible magic
garden hose that shoots out white birds — was
pretty cool. But maybe that’s in part because
this comparatively understated, tastefully moody segment dispensed with his usual
tropes, which involve vixens, industrial props
and stylish gloom. It suggests an alternate path
MINDFREAK Live could have taken.
5. Best takeaway psychic souvenir from the
show: Criss Angel’s trademark catchphrase,
“There’s just one question ... ARE YOU
READY?!?!” This, delivered in a pained, genital-scrunching rebel screech. Super-fun to do
Rickroll-style at home or at the office. (“Here’s
that third-quarter earnings spreadsheet you
requested. There’s just one question ... ARE
YOU READY?!?!” “My math test was so hard,
mom! There was just one question ... ARE YOU
6. At the end of MINDFREAK Live, I found
myself, weirdly, hoping the tourists thought it
was okay, in the mincing way of acknowledging, Alright, so the show’s not mind-blowingly
great, but hey, Angel seemed to try hard, invest
a lot of effort into it, and though it’s not the best
he could’ve done, it represents a plausibly earnest effort ... right? Your mind was freaked a
little ... right? Just a little?
6.5. There’s something amiss with Vegas
entertainment when it inspires you to mime
mental apologies to tourists.
8. No.
i l lu st r at i o n S C OT T L I E N
Being a patient
shouldn’t test
your patience.
Health care facilities exist for one reason: to care for people. At Dignity Health Medical Group, we vow
to never forget that. That’s why we focus on the little details that make being a patient a lot easier:
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Appointments are available at these locations:
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10001 S. Eastern Ave.
Suite 10A
Suite 101
Henderson, NV 89074
Henderson, NV 89052
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Suite 105
Las Vegas, NV 89117
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106 E. Lake Mead Pkwy.
Suite 104
Henderson, NV 89015
Tivoli Village
400 S. Rampart Blvd.
Suite 240 (Capella Building)
Las Vegas, NV 89145
8205 W. Warm Springs Rd.
Suite 210
Las Vegas, NV 89113
Welcoming new and established patients. For appointments, call 702.616.5801, or learn more about
our physicians at
Jessica Gaylor
Diagnosis: Breast Tumor
Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada has helped develop
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At Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada there is no such thing as a “standard”
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No matter what you face, chances are we’ve faced it before. And we know the most
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Ask your doctor about Comprehensive. Visit for more information or call
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